The title of this post comes from the Dave Matthews Band Song, “Two Step,” an old favorite I found on a dusty, battered but still half-working mixed CD I made in college over a decade ago. In the song, Dave sings “Celebrate we will, ‘cause life is short but sweet for certain.” Well, Dave, I agree with you, life is short, and (often, but not always) sweet, but I’m not celebrating because life is short and sweet. I’m celebrating because my little blog recently had her first birthday (yes, in case you didn’t know, Just Dread-full is a girl), and I’m gushing and bragging like any proud parent. Unlike the proud parent who thinks her baby is the best, I in no way contend that my blog is the best blog on the interweb (I’m not delusional, and there’s tons of good stuff out there) but it is a creation uniquely mine that I can share with anyone who’s remotely interested. If I’m Victor Frankenstein, this blog is my glistening, verbose, sometimes pedantic monster – only, it’s not going to skulk around my perimeter, threatening to kill me if I don’t create a mate for it (which I tried to do when I started another blog that I never post on, 1000 in a Decade).
So I thought to celebrate my one-year anniversary, I might talk about my blog’s inception. First, I have to give some credit to my boyfriend Michael’s friend, Jeff, who runs a Star Wars Blog called The Imperial Talker. Now, what you need to know about Jeff (aside from the fact that his blog is fantastic) is that he and Michael call each other, on average, about 12 times a day. I’ve come to terms with the fact that the bond between Michael and me will never be as deep or intimate as the bond Michael has with Jeff, and should I doubt this, Michael will kindly remind me that it’s true, that he and Jeff are soulmates and there’s nothing I can do about it. And what you should also know about Jeff is that his enthusiasm for Star Wars – and his Star Wars blog – is like a liquid that can’t be contained and is bubbling and bursting out of some flimsy, inadequate container. So Michael would tell me about Jeff’s blog – and Jeff’s excitement– and because I pursue enjoyment, I thought that sounds fun. I want one. Michael, then, is the second person I have to credit in this story. When I told him I wanted to start a horror blog, he didn’t say what I was thinking: There are probably 600 of those on the internet already. Rather, with traditional Michael enthusiasm, he told me it was an awesome idea. His encouragement was an effective motivator, and I was primed to start my new project.
When I started writing my first post, the crisp October air was thick with the burn of autumn. I see autumn as summer’s mad, angsty aunt. Summer is warm, languid, safe. Autumn invades summer and spins a symmetry of beauty and darkness, a puzzling congruence that celebrates life and exuberance even as it thrusts us into the reality of death, reminds us that everything must end and the onset of a brutal winter is nigh. Plus, Halloween is imminent in mid-October. So it felt like the perfect month to start my horror blog, one night at my favorite local coffee shop, sipping on a bold cup of organic coffee and sitting across from Michael as the black sky seemed to entrench our cozy window-side booth. I could almost hear the ghosts whispering around me as if they were carried by the nighttime wind, uttering twisted inspirations like morbid, half-resurrected muses. By this time, enthusiasm was tumbling out of me unharnessed, and with a tinge of delight, I started writing a review of the first episode of Season Five of American Horror Story.
So that was my world when I started this blog, at least, as I remember it a year later. Michael, on the other hand, was living in a different reality, though he was sitting across from me. He had nobly offered to help me with the technical end of the project. I know, I know – I profess repeatedly to be a feminist, but then I sit down and type manically while I let my boyfriend figure out how to use WordPress and set up the site. While WordPress is relatively easy to use once you’re accustomed to it, and while Michael’s acumen has increased rapidly as he’s started his own blog, his initial encounter with the platform was both trying and tumultuous. When Michael gets angry at technology he presses his lips together, as if he’s trying to suppress a slur of expletives, and sometimes clenches his fist, before he jumps up from where he’s sitting or lets the swear words flow. One of his favorite terms is “rat bastard.” I’m filling in the empty crevices of my shoddy memory now, but I imagine he called my beloved blog a rat bastard at least a few times on the day it was born, that fateful day on October 17, slightly over a year ago. We deliberated over its real name before that evening and ran our favorite options by Michael’s Aunt Judy, herself a veteran blogger, before little Just Dread-Full was named.
It seems important to talk about that night now, because it is beautiful in retrospect. For one, if you’ve not gathered this already, I love autumn. And after some hard years, it was such a peaceful time in my life. I was teaching courses at a local university, and the courses kept me busy without overwhelming me, thus freeing me to indulge in writing now and then. And, like now, I had a wonderful relationship with Michael, his family, my family, and a few close friends. I was no longer binge drinking, smoking, or doing other unsavory things that had defined my turbulent 20’s, and by that point I’d been away from all of those things for a good amount of time. This is not to say life was perfect, for it rarely feels that way, but I was experiencing fulfillment – a level of it that would have been inconceivable to troubled, mercurial, 25-year-old Kalie.
Along with enjoying a happy life, I was so excited to start writing regularly again, in a non-academic, non-graduate school context. Writing has always been a craft I’ve cherished. As a child, and then as a teenager, I filled journals from cover to cover, and in my teen years I also crafted essays just for the sake of expressing and playing with new words. In middle school and again in college I worked on fiction projects with different friends. In my undergrad courses and in my Master’s program in English, I tried to refine my writing in a more academic context. No matter the type of writing, there is something incredibly cathartic, to me, about arranging words on a page, and something positively titillating about sharing my writing with an anonymous audience. That first night I published two posts. One was my American Horror Story review, and I was ecstatic when 23 people shared it on Facebook. It was no 10k, but I wasn’t expecting anyone to share the first piece I posted on my brand new blog. It felt like a positive contribution, however small, and writing for an audience increased my motivation to produce. It was my tiny corner of the internet, and I was going to fill it with my thoughts on all things eerie and macabre.
And this blog, unsurprisingly, has remained fairly small – although readership has steadily increased throughout the year – but it’s very dear to my heart, and every time I see that someone has clicked on an article, I experience a little wave of enthusiasm. I think it’s wonderful – even important – to have a hobby in life, or to strive to improve a skill or technique – running, knitting, playing the oboe, it doesn’t matter, as long as it puts some fire into your days. This blog is my platform for doing that: I try to experiment with journalistic and academic styles, and I tried fiction…once (something I’ve always found difficult). I may try to write more creative non-fiction essays in coming year, and I’m always open to guest contributors. To anyone with the slightest inclination to write, I urge you to start a blog (especially on WordPress) and contribute to the expansive pool of ideas floating around cyberspace. The experience, for me, has been one of the things that truly lights me up (along with buying new clothes, which I rarely have the money to do). So, if you got to the end of my trip down memory lane, thanks for reading! It makes me inconceivably excited to write, and especially to share that writing with other people.