As my COURIER career ends, a new adventure begins

My life has been a love affair with the English language, an infatuation fostered by Tolkien and time.

I loved early readings of The Pokey Little Puppy, Little Golden Book Classic and personal bedtime story staple, with the same love I would find later for Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Soaking in the words of others, from Seuss to Stine, I also found my own. My first published piece lies in a flimsy, laminate-covered copy of The Snowmen,  adapted by Mrs. Holt’s kindergarten class. It remains in a prominent place on my bookshelf.

The romance blossomed as I declared my intent to be a veritable Lois Lane, shortly after telling my parents of my plans to be chef at the White House. With pen in hand, I turned my newfound calling into a real passion—aided by ideas already set into motion from tales of hobbits and the adventures of a boy wizard.

Like the trek to Mount Doom, the journey has had its share of setbacks, marked by busing tables and tearing my hair out while refilling salt shakers, asking, for the millionth time, “Would you like to add a soup or salad?” But then came the big break. After articles and blog posts, internships and freelance gigs, I finally got my chance through an ad for a writer. City reporter at the Claremont COURIER. It was perfect; the place that gave me my academic start would help launch my profession. I was a writer.

My first day at the COURIER gave me a taste of the years to come. I journeyed out into the July swelter to cover a heated discussion between two community groups coming together to air their differences in hopes of a solution. I learned right away that locals are nothing if not passionate about the causes near and dear to their hearts. It’s what I love about Claremont the most.

It hasn’t always been easy; there have been a few five-hour council meetings that made my eyes cross a little and more than a handful of nights filled with panic while trying to understand water rights. But Claremonters’ passion has in turn fueled my drive for making their stories come to life on page. For that, I will be eternally grateful.

Along the journey I have met the most interesting people: a teen “zookeeper” and her 13-foot albino Burmese python named Lady Gaga, a 100-year-old woman who has lived in Claremont her entire life, a resilient family of neighbors who helped one of their own recover after a devastating fire burnt down her home of more than 50 years. With each new subject, I am reminded of the great responsibility I have as a writer in bringing these stories to life, immortalized in ink. I’m also reminded of why it is I love what I do: being able to share, if only for a moment, in these incredibly varied and incredible lives.  

But sometimes words fail you. Never a good thing when your profession happens to depend on them and, in fact, those who know me well would hardly categorize me as a woman with nothing to say. It’s in these moments I turn to some of my favorite writers, like Tolkien, with words far more eloquent than mine: “The journey doesn’t end here.”

I’m writing this column because I will be leaving these familial pages and embarking on a new journey at Claremont McKenna, my father’s alma mater, where I will be drawing upon the strengths and passions I now possess because of the COURIER and this community. I am forever indebted to this newspaper family. I love them beyond measure and will miss prancing about the office halls barefoot, working together on deadline to get the latest breaking news on the web and, most of all, the times spent just being us, laughing and sharing in a mutual love for what we do. I love you all, and am the better because of it.

And to the Claremont community: I am grateful for your stories, your laughter and your tears and the words of encouragement you have given me along the way (also, I enjoy writing the blotter as much as you enjoy reading it). I am thrilled to remain in the shade of this Claremont canopy as I embark on my exciting new adventure.

As I take a leap into uncharted territory I rely on something familiar, my words. I’ve written tens of thousands of them during the last three years here, but to close I must simply rely on two. For the Claremont community and my COURIER family: Thank you.

—Beth Hartnett


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