After 18 years as a journalist, my career has officially come to an end. Last night I completed and filed my final writing assignment. It's a bittersweet ending to my career. It's had its ups and downs, but for the most part I've certainly enjoyed my life as a newspaperman. I began my career as an editorial assistant at a local hometown newspaper..the paper folded (bankrupt) just 3 months after I was hired! That should have been an omen because as we all know now, the entire media industry has been in a downward spiral for years. But later I got an internship and full-time job at The Washington Times, then USA Weekend and finally USA TODAY, where I worked in a variety of roles including entertainment reporter (read: celebrity gossip), London correspondent and war correspondent in Iraq & Afghanistan. Then later as a self-employed freelance writer, I got to globe-trek as a travel writer for Lonely Planet. It's been a fun, whirl-wind adventure. But, it's time to move on. Until the next chapter...
Top 10 things you didn't know about my journalism career
1. I once took a leak next to Paul McCartney in London's High Court.
2. I survived a suicide bomb attack in Iraq in 2005. I've been to Iraq nine times; eight of those trips were for USA TODAY and one was on assignment for Lonely Planet.
3. Art Garfunkel's wife kissed me in the Kennedy Center.
4. Pamela Anderson and Busta Rhymes were the most surprisingly intelligent and interesting celebrities I've interviewed.
5. I interviewed Julie Christie in an East London pub. She had a salad and tea and I had a pint of beer. She rode to the interview in a rusty old bicycle.
6. I once got lost in the back woods of Iowa with Sen. John Kerry's daughters.
7. Despite my Army background, I was embedded with the Navy during the start of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. I have more aircraft carrier 'cats & traps" (catapult landings & launches) that most career sailors on such carriers as the USS Enterprise and USS Roosevelt.
8. As a young Army military journalist stationed in Bosnia, I met my future boss, then First Lady Hillary Clinton. Whilst in Bosnia I also sat on Alex Trebek's lap, met Sheryl Crow and Sinbad and hosted an AOL chat live from the field with The Gin Blossoms. I kept a blog while stationed in Bosnia that some folks claim is the first "milblog" (military blog) on the Internet.
9. Kevin Bacon hand-wrote me a letter to complain about an article I wrote about him. Kevin misspelled "wasted." I framed the letter.
10. I have shaken the hand of every US President since Ronald Reagan, though I have not yet met President Obama.