wrangling wordpress

I’m having a bit of a hard time getting used to WordPress. My past blogs were on Blogger, and, well, this is just…different. I mean, I really like the template it gave me. It’s modern and minimalist with clean lines on black-and-white. WordPress definitely does that better than Blogger, which is more cartoonish. I just find the back end a little unwieldy, probably because of all the bells and whistles. WordPress is definitely more powerful, and I’m sure it will be infinitely easier to use once I get the hang of it, but for now, it’s just clumsy for me. I can’t really explain it. I think I’m just stubborn and change averse.

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begin the begin

This isn’t my first blog. I had one a few years ago that spawned another one when a new chapter of my life started. Neither was special to anyone but me. They were personal with no real agenda. Just my inner ramblings.

I liked blogging. I was honest. I was raw. It emptied me out when I needed it, which was mostly when I was working on my master’s and my brain kept filling up and overflowing. I didn’t worry about making other people happy or unhappy with it.

The blogs developed a following. First, it was just friends and people who knew me. Then some others started to notice — mostly other bloggers.  Some of them put me on their blog roll. Some of them were expats and dissidents from another country, and that readership grew. Then, I started to notice that country’s government in the analytics for my page. A lot.

At the same time, some of the people who knew me started to have a hard time separating my online space and what I wrote there from our personal interactions. It started to bleed together. What I said and did on the blog started to affect day-to-day “real life” situations. Mostly, it was a netiquette issue, but it was really awkward for me coming from people who weren’t sharing like I was. They kept trying to have a one-sided conversation, and I felt a little stalked. For some reason, it was cool when other bloggers did it. There was give and take. To have others — people who cared about me, mind you — start grilling me about my blog and reading between the lines and inferring things and injecting meaning into my words was uncomfortable.  I started to blog less and less and censor myself when I did. I even started deleting posts.

The final blow was when the FBI showed up on my page analytic. I have friends who work for the Bureau, so I thought maybe it was them. When I asked, they laughed in my face for asking if they were surfing my blog at work. They asked for the location of the FBI address checking out my page. When I gave it to them, they immediately suggested I stop blogging and shut it down. I did. Bye bye, blog. I retreated to Facebook where I had more control, where everyone was sharing equally, and where I could have control over who saw what. I could give as well as I got over there and felt safe…r. I keep my profile locked down with all the privacy settings possible, I have a hair trigger when it comes to hiding my profile and deleting “friends,” and I rarely, if ever, post pictures of myself. Yes, I’m paranoid. Deal with it.

I own my choice, but it was silly, of course, because I essentially just shut down my personal diary.  I quit. I more or less punished myself when I wasn’t doing anything wrong, or even anything exciting. My decision was really about protecting my associations, and both those associations and I were going through hard times that didn’t need to get any harder. Blogging was getting onerous anyway. The emotional weight of my circumstances was so incredibly intense that I couldn’t articulate my thoughts even if I’d wanted to. I chose my battles and chose to walk away. Given the events of the past four years, maybe it would have helped to have an outlet, but, truth be told, I didn’t really want one. I didn’t know where to start, and I just didn’t need one more fucking thing to do. Now, I do.

I’m back in school getting my Ph.D., and my need to blog is suddenly back with a vengeance.  I have to write all the time, and the more I write, the more I can write. I have some stuff to work through. My brain is full and continually filling with more. As more and more new theories, methods, and concepts are introduced to me, I need a place to apply them, do things with them, to tinker and try things on and suss out how they relate to each other and me and my ideas. I need a workshop. A lab. A place for a running internal monologue to go external. A place to just unload and process. A bride for my former Frankensteins (and yes, I realize that Frankenstein was the scientist, not the monster).

I have real misgivings about how this will go, especially from the personal angle, so I will be taking some precautions. Names will rarely be named. Some entries might be password protected. And I have to get over some things. People are supposed to read and comment — both here and in the world. I want that. I welcome it. I need to remember that. I will do what I have to do in order for this blog to be what I need it to be: a place where I get it all out, pull no punches, and never ever apologize. It’s been hard for me to take this step back into blogging, but the need obviously isn’t going away, and I can’t deny it, so here I am again.

Myles Standish proud, congratulate me.