People I used to work with will get a kick out of this: I dreamed I lost my voice in the newsroom.
Mid-sentence. Looking down a row of desks at younger reporters and editors before my retirement, questioning without being asked a crowd-count methodology at a political event. Despite some darting of the eyes, they were kind enough that they did not argue with the aging pedant, but they probably had to restrain their glee when his ponderous observations were cut short.
I woke with a start. Not a nightmare, but disturbing.
I got up to take pictures of the dawn, the morning after the great super blue blood moon, or whatever it was. I was glad to see the beginning of a new day, but somehow it seemed almost as strange as watching a fake-reality show host with elaborately combed hair applaud himself throughout a State of the Union address two nights before. Like the top of the president’s head, all sunrises and sunsets seem more wildly colored now. And I get the willies when I see Donald Trump, Mike Pence and Paul Ryan all together, scary members of a weird club.
My state of my mind had been uneasy since a lovely woman visitor, who I probably wanted to impress with my outdoor vigor, observed that I had been “wheezing” on a short walk in the hills. I started to imagine myself as a wheezer and it made me also think geezer.
I already had been feeling guilty about firing off email notes to people I used to work with about careless online headlines, often on Twitter. I try to be supportive of former co-workers, although an editor friend about my age laughed at me the only time I used the word “collegial” out loud in the newsroom. I now I read the papers online and I admit to short-tempered thoughts when I see a headline written by someone I imagine being oblivious to the rules and logic barked at me by the snarling copy editors who reluctantly helped instruct me — people who called themselves “rim dogs” at the last place I worked.
Then, there’s been this climate change business. I remember whiz kids in the newsroom dismissing my anecdotal evidence about snakes coming out earlier and staying later and heavy coats left in the closet. I was often an annoying example of what-I-saw-on-my-way-to-work syndrome, my mundane, short-term observations maybe delaying serious reporting. Even so, in retirement now, I feel guilty about enjoying sunshine and warmth on mid-winter walks through grassless hills.
I’m just saying this aging business is all a little confusing.
I have had two recent epiphanies, however.
I realized after the last two mornings why my young dog, Cowboy, stayed in bed while I marched outdoors with my iPhone: He waits until the sun comes up to warm him: otherwise, this drugstore heeler, stays put on the Ralph Lauren blanket on the bed.
I also realized something about my struggle with reading and writing fiction. I don’t know whether it’s the digital revolution, personal evolution or just my exasperation with Devin Nunes, but I am impatient for facts.
I am getting used to being dismissed and ignored. But thoughts of a famous Joe Friday parody — “Just the facts, ma’am” — global warming and Donald Trump are complicating my progression to age 69.