Tuesday, December 18, 2007

happy birthday to mlle. huminbean!

It's been five years!

For the fifth anniversary of huminbean, I thought I would bring you this interview I did today.


Q: So, Leah, take me back. What were you thinking about on December 18th, 2002, when you first started "huminbean"?

Well, I'd been reading other people's blogs for about a year before that. I started reading bluishorange, and then followed a link she had to wockerjabby, and those two were my main blogs that I read for a year or so before I started my own. I've kept a personal journal since I was 12, and I'm really familiar with the whole idea of writing every day, and writing at all. So as I read these blogs I kind of thought, "You know, I could do this!" The more I read the blogs, the more attractive the idea became. So I was living in Whistler at the time, and I had already played around with another kind of online journal system, but it didn't really work for me. I think it was called "Open Diary" or something. So I found Blogger, and signed up, and started a blog! And what I was thinking about ... was basically, "This will be fun, I'll give this a shot!"

Q. Where did you get the name "huminbean"?

You know, I honestly don't remember. (Laughs) Probably influenced by those two blogs I mentioned, whose names are similar -- a word that's a play on other words, or a mix of two words. And of course, it refers to "human being", but besides that, I don't know how that name came from the ether into my brain. And nobody called me "Leah Bean" at the time, that nickname came after, as a result of "huminbean".

Q. So at first, who were you writing to? Who was your audience?

It was pretty small at first. I mean, it's still small, but it was tiny. I think my friend Janice was my only reader for a while there. I might have told some other friends, but I'm not sure. And I was writing a lot more openly than I do now, about my party exploits, drinking, dating, all the things I was doing then. Because I pretty much knew exactly who I was writing to, who was reading it.

Q. And you don't now? How has that changed?

Well, after Whistler, when I went traveling to Australia, I told family members about my blog, as a way for them to keep in touch with me and what I was doing while traveling. And over the years I've told various people and gotten more readers. So the result is that these days, I haven't got a clue who's reading -- unless they leave comments, of course. And sometimes you get comments you don't want, really, like offensive comments, or just comments that you know are spam, or just not welcome. And that shows me that my audience is wider than I thought, and my words, my personal thoughts, are going out there where anyone can read them. And sometimes those people aren't friendly. So that's kind of a sobering thought, it makes me write differently, more carefully. I don't want to put as much of myself out there.

Q. You mentioned Australia. How did traveling there change your blog?

Well, it changed the content, for sure. It didn't change the style, that is my own, and actually, although my style has changed over the years, it was never a conscious change. That's interesting in its own right, watching my style change over the years. But the content changed -- I was seeing new things, meeting new people, doing new things. Traveling really opened me up, and opened my writing up -- there was always something to say, because everything was so new.

Q. And then in 2004 you started university. Did that change your content?

Yes, absolutely. It was a big shift, I decided to stay in one place for a while, I started university in Fredericton, a small city in Eastern Canada. I didn't really know what I was doing there. I mean, I knew I wanted to try it out, see what it was like to go to school, but it wasn't because I knew exactly what career I wanted. And after a little while, I started to feel like my blog was boring ... I was working so hard and so intently focussed on schoolwork, that each day was rather similar to the one before, and I started to feel like there wasn't all this new stuff to write about. Of course, when I read those posts now, with some perspective, I really like them, I think, "Those were well-written! And not boring at all," but that's after a few years. I find that when I first write a post, I tend to think the worst.

Q. Interesting. And how did university turn out?

Well, that's the thing, isn't it? I spent three years at it, well, nearly three years, and I had to leave this past year because of illness. So I'm not in school anymore. I'm not sure if I'll go back or not, I really don't know. But it turned out to be an amazing experience, and even though I haven't as yet finished my degree, I'm glad I went. I met people who are now my best friends, and I explored a part of myself -- the academic side -- that needed attention. I now know what that experience is like, so I don't regret it at all.

Q. Your illness, do you want to talk about that?

No, not really, actually. (Laughs) I tend to keep that pretty private. I mean, I'll talk about it with friends, family, if it's in a place that's safe, a place I know that I can trust, trust the people. And I have mentioned it, on my blog, and sort of alluded to it, alluded to it being difficult. And it has been difficult. Any major illness, no matter where it originates, ends up affecting you physically, mentally, spiritually, and it's hard. So I guess I can say that, and say that it has affected me in those ways, and it has been hard. But I'm home now, and I'm recovering.

Q. You're home in Cape Breton now, where you grew up. Any idea what's next for "huminbean"?

That's the big question, right? I don't know. I really don't. I have lots of ideas, but I'm really not making decisions about that yet, because I'm not in a place where I can. I'm home, like you said, in Cape Breton, which is beautiful and lonely and warm-hearted. (Q: What do you mean by that?) I mean that the surroundings are so beautiful, and I've been here now in all the seasons and been able to watch them happen, and there's something beautiful about literally every day. Even now, it's winter and there's snow and it's cold and gross, and there's such exquisite beauty just in the woods, or wherever you look. But it's also a lonely place -- people leave every day to go where there's more happening, or more jobs, or whatever. And we live in a fairly rural place, so there aren't many people around, and it's a long way from other population centers, so I don't see my friends too often. But it's also warm-hearted, the people who are here, are amazing and friendly and welcoming. I have a neighbor I visit, an old man who is 96, and I enjoy that so much, sitting with him in his warm kitchen, drinking tea and talking loud so he can hear me. And hearing his stories about the way things were 80 years ago.

Q. You said you have lots of ideas about what's next. What are some of those ideas?

Well, I'd love to travel again. I really would. See some new places, go exploring. I'd like to WWOOF some more, work on organic farms and learn about that. I might go back to school and finish my degree, but I don't know when, exactly. I've also been thinking about changing schools, or my area of study, altogether. I'm checking out my options, and looking into new things that have interested me for a while, but I've not had the time to give them my full attention. And that's one good thing about being home and taking a break and resting, is that I have time. If nothing else! (Laughs)

Q. Well, best of luck to you, and I'm sure "huminbean" readers are interested to see what happens down the road. Thanks for coming on the show today!

You're welcome, and thank you for having me. And I'd just like to say, a huge thank you to all my readers, because I really couldn't do it without you guys. Honestly, I know that sounds cliché, but without readers I'd just be writing to myself. Your comments make this journal into a community of sorts, and that means a lot to me. So, thanks so much for helping me make it to five years!


Now, the best part of an birthday celebration. Let's cut the cake!

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