Here's a list of objects that have accumulated on my desk over the last six years: a "Stop Putin" placard, two ceramic gnomes, an Occupy Seattle poster, a bag of Doritos that cops handed out at Hempfest, a sign that says "You Are Not Alone" made by a group called Seattle Republicans (poor fellas), two old bananas, a dozen copies of the troglodyte cop union's newspaper, about 150 tattered notepads, a button that says "Let's Move the #*%! Forward" from the deep-bore tunnel backers (those folks are so quiet lately), a plaster Virgin Mary holding a strangely muscular Baby Jesus, this amazing object, and a Rolodex with numbers of half the people I know. But I'm packing up all these artifacts. Tomorrow is my last day at The Stranger.
My new schedule will allow me to pursue my dream career: annoying Sally Clark on Twitter (because this wasn't enough). Clark would point out that although there are reasons to leave the paper, there are other reasons not to leave the paper.
But after taking a shot of make-up-your-damn-mind and after working on staff since 2008 (and contributing to the paper since 2003), I have decided to leave to work on new freelance projects.
I've loved writing for you guys—The Stranger's readers. You gave me encouragement to do the most fun stuff possible while still calling it a "job." Wearing my best dress to a Republican women's rally, getting expelled from the school superintendent's victory party, asking a Christian bigot about his tax problem, interviewing people who claim soda makes for a healthy lunch, posting racist tweets from a GOP staffer, trying unsuccessfully to blend in with anti-gay activists, documenting this one Mars Hill three part meltdown, and the comic tragedy of Occupy activists who are 99% of the nation's facepalm. There's also serious stuff: the racial tragedy behind pot laws, the political tragedy behind SPD, cyclists being killed on our streets, and editing years of endorsement issues. I've tried to write about (and defend) the folks who are usually silent or marginalized in major civic conversations—hopefully I've helped them more than I've hurt.
I'm gonna miss the piss out of my co-workers. This is the smartest, hardworking-est group of people I have ever known.
At the risk of gushing, The Stranger does something amazing. Seattle is a small enough town that a handful of people can change the city's trajectory, and a large enough town that its momentum can influence the whole country. When we have the courage to do that. But—for all its education and wealth—Seattle culture is too timid. Not all, of course, but lots of people here are too afraid to hold an unpopular opinion, too afraid to fight for what they believe in and lose. I think The Stranger is one tiny antidote. The blunt, funny, critical, self-effacing firehose coming out of this newsroom has been helping make self-conscious, timid, and feckless Seattle more direct, imaginative, and deliberate. (I'm afraid there's nothing that can be done about Sally Clark.) This paper has had a hand in many of the city's big progressive advances and I hope it will keep that up.
I'll still probably write guest pieces as a freelance writer around here, but my co-workers will certainly be thrilled that I'm not in the office—making graveyards of empty VitaminWater Zero bottles or belting out Disney musicals at 9 a.m. And they definitely can't wait for me to toss these old bananas.