December 10th. Just three weeks left in 2017. Another year has come and gone.
When we get this close to the end, you see a lot of pieces that recap the year and look forward to the following one. Newspaper columnists, magazines and yes bloggers....we all do it. But I'll go one better. I can look back on the last five years, which I spent here at ChicagoNow.
It was 2012...about a year before I started writing here. I became ill and was eventually diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. A year into that journey, enough strange and funny things had happened to me that I thought I could write a book. I wanted it to be light and uplifting instead of a tale of woe is me. The problem was I wasn't quite sure how to do it or if I could even do it.
I had been writing on some different topics in a few different places but I decided I needed one place to put all these Parkinson stories. I needed a blog. I did some research and talked with people who were familiar with this and I kept hearing ChicagoNow. I was already reading a few of the writers there so I figured why not give it a shot. I put together a proposal, hit the pitch your idea link and a few days later I received an email from the guy in the photo with me.
That's Jimmy Greenfield and he's the community manager of this place. We set up a phone call to go over a few things. I was so nervous about the call that I went to a Starbucks with my laptop to make sure I had good wi-fi and was ready to take a lot of notes. Pffft...all that wasn't necessary because the call lasted about ten minutes. He broke down some of the rules of the site, answered a few questions and we were off and running. So if you want to blame anyone for the almost 800 diatribes over the last five years blame him...JIMMY GREENFIELD!! Okay...more on him in a bit...and yeah this may go on awhile so again..blame him! HA
So for the first year or so I focused on stories about Parkinson's. Some were good, some were total shit. Some were funny and some were poignant. One Christmas Day, with nothing to do, I bought a notebook and started an outline for the book. I had twenty-five chapters set to go, it was just a matter of writing it. But I never did. Not a single word. The reason why....ChicagoNow!
One of the great things about this site is you aren't pigeonholed into any one thing. You can write about anything you want at any time that you want. How great is that.
I love music, so I write about that. I had a bout of homelessness, so I write about that. I found a mole that was Melanoma, so I write about that. Then there's Donald Trump.....FUUUUUUCK...but yeah I write about that. And you know what, it's not only accepted, it's encouraged. A couple of years ago, I was at a blogger meeting with about ten others at the Trib building. We were all talking about our blogs and when it came to me, Jimmy looks over and says "I never know what I'm going to get from you." I just shrugged because I never really know either and I take that as a good thing. It's the variety of this that makes it fun. It's a lot more fun than sitting around for a year and writing that one book. It's one of the reasons that I keep doing it and that book has been put on hold.
While writing for ChicagoNow has been fulfilling and has opened up a lot of other opportunities for a lot of us, it's not all about the writing....not even close. It's about the community. There's real caring and support.
When I wrote my first homeless piece, that outed myself there were sixteen comments. All were from ChicagoNow bloggers. When I found out I had Melanoma, there were a few ChicagoNow bloggers that had been down that road and told me what to expect. One of them died a few months later and we all mourned for her....and for a few others that have passed on in the last few years.
There are also real friendships.
When the Cubs won the World Series, I received a text asking if I was going to the parade and if she could come along. It was from a blogger. There's another blogger who has Cubs season tickets and when he can't go he offers them to us. Since most bloggers have real gigs, I seem to always get the tickets. Here's to all of you keeping your jobs next baseball season.
When Donald Trump had his non-rally event at UIC, I was there with a blogger. Later this week, I'm going to a house to see some Christmas decorations, with a ChicagoNow blogger. It's our third time doing this and we call it a tradition.
Last summer I had dinner with three other bloggers. I told a story about something that had happened with other people and used the term "real friends." I stopped and realized that the people I was with were actually more "real friends" than the ones in the story...and I told them that.
I have a lot more stories like this but enough already. You get it...it's all about the community. More than the writing, I cherish the relationships I've made in the last five years. I know some of them will be going long after the blog writing has stopped. And the reason for that is that Jimmy Greenfield guy. Oh yeah...him again.
He started this community nine years ago. It's through his work and nurturing that all this is possible....not just for me but for hundreds of bloggers that have graced these pages.
Friday, he let us know that he was moving on to a new position. A couple of years ago, I told him that when he left, we were all going with him....and I'm sure that wasn't the first time he heard that. Well that's not going to happen since he's going to be a sports editor at the Tribune....damn him.
As one era ends, a new one begins. There will be a new leader and new bloggers around here. It's that damn circle of life thing again. I hate that. C'mon it's not too late to change your mind, is it?
Honestly though, he'll always be around. Whenever someone writes a blog post it's because of him. Whenever blogger friends get together or even just chat online, it's because of him. ChicagoNow and all of us associated with it are a big part of his legacy. So thanks for all of this from all of us....we'll keep on going to keep making you proud of what you started.
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