Career Began in Northern California
Ten years ago this month I was assigned to The Modesto (Calif.) Bee as a copy editing intern. It's a great newspaper. And I loved it there.
My assignment to Modesto came as a quirk. Having gone to school at New Mexico State, the decisions committee at the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund slated me for the Tucson Citizen.
I still remember the phone call clearly (but probably not as well as I think). Dr. Bill Tillinghast called to offer me the job. I trembled with excitement as I heard the news. I wanted that internship more than anything I ever wanted in life.
Dr. Tillinghast explained that I would attend the center for editing excellence at San Jose State for two weeks (read about a related memory) before heading back to Tucson.
I'm still not sure what came over me. I told Dr. Tillinghast that I might never leave the Bay Area once they got me out there.
"We have an opening in Modesto, " he said.
"Where is Modesto?" I asked.
"About 90 miles east of San Francisco," he said.
"I'll take it," I said, pumping my fist in the air.
Life took a left turn in that moment. My love affair with the Bay Area only grew. In 1997, the goal of living in the Bay Area nearly consumed me.
So off I went.
Things went well. My dad drove out with me. We visited San Francisco together. It was amazing.
Dad flew home. I went through boot camp with Dow Jones (the greatest educational experience of my life), and I moved to my apartment in Modesto. My wife, Emily, joined me in Modesto after her summer class.
I had an interview with the Contra Costa Times, an east Bay paper. Life was awesome.
My wife became pregnant about that time. Although I had finished my degree at NMSU, she had a year left. There was no way that I was going to be apart from my first born. Life took another left turn.
So I picked up the phone. I called Harold Cousland at the Las Cruces Sun-News. I asked Harold for a job. Ten weeks before I competed with his paper as the editor of the NMSU student newspaper, the Round Up. That day I wanted a job.
Luckily Harold had a job for me.
So on August 31, 1997, I loaded all of my belongings into my white Pontiac Sunbird, and I headed south on Highway 99.
I left Northern California in the rear-view mirror that day, and I have not been back since.
In the interim, a decade went by. I tired of journalism's long hours and low pay. I wound up with a Ph.D. and three daughters.
In two more days, I'll fly into San Francisco again. In many ways, it will be as if the decade never passed by.