On the road…

Editor’s note: The following appeared first in the Idaho Business Review.
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“…I shall be telling this with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence,
Two roads diverged in a wood and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
— Robert Frost, from the poem“Two Roads Diverged in a Yellow Wood”

Have you noticed how much good news there is lately? I have. At first, I was a little ticked off, I mean, hey, who thought of this good news thing anyway?

But it’s all good. Seriously. That “glimmer of hope” has, according to many economic experts turned the proverbial corner and become a full-blown beam. In nearly every corner we’re seeing indicators that, whew!, it’s all going to be all right. Those economy experts can look at their measures — the stock market, retail spending, home sales. But I have my own yardstick and it’s measuring more inches in the daily newspapers devoted to good news. Turn on the TV and you’ll notice the first thing out of Brian Williams mouth these days is not a sober an apologetic: “More bad news concerning our economy today….” More likely, Brian will look at you with that crooked smile and a half-raised brow and you’ll hear something like: “There’s been another drop in the good-news-for-our-economy bucket today….”

That swell of good cheer is catching, too. I’ve noticed people smiling and more relaxed. They may be eating out less or pulling out coupons but at least they’re not worried about their next meal.

Even the non-profits are breathing a small but palpable sigh of relief: turns out, people are giving. They may not be giving as much or as often, but, if a recent fundraiser I attended for TVCTV is any indication, that giving spirit is at least enough to get said fundraiser into the black. (Yes, that was unemployed me, jumping up with the winning bid of $160 for a cheesecake. And yes, I had had a glass of wine or two, but seriously, it was the most beautiful and delicious cheesecake ever, worth every cent!)

And that brings me to the crux of our recent spate of good news items. It seems that nearly everyone is giddy about good news, happy that the tide is turning — except for folks like me: the unemployed. And there are lots of us. According to the May 8, 2009 Bureau of Labor, the most recent figures peg the national unemployment rate at 8.9 percent; since December 2007, 5.7 million (!) jobs have been lost. In Idaho, unemployment for April was 7 percent.

It’s a hard row to hoe, as they say. For me, an unemployed journalist who never got a college degree, it’s rather daunting. And there are certainly others like me who, for one reason or another, are considering a career change. But, what to do?

That’s why I’m hitting the road. Literally.

I’m packing myself and my dog, Payton, into the car and heading east. I guess it’s kind of like a going-to-the-mountain journey, or sojourn as my husband Bob is calling it. (He decided the word is a combination of soul + journey and that sounds about right.)

I am planning on continuing my quest for good news and will be reporting as a true roving reporter. Read my blog as I drive through Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, then Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas. My goal: Pittsburg, Kansas. That’s where I grew up and, I dunno, blame it on Facebook, but I had a dream and in that dream I had a revelation, an epiphany, if you will. And I was in Pittsburg.

Jeanne: I had a dream last night. I feel like I HAVE to go to Pittsburg.
Bob: Pittsburgh?! You HAVE to go to Pittsburgh???
Jeanne: If I don’t go now, I may never go.
Bob: But… Pittsburgh??
Jeanne: Yes, Pittsburg. Pittsburg, Kansas, where I grew up.
Bob: Oh, Pittsburg. I thought you meant Pittsburgh.

Anyway, like I said, I will be blogging and writing columns on the road. It’ll be fun, I know I’ll meet some great people, have a few adventures and maybe, when I get back, I’ll know who I want to be when I grow up.

And about that Robert Frost poem…

Jeanne Huff currently blogs at boisegoodnews.wordpress.com. She has been a writer and editor with the daily newspaper industry, most recently working at the Idaho Statesman. Send e-mail to her at jeannehuff@gmail.com.

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