When I started this blog four years ago, I thought I would remain anonymous and tell stories about nursing home life. I wanted to share the lessons and experiences I was having being a 30 year old in this unique environment. I chose The Grey Ghetto because I enjoy alliteration and I wanted something that was catchy. I wanted to express the isolation and how rough the conditions can be. I wanted a word with punch. Through doing work on myself and beginning to dismantle the white privilege I have, I realized that “ghetto” was not a word I should be using. It was not my intention to use this word in a hurtful way, but that doesn’t matter. If it could land uncomfortable or hurtful for anyone, I have to stop using it. As I continue to learn, I’m sure I will find more things to stop doing. I have worn cornrows and Afro wigs in the past, I will never do those things again. Ableist language is something I’m currently working on. It’s so easy to say “That’s crazy!” “How dumb!” Etc. My intention is not to be hurtful, I’m just being dramatic. It doesn’t matter. It is hurtful to people. As soon as I become aware of these things, it’s my responsibility to stop doing them.
My awareness and experiences evolved many times over the last four years. I continued writing through all of the hard times. Some things I didn’t publish, some ideas are living in the notes section on my phone, and a few sentences or fragments of thoughts are bouncing around in my mind. Through everything I tried to be gentle with myself and others. When people were rude, threatening, or abusive; I tried to put myself in their shoes. I tried not to judge how other people handled nursing home life. I often missed the mark. It has been difficult to witness and experience the injustice. It has changed me. I was very angry for a long time. I’m starting to release the anger but I think some of it will always be there. Injustice and anger propelled me to keep going and to keep fighting. I think some anger can be useful. Writing has been very healing for me. As soon as I finish a blog post and put it out into the world, I feel free of that topic. It lifts the heavy fog and worry off of my mind. I can stop ruminating over it.
When my dad and I shared our coming out story, things shifted. It took away the anonymous idea I had for the blog. It was picked up by a few major platforms and people read about us from all over the world. It was freeing for both my dad and myself. With all the excitement and amazing messages, I received some hate. I was threatened online and in person. The threats that were face to face put me in a very scary situation. I stopped writing and sharing for awhile because I was legitimately scared for my safety. The biggest worry was that my dad would experience retaliation. He was tough about it and told me on multiple occasions, “Fuck ’em!”
With his support, I started writing again. Then, I experienced disability of my own. I thought I had an understanding of what my dad and our friends at the nursing home were going through from spending so much time with them. I had no idea. The absolute soul crushing experience of having your body change and needing others to help you live. I’m still unpacking my thoughts and feelings about it. That’s why I know it’s so important for me to keep writing about my experiences.
Four years later, I am shifting this blog into something new again. I will continue to write about my experiences at the nursing home and the life lessons I learned from the people there. But I want to open this blog up to all parts of me. I want to write about my own experiences with disability. I want to share the awful experiences with the health care system and hospice. At the same time, I want to share the joy and silly stuff in my life. I want to write about the beauty industry and my fashion predictions. My beauty work is all Rosaleeonline. It was the website that Jenny Knuth suggested ten years ago when Rosalee.com was already taken. Thinking about my life online and offline, I am the same. I curse, I talk about pubic hair, I love hair/makeup/fashion, and I fight against injustice. Not necessarily in that order, but also sometimes in that order!
Rosaleeoffline is a space for me to write about whatever is on my mind and in my heart.