6 Years Ago – A Subtle Reminder of the Worst Time of My Life
Yesterday on my Facebook memories, I came across a picture of my first Press Pass for a publication. It brought me back down memory lane to what was one of the most interesting times of my life.
I was 23 at the time. I had just graduated from THE Nicholls State University. I worked part time in radio for a few months before landing a full time gig with a newspaper down in Houma, LA. My long term goal was sports and I knew news would likely have to be a stepping stone to get there. Needless to say, that goal was never actually met.
All it took was one job and seven months for me to be turned off by the idea of staying in the field completely. In fact, I was nearly offered another job in journalism and closed the door before it was ever offered. I couldn’t foresee myself working in the field anymore.
I wanted a life of more stability, both from a job security and hourly standpoint. I probably should have taken this a little more serious before selecting the major I did, but priorities change. I still get to use the skills from my classes in other ways.
I was in a constant state of worry due to a combination of my editor riding my ass and a lack of confidence as a result. I just felt like I was burden in the office. I figured I would lose my job sooner than later. It eventually came, doomsday.
I was leaving early that day because my wife and I had tickets for comic con so I was excited. My boss had been hounding me a little more than normal that day. I just chalked it up to production day being Monday and I was leaving early on Friday. So I thought she wanted to make sure my stuff was in. I had turned in everything for that week’s paper and was headed for the door. She said the GM wanted to see us. I got canned. I was hurt, pissed and panicked with a wedding on the horizon and a house to renovate. I was pissed to the point I couldn’t even get tears out as much as I wanted to on my way home. An hour with my thoughts, fun stuff.
Because of everything I went through with that job, it took me years to recover. I will share the link detailing it below, which is still one of my favorite pieces I have written to date.
From a miserable editor to some of the things I had to cover to the hours I worked and the toll it took on me mentally, I constantly dreamed about being back at that job for probably until 1.5 to 2 years later.
I still would love to randomly run in to my old boss who eventually got fired because she wasn’t doing jack shit ironically enough. The only regret about that job is not calling her names I won’t write here the day I got canned.
Seeing the picture of the press pass brought back all those details and memories. But, it reminded me of a number of great things. It led to better opportunities for me. It led to a higher pay grade. I am not going to pretend I make a lot of money, but I am comfortable. I nearly doubled my pay grade in six years. Considering where I was, I can’t imagine being in that vicinity of a paycheck. I feel like my children would have been out of the realm of possibility, which would have probably killed me as well my marriage. Also probably for the best as I was on the warpath with becoming a functioning alky. I am not using that term loosely.
The two most important details of my journey. I found happiness and unwavering confidence in myself. Leaving journalism as a whole led to that.
Those two things had to happen in order for me to launch Hotard Huddle. This blog brings me back to the roots of where I came from, Nicholls.
If you read my piece about the current state of journalism and our society in how we view it, several of my old college instructors shared it. They also had kind words to say about me as well as the column. That always means the world to me. I owe them all the credit in the world for helping shape the writer I am today.
These last four years of running Hotard Huddle have been amazing. To think about the evolution of not just my style of writing, but the blog itself is something I hang my hat on and take immense pride in.
When you take great pride in something, you will likely have people insult you for it which I always find humorous. Someone literally took a shot at the 800 followers on Facebook recently because he commented on a post insulting my take. I shared the numbers to back up my take. He of course had no response. Because of his tone, I just went in on him. Guy sucks. He blocked my personal page. So I commented from the blog since the idiot couldn’t put 2 and 2 together. He blocked both and it was glorious.
When I first launched this back in May 2016, my intention was to write and talk about sports only. I wanted to do in a much different way than people were used to. I wanted to do it in unfiltered form where I would name call and be a total heel (wrestling term for bad guy). I have always been pretty good at running my mouth so why not highlight it? So I did.
I also hosted a podcast called Off the Record with one of my best friends where we had a segment called asshat of the week. We would rant for an hour or so about sports.
I finished the year off with about 4,800 views. However, 25% came off of one column which I wrote about Nicholls football which spread like wild fire among alumni and employees. So that was my first real taste of something gaining traction which was awesome.
From May 2016 to January 2018, I went ape shit with this thing. 2017 was my best year with 15,000+ hits on my website. By that time, I was writing actual articles about people including a post about my wife and her two best friends being pregnant at the same time. So my coverage then evolved into life and entertainment as well as sports. It has been that since then.
After Facebook had a big algorithm change, my viewership began to drop which left me a little dejected. That plus being busy with work and being a new dad took a toll. I wrote less in 2018 which resulted in 4,700 website views with 1,700 coming off one article about a friend’s business and another 600 came from a post about Why New Orleans Sucks. That still continues to get hits. I found out why. If you google why New Orleans sucks, it is one of the first 3 links.
I deleted the original Hotard Huddle Facebook page in September of 2018 and shut it down until I re-launched in May 2019. I have more followers than I did on the original page. But fuck, building it sucks when you don’t have money to pour in. Time had opened for me because of a new job so I thought what the hell, why not?
From May to December, my blog finished with 8,400+ views. So far in 2020, I have over 14,000 views. Last month, I finished with 3,200 which is the most I have had in a single month thus far. I am currently on my strongest 6 month stretch by a mile averaging 2,200 views per month. In addition, I have my longest running podcast to date. I have certainly found some consistency with the Huddle. Given the growth every three or so months since the re-launch, it is dope to see.
It is nice to be able to use the skills I learned in school and polish. I went from the sports guy at the end of the bar to a great mix of everything. I have found a good balance of stating my case with irrefutable facts while throwing jabs. I have found a balance of knowing when to be a dick, when to be serious and when to be funny in my writing.
I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read or is a “fan” of my work. I hate using that word, but it’s for lack of a better term.
I allude often as this being my own personal diary because it is. I use this to highlight my own thoughts on sports, politics, wrestling, movies, life and more. It has built friendships for me. People are able to see the common interests and take the time to comment so I take the time to get to know them.
A good friend of mine is someone who’s wife I went to school with and randomly liked a wrestling post. That sparked a conversation about her husband who was a big wrestling fan. It eventually led to a friendship between he and I. Pretty cool stuff.
Another random person I have developed a friendship with is a guy who is in a fantasy league with someone I know from high school. Dude lives in Canada and loves my stuff. So now the world becomes a slightly smaller place. Again, dope.
So when I look back at the press pass, I don’t see it as a reminder of what it was. I see it as more of a reminder of what it created. Getting fired was the biggest blessing in disguise for me. I have a wonderful family, which probably wouldn’t exist if I was still in journalism. I have a mildly successful business. I have Hotard Huddle which is a compilation of everything that is me. It was Hotard Huddle that landed me a sports columnist gig for a buddy’s publication.
Hotard Huddle gave me the confidence to be myself boldly, proudly and un-apologetically. That is the ultimate test to happiness.
So Bring It In and as always Honor the Huddle (Thanks Pierce for the hashtag 3 years later). If you would like to read the full detail of my life in journalism, check it out below. It includes interactions with my boss and when I had to cover a funeral of a kid shot by police, the ultimate low point of that short career.