blogging

The Mysterious Case of Google Gone Wild

One of my favourite things about blogging is checking in with my stats every now and then to go through the highly amusing search engine terms that people somewhere out there in the world are looking up on Google, and somehow ending up at my blog. Inspired by Wendy’s post, here are some favourites that rank, bizarrely, pretty highly on my all time Search Engine Term statistics:

1. “Tattoo epic fail.”  Okay, so my tattoo right now is a pretty epic fail, but there’s no need to rub it in. This is one of the highest hitting searches I’ve ever had, and 34 people have searched for this exact phrase, and landed at one of my posts about the mess my back tattoo is in right now. Thankfully, this weekend I went back for my final consultation with my new saving grace, and Operation: 40-Hour Cover Up the Cover Up is under way! Now if only I didn’t have to come up with a $1,000 deposit to get on the waiting list…

2. “Trevor Horn.”  It took me a really long time to figure out who this was, and for a while I was kind of worried about the number of people searching for this mysterious man and ending up here – but then it dawned on me: Trevor Horn, of Video Killed the Radio Star fame was mentioned in one post about two years ago, referring to an odd repeat customer I was having at work, who wore similar giant 80s glasses and smelled so bad I had to evacuate the premises and open every fire exit in the middle of winter. Fun times.

3. “Abominable snowsuit. Somehow, sixteen people have been hunting for this exact thing, though I’m not sure if it was my unfortunate snowsuit they were looking for.

4. “Marina Diamandis smoking.”  This, next to my own name, is the biggest search that’s led people to my blog, and some variation of it shows up almost every other day. I didn’t even know she did smoke, and certainly don’t remember referring to it in my little tribute!

5. “Weeping Angels.” …And then came the nerdy ones. I have more than a few handfuls of sci-fi references in my search engine terms, including “tardis blink,” “nerdgasm costumes” “night of the living trekkies,” “3 things aliens can do on earth” and, a personal favourite, “hit it my dear, i’ll go klingon on that ass,” but this one tops the lot with a grand total of 38 searches. Strangely, “wheeping angel tattoo” led four people here as well.

6. “Blue eyed university students” scores on the top ten, and is the only one that leaves me clueless as to where they ended up.

7. “The bad news is that time flies, the good news is that you’re the pilot.” I always like it when people search for this one, because it means they’ve just watched one of my favourite movies, Cashback.  If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. A warning though: the promotional poster was the word pasted over a woman’s naked chest. This movie’s artsy, intelligent, somewhat fantasy, and has the lovely bloke who played Oliver Wood in Harry Potter in it, but in case you wanted to peek at the trailer, it’s kind of NSFW. Great film, though.

8. “Creepy phone guy” is pretty up there, with 14 poor people having experienced one of these in their lives.  This search probably led them either to this weirdo, or the time a couple of years ago someone had misdialled once and then proceeded to start calling me regularly, “wanting someone to talk to”.

9. “French big fat ladies.” This one baffles me. I know, I know, the English are supposed to hate the French, but I’m marrying (close to) a Frenchman, and though I may have referenced that fact on a couple of occasions, I don’t think big fat ladies have ever intentionally been a part of my blog content. Yet, amazingly, they rank on the list.

10. Lastly, possibly my favourite: “Pirate prayers“. AWESOME. I loved it the first time I saw it leading someone here, and though I did reference the two things once in the same post, they were intended to be in two separate sentences.  But now I really want to know what exactly a pirate prayer would encompass. No pun intended.*

I know a few of you have some pretty entertaining search engine results – anyone else care to share? 🙂

* I’m so sorry.

 



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The Niche Philosophy

Lately, it seems in all walks of life I’m coming across the same message: in order to be successful at something, you have to find your niche. I’d started thinking about this after our work retreat on teamwork a few weeks ago – we’d gone through six “indisputable laws” of successful team building, and the one I’d had the most trouble with was Law 3: The Law of the Niche. It stated that all players have a place where they add the most value, and if you weren’t working in an area you are naturally gifted and passionate about, you’ll never be as successful as if you are. If you try something you’re not naturally talented at, you’ll only ever be a 5/10. But if you work in your niche, you’ll hit 10s every day. This initiated a gaping chasm of worry in the pit of my stomach – all I’ve been trying to do for the last year is dive into things that make me uncomfortable, riding on the hope that repeat exposure will eventually make them totally fine. The idea being presented, though it made complete sense, was entirely contrary to everything I’ve been trying to do. Said chasm was further widened when we were all asked to go around the room stating what our niche was, and were we working in it?  “No,” I thought to myself – “but how do I declare that to the boss who just gave me a new position, in front of all my colleagues?”

Initially, I thought my niche was a given – what I love doing at work is working in roles that allow me to be creative. Writing, designing, directing videos, creating advertising, doing radio – these were the sorts of things that were part of my job before the term ended. Now, the majority of my position involves things that aren’t quite such a natural fit: group facilitation, spreadsheets, and reports.  Not so within my comfort zone. As we were going around the room, before they got to me, one of my (teacher) coworkers spoke up. “I don’t think of it as teaching,” she said, “I think of it as encouraging people to want to learn.”  Now that really hit home. The thought of standing up in front of a class still makes me nauseous, but with practice it’s getting easier. Regardless, I don’t think it will ever be my “niche”.  Encouraging others to want to learn however… has my name all over it. I’d always wanted to be a teacher throughout my adolescent life, before I realised I was afraid of public speaking. I’d always adored learning, too – I remember reading Jane Eyre in the hallways one lunch time and being stopped by an impressed English teacher and feeling awfully proud, wishing my classmates could experience this great piece of literature but saddened they seemed more interested in whose party to go to that weekend.  I’ve always loved learning, so when I heard it framed like that, I thought maybe I am in my niche after all. I have the freedom to create curriculum, to design slideshows, to write cover letters and resumes and to encourage people to learn. And looking at it like that made me feel a whole lot better.

Finding my niche in the blogging world has been similarly difficult – mainly due to the fact that I refuse to have one! I see lots of blogs evolve from a collection of diverse thoughts into ones that limit themselves to one or two topics, and have their readership skyrocket through the roof. It continually baffles me – if you want to be a “successful” blogger, you have to be confined into a handful of areas if you want to keep the traffic coming back. But I’ve seen it work all the time. Lately, I think I’ve come to the realisation that it’s perfectly okay to write about what I want to write about regardless of whether or not people are going to be interested. If I’m going to lose readers because I write about Star Trek or obscure music one day, so be it. Why keep your passions hidden, and say what you think other people would rather you say? I feel like a bit of an outsider in the blogging world sometimes – everybody seems to know the ins and outs of each others’ lives, because a lot of people tweet and write about the goings-on of their hour-to-hour existence. Trips taken, friends visited, meals created or books read. There’s nothing wrong with this at all – this is how I keep in touch with many people I care about! I guess I just don’t know if my everyday life is really worth writing about. I don’t know if I could be proud to write about the cookies I baked last week, the invitations I printed on Sunday, or the toys I bought for my little cat. Because in reading about what I did, you’re not reading about me. Writing about my thoughts, however? That’s a different story.

This blog is more than a journal. More than a chronological account of what I did over the last few years. It’s an all-encompassing chronicle of my thoughts and opinions, hopes and dreams, loves, loathes, fears and passions on top of the things that filter into my day-to-day existence.  I sometimes wish we could all walk around with personal profiles attached to sandwich boards draped over our shoulders. Creative. Animal lover. Nerd. Bookworm. Longs for Home. Artistically Inclined, but Lover of the World of Science. Hopeless Romantic. Wants to Make a Difference. None of us can walk about the world and trust that the right people will just fall into it, but by writing what I do on this blog, I can put myself out there. People can look at my words and see my journey, my story, my thoughts, wonderings, hopes and dreams. Individually, they may be haphazard, random, irregular and about as cohesive as Paris Hilton’s recounting of The Canterbury Tales, but in total, they make up me. All of me. Not one part of me put on show for the sake of “that’s what’ll make me popular”.

I’ll never be a niche blogger, or a subscriber to the rules of “successful” blogging. At any moment of any day, the best friend I haven’t met yet may come across my blog – do I really want my first impression to be one-dimensional? No. I want to be known as someone with real thoughts and feelings, whose heart, interests and passions aren’t caged into a cookie-cutter mould to please the masses. I want to write when I’m passionate about something, which may be three times a week, or may be twice a fortnight. I’d much rather have something substantial than post just for the sake of having something new.  I want my blog to be genuine and real, because I want my relationships to be the same.  I’m not going to limit myself to the things that’ll increase traffic. I don’t want it if it’s drawn by something that isn’t the real deal. I’ve always been a hearts-on-sleeves kind of girl, and if that means not fitting in, I’ll take it. As the Bard once wisely said, “this above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” In twenty years, these blog posts will be in the archives of history, the commenters will have moved on, and all that remains of this chapter of your life may be the words you wrote. Wouldn’t you rather know, from the bottom of your heart, that they reflected you?

From Avatars to Allies

Whirlwinds of activity and excitement seem to be becoming somewhat of a theme this year, and this long weekend was another fantastic ride through foreign streets accompanied by friends from afar. I left the city late Friday afternoon (on what was possibly the most claustrophobic, teensy little plane I’ve ever been on – we had to move three passengers plus luggage to the back of the jet so the weight was spread evenly enough for takeoff!) and watched an orange sun illuminate the sky as we rode, sandwiched between two layers of cloud, through a glowing dreamscape down towards the coastline of Chicago. There’s something to be said about solitary travel – it’s a great time, with no distractions, for seeing the world from a new perspective, and for inner reflection. I arrived in O’Hare airport where I was soon met by two ladies I’ve known only in the realms of cyberspace for the last year or so, who greeted me with a gigantic squeeze and my first ever welcome sign, made with the help of our fabulous hotel concierge, Ian.

We took the L train (JUST like in Time Traveller’s Wife!) downtown, noshed up, and soaked up the experience of finally meeting each other in the flesh for the first time. In the last year, I’ve exchanged (sometimes daily) emails, text messages, phone calls and Skype dates with these girls more often than I have most people I know in real life. Seeing a relationship built through technology come to life in the real world was a surreal and wonderful experience, and we spent the next three days taking on the Windy City in style.* We walked for miles, taking in landmarks, amazing food, my first sangria, and truly breathtaking architecture. My heart was literally swooning as we trekked through downtown, surrounded by culture, life, and gorgeous towers soaring toward the sky. Every American I met was an absolute sweetheart, especially our fantastic doorman at the hotel, “Showtime”, whose enthusiasm and genuine love for life spilled out at the seams. He sent us off every night with a hug, a laugh, and a coupon for something wonderful.

We explored fancy shops and dreamed of being able to clean out places full of beautiful clothes and ornate houseware. We found original Glee costumes, had movie pyjama parties (complete with an unfortunate case of The Titanics, in which I bawled my eyes out for a good twenty minutes and proceeded to get VERY much laughed at :)), soared 103 storeys into the sky and braved the glass bottomed boxes looking down on the city below. We adorned ourselves with silk roses and crystal penguins, and I realised that five inch heels can simultaneously be a girl’s best friend and mortal enemy. We got lost in countless book shops, both modern and vintage, where I found myself wishing luggage would come in TARDIS form. We found the most amazing little sci-fi coffee house, plastered with oversized eighties film posters, with stuffed models of ET and ninja turtles perched atop every surface. I met even more bloggers, old friends and new ones, toured the local brewery, and witnessed the fastest and most inopportune blackout I’ve ever seen. The three days went by in a flash, but there was something quite magical about this trip.

If it weren’t for blogging, I would never have met five of the people in this photograph. I’ve always written, but I’ve only been properly blogging for about a year now, and some of the relationships I’ve been blessed enough to develop have become some of the most treasured in my life. Friends who are on speed dial, ready to cheer you on, or to defend against runaway snotrockets (new readers: yes, it happened, yes, it was in the face). Friends who’ve given me opportunities to help make the world a better place. Friends who send surprise cards, letters, and handmade gifts in the post, and friends who’ll happily exchange nerdy Doctor Who stories for hours on end. The world can seem an awfully vast place, but thanks to this online community, can seem rather comfortable… and not quite so big after all. Seeing the voices you’ve known so long through words and photographs on screens come to life was an amazing experience, and I only wish I’d had more time to fully spend with each and every one of these fantastic people. Chicago was an absolutely stunning city, and I have no doubt I’ll be heading back before too long. I arrived home after a plane ride accompanied by snapshots and science magazines, in one happy, exhausted, and exhilarated piece. Thank you Chicago, for capturing my heart, and thank you to everyone I was lucky enough to meet this weekend… who proved once again just how brilliant this online community really is.  Until next time… 🙂

Pandemic

I started my new job this week, and things are definitely shaping up to be a whole new change of pace!  I am still title-less, but the month of July is going to be filled with training, curriculum development, out of office visits and tonnes of learning.  (AND VOTING. PLEASE. DID YOU DO IT YET? :)) It’s massively different than what I’m used to, and I must admit first day I was so overwhelmed and anxious about all the new responsibility I made myself physically sick and subsequently missed the next two days (I’m a winner, I know), but the nerves I think are finally subsiding a little.  I’m thrilled to be part of a brand new project which is going to put me in a position that will not only push my boundaries (I’m going to be facilitating about 6 different modules – huge for the whole public speaking thing) but also put me in a position where I can really help people. One of the first things we were told was that the focus of this project was going to be not only helping the community, but empowering people – giving them tools and opportunities that will help them change their lives for the better. And that make me really proud. Along with teaching, I’m going to be doing some admin, some promotion and marketing, and toward the botttom end of the list – health and safety. Now, I may be a strange candidate for holding any portion of responsibility regarding other people’s safety or health (I think I made my stance on the government’s encouragement of mass vaccination quite clear during the H1N1 outbreak) – but thinking back to that got me thinking about the idea of what constitutes the idea of a pandemic – something which, when it comes down to it, causes widespread action in regards to something contagious.

When you hear the word, you automatically think of outbreaks of scary things like SARS, H1N1, Bird Flu… even the Bubonic Plague, and the masses subsequently running on something not too far from hysteria, having bought into the combination of newsreaders telling scary stories, but more accurately, fear. Fear is as contagious, if not more so, than whatever outbreak happens to be circling the newspapers.  Did I know anyone in my city affected by any of these so-called pandemics? No, I knew a bunch of people who, upon the encouragement of lunchroom gossip and television sets, rushed to the nearest doctor’s office to have something injected into their bloodstream, or started wearing surgical face masks in the street. The fear of contamination was more contagious than the sickness itself.  The word “pandemic” is defined as prevalent throughout an entire country, continent, or the whole world; widespread over a large area; general; universal. So why are we conditioned to evoke a negative connotation in response to hearing it? If something like fear can become pandemic – why can’t something more positive take over the masses?

In short, it can. Think about fashion trends – throughout the ages people have seen someone famous do something different, and rushed out in efforts to imitate their style or attitude. This may not always be for the best (Crocs anyone?), but it’s a mass movement to copy something based on personal admiration.  Health movements have also swept nations (just look at Atkins and Green Monsters), and people across the globe have dropped their current habits and adopted new ones in the hope of bettering themselves.  Spiritual teachings on how to become a better person have been written in books and shot to the top of the national bestseller list, sparking a movement of positivity across book clubs, across friendships, and across the globe. An idea to make the world a better place can pop up in a single man’s head, and before you know it, it’s become an international project with people across the globe hopping on board, all hit by the contagiousness of spreading joy onto the lives of others. Movies like Julie and Julia can inspire nations to learn how to cook; shows like Glee can inspire thousands to sing.

And then there’s blogging. Since I started blogging properly, not even a year ago, I’ve been inspired by people around the world who’ve set goals for themselves, pushed their boundaries, and written about their endeavours to become stronger, healthier, better people. I’ve lost count of how many 101 in 1001s I’ve seen around the blogosphere and have been inspired by other people’s 30s before 30 to create my own list of goals, which inspires me to grow every single day. You could say it’s contagious – hundreds of people reading hundreds of posts about growth and empowerment causing a “pandemic” of positivity. I love it. How great would it be if next time we witnessed something bad spreading – fear, gossip, rumours or hatred – we chose to instead spread something else? Combat the contagiousness of negativity and be the turning point to instead disperse something better. No dictionary tells us pandemics need to be bad. It’s often easier to go along with the masses.  The phenomenon of mass hysteria proves that the strength found in numbers can allow people to do things that would be considered insane if they did them solitarily. But we’re all capable of rising above what’s popular. We just have to practice prioritising, and thinking for ourselves.

BLOGGING RANT: The Cost of Self-Promotion

My bonnet is usually relatively free of bees.  But recently, there’s been a pattern in the blogosphere that’s left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.  It’s something Brittney touched on a few weeks ago here, and it’s all about bringing the fun back to blogging, and the reasons we all started doing it in the first place.

When I first started blogging “seriously” back in October-November last year, I was blown away by how awesome it was. By how many people there were out there who were willing to read my stuff, take the time out of their day to comment, and who also wrote great stories about their lives.  I loved getting to know people, starting to build friendships, going from a couple of comments a week to emails, text messaging, phone calls and the odd face-to-face Skype date.  In the last six months, I’ve met people who may be miles away, but I consider some of my closest friends. As with my friends back in England, I find distance doesn’t have to stand in the way of a good friendship.  But there are a few things I’ve seen  lately that really turn me off.

1: Bloggers who started with no traffic, just like all of us, who get to a certain level of blog-stardom, and use it as an excuse to all of a sudden become “authorities” on how to be a great blogger.  They start posting how-to guides on forums and networking and profile pictures, so you can be as awesome as they are.  It’s highly self-indulgent, and I find, borderline arrogant.  If I want more followers, I’ll invest the time in finding them myself. Or I’ll ask! I realise everyone’s reasons for blogging are different, but I read your blog because I’m interested in who you are, not because I want to be told I’m not “successful enough.”

2: Bloggers who fuel and listen to gossip behind the safety net of a computer screen.  It’s all so petty teenage angst fest.  I talked a little while ago about staying to true myself, even if that was at the expense of losing readership.  But at the end of the day, I know the person behind the blog is the same person that’s presented to the world. A person with real thoughts, ups and downs, questions and opinions and a good heart.  And that’s all that matters. Apparently, honesty is sometimes controversial. Sometimes not what people want to hear. So they’ll whisper amongst themselves and latch on to rumours without even bothering to question the truth. Why? Because it’s so much easier to go with the popular crowd.

I like to form friendships. I like to text and send snail mail to bloggers if they’re going through something bad OR good. I like to surprise people and I remain a loyal reader, commenter and friend. If they need help with a design project or a résumé, I will help them out. I like to build the foundations of friendship the same way I do in life – by showing I care. And it irks me to no end that some people lately have decided to completely drop me off their radars because they’ve “heard” something from someone, and haven’t even bothered to question the truth in it. It’s disappointing when you thought some of them were half-decent.

As much as it’s thrown in my face that these days blogging is a competition and the ONLY way you can be good at it is to have a million followers and a USB port in your ankle where you can stay connected to the online world 24/7, I write when I want to, about things that are important to me, and about things I think will really benefit other people. Things I care about, things I love, things I’m striving for and lessons I’m learning. Don’t get me wrong – everybody likes comments.  And I’m so thankful for each and every one of you that takes the time to read, and voice your thoughts every time I write. But I’m not going to compromise who I am because the Internet says I have to. And I’m going to continue making friendships with the people that really are awesome, and stop wasting time on the superficial.

3. Bloggers who sell out.  If I wanted to bombard my eyes with advertising I’d go and empty our recycling box all over my kitchen counter.  I’m coming across many blogs who used to write for the fun of it, and now seem more concerned with making a quick buck by slapping dozens of ads all the way down their sidebar. It’s not fun, it’s not pretty, and it kind of tells me you’re more concerned about the $2.75 you’ll make in clicks that week than you are about the writing itself. I don’t read your blog because I want to be inadvertently sold something.

4. Bloggers who capitalise on something you did as a favour to them. I try and offer kindness to the world because let’s face it, the world could use a little more of it. I don’t do it for a reward. But there’s something nice about saying thank-you, isn’t there?  It’s disheartening when kindness is met with egotism, and behind the blogging scenes things are a very different story indeed. Disheartening, yes… but not discouraging. The world needs more kindness, and none of us can control with what our actions are going to be met.  We just have to keep breathing… and reminding ourselves we do things for the right reasons. Right?

4. Bloggers who pretend to be somebody completely different from the person they are in real life. Life isn’t perfect. Everybody has bad hair days and breakouts and stomach aches and snot flying into their face.  If your posts are all rose tinted and I leave wondering if you live in some sort of magical secret cottage where woodland creatures must come in through the night to sew your clothes and clean your house spotless, then I’m sorry. NOBODY is that perfect.  I get it that we all want to present our best sides to, ultimately, strangers.  But how do you think people who DON’T live in said magic cottages feel reading stories (for that’s what they are) about how perfect your life is? Go write a book, or a soap opera, or get your own TV show, instead of trying to be a character. And pick a better one than Martha Stewart.

There’s a difference between being cautious, maybe for work reasons, and pretending to be an entirely different person. Maybe it’s because of some need for personal validation, and if you just pretend for long enough, then maybe people will actually believe it’s real. I don’t know. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I’ll write about the bad stuff as well as the good. I’ll write about my struggles and my efforts to overcome them and what’s worked and hasn’t worked for me – not because I believe I’m some authority on personal growth, but because if I put it out there to the world, not only am I held accountable, but the world can see it. The emails from people appreciating the honesty and even finding inspiration just mean the world to me. I may not write about cupcakes, kittens and headbands, but at least I’m honest. I’ll take empowerment over self-importance any day. If you don’t write from the heart, and stay true to yourself in doing so – then what is it all for? A fleeting sense of popularity at the expense of your innermost self?

Brittney said it perfectly when she said:

Forgive me, and I may be a complete rarity, but I miss the personal/intimate side of blogging. It just seems that if we all follow these rules on what to blog, what not to blog, how to write, what to say, what not to say, what topic to avoid, what tone to use, what length to adhere to… then there will be very little point in my reading multiple blogs because we will all be the same exact person and I can just go to a single blog for everything. I like reading REAL blogs, with REAL bloggers writing them. I won’t stop reading your blog if your life doesn’t seem perfect, if your home didn’t just step out of Martha Stuart Living, if you have a zit, if you regularly consume obscene amounts of fast food, if you own exactly one pair of jeans that still fit and wear them for weeks on end (coughMEcough). In fact, I will probably like it MORE because you’re willing to be honest, vulnerable and human. I really wasn’t sure where I was going here, except to say that I want us to be ourselves and be okay with that. Blogging is growing into this awesome outlet, which rocks, but it’s also becoming home to 45243 writers who are creating fake personas for the sake of popularity or marketing and in turn, it’s losing it’s unique-ness.

Ask yourself the question today. Do you really know who you’re reading? Are you okay with being told what to do on your own personal outlet in order to be “successful”? Are you willing to give up your own passion and personality to conform for the sake of a comment count?  Is blogging really just turning into another popularity competition?

In life, I think the most important thing you can do is stay true to yourself, and stay focused on being a positive force in the world. It’s easy to get sidetracked by temptations, societal pressures, and worrying about what other people think of you.  It’s important to be authentic – and to be able to tell the difference between self-promotion and a fake persona.  Unfortunately, I’m realising, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult.  Yes, parts of the blogging world have disappointed me lately. But thank you to everybody who I know is willing to be real, who’s willing to stick around through the good and the bad, and who makes blogging such a joy most of the time. You’re all rockstars.  And I really wish there were more words to hyperlink in this sentence, because if you’re commenting on this, you’re probably one of them. 🙂

And, now that that’s dealt with, we’ll be back to regularly scheduled programming tomorrow 🙂

Who really likes being stuck in traffic anyway?

Traffic

This weekend I had an interesting conversation with my best friend about blogging. She’s been blogging for a year and a half, updates on schedule like a fiend, and averages at least 35 comments a day. I’ve been writing for five years, and am lucky to get 3 or 4 per post. I’m in the blogging communities. My posts automatically show up on my Facebook page after I’m done writing. I visit at least 15 blogs, and comment, at least every other day. So why don’t people care? I asked my friend what the trick was. Her response took me by surprise – why do you care?

I’ve always thought I was a pretty good writer – in school I was the A+ English student who read Jane Eyre for fun and actually looked forward to writing 15 page essays on the corruption of the church in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. I subscribed to endless Word-a-Day emails, and carried a thesaurus around to improve my writing while I was on the go. I loved the English language, and I loved to write.

Looking back in my archives, I was a terrible blogger. I’ve obliterated all posts about my Series of Unfortunate Relationships, and what’s left is the remnants of my post-teenage rambling about nothing of any substance at all. Only in recent years have I actually started to write, instead of keeping an online diary. I write about intense emotional experiences I’m having in regards to my personal growth, my dreams, pain and persistence. I write about my opinions on current events, music and movies. I write about things I’ll look back on and actually care about.

So why do you care about traffic?

The question took me completely by surprise. I thought about it for a few days, and came to several conclusions:

  • A few weeks ago, over lunch with a coworker, she asked me why I was pushing myself out of being an introvert and into the spotlight, when clearly it made me uncomfortable. I told her “because I used to be able to” – and looking back on my life, she made me realise a lot of what I’ve done, I’ve done for the approval of others. Singing in a band, going to stage school, putting on talent shows – I enjoyed doing all of them, but I enjoyed being told I was good at something more. This is something I’ve only recently realised, but holds a lot of truth. I love to write, but I love being good at it, so naturally a lack of traffic would cause discomfort.
  • I’m an INFJ.  Apparently the rarest of the personality types, the description of it fits me to a tee. We are crushed by too much criticsm and can have their feelings hurt rather easily. They respond to praise and use approval as a means of motivating others, just as they, the INFJs are motivated by approval
  • Having switched from a boring “this is my life” blogger to one who writes about things I actually care about, I guess I had the expectation that other people would too. Fact of the matter is, the Blogging World is just like the Real World. There are people who rule it, who can post about the contents of their bowel movements and still have a hundred responses, and there are people who can write about morality and politics, psychology and the human mind, about growth and inspiration… and get absolutely nowhere. I never did that great in the Real World; I grew up feeling kind of an outcast and today I can count my friends on one hand. So naturally my blogging experience draws a parallel.
  • I don’t like schedules. I don’t like deadlines, and I don’t like planning things out and working on them weeks ahead of time if I can just put them off ‘til whenever I feel like them (this has been recently illustrated in my recent attempts at a bible study; my friend is diligent and excited to stay on the 5-night-a-week schedule, while I get to Sunday and try and cram everything in in one go). Maybe this sets me up for failure in terms of ever being a successful blogger with piles of responses and thoughts every entry. But I think I care more about doing it my way.
  • I’m not on Twitter! It seems every blogger and their dog is on Twitter, and it’s something I just can’t bring myself to devote that much time and energy to. One week from now, I’m not going to care about what I was doing at 10:12 am on Monday morning, and I don’t expect anyone else to, either.

So maybe I’m spelling my own doom. But I’m going to keep writing, about what I want to write about, whenever inspiration strikes. It’s my blog, after all. And if, along the way, somebody’s motivated to respond… it’ll bring a pretty big smile to my day (I made somebody’s actual blogroll the other day, and almost fell off my chair).

And besides, I can’t be that rubbish. I just got signed up to write for an online music magazine.  And that makes me very happy indeed.

Back in the zone

So, er, where was I?

Oh, that’s right, struggling to pick up the pieces after Flatmate From Hell, packing my life into (I swear) at least a hundred boxes, unemployed, and very much stressing at said state of unemployment.

But that was 2 weeks ago.

Now, I have a new job. I have a new house. I have officially said a final goodbye to a long string of flatmate disasters, started working somewhere that exists to help people, just like I wanted, and I’ve moved not only into a new place, but an entire two-storey house with beautiful hardwoods, new paint jobs, my own back garden, two huge bedrooms and a storage shed so I can pretend I don’t own a whole bunch of crap. And I only have a handful of boxes left to unpack! I can’t believe the change that’s come about in the last few weeks. After a couple of weeks without a job, I somehow got multiple offers all on the same day, and I was so excited I took a quick lunch with the boy and called back the one I’d really wanted to work at. They’re called Opportunities For Employment and they’re a non-profit organisation that helps people who might be without computer skills, older, disabled, or on welfare etc. gain the skills they need to be able to present themselves to the workforce and get employed. It’s very interesting and is also part of a research study involving the different psychological levels of wanting to gain meaningful employment too, and tailoring different programs to different stages to hopefully be more effective. I get to be the first person people see when they come in, at my own desk, surrounded by a team of lovely people. I get three weeks holiday and over an hour in breaks every day. It’s very awesome indeed.

Me and the boy also took a big step recently. Probably bigger for him than for me, since it was his first move away from home, but just over a week has passed and we ended the last one with an incredible weekend. The first weekend we exhausted ourselves with packing, moving, lifting and unpacking, and all week we’ve both been working two jobs leaving the only time we have to see each other 6am to 7:15am Monday-Saturday. Saturday night we went out dancing for a friend’s birthday, grabbed some midnight greasy wings and chicken fingers while dressed to the nines at Smitty’s, and spent our full non-working Sunday with a big breakfast, pyjamas, and countless back episodes of Heroes. It was pretty much the best thing ever. Adjusting to only seeing someone five or six waking hours a week is tough, I’m not going to lie. But being able to wake up with them every morning in our first house together, cherishing those Sundays we do have, and knowing this is the beginning of the rest of our lives… makes it all worth it.

Also recently I was part of MillerFest – my first annual Master Playwright Festival. I was one of seven bloggers who got to go see a bunch of plays and write about them, the productions, Arthur Miller and theatre in general. It was tonnes of fun and I learned lots about a very, very interesting man. I only wish it hadn’t been right in the middle of moving, or I would’ve been able to see lots more. Still, I’ve had a good creative fix, and it’s definitely shortened the wait to Fringe. Only 5 more months!

Now I’ve settled down I think I’m going to be back online writing a whole lot more than I have been in the last month. It’s been a whirlwind, but from where I’m sitting now, I very much like the direction things are going. 🙂