Two years ago, I drafted a single diary on Daily Kos concerning the troubling impact the recession and conservative economic policy were having on young people. To my amazement, it was received well. But as I implied in that piece, I was pursuing town and city manager positions throughout a relatively conservative region and needed to maintain my neutrality in public. As such, I reluctantly resorted back to lurking amongst some of the brightest progressive minds on the planet. Yes, you! No, not that troll. But everyone else.
Fast forward two years and I feel both an update and announcement are warranted.
I'm walking away from pursuing a career in government. I let my friends and family know of my choice on Facebook yesterday, along with this welcome consequence:
No more neutrality. Silence doesn't help Democratic discourse. Now, I'm here to rejoin this community in an active role and offer my thanks.
Follow me below the fold and through the great orange satanic portal for more.
This diary has only two purposes: an update and a thank you. As I reengage with this community, I will get back to policy and politics. For now, humor me just a minute.
After writing that diary, I continued to search for work where I could apply my experience and expertise in local government. I planned a small transit system for a community. I analyzed signage and parking issues in a beach town. I applied to hundreds of full-time positions, searching for a place to establish myself as a career public servant.
As it turns out, local governments are still not rehiring most of the positions they eliminated- half a decade since the recession hit. A low level planning position in one of the college towns in my state opened up, the same college where I got my MPA (Masters in Public Administration- think MBA for government). With professional experience in the town and connections in the community, I knew I'd be a strong candidate. There were 380 applicants, unheard of. Five interviewed.
This is the atmosphere young people have dealt with for years now. This economic environment is what prompted my last diary here. And this is why we cannot allow our young people to build their ability at some of the best universities on earth, only to let those skills rot away as they frantically seek work while serving tables to survive- if they can find a serving job. But that's for another time.
Me? I'm stubborn as all hell. I continued to search, apply, repeat, until I was so sick of rejection I'd take a month off. It was during one such month that an idea from high school began to bubble into something larger. My friends and I had been known in the area for BBQ since my teenage years. It's what we did. You go to a club or the mall? We'd go to the river, fire up the grills, pull out the guitars, and live. At the time, it was just fun. Seven years post high school and hundreds of applications later, it was a way to survive. We started catering small events, starting with local folks who were familiar with our reputation for food. Last year we expanded, buying and remodeling a 20 foot concession trailer to pull to area fairs and festivals. After this summer, we'll be looking towards another expansion into a deli or small restaurant.
Even with this success, I was still doing the search, apply, repeat process regularly. Last week I stopped. For good.
For one, the catering and concession season is here. Secondly, we've grown enough that I can survive on the income. But most importantly, walking away from local government aspirations will free me to do the two things I enjoy most for the foreseeable future: Cook and write. And this is where the thank you part starts.
I think I speak for many lurkers here when I say thank you. As you can tell, a large portion of the last three years was hell. Even when things were toughest, I was reading DailyKos.. well, daily. And it helped more than you'll ever know.
When I was missing the policy discussions, I knew Kos or Joan or countless others would have something interesting to bring to the debate table.
When I was feeling down and out, I knew Mark Fiore or Matt Bors would have a new comic up to make me chuckle.
When I was tired of politics, I knew I needed look no further than the pooties and woozles to get away for a few.
When I wanted to scream at the screen, I knew Bubbanomics wasn't far away with something hilarious to say - or just a great graphic.
When I was angry about life, I knew I could count on Hunter to scorch Republicans in a way so appropriately sharp and sarcastic that I'd feel better.
When my inner math nerd needed election data, I knew Nate Silver and Steve Singiser and David Nir would get me my fix- with better analysis than I ever had.
When I'd missed The Daily Show or Colbert Report, I knew BruinKid would post anything worth watching for the whole community.
When crazy weather struck, I knew I could look to weatherdude for sound analysis and others to point and laugh when Fox used it to discredit global warming.
When the front runner for the Republican nomination was revealed as a thug, I knew I could get more information from a HoundDog diary than from the MSM.
When I'd try to remember all my favorite diarists and characters, I knew the list was so long my brain could never keep up or fit them all here.
And when we win this war, when the legs of Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers are sticking out from under this big tent like the wicked witches of wealth they are, I will no longer be lurking. I'll be here writing and working, alongside the best online community of writers, activists, and lurkers that earth has to offer.
Thank you for keeping me sane these last three years. All of you. You may not know it but you constantly impact those who simply read here. You change lives and open eyes every single day- and I'm evidence. Now, you have one more man joining the mission.
Let's get to work.