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Stuff 'N Nonsense - A Graceful Exit
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I have an issue with finality. At the end of every year, as everyone is celebrating the ball drop on a New Year, I'm lamenting the fact that I'll never be in that moment again - another year lost to time, never to experience again. In that second before the big calendar change, I panic just a little knowing that it's over. I'm happy to report that the panic doesn't last but I can always count on it because I hate endings.

I know, without an ending there aren't any beginnings, but it's hard to say goodbye.

That's where I'm at today.

My paperwork has been filed properly, my job duties are being parceled out, the daunting task of cleaning out my desk has begun and my coworker has already put dibs on my spot in the office.

Ten years is a long time to spend with one publication.

I know I've written about this before but it bears repeating: leaving my office family has turned out to be more difficult than I imagined. I like my space at the office and I love the camaraderie we all share whether it's laughing at the ridiculous things we talk about during our staff meetings or poking fun at one another with good-natured humor. Frankly, we're a good team who knows how to get stuff done (even if we like to push it to the limit on our deadlines).

My office family has been with me for many exciting milestones in my life, particularly the biggest: the birth of my daughter and the publication of my first book.

I love and respect each of the Leader team but there are a few who made their mark and became friends. I could spend an entire column sharing stories but I'll spare the details to protect the wicked innocent.

But I would be remiss if I didn't say a few things about Marg, my editor.

I knew when we met that we'd become friends. There was something about her that I liked instantly. We shared an office together for a long time before she moved into her own space and we got to know each other as only roommates can. Over the years we've cried together, laughed together, and rode some adrenaline highs together and all of those times have created a bond that I'm going to miss. Every morning I stop by her office and chat about everything that happened a mere 24 hours prior and sometimes, if it's a big issue, we game plan our ideas for the front page. She and I are a good team. I'm the risk-taker and she is the cautious, by-the-book player. She tempers my wild ideas with good reason and I challenge her to break out of her comfort zone - that's what I'm going to miss.

As I transition, it's hard not to send a shout out to my paternal grandmother, Doris. She was the one who knew I had what it took to be a reporter, even before I did. She gave me direction when I was lost and put me on the right path when I stumbled. She owned the first newspaper I ever worked for and she wanted to be sure I could do everything so she put me to work in every aspect from layout, paste-up, photography, advertising, pressroom, and even delivery. I didn't always love the work - sometimes I hated it - but in hindsight I realized my grandmother was a very wise woman. I gained an appreciation for the newspaper business that I'd taken for granted. My grandmother has Alzheimer's now and doesn't remember me any longer but I will never forget the sometimes gentle, sometimes tough lessons she taught me when I'd lost faith in myself. The name of my column was her idea and I've used it for every column I've ever written, in every newspaper I've ever been employed as homage to her and her wisdom.

My last official day is Dec. 31. I'm nervous about flying solo for the first time since I was 24 but if I'm going to make my dreams come true I can't be afraid to fly.

So, this is my last Leader column.

Thank you to the community for trusting me with your stories, for all the lovely Thank You cards and notes I've received, and for allowing me to capture a slice of your personal lives to share with the world. The people I've met and the stories I've written while a Leader reporter have enriched my life and for that, I thank you.

Happy New Year and brightest blessings!

Kim Van Meter is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.