Today is the 22nd anniversary of Crushing Krisis.
This site began on 26 August, 2000, as a blogger.com-powered blog, hosted on Freespeech.org, launched in my final days living in a summer dorm room at Drexel University before moving into my first college apartment in West Philadelphia
I had no idea what I was doing and no plan.
I knew I loved to write and I wanted a home on the internet where my writing was the entire point.
I couldn’t have possibly imagined then who (and where) I would be 22 years later or that Crushing Krisis would still exist.
I. Permanent Resident
I have lived in New Zealand for five years as of this week.
That makes me a permanent resident in more ways than one. Not only have I moved past needing to renew my visa in order to stay in the country, but at this point it’s clear that we’re not going anywhere anytime soon.
People used to ask us about that a lot in our first few years here. “Oh, how long do you plan to stay?” It seemed like an unusual question to us at the time, having moved our entire lives here at at once at great expense. Why would we be in such a hurry to depart?
Having lived here for five years, now I understand it. We’ve seen many other immigrants come and go. Even if you arrive with a firm plan and with knowledge of New Zealand and its culture, you might not want to stay here forever. New Zealand is an amazing place to live, but it’s far from everything else you’ve known in more ways than one. And, in the time of COVID, that physical distance can often feel infinite.
I celebrated my 18th birthday my first week of college.
For some people turning 18 is an arbitrary marker of the end of their childhood, but for me it was more like a hard transition – a clear divider between two distinct parts of my life.
In high school I crafted a version of my identity as the loud, smart, gender non-conforming kid with long hair and tight pants who was good at writing and known for being fearless on stage. At university I was the same me but also an entirely different person. Maybe a little less loud, maybe a little bit wiser in addition to being smart, more intentionally male-coded, and suddenly feeling daunted by not being the most obvious natural performer in a small pond.
It all turned out okay.
I started college slightly ahead of the advent of cell phones and social media. All of my high school friends had relocated to their new collegiate phone numbers and email addresses. It was all too easy to lose touch with them as they dropped off of AOL Instant Messenger one by one.
It was easy to lose touch with early college friends for the same reason. I look back at the group of people I surrounded myself with Freshman year and some of them have been completely lost to time. For some that happened as soon as a semester ended. For others it was more gradual. By the advent of Facebook and LinkedIn a few years later, I doubt we would’ve remembered each other – or, if we did, we no longer had the tenuous connection of a dormitory or a class schedule to link us.
I’m not a person who venerates my time in school as my “glory days.” It was a lot of fun, but it also involved constant work, barely any money, and a lot of uncertainty of who I was or ought to be.
The best thing about it was figuring out who I was and finding the friends who would form my chosen family for decades to come.
All of that is detailed on this blog.
III. Permanent Record
Crushing Krisis celebrated its 18th birthday as we marked the end of our first year in New Zealand.
That was my 18th time writing one of these anniversary posts. It also seemed like it would be my last. I didn’t write one for CK’s 19th, 20th, or 21st birthday in the intervening years.
When we first moved to New Zealand I was excited to track our immigrant life on CK. It was a chance to document a truly unique personal journey – the perfect place to keep a diary of my life as it changed.
I quickly discovered that for all of the euphoria of living in a new place, it came with a commensurate amount of challenging lows. The idea of Crushing Krisis being my “permanent record” began to weigh on me every time I thought about documenting my experience as an immigrant. If I wrote about all of the times I hated New Zealand and cursed coming here, then that would be the version of me that existed for everyone to consume in perpetuity – both my friends in the states and new acquaintances in New Zealand.
I realized that in the same way I left the high school me behind when I reached university, I wanted to leave the personal version of CK behind as I found my way in NZ. I didn’t want to delete it or archive it. People could still find me in an internet search and read about my long history. I simply didn’t want CK to be my digital reflection any longer.
That 18th anniversary post was my final personal post on Crushing Krisis. I re-focused my writing purely on comics and drag – and even then, only occasionally. In its place, I pivoted hard into video.
I liked the safety of video. I could control exactly how I looked and sounded, adding an additional dimension to my words. Yes, people could still take me out of context, but it would be harder to search through my millions of words and cherry pick small excerpts of my feelings to form an impression about me.
Most people – both online and from real life – would be much more likely to watch a few seconds and then tune out. They’d see my face smiling at them from a thumbnail and assume things were going well. And I liked it that way.
IV. Things Don’t Suck
This is my 101st post on Crushing Krisis this year, and my 98th consecutive day of posting without a skipped day.
That streak is unprecedented in CK’s history. There have been years with more posts, and I posted 90 days worth of video last year from April to July, but I’ve never written daily for this long and at this length. My current streak includes over a quarter of a million of words that took over 200 hours to write, plus 13 new comic book guides that I spent more than 100 hours crafting.
A lot of that content has been about comic books, drag, and table-top role-playing games, but there are personal reflections woven throughout. I talked about my time as a stay-at-home parent while updating my Guide to She-Hulk, and mused about the isolation of being an immigrant as I recapped Drag Race France’s Snatch Game in my most-popular post of the year so far.
Why am I doing all of this writing now?
I did not have a good 2020 and 2021, completely unrelated to the pandemic. Good things happened to me, and I did good work, but it wasn’t a positive period for me personally.
(Ironically, that began to shift on the date of CK’s 21st anniversary. I had no way of knowing that at the time so I couldn’t write a birthday post that said, “In amazing news, today is the turning point! Things don’t suck!” Instead, it would have been more like, “Well, things still suck.” Sometimes you can’t past the day you’re living.)
At the beginning of 2022 I did some self-reflection to try to figure out what had gone so wrong in 2021 and how to avoid repeating it. Part of what I realized is that I had lost my ability to punctuate my own story. There were plenty of positive moments in 2021, and in 2020 before it – days worked, dinners cooked, board games played, playgrounds visited, and videos posted. Yet, in looking back it was hard to know what was happening in my head and how I was working to improve myself. I had lost my sense of progress.
That has always been the gift of CK: it is a form of time travel to past moments of self-awareness. Even when my blog posts have not said the thing that was on my mind, I can always go back to them to divine how I felt at the time.
Even if other people might be able to pluck out the negatives, I will always see the positives.
I still worry about Crushing Krisis being my permanent record.
I’ve written over 3.5 million words of content here over the past 22 years, including more than 5000 blog posts and 200 permanent pages, plus hundreds of videos.
I’ve only ever redacted a single post along the way. [It included personal details about someone else, which aren’t mine to archive.]
I’ve said some stupid stuff in those 3.5 million words. I could link you directly to some of it! I’ve also used language that I wouldn’t use today, and expressed feelings I no longer feel. Not all of that is far in the past. I’m sure I said something stupid last week, too.
There are many ways someone could frame CK and its 22 years of words as a negative for me, either personally or professionally, both in macro as a project and specifically when it comes to certain posts or topics. Should a business professional be writing so much about comic books? Aren’t some of those photos of drag queens somewhat scandalous?
Yet, that is true for any of the words any of us say in any context. In the past few years I’ve seen people take innocuous statements and recast them as poisonous barbs over and over again.
Some people might call that “cancel culture,” but I think it’s just modern life. In a world where so much of what we say is recorded in some way, intentionally or not, more people consume it than ever before and we’re called to account for it a lot more often. Not everything we say is going to land well for every potential listener in the world.
Does that mean we all ought to stay silent all the time? No. I think, instead, we should speak and act in a way that we’re willing to be held accountable for. We should forge ahead doing our best to mean what we say, to listen to others, to grow and improve as people. We should genuinely apologize and change when our well-meaning words have had an unintentionally harmful impact, and stand our ground when we meant exactly what we said.
I think that anyone who chooses to frame us negatively despite all of that aren’t who our words were meant for in the first place.
That’s double true for CK. I didn’t start writing Crushing Krisis for anyone but myself. In my fifth post, I said, “I have … nowhere to just talk at and file away random bits of information.”
That’s what CK has been ever since. I’ve gone from dozens of hits a week to tens of thousands. Along the way I’ve had some posts go viral, while others still have only been read by a handful of people. I’ve made friends and found new opportunities. CK has helped me make several career changes along the way. Still, ultimately I write it all primarily for me – even when the thing I am writing it a comic guide that is perfectly researched and primed with good SEO.
Knowing that someone else might read a post on CK could be the thing to keep me on schedule and push me to polish it as much as possible, but it exists for me, and would still exist even if it never received a single click.
That’s the thing I got wrong about the past few years of Crushing Krisis. I was so concerned about how other people might perceive it as my permanent record that I forgot how much I rely on that permanent record for myself.
Why be afraid of writing for myself just because someone else may or may not like what I have to say? CK is my constantly-evolving life’s work, my great joy, and my occasional therapy. It is how I stay accountable to myself before I can be accountable to anyone else. While that sometimes can make it feel like a personal diary, the fact that it’s visible to the public is a critical part of the process of writing here.
I have to hit “PUBLISH” to make it real.
VI. Thank You
I don’t know why you would be reading this post. It’s not about New Zealand, or comic books, or drag. It’s too long, badly tuned for SEO, and not particularly funny.
That’s because I wrote it for me. Just like I’ve been writing for the past 22 years. I try to write the best that I can for myself, and if I did my job well it might be interesting to you, too.
Thank you if you’ve read this far.
Thank you if you’ve been reading me for a while, whether that is in this recent burst of posting or on-and-off since the year 2000.
Thank you if you’ve ever used my comic guides to figure out the next issue you plan to read or to inspire your own work in making comics more accessible. Thank you if you support CK on Patreon to help me keep this ever-growing repository of my words functional and accessible, and to inspire me to keep working hard on all of my expansive and seemingly impossible-to-achieve goals.
Thank you if you are someone who has been a part of my journey in New Zealand, either in getting me to this point or if you are reading in the future. Thank you if you are a colleague who wanted to better understand the person behind the work.
Thank you if you are a friend I’ve found or lost along those 22 years, or even a rare one who exists from before the era of CK. Thank you, Gina and Lindsay, for always seeing who I am. Thank you, E & E v6, for reminding me every day why I am always trying to be a better person than the day before even when I don’t succeed.
Thank you, 18-year-old me, for firing up FTP that first time 22 years ago today and naming this thing Crushing Krisis. You were so much wiser than you realized at the time.
Thank you, and happy birthday to this.