The moment it occurred to me I had to quit my job at the Anchorage Daily News, I was sitting in my kitchen, chewing on a chicken breast dish I’d boiled to death in the crock pot all day. My wife was sitting across from me. She was eight months pregnant. We were staring at our phones, not talking. My son was watching cartoons on an iPad. This had become a routine.
It was late April or early May, near 8 p.m. It had been a sunny day and I’d spent the entirety of it inside a newsroom, helping put out the next day’s paper. I love newspapers. And I loved the News. But work, which had once been my happy place, had gotten out of hand.
The paper had just been purchased by Alaska Dispatch. The name was going to change, and the newsroom had just filled with new people. I had been a columnist for five years and had just started working as an editor. The hours were grueling, the workflow chaotic. Time always got away from me. I couldn’t reliably make it to daycare to pick up my son anymore. I couldn’t make dinner for my family. I fell asleep reading bedtime stories and woke bleary.
I worked until two days before our second son was born in June. And I soon realized that when I returned to my job, my entire paycheck would go to childcare. The shape of newspaper work didn’t fit my life anymore. I couldn’t enjoy my family or Alaska. I wanted to go outside on sunny days. I wanted to pick up my son from school. I wanted to make dinner. I loved the newsroom, but I loved my family more.
The decision to leave was one of the hardest I’ve ever made. It felt like a horrible breakup. I have a reporter’s mutant mind. I can’t be in the world without observing it. The idea of giving up writing and reporting made me miserable. When I gave my notice, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do.
An old friend suggested I pitch some stories to editors I’d met through the Alaska Press Club. They were interested. Before I knew it, I was flying over the Brooks Range in a de Havilland Beaver, on a story assignment about polar bears and climate change for Al Jazeera America. I was writing and reporting again, but on my own terms. A year before, I would never have imagined it.
I wrote a few stories for a national audience, and I enjoyed it. But what I missed still was the relationship I’d built with readers while writing columns. I missed their ideas and their insights. I missed looking for stories that they would like, about things you only get if you live here.
So I built this site to let me write and report about Anchorage in a way that fits the shape of my life. You’ll find my freelance stories, long and short posts about Anchorage, posts about children, home and, most important, what’s for dinner.
PS: Every hour I get to work on this site right now comes thanks to a family member who has agreed to hold the baby. (Thanks Grammy, Papa Nino, Nonna, Doc, Marsi, Uncle Tommy and Gran!) And the site looks good thanks to the work of my dear friend Scott Levin. Thank you! And, many thanks to my wife, Sara, who is my chief editor, and the many friends who have been readers and idea people. Thanks for all the coffees and convos. Here we go!
PPS: Here are my people, who matter most of all.
22 thoughts on “Hi guys, I missed you.”
It’s so great to see that you’ve found a place to continue the conversation with your local readers. We’ve all missed you as well! Your site is looking good.
Great to read you again!
You have captured the dilemma of many working Moms in Alaska. You loose a piece of your identity when you leave the job place. Happy to read your work again.
Yay Julia!!! I’m so happy for you and your family and that now you get to still DO what you love and BE with your family for whom you do it all for! Looking forward to reading more… 🙂
Thanks for staying in touch. I love your stories.
I’m so excited for you! I’ve been enjoying your work for some time now, and I’m thrilled to be able to keep on reading your work.
Good for you! It’s inspiring to see a mom finding the balance between motherhood, family, and a career. Also glad to still enjoy your writing!
YES!!! Carry on.
Hey Julia, my wife and I have enjoyed reading and discussing your work for the last few years. I just wanted to thank you for being such a clear local voice for reason and equality. Thank you for standing up to the Prevos of the world that seek to trample the rights and freedoms of those with a much smaller constituency. Just by fairly presenting issues you have made a difference.
Some of your articles have been a catalyst for discussions with coworkers, some of whom have changed their stance on some key issues. Seeing your articles pop up on national websites has been a joy. I don’t think your voice will be diminished by focusing on this medium. Good luck, we’ll keep reading!
Yay! Glad to have you back and that you are following your dreams while keeping family in the forefront!
I was just recently wondering ma’am, when we would get to read your work again. Something told me, it wouldn’t be long, as you’re a naturally gifted writer, who will be writing something, always. One thing that I’ve always enjoyed about your writing, is your honesty. You could always be counted on, to give it to us straight. I’m glad to see that things are well for you and your family. and I look forward to reading your work again, here. Please consider a weekly or at least an occasional newspaper column, as well.
I am so glad you will continue writing! I hope you continue to write your stories on the changing face of Anchorage and Alaska!
Congrats to you and Sara (and the kids). Tough decision to quit, but also the right one. I look forward to reading the Al Jazeera story, and others.
So happy to “like” and read. Been wondering where you were.
YAY ! I found you via a Facebook post. We’ve all missed your writing, and now it seems we can take up – kinda-where we left off. I appreciate you have your family, but never, ever stop writing. Your voice is too important.
Delighted that you’re a presence in our world again. Best wishes for having this all work out to suit your needs for sontime and sun.
We have missed reading you and are glad to know you are doing well. Best wishes
to you and your family.
Welcome Back. I have missed reading what you write.
Congratulations on finding a solution to doing the work you love AND being the parent you want to be AND having family and friends who support you in finding the balance between work and family that works for all of you.
I’ve always enjoyed your work, and I’m really glad I’ll be able to continue hearing your voice and your perspectives. Congratulations on this and on your lovely family.
cannot tell you how happy I am to be reading you again. Have always loved your style. Julia and a good cup of coffee… Best treat to self break in the day I can ask for!
A fan of yours since your high school days! Glad I found you and keep on writing!
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