Happy New Year everyone. 2013 is almost in the books, with a promising year around the corner. This post is about football, but it also isn't -- so apologize in advance if this isn't really your bag. We will be back to our regularly scheduled programming in the AM.
Internally I've debated for two weeks whether to write this post at all, finally settling on putting it out there rather than creating a burner wordpress account or live journal to share my feeling about the year that was.
It has been a hell of a year, in the best way possible.
Cat Scratch Reader has grown dramatically in the past 12 months, which means we must be doing something right. I know the content doesn't always tickle everyone's fancy and there are times we tend to stray from being the stalwart fans we're expected to be -- but I think we did honest work, if nothing else.
This year on CSR will be defined to me as a year we brought talented writers aboard who I am proud to say help make this place what it is. It's also a year the editorial team learned the importance of "the needs of a many out weigh the needs of the few," I know it's a Star Trek quote -- but it fits, okay?
Moderation became more strict, particularly in the back-end of the year. We followed a strict policy of hiding content and issuing warnings, but never banned users outside of being obvious trolls. In hindsight it was a poor move by us, and the community suffered as a whole. Some people live to start internet fights, masterfully reading a site's ToS and toeing the line to cause as much discord without crossing the line. We won't allow those people to impact your experience on CSR. Finally I feel like things are getting back where they need to be.
I'm a weirdly sentimental dude at my heart, and it pains me to see BW Smith leave us. I haven't said this stuff to him directly, largely because staring at my screen right now is easier than penning and email -- but he will be missed immensely. This wont be an easy loss for the team, and while I'm confident we can fill the gaps, it's just not the same.
He has been instrumental in increasing this site's scope, and worked wonders with social media in 2013. The growth on Twitter and Facebook has been huge, and for that we thank him.
There's a large part of me wondering if there wasn't something I could have done earlier this year that could have convinced him to stay. Apathy and weariness sometimes can't be cured, but perhaps I never said "thank you" enough to a man who was such a reliable force on the editorial team.
In any event, thank you Brad for being awesome. I hope this is a "see you soon" and not goodbye.
Happier news, get happier James.
The Panthers are in the playoffs. Goodness what a year it has been. Immense lows early to the highest highs arguably ever. It has been a monumental year for Carolina, and hopefully the tip of a much larger iceberg. Winning the NFC South never seemed a reality earlier in 2013, but this team is something special.
It's so nice to not be talking about the draft in December, instead looking ahead to the playoffs. That's a feeling I haven't experienced on CSR before and it's going to be a lot of fun.
My highlight of the year was probably training camp. It was a stellar two days with Jaxon, BW, TerribleMetaphorGuy (yes, he's real), beer runner, Goose Creek and scrantsj. My fervent apologies if I forgot you on this list. Nothing would make me happier than seeing a bigger turnout in Spartanburg in 2014.
A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to meet with several of the Carolina-based blogs and bloggers at the Raleigh SB Nation meetup. There are some really exciting things around the corner for the network as a whole, and I can't wait to share then with you.
GREG HARDY IS ON CSR. Goodness gracious that was awesome.
Now to be personal...
This is much harder.
In mid-October you might remember me going CSR crazy. I posted 10+ times per day, desperately trying to comb through anything newsworthy and post. At the time the comments were "James must be on vacation" and "He must have the day off" and both were true, kind of.
My 14 years of unbroken employment were shattered. I was fired for the first time in my life following a 10 minute meeting with corporate HR and was escorted from my place of employment. The details are unimportant, but suffice it to say I feel like I did a darn good job for my employer.
I returned home and blogged, non-stop, a bizarre effort to keep my mind ticking on something other than life. There was chain-smoking too, for the first time in my life I picked up a packet of cigarettes and went to town -- it seemed like the appropriate thing to do.
It's an odd feeling to lose a job. Maybe it makes me sound naive or immature, but so much of my self worth was tied to a job I hated. It defined me as a person, and I could barely look at my wife with a straight face and not feel like I let her down, let us down.
The experience taught me to never let anything out of your control define who you are. Congratulations if you learned that lesson before me, because it look my 28 years to work that one out. We have a tendency to tie our person-hood with to what we do for a living, please don't do it.
Ultimately it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. I am working steadily for SB Nation writing about football on a full-time basis, and have an opportunity to work with a group of people who allow me to grow as a writer every single day. People I admire for their ability to turn a phrase, describe a situation, or find the perfect adjective that puts you in a locale. Shit, I mean look at David Roth's examination of Qatar for the 2022 Soccer World Cup -- nothing like it both motivates a writer to be better while simultaneously makes them feel worthless.
I've lived a life largely defined by fear for the better part of a decade. Afraid of change, willing to remain stagnant, always ready to offer a silver-tongued quip like "If it's meant to happen, it will happen," a convenient scapegoat for a coward. It's hard to argue against it, and it gets people off your back. If you drop that one a lot, don't -- own your life and do what you want to do.
One day I might have the courage to tell some of the people who changed my life in 2013 how much they meant to me, even if they don't know it -- but I'm not quite ready yet, and I think that's okay too.
2013 has been hard for a thousand reasons, and been about soul searching. Life might be more difficult, but it's a whole lot happier -- and that's what matters, isn't it? Instead of saying "thank God 2013 is over" I'm rubbing my hands in anticipation for 2014. I'm ready for the challenges, arguably for the first time ever.
Thank you to our Cat Scratch Readers. It has been an amazing year on the site, a less amazing one off it, but that's what living is.