It was kind of chilly when I first arrived in Lincoln County on March 29 to begin my career with the Journal - and my return to writing for a weekly paper.
While I'm far from a rookie in this business, and I have learned to expect just about anything in over two decades, nothing could prepare me for everything that has happened since I arrived here.
Despite that, I make no excuses for any mistakes or errors I might have made during my short time here. I promise to do better next time.
No matter what the readers might say about me, no one can criticize me worse than I criticize myself. Since we're approaching the three-month mark of my time here, I am personally grading my work here.
Lincoln County is a much bigger county than I thought it would be, much larger than the county I relocated from, Hawkins County in Tennessee, by nearly 150 square miles. However, it's still about 150 square miles smaller than my home county, Florence County, South Carolina.
That leads me to my first mistake: do not underestimate how large rural counties can be, especially if you grew up in one. Stretching yourself too thin leads to being late for a few assignments you really shouldn't be late for.
Also, make sure your calendar is in sync. Mistake No. 2 was a result of having your dates mixed up for a key assignment. I drove to Winfield on a Saturday for its high school's graduation parade, only to find no one in a single parking lot anywhere in the entire town.
Thinking I had missed everything, I called our publisher, Michael Short, who calmly informed me the parade was on Sunday, not Saturday. At least I know how to get to Winfield.
Chalk it up as a semi-humorous middle-aged moment for Shawn Singleton. In this business, it's always better to show up a day too early for an event than a day too late.
It's the difference between getting laughed at - and something we will not discuss in this week's edition.
I wish I could clone myself, so I could reach all the parts of the county I need to reach. Those efforts have been fruitless, and those attempted clones might be responsible for the recent theft - and subsequent damage - of my vehicle.
All jokes aside, I have dealt with a death in the family, a jacked vehicle and, of course, COVID-19, since I've been here. However, as adults, we have lives to live, and we have to keep living them. I've done the same without excuses.
My favorite philosopher, Voltaire, once said "the more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing."
I want to get this quote framed and put over my desk in my office at the Journal, for it is my mantra. It tells me no one knows everything about everything, and that I must keep learning as much as I can, especially from my mistakes.
Life is not a video game. In those, you gain experience points from your successes. In real life, you gain experience points from your failures.
Not everything has been a castastrophe since I have been here. When I made to Winfield's graduation parade on the correct day and time, I witnessed a one-of-a-kind event in which graduates made the most of their day in the sun, including a graduating senior on a horse.
I have also enjoyed being able to put these opinions on paper - and on the web - for the community to enjoy, or not enjoy. As I have said many times, this is a community paper, and I want a community response.
Voltaire also said "love truth, but pardon error," and since I don't grade on curves, I would have to give myself a "C+" for my efforts. It's harsh, but I know myself, and I know I can be even better. I've been better.
It's time to head back to the lab to work on my skills, and also figure out where the cloning project went wrong...