Staying one step ahead of chaos

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By Carolyn Ten Broeck, Editor

In the weekly newspaper business there are certain times of the year reporters and editors dread more than others. The end of the school year is such a time.

There are so many activities going on simultaneously, especially in smaller towns with multiple schools, that even when newspapers had larger staffs, it was difficult to keep up with everything.

Imagine what I go through here in Williston.

Thankfully, there are educators and freelance writers who contribute what they can, but for me – the lone journalist in town – it can be overwhelming.

So imagine if you will the end of the school year combined with a deadline for our FYI magazine, the Pioneer's anniversary celebration, the city hall open house, the Chamber's Starving Artists' Showcase and my daughter and her family visiting for four days.

And did I mention that in the middle of all that our Williston Red Devils won the state championship?

For six consecutive weeks I didn't know which end was up as I juggled everything, prioritized and somehow managed to spend time at home doing chores and taking care of my husband.

Steve Quinata says he just doesn't understand how I can keep track of everything.

You know what, Steve, sometimes I don't.

There's always a lost email, a forgotten phone call, a misplaced news item, a misspelled name. And that's just with the newspaper.

At home, I forget to pay a bill, favor cereal and peanut butter sandwiches over cooking nutritious meals, neglect throwing away the leftovers in the fridge for weeks and missing a loved one's birthday.

I've even been known to buy a gift, wrap it for mailing, put it in my car and then leave it there for weeks because I can't be bothered to go by the post office.

Not too long ago I found a stamped card in my trunk addressed to my goddaughter. I opened it up and it was a graduation card, complete with a check.

She graduated in 2008.

And if I actually balanced my checkbook, I might have figured out something was awry before 10 years had lapsed.

For all these reasons, I always dread when someone, anyone asks, "How's it going?" or "How are you doing?"

Do they really want the truth? Or do they want me to smile, nod and answer, "Fine, thanks. And you?"

I never really know which direction to take.

However last week, I'd been playing nice all morning despite wanting to do otherwise.

So when Danny Wallace stopped by the Chamber office and asked, "How are you?" I told the truth.

"Burning the candle at both ends," I answered, "and you know what happens when you do that."

Do you? Really?

Logic says the wick will meet in the middle and eventually extinguish itself.

But what if it doesn't?

What if the candle just melts into a big puddle, spreads to the outer fringes and the heat from it touches something close by and it combusts again into a flame bigger and brighter than the wick itself?

I'll let you know in a few weeks.