We have a washing machine that, when finished with a cycle, plays this chimey little ditty for what seems like six minutes, like one of those 70s rock songs where the good part ends after two minutes and the rest is a meandering guitar solo. It’s like when someone starts singing the second verse to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and you wonder how the songwriter thought it best to keep the song going and going.
The washing machine chime is so long that every time I hear it I think, “Yeah, we get it. You’re a washing machine. Don’t be so proud of yourself when you finish a load.”
And that’s how I feel now, this being my final column in this space for DGO. I want to say something to mark the passing of events, both for me personally and for this magazine, which I helped found, developed, and led over the course of three years. But how do I do it without being too self-indulgent and while appearing modest (don’t get me wrong. I’m not a modest person, but boy do I like appearing like it!)?
It’s a little too late to not appear self-indulgent, you are likely saying. Perhaps, you might add, I should have thought about being self-indulgent before I started writing a weekly column that often became about my experiences walking through Durango and the world: Elaborations on conversations with friends, late-night goofiness conjured by me and Stephanie, reflections on trips, shows, meals, and my favorite places and people.
Every week it felt self-indulgent, sitting down to write for this magazine. Though as much as I squirm at times, I believe the process of personal writing is powerful, both for the writer and those they share their words with. Personal writing has intentionally been a cornerstone of this magazine, me having been heavily influenced by the personal essays of writers like David Sedaris and David Rackoff, and the personal-heavy podcasts “This American Life” and “The Moth.” Over the years with DGO, I have learned a great deal about craft beer, legal marijuana, and gaming – topics I knew little or nothing about beforehand. But I learned about these topics after they’d run circles through the brains of Robbie Wendeborn, Chris Gallagher, and Brett Massé, who provided voice, insight, and experiential context to the facts. And while not always writing personally, I wonder what this magazine would have been like without the brilliant voice each week of someone like Patty Templeton, whose every sentence breathes her fiery, fearsome, generous, empathetic, and spirited being.
How I came about writing a column every week was a little by accident. We had a new magazine for Durango and for the first issue, I thought I would introduce it, as editors have been known to do. Then for the second issue, there was this space that needed filling. And so I wrote about Mike Brieger’s excellent DAC show “Slavery Days.” And since I filled that space two weeks in a row, I had no choice but to keep going.
Doing this every week changed how I operated in the world. Knowing an impending column was ever due, I had to think: What do I have to say? What do I care about? What have I thought or talked about this week might a stranger find interesting? What are the things that matter? How can I take my experiences and thoughts and connect them to something larger about the human experience?
I’ll never know exactly if I succeeded or the impact I had on readers – writers rarely do, having undertaken a lonely process of writing words alone in a room and then sending them out into the world.
But the process for me, while not always easy, has been magical and insightful. Having to sit down every week and take an inventory of what matters and what is worth saying has helped me grow as a person and thinker. I have learned things about myself. Sharing what I do, how I think, and how I communicate has brought me closer to friends, to my mom, to my brother.
Sometimes I didn’t want to. Sometimes it felt like a chore. Sometimes I felt like I had nothing in the tank, no words for anyone. Sometimes I’d sit down on Tuesday morning with a deadline hours away having no idea what I was going to write about. And then I’d make my fingers start hitting keys and an hour or two later I would wonder where all those words came from, surprised to have stumbled on a smidge of insight.
Always an advocate of writing, I’m even more so now. And those would be my final words to you in this space: Write something. If it’s a journal where you scribble a jumble of thoughts from your day, write it. If it’s a blog, or a Facebook post, or a personal essay for a magazine like this one, write it. Your writing can be for you or the world. Having taught writing to all skill levels for years, I can say that everyone can write. Trust me: Reflecting on your life and cycling it all through your brain, and spitting it out in words will take you places you never thought you would go.
So that’s it. My end-of-cycle chime is done.
[A quick thank you to Ballantine and Doug Bennett for their incredible support; every single contributor who has helped make DGO; Amy Maestas for her guidance and friendship; my favorite partner in crime, Patty Templeton, who made the last year and change pure joy; Stephanie, my greatest love, for whom all the words I could ever write would not suffice; and to the supportive, always wonderful, always surprising city of Durango. I’ll see you around.]