No, really, this time I mean it: I’ll miss you lots, but I’m not coming back
Today is my last day working for the Salina Journal. I’ve been here for 15 years, minus two years when I entered Part 2 of my mid-life crisis, during which I married a guy in Iowa, quickly realized that was a big mistake and moved back into my home in Salina, since it hadn’t sold. I then worked a couple of jobs I clearly wasn’t suited for and was eventually invited back to the Journal in 2008, this time as an assistant editor and supervisor for the copy desk.
The past seven years have flown by. The past couple of years have been focused on researching and then installing a new content management system, which integrates what the reporters and photographers produce for the paper and what we editors, clerks and webmasters format for the online version of the Journal. We’re still learning the finer points of the “new” system, which was installed in October.
I became the Template Goddess prior to installation, a title I relished. I was in charge of fonts and styles and all the little pieces we use to put the puzzle together each day. Now those royal duties have been passed on to others.
I thought I’d offer a couple of lists — what I’ll miss and what I won’t miss as I semi-retire.
What I’ll miss
My boss. Ben Wearing is the best boss ever. Always upbeat and patient, he makes incredible cheesecakes and delicious double-chocolate-chip cookies on a regular basis. He can’t eat any of it, so it’s always a selfless act of gratitude toward his staff — which happens to be his default position. Every day, he models what it is to be a generous, hard-working, cheerful human being.
My staff. Each one of the copy editors, clerks and our graphic designer has a distinct set of strengths. Each one brings those strengths to work every day, and together, they work hard to put out a quality newspaper.
The reporters. You have no idea how much our reporters care about getting the story right. Their dedication and work ethic is commendable. Assistant Editor Sharon Montague, their supervisor, is at the top of the line in that effort — conscientious to a fault.
The photographers. Tom Dorsey has the eye and the heart to creatively capture what’s happening in our little slice of the world and the skill to bring out his images’ best features. His friendliness and sense of humor puts everyone at ease. And I think he works for chocolate. The other photographers (stringers and interns) who have helped fill our pages work hard and produce volumes of photos, week after week, whether we can fit them in the paper or not.
The sports guys and folks in other departments here in the plant … well, they’re like family, and I’ll miss them a lot.
Whenever I hear someone say something derogatory about “the media,” I think about my co-workers and shake my head — it doesn’t apply to these folks. They’re all here because they care about getting the stories right and producing a quality product.
OK, I admit it, I’m also going to miss the free popcorn on Friday afternoons. … And the health care and dental benefits. And my paycheck! What am I going to do without a paycheck?
What I won’t miss
I won’t miss reading about and seeing pictures of shootings, bombings, slavery and beheadings, all the crap that’s going on around the world about which I can do nothing. I won’t miss proofing obituaries, and I won’t miss working every Friday and Saturday night.
Clearly, I’m burnt out.
Mostly, I’m looking forward to reading good news for a while.
As I move to pursue a slower-paced lifestyle at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage — what Fred Elliot referred to in his column this past week as a “commune” (it’s an “intentional community,” if you please, Mr. Elliot) — I’m looking forward to seeing what my new neighbors are up to — gardening, building, milking goats and making cheese and such.
But aside from that, what will I do with my time when I don’t have a 40-hour-a-week job?
I’ve been pondering a question this summer that relates to my occupation in a much broader sense. The question is, is the universe friendly? I’ve found an answer that’s been helpful: I make the universe friendly. That’s my job.
All of us who value goodness, kindness, friendliness, doing what’s right to the best of our ability; all of us who are honest, who expect honesty from ourselves and seek truth in everything; and all of us who value beauty — the beauty of a child’s giggly face or a grandmother’s warm smile, the beauty in the stars and flowers and animals, in music, in art, in character — all of us make the universe a friendly place.
That’s our job.
While I’ll be a few hundred miles away, I plan to continue to fill this space at least occasionally. Ben has promised me double-chocolate-chip cookies.
— Roshana Ariel has been assistant editor for the Journal for the past seven years. She’s moving to Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in Missouri. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This column first appeared in the Journal on Aug. 15, 2015.