I was worn out with blogging. I should have known it would be a lot of work. I’d had to create daily posts for my radio station’s website, and I’d learned from that experience that it took more than a few witty lines about what I’d had for lunch and a picture of what I was wearing to make a webpage worth visiting. I found myself putting in a couple hours or more every day just to make sure that I had something new to post regularly. After all, the blog was named Every Clog Has Its Day. I figured there should be something new every day. Fortunately, I dreamt up a handful of recurring themes to help me generate content. The What’s New? feature ran every Wednesday. Well, I was already scouring the ‘net for cool wood soled shoes. It was a piece of cake to share what I’d found. Saturday Flea Market focused on used clogs and bygone styles. I was already prowling the e-thrift stores for what they had to offer, too. I found there was enough interest from male readers of my blog to justify launching a weekly Guy Day Friday post. And then I dreamt up a handful of topic categories that would help me create fresh posts without having to reinvent the wheel every 24 hours: Featured Designers, Celebriclogs, This ‘n’ That from Here ‘n’ There, Miu Miu Monday, and On My Feet As I Blog. It was invigorating. It was a creative challenge. It was a heady experience. And it was taking its toll.
A few months shy of the two year mark, I began to feel the burn. I started to think that I had said all I had to say with Every Clog Has Its Day. Soon after I’d launched the blog, influential fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld had turned clogs from dorky ‘70s footwear relics into the new “it” shoe with the Spring/Summer 2010 wardrobe he’d created for Chanel. That surge in interest in wood-soled footwear provided me with a seemingly endless supply of shoes to post about for the rest of the year. By the spring of 2011, though, it began to appear that the resurgence of clogs had run its course. Shoe makers were backing away from platforms and chunky heels. Retailers became reluctant to call anything they carried a “clog,” sometimes going to ridiculous lengths to avoid using the C-word. And I, personally, was often finding myself ready to relax at the end of busy day and not particularly interested in devoting two hours to researching and composing an entire post. It felt as though it was time to say goodbye.
But what about the community I had created? A community that stretched from Illinois to Pennsylvania and California, from Washington state to Washington, D. C., from England, Germany, and the Netherlands to South Africa to Australia? What about those readers who genuinely looked forward to seeing what I had to say each day? What about my fellow shoe addicts who turned to me for advice on where to score their latest fix? What about all of the e-friends I had made? I couldn’t just up and announce that I was tired of blogging and pull the plug. I had to make my exit with a sense of closure. I had to say goodbye in a way that would express my gratitude to all the clog fans I’d met. I had a vision of how I wanted to bring it all to an end. But before I did anything, I wanted to get the opinion of one of my most faithful readers: Melissa.
We’d gotten even closer in our internet friendship at the beginning of 2011. She’d become a welcome fixture in the Comments section the year before, but her posts tapered off as 2010 drew to a close. That January I had to write to ask how she was.
“Pardon my intrusion, but you've mentioned your late husband a couple of times lately. When I first met you via my blog, I had the impression he was still alive. Did you suffer a loss I didn't hear about in the past year? I don't mean to be nosy. Just concerned.
"Thinking warm thoughts in your direction.”
Her reply caught me totally off guard.
“You aren't intruding at all: it's thoughtful of you to notice and ask; yes, the love of my life lost his life to cancer at the end of October.”
I wrote back:
“Oh, my dear, I'm so sorry. What a heartrending upheaval that has been, I'm sure. My sincerest sympathy. Oh, my God. I can't even begin to comprehend what you've gone through. And yet you pop up from time to time in my Inbox and offer a thoughtful comment or share a bit of your warmth. Lord, I'm sure I would be reduced to staring listlessly into space in such circumstances. My thoughts are with you. And I hope I can at least offer the consolation of letting you know how your presence has brightened my corner of the world over the past six months. Thank you for the goodness you've sent my way. Your man most surely had some wonderful times on this planet with a partner like yourself to spend his time with.
"Wish I could invite you over for a little tea and sympathy.”
To which Melissa appreciatively replied,
“Thank you, Lindsey. You are a bright spot in each of my days.
"Husband was quite sick for almost a year, so his death was not unexpected—I do miss him like crazy though—he was a great appreciator of cool shoes.
"I too wish we could share a warm beverage—and a stroll through each other's closets!”
And that, to me, was that.
This dear reader had suffered an unthinkable tragedy, and I could do little but offer digital words of condolence. It hurt to realize that as much as I enjoyed the glimpses I’d gotten of this fellow footwear fanatic through her correspondence, I really didn’t know anything about her. She, like myself, was surely a vibrant and varied individual who was made up of more than just a great closet full of shoes. But I was so far removed from the realities of her day to day life, I could do nothing more from four states away but give her space to heal. I felt drawn to her personality. I was curious to learn more about her. We had written each other in occasional e-mails, and through those messages I learned that yes, her late husband had been a musician. But the music making had been merely a hobby. He was in fact a talented graphic artist. And she had been to art school herself. I was delighted that music and creativity were front and center in her world. I also learned that she worked in Fairfax County, Virginia, not far from where I had spend the majority of my 2nd grade year. How interesting that we would have a fleeting bit of geography in common, too! She also mentioned that she had lived in London, my favorite city on the planet. The groundwork was there for a very satisfying conversation over coffee should the stars ever align to make such a thing possible. But that was just a fanciful daydream.
The cold, hard reality of life was that I had a free lance career that needed nurturing, a growing number of opportunities for my newly burgeoning musical talents, and the more realistic romantic expectation that I should look for someone in my own backyard to be a good fit. I’d been dating around since breaking up with my girlfriend of three years. (Do I even need to tell you that she was neither amused by my penchant for wearing women’s shoes nor particularly pleased I was devoting so much energy to blogging about them?) It felt like it was time to get my bearings and chart some new directions in my life. It really felt as though it was time to bring down the curtain on Every Clog Has Its Day and invest myself in some new creative project.
But as I said earlier, I couldn’t simply close up shop. I truly needed to get the advice of someone who knew the blog well and understood its community and its allure. It made sense to reach out to one of my most passionate readers, a reader whose wisdom and insights in the Comments I had enjoyed time and time again.
I turned to Melissa.
“Hey, if you're not too swamped...,”
“...I thought I'd get your opinion. Got a moment?”
she wrote back.
And with a great deal of uncertainty in the middle of June in 2011, I unburdened myself with the following:
This is a message that in some ways is long overdue. I've been delighted getting to know you through our occasional correspondence and have truly appreciated your contributions to my blog. It's good people like you that make charting my course forward difficult.
You clearly know that I'm a passionate fan of wood soled shoes. What I don't make clear in my blog is that I'm actually a guy who's rushing off to pick up this style or that and then wax rhapsodically about its many delights. When I started this blog nearly two years ago, I wanted to make sure it didn't turn into a fetish site. And I figured the best way to do that would be to hide my gender and just focus on the shoes. For the most part, I think I've been successful. But along the way, I've gotten to meet a number of wonderful readers whom I've wanted to put in the know. Many of the designers I've spoken with have been aware I'm a man. But I haven't thought it was time to step out from behind the curtain for my regular readers.
My caution is not out of my own desire to hide who I am. I honestly do wear the shoes you read me raving about and am genuinely celebrated and loved by my kids, my friends, and my co-workers for my unique and individual style. But I work in a public position as a radio personality and creative services director here in Chicago, and I haven't wanted to bring the scrutiny of that community (or the general public that knows me from my on air work) directly to bear in this area of my life. So I've blogged using my middle name and have only pointed my friends and people I know well toward the URL.
I'm thinking with the popularity of the Guy Day Friday feature, it would make sense to step forward and introduce myself. But actually, that's not the advice I was going to seek from you. Instead, as I approach my two year anniversary with Every Clog Has Its Day, I find my interests have moved to many other directions. Obviously, clogs are not the hot fashion item they once were. And having plumbed the depths of what's available in the clog world, I feel like there's nothing new coming along to fire my imagination or to prize open my pocketbook. I have all the clogs I could want right now (well, all the ones that are reasonably priced). I feel as though I've done what I wanted to do in scouring the planet for wood soled shoes. And now I want to put my energy into some other directions. What other directions? I'm sure you may be curious! Well, as you probably have read, I'm working with a variety of music ensembles here playing bass with most of them, but I've been roped into getting reacquainted with my trombone for a couple of them. Getting more proficient on my instrument is a goal right now. And I'm feeling the need to explore some new career ideas this summer. There's a musician interview show idea I want to pitch to the organization I'm taking music classes from. And a good friend who was downsized at the same time that I was in 2009 has an opportunity brewing with a newly revitalized Chicago music venue. I might be able to grab onto his coattails with that. Suffice it to say, while I have been proud to meet the discipline of maintaining my blog on a daily basis every day for nearly two years, I'm feeling like I need to step away and pursue some other things.
I'm writing to see what you think might be the best way to make my exit. I figured I would make an announcement of some sort. Cease posting once the second anniversary arrives in August. Keep the blog active for another month or two. Then close my account with TypePad in the fall.
I've toyed with scaling back to fewer posts. Maybe only post on weekdays. Or every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
What do you think?
I hate bringing this community to a close. We really have a warm, supportive group that's evolved here. I can't envision handing the duties to anyone else since I've rarely seen that work well on other websites. And besides, I have pretty high standards that I'd want someone to uphold! I value your input and would love to read what light you might be able to shed on this issue.
Thanks for taking the time to reply. I look forward to hearing from you. And believe me, if we lived closer, I'd have suggested having coffee long before now!
I clicked Send, took a deep breath, and waited.
It was a little over an hour before I received Melissa’s reply. She was in the midst of her workday so the brevity of it was not a surprise. The sentiment, on the other hand, knocked me off my feet.
“Well, now I'm more in love with you than I was before.”
[On the feet around here lately: Woo-hoo! I submitted a shot of myself in my my new Mia lace up booties from Miista, and they posted it on the Miista blog! (Consumer photos are uploaded here. I was at the top of page 4 when I typed this, though they upload fairly frequently so it won't be long before I'm further down the e-pipeline. Here's the link to photo by itself.) I don't mean to carry on like a 20-year-old with her first pair of Litas, but it's nice to get a little recognition and take a brief turn in the spotlight. You won't be surprised when I tell you it was much more satisfying than having my product review posted on Home Depot two years ago.]