27 November 2006

Melatonin daze

Got home tonight fragged from a day spent trying to edit this week’s paper into something more than dreck and dummy it up while, at the same time, dealing with elderly MacIntosh computers that crash because they can. And if that wasn't enough, I also spent the entire day not eating the huge box full of sticky sweet rolls one of the ad reps generously plopped on the lunchroom table for all and sundry. And, right at the stroke of 3:30 p.m., an entire Cub Scout troop crowded into the newsroom, which is about the size of a Volkswagen minibus.

The 10 fourth-grade boys wanted to see how a real newspaper works so they could get pinned or something. The scoutmaster was nervous. In just 15 short minutes we’d convinced all but one of them, as we droned over the AP Stylebook, that they never, ever wanted to become journalists.

That one who thinks being a journalist would be cool has real potential. He’ll go far. He was eyeing my stylebook with lust in his heart. I almost gave it to him, but I need it.

They’d just trooped back out, last week’s paper inking up their little hands, when my friend Jennifer called to tell me that it was, yes, actually snowing up at my ol’ homestead, 27 miles away over hill, dale and way up-mountain.

Snow before January at just 3,2oo feet! Who'da thought?

I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned it before, but I drive a 1988 Celica convertible, inherited from my Dad a few weeks after his death in May 2005. My own safe, sensible, all-wheel-drive, snow-eating Subaru Legacy (a car that is second only to the Taurus in non-descript-ness) was passed on, in due course, to the fledgling. I was tired of driving her places.

I love the ol’ Celica. I’ve even named it Harold, after my Dad. Sometimes I’m sure he’s sitting in the jumpseat next to me, wincing as I accidentally grind the gears and whooping as I stomp the gas and zoom. This car was his baby. Even at 18 years old and 128,000 miles, it purrs.

But it was not made for driving in snow, no sir. It was made exclusively for California summertimes, top down, sunglasses on, road dry and rippling with heat mirages. Dad put his golf clubs in the trunk and zipped around, playing with his friends. He and Mom drove it all over the country in summers past.

But as I drove the narrow back roads home through the howling blizzard to avoid the chain controls set up on the freeway a mile below my house (there is nothing worse than being forced to put chains on your tires as your fingers freeze and your knees soak through in the slush to drive just a frickin' mile) I found myself once again wondering how in the world I’m going to do an entire winter in this tiny car. It’s so lightweight I could probably pick the back end up off the ground all by myself if I tried. One of the reporters who works for me could definitely tuck it under his arm and jog a couple of times around the block with it without breaking a sweat.

I guess I’ll have to spring for sandbags or something.

Obviously, I made it home. I parked up at the top of our steep driveway, on the street, so I’ll be able to just point ol' Harry downhill and slide, if necessary, down to the main road come morning. Then I braved the driveway on foot, sticking to the shrubbery along the edge for traction. Mr. Wren is going to kill me for grabbing the wallflower to stay upright, and for stepping on his strange, ornamental grasses. If I'm lucky, he won't notice until next spring.

So I’m both worn out and wound up tonight. I took some melatonin about an hour ago, a nice, natural sleeping aid, knowing that I’m far too awake to go to sleep. I just know that without it, I’ll be dummying that paper and working on Friday’s advertising section all night in my dreams.

And now, finally, I’m starting to feel a little sleepy.

This post was originally supposed to be about Wren household’s kingly cat, who has made my lap his ever since I sat down here a while ago. This cat normally ignores me. I feel very special. He’s just sitting there, all tuxedoed, gazing at me. It’s possible he wants his drinkies faucet in the bathroom turned on. Or perhaps I’m just warm. I think that’s it, because when I finally made it down the snowslick driveway and into the house at 7:30 p.m., there was no fire going in the woodstove. Mr. Wren forgot to build one. He is never cold, but it was 55 degrees in the kitchen and in here, I can see my breath with each exhalation.

I think I’ll run away. But who’d turn on the faucet for the cat? Guess I'll stick around.

Note: To any reporters who work for me and who may or may not be reading this: No, your writing was not the dreck I meant. Your writing was professional, well done and, considering some of the subject matter (parks and recreation master plan for this top 2 percent wealthy community) actually sublime. No, I’m referring to everything else I edited today. Like pickup stories by the sister-paper reporter who insists on starting his sentences with the subject’s name, thusly:

“Smith while admitting he had never seen the woman before said he thought her dress was blue but prior testimony indicated he could have been wrong.”

It’s probably just me, but this quirk makes my teeth itch. Why not:

“While admitting he had never seen the woman before, Smith said he thought her dress was blue, even though in his prior testimony he said he could have been wrong.”

I know. Stupid sentence, but the best I can come up with in a melatonin daze. Imagine such a sentence in a real news story and you’ll understand what I mean by dreck.


Kevin Wolf said...

I can barely edit myself, let alone other people.

Wil Robinson said...

Your vivid descriptions of the newsroom and stories about "parks and recreation for the top 2 percent" almost makes me wish I were there...

No, seriously, it does.

Anonymous said...

We got snow here in Puget Sound country early, too, both yesterday and the day before. Not much of an accumulation, but it throws half the population into a loop.

Last Friday, I traded in my Kia Sephia (which did OK in the snow, but couldn't climb my driveway when slippery) and bought a Subaru Forester, which can.

Laurens de Jong said...

Hello. I was just blogsearching on Google and landed here. Yours is not really a convertible-in-winter story like what I was looking for, but close enough. I hope that Celica has served you well this winter. Just because it's small and frivolous doesn't mean it can't drive through snow. I know I don't live in the mountains, but I drive my convertible through snow — up to five unplowed inches on one occasion. Good tires are much of the difference.

Not that I think I need to tell you that, if you know what chains are. Here in Michigan, they're not even legal.

Anyway. It's Friday afternoon, you know. Sorry to bother you!