By Soncirey Mitchell
It’s pronounced SON-ser-ray. Yes, it is shocking when people get it right on the first try, and Reader Publisher Ben Olson and Editor-in-Chief Zach Hagadone are two of only a handful to do so. I’m so used to mispronunciations that I will respond to anything starting with “s” that has roughly the same number of syllables, including “so-NEE-cray,” “salsa-ray” and the word “sincerely.”
Don’t worry if you say it wrong — every new pronunciation makes for a good story, and I love stories.
I’ve been fascinated by writing and history since my childhood in Idaho’s cedar forests, where I spent years covered in mud and chasing grasshoppers. Blame it on The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, and my parents’ decision to only have one child.
I’ve lived in Sandpoint for 23 years in the same little cabin with its lilac bushes and rhubarb patch. Even when I went off to college in L.A. and then Tacoma, Wash. — a.k.a. “Grit City” — I came back every summer for the mountains and the lake. When you grow up a rural wild child, it’s impossible to live in the city.
My early education at the Sandpoint Waldorf School taught me many valuable lessons, including empathy, creativity and juggling, which earned me the name “Clown College Dropout” in L.A. It’s the greatest compliment I’ve ever received.
The older I get, the more I find joy in the absurdity of life. I can crochet, I can sing, I can wear my bumble bee dungarees to the Farmers’ Market. I lost track of that freedom in high school, but college brought it back.
At university, while I pursued a bachelor’s degree in English: Creative Writing, I amazed big-city folks with my tales of dirt roads and slow internet. A San Francisco native even asked me if we had “electricity back in Idaho.” I told him, “Sometimes, if the wind’s not too bad.” Friends tell me I should have been angry at that question, but I can’t bring myself to mind. As I said, it makes a good story.
I graduated Summa Cum Laude as a member of the academic honor society Phi Beta Kappa, which I hoped would outweigh the fact that I had to write “English Major” on job applications. I returned to Sandpoint in the summer of 2022, where and when I divided my time between writing and editing freelance for local businesses and authors, applying for jobs, and planting an enormous garden with the help of my two dogs.
One of the thousands of emails I sent in my job search landed me a call from someone named “Ben,” who apparently owned a newspaper, but still took the time to call me personally and pronounce my name correctly. Just like that, I had an interview for a job that may or may not have existed, possibly taking over for Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey, who sounded like an incredible human being and a crucial member of the team.
I’ve now been a reporter for about three weeks and I couldn’t be more grateful. Ben and Zach bring kindness and levity every day to our cramped, sweltering office. I’ve been thrown into the deep end with water wings, and though I can’t remember where one day ends and another begins, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
As my dad said when he saw my name in the paper, “It’s a hell of a byline, sweetie.”
A hell of a byline for one hell of a first name.
So, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Soncirey, and I’m here to share your stories.
Reach Reader Staff Writer Soncirey Mitchell at [email protected], or call 208-946-4368.
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