January 23, 2010

six

Today marks my sixth blogiversary.  (Note: that may not be a word. Don't use it in an essay or anything.)  I wrote in this space and sent it out into the world for the very first time on January 23rd, 2004 - and I still remember the thoughts I had, and it's still what I think every time I hit post.   Is there anybody out there? What happens next? 

Ken gave me this blog as a present, setting it up almost immediately after I emailed  him several pictures of a sweater in progress, and a lengthy explanation of why I felt about it the way I did about it, with enquiries about buttonholes.  (I believe I demanded to know his position on the position I was thinking about knitting them in, but it was a long time ago.)  He came back to me a while later, not with comments about my knitting, but this blog.  I've often thought that Ken got the blog set up so that I wouldn't send him more knitting stuff - a  desperate self-protecting move in the department of diversion.  Ken claims that it just seemed like I "had a lot to say about knitting" which it turns out that I sort of do.  From that those first thoughts - wondering who would be on the other end of this thing, and how they would feel about it, six years later I find myself here - still thinking the same things, and still curious enough about the answer to keep doing it.

Is anybody out there?  Yes.  A blog is a really weird form of communication.  It's not like a conversation.. since there's not that same back and forth,  instead it's like holding a party in your living room where only one person is allowed to talk at a time.  First the writer takes a position, or tells a story, and they get that down - their whole part... and then the reader becomes the writer and vice versa, and the new writer posts their insight into the topic - also without interruption.  It's a complex way to communicate, and when I read the comments (and I read every comment on the blog) I'm frequently surprised at what resonates -and what doesn't.  In a whole great big post about a sweater, steeks, wool, seams and pattern error... I'll make one reference to chocolate cake and the entire of the comments will go that way... and I'll sit there stunned. Cake?  You really want to talk about cake?    It's a queer risk really, sort of a writers book camp.  What will happen next? The blog knows, but I don't - and trying to figure out what direction the blog-sled will go in after I give it a push down a hill is like trying to figure out why most food-shunning two year olds will eat frozen peas.  Intriguing, but hopeless.  (If you have a toddler try the pea thing.  I swear it's true.) 

I have thought more than once since I wrote my last blogiversary post that I am not sure anymore about the role of the blog in my world.  When I started, knitting blogs were everywhere, and the community of the blog was an  incredible way for knitters to get to know each other and talk about knit-community concerns and trends.  Much of that has shifted I think, mostly to Ravelry and other forums like twitter, and every dog has it's day and all that.  I like that stuff and I'm glad we have it and I enjoy it - but as other ways to communicate in the knit world have sprung up, I often wonder if blogging is what it was, and if I care?   There have been times too - if I'm going to be honest,  over the last year that blogging has been intensely painful, and has brought frightening, scary, damaging things or people into my life, and as much as I'd like to look the other way, the truth is that another bizarre thing about blogging is that you don't pick your audience.  Anyone can read, anyone can comment, and while I've always thought that was one of the best parts, this year marks the first time that I have ever banned someone from the blog, and only the second time I have deleted comments from someone.   (I exclude here the comments that are a sales pitch to increase my penis size, and I only delete those because I have no penis. I think that's fair.)

I sat here last night and today, and I thought about what to write to mark this occasion, and I thought about the role of the blog in my life, which seems wise, since I'm not in charge of the role of my blog in your life.  I thought about what it has been like to have it bring me hurt, and what it has been like to have it bring me tremendous happiness and healing.   It turns out that even when I'm a little scared of it or when it feels like a risk, what doing this for six years has brought into my life is pretty remarkable.  I have a record of my family life for that time, and posts about the children from six years ago are now an important part of our family story.  In this age of digital rather than paper pictures, it also has been a great place to put images of our story, and the girls really love going through the archives, admiring the younger versions of themselves and recalling grand adventures.   (Joe and I too.  I love the post where we confessed that we'd finally  gotten married.)  Beyond that, the connections that I've made through this blog are just about priceless. 

I have a wide net of friends that I wouldn't have ever met without this, and even outside of the blog they have come to be relationships that have changed my life and the course of my path.  Professionally too - the blog has been a good thing, and I hope I've earned the things that it's brought me in that way.  I like to think that the writing and the stories have been a good trade.  I remember too that the times that heartbreak or grief has come into our family like it does all families - that the blog (that's you) has left comments of support that were so kind and helpful that they made a difference.  A few weeks ago in fact, a woman I have never met, heard from, or spoken with sent me an email that was so impossibly perfect and had such impeccably good timing that it was like being thrown a liferaft on a very, very rough sea.  There will never be a way to thank her, or any of you for all that you've done for me.

So I was sitting here, typing all that mushy stuff, and trying to find words to tell you one simple thing and not being able to really get there, when Rachel H sent me her latest version of the spreadsheet where we're adding up the tally for MSF/DWB and I started adding some too.. and then I stopped and checked the total.   I stared at it.  It's something I didn't think was possible when we started, I really didn't, and I'm not deluded enough (yet- though I still have some kids at home) to believe that I'm responsible for this - because I'm not.  Most of you would have given whether I tallied or not, whether Rachel H and Natalie tallied or not.  Most of you would have given, so it's not that I see it as my accomplishment.  I see it somehow, my lovelies, as OUR accomplishment.  As a profound expression of kindness, compassion, caring and concern for your fellow humans, even though some of them are probably not knitters - and I'm just - so... Proud.  So proud. 

$ 1 000 110

Knitters who read here, who make up this community, have donated more than one million dollars (and we aren't finished tallying) to Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders since we began the effort in 2004.  That matters.  Kindness, humour, decency, yarn, passion, interest, participation in the world around us... it matters, even when it sucks sometimes, and suddenly I knew what I'd been trying to tell you I thought about all this on my 6th Blogiversary.

This blog matters to me.  Thank you for making it.

Posted by Stephanie at January 23, 2010 4:01 PM