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Going clear: June 2015

This isn’t about Scientology, but I love the image primarily because I tend to switch from whisky to gin after Memorial Day. I accidentally appropriated going clear and getting clear as states of being long before I knew it was a religious thing for some people, except that it did ring a bell in the moment of clarity section of experience. By June a lot more than my Martinis were clear. It was clear I was not going to be able to keep working for the newspaper where I’d only been for six months. It was clear that I was more than a little behind on my next book. And, most of all, it was clear I wanted to attend as few graduations as possible over the rest of my life.

I don’t want to work too hard to compare Wicomico and Worcester county schools graduation. I covered Worcester County a lot in my early days as a reporter. Their graduations were no more painful or trite than

pizza
This was one of the first photos I took at the Delmar High School graduation.

are any high school graduation ceremonies. It is not anything against the schools or the graduates, but unless you have skin in the game, graduations are agonizing.

Wicomico County, not content with just having awful graduations also insists on using the opportunity to sell concessions. No you didn’t misread, the county opens the concessions stand and people buy nachos and pizza to eat while they’re watching their kids graduate from high school. As a person who struggles with my weight I feel a little sad for those who really can’t sit through a graduation without snacking as if they were at the roller derby. There’s something desperate about it.

Worse, in a culture where so many of the kids are participating in their last graduation ceremony, it is tough to see that entire families don’t even bother to iron their tee shirts before heading sending their kids off into their arrested post-high school adulthoods. On the upside, I guess, if you’re going to be eating pizza, it’s just as well that you’re not wearing your Sunday best…

Taking chances

One of the more wonderful things that happened was that I started getting even more creative than ever with my headlines. I always liked clever headlines even though they are technically a little irresponsible and vaguely unprofessional. I got to do a lot of pretty much whatever I wanted in the Salisbury Star because it wasn’t much of a money maker and therefore not of particular interest to the company. I took some big chances, including providing one of the most honest pieces of reporting that I’ve done since leaving the Bayside Gazette (where this kind of behavior was often condoned).

The story is here, if you want to read it. Essentially it said that Salisbury was planning a dumb event poorly. It called out the organizers for being cynical and wasting people’s time and energy. The Salisbury Chamber of Commerce pulled its advertising for a month, which is the only reason anyone in the office read it. When the event was cancelled, I took a little pride in the fact. I felt very much like the kid who said the emperor had no clothes.

By the time July rolled around, I was having fun being miserable…

newspaper headline
Not the most clever, but it’s an indicator of what can happen when you’re not afraid to have a little fun.

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