Hello to the community

 


I don’t get to use the word “I” much in my writing here. It feels strange, almost unnatural. I have to be an objective journalist, after all — Clark Kent, sticking to quotes and facts, keeping my “I’s” out of it. Just a fly on the wall using proper grammar and other rules meant to be broken.

I have been working for The Star about three years now, and the community has been quite welcoming to me. I’ve gotten to know a large number of folks: coaches, athletes, council members, city clerks, mayors. I met NBA-great Gary Payton when I first started, and I met Congressman Dan Newhouse in the fall of this year. There is a great deal of variety.

I get a front-row seat at the sporting events, which can be quite exciting. I try to stay out of everyone’s way and hope the hired geek pointing a huge camera at the athletes doesn’t distract them when they shoot a free throw. But then again, the pros have far more cameras and eyes upon them, so these young whippersnappers best get used to it. They’re focusing on the game, anyway. And they’re more used to social media’s Big Brother presence than anyone.


Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

This is an amazingly complex area of only 4,000 or so people: the nuances of the school system and how it’s run; the nuances of the cities and how they’re run; where the money flows and where it flows from; the young people, the old people; the reservation has its own complex world; and then there’s the politics between everyone.

I see this area as an analogy for how the rest of the world works, on the county level, the state level, the national level, and the global level. Sometimes things work as a well-oiled machine, sometimes poorly oiled. But somehow food still ends up at the supermarkets, and people still show up at their jobs, and the gears keep turning one way or another. They might creak and grind and need to be greased up once in a while, but dammit, the gears turn one way or another. The sun sets, and the sun also rises.

With the right set of eyes, I can view the coulee area as an impressionist painter might, or as a sort of fictional world. My background is mostly in creative writing, after all.

I wrote one chapter in what could be a satirical novella about a community modeled after ours. The premise is that a newspaper owner robs banks and pushes a car off a cliff and considers murder and other hijinks in order to sell more newspapers.

Who among us hasn’t considered writing a pulp fiction dime novel about their boss being an evil maniac? Who knows if I’ll pick up the story where I left off, or if I’ll just laugh about the idea occasionally while the manuscript rots in the bowels of Google Drive.

It’s a nice area. I’ve lived here since I was 11, and it’s grown on me. What I most enjoy here is hiking. Winter hikes can be especially peaceful. Frosty sagebrush, and rabbits hop around, and a hawk soars, and the deer get startled. And I clomp around the basalt rocks, winding through cliffs carved by ancient glaciers. And I think, “Hey, these deer don’t have to worry about work, or bills, or small-town politics, or school levies; why should I?” And I relax a little when I think this.

No matter what everyone is stressing out about, driving to and fro in their cars and trucks, the trees still grow, the creeks still flow, the hawk still soars, the sun sets, and the sun also rises.

You might wonder why I keep saying that “the sun also rises.” Well, “The Sun Also Rises” is a book by Ernest Hemingway, who worked at a newspaper called The Kansas City Star about 100 years ago. There’s a character in there named Jake. It always makes me happy to think about Hemingway, and the writer’s tradition: to explore, to think, to drink, to swear, and to start with one true sentence.

Anyway, I just wanted to say a quick hello, and I wanted to thank the community for making me feel welcome at your meetings and events. It’s really the community that is in charge of the stories I write. What happens, what gets said, who wins, who loses… I’m just quoting you guys, and writing about what actions are taken. I’m just a fly on the wall. I’m just a messenger; don’t shoot!

 

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