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.