7 years ago this month (January 7, to be exact), I hit publish on my first post on this blog. Since then (and 2 MacBooks ago), I’ve published nearly 160 posts. The most popular is my post about Stephen King’s novel 11/22/63. It gets hits every single day (and last I checked, was ranking right below King’s site for the term “Jimla”). The second most popular and the one that’s received the highest response is my post about the ensuing identity crisis when my college completely rebranded itself away from all my fond memories.
Admittedly, in the early days and years, I published a lot more frequently than I do now. It used to be at least once a week. Now I only get to publish a handful of posts each year, but with good reason. Just as my blog has undergone numerous changes in the last 7 years (different themes, different focuses, different looks), so have I. While I don’t write a whole lot about the details of my personal life here, the big picture still tells my story.
This isn’t my first foray into blogging, though. I started a LiveJournal in July 2001 and kind of just fell in love with publishing on the web. I went to college that year and I was a bit crazy about making time every day to write something on LiveJournal. At that point, it was all about my life, but I’m glad I did that too. While I also have handwritten journals from college, a lot of my best memories from those 4 years and the few years after (my first years in the real world) were preserved on my LiveJournal. Unfortunately, the AOL email address under which it was registered wasn’t quite as well-preserved, so I never got the email telling me that they were going to delete inactive blogs. I kept that site regularly until 2007. My last post was entitled “The Feast of the Quarter Life Crisis” — written on my 25th birthday. I revisited that LJ page a few years ago, but noticed last year that it was gone. I was — and am — sad about that.
But it wasn’t just LJ. I had an early interest in various blogging/digital publishing platforms, so you know I had a Xanga in 2002-03, too. Writing in that was how I passed the time at my office job in the Treasurer’s Office in college. I stopped working there at the end of that school year when I got hired at the Writing Center, so I stopped keeping two blogs, let the Xanga go, and kept my focus on LJ.
After I stopped the LJ in 2007, I started my first WordPress blog. I had completely forgotten about it until last week, actually. I tried to change the admin email address on this one and it told me I had another blog already registered to that email. It was short-lived and I basically used it to write about current events.
I went to grad school from 2007-2009 and because I got an MA in English, I did a lot of writing. During the first year, I was also working a full time job teaching 9th grade and a part time job, and during the second year I was working a full time job teaching, job searching, and commuting anywhere from 1 to 3.5 hours one-way to go to class (I’d moved back to PA and in with my parents when my school in VA put us on a pay freeze and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to pay my bills, but was still finishing up my degree in VA). There wasn’t a lot of time for fun writing.
But my final full-time teaching job ended in 2009. I don’t think I have to tell you what the economy was like in the US in 2009. I was 27 years old, living with my parents again, and completely unable to find another teaching job. In fact, I was unable to find any job. Thanks to Facebook’s ‘On This Day’ feature, I can be reminded of how many job applications I was sending out (at one point my tally was around 150). Fun fact, though: I was in an interview in a mid-rise building in Center City Philadelphia during the east coast earthquake, so I’ll always have that, I guess.
In a way, it was good that I couldn’t find a teaching job because, by that point, I’d begun to think that I didn’t really want to teach anymore anyway. The way politics had screwed up the system just wasn’t what I had signed up for (literally. No Child Left Behind became a thing during my freshman year of college when I was already into my education classes and I still think it’s one of the most damaging things we’ve done to education and our country to date).
I was unemployed, uninsured, heading towards 30 and living with my parents, and I had very few friends still living in the area. I spent time with those who did. I read a lot. I got a little too attached to my dogs (RIP Rocky. He was the nicest. Macy is the most brilliant and gorgeous English Cocker Spaniel ever to grace central PA with her presence) and talked to them more than I talked to real people, I think (although… I’m an introvert so this isn’t really uncommon). I took frequent trips to Virginia, New Jersey, and other parts of Pennsylvania to visit my best friends, most likely overstaying my welcome when I would, rather than just visit for a weekend like a normal person, stay for 3-5 days.
In late 2009, a friend from Jr. High with whom I’d reconnected was mommy blogging a lot on BlogSpot. I followed her family’s lives this way and not even 3 months after I finished up grad school in August, I had the urge to start writing again, so I started a new blog on BlogSpot. To be honest, I can’t remember a lot about that time (I’ve blocked it out. 2009 sucked), so I can’t even tell you what I was writing about. I may have been writing about books I was reading? I really don’t know. Whatever it was, I didn’t like the platform and let it go to return to WordPress.
Which brings me (finally!) to early 2010 and the start of this blog. There is something that is somehow comforting in the most unfortunate of ways when you and one of your best friends are unemployed/underemployed at the exact same time. It made it easy to take trips out of town, but it gave me someone else who was in a somewhat similar position to talk to when it felt like the rest of the world was passing me by. In the midst of one of these chats and borne of a big imagination involving a dinosaur and some inside jokes from years ago, Frankasaurus became a thing.
Like many writers, I had trouble getting started and figuring out the voice and purpose of the site (this is always a problem for me in writing, and you can probably see evidence of it in a great many of my posts). My very first posts included one about why Taylor Swift clearly doesn’t know anything about Shakespeare given the lyrics to “Love Story” and a review of the Pennsylvania Farm Show. Please don’t crash the site trying to get back to those posts all at once.
But with little else to do, I just kept at it. The site became my sounding board for my frustrations with my job search and my rekindled love of writing (I was also fresh off my first go and successful completion of NaNoWriMo). It became a place where I thought a lot about social media and its effects (social media is another thing I love, and if you know me, you know that I’m basically physically unable to keep myself from sharing thoughts and points of interest and other anecdotes on Facebook on a pretty much daily basis. I think the sociology of it is super interesting although I’m 100% sure people find me annoying. Oh well).
In 2011 my dad got really sick and almost died (remember how soul-crushed you were when Toby collapsed on Christmas Eve on This is Us? Toby and my dad have the same condition, but my dad’s was a lot more complicated and complex because of other things happening too. He had many surgeries), and the stress of months of that coupled with the stress of still not having a job or insurance and being 29 and still living with my parents broke me way, way down. I went through another fight with another round of depression, which I was diagnosed with years ago. 2011 was probably one of the darkest years of my whole life. I remember crying. A lot. Like … a lot. I was afraid of myself, which is something that, unless you’ve experienced it, I don’t really know how to describe to you in a way that will do it any justice.
But my blog was always there, and as my life felt like it was going further down the downward spiral (big ups, Trent Reznor), I just kept writing. It turned really introspective and sometimes really dark and there were a lot of extended metaphors. It was cheaper than therapy, but Major Depressive Disorder is kind of a bitch. It doesn’t always just let you write it away, so I went back to therapy too (uninsured, so that tells you how scared I was) and then the blog became a space for me to explore the things I was working through there.
As I did that, I happened to come across an ad one day for a pretty new site looking for interns who wanted to learn more about blogging and social media. I reached out. I started writing for them and, in the absence of anything else to do, I took it super seriously. I structured my whole day around the things I said I’d write. Sometimes everyday things have a little bit of magic attached to them. For me, it’s Sara Bareilles. One day I was writing about her newest star-studded music video (Uncharted), and I just realized …. I can do this. I like doing this. This is the kind of job I want.
People were like, “Wait, you’re working for free?” I didn’t see it like that. It gave me a purpose. I just kept working and writing like my life depended on it. I wanted all the experience I could get.
Plus I was learning a lot about social media marketing and content marketing and things that I never would have guessed interest me, but do. I started my own hosted website on WordPress.org where I wrote about those things and played around with the options afforded to .org versus .com WordPress users.
Hard work pays off. When they wanted to hire someone part time to work as an editor because the site was starting to grow, I’d been writing for several months by that point and they knew my background, so they asked me and I was elated. It was perfect timing.
Things have a way of working out. Two years later, they were able to bring me on as the only full-time employee so now I have a full-time job that I love and enjoy doing. Thanks to Obamacare, I was also able to get health insurance for the first time in almost 4 years because I could no longer be denied for things I had no control over (for real, I received 2 denial letters citing “undertall” as a reason. My height is a pre-existing condition). I was able to move out of my parents’ house and test my own introvert boundaries by moving 3.5 hours away. I work from home, so I can basically live anywhere. I had friends and family in the area, but I still had to work at building my life and meeting new people. I joined Rotary (where one of my first tasks was writing for local publications) and made friends there. I reconnected with old friends in the area. I joined a book club. It’s like one day everything was just resolved. I’m doing okay for myself, but it was hard work.
So I’m a busy person these days. I’m the editor of what has grown to be a top-ranking authoritative site for marketing and social media content. I’m the president of a growing and active Rotary Club. I have friends I see regularly and I make regular trips home to visit my family and spend time with my nephews before they grow up and realize I’m not that cool. I read a lot of books.
After a while, I ran out of steam on my hosted WordPress site because I wanted to put my efforts into what had become my full-time job by that point. Rather than continue to sink money into something I hadn’t updated since 2014, I took that site offline last week.
I don’t necessarily have as much time anymore to write here on Ye Olde Frankasaurus, but that doesn’t mean that I enjoy it any less. Things have been going well for me for the most part, such that I haven’t had any major anxieties clogging up my brain space that I felt like I had to write it out, so that’s great news (although perhaps you noticed three paragraphs ago or in my election season post that I am having a hard time with the current political atmosphere). I’m committing myself to making more time and writing more frequently in 2017. I put this post on my “goals for the week” list last week, and it was the only goal I didn’t achieve. Better a week late than never, I guess.
So I guess the point I’m trying to make here, despite all my rambling side stories, is that blogging isn’t really a waste-of-time hobby. I truly believe that writing is good for the soul and it can help you to process in a whole variety of situations. While I’m celebrating 7 years of blogging here, I’m really celebrating nearly 16 years of blogging in general. That’s a pretty serious commitment, so I think I’ll stick with it. Expect more frequent posts (they won’t all be as long as this), particularly as they pertain to books, reading, and the introvert life because that’s where I’m at right now. I’m saying it here to keep myself honest.
Until next time…