One of my favourite movies as a teenager was Sixteen Candles starring Molly Ringwald. In it she plays a girl whose family, completely distracted by her older sister's impending nuptials, forgets her 16th birthday.
So when I checked the date of my first blog post yesterday (this one) and realised this blog's fifth birthday had actually happened the day before, I had a terrible moment when I felt like the worst blog-mother ever. For some reason I had it in my head that Blog Idle started on October 19, 2007, not the 17th. Turns out I was just getting it confused with my aunt's birthday (Hi, Auntie Christine!).
If you'd asked me then if I thought I'd still have this gig five years on I'm sure I would have suggested that the idea would make a nice Tui billboard. But then this is the woman who once read a brief plot rundown of a new movie called The Piano and thought "pfft, no one's going to go and see that". My futurecasting skills, it seems, are rather lacking.
When I think back to the beginning of my blogging career I'm struck by how very different my life is now. I've never mentioned this before but when I entered the original Blog Idol competition I'd just been dumped from a very great height by my boyfriend of four years and was really struggling. My diet consisted mainly of chardonnay and "things that can be eaten on crackers". I lost concerning amounts of weight. It's the only time in my otherwise voluptuous life that people around me have had to pester me to eat a full meal.
In fact, during the competition, the one or two hours I spent in the evening writing my blog posts was the only part of my day that I didn't feel like crying. I'm not exaggerating either. During that period I carried tissues and dark sunglasses with me wherever I went and would disappear to the toilet or a stairwell for a sob several times a day. I didn't even bother with mascara or eyeliner for about four months. But when I was writing I got to take a break from feeling sad by trying to make other people laugh.
So I feel immensely grateful to Blog Idle. In some ways it saved me. It's also allowed me to meet all sorts of interesting people that I surely wouldn't have otherwise, and every now and again I get the lovely ego boost that comes from a complete stranger stopping me in the supermarket to tell me that they like my work. Which, if you're never experienced it, is one of the oddest but nicest things ever. The first time it happened to me I was in Farmers and the exchange went something like -
Woman I've never met before: "Is it you?"
I mean, I am me, I just wasn't sure if she thought I was me or someone else.
I'm also grateful for you, the reader, and most especially the commenters. For the most part, I'm really proud of what a funny, respectful bunch you are. The only thing I hate is when you're funnier than I am. Stop doing that*. And I am encouraged by how infrequently you make me furious. Some people advise to "never read the comments". I ALWAYS read the comments. All of them.
I also like that there are five years worth of posts that document my life through some interesting twists and turns. There's stuff, especially in the wake of the earthquakes, that I would have forgotten if I hadn't written it down. Should I, at some point in the future, become an axe murderer, I'm sure Nigel Latta will be able to point at to the post I wrote about owning too many pairs of undies as "a clear sign that this was a person without a sense of boundaries. *earnest face*" (If you're at all interested, you can read all five years' worth of posts in chronological order starting here.)
And heck, this blog is a gift even if only because it's a place I can share all the weird and wonderful things I come across in my daily life. What I've come to understand is this - if you make up your mind to look for the funny and amusing in life, you will more often than not find it. And that's a great thing considering that otherwise my life is full of boring crap like remembering to buy milk and folding washing. All the while I'm scanning, like a magpie, for shiny trinkets of "gosh isn't that weird" or "that's freakin' hilarious". This blog gives me a reason to do that and it makes my life more interesting as a result.
Take, for instance, the photo at right, which I snapped at a mall in Sydenham. From what I could tell it was some kind of "wishing tree" with people's wishes tied to the branches. The very first one I looked at was this one.
"I wish my mum could get ride of her as - Sophia"
Now, is it just me or is the most likely interpretation of this "I wish my mum could get rid of her ass"?
I really hope that it's not. What I hope is that Sophia ran out of time and couldn't finish her thought, which in its entirety would read "I wish my mum could get [a] ride of her aspiration train taking her to the railway station of success".
Or even "I wish my mum could get [a] ride of her ass [the donkey kind]". But I don't know. I kind of hope that Sophia is a 35-year-old with terrible penmanship, to be honest. Ah well, at least Xanthe's "keepin' it real".
I've never really done giveaways or prizes on this blog for the simple reason that I don't get much in the way of freebies that I can pass on to you guys. Or any. But earlier this year the Silver Fox ordered from Retrace this rather fetching print that, should we ever buy a house, will grace our living room wall. He also ordered a nice canvas tote of the same design for me and unfortunately there was some delay in it arriving. The nice folks at Retrace, at no prompting from us, gave us an extra one to make up for it. I do like a bit of good customer service but I really don't need any more bags so here's a Blog Idle first, an actual competition with a prize (not a very big prize, but still, a free thing is a free thing)
In the comments below, write a reinterpretation or alternate ending for Sophia's wish. I'll pick what I think is the best one and send you this lovely canvas tote bag, featuring very cool representations of Christchurch's architecture. Winner announced next week.
I'm also keen to hear what you think the best** or most memorable Blog Idle post has been.
* Under no circumstances should you stop doing that
** If you're not sure how to choose, any that made a beverage come out of your schnoz should be automatically included.