Because I feel compelled to bookend all moments of sincerity with jokes, this post begins with the above image and headline. “Hey,” Jackson (Bradley Cooper) is saying to Ally (Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta) in the moment captured above. “I just wanted to take another look at you.”
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, it’s time to say goodbye.
Emma Carmichael first gauged my interest in writing for Jezebel in September of 2014, when I was still working as a copywriter at an advertising agency. I had written a little for her on the side while she ran The Hairpin, but writing for a website full time was never something I seriously considered until reading that first email. “Would you ever entertain a Jezebel conversation,” she asked. After explaining my situation—all my hopes and hesitations—we decided to put the conversation on hold until the new year.
By the time January came around, I was burned out by the agency world and not fully recovered from working for a despicable man known for sexually harassing his employees. The guy had many targets—gay men in particular—and I happened to be one of them. During one tumultuous month, I watched as the amazing woman who ran the HR department tried to get him fired, I cried in an office while recounting a humiliating experience that occurred my first week on the job, I gasped when it was revealed his punishment was to make a public apology at an all-staff meeting, and nearly fell apart after learning the woman who worked so hard to get him fired decided to resign—presumably because she failed to overcome the men at the top. The asshole was eventually pushed out and replaced, but it was too little, too late.
(At one point I interviewed at another agency, whose CCO quietly asked what I thought about my former boss. “He’s a good guy,” the man told me. I told him I disagreed. He never got back to me about the job.)
I started working at Jezebel in April of 2015, when the Gawker offices were in SoHo, Twitter was still sort of fun, and the company was going to live forever. From the very first day, I was impressed and inspired by the Jezebel staff. I had made good friends at all my previous jobs—even the terrible one I had just left—but had never felt so immediately embraced by a group of coworkers. There was no learning curve with them; camaraderie and trust manifested instantly.
Early on, someone told me one of the greatest things about working at Jezebel was that “Nick and John don’t read it”—the implication being that because there was no oversight from an executive level, we had more autonomy to do the stories we were passionate about. And it was true! Even as everything around us seemed to be breaking apart—as shouting matches between bloggers and management became a daily occurrence—Emma, Julianne, Erin, and Kate (everyone, really) kept us not just comfortable, but hopeful. They encouraged us to continue doing our best work on the best website, and constantly made our jobs feel like a privilege. The company was sinking into the sea, media was pivoting to video, we were all worried about whether or not we’d still have a job (and health insurance) every morning, our boss and friend nearly died in a horrific accident, and yet... I felt lucky to be there. Consider that for a moment. It’s completely insane!
Though I had quietly intended on staying just a year (I expected to return to the advertising world after a cool down period) it became apparent after that first summer that I would probably find it hard to ever leave these people. And now I can say from experience that it definitely fucking is. I didn’t get to write everything I wanted to write—sometimes for reasons beyond my control, other times because of my own failures. I ended many days dissatisfied by words I had published, or depressed by the lack of impact a certain story had made. I regretted not spending more time on this. I regretted not spending more time on that. I was frequently paralyzed by the fear I wasn’t suited for the role, or the industry as a whole. But still, somehow, it’s the best job I’ve ever had by an unfathomable margin. I wonder why.
I would like to tell you all that I’m leaving because writing about celebrity gossip feels more and more useless with each passing day, and that my particular beat feels increasingly out of place among the existential horrors my brilliant colleagues write about on a daily basis. I would like to tell you that being on the internet all day is slowly burning a hole in my brain, and that I need to leave it forever before my mind and spirit fully rot and crumble into a tiny pile of ash. I would like to tell you that I am quitting Jezebel in order to pursue a higher calling—to become, as one of my favorite television characters once hoped to be, an agent of change. But the truth is simpler. Dumber. Lacking in anything approaching respectability. It’s just time for me to move on from this particular position and focus on something else. Perhaps a host of other things—things I cannot pursue while still blogging about what Pete Davidson and Ariana Grande tweeted about last night. You know I also co-host a podcast about celebrities? God, how stupid.
Before I go, I just want to thank everyone at Jezebel who markedly improved my life over the past three and a half years. Emma Carmichael, Jia Tolentino, Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, Clover Hope, Kate Dries, Joanna Rothkopf, Maddie Davies, Kelly Faircloth, Ellie Shechet, Anna Merlan, Brendan O’Connor, Rich Juzwiak, Prachi Gupta, Megan Reynolds, Kara Brown, Stassa Edwards, Hazel Cills, Katie McDonough, Jane Marie, Kelly Stout, Gabby Bluestone, Harron Walker, Ashley Reese, Maria Sherman, Esther Wang, Frida Garza, Jennifer Perry, Mark Shrayber, Laura Beck, Hillary Crosley-Croker, Aimée Lutkin, Whitney Kimball, Rachel Vorona Cote, Hannah Gold, Rebecca Fishbein, Lauren Evans, Erin Ryan, and Koa Beck, thank you for making this such a wonderful place.
I’m falling. In all the good times, I find myself longing for change. And in the bad times, I fear myself. I’m off the deep end, watch as I dive in. I’ll never meet the ground. Crash through the surface, where they can’t hurt us...
I’m far from the shallow now.