By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
School Daze
Placeholder Image
It's that time of year again where there aren't enough hours in the day to cover every aspect of my job. This is the time where almost everything I do revolves around what's happening at the schools. Before I can make personal plans or appointments, I have to check my calendar to make sure I don't already have a commitment to covering a school-related function.

A little over a month before school's out, all heck breaks loose. It seems like every school and program has something special going on, usually on the same day and at about the same time. Meanwhile, all the regularly scheduled stuff still needs to be covered, too. Writing my column seems like a ridiculous attempt at coherent writing because my mind is elsewhere - on all these places I have to be, people to interview, photos to do...

Recently my editor asked if I had a story done for a special tab insert in the paper. I had no idea what she was talking about. We later figured out that when that was discussed at our previous staff meeting, I had already left for an appointment at one of the schools. I still had some time to work on the tab story, so I put it on my To Do list. The problem is, I wrote that it was due a week later than the actual deadline. So when that day rolled around, my editor was asking one of my colleagues something about the tab stories and it came up about the deadline. She looked at me incredulously that I hadn't done it yet. I had no idea why she was so concerned...I still had another week to get it in. Or so I thought. Apparently, it was due that day. Well, I managed to get it done and skidded in with it just in time.

For any of you who have to deal with me during times like this, I apologize for my clueless-ness about the topics you're trying to discuss that we've previously talked about. I really, truly have no idea what you're talking about.

Even if I've written something down, it doesn't necessarily mean that will act as a reminder because there are too many things written down. One of my coworkers volunteered to take photos for me at a few places that I'm not able to be this week and she just asked what I had for next week for photos. "I have no idea," I told her honestly. I can only think in small increments of time at this point - as in what's happening today in the next hour or two.

There are a couple of things that I haven't been able to get to for a couple weeks and finally handed them off to another coworker because it was stuff that would work for her beat. For those people who called or e-mailed and haven't heard back from me, someone should be contacting you soon.

I've also had to tell others that I can't get to them for another two to three weeks. I've welcomed certain submissions, but even some of those have been put on the back burner.

Some people may get the impression that I'm being short with them. The fact is, I just don't have time for beating around the bush. And I don't have time to write another story right now. I can admit that my patience is presently a little thin, but I try not to be snotty. The Do Not Disturb button is frequently on at my desk phone now because almost every day feels like deadline.

I have to make choices. I know many of you can identify with that feeling. It's hard but I can only do what I can do - especially when I feel brain-fried. Fortunately, at times my coworkers are available and help me out when they can.

When there's so much to report on for one beat, it also creates an issue of planning what will go in the paper and when. I've had a few different conversations with the editor about how we can juggle photos and articles I'm working on. After all, there is other news that takes place in town that needs to go into the paper. Plus it's a bummer when you bust your tail to get a story done before deadline and then it ends up getting held, or bumped to the next week because there's no room for it.

Pretty soon, school will be out and graduations will be over and then things will go really quiet around here for me. It's chaos and then it's crickets. But that's okay, because I appreciate that bit of slow time. It gives me time to regroup, clear my head, and just exhale. Now that's what I'm talking about.

Dawn M. Henley is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.