How Long Does it Take?

The other day, a gentleman of my acquaintance here in Cook County, after telling me that he enjoys reading The Long Way Home columns, asked me how long it takes me to put them together I thought for a minute, calculating the writing and editing time, and said it takes a couple of hours.

I confess that my reply to his inquiry was inaccurate. Each of these weekly misadventures has taken 68 years to write.

I am rarely at a loss for a topic. In fact, I usually have too many rumbling around in my head. Paying attention to community, family, and friends offers a treasure trove of trivial and not-so-trivial ranting opportunities.

During the week leading up to the deadline, I begin to flesh them out while walking the dogs, driving to town, or laboring on outside maintenance. In fact, some of my best writing is done at these times. Sadly, lacking the ability and foresight to record this writing and my feeble recall abilities, my best writing is lost to posterity. Any suggestions for me?

At the end of January this year the first The Long Way Home was published. It began with this statement:

“My corporate overlord here at the Northshore Journal, Christine, has consented to publish a weekly column from me, The Long Way Home. I sold the idea to her this way. “I'm thinking of using a column to put out some smaller stories from here (Cook County). Maybe a cranky rant or two about the weather, or fishing, or spouses, or local politics, or?”

“Bring it on,” she said.”

It is such great fun for me to do this work and the feedback has been amazing, and a tad frightening. Although one former reader pronounced me too uneducated and too unworldly to be granted space in this community newspaper to spew my bile, most of the feedback I get is positive. I’m not sure that’s all a good thing. Christine seems to approve of the feedback, but I’m afraid it creates unrealistic expectations. I hate the thought of disappointing her, and those who have complimented me.

Although I try to appear humble, like everyone I have an ego to contend with. Unlike Mac Davis, I do know what egotistical means, and it has nothing to do with skin-tight blue jeans. That reference is from “It’s Hard to be Humble,” released by Mac Davis almost 50 years ago.

So the positive strokes that come my way cause those smoldering fires of my ego to flare up, making me nearly unbearable to the Bohunk. They also create anxiety about what to write next that will keep those good folks liking me. And the contra feeling that I always stressed with my kids is that being liked is at the bottom of every list of what I should be concerned about.

So this marks eight months on The Long Way Home and I hope there are many more.

This date also marks the four-year anniversary of my trekking to the Mayo Clinic for what ended up as a 12-hour surgery, followed by a few more and a lengthy recovery. On this day four years ago I went to the open house at our local fire hall to see some friends and drove the long way home to get a last look at the fall colors. It was far from clear if I’d make it home to see them the next year. Since I did, I appreciate every day, taking nothing for granted.

Thanks for sticking with me