I’m about to tell you some information that might be upsetting. Manhattan Nest—this blog that you’re reading right at this very moment—turns TEN YEARS OLD TODAY.
A FULL DECADE. I DEMAND TO KNOW HOW. There are human beings younger than this blog who know how to simplify fractions and do long division. I can’t even do long division!
Ten years ago—as a 20 year old gay student in Manhattan who was looking forward to moving out of the dorms and into a big-boy apartment—I thought starting a blog about it was an extremely funny thing to do in and of itself. Unlike my dorm room, an apartment would allow me to populate the space with my own things, and use some creativity—in lieu of cash—to make it my own. Blogging about it could be a fun and silly exercise, because most of the bloggers I was aware of were moms, living in the suburbs, following Christ, and painting a lot of accent walls. I do not mean this in a pejorative sense—that’s just mostly how it felt back then. And since I was very clearly not that, the whole “shelter blog” thing (a term that may have not been invented yet, and one that I feel like isn’t used anymore?) just really tickled some part of my brain.
Never did I think anybody would really read it. Never did I imagine continuing to write it after getting that first apartment set up, let alone still be doing it a decade later, let alone having kinda-sorta-pretty-much turned it into a job. I couldn’t have guessed that my dumb blog would connect me to my first significant romance, or that that would result in a move to Brooklyn, or that that would land me with two dogs and a house upstate. I often find the term “journey” clichéd and overused, but what else do we call this? It’s been a journey. It’s accounted for fully 1/3rd of my life. I’ve shared victories here, failures, joys and heartaches, high highs and low lows. And throughout, this blog—along with its readers—has been one of very few constants in my life. 10 years.
It’s a really, really strange and unsettling time in the world right now. I’m sure everybody reading knows what I mean by that, but in case somebody is reading this in another ten years, I’ll just note that we’re in the midst of a global pandemic. I don’t think anybody living today has quite experienced something like this in their lifetimes, and it feels, at least, like a major cultural watershed moment. It’s a mass-trauma. The fatalities are—and will continue to be—heartbreaking. And then, of course, there’s the way it’s affecting our daily lives. People’s jobs are disappearing. Nobody knows quite what’s happening minute-to-minute. The vast majority of people in this country and many others are being advised or mandated to stay in their homes. Isolate. Shelter in place. Quarantine. Wait until this horror show has passed.
All of this has given me some time to think—about you, about this blog, about the bizarre and extraordinary set of circumstances that led to me living here—in this house that I love, in this city that feels more like home than anywhere I’ve else I’ve lived, and how truly grateful I am to be here. Nearly every life shift over the past decade for me will always be inextricably tied to this blog. It’s supplied countless friends and connections from all over the world, professional experiences I never would have had otherwise, and the opportunity to express myself, on my own terms, in a world that can be hostile and unaccepting toward people like me. It’s set my worldview to consider humanity as—overwhelmingly—generous, kind, funny, and supportive. From time to time, somebody will comment on what a nice community (the best, in my humble opinion) surrounds this blog, but I can’t take credit for that. You did that, not me. I’m just the beneficiary, a person who’s been given the gift of a more trusting and open heart through every comment and message and email from a reader. A person who, even in this moment of literal social isolation, doesn’t have to feel alone. I’m an extremely lucky guy.
I guess all of this to say: there’s something that feels oddly appropriate about this 10-year milestone coming at a time when I’m quite literally stuck at home. It’s not lost on me that this house would not be a part of my life if not for this blog. And even if it was, I highly doubt I would have pushed myself as hard to learn, work, develop, try new things, and expand my horizons without you being right there with me. The low points might have swallowed me whole without a place to come and talk about them; and, admittedly, the high points would have felt less high without all of the amazing support and encouragement I’ve been spoiled by here. It’s really something.
If you’ve been here for a long time—thank you from the bottom of my heart for sticking with me! And if you’re more of a newcomer—welcome! We still have lots to look forward to. I’ve finally brought in a little help to manage parts of running the blog that I’m no good at/don’t enjoy (my twin sister! it’s a family business now!), so I can really focus in on the content and the parts that I am good at. More content! Better content! She started on Monday and I’m already wondering why it took me so many years and a global pandemic to admit that I could really use a hand with all this.
SO! TO CELEBRATE! My dear friend Anna (who herself would still be an internet stranger if not for this blog) has worked her tushy off completely redesigning this website!! It’s been a long time in the making and I just love what she’s done. A few things of note!
-I finally took the plunge: Patreon. This concept has always made me a little uncomfortable, but I eventually realized a couple of things. 1) that somebody pledging to my Patreon does not exclude them from donating to charities and other worthy causes and 2) that we (I) pay for all sorts of subscription services that entertain or educate us, and if this blog falls into that category for you, I should at least allow the option! FOR NOW, I’m just dipping my toe in—there’s one tier, priced at $5/month, which is really there to allow those who feel inclined to throw a little support my way. Since I would much rather engage directly with you than figure out how to maximize sidebar ad revenue, or what kind of affiliate-link-filled content I can come up with, or try to rely on a bunch of brand partnerships to get any major project done, JUST MAYBE this can be a more community-supported endeavor than most blogs tend to be. Your support will absolutely go toward getting projects done (can anyone say “kitchen”?), which of course I’ll share in grave, tedious detail for your viewing/reading pleasure. Over time, I’d like to add additional tiers and special perks for patrons, including those who sign up now. Any ideas?
-Some major changes to the home screen! Since my posts tend to range from long to extremely long, we’ve truncated all of them for improved navigability. We’ve also increased the size of images by 25%! Archives have been cleaned up to display by year rather than by month, and Anna added some fun stuff to the sidebar. In the background, I’m working on cleaning up categories and tags on old posts so things pop up where they should. Click around! (note: images may appear a little fuzzy on older posts because they’ve been automatically enlarged for this new format. Moving forward they’ll be crystal clear, and I’ll be working to clean up the old posts to the extent I’m able to.)
-I have a Shop! I’m so hip and with it. Since the vast majority of my stuff is secondhand or vintage, my house isn’t especially “shoppable,” but I’ve tried to add things that I think are either practical/helpful (like my push-button switches!) or super beautiful and/or similar to something I do own. There’s also an Amazon storefront forthcoming, which I’ll use primarily for my favorite DIY tools and supplies.
-And finally…SO LONG, MANHATTAN NEST. I haven’t actually lived in Manhattan for about 9 years, and frankly didn’t really like it when I did…but the name just stuck with me. I use my own name for Instagram, so using it here seems like the most logical decision. In the near future, we’ll be migrating the whole site to a new URL, but otherwise things will stay the same! All of those old posts will still be there, and if you subscribe through Bloglovin’ you’ll stay subscribed. Those who subscribe by email may need to take some simple action, but I’ll let you know when we’ve sorted through that.
So feel free to poke around, check it all out, and let me know if anything’s acting funny! Welcome to my new internet home and, as always, I’m so glad you’re here.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for 10 wonderful years. Now let’s have some fun!