Today marks a birthday I had no idea I would ever be celebrating. It was one year ago that I wrote my very first blog entry! (If you like, you can read it here.) I stumbled upon Yahoo!360 after setting up my Yahoo! Group, Real Gay People. I saw a small ad for 360 and, curious, clicked on the link. I set up my basic profile that October. Then, for no reason in particular, I tried writing a blog on November 2, 2005. I had little knowledge of what a blog was, except that I had heard the word mentioned in passing on one or two occasions.

I had set up my Yahoo! Group with the intention of having a place to voice my own thoughts. One year ago, I was still struggling greatly with coming to terms with my sexuality. Starting the group was a conscious effort, whereas starting a blog was something I had never considered, and when posting that fateful first entry, I had no intention of continuing to post on the blog.

That is, until I discovered that there were other blogs to read, and that there were people who actually started to notice what I was writing. My blog attracted attention, while I was having difficulty attaining readership for my group (which is still up and running, and though small, I continue to post to it and hold discussions).

Were it not for my first friends, I wonder if I would have continued blogging. I never imagined I would become a blogger, and never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would actually meet real people on the internet and get to know them as well as I have discovered is possible. I have to thank my first friends for fueling the fire. I hadn't realized how much I enjoyed writing. And I had no idea I would make such great friends as I have. Nikki, Adrian, Kev, Stephie, Dave, Javacat, you were all among my earliest friends, and remain my friends to this day.

To those whom I met as my blog life progressed, I am so lucky to have met you. Missy, Dani, Thom, Rod, Sheldon, Sucka, Daisy, Jefe, Zusiqu, and everyone I have met (you know who you are). To all my 360 friends, you have no idea what a difference you have made in my life.

During my time here, I have seen people come and go, I have seen drama, I have seen life, I have seen love and laughter. And through my own blog, I have seen myself grow. I have grown from being a rather timid guy afraid to simply be himself for fear of how people (in real life and readers of my blog) would perceive him as a gay guy, to someone who discovered a love of writing, interacting with people, making friends, learning about life and the world, and to just be a Phil guy (I could never thank you enough, Missy).

The world of 360, though seemingly a virtual one, has been proven real to me. I have been fortunate enough to have met two very special friends from 360. First, I met fellow Albuquerquian blogger Francesca. I got to go to her graduation party, and I even got to meet all sorts of family and friends of hers. We've been for coffee as well. What amazed me was that when I met Francesca, I felt as if I already knew her. Reading her blog and interacting with her made it so easy to talk to her, because I already knew her. It was very exciting and fun to meet her in real life. (Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures to share).

The second person I had the pleasure of meeting in person was none other than the big sister I never had (I'm the little brother she never had)...Nikki! I spent the summer in Minnesota, and so of course I had to make sure I met Nikki at some point while I was out there. Though we both suffered from busy summer schedules, we managed to get together and hang out for pizza and ice cream. Like before, it was very easy to talk to Nikki (and I got to meet her husband too), since I'd known her for quite some time by that point.

And now, I end this lengthy birthday blog with some long-awaited pictures of me and Nikki. Though we met at the end of July, I own only a 35mm camera and so had to wait for the film from my camera to get developed. And then of course I had to learn how to post multiple pictures, and that required time. Finally, I have time, and how appropriate that it is on this day. So I hope you enjoyed hearing about my little blog history, and enjoy the pictures. (Oh, and don't be fooled, I'm still Nikki's little brother, the camera just made a for a weird perspective.)

Me and Nikki, saying Cheese!

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Showing our tough signs. Of course, my hand was nearly immobile at that point,
as I was still stuck in my splint after my unfortunate accident.

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