Monday, June 13, 2005

I forgot my own Blogiversary.

I can't believe I did that.

June 7, 2005, was my one-year blogiversary.

I entered the world of blogging on June 7, 2004, with a whizbang of typing and the press of a single "Post" button. The world has not been the same, has it?

It’s nearly four in the afternoon. I’m in a lawn chair in my back backyard with a glass of sweet tea stuck in the convenient cup holder of my chair, my gouty foot is propped up on another chair, I’m watching the kids pummel each other with water-soaked sponge balls and I’m writing this post longhand. With an ink pen. On notebook paper. I’m writing, people. Usually this art form is reserved only for checks to Wal*Mart, the kids report cards, or an occasional teacher or husband note. My shopping list is even a typewritten, aisle-by-aisle sheet of paper that I just checkmark.

So what’s the momentous ink-laden occasion?

I’m so glad you asked.

As I said, last Tuesday, June 7, was my blogiversary. One year I’ve been blogging. So in honor of the blog that has enabled me to maintain my sanity for yet another year, I’m going back to how I used to do it, before I knew I wanted to write.

I started keeping a diary when I was about nine or so. My Nana was having a garage sale, and pilfering through the boxes of Grandma Wilson’s stuff that Nana was finally selling, I found a diary. A little yellow book that probably didn’t measure 4x6. It had narrow lines of its tiny pages and best of all - it had a lock. AND a key. It was a real-live secret diary and I wanted - no needed - it. I tried to pay my .50, but Nana just gave it to me. Elated, I scurried off to the cement steps of Pop’s old shop. In my sloppy, elementary school handwriting, I began: Dear Diary . . .

I still have that first diary. It’s buried in my hope chest, on the bottom of a stack of newer journals, diaries and notebooks. I’ve had plenty, so it’s buried pretty deep. But it’s there. No way I’d get rid of it.

I think that very first entry was nothing more than "we’re having a garage sale at Nan’s and I bought this diary and I’m going to write in it every day" blah blah blah. A recurring theme throughout those early entries was the fact that my little sister was a pest and I wished she’d go away. Now the thought of her not being here makes me panic. That particular diary isn’t very full - not like the newer ones where every page is completely full of round teenage cursive and notes are written in the margins. I would write in it for a day or two, then abandon it for long periods of time. It wasn’t until I was 11 or so that I kept a diary with any kind of regularity.

Mom bought me a diary one year that again, had a lock on it. There’s just something about the lock on your diary that means a lot to a 14-year-old. My daily entry was a major part of my bedtime ritual: Brush teeth, put in retainer, pop zits or just admire self up close in the mirror just to annoy your waiting little sister who was standing outside the door pounding away and whining to your parents, pee, read Bible, write in diary. I wrote in my diary every night, virtually without fail. I took my diary on vacation, to church camp, to Girl Scout camp, but never to slumber parties. It wasn’t that I had anything to hide from my girl friends, I just didn’t feel the need to share.

As far as I know, my mom never read my diary. Any of them. Even my Senior year when she thought I had Anorexia. Or when Brad broke my heart and she swore I was suicidal. (I wasn’t.) She told me that the diary was sacred and she wasn’t going to invade that privacy. I told you my mom is cool. I’m not sure I can keep my nosey self out of my girls’ diaries!

The older I got, the more I shared with my diary. I think that’s fairly normal. I mean, the events in a 10-year-old’s life pales in comparison to a 17-year-old’s daily happenings. There’s more opportunity for excitement, and a level of maturity that wasn’t there before, an ability to express oneself better and more deeply. The older I got, the entries went from "Our class took a field trip to the fire station today. That Nick Powell is a jerk. I hate his guts." to "I just sit and stare at so and so in Biology, wondering what it would be like to hold his hand. Or even kiss him! I’d die if he ever saw me staring." Then as I discovered my sexuality, the entries took on a more womanly tone, full of emotions that had never been expressed in my writing before. There was joy, sadness, excitement, confusion, humiliation, questions, dreams, hopes and declarations.

The pages of my diaries over the years hold memories of my cousin dying and attending the first funeral of a family member. They chronicle my first babysitting jobs, youth group activities and trips, spiritual decisions and questions, rants and whines about my parents and how they didn’t understand me. They sadly tell of a girl in the class below me being killed in a car accident and my dad had to home from working the accident and tell his 18-year-old daughter that someone she had ridden the bus with since childhood had died. The pages recall my first love; that strong, over powering, all-consuming first love that changes your heart forever, priming it for the real love that is to come later. They talk of how I was going to marry him, have his babies and live happily ever after. Then a few years later, they become dark and sullen entries, written by a girl trying to find herself in the midst of confusion, heart ache and depression.

How many times I wrote "He’s the one" I’d like to go back through and count. I bet I wrote it about 10 different guys. Funny how that happens. I remember one entry, on one of the first pages of a new journal that lays out exactly what I wanted in man. He had to be a cowboy, he had to wear Wranglers and boots, he had to have gone to college and he had to want as many kids as I did . . . he had to be all these things. I set the bar pretty high on all of the outside stuff, yet I had no clue what I wanted my future husband to want for himself, to dream of, to be. But then again I had no idea what I wanted for myself.

Far too many entries deal with the confusion of needing love and affection and approval and not finding it in sex. I couldn’t understand why guys said one thing before they got down your pants and an entirely different something the day after. I really got confused between love and lust for a while.

One journal is filled with nothing but dark stories about death and loneliness and fear and that diary scares me. I was never suicidal, but it would sure appear that way. I want to shove it at my daughters one day and say, "For the love of all that is good in this world, COME AND TALK TO ME before you get to this point." I don’t know if they’ll listen. I wouldn’t have.

My Senior year, my English teacher made us write in a notebook every day. Some days she would give us a topic. Some days she wouldn’t. I wrote about the silly things she made us write about: "If you were a monster, tell what kind of monster you would be, what you would look like, etc." And then I wrote more of the depressing, sad stuff on the days we didn’t have a topic. She said I had talent. I didn’t know what to do with it, but I did know that I loved writing. And deep down, I knew I was good at it, too.

The diaries and journals continued throughout my post-high school years, dipping into my brief college experience, my journey to find myself by moving out of Mom’s house, my self-discovery journey being cut short by a serious case of homesickness and then a brief engagement to a man that was verbally abusive, yet I loved him insanely anyway. I wrote about jobs, parents, divorce, life, friends, sex and love.

Then the journals take on an even more mature tone as I cross over into motherhood. A few pages into a light purple journal finds a young woman who is expecting her first child after struggles with infertility. I talked of the hopes and dreams for that child, how I wanted him to be a good person and love God and be happy, I told how I felt now that I finally had a purpose in my life - I was going to be a mother. That book is nearly empty. Because after those first few pages, my dreams of motherhood were snatched from me and I couldn’t bring myself to write in it anymore.

It was a long time before I wrote again. Wrote anything. I had no desire to put pen to paper and write about how I felt because I didn’t feel anything anymore. My entire life’s goals were in question, my dreams and hopes were gone and I couldn’t write a Christmas card and make it mean anything. I refused to write in another journal until after Abby was born and safely in my arms and in my life. Then I felt like there was a reason to write again.

Fast forward to now: I’m an overweight, married mom to three gorgeous children. I'm a homemaker, a wife, and a woman still searching for herself. Funny how a few years will change a person, yet keep them the same. I read back to what I wrote even at the beginning of this blog and find that I’ve matured even more in that brief year. I guess I’ll keep doing that until I die. And that’s not a bad thing. I’m learning. And when I quit learning then I guess I’m ready to go to Heaven. Or when I quit breathing - that one will get me regardless of the learning.

I find that few around here understand why I write in a blog. Hell, few around here even know what a blog is. "A what?" is the most common response I get when I mention it. I consider myself a pioneer in the world of blogging in northeast Oklahoma. My father has tried for years to get me to write again. My mother has always recognized my talent with words and stories and the ability to make life readable. My husband, well he’d have to take his eyes off the Outdoor Channel in order to actually read, but he says I’m smart and that’s a pretty nice compliment in my opinion. My sister is behind me 100% - she says I’m funny and she’d definitely take a book I’d written on a long train ride. I guess you could say I’m still seeking acceptance and approval. If I am, oh well. I’ve been looking for it for 32 years now and it seems to be working for me. Obviously the journey isn’t hurting me any.

I have found bloggers in general to be a kind, compassionate, close-knit group of people who share in the ability to take life and form it into something tangible and readable and understandable. Even if it’s hard to understand. We talk about our kids, our parents, our jobs, our loves and lack of them, our sex lives (and lack of them as well). We ask advice. We give advice. We seek approval. We approve. We ask for prayers and good thoughts when our health or our families are in need. We lift up those in need. We are a diverse group of writers; all ages, races and religions. At times, I have found more comfort in the words of my blog friends than I have in those of my real-life friends. Is it the aspect of anonymity? Is it that we all want unconditional love and kindness and we can find it here? Personally, I don’t care how you define blogging, just as long as you don’t ridicule me for doing it. Just keep telling me stories about your high blood pressure, your constipation, your children and your quest for fame and fortune and I’ll keep telling you about my compulsive gambling problem, my Gout and my kids who mean the world to me.

I write because it helps me make sense of life. I have read countless essays on why people blog. I am intrigued by all of them and most I can even understand. But the reason I blog is because I have to tame this whirling mess of thoughts and emotions and questions into something that resembles sanity. If I don’t make sense of it, then I am reduced to a babbling, cranky old crotch that is screaming inside for understanding and acceptance and peace and order. By blogging, I sort and file and categorize everything that goes on in my life: hilarious kid stories that make me laugh till I stop, husband complaints and frustrations, career questions (namely "Will I ever have one?"), ponderings on life and love and society, the countless supply of critters and varmints we have here on the farm, tattoos, diets, gray hair, wrinkles, sleepless nights and family.

Thank you for a wonderful year, all of you fellow bloggers. You’ve made my first year one will never forget.

Keep writing.


Jill Vatican said...

Happy Blogiversary!

Babs said...

Keep writing, Diva! No one can tell a story like you; so lively, so real, so descriptive. I completely understand about what blogging means to you. Happy Blogiversary! (we made it)

Redneck Diva said...

Jersey - Yes, I go back and read my previous posts all the time! Call me narcissistic, but I like re-reading what I've written. I'm my biggest fan, lol!

Jill - Thanks for commenting! I've bookmarked you, btw.

Babs - Aw, you make me blush! Thanks for the kind words! Yes, I noticed we have blogiversaries pretty close together. We should have a party next year! And invite Moos! Darned if I can get her off the farm. Maybe if it's for the two of us, she'll come!

We....the people

Originally published in The Miami News-Record, July 2020 Everything is different now. I’m not just talking about masks and social distancing...