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Lou Pickney's Online Commentary

Sleeping Satellites

Tuesday
November 5, 2013

"Well they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar
And say, man, what are you doing here?"
-Billy Joel "The Pianoman"

"But I'm a million different people from one day to the next"
-The Verve "Bittersweet Symphony"

"I'm gonna hit the road, adios my friend
Go some place and start all over again"
-Allman Brothers "No One To Run With"

That's right, I went triple dropquote on you. But I haven't written on here in way too long, so you'll have to excuse the backlog. Particularly since you don't get a say in the matter.

A few months ago, several of my co-workers landed jobs elsewhere in a rather short amount of time. And pretty much every one of them approached me privately and gave me the "What are you still doing here?" talk. It's a flattering thing to hear, though like I learned in 2002, jumping to a larger market doesn't necessarily mean a better opportunity. At all.

The interesting thing to me is that I've now been at WSAZ longer in my second tenure with the station than I was in my original run here. It doesn't feel that way, in part because I've been as emotionally detached as I possibly could be since my return for everything outside of my job.

Part of me still feels like I'm in the opening of Mad Men, enduring a slow-motion free fall. I relate strongly with the song "No One To Run With" by the Allman Brothers more now than I ever thought I would. My crew is scattered across the country. Most of my friends from Huntington from the first time around are gone, and the ones who are left are in contact on a rather catch-as-catch-can basis.

I'll always appreciate what my friend Velvet did for me when I showed up here 18 months ago in a daze and in dire straits, giving me a place to stay until I could right the ship. But I don't get to see her that often, and as it is she is the exception to the rule as far as how things go with past friends from here. At least I got to hang out with her for her birthday the weekend before last, an all-too-rare treat.

I luckily have many friends at work, both those dating back to the 1999-2001 era and others who I've had the chance to get to know only relatively recently. But most of them don't know who I really am, since the person I am at work is not the person I am outside of the job. It's amusing to me when my façade drops from time to time to see the reactions of people who haven't been around me very much outside of the newsroom.

To be a good television news producer you need to keep a cool, calm demeanor as much as possible, particularly in pressure situations -- and that's something I make every effort to do. But every now and then some sort of provocation will end up flipping me into maniacal loose cannon mode, if only for a moment or two. That's just part of being human, at least for me.

This morning the bad news came down that I won't be able to get the two days before or after Christmas off this year that I had requested. So, for the first time ever, I will not be home for Christmas. That is a bummer, but it's outside of my control. And I'm not sure when I will be back there again. But everyone who goes into the business in which I work knows this sort of thing is a possibility, so don't misconstrue this as me complaining. That's not the case at all.

And, to be sure, it's better for me to be out of Nashville and gainfully employed than living in my hometown and constantly trying to hustle to make ends meet while secretly being held in disdain by those closest to me. That's true even if it means logging into Facebook and seeing my ex-girlfriend post a photo of the house we shared for three years with the comment "On to bigger and better things!!" and seeing that my own mother gave it a like. And you think I'm joking.

Word to the wise: I'm always paying attention, even when I'm feigning being aloof. And I never ever forget. Sometimes that is a curse, but it doesn't make the situation any less real.

Don't get it twisted -- I'm not pining for the past. If anything, I feel like I dodged a bullet. And I've had plenty of fun adventures in my Huntington 2.0 era, as emotionally detached as I might be, even if I'm best served by not writing about most of them on here. That's too bad, as I have some great stories that I simply can't share, at least not now.

But it's been a strange holding pattern in many ways since I don't know what the future holds, even as I have shifted closer to 40 than 30 since returning here. That clock never stops ticking and it only moves in one direction.

I had achieved nearly everything I had ever wanted to do by the time I was 30. At that point, my life turned into something akin to the Pac-Man kill screen -- you make it to the end and... then what? Michelangelo is attributed with this famous quote: "The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark." And as much as I don't think I set my aim too low, that line has stood the test of time for a reason.

One thing I've wanted to do but have never done: visit Seattle. And, if my plans hold up, I should be able to finally do that early next year. Hit Las Vegas for a day or two on the way, hang with my friend Scott for several days up in Seattle, and maybe even cross the border and visit Vancouver -- or, alternately, take a trip south to Portland. Either way it should be fun. Options: I've got them.


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