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Goodbye, Bend: On five years of writing about sports and other things you might have cared about 

Mike Bookey says his goodbye to the The Source Weekly and all the readers.

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I've been writing words in this paper for more than five years. Some of you have enjoyed those words while others have detested them so much that they felt the need to call me, among other things, a communist. This week, however, is my last at the Source. Next week I'm going to go write for another paper in another city that is not Bend, Oregon.

Don't worry - not that I actually thought you were particularly worried about the departure of someone who once called Tim Tebow fans a "gaggle of idiots" - I'll still be writing this column for a few more weeks and maybe longer, but you'll no longer be able to find me hunched behind my computer machine in that old brick building on Georgia Avenue.

I've written about many a topic for this publication, but whenever I meet someone new in town, they tend to say something like, "Oh right, you're the sports guy." And while penning this column brings me a unique sense of validation and self-indulgence, these sports rants make up about 1/35 of my job duties. Still, I love being the sports guy and I don't even mind when, for example, a deranged UConn fan calls me and says that I should "watch my back" because I said his team's basketball coach was slightly crooked.
Perhaps fittingly, the very first piece I wrote for the Source was actually a sports piece. I was sent to preview a mixed martial arts fight and wound up in a padded room somewhere off of Third Street where I watched a dozen or so men in their early 20s try to strangle each other in what was described as a "practice." During an interview, one of the fighters looked at me with the eyes of someone who enjoys pain and asked if I wanted to get on the mats. I left about five minutes later.
Also for the sake of sports journalism, I've survived a hot yoga class (and almost puked) and water skied with the best in the county (almost puked then, too) and even made it through a damn spin class (actually did puke that time) - all for this job. For a position that mostly requires one to sit at a computer and talk on the phone, I was surprised by the amount of near-vomit experiences this job provided.
The bulk of my work has, however, not revolved around sports. I've worked on supposedly serious pieces about small town post offices and pinball machines and people who care for entire herds of white buffalo. And I've loved pretty much all of this and it's going to be hard to leave a place where I - and the wife who graciously allowed me to make her out as a football-hating maniac in about half of these columns - have made some incredible friends, enjoyed some incredible outdoor activities, seen some incredible live music and drank some incredible beer. Lots of beer. In fact, I have a fear that when I arrive in my new city, my neighbors and coworkers will think me a wild-eyed alcoholic when, in fact, I'm likely imbibing below the average rate of a Bendite. This could be a problem.
Anyway, like I said, there will be a few more of these columns and, as you've likely become accustomed to, many of those will somehow find a way to weave in Loyola Marymount's basketball teams of the late 1980s, Ken Griffey Jr., the tragic demise of the Seattle Supersonics, Teenwolf and all the other things about which I tend to obsess.
But what I have been trying to say here is thank you, Bend. Not just for reading my work, but for the excellent five years. You folks are excellent.

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