When I was 7 or 8 and living in Brazil, my sister and I had competing publications. Every week or so, we'd each show off our work, a hand-drawn page or two -- double-sided! -- of what was happening in our worlds. Hers was sensationalist and splashy, a mix of truths and rumors and whatever came to her head. Mine was straightforward and subtle, a mix of story summaries and "people on the street" interviews and any contributing pieces I could round up from friends.
She thought my paper was boring; I thought hers was crazy.
• • •
She studied economics and theater, and went the theatrical route after graduating from Rutgers University. I studied psychology and journalism, and followed the newspaper path after graduating from Boston University.
She started out in New York and ended up in Los Angeles, working gigs involving acting and singing, while supplementing her income with odd jobs here and there.
I started out in Florida (at The News in Boca Raton) and ended up in Florida (at the Tampa Bay Times in St. Petersburg) after a series of newspaper hops, editing and designing for The Journal newspapers in Northern Virginia, the Times-Union in Jacksonville and the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida.
She thought my life was boring; I thought hers was crazy.
• • •
For me, life in the paper-world was not boring: Breaking news and conflicting opinions made it stressful, exciting or entertaining, depending on my mood. But life in the paper-world was, until the past few years, "safe," and maybe "safe" to my sister meant boring. I had annual raises, health benefits and a steady schedule. She had sporadic pay, no benefits, and long auditions.
By the time I got laid off last October, life in the paper-world had drastically changed. The recession had brought pay cuts, reduced benefits, and chaotic schedules to accommodate for the shrinking staff from two or three rounds of layoffs.
For me, losing my job meant I was free and that I was about to embark on a crazy -- and incredibly fulfilling -- path.
Are you starting over after a layoff? We want to hear your story! Please email us at email@example.com, and include your story and contact info. We will try to include as many stories as possible in future blogs.
Ester Venouziou, founder of LocalShops1, is available for freelance projects: writing, editing, design or social media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727.637.5586.