Monday, July 31, 2006

Waiting to Exhale

By all means, I was prepped for success today.

I'd eaten a hearty breakfast and gotten plenty of sleep the night before. I walked into my building in a smart trumpet skirt and heels, determined to make a good impression my first day in the new office.

But by noon, my desk sat somewhere beneath a trio of two foot piles of file folders, my back ached and my stomach buzzed with butterflies. And I still had a story to write.

This. Couldn't. Be. Happening.

Today, in a word: overwhelming. I knew I'd be expected to hit the ground running since our bureau is relatively small and we needed to fill the section pages. I'd already made up my mind to do a follow-up on a story I was doing that crossed over into my new beat. My plan was to make calls on that, write the follow up and then go get lost on my beat.

Things didn't quite happen that way.

When I came in, I first had to move my stuff from my old office, since the maintenance folks kindly neglected to do so, as I requested. At least the tech guys transferred my computer and extension and set up the network over the weekend, so I didn't complain.

Later, during our staff meeting, I felt the most useless I've ever felt. I sat quietly scratching notes onto a pad while my coworkers buzzed with centerpiece ideas and potential stories.

"It won't always be like this," I thought. "Stop being so hard on yourself. It's your first day."

The reporter who used to cover my new area tells me that whenever I get a chance, he has files and contacts to give me.

"Sweet," I think. It'll give me some reading to do in my downtime so I can get a flavor of the town.

I wasn't expecting the deluge of information. The reporter, bless his soul, kept bringing me files. Files he made. Files he'd inherited. Files he'd never laid eyes on but was sure related to West Warwick in some way. Budgets. Notes. Agendas. Fliers. And the explanations that went along with them. All mine.

"I feel a weight being lifted off of my shoulders," he said, handing me yet another pile of massive folders. "But I kind of feel bad for you."

"Thanks," I replied, placing the stack on the floor after running out of room on my desk. "But I'd rather we do this now. It is helpful."

And it was. Because of his primer (and a town tour last week) I have a rack of stories just waiting to be written, which will come in handy while I learn my way around.

But I still needed to write for tomorrow - the reading would have to wait. I start making calls on my story. No answer. I try calling the court house to get a copy of the appeal that had been filed there. The court house is closed. My boss tells me if I have anything for tomorrow to go into the network and update the budget.

I feel like I want to hurl.

"It's okay, Talia," I tell myself. "Just. Breathe. Everything will be fine."

I close my eyes and take a moment to center myself and pray. I block out all of the distractions. I exhale.

Then, the phone rings.

It's a source, returning my call. I got the court case faxed over to me and spoke to the other people I'd been waiting to hear from. I schedule an informational appointment with a major player in my new area and research the clips to prep myself on a meeting I'm covering tomorrow. I push the inherited files to the corner of my desk, giving myself some room to breathe and work. I put up some things to make me comfortable in the new space.

A few inspirational quotes. My purple paint swatch. A button from my alma mater.

Then, I pulled out my pretzels, opened a blank document and wrote my dateline.

It was time to get to work.

Posted by T Dot at 7:42 PM | link

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