A lot of people have been asking me that question, especially because I’ve announced to all that I am leaving Milwaukee. I don’t know where I want to go, but as much as I love my friends in Milwaukee and the city itself, I know for sure I can’t handle another winter in my life.
Maybe I’ll be braver in the future, but in the two winters I spent in Wisconsin, I witnessed about 180 inches of snow altogether. That’s a lot of ice and snow and slipping and gloves and down jackets and layers and thermals and grey and clouds and cabin fever for a girl who was raised to be suntanned and slippery, swimming happily in pee-warm, turquoise-blue waters, squinting at the sun in wide open skies.
Luckily I don’t believe I need to look for a regular job ASAP — nor do I really want to at this point. What with the turmoil in the newspaper industry (the LA Times, Chicago Tribune and the Journal Sentinel announcing layoffs and/or buyouts), I may leave journalism for good. It’s tough to set your career path in an industry that you don’t know will exist before you’re 50. Not that I’m thinking that far ahead, either.
All I know is this: I love writing, and print media is what I’ve done since I was 18. I love the process of newsgathering. I love writing ledes and shaping stories. I love putting packages together — with sidebars, photos, timelines, quizzes, whatever. But I want my work’s value to be recognized; readers/editors/publishers should know journalists like me put in a lot of care and energy into a story that is worthy of our byline. That we sometimes dream in ledes and story angles, and that reporting and editing IS sometimes tantamount to rocket science. And I guess I’m just not seeing that value in the industry right now.
So, my options. If I died tomorrow, my only regret would be not finishing my book. So that is #1 on my list. I’ve always wanted to go on a yoga retreat. I’ve always wanted to live in a Spanish-speaking country so I could hone my language skills. I’ve always wanted to go to South America and India. I’ve always wanted bum around in the Philippines and surf all day. I’ve always wanted to go to Cambodia and Vietnam. I’ve always wanted to live in New York, but I’ve been missing California A LOT. I’ve always wanted to do a project related to my dad’s work.
I suppose I could try and figure out how to do all this now that I have all this time, but our severance package isn’t THAT big. Also, I’m at a point in my life where I NEED good friends around me. I don’t think I can stand to make new friends in a new city and then leave them again. Like I did in Milwaukee. Or Orange County. Or Manila. It’s too heartbreaking.
So it’s boiled down to this: my options are ultra wide-open, but wherever I end up living will be a place where the weather is mild and I have a lot of friends. It could be New York, because most of my best friends live there now. It could be LA. It could be Manila.
And I will always be writing, and creating, and hopefully I will make music again. So you’ll see my byline when I send the pitches I’ve been dreaming about to various editors. And that’s what’s up with me.