Not too long ago, I suddenly stopped blogging (save your applause I’m not finished) after having hit another bottom in my life. A life still in recovery from the devastating effects of past legal troubles and a sudden but reluctant return to the ranks of El Paso’s unemployed which is code for getting pink-slipped, canned, axed, getting the boot.
I called it a permanent vacation but not in the suicidal sense because I have too much to live for–mainly for paying off my IRS and student loan debt. Making my odds as a black man still trying to find a place (preferably a lucrative one) in this southwest border town–an American city dominated by Mexican culture and delicious Mexican food that I’m pretty sure is solely responsible for El Paso’s obesity problem–seem far-fetched.
Besides, I don’t know what made me think my blog posts would go viral. My posts were closer to flatlining with little to no views and a few comments by a couple of supportive family members that I live with. (Thanks, Mom and Big Sis!)
I even blogged about my white Facebook friend (not to be confused with an actual friendship) who I refused to call a racist just because he’s overly critical of the black community. But yeah,…he’s a racist and not just because he’s overly critical of the black community.
Still, it was a blog post about racism and who doesn’t want to read about racism? Racism is everywhere in America. It’s the new normal, the new black, the new black normal, the old black normal, etc… In other words, it’s what’s up!–like the mass incarceration rates of African Americans!
And since I graduated cum laude from the University of Texas at El Paso (Go Miners!) with a Bachelor’s in Multimedia Journalism, I figured I had some marketable skills as a writer, photographer, and maybe a freelancer.
A male escort? Not so much. Actually, not at all if I’m being honest. And I am. Though it’s true that I’m a pathological liar.
Then I did something very, very dangerous. Something that threatened to destroy the little bit of sanity I had left. I began to binge-watch Singaporean TV dramas streaming on Netflix. With intellectually challenging, and cleverly seductive titles such as Unriddle, Mind Game, Against the Tide, The Ultimatum, and Breakout that I couldn’t pass up but I really should have. They became my new kryptonite, apparently, replacing my weakness for all other infinitely better, extremely well-made Asian dramas.
And I ended up escaping into a world of low budget television where entire seasons seemed to be shot at two allegedly separate locations (at the most) with unbelievably transparent plots like ones you’d expect to find in porn movies (or so I’ve heard) and filled with cringe-worthy, wooden performances (no pun intended). And again, what you’d expect to find in adult films.
But I was really depressed and I was barely functioning on an adult level, grew out my beard but amazingly enough, I somehow swore off alcohol (an easy call when you’re broke). I was in a dark place as I started to reflect on my life’s choices. And I decided in those crucial moments to own up to all of my mistakes, failures, and transgressions I’d accumulated from living nearly four decades in El Paso. But only the ones I couldn’t blame on being black. Not that I constantly look at America through a racial lens but this country makes a lot more sense to me when I do.
And lo and behold I had an epiphany of sorts. What can I say? I got woke!
I began to understand that what was really good about watching those Singaporean TV dramas was that they weren’t afraid to be bad or just plain awful (a lot like the majority of stories written on Wattpad –stories that read like a very long text message between teenage BFFs).
And I’m not sure what a crappy analogy about poorly produced Singaporean TV dramas has to do with my triumphant return to the blogosphere (now you can applaud). But I did learn that it’s not so much what I write but why I write.
Initially, I began blogging because I wanted the recognition–the views, the likes, the comments that I could use to validate myself as a good writer, believing that I have the potential to be a great writer and get paid absurd amounts of money for my New York Times best-selling memoir that chronicles my humble beginnings as a Word Press blogger and failed gigolo, which goes on to win the Pulitzer for best fiction.
But that’s not why I write.
I write because I need to. I write to remind myself that I’m still alive and that I refuse to leave this world without my voice being heard. That silence is not golden and I shouldn’t risk leaving my memory in the hands of others to tell my side of the story. Especially when I have the opportunity to do it myself. So this is take-two in the life of Benjamin Woolridge. Again! From the bottom!
Thanks for reading. Get at me, reader and tell me why you decided to blog in the comments below.