Thursday, October 05, 2017

COLUMN: Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

A little bit of change is often a big deal in my world. Change can be exciting, intimidating, scary, and exhilarating. In other words, it's usually not for me. "Exhilarating" just isn't a word that creeps up in my couch-dwelling lifestyle too often. However, a little bit of change has entered our lives this week here in Dispatch-Argusland. That's usually my cue to curl into a fetal ball and commence panicking.

I've always had a natural resistance to change. Admittedly, this is a pretty stupid mindset to have. Without change, there's never any possibility for growth. More often than not, change is a risk worth taking, whether you have to push yourself or accept the occasional push of fate. After all, without a good push or two, I'd be a 250 lb. fetus making my mom SUPER uncomfortable right about now.

This time around, though, I strangely haven't been panicking. I've yet to reach for a fidget spinner or search the internet for coping mechanisms. In fact, this change is giving me a strange new feeling I'm unfamiliar with. I looked it up, and I think it's something called "optimism." Weird, huh?

You're reading this now, which likely means you're a fan of our papers, so you've probably already heard the news: last week, the Small Newspaper Group sold the Dispatch•Argus•QCOnline to the good folks at Lee Enterprises. 

What's this mean? Well, it means we'll be saying goodbye to the Small family, who have been steadfastly sailing this ship since before I was born. We're also saying goodbye to Jerry Taylor, who retires as our publisher after 40-plus years of service. With soft voice and steady hands, Mr. Taylor has been our rock, our captain, our friend, and a man whose only error in judgement may have been letting the weirdo kid from advertising write about his cats every Monday. I couldn't be more grateful.

It also means we'll be saying hello to a company with a proven track record of excellence, who already serve 49 markets in 21 states. This week, they've been meeting our team, and I hope they're discovering they just inherited a scrappy crew of hard workers equally devoted to the noble pursuit of journalistic excellence -- and one columnist who probably uses the word "poop" too many times for their liking.

The ones who should benefit the most from this new partnership are you, the readers. With renewed vigor and newfound resources, we're committed more than ever to serve our community the very best print and online products we can muster every day. The Dispatch•Argus isn't going anywhere.

So if the order of the day ISN'T to panic and curl up into a fetal ball, how did I cope with the spectre of change this time around? Well, with some acoustic folk music, naturally.

The night that news of the sale broke, rather than sit at home and convince myself that change must always be bad, I instead took an invitation from my friend Sean Moeller and headed to downtown Davenport's Raccoon Motel to catch Son Little and singer-songwriter Korey Dane.

"I wrote this one a couple years back when I was hitch-hiking across the U.S.," Dane said at one point, in an instantly successful attempt at proving himself way cooler than I'll ever be. That's when it hit me. Maybe I resist change because I've never had my walkabout moment. I've never thrown caution to the wind or hitchhiked across our great land with Kerouacian passion. I've barely left the corn belt.

Then again, I've also never been axe murdered, and that's what my mom always promised would happen if I ever hitchhiked. The gods of fate are something I seldom toy with, so it WOULD be just my luck to begin my life-affirming spiritual journey by hopping into a car with a blood-thirsty sociopath. Plus, Dane's good looks and natural charm probably scored him rides fairly easy. My aged and tubby silhouette would probably still be on a roadside as we speak, trying to stick out my thumb while balancing an armful of cats.

Just today I read an article about all the free-wheeling travelers that converged on Stonehenge for the summer solstice last week. Dozens of new age hippies weeped at the morning sun while presumably renewing their chakras through the karmic vibrations of the ancient ley lines. Had I been there, I'd have been the guy whining about the mosquitos and asking if anybody knew the password for the Stonehenge wi-fi. The traveler's life is not for me.

No, my place is here, contentedly couch-surfing and waiting for my cats to do something funny enough to write about. I'm no sage philosopher, so all I can tell you is this: I'm excited about the future, and I hope you all are, too.

Here's where I should probably quote REO Speedwagon's "Roll With the Changes," but I just can't bring myself to cite a song so bad it dares to rhyme "brink of" with "drink of." Instead, I will follow the orders of the great David Bowie, turn and face the strange, and see what these ch-ch-ch-ch-changes have to offer.

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