The week, the month, the year has reached its crescendo — annual review done, story memos done, shopping done. More or less. (Just a few bottles to buy. The Christmas equivalent of phoning it in.)
So now I can relax, work on some longer-term projects, look at the Christmas tree, wrap presents. Coast. Chill. Enjoy.
And drive. A lot. This weekend is the Nall Family Christmas ™ and the Columbus Dispatch Alumni Holiday Party ™, which replaced the booze-soaked Up on the Housetop Party ™ of my era. The Dispatch party is Friday night, and of course I have a training on Friday, in Lansing, which means I’ll be leaving from there. Driving distance between the two state capitals? Four hours and 25 minutes, thanks for asking.
I used to love a long drive. Now it just hurts my back. I recently came to the realization I’m what’s known as an active sedentary person, i.e., someone who exercises for one hour a day, then sits on her ass for the remainder. Not good, but I don’t see an alternative, until I perfect the art of writing-while-walking, and no, I’m not getting a treadmill desk.
I enjoy this time of year, working for Bridge. We go dark for two weeks, which never happens at a daily newspaper. I believe I’ve written before about the torture of the holiday interval in newspapering, which is sort of like anesthesiology — hours of boredom punctuated by seconds of sheer terror. You sit around waiting for a disaster, hoping the pages won’t come up from advertising with more news hole than the canned year-in-review stories can fill, because then you’ll be sent out on a holiday nothingburger, about new year’s preparation or the returns desk at some department store. Those all suck.
The tragedies suck worse — the man who went to midnight mass, missing the fire that broke out and killed his wife and children; the old rummy who robbed a bank, then walked to a nearby bar and waited for arrest, so he could have a warm place to sleep and reliable meals. The underwear bomber was a Christmas Day story. Exploding water mains if it gets real cold, another holiday perennial.
Much better to be off. I clean closets, a deeply satisfying task. I’m also going to find time to watch “Hypernormalisation,” a BBC documentary by Adam Curtis, which is getting insane buzz at the moment, but can only be found on YouTube. I’ll give you a report.
Of course, a lull won’t necessarily arrive this year, as we count down to our nation’s transition. Neil Steinberg referred to these days as being akin the clack-clack-clack of a long climb up the first hill on the world’s most terrifying rollercoaster. I think that’s right.
In North Carolina, they’ll be covering the Calvinball leagues.
In Washington, we’ll be waiting for the first daughter to be first lady, while the woman who would normally fill that role remains
separated from her husband in another city. And there’s the new diplomatic corps to look forward to.
Unrelated, except in the what-fresh-horror-is-this file, Lenny Pozner, one of the bereaved parents of Sandy Hook, continues to fight the good fight. What a heartbreaking, infuriating story.
Don’t mean to bum y’all out. I’ll be back after the long weekend.