Happy Birthday To Me
Oh yeah… Some time this week Mafe Maria has turned one year old, and an enthusiastic “Spanish” song is in order:
Japi verdei tu yu… Japi verdei tu yu… Japi verdei Mafecitaaaaa…
Japi verdei tuuuuu yuuuuuu
About a year ago I began writing publicly — and secretly. Today, on my best day, FeedBurner reports 29 subscribers to this site’s feed: One of them is me (gotta test the feed); eight to ten are relatives and close friends — people that know me personally; one more is Mandarine. Assuming that half the subscriptions are redundant, I reckon that at least 4 people I can’t see visit this site regularly, in silence. These could be people that know me, or maybe — just maybe — they could be strangers who come here for no other reason than the content.
I call that success.
Keeping relationships warm and close despite the many miles of distance between us.
Opening a window, so our family and friends can know what’s going on, see the new wrinkles and scars in our faces, and keep in touch with us.
Inspiring a few around me to start writing too, so I can also know about the trivial and serious matters happening in their lives.
The occasional private email I get from a total stranger, thanking me for something I’ve written, or genuinely praising this or that, and encouraging me to continue posting.
Reconnecting with a long lost high-school friend who stumbled upon my site, recognized me, read and learned about the many details that happened in my life since then, and emailed me to say hi.
Any comment or link from a stranger. Knowing that somebody read me, and either agreed with me, or appreciated my opinion, or learned something new. I still haven’t gotten any hate mail, so we’ll see how I feel the first time I get one of those fragrant flowers — if I ever happen to light some real fire.
Helping spread the word, and being able to contribute to the collective mass of knowledge. Knowing that a few people can learn from our awful experience with DirectBuy, or from my experiments reupholstering furniture, creating abstract art, transferring digital images to canvas, drawing vector figures, growing beans in my kitchen, or the many aspects of working as a freelance web designer.
My first post was actually written several years ago. I started the journal with it to remind myself of that important trip I once took to my future. A trip that revealed and confirmed the path ahead of me, and the danger of letting fear drive my life. When I started blogging, I had just gotten back from a web conference. I was full of energy and inspiration, so I started making and posting artwork, and I shared a few notes from the conference, the book I read, and a new song I discovered on the road. Then, it was time for taxes, and Joey really pissed me off — that was my first Argghhh (!) post.
The sharing of “funny” began with Joey’s Iron Chef fantasy. It had to be followed by an article explaining the fascinating — and often asked — concept of “ñero”. Geekiness invaded me as I learned to decide what to blog about, so I showed you my overdone entry on a kid’s geography project, and then, “Mojado” made me come out of the closet finally admitting that yes, I like Arjona’s music.
Ashamed of my newbiness and clumsy steps, up until then I had tried to keep the site in obscurity. Finally, I wrote a more proper first post, officially sticking my patita in the blogosphere. Veteran blogger, Lorelle VanFossen, read it and talked back to me, becoming the first person to ever comment on Mafe Maria. Lorelle’s warm and welcoming words made me read her blog about blogging, and with that I suddenly felt pressure to perform. Pressure to add value — something I was trying to forget about at least until blogging felt more natural. So I wrote a few geeky posts attempting to add value.
And then it hit me: Adding value to others isn’t sustainable.
If I were to succeed personally in this experiment, I truly had to do it for me. So, I opened my heart, and wrote a letter to my friends. And with that, this blog began its path down more personal topics and artistic interests. Watercolor posts, for instance, began with the painting and story of an old friend. I began documenting my doubts, fear, decision, dubious attempts, and eventual arrival to genuine maternal wishes, and the consequent drama after one or two months of trying for a baby. I wrote introspective thoughts about my personal heaven, the state of my career, my constant nostalgia, and the truth I inherit from my parents.
I shared many personal stories: Growing trees and getting dirty in college. The time my mother cursed my sister and I, successfully making us suffer through an afternoon of Poltergeist-ish hell. Competitive men from my past. Changing careers. Moving away from Texas and driving all the way to Salt Lake City. What got me to come to the U.S.. Traveling to my future and seeing my future family. Getting a passion “stolen”. Getting slapped. Cussing youngsters a grito pelao, making a scene at work, and also while hiking up a mountain.
The design and name of the site started inspired by the vase I saw on that memorable trip to my future (Fig. 1). That idea never went live, and before I knew it, it had transformed into a hedious green beast not many souls were able to see online (Fig. 2). I was deeply embarrassed by it, so I decided to change gears and focus more on personal images. I quickly designed and coded something a little more decent (Fig. 3). This was the official first theme of the site, named “Subtle”. The design would highlight a seasonal image, which ended up being swapped roughly every month. Overwhelming rounds of applause were heard over a particular image:
I still owe you that story.
“Subtle” stayed up for several months. At some point I began getting a better idea of the kind of content I wanted to focus on. I realized that the design had some limitations. I formulated the problems and proceeded to waste a lot of time on a terrible design (Fig. 4). Luckily, I came to my senses. I was able to reuse a lot of previous work, and unveiled “Drama” the current face of Mafe Maria. (Fig. 5).
I am that person in my family who cares about the past, our genealogy, the stories and photos of our parents’ grandparents. I like to record events and keep important dates and stories in my mind… I like to remember.
Keeping this site is part of my master plan of leaving a print in my family’s history. When my grandmother died, mom and her siblings found writings they had never seen before. These things helped to complete the picture of my grandmother. Who knew she had finished a romance novel?… I often think of that… Who will tell my story after I die? How will I pass my family’s stories if I don’t have any children?… Will somebody care?…
For now, I know that at least I care… Hence, I blog… And I thank you.