Layoffs. Yuck. But a new passion too.

So… this coming week is make-it-or-break-it for Patch. If you haven’t seen it in the press already, we’ve got layoffs coming, as the AOL CEO wants to restructure things a bit with the goal of making it more profitable. He said he would keep the top 500 performing sites as they are, while the bottom 400 will either be cut or partnered with other local media. None of us have any idea what this means, really, so I’m not going to speculate. But we do know it will have deep impact on the job field, meaning many employees will be getting laid off. I truly hope none of my colleagues in the Greater Seattle Area Patches will. They all deserve to be here. But it’s not my decision.

We learned about these cuts on Wednesday from a call with the CEO. Tension set in pretty quickly – we didn’t know what was coming from one day to the next. We had to have a group call to make sure we were ready for a shutdown. This was on Thursday, after I’d been in Puyallup in the morning for a city council campaign thing (which was kinda boring, I hate to say it). Then I got stuck in traffic on SR 167, which didn’t help me feel any less stressed. My work was already piling up on me for that day, with two extensive police blotters to write and the looming uncertainty of my company’s fate. On the conference call, we were advised to back up all of our work, which I spent a great deal of time doing, and that’s probably a good thing anyway. It just sucked up time I probably should have been using to work on the stories. I stayed up until 1:45 a.m. getting everything done, which certainly didn’t benefit the quality of it, along with the fact that I couldn’t stop thinking about what was coming. Was I about to lose the chance for my ideal career? Being shut down wouldn’t hurt me too much now, but Patch has been such a perfect choice for this summer. I can imagine working with a group like this for a long time. And I’ve had a blast with the people on my team. They are supportive, engaging, funny, charismatic, everything you could want out of a group of journalists. So I don’t want to lose this window of opportunity.

While Patch is heading in a bit of a different direction right now, we have to keep focusing on our work. Truly, that’s what keeps us going. When I let it get to me, my work suffered. But when I dove into it, as I did with the video story I did on Friday in Gig Harbor, not only was it better, but I was happy. I am doing what I love here at Patch. We can still do what we love, in this time of uncertainty. And hopefully those who can’t be with us anymore can still use the same skills in new opportunities. I think we will start finding out more tomorrow (Monday) about the strategies for re-structuring. All I know is that I’m going out on Tuesday in Seattle with the Patch gang so we can de-stress a little. And of course, back to work.

This weekend I’ve had some time off. It’s nice, but I must admit that I’m bored. It’s quite sad, when I’m not getting 498579 emails an hour (exaggeration) I don’t know what to do with myself. I always feel like I should be out doing something. I just have a hard time unplugging. Sundays are typically slow news days, and today especially I found myself sitting there, thinking, “OMG, something happen!” I played cello in church in the morning and went to the farmers market, worked out at the gym, read a book on Queen Elizabeth II, wrote on my fiction project, and ate salad. But I’m itching to get back out into the field again. Case in point: the other night I was awoken by thunder (a rare Seattle occurrence), and immediately I thought, “OMG! I have to post about this on Patch!” I turned my phone on and scoured it for news. I was barely awake, and that was what I did. I may have a problem…

Speaking of the field… another thing this summer has taught me is that military life is super interesting. Random interjection, I know, but visiting JBLM three times now is really an eye-opener. I’m always excited to get back there, even though entering the base terrifies me a little every time… But it’s always worth it. I wish I could just spend hours with the soldiers and listen to their stories, and maybe even make a difference for those of them who are struggling. Long story short, I would love for my career to be one that includes work with the military. Considering that JBLM is one of the largest bases in the U.S., moving back here would make sense if I want to do that. It’s the calling I never knew I had. If Brent ever moved on, for any reason… I will totally take over the Lakewood-JBLM Patch site. I think it’s deeper than just meeting a lot of attractive men (although, that is a perk). It’s something I find myself drawn to now, in all kinds of ways. So I will continue to pursue this.

What else did I do this week? I did my first restaurant review, at The Forum in Puyallup, I did National Night Out for University Place and Puyallup (intense night. I was running around so much), I met warriors transitioning out of the Army working at Habitat for Humanity, I had a minor panic attack at Tulio’s at my parents’ anniversary dinner (so much food!), and I finally cleaned up my room a little bit. I don’t know what this week will hold… I pray for the very best, as always, but keep the worst in my mind.

To quote a fairly well-known Seattle artist: make the money, don’t let the money make you.

Cheers,

Brita

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