I started my The Girl from the Ghetto blog back in January 2008. It was my first attempt at blogging, and I had no idea what I was doing. I wasn’t trying to market myself, or market any products. I wasn’t trying to make money–in fact, I had no idea back then you could even make money blogging. I never read a single blog until I started my own. The only thing I had to compare to this blog to when I began was a blog that began to my friend’s ex, and her blog disgusted me so much that even with my low writers self-esteem I knew could do better than what she was doing.
I began this blog with the hope I would trigger my creative juices, which had become stagnant for about a decade, as I was forced to take jobs (sometimes as many as 3 at a time) that only paid the bills. I started writing a book back in college as an independent english project, so I thought if I began blogging, I might finish it one day. It was a book about my dysfunctional but fun life, and I wanted more than anything to finish it. Not to publish it, not to become some big celebrity writer, not to become rich (ha!), but finish it just to obtain my OCD goal of finishing everything I ever started.
I’ve never shown anyone (except my teachers) my writing, so when my hubby discovered my blog a few weeks later, as I forgot to delete my browsing history on our computer, I was a little pissed. I wanted to write freely, without judgment from others, as my thoughts and feelings aren’t accepted by 100% of the world. Since he was reading it, I got up the courage and told a few other friends about my blog, and between the friends and my hubby, and all the strangers who discovered it, everyone seemed to like what they were reading here. It was amazing that people enjoyed what I wrote, and told me that they even shared my blog with their friends or co-workers. The more personal I got, the more comments and emails I received from people all over the world. People told me how much they related to me, how much I made them laugh, how much I was helping them deal with their own issues. All those emails made me feel great, because I knew my writing skills were rough around the edges, and, at times, my posts weren’t even proof-read! I know that sounds bad, but more than half the time I wrote and managed to publish a post in a 45 minute marathon session during my lunch hour.
Connecting with people online was something I never anticipated. Who knew there were hundreds of people in the world just like me, with ghetto upbringings, quirky habits, odd love of all things pop culture, and a variety of health issues? I’ve never fit in a 100% in the real world, but online, I did! Not that it matters being different–in fact, I like being a dork. I got to meet dozens of people who read my blog in real life, even traveling to meet other aspiring writers and book lovers. I’ve met some pretty fabulous and famous authors, Haven Kimmel and Augusten Burroughs among them. I got to attend several book conventions, networking in the hopes of finding more good books to read and write about. Maybe I even went in the small hope that I could finish my own book, and eventually get it published.
Last night, I stayed up all night trying to update my blog, as I recently gave it a much-needed layout makeover. I re-read hundreds of my 892 posts. I had so much fun laughing at what I wrote, what people’s responses were to me, and reliving the memories of the conversations as much as the stories I had written and forgotten about. I miss all my old blog friends and readers, who now either mainly stick to Facebook or Twitter, or who haven’t stopped by as much due to life responsibilities, or who have just fallen off the grid completely, as they no longer blog, read blogs, or aren’t into my recent posts as much.
After I had been writing this blog for a few years, I started to get more, well, emo, as my health got funky, I got stressed, and I lost my mojo due to a chain of events. [***Warning: This part may be skipped if you don't care for what you call "whining," as I call it my much-needed free therapy and right to vent.] In 3 months, I was diagnosed with stupid medical conditions, had a hysterectomy, and lost my job due to budget cuts (but also due to illegal actions). I was unemployed for months and trying to cope, and hated that I couldn’t even get an interview. I tried to fill the gap by working 3 volunteer jobs, but without a car, I also felt stuck, as I could only go to places in a 2 mile radius. I saw my friends less because no one lives close, and no one wants to come pick me up (or drop me off, since the one car my hubby owns is in high demand on weekends) to go out. I found and lost a second job because (on paper) I took a necessary sick leave 3 days before my 6 month probation period was over, and I had no FMLA protection because I was only part-time. I was devastated, because I was a hard and caring worker, who they even honored as one of their top volunteers of the year. It was a dream-come-true job for me, and I was worked to near-death, working an average of 50-60 hours a week, for the pay of 28 hours. I was harassed by one person there repeatedly, and I started noticing the actions of some other people there, and was repeatedly encouraged to speak up by several people, so I did. I spent years suffering abuse and harassment at my former workplace, and had no desire to repeat that here, so I spoke up, and look what happened. I should have seen the writing on the wall my first day there, when I listened to the CEO go over the results of an employee satisfaction survey. People had written things like, “I’m so miserable,” “I can’t keep up with the workload,” “You are asking me to do the impossible,” “I can’t give my job 100%,” and “You keep making too many changes around here and no one knows what to do.” I saw rounds of layoffs in my time, but what made the whole thing job loss so traumatic was the loss of my friend there, who texted me that she didn’t want to talk about what happened to me, even though I hadn’t asked her to tell me anything about how that decision was made. I was hurt by being dumped by my job as much as I was by being dumped by her, because I thought we were really friends, and not just friendly co-workers. My blog posts about my time there were being read a lot, and I don’t know if she told anyone about my blog (she had discovered it on her own), but I thought she could have told someone there, which made the whole thing even worse. At the same time, my dad died, or rather, I had found out he died 4 months prior and no one told me about it. My mom went off the deep end, and of course, more medical drama, as the reason i had to go off work led to 3 more new conditions. [***You can now resume reading.]
I had all this pain and drama in my life, in addition to all the things that go on with my family that I can’t write about here, so dealing with all this took the fun right out of me. I was writing my thoughts very honestly here, and then some people thought I should stop being so honest, which hurt me, as this blog was becoming the only affordable way to handle all my extra stress. I’m not the type of person who minds when others vent online or in real life, so it is hard for me to understand why anyone would feel the need to make me feel worse by complaining to me publically about my own thoughts. So, I switched to writing more about other things than my feelings, like books and fun products, jewelry, etc. People asked me to host more giveaways, and I was happy for the break in the drama. This blog took a turn, and I’m not sure if it was for the better or not.
I miss the old days of my blog, but I also like doing reviews and giveaways from time to time. First, it is exciting to get stuff, and to be able to give it to others. I love recommending great books to people, especially by first-time authors. I’ve tried to start a second blog for photography, or consider doing one for just giveaways, but it is so much work to keep up 2 blogs. But then an author who I’ve become friendly with recently told me that I have everything here a person could ever want to read online. That made me realize why I don’t need another blog–because I write for myself, and I write for those people who are like me, or who like all the things I like. What I like most about having just one blog that talks about everything is that you can feature what you want, when you want, and you have a wide audience to do it in front of. No offense, but when I come across certain blogs that only talk about one thing 24/7, I become disinterested in reading them over time rather quickly, because so many people out there talk about the exact same things, and even write the same themed posts weekly, or review the same items. I can’t keep them straight because they are all so darn similar. I guess you could say I am just into personal bloggers more.
There is a down side to blogging, of course. People feel they are anonymous online, so it naturally brings out the worst behavior in people. I try to ignore what people have to say here when it is bad, but I don’t like it at all when people leave me intentionally mean comments, just because I’ve offended them with my opinion about a reality tv show star, product, or event I attended. Sometimes it is kind of funny, watching people fly off the handle, and saying bad things about me here as well as on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, or even message boards. It stops being funny when people take it a step further, and behave professionally. I watched in horror as a person that I paid money to called me out, twice, just because I wrote honestly about something they provided, or rather, didn’t provide enough of. Another person who works for a business of a product I reviewed (and didn’t like) harassed me in a variety of ways online. I even got my blog shut down for a few hours because a person who didn’t agree of my opinion of something that happened in the 1970′s abused his professional career power and made a wrongful report about me. I was ready to delete the entire blog after that one, but then I thought, screw all of them! Actually, I say screw you to all the people who hate what I have to say here. There are plenty of people in this world whose thoughts, actions and behavior I don’t agree with, but I don’t feel the need to respond to it in a rude and/or unprofessional manner. I am what I am here, and if you don’t like it, you can ignore it. Haters are always allowed their opinions here, as I welcome debate, but you don’t have to go all ghetto and personally attack me, my looks, or my thoughts just because you are miserable in your own life and need to take it out on me. My god, I’ve even received a death threat. Don’t people realize I can figure out who they are, even if they are using a fake name and fake email, since they hand me their IP address? My suggestion to those people is to write down whatever bothers them on their own semi-anonymous blog, so they can focus on curing all that misery they are carrying around inside, rather than spreading it. Trust me, I don’t live a charmed and stress-free life, and I can’t handle any more drama than I already have. I’m just trying to find a job, pay my bills, and make the right decisions about my health.
So, I’m trying to get back my groove and continue blogging like I did back in the glory days. Help me by telling me why you started blogging, why you keep doing it, or why you read my blog. Let me know what you’ve liked here, or have liked in the past, and if I could write a dream post for you, what would it cover? There is no need to tell me sorry about what’s happened to me (if you read that emo paragraph), and I certainly would appreciate just for today if people would lay off on leaving me comments that may be perceived by me as even the tiniest bit negative. Think of it this way–if you were engaged enough to read this post, let alone this blog repeatedly, I must have entertained you in some small way. Pay me back the favor of entertaining you for free today or al that time by leaving me a bright and shiny comment.