Today marks my first day back in a place I left a decade ago. Just looking at that sentence causes me to pause in both amazement and disbelief.
Today is my first day back as a ‘full blown’ Staff Reporter for the Oakdale Leader, Escalon Times and Riverbank News. During the past 10 years I’ve been fortunate to stay employed here in varying capacities. Through it all this column has maintained a presence, irregular at times, but a presence all the same.
During that decade of time I continued feature writing and maintained the Living section until three years ago when demands of my role as Circulation Manager made it a bit tough to do both. I love writing. I love meeting people, hearing stories and being trusted to put them in print.
This time around, however, it’s well, just a bit different.
When I learned of my predecessor Dawn Henley’s decision to leave the position, it truly felt full circle in many ways. Earning a spot in the ‘Newsroom’ of our publications does not often present itself. It’s a good gig, if being honest. Not to mention the ‘beats’ are minimal, so for an opening to arise in a spot one might feel they ‘fit’ is equally rare.
Dawn Henley replaced me at this desk in the Fall of 2004, just months after I gave birth to my first child. I had not even wrapped my mind around the time which had passed until reading her final column. Coincidentally, it published just days after my son turned 10. How could that be? It happens. Life happens, time passes … we blink.
As a community member and mother of young children I love what our community paper offers. I’m proud to be a staff member of a publication, which focuses solely on local events and news. We don’t always get it right and we don’t always make everyone happy. That’s what distinguishes a newspaper from a newsletter. Warm and fuzzy are the fun assignments, true news however is what stretches us. It reminds us of what we have an unbiased responsibility to do.
Admittedly, I’m rusty but this is what I love to do. I’m grateful to be back in this place which was cared for and covered by one as professional and thorough as Henley. I will not fill her shoes. Our feet are different sizes and so too are our styles. I have little doubt however that with the guidance and support of this staff and friend/Editor Marg Jackson I will rise to the occasion and do it well.
So here I sit, back in the Newsroom. My earplugs firmly in place, a little John Mayer piped in, as I face the deadlines once again. It’s exciting and even a bit overwhelming.
I’m far from the same person who left this desk a decade ago. My two children now attend one of the four elementary schools in the Oakdale Joint Unified School District. Many of my friends are local educators and administrators. And the ‘mommies’ – oh yes, the pool of mommies which I am now privy to should make this interesting. This will be a challenge (a fun one), but a challenge all the same.
So, here I come. Once again ready to earn the title as ‘the lady from the paper.’ I’m excited to get reacquainted with the handful who may remember me from … back when. It will be nice to chat once again in a work role and not just at the market or on the pool deck. I look forward to opening my e-mail to see what pictures I ‘must get’ or events that are soon to come.
It’s good to be home.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.