Monday, February 9, 2009

Town Hall-iday

Tonight was quite possibly the last council meeting I will get (have) to cover here. It's amazing that it was only a year ago that I first walked into the pretty town hall with my notebook, a bundle of nerves and no idea what I was getting myself into. I walked out at the end, thoroughly bewildered and irritated that not one of my college classes was a crash course in agriculture or small-town politics.

I remember telling my mom, " I SWEAR I'm a fairly bright person, but I just spent three hours with the words 'What? Wait what? with the....who???' playing on repeat/shuffle in my head." I was pretty sure I'd never be able to comprehend anything that was said in those chambers.

As months passed, I learned what to listen for so that I didn't feel I had to frantically scribble every word that was said. I learned that the advantage of small-town councilors is that they're in the phone book and that the phrase "No seriously, explain it to my like I'm 5." can be most helpful.

I made mistakes. And while slightly worse than making mistakes in many other professions, due to the public humiliation and permanent record factor, none of them killed me (or anyone else -seriously, how often do doctors have heart attacks?)

I learned to relax. A lot. I learned to turn the most mundane topics into something that people might find interesting to read. Really bored people, but still.

I also learned which animals I think each of the council members most resemble and I learned that the most inconspicuous thing to sketch in great detail (if not the least bit of accuracy) during a council meeting is my own hand. I learned to hide a gigglefit when meetings were interrupted by, say, rooster-crow ringtones.

While I wouldn't say my council coverage has become the stuff of brilliant journalism, I'm proud to say that I've certainly learned a lot from it. I might only have about a thimbleful of collected knowledge in the grand scheme of things, but it's a thimbleful more than I had a year ago and that's something to be proud of.


Elle Bee said...

Oh dear. Council meetings can be so incredibly hard to process. There was a little while that I sat in on quite a few in London and the same, "huh?" "what?" "who?" was going through my head.

Good for you, for learning your way through them. Knowing which animals the councillors resemble is key.

Do you cover town council and county council? Or just town council?

Sarah said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one! I felt unbelievably dense every time I walked in there. Fortunately I've only had to cover town council. I don't think I could handle county.

Mari said...

Every time I've been to one of my own city council meetings, I start yawning hugely- which is really difficult to hide with your hand once you get past two yawns...

Sarah said...

No kidding! I just do it openly now and then smile sweetly in case anyone caught me.

LipstickOne said...

glass half-full!