By Paul Wein
From the day my first column was written on March 12, 1997, I could never have fathomed that this column would last as long as it did – nor could I have fathomed the things that would occur in my life over the past five years that have helped bring this column from number one to number five hundred.
I have lived through so many things in the last five years of my life that I feel as if I have lived a lifetime. I can say with absolute confidence that I have experienced more in the last sixty months then I have in the last thirty years. There are times when I think back on all I have been through and wonder how all of what I experienced fit into a five year period – and in only five hundred columns.
Of all that I have experienced in that time – love, triumph, defeat, loss, happiness, despair, hatred, passion and horror – I am proudest of the fact that I took the time to chronicle all I have lived through. I can remember as a child wanting to have a diary so that I could record my life’s events and be able to open a book and recall them at any time, but each time I started a diary, I would never complete it. But from that first column in March of 1997 – the diary of diaries began – and has a lifetime of entries.
To be honest, there are times when I do open an old book of columns and look back at all that I have been through in amazement. Sometimes I can not even believe that I have lived through so much in so short a time – and to have taken the time to chronologically maintain an accurate record of all my experiences is something that I am truly proud of. But what I am most proud of is that my columns are not only a personal record of my life – they have become a popular column that has attracted many loyal readers – and spawned a published book.
I can remember the first time I received a letter about my first column. At the time, I was unsure how the public would take to reading the exploits of a complete stranger’s life, but public support for the column came almost immediately. And even when the publisher of The Brooklyn Baron wanted to get rid of the column from it’s start to satisfy his own egotistical appetite – the readers revolted and had the column returned to the newspaper – something I will always be grateful for. And even when times came where I stopped writing the columns for one reason or another – the fans of the column stayed strong – and never lost faith even when I did.
In fact, since the beginning of this year, I began my most recent hiatus from this column. The reasons for my writing hibernation were due to the fact that I was putting the finishing touches on my book and devoted all of my time to that – and the fact that I was still so devastated over the events of September 11th – that I didn’t want to do anything other then what was absolutely required of me. This hiatus from writing lasted almost four months, with me sporadically writing a column here or there – but the hiatus ended last week when, once again – my readers revolted and demanded that I write more. Their constant support and unwavering encouragement through the column’s best and worst times is truly the driving force behind the column’s success. While my experiences and feelings may put the words to the paper – their interest and devotion to the column is what makes it last – and makes me look forward to the next thought that creeps into my head so I can put it on paper for me to chronicle – and for them to enjoy.
I can not tell you how grateful I am to those that have read about the life I have lead in these five hundred columns. Some were about happy events, some were my latest rant, some were about loves gained and loves lost – and some were so personal and so painful that tears hit my keyboard as I typed them in. But whatever the words said – they were the true and unedited account of the lifetime I have lived in the last five years. And no matter what I live through in the years ahead – it will be chronicled along with the rest of my life – in the pages of my open diary.
“And now I think of my life,
as vintage wine from fine old kegs.
From the brim to the dregs,
it poured sweet and clear.
It was a very good year.”
Robbie Williams – It Was A Very Good Year