a contextual history of your blogmistress

I've been blogging sporadically for the past five years or so, and I know some people have been reading my drivel, amazingly, the whole time. I don't know, maybe these poor souls can't afford library cards or Netflix accounts or something.

But I'm not sure how much anyone really knows of my personal history. And since I've decided to go all-in on this blog, I figure I should address that. I can't expect people to become personally invested in my life if they don't know who the hell I am, or where I'm at in my life. This is obviously a highly abbreviated history. I'm only hitting the points that lend relevancy to my present state of affairs - why I'm doing what I'm doing, both online and off.

I'll start when I was 19.

I worked my first year through college as a barista in a bookstore, then as a waitress. One day, one of the guys I worked with told me I should apply to cocktail waitress at a strip club. He had girl friends who were making a killing doing it, he said. At the time, I was barely surviving on my waitressing wages. It was summer in a college town in Tucson - no one was around to spend money at the campus restaurants where I worked. I was leaving with single digit earnings some nights. So I decided to take his suggestion. I applied at a club down the street from the university, and was hired that day.

I lasted six months as a cocktail waitress. The money was good, very good compared to working in a restaurant. But I saw what the dancers were making - and how easily they made it - and I was envious. I'd also gotten comfortable enough in the surroundings that it didn't seem like such a big deal. So one night, I traded in my cocktail tray for a bra and garter set, summoned every ounce of courage I could, and walked on stage, shaking with terror.

That first night dancing, I made almost $400. From there, it only went up. Most nights I'd make between $500 and $600 - even weekdays. Weekends I'd make closer to $800. There were several times I made over $1000.

I was 20 years old.

It was surreal, to say the least. My classmates were starving students eating Top Ramen and worrying about the return on used textbooks. I had a Platinum American Express card. Kids my age were excited to go to Lake Havasu for spring break. I took my boyfriend to Bora Bora. I lived in the most expensive apartments in the city and bought absolutely anything I wanted. I leased a BMW, then a Porsche. I got incredibly lazy about school. Apathetic, even. I was working for (what I felt was) a near-worthless English degree that would earn me pennies on the dollar of what I was making as a dancer. I'd drop classes half a semester in, then buy a plane ticket to Australia on a whim. I wasted incredible, egregious amounts of time, potential, and money during my twenties. But the money I was earning didn't decrease, even as my age increased, and I couldn't bring myself to stop. Eventually, I got serious about school again, and re-enrolled full time.

I was 30 when I finally graduated. And I was still dancing.

That was when I met my husband. It was only then that I stopped. But I didn't get another job. I became a full time girlfriend, then fiancé.

From 2007 through 2008, I blogged for Weddingbee, a wedding planning site. I stumbled across Weddingbee when I got engaged, saw that it consisted of (unpaid) user-contributed material, and immediately decided that I wanted to be one of their bloggers. So I set up a sample blog, published the required two weeks worth' of material, and applied. The publisher and site creator liked my writing enough, and happened to have a need for an assistant editor, that I was actually offered a paid job as contributing editor. I took it, and did that for a while. I was Miss, then Mrs. Lovebug.

I blogged nearly daily about pretty much every aspect of my wedding planning. It was an excellent distraction from the actual engagement itself, which was disastrous. I don't say that with animosity. It's just a fact: my husband and I never should have gotten married, and I'm pretty sure we both knew it. It's amazing how far denial and an utter lack of self-awareness can take you down the wrong path in life. It's hard to look back at my Weddingbee posts, because they feel disingenuous, and almost manic with a need to project an image of happiness. That's not to say every moment of my engagement and wedding was awful. But things weren't as great as I felt the need to make them seem.

My husband and I separated after two and a half years, in the fall of 2010, with relative amicability and what I hoped was a sincere determination to remain friends. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way, and we haven't spoken in months. Luckily, ours was a relatively stress-and-complication free severance. No kids, no money to fight over (I didn't pursue alimony), very little in the way of stuff to sort out. The biggest question was who'd get the dog.

I got the dog.

I spent several months after our separation in an unproductive, sometimes self-destructive haze of denial and fear. I didn't work. I didn't even try to get a job. Financially, I survived by living on the inheritance I'd received from my mother's death in 2009. Emotionally, I survived by spending most of my time with friends, and the boyfriend I met weeks (weeks!) after my separation. The people in my life did everything they could to try and nudge me in the right direction, but I wouldn't budge. I blogged a bit during this time, on and off. I'd write about the fun things I'd done with my friends one day, and the next, about the crushing depression and despair that would swallow me up unexpectedly. I ended up deleting all of the posts I wrote during this time, plus pretty much everything I'd written since my marriage. It all felt like an incomplete picture, and again, disingenuous. It was around then that I really started to question why I was blogging at all.

When money got thin, I went back to designing blogs, a small online hobby/business I'd created in the years prior. It didn't go well. I was still too much of a wreck emotionally to stay focused, and the technology had long since outpaced my skill set. I'd never been much more than a hack, when it came down to it.

I procrastinated looking for a real job. I was terrified of entering the job market at 36, with very, very little in the way of marketable skills and experience. I'd completely fucked myself by dancing for so long. Writing my resume was a sobering experience, to say the least. Sending it out, to no effect, was the reality check I'd avoided for about a year.

In the late summer of 2011, I ran out of money completely. I had three choices: #1, default on my lease and move myself and my 145 lb dog in with a local friend on the hopes I'd get a job quickly. #2, default on my lease, pack up my things, leave LA, and and move in with my father in a tiny town in Florida. #3, try to drum up some quick cash dancing. Yes, it had been years since I'd set foot in a club. And yes, I was at this point thirty-six years old. But it was, all cards on the table, the one thing that I knew I could do to make money fast. I knew, forgive a brief lapse of humility, that I still looked young enough and good enough to pull it off. And that I was hungry enough, desperate enough to stay in LA where there is so, so much more potential and opportunity, to swallow my pride and do what would seem to most to be unthinkable.

And this, dear reader, is where I humbly submit that maybe, just maybe, my blog has the potential to be somewhat interesting because, yes, dear reader, I chose door #3.