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Column: I’m falling face-first into 2021

In yet another change of leadership this year, I would like to announce that I am the new editor of... 

Just kidding. Shannon is on vacation.

She has an uncanny ability to be gone during weeks of high drama and nailbiting finishes in the news game. This week has been one of the nailbitiest. 

Her predecessor was a master of this as well. Somehow, our former editor was never around when we had power or Internet outages, and I strongly suspect that somewhere there is security camera footage of him with a maniacal grin on his face taking a pair of hedge clippers to our Internet cable. Like me, he often longed for simpler times, when the world’s complications and agitators had to work at tracking you down and couldn’t just pop up on a variety of digital devices with the regularity of, say, a Senate ad on a Georgia television these past two months.

(I made a game out of it, like betting dogs at the track: “Warnock. Loeffler. Perd- ah, crap, it’s Ossoff. Just missed the trifecta.”)

But 2021 was supposed to be simpler. Right?


I made the remark (to myself, but I assure you I said it) on New Year’s Eve that it cracked me up to think of all the people who thought the insanity was just going to end when the calendar swapped out a 21 for a 20.

But despite knowing that the imaginary demarcation line between Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 would not act as a barrier between us and the sheer lunacy here in The Stupidest Timeline, I have to admit, I have still been foolishly optimistic in my own way. I’ll explain.

Five or six hundred years ago at the very beginning of the pandemic, when the whole world was relearning how to do everything online from their recliners, that’s when I said it. In response to our fearless leader saying she thought the craziness would last quite a long time, I said, “Ah, after 9/11 it was nuts for a while, but it eventually calmed down. This will, too.”

I am still waiting on it to calm down.

9/11 was on a Tuesday. By Friday of that week I was so physically and emotionally exhausted from being so immersed in one story that after we put the paper to bed that night I went home and fell face down on my own bed and went to sleep in my work clothes.

After four days. 

When I was 30.

I’m now about to turn 50, and the pandemic, protests, politicians, bush fires, murder hornets, space cobras (probably coming soon) and the rest has been going on for nearly a year nonstop, and I can’t even fall asleep in my work clothes because I rarely get dressed for work anymore.

(Pop quiz: How long did it take you to learn that no camera during a Zoom meeting means “I haven’t brushed my hair today”?)

And this particular week, after runoff crazy, COVID crazy and capitol crazy, my neighbor had the crazy notion to cut a bunch of trees down to keep them from falling on her house. I’m writing this at 1:30 a.m., which should tell you something about my work hours and sleeping habits. Tree cutters get started very early, with lots of things that make lots of noise.

The point is, I’m weary. 

So when our editor gets back from vacation I’m falling face-first into something: couch, bed, floor, adult beverage — I don’t know. But something.

Work clothes optional.

Nate McCullough is the news editor for The Times.

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