Love Me, Love My Blog: On Blogging, Boundaries and Privacy

One of my initial concerns about blogging was how private I wanted to be. If this was a place for me to share experiences and explore ideas – many of which would be frowned upon by long-time friends and family members – did I want anyone and everyone to know what I was writing about? Or did I want to keep my identity a secret?

Initially I kept everything as quiet as possible. But I am notoriously bad at keeping secrets about myself. When it comes to my life, I am a believer in “don’t ask, don’t tell.” I believe we all want to feel known and understood, and if our online personas are the way we let people know who we are, then sharing that content might bring us that much closer to feeling known and understood – and, ultimately, loved.

Cyber Snooping

Reading through this post from 15 years ago, I struggle to remember which coworker this was, though I have a pretty good idea. She left a few months after I started and later helped me get an interview with her new employer, but I decided it wasn’t a good fit as the job was a lateral move in many ways.

I also realize I was making a lot out of nothing. She gave me the link to her blog and that constituted permission for me to read it. If I had told our mutual supervisor about her blog, though, that would have been a bad idea. (That supervisor was a hot mess, but I had yet to discover this fact.)

I still struggle to practice detached compassion, whether with colleagues, friends or family. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in other people’s problems, especially when your own problems feel insurmountable or trivial. Solving their issues – or helping them find solutions – is extremely validating.

Then there’s the matter of codependency. For years I saw that word as being exclusive to alcohol and drug addiction, but I finally came to accept that codependency is ubiquitous. It’s the subtext in so many songs and TV show plotlines. It sneaks into every relationship, whether with a romantic partner or a parent. In short: codependency is a bitch.

At the heart of all of this is boundaries: setting and maintaining those lines of involvement, whether physical, mental, spiritual or emotional. Knowing when to call someone on their behavior because they have breached a boundary line and dealing with the potential fallout. I still struggle with this, too. But like this blog, I am a work in progress.

10, ten, 10th anniversary, 10 button

Now We Are Ten

(I totally mixed up my dates and thought the 10th anniversary was June 24, but it was June 14. So I’m cheating and dating this post for June 14, even though I wrote it on June 24. That’s because it’s my blog and I can do what I want. – Moxie)

10, ten, 10th anniversary, 10 button

Photo Credit: chrisinplymouth via Compfight cc

I remember when I turned ten years old. My friend Christy’s* mom said to me, “you’re a decade old now,” and that made a big impression on me. “A decade” sounds way more intense and impressive than “ten years.”

If you would have told me 10 years ago, after writing the post that launched a thousand ships that started it all, that I would still be blogging, I would have shrugged it off. And to be fair, there were long dry spells on the blog. (I doubt that will change anytime soon.) But it’s been a big part of my life in ways I couldn’t have predicted.

It all started because I didn’t have enough to keep me busy at my office job, and blogs looked fun and a way for me to flex my creative muscles. I could write blog posts, read others, and look as if I was working intently on an assignment. Once I was fired, the blog continued to be a creative outlet and gave me skills I could use in future jobs. And I’m inclined to think that blogging gave me the courage to transition into freelancing and leave the cubicle world behind.

Over the last 10 years, I’ve moved to self-hosted WordPress, added a Facebook Page and Twitter account, and spent lord knows how many hours fixing issues, drafting content, looking for images or videos, writing tweets, writing FB Page posts. I’ve learned practical skills, such as how to upload WordPress via FTP, and life lessons, such as never posting content I’m not willing to share publicly. I’ve semi-revealed my true identity, and I have several family members who follow GWM on social media, but I still keep the blog on the DL from clients and others.

GWM has netted me friends far and wide. I would have never connected with Barbara of Bad Tempered Zombie – she’s still blogging, by the way, and writing amazing articles on music & culture – and I hope we won’t go another 10 years without meeting in person. I still remember when Beth of Cup of Coffey came to meet me at ATL when I was making a connecting flight. She introduced me to so much amazing music via her blog and is a big reason why I went to VoodooFest in 2008 to see R.E.M. perform. And Becky (Damn, all these B names, what is that about?) of The PopEye had some of the craziest, funniest commentary on reality TV back in the day. More recently I met Amy of Limit Reached – now Chronicles of Nothing – and found a friend and like-minded blogger who gets it like Billy Idol gets it.

In that original blog post, I wrote about getting published. I’ve since had many bylines and while that’s been very cool, it was getting my fiction and poetry published that has been a big milestone for me. And y’all have been super supportive of my novel writing efforts, as evidenced by my successful crowd-funding campaign in 2012 to help me with research. (If you donated, I’ll be sending out an update on that soon.) I’m still squeezing in time to write fiction, poetry and essays in between paying gigs, though some weeks it’s harder than others to make the time to write for pleasure.

I have no idea what the next 10 years has in store for me. By that time we may all be pod people wearing Google Glass and eating Soylent Green. (Holy crap, I just googled “soylent green” and found this. I’m a little freaked out now.) Until then, I’ll keep blogging when I can, sharing pithy comments and witticisms on Facebook and Twitter, and doing my best to keep y’all entertained.

Yes, Virginia, There Are Still Blogs

A couple of weeks ago on Facebook, I got a message from Beckeye of The PopEye inviting me to be part of a private group. Seeing as I do love to brag about knowing a secret handshake, I joined the group. And it turned out to be quite the walk down memory lane, because all these bloggers I found in my early years of blogging were there. Skyler’s Dad, Dale, Coffey, Splotchy, Grant Miller, Flannery Alden, Gifted Typist, Mathdude…and so many others. Finding the link to one blog would lead me to other blogs I’d long forgotten – some still active, some mildly active, others covered in thick, bloggy dust. It was as if I’d returned to Wonderland after a long absence. (That sounds like a great plot for a TV show, doesn’t it?)

Before Facebook was big, before Twitter was a gleam in Silicon Valley’s eye, and long before phones were smart, we had blogs. A magical place where people could write about whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, and find other people who were doing the same thing. Little communities would form, private jokes would be shared, cross-blog projects would be conceived – like the fabulous Green Monkey Music Project of iSplotchy’s doing. (For the record, I’m still mildly annoyed that I never got my chance to guest host GMMP and it was about to be my turn.) It was a supportive, fun community, and though there are many bloggers I’ve never met in person, there are still a few I maintain online relationships with (shout out to Becky and Barbara), and now thanks to the Facebook group, there are several more bloggers I can reconnect with. Because guess what, kids? Blogs aren’t dead. People may move on and do other things, adopt new technology, or simply go with self-hosted WordPress (ahem), but blogs are far from dead. And I am personally very glad that they aren’t.

Last night I realized that this spring it will be 10 years since I started blogging as The Girl with Moxie. Thinking back on that time, I remember what motivated me to start a blog: I wanted to flex my writing muscle without feeling beholden to any editor. I wanted something I could do in my cubicle that looked like work, just so I could make it through 8 hours without losing my shit. When I lost that job, I suppose I could have stopped blogging. But GWM had become a place where I could share stories about my technology challenges and dating woes, or reflect on big topics like vulnerability, happiness, and validation. My blog still is all of those things, and as far as I can see, it will continue to be those things until I get so famous I no longer have time for you people until I feel to stop.

So the next time you hear someone scoff about blogs, or they claim blogging is dead, just point them over this way. Because there are most definitely still blogs. They exist as certainly as love and generosity and the Kardashians exist, and blogs abound and give to life much humor and joy. And there is definitely a Santa Claus, too.

Time to Celebrate!

Great news, kids! I got the dream job! I’m going to be working as an account executive for a PR firm. This is something I’ve wanted to do for years and now it’s finally happening. And the cool part is that the firm specializes in technology, so I’ll get paid to stay up on the cool toys, websites, and blogs. I must focus to keep…my superpowers…under…control…

On another happy note, T-Wizzle’s job offer came through as well. She’s moving from adjunct teaching to a full-time professorship in marketing at a community college. It still amuses me to think of her as a professor, because she has way too much fashion sense and pop culture savvy to fit the stereotype. She’s goddamn genius level when it comes to marketing and I owe a lot of my knowledge about branding, marketing, and PR to her. I only wish she lived closer so we could celebrate our new jobs together.

Thanks, everyone, for all your positive comments and support over the last couple of months. You have helped lift me up when I really needed it. I’m putting good vibes out there for all of you as well.

Now go forth and party!

(I would have posted “Celebration” by Kool & the Gang, but YouTube and Universal Music Group won’t let me. Oh well, this is another feel-good song.)

The Coolest Blogger in Atlanta

As some of you may have already read on Beth’s blog, I had the chance to meet her recently. She’s only the second blogger I’ve met in person, the first being Subservient No More (The Blogger Formerly Known as Subservient Worker) back in 2006. Since the rendezvous with S.W. went so well, I didn’t expect anything different from this meeting. Sure enough, Beth did not disappoint.

What’s funny about meeting someone from the blogosphere is that it’s akin to meeting a celebrity, at least for me. I’ve read what this person has to say about life, liberty, and the pursuit of a good margarita (or in Beth’s case, tickets to a show and a margarita), and I feel like I have the inside track. Yet it’s not the same as meeting said blogger and chatting over coffee or cocktails. While a lot of truth can come out in one’s blog, there’s a whole ‘nother level of truth that comes out in person.

This was definitely true of my meeting with Beth. Finally hearing her voice, after having imagined it in my head several times, wasn’t particularly shocking. Her voice is huskier than I had imagined, and there’s a slight southern drawl to it that comes out occasionally. We arranged to meet outside the security checkpoint at the airport, and her message left details on how to find her. And while her polka-dotted vest helped me find her quickly, it was the shock of black curly hair. Once I saw her, I started grinning and waving as if I’d seen the Beatles. She gave me a big hug as I said, “It’s the best blogger in Atlanta!” I saw several people smile as they heard that, and I really should have handed out her URL, but there was no time – a chat session was a-waitin’.

We headed to a nearby restaurant for some wine and a sammich. As soon as we sat down, things started getting interesting. In the course of an hour and 20 minutes, we covered many topics: work, relationships, writing, music, life in CA versus life in GA, family, our love of Chick-fil-A, blogger gossip, transitions. I considered aloud whether I should have her sign my MP3 player, based solely on her contributions to most of its current content. We shared some private stories that we wouldn’t necessarily broadcast via blog. I love when that happens.

We may not get to see recent full-frontal photos of the Cup, but let me tell you, Beth is very cute and has this sparkle in her eyes that suggests she is full of mischief and fun. I can’t wait to connect with her again, listen to some good tunes, and chat some more. That’s because Beth is not only the best blogger in Atlanta, she’s also the coolest.

The Kind of Blogger I Be

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I don’t know if I completely agree with this. I’d like to meet more local bloggers but I’m also of the opinion that they won’t be up to Moxie standards, meaning their writing is disjointed, vapid, and excessively snarky. That could be an unfair opinion, of course. If there are any LBC bloggers out there reading this, give me a shout, would ya?

Green Monkey Music Project: Geography Pop Quiz

Through that southern music doyenne Beth, I found out about Splotchy’s Green Monkey Music Project. Splotchy recruits fellow bloggers to participate in a weekly mix of songs all focused on a certain topic. This week’s topic was suggested by guest monkey Chris: list 5-7 songs that have a geographic location (street, city, state, country) in the title. For the first time, I threw my blog in the ring, and I got picked to participate! Yee haw! I feel as if I’ve been allowed to sit at the lunch table with the popular kids.

Anyway, you can find a zip file of my song picks here, as well as zip files for the other participants. Some commentary on my song choices follows:

Manhattan Avenue – Nellie McKay
About a year or so ago, another blogger turned me on to Nellie McKay’s delicious voice and witty songs. When you first listen to this song, it sounds like a sweet simple jazz song paying tribute to her neighborhood. Listen to it again, and you discover that she is actually singing about a rundown street in a shitty neighborhood. It just goes to show that you can make anything sound good if you sing it nicely.

Mercy Street – Peter Gabriel
I had to include this eerie song dedicated to American poet Anne Sexton. The title refers to her play as well as a collection of poetry. Whether or not there’s an actual Mercy Street, I don’t know. This is one of my favorite songs by Peter Gabriel.

Lubbock or Leave It – Dixie Chicks
T-Wizzle sent me a copy of Taking the Long Way when I was really having a hard time at my last job. Many of the songs on the album are centered around doing things your own way, even if other people don’t quite understand your motivation. I sang a lot of these songs at the top of my lungs while driving down the freeway. “Lubbock or Leave It” is about the hypocrisy of the Southern towns that “got more churches than trees.”

Going to California – Led Zeppelin
Pops and I have taken several cross-country road trips, and I really cherish the memories of seeing the United States by car. On one of our trips from MD to CA, we visited Inyo National Forest, a huge forest in the eastern Sierra of California. As we were driving through the forest at sunset, I made him play this song in the car. It was such a beautiful accompaniment, I had to pinch myself to keep from crying. Whenever I start taking California’s beauty for granted, I listen to this song.

Blue Savannah – Erasure
When this song came out, my friend Jeannie* was obsessed with it. I had just gotten The Innocents and she kept asking me “Is Blue Savannah on that album?” It drove me nuts. Finally I got the Pop! CD, which did have the song on it, but by that time she’d moved on to some other song.

Lonely Night in Georgia – Marc Broussard
I got into Marc Broussard after his song “Home” was featured on a bonus CD that came in a music issue of Vanity Fair. Most of the other songs on the album are not very notable, but this tune is really lovely and melancholy.

Mississippi – Train
Another slow, melancholy tune from the guys that brought you “Drops of Jupiter” and “Something More”. This song is actually about a girl: “I call her Mississippi/but she don’t flow to me.”