Xanga: A Blog Reminiscence

Yesterday I found myself needing to track down the dates of some important life events from my mid-20’s, so I did something I haven’t done in a looooong time. I loaded up my old blog from Xanga.com, where for about five years I kept a written record of my life. I didn’t read through every entry, of course, but since I only knew approximate dates I ended up skimming through quite a few posts before I found what I was looking for. Here are a few highlights that made me smile/reflect. Hopefully they’ll pass on a smile as well to those of you who got in on the Xanga craze!

From my first ever post on March 2, 2003

‎”So maybe I’ll keep this journal going for a while. Maybe this will be the only entry.”

Despite the skepticism evident in my early posts, I’ve (obviously) stuck with it! Thankfully, I’ve also improved and matured as a writer. If I’m ever feeling discouraged about the quality of my blogging, all I’ll need to do is go see the extreme lack of quality in those early posts!

Pre-Facebook Era

Before Facebook (which I didn’t join until early 2005), Xanga was where I kept up with family and friends online by sharing stories and pictures. Here are a few of the pictures I found stashed away:

An old Xanga profile picture

Road trip to Cooperstown

With Lisa Coutras, most frequent commenter on the Xanga blog 🙂

Leading kids’ worship at CAMP-of-the-WOODS

Hidden Hollow with some TTU friends

Some of the residents of the Wolf Chalet at a COTW Hoe-Down

Gas Prices Circa May 2004

I got a laugh out of this one! On May 14, 2004, I wrote “gas prices are awful right now!“. Here are a few of the comments left on that post:

  • Stinkin’ $1.98 in Louisville. When will the madness end?” ~ Chris Dodson
  • $1.98? And I thought $1.79 here in Houston was bad!” ~ Jocelyn Goranson
  • Hey, Jocelyn… where are you getting your gas? The least I have paid in a while is $1.84. Hook a brotha up, yo!” ~ John McGinness
  • Dang! In Maryland it’s $2.08!” ~ Lisa Coutras

On a Mission from God

Here’s a day I’d forgotten about! This post is from September 11, 2004, when I was in Pittsburgh hanging out with Jordan Winkler:

Jordan and I are on a mission from God. We’re putting the band back together! Chops (Ooey!) forever!

I pledge allegience to the beat of the Great Brass Machine
And to the band by which it’s played
One Chops, under Chad
BTTW
With volume, and high notes for all.
Amen.

Answer your phone…

We then proceeded to call dozens of friends, playing “Brass Machine” on our trumpets whenever they (or their voicemail) picked up. Lots of fun! For those unfortunate souls unfamiliar with “Brass Machine”, here is a recording of the 2004 CAMP-of-the-WOODS band.

Stupid Outback Customers

Perhaps the most popular/infamous posts from the old blog were the “Stupid Outback Customer Stories” from my days as a waiter (some of you may even remember the “Stupid Walmart Customer Stories” from AIM that came first). They were a fun (if immature) way to blow off steam, though they eventually got me into some trouble. Anyway, here are a few SOC stories from the archives, for old times’ sake:

January 11, 2005

Me: How’s everything tasting tonight?
SOC: Well, I guess it’s okay, only it tastes like you cooked these fries in grease…
Me: Well, yes, sir, we do cook our fries in grease.
SOC: Well, I guess I know not to order those here again.

February 20, 2005

SOC: What’s the biggest steak you got?
Me: The Melbourne… it’s a 20 oz. Porterhouse!
SOC: At Logan’s you can get a 24 oz. steak… and where are y’alls peanuts?
Me: Across the street at Logans.
*********************************************************
SOC: I need some Heinz 57 sauce. At Logans it’s already on the table for you.
Me: At Logans, their steaks need steak sauce. Ours are done right, so you don’t have to use steak sauce, but I’ll be happy to get you some.
*********************************************************
Me: So have we convinced you that our steaks are way better than Logans?
SOC: NO!!! It’s too d*** SPICY!!! Spicy like some d*** Mexican cooked it.
Me: Excuse me?
SOC: That’s why I love Logans. They have that big window into the kitchen so I can make sure there’s no filthy Mexicans touching my food! I bet your cooks don’t even speak English!
Me: Well, sir, I think maybe you ought to just go back to Logans.

Sidenote: I maybe should not have been so rude, but he was being a real jerk. We do have a few Latinos who work in the kitchen. They don’t cook steaks, but it’s not because they couldn’t. They are some really awesome guys, and the hardest workers in the store. AND they are legal immigrants! It’s so hard to believe people are that bigoted. He left me a $10 tip, which was more than I expected, though only 8% of the bill.

February 28, 2005

John: Can I get you folks started out tonight with a Bloomin’ Onion or some Aussie Cheese Fries?
SOC: No, thanks. I love the cheese fries, but they’re too fattening.
John: Well, then, you’re in luck! Tonight we’re featuring our Fat-Free Diet Cheese Fries!
SOC: Really? Well then, great! I’ll take it!
*********************** Moments Later **********************
SOC: Wow! These cheese fries are delicious! They taste just like the regular ones! Do you always have the diet ones?
John: Um…. no, sorry… it’s a one-time special…

Maturing Through the Years

I was personally most interested in observing my own maturing process as I browsed the old blog. Early on, my posts were pretty random accounts of mundane things (and hockey scores). Over time, I saw how major events in my personal life and in the world shaped me into the man I am today, and how those changes were reflected in my writing. I barely recognized the 2003 version of me!

Still, many of the elements of my current blog got their start early. I published my first book review (John Piper’s Desiring God) in the Fall of 2003. I wrote about my disenchantment with both major political parties (and my self-identification as a political Independent) during the 2004 election season, and an online poll I took at that time told me I was a “Classical Liberal“. At the time, “Liberal” was still a dirty word in my vocabulary, so I berated the poll for giving me a bad read. I’ve since discovered, of course, that it was exactly right!

Early in 2005 I made the first mention of “Calvinism” on the blog, as I wrote about my need to wrestle with important doctrinal issues. It’s no coincidence that later that year my writing style began to change drastically. I wrote that I needed to exercise greater discernment in what I said publicly, and of my desire to use my writing to facilitate personal growth and to challenge others.

I wrote my first “hymnology” post in January of 2007, and then announced in the Fall of that year that I planned to stop blogging for a while due to a felt need to concentrate on “more important” things in my life. Incidentally, that post was published the day before I met my wife. I’d say God was definitely preparing me for “more important” things!

Anyway, it wasn’t long after that when I launched this WordPress blog and shut down the Xanga site. So no, you can’t go back and read those old posts anymore (not that you’d want to). But I hope you’ve enjoyed this stroll down memory lane!

8 comments on “Xanga: A Blog Reminiscence

  1. Mom says:

    I’ve enjoyed watching your maturing through your blogs over the years.
    BTW, your link to “Brass Machine” took me somewhere else. I’d really like to hear that again.

  2. Jeff says:

    I am simply stunned by how much like John Lennon you look in the Coustas and (I think) Outback photos. Pray Yoko Ono never see them.

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