I've been blogging on a variety of topics for many years, and until now, the only thing I've gained is a bit of short-lived notoriety (from a blog long ago and far away, and no, I don't want to talk about it) and a few bucks in Amazon referral fees.
(Is this a good time to remind you that my search box is to the right? --->)
Confession: I have written professionally before. I have ghost-written a book, been published in national magazines and had a weekly column on the topic of radio. So, I'm not blogging because I'm a frustrated, unpublished writer.
Blogging, for me, is truly a labor of love, and one of my favorite ways to write.
Probably because I have no word count limit.
Sorry about that.
My first thought after my breast cancer diagnosis was, "I have to blog this experience". I confess that I didn't turn to friends, or family, join a support group, or cry. I suspect that puts me into some weird, anti-social computer geek category.
So be it. I did spend several years working as an IT manager, so I come by it honestly.
Despite my love for, and heavy involvement in New Media, I am a rare breed - I still love Old Media. I have been a subscriber to the Sacramento Bee for my entire life, and I can't imagine starting my morning without coffee and the Bee. I rarely agree with their editorial team, (okay, never agree) but I still enjoy the viewpoint. And, what would life be like without Carolyn Hax and her antiquated counterpart, Dear Abby? It's not only the Bee I read; whenever I travel, I grab the newspaper. I believe the local paper gives you insight into a city.
I can't imagine the joy some people take in the demise of newspapers. I don't share it.
So, when the Bee accepted me as one of their blogging partners, I was truly honored. Of course, I suspected that being called a Partner with the Bee was the same thing as a Wal-Mart employee being called an Associate. That employee bagging your $5.00 DVD is never going to associate with Sam Walton, and I figured I wasn't really ever going to have anything to do with the Bee. I thought we may drive each other traffic with the toolbar (mostly them to me), and it would be a cool marriage between old and new media as well as a unique experiment in linking community writers with a legitimate newspaper - and that would be the end of it.
I was wrong. Two weeks ago, The Sacramento Bee graciously hosted a mixer for their Sacramento Connect partners. And, they treated us iPhone carrying, nerdish bloggers like actual important people. We met at Revolution Wines, where we could taste some great grape - a nice change from all that Mountain Dew we drink.. They had some amazing appetizers from I don't even know where. And, more importantly, they wanted to hear our opinion about how to make this partner connection work.
I even got to meet Melanie Sill, the Editor and Senior Vice President of the Bee. Amazingly, she said she'd read my blog and shared it with others. I was impressed they weren't sending in janitors and secretaries and paying them overtime to meet us, and that the powers-that-bee had actually looked at our content.
Because I'm a stereotypical computer geek/writer, I'm not great in crowds of strangers. My first instinct is to hide in a corner and observe what's going on, and my second instinct is to go find any computer AV system around to see if there is anything cool that I don't have.
I resisted both temptations, because I'm an adult and there to socialize, and I had chemotherapy, so if I can do that, I can do anything, including meet new people, right?
Unfortunately, chemotherapy doesn't kill the nerd inside. The first awkward part of the evening came as I entered the room and I was handed a nametag. I have never liked these things because there is really no graceful way for a woman to wear them if she isn't wearing a jacket with lapels. You kind of have to slap it on your boob, and as you know, boobs are slightly problematic for me at this point.
My dilemma: Do I put it on my real side with my prosthesis, or my expanded side? Which one would I least want people peering down at? I assumed that a few people might know my story, and I worried - would this create a problem for anybody? Would they read my nametag and wonder: real side? fake? Would they be embarrassed?
I wanted to take a pen and draw an arrow and write "It's this one" on it, but instead, I slapped it on my expanded side and entered the room.
This was also my entree into social life with gray/white hair. I had shoulder length auburn hair until chemo took it away. Now, I have silver man-hair. Would people think I'm a little old lady? Would they ignore me due to my advancing age? Would I become invisible, as the elderly are wont to do?
All those times I silently called somebody a "blue hair" as I sped by them in traffic came back to haunt me.
Not only did I worry that they might ignore me, I worried about how could I ignore them? I couldn't peer at people through a veil of hair as I used to do Like an Afghanistan woman whose burqa blows up in a wind storm, with this super-short do, I feel fully exposed and in danger.
Of course, my new mantra of courage is "I've been through cancer treatment, this is nothing" so I went to the appetizer table, and met a nice young man, owner of Bleed Black and Purple, my alphabet neighbor in the partner listing. His pretty wife does graphic design and we talked about that a bit, and she has designed some business cards for me, which I will post as soon as I get them.
I had wanted to meet the author of Nanny Goats in Panties. She writes a humor blog and she knows her blogging stuff. I have always hated going up to people and introducing myself, and she was talking to a group of two lovely women, but I took my courage in my hands and went to say hi.
And then, my next awkward moment happened.
Immediately after I introduced myself, one of the women said they'd noticed me and how slim I was.
Of course, this was a blogging event, and you all know the topic of my blog. So, I joked, "Oh, well, I just had cancer."
Geek in da hizzy!
Their faces fell and they looked stricken. I realized my mistake immediately. "Oh, I'm so sorry, I'm just kidding, I'm fine. I've always been skinny. I was a skinny baby!"
Too late. They started inching away, and I realized they probably had no idea I wrote a humor blog about breast cancer.
I'd forgotten the cardinal rule: Cancer isn't funny.
PTSD and Cancer
12 hours ago