Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Little About Me

I’ve noticed as my “Black is the New Pink” blog gets more readership, a few people peek in on this blog.  As I stated in my last post about 2 months ago, I don’t write as often as I should here.  This is more of a private journal than a soapbox…but still, I put it out there for anyone to read.  Stupid perhaps…but that’s me.
Speaking about me, that’s what this post is about.  I figure if some of the BITNP readers happen to stumble in here, I might as well introduce myself…or at least as much as I’ll allow myself to do online.  Consider this post a special treat for being a little curious about the BITNP writer/founder.
As you may know by now, my name is Al.  I’m 49 years old, married (for over 15 years) and have two beautiful twin children…one boy and one girl, age 9.  I work as an engineer for a manufacturing company and have a pretty cookie-cutter life.  I learn more of how to be a parent every day of my life and realize that I’ll never be an expert.  I stay up late at night…mostly typing on BITNP or surfing on the web.  As a result, I get far too little sleep.  My company was just acquired by another, so while the future seems bright at work, there’s still always a little uncertainly.  I have the same worries as everyone…finances…kids…health.  And I have many of the same dreams.
About 5 years ago, I became aware of a dream of mine.  That dream is to be a writer.  I had begun this blog before that time, but decided to really start making an effort.  That lasted a few months.  (Losing motivation seems to be a flaw of mine.)  Still, I had a yearning to write, but my work/life schedule never seemed to offer an opportunity.  You’ll notice when opportunity struck as you review the history of this blog.  There were some months that I had several entries and other months where I had none at all.  I think what I lacked was focus.
Then my brother died.
My mom died back in 2005.  Her passing affected me very hard.  I fell into a bit of a depression from which I finally crawled out.  I think I was in denial during her illness…thinking that my mom would never leave.  When she did…well, she was gone and I wasn’t prepared.  I finally came to terms with it about two years later.  But in 2010, my brother’s melanoma came back.  He’d had it before, but none of us really took “skin cancer” all that serous.  (You should know by the BITNP blog that I take it VERY seriously now).  Anyhow, his passing didn’t affect me as much as did the months leading up to his death.  I can’t explain why I handled the two deaths differently, but I did.  And Jeff’s passing suddenly became that writing focus I needed.  In March 2011, “Black is the New Pink” was born.  The rest can be read there.
But I will tell you here that I can’t be any happier with how it’s going.  I never EVER expected to have over 17,000 page views…or over 900 “Likes” to the accompanying Facebook page.  My goal was never to reach a certain number, but how cool would it be to hit 1,000 by my first anniversary?
And THAT is the most amazing part.  I’ve been writing for 10 months and entered over 75 blog entries.  I’ve had focus and motivation!  I’ve tried to make each one unique yet to have a common theme.  It’s not an easy task and I often have blogger’s block…but it’s SO rewarding to me. 
But it comes with a price.  I become close to some of the reader’s own stories.  You see, I don’t have melanoma but so many of my readers do.  No matter how much I read of personal accounts, there is no way I can truly understand what it’s like to have melanoma.  While it’s inspiring to read some blogs, it’s heart breaking to read others.  One of my favorite bloggers (Chelsea) said it best…”We live from one scan to the next…3 (or 6) months at a time.”  I don’t see how these folks can live as they do…yet they do and they’re inspiring.  Unfortunately, some have died…especially in the last couple months.  And each death reminds me of the passing of my own loved ones and that gets me a little depressed.  It’s hard to hang out in the lobby of the Hotel Melanoma.  But at the same time, I can’t imagine a better place to be.
Not only am I taking steps towards my dream to write, I feel as if I’m helping…doing something.  A co-worker and reader of mine told me that I am inspiring people…teaching people…saving people.  Sometimes, I feel like I’m “just writing.”  Other times, I know I’m inspiring others because as I read my own words, I feel inspired.  I know that sounds a bit arrogant, but it’s true.  Would a musician write music that’s uninspiring to him?  I would hope not.
I felt as I wrote “Real People of Melanoma” that it was my best piece…my most inspiring piece.  It put a face to Melanoma.  And my goodness, did the readers respond!  I’ve had nearly 1,000 page views on that post alone…easily triple of any other.  I am most proud of that piece, and proud that my readers seem to agree.
I’ve written dogs as well.  Some I thought were decent and others just didn’t flow well.  In one piece, I wrote about a friend and his bout with melanoma.  He contacted me later to remind me that cancer is private to many folks and asked that I take down that post.  I did…I forgot that while folks talk openly about their cancer in the Hotel Melanoma, many people…most people…consider cancer a very private thing.
And so, I’ve learned.  I’ve learned more about melanoma.  I’ve learned a little on how to write.  I’ve learned a little about how to not write.  And I’m still learning.
Thanks for coming along for my learning experience…
PS…Please do not link this on Facebook.  While I don’t mind others reading it, this is intended to be more of an intimate chat than a soapbox session.

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