How does one sum it up? I have finally come across a cantankerous, uncooperative, tiring source with random thoughts flying more places than Peter Pan in search of Tinker Bell. That person is me. Rather, to be more grammatically correct, that person is I (for all of you linguistic buffs).
When my editor recently asked me to write what is to be my last Writer’s Block for ABC Newspapers, I decided the best approach would be to interview myself – an auto interview, if you will. (I’ve always enjoyed making up words.) So, here goes, a Q & A session with myself on my upcoming retirement slated for Aug. 2.
Q. How long have you worked for ABC Newspapers?
A. Going on 10 1/2 years.
Q. Why are you leaving?
A. Everything has a season. ‘Tis my season to retire, although had my father been alive, he would have undoubtedly looked at me askance, wondering about my decision. My dad worked until nine days before his death. He was 84. People would always ask him about retirement. He’d say, “Yeah, I’m retiring. I’m getting new tires on my car.”
Q. How did you get started writing?
A. I taught choral music for many years, but I minored in English and had always liked to write. I returned to school, the University of St. Thomas, let’s just say in mid life to study journalism. One day my sister called and said she had found a job for me in the want ads for the Sun Focus. I started there as a freelance writer and later ABC Newspapers hired me as a reporter.
Q. What was the best part of your job?
A. The best part was becoming a part of the community fabric. People were kind. A mayor, for instance, welcomed me into his home to do a feature story on his wife, who was struggling with a health concern. Another gentleman sent a letter thanking me for a story I wrote on a peace garden he had dedicated to his late wife. He signed the letter with the word “love.” Now, I most always close my emails and notes with “love, Elyse.” Not luv, or luv ya, but, plain and simple, “love.” How often do we get a chance to say that in our lifetime?
Q. What was the most challenging part of your job?
A. Grueling time schedules, working days and nights and weekends, six and seven days a week. Deadlines.
Q. Any surprises throughout your tenure?
A. I was surprised when comedian Louis Anderson kissed me on the cheek after I had written a preview story on him. That was when he appeared at Greenhaven in Anoka a few years ago. I was both surprised and humbled when my managing editor asked me to cover former President George W. Bush, when he visited Fridley a decade ago. I had started work at ABC just three months earlier. At the opposite end of the spectrum, there was the worker whom I snapped a photo of at a building project site. In no uncertain terms, he yelled that he would take the camera and shove it … well, you know the rest. Nice fellow.
Q. What will you miss?
A. Interacting with people. Among the many are: co-workers, community members, Spring Lake Park District 16 workers and residents, Springbrook staff, and as I was arts editor for a number of years, those in arts organizations that I covered. Forgive me if I’m leaving anyone out. I will also miss the opportunity to learn more about my craft.
Q. What won’t you miss?
A. Grueling time schedules, working days and nights … see above.
Q. What do you plan on doing in your retirement?
A. Not sure at this point. Maybe catch up on reading for pleasure, a bit of travel. My dream is to see the Terra Cotta army in China.
Q. What else do you want to say?
A. To my reading audience, I thank you for taking the time to peruse my stories. To my fellow workers, thank you for shepherding me through 10 years of work in the newsroom. To my sources and all of those I interviewed, thank you for opening up and allowing me to be a messenger of your words and thoughts. This is not a final goodbye, dear readers. Rather, it is I’ll see you around. Be well.