Getting There

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Almost seven years ago and a couple of weeks into my first blogging job, I sent a friend a now embarrassing email announcing that my life had just changed forever. “Jezebel cited me today,” I wrote. “On the radar. Whoop, whoop.” Madeleine Davies had written a short thing referencing a short thing I had written, which I experienced as proof that I existed in the same universe as a site I read obsessively. For years, I had planted myself on the homepage when I should have been writing papers or paying attention at work. I traded links back and forth with friends to praise or argue about pieces that I loved, found insane, and sometimes hated, but always, always loyally read. Then suddenly, there was my name.

This is embarrassing, but so is life
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I moved through a couple of different jobs over the years, but always found myself writing for Jezebel even as I didn’t actually write for Jezebel. My editorial voice, and really so much of how I think about media in general, had been formed in the site’s image. Then as now, the writers and editors there offered a model of journalism that felt instinctive and correct to me: funny, smart-smart, stupid-smart, and always rude to the right people. It was a dream—still is a dream.

Sometimes you never get where you want to go at all, so I consider myself tremendously lucky to have gotten here. Two years ago, I arrived at Jezebel happy but battered, which was also the condition in which I found my new colleagues. In my short time in the industry, which actually feels quite long now, I had been through layoffs, consolidation, two union drives, a dizzying number of bad bosses, and a growing sense that the kinds of places where I wanted to work were shrinking or disappearing entirely.

But Jezebel had stayed Jezebel, thanks to the fierce commitment of the people behind it. Though I had finally found my way in, I wanted desperately to prove I belonged—that it hadn’t been a mistake. So I worked hard to make the site the kind of place a person might want to read obsessively.

I learned what a good story can be from Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, Clover Hope, Megan Reynolds, and Stassa Edwards. There wasn’t a single piece I edited here that didn’t benefit from their brilliance, either through direct collaboration or just years of quietly trying to learn from the strength of their instincts. Ashley Reese and Esther Wang’s moral clarity and freak sensibilities made the tedious, often terrible work of covering politics at this particular moment feel meaningful and appropriately deranged. Working alongside Hazel Cills, Molly Osberg, Kelly Faircloth, Rich Juzwiak, Joan Summers, Jennifer Perry, Ecleen Caraballo, Lisa Fischer, Tracy Clark-Flory, Emily Alford, Maria Sherman, Prachi Gupta, Lauren Evans, Rebecca Fishbein, Frida Garza, and the extended universe of my current and former colleagues has changed how I think about the world and the work we’re here to do in it. These are lessons we learned together in our newsroom, but also in our union, which has been a transformative space in ways that I can’t really talk about without collapsing into a crying heap. I’m just not the same anymore. I’ll never be the same again. Thank god.

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Your job isn’t a family, and anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is a boss probably trying to fuck you over, but I love the people here. Not because we worked together, but because I know them and they know me. That’s part of what happens at Jezebel, though it can be hard to understand from the outside. The things you do here expose you, ask you to be vulnerable or willing to step into the void in a way that brings you closer to the people moving through it with you. Or at least that’s how it’s felt to me. We did hard stuff together and made each other better, braver, and dumber in equal measure every single day.

And now I’m leaving Jezebel, which is a hard thing to write and an even harder thing to do. This place was always my first, best choice. It is so, so good. I will miss that. Sometimes it was so, so hard. I will miss that, too.

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