Saturday, November 19, 2005

paper trial

Once again the fickle foot of irony has crept up behind me and kicked me in the ass.

I have been very honest about my feelings for my local newspaper. I think it is shit.
It is usually full of unnecessary and irrelevant garbage; there is little human interest…which in my opinion is what a small town paper should be…and too much politics and religion. There have been too many misquotes and blatant errors, the editing has been sorely lacking and there have been some bad judgment calls regarding what is newsworthy.

I have never been shy about voicing my contempt for the rag…online or off.
I do not subscribe, though on occasion when I stop in to visit my mother I will read her copy, but I never pay for it. Usually I regret doing so as I inevitably find something that irks me.

I have known the publisher of the paper for a few years. I was her daughter's Girl Guide leader, and she is friends with my cousin. I have always liked her, despite my thoughts regarding her paper. Recently I did a small job for her with which she seemed very happy. Apparently I impressed her more than I realized.

Monday she came to see me at work and offered me a job.
She wants me to be her new graphic designer. I told her I have no training or experience in the field. She said she knew that, but it is really not so different from what I do currently and she feels I am more than capable of learning the position.
She told me of the great benefit package, bonuses and perks…including a gym membership…HA! Like I will ever use that!
Financially it is a lateral move, with the promise of a raise within a year. It has been two and a half years since my last raise…I think I can wait a few more months.

As much as I have been hating my job lately and was excited by the offer, some thoughts held me back. I am good at what I do; I am comfortable, confident and more than capable. I have some trepidation that I may not be cut out for…paperwork.
The publisher warned me that people either love or hate the business. If I hate it I am back walking the streets…looking for work, not hooking. I am good at sex, but it would be much less rewarding if it became about money…like an artist who paints masterpieces for the joy of it, but loses his inspiration when he has to do it to pay the rent.

After two nights without sleep and two days hemming and hawing over the decision, I made an appointment to see her. I told her I was afraid that three months down the road she would be kicking herself wondering what the fuck she had been thinking. They use programs that I have never heard of on Macs which I have never used, in a field that is completely foreign to me. She laughed and said, “No, you will learn the technical stuff, it is your personality that I think will work well here. I can see you being one of my senior people in no time.”

Then she asked me if I wanted to write.
I had previously given this some thought. She knows I love to write and that I have a blog and a column, though she does not…and will not as I have bashed her paper there…know where to find them.
I told her, “No.”
She seemed surprised, but I went on to explain that I would rather learn the job she has hired me to do first. Once I am comfortable with the paper and all that my job entails then perhaps we can talk about it. She does want to read a few things that I have written, which is exciting and frightening for me at the same time. My blog friends are very complimentary regarding what I write and I appreciate their support always. I swallow hard at the prospect of being read by a professional, she will know whether I have any talent for real or if what I write is shit.

I have no journalism education, experience or aspirations, but suddenly I am overwhelmed with the excitement of the possibilities.
This was a wooly mammoth of an opportunity that was just handed to me.
I am terrified and uncertain of my abilities, but I could not let such an opportunity pass me by.

I took the job.

My bosses took it better than I expected them too. I guess I was hoping they would fall on the floor crying or start throwing money at me and beg me to stay. They were surprisingly supportive. There has been talk of selling the business and they realize that I am looking out for my own best interests and they don’t begrudge me that. They realize what a tremendous chance this could be for me and know that at the paper I will have room to grow and advance, where I am so proficient at my current position that I have been stagnating for some time. Still, boss number two made a crack about how I will come crawling back after a couple weeks, and they have both taken to calling me “Quitter”. There are certainly many things I will miss about that place, the music primarily, but there are so many more things I am thrilled to be leaving behind.

So yes, I am a total hypocrite. I have accepted a position at a newspaper that I have done nothing but “rag” on. My thought is that maybe rather than bitch about it, I can make it better from the inside. The ironies in life never cease to amaze me. Ever time I say “I never” or “I always” and every time I have complete disdain for something, the universe smacks me upside the head and says, “Perhaps it’s time you see things from another perspective you judgmental narrow minded fool.”

My mom stopped by this morning to see if we needed anything from town.
“What are you going in for?” I asked.
“To vote for school trustees.” She said as though I should have known.
“I didn’t know there was an election.”
“It’s been in the paper for weeks.”
“I don’t read the paper.” I laughed, the saying has become habit.
“You better start.” She shook her head at me as she walked out the door.

I will, just as soon as I get this paradoxical boot out of my behind.



At 11:12 a.m., Blogger Cyn said...

OMG! that is absolutely classic 'karma's gonna get you'. well good for you. you go girl! brush off your bruised ego, eat some crow pie or whatever..and just do it! as for eventually writing..*bites lip*..i'll just keep those opinions to myself. *marks date on calendar, makes note to stay on good terms w/ bent so when she's rich and famous she won't forget her friends..*
i'm happy for you! you're gonna love it! and they are gonna love you! *bounces around with pom poms waving*

At 11:39 a.m., Blogger ben said...

Thank you Cyn...I have eaten my share of crow, I have developed a taste for it even.
As far as rich and famous goes...don't hold your breath, despite the fact that this will be a challenge in a field that I am excited about it is still a crappy little paper in a dinky little town. I have no delusions of grandeur. As always I do appreciate your support...and don't just stand there, shake those things...the pom pom's i mean ;)

At 1:56 p.m., Blogger mercurius said...

Yes it's me, Ben in a new incarnation as mercuriuseco. I feel so bad for modblog presently but wanted to join my friends here with an "echo" blog or to become a primaryblog. Don't know. Still holding hope for the first place.

This is a classic tale of karma and irony (Alanis-style). You are very capable of this new job and the writing to follow. We're being truthful, your compadres, when we say you're good.


At 2:59 p.m., Blogger Tio said...

Howdy Ben,

Don't worry 'bout being read by a 'professional' if you do decide to write for them. You are as good as any I have seen. You have good grammer, have a firm grasp on punctuation, and a unique writing style.

That's 'bout all I have to say 'bout it!

At 5:28 p.m., Blogger Good Hands said...

You go girlfriend! Always good to learn new skills especially graphic design ones. Check out for online courses and other things. I just completed an online six lesson course in Beginning Adobe Illustrator.

I had started a blogger here at the same time I started one at the mod but did not want to spend the time learning the blogger system (since the mod was so much more fascinating, interesting and easy for me to understand). I loved your modblog layout. Hopefully it will return. Guess we'll just have to keep our fingers in this world until the other should so choose to come back online. Later >>>>... Cyn good n' bad

At 7:10 p.m., Blogger Ted said...

Ben, you're back, you're really really back!

Congrats on the job! You deserve to catch a break somewhere along the line. I'm sure you'll enjoy the challenge of learning the ropes and you'll be running the whole office (and paper) soon enough ;-)

As for the writing side of things, when (not if) you get to that, you're little town won't know what hit it.

When do you start?

At 11:57 a.m., Blogger The Moomin said...

Yesss! This was so destined to happen! You will become a writer eventually, I have no doubt about it! You will turn this newspaper around and boost readership (either through the words or the looks ;). The Fate will always catch up with you.

And don't be afraid of getting read by a professional. You DO write like a professional.

At 11:58 a.m., Blogger The Moomin said...

oh, one more thing. this blog doesn't allow anynymous comments. that means that only people that have a Blogger account can leave comments. you might wanna remove it, since some MB friends don't have accounts.

At 1:54 p.m., Blogger ben said...

Thanks Bitz, I didn't know about that. I am still trying to figure this place out.
Still not loving it either.

At 9:19 p.m., Anonymous heidi of the land said...

Congratulations Ben! Who knows what doors this could open up for you.

Let me know if you need any help or pointers, especially with the software, or with the Macs. From what I know about newspaper publishing (i know a lot of people from design school who started there), other than being highly deadline driven, it's fairly straight forward (not a lot of that frou-frou art school stuff). Good luck!;P

At 5:36 a.m., Anonymous DooohHead said...

Way to go Ben! Congrats!

At 8:45 a.m., Blogger ben said...

Thanks guys.

Heidi I appreciate your offer, and I may very well take you up on it. I imagine I will need a lot of help.


At 10:31 a.m., Blogger valkyrieshoes said...

wow, ben, that is awesome! congratulations. i have no doubt that you will do a wodnerful job. :D

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