For a number of reasons, I’ve been missing in action on this site since early May, posting infrequently. In part, it was the leading up, the going thru, and the aftermath of Claire’s passing; then the adventure of meeting and welcoming Ella, nee Dena’s Diamond, into our family, and… I had attended a Technology conference and came across a project that I thought was very worthwhile. I had spoken to the presenter and said I would be interested in volunteering. He seemed pleased and cautiously asked if I had any writing experience… “Why, yes, yes, I do.” For those of you who don’t know, I am unemployed right now and feel that along with hustling, it is important to give back, if only in time, the most precious commodity we have, to our family, neighbors, community and nation. If you’ve got it, give it, so to speak.
Well, that conversation led to two writing assignments. Serious writing assignments that required a style of writing I had not really acquired as of yet. Oh, the number of rewrites! The assignments would begin with a tight deadline and then the rewrites or additional fleshing out with interviews, etc. Sometimes it felt as though I would never finish the assignment, it just kept going and going and going like an old Timex commercial. Eventually, each was published and they are sitting out there in the public sphere waiting to be read. This is not a plug. Recently, someone asked where I had been and I told them of these writing assignments and they said, “So glad to hear you doing what you love.”
Hmmm. More hmmm. This writing had to do with reviewing government reports that slip through the cracks while all our attention is focused on whatever news of the day story is currently capturing the media’s attention. They were on topics that I might have read, but just noted and kept going, living my life, as you do. Instead, I was knee deep in government waste on one and on the other writing about guns. Mind, I love guns. Alright, love might be strong – let us say I enjoy guns. I am late to the party on weaponry, but when I find something I enjoy I tend to jump in with both feet and my brain, learning everything I need and far more than I need to know. In the course of doing that, I tend to pass that knowledge on in the form of a story or to any poor soul that comes within my gravity field…. It’s that Malcolm Gladwell thing of being a Maven. I simply am incapable of keeping information to myself. I just know you’ll want to know. Any friend of mine who reads this will be nodding and holding their hands up in self-defense and surrender. What I know, they will know. Good sports all of ’em.
Seeming an aside, when I was a little girl, somewhere around the fourth grade, my mother asked me to take a bath and I said, “Do I have to?” in a whiny voice. She pounced. “Ah, your teacher told me about this, Huntie. You’ve started saying, “Do I have to…?” (she said in perfect imitation of my whine.) “Knock it off. Go take the bath.” Hmmm…. I am embarrassed to admit it still pops up every once in a while. On about the third rewrite, it began to surface and by the sixth, it was a very serious whine. I felt wrung out, depleted, dry as a bone. I had lost that wild sense of joy I experience writing. I reached out to a couple of friends, all of whom said, “You volunteered for this?” and “Well, just don’t do it anymore. Quit. Get back to your blog. Get your joy back, Huntie!” It was what I wanted to hear. And, yet… I had volunteered and the editor was pushing me to do better, to produce an unbiased report – just the facts, Ma’am.” Adding fuel to my whine, a friend said in passing, “I read your first one, Hunt, … and I gotta say, it was pretty serious. I am not sure how many people will want to read that.” Oooohh, right to the heart, that one!
This last one on weapons… he was looking for something that just wasn’t there. “I’m telling you, there’s no there there.” I said at one point in conference. I had already gone off on side trips of research, reading even duller reports, including the CDC’s morbidity rates, homicide rates – it’s down, by the way. Learning that suicide by guns is a high percentage of death by guns. Strangely enough, highest in the age group of 45-54 year olds. Mid-life crisis, indeed. The editor up’d the ante, asking me to get comments from both sides of the spectrum – the ones who want to control guns and the ones who strongly support the Second Amendment, talk to police officers, the Mayor’s offices, etc. I even watched Skyfall, 007’s latest – purely for research, of course. Twice. In the midst of this assignment, I attended the monthly Republican Precinct Committee Officers meeting, where I serve as a PCO. We had our two State Representatives in to report on this year’s session. One a Democrat and the other a Republican. Guns were a big issue this last session and the topic came up. I had voted for our Republican candidates because I felt they were the best, and had been unimpressed by the Democratic candidate who won. This time around though, he was impressive in his reasoned responses. I stepped out in the hall to speak with him while the meeting went on. Long story short, at one point, he looked at me and interrupted, “What is your background?” It was said in a voice of curiosity, a bit of bewilderment, and high interest. I told him and he said, “Ah. That’s it. You are one of the most well-informed people I’ve met in a while.” He might have been a politician stroking a constituent’s ego, but it sounded like he meant it. Do you know why I was one of the most well-informed people he’d ever met in a while? Because of those damn rewrites. I walked out of the meeting feeling that sense of joy that comes from doing something you love. In my case, it was passing on information to somebody who could do something about it. A Maven’s dream.