I mailed in my retirement papers Tuesday.
It took me several days to fill them out because I kept putting it off- not because I thought there was a chance of going back into teaching, that is most likely never going to happen- I just have a problem with the word "retirement."
It is not a word that fits what I have been doing. I am putting in as many hours, sometimes more, as I used to as a full-time teacher and a part-time writer. It is just that now the writing is my full time job.
Apparently, many of my readers project their own weaknesses on to me. You've seen the comments. I am a bitter old man. I am obsessed with C. J. Huff and Angie Besendorfer. I am a pornographer because I wrote a book with sex scenes, I am preaching to a choir of former students and teachers. I have deep-seated mental problems and it is quite possible that I have spent the last 36 years of my life deluding myself into thinking I am a journalist.
Don't you just love critics?
For the most part, I am convinced that most of the negative comments on the blog are not coming from supporters of the Joplin R-8 Administration, but from the same people who were ripping into me during the years I was writing about Bruce Speck and the problems at Missouri Southern State University. Some of them have writing styles I recognize from my days at the Carthage Press.
I am not obsessed with C. J. Huff and Angie Besendorfer, though I have heard that the R-8 superintendent may have that problem with me. Through no wish of my own, I have landed the kind of story that reporters dream of- it has greed, corruption, horrendous misuse of taxpayers' money, and activities that are either criminal or border on it. And just like with the Bruce Speck stories, no one has put a dent in any of my reporting. Instead, they criticize me..
Unfortunately, just like with the Bruce Speck stories, I have the field to myself. And this time, there isn't an anonymous Southern Watch. Just like with the MSSU situation, the Joplin Globe has acted as an enabler, forgoing its obligation to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comforted as H. J. Mencken once wrote, in favor of playing footsie with their friends.
And when the curtain finally comes down on the Huff-Besendorfer era in the Joplin R-8 School District, I fully expect the Joplin Globe to write an editorial warning about letting this ever happen again- when the Globe had it in its power to bring this operation to its knees long ago and spare the hundreds of people who lost their jobs.
No, obsession is not my problem. When Huff and Besendorfer are gone, there will be other people who are abusing the people's trust; there will be other issues that interest me.
I am arrogant, aging, and not much to look at, but I like what I do and I have worked hard to reach a point where I am good at it.
So thank you, readers, for putting up with my faults. I wasn't quite ready for the end of my teaching career, but then I wasn't quite ready to end my newspaper career 14 years ago and that worked out well for me.
This will, too. I am doing something that I love doing, writing and reporting, and something that I love nearly as much- ticking off those who badly want to see me fail, but whose lives would lose some meaning if they did not have me to rant and rave about.
Thanks for reading.