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MARG-INS - Letting The Guard Down
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There’s something to be said for keeping your defenses up.

Some of you may know we have been without the services of our Riverbank editor, John Branch, for the past few weeks as he recuperates from arm surgery. Everyone took on a bit more, each person contributing a little bit to make the Riverbank News hit the newsstands on time each week. It has been a team effort and reminds me about one of the things I like best about where I work; people are willing to pitch in and get the job done.

With word from John that he has been cleared to resume some ‘light duty’ as of March 1, I had an unusual incident occur right after getting that news. I got sick. Really sick.

To the point of cutting out early one day to go home, taking naps in between assignments on another day and just having a general overall I-don’t-even-want-to-get-out-from-under-the-covers feeling.

When I leave work early, there’s quite a stir. When I am at home sleeping on a Friday in the middle of the afternoon, people just don’t know what to make of it.

The past few weeks, running at such a high stress level, making sure John’s paper was fully taken care of, kept me going. When I knew there was an end in sight and he would be back, that’s when I let my guard down and whatever germ was hanging around swooped in and got me good.

It has been a struggle this Saturday, getting pages proofread and items typed up without having to take a break for a quick nap from time to time.

As luck would have it, I finally fell into a deep sleep around 6:30 a.m. Saturday and probably would have stayed that way for a few hours, but my cell phone rang about 7:45 a.m., startling me out of my best sleep in days.

It was my mom, letting me know that the latest series of winter storms to pummel upstate New York left some 40 inches of snow on the ground. Her car, she said, was just a mound of snow in the driveway. My dad somehow unburied his truck and was planning to spend the day with the snowblower, clearing out the family driveway, the church parking lot and a couple of other places.

My mom was content to stay in the house and not worry about digging the car out just yet. She said it was a series of several storms, each dropping multiple inches of snow. It stayed cold enough for all the snow to build up, with more than three feet on the ground. She said it was the most snow they’ve gotten in several years, probably since the winter I moved away, back in 1993.

This month will mark my 17th year here in California, and the funny thing is, shortly before I left New York, I remember getting sick. Really sick. Things had been situated for my move to California, for my new job with the Riverbank News and my housing, at least temporarily when I reached the West Coast, had been arranged; my co-workers in New York even took up a collection so my cat could ride with me in the cabin of the airplane on the trip West, not in baggage, and things were looking up. The week before I left was a double whammy, though, with a huge Nor’easter snowstorm blowing in that shut things down for about three days and I got sicker than I had been in years. Probably that same ‘letting the guard down’ thing.

I don’t do sick very well. It annoys me and it’s really aggravating taking twice as long to do things, which inevitably turn out half as good as you want them to. But it brings me back to the realization that you can only push yourself so far. Sooner or later, you need a break. Whether it is forced on you by illness or you take it of your own free will.

Maybe if I got a little better at the ‘free will’ part I wouldn’t end up forced into a day of rest and recuperation.

It’s something to work on.


Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times and The Oakdale Leader and assistant editor for The Riverbank News. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.