Start right

One of my favorite moments at work happened during the American Idol finale two years ago. The ninth season. The season with Siobhan Magnus on it. The season that didn't exactly turn out as well as it should've. We were blogging the whole thing live; I wasn't doing the actual writing, but I was on the comments, just talking to the people on there, laughing at the coincidence of occasionally off-key Lee DeWyze singing "what would I do if I sang out of tune?"

And then, towards the end, people started thanking us. The winner was going to be announced (it was Lee) and already we were patting each other on the back, the readers who've expressed their thoughts, and us the writers, who've been acting ringleader all this time. "Thank you Abbey, John and Henrik for reporting this season. Totally appreciate you guys!" That sort of thing.

I always braced that point in the American Idol season. It's like we're all dying. But I like it. It makes all those days fooling around, in between writing your thoughts on why Siobhan didn't deserve to go early, worth it. Same thing happened the following year. A country boy or a country girl was poised to win, and we were patting each other on the back, in between talk of drinking games and the country boy singing Sex Bomb.

The past month had that feel. Only this time, I'm the one who's leaving. My first job. Finally, leaving my first job. I didn't hate it. I enjoyed it, in fact. But circumstances (of the middleman kind) meant I could be stuck there forever, and while the prospect sounded fun, you know you're not reaching your potential, to use an oft-abused term.

Usually I'd be wary of going. But when I got news that the second chapter I've always hoped for is closer than I thought, I first thought of the comment Katia posted in one of my recent blog entries. "Keep (and make) yourself available to whatever may come."

What the hell, I thought. Plunge.

The month between my resignation and today, my last day, felt like every other day. At least until the past five days. I covered my last Glee episode. I've always covered that show from the start. Perhaps the only reason I'm holding on to it. Then my last Survivor episode. My last Fringe episode. Another show I've always had. My last The Amazing Race episode. My last Castle episode. And today, my last Idol episode, which unfortunately is the season's first live show. I'll be missing out on all the snark on our live recaps.

As much as I didn't want to take that recap over and announce that I'm leaving, I did it. I don't want to disappear just like that. People will look for me. "Where's Henrik?" Says a lot about my hankering for a legacy of sorts.

Today, I tied up all my loose ends, sent one last daily report, and then emailed everyone. Individually. Thankful and all. For over three years I was writing for a living. I interviewed TAR teams. I reviewed Glee episodes (and became a Wikipedia reference). I wrote what some considered as the best Michael Jackson tribute ever written. (I am exaggerating, but I like it.) I bet on several reality show contestants, met one fan base (Easter egg, Immie!) and got close with some acquaintances-turned-friends. And it wouldn't be possible without the chance they gave me.

Funny, when I first started my job I said I'll leave after six months. Ranice said I'll do otherwise. She was right.

But to be fair, it wasn't the best of circumstances. The middleman's fault, again. The work can be fun, but the environment wasn't. You had middlemen who didn't really care about you. You had the back row, four colleagues who were just, well, bitchy. It's hard to coexist with them still; I tried and it didn't work and now I still regret it. I cried many times after particularly hard days. One of those days I told my mother, "all I want is to start right." And then, when I got close, I got cold feet and withdrew. And then shit hit the fan. The company closed, and the good folks from Seattle let us continue working for them, from home, like I have been for the past year.

And now, I am leaving, with good memories and bad, but at this point, I'll have to think of the good. For three years I was doing something I never really thought possible - and something I, admittedly, took for granted. I am being published. I am being read by an international audience. I remember a classmate (forgot who) read an article I wrote, thinking, this guy writes like Niko, and only to read the byline that said "Henrik Batallones, BuddyTV Staff Writer". Or that moment when Dhi told Jason about Adam Lambert being gay by posting a link, unknowingly, to an article I wrote. Surreal, but fun now looking back.

I might be making a mistake leaving all this behind for the corporate world. (Another free pass. I complain a lot still.) I set out to become a writer, and while I know it's impossible at this climate - off-tangent: proper magazines pay their contributors on time - at least I can say that I got there. But now I'm off the wagon. I'll be doing something different, and I'm half-excited and half-scared. But that is what it's supposed to feel like, right? I'm starting right this time. And Clarence, prepare to see me around Ortigas again.

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