10 years ago today I made my first post on a little blog called Cunting Linguist.
In those years, I’ve had it held against me by an employer, I’ve seen booms and I’ve seen busts. I enjoyed 5,000 visits a day for a year or two there, and then I smote all that for what would eventually be a crowd-please speech at Northern Voice called “How to Fuck Up Your Blog” because I took a neutron bomb to my web traffic and knocked it down to 50 lonely souls a day for a long while.
When I got mad about Facebook conversations regarding Jian Ghomeshi, that’s where I vented and broke the internet with about 250,000 hits in a couple days. The “most popular” post on my blog before that had something like 150 Facebook likes, but that one had nearly 27,000.
Ahh, that was fun, but also crazy. For what it’s worth, I don’t think “going viral” ever lasts for influence and getting a huge ongoing audience. It’s not that easy, man. It’s fleeting at best.
I’ve been in love with blogging and I’ve hated blogging. I’ve overshared and vagued my way through it all.
Blogging’s made me a better writer, but in the next five years, travelling will be my master class, and I can’t wait to see what it does for writing.
While The Full Nomad will be my primary blog, I’ll always go back to The Cunting Linguist when I wanna rip the Band-aid off or shout into the wind. It’ll always be my soapbox.
If you’ve been around for most of those years, thank you for the roller coaster companionship. If you’re more recent, thank you too!
So I’ve not been blogging on purpose. Didn’t have it in me. For two years. Yeah, I know. You can fake it if you wanna, but I don’t phone it in.
What you don’t know is, the more annoyed or passionate I’ve been of late, say the last six months, the more I’ve been writing, and never doing anything with, new posts.
So it occurs to me that I’m, you know, one read/edit and a click away from having a shiny new blog post. Yeah! Something to ACTUALLY read, for you, the reader-person.
Doesn’t that just blow your fucking mind? A click away, man. A click!
But that’s the thing that’s been missing — the desire to write for public consumption. Or even write at all.
Lately, though, I’ve actually stopped what I was doing just to write something. Write a thing that doesn’t even pay me money! Lemme tell you, friendly reader: That blows my fucking mind.
You got your writers who’ll tell ya that writer’s block doesn’t exist. I’d agree with that. I can write six ways to Sunday all day long, but it doesn’t mean it’s got anything worth saying. And sometimes the saying of it is just a thing that keeps you hemmed into an already-troubled mindset. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
You wanna yammer on because there’s “no such thing” as writer’s block, or wallow in your you-ness, you knock yourself out. I know when I’m writing crap I wouldn’t even line a birdcage with. Let’s call 2012 and 2013 my “Bird Sanctuary Years,” okay? The Epic Saga of When the Crap-Writing Canary-Cage-Liner Sings.
But I got out and dialed up my creativity for photography and cooking, things a brain can pause for. Pause, a nice thing to use. Lovely. Pause. We should all pause a little but more, but petting zoos should have unicorn rides and shoulds don’t mean shit. Creativity is creativity and a writer doesn’t always need to write, I discovered. But now’s a different thing entirely.
So here’s the deal. I’m back. Not in a blogging-daily type incarnation, but then who knows? Maybe. I used to do the EB White write-500-words-a-day and it mostly wound up on here when it went well. Far be it for me to eliminate anything.
But wait! There’s more!
There’s something in this for me too. I’m writing ebooks. Not just one. I have a very crafty scheme in mind for taking this whole entire blog and giving you a radical reinvention of it in ebook form. This one will remain as it is, but I’ll have my fun. I need to get you all riled up about it. All in due time, reader. The grand tease thing. I’m shameless, friend. I’ll admit it. But I’ll make it worth your while too. Found my mojo, after all.
Thus it’s time for me to resume blogging for public consumption. I had my break. It was groovy. I have several things kicking around I can fire up and finish off. Longform stuff too.
I have mounting anger about the stupid-ass bullshit in the world and a raging hard-on to tell you why. I want to write. I’m twitchy. I’m ranty. I’m occasionally funny. I’m freeing up time in my life to take back writing and to own my voice.
Giving myself permission to just not write was what made me eventually write for the hell of it. It’s like rediscovering your golf-swing. You can’t just order it on Amazon. It’ll find ya when it finds ya.
So… I said Hey, reader.
In case you missed them, I have blogged lately… three times this year in larger posts I wrote and stuck on Medium. There was this about Philip Seymour Hoffman that got widely read and was an Editor’s Choice, and then there All The Fucks I Give, my thoughts on people who self-censor and the act thereof, which also was an Editor’s Choice, and finally this on how Twitter Doesn’t Suck, you make it suck.)
You know what I haven’t told you yet? I’m blogging over at BUILD DIRECT, your building supply geniuses on the web.
There, you’ll find me doing home improvement and DIY blogs on a whole range of topics.
If you like the content on the following posts, please comment on the Build Direct blog, not here. Share it, like it, tweet it — whatever you like.
Here are the summaries of my recent posts, and stay tuned for more.
6 Ideas for Balcony Privacy: Honestly, sometimes the best thing about apartment living is spying on the neighbors. The flipside is, sometimes the worst thing is knowing neighbours are spying on you. In the summer, the world’s a fish bowl when it comes urban apartment balcony life. It doesn’t have to be that way. With creativity and crafty splurging, you too can enjoy a special outdoor space while not letting yourself be a spectator sport… READ MORE HERE.
Picking Paint Colors: It’s Personal, Not Theory:Committing to a new paint color can be nerve-wracking. A friend once taped 15 paint chips to the wall, and asked her visitors to choose their favourite — of 15 variations on beige. Her inability to break the Bonds of Beige isn’t unusual. Embracing color is a lot to ask in a neutral world… READ MORE HERE.
Area Rugs as Wall-Hangings: A Magic Carpet Decor Solution: It’s the oldest of decorating truisms: a house isn’t home until something’s hanging on the walls. It’s personalized touches like artwork or family photography that define your space. Today, it’s rare to see original art hanging in a home, or unique knick-knacks. As a result, we have a crisis of decorating identity… READ MORE HERE.
Rethinking Storage: A Personal Story: Space: Everyone wants it, but in a square-foot world, it’s increasingly a luxury. A material age presents a lot of space-making challenges. Where do we put all that stuff when urban dwellings are shrinking? READ MORE HERE.
Coming up in May, I have a whole series on DECLUTTERING the home. I also have a two-parter on growing a kitchen garden. And there’ll be other stuff coming up as well.
Are there DIY stories you wish were getting covered? Are there home-improvement ideas you’d like my thoughts on? Here’s where you can tell me that. Thank you! Enjoy the reads.
They don’t tell you that knowing who you are isn’t enough.
They don’t teach you that having a sense of identity doesn’t equal understanding how that identity fits into society.
They don’t say that loving what you’re gifted in doesn’t mean you’ll ever be able to make a living at it, or even that you’ll ever be guaranteed access to doing it.
No. They don’t.
That’s the way the reality dice roll.
Shamelessly borrowed from Ebaumsworld.com.
I remember a day in early May, 1994, sitting on a rocky shore in Oregon, as waves crested and broke below me, a notepad wobbling on my knees, wanting more than anything for the ability to break through the writing-blahs I’d been wallowing in, and wishing I knew how to do what I wanted for a living. I remember staring into the waves and thinking the only thing I ever really cared about was being able to just explore writing in my own way, and to do it for myself first, always.
I had no idea then, but that was the start of a very long, strange ride for me — within 4 months I’d be living in the Yukon, within 5 years my mother would die, within 10 years I almost died, and then came the struggle through the Weird after, much of which I’ve written about at length.
I had no idea what would loom, where I’d go, and just how goddamned far from my dreams my road would lead.
Ironically, the further from my dreams I’ve been led, the better my writing has become… and somehow, I’ve come full circle, closer to the ‘writing life’ I’ve always wanted to live. It’s like an existential whirligig, one that takes some 20 years to come ’round to its start again.
Experience is the best teacher, and this is true also of writing.
You’ll always be a shit writer until life dunks you in the tank a few times. All the Sufi mystics would tell ya we’re only as broad as what we’ve lived through, right?
I guess the gift of Aging is that we start to realize we’re shaped by our pains as well as our joys, loves as well as hates, and we’ve learned through repeated exposure that we are built for survival, not perishing.
Look at what we can endure. Look at the Chilean miners rescued this week, and those who overcame the most ridiculous of engineering feats to manage that rescue.
And, yet… Life isn’t an engineering challenge.
It isn’t something one can solve with a drafting program, some applied physics, and a ruler.
Life’s a cosmic dodgeball game — played in a big-but-small room, where more balls than you can imagine are bouncing and ricocheting wildly, with no discernible pattern, and no reason for who or what they take out in their bouncy-travels.
Knowing who you are and what you can do doesn’t ever guarantee your efforts will be made of win, it doesn’t mean life won’t hit you in that game of dodgeball, sidelining you instead of sending you sailing successfully into the next game series.
I don’t think it’s a “Work hard enough and you can get it” scenario for everything in life. Methink that’s idealistic and what Random House et al want you to believe so you keep buying self-help-guru books when The World somehow shuts the big door on you.
In life, I think luck is as much a factor as work. Some folks are the pigeon, some folks are the statue — shit or be shat upon.
For what it’s worth, I don’t feel life’s posed enough of an obstacle to keep me out of the game. Some of us don’t come into who we’re supposed to be until later in life, and I’ve always suspected my 40s would be when I mastered the whole “world domination” thing.
The mentality of “you gotta be someone by 30” is the biggest piece-of-shit fallacy in the world.
It doesn’t happen that way. The school of life doesn’t run in semesters and grades, not everyone gets a pass at 18. Life lessons come and they go, but never fear — they’ll be back. The lessons will always be back.
The great dame of acting, the fabulous Ellen Burstyn, wrote an autobiography called Lessons in Becoming Myself, published in 2006, when she was 74. She was asked if she had “become” herself, and she answered no, that even as 80 loomed, she was still constantly learning about herself, forever becoming someone new, better, and more evolved than the woman she was, even a year, month, or week ago.
I remember watching her delivering this slow, well-thought answer, and smiling. I smiled too. I could do with getting old if it meant I’d always keep improving, and wasn’t relegated to becoming a lesser version of that which I once was.
And that’s another thing they don’t tell you.
They don’t let you know that you may think you know yourself, but ya don’t know jack, Jack.
You don’t know yourself until you’ve faced demons and betrayal, loss and hopelessness. You don’t know yourself until you’ve hit bottom and gotten back up.
The trouble is: “Bottom” is relative. Every time you hit what you think is bottom, don’t worry — you’re not bottomed-out. You can always go lower.
Believe that. Know it. Respect it.
Just don’t fear it. It’s a teacher, and you’re built for survival, remember?
When you’re young, they also fail to share that life ain’t about perceived successes — it’s not about who you become at the office, or the cachet you carry with you at meet-n-greet events, or the hot babe on your arm. They don’t teach you that life ain’t about money, glam, swag, beauty, or praise.
Life’s really about being able to like what’s in your head when the lights go out at night. Like Grandma Death in Donnie Darko says, “Every living creature dies alone.”
I think, ultimately, just getting to that side of life (death) and being able to die alone, but die truly knowing who you are, what you’ve had in life, must be the greatest departing gift one can have.
They don’t talk about that. Or just how hard it is to get that place of knowing.
You can’t teach people in advance about the pain that comes from a life lived, or how much any one person can endure. No one can know endurance till they’ve had it, any of it. And some just can’t go there, be that; they’re not built Ford-tough.
But I am.
Somehow, I wish I knew that 20 years ago. I wish I knew long ago that protecting myself was just foolishness, and I’d get hurt often and deeply regardless of safety measures. I wish I was taught to just go, do it, fail, and do it again.
But I wasn’t.
Yet I’ve begun to learn it.
Like I say: Some of us don’t come into who we’re supposed to be until much later. Perhaps it means we’ll be better at who we’re supposed to be because we’ve had more practice with the bump-in-the-night of it all.
I have a feeling I’ll be finding out myself, soon.
Yesterday a local Vancouver paper asked a question on its Facebook page: “Do you think more could be done to combat homophobia?”
In the ensuing comments, a White Pride freak — who I’m really fucking wanting to identify by name here but don’t feel like dealing with the legal hassle as a little blogger girl — put some very, very hateful anti-gay comments.
I wouldn’t call his statements “homophobia” because it was too hate-fuelled to be a mere ambivalence toward gays. White Pride Freak would rather live in a world where they didn’t exist, and it sounded like “by any means necessary”.
The aftermath of WPF’s comments were pretty routine — a few people like me distancing themselves from the “white” part of his comments that smears us by inclusion — and a lot of people laughing it off with “This guy can’t be real” reactions.
The fencepost upon which gay man Matthew Shepard was beaten & left to die.
YES, he can be real. YES, he can be dangerous. YES, he can be in the house next door.
Someone commented to me that it didn’t seem possible a dude like that could live north of Raleigh or west of Calgary.
YES. It’s not only possible, but it’s real.
We’ve had gay-bashing incidents of late here in uber-liberal Vancouver — by other minorities!
Hey, let’s keep the wagon wheel of hate rolling.
By saying these guys can’t be real, we’re avoiding truth. We’re ducking the reality that hatred fuels much of what goes on in our world — whether it’s women’s centres being bombed, Middle Eastern women being stoned for adultery, gays being bashed for holding hands on the street, or prejudices rising everywhere daily, never mind national strife like Palestine-v-Israel, or Iran spouting rhetoric.
Hatred’s out there, man. Don’t think otherwise.
The Georgia Straight’s Facebook moderator decided it prudent to delete the offensive comments on this particular thread. I disagree. My reply comment:
I’m sort of disappointed that [skinhead motherfucker]’s homophobic, hate-filled rants were deleted.
By a) responding with “haw-haw, he can’t be real” and b) knee-jerk “how dare you” replies, then deleting his words, we’re pulling the wool over allour eyes.
We say “HEY, THERE’S A REAL PROBLEM OUT THERE” about hatred or racism, but then we sanitize the web so no feelings get hurt.
Let’s hurt some feelings! Let’s see these bastards for who they are! Let their names be known! Let their evidence stay up so we can point and say THAT IS NOT RIGHT, LET’S FIGHT THAT, LET’S PROVE HIM WRONG.
Sure, a bunch of people got all bent outta shape reading that kind of hate speech — but the mentality of “Well, if it’d been worded more politely, it’d be okay and we could ‘dialogue’ ” is just ridiculous!
IT’S HATE. Let’s see it for what it is.
Let the world see that it’s still out there, regardless of our pretty little fast-food metrosexual ever-so-aesthetic iPoddy 21st century.
Then let’s fight back and end that hate where it lives. END it, not delete it.
From Wikipedia's "lynching" page. The lynching of Laura Nelson in Okemah, Oklahoma in 1911; she had tried to protect her son, who was lynched together with her.
Deleting the thread has all the brilliance of when a Canadian bookstore chain decided it would never, ever stock nor order Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
Right, because ignoring the book the first time worked out so well for us.
KNOW THY ENEMY.
If we want to overcome hatred, racism, homophobia, elitism, all of it, then we need to know exactly what their thoughts are so we can break those down.
This is the internet — the home of anonymity, the tool of free speech, the widest platform for idea-expressing ever invented.
But every motherfucking site has a moderator who goes and deletes the hate, hiding the nasty fuckers that we need exposed.
Deep down inside, we all know cruel people are out there, and we know they’re cowards who hide real, real good.
Thus it’s become easier when we hide them too, and go on with our lovely little domesticated modern lives. God forbid our routines get injected with realism.
These people are real.
They live where you are.
They’re more marginalized and angrier than ever.
And we’re giving them a pass by letting them say what they say, then deleting it. So, then they run back to their little web microcosms and fester with their continuing hate spiel, palling with their little hatin’ buddies, all the while leaving us blissfully ignorant that hate-filled fucks like them are more prevalent than we’d like to think.
Stop protecting us, website moderators.
Our ignorance will not inspire their change. We need all the good peoples in on this fight.
Come morning, everything always changes. New. Nice. No fuck-ups yet. Yesterday’s badness has fallen away, but it’s left me in thought — not surprising, given I dig thinkin’. And here’s the thinkin’ it produced on humanity in general.
Sometimes we get unfortunate reminders of just how far-ranging humanity is. Good people, bad people. Ugly-ass people.
It’s like that moment from the creepy ’50s sci-fi movie where the scared teen boy looks in the camera and whispers, voice shaking: “We are not alone.”
A popular poster of a reliable friendship.
People bring out the best and worst in each other. We feed or flounder off whatever is projected at us. Here on the interwebs? Hoo-whee! We get schooled but good on humanity here.
Anonymity is the greatest thing to ever happen to cowards.
Some people thrive from hurting others, get adrenaline from it. We shake our heads and mutter “I don’t understand.” But what’s there to understand? They’re nuts.
There’s crazy then there’s The Crazy, as my bi-polar friend says.
It happens. Hate happens. Shit happens. Life happens. It happens.
One of the haters from this past weekend sent a bunch of extremely personal emails to the presenters, using our open lives to launch their attack.
I won’t indulge the meglomaniacal jerk’s wish to get limelighted. There’s a reason I moderate comments, his will never be published.
Stupid fuck, as if. Waste yer time if you like, pal — no blogspace for your hate!
But, boy, it reinforces my thinking on people.
I’ve always been that person who knows, if I have five REAL friends when I die, I’m a lucky gal. Most folks just walk away. That’s reality.
Trust me. Wait until life gets hard. Most people will walk. The ones who don’t, they’re keepers.*
The best thing that can happen to you in adversity is to find out who’s real and who’s not. At least then you’re on sure footing. Look at the lemonade you’ve made from those lemons: Now you know who’ll take bullets for you.
And don’t kid yourself, you’ll be surprised when the sieve of life separates the real friends from your illusory ones. It’s often not who you think it’ll be that makes the cut.
Here’s what I know: Good people assume most people are good. Sure, they are. But, the bad, they take up more real estate in our lives.
Have you ever heard the saying about retail, that 80% of your customers take up 20% of your time, but the other 20% take up 80% of your time with their bullshit? That’s kinda like people in real life, too. That 20% of people really know how to dial up the angst, betrayal, lies, and fear.
That consumes us, it takes over. If we let it.
Most people in life have serious flaws. Just remember that. Remember your own imperfections. Most don’t have it in them to give “true” friendship to more than a few people. Don’t be surprised if you don’t make their cut.
You’ll have a few real friends in your life. But not many.
Welcome to Realityville.
Hey, your dead-body-removal crew should never have more than 6 people in it anyhow. That would make it too difficult to kill those who know your secrets. Too many to bury in your average backyard. Hardy-har-har.
But, seriously, it’s true. There’s only so many people you can rely on. Everyone else, sooner or later, will fail you. Most fail in small, meaningless ways, but sometimes in huge ways. We dismiss the small failings, but they should serve as indicators for The Bigger Things, because some chances hurt too much to take.
That penchant for flaws is not some price we pay in modern life. People have always been flawed. We just like to dupe ourselves into believing everyone has our moral code.
But they don’t.
And we act all shocked when we see this. Really? You didn’t suspect dickheads roamed the planet? Nazis? Killers? ZOMBIES?
I’m really not surprised some asshole spewing vitriol has emerged from this weekend. I’m only surprised they’ve been sitting around making notes for months, trying to create a destructive picture of who we are out of snippets we’ve revealed. Oh, yeah, there’s a healthy life.
That’s what I’m surprised about. Takes a special knack to be this pathetic for this long.
The rest of it, it’s just life as usual. Like great writers say, betrayals come in love and war, and every other time of year.
I’ll smile and chat with most people, pass a few moments in their company, but when the crunch-time comes, I know they’re not who I’ll be calling.
When the word comes down, handshakes are exchanged, tallies added up, I remember: I never would’ve called them for that dead-body haul anyhow.
Would those you’d call still come when asked?
Then you’ll be just fine. Forget the rest. Seriously.
*And people walk for myriad reasons, not all of which deserve your judgment. Sometimes our own battles don’t allow us to be there for others. We have to make our choices. Don’t take it personally all the time. Take it for what it is: Revealing who WILL be there. Don’t judge too harshly those who can’t be.