I can’t rightly remember how long I worked at the Orange County Register–13 or 14 years or something close.
Considering that I didn’t apply for the job in the first place, it’s been a long ride.
After Gary Krino retired, the editors were searching for a writer with home and garden experience to work with home improvement guru, Nick Harder.
And there I was minding my own business with my weekly garden column. The thing is, Sharon Cohoon from Sunset Magazine was being considered for the position. Ultimately she declined and recommended me.
Me — a low-paid stringer trying to figure out how to put a few words together. I knew a lot about gardening and home design, but I still don’t know where the comma goes. I put them in, I take them out, and it takes hours.
Since it never occurred to me to apply for a job that I wasn’t qualified for, when an editor called and told me to get down here, my question was, down here where?
Seriously. I had no idea.
I was cavalier about that first meeting, telling a tableful of grumpy editors everything that was wrong with the home and garden section. They asked and it was my chance.
As a loyal reader, I wanted something different from my favorite newspaper section than what they offered. But sometimes cavalier comes off as confident. I got the job.
An editor with a scratchy voice pointed me to a beat-up desk and told me my deadline was the following week. This was going to be interesting. And folks, I’m here to tell you it has been interesting.
What I’m getting at is I am retiring. My husband and I are ready for road trips. It’s hard to do anything else when you work as a journalist because deadlines loom even when you’re not. There are lots of pages to fill in a short amount of time, and those news holes, as they call them, don’t go away because I do.
I never did break a news story. I never blew the lid off an industry or brought down a corporation like some of my colleagues.
But I can tell you it has been a blast writing about mums when someone is discussing murders two desks over.
Sometimes you called just to tell me how much you enjoyed the home and garden part of the paper. And that’s the part that makes me sad.
I’m not going away completely. I will continue to write and have finally finished the book I’ve been waiting years to write. It’s just that now I can see the Grand Canyon without checking my messages every two seconds.