29 April 2021

The Wildest Ride in the Wilderness

When I started the Main Street Gazette almost 14 years ago, I was young and had opinions I wanted to express. About attraction ideas, how good the food was, or wasn’t, and about what I thought would make Walt Disney World better. I had a fair share of knowledge of the parks and resorts, thanks to a never-ending thirst to know more, and I wanted to share that knowledge. I wanted to give people a better trip, and maybe a special kernel or two of knowledge that could impress their family and friends. The Gazette was a balancing point between wanting to shine as an expert, otherwise called a know-it-all, and an intrinsic need to be helpful.
 
As the years have gone by, I’ve tried new ways to engage, new topical areas to discuss, even throwing in some short fiction (which I’d love to do again), and I have learned so much. I have been taught that having a brash opinion isn’t as valuable as taking time to understand an issue, give Imagineers grace and space to create before judging, and that I have absolutely no idea what Walt Disney would think or want in the parks today, and neither does anyone else. I have learned to put others first where I can, that elevating the voices and issues that can change the lives of people not like me is important, and that what is right is not always popular.
 
I have also gained so much from all of you. Your love and devotion to the Gazette propelled me to two wonderful stints on a pair of podcasts. With Lou Mongello on the WDW Radio Show, I got to spend time with someone who is as close to me as a brother, someone who’s love of theme park history and zeal for life rivals my own. Then, with Pete, Melyssa, Courtney, Brian, Adam, and whomever else we could drag along, on the Disney Movie Hour, I found more family, that delved deep into the history and production of the films that are foundational to many of our lives. Then there are the friendships that are too numerous to list here, but for someone who finds it difficult to make friends, you have all brought me some of the most joyous memories, and relationships that I am hopeful will last a lifetime.
 
I began to push harder on the Gazette, creating a schedule that would provide content each and every day of the week, I ventured out (poorly) into social media with Twitter and Instagram, and I tried to find ways to engage each of you as best I could. In some respects, I succeeded, in many I did not, and that’s okay because I learned something new at every step or stumble along the way.
 
Then, almost 7 years ago, I began having excruciating pain in my shoulders, knees, elbows, and ankles. That scary, not knowing, road led me to a diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis. The uncertainty of when and where the next violent flare will come, the constant fatigue and pain, made my time with the Gazette haphazard at best. It has made sitting in a chair for any length of time to record for a podcast unbearable. No matter how much I wanted to continue to do all of these things, my body shut me down. Yet, through it all you stuck with me. The Gazette went on hiatus for long stretches of time, including during most of 2020 with the pandemic and at times when there were more important voices that needed to be heard around the state of race in our country. Yet, through it all, you wished me health and stuck with me.
 
By this point in the history of the Gazette, you probably think this is goodbye. That I’m hanging up my lightsaber, spurs, and pith helmets, putting the history books back on the shelves, and walking slowly into the sunset. But that’s not exactly where I’m headed. I write for a living, writing grants and reports to foundations to support critical services in my community, and writing takes a toll on my joints. Writing used to be where I found solace, and while that is still the case, the amount of time I can do writing becomes more limited each year. That means I have to choose between supporting my family or supporting a passion that I’ve never quite figured out how to make a living by. The Main Street Gazette isn’t going away, but I also can’t commit to a schedule any longer either.
 
Daily photos, or blurbs that I can put in a couple of tweets or a single photo caption, are going to continue and are likely the main avenue going forward. Meanwhile, the main page of the Gazette, the longer articles, critical thought pieces, historical anecdotes, digging at little details, and a recipe or review here or there, will still be here. I just don’t want to promise you all a when any longer only to let you, and myself, down. They’ll be sporadic, but I hope they’ll be worth it when you come back here and read them. If you happen to be feeling like a walk down memory lane, the old articles are staying put too. And I hope you’ll join in with me over on Instagram or Twitter, perhaps we can have even deeper conversations than we’ve ever had here before.
 
I love you all, and I thank you all for everything you have given me over than past 14 years. I hope we can keep this mutual joy of all things going for many, many years to come, in whatever form it may take.

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