January 10, 2007

The Long Goodbye

It always used to annoy me a little when a favorite blogger of mine would suddenly shut down operations and post some lame, last-minute “so long, and thanks for all the fishes” address to their readership – just out of the blue. It’s kind of like someone you know hopping a plane and leaving a note or email behind without saying a proper goodbye. I don’t begrudge their decision to stop blogging. I just consider it kind of rude to scram without even giving a heads-up. So in the spirit of not wanting to be rude (a first for me), I’m giving you all a few weeks notice.

Effective February 1, 2007, I will cease posting to the Ex-Donkey Blog. No, IÂ’m not kidding.

Why, you might ask? Well, the reasons are many and I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on them. That’s why the title of this post is “The Long Goodbye.” I’ve written it and rewritten it and tweaked it and rewritten it again for some time now, trying to express myself as accurately as possible without being overly sentimental. Also, the goodbye isn’t final for another few weeks.

So, if you care to, sit back, grab your favorite adult beverage of choice…and read on… The most obvious reason is that February 1, 2007 will mark my two-year blogoversary. And since I’m so close to it, and since I have a thing for symmetry, and since it just feels right…that will be it. Though I’m not ending this blog on a whim, I certainly began it that way. On February 1, 2005, I logged onto Blogger and took the three or four easy steps to get started and made my first post – an utterly dull and corny one at that. It reeks of newbie-ness and never fails to elicit an eye-roll whenever I go back to it.

I had no idea where I was going with this blog or what I would write about (though considering what I named it, I suspected politics would be a frequent topic). It seemed kind of a novelty at first but inside of a few weeks something happened. “The Juice” started flowing. By “the Juice,” I mean Inspiration. It was enjoyable and exciting and I found myself like a lab rat in a Skinner box going back to the PC to bang out on the keyboard anything that struck my fancy. I literally couldn’t go a day without posting. Later that month, I took my oldest son on a father-son overnight trip to New Hampshire. The hotel had Internet access. Even several hundred miles from home I couldn’t resist posting something. It was like an addiction. It was a little creepy, actually. But I couldn’t fight it - because “the Juice” was flowing.

And that brings me to reason number two. I’ve lost “the Juice,” that powerful urge to post whenever and wherever possible. Sometime last summer, I began to feel like blogging was a little burdensome. It gradually became less of a diversion and more of a responsibility. And I’ve got plenty of responsibilities already. So I decided I needed a break. Not a couple of days, mind you - a nice long break during the dog days of August, including a week-long vacation with the family. I invited several blog friends to fill in for me for a few weeks, something for which I will always be grateful. During that time, I came to two realizations. First, I loved the time off. My fingers didn’t miss the keyboard and I hardly ever thought about the blog because I had left it in capable hands. Second, every now and then I would check in to enjoy the stuff that my blog-sitters were posting. It dawned on me that the site was more interesting with me away from it than it had been before I took the break. It was a gentle reminder that after a year and half, I was often just “mailing it in.” My output by that point was beginning to reflect a lack of enthusiasm, and it showed. I thought that maybe returning to the weekly “Diane Lane Photo of the Week” feature might help. After all, she is pretty much my muse and I owe quite a bit of traffic to her. But it was about that time I got to thinking, how long would I continue doing this? Certainly it couldn’t go on forever; it would have to come to an end at some point. And then it hit me that it wasn’t a matter of “if” but “when.”

But the last reason is the most important in my mind. As many of you already know, I am the father of three wonderful sons. And all three of them have been diagnosed with some form of Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Admittedly, it’s been a difficult situation, but the blog thing was always a good way for me to focus on something else once in a while. I never let it get in the way of spending time with or caring for my sons. But these days I realize that you can never spend too much time with your children. These years – especially considering their particular challenges – are precious. You never get them back. And every moment is an opportunity to help them realize their full potential as they grow and learn to deal with these special challenges. As important as this blog has been to me, my kids are a hundred times more so.

There was one last thing I wanted to follow through with, however. And that was seeing Joe Lieberman re-elected as my Senator in November. If there was anything, no matter how insignificant, that I could do to support him I wanted to do it. Yes, I certainly cared about all the other races as part of the bigger picture. But the Connecticut Senate race was the one that I deemed most important to me. In hindsight, once the first polls came out after Labor Day weekend it was probably a foregone conclusion that Lieberman would win. But I wanted to weigh in on that race whenever I could. I was really pleased that the final vote tally put the influence (or lack thereof) of the nutroots into perspective. Once the election was over, I felt drained. It wasnÂ’t the result but rather the whole build-up and aftermath that left me a little spent. I canÂ’t imagine going through all that again in 2008, with even bigger stakes on the line. One election cycle is enough for me. I look forward to leaving that to others to write about so I can read their stuff.

So where does that leave me? I don’t see this as a complete departure from the blogosphere. Expect to see me leaving comments on other blogs – something I haven’t done in a while. Maybe I’ll be back at some point but in another form – kind of like when Gandalf the Grey came back as Gandalf the White, or something like that. Regardless, it’s unlikely that I would return solo. I’d be more interested in being part of a group blog or a partnership of some sort. Who knows? [UPDATE: New developments.]

I do want to take the opportunity to say “thank you” to a few important people:

First, to Steve and Robbo, the Llama Butchers: mega-yips to my sponsors into Mu Nu and my rivals for the affections of a certain French news anchor. If there was one blog I was most inspired to emulate, it was yours.

To Sadie (aka AgentBedHead) at Apothegm Designs: thanks so much for your tireless help in getting this HTML-challenged doofus a much-needed face-lift and for all the continued support since then.

To my past blog-sitters Pam, GroovyVic, Skye and Wordsmith: Thanks again for your help. You guys are great. I hope none of you ever lose “the Juice.”

To Georgia Girl/Starbuck, “The Editor,” who truly is my favorite sister-in-law…thanks for saving me from plenty of embarrassment by catching some key typos, usually right after I posted a long-winded tirade. And thank you for all your encouragement. You deserved more hat tips than I ever gave you credit for.

And to all the other supportive visitors over the last two years, thanks again. Shortly after February 1st, I’ll be shutting down comments on the site. Tragically, all prior comments will not be visible, and for that, I’m sorry. But I have no intention of spending the next few years playing “whack-a-mole” with comment spam. Some of it is just so vile and I will not be party to boosting their Google rankings from all the embedded URLs they leave.

So thatÂ’s it. IÂ’ll keep posting for a while as the inspiration hits me. Then, like Frodo stepping on to the last white ship headed over the Sea, IÂ’ll take my leave. It will be bittersweet.

Posted by: Gary at 08:00 AM | Comments (13) | Add Comment
Post contains 1492 words, total size 9 kb.

1 Dude!?! You've got the keys to the backdoor of Orgle Manor, right? Post whenever you want. We'll be happy to scoop up some of that Diane Lane traffic. Seriously, post whenever you want. I've certainly found being part of a group blog is more fun.

Posted by: Steve the LLamabutcher at January 10, 2007 10:18 AM (iLKgG)

2 It's always sad when someone with your wit and brains decides to walk away from the keyboard. However, you have your reasons, which you have clearly stated. Please do continue to stop by and leave comments...it keeps the rest of us on our toes. And look me up in the phone book (you know which one) if you'd ever like to chew the fat. Best wishes!

Posted by: Pam at January 10, 2007 10:56 AM (E1H09)

3 Hey, what the other said. I can give you "the keys" too, if you want to stop by and blog about...what ever.

Posted by: GroovyVic at January 10, 2007 11:42 AM (/GsCf)

4 Thanks, Steve. I'll definitely take you up on that. But I promise not to post anything unless it meets one of the following criteria: 1) it's thought-provoking 2) it's salacious or 3) it's amusing enough to elicit the spitting of your morning coffee out your nose. :wink:

Posted by: Gary at January 10, 2007 04:52 PM (QoxB+)

5 Boo Hiss!!!!!! You I'm gonna miss!!! You better stop by and comment occasionally.

Posted by: Jenn at January 10, 2007 05:05 PM (QD9ey)

6 I've only just discovered this blog a few months ago. It's been very enjoyable to read and I'll miss it. Being blessed with 3 beautiful children of my own I completely understand what you're saying. Thanks for giving us such a great blog. maybe sometime later on down the road we'll see you out here again in a different form pumped with different "juice". I wish you and your family all the best. God bless.

Posted by: cerebraldebris at January 10, 2007 11:05 PM (QtEb7)

7 I never understood the whole "I'm departing the Blogosphere" thing myself. Most of the time it's because those bloggers feel compelled to post 3 times a day or they're not a "blogger". Who wrote that unwritten rule? Post something compelling once a week or whenever you get the urge. Don't let me stop you though, if it's more of an annoyance than it is worth drop it.

Posted by: Digger at January 10, 2007 11:51 PM (n5tsd)

8 I know the real reason you're quitting - it's because I started reading your blog. It never fails that if I add a blog to my top 20 check-multiple-times-a-day folder, there's a 60% chance it'll close within a year. I did it. I'm sorry. (You'll be missed! Stop by and comment sometime...)

Posted by: JimK at January 11, 2007 12:31 AM (74rFq)

9 Digger, it's not an annoyance but right now I have other priorities. I don't believe in making some grand declaration and then a few weeks later saying "oh, never mind. I was just kidding. I just needed a few pats on the back." I gave this months and months of thought. I went back and forth many times. In fact, it wasn't until the holidays that I made the final decision. It's not about being a blogger or not being a blogger or any unwritten rules about how much you post. Really, the person I most need to satisfy with my output is me. Yeah, I know that sounds selfish but if I don't get excited about what I'm doing, what's the point? In my mind, this particular venture - this blog - is finishing. That doesn't mean that I'm finished blogging forever.

Posted by: Gary at January 11, 2007 09:27 AM (PLHs9)

10 Oh and Jim. I really enjoy your site but unfortunately it's blocked my the server at my place of employment. :blush: Regretably, a number of my favorite ones are as well. I often wondered when my own would be, so far it hasn't been (knock wood). I'll make it a point to keep in touch with comments on right-thoughts.us from my home PC.

Posted by: Gary at January 11, 2007 09:32 AM (PLHs9)

11 You suck! I respect you for it, but you still suck! If you ever do decide to come back, you will definitely have an immediate reader here... and if you feel an urge to post something... anything... my blog is always open to you.

Posted by: Linoge at January 14, 2007 10:38 PM (zBx9m)

12 Wow, go on vacation for a couple weeks and look what happens. Gotta respect the reasoning though. Thanks for the grins the last few months. Even when you "mailed it in" I was entertained. Oh, and if it makes you feel better, your blog is blocked at my place of employment. Best wishes!

Posted by: Jason at January 17, 2007 12:54 AM (mwq/7)

13 I can't let the Ex-Donkey blog slip away without saying how much I've enjoyed it. Thank you, Gary, for two years of endless - though sometimes mindless and tasteless - entertainment. I've spent many a lunch hour and many a late night reading your latest post, thinking, "man, is he whacked out or what?" Since I know you personally, I can answer that with a "yes." For all of you who have gotten to know (and presumably like) Gary through his blog, you should meet him in person. Because beyond being my favorite blogger (and my favorite brother-in-law), Gary is a wonderful person, a loving father and husband, and a true friend. You'll notice those qualities come through in his posts once in a while. :wink: So, when I'm done scrolling through the archives here, I guess I'll start visiting those Llama guys for a periodic dose of that old Ex-Donkey wit, humor and occasional genius... See ya Scarecrow!

Posted by: Georgia Girl (gfsil) at January 31, 2007 06:21 PM (ZMwFa)

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