Tell me a story: Carrie Simison

For many locals of a certain age, the Colorado Springs Independent will always be synonymous with John Weiss. With Kathryn Eastburn (and an assist from Richard Skorman, among others), John created the alternative newsweekly in 1993. He spent the next 20 years as its publisher and public face, showing up at City Council meetings, community forums, local hangouts and the (not-so-)occasional protest.

Carrie Simison head shotJohn continues to stir the pot even today, but newer residents are more likely to associate the Indy with his successor. Nineteen months into taking over the newspaper’s operational side, Carrie Simison has imbued the position with her own style and unrelenting positivity. She has led voter engagement campaigns, served on various boards, organized dozens of community events, and become a leading voice for young professionals.

I recently reached out to Carrie (my former boss) to see if she’d talk a bit about her personal history. From a list of possible questions, here’s the one she chose to answer — in written form, true to her creative writing background.

What is an important road not taken in your life?

I always assumed I’d be a mom, and a damn good one at that. As long as I can remember I’d saved things in a box — mismatched favorite outfits I’d outgrown, a filthy stuffed animal named “Puppy,” art projects from grade school — “things for my little girl.” I guess I even assumed I’d be the mom to a daughter just like me.

At 25, I was freshly out of grad school and looking for my tribe. I’d just moved here from Minnesota, where my downtime included going to shows, doing poetry readings, playing pool and hanging out in dive bars with kids from punk bands, and struggled to find that scene in Colorado Springs.

That’s when I got my first job at the Independent. I started as a graphic designer and immediately bonded with my coworkers. We joked about being the Island of Misfit Toys, and it felt like home. I loved the alt media business because we cared about things that were close to my heart: music, literature, art, news of the weird. I was less homesick.

At some point in my early 30s, it seemed like everyone was having babies — friends from high school, friends here — and I thought maybe it was time. I was married then, but it just never quite seemed like the right circumstances. And frankly, my husband wasn’t really interested in becoming a parent.

At the same time, my job was changing. From the art department, I had moved into operations and management. It took me out of the office and had me working and networking after hours, and truthfully, I loved it. When I was representing the Independent, I felt most like myself.

I will celebrate my 20-year anniversary at the Indy on April 20. I’m now divorced, but am married to this job and to the people I get to meet and the social life it allows me to lead. In my list of priorities, it comes first.

As my grandmother — a master quilter — aged, my mother kept a few baby quilts she had crafted “just in case.” Though I assured her it was fine to pass them to a niece or nephew, she just couldn’t. She’s sent them to me, and they live in a closet along with a baby blanket one of my aunts couldn’t pass up because it was covered in Hello Kitty, a favorite from my childhood.

I have no regrets, though I do sometimes wonder, as I hear stories from friends raising children, what kind of mom I would have been. I am lucky enough to be an aunt, not only biological to my brother’s kiddos, but an honorary one to my ex-sister-in-law’s children and a slew of my friends’ offspring.

So on April 20 — and hopefully for the next 20 years — you can find me toasting my legacy in the halls of the Indy and trying to influence future generations through what I get to do as a matron of Colorado Springs alternative news. Though I’m not sure it’ll care for me when I’m old.

“Tell Me a Story” is a blog series that shares personal-history snippets from members of the community. To learn how Time Capsule Memoirs captures full-length personal histories in print and audio, click here.