Cleaning Up My Act In The “Newsroom”

by Kevin Burton

   For some reason, the mere act of moving a piece of furniture into my office has jump started my inner neat freak.

   My long-somnolent, even comatose neat freak. 

   There was a mini entertainment center we had in the master bedroom.  My wife said it was broken down and with a gleam in her eye, imagined a perfect new place for it, next to the curb by the green trash barrel. 

   This of course, sent me into deep thought. I pondered, I paced. I intervened.

   In fact, only the door on the bottom right part of the furniture piece is broken beyond reasonable expectation of repair. And the way it fits into my office I wouldn’t want a door on that part of it anyway.

   This is all part of our trying to make the best use of furniture we have gotten as a result of first my mother, then Jeannette’s mother, downsizing. Things they could no longer use went to secondhand stores and the trash, but also to five different households including ours. 

   There was a long card table in that space by the door to my office. Now I have shelving with seven compartments, not to mention the top surface of it.  Suddenly there was a place for every project and its accompanying paperwork.

   With the dawning of order into my office universe came healing, like a warm spring day after a biting cold winter.  It was magic. Within half an hour tops, I had all the paper piles off the floor.  There is still a box of miscellany, but I am filing those things one by one. 

   My wife witnessed this transformation, as a not-so-impartial observer.  One piece of furniture moves one door down, just a few feet really, and a renascence has begun.

   “Your office looks good,” Jeannette said. “I would have put it in there a long time ago if I had known you would do that.”   

    The office had gotten a little worse than I realized. Before, I had to tell Jeannette exactly where to introduce a new element to the room, because if you just casually brought something in, say a note, or receipt, it could easily get lost.

   I sort of thought I was kidding by saying that, but no. Last Friday I found a bill which was lost. It was something we have on automatic payments so it wasn’t a problem.

   What else did I find in the box of miscellany?

   I found two little notes with scrawled names of football players to consider getting for fantasy football – which ended about ten weeks ago. I found a note to buy earl gray tea for my mother.

   I found bits of song lyrics, insurance papers, blog ideas. It was kind of a toss salad of good intentions never brought to fruition.

   Jeannette thinks there is another reason for the sudden cleanup on aisle Kev.

   “I know what you’re doing,” she said, “you’re trying to make this into a real newsroom.”

   She said I should get a bell for the shelving and when she brought something in for me, mail my latest to-do list, whatever, she could hit the bell and call out “copy desk!”

   Well it just so happens a working bell was one of the smaller treasures I got from my mother last summer. Now it is in place.

   My life’s dream was to be a newspaper reporter.  God blessed me in allowing that dream to come true. But it took some time. It took several waves of emotional wrestling beyond the difficulties in finding any job.

   It’s hard to express how good it felt to be a part of an actual newsroom.  On my first day at The Frontiersman in Wasilla, Alaska, the staff was still moving desks and chairs around, deciding who got what.  The education reporter had a particular chair she wanted.   I had to switch but I didn’t care.

   “Hey I’m just happy to have any chair,” I said.

   Nobody told me how to answer the phone. When the first call came, it just came out, “Newsroom, this is Kevin.”

   I guess nobody else answered the phone that way.  After I got established and people got to know me a little bit, some of my sources started calling me “newsroom.” 

   I loved it though, still do.

   I hadn’t thought of making the office into a full-fledged newsroom. To do that I will need to do more than add furniture, I will have to add news, news jobs beyond reporting on a blog. We will have to see what God allows.

   But there is momentum behind the cleanup. The man cave space is larger and will take more time to wrestle down. But there is progress. We may stumble into a sharp-looking place yet. 

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