I looked forward to the former. Dreaded the latter.
But neither was to be. The newspaper industry began to fall off a cliff in 2007, yet I survived round after round of layoffs at the paper.
“You’re the franchise” the editor reassured me over and over.
Yet in 2017 The Franchise was offered a severance package and the editor said he hoped she’d take the money and continue writing as a freelancer. For a few shekels a week.
The Franchise didn’t have to think about it: “Hell no.”
We launched this website exactly three days after my last newspaper column ran and the response has been, well, overwhelming. The experience has been liberating.
No more editors wetting their pants because my opinions were too opinionated. Or that they were laced with the occasional vulgarity. Or that they weren’t fair.
Fair? What does fair have to do with the truth? Or common sense?
A year and a half in, we’ve settled into a rhythm. I promised to write five days a week, with posts up by 6 each morning, and we’ve delivered. No days off. Vacations just mean travel posts. I cannot explain how confused we were by deadlines and time zones while I was in Vietnam for 10 days this spring. But somehow, thanks to Carlisle back in New Orleans, everything was posted. On time!
When I’m not writing or looking for material, I’m on the beach or at the gym. On Saturdays in the fall I’m either in the stands at Vaught-Hemingway cheering for the Ole Miss Rebels or glued to a TV watching wall-to-wall college football. The SEC. It just means more.
During the off season I read a book a week, and am working on one of my own. No, I won’t tell you what it’s about. But it’s non-fiction and some people ought to be nervous. You know who you are.
I’m married, have two kids and the most scrumptious granddaughter ever. When she’s 10 I’m buying a camper and taking her across the country. Every national park. Every campground. Every big ball of twine. And yes, you can come along. Via the website.
In the meantime, I’m trying to churn out posts that will spark conversation and even arguments.
Which reminds me, The Pilot once ran a baseball headline without the proper spacing. Instead of saying “Bullpen is strong” it read “Bull penis strong.”
One of my favorite editors loved powerful columns. When I wrote one he especially liked he’d always say, “This is strong. You know how strong this is?”
“Bull penis strong?” I’d ask. He’d nod.
That’s what we’re going for here. A website that’s bull penis strong.
Start a website, I urged. I’ll help.
Little did I know, those two little words - I’ll help - would become a full-time job that involves finding art, refining headlines, vetoing really bad ideas for posts and handling all the finances of the small business we created. Oh, and answering calls in the middle of the night from my neurotic mother.
I have so much sympathy for the copy editors at The Pilot who had to deal with her panicked, last-minute midnight changes. It’s a wonder they didn’t take a contract out on her. I’m certainly tempted.
I may be part of the website team, but I don’t share all - or most - of the opinions there. Hey, I’m a libertarian. The last politician I really liked was Ron Paul. His tattered bumper sticker on my wheezing SUV is the reason I’m reluctant to get rid of my car.
Oh, and did I mention I have a 3-year-old? I’m trying desperately to give her the attention she needs while I work so that she never believes she was raised by wolves.
Like my mother, my grandmother and even my great-grandmothers, I’m learning how to balance motherhood and work. Sometimes I get it right. Sometimes I get it wrong. And a lot of the time, just like them, I need a drink.
So here I am, after 28 years as a journalist, sleuthing along after Kerry’s keystrokes for, what, almost three years now? It’s the best time, promise.
Every now and then - too often, Kerry says - I take off for Germany when I’m homesick for Bavaria where I was born - Yup. Immigrant. - and for the aunts and uncles and cousins we left behind, a dwindling handful, unfortunately. Plus, you just can’t get a good Schweinsbraten and Knödel in Virginia Beach.
When I’m there I live in a little medieval town called Regensburg where dreamy sunsets on the Danube attract crowds every night. I walk everywhere, go overboard with cheese and sausage, then let my genes kick in to handle the extra cholesterol.
I’m married to a saint who may have been an international spy, still not sure. He encourages all my absences...Read nothing into that. He’s my best buddy even after 40-plus years together. We garden, have weekly movie night dates, and love to ride the train to visit our whip-smart daughter, Emma, who writes about film and lives in Brooklyn with her misbehaving cat, Sebastian. Find her on twitter; she’s worth a follow.
So glad she and Kerry are out there, carrying on good journalism and having opinions about things while I sit here with my Dunkles Bier and Schnitzel, thankful for the telecommuting this nutty internet allows.
See you on the website!
By day, I run the design team at a market research and tech company in New Orleans called Lucid. I get to be creative, write a lot, and doodle on every available surface… so it’s kind of a dream job.
Outside of work, I moonlight as an artist and writer and dreamer, spend a lot of time traveling for both work and pleasure, and enjoy inventing strange, mysteriously healthy recipes in my kitchen. My favorite book is In the City of Shy Hunters by Tom Spanbauer and my favorite movie changes with the seasons. Right now, it’s anything by Hitchcock.
Working to keep Kerry’s writing online is important to me not because I agree with her on every stance and opinion (in fact, you can often find me trolling the Facebook comments and battling, gently, with our readers), but because I believe that strong, unedited, critical writing is vital to a free web.
Mainstream media is a sickness — I bet both sides of the political aisle can agree with me on that. And yet, in just a few short years, this small website has become a conversation starter, a place of community, and an independent investigative tool for things that really matter. Small media really matters. I might vote blue in 2020, but I am proud of us.
Thanks for reading and supporting Kerry’s work. :)