Thursday, November 14, 2013

Made it - Celebrated 20 years at Duke University Press...still no regrets about shutting down the Blend

Yesterday afternoon I celebrated my 20th year at Duke University Press at our annual meeting. I posted about it on Facebook on Wed, where a lot of well-wishers stopped by if you want to see the thread. As I said there...

A long, interesting journey it has been so far...and all while starting (and concluding) a political blogging/activism career that I somehow fit into a nine-year chunk of the same life timeline.

I doesn't seem like 20 years; not like I planned to be in any job for that long (though I've held 3 positions during my time at the Press, first as a production coordinator in the Journals division, then as essentially the help desk person/database developer, and later as manager of the IT department, a position I hold to this day.

I am fortunate to work with great colleagues, and to lead a kick-ass IT staff at a workplace that values diversity and has policies that gave me the freedom to be out of the closet w/o fear of being fired. And until ENDA is law, that is the state of things here in NC unless your employer specifically articulates protections. Same-sex spousal equiv benefits cannot be taken for granted, either. NC will turn itself around eventually, but the teabagger/teahadist turnover in 2010 and its fallout will take a lot of work to counter.

While this day job is all-consuming, as most readers know, I was simultaneously burning the midnight oil (and almost all of my paid time off) writing, attending speaking engagements and doing first-person reporting for Pam's House Blend -- effectively at a full-time pace.

I was never one of the fortunate political bloggers in the the LGBT world to monetize the blog enough to quit the day job, but I was smart enough to know that the day job was the only one putting a roof over my head and is far more predictable (though being in IT, that alone requires being professionally nimble in what is a volatile field) than figuring out whether people will donate enough, or enough ad revenue would come in, waiting for some rich benefactor to see the value of your work, or hope the mainstream media to snatch you up to pay you to do what you love. But that's ok. Life threw me a different loop.

Fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis were the final straws that broke me physically, and PHB had to go on my life chopping block.  Of course when I posted the pic of me holding up the toasting "chalice" celebrating my 20 years yesterday, some folks noted how healthy I look. It's the dilemma of invisible illnesses like RA that sap your energy, cause constant physical joint pain, and eventually makes its presence visible through joint deformity. Thankfully I'm still in the "just" painful stage.

But I'm under no illusions about what ahead. I do get more sleep and that helps me stay functional. Even so, I'm now reduced to 75% time at the Press and it wipes me out physically. There is no way this body/mind could continue doing PHB while holding down the FT job.

Of course, I haven't had the pleasure of being on the receiving end of death/violence threats on this job (yet!). Blogging was definitely more "entertaining" on that front.

It's only been since July of this year that I stopped blogging, and I can't tell you how many offers to write (some actually for $$, most not), and requests even pretty desperate ones, to promote work or an event or some press release even just on social media (I'm still active on Facebook, Twitter and G+). I'm not exactly sure my posts on those limited platforms alone are nearly as effective as a long-form blog post, so I'm not sure why my inbox is still constantly overflowing.

Maybe it's still denial on their part that I actually did walk away from the blog and that I'm merely vacationing from it.

I have no regrets walking away from that insane level of commitment that blogging/activism entailed, other than disappointment that no one here in NC has stepped up to fill the void and the dearth of lesbians of color (prominent or not) in the LGBT blogosphere after my nine years immersed in it. Even more distressing, where are the lesbians of color in the South to represent in the digital world of activism?

I'm not sure anyone will step up, though. Independent political blogging,  in my opinion, is on the way out as a medium. Unless one has the luxury of time, energy and the expectation it will always be a second job, it is tough going -- you have to rely on your passion for reporting, commentary and curating news alone.

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