I had no idea when I started blogging, under the Palinode's influence, that it would be anything other than an online version of letters to friends I hadn't yet met, so when I hit publish on my first blog entry — it was, bizarrely, an essay about why it's a bad idea to swallow your own tongue — I went about my life as though nothing remarkable had happened.
I look back at blogger-me of 2003, and I feel like patting her on the head like she's a goofy, drooling puppy with oversized feet that keep stepping on her own ears, because DAMN I was so cute not knowing all the stuff I didn't know.
For instance, I didn't know that:
- I would become a writer who would read her words to hundreds of people in a ballroom in San Francisco.
- I would be invited to speak on numerous panels at both BlogHer and Blissdom Canada conferences.
- I would wind up in the Globe & Mail and on CBC Radio and in Woman's Day and on CBC News and in Best Health.
- I would become a phoneographer who would travel to conferences to talk about iPhoneography, be a part of a worldwide iPhoneography exhibition, and be a contributor to a book about the craft.
- I would get to write with so many great people at BlogHer, MamaPop, Aiming Low, and Girl Body Pride.
- I would start my very own little community called Grace in Small Things based around the simple idea of gratitude.
- I would work to champion better blogging at Five Star Friday and the Canadian Weblog Awards.
- I would eventually quit my office job so I could start a full-time career under an umbrella I would call Ninjamatics.
- I would join up with a phenomenal board of directors in service of the fantastic non-profit Violence UnSilenced.
- I would team up with Laurie and Neil to create a monthly Twitter chat about the state of blogging that would take us all the way to New York to lead a panel discussion at a BlogHer conference.
- I would take to public speaking the way I did when I took the stage at TEDxRegina to talk about self doubt and the power of personal narrative:
- This blogging community would grow from my handful of virtual penpals into such a powerful webwork of human beings that were able to help me grow the confidence it took to deal with cancer, quit smoking, face my alcoholism, and work through bouts of anxiety and depression.
This is not hyperbole. Look at that list up there of all the things that have come to pass in my life because of all of us hanging out here together in the ether we call the Internet. Sure, it hasn't all been wine and song here. I was invited to die in a pool of blood once by an extra thoughtful commenter, and there was that guy who expressed displeasure that my site did not live up to the dirtiness my name implied and suggested I send him just a little something to make up for it. The creeps and assholes, though — true stalkers and violent/sexual offenders aside — are just the colour that spice up this little constellation we've built together.
The path of my entire life has been altered and moulded here, and I cannot find the words to impress upon you the magnitude of this. My entire life is another thing now because of this place.
My father, a man who barely understands how to open an email let alone play solitaire on a computer, turned to me a month or so ago and said The internet has been good for you, hasn't it? It's changed you. It's good to see you happy and doing things you love to do. He doesn't really understand what I do here, but he see its effects on me. I answered by telling him about all of you.
It's you I want to thank for these nine years. You left comments, you wrote emails, you told me I could do it when I thought I couldn't, you told me to rest when I was tired, you told me to get off my ass when I was being an ass, you hired me, you loved me, you passed me tissues at conferences, you set me straight when I went too far, and you lured me out when I didn't go far enough.
Thank you all for these nine years. You — yes, even you who is just itching to tell me which grammar rule I've broken this time — are why I will be here for nine more.