Newsroom pizza


If you’ve never been in a newsroom, pizza is a thing.

Typically, it is a thing tied to elections. You can be sure that if you’re working in a newsroom in America and there is an election, there will be pizza. The shine of grease pooled on top of cheese is a steady beacon you can find on top of a filing cabinet to relieve yourself from campaigning, uninformed voters and poll workers who don’t like reporters.

When the results are in, your story is filed and you’re really just bullshitting with your colleagues, cold (but still delicious) pizza is your reward.

An impromptu pre-election meeting held at the old office was mostly about pizza, specifically what kind to get on Election Day, June 26. The discussion spilled over to email. Selene said if we got Ledo’s she would resign.

Our very important pre-election pizza meeting. Left to right Phil Davis, Rob Hiaasen, Selene San Felice. In the background is Gerald Fischman.

Our election coverage went well, if you care. Rob really nailed the pizza thing though. I think there was one pizza for each person. I even got my very-specific vegan pizza.

Exactly one month later, it’s about 12:30 p.m. in the temporary newsroom and people are talking about pizza again.

I hear the pizza arrive and the announcement that it was purchased by our security guard Lon. Lon is the best.

The information is muffled. I’m in an audio booth alone, and I’m crying. Ugly crying.

Grief for me is an avalanche. Everything will be fine, then one thing will bump into another, build up and overtake me.

Crying isn’t a strong enough term. I am sitting on a desk, rocking back and forth and sobbing.

What formed the critical mass? Was it a video of Rob dancing? Was it seeing Selene head out for an “Off-Limits” story, one of Wendi’s signature series?

I know that the people in the newsroom don’t care don’t mind that I’m sobbing, but I don’t want them to know about it either. I’m trying very hard to stay quiet, but I know I need to sob. It feels good to sob. I cover my mouth to stifle the sobs. I wipe away tears and snot.

It reminds me of trying to stay quiet during the shooting. I put a hand over my mouth to stifle my breathing and wimpers. I wiped blood away from my eyes.

I make the connection and sob harder.

I have a strategy now — I sketch things when I need to escape a situation. Or when I need to feel grounded. Or when I need to calm down.

I remember after a while that I promised to never hide my emotions from my friend Phil, who also survived the shooting. I asked him to bring me some tissues, a notebook and a pen.

I realized a pencil would be better, and he brought me a pencil.

There is a glass door in the audio booth, and through it I see another window and a piece of the street below. Here is what that looked like.


Beautiful, I know.

But it got me where I needed to go. On my feet, back in the newsroom, where people are smiling and eating pizza.

A few hours later, a reporter who was out at an assignment grabs a cold slice and sits down near me. The world feels as it should be, even though its not.

Okay, that’s it for now. Here is some bonus content. My favorite two sketches so far.


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