Exactly one year ago today I added a hit counter to my blog. Since then I've had 2081visits, and the visitors have come from 51 countries!
This is pretty amazing to me since I do so little to encourage visits to my blog. I don't spend a lot of time reading or commenting upon other blogs, and only occasionally self-promote my posts on Facebook.
1741 of my hits this past year have come from the USA. 66 have come from Canada. 44 from New Zealand, and 42 from Britain. I've also gotten 24 from Germany, 21 from Russia, and 17 from Australia.
I'm sure a lot of these hits are accidental - people who end up here by clicking the "next blog" button. A lot of hits probably also come from the links on my Flickr and Facebook profiles.
I probably get a lot of hits from people who come just to have a look and then don't return. But I do have some regular followers, and I appreciate the comments I get from them. It's so nice to know that someone is actually out there!
The majority of my hits (353) have come from Grand Rapids - which I'm sure have come from friends and family there. As well as the 66 hits that have come from Kalamazoo. What's odd to me is that I get more comments from strangers than I do from family and friends.
If I were to send my friends a letter in the mail - a nice chatty letter full of news and observations, a letter with photographs tucked in - I'm sure they'd enjoy it. They'd sit down and read it and maybe even write back, the way they did before the internet. But they never (or very rarely) comment on my blog.
Oh well. Comments are nice, but I'm sure I'll keep posting with or without them. I still have a fat stack of potential blog topics I'd like to write about someday. You know... that someday we all dream of when time is easy & all the chores are done.
I finally came out last week.
To my new hairstylist.
She's cut my hair four or five times now and I've talked about my grandkids, my sons, the neighborhood, movies, etc... but hadn't yet had occasion to mention "my partner."
When I did finally say that phrase along with BB's name, the conversation just kept on rolling. It was nothing. But it was something. I just know there was that barely perceptible nanosecond when the stylist's intellection of me changed. Not for better or worse necessarily, not in a judgemental way, but changed none-the-less. And no matter how many people I come out to, this is always a nanosecond I dread.
A gay person doesn't come out once, it's a continual thing. Especially if you're a gay person who has recently moved to a new community, like me. Moving means coming out to new people again and again and again.
For me there were also recently a lot of doctor's forms, many of which asked my marital status. Am I single, married, or divorced? I could just check single, or divorced, but neither of those seem right. I've taken to just writing in a new category, Partnered, and circling it.
I don't know why I dread these moments of coming out. I'm not ashamed. Or afraid. It's just that one moment, that "Oh."
I just know I'm being re-categorized during that moment. I know I've just become an "other" instead of "one of us," even to those heterosexuals who think of themselves as gay friendly.
BB says it's getting easier and easier for her to come out. She thinks this is because people's attitudes are changing, and I agree. I'm glad to be living here and now. I'm not complaining. I'm just observing. And who knows, I could be wrong. Maybe that whole re-categorizing thing is only in my head - but I doubt it.
Ruin porn. That's a term you hear in Detroit these days in reference to the fascination with abandonment and decay in the city. And while I completely understand where that phrase is coming from, I can't help but be fascinated with it myself.
I know how the images of ruin skew the world's perception of Detroit - which is much more alive and vibrant that you probably imagine - and that's a shame, but the ruins are fascinating. And it's not just the condition of these abandoned buildings that's something to witness, but the fact that they're so accessible. It's incredible that these places still stand, that they haven't been razed, or properly secured, or policed.
Detroit's most sprawling urban ruin is the Packard Plant. Spread out over 35 acres, the Packard is an immense complex of crumbling dilapidation. But it's not a victim of the recent economic downturn - even though photos of the plant are often used by the media to dramatize current events.
Packard has been out of business since the 1950s.
The Packard Plant produced luxury automobiles from 1903 - 1956. It went out of business when GM's Cadillac became the luxury car of choice.
After its closure the plant was subdivided and leased to small businesses, but it has mostly stood empty for the last five decades. The city of Detroit has a long history of litigation over the ownership of the land and the condition of the property. According the the Detroit Free Press the plant is currently owned by a guy serving a jail term in California on drug charges.
I'd heard of the Packard Plant and I'd seen photos of it, but I'd never actually been there in person until last week. I was taken there by local photographer, Rob Monaghan.
It was a chilly November afternoon and we'd already been photo exploring for several hours that day so we didn't stay long, but I was awed. It's seriously like being on the set of an post-apocalyptic movie. Or actually being in a post-apocalyptic world.
At first it seemed we were the only people there - the only souls in this immense, desolate, squalid landscape. But then I noticed other photographers, mostly young people, here and there, like tourists seeing the sights. The Packard is a popular destination for urban explorers, metal scrappers, graffiti artists, and arsonists.
It was definitely like no other place I've ever been in my life, and I wish I'd had the opportunity to see it before it got as bad as it is now. Much has been destroyed by fire. Much has been destroyed by vandals and scrappers. And much has crumbled. But I'm itching to go back - hopefully this spring - because there is still so much photographic fodder there.