Sunday, November 06, 2011

Tuscaloosa Johnny minus Tuscaloosa

The last few weeks? A whirlwind of emotions…and the miles, oh the miles.

Excuse my prolonged absence from this little blog of mine. I’ve noticed that when major life changes occur, blog posts tend to go by the wayside. (An aside: You write a “blog post” not a “blog.” The “blog” is the place where your “blog posts” go. Every time I see it written otherwise it drives me a bit nuts. OK, back to our regularly scheduled “blog post.”)

The last blog absence longer than this one was when I met and fell in love with my future wife and also started grad school way back in 2006. Those simultaneous occurrences had my mind focused on other things, as is the case now.

The first recent major life change happened in the first week of October when I started my new job at The Decatur Daily. Yes, the former newspaper man who said he wouldn’t return to that dying business is back at work at the dying business. What can I say? It’s been a slower death than expected!

While I am proud that I made it more than six years as a self-employed fellow, the writing has definitely been on the wall for some time. With my own government conspiring against its citizens to prevent us from playing online poker (and by extension preventing us from making a living writing about online poker), as well as some of my other freelance opportunities drying up (I’m looking at you Demand Studios), plus my wife’s desire to be a stay-at-home mom it was time to find a steady paycheck again.

Fortunately, I quickly found this job and have enjoyed my first month at it. The Daily is a slightly smaller paper than my old one, The Tuscaloosa News, and it is a demanding yet rewarding job. I’ve been cranking out the Pulitzer Prize wannabe articles and I think they like me here. The biggest plus is that it puts us closer to our respective families in Cullman County. Visit if you’re bored.

Even before I found this job we had put our house on the market, ostensibly to sell it and hope to find a job if our house sold quickly. Things worked out well on both fronts as we got an offer on the house the first week I was in Decatur. Before that week was over we had reached an agreement. On Oct. 31, as the kiddies went door to door seeking candy, I was driving a U-Haul from Tuscaloosa to Cullman to put our scads of furniture and junk into storage.

And that’s how after 15 years in T-Town I became Tuscaloosa Johnny minus Tuscaloosa.

I had nine good years in that house. It's where I dated and fell in love with my future wife, where we brought our son home from the hospital, where I made the decision to leave the newspaper business in the first place -- and set in motion the events that led to a wife, dog and child. (And since this is a poker blog I will note that it was there that I qualified online to play in the 2006 WSOP main event.)

If you want to read a talented writer muse on leaving his house visit rapideyereality.
Good luck having dry eyes after reading his post.

I’m better at making myself cry. I’m not ashamed to admit that I had a good weep fest before we locked the door on Halloween. Every room full of memories, I told Amy as we hugged and I bawled into her shoulder in the kitchen entranceway. To my left were the stairs where John Harper had recently begun climbing up to the third step so he could flick the landing light on and off repeatedly. Of course, Amy or I had to sit with him just in case he lost his balance so that he would not go tumbling down.

That’s just one.

Many of the memories Brad relates in his post I have yet to experience. I look forward to the days of teaching my son to throw a spiral and the adventures he will have in his pirate ship deck.

Those will happen in our new house.

We’re hitting the hunt hard Monday morning on my day off, and we are already in love with a foreclosure that appears to be in surprisingly good shape. As my realtor in Tuscaloosa told me, “You see a lot of anger in foreclosures” from people upset about losing their homes. This one seems loved and cared for.

Perhaps it will one day be the house where I will watch my son (and any future children) grow up. Perhaps another one we visit tomorrow will be. Right now, I’m commuting an hour each way from my in-law’s house to the Daily, just about burning up the new Coldplay CD on the way.

For now, I’m just Johnny, not Tuscaloosa Johnny, putting in the miles and dreaming about the future.