I am I, Don Quixote, the Lord of La Mancha
My destiny calls and I go
And the wild winds of fortune will carry me onward
Whithersoever they blow
“Man of La Mancha,” from Man of La Mancha, lyrics by Joe Darien
It is all Cristopher’s fault.
In January 2006, my friend Cristopher had a blog. Because Cristopher is erudite and thoughtful, he wrote interesting and well-reasoned posts. And, naturally, I wanted to comment on what he wrote. One problem: in order to comment, you had to fill out a CAPTCHA.
I hate CAPTCHAs with the fiery heat of a thousand suns. I have a lot of trouble reading them, and I find the audible ones amazingly irritating. This may mean I’m a robot, possibly. In any case, I was under the (mistaken) impression that if I got a Blogspot (later Blogger) account I would be able to comment without decoding those damn blurry letters.
So, on January 16, 2006, I signed up for a Blogspot blog. It a fit of whimsy, more or less, I named it after lines in a song from a musical about one of my favorite literary characters. I chase windmills myself, sometimes.
I was wrong about the CAPTCHAs. I still had to cope with that ridiculous sloppy text. In any case, I found myself with a blog. I had a Livejournal* already — what was I going to use this for? My Livejournal was filled with both day-to-day entries and longer, more formal, thought pieces. I intended to use the new blog to do the latter and maintain the LiveJournal for the first.
For a long time, that’s what I did. Even when I wrote about intensely personal issues, such as my struggle with postpartum psychosis, I wrote more thoughtfully, more precisely, than I would for a hurriedly dashed-off LJ post.
Over time, this blog morphed into something else. Facebook took over most of the day-to-day posts, but my writing here became sometimes looser, less structured. My LiveJournal fell by the wayside, mostly due to the time that it took and that most of my friends were on Facebook by that time. (I find this to be a shame: there are things I was comfortable sharing on LJ that I find appropriate for neither here or Facebook. Believe it or not, though, there are large portions of my life that I would share on LiveJournal that I will not here.)
This blog became about me, and the world viewed through my eyes.
I like to think I have a pretty interesting view of the world. I have enjoyed writing about politics, and history, and my life. I have also, I believe, helped make a very small difference in the world. I have had posts that people have sent me email thanking me for writing. The more “shameful” parts of my life I talk about openly, because I think that society often disdains people who struggle with mental illness or “invisible” disabilities such as fibromyalgia or who have been subject to sexual assault. Coming out, for whatever the issue is, helps people who might otherwise be silent to say “I’m okay. Whatever it is does not make me a lesser person.”
I have also informed: at one point, my blog was the top hit for people looking for “Dulce et Decorum Est,” the heartbreaking poem by Wilfred Owen. I had written a post about the poem — including it in its entirety — and how it resonated with me as we were stuck in the quagmire of the Iraq war. I have also written about Alice Paul and the women of the Occaquan workhouse, and Harry Burn and the ratification of the 19th Amendment in Tennessee. The posts are not there any more, but for the 2006 and 2008 elections I had posts listing the registration deadline, deadline to request absentee ballots, and voter’s rights for every state in the country. You can now find that information in one place online, but you could not then.
My life has changed so much in ten years. Since I started this blog, I have seen my sons grow to adulthood. I have gone from Little League and marching band to texts from Brooklyn and plans for UC Davis and Sacramento City College. The Not-So-Little Drummer Boy is gone, Railman and the Red-Headed Menace will be next year. As happy as I am for them, I miss them, and look wistfully back on their childhood.
I have done work that I would never have expected. But with the boys grown and away (or soon to be), I feel as though I have been involuntarily retired from my life’s work. Opening that next chapter has been more difficult than I thought it would be.
Through it all, The Wild Winds of Fortune has been here.
It nearly died in 2009: I only had five posts the entire year. Yet in 2010 I found myself with renewed interest in documenting the world as I saw it. I am not convinced my writing improved; if anything, I think it was better the first year. In early 2013, I moved from Blogger (owned by Google) to WordPress. Blogger had an easier interface, and offered more options for customization, but, well, it was Google. In 2012, there had been some cases of Google freezing people’s accounts for minor TOS violations, and even though I knew it was unlikely I would violate their TOS, I didn’t want them to have the ability to take my blog away.
I am under no illusions as to my reach here. As I have explained to people, I am not a small fish in a big pond; I am krill in the Pacific. Still… ten years. That’s something.
I’m looking forward to what the next ten years will bring.
*Actually, at that point, I had four Livejournals.