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In 2006, the year I turned 30, I graduated Magna Cum Laude with my BA in English, my fourteen year old daughter was repeatedly attempting suicide and failing in school, and my four-and-a-half year old ADHD twin boys were rapidly being kicked out of every daycare center in the city – all of which was the death knell for my failing marriage. Around this time, I created a MySpace account to stalk my daughter, who, I discovered, had a clandestine account herself. On my profile I listed writing and reading as two of my hobbies and one day I got an invitation to read a blog written by some “author” named Brad Listi. Everyone was an author on MySpace, it seemed. Most of them were trying to sell me something and the ones who weren’t tended to write boring blogs about finance or essential oils or some other subject I had no interest in.

I was, as a matter of course, rejecting nearly every “author” who invited me to read his or her writing – but for some reason, I went ahead and accepted this Brad Listi fella’s invitation.

 

Look at this earnest face.

Look at this earnest face.

 

Who couldn’t trust this guy?

Who couldn’t trust this guy?

 

As it turns out, that decision changed my life.

Sure, the writing was an engaging mix of humble, earnest, startling, funny, and thought-provoking musings (often centered around pop culture), but it was the community – a largely educated, tolerant, polite, hilarious, communist left-leaning lot – that kept me returning day after day, even (and especially) during one of the hardest times of my entire life. Because of Brad Listi’s Myspace  blog, I was able to literally rewrite my own story through real interactions with real people who didn’t know me –  who had no expectations for me.  I could be whomever I wanted and thrive. On Brad Listi’s MySpace blog, I met some of the most important people I’ve ever called friends, many of whom I’ve now met, eaten meals with, exchanged Christmas cards with, supported through illnesses, divorces, births, lost minds, found sanities – and I’ve been supported by all of them through my own throng of tribulations and joys.

Cheryl (longtime Brad Listi Blog commenter) and I finally met in April 2010. We made ourselves Lovemonger shirts - and one for Tawni, who couldn't join us.

Cheryl (longtime Brad Listi Blog commenter) and I finally met in April 2010. We made ourselves Lovemonger shirts – and one for Tawni, who couldn’t join us.

 

The community that Brad Listi built stuck together, following our nomadic leader as he abandoned MySpace and began blogging at bradlisti.com. It was there that I met even more new friends – including Becky (who, you might be startled to hear, I clashed with at first), Irwin (one day, I shall make him a sandwich), Matt (confession: I had a huge crush on him at first and may or may not have stalked him a little), Laura (dear reader), Ashley (New Orleans Lady), and others who have come and gone. (I’m looking at you, Carol Hiller.) But this was also not to last.  Brad Listi abandoned regular blogging at his home address and said, “Now, now. I’ll still be over at The Nervous Breakdown.” And once again I followed him to yet another URL and many, though not all, of his readers – those who I came to think of as dear friends – followed him over as well.

There’s been ample discussion, public and private, about what the hell The Nervous Breakdown is anyway. There have been lamentations about quality and crowding, as well as high praise for the successes many of our contributors have seen. But the writing is really only part of what keeps bringing me back. For me, the reason I keep returning has been the same all along: community and fidelity. This is why I encourage other contributors on this site. And I’m thankful to feel encouraged by them – by youAnd you. And you.  It’s a unique phenomenon for a website and, like any community, it has its dysfunctions. Despite these, if this sense of community were missing, I wouldn’t stick around or participate as much.

As to the quality of writing, well I wish it were more true that the cream rises to the top. Brad Listi himself is on record as saying that he hates much of what he writes as soon as it’s written and put out in the world. I, too, feel this way about my own posts. Some I cringe about more than others. Some of them I’m fiercely proud of. I always try to put my best foot forward, though – especially since I’m posting with people like Duke Haney, Meg Worden, M.J. Fievre, Nick Belardes, Simon Smithson, Zara Potts, Hank Cherry, Sean Bedouin, The Dust, Quenby Moone, Greg Olear*… There are so many great writers on this site, and because of them, I’m constantly trying to be a better, more skillful writer myself.

But at the end of the day, it’s about fidelity. TNB is one of the last remaining vestiges of my life as a social networker. It’s the only site that I check daily and lately I’ve had a harder and harder time getting to everything that’s posted – as priorities, external pressures, and sunshine are keeping me away from the computer screen more and more. But I keep coming back. The Nervous Breakdown isn’t better than Brad Listi’s dead MySpace blog. Nor is it worse. It’s more like the way your hometown changes over your lifetime. It’s different, but it still feels like home.

Thanks for being a “writer,” Brad.

Happy birthday, TNB! (And, unlike Becky, I promise not to come on to you. Not until you give me a couple of beers anyway…)

 

* The talent on this site is humbling and the quality writers are too numerous to list. If this post is your first introduction to TNB, I highly recommend going to the page that lists all of our contributors and taking a look around.

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Gloria Harrison GLORIA HARRISON is a writer whose work has been featured on The Nervous Breakdown, Fictionaut, and This American Life. Gloria was the lead editor for The Portland Red Guide: Sites & Stories of Our Radical Past by Michael Munk, which was published through Ooligan Press in 2007. She was also a contributing editor to Pete Anthony's book, Immaculate, for which she received a high five and a ten dollar gift card to Stumptown Coffee. Gloria graduated from Portland State University with her B.A. in English in 2006 and now focuses on her own writing. She had a work of flash fiction published in The Bear Deluxe Magazine (No. 26). You can follow her on Twitter here.

Gloria lives in Portland, Oregon with her school-age twin boys. She is currently working on both a memoir and her first novel. You can contact Gloria via her Facebook page.

58 Responses to “TNB at 5: Brad Listi’s Dead 
MySpace Blog”

  1. James D. Irwin says:

    That picture of you and Brad must be from the day you both called me… that was exciting…

    • Gloria says:

      It is! It was just moments after we called you that we took that picture. That was very exciting. And very expensive.

      Hi Irwin!

      • New Orleans Lady says:

        You fuckers didn’t call me!

        Actually, I think you did text me after the pic.
        …nevermind…

  2. Quenby Moone says:

    This is a great small history of TNB! And your involvement with it!

    I’m charmed by your “severely intoxicated” pic! You look like a girl one should be severely intoxicated with. Oh, I think we have been! Never mind.

    • Gloria says:

      I’m a barrel of severely intoxicated fun, Quenby. I’m the happiest, slurringest drunk you’ll ever meet.

      And you? How did you come to TNB?

  3. Sarah says:

    Nowhere was a smoother segue ever made from discussions of placenta eating to talks of US foreign policy than on Brad Listi’s Myspace Blog.

    I’m glad it led me to you, dear.

    So, when is the BLDMB Caravan going to get rolling?

    • Gloria says:

      Oh, man. I’d totally forgotten about the placenta eating.

      I miss talking to you every day, Sarah! You’re one of a small number of reasons I miss Facebook, too. It’s a travesty that you live over on the other ocean.

  4. Becky Palapala says:

    HEY NOW. I never came on to TNB.

    I offered TNB a place to stay in case “Braf Listif” ever became sexually aggressive.

    I even told TNB it had to sleep on the couch.

    I’m a good girl, I am.

  5. Joe Daly says:

    This piece is glorious, Gloria. I love hearing how everybody found their way to TNB- especially in those early days, before cats like me were peeing all over the pixels here. So you were one of the MySpacians, eh? Very cool!

    I remember Dana forwarding me blog after blog from Brad, and getting Sofa King tired of hearing his name that I finally checked it out myself. I was immediately jealous because here was this guy drafting an ongoing blog that resonated so deeply with so many people. Whether or not he can look back on those blogs with any affection is irrelevant- people fucking dug them. Thankfully there were peeps out there like you to make the bold move over to the brave new world of TNB 1.0.

    Thanks for this fun, heart-soaked epistle. Fuzziness tingles all over my body.

    Rock on, sister.

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      MySpacians. Hilarious – I’ve never heard that. Yes, I was. I went by the very, very clever screen name of Nom De Plum. (I was trying to reinvent myself, remember? Why would I use my own name?)

      Yeah, Dana’s been around since the start, hasn’t she? And you’re so right, people did fucking dig the ADD blog. It was something special.

      Glad I could make your fuzzies tingle.

      Rock on, Joe Daly!

  6. Wonderful piece, Gloria. Glad to share a home with you here at TNB.

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      And I’m glad to share this space with you, too, Rich.

      Tawni and I have joked more than once about the Brad Listi Dead MySpace Blog Band. We’d be looking for a decent cowbell player. Just sayin’…

    • Gloria says:

      I had a dream about you last night, Rich. It wasn’t a naughty dream or anything and it wasn’t really about you. I don’t remember what it was about, actually, but I do remember that you were there in it, the whole time, just kind of hanging out with me. I think we were on a journey somewhere. You knew where we were going and were very confident. I felt secure knowing you were in charge. So, you know…thanks for that. :)

      • No problem, Gloria. I’ll journey with you through your dreams anytime you like. Granted, I might not know where I’m headed each and every time. But at least the trip will be a blast.

  7. Tawni Freeland says:

    Talking to cool people about grown-up things in the A.D.D. blog comment section truly salvaged my sanity during my first (completely exhausted and depressed) year as a mother, newly married and living in a place away from family support. I didn’t know a single person in “real life,” but once a day I got to talk to my friends inside the electric box humming upon my desk. And it was good. I still remember the day Brad Listi’s MySpace Blog died. (I just made up joke lyrics about it to the tune of “American Pie” but it was too humiliating to share.) I felt like I’d lost a friend. So bummed. My husband was very pleased to suddenly have his wife back, however. Haha.

    This piece rocks, G. I especially love this part: “It’s more like the way your hometown changes over your lifetime. It’s different, but it still feels like home.” What a perfect description.

    I’m still sad I couldn’t hang out with you and Cheryl. But I sure do love my cool shirt. You girls are some kind of wonderful. Also- you look fucking adorable when you’re severely intoxicated. You’ll have to share your secrets with me. I’m not a pretty drunk.

    Great appreciation piece, Gloria. Really.

    xoxoxo.

    P.S. Thanks for inviting me to be your MySpace friend, Brad!

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      Yes, it saved my sanity as well. For all the reasons I listed. All of us meeting when we did – including Listi – felt like a perfect storm of personalities needing a place to hang out all day while we waited for other shit (known as “our lives”) to happen.

      I’m sad I’ve never met you, too. Your shirt will have to suffice until I can hook that up. It will happen, T. (Miss T if you’re nasty…) I am a ridiculous goof when I’m drunk. I was SO drunk in that photo. It happened quickly and then I was down for the count. At my own birthday party. At 9:30 at night. But if the pictures are any proof, I had a fabulous time! *hangs head*

      • Tawni Freeland says:

        Miss G,

        I’m down for the count by 9:30 every night too, if it makes you feel any better. Birthday, holiday… doesn’t matter what’s going on. I was recently invited to sing a few songs with a local band. They didn’t even start the show until 10:45! I was stupidly drunk and deliriously exhausted by 1 a.m. I barely remember singing. I don’t know how I used to do it. I’m so un-rock and roll now. I’m easy listening. Disney pop. Polka, even.

        Love and gentle old lady hugs,
        Miss T

        P.S. At least I’m still nasty.

    • New Orleans Lady says:

      That’s when I went to the ADD blog, Tawni.
      I may have even been pregnant when I first met Brad on myspace but my most vivid memories are when Aiden was just a baby and I would be laughing my ass off as quiet as possible because he was napping. He always slept through the night as an infant so his napping during the day wasn’t as frequent as I would have liked. God forbid I wake him before he was ready.

      Ahhhhh….the good ol’ days.

      • Tawni Freeland says:

        Yes… never wake a sleeping baby. NEVER. In our family, the rule always was: “You wake ‘em, you take ‘em!” Unless you want to babysit a cranky baby for the next couple of hours, you’d better speak softly. Haha.

        I am envious of your night-sleeping infant Aiden. Miles didn’t sleep through the night (meaning 6 hours in a row) until his 9th month. He was constantly hungry and wanted to nurse every 2 hours. Sometimes my husband would have to wake me up to feed him, and I’d nurse him back to sleep with exhausted tears running down my stupid face. I don’t think I dreamed for the first 6 months of his life. The kid is still a lousy sleeper. Up by 6 a.m. no matter what time we put him to bed. When other parents tell me they have to wake their kids up in the morning because they sleep so late, I say something to them like, “Oh, that’s wonderful! What a blessing!” But really, honestly, I kind of want to punch them in the nose.

        I never understand why people look wistfully back on the infant days. My first year with my son was the hardest year of my life. Talking to so many wonderful people on Brad’s blog every day truly helped me through it.

        • Gloria says:

          My boys slept great but had to be nursed every two hours, too. But they would fall back asleep right away. I, too, was awoken to feed the babies – for two years.

          There’s this Malcolm in the Middle episode where Reese sees his mom breastfeed the new baby for the first time and he says, “Oh my god. Women are the cows of people!”

          I am the cow of people.

          The boys are up at 6:00 every day, too, Tawni. Real World of the Flies truly can’t happen soon enough. Except, actually, you know what? The last year or so, I shit you not, they get up (at 7:00 because they’re instructed that under NO circumstances are they ever to get out of bed before 7:00), turn on cartoons, eat a bowl of cereal, and then clean up after themselves. I’m not kidding. This happens. Every day. It’s fabulous.

          You’re almost there, sweet friend.

    • Cheryl says:

      Tawni – you were there in spirit. Adorable, furry spirit.

      Gloria does look adorable when she’s severely intoxicated, doesn’t she? It’s disturbing.

    • Cheryl says:

      You were there in spirit, Tawni. Adorable, furry spirit.

      Gloria is adorable when she’s severely intoxicated, isn’t she? It’s disturbing.

      • Cheryl says:

        Okay, this wasn’t here a minute ago, I swear. So I did it again and both of them showed up. Sorry for the duplicate!

      • Tawni Freeland says:

        It is disturbing. I mean, who looks better when they’re severely intoxicated? It’s like her secret power or something. Some people get superhuman strength, and some people get to look adorable when they drink, I guess.

        If you’d taken Teddy Bear Me out drinking with you girls, to keep it real you would have had to draw red splotches all over its neck after a few drinks, rub oil on it to give it a shiny face, and somehow make one eye droop drastically more than the other by the end of the night. (Let’s just say that it’s a good thing I’m married.)

  8. Laura says:

    Such a great tribute to Brad, the early days with A.D.D., and TNB, dearest Gloria. Thanks for the “shout-out”!

    I was invited to to become Brad’s Myspace friend in 2007 or so. I think he had seen a comment I had written in the heat of the campaign on Obama’s Myspace page, and added me. I entered the ADD community during its “mid-life”. Not a writer or author myself, I naively jumped into commenting amidst online friendships, said what I thought, sometimes pissed off or offended people, and didn’t really make friends. Gloria, you were the first and (truly), only person in the community to “embrace” me, applaud some of my musings, and treat me as though my opinion mattered. I coined you “my biggest, albeit ONLY fan”. Despite having no friends, I kept coming back, because I loved Brad’s blogs. He made me laugh, he made me think, and I almost always agreed with his position. I will never forget the heart-wrenching blog he wrote about his uncle’s heart attack, and how the strong old man was alone overnight, with only a cat as company.

    I miss Brad’s blogs and honestly, since he stopped blogging, I have not found another blogger I prefer. I love reading Gloria and Irwin, and once in awhile I find another blog here that tugs at my heart or piques my interest. Generally, it has been difficult for me to jump into the TNB community, because I don’t have the time it takes to develop real connections.

    My truth be told, the reason I joined and have stuck around for TNB was for you and your writings, Brad. You are the King. Happy Birthday. Cheers to your future in the literary world!

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      Yeah, well…I’m still an enormous Laura fan. And I miss Brad’s blogs, too. You’re right, too – TNB does take a lot of effort. I’m really glad you come and read and comment on my posts though. I’m sure me hounding you via email impacts that. ;)

      Thanks for reading, mama. XO

  9. Irene Zion says:

    This was lovely, Gloria.
    I enjoy reading everything you write.

    • Gloria says:

      Thanks, Irene. I enjoy everything you write too. Now I’m going to read about your illicit drug use! :D

      • Irene Zion says:

        Wait, Gloria!
        It wasn’t illicit!
        Seriously. It was legal.
        We don’t have the spines to do anything illegal.
        We’d get hives! palpitations! swooning fits!

  10. “Everyone was an author on MySpace, it seemed.”

    It certainly seemed that way. When I first started Beatdom I just looked through my MySpace friends and picked a few of the more talented ones. Everyone was out to sell their writing.

    “Brad Listi himself is on record as saying that he hates much of what he writes as soon as it’s written and put out in the world.”

    Me, too. Occasionally I look back and say, “Hey! I wrote that? That’s not bad.” But usually it’s, “Aw crap… Really?” Typos galore.

    Great post, Gloria.

    • Gloria says:

      But usually it’s, “Aw crap… Really?”

      hahahahahahaha

      *sobs*

      Everyone was out to sell their writing on MySpace. It never panned out for me, though it did lead to other opportunities. It would be interesting to try and collect data to analyze how everyone else fared.

  11. Brad Listi says:

    You had to mention the Prius. You just had to.

    The allure of emasculation was just too much for you to resist.

  12. Uche Ogbuji says:

    Wow look at all you old timers, talking about when you had to turn to writing to survive in between Monterrey cannery jobs when you lost Ma Joad’s farm :P

    I wonder how many others there are like me who never had a MySpace account. I saw a few, with the blinking backgrounds and blingees everywhere, and I was like, uh, I don’t think this is my neighborhood. I just never stumbled into the swank, classy subdivision of writers.

    OK OK enough teasing. I’m still going to deploy my tractor beam if that’s what it takes to make sure you make it to Boulder in Boulder, ya know. Looking forward to meeting you.

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      Yes, we do sound a bit like that, don’t we. The thing about any community, though, is that each individual story is so individual that it feels insular. I don’t mean to sound exclusionary or like that girl, but it’s hard to relate a personal anecdote and be universal at the same time. What was special about Listi’s blog was so unique that…you kinda had to be there. You know?

      And, as to Boulder, unfortunately my parenting days will likely conflict. Which blows. I miss the Rockies so much.

  13. D.R. Haney says:

    Funny to think that picture of you and Brad was taken in July 2009. I’d been at TNB three months at the time, and there were semi-frequent TNB get-togethers, what with planning TNBLE events, as well as the events themselves. I remember, around that time, going to the Literary Death Match and getting a ride with Brad from the venue to my car. Too bad you weren’t in town that night, or any other when something TNB-related was happening. Oh, and thanks, of course, for the shout-out.

    • Gloria says:

      When he drove you to your car, was it in his Prius?!

      I would so love to meet you, Duke. But then, you probably know this.

  14. Gregory Messina says:

    That was very touching, Gloria. Nicely done.

  15. Jeffro says:

    I share your thoughts and sentiments exactly. TNB is a place for people like us.

    I feel like you guys are the exact people I would handpick to hang out with in real life if we all weren’t so scattered about the country (and overseas). Those are my honest feelings. I feel like I finally met people like me, whatever that means.

  16. Oh this is SO sweet! (I had no idea it started on Myspace!)

    • Gloria says:

      Yeah – just a bunch of grown ups on MySpace for one reason or another. Remember MySpace? So recently, yet so long ago.

      Hi Jessica!!

  17. Art Edwards says:

    I too was charmed by that MySpace blog. I still think of it as the first example of someone finding the way blogs can communicate differently from a mere written piece. It was very artfully done, and I tried to emulate (steal) that style for a year or two at my own blog.

  18. Here I am! I love the idea of TNB as a home town growing out of the vestiges of Myspace. I wish I would have known about it back then. I *did* have a Myspace with a top secret name, and my only friends were close family with top secret names. We were all really timid at the time about being online at all, and look at me now! It’s probably thanks to TNB that I’ve managed to shape some sort of online presence and make friends like my wonderful TNB colleagues. Plus the reading is fantastic around these parts. I like this home town! Good stuff, lady G.

    • Gloria says:

      Oooh! Oooh! I had a top secret name, too – Nom De Plum. What was yours? You don’t have to tell me if it’ll involve signing waivers or whatever.

      Thanks, Cynthia!

      P.S. TWO WEEKS TO COWBOYS AND ALIENS!!!!

  19. Cheryl says:

    Well dammit all to hell, I had a nice little comment going and it up and disappeared!

    How glad am I that I accepted Brad’s invitation to follow his blog on MySpace? Just look at my big ol’ grin on those pictures up there!

    Brad’s posts – and the discussions that followed – were casual, funny, intelligent and thought-provoking. It was like sitting at a bar having a conversation with your favorite people. Or maybe it just seemed that way because I was drunk most of the time.

    Brad got married while that blog was up. We saw his wedding pictures. How cool is that? (And now he’s a Daddy… awww… In fact, it’s like a TNB baby boom these days. Babies!)

    And I am so glad I joined the migration to bradlisti.com and then TNB. Look at it all grown up! I can’t possibly keep up with all the wonderful material on this site, but I read as much as I can.

    And to you, G, keep kicking ass!

    • Gloria says:

      Yeah, I came to the ADD blog while Brad was on his honeymoon. I got the friend request while he was on his honeymoon – which means that Brad was inviting people to join his blog while he was on his honeymoon. :)

      And, out of all of it, my greatest joy, Cheryl, is that I got to know you. I mean, the others aren’t chopped liver. I love all of you! (No, but seriously, I love you the most…)

      • Tawni Freeland says:

        I think it’s hilarious that we can determine when we discovered the A.D.D. Blog by the state of Brad’s romantic relationship at the time. I just read your comment and thought, “Wow. I remember when his girlfriend became his fiancee… I must have started reading earlier than I realized!” Haha.

      • cheryl says:

        LOVEFEST! All of TNB can roll its collective eyes and groan in disgust while Gloria and I confess our undying love for each other.

        (Seriously, though? I love you too, G….)

        So, I got to the A.D.D. Blog before you. That is so weird because I would have sworn you were already there when I got there. Am I in a time warp?

        Probably. Or maybe I really was drunk the entire time. Hm.

        To Tawni’s point, I think Brad was already engaged, but not yet married, when I started following his blog. Also, there were lots of adorable pictures of puppy Walter.

        Hi Brad! How’s the family? What’s up with that sweet baby girl? When will we get to see her first post on TNB? How is Walter?

  20. Erika Rae says:

    Oooh – I learned some about the history of TNB here – nice! So great to see pics of you, too. Here’s to hoping I get to meet you in October!

  21. Hank Cherry says:

    I was pretty lucky to be mentioned by name here. Somehow, somewhere deep in 2010, Sean Beaudoin introduced me to this place, and like you I’ve been astounded by the sheer AWESOME ness of it all.

    But what I liked best about this piece is that it cemented the thing I most like about this place, you just keep finding more great writers, without the sheen of doughy pretension.

    Kick out the jams yo!

    Hank

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