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.

From My First Breath*

“So, does Sacramento feel like home?” T-Wizzle asked me. It was the third time she’d asked me that question in the last three months. And for the third time I couldn’t give her a clear answer.

For many years I haven’t felt a sense of home in the way that others do. I will remain longer than I should in apartments and townhouses that do not meet my needs, but I also avoid making investments in furniture until absolutely necessary. I have never hung drapes or curtains, and I have never done major remodeling. I bought a house with Mr. X but we never got around to decorating it. We didn’t build knee walls or repaint bathrooms in an attempt to make the house truly ours; we never quite made that house our home.

But I have also designed and planted a garden, much to the surprise of others – and myself, to be honest. More recently, I installed a new shower head in my apartment and, when I discovered how easy it actually was, I cursed my narrow-mindedness for not installing one in the last place I lived. I have hung pictures around the apartment and installed shelving in my kitchen to accommodate my pots and pans. Between these tasks and getting involved in the community, I do have more of a sense of home than I ever had when I was living in Southern California. In many ways my new town reminds me a lot of where I grew up on the East Coast. But it’s still not quite home.

Because while decorating a kitchen and installing shower heads can mean one considers a place to be home, I don’t believe that material goods create that feeling of home, that sense of this is where I belong. That feeling comes from something much deeper. Home is that elusive smell in the air in the town where you were born. It’s recognizing the once-vacant lot where you once played ball with your friends. It’s holding on to the belief that the world you knew at the age of five is the biggest, widest, most fabulous world that ever was, or ever will be.

Last night I was with Pops, Aunt Gigi and Uncle Roy as they found their childhood home. I listened quietly as they recounted stories from their early years: stories of dollhouses and comic books, neighborhood friends and schoolhouse bullies. I saw Roy beaming with bliss at the discovery that the  built-in milkbox he remembered playing with as a toddler was, indeed, exactly where he remembered it was.

And even though I never lived in that neighborhood or spent time in that house as a child, in that moment, I felt home, too.

This post was inspired by Kirsten’s entry for the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival, hosted by Peter Pollock.

*The title of this post comes from a line in a Depeche Mode song, “Home.”

It Was Forty Years Ago Today

I’ve been reflecting on many things as I enter my fourth decade on the planet. I never thought this is where I’d wind up: living in Northern CA, woefully underemployed, single, and way fatter than I should be.

Funny thing is, I feel so far from 40 that it’s shocking. This morning I woke up early, all excited and giggly, just as I did when I was still in the single digits. When a birthday meant a pizza party with your friend at Shakey‘s or cake and ice cream at Farrell’s, the drum pounding loudly and the sirens blaring as the servers rushed to your table with a blazing confection. When you’d finally get to unwrap the growing pile of presents sitting at the end of the dining room table, including a couple brown parcels from family who live far away. When the day felt so full of fun and the year ahead full of promise and opportunity.

I’m glad I feel so ecstatic and hopeful today, as opposed to the mood swings over the last couple months that I’ve been chalking up to a mid-life crisis. But as frustrating and painful as those moments of “what am I doing with my life, what does it all mean” have been, they have also forced me to be honest with myself about what the last forty years have brought me.

I’m not in a serious relationship, but I’m much more clear with my boundaries and I’m not tolerating bullshit from anyone I date the way I used to do.

I don’t have a full-time job, but I’ve gotten to work in several industries I was interested in, and I learned a lot about my abilities as a writer and publicist as a result.

Momcat is gone, and I hate that she’s not here for my big 4-0. I wonder if she would be teasing me or saying “You’re going to have to pick another age because I’m still 48.” But we were able to work out our issues several years before she died, and I am very grateful for that.

Out of all the eureka moments, the biggest epiphany to date has been in learning the value of the moment. Over the last six months my mind flashes back to experiences from my youth, my marriage, my career. I watch these memories flicker across my mental cinema and at times I long to recapture certain events on a more sensory level: the taste of Momcat’s cooking, the smell of Maryland air after a spring rainstorm, the sound of the Atlantic  crashing into me as I try to stay on Deena’s raft. Sometimes the effort of slipping back into those memories physically hurts. I worry that I didn’t appreciate those moments as much as I should have; that I wasn’t as present as I could have been.

Going forward, I want to remember this, that being fully engaged and present in every moment is the best gift I can give myself. I suspect awareness is also a Fountain of Youth, but I have yet to discover whether this is true. If my grandfather were still living, he’d likely say to me today, “You’re not over Fool’s Hill yet.” Nope, and you know what? That’s fine with me.

Declaring My Independence: The 2010 Edition

Writing a personal declaration of independence all started with my high school English teacher, Mr. Greenman. He had us write our own version of the infamous 1776 letter in which we say we are free of something. When I wrote mine, I wrote about freedom from spending holidays with dysfunctional relatives. I think I chose the topic after dealing with a particularly difficult holiday season, but I really don’t remember now. The class voted on the best Declaration and mine ended up winning. Guess I wasn’t the only one with family issues.

Since then, I’ve taken the time on July 4 to declare my own personal independence from something. I haven’t done it every year, and I don’t always remember to write them down, but more and more I’m realizing the significance of keeping a record of these declarations. Like our Founding Fathers, we need to have a tangible reminder of what we are saying we will no longer tolerate, whether it’s in our leaders or ourselves.

So, as I did in 2007, I’ve taken the original text from the Declaration of Independence and modified or paraphrased it to suit my purposes.

There are moments, in the course of human events, when it becomes necessary for a person to dissolve the real and imagined bonds tying them down. In an attempt to recognize and allow for the opinions of others, a person should declare the reasons why they need to break these ties.

Some truths are self-evident: everyone is created equal, and everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We set up governments to secure these rights, but there comes a point where government can only do so much. This doesn’t mean we should suffer in silence; rather, it is our right and duty to create and provide new ways of self-governing. Ultimately, it’s up to the individual how to live his or her life and make the best of their time in this world.

Such has been the case for me, Corinne, and such is now the necessity which requires me to alter my behavior and ways of thinking. To prove this, I submit these facts to the World Wide Web.

  • I have behaved as if the answers lie somewhere other than within myself, when I know, and have had shown to me time and again, that I have all the answers I need if I am only willing to be still and listen.
  • I have gotten caught up in memories of the past and fantasies of the future and forgotten to just be present.
  • I have made myself wrong and the victim of self-inflicted emotional and mental violence for my state of paid employment or lack thereof.

Therefore, I, Corinne, solemnly publish and declare, that I am and of right ought to be the best version of myself in every moment; that I am absolved from all allegiance to the past or the unknown future, and that all connection between my self-worth and the state of my employment ought to be totally dissolved; and that as a free and independent woman, I have full power to be at peace, find my inner truth, live in abundance, and to do all other acts and things which anyone can do.

And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, I pledge to myself and the world my renewed commitment to be the best me that I can possibly be.

Signed,

Corinne

What are you declaring your independence from this year?