My Boys and My Blessings

My new friend Tom e-mailed me the link to a newspaper column the other day, thinking I would enjoy it.

I did not.

The column was by a sportswriter for the Seattle Times, a very good writer named Jerry Brewer, who wrote about going back to his hometown to be inducted into his high school’s hall of fame. But really, it was not about that so much as it was about the writer counting his blessings for being paid for doing what he loves to do – write about sports.

That was the part where I became morbidly depressed. I mean, do I need to be reminded about people who not only are still employed, but really, really happy about it?

Then the other night, I was minding my own business, laying in bed and waiting for another Sex and the City to begin, when I caught part of the show, My Boys. For those of you who have never watched this show on TBS, it is about a woman sportswriter who covers the Cubs for the Chicago Sun-Times.

It’s not a bad show. I actually really like it, primarily because like most successful shows, it bears little to no resemblance to real life. For instance, the main character, PJ, is dating her competition at the Tribune. This part could maybe happen. And both PJ and Bobby are gorgeous, which I guess, could also possibly happen but if it did, both would surely be searching for bigger game than another baseball beat writer.

Also, PJ and Bobby never work. Instead, from what I can tell, they drink and play poker and get to see all their friends on a nightly basis without ever having the office call and bother them, or missing a flight or even taking a flight.

The other night, they were covering spring training – again with all of their friends. This is the part where I came in and once again became instantly depressed because even a fictional character was gainfully and happily employed as a sportswriter – and why wouldn’t you be with a job where you never have to work, have a gorgeous boyfriend and all your friends with you on every assignment? — and I’m not.

But then last night came around, I played softball, I wrote about playing softball and I was ecstatic. If you read the blog, you will know my mood had little to do with the game. Rather, it had everything to do with writing about it, liking what I wrote and genuinely enjoying the process.

Sometimes, I admit, I wonder what I am doing. I mean, I sit here and write my little column every day like a kid playing office in the basement — “Yes, Mom, I mean Editor Jones, here’s my deadline column.”

 I realize there are many, many – MANY – other bloggers out there doing virtually the same thing – writing every day without being paid. Because I was paid to do it for the last 26 years, forgive me for being slightly conflicted.

But here’s the thing. I used to talk to my friend and former colleague Skip Myslenski about the “writer’s high” you get after finishing a story and feeling good about it. Some of that might have had to do with the cocktails afterward. But there was no mistaking it and I am happy to report the endorphins are still there, paycheck or not.

Writing is still a joy. It is my crutch. It is my passion. If you asked me five weeks ago why I loved my job, I probably would’ve said something about the people I was able to meet and the variety of the work. Jerry Brewer wrote about championing the little guy, about re-connecting with his childhood, about traveling to cool places and covering major events. He mentioned connecting with readers and always wanting to be a sportswriter.

For me that stuff has largely disappeared over the last several weeks. But I have found my voice again and I have, in the absence of editors and real deadlines and a guaranteed audience, been reminded why I did what I did in the first place. And turns out it had nothing to do with covering Super Bowls.

 I love the power of the written word. I love to use it to tell a good story, and I’ll tell it from my basement to three people if I have to. Some day, I may be sitting with my computer on my lap and a tin cup in front of me. But I’ll still be doing what I love.

 And for that, yep, I’ll be counting my blessings.

7 Responses to “My Boys and My Blessings”

  1. Mike

    Well said Missy. You may have lost your job, but God willing, you will never lose your gift. We all get blessings in life. Yours is, and continues to be, the undeniable talent to write and tell great stories.

    Before, I had to look for your stories. Now, I have them pop into my inbox whenever you file them. If I am at my computer, I stop what I am doing and take a few moments to read, savor and enjoy.

    Don’t doubt your ability to touch people with your words. It’s a gift I wish I had.

    Be well my friend

  2. Randy


    My oldest daughter, also a Missy, suffered the same fate as many others in this business on Friday. She’s not actually in “the business,” but close enough — she WAS a communications director for a large Iowa company based on DM.
    I told her I can turn her onto some very good blog reading, written by a friend of mine who STILL SHOULD be in the business, if she ever starts feeling poorly about herself.
    Thanks for your daily updates…


  3. Mark


    Great article.

    Unemployment like a health crisis can be a gift. It provides clarity.

    Real happiness or value is not found in celebrity or money. It is found in honest communication and relationships with people that are real.

    Write what you feel and we will enjoy and learn from it.

    Cheers, Mark

  4. Howard

    And I count my blessings that I’m reading what you’re writing. Don’t ever stop. I promise I’ll drop something in your cup each time I walk by you. Talk to you soon, I hope.

  5. Frank

    Melissa, Yes count your blessings. You just hit a setback, not your fault, the change in the way people read their sports. Keep writing, things are going to change. Sometimes a setback is there to have you fall into a greater good. I believe that. I want you to keep writing because you are good, but in the meantime, I have been hoping one of the local stations might give you a sports show, or do the fill ins when some of the regulars are off. You make a nice appearance, (Channel 11 with J. Callaway) and you explain everything so well. You are better than a fill in, but to get started. You also have a big following. I know this is really tough, but maybe start your own sports magazine for Chicago Sports.
    I would subscribe right away.
    Hang in there. It’s not over.


  6. Yvette

    Melissa: I have been reading and following your columns since you began in sports and covering the early days of the Bulls…I really got into basketball & sports at that time as I was a true “girl” of the 60’s…always trying to figure out how to get out of gym…! But once I started reading you…I not only got hooked but truly began to understand “how” the game was played. But you & your writing style touched a very special place in my heart when you wrote your articles on your parents’ fight with Alzheimer’s. I am also a child whose parents suffered (my mom still does)…I wrote to you and you actually answered! I was thrilled and impressed that you would have time for me. And so…now with your blog…every a.m., it is my cup of coffee, Joe Scarborough and YOU! PLEASE DON’T STOP! Yvette

  7. Margery

    I hope I can get thru this time. I love your writing and miss it in the Tribune. Many things I miss since I began reading the sports section when Arch Ward was writing In the Wake of the News. At that time I didn’t even know what “wake” meant. Thanks for your blog. Your mind is still open, your heart is pumping right along (Sex and the City?), and I love softball and have the crooked fingers to prove it.


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