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Why Taking Chances is the Key to Happiness

Dear readers, these recent months have been tumultuous, for me and for many of those closest to me. My brief dismissal from – and subsequent reinstatement to – the ranks of the Kensington Chronicle has inspired me to look back on how much my personal and professional life has changed since we first launched the online edition of the Chronicle three years back. With that in mind, I’ve re-read all of the online editorials that I’ve written (with the exception of some of my recent pieces that don’t really fit that description). And this trip down memory lane has made me come to a startling realization: I had no conscious idea of how much of my life up to this point had been driven by fear.

Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. For a while, even fear of acceptance; specifically, with regards to my sexuality. On that front, we’ve born witness to incredible milestones, rousing opportunities to declare loudly and proudly that “love won.” But my biggest stumbling block in finding a romantic partner has not been my sexuality. While I’ve been alone for most of my life, and feared on some level that I’d end up that way, a part of me has also been afraid of falling in love in the first place. It’s taken me 30 years, give or take, to learn that it truly is better to have loved and lost; that rejections and setbacks are survivable, and are in fact the only way for us to grow as people, the only way to find that person with whom we want to spend the rest of our lives. A proper paring truly does make two people better than the sum of their parts. I’ve seen it with my parents, George and Mary Darling. I’ve seen it with Wendy and Peter; Michael and Lily; and now, I think, with John Smee and myself.

John, woefully, has already found himself on the receiving end of my relationship hang-ups, and I am so grateful that he has elected to give me another chance. I realize now that the way I treated him in the aftermath of the Chronicle sale had nothing to do with him and everything to do with me. And I’m happy to report that now that we’re over that hump, we’ve emerged all the stronger for it.

I’m also grateful for my siblings, Wendy and Michael. That sibling relationship can ebb and flow, but I now know that it will never break. As different as we are, they will well and truly always be my best friends. And that knowledge alone is enough to get me through even the most difficult of days.

In the past, I’ve buried myself in my work, sometimes at the expense of every other aspect of my life. Now, this was in part because I’m a workaholic, and always will be; I’m simply wired that way. But it was also a way of distracting me from the other parts of my life that I found lacking; anything to avoid staring into the abyss of crippling loneliness that my self-imposed isolation was driving me inexorably closer to. But if I’ve learned anything from my recent brush with unemployment, and my blissful reconciliation with John Smee, it’s that being a newspaperman isn’t everything. Our jobs don’t have to solely define us, any more than our sexuality does. Being assistant editor in chief of the Kensington Chronicle is something I do. But John Darling is who I am.

I once wrote that “Growing up isn’t what it used to be.” And I do believe that our generation has some obstacles in our path that no prior generation has ever had to deal with, obstacles which at times can seem insurmountable. But I also believe that nothing is truly insurmountable. That we cannot allow fear, or a culture that undervalues us, to disillusion us into inaction. That we must be steadfast in our refusal to let anyone tell us what we can’t do, least of all ourselves; life is hard enough without putting roadblocks in our own path to happiness. We have to not get so hung up on finding “the one,” but at the same time be open to love when and where we find it. All at the same time striving for balance between all of these different pieces of our lives.

Growing up has never been easy. And it was never meant to be. But I couldn’t have asked for a better group of friends and family with whom to muddle through it. And I couldn’t have asked for a more tolerant, nurturing, magical place to do it in than Neverland. I love you all, Neverlandians, each and every one; and every day, you find a way to remind me of just how much I am loved. As long as we all continue to fight for that feeling, then Love truly has won. And if people like us have anything to say about it, it always will.

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Posted in Editorials
Posted on April 18, 2017

Hook is Back

My fellow Neverlandians: longtime readers will be aware that our editorials are traditionally written by John Darling. Well, you may have heard that Mr. Darling is no longer with the K-Chron. A few other familiar faces have been let go as well. Honestly, ever since I took the reins from George Darling, I have had struggles with some of our legacy employees. I’ve been trying to take the paper in a brave new direction, and some people were just a little too entrenched in the old way of doing things. Sometimes taking a ship in a new direction means manning it with a whole new crew.

You may have also heard that my engagement to Wendy Darling is off. I want to say, I truly believed everything I wrote about Wendy in my last piece. I thought she felt the same way, but apparently I was wrong. It appears that no matter where I go, or what I do, people wind up finding reasons to hate me. I’ve tried to be everybody’s friend for so long; it’s things like this that make me wonder why I bother.

I tried to strike a balance between the way George ran the paper and the way I wanted to run it. I tried to ask my employees what they wanted to cover and our readers what they wanted us to cover. But I was fought every step of the way, to the point of insubordination and outright contempt. Suffice it to say, I’m done asking for people‘s permission for me to run my newspaper my way. Hook is back, ladies and gentlemen. The Hook who built a media empire out of nothing, all by himself. I didn’t need anybody then, why would I need anybody now?

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Posted in Editorials
Posted on April 10, 2017

Neverspeak Weekly 4/4/17

Hail to the Chief. After a well-deserved vacation, Neverland’s own version of George Bailey made a triumphant return to his version of Bedford Falls. As always, the venerable editor-in-chief of the now defunct Kensington Chronicle had words of wisdom that inspired everyone he came in contact with. Jacqueline Viana said, “What I learned from @GDarlingEIC today: FINISH YOUR SCRIPT. PITCHING IT IS ANOTHER STORY, BUT FINISH IT. #BestPepTalk. Khaleesi in Asgard said after her run in with the GD, I REALLY need to get back to work on my novel. Finish that first draft ONCE AND FOR ALL. Jessica James summed up George’s new retirement point of view, “Happy thoughts on creating without fear – and rethinking adulting.” Even though it has been hard to go on without Mr. Darling, his absence has seemed to make our hearts grow fonder.

Fight and Flight. Ever since Aria Griffith’s dramatic fairy transformation at the Spring Fling, lips and wings have been flapping about the tiny dancer. Unfortunately, this seems to have put a strain on her relationship with her best friend Anna Berry. Multiple sources have told this gossip columnist that this have gotten a little explosive between the two. Of course, things seem to be rather explosive in general around the brand new fairy – fairy puberty is nothing to joke around about. Remember middle school? Well, just add magic. And wings. Godspeed, Aria!

Work Hard, Play Hard. Some Neverlandians will be surprised to hear that the K-Chron’s John Darling will be producing a local play. Many will remember Peter Pan’s smash hit, Panlet from last year. While Mr. Darling says this will not be a follow up, it will be a similar process. The difference this year is that Mr. Darling is accepting submissions from all Neverlandians until April 10. At that time, he will chose the script that speaks to him the most, cast the roles with local actors, then put the show up the same week! It’s a fast and furious process, but as Broadway great Leonard Bernstein said, “To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.” Send your scripts to j.napolean.darling@gmail.com.

When You Wish… What started as something personal has become a little more global for Teresa Delacruz and friends. With the help of Gemma, Anna, Lola, Amanda and her fiancé Neal, our local slayer held a bakes sale at Neverland U to finance her Sanditon honeymoon. While the ladies sold their sweets, they realized they wanted to finance other people’s dreams too. This Friday, Neverland Wish Granters will have their grand opening at the Jolly Roger Soda Ship. They will raise money to essentially give people life scholarships so they can take George Darling’s advice and pursue their dreams. Their first official fundraiser was the 24 hour dance marathon at the Neverland Gym where Neverlandians could work off some of those baked goods.

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Posted in Neverspeak
Posted on April 4, 2017

Neverspeak Weekly 2/28/17

OK-Chron! Everyone in Neverland is so excited to see the new changes in the Kensington Chronicle. A pleased Sheriff Tacos was overheard saying, “I still can’t believe what they’ve done to our paper!” Well, believe it. Neverland’s favorite son, Jas Hook has taken your beloved paper and brought it into the 21st century! Soon all the world will be reading about the very important topics we cover here at the paper. Why would anyone want to create a petition called Disinfect the Chronicle to return the paper to how it used to be? Why would anyone want to do that? Beats me.

Good Bye? On February 16, Neverlandians gathered to bid farewell to one of the town’s most beloved figures. George Darling has retired – completely voluntarily – from his post as Editor in Chief at what used to the Kensington Chronicle. He happily “passed the baton” in his words to the “magnanimous” Jas Hook who attended the party along with all the other Darlings. Though some people were crying into their root beer floats, Mr. Darling was all smiles as he proclaimed, “It just so happens that today I’m starting my all cake diet.”

Ask Her. Neverland’s favorite advice vlogger, writer, and redhead will be taking your questions tonight at 10PM Eastern time. As you know, Wendy Darling has remained on the recently edited staff here at the K-Chron. You can ask her anything, anything at all. Having followed Ms. Darling’s career for years, I know she is great at coming up with answers for everything from existential crises to romantic entanglements to really awkward questions about why one’s boyfriend might take over one’s family’s company only to completely change everything about it and stomp on the first amendment.

Newerlandians. Walking around town I’ve been glimpsing some new faces here in Neverland. We’ve got a psychic in town – which is great because I’m sure we’d all like to know how long we’re going to have to put up with this crazy guy who is messing with everything we hold dear. I’m talking about President Trump, of course. Please tell us it won’t be another 4 years, Heavenly Imagine! Also Jane Mannering is manning the cashier at Skull Rock Sweets, Codamae Elizabeth is sipping tea at Straight On Till Morning, Enya Rose is hosting Dance Fitness Parties, and Sarah Lightly is annoying Tinker Bell wherever she goes.

A Family Affair.  While crabbing in the Bering Sea for the last few weeks, I discovered a latent passion for marine biology. I’ve returned to Neverland not only to work at this glorious new version of our old paper, but also to apply to grad schools. This requires lots of studying musty old books rather than studying you.  I’ve always considered Neverland to be a great big family.  A great big family full of people who love each other, watch out for each other, and know all each other’s secrets. If you guys could help me assemble this column by sharing juicy tidbits and heartwarming stories you’d like to see posted, please DM me or use the Got Hot Gossip? form on the Neverspeak Weekly Page. With your help, I can keep this column cooking along with the crabs. So. Many. Crabs.

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Posted in Neverspeak
Posted on March 1, 2017

Caveat Emptor

Neverlandians, by now you have no doubt heard that my father, George Darling, is stepping down from his position as editor-in-chief of the Kensington Chronicle. When Father made a deal with Mr. Hook to sell the paper to JH Media, we were assured that he would continue to run the day-to-day operations at the Chronicle, and that the paper would not be substantially changed going forward. But, from what little he’s told me about it, to all appearances my father’s resignation is a matter of creative differences between himself and the new management. That being the case, I can’t help the nagging suspicion that the winds are about to change here at our local paper, and quite possibly not for the better.

Though my father’s separation from his beloved local newspaper appears on the surface to be entirely amicable, the fact of the matter is George Darling is a man of far too much integrity to air his dirty laundry in a public forum. If there is something more contentious underlying his departure, we may likely never know about it. And the whole situation is further complicated by the fact that our new editor-in-chief, Jas Hook himself, is inextricably entangled with the Darling family on a personal level; it’s no secret that he and my sister Wendy have been happily dating since her time working at JH Media’s corporate headquarters in New York City.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I have used this very space to sing Mr. Hook’s praises in the past. My respect for him as a self-made media mogul knows no bounds. And he has given me no reason to believe that he has anything but the best of intentions when it comes to my sister; Mr. Hook and Wendy are, I think, a coupling to which we all could aspire. But I can believe all of those things about him and still have reservations about some of the decisions he’s made re: the Chronicle, even in the short time he’s been at the helm, not the least of which being his decision to take the paper global. For a paper that has been about hyperlocal news since its inception, that sends up a big red flag.

And it is with great regret that I report that this article you are now reading will be the last of the John Darling editorials, such as they have been. And perhaps I don’t have quite as much integrity as my father, because I feel compelled to say that the cessation of this feature is in no way a choice that I have made; it is, rather, an edict that has come down from up on high. It is my sincerest hope that the demise of my longtime column is in no way connected with my vocal equivocation about the direction of the Chronicle under the new management (though, to Mr. Hook’s credit, he has allowed me to run this piece unedited, in its original form). I had hoped to one day be the top newsman myself here at the Chronicle, but I have in effect been demoted from assistant to the editor-in-chief to merely a staff writer. As of this moment, I do not know the type of content I will be expected to produce under the new regime. I would love it if my instincts about all of this were wrong; but they so very rarely are.

Dear readers, I cannot thank you enough for your unwavering support over lo these many years. And I am not going anywhere! Not yet. The Kensington Chronicle as we knew it may be dead, replaced instead by the K-Chron, but some things never change. As long as I’m here, you, the people of Neverland, will have a voice. And don’t hesitate to tell me on Twitter what you think of this new direction in the days and weeks to come. The Kensington Chronicle has always been a paper of and for the people; and if I have anything to say about it, the same will hold true for the K-Chron.

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Posted in Editorials
Posted on February 20, 2017

The More They Stay The Same

People of Neverland, Jas Hook here. My darling Wendy recently brought it to my attention that her family’s local newspaper has been floundering. This news kicked me back on my heels, and spurred me on to do something about it; not just because the Kensington Chronicle matters to Wendy but because it matters to me. I, too, read John’s editorials week in and week out, and take no small source of pleasure from Michael’s Dear Darling videos. What’s more, even though I’ve spent the better part of my life far from the town I first called home, an important part of my heart has always been in Neverland. For a long time, I was the only out-of-state subscriber to the Chronicle. Shipping a copy to New York on a daily basis is not the cheapest proposition in the world, but being the CEO of a massive global conglomerate like JH Media does occasionally have its privileges. Honestly, my advisors recommended against acquiring the Chronicle; “It doesn’t make any sense,” they told me, “Not from a financial standpoint.” Well, I’ll tell all of you exactly what I told them: JH Media is about more than just what makes “financial sense.”

I didn’t really know Mr. George Darling very well in high school, but I’ve spent a great deal of time with him on my most recent visit to Neverland. And I’m happy to report that he’s every bit the charming, local hero that the paper makes him out to be. His passion for the Chronicle is unmatched (except, perhaps, by that of his son John), and I’m proud to say that more than a little of that passion has rubbed off on me. Like George said in his last editorial, the Kensington Chronicle is a Neverland institution. And as such, I want to inform everyone that JH Media maintains a commitment to making as few changes as possible. With that in mind, for as long as he’s willing and able, there will always be a place for Mr. George Darling at the helm.

I know that John Darling, editor of our online edition, is a prototypical Neverlandian in his reluctance to embrace change. It’s my understanding that he’s not been taking the paper’s sale particularly well, which is why he hasn’t written any editorials for the past several weeks. But I want to make it clear that I know John’s aversion to the new status quo has nothing to do with me or my company; John and I have enjoyed nothing but the most cordial of relationships since I came into his sister Wendy’s life. I think John is just having trouble wrapping his mind around the fact that the family business is no longer all in the family. But I have no doubt that John will come around, and his position will be waiting for him when he does. Because, as a longtime reader, I understand that the Kensington Chronicle needs John Darling as much as he needs it.

So take heart, people of Neverland: your beloved local newspaper isn’t going anywhere. If anything, I’m committed to making the Kensington Chronicle better than ever. I’d also like to invite your input during this period of transition, to make sure we’re putting out a paper that meets, and hopefully even exceeds, your needs. Despite my complicated history with Neverland, in my heart it’s always been my home. It is an incredible honor to shepherd my favorite local paper into what I know will be a new era of prosperity, and I’m fully aware of the great responsibility that that entails. Your stories are the heart of Neverland, constant readers, and we’re going to keep telling your stories. Because I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Posted in Editorials
Posted on September 9, 2015

Shuffling Paper

Pop culture has done a lot to romanticize the notion of a captain going down with his ship. Now, that might be an honorable decision once you’ve gotten everybody to the lifeboats. But if your crew’s still onboard, it’s the captain’s duty to keep the ship afloat at all costs. Even if that means ceding control of your boat to someone better equipped to stay its course. Okay, let me back up for a minute, because this metaphor is getting unnecessarily dramatic.

George Darling here, longtime Editor in Chief and owner of the Kensington Chronicle, writing to explain why I’m not the paper’s owner anymore. As many of you have no doubt already heard, I recently sold the Kensington Chronicle to JH Media. After considering all the options, I found this to be the best one for everyone involved. But just because it was the right choice, the only choice, doesn’t make it any easier for me, or for my family. The Chronicle has been owned and operated by a Darling since my ancestor Kensington founded it in 1862, after all.

Now, the question on a lot of your lips is probably, how did it all come to this? Well, in recent months, I’ve been candid on the Twitter about the paper’s financial difficulties. And, truth be told, I wasn’t making the situation out to be quite as dire as it even was. We were maybe just a few months out from me having to close the doors to the Chronicle for good. And the fact of the matter is, I’ve got my employees to think about, some of my closest friends and kin, and some of the best newspapermen and women that I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. They’re the crew members I talked about in the boat metaphor, the ones I can’t bear to see go down with the ship with me. But even more than that, The Kensington Chronicle is a Neverland institution. When we’re at our best, we’re providing the kind of relevant, hyperlocal news that I truly believe every Neverland resident has an inalienable right to. So even if there wasn’t a whole staff of people whose livelihoods depended on the paper staying open, I couldn’t be so prideful as to deprive my community of its lifeblood just because I don’t want to see another man’s name on the masthead.

Mr. Jas Hook, owner of JH Media, and now, by extension, the Kensington Chronicle, has a reputation as a bit of a shark in the corporate world, but I think that reputation is undeserved. For the better part of the past year, my daughter has been working at JH Media’s corporate headquarters in New York City, and what Jas has done for her since she got there, both personally and professionally, is something I don’t think I’ll ever be adequately able to thank him for. And this was by no means a hostile takeover, not by a longshot. I wouldn’t even say it was the best of some bad options. Ultimately, I believe it’ll be a privilege to work for and with Mr. Hook, and that the JH Media name will give our local rag more resources than we’ve ever had before. I’ll still be in charge of the day-to-day operations at the paper, and I’ll tell you this much: Not that much is going to change. Not if I have anything to say about it. Guess pretty soon we’ll see just how much my word still counts around here.

Oh, and lastly, a few of you have been asking after John. I gotta tell you, he’s taken the news of the Chronicle sale harder than anyone. Harder than I ever could have anticipated. Suffice to say, me writing this week’s column was about more than me wanting to have a heart-to-heart with all of you loyal readers out there; John is also not in a great headspace at the moment. I suspect he’ll resume his regularly-scheduled editorials soon, as he starts to come to grips with the new status quo around here. He’ll be okay, we’ve weathered worse than this. But thank you all for your kinds letters, on his behalf and mine.  We’re all still here, and we’re going to work just as hard for you as we did before. Because when you get right down to it, no matter who’s signing our paychecks, The Kensington Chronicle is about Neverland. And outside of my family, there’s nothing in this world I love more.

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Posted in Editorials
Posted on August 31, 2015

The Importance of Being George

In honor of Father’s Day this year, I thought it was long since time I wrote a piece on the man responsible for bringing you the Kensington Chronicle 7 days a week 52 weeks a year, my father and our editor in chief, George Darling. And how, if not for a chance meeting more than 30 years ago at the Neverland Train Station, I wouldn’t even be here.

As you can no doubt imagine, it takes a certain kind of person to run a newspaper day in and day out. George Darling is driven, organized, and knows how and when to delegate. But believe it or not, my father was not always the taskmaster he is today. Though George is loath to admit it himself, my grandfather, David Darling, has imparted to me on more than one occasion that in his formative years, my father was relatively aimless. David Darling saw his son’s potential, but feared that George was in danger of squandering it. George, for his part, wanted the freedom to make his own choices, and in those days, being groomed to take over the family business was the furthest thing from what he wanted.

David Darling was ultimately able to impress upon his son the importance of getting a college education, and George begrudgingly enrolled at Neverland University, from which he emerged four years later with a degree in English and Journalism. But this was far from the last time George and his father would engage in a heated debate about the direction of his life. Not long after graduating, George and David would have the most contentious fight of this kind to date. At an impasse, a furious George stormed off, intent on fleeing Neverland for parts unknown. But fate had other plans.

It just so happened that the woman working the ticket counter at the Neverland Train Station that fateful day was one Mary Davies. To hear my father tell it, once he locked eyes with Mary for the first time, the rest of the world faded away. She was the most beautiful creature George had ever laid eyes on, and from that moment forward, he never thought about leaving Neverland again.

For much of my life, I’ve harbored the belief that romantic entanglements are a distraction, at best. But in recent months, I’ve begun to revise that opinion. I’ve seen evidence of how the right pairing can create a union that is far greater than the sum of its parts. And this was absolutely the case with George and Mary Darling in the early years of their courtship. Now, starting a family was at the forefront of George’s mind, and he decided to put his journalism degree to good use. Much to David Darling’s relief, his son finally agreed to follow in his footsteps, and Grandfather could rest assured that the dynasty of Darlings at the helm of the Kensington Chronicle would continue, unabated.

And, of course, for my money, the most important result of the union of George and Mary Darling is their three children, myself and my siblings. I, personally, have been a newspaperman from the womb, and the paper will be in good hands when my father does decide to retire. So we at the Chronicle wish George Darling, and all of you other fathers out there, a very happy Father’s Day. We owe all of you a debt we can never possibly repay.

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Posted in Editorials
Posted on June 22, 2015

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