Well, I’ll be damned. This site, FUNKY BROWN CHICKÂ®, is now FIVE years old. Since summer 2005, I’ve posted 1,004 updates. You lovely people have left 18,278 comments and more than 2.1 million unique visitors’ eyes have glanced over these pages. I’m RIDICULOUSLY grateful for the support. I started out as an anonymous blogger known only by Stolie (short for Stolichnaya) the Funky Brown Chick after landing in Manhattan with a job but no apartment nor plans to remain put for more than a year or two.
Backing up a bit. No stranger to the internet, in the 90s in Los Angeles I did tech support and taught people how to build webpages — coding from <html> to </html> using Notepad. I maintained a personal homepage until I upgraded to a web journal on Angelfire. So, when I arrived in New York with a carry on bag, checked luggage and a ton of uncertainty, once again I jumped online to use words and images to describe my life. This time, I wanted a domain that could be a permanent online home. I’ve lived in 16Â cities sprinkled throughout 3 countries, used to dream in Dutch and once believed I’d get married and have two children. But, I’ve always been quirky (“funky”). My skin is forever brown. And, I’m a chick. More than 1,000+ updates later, the site I named Funky Brown Chick is still here. So, raise your glasses! Below are a few hard lessons I’ve learned from the past five years.
New York Is A Very Difficult City
I don’t have a romantic partner, and my sibling — the only remaining blood relative on which I can rely — is more than 700 miles away in Illinois. At times, I’ve felt completely alienated and incredibly lonely in this city of 8 million. I often miss the Midwestern style of bonding by doing things like cook meals at each others homes. In New York, my friends and I quickly catch up over brunch, cupcakes, drinks or coffee. Then we zip away to our respective events and activities. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the fucked up dating scene, high cost of living and other difficulties of being a NYC resident. I joke, I don’t live in New York, I survive it. Every day. I still remember my first year here and the days when I wasn’t sure how I’d pay the landlord who came looking for me. There’s a reason the saying “If you can make it here you’ll make it anywhere” is trite.
Some Individuals Are Cowardly, Juvenile and Hateful
My friend Bro often says, “I hate people. Most of them are stupid, rude or both. Find people who aren’t stupid or rude and be with them.” I don’t necessarily agree “most” people are, but putting my private life in public has taught me a greater percentage of people than I originally thought are, indeed, rude. When I wrote a column for an online magazine, an anonymous commenter expressed regret I wasn’t raped on one of my dates. Last week on Twitter, someone who doesn’t know me said I was “the biggest dipshit of the year.” When I opened a free Formspring account and told everyone: Ask me anything! One person (semi)anonymously asked whether I could afford plastic surgery for my “ugly ass face.” That, of course, made me laugh. Seriously, my thoughts about all of this? I consider it a compliment when others devote their personal time to thinking, talking or writing about me. But, really? Fuck ‘em. Couldn’t care less about those who spew such juvenile hatred. I have better things to do with my time.
Humanity Can Be Unbelievably Compassionate, Kind and Loving
Of the 18,278 comments on this site, the vast majority are civil, supportive, funny, encouraging and kind — even when you don’t agree on a particular issue. I repeatedly say “I have the best readers on the internet.” A Dutch woman who goes by “A” sent me a holiday card because she knows I celebrate Christmas with friends and family. When I fell on really hard times many years ago, a collection of readers forwarded me cash via PayPal to help pay rent. (At the time, it was embarrassing to accept the money — even though I needed it.) When longtime reader Amy D from Michigan got married, she burned a copy of her wedding CD tracks and shared it with me. Here in New York, readers have stopped me in public just to tell me they like my writing. When a job took me to the UK in 2007 and I visited Belfast, Funky Brown Chick reader Nics cleared her schedule for the day to show me around her beautiful city. I’m not used to people being kind to me for no reason at all without expecting anything in return. (In that way, I fit into this city quite well.) Hard lesson: It’s okay to be vulnerable. This cycles back to my point about New York being a hard place to live. I’m humbled, grateful and absolutely amazed by the compassion shown by friends I’ve made here as well as those of you (old and new) who follow me online. Here’s hoping the next five — days, months, decades or however long I decide to stay in New York — are as meaningful as the past have been.