Soaking it all in… and up

Sacramento Bee

I’m at a local coffee shop. Well – it’s past 6p so maybe now it’s a bar? It’s confusing for a little clinical professor like myself who spends 95% of her days surrounded by four kids at home, 125 kids on campus and endless miles of rolling Palouse hills. We have a handful of happy-hour-worthy bars in Pullman that we frequent maybe once-monthly. The concept of a coffee shop that also serves beer and wine is quite foreign to this sheltered version of myself. Being back in Sacramento reminds me of how vast our world truly is.

Someone just ordered breakfast potatoes. Why? I have no idea.

I am at The Old Soul at Weatherstone on 21st and H in midtown Sacramento. I was not a frequenter of coffee joints back in my agency days of the 90’s so if this place existed, I wouldn’t have even known. The ambiance is mellow, people are friendly and it is oddly packed at this hour on a Tuesday night. Not with night-lifers or groups of shop-talking co-workers – but instead people like me hunched over laptops, iced coffees and fancy salads.

I need to grade. I still have two weeks left of my three online classes. Students are patient – but only to a point. And yet I find myself full of reflection instead of motivation; exhaustion mixed with nostalgia. On Thursday I have lunch with my first boss from the agency. On Friday a mini reunion will take place over happy hour – bringing my agency cohorts back together after more than 20 years. Surreal.

I entered this coffee-bar after schlepping 8 blocks in wedge sandals from the Bee offices – complete with trickles of sweat from the 101 temps and ready for a cold glass of a regional sav-blanc. I now sit at the bar content to be among the locals and happy to take a breath and reflect. Such a long intro. Have I learned nothing about leads from my guest environment?!

After two standard workdays in a newsroom – here is what I know…

  • These people work hard
  • These people care
  • These people have integrity

And then there’s the stuff like protocols, processes, priorities and politics. Blah blah blah. Same stuff, different font.

At CSU Sacramento my original major was journalism. Broadcast journalism to be specific. Yes I wanted to be the next Katie Couric. But alas, the Communications Department cut the broadcast area of emphasis and I had to adjust.  I chose “organizational communications” because it was more generic, versatile and seemed a bit more well-suited for my true ambitions. I admit I feared that the broadcast path would only lead to me doing the weather in Wichita, KS (not that there’s anything wrong with that). So basically I never worked as a journalist – only as a PR practitioner, marketer, business-developer.

For the next two weeks I am set up in a cubicle in the middle of the newsroom – surrounded by editors at all levels, reporters, interns, photographers, videographers, digital team members and administrative staff. The operations run like many organizations – staff meetings, deadlines, human resource tasks and politics. I sat in an all-employee meeting today that was informative and provided a broad-stroke view of operations and priorities. I am meeting with and scheduled to meet with folks from the digital team, advertising, marketing and brand, reporters, editors and executive leadership. 

Today I had lunch with LG, head of digital. An hour later I met with LK, 30-year veteran and writer of all things education. I like it. Immersion education is the best way to learn. After 20+ years in the field – forget conferences and workshops. Give me a Steno pad, pen, surface to stand or sit and a veteran trooper of their industry and I’ll be your sponge. I have learned, consumed more data, observation, experience and info in my last 15+ hours of on-site engagement than I learned in my entire 3+ years at Sac State. Awesome. 8 working days yet to experience and I’ll be soaking it in and up every minute.

So many notes. Now it is time to organize them and prepare for tomorrow — four meetings with individuals running the gamut of focus areas. So much to ask. So important to listen. So much to learn.

Ok fine, I’ll grade. Love my students. I really do. Just making some room for more. Never stop learning. Never.

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