Ten years ago I was depressingly "normal." I was experiencing my first ever panic attacks, but I didn't know what panic was yet. I'd never heard of cosplay or steampunk, my last experience with gaming was a Sega Genesis, and my geeky loves from my childhood were reserved for insider jokes with close friends - which most of them didn't get. I literally kept my love of Star Trek - and all 300 of my collected novels - in the closet. I dressed and acted the way I thought I was supposed to, really really tried to make people like me, and generally had no idea who I was.
I started Cake Wrecks for two reasons: I was bored, and I love to write. What no one knew, though, was that I also love to be funny. Being funny is often seen as being rude, though, so in my terrified, everyone-must-like-me mindset, I figured I could never joke around in person.
Ahhh, but with this new fangled "blogging" thing? There I could let loose.
Anonymously, of course.
Cake Wrecks gave me the ride of my life: the terror of being discovered when it went viral, the eventual joy and confidence that came from success, and most lasting, most fulfilling: discovering there were people out there who got my geeky inside jokes.
When snarking on cakes became a chore, as every job eventually does, I started Epbot. I was determined to narrow in on these mythical creatures who knew what the Kobayashi Maru was, the ones who laughed and finished my Princess Bride quotes, the ones who said they had crazy themed weddings and wore costumes and just had fun.
I wanted to find my people.
Or more accurately, I wanted to find these people, and become one of them.
At the same time, I was bringing John to his first conventions, and reveling in the memories of my ones from middle and high school. We bought a PlayStation, and I watched John play through the most mesmerizing stories, feeling like I was there in the screen with him. We started going to dinner with people who'd e-mailed me to bond over movies like Oscar or old Disney parades, people who were so friggin' intimidating, because they were doing all these fabulous things and had all these passions, and I felt like the interloper among them, but then after a few hours we found we couldn't stop talking.
What I'm saying is, it was a beautifully gradual thing, turning into the 10-years-later me.
Today I have a new inner circle of friends, with only one exception (love you, Julianne!). The ones who never got my jokes, who looked quizzical when we talked about dressing up for Halloween, who said someday we'd grow up? All gone. All replaced by people we've met because of Cake Wrecks or Epbot. Every. Single. One.
So when I say these blogs have changed my life, that's what I mean. I'm free online and IRL, free to be me and love what I love, because I've found the community that celebrates those things. I can wear rainbow sneakers, play video games, build silly crafts, rave about cosplay, and most importantly, make people smile with the things that make ME smile.
And when the times get tough, and my panic rears up, or the agoraphobia holds me down, I've found unending support for that, too. I held off for a lot of years, afraid to talk about it, afraid people would see it as attention-seeking or weak. Then The Bloggess paved the way by being so open about her depression, and I realized, everyone's out here just waiting for someone to talk about it.
So I talked about it.
And it got better.
Not always in the way I wanted, but even knowing I wasn't alone, that made it better.
This month marks some big changes for me and John. My world has been shaken of late. After losing Tonks and Lily we also lost my grandmother, though her passing was mercifully peaceful and expected. (I wrote her obituary - such an incredible honor and responsibility - and wow does that help crystallize some life goals.)
John and I originally planned to shut down Cake Wrecks this anniversary, but instead - once again - we switched course last minute and decided to keep it going. I'm clinging on to the familiar, still not ready to let go of this thing that's given me so much. Not ready to stop cracking jokes and making poo puns, not ready to say goodbye to Carrot Jockeys and the Epcot bunker. (HI GUYS.)
At the same time, we have all these exciting new ideas for Epbot, with no clear plan yet on how to do them. A good problem to have, but still! Oh, and get this; my parents retired last week, sold all their possessions, and moved into an RV to tour across the country. WOW. Again, exciting, but such a big change.
Finally, my health took a nose dive, which made my panic flare up, and I spent last week just holding on, just breathing, just taking my meds and talking myself down while relying on John to make doctor appointments and even the smallest of decisions. Out of desperation we started the AIP, an extremely hard-to-follow diet that requires we home-cook every meal, so our new hobby is grocery shopping and baking with something called cassava flour. I still don't know what cassava is, you guys. This is... this is a lot to take in.
Oh, and I turned 40.
So yeah, big stuff, mostly exciting stuff, but big. And now that my panic monster is settling down, I can start to look at it all with hope again. Hope that we'll figure it out, hope that we won't screw up, hope that Cassava flour isn't something gross like ground-up snail tails, because who does that?
I'll leave you with my last IG post, since I'm lazy and don't want to retype this caption again:
10 years ago today I started a "goofy little cake blog" that would change my life forever. 🎂🍰 I've never posted my face on Cake Wrecks, and I probably never will, but here's a frizzy, no-filter selfie to celebrate. 🎉(I put on a little makeup for my 2 doctor appointments today, so I felt yucky AND semi-cute. 😊It's been raining for nearly a week now, though, so there's no helping the hair.) ------------------------------------- I've been struggling this month with health issues, big life changes, and panic from both those things, so it's hard to appreciate today. It's too big. So instead I try to focus on the people: the many, MANY friends I've made, the boxes of homemade cards & fan mail in my closet, the thousands of e-mails & messages saying something I did - something *I* did - made their lives a little happier, a little better. That's what I'm celebrating today. (That, and being brave enough to take a selfie sometimes, so someday maybe I can learn to like my face.) ------------------------------------------- I love you guys. Thanks for sticking around. And extra sprinkles for those of you who've been with me for the long-haul! 🏆💖
The response so far on IG - from all over the world - has been amazing and heartwarming and I've cried at least twice. You're just proving my point here, friendly FOE: when you find your tribe, it's worth it to take some risks. It is so worth it. Talk to someone new, be a little vulnerable, make that inside joke. Assume someone out there is waiting for you to lead the way.
You might be surprised where it takes you.
Love & Sprinkles, Inside a Heart