Celebrating 300 Posts: An Origin Story
CELEBRATING 300 POSTS
AN ORIGIN STORY
Today marks my 300th blog post on Avocado Diaries. It feels like a monumental day for many reasons, but let's start with the name, since it's become a part of my identity over the past sixteen months.
|Photo: Daniel Hearn|
A question I'm often asked is, where did the name Avocado Diaries come from, and while I could keep the lid on it, it's actually quite an interesting story.
In September 2019, I found myself at Masa Japanese Restaurant in Vancouver with my partner. It was our sixth night there that week, and as we grabbed what had become our usual spot in the corner, I had an idea brewing in my mind.
Charlie placed his regular, and so did I. Two avocado rolls for me.
I was just days away from my first inpatient admission at the Columbia Center for Eating Disorders in New York. Avocado rolls, in all their glory, were my only “safe food” at the time.
I purchased the domain while we waited for our food, and was planning to keep a daily journal of my treatment. I was aware that as a man struggling with an eating disorder, I could potentially help other men by sharing what I was going through.
The treatment turned out to be much more intense than what I was expecting, and I wasn't yet ready to process, or share publicly what I was facing. That would come later. And so, the domain for Avocado Diaries sat collecting dust, and I didn't ever plan to use it.
|Photo: Daniel Hearn|
Fast forward to February 2021.
Enter bipolar manic episode, during which I shopped excessively and purchased upwards of 40 books. From what I remember, I didn't sleep for almost a week, and read at least one book a day. While reading, I made notes on each book, which eventually turned into reviews. I was posting them to GoodReads, and thought to myself that I should also start my own book blog and Instagram account.
While in high-productivity mode, which I often am during manic episodes, I revived this domain name and started Avocado Diaries.
Books and reading have always brought me a sense of comfort and made me feel good. They've provided a level of safety, security, and escapism I couldn’t find anywhere in the “real world,” and when facing anorexia nervosa and other mental health battles, books have become a medicine of sorts.
I always had a passion for writing, and previously ran a fashion and lifestyle blog called Gas & Gander for many years, so the blogging came naturally.
Blending my passion for reading with writing, most of which I did while hospitalized throughout the height of the pandemic, gave me something else to focus my attention on while also giving me another reason to get up in the morning and keep going.
It took a few months of pure perseverance for anyone to actually read my reviews.
Unbeknownst to many, one of my earliest supporters was Heather Reisman, CEO of Indigo, who kindly gifted me a copy of Chanel Miller's Know My Name. A lot of people ask me why I link to Indigo rather than independent bookstores in every blog post.
Not that I need to answer, but the reason is that Heather was my earliest champion, and Indigo is my safe place. I had the opportunity to interview Reisman almost one year later, a dream come true for me.
|Indigo | Heather by Joy von Tiedeman (Daily Hive)|
With a background in publicity, I sourced out contacts at every major and indie publishing house to introduce myself and request advance copies of books I thought I might enjoy.
Some ignored me, some said no, and surprisingly, some fulfilled my requests right away. Persistence paid off.
All the while, I just kept on reading and reviewing as a distraction and coping tool to get me through intense therapy and admissions at the local hospital.
At one point last year, I developed a keen interest in book cover design. I've always been interested in architecture, interior design, and graphics. Book cover design was uncharted territory, and I realized I was buying a lot of books to study the covers. Curious to know more about them, and who was actually behind the jacket design of each book I purchased, I formally launched a weekly interview series called In Conversation With.
|Charlotte Strick and Claire Williams Martinez|
Towards the end of last year, my mental health hit rock bottom. I was hospitalized for the sixth time in a year, unknown to many of those who worked with me because I continued to read and churn out content. Knowing I had deadlines helped me keep my head above water.
|Source: The Washington Post|
|Photo: Daniel Hearn|