Sunday Commentary: A Personal Look This Holiday Season

sleeping-babiesSince July 30, 2006, I have been bringing this community an alternative voice on the news, and commentary on the issues that impact us all.  Over that time, naturally my style and voice have evolved.  Just read some of my early pieces and you will see that

In that time, there have been huge changes in my life.  Read the pieces from December 8, 2009 and September 7, 2011, again realizing that newborn babies suddenly came into my home.  In all of this time, I have missed only one day through unplanned illness..

Let me tell you, however, the story of December 13, 2012.  That is the day I turned 40.  But only two weeks before that, I had to bring my wife into the ER at 11:30 p.m., after a long day where I had only gotten a few hours of sleep the night before.

It turned out she had appendicitis, a diagnosis we found out about at 3 a.m. in the morning.  Each day I get up at 4 a.m. to bring you the Vanguard.  This day, I drove from Sutter-Davis to my office, wrote one piece, and found two guest pieces to use that day.

Two weeks later, my wife was in pain again.  My folks were in town and we were going to go out and celebrate my birthday, then I would come home late and watch the WAC meeting, only one of the most important of the year, on DVR and write a story.

Two nights before, the city council had voted 4-0-1 to direct the WAC to look at the Bartle Wells Rate Structure, not the Loge-Williams one that they had recommended.  I watched the council meeting from my bed, too sick to come to public comment, suffering from a stomach flu that had sent me to the ER a few days before.

It has been a challenging time, but it would get worse on that Thursday night.  Still not feeling well myself, we spent four hours in the ER again, waiting for scan results, and the doctor finally determined it was a secondary infection and gave my wife another round of antibiotics and stronger pain pills for her pain.

I caught a late night dinner with a friend and got two calls on the outcome of the WAC meeting.  So, by this point, I knew what had happened but hadn’t seen any of the three-hour meeting.

It was nearly midnight by the time I got home, and there was no way I could watch the WAC meeting and sleep that night.  As it turns out, between my stomach and my wife’s discomfort with the pain medication, I would hardly sleep either.

So at 4 a.m., I got up, having barely slept, and somehow watched enough of the WAC meeting, taking notes and quotes furiously to churn out a relatively good account of the meeting.

Of course, I did not get to go to sleep.  Instead, I had to get my wife to her appointment to see the surgeon, get my daughter to and from preschool, and have two meetings, one of which was the interview with the No on Measure I folks that I wrote up earlier this week.

The Vanguard has been a six-and-a-half year labor of love – I really enjoy what has become my job.  But at the same time, it involves sacrifices in terms of time and energy, and sometimes leads to headaches.

Over the years, I have learned not only to be able to work long hard hours to bring people the news, but also how to carve out time for my family.

Sometimes, the two collide.  It was once by choice that I got up early, now it is largely of necessity.  I get done most days around 7 or 7:30 a.m., just in time to help Cecilia get the kids ready for school (it’s kind of an exercise in herding cats) and drive them to their various locations.  When it all works well, things are relatively smooth.

Sometimes, however, things go horribly wrong.  I remember a few months ago, a day when I was halfway through my third and final piece.  Mid-sentence I hear my daughter yelling for me from her bed upstairs.

I run up there thinking, I’ll pick her up and hand her off to Cecilia.  Except this time, I can see there is something wrong.  Dried blood on her face and her pillow soaked in it.  Nose bleed, I know immediately.

I bring her to her mother, I try to keep her calm, but she’s smart enough to know there is something wrong.  She won’t let mom clean her face, it has to be Daddy.  So slowly and gingerly I get the dried blood off her nose and face.  She’s screaming.  I have to hold her, calm her down.

Meanwhile, the piece is half-written.  I have lost my train of thought.

Thank God for people like Highbeam, or these pieces would be really difficult to read.  It cracks me up when I don’t have a professional copy editor, I’m relying on a very dedicated volunteer to clean up my mess, I’m running in circles half the time trying to get milk and diapers changed, and yes, I have a big problem with homonyms.  They sound right, they don’t throw off the spellchecker, and bam.

Sometimes when you read and see there is a thought that kind is left hanging, imagine a little girl yelling “Daddy” down the stairs and me, losing my train of thought.

It is what it is.

I spend much of my day tracking down these stories – most of the time, I think we get the news right.  But I need that three to three and a half hours to write it, and sometimes, more and more often lately, I don’t finish by 7:30 and need to do the last piece after 8:30 when the kids are dropped off at school and I can shift to the safety of my office to finish stuff off.

Again, not complaining.  But I wanted to take you through just a bit of a walk in my shoes.

So this next week, I am taking my first real vacation since 2006.  It’s the holidays.  We’ll still have some new pieces up, but the Vanguard will be a bit more limited.

Finally, one more plug, if you are a reader of ours, and you appreciate our work or at least the effort that goes into this, the operating expenses have gone up over the years and I’m hoping for a major upgrade to the site in 2013.  If you can, and I understand if you can’t, but if you can, please help out with a donation.

Thanks and have a happy and safe holiday season.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. highbeam

    Thanks, D…btw, I love the homonyms! I have to resist the impulse to email every one of them to you (need to keep a log so we can have fun reviewing them)! The missing verbs, wrong prepositions are more challenging…the worst is when the content is confusing and I don’t know the topic very well…we do the best we can, and sometimes I have to rush off to Sac…apologies to all, when some error slips past me!

  2. Frankly

    Merry Christmas to all my virtual and not-as-virtual friends from the blog. David’s stories remind me of the challenges many of us face or have faced or will face raising young children while maintaining a career or business. My kids are 23 and 20 and I feel like I am still catching up on all those sleep-deprived years from when they were little. But the pay-backs are numerous and profound… one of them being the opportunity to experience them experiencing Christmas.

    May God and/or nature bless all of you this holiday season with all the peace and joy you deserve… and then some.

  3. Don Shor

    … and just wait for the teenage years!

    My favorite phone call. Remember, we live about fifteen minutes away, in the country. I’m at work.
    “Dad! Sh–! Fire! Sh–! Fire! Sh–! Fire! Sh–! Fire! Sh–! Fire! Sh–! Fire!
    Me, unnaturally calm: “Honey, is there a fire?”
    “Yeah! The trailer’s on fire! Sh–! Fire! Sh–! Fire! Sh–! Fire! Sh–! Fire! “
    Me, still strangely calm: “and did you call the fire department before you called me?”
    “Yeah! They’re on their way!”
    Me: “Good. I’m on my way home.”
    So I drove home at [i]exactly[/i] 55 mph, seeing a plume of smoke in the distance. Nothing uncommon about a plume of smoke in the country, except that this time I knew it was on my property.
    Arrived, fire department there, trailer ‘fully involved’ as they say. Son frantic.
    Nobody hurt, trailer destroyed, firemen very amused by my son.

    Have a great holiday and a good vacation! And thanks to all the posters, and highbeam, and donors, and David’s family, for keeping this place going.

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