As of sometime late this month, I have been blogging for ten years. I know it was the spring semester of my sophomore year of college (2001), as that was the only semester I lived in one particular dorm room, overlooking the quad of my college campus. I know the windows were open and the girls were wearing skirts, the boys sporting shorts — which we do as soon as the weather warms up in March in Western PA.
I saw a link in a friend’s AIM profile for her LiveJournal account, clicked and read for a bit. Having always been a writer with stacks and stacks of paper journals at that point, I signed right up. Thus began my long-lasting love affair with sharing Too Much Information with the Internet. Well, not entirely true; I became enamored with websites in high school, creating my first Geocities account sometime inside ’96 or ’97. I also hosted a site with Sarah sometime during college as well. (Note: I was previously embarrassed of my start on LJ until I watched The Social Network last week and saw the Almighty Zuckerberg himself rocked it LJ-style.)
When I read back through my first posts — now archived and stored for easy searching — I am embarrassed. College Me was embarrassing enough (I dyed my hair black not once but twice…), but my early blogging skills were — uh — lacking. Horrifying example? I didn’t use any capitalization. HORROR! There is a progression, of course. At first my online journal was nothing but a whining rant about college, boys, melodramatic self-image woes, sorority stupidity and parental conflict. It was All Me, All the Time, set to Whine Mode almost non-stop. Oh, and song lyrics and awful, angsty poetry. Classic.
Eventually I began writing my thoughts on subjects outside of my immediate dorm room. I linked to celebrity news and shared my thoughts. I gave the occasional political rant, though I was of a much different persuasion at that time. I linked to articles that piqued my interest and shared why they moved me. Then my mom found my account, flipped out about the scary people on the web and told me I wasn’t “allowed” to use it. So, I changed my account name and kept right on doing it anyway — but it was officially locked to the public, meaning only that those I chose to read could read. My online journaling was a release for me and a way to share with others.
And then I got pregnant.
Those posts are some of my most treasured writings, not because they are eloquent or rational or without embarrassing commentary and TMI. (Oh, the TMI.) But because I have them safely stored. I didn’t always have access to the Internet while pregnant, so I would write on my computer and upload them with the appropriate backdate when I had said access. Now, when I need to call up a memory for something I’m writing for Chronicles, I can easily pull up my archives from 2003 and either search by month or keyword until I find what I’m looking for. Those posts are valuable to me — but they might also be valuable someday to a little girl trying to make sense of what happened before she was born.
After marrying my husband in late 2004, our wedding website turned into an official, open to the public, still-TMI-sharing WordPress platformed blog. That first incarnation of our family’s public blog life was still much the same as my online journal, just family themed. I occasionally had to ask people how to work with CSS and the backend of WordPress as I previously only had experience with HTML. People occasionally had to fix what I broke. And then I started writing about life and motherhood in a way I hadn’t on my journal. I wrote about serious matters like my postpartum depression and managing life as a working mom. I also wrote about less serious things like yoga pants and choosing a bathing suit post-pregnancy. Liz, who remains one of my favorite online people as she was one of the first to start commenting on our family blog (who wasn’t, you know, family), linked to that bathing suit post on BlogHer (gasp) and thus began my journey with them as a site.
The Chronicles of Munchkin Land then popped up in 2006, first on a WordPress.com hosted blog and then moved to its own domain in February 2007 when I realized that people wanted (and needed) to hear what I was saying on the subject. It was also fantastic therapy for me, though my own therapist at the time didn’t really get blogging and why I would subject myself to the mean stuff that people said to me then — and still say now. Because of that blog, I wrote for AdoptionBlogs.com for years (read: far too long) which was my first official (underpaid) jaunt into professional blogging.
I eventually began to feel uncomfortable with the URL we had for our family blog as it had our last name in it, so Stop, Drop and Blog was launched in January of 2008 while our previous family blog was moved to a locked server for the same memory retrieval as my online journal. I do wish I had moved over our old archives (though I guess I still could — and may), and that is my one regret from starting this site. This blog continues to evolve and I am happy with where we are right now, even if my niche has blurry edges and I jump around as I see fit. I have tried to keep my photography-specific posts limited to my photography blog, but I am learning that niches are less important than interaction.
And here we are.
I have learned a lot over ten years of TMI-sharing with the web. I’ve learned that everyone starts somewhere and that we all make mistakes while blogging. I’ve learned that people come and go. (Example, from my earliest days of blogging in 2001, I still have Rebecca (and her new son Max!), Tanie, George, and, uh, my husband! But I’ve lost some people along the way.) There’s an ebb and a flow to blogging and commenting; don’t apologize for your ebbs and more than you should your flows. I’ve learned to be myself, even when myself is boring or controversial or silly. I’ve learned to read outside of my immediate experience, having learned things from adoptees, political people on opposite sides of the spectrum and… dudes. I’ve learned that stats don’t matter; the connection and interaction between people is what matters. Real friends do live in your computer (ahem, Denise). You can hurt people with what you say, but you can also hurt others — and yourself — with what you don’t say. That said, boundaries are important; I still don’t blog about sex, my in-laws (because they read; hi guys!), specifics of my husband’s job or my job(s), or my sons’ teachers and schools (Cecily recently reinforced that boundary, though her follow up post is as important as the first). I’ve also learned not to apologize for who I am. And, most importantly, I’ve learned not to be an ass; I shared that’s probably the most important rule of blogging at various points in time and I stand by that fact.
I’ve made some amazing, life-long, real friends over the past ten years. I am grateful — so much — for their presence in my life. I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today without the support and love of various people at various points in my life. Each person has added to my life in an important way, and I am grateful for each one — even for those no longer in my life.
I have also changed a lot in ten years.
That’s three live births, one marriage, one miscarriage, five years in mainstream media, five years working from home, home ownership, love, loss, happiness, sadness, postpartum depression, healing, embracing my curls, learning to open my eyes, multiple hairstyles, lots of gray hair (no, really) and some wrinkles later. Not all in that order. The truth is that the me of today is far more at home with herself than the me of then. I’ll take it.
There is no amazing giveaway to end this post. Just me, looking back at the past ten years and wondering what the next ten hold for me. I’ve already hit the blogging jackpot — love, family, and friends. Anything else? Bonus.