Is there life after newspapering?

The question I am getting a lot now is, “What next?” The simple answer is I don’t know and I’m not in any hurry to decide. After 18 years on deadline, I’m ready for a little time off. Newspaper publishing is a very intense lifestyle and I definitely will need some time to decompress.

On the other hand, at age 56, I’m not quite ready for the scrap heap. We will keep the Clarion Copy Center open and hope to expand our job printing and graphic design business. I will also continue to be active in the Big Box War, which for the last year has sometimes seemed like a full-time job in itself. In the longer term there are a number of possibilities I will be considering. Here (in no particular order) are the Top Ten:

1.The Law: In the last year I have used my legal training more than I have since I retired from the practice of law 20 years ago. I suppose I could dust off my law degree and try to actually get paid for my legal advice. The only problem is that the people I would want to represent (citizen’s groups and hellraisers) don’t usually have much money!

2. Politics: Public service continues to interest me. I recently accepted the position as recording secretary of the Livingston County Highway Safety Board, and I hope to help that body become more pro-active. Next year there will be another election in the village. Perhaps I will run a rematch for village trustee against Bill Lofquist and Bob Wilcox. Barring another blizzard on election day, I might have a chance next time!

3. Writing: I will of course continue to write: letters to my local editor, an online blog (check out clarioncall.com), Volume 2 of the Best of the Clarion Call, or perhaps I will finally publish my first novel and go out on a national book tour.

4. Travel: For the past 18 years I have spent almost every Tuesday chained to my desk. My children have seen more of the world on school trips than I have, which is a situation I hope to remedy before I am too old to enjoy it. Perhaps I’ll start with a visit to my cousin Ambassador Stuart Symington in beautiful Djibouti!

5. Music: I spent a good part of my early life playing drums in a rock and roll band. I can also play a little rhythm guitar and always wanted to learn bass. I have been threatening for years to get the band back together and head out on the road. Anyone need a drummer?

6. Sports: This is one area where I definitely don’t intend to cut back. Basketball four times a week and tennis in between is my prescription for mental health. In fact, I began construction of my own clay tennis court last fall so that I can extend my tennis career. Look for the Big House Tennis Academy to open sometime next summer. Reserve your private lessons now. (No I am not joking!)

7. Hospitality: Speaking of the Big House, I have to figure some way to pay the taxes and the upkeep on my historic home, Hartford House. One possibility is to rent out the grounds for weddings and other functions. I’m not comfortable with using the house itself, except for the occasional charitable event, but I do have 75 acres of gorgeous views.

8. Get a real job: For most of my adult life I have been on my own. As a farmer, a lawyer, a small retailer and a publisher, I’ve always been my own boss. It may be too late to change that now, but if you see a fit, make me an offer!

9. Volunteer: One positive result of getting out of the newspaper rat race is that I will be able to do more volunteer work. I’ve enjoyed my service as an ambulance driver and will probably pick up another shift or two.

10. The Unexpected: What seems most likely, is that something that is not even on this list will turn out to be my next passion. The whole point of taking time off is to be sure that whatever I end up doing is something that I really want to do. Life is too short for anything else.

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