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Not yet ready to call it a career

After living for 43 years with incessant newspaper deadlines, the joy of semi-retirement is that I’ve cut back to one deadline a week as my Thursday column resumes today.

For the past two weeks, I indulged in a life without deadlines. If I didn’t get it done one day, there’s always the next. Like Scarlett O’Hara, I’ll think about that tomorrow.

But I couldn’t quite kiss off the newspaper world of ink-stained wretches. Didn’t seem right. I still had things to say, opinions to share, people to needle and people to praise. When I decided to quit laboring on Labor Day (isn’t that perfect timing?), I welcomed the invitation to be the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s once-a-week-on-Thursdays freelance columnist.

Some readers may remember me. I had a general interest column three days a week for 10 years, first wearing purple, then red and now blue.

Before that I was the RJ’s political reporter for 13 years. Transitioning from even-handed political coverage to opinionated columnist wasn’t as easy as anticipated.

I already had 32 years in the news biz before I became a columnist, working first at the Christian Science Monitor in Boston, then the Southwest Times Record in Arkansas, then in Nevada, both for the Reno Gazette-Journal and the RJ. I’ve covered dead bodies, federal court, gaming, the Legislature, politics and most recently Las Vegas City Hall.

When I became the City Hall reporter last February during a newsroom reorganization, I found it even harder to keep my opinions out of my copy, since I had plenty.

Plus, I wondered if Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman would welcome my presence when I had badmouthed her State of the City speech every year she delivered it.

However, she was the gracious lady, returning calls and answering questions without once attempting to throttle me. Nor did she hold against me the columns which had ripped her husband.

I respect her more now than I did eight months ago. She runs a great meeting and is courteous to all, including people I wanted to bop on the head for their long-winded repetitiveness.

But I don’t agree with her on certain issues.

I never understood the mayor’s obsession with passing a bill requiring a receipt be attached to a bagged bottle of booze, especially because police said it wasn’t necessary.

Frankly, I became bored hearing about a downtown stadium I doubt is going to happen.

Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian could and should have halted the jibber jabber on Sept. 3 by voting against giving The Cordish Cos. and Findlay Sports &Entertainment more time to play games and pretend there’s a real chance of Las Vegas getting a Major League Soccer team anytime soon. Optimism is one thing, fantasy is another.

And let’s not even talk about those endless medical marijuana stories.

I was close to Medicare eligibility, but I missed the column. So I decided to retire and write a trashy murder mystery, using all the things I knew but could never prove. Living in Las Vegas since 1976, that covers a wide range of murderous possibilities. In my imagination, anyone who ignored my phone calls is a prospective murder victim.

After two weeks without deadlines, the beneficiaries of retirement so far are my cat and my teeth. The cat resumed huddling with his backside planted next to my laptop, and my dental hygienist should notice that I am actually spending more time on oral hygiene than I often promised. What a delight to linger instead of rush.

If you’re happy I’m back, then thanks. If you’re not, that’s fine too. And if you’re a newbie to my work, I’m sure you’ll share your own opinions with me. Readers always did — some with praise, others with contempt.

Bring it on.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Thursday. Email her at Jane@reviewjournal.com

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