When I began this column-writing gig more than five years ago, I thought it would be my last new job. Once again, my ability to predict the future, even my own, fails miserably.
A casual conversation with a longtime friend led to the possibility of one more new beginning — too exciting and important to leave on the table. I gave notice Monday, and May 17 will be my final day at The Gazette.
It is, in a word, bittersweet.
I reserve the right to perhaps issue a few more words about the situation — after all, I’m scheduled to produce five more columns before I go — but I wanted to get that first one out there for all of you who have spent at least part of the past half-decade reading. I hope you’ll join me Thursday night at Theatre Cedar Rapids for Pints & Politics, which I’ve subtitled as Lynda’s Last Call.
Of all my duties at The Gazette, being part of the Pints & Politics crew has been the most challenging with the highest personal payoff.
The brilliant brainchild of my editor, Todd Dorman, these evenings spent with co-workers and readers have become the part of this job I’ll miss the most — and the part that took me the farthest from my comfort zone.
Professional writing of any type ultimately is a solitary occupation. Sure, there are events to attend, people to interview. But the final product is just one person and a pencil or keyboard. Even more narrow than the famed echo chambers of social media, writing makes it too easy to simply wander around in your own head. And, now having experienced several years of opinion writing, I can say that this type of writing lends itself the most to such self-imposed solitary confinement.
Pints & Politics has been, and will continue to be, a vaccination against some of the greatest ills of our political and media systems.
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There is no denying, when you are seated before a few hundred people, that what flows from you and onto the page is meant to be consumed by others. Not faceless masses. Not red or blue groups of advocates. People.
People who worry about their jobs, kids, the electric bill and retirement. People who are trying to navigate the policies set in place by local and state leaders. People who want to be part of something greater than themselves, and who want to come together for a common good.
People who want to spend a few minutes laughing about the state of politics, because too many have spent too much time worrying and crying about it.
People who need to see that these words on the page don’t magically appear, but belong to another person who also worries about her job, kids, the electric bill and (please, one day) retirement — another person who chooses to laugh rather than cry, so she can get back up the next morning and battle anew for her values.
It’s our humanity on display, unfiltered by ink, rewrites and editors. As such it is inherently imperfect. We, the panelists, disagree. Those in attendance disagree. No doubt some of you who hear us the following day on Iowa Public Radio disagree. And yet we all keep coming back to the conversation, pints optional.
So, I’m looking forward to my last call to the stage, and reserving my future seat in the audience.
• Comments: @LyndaIowa, (319) 368-8513, firstname.lastname@example.org