A Moldy Start

This website has been many things, and I can’t remember a lot of them. Luckily, the Internet Archive remembers. In scrolling back, I came across small pieces of myself I’d forgotten, my attempts to show myself off to the world for jobs or readers or just like minds.

This website started in 2012 as my college journalism portfolio. (I printed a QR-code on my resume that linked to this page, something very tech-forward at the time.)

When I got a job in journalism after graduation, I updated my bio, but slacked off on updating my stories; I was too busy writing them.

In 2015 I left journalism, and so my portfolio website became a sign-up form for the quirky animals newsletter I wrote for a few years in my free time.

I rebranded as a digital nomad and entrepreneur in 2017, folding that animals newsletter into a free book in exchange for signing up to my newsletter. (The book, I’d totally forgotten, was called “Otter Cries While Eating Watermelon.” Most people thought it was for kids.) This was probably the most fun iteration—and the best designed.

Up next: A simple, single page for a novel I never finished. (Maybe one day.)

Then, I moved all my blogging over from Medium—stories about travel, personal development, reading. But I was also obsessed with detoxing from social media, and rebranded myself as some sort of advocate for reclaiming time online. Focusing my energy on the things I didn’t like, however, felt like a dead-end, and so that version of the website had to go, too.

In late 2019, I refreshed this page once more, writing nothing more than a two-line bio. All blogs, tearful otters, journalism clips, and half-finished novels were gone, again.

At the time, I felt sick of having a “personal brand,” of seeing my face on a website, smiling, hawking a novel I was feeling defeated by. In journalism they say you’re only as good as your last story—(or is it your next story?)—and I’d grown accustomed to ripping down whatever had been my last story about myself. I was blind to what had come before, and could only see what was next: That surely, this time, my disparate interests and projects would suddenly be One Cohesive Perfect Thing. The person I was at this very moment could be sustained indefinitely. I’d plant my flag and declare myself This and Only This.

And it’s not just this website; I’ve always been drawn to starting fresh. I attended four colleges in five years. I was into de-cluttering before Marie Kondo made it cool. And of course, as a digital nomad, I moved countries every few months for years, all my possession packed into a single suitcase.

There’s something so clean and fresh-feeling about getting rid of things. Of shedding previous identities. The endless possibilities of what’s next.

But still, every time I buy a new notebook, I still hesitate, if only for a second, to put pen to the first page. When you’re standing still, everything can be in order. A blank page can be perfect. But when you’re moving, it’s always going to be messy. You write a word, you ruin it. But at least you’ve begun.

I was inspired to re-start (again!) this little slice of internet by Casey over at the blog Rulerless, and was particularly spoken to by her article titled “On not starting fresh.”

I’ll end with Casey’s words:

“To try to put distance between yourself and who you used to be is an adolescent move; it’s the fourteen-year-old who is horrified by the artwork from when she was eleven. In another ten years, she’ll look back at those drawings with appreciation, seeing in them the seeds of who she has become…“

“…We don’t need a fresh start; we’re already rolling, and the beauty is that it will never be over. “