Half a century.
Eighteen thousand two hundred and fifty days (plus or minus a few).
That’s how old I am now. It’s a milestone I marvel at because, sometimes, I wondered if I would get here. Heck, even my parents worried I would live past my first birthday, thanks to a birth defect requiring closed-heart surgery when I was 11 months old. Luckily, I made it through and, while I’ve been sick -- sometimes ghastly so -- several times in my life, I’ve never faced anything truly life threatening.
There’s always tomorrow, of course. (Just kidding!)
As you read this, I’m actually in the Washington, D.C., area again, spending part of my sons’ Spring Break with my father and celebrated my birthday on Saturday. When I wrote this, I had no idea what my father or anyone else might have planned, and that’s OK. I’m not one of those who needs an incredibly large send-off to my second half-century of life. Dinner and a movie’s fine with me. I know; I’m a cheap date.
So, I’m supposed to talk about what I’ve accomplished in my life so far and what I hope to accomplish in the future. Fair enough, but it’s not like most of you haven’t read this before.
I’m glad I’ve gotten to live the life I’ve led, part of a newspaper and diplomatic legacy. I’ve lived in Kabul, Afghanistan; Guadalajara, Mexico; and Saipan, U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. As a young kid, my father and one of his ex-girlfriends took me and my sister around the country. I was about 5 or 6 years old, but I remember places like the St. Louis Arch, my father putting his foot down briefly on Nebraska soil, a ski resort in Washington State (despite it being the height of summer), Disneyland and the Rocky Mountains. I visited Alaska and Hawaii, as well as London, Paris, Rome, Athens, Cairo, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Manila and Tokyo as a teenager.
My professional life included 14 years in the radio business, starting off with requests and love song dedications from my high school classmates. Thanks to that career, I fell in love with jazz music which, to this day, I still feel is the best musical art form in the world.
I worked as an administrative assistant at several companies after leaving the world of radio. It was at one of those jobs where I met my future wife, which led to adopting my sons -- probably the best thing I’ve ever done in my personal life.
Of course, the last 14 and a half years here at the C-I have been what I consider the best years of my life, getting to do the one thing I love most in the world: write. If my calculations are right (and they’re probably not), I’ve written more than 2,200 news stories and something around 750 columns. I managed to become the editor of this newspaper, something I am quite proud of, being the grandson of a newspaper publisher and editor. And while, as I always say, awards aren’t the goal of our job here at the C-I, I have to admit to also being proud of a few first place wins over the years.
I’m proud of the work I did on stories involving Elizabeth Shoaf, Sampson Parker and Deputy Chris Potter. I’m proud of the work I’ve done to advance the cause of open government in our county, making sure you have the information you need to make informed decisions. And I’m proud of the work our staff does, day-in, day-out to bring you more of the same.
I’m also proud of the relationships I’ve formed with VIPs, our staff, other journalists and many more in the community.
Thankfully, life is not over at 50. There is much more to do, both professionally and personally.
Sticking with the professional for the moment, and as I mentioned not long ago in this space, I have plans for some special projects -- stories which will take time to tell, but will be very worth the telling, in my opinion. I will continue to work to make the C-I a publication you will be proud to call your newspaper.
On the personal side, I’ve mentioned recently my desire to do some traveling again, especially to New Orleans, one of the few great American cities in which I have yet to set foot. I have family in New York and on the West Coast I haven’t seen in years I’d like to catch up with. And I’d love to find a way back to Saipan, just to see all the changes I read about online and catch up with old friends, too.
I’d also like to get into one aspect of writing I gave up after becoming a journalist: fiction. I used to write short stories and worked on few novel-length manuscripts -- mostly science fiction and fantasy, as most of you could guess -- that have long gathered digital dust in my computer files.
Mostly, though, I just want to keep on keepin’ on, as the saying goes. There are parts of my brain which think I’m still in my 20s or 30s. There’s parts of my body which feel like they’re in their 80s. I guess that means 50 is just about right.
Luckily, medicine just keeps on advancing so, if I’m lucky, I hope to see the better side of 80, maybe even 100.
That’s a lot of time to do a lot of writing, traveling and spending time with family and friends. I certainly don’t expect to slow down, at least not yet (not that I’m a fast-livin’ kind of guy, anyway).
All in all, I’m fine with turning 50 even if my sons do keep calling me “ancient.” Ah, just wait, kids. Give yourself another 35 years or so and you’ll see what it’s like.
Pretty nifty, that’s what.