Tuesday, May 14, 2013

10 Years of The Milla Times

the original homepage
the first post, written 10 years today, read: “blah, blah, blah, testing, testing, testing.” i wrote it a few days before i traveled to London for an internship with radio newscaster the Voice of America. i was a student at USC Annenberg at the time, earning my master’s in journalism. the blog was meant to be part of a bigger website documenting my professional work (pictured above), with the name intending to be an ode to print journalism, not Miller Time. (the writing in all lowercase letters happened because i’m lazy.)

the blog also intended to fulfill a course requirement to document my experience working in London, where i would be staying for six weeks. i figured it would also be a good way to keep family and friends abreast of my time abroad as i planned to do some traveling through Europe with my then-boyfriend, Pablo, after the internship ended. we had been together about three-and-a-half years at that point.

standing on water in Amsterdam (2003)

this was in 2003, a time when blogs were spreading like STDs, as anyone who ever had a thought imagined it was a good idea to share that thought through the tubes of the internet. i was just another one of those people, though i never imagined the thought-sharing would continue for 10 years, or even one, figuring the blog would shut down soon after i returned home. but it kept propelling itself forward, driven by my enjoyment of writing and the egging on of several friends.

it probably would have ceased had it not been for some big news that was captured in my shortest blog entry ever in january 2004, titled The Big News in Six Words: “he cheated. i’m pissed. it’s over.” that kicked off an (arguably) more interesting life for me after the breakup with Pablo, which started with my graduation from USC; then chronicled my first experience with internet dating; my search for full-time employment; a short-lived relationship with my yoga instructor; getting my second dog, Pinko; falling in love with Mo; becoming a homeowner; breaking up with Mo; a big home remodel; getting published in the New York Times; my second experience with internet dating; and various vacations to destinations both domestic and abroad.

sprinkled throughout were posts detailing self-improvement, a few funerals, whining about work and money, annual posts on new year’s resolutions and my birthday, fabulous party pics and conversations with my family. all are searchable in the tags and archives in the right sidebar. to date, i’ve never deleted or rewritten a post, only corrected a few typos, though i’m sure i haven’t found them all. (if you catch a typo, email me about it. seriously.)

30th birthday (2006)

frankly, i’m stunned that i’m sitting here typing out post #476, but i wouldn’t have it any other way. i’m glad the blog happened and i have no intention of ever quitting this exercise in thought-sharing. it’s been one of the highlights of my life, precisely because it has captured so many highlights of my life. it’s better than just having a photo, as here i have not only photos but also internal snapshots of what i was thinking and feeling during those pivotal moments. being able to revisit those places has been a blessing (mostly).

it’s also been a curse, as there are too many posts that annoy the hell out of me. some i can’t read without eye rolls and hands covering my face. those are the ones in which i act like i have it all figured out, where my bravado is out of control and ego is in charge, posts that make me want to throttle myself, where i wonder, “who does this girl think she is?” i imagine i’ll be having the same thoughts in 10 years about posts i’m writing today. and that’s OK.

first photo ever taken on my deck (2008)

i sometimes get asked how i’ve become comfortable sharing so much of myself online. that’s odd for me, because i don’t think i share all that much. only about 10% of my life makes it onto this blog, with the remaining 90% lived privately. trust that there is plenty going on with me right now that i’m not telling you. and what does get shared must pass my standard test in which i ask myself, “would i share this in a room full of my friends?” affirmative answers get posted. (note that i didn’t write a room full of my closest friends, who get more information.)

of course, the internet is not known for being a friendly place, and i’ve been subject to plenty of nasty emails and comments over the years, because sharing your life online means opening yourself up to the judgment of others. that is also OK. i won’t be the type of person who goes on a reality show and then complains about how she was portrayed.

i put myself on display here. i write things that open the door for criticism. yet those same things keep me accountable to myself and others. they force me to think long and hard about them before i hit the Publish button to make sure i understand why i think the way i do. sure, i may change my mind later (and often do), with the blog post acting as a thorny reminder of how wrong i was, but that’s one of the purposes they serve. i need them to learn from, to remind me that i don’t have it all figured out, and to chronicle my evolution as a human being. 

the judgments of strangers are just the cost of doing business. nasty comments always say more about the nature of the internet and the writer than they do about me. they have no impact on my self-esteem because i’ve learned not to give them power. if you are a sensitive person, i recommend having a blog as immersion therapy. it will help you develop a thick skin quickly. the opinions of my close friends and family, however, do impact me. the handful of times i’ve disappointed anyone i care about with what i’ve written here, i’ve listened and tried to repair the damage.

i made some early mistakes about other people’s privacy here, especially when i broke up with Pablo. i was vengeful about his cheating and wrote some nasty things, which he called me on. i’ve learned from that experience and am now much more careful about what i disclose about the men in my life, for my sake and theirs.

oh, the men. no posts garner as much feedback both on and offline than the ones i’ve written about my love life. i am a pretty nosy person, too, so i understand the interest other people have about who’s getting into my pants. i’ve shared as much as i felt comfortable sharing, which is probably a lot less than the whole truth. a girl’s gotta have her secrets.

there have certainly been short-lived relationships and affairs left unchronicled, but they are not any more gripping than anyone else’s short-lived relationships and affairs. in my estimation, my walk through love has been (below?) average, with the typical assorted and sordid joys, heartaches, triumphs, foolishness, missteps, nonsense and unrequited crushes. if i’ve learned anything along the way, it’s that i don’t know anything. being single at 36 is evidence of this.

come on baby, light my fire.
35th birthday (2011)

my own personal high/low lights of the past 10 years include:
  • if there is anything i would urge all of you to read, either again or for the first time, it’s my posts on attending the Landmark Forum (read from the bottom up), an intensive, three-day, self-help seminar that i failed. i’m happy with the way i covered this experience and think the writing does a good job demonstrating my personality and writing style. the Landmark entries often come up in google searches and have generated the greatest amount of emails from strangers, who often share their own spooky experiences with me about their participation in the Forum. 
  • i also receive a lot of emails about the post on Lan Vo, a psychic i once saw when i vacationed in Hawaii. similar to the Landmark emails, people share their own experiences with her. this one comes up a lot in Google hits as well.  
  • the nastiest comment i ever received on a post, which was the only comment i’ve ever deleted, was on this post that discussed my grief over my ex-boyfriend’s murder. it read something to the effect of “i’m surprised you’re capable of feeling anything at all for another person, you selfish little bitch!” (related: i love the internet!) the post included his full name so it came up on google searches and it didn’t seem right for such a comment to appear alongside what was essentially my eulogy for him, as his friends were finding it. this same troll left nasty comments on other posts as well. i eventually blocked her IP address from replying to anything (only block i’ve ever made) and haven’t heard from her since.  
  • about three years ago, i lost the comments from the first seven years of the blog. this happened when the comments provider (Haloscan) i used to rely on prior to enabling Blogger’s comments (which weren’t an option in 2003), went under, taking all its comments with it. if i regret anything in the past 10 years of blogging, it’s that i didn’t save those comments.
  • when i first purchased my house, i submitted an essay about my decision to buy to a since-defunct LA Times real estate blog called LA Land. in short, it was a big disaster that included lots of nasty comments (since lost because of the Haloscan issue noted above). still, it was a great exercise in skin-thickening, and i’m pleased to get the last laugh as none of the commentators’ predictions that i would be in foreclosure have come to pass.
  • i once had my biggest blog fan show up on my doorstep, which sounds way creepier than it actually ended up being. (hi, Juanus in Nebraska!) i think i looked at him as curiously as he looked at me, puzzled to why anyone who didn’t know me personally would read this thing. of course, i’m grateful that there are a few who do, though my web metrics show that most of you are my friends and family in California. yet i also see that i have a regular reader in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, and one who works for Saba Software in Redwood City. just know that i’m watching you watching me. not creepy at all, Internet. 
finally, a million thanks to you, dear reader, whoever you be and wherever you are. i couldn’t do this without you. actually, i could but it’s funner because you’re a part of it. special shoutouts to my parents, who’ve allowed me to repost our conversations here at their expense; Mo the architect, who’s reading this in Seattle and was always supportive of my writing, sometimes at his expense; my friends on Facebook, where most of the comments in response to blog posts now appear, making it look like i have no readers whatsoever here; my Haiku Wednesdays family; blogger Heather Armstrong of Dooce.com, who’s been a great inspiration; and, of course, the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, which made this all possible.

i raise my glass to the next 10 years. i hope you will remain a part of them.

original About Me section (click to enlarge)


Anonymous said...

Wait a sec, "zero" comments so far? WTF? Is everybody else still going through all the links?
I'll have to sift back through your 2003 posts, which is about when I met Miss M.
To another decade...

Milla said...

everybody leaves their comments on facebook now. also, who are you?