Revival

Over the last few years, my blog posts have been so few and far between that it sometimes feels weird to still call myself a blogger. This is my first post of 2015, and it’s May already. There were only three posts in 2014, three in 2013, and I think five in 2012. It seems like the glory days of blogging are but a memory. Last May, my blog reached its tenth anniversary. A decade, imagine. And I didn’t even post anything about it. It came and went, without ceremony, without even an acknowledgment. Like it didn’t matter. Like maybe it was just time to let it go.

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It feels like it does matter, though, that I’ve had this blog for eleven years now. It matters because this blog has helped me. A lot. When I moved to Malaysia, it was kind of crazy, this guy in his twenties just picking up and moving to the other side of the world, to a different culture, a different world. Starting a blog enabled me to keep in touch with people back home, to tell stories about my life here, to share my observations and opinions. And it enabled me to connect with a bunch of interesting people, some of whom I still consider friends. I hardly had any friends of my own here until I started blogging. It was a big thing for me.

Besides helping me keep in touch with my family, blogging also put me in touch with relatives I never knew I had. Seriously. Genealogy is a hobby of mine, and naturally found its way into my blog. I often received comments and emails from people who were also descended from people I wrote about. Some of those relatives have helped me fill in some big blanks. I’ve become close to some of them, like the lady who emailed me to see if I could help her find her biological family and turned out to be my third cousin. Without my blog, I never would have known about her and many other people. I might never have known what my great-great-grandparents looked like (another third cousin found my via my blog and sent me a photo of them from the 1800s). I’m really glad I started blogging about that stuff.

Not only was I meeting people, I was writing. I had always been interested in writing; as a blogger, I was doing it. Sometimes I was writing about nothing. Sometimes I was writing about big issues. Either way, I was writing, and people were reading it. If not for blogging, I probably wouldn’t have been given opportunities to write for money — first as a guest columnist for Dina Zaman in her Rentakkini days, then as a guest columnist for Tell Magazine, then as a staff writer/subeditor for the latter. I wouldn’t have met a blogger and Tell columnist who lured me away from the magazine and put me to work as a media analyst. I’ve been a media analyst for over six years now. What began as a temporary gig has turned into a career of sorts. It’s something I’m good at, partly because of those blogging days. In the meantime, I’ve written articles here and there, done some editing, and have even had some of my writing published in books — one in the US, one in Canada, and one here in Malaysia.

I’m still active online, of course. I post stuff daily on Facebook; I share short observations and links on Twitter; and I share my photos on Instagram. All three of those are linked in various ways and together have pretty much replaced my blog.

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So why am I still doing this blogging thing? Why do I renew my website’s hosting plan every year? Why do I still feel like I want to keep this thing going?

Well, I still like writing. I still like stories. And, like I said, it still matters. I’d very much like it to keep being all the things it’s been throughout the years. In fact, I really do hope it can keep being all those things. You see, one day last year, my wife and I decided to move back to Canada. It was a crazy idea, after working so hard to build a life for ourselves here in Malaysia, but we started the process and it’s still moving along. Her application for Canadian permanent residence is in a pile at a Citizenship and Immigration Canada office somewhere. Once it’s processed, we’ll be leaving our life here in Selangor and settling down in Nova Scotia. I’ll be moving back home, not moving to a whole new country, but somehow it will feel a bit less like the former and a bit more like the latter. I haven’t set foot on Canadian soil in a decade. I’m not exactly the same person I was when I left 13 years ago; my home isn’t quite the same place it was back then, either. My wife will be an immigrant, like I’ve been all these years, but then not like I’ve been all these years. And our kids will be a bit of both. They’ve been Canadian citizens since birth but they’ve never been there. They’re Malaysian to the core, and here we are plunking them down in Canada. The move will be an interesting experience for me, for Leen, for the boys. It will be interesting for each of us in our own ways, and for all of us as a family. It will be a big adventure.

I think it would be nice to have my blog then, to write about that adventure. To share it with people I know back here in Malaysia. And maybe even to meet people in Canada, people in my community, both the ‘real world’ and the online community. To meet people who love stories, like I do.

In the meantime, I’ll be in Malaysia for at least a few more months. We’re not in any hurry to go, even if we are looking forward to starting a new chapter in our lives on the other side of the world. We’re happy to have some more time to enjoy our life here. This is all part of the adventure.

It helps, I think, that some of the bloggers from the “good old days” are still blogging, and that some — like Ailin Abdullah and Kak Teh — have been encouraging people to bring long-dormant blogs back to life. A blog revival; why not? Blogs are still relevant, despite claims to the contrary, and despite the fact that they’re not what they once were. They’re still part of the adventure.

I’d like to keep this adventure going. Let’s see how that goes.

A photo posted by @jfmacvay on