When it rains, it pours, or so the saying goes, and it rained in Cambria this past month – not a drought-buster, to be sure, but still a summer oddity featuring flashes of lightning, crashes of thunder and an unseasonable dose of moisture courtesy of Tropical Storm Dolores.
As my wife likes to say – quoting from “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” – “Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.”
Life can go drifting merrily along on a leisurely raft trip down the river of time, scarcely deviating from its course, for long stretches. Then, suddenly ... Bam! You hit the rapids without warning and you’re in for the ride of your life. It can be frightening and exhilarating at the same time.
This summer has been like that. It’s as though there’s something in the air, more than lightning and thunder. Whales may not be an unusual sight along the North Coast, but they are to me. I’ve been on whale-watching (correction: whale-wishing) trips before that have been about as successful as panning for gold in the Sahara. Spending two hours staring at the horizon on a boat that’s bobbing up and down as the sea churns in time with my stomach isn’t my idea of a good time. But this summer, I caught sight of the migrating beasts without ever leaving the sanctuary of solid ground. They were pretty far out there, but I saw them, nonetheless, and it felt like a triumph.
Other change is in the air, as well. On the day this column’s published, I’ll be in Fresno at the launch party for my book “Fresno Growing Up,” a look at my hometown in the postwar era. (Thankfully, I’m not being launched on a boat to look for whales this time.) The entire process has been almost surreal. Already, I’ve done a radio interview and a newspaper interview; this week, I’m on another radio station and two TV shows.
The irony of all this is that I used the skills I learned as a journalist in writing this book, and now here I am on the other end of the interview process. Now I know what it feels like to come up with answers to the kind of questions I’m usually asking. And to cap it all off, the newspaper interview was conducted by phone from the newsroom where I once worked: I could picture the writer asking questions from a cubicle a few strides across the room from the place where I wrote headlines for 14 years. As I said: surreal.
In the midst of all this, we’re getting ready to move The Cambrian’s offices from the site where they’ve been ensconced for the past 23 years. I’ve been here less than a year myself, so it’s not as big an upheaval as it might have been for my predecessor, Bert, but there’s a lot of history in this building, and it’s hard to leave. One of the attractions about working here is the fact that it’s not your typical office; it’s a house that’s been converted into one, with all the charm and character of an actual home. I’ve always fancied the idea of working from home (my author alter-ego does exactly that), and this place has provided me with the next-best thing.
The good news is that the location we’re moving to – just up the road on Main Street – is another comfy old house. But if anything, it’s better. It’s just been renovated from top to bottom so it looks brand, spanking new while retaining a feeling of history. It’s not quite as old as the place we’re leaving, but it’s got some nifty perks: it’s more compact, more accessible … and it’s got skylights. How cool is that? The building has natural light streaming in from the ceiling, providing the kind of open, airy feel that I suspect will make producing a newspaper even more fun. It’s certainly a far cry from the generic, cookie-cutter office spaces to which most newsrooms are confined.
Drop by and say “hello” to us in our new location once we’re settled in. It will be a good excuse to get acquainted — or reacquainted, as the case may be.
Yes, strange things may be afoot at the Circle K. (Don’t worry: I’m not aware of any chain convenience stores that want to horn in on Cambria’s locally owned ambiance.) But strange can be good. And in this case, it most definitely is.