It’s been a hard week. Colleagues who did good journalism around me losing their jobs, and the business I love coming unglued.
We call it “the daily miracle,” somewhat sarcastically, because you see the chaos that sometimes sets in, around 6 in the evening, the false starts and confused discussions, the arguments over what are the good decisions and what are the bad ones, the frenzy of a hundred people trying to make sense of the day. And then, at dawn the next day, I pad out to the driveway, and there it is, wrapped in a plastic bag or girdled with that rubber band, all those people ready to engage in a conversation with me about what they learned.
For more mornings that can be counted over the last nearly two decades that I’ve lived in Albuquerque, the conversation began with Belshaw. It’s been an odd sort of three-part conversation, because Jim and I are good friends, so the conversation sometimes happens over lunch, or the phone, or the endless emails that Jim shoots out beginning at 5 am as he’s cruising the Internet.
Today, the paper published Jim’s last conversation with Journal readers. Because my other conversations with him will continue (there was a 5 am email from Jim today, an interesting New York Times story about Ubuntu – Jim has voraciously eclectic tastes, and knows his audience well), my sadness is mitigated. I get my own personalized Belshaw.
But Jim embodied the conversation.
When I first came to the Albuquerque Journal, as a young journalistic pup imagining my future, I fantasized that I would one day have Jim’s job. It took me a long time spent trying to master my craft to realize that I could not do that job – that while I have the journalist’s conceit that I have something to offer, the personal conversation of Jim’s thrown on my driveway flows from a special gift (or, more accurately, a well-honed skill – nothing like that comes easy) that I do not have.
But I do hope that I can find a way to write usefully about swamp coolers. That is still my dream.