It’s official, the place where my husband and I practiced our craft (where we met, worked together for 8-1/2 years, fell in love, shed blood, sweat and tears for what we believed to be right) has now cut us both loose.
For him it was simpler. When the cutting to the newspaper staff knows no boundaries, they eventually to get to your name on the seniority list. This was that day for him, a member of the photo staff. Actually, they eliminated THE ENTIRE PHOTOGRAPHY STAFF. We’re still waiting to see how that is supposed to work. Disposable cameras for everyone!
Thankfully, it was only a part-time gig for my guy. We knew it was coming. Still, it’s always a shock when the ax falls.
When I wrestled with the decision last year of whether to leave the business temporarily or forever, factors such as decline in workplace morale, inability to advance, earn more money, maintain health, have a freakin’ life, played a major role.
I got to the point where I was willing to throw my paycheck and bennies over the side of a cliff just to gain peace of mind and some freedom. I was so worn out I couldn’t even think straight. I had become a robot.
So I cut myself loose. It was either the smartest or stupidest thing I’d ever done. Depending on the day of the week, how much money is in my bank account, I’m either giddy with joy that I can work in my garden all day, play with my baby daughter and attend one of my older daughter’s sporting events, or else I’m kicking myself in the shins for throwing away almost 20 years of work experience and having to see “homemaker” next to my name on tax forms.
Most people in this economy (i.e. no jobs) don’t walk away from a safe bet with nothing new lined up unless they have a huge stash of money. Most people who like to do things like go on vacation, attend concerts and buy new clothes don’t quit their jobs. Most people don’t have the guts to just quit.

The point of this respite was to care for our newly adopted baby and reexamine my life goals and career objectives. So far, I’ve learned that taking care of a baby is a full-time job all by itself. It leaves little time for things like showering at leisure, thumbing through new magazines, exploring new career goals.
I’ve also learned that while taking care of the baby and older girl — being there for them –means a lot, I feel like I’ve lost a big part of myself by leaving the workplace. Balance is the key here and with my last job, there was no balance. When my first girl was born, I went back to work within six weeks. It sucked but I did it. I missed out on a lot of milestones while I was pounding the keyboard late into the night. But I also took pride in the fact that I was DOING SOMETHING meaningful, bringing home money to the family. When I divorced her father, it meant everything to be able to stand on my own and live above the poverty line.
But the business has been evolving since before I entered it. I was warned quite firmly in J-school to be diversified and expect the worst for the future of newspapers. By the time I landed my last job, my newspaper had already lived its heydey. Circulation was in a firm nosedive pattern. Almost immediately after Sept. 11, 2001, the layoffs began. They still haven’t stopped. The building, which takes up one-half a city block, was once a hive of activity. Now it’s a masoleum.
Was it a mistake to leave the workplace? Perhaps I console myself by realizing I didn’t walk away from a gold mine, I jumped off a sinking ship. I saved myself. Even if it doesn’t feel that way right now. I removed myself from an environment that was sucking the life out of me. It is any surprise that the majority of my coworkers were on anti-depressants, had addiction problems, relationship issues, anger-management struggles and god know’s what else?
So my husband, the photographer, and I, the maybe-on-hiatus writer/copy editor, held a funeral for our former employer, no doubt in the throes of death. We also raised a glass in toast to what is around the bend, the unknown.

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