“I’m nostalgic for conversations I had yesterday. I’ve begun reminiscing events before they even occur. I’m reminiscing this right now.” —Max
Kicking and Screaming (1995)
When I started this blog back in 2001, Toby and I were living in a 3,000 square foot loft in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Our bedroom overlooked the East River and all of Northern Manhattan. I was head-over-heels in love. I had a sweet job in SoHo. I had great friends and family living nearby. I was 27-years-old and living the New York City dream.
I wrote a lot back then. I kept a diary on my laptop. Sometimes I printed out the pages and put them in a notebook. I used to read those pages to Toby Joe. He’s always been a great listener and super supportive of everything I’ve ever loved or felt passionate about.
In typical Toby Joe fashion, he took his supportiveness to an extreme and programmed a personalized blog publishing platform for me. At the time, I didn’t even really know what a blog was. But he was willing to show me. And I took great pride in the fact that the publishing platform was the only one of its kind.
My first post was about snot invading my head. It was meant to be a test post, but once we hit publish and it went live, I kind of freaked out.
“You mean anyone can read this, like, right now? Anyone? Anywhere?”
For better or for worse, anyone was able to read about my snot. Weird.
So I wrote. And I took a LOT of pictures. I used my graphic design skills and created silly posters in Photoshop. I didn’t care if anyone was following along, knowing someone could was enough for me.
But then people started actually leaving comments, real people. People I didn’t know. This was huge. Where were they coming from? Why were they sticking around? How had they found me and why did they care about what I—a complete stranger—had to say?
The whole experience was life-changing, frankly. I know that sounds completely ridiculous now, but it was life-changing.
When Toby realized how fascinated I’d become with my visitors, he built a stats package as well. I was able to see just how many people stopped by, whether they were repeat readers, how they had gotten there and how long they stuck around.
This was totally kick ass. And over the course of a year, I watched my numbers increase from the single digits, into the double digits, all the way up into the thousands.
People were actually reading.
So I kept writing.
A blog was born.
I wrote every single day. I took loads of “from the hip” pictures of my commute throughout my beloved city. I enjoyed blogging more than I can possibly say. I enjoyed interacting with people all over the world. It was truly life-changing.
And it continued this way for many years. Toby managed the backend. I continued to pour my heart and soul into it. My site became an unpaid, part time job, and I loved it.
Right around 2009, things began to change. And while I could easily blame it on everything else—the popularity of Twitter, Facebook and all the monetizing that started taking place—it probably had more to do with me. I changed.
In 2009, I had a miscarriage and immediately entered an 18-month long battle with infertility. I clammed up. While my blogging peers continued to share and write (and monetize), I hid. Something inside of me changed. I was no longer the personal blogger I’d always been. I wasn’t even all that open with friends and family anymore. I became introverted and fearful. I felt broken, sad and alone.
I simply stopped sharing.
It’s a bit of a cliché, but my innocence and passion for embracing life head-on, with wild abandonment, well, all of that came crumbling down.
I know I pushed people away. Just last night I was reminded of this when one of those people made an appearance in a dream. I treated this person poorly. I was so afraid of telling this person the truth—of being honest about my infertility, depression and vulnerability—that I built a wall instead. And last night, when she appeared in my dream, and I was given a chance to explain myself, it was too late. She refused my friendship. She had moved on. I woke up in a cold sweat, agitated and crushed.
Even my dreams remind me of how many people I pushed away.
And this blog suffered as well. I second guess everything I write. Nothing seems important or everything seems too important, or I think, “Why would anyone even care about this?”
And I don’t even have access to my stats anymore. I have no idea if I even have a stats package. I honestly have no clue how many people stop by anymore. And that ignorance is probably a good thing. Because I’m pretty sure that if I knew that number, I’d just have Toby take it all down. Why not just go back to keeping a journal?
I know. I know. Bloggers who talk about quitting never actually seem to. Whereas those who actually do pull the plug—they just do it. They don’t discuss it. They don’t write about it. They just let it go.
So, why not just let it go? Why do I keep this thing on life-support when I make no money on it whatsoever and instead pay 80 bucks a month to host it?
Well, for starters, there is no backup. If we stop paying the host, the site and all its data will be gone forever. And I can’t let that happen. There is just too much information here. I use it ALL the time as a reference—from Mom It Down recipes, to trying to figure out when something in our life took place. I use it to remember how sad I once was and how far I’ve come. It’s a massive archive holding THIRTEEN YEARS of my life. I can’t just pull the plug.
And Toby and I are way too busy (or dead tired) these days to back it all up. And when we do find time, the list of things we have ahead of it is way too long. I have no clue when we’ll actually get around to it. A site that spans 13 years has one hell of an archive especially since I want the comments and all the images as well. In many cases, the comments are what made this site so awesome. All of this takes time and space and energy—all of which we don’t currently have.
So, what does one do? Does one continue to write sometimes to justify the expense? Does one continue to write knowing all her peers recognized where things were headed years ago, and made the necessary changes? Does one become more and more discouraged and write posts like this one and, well, this one? Or does one finally just shut the hell up?
Is the personal blog dead? And am I the last guy to realize this?
More and more people are in search of sponsors and advertisers. More and more people want to make money off their blogs. Meanwhile, reader cynicism seems to be on the rise. Readers are less trusting of bloggers, they question intentions. (I know I do.) They are just waiting for the day a blogger tries to sell. Readers are a lot less invested. And I can’t fault anyone for that, just like I can’t fault anyone for trying to make a living. I know things change. Change is good! I get it. I don’t love it, but I do get it.
Sometimes I genuinely miss the way things used to be. I miss being invested. I miss the passion involved on both ends. Or maybe I just miss myself. Maybe I’m mourning the excitement I once had for sharing and writing and publishing my unfiltered thoughts. Maybe I miss the newness of it all. Maybe I’m being too cynical and crotchety and “old school” about this. Maybe this is where things were headed all along.
Maybe the problem is me.
Edited to add: Incidentally, I swear I did not write this for attention. I’m sincerely just thinking out loud today. I have these thoughts about blogging often enough and today I figured why not share them like I used to? Certainly I’m not alone in my thoughts. Please don’t think I’m begging for ass kisses. I will kick my own ass and film it if I come off that way.
Keep writing! I’ve been a reader since before 2009 and you are still on my rotation of blogs that I enjoy reading and check in for new posts almost daily when I find the time. I enjoy your honesty, vulnerability, self-doubt and happy moments that you have shared over the years. It’s just a multi-year funk due to life’s circumstances and I hope that you find that joy and a similar spirit you once felt about your blog. Hang in there.
I don’t think anyone could be suspicious of your intentions since you’re not trying to monetize. You write honestly and that’s why your blog is great. I’ve been reading for years and it’s one of a handful of blogs where I still get excited to see that new content was posted.
The blog could also be a fantastic resource for your kids when they’re old enough to be curious about what you’re like as a person and not just their mom.
Found you through someone’s blog roll. Fell in love with Murray. Stayed for your writing.
I trust you’ll find the answer that’s right for you. In the meantime, I’m happy to read whatever you write. (But I miss Murray…)
I know. Murray is indeed the best cat ever. I should bring him back. You aren’t the first to ask about him!
I don’t think personal blogs are dead, though maybe there are less than there once was. I still read quite a few, and check your site regularly hoping for a new post! I really hope you keep going, I really enjoy your writing.
(I miss Murray too!)
I remember thinking something quite similar – why did I care about this stranger’s life?? But I did and I do! From the stories of you elopement, your move across country and back, the cats, the dog, of course the kids, and now the new house!
Thanks for sharing!!
For the most part, I do think personal blogs are dead. Most of the blogs I used to read I don’t care for anymore. They just don’t seem genuine. However, I still really enjoy your blog because it is genuine and honest. I hope you continue to write whenever you feel like it.
That’s the thing, I don’t read them anymore either. But I am not sure why that is. I loved it at one time, but everyone I used to read either quit (when everyone started to monetize) or they monetized and, well, no thanks.
That said: anyone have any new and personal blogs they enjoy present day? I’d love to try again!
I agree with your observations – the likes of Twitter & FB have changed how we connect, but I still find interest in longform (and longer than 140chars) writing, although I do notice I comment a lot less – probably because I have regular interaction with yourself, and Dooce, and my other favourite bloggers on Twitter.
Anyway, keep it going as it’s a great record for you and I for one am interested :) Plus, the world needs more Murray!
I’m still a reader.
I hope not. ♥
Random thought: One of my favourite bloggers went pro about a year ago. (Book deal, etc, etc.) She started to ensure that her online persona was on-brand with each post, each tweet. She stopped writing from the heart, and stopped mixing her funny stuff with the heart-wrenching stuff. That’s when it stopped being real to me, and when I stopped reading. It was too bad.
Long time reader from the west coast of canada. Love your writing and your candid style. will keep on reading!!
Have you contacted the hosting company to see if they can back it ALL up and provide you with the data in some electronic format, for a fee? Surely they would want to free up some space too. So you can get a backup or two, put one copy off-site in a safe deposit box, and keep the other one at home for reference. That way, all you spend is money, not time, and it’ll be worth the cost to have that peace of mind and data all saved off their server. Or hire someone independently to do it. Just a thought. :-)
Natalie, I think I may know who you’re referring to, and it was so disheartening to see. I *miss* the former “her,” the woman we watched grow and blossom and eventually write a book, etc., the genuine person she was in her online writing. I feel a bit betrayed, forgotten, as though she no longer needs us “peons” who aren’t fellow authors and are “just” people who’ve been loyal from almost Day One. The retweets and responses to only fellow authors these days, versus the heartfelt responses she used to give regular loyal readers, is so sad to watch. I wonder sometimes if she realizes the drastic change.
You asked about good personal blogs. I love Amalah and All & Sundry, which I’m sure you’re familiar with. I also love Lag Liv (http://lagliv.blogspot.com) and Mimismartypants (http://mimismartypants.com).
I think I have been reading your blog since wayyyy back in those earliest days :) I had a handful that I read back then, and I think you are the last one standing that has stayed with the same honest tone, and I love that. So I keep reading, even few and far between, I dont mind.
This is one of the first blogs/online journals I ever read. I’ve been reading your blog for a long time. When it was just you and Toby Joe and cats. :) I love your writing style, stories about my favorite city (I’ve even gotten great tips from you on places to go there!), stories about your kitties, you sharing with us all of the experiences having your sons and finally getting a dog! Please keep writing, I know a lot of people would miss the stories, the sad and happy, angry and funny. Stay awesome, mihow. :)
Wow, Robyn! We DO go way back. You are one of the people I think about whenever I think about how important this site was for me. You were/have been so supportive for a decade. So nuts how long this has been going on, eh? Anyway, I hope you’re well! And thanks for your comment. :]
I found your blog because of Murray but I stayed because of you. We don’t know each other, but your blogging (especially about miscarriage and infertility) has helped me to feel less alone. I completely get not wanting to share, especially about such personal, heart-breaking stuff, but you should know there are people out here in the world reading and benefitting from your writing.
Thank you for the kind words, Beth. Means a lot to me, even though I still feel I failed people by not being more honest about what I went through. :]
I used to be a regular personal blogger since 2004 but I stopped writing this year after my dad died. I feel there is nothing to say, there are no words that will ever be enough. No prose can remember him and what a gentle and kind person he was. But then that’s my opinion and I am sure I will come back to my blog some day. I still use Instagram and Facebook to stay in touch with some folks. I guess what I am saying is as long as we have stories to tell and memories/experiences to share, we will always need a long form outlet. I have been following your blog religious since 2007 and I hope you continue sharing yours. You have been an inspiration from your raw but honest posts on infertility to the day you decided to stop posting pictures of your boys – the world needs more integrity and you have plenty. :)
“I stopped writing this year after my dad died. I feel there is nothing to say, there are no words that will ever be enough. No prose can remember him and what a gentle and kind person he was.”
This is so completely understandable. It seems like whenever something real happens, like, truly emotionally real and raw and inexplicably painful, it’s hard to go about things because everything seems to… fake? forced? unreal? not right? I know this to be true.
My biggest fear in life—and I really truly mean this—is losing my parents. (Obviously, losing my kids and/or husband is up there, but I’m hoping and assuming nature will keep them around as long as I am alive). I can’t fathom that day. I try regularly as they are aging. And the idea of living and breathing on a planet where I can’t call them, or look to them for support and help, well, it’s terrifying. I know for a fact that will change me. Everything will seem less genuine. I reckon I’ll look at people wondering how they can smile and carry on like nothing has happened. And writing or wanting to write will feel impossible.
Enduring true loss and pain makes it impossible to fake it, which I believe many of us do from one day to the next.
I am so sorry for your loss and I truly understand why you stopped. I can’t imagine, although I have tried, what it feels like for you. I hope that one day if you do wish to return, you do so. And may your father rest in peace.
I care. I don’t always get a chance to read through my blog roll, I now keep track of blogs through bloglovin’ (so much easier than pulling up my old blog and updating the code to add to a list), but I really liked all the stories and pics of Murray – and of course Emory’s babyhood. I had a baby the same year you had Elliot (or within a year I think – darn mommy brain!) and I don’t remember catching up on many blogs at all that first year or year and a half.
I don’t blog anymore, not really. I come up with things that I write in my head but never write them down. It takes to much time which I don’t have at work nor home. Also, I tend to filter my writing – enough to make it pitiful. I rarely even update Facebook or Twitter anymore, mainly because my boss, a few co-workers, and my sister are ‘friends’ on those platforms. Oh, did I mention my sister found my blog? That was cringe-worthy when I found that out.
Do what you feel like doing, but just know there are people who do care if/when you write. :-)
so late to comment, but I started reading you so long ago. I remember your heart break losing your friend Katrina, and the joy of the birth of your children. You are one of the few real people out there on the webs and I am always so happy when I drop by and see your family and life. I don’t come by as often only because, like you, kids and jobs and volunteering and appointments and sleep make it harder. But it is always good to come by and see what is up in your life.
Hey Mihow! Interesting post that I stumbled upon considering I haven’t blogged in years and years. I used to love it, too, and am trying to find another creative outlet to take its place. Just peeked by to see if your site is still live. And I’m glad to see it’s alive & well and that you guys are doing so great. Congrats on the 3rd (!!!) baby! Your boys are so cute. I got married & had a baby boy (Jack), too. Life’s funny how things change. At any rate, I hope you’re doing great. Take care! Megan
Holy CRAP! I think about you sometimes and have often wondered how to contact you. Can you email me? I am not seeing an address here for you but would love to catch up. Hope you see this!