I was given the domain elenamary.com as a gift, I think in the fall of 1999. We really didn’t have the word blog then, and I didn’t think of the internet as a place to journal. The only people I knew who had personal webpages had them on things like Angelfire (oh lord) and posted pictures of comics. I remember first building Elenamary with FrontPage, then moving on to Typepad, and then to WordPress. It was at some point between Typepad and wordpress that I discovered I had readers I didn’t personally know. I had written a post about Xicana identity and a man I had never met commented on my post. Holy shit! Things on the internet are public?!! A few years later I would look back at that moment and admit I was awe struck;
I was first brought to blogtitlan by el Padrino de blogtitlan, Julio Sueco of Yonder Lies It. He left a comment on my blog and it startled the shit out of me. It was back when I blogged for shits and giggles, never thinking people would question me, or get me to think about what I was saying. I’ve come to expect and look forward to people having a real discussion with me and causing me to stop and think. I was also shocked that Julio added me to his blog roll and commented about me right next to Ana Castillo. Damn! I was shocked. An academic Xicano reading my blog?! An academic Xicano who would put my blog right next to Ana Castillo’s blog?! She was someone I read about in class. She was someone who had authority to speak about being Latino, about Xicanoism, about Latino Studies. Why link to me? – Elenamary June 18, 2007.
Padrino Julio El Sueco lead me to other bloggers like CindyLu of Loteria Chicana fame, and David El Oso Pecoso and Seyd el Ethnoqueer. We became a close knit family. We confided in each other. It wasn’t like facebook or myspace or friendster. We shared intimacies online, we bared our souls (in ways I wouldn’t now). We actively read, not as you might now passively read 140 characters, we commented, sometimes thoughtful comments, sometimes short acknowledgments of presence. Our family grew.
We went from a few people, in touch all the time to an uncontrollably large group. Long after we had become to big to be an intimate family, I heard NPR describing a “blog” to its radio listeners but for us it had come to an end.
El Oso first noted they dying of our community in 2006 and asked:
Why, after such an intense outpouring of conversation, storytelling, and debating is there now so much silence? Mari, César, Alma, Wooj,Beckie, Julissa, and Seyd have stopped blogging altogether. Derek, Gustavo, Travis, Revaz, Chris, Daily Texican, Prentiss, and Elena now write at intervals only consistent in their inconsistency. And even old powerhouses like Cindylu, Karen, and HP (not that HP ever wrote anything himself anyway) have slowed down considerably.
But something has been changing more recently. We miss each other (we always did really) and facebook doesn’t cut it. Or as EMC said to me via email “Not to knock it or anything, because I wouldn’t have discovered so much about myself and met so many fantastic people if it wasn’t for blogging, but in the case of the Facebook, I feel I’m being dictated on how to interact with people–that too me feels fake.”
Facebook does feel fake. In fact so do blogs. We were honest then, we were a smaller group then, maybe we were more naive. I also, find myself, censoring myself in a way I never thought I would. At dinner with El Oso in Mexico City (who I’d meet in person for the first time that week) I told him about some things I was afriad to blog about, things I couldn’t share anymore. He didn’t seem to understand why I couldn’t post it and maybe that’s why he has never stopped blogging. Although I will say even his posts are less personal now. After our first meeting, about a year ago, El Oso posted a blog titled More Open, Less Hypocritical that moved me:
Over the past couple months I have met two people for the first time that – in some ways – might know me better than some of my closest friends and family. Adriana and Elena Mary. I can’t tell you much of what they’ve been up to over the past couple years, but back in 2004 I could have given you a weekly summary of their lives. Back then Adriana was “Poor Little Tumbleweed” and Elena Mary was … well, pretty often upset about something or other. We were all part of a group of about 10 – 15 people who blogged at least weekly, always left comments on one another’s posts, and generally created an important sense of community out of nowhere. Relationships formed, relationships ended. Visits were made all the way across country. People who at first couldn’t stand one another came to develop a delicate respect for each other, which then turned into real, meaningful friendships. As we began to express and shape our identities online we were forced to reflect about our place in the world and how the way we were raised influenced the person we had become. This wasn’t always an easy process – as identity politics never are – but most importantly, we supported one another much more than we criticized each other.
And then it all came to an end.
It made me laugh and almost cry. Oso knows my personality pretty well and he was right, we did develop a respect for each other. HP and I have had an online battle for years. I just found this comment I’d left HP while arguing about gay marriage “Sexual orientation is not dependant on action. If I fucked you HP, it wouldn’t make me straight (nor would it make me queer—only nauseous). My action of fucking you might be a heterosexual action but it does not make make me heterosexual, nor does it make me HPsexual.”
However, a few years later I would find myself broke, with a dead cell phone and stranded in Chicago. I got in touch with CindyLu who sent out word to blogtitlan that I was in need of a place to crash the night. By that evening I had been in touch with Liza of Culture Kitchen, HP, and Irasali. HP called some relatives who offered to let me crash at there place, Liza offered her hotel room floor (she was at the dialykos convention) and Irasali too offered up any help she could give. It was 2007, a couple years after our community had drifted apart but we were still there for each other–even HP for me. I miss a lot of blogtitlan and many that aren’t mentioned here. I want to meet all of you. I may get to meet many of you soon.
I’ll write a post later about what blogtitlan means to me. How I got into blogging, and with much more depth as to how I’ve changed since I started, and how our relationships have changed. However, the most important update for now is that after planning for 5+ years, we are finally getting together in San Diego. We are reconstructing a support system, our modern internet tribe. Not only are we going to hang out we are going to be long distance running!
After a suggestion from El Oso to do the Carlsbad Marathon, it looks like our well deserved (IMHO) reunion will revolve around the race. I’ve signed up for the 1/2 marathon, others for the full marathon, and others like HP and Gustavo have signed up to be hecha poras. I want more people to come, I want all of blogtitlan to come. I think so far confirmed for the Jauary 22 2012 blogtitlan reunion are as follows: Nathan Gibbs, El Mas Chingon, El Oso Pecoso, La Cindylu, XicanoPwr, La Poor Little Tumbleweed, GDR and The Hispanic Pundit. What about the rest of you blogueros whom I’ve loved for so long from such a distance?! Can you come to San Diego? Can you start blogging again? I know I feel a new animo to blog again, I can’t go back to what we used to have but I can start something anew. Let’s train together, let’s become physically fit, let’s encourage our writing, and self-exploration, let’s rebuild blogtitlan. And maybe let’s drop this facebook thing?