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Looking Back 

An Inlander senior writer reflects on his seven years at the paper.

click to enlarge Kevin Taylor - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Kevin Taylor

So how’s this for a Last Word: I am leaving The Inlander after almost exactly seven years. Buh-bye! OK, so I realize I just wrote at least 11 — or possibly even 12 — words, depending on your view of hyphens.

(No one has ever accused me of under-writing.)

Here is something I’ve yet to tell many people, a little factoid that makes moving on not so painful: In the seven years I’ve worked at The Inlander, I have never put the office keys on my key ring. Just carried them loose in my pocket.

Weird, huh? You shouldn’t take that to mean that I heave a big sigh every morning and trudge down here as if reporting to some sort of a Roman slave galley. Whipcrack! “Faster. Type faster!! Once we finish Cheap Eats we go straight to the Best Of issue … Blogging speeeeeed!” Nah, that’s for the interns.

I love this place. I thoroughly enjoy the people I work with. I have taken full advantage of the platform The Inlander offers to go deeper into journalism. And I hope to contribute occasionally to the paper in the future.

The loose keys in my pocket all these years are simply a Note To Self that there are other places I want to go, other stories I want to write.

I got a late start on this writing thing and, even after 10 years of it, I still feel like I’m running out to the corner so I don’t miss my bus.

It’s a great profession, especially if you are easily confused. Just recently, it was pointed out to me by online commenters that I am a writer who “does excellent investigative reporting” yet who somehow “doesn’t even check your own work! Perfect!”

Kudos and brickbats, back-to-back.

It’s an awesome gig if you can get it. Where else can you call up really smart, passionate people in a variety of fields and have long, interesting talks on wolves, salmon, war, or how to handicap an election in Spokane?

I am deeply humbled that returning soldiers would almost unfailingly share their stories with me. In a couple of amazing instances, they even passed me the journals they kept while deployed.

“There’s a lot in here about me missing my wife … I’d appreciate it if you didn’t write about those parts,” one Idaho warrior warned me, handing over two small, hardbound notebooks.

This trusting, generous act almost derailed my entire story: His journals were so clear, so honest, so filled with all the moments from hair-raising to eye-glazing that, after I read them, all I wanted to do was pass them hand-to-hand across the country. If people read this, I thought, they’ll get it. They’ll understand what Iraq is all about. And what it’s doing to us.

When I came to The Inlander in mid-2004, one of my goals was to raise the stakes here so that people would turn to us for good, strong news writing as often as they do to see what’s playing at AMC.

I think that’s happened, and it’s not something I’ve done alone. There’s been a long chain of writers who have come to this little paper, and we’ve all thrown our shoulders into the task of making it bigger and better.

I’ll miss those folks. I’ll miss you, too. Especially (and I am revealing this for the first time!), I’ll miss the readers who left that string of voicemails about the super-secret government space platforms anchored above Spokane that beam different “obedience” rays down on us and our dogs.

Explains a lot, hey? It’s going to take some great new keys in my pocket to get into a place as cool as this again. 

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