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The way things are...

First off:


This is really and truly wonderful and I thank anyone who had any mind to vote for the site. It meant a lot, especially today, and I wish I could individually thank not only the people who voted, but anyone else who read and liked that entry or Terribly Happy for whatever reason. It was a big deal right now. You'll know why in a bit.



Tuesday. I walk into my boss' office to catch up with her on some upcoming work. She gives me a very serious look, almost tearful, and tells me that things are about to change with the section that I edit, but that she can't tell me more than that right at the moment. She tells me, vaguely, to "scale back." She says she hopes she can tell me more the next day or later in the week.

I think I know what this is about. I think it's bad news. The question is only "how bad?"

Wednesday. I can't say anything to my staff, or really to anyone else who I work with about what may or may not be happening. I get worried and stressed. I'm pretty sure there won't be any layoffs. But I also know that our section, as good as it is, doesn't sell ads. We're in a bad time. Tech companies that used to advertise with us don't have the money to do that anymore. Will I have to write for another section? Take a pay cut? I don't know. We've been limping along on life support for months now. We all knew this might be coming. I stay quiet for most of the day. When people ask me about future projects, I'm vague too, holding back from assigning any more stories or putting more work into work we may never need.

Thursday. The hammer falls. I get called into a meeting in the morning. I break the news through the day as people on my staff come in or call from vacations or maternity leave. Another meeting in the afternoon, this time with my entire section. No tears, but a lot of questions. Some praise for the work we've done. The affirmation that the decision has nothing to do with the quality of our work. It's rough economic times. We're not bitter. We know this better than anybody in the newsroom.

My boss follows us out of that meeting, and now her tears do come. She hugs each of us, thanks us for our hard work, tells us how difficult it's been, trying to get others to buy into the vision of what we're doing. We had a plan to get us out of this hole, and we think it would have worked, but it was just a little too late. Just a few months late.

No layoffs. All of us still have jobs, just redefined because the section we built and worked on for almost two years won't be its own section anymore. It will change, and our jobs will change with it. We won't be a whole team anymore. Some of us are excited because this is a new challenge and a welcome change. Others of us are fearful and hurt that our best efforts didn't keep this decision from happening. I waver between the two feelings.

How much Michael should you read? Moore.

In the morning, I found out about the awards. It was such good news, something I'd been waiting to hear about all week, and it balanced out so much of the gloom for me, that it made me wonder how well life sometimes portions out the good with the bad, making them both livable.

A friend of mine likes to say, in times of turmoil, "You are enough." Right now, I feel like what's happening is "enough." The good balances the bad. The rewards balance out what is being taken away, to some degree. The yin and the yang jostle, but ultimate rest at an equal division. I'm sad. I'm happy. I'm confused. I'm at peace and relaxed and accepting of these changes, the good and the bad.

There's a lot to do and a lot that hasn't been decided yet. I kept being asked if I was sad, because really this section that's going away (or at least moving to a diminished form) was my responsibility for the last year. It's why I became a manager. It's why I got sent to training and learned to do what I do what my life (in the work sense) has been about for a year and a half. I didn't have a very good answer, except to say that my original plan was to try this out for a year and see how it worked out. It's been a year. And now it's changing without my having to really do anything at all.

Happy. Hurt. Moving forward.

Late in the afternoon, when everybody had left, I put PJ Harvey's latest CD in my computer and cranked it up while I put together Web pages for the section. Sharon, an editor I greatly admire, and who is perhaps the nicest woman I know, came into the dimly lit office. She sad across from me, amid boxes of digital cameras, PC games I'll probably never get to and stacks of newspapers. She suggested we have a New Orleans-style wake next week. That made me smile and I thought it was the best idea I'd heard all day. Overall, the events of the day were this: It was as good a package of bad news as you could hope to receive and there was really no reason for it to be a gloomy week.

As she talked, the music coming out of the G4 behind me was blasting. Sharon didn't seem to mind. Just as I was telling her that I wasn't upset or angry or even sad, really, PJ Harvey was singing the song "Beautiful Feeling" behind me.

She sang:

"It's the best thing... the best thing."

It was a moment I couldn't have ever hoped to have scripted or to have fictionalized. It just happened that way.

I smiled at Sharon. I finished my pages, packed up my things and left the office at 7:30. Everything was fine. It was all for the best.



One last quick thing. A woman from Missouri was nice enough to send me an Eryka Badu CD via Stupidly, I accidentally threw away the mailing address before I could send back a thank you note. So if you're out there, please e-mail me or let me know your address or e-mail or something. I feel like an asshole here. Please help me out.



I wasn't going to mention this site, but then they mentioned me first, so... Well. Go take a look. It's so mean and misguided it's almost funny. You know, almost. I signed the guestbook. Because I'm a whore like that.

But when they link to my site, they bring more traffic over here, which brings me that much closer to a lucrative advertising contract that will pay for this site and a few piña coladas. So, thanks Slam! Keep the links coming.

Whoever's running that site will be found out very soon (online journals are nothing if not suspicious and tenacious). So good luck to them once they're exposed. It's gonna suck to be you.



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