Home > Blogging, Learning, Personal, Reflections > My 19 years of blogging

My 19 years of blogging

Haven't changed a bit

June 1995. Haven’t changed a bit

I wrote my first blog on June 23, 1995. It was a text file I began with the earth-shattering words:

My, doesn’t she aspire to a lot! She aspires to be Bobby’s girl, and that’s all that’s important to her!

I was sixteen years old at the time. My only objectives were killing time and making my super-stellar website into more than a collection of links, which was what 99% of the web felt like at the time.

I didn’t write very often at first. I used a single short text file for all of 1995. My 1996 text file was even shorter, and included an entry written almost exactly eighteen years ago, on March 19, 1996:

[B] and I – the ‘giant teddy bear’ – moved into a rather groovy (if I do say so myself) house on eighteenth and Jefferson [...]. It’s a wonder – I would never have thought that we would get it.

I’m trying to get into the Youth Corps. Hope I make it – I’m so sick of washing dishes you wouldn’t believe. I do love my coworkers, yes, but that’s not enough to combat the loneliness and feelings of incompetence I deal with through every moment of every shift. “Am I such a loser that this is the best job I can get?” It’s not, actually, but I’ve not had the energy to look for a job again until recently.

How wrong you were, stylist. How wrong you were.

1997 me, with Pacific Northwest fashion sensibilities

In early 1997, I was writing enough to warrant a text file for each month. I wrote only one very long entry that March, detailing how I’d emailed my boyfriend’s parents about some unkind words they’d spoken about my mom:

I wrote a letter to [B]‘s parents, a letter wholly honest, nothing hidden or omitted. [B]‘s father called last night and said that he wanted to talk things over with [B] – one of those things being the letter that I wrote. He said that it had them very upset. It was then that I realised that no words will ever enlighten them; no understanding will ever touch their hearts. They lost me when they left that message – and when they lost me, they lost something good. They lost an intelligent, sensitive, creative and caring human being.

I wrote about anything and everything at the time, though I surely wrote it more dispassionately than I felt it. Shortly after I wrote this particular entry, I walked to a nearby park and swung in the darkness for a long time. I ached to realize my time with B was almost over. I knew there was no way we’d be able to overcome familial differences, and that our relationship was gasping its last (prolonged) breath.

For a seventeen-year-old, even a seventeen-year-old college student versed in poverty and abuse and long since moved out of her family home, that is huge stuff. And still I had time to write about life lessons, the kind I have to keep learning every few months even now:

I talked with an old friend of mine yesterday evening, and something I said remains with me still. Our conversation had fallen to the parts of our pasts that have hurt, and I remarked that this is why I look to the future rather than at the past. We can only relive something so many times before it becomes only an exercise in agony, a reminder of pain that we have already learned from. Though today may bite, tomorrow always has the potential of being a beautiful, wonderful day.

As recently as a year ago, I still believed that life was simply one agony after another. That could have been due to my teenage hormones, because I am now a subdued optimist. I don’t think that humans will suffer forever. I can see a light at the end of the tunnel, and even if it takes me years to get there, I know that someday I will…

January 1998, in which I'd joined a sorority to tick off my mom

January 1998, in which I’d joined a sorority to tick off my mom

By March 1998, I was writing a couple of times a week, still mostly unfiltered:

On a completely unrelated topic, [B] called last night and I really didn’t feel like talking to him. We believed that we would always be the best of friends, no matter what, but it really just doesn’t happen. I know that I wasn’t the ideal girlfriend, but I tried, and I think I’ll always be hurt/angry about some things that he did that I told him upset me… that I just don’t think he took seriously. “Yeah, yeah, she thinks  it bothers her, but it’s really not that big a deal.” I just don’t feel like going there again, know what I mean? Our relationship is in the past but even so it feels like there are expectations or hopes… I don’t know. I’m just trying to rationalise my feelings, I guess, and I know that’s not going to work because logic and feelings aren’t exactly intertwined.

I know that he reads these journals sometimes and though that didn’t bother me at first I guess it does now. I can’t absolutely say  that someone can’t read my journal, because they obviously can – it’s here for everyone to read and I can’t exactly specify a list of people that can’t look at my pages. I wish, though, that the people I didn’t want to look at my pages would respect my wishes… but I can’t say I didn’t know that it would be like this.

On March 19, 1999, my twenty-year-old self wrote about a short trip to Portland:

I’ve got a backpack basically full of clothing with a lyric notebook and a writing notebook. I might toss my journal in there, too – but I’m not sure as I’ve got no room left and my journal is already on the verge of falling apart. <smile> That’s the difference between us, the guys and the girls – Rache and I had five or six bags combined for a two-day stay in Portland, where [P] brought only a sleeping bag and some crazy Japanese food for his overnighter. Hmmm. And then again, I packed only a backpack and a duffel bag (which also housed my tent) when I went for ten weeks in British Columbia, and that was *far* less than any of my equally crazy peers.

I deleted my public journal text files from my old site more than a decade ago, but my 1998 page dedicated to my British Columbia trip remains live here.

June 2000 and feeling groovy

June 2000 and feeling groovy

In mid-March 2000, I wrote only that I hoped I hadn’t written too much earlier in the month, because I’d accidentally deleted my original march00.txt file. Oops.

Thirteen years ago today, I wrote from rural South Korea:

Today has definitely been an interesting day and I feel different on this side of it than I did on the other. I took my first trip away from [S] today, to [K], and had all kinds of strange adventures I could never have anticipated. It was an incredible day, though, and the first where I fully realized that, yes, I am in Korea. A trip to an old temple and the ensuing hours spent with the very interesting monks followed by a trip to the massive [market] (where I bought candles and a Korean book for children to help me learn some words) made this day distinct from any other I’ve had in Korea so far.

I returned to the States shortly after writing this entry. I kept writing in my public journal–or blogging, as we say now–through summer of that year, finally closing up my public journal shortly after starting law school in Los Angeles. I enjoyed the letters I got from strangers following my journal, who told me they’d never expected to see something so human come from a machine, but was irritated by the ones I got from acquaintances and family members I didn’t want knowing about my life. I opted to stop writing, though a friend soon enticed me to start a more private journal hosted elsewhere.

I’ve blogged for nineteen years, which means I’ve been blogging for more of my life than I haven’t. After nineteen years, I’m still not totally sure why I blog. Part of it is for catharsis, another part for connection. Part of it is that, after so many years, blogging has become a part of my identity, even if I don’t really have a clear “why.” Even if I keep having and forgetting the exact same epiphanies, copiously documented for increasingly older versions of myself to mock.

But I’m not really mocking, even as I wonder. There’s joy in having all this written down, a joy that was well worth every stop-reading-my-public-journal! argument I had. I’m able to see how far I’ve come. Despite recurring epiphanies, that is far indeed. For what I wrote in March 1997 came true, an accomplishment I’d never have noted if I hadn’t written it down:

I don’t think that humans will suffer forever. I can see a light at the end of the tunnel, and even if it takes me years to get there, I know that someday I will…

I wish I could email my eighteen-year-old self the kind of email strangers sent me:

Listen, Deb (which you don’t call yourself now but will someday), you’re totally right. Things will get better. You’ll work hard to make sure that they do, and that hard work will be why they do. Someday, you’ll even be such a practiced optimist that you’ll piss people off for being too optimistic. They’ll mistake your optimism for inability to see the world’s true darkness, but, hey, you’ll know. You’ve always known. Even though there’s so much more dark still coming, you’ll get through it. And you will, despite it all, find the light. Keep searching it out, because it is there. You believe it now, but I want you to know it’s not misguided. It’s there.

The good thing about being 35 years old is looking back and seeing it all. This 2014 me can’t reach back in time to talk her younger self through the trials ahead, but, wouldn’t you know . . .

She went ahead and made a good life anyway.

The show's wrapped for now, but this party goes on!

Rockin’ on

  1. March 24, 2014 at 10:42 am

    You’re a very dedicated blogger! I’m trying to take a lesson from you! :) I love the pictures that you’ve shared and the insight into your past life. Do you ever go back and read your past posts and think “Wow, did I write that? Was I really thinking that way?” I know I certainly do with my old journals.

    Thanks for visiting my new blog. I’m sure you’re busily and excited awaiting your new little bundle. Hope you’re feel well! :) Many hugs to you! :) <3

    • March 24, 2014 at 10:51 am

      I do that all the time! I didn’t have any of that this morning because I kept myself focused on a handful of March posts, but I clearly recall alternating moments of bafflement and horror when I read through all 700 (or so it seems) of my journals right after my mom died. I’ll just say it makes me glad to already have under my belt certain learning experiences and perspectives!

      My hope in writing this post was that I would find myself able to step away from blogging for a couple of months, effective pronto. I want to put my focus elsewhere, so I hoped that taking this “it’s just a drop in thus bucket” perspective would help me take those steps away for now. I think it just might work. :)

  2. March 24, 2014 at 11:06 am

    A quite mysterious creative force compels me to write. But 19 years! Wow-za!

    • March 24, 2014 at 11:24 am

      This ended up coming out much more optimistic than I expected! As I mulled it over the past few days, it was a somewhat gloomy, “How on earth am I still doing the exact same thing 19 years later?!” I never learn, apparently, but at least I enjoy the process. :)

      • March 24, 2014 at 11:32 am

        Oh, but you’re not doing the same thing. Writing changes and it changes us. It’s magic anew each moment!

  3. March 24, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Wow! 19 years of blogging. My blogging is still in its infancy comparatively. I wonder will change over the next 17+ years. I wonder how much I’ll change. Oh my, scary though, the Little Prince will be 18!! It seems like a lifetime away, and, yet, I know it will be here before I’m ready.

    • March 24, 2014 at 11:27 am

      Holy cow, I didn’t even think about what the next many years might bring! It’s a simultaneously terrifying and exciting thought. Appropriately, my son caught me looking at him yesterday and asked why I looked sad.

      “I’m not sad.”

      “Yes, you are. Why?”

      I told him it was because I can’t believe how quickly time is passing. I have the feeling that in seventeen years I’ll remember this morning and think, “What?! But that was just yesterday!”

      • March 24, 2014 at 12:05 pm

        Scary, fun, terrifying, awesome.
        The journey of parenthood…

  4. March 24, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Congrats!

    • March 24, 2014 at 11:28 am

      Thanks! In a way, it almost feels embarrassing. Shouldn’t I have a blogging black belt or something by now? And yet, I know just about as little now as I did then. :)

  5. March 24, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Wow, the monster in the closet has a PhD in blogging! Love it!

  6. March 24, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    Wow! That is amazing, awe-inspiring and a bit daunting! Congratulations on such a milestone, but more importantly, congrats on working hard and making yourself a good life!

    • March 27, 2014 at 11:46 am

      Thanks, Kate! It’s surprising to see “congratulations” because I took it as an implication of sorts: “19 years and I still don’t know what I’m doing?!” Maybe I don’t, but I do think I’m a little closer . . . and I sure am enjoying the process. :)

  7. March 24, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    This is great! You are a blogging pioneer!

    • March 27, 2014 at 11:46 am

      I can’t help but wonder how all this might have shaped up if I’d been more consistent about it all!

  8. March 24, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    What an incredible history of writing, revealing, sharing. Recently, there has been sadness and unrest in my town due to a high school senior’s suicide. The “stranger’s” words that you would share with your 18 yr. old self are exactly what so many of our (all) 18 yr. olds need to hear. I will pass them along.

    • March 27, 2014 at 11:51 am

      My heart aches even reading this. It’s like that each time I read about a life lost to suicide. I wish I could have reached out and shown just how sweet things can taste even after years of tasting mostly bitterness.

      Thank you for sharing. ♥

  9. March 25, 2014 at 9:46 am

    I’ve struggled with the non-anonymous nature of my blog among my family and friends too. There have been enlightening moments in my life that I have not written about because they would share “dirty laundry” and some raw feelings about family members that read my blog and I have decided I don’t want to go there. Since my blog is primarily/often about my kids’ antics, I don’t want to exclude them completely (even if I could). Sometimes I’ve wished I could blacklist viewers on certain posts but that just really isn’t possible. So the stories go untold.

    • March 27, 2014 at 11:56 am

      I’m weighing these considerations carefully as the birth of my second approaches. Writing this post was part of my weighing. Right now, I’m feeling a little more on the cautious side.

      I write everything I do here knowing it can be read by anyone, so I make sure that what I post is stuff I’d be comfortable with anyone reading–even if it’s different than what members of that “anyone” might themselves share! Sometimes I feel more open than others, and this is one of those times where I want to keep some of the experiences to myself . . . or to a very small handful of people I don’t mind relinquishing part of the experience to, you know?

      It’s my intention to go quiet for a little while here, but then, I ended up posting this morning despite that already present intention. A constantly shifting balance, all of this. :)

  10. March 25, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    I love it! I have a lot to learn from you as a blogger (like, scheduling posts and blogging more than once every month and a half – oh yeah, and writing poignant and touching posts!). Love this post. <3

    • March 27, 2014 at 11:57 am

      LOL! And, see, I’m trying to get closer to where you are–posting once or twice a month instead of two or three times a week! Of course, the birth of my second and return to work will take care of some of that, but still. Sooner than later would be OK, IMO.

      Love you and your writing, poignant or otherwise, too. ♥

  11. March 26, 2014 at 3:28 am

    Only two things….I love you and this (1).
    I love that you were optimistic nineteen years ago (2).

    Okay, I lied more. Your words stab through the fog, I think it is fabulous this is all preserved you can look back and see it and remind yourself you were pretty wonderful and deserving. I think we all need to be able to do this no matter the medium. That you have your own words, that is fabulous.

    • March 27, 2014 at 12:09 pm

      I read through every single word I’d written shortly after my mom died. I’d felt nervous about doing so. What on earth was I going to find?! Yeah, there was some mortifying stuff (especially the love-related bits from my last year of college, oy), but far and away, what I took from it was joy at having this record of all the different places I’d been . . . not in space, necessarily, but in experience and thought. I am so glad for the record, and the prospect my kids might someday read it all and feel heartened by all the mistakes their mama made before they were around to note ‘em. ;)

  1. June 11, 2014 at 8:50 pm

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