It’s funny that this week’s theme for Friend Makin’ Monday is something that has been on my mind the last few days. As always, FMM brought to you by Kenlie at All the Weigh.
Theme: Blogger to Blogger.
1. Does your blog have one overwhelming theme?
No, not even remotely. I just talk about whatever is on my mind. Sometimes that’s clothes and makeup, sometimes it’s existential angst, sometimes it’s work, sometimes funny things that happen, sometimes stuff that’s irritating me.
2. How did you come up with the theme(s) for your blog? Was it intentional?
When I started out, I wanted it to be a humorous recounting of the things that happen in my life. The blogs I read before starting mine were all smart-assy and funny, and that’s what I aspired to.
3. Share something cool that has happened in your life as a result of blogging.
I’ve connected with some really interesting people all over the country. In fact, my manpanion of 7 years and I hooked up through our blogs. While not everyone I corresponded with back in the day (I started blogging in 2004) is still blogging regularly, I’ve connected with them on Twitter and/or Facebook, so I still keep up with their lives. I’ve heard about some really cool music that I otherwise would not have…I exchanged mix CD’s with several people, and some of them are still in rotation on my ipod.
4. How much time to do spend reading blogs everyday?
It just depends. Sometimes 10 minutes, sometimes an hour, sometimes longer if I find someone new I like and I read their archives…I always like to see how people evolve over time.
5. Do you blog on the weekends?
If something happens that is blogworthy, yes.
6. Do you keep track of your stats? Do they matter to you?
They used to. Not so much anymore. I’m trying to get away from seeking validation through blog stats or comments or any of that. I think that, when I first started out, that was the overarching goal: blog traffic. Readers. Comments. I started out on Diaryland, and I liked their interface – you favorited people, and when you logged in, there was a page that showed who had updated recently. However, in order to get features that were free on WordPress, Blogger, even Livejournal, you have to pay some stupid amount of money. Plus, the servers were kind of unreliable. I do miss it, though. I miss that it was a community. Blogging still is – but now, everyone’s all scattered with their own domain names, and you don’t see as much overlap between commenters and friends and people having a discussion in someone’s comments.
7. How do you decide how much to share about your personal life?
Since I have, thus far, kept my real name out of my blogging, I share a lot about my personal life. I don’t care if my readers know my real name, and most of my real-life friends know about my blog. But I do not want my rants and raves and stupid bullshit to turn up when someone Googles me. People lose jobs and/or opportunities that way. Lately, though, I’ve been toying with the idea of “coming out” and using my real name. While a lot of what I share *is* personal, I am starting to realize that, if people can’t handle the real me, I don’t really want to be around them. I also think that, if I ever hope to have any kind of success as a writer, I need to have an actual human presence. I don’t know. We’ll see what happens there.
8. Do you aspire to be a writer, or did blogging happen for some other reason?
If I am honest with myself — yes. I do. However, that’s not entirely why I started blogging. Mostly, I just started the blog because I wanted attention. I had just turned 30. I was bored. I was in the process of really letting go of the dreams I had as a kid…the ones like being an opera singer or a broadway star, the ones that were probably unlikely at best. I had a job that, while I liked it, was not particularly taxing mentally. This was also right around the time I started dieting and working out. So in a way, it was a chronicle of that journey into self-loathing. When I was writing those entries, I thought I was taking a journey toward finally being proud of myself. As it turned out, all that little exercise did was make me feel worse about myself. Looking back, the insecurity in those entries is palpable. I snarked on other people. I directed a lot of energy at not being one of *those* fat people — you know, the ones who just prance around in sleeveless tops and short skirts, the ones who don’t make apologies to the world for their own existence. If one good thing came out of that whole mess, it’s that I no longer feel that way. In a roundabout way, it led to me learning to accept the fact that I will probably always be fat, that I will probably never look like a model (even a plus-size one), that I will probably not ever fit the very narrow definition of “socially acceptable.” It’s taken some time for me. The message about “you’d be pretty if only you were thin” was driven home young and driven in deep. My dad…who has always struggled with his weight…actually said to me “you’d be pretty if you lost 50 pounds.” I think I understand a little more now about where that
comment came from; how it was rooted in his own lifelong struggle with being fat. When he made it though, I was in junior high, and I was devastated. It also did not have the desired effect. I think he probably hoped it would motivate me to diet. It did the opposite.
It weirds me out a little, now, knowing that my dad was probably about my age, maybe a little younger, when he made that remark to me. This period of life is tough. It’s the part where you really have to look at what you’ve accomplished and see if it’s adequate, where you maybe are comparing yourself a lot to your friends. When you have those nights where you hit refresh on Facebook and realize that the curly-haired girls you knew in high school and college are women with flat-ironed hair and kids in cheerleading and soccer; where the guys you drank with are now parents and partners in law firms and generally have made more of their lives than you probably ever will. It’s the nights where you, despite the fact that marriage is not really something that matters to you, you look at the engagements and the wedding pictures and you realize that these photos will never feature your face. The part where you look at pictures of houses and cars that you will probably never be able to afford. The part where you look long and hard at your life and your goals and you try to decide on your own definition of success, and you wonder if you will ever reach even the smallest fraction.
So I guess right now, I’m trying to figure it out. Trying to figure out if I want to lock my archives, because I am not the same person anymore. Trying to figure out if I want to try out a different domain name, a different persona, a better version of me. The thing is, though, all of those thoughts and hopes and fears and self-loathing are a part of who I am. As much as I want to forget that girl, cast off her old insecurities, cast off the cloak of sarcasm and longing, I’m not sure if that’s the best idea. It’s easy, when you embrace a new philosophy, to try and pretend the old you didn’t exist…the girl who found Jesus wants to delete the pictures of herself dancing on bars in the arms of a different guy every night, the die-hard liberal atheist wants to erase the pictures of himself, fresh-faced and smiling, at church camp, sporting a cross the size of Texas and a sense of shame the same size. But the old thoughts are what led you to the new ones. The years of beating yourself up and not seeing your own beauty cannot be eradicated by doing your best to be okay with who you are, double chin and all.
Right now, I am almost 39 years old. I’m out of a job…again. (More on that later, but basically, “you’re wonderful, you’re outta here.” WTF.) I weigh 320 pounds. My hair is going gray, my skin is behaving badly, and I spend too much money on clothes. I live in a shitty apartment, drive an old car, and the only furniture I own that didn’t come out of a box is secondhand. I’m really trying to learn to accept these things. It’s still a struggle.
9. As a blogger, do you think it’s more important to write for yourself, or for your readers?
I kind of answered that in #8, but to be more precise – for yourself. Once upon a time, I thought otherwise. But as I read through my archives, the entries that generated the most response were not the ones where I was trying (probably too hard) to be funny – they were the ones where I talked about my fears and doubts and the fucked-up way my brain is wired.
10. What kind of plans do you have for the future of your blog?
Mostly, what I want is to get back to writing more regularly. I’d like it to be daily, but that’s probably not realistic. I do want to write at least three days a week. If I do want to write for a living, I need more practice writing things that aren’t letters in legalese or memos about things.
To close, I recently found a poem again the other day that, at one point, I had posted on my refrigerator. I think I need to post it there again.
Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook.
Not the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication.
Not the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punchline, the door, or the one
who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones
that crimped your toes, don’t regret those.
Not the nights you called god names and cursed
your mother, sunk like a dog in the livingroom couch,
chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness.
You were meant to inhale those smoky nights
over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings
across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed
coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches.
You’ve walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.
You’ve traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the upstairs
window. Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied
of expectation. Relax. Don’t bother remembering
any of it. Let’s stop here, under the lit sign
on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.
Song of the Day: “The State That I Am In” – Belle & Sebastian
Today’s Time Waster: I can’t give up vicarious fashion snark.
What I’m Craving: Validation.