I had been writing emails to my family members, telling them exaggerated stories about what I was up to. They were supposed to be funny. They weren't funny.
My family members would occasionally respond to those emails. Their responses called me a "weirdo" and other names that communicated that they had read the stories and appreciated them in some way.
One of them was about seeing someone riding a unicycle. The entire email was about whether or not this was actually an efficient mode of transportation (it's not).
Another email was about how many college students I had seen that week on campus wearing capes (a lot).
I wrote most of them while I was at work. I was a teller at a bank and there would be slow stretches. So I would take that time to write. That's what I've always done during slow stretches. When I was a child my report cards repeatedly contained teacher's notes criticizing me for being "distracted" or "in his own world" because instead of listening to class lectures I furiously wrote away in my notebook--stories about a fictional world I had created which was almost identical to the one I actually lived in. Except the fictional world was just a little stranger.
I walked into the house I was living in at 761 N University Ave in Provo Utah after a shift at the bank where I had written another email to my family. I had nearly a dozen roommates at the time. This was as near to being a frat house as anyone could find in Provo Utah.
I shared a room with my best friend from high school, Jason. I walked into to the room, sat down on the bed, and asked him if he had ever heard of this thing called "a blog." I don't remember his response. But I remember asking him if he knew anything about blogging and could explain to me what it was.
I had heard about it somehow. I knew it was something one could do on the Internet. I was otherwise almost entirely oblivious on how to use the Internet. Only a few weeks before this I had asked Jason to explain to me "the difference between Yahoo and the Internet."
He did, by the way. Although I didn't really grasp his explanation until sometime around 2010.
I sat down on my bed, opened my brick laptop, which I still have by the way, and I found out recently that it still turns on after I discovered it in a closet in my basement.
I opened blogger and it asked me if I wanted to create one of these blog things. I did.
It asked me what I wanted to call this blog. I had no ideas. But I typed the exact first thing that came to my mind. "It Just Gets Stranger."
That seemed ok. This blog thing would just become the place I kept all of these strange and exaggerated stories I had been sharing with my family. And surely they would just get stranger.
I would later regret that title and wish I had had the foresight to realize that this was going to be a lot more permanent than most abandoned projects.
I would later come to like the title after a long period of regretting it.
I would later appreciate that the word "Stranger" had dual meanings, and that it could be used to lovingly describe people who like this site.
Just like that, It Just Gets Stranger dot blogspot dot com was available to view on the Internets. AND Yahoo.
It looked terrible. The color scheme was mostly black and white. Except the header was in vibrant colors. The bright text hurt people's eyes because of the size and contrast with the exceptionally dark background.
I was supposed to write a post to truly get this thing started. I typed in three sentences of stream of conscienceness as a test more than anything else.
"In the interest of giving my friends a break from providing my 24 hour free therapy service, I bring you this blog. Its intent, to house my thoughts, especially the strange ones, and bring balance to the world. It also serves as a sad excuse for my inconsistent journal writing."
I was 23. A baby.
That was exactly ten years ago, tomorrow (Friday).
In the ten years since I wrote those words and chose that title I have graduated college and grad school, moved to two different countries, practiced as an attorney for six years, and experienced a whole lot of, well, strange along the way.
This blog became a journal for my law school experiences, documenting a subtle maturing that is common for people in their mid-twenties and typical for young adults who are entering the real world for the first time.
The blog became something really different shortly thereafter. A woman sent me a text message by mistake, and I responded to it, asking her if she wanted to "go halfsies" on a Snuggie as a wedding gift. The Queen of Colors was born in print. A cheap mommy blog entered the interwebs. Nobody wanted no bunny banana frog ok no way for a little while.
Suddenly, people who weren't my family were reading It Just Gets Stranger. And they were commenting on it. And they were pointing out all of my typos.
And I found myself trying to figure out how to write to this new and fun audience whom I didn't know and who didn't know me.
That audience stayed, and grew, and watched me and It Just Gets Stranger clasp onto one another in the hot tropics of the equatorial Pacific when I learned the true meaning of loneliness. I found out there what it felt like to be truly grateful that that dumb 23-year-old created this blog thing. Because this blog thing was a source of strength during a time when I needed it.
I returned from Palau and continued to write and you continued to read, joining in on the jokes and adding your own. And we had a really twice up the barrel and once down the side kind of time doing it.
And after a while I thought that it would be fun to stop just sharing my own stories, exaggerated as they may sometimes be, and actually start to share some of yours.
A year after that, with the help of a couple of pretty wonderful people, Strangerville Live took the stage. And you guys showed up and laughed with us.
And somehow, here we are, ten years later. I can't tell you how strange it is that all of this has happened just because on a whim I sat down one day on my twin-sized bed in my sort-of frat house and created a really ugly blog that hurt people's eyes to read. I can't tell you how strange it is to me that it just got stranger over the years, and that I kept telling you about it.
Unless you are my family or one of a couple of very old and dear friends, you weren't here ten years ago. But you showed up sometime since then. Maybe it was because you were looking for Snuggies. Maybe it was because you thought the tropics sounded paradisaical. And maybe you just stumbled here yesterday looking for a chicken recipe (you won't find one, I'm sorry to say).
Whatever your reason, I'm grateful for you and for your love and support and friendship and sense of community over the years. I hope you love being a Stranger as much as I love that you exist (it's a lot, by the way).
Some time ago I asked on the Stranger Facebook page what brought you to Stranger and hundreds of you responded. Reading those responses was truly a delight for me.
Even if you responded then, do this Stranger a solid and comment here again today. Tell me how you ended up here or a good memory you have of this community or anything else at all about Stranger. As a thank you and to celebrate Stranger's tenth birthday, I'm going to randomly select one of you and send you a Snuggie ("Anonymous" comments are welcome, although if you don't somehow include your name in the comment, I obviously won't include you in the drawing).
Thanks again. I love you.
|Eli, circa 2007.|
~It Just Gets Stranger