“A five day a week column? Aren’t you building unrealistic expectations?” Yet here we are three months later and—with the exception of two sick days—I’ve managed to crank out insights on the world we live in five days a week for however long it’s been.
First Cuppa Coffee always was an experiment. Professionally, ‘Cuppa’ was an exploration into what a ‘three dot’ daily news round up might look like. Personally, I wanted to overcome my fears about writing under deadline, everyday. Mostly I wanted to stay sane. This was about giving my life a purpose while I sorted out some very heavy duty things.
You see, I’ve been living with a ticking time bomb called cancer. I went through the agonies of chemotherapy (four rounds) and seven weeks of daily radiation therapy. The tumor in my larynx shrank and shrank and shrank until we all thought it had gone away. But then I had to do The Wait…seven weeks of wondering IF.
A PET scan detailed that Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda wasn’t enough. The cancer was coming back. My situation wasn’t life threatening, but it certainly was going to be Life Changing.
This morning I’ll be wheeled into an operating room at UCSD’s Thorton Hospital and Dr. Weisman’s team will proceed to deconstruct my throat over seven hours while they chop out the cancer. The good news is the cancer hasn’t spread. The bad news is that I’m doomed to living without a normal speaking voice. (Actually, my voice quit a couple of weeks ago.)
I am not writing this to make you sad. This is a story of redemption. I’ve got a couple of weeks in the hospital and an uncertain period of bed rest to follow my operation. But, when I’m done with all that, I know how to tap found the writer’s fire inside of me at will. That fire has always been there; I was storming the Bastille, so to speak, forty years ago right here in San Diego. But, y’know, life happens. I had a career. I got to see a lot of this very interesting planet. And I met my wife, which would have never happened if I’d stayed in one place.
My family and friends have been wonderful throughout this whole ordeal; I couldn’t have done this without, in particular, my wife and daughter. Being sick has made me appreciate how precious our relationships have become.
Beyond that, I’m coming out of this with a determination to wield my mighty keyboard against the forces of darkness in this world. So let there be no doubt that I’ll be back. As I’m in the hospital, a long time dream of mine (and others!) is coming to fruition. The OB Rag is giving birth to the San Diego Free Press, a place on the web where the progressives in all the communities of our fair city can find their voice. I’ll be working on both projects as soon as possible.
My old friend Denny Doyle, back in the days when we were running with the print version of the OB Rag, invited me to speak to students at the OB Free School about the future of journalism. When we re-connected last year, after decades of pursuing other dreams, he told me that the thing that surprised him the most about the talk that I gave was that I started out by telling the students that newspapers and that kind of journalism were dead.
I’d forgotten the talk. But it sure is nice to know that you were right so long ago that you had time to forget it and still be right. As I’ve told virtually every writer that’s found a home at the OB Rag over the past three years, those of us that are participating in this grand new experiment in story telling will be the ones asked to sit at the table when the dust settles as journalism re-invents itself. Those that pine for what once was will have no cheese to go with their whine.
So I’ll see you in a few weeks. Will First Cuppa Coffee return? No. It was an experiment. But there may be other columns. We’ll be using the lessons learned in creating Cuppa to add value and impact to projects at both the San Diego Free Press and the O.B. Rag. Until then, have a great spring. May the force be with you.