Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday Publishing

Crappy Hour
My first article for Radar

About the Cynics' Party:
Media Bistro NY
Fishbowl DC (scroll down)

Sometimes, being nice is not its own reward

You know, sometimes you go out of your way to be nice to people because you want to take the high road. Actually, by that I mean: sometimes, I go out of my way to take the high road because I don't like making decisions I can't take back when I am emotional. Being a vicious bitch is often one of those decisions.

It was in that spirit when, when I was given basically no notice to write a goodbye to Wonkette readers that I wrote what I did: short, sweet, lacking in vitriol or even any information about why, and tried to use what I thought was a funny picture. When I got tons of emails and comments asking why it happened, I contemplated what to say and how to say it, and went the high road, describing Ken as "not a dick" and the decision as not motivated by sexism, Nick Denton or anything besides my ill-suitedness for the direction Ken wanted to take the site and even added that I agreed with his decision. When I was contacted for comment by HuffPo, the New York Times, Page 6 and BigHeadRob, I all but killed the story in every single instance when I could by saying that over and over again. I didn't encourage my readers or supporters to engage in the boycott or drive up particular comment threads, suggested that people should simply do what they thought best and spent the vast majority of my time attempting to find a new job while continuing to do a little writing.

This has, apparently, gone unnoticed, if this email from Ken to Jason (a.k.a., Homofascist) is any indication. For the record, I've never met Jason, didn't know him before I started at Wonkette and only have any relationship with him because I responded to his emails and comments and thought he was funny. That he (and the other HFA people and others) took my firing to heart was flattering, gratifying, unexpected and really humbling -- but it wasn't because this was a huge conspiracy of my close, personal friends or something.

But, for the record: I'm disgruntled? I exercised poor editorial judgment in leaving a classy "it was nice working for you" message to the commenters who -- by Nick Denton's own business model -- are an important part of the site? Me, who has defended Ken's decision in print and to other media types and anyone else who asked?

By the way, the Random House definition of disgruntled is: "displeased and discontented; sulky; peevish." I have described my firing as "personally devastating," but that's about it. I haven't sulked or been peevish, I've been forthright without acrimony or whining about the circumstances surrounding my firing and why it wasn't anyone's fault but my own that I took the job or outed myself or wouldn't fit into Ken's new direction. I haven't belittled him to anyone at Gawker, or bitched about him to his current employees. Being fired (as Ken has told people he knows) always sucks, but I picked my ego up off the floor, dusted it off and got on the job-search treadmill again 3 months into a new career.

But you know what I am, now? I'm mad.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thursday

I didn't post today. My bad. Crappy Hour is here.

Part of the reason I didn't post much today is that it's been a little bit of a crazy day. In addition to finishing my resume and applying for jobs (1 interview so far, actually), I've been lining up some other stuff, too.

First on the list, Greg Wasserstrom, Hunter Walker (of Gridskipper), Blogenfreude, Jason Cox and I launched our own blog, The Cynics' Party. Come on over and join us for some cynical, humorous political analysis/mockery on a daily basis, comments welcome!

Second, Monday through Wednesday next week I'll be guest blogging at Radar Magazine Online's Fresh Intelligence (possibly including an article tomorrow), so please check on out over there next week (and I'll be posting links here as I'm writing).

Finally, Super Tuesday (February 5th), I'll be hosting Glamour's Glamocracy live-blog of the elections. Glamour's got 29 women -- one in each state having a primary -- who will be live blogging from their states and me from D.C. starting in the morning and continuing through the polls' close in California (yes, I am crazy).

As for the rest of it, I'm going to keep doing Crappy Hour with Moe and probably a couple of other features for Jezebel coming up (so stayed tuned there and here). Please keep your fingers crossed for something cool/permanent coming down the pike, and thank you for reading and supporting me.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Today

Crappy Hour
Also, check out: Wyld Card, a.k.a. Hot Sauce.

Ok, so, an update: I am definitely getting out of bed before 3:00 today (Crappy Hour yesterday and today, though, were done from under my delightful flannel sheets). I am finishing re-writing my resume, I have applied for jobs. I will finish my bio and find an (appropriate) head shot and send to to someone who asked for them. I will finished returning emails. And, um, well, I'll be watching Jeff Corwin and furry animals on Ellen (that Anna just IM'd me about) because I need a cute factor. And I might do some more yoga, because that was really helpful last night.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Monday, January 21, 2008

Dispatch from the home front

My dad has actually been a regular reader since I started the column- he's not at all political, but it thrilled him to death to see my writing in print and was happy that I took the job (he's always wanted me to be a writer). He's obviously not happy about Friday's turn of events, but he thinks the comment thread is pretty cool. Plus, he's always got to throw in a blonde joke, because that's my dad.

Megan,
How are you doing? I can’t believe the size of the response to your being fired or the number of comments. It must ease the pain a bit. I notice the hits on the site are down dramatically for a live blogging. Hang in there and call if you feel like it.
Love Ya, Dad

Oh, and... [Updated]

Crappy Hour
Down & Out in DC: One Girl's Guide

And other people weigh in, too:

The whole story

Ok, so, this'll probably get a little long-winded and I'll apologize in advance. So much has been asked and speculated and surmised and whatever that I sort of feel like there's more of a record that needs to be set straight than just saying, this is how the firing went down.

So, from the beginning, I guess: I started doing the Ask A Lobbyist column in August of '06 in the midst of a soul-suckingly awful stint at a consulting firm (and, at a really difficult time in my personal life). When the Anonymous Hill Staffer guy left, Alex Pareene put out a call for entries (Hillies or whomever) and I sent an email, he thought it was funny and I started writing. A lot of the time I wrote drunk. Once I wrote drunk, sick and late at night from Vietnam (a business trip). My dad and a couple of friends that knew about it thought it was hilarious that I was able to stay anonymous because it sounded so much like talking to me when I had my rant pants on. It was never great money (Peter, aka Princess Sparkle Pony, called it "shoe money" to me once, and he was right) but it was a good outlet for a lot of frustration with both the job I was in and the anti-lobbyist backlash in the world (when, really, the politicians are as bad if not worse).

Then that October I got a new job and kept doing the columns because I liked it. It was one of the few times I got be be creative in my writing (press releases=not very fun) and I had inadvertently (again) stumbled into a job for which I wasn't particularly suited experience-wise (they should've hired someone with less), politically (they told me they were very non-partisan and no one there was) or interest-wise (because they didn't let me do any intellectually stimulating work nearly the entire time I was there).

In the mean time, Alex put me in touch with Moe Tkacik and we hit it off and she liked my writing and she asked if I would be interested in taking over "That's So Janes" at Jezebel, and I was. They posted my first one when I was on a cross-country road trip with my cousin and, when I came back, my employer laid me off. That sucked. It was also just about the time that Alex was leaving to work for Gawker and John Clarke was joining Wonkette and it seemed like serendipitous timing to me because I realized that I was burnt out at being a lobbyist and that I'd only ever had two jobs (of 6) that I liked and that was because of the bosses I'd had.

So, I spent October unemployed, writing columns for Jezebel and Wonkette and looking for work and trying to decide on a career transition (work on the Hill, for a non-profit, see what could come of the writing thing, etc.). Anna was heading off on a vacation and Moe pitched me as a guest editor and Anna agreed; in the mean time, John Clarke said he wanted to hire me because he liked my voice and my insider-y-ness and because it was a woman's voice- but that I needed a trial run and so that's what my Jezebel guesting stint became.

And I found I really liked it, despite the pace and everything. So, while we were negotiating during my trial period, for the record, no one pressured me to stop being anonymous. But, I figured that if I was going to make the jump to blogging/writing/journalism, I should do it whole-heartedly. If it failed, well, I'd be in no worse a position than I was in last October but at least I would have a body of work for which I could take credit. And, on using the pictures, well, I was egged on by my gay best friend and a really good photographer the day after my 30th birthday and the day after the man I'd been dating decided (at 4:20) that he needed a break from our relationship because it was too much pressure. That made for a fun birthday, though Alex's going-away party was a good way to get out of the house. And I figured that, if nothing else, no one would be scoping my Facebook profile or a cached version of my (now defunct) website looking for sexier or less flattering pictures of me (and, I was right). Plus, my idea of what's not shocking (lying fully clothed in a bathtub with the shower going) was never quite in tune with most of DC's, as my grad school classmates can attest.

So, I outed myself and started working and trying to be true to the vision for the site that was laid out for me: newsy, cynical, (yes) snarky, funny when it warranted, insider-y, etc. And then things were thrown into chaos with John's abrupt departure and Jim and I ended up basically running the site for a month. Despite the fact that we still had to post 10 times a day in addition to doing administrative stuff (which made for long days) and the fact that December's never a great month, I thought we did pretty well: traffic went steadily up, I didn't think our writing quality declined, etc. Plus, Jim and I have similarly collaborative working styles and complementary interests, so it was rare that we ever wanted to write the same story.

We found out Ken Layne was starting about the same time everyone else did on January 2nd and were both really super excited. That wore off a little quickly for me, as it was obvious from the get-go that he was not a fan of my writing. He didn't think I was funny and he didn't like when I was serious or rant-y and it was pretty clear to me by last weekend that what happened was going to happen. I was still in the probationary phase of my contract (3 months and I'd get 2 weeks notice), but I figured that he might let that run down before letting me go. I was wrong.

He very politely called me at 5:30 on Friday (which: standard HR practice, truly) to tell me that it had been my last day writing for Wonkette. He told me that the intention of bringing him back was to move the site towards being what it was under him and Alex and that my voice and writing didn't fit with that vision -- and he's right, it doesn't. In that editorial environment, I would stick out like a sore thumb, and he said he wanted a more uniform tone. He said that I should finish what I was doing, write a goodbye and call it a day. Getting fired sucks, but he wasn't a dick about it.

So, I finished my post on the Texas guy and the Sharon Jones video that Eric Brewer had done, and contemplated what to write for a little while. I had a short conversation over IM with Anna and Moe to let them know what was going on, and to ask if I would still be contributing to Crappy Hour and whether they might be able to pay me for some contributions and they said yes, so I added that to the goodbye. I also called my parents and emailed some people so that no one would completely freak out when it went up. And then I pushed "Publish" and logged out of the system.

So, to some of the stuff that's been said on the comment boards and others. It didn't feel, nor was it presented, like sexism and I doubt seriously that Ken was jealous of me, given that he comes with like 20 some years of experience and his own following. Ken's assessment of my fit with where he wants to take Wonkette is completely accurate, even if the results of that are personally devastating to me. I have no idea whether Nick Denton was informed of or gave any input to Ken about the decision to fire me, though my (admittedly limited) experience with him suggests to me that he was probably like "Do what you think best" if he was told.

So, that's the story. It is, admittedly, kind of boring. And now I'm going back to bed for a couple of hours because I was out late, up early and I like sleeping. Then I'll get on the job search train.

Oops

So, I had totally started writing an explanation, and then my friend came over to take me to dinner/the subway so that I might retrieve my car from where I left it on Saturday night (don't drink and drive!). We had dinner, the bartender's a friend and just sort of kept refilling my wine glass and then I fell asleep on Metro and woke up... at Minnesota Ave. For anyone else that has a habit of dozing off on trains (they're quiet, and the move back and forth, and I've done it in 4 cities by now), if you wake up as the train comes outside after Stadium/Amory after having missed Capitol South, just ride it to New Carrolton. Minnesota Avenue is creepy and cold. A nice Latino man and his son stopped to ask me if I was lost because white people don't usually get off there.

Aaanyway, so I eventually caught a train back, and then went to meet another friend at St. Ex for a drink. One drink turned into 2, her friend Dawn showed up, we decided we were splitting a bottle of champagne, then that we needed to go to some gay event at DC9 and that the rest of the bottle fit nicely in a big purse. It was then decided that a little smoke-up was required and so we went to Dawn's "first," which became last when Dawn's bud was exceptionally kind (my first time!) and our friend fell asleep and so, then, did I. So, for the second time this weekend, I slept it off on someone's couch. She got me up and to my car in time to come home for Crappy Hour (on which I'm also working currently).

All that's to say: it's half written and in draft form and I'll put it up this morning before I go back to bed.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Greg's Gawker Audition, Day 2

Parties and other fun nonsense

These pictures always seem like a great idea when you're drunk, but the lovely pregnant (and sober) Spangledangel thought it was good so we went for it.

I don't support him, but I will wear his signs when I've been drinking.

This is Jim. I waterboarded him out of love.

God, I'm drunk and conflicted. I feel like I should be about to get laid.

Ok, so, I'm really not in any shape to post something intelligent, etc. Anyone who's read the personal-personal blog will attest to the fact that when it gets late and I get a little (or a lot) drunk, I tend to get a bit maudlin (and typo-filled). Yay blogger spellcheck!

That said... tonight was a really excellent night. A bunch of random commenters/readers showed up and were as cool in person as they are on the site. I was hugged, a bunch, and for a single girl that was actually almost as cool as being able to come home to sleeping next to someone. I have had tons of people who don't know me email me with support and even more people join the HFA and email stuff to management and I'm incredibly flattered and in love with y'all and completely weirded out because it's like getting shitcanned made me even more public than joining Wonkette did and I was already emotionally conflicted about that (which meant my shrink made more money and good for her because she's awesome). I really spent a great deal of my adult life sorta trying not to be "noticed" and being noticed at all was weird and getting more noticed for getting publicly fired is this intensely weird moment of public vulnerability that I didn't expect or even really covet, but thank you to everyone who made me feel less naked by being supportive. It's like everyone held up a huge towel when I got pantsed in front of the high school and I can't imagine how I could ever thank everyone.

Okay, like I said, I might get a little maudlin when I drink. I'm still trying to get things to be somewhat linear in my head so that I can write it, and I appreciate the patience. It's strange to try to be honest about something that cuts really deeply in a short period of time, and it's hard to be able to line up my own thoughts because the situation is confusing enough on its own and then it's added to by my own emotional response. But, I'm trying. Maybe a few hours of that REM sleep will help. But, really, thank you. Y'all are lovely.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Day Got Away From Me

Between phone calls and IMs and the many, many emails that you guys sent (which, thank you) to which I haven't even remotely finished replying, the day has just run away with me. I've been on the computer for 8 straight hours, so it was almost like working except I didn't have to read the paper or watch the news.

That said, I'm meeting people in 30 minutes to start the drinking, so the long explanation is going to have to wait for tomorrow's hangover. It's kind of hard, too, to be able to put everything into words or sort it out well enough to be coherent in the midst of my freak out and my trying-to-write-a-resume and all that stuff you do when you get fired. So, please, hang in there, give me a chance to write it in the way that I intellectually know is best and most honest. I really do appreciate the IMs and the emails and the Facebook messages and the supportive comments because, while I knew that some of you would notice, I had no idea that it would be such comprehensive support or that it would be able to make the last 24 hours so much less awful than I expected it to be.

Greg's Gawker Audition, Day One (Plus Liz Gorman)

He also asked me to say that, at least in the short term, he's still writing the morning round ups. More on me in a bit (I'm only on my first cup of coffee).


Also, though I didn't say before because I was upset and maybe just a teeeeny bit drunk, Ken had me let Liz Gorman, Wonkette's former and Washingtonian's current photographer, go. This also sucked because Liz is not only a fantastic art photographer and event photographer (hire her! hire her!), she's amazing in her ability to infiltrate parties and events to which she's not been invited and then to get people not to put their hands up and stuff.

Ok, I'm only being kind of quiet right now because I've got like 100 emails and I'm trying to respond to as many as possible because I really appreciate those of you who took the time to write to me, and then I'll get around to a longer explanation thingie and a response to some of the questions I've been asked. I don't think it's appropriate to get into certain things on Wonkette's comment boards, but I have been reading and know that people are curious and have questions and I want to answer them.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Giving up on going out

I was going to go out to whine or celebrate, but there's booze at my house and I wasn't in the mood. Two things:

1. Greg Wasserstrom got the axe from Ken this week as well, but didn't get the sign-off email to say goodbye. He's auditioning for Gawker.com this weekend, so I'll post links to his stuff here. He's a funny, nice guy trying to get a start at this blogging thing, so check him out. If you use this to click through to just his stuff, he earns the page views directly, and the tech guys know where it's coming from.

2. Anybody that seriously wants to join my friends and I for a night of boozing tomorrow should email me. Because there will be drinking and anyone who wants to join is welcome. I'm taking suggestions for locale because, basically, I'm not really up for decision-making

Yeah, so it's kind of empty here

Mostly because I have another, much, much more personal blog that I have been writing on this whole time. But, if you're coming here it's because you've seen the goodbye post, and I appreciate that. If it wasn't clear, it wasn't my idea to leave, what with the fact that I burned all my lobbying bridges and did interviews and whatever and have no idea what to do now. It's been a fucked up day.