By Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey
I have long pointed to my relative youth as a main pillar of my identity.
My residency in a retirement town and Boomer-dominated county has long made me feel like a shiny little unicorn. I’ve grown accustomed to shocking people when I arrive at events in a professional capacity, capable of passing for one of the high school students I coach. It also helps that I work at this newspaper beside two guys who are, despite their denial, Over The Hill — and old, crusty souls to boot. Each of these elements has contributed to my vision of myself: female, writer, dog mom, youthful.
However, I think my latest milestone puts me too far from “youth” on paper to make it a claim to fame any longer. I turned 26 last week, and the occasion has me reflecting on what it means to be on the downhill side of my 20s.
The universe stacked its odds against the probability of what most would consider a “good birthday” by dropping the date on a Wednesday: Deadline Day, or as we know it here at the Reader, the weekday anything and everything can — and will — happen just before all 24 pages need to be buttoned up and ready for printing.
As my husband left for work that morning, he gave me a hug and wished me a happy birthday. Just before he shut the door, he added: “Sorry that it’s a Wednesday.” By now, the people in my life are well trained to give me a wide berth — and an extra word of encouragement — on Hump Day.
What’s more, a contentious land use hearing also happened that day, requiring a deadline news story. I guessed it would last at least four hours. It lasted a little longer than that.
Still, by all accounts, it was a wonderful birthday. I felt celebrated all week long thanks to kind messages, sporadic gifts and a weekend birthday party. Plus, the work I had to show for all that time spent at my computer prior to deadline was a nice reminder that I’ve been busy the past eight-plus years of adulthood learning how to be a better and better reporter who can handle things like long, important meetings on deadline with minimal bitching and moaning.
When the 4.5-hour hearing came up during conversation at my birthday party, my 8-year-old nephew (who has apparently been alive for as long as I’ve been an adult?) was shocked to learn that I spent my birthday watching, taking notes and writing a 1,000-word retelling of the hearing’s testimony and result.
“It wasn’t all bad,” I assured him. “Someone’s got to watch it and write about it so that everyone can read about it the next day. That way they spend five minutes getting informed instead of half the day watching the meeting.”
In the back of our minds, all of us salty reporters know the importance of our jobs. Still, I surprised myself with the simple summation. I’m lucky to do what I do, and part of why I feel that way are the countless community members who read the Reader and thank me for my work each week. I know you guys don’t want to watch a long meeting, so let’s all thank Publisher Ben Olson for paying me to do it for you.
Here’s to our readers, here’s to my inner circle and here’s to 26 — 52 more Wednesdays and countless more stories. It’s a good life.
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