Every year around the Iowa Newspaper Association convention I become this anxious, short-fused neurotic as I try to finish my work early enough to make it to the workshops, panels and seminars which make the Iowa Newspaper Association Convention and Tradeshow a skill-building experience.
Despite my behavior, my wife and partner Betsy never falters — she’s supportive. It’s a time of year I literally forget how to be a put-together adult. She would have every right and cause to be irritated by my bubbling pre-convention behavior, but the hotel always gets booked, my socks matched and my shirt pressed. It’s all Betsy. We’re usually equaled in our domestic chores — cooking, cleaning, laundry — but convention time Betsy’s patience hit overdrive.
When I’m on the beat, it’s never easy to interview someone who just lost their home to fire or ask a politician about their unpopular policy position, but I can do it without losing confidence. But networking with media industry leaders makes me nervous. The suits in journalism make me freeze up, but Betsy is my career connections wingwoman. She walks next to me in her gray business suit, looking powerful and polished which gives me confidence. Betsy can easily weave in and out of the conversation, keeping the conversation flowing between me and the contact. It’s really an art form.
When it’s time for Betsy’s big event, I’m there for whatever she needs. This is something we do for each other. When life takes your focus to something big, it can make the day-to-day much harder to process. If she has a project, and in normal day mode, it’s much easier for me to brew the pot of coffee or take our dog Jovie outside.
And when the weekend is over, the Sunday Blues is always easier to weather together — a marathon of Downward Dog on iTunes, a head massage to numb a migraine, and tag teaming a messy house.
Life is better together.
Contact Mike Mendenhall at