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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Moving On

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Tue, Jan 8, 2013 at 1:30 PM

I'm thrilled to report that I've been hired as the new online editor for Bitch Media, a national feminist magazine and media nonprofit based here in Portland. I'll be here at the paper for just two more weeks.

Bitch is inspiring and I'm very excited to join their staff, but I've worked on and off for Index Media—the small, excellent company that owns The Mercury and its Seattle sister paper, The Stranger—since I was 19, so the move for me is bittersweet. My first day as an intern at The Stranger, I mistook my boss for a homeless person loitering in the lobby of the newspaper. Over the next years, I made many worse mistakes, became addicted to drinking three cups of coffee a day, and spent much of my time at my desk weighed down by the knowledge that at any moment, the editors would appear, unmask me as a terrible fraud, and kick me to the curb. Of course that never happened. Instead, my coworkers have always been absurdly patient, generous, and funny and I've grown to feel confident as a journalist.

In addition to my coworkers, the best thing about being a reporter at the Mercury is that the job is an excuse to be curious about everything. It's been really great to wander around the city talking to interesting people from all social strata. The creative freedom that (extremely good looking) editor Steve Humphrey has offered me, though sometimes squandered, has resulted in every week here involving some sort of ill-advised adventure. Here is a short list of just some of the things I would never have done, if not for the Mercury:

• Participate in a prayer breakfast with a barefoot pastor, eating trash-salvaged hasbrowns cooked by a homeless man who dumpstered daily for Christ.

• Sleep in the dirt of Lownsdale Square after spending most of the night offering free pie to strangers and enduring 3 am political rants during Occupy Portland.

* Been referred to as "thunder thighs" by a bike shop owner vengeful that I reported on rumors of him selling stolen goods.

• Taken advantage of the loophole in Oregon law that allows residents to gamble for liquor one weekend of the year, but only at the greatest spectacle in American history, the Pendleton Round-Up

• Accidentally come into ownership of the mayor's best tie.

• Visit the historic home of 20 percent of the nation's chemical weapons.

• Had roughly 40,000 photos of me dressed eerily like my mom, if my mom had no shame wore plaid hot pants, distributed around the Portland metropolitan area.

• Watch nine straight hours of amateur porn.

• Fought off the worst hangover of my life at a pro-life conference out by the airport, taking what I thought were smart notes on the politics surrounding abortion, but turned out to be mostly scrawls of "OMG fetus shaped silly bands!"

• Fake pregnancy to deceive elderly volunteers.

I hope the next four years of my life are as interesting as the four-and-a-half I spent here at the Mercury. Thanks to you readers for all your enthusiasm and criticism. I'll still be living in Portland, so you will have to continue to avoid eye contact with me in the New Seasons bulk aisle.

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