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HELLO, CHAMPIONS! First, here’s your semi-regular reminder that you are AMAZING, and I can’t wait to see you again out in the “real world.” (Obviously there’s only one world… the one we’re in right now. What I mean is that I can’t wait to see you in the “future world,” after the pandemic has run its course—and to further clarify, I mean I want to see you “in general” and not in front of me while waiting in line for weekend brunch.)

And while we’re on the topic: UGHH! Fuck brunch lines! (See, that’s how I know there’s light at the end of the pandemic tunnel—because I’m already planning a future where I’ll be impotently fuming in a brunch line that hasn’t even returned yet.)

Anyway, speaking of not returning yet: This week is the Mercury's one-year anniversary of our business nearly imploding. One year ago, give or take a few days, the pandemic yanked the rug out from underneath our advertisers, which in turn yanked the rug out from underneath us. (This analogy has lots of rugs.) In a desperate grasp at survival, we immediately stopped the publication of our print edition, and laid off the majority of our beloved staff. That was March 13, 2020—hands down the worst day of my career. And I can’t begin to imagine how our beloveds felt.

At this point of the story, the usual narrative would be how we at the Mercury dried our tears, pulled ourselves up by the bootstraps, and one year later, through the sheer force of will, arose from the ashes like a glorious phoenix, screaming, “CAWWW! CAWWWWW! FUCK YEEEEWWWW, PANDEMIC! America and the Mercury are BACK, bay-bee! Let’s do 17 rails of coke and get back to our business model of fucking… shit… up!”

Yeah… so that didn’t happen.

Real talk time: This year broke me. And I’m still broken. I show up to work every day, and I do the best I can. Some days are okay, but there have been days where I tumbled into a depression so deep, I just lay in bed and either sob or stare at a tiny shoe scuff mark on the wall. I’ve spoken before about how I arrived at this low point (so read this if you’re a masochist who enjoys occasional fart jokes), but I just want you to know that if you’re also hurting one year later… I see you over there. That’s me waving “hi.”

Aaaaand this is the part of the story where I’m supposed to tell you things are gonna get monumentally better as soon as you get a shot in your arm—but we all have the sneaking suspicion that isn’t the case, right? The unfortunate truth is that we’re all going to be in mental recovery for quite a while, perhaps for a long time after everyone is vaccinated. (I don’t think there’s such a thing as herd immunity for collective trauma.)

But I’m going to share something that really helps me cope, and that’s remembering to be thankful for what I have. At home I have a wicked awesome and supportive family, and at the job I have a great, kick-ass team of smarty-pants that includes our news team Alex and Blair, who constantly make me laugh, shock me with their intellect and compassion, and make the Mercury something to be proud of.

And let us never forget, I am screamingly thankful for YOU. Your kind words and financial support have made this terrible year infinitely brighter and more hopeful. Simply put, we could not have made it this far without your help. So if you are in the position to throw us a few bucks by way of a recurring monthly contribution, then our chances of being around when our collective mental health returns—along with those goddamn brunch lines—will skyrocket! But in any case, we here at the Mercury don’t go a single day without thanking our lucky stars that you are in our lives. And you know what? That makes our shitty situation A LOT better.

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So in short, I need you to know deep in your heart that there are people (like ME!) who understand what you’re going through and are rooting for you every single day. You’ve always got pals at the Mercury, and we’ll continue working hard for you for as long as you want us around. And while it may take longer than anyone would like, I’m confident that a better set of days is on the way.

And who knows? Maybe by then I’ll have a better appreciation for brunch lines! (That is patently false. Brunch lines will always be the fucking worst.)

Yer always pal,
Wm. Steven Humphrey
Portland Mercury

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