I must be feeling sentimental because, man, everything seems so nice in Florida right now. The acorns falling all night from the giant oak crackle like firecrackers on the metal carport; the whores on Nebraska Avenue are more vivacious and crack-addicted than ever; the blue-collar-types shuffling into Three Coins Restaurant seem so happily hungry; and the squadron of parrots that squawk noisily over my Seminole Heights house seem less pesky than usual. When I drive to work, Fisher and Napoleon actually seem funny, and Nancy Alexander sounds more hot and bothersome than ever. In case you are confused: I'm going away. To write for a small but plucky daily in Oregon. Yeah, Oregon. If you think that's funny, you'll guffaw over the name of the town: Bend. Bend, Oregon. Bend Overagain. Bend Over For the Organ Again.
The only parrot I know of in Oregon was this Parrothead who lived in the dorm room next to me when I worked in Alaska. Hailing from the Portland area, he was a really big champion of Jimmy Buffett's work. He also chewed tobacco and fished. He wasn't really that good a neighbor.
I feel fortunate to have written for this paper, to have spent my career up to now with this paper. To think I (probably) will not be escorted out of the building, like I always worried I'd be because I can be a little paranoid sometimes. Hey, you would be too if you were me. I just got an e-mail from Weekly Planet (or is it Creative Loafing?) CEO Ben Eason saying, "Where the hell do you come up with this stuff? What disturbances lie deep in your creative mind?"
Wow, to be called creative and deep in the same sentence by a guy who went to Yale who happens to be el presidente is sweet indeed. If you fancy yourself a writer, as studies show 76 percent of the population does (23 percent fancy themselves editors or publishers and one percent actually reads) you'll understand that I must be an idjit to walk away from a job that has allowed me to write about pretty much whatever tickles my fancy, from UFOs and Bigfoot chasers to a lizard hunter to a guy who cleans up crime scenes for a living.
I remember (I can hear the groans now) my first staff meeting, when I was a part-time editorial assistant in the Planet's old facilities on Reo Street. The monthly meeting was held in the production department on the first Thursday of each month, same as now, and to boost air circulation there was a fan. A fan I nervously sat on the floor in front of, one of several people in the wind. But only I stank. My armpits can turn on the waterworks big time when I am nervous. Just as I started worrying that those downwind might get a whiff, this girl, long gone, piped up, "Who smells?"
Then another: "Someone stinks!"
I nonchalantly folded my arms tightly around myself, hugging my chest in a straitjacket-like grip. Still, the smell rode on the wind like the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse trying to catch the other four. My new colleagues were ready to start lifting shirts (unfortunately, not theirs) to find the culprit when our then-sales director told them to just shut up already, like they should have had the class and politeness and — who am I kidding? I stank. I stunk. I still stink.
I stink where I sit in this cubicle, even though I am wearing deodorant. (For the most part, I'm too neurotic to don anti-perspirant because I once read an article drawing a link, probably spurious, between Alzheimer's and aluminum silicates in anti-perspirant and Alzheimer's.)
(That was a joke.)
I am a stinking sweat machine because I am nervous now like I was nervous then. Thought I might fail then, think I might fail now. Even though I have six years of Professional Journalism experience behind me, I don't know what I'm getting into.
But don't cry for me, Argentina: Overriding all this trepidation is a palpable excitement. (Seriously, my excitement is palpable. Would you like to reach over and touch it?)
Now I will impart to you, kind reader, what I learned in my six years of writing for the Weekly Planet: I learned I should wear anti-perspirant to my job interview in Bend Overagain. Because I did (do, Dave, do) want the job, and smelly armpits would not have been the way to go. It's just so hard to go, to leave the place where I have grown up, in a very limited sense, and feel welcome whenever I am not being paranoid about being escorted out of the building.
I've learned that it's important, hard though it may be, to appreciate wherever you are in your life because before you know it, things change. Now, turn to your coworkers and give them a big old hug.
Well, at least the silicates may rid me of the good memories. They're as hard to live with, in a way, as the bad ones. Maybe harder.
I never thought I'd have a job into my 30s that would allow me to wear shorts to work. I mean, I still dress like I did in high school. What will I do with all those shorts?
Anyway, as I said in my letter of resignation: Thank you so much. I have had too much fun.
David Jasper can be reached at