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POWELL: It's time to start another chapter in the book of life - Odessa American: Gene Powell

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POWELL: It's time to start another chapter in the book of life

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Posted: Thursday, December 2, 2010 12:00 am

The shingle is coming down. Brother Gene’s weekly confession of ignorance and general grumbling is closing up shop.

After more than eight years here at the Odessa American, you’d think I’d be able to close things down with some incredible writing.

Razor sharp witticisms.

Omniscient observations.

Stirring satire.

Humor that would make Mark Twain’s ghost grin.

Yeah, you’d think. But … not so much.

I don’t want to say the well is dry. In fact, this particular case of writer’s block is caused by just the opposite — I have so many things I want to say that it’s all getting jumbled up somewhere between my heart, my head, my fingers and my keyboard.

Goodbyes have never been easy for me. Not when I’ve built satisfying relationships. I’ve been lucky enough to do just that with several sources, multiple co-workers and hopefully even a handful of readers.

The best news for me is that I’m blessed enough to be moving to another job right here in Odessa on my own terms. That means they won’t have to post that note on the bulletin board that says, “Gene Powell is no longer employed at the Odessa American. He is pursuing other interests.” You know — the he’s-fired-but-we-can’t-say-he’s-fired memo.

Many journalists have lost jobs in the past few years because of economic problems in the industry, but I’ve been honored to have been working 20 straight years in this business. I’ll certainly miss it. The deadlines, the breaking news, the interesting human interest features and the agenda-setting opinion pieces make journalism a profession like no other.

I hope I’ve made a difference somewhere in my 20-plus years.

It always seems ironic to me when I try to tell people about journalism. We make our living telling stories, but we fail miserably when it comes to explaining why we’re called to it.

You just have to have ink in your blood to understand.

I never thought I’d leave. Now I’ve chosen a different path.

At least it’s still in communications. I’m moving over to the Texas Department of Transportation to take over as the public information officer.

I’ll be on the other side now. I’ll be using various media outlets to get the TxDOT message across whether it’s to report closed roads, update people on construction projects or invite the public to meetings to offer their opinions.

I’m happy that I’ll still be serving the public and still be writing.

The bad part is that I’m changing my relationship with all of you. OK, some of you won’t care. Might even be one or two of you recent elected types cheering my departure.

Part of me wants to leave some sort of will to you fine folks. Or at least some wisdom that could change your life. But then again, this will be a bird cage liner, a fish wrapper, a coffee grounds collector or a fireplace starter.

With that in mind, I have four things to offer, none of which I can claim as original advice:

Read T.H. White’s “The Once and Future King.”

Savor a collection of Nikki Giovanni poetry.

Follow the Golden Rule.

Dance like no one’s watching.

Dream for the future, but live the day as if it’s your last.

Turn the page.

Odessa, TX

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