This Is Not Goodbye

This Is Not Goodbye
Illustration:Jim Cooke, Photos: Ruben Chamorro and Shutterstock

In 2016, just after I had finished covering the most insane election of my lifetime for Cosmo, Emma Carmichael asked me if I wanted to get a drink.

I had first met Emma four years prior, during the summer of 2012, when I was an intern at Gawker. At 24, I had quit a job in management consulting to pursue the vague, idealistic ambition of becoming “a writer.” After that experience, a job during which I blogged about my bro colleagues to maintain my sanity, I had two simple career goals: do work I enjoy, and do it with good, kind people who share my values.

This would be, it turns out, really, really fucking hard to find. But back then, I thought it would be better in the New York media industry, which is filled with so many “good progressives.” Ha.

I soon learned this was not the case. I worked at a media start-up run by a woman who, week after week, found excuses to not pay her staff. As a freelance copywriter, I briefly reported to a man who called me “too emotional” for seeking clarification on feedback that was contradictory. As a journalist, after two years of bringing in high traffic for a salary that did not even cover my living expenses, a boss threatened to fire me because I didn’t respond to a work email at 10 pm at night.

But at 26, when Leah Beckmann brought me on to Gawker as an intern (despite having zero experience in journalism), I realized this company was special. Gawker editors encouraged me to blog on the site, blogs that got progressively weirder. What struck me the most, however, was how people were encouraged to be themselves, to call out bullshit (even with each other) and treated employees like people first, bloggers second. That summer, after I helped Rich Juzwiak make supercuts of Mariah Carey, he brought me cupcakes for my birthday during what was, unbeknownst to him, an especially difficult week for me. A few months into my first full-time internet writing job, I talked to Rich on the phone, almost crying about the impossible pace of writing eight blogs a day. Then AJ Daulerio, Gawker’s then-editor-in-chief, helped me navigate my path forward.

So over drinks, when Emma offered me a job, I said yes without any hesitation. I felt like I had finally found my home, and over the past two-and-a-half years here, as cliche as it sounds, I know that there really is no other place like Jezebel.

From the beginning, Joanna Rothkopf, Kate Dries, and Emma entrusted me to co-host Jezebel’s short-lived podcast, Big Time Dicks, a program with a title that confused my grandfather very much but, I’d like to think, helped at least a few people process the fuckery of President Gremlin and his band of roving thieves. With the freedom to get weird, I got to write absurd blog posts, including one about football. I reflected on beloved film Office Space and explored my identity through pieces on arranged marriages, my feminist grandfather, and cooking, rage, and grief. I deepened my political reporting by covering the abortion hellscape and violence against women, the goings on of people who love crime, like Paul Manafort and grifter Anna Delvey, and offering analysis on the specific ways in which bad men are bad.

But my time at Jezebel did not go as expected. Days before I was supposed to start, I called Kate, sobbing into the phone because my best friend Nancy had been killed in a car accident. Less than a year later, my brother died. Two months ago, my grandmother died. In between covering a rotating cast of villains straight out of Game of Thrones, I have been staving off depression and a deep, all-consuming grief. For months, I felt as though I had forgotten how to be a person; I felt that I could not write, that I had nothing to say, that I was not worth reading.

I am forever grateful to my editors, past and present—Kate, Emma, Joanna, Koa Beck, Kelly Stout, Tim Marchman, Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, Stassa Edwards, Madeleine Davies, Clover Hope, Megan Reynolds, Alexis Sobel-Fitts, and Katie McDonough—for their endless compassion, support, and encouragement; for thoughtful edits and conversations that have rebuilt my confidence; for giving me time and space to breathe and re-learn and acclimate and change and grow. These kindnesses and constant assurances played a larger role in my well-being and recovery than I can express. Thank you, also, to Rich, Tracy, Kelly, Maria, Anna, Molly, Hazel, Ecleen, Jennifer, Lisa, Joan; every Jezebel writer I’ve worked with, past and present; and blog-adjacent friends Mandana Mofidi, Megan Greenwell, Laura Wagner, and Diana Moskovitz for making every damn day so weird and fun, and for making me laugh during some profoundly sad and dark times. To my ladies at the Slot, Ashley, Esther, and Frida: I am sorry that I am not joining you in 2020 Politics Hell, but also… I’m not!

In 2012, I was seeking a job that would enable me to do what I love alongside good, kind people who live by the principles they write about. Thank you to Jezebel for proving to me that exists, at a time when, it turns out, I would end up needing it the most. I will miss you all greatly, but like Julianne keeps telling me in between hugs, this isn’t goodbye—not really.

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