"You can tell people you stalked me to get this job," Jessica said when she hired me as a full-time staff writer in April 2012 (we were kind of drunk). "I mean that as a compliment." I took it as one, because it was true: I had dreamed of working at Jezebel ever since the very first day it launched. Jezebel was the first women's website that didn't make me feel inadequate or patronized; it was (and has always been) incisive, hilarious and accessible enough to make a mainstream audience care about both pop culture and rape culture. There was no other job I wanted more.
Before Jezebel, I worked for a slew of legacy publications where I was supposed to be intimidated by stodgy old men, because that's how journalism worked! The vibe at Jezebel blew my mind: my colleagues were supportive, stimulating, and respectful, but they were also there for each other in times of personal crisis and late night karaoke. For the first time, I didn't feel like an impostor on the job; instead, I felt confident and valued.
Jessica has trusted me with so many ridiculous and risky story ideas, from flying to Missoula at a moment's notice with a 20-year-old former drug dealer to tracking down creepy Miss USA scam artists. She's given me the time and resources to not only write essays on hate-reading but in-depth pieces about reproductive rights and sexual assault. One of my proudest moments this year was winning a Planned Parenthood Maggie Award for my reporting; I couldn't have done that without Jessica's razor-sharp editing skills and unwavering support (and her willingness to parse through the countless crazed emails and texts I've sent her in the middle of the night).
The hardest part of leaving Jezebel is leaving my coven, who would (and _did) _intimidate me with their intelligence and fearlessness if I wasn't lucky enough to consider them all friends. I know very few people who are more unflappable than Dodai, funnier than Maddie, more supportive than Erin, gutsier than Tracie, sharper than Kate, more persuasive than Lindy and more passionate (and fashionable) than Callie (I feel like I'm naming perfumes). All of our night and weekend editors have made my day job not only fun but feasible. I'm still incredibly close with my former coworkers — Jenna Sauers was one of my first real friends in New York and Anna North helped me tirelessly bug Jessica way back when — so I'm trying not to tear up as I write this, which is hard, because all of our periods are synched up at the moment.
I'm joining Newsweek as a senior writer later this month, where I'll be focusing on longform reporting, something I'm very excited about. (I'm also writing a YA novel! More about that soon.) But I'm really going to miss the freedom we're given here to write about whatever we think is interesting and important and all of the readers (okay, not the MRAs, anti-choicers and pick-up artists) who've told me we make them feel heard and less alone.
I'll also really miss being the girl at the party who always ends up in a corner yelling about rape.