Someone here listens to Lady Gaga, and it’s not me

This is going to be pretty much plain vanilla compared to other things I’ve written, and for various reasons. One, I’m exhausted. Mentally and physically. Sure, I have tons of things on the back burner to be writing about – that are ultimately much more important than this – but I’ve opted to just spout some random thoughts for the fun of it.

First and foremost, we’ve made it through the feat of Progress Chenango. The ten sections seen by the public were the product of I-don’t-even-know how many hours, all-nighters, and stress to the max. Since painting my nails is my best form of stress relief (aside from trips to New Hampshire), I think I changed the color of my nails every two days. Regardless, that’s over. Gratitude to all who contributed, including the editorial staff, some former staff writers, and our sports editor, Pat Newell.

Speaking of Pat, he’ll soon be leaving The Evening Sun to pursue adventures in New Mexico. Yep, that’s right… New Mexico. I’ve only been here at the paper since April of 2013, but since that time, Pat has helped me through probably 7,749 potential issues.

“Ah! Pat! The ‘blah blah blah’ isn’t working. What do I do?!”

“Pat! What is the name of the person who puts the football between his legs?!”

He has been a tremendous help, and as a creature of habit, I will have some weird void when I look over at his spot and see it empty. I don’t really get all that emotional, but I really will miss his antics. I’ll also miss the beep I hear outside the office when it’s dark outside. I know that’s his car without even looking. If he leaves before me at night, he locks me in. That’s nice of him. So yeah, long story short … Pat, I’ll miss you.

We’ve also recently said adios to Brittany Grove, who has journeyed to Florida. Even though her time in the newsroom was brief, she was a pleasure to have in the office. Her outgoing, bubbly personality was a nice addition to our editorial dynamic.

With regard to dynamic, it was great the mornings when I would yell something out of my office to find that all of the reporters had their headphones in and were diligently typing away in order to meet deadline.

“Brittany! Is the blotter in?” …Silence. “Hey, Shawn! Can you get Brittany? Shawn?” … Nothing. “Matt! Can you hear me?” Those were my favorite mornings. Of course the blotter was done. Shawn was busy working. Matt was typing away. Each listening to whatever it was that made them the most productive. I heard Amy Winehouse once. Someone was listening to Katy Perry. And I think I once heard discussion about one of the three listening to Lady Gaga. I will say no names as to who was listening to whom.

I, for one, have to have music on in the morning in order to make the paper happen. Plain and simple. I’m not working in silence. During Progress – I will regretfully admit – that Bruno Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox” was played too many times to count, and rather loudly. What can I say … guilty pleasure. Usually it’s some sort of reggae, independent hip hop, jazz fusion, blues or spoken word poetry. Oh, or Alanis Morrisette’s “Jagged Little Pill.” The past week, it’s been reggae. I have no idea if the boys like it, but I know they can hear it. I don’t use headphones.

But, I digress. Brevity has never really been my strong suit.

I had the pleasure of attending the Fur Ball to benefit the Chenango SPCA this past Saturday. Now, anyone who knows me – at least a little bit – knows that I am tremendously socially awkward. It’s weird because I love people, but I also love wide open spaces. If you take out the wide open spaces, and add a whole bunch of people, we’re probably going to have an uncomfortable Ashley. And by probably, I mean definitely.

Also, I am a huge fan of band t-shirts, shirts with a message where the proceeds help out an organization, hoodies from places I’ve visited, and my ever-favorite jeans. Work attire is business casual, so I do have an appropriate wardrobe, but it is out of my element slightly.

The Fur Ball, however, was semi-formal. I had to wear a dress. I mean, it’s not a new concept. I’ve done it plenty of times before; but this was wearing a dress with hundreds of folks up at the Country Club. I didn’t even go to my junior prom for this reason.

Anyway, I bought a dress. And shoes that actually matched. Painted my nails (that was a given), and you know what … I had a terrific time.

Friends, food, music, fun – it was great. I was only the “awkward female in the corner” for a little bit before I became comfortable with my surroundings. I really hope the CSPCA received a copious amount of funds and support from the community.

Regardless, I’m still a proponent of the quote, “Stop inviting walls into wide open spaces,” and will gladly attend a similar event – even in a dress – if it’s outside.

The final day Progress Chenango was published, I escaped to New Hampshire. Immediately, my head was refreshed and the stress I managed to deal with for months was gone. It was just what I needed to return clear-headed and ready to roll. I stay with friends who have roughly forty acres. Sunday morning, I woke up and went for a stroll alone. It was perfect. I have a horrible sense of direction, but knew exactly where I was. No walls, just space. Just solitude. Just a whole lot of re-booting. I returned to work that following Monday ready to take on the world.

I still plan to do just that.

Semi-related, the opinion piece I wrote after interviewing the inmate garnered quite a bit of attention. Both positive and negative, and all of it was welcomed. I never expect people to agree with what I have to say, so it’s fine either way. I was approached a couple times in public in manners I did not appreciate, but such is life. To reference another favorite, “Everybody’s got voices, and everybody’s got some they can’t contain.” It’s hard to offend this gal. Anyway, that column was read and discussed on Free Talk Live, which is a talk radio show that is nationally syndicated on more than 110 radio stations across the country. It was discussed for nearly two hours, and folks called in to the hosts with comments and questions from all parts of the nation. I listened to it days afterward, and it was surreal.

Whether or not you enjoyed what either I or Barry had to say, it was (part of) a conversation I had with a man in jail. That’s something I had never done before and it was enlightening.

And to answer the countless requests that I follow that piece up with an interview with an addict, a parent, a CASAC certified professional, and other facets of addiction… stay tuned, I’m working on it.

In other completely unrelated news, winter is almost over. I allow myself one complaint per season with regard to the weather. I used up my “I hate cleaning the snow off of my car,” the first day we had significant snowfall. I don’t really enjoy spring, but I love rain, so I can only assume complaint for spring will be, “Why can’t it rain so I can jump in puddles already?” I enjoy fall because it’s the perfect hoodie weather, so I rarely use any complaint there. Make no mistake about it, though, I will be the first person to say, “It’s too hot,” in the summer. That will happen when the temperature exceeds 72 degrees.

Alright, well this has been enough rambling now. I felt inclined to offer some sort of “Editor’s Update,” so there you have it.

To sum up: I’m ready to take on the world.

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