So what were you doing 10 years ago?
Curious, I wondered what I had been up to in September 2006.
Looking back at this blog and my journal, it appears I was a busy girl, working my way through my 40s (as I would have been 43 years old then).
My work at the newspaper was as close to full-time as a stringer's work could be - I was writing about 30 stories a month. I was covering all kinds of governmental meetings. I was frustrated because people weren't reading the paper and were uninformed about things going on.
"And then there are people who read NOTHING," I wrote. "This is a major dumbing-down of America, and we're all paying for it. We're paying for it with a "peak oil" crisis, with water issues, with overcrowding of neighborhoods, with sprawl, with loss of farmland, with pollution, with loss of timberland, with loss of life. Not knowing affects each and every one of us each and every day. We are all being killed by what we don't know."
Alas, none of this has changed. We are still struggling to find our footing with energy issues and water has become even more of a problem with the drought in California. This was before mass shootings became almost an everyday occurrence, so that is a change. Otherwise I would have listed them as something we needed to worry about and fret over, though perhaps I was referencing it in the "loss of life" line.
What else happened? I spent time in the emergency room being checked for chest pains and a possible heart attack. It wasn't a heart attack, and I determined myself that it was most likely an asthma attack, but it would be another five years before doctors would finally begin to treat me for asthma with anything other than a rescue inhaler. In the meantime, I tried to keep things under control myself by staying away from known allergens, just as I do today.
The years from 2004 to 2009 were probably among the best five years of my life, heart attack scares notwithstanding. I was writing for the local newspaper (The Fincastle Herald) and I absolutely loved the work. I did it well, and it was fun. I enjoyed the community, the people I was working for and with, and the individuals I had to deal with on a weekly if not daily basis. Even though I spent more than 10 years writing for a local paper in a neighboring county, I much preferred my work at The Herald because it was close to home and it involved me personally, because this is the county I live in. Plus I didn't have a 35 minute drive just to attend a 30 minute meeting.
By this time I had a better grip on things from my past, a good idea of what I wanted from my future (which included writing for the newspaper into my 70s, something that, I am afraid, derailed not long after I'd figured that out), and my health was, if not great, at least workable.
In 2009, though, the newspaper went bankrupt and I lost my work there (though the paper continued and continues to this day). I spent two years trying to freelance for various local publications and found that I didn't like writing for the medical magazine, nor did I like having to wait for months for my payment from other local publications.
I also went back to school and finished up my masters degree, which was the best thing I could have done. I graduated from Hollins once again in 2012, MA in hand, and decided to give teaching at the community college level a try.
That worked out ok until my gallbladder went kerplunk in June 2013, leaving me with chronic pain and exacerbating other health issues to the point where my doctor now writes me prescriptions that say, "Do not work. No stress."
Such an edict is stressful in and of itself. What are you supposed to do with your time when you can't lift or run the vacuum, and you're not a shopping queen? It has taken me some time to come up with a schedule I can deal with - and even now, all it takes is one change to throw me off and I am a long time figuring it out again.
No, I do better with the deadline of a newspaper, that weekly have-it-done-by-Monday order as opposed to this endless ocean of time that sweeps out wide and far, turning me into a dot in a vast sea of sharks.
My new goal is to work on my health - doctor's orders - and to try to make my house as wonderful as I can. I am not a decorator and I also lean toward piles of books and papers, which can make "wonderful" a little difficult, but I am giving it a go. Slowly, ever so slowly, a few things are going away from here, things I don't use, want or need.
Downsizing, as it were.
In another decade I will look back and see that this is where I was at the age of 53 - fighting a chronic health issue, seeing lots of doctors, and trying to make my house into a home because I have to spend a lot more time here now.
I hope when I am 63, I will have achieved something else wonderful, like my masters degree, too.
Who knows, maybe I will one day write that damn book.