How ‘Spotlight’ helped me say goodbye to newsrooms

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When I finally felt ready to say goodbye to a career in a newsroom, I went to see “Spotlight.”

One of the first (and most depressing) things you hear when you’re out of a job is, “Don’t bother responding to a bunch of online job listings. Most of them are about fulfilling a legal obligation to advertise, and in many cases, the position has already been filled.”

After spending soul-punishing hours updating your resume and LinkedIn page, and writing cover letters, and scouting job sites, this truth-slap makes you want to frisbee your laptop right through the second-floor window.

You’re told repeatedly that getting a job comes down to networking. So I’ve packed my schedule with dozens of coffee and lunch dates, and I’m regularly pitching (and receiving) free-lance assignments; but I’ve otherwise found myself, three months into this layoff, flying in holding pattern circles, desperate for clearance to land.

I have applied to a few jobs – including a features reporter position at a big-market paper that sounded like a perfect fit – but the silence that’s followed has indicated that the journalism world’s just not that into me.

So getting my hair cut and colored a few days after losing my arts reporter job, in hopes of looking more “together” (and, who are we kidding, younger) for the interviews I’d surely be lining up, now seems naively foolish, and childishly optimistic. I might as well have stood on the curb in front of our house, waiting for a unicorn to pick me up. The struggling-to-survive journalism industry is having a dark night of the soul just now, so jobs are scarce, and the ones that are out there usually go to reporters in the early years of their career.

That’s not me, obviously. Continue reading

The weirdly comforting anxiety of kiddo sick days

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This is the winter of our discontent – or at least record low productivity.

Why? Because an endless series of inter-family illnesses and snow days have made my transition back to free-lancing way, WAY rockier than it might otherwise be. For when you’re the parent working from home, it only makes sense that you assume duties when one of your kids gets sick or has nowhere to go – even though figuring out how to get your assignments done becomes exponentially trickier then. And for many (mostly obvious) reasons, winter is a notorious season for repeatedly disrupting family routine.

For example, a few nights after we took 4 year old Neve to the ER with a croup-y cough – she’d had increasing difficulty sleeping the previous 2 nights – she woke up wailing about ear pain, so I toted her right back to the nearest hospital. (No ear infection, just pressure from the congestion, resolved with Benadryl.) Though she didn’t have a fever, and I had a deadline for two longer-form free-lance stories looming ever closer, I kept her home the next day to let her rest – which, of course, she didn’t do. At all. Instead, the two of us put together every puzzle in the house, played five different games, read a stack of books, and watched a few episodes of “Dinosaur Train” before I pronounced her more than fit to attend her gymnastics class. (Did I have a good time with my charming, spunky kid? Yes, and she happily ate up the one-on-one time with me. Did I also simultaneously get stressed out about the multi-source story I was behind on and struggling with? YES.)

Two days later, Lily’s school closed for a snow day, and because she’s nearly 8, she’s less and less content to hang at Neve’s preschool on such occasions. Which I get. But I had a morning class and business lunch scheduled, so I made a deal with her to pick her (and Neve) up much earlier than I normally would, bring them home, and we’d watch a movie together. I was as good as my word – and I made zero progress on my assignments. Continue reading