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Monday, July 28

Pundita goes on strike but the party is still on

I've been neglecting this blog for several months. If I could take you behind the scenes in Punditaland, you would understand why this sometimes happens -- well, here is a peek backstage:

June 6:
"Why did you desert your post?"

"Because I had to get away from the computer for an hour; I was sitting in one position for so many hours my feet swelled.

"Stand up and type."

I swear that the above is a true record of an email exchange I had with a colleague.

For we who analyze portentous events around the world there is a great deal of research and writing, and a great deal of debate and sharing of analyses and opinion -- much of which never shows up on the blog.

That work, and often the breakneck speed at which it's done, can be exhausting. Yet it's something I learned to take in stride while keeping up the blog -- until I ran into a topic I found so odious that it became a matter of forcing my brain to focus where it kept refusing to focus.

That topic would be Barack Obama or to be more precise his campaign for President of the United States.

At first colleagues more-or-less ignored my pleas that I required a sabbatical. But last week, after I threatened to don bunny slippers and nothing else and wander up and down K Street until Washington, DC's Finest hauled me to a psych ward, a general agreement was reached that I needed some serious down time.

I meant to put up a few final posts before leaving, but to be frank I am in such revolt that it will interesting to see if I can coax my brain into publishing even this note.

I will see you in September. I will check back on the 1st of the month.

If I don't return; if something happens to me -- life is short and full of surprises, after all -- readers who have been with this blog since 2005 might remember the party I planned for us.*

The party is still on.

Thank you for gracing my blog with your attention.

* From December 26, 2005 Pundita post:

One evening almost 12 years ago I was in a terrible mood, so I wandered into an old theater in Georgetown that is no longer there, seeking to distract myself with a movie.

A documentary called The Kingdom of Zydeco was playing. The film was my first sight of Louisiana, the bayou country and its people.

It was love at first sight. I wanted to leave everything behind, get on a plane, then live out the rest of my days among the people of the bayou country.

I did not go. It was not just because of life's entanglements. I had glimpsed the Elysian Fields, but I knew it would not be like that if I visited. It would be a very human place, of course, with all the attendant troubles. I wanted to keep my idea of heaven removed from life's cares.

Over the next few years my thoughts would return to southwestern Louisiana and it would be a point of cheer.

Then one day this year I asked myself what I would do if I won a big lottery. I thought I'd put an announcement on the blog that I was inviting all the 'regular' Pundita readers to a party, all expenses paid no matter where they lived.

"Where should the party be?" I wondered. At first I thought of renting a cruise ship but that didn't sound right. Then I remembered the picnic in The Kingdom of Zydeco.

"That's it! I'll charter flights to the bayou country and throw a picnic. We'll eat crawfish stew and dance to Zydeco music, and we won't have a care in the world!"

The thought of the party gave me happiness.

Two months later Hurricane Katrina struck southwestern Louisiana, wrecking the fishing industry that had supported the region since anyone remembered. And as we all know all too well, much suffering then came to the people of the region.

I was deeply shaken by the news. I felt as if I'd lost a part of my heart. Finally I snapped at myself, "Your Elysian Fields are gone. Stop acting like a child."

On Christmas Eve I recalled the party. That's how I came across an Associated Press/Boston Globe report, A Light Endures on the Bayou:
This Christmas Eve the Mississippi River in Louisiana's bayou country lit up with miles of traditional bonfires built on the top of levees, just as had been done for over a century of Christmas Eves.

Residents of the region took weeks to build the massive 20 foot bonfires from woven sugar cane and wood materials -- the latter plentiful this year because Katrina felled so many trees.

Most bonfire piles are in the shape of a teepee, but this year one bonfire was in the shape of a helicopter, complete with propellers made of PVC pipe and silver duct tape. It was a tribute to the air rescue workers who retrieved people from roofs in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath.
When I read of the bonfires I realized that the spirit of the people I'd fallen in love with had not been extinguished by a storm.

I haven't won the lottery yet -- it might help if I remembered to buy a ticket -- but I have decided there's nothing to prevent me from throwing the party in my heart. We'll dance and eat crawfish stew and we'll laugh and not have a care in the world.
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