First there were forums. That was the turn of the century and I was living in Seattle as a new adult making more than enough money to spend on pleasure than vital expenses. I lived in a house with fifteen bedroom “apartments” and shared a floor with Colm – a dude from Ireland, and this other guy who had a VW bus and the most obedient dog ever named Karma. The forum I joined at the suggestion of a friend who went by Smoke (I see you, Matt) was a group of hip hop enthusiasts, producers, emcees and poets from around North America. The forum? UHHF: The Ultimate Hip Hop Forum.
Ralph lived in Broward County, FL; Smoke, Zeb and I lived in Seattle; Harrison lived in Toronto; Brenda was in Chicago, I think; Anthony was in New York and Eddie was in Jersey; Rob was in Cinnci; Yessica and Sally lived in Southern California; and Nazara didn’t go by that name then, and
I can’t tell you where he lived lived in Oakland. We all had alias names or stage names, and we were connecting in a world under our love for hip hop, sharing our music and poetry, and politics were for the few of us too. That’s where I started writing in the digital world – in a safe place where you had to be invited or allowed in.
After that there was email blasts. Mostly to family. Mostly while traveling. Several years later, Friendster (BRING IT BACK!) and MySpace.
I started a blog in 2006. That blog was named after a free table I’d found on the side of the road in SE Portland, just off 33rd and Division. The sign said: wobbly legs. I modified it for a zine titled Wobbly Little Legs which I thought was appropriate for my trepidation around sharing my writing and navigating the world, which is at odds with the fact that I have rather large and steady legs in real life. I kept up a blog under that name for a second too. It still exists today and the last time I wrote on it was four years ago. Don’t judge my young perceptions too harshly. It is pretty embarrassing. Plus, I’ve never been good at routine, regularity, or editing.
I went to the University of Idaho for my MFA from 2008-2011 and wrote my heart out (cliche’) on a thesis that was supposed to become a memoir (also cliche’). When I graduated and my faculty advisor told me it was time to rewrite it, I was crushed. I get it now. When my mother told me it was pretty good but I got some things wrong, I questioned my delivering it into the world. Then I started teaching, got cancer, worked in politics, and bought a bookstore. I took a detour away from writing, and now I return again.
I’m starting a blog because I’m leaving Facebook – the platform that has captured all of my long-winded rants and quips, all of my family photos and memories. You know all the reasons why I’m leaving. The drawback is that I also share the same sense of loss (a fear of those who also struggle with leaving) for my connections that Facebook has intentionally designed to keep people anchored to it despite it’s overt accomplice to the destruction of democracy, among other things. A decade ago we could celebrate social medias as platforms that spawned the Arab Spring. Though information is quickly circulated and your fundraiser is more widely attended due to Facebook’s event functionality, my personal morals and mental health are compromised every time I log on. I can’t sit by and watch lies be spread undeterred at the hands of Zuck and Sandberg et al. And every time I go to leave Facebook I am told that people will miss my writing and insights, even though I feel like I am yelling into the ether every time I post.
Thus, a blog.
The subjects I write about tend to center on me – I’m not ignorant about that. In a graduate school class we were told some students come with things to write about, and others create things to write about. I am of the former. Unusual circumstances checker my life, but I have a hard time honoring that because I believe unusual circumstances checker everyone’s life, they just don’t write about it. I have also been told that my belief isn’t true. My students have been those that both feel unchained from the silence around their experiences, to the dumbfounded about a topic to meaningfully explore. But I’m going to give it a shot anyway.
If you know me, you’ll recognize these topics. Trained in memoir, you’ll see my memories tied into today’s topics; Cancer – I had it – and ongoing health stuff; nontraditional families like the one I grew up in; “political” things like being and my place in it being a nonhetero, femme, cisgendered, middle-aged, white, human who is anti-capitalism and yet, owns a bookstore. I also like to write about all the trouble I got into as a kid, but I hope to craft it in a way that isn’t naval-gazing.
There will be more of I don’t know what.
Hold my beer. Here I go.