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The End’s Not Near, It’s Here: Time To Say Goodbye To TLO Towers

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Thank you. Deeply.

Liverpool FC v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

How do you start your last post for a place that has given you a space to write out feelings about something so important to you? From the beginning.

Noel brought me on in June 2016, out of the blue, after other departures. I probably broke some kind of “fake it ‘til you make it” rule by saying that I feel unqualified at the time, but he was gracious enough to brush it off. My first post was about the possibility of Joe Allen moving on, in exchange for maybe Zielinski or Dahoud (remember those guys???). I don’t even remember them and I didn’t even use their first names in the article, like a newb.

And now here we are, nearly four years later, writing my goodbye.

In the words of one of my favorite fictional characters, “I don’t want to go.”

The email came in December, on my birthday no less, that Vox Media would be terminating the contracts of their California contributors, due to a new California state law called AB5. Vox Media interpreted the law as requiring freelance writers to only be allowed 35 submissions per client per year, or be given full time positions within the publication. With my two posts a week contract, I would be set to double that. The LA Times debunked that interpretation - Vox Media didn’t care. Despite their concession that California contributors could apply to be part of their new California contribution system as a part-time or full-time employee, it was yet another online application sent into the void. I applied for every position available and never heard back - even knowing the competition was stiff. Vox laid off hundreds of contributors, after paying us an embarrassingly small amount throughout our tenures. AJ and myself included.

It was never about the money, though. While getting paid to write about something that I loved as much as Liverpool Football Club was a dream in and of itself, it wasn’t about the money.

It was that Noel and Eliz thought well enough of me to include me. It was the platform to spill my guts about people and things that I love. To give voice to things I disagreed with, or that needed more light shed on them (this is when I point you to the LFC Women tag). To teach me discipline in writing twice a week, every week, and being protective of that time. Before this I never saw myself as a sports writer, and once I finally started, Liverpool showed itself to be my favorite thing to write about. It’s only a little heartbreaking to know that my last recaps happened before I knew they would be my last.

It was difficult at times, too, as every job is. As a leading member of the Los Angeles Liverpool Supporters Club, it meant bringing my laptop to the bar on many, many occasions and writing from there on matchdays. It meant not drinking in the mornings (not much of a loss, but still) and being wary of celebrations to protect that laptop, and my work. Yes, I know the easy solution to that was just not to go to the bar, but that’s not really how it works for me, just go with it.

And now it’s over. My time at TLO has come to an end, as Vox decided it would back in December. I had no choice in the matter, and neither did Noel. We were allowed to see out the rest of our contracts, until March 31st, and as I write on Sundays, this is it.

The end’s not near, it’s here.

Thank you, deeply, truly, TLO community. Thank you for being a wonderful community, a wonderful platform and a place to find my voice. I count myself as incredibly lucky to have been able to contribute to this site that I loved before joining it. I still love it, and will continue to do so. The staff are all good eggs, every single one of them, and I was lucky to be part of their ranks for so long.

I’ll still be around, on Twitter @jjkeebs, and maybe a new blog in the future. Screaming about how much I love Jordan Henderson and how much help the Women’s team needs.

Be safe, be good. Read, write, share your feelings. We’re all human, we’re all going through a tough time right now, and need every support we can get.

Send me your Hendo videos when we win that 19th title.

Always, always. Support the g*d damn Women’s team when they come back - if they come back.