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8 Year Blog Anniversary: Train-Wrecking my Career

Choo-choo! All aboard! 


Today, we have a thrilling adventure in store for you. Today's story will take place on a train, and will include various James Bond-esque melodramatic scenes, and will include snarky fourth-wall breaking scenes as well. While boarding today’s locomotive, you’ll be receiving a ticket to the luxurious first-class cabin that will include the amenity of ‘spilling the tea’.


Yes, that’s right! As we cross though the St. Louis Arch and travel West, we’ll be on the adventure that is my blog’s fourth consecutive bloggisavery post -- where I spill all about this past year’s tea blogger drama. With this, pack your baggage as I unload mine, and we will travel down the train tracks of how my biggest year in tea ended up being my worst year in tea. 


All aboard!


We’re now boarding the train. 


(Photo credit: Saraii Seleste Photography, at Trident Booksellers in Boulder, Colorado)



Starting our Journey: Loading The Cars


Boarding this train included being linked up with various different kinds of train cars that would all be leading the adventure — launching car passengers into 2023. All of the various train cars lined in a succession of the events that represents my past year in tea.

The first train-car sat passengers that would be headed to a New York adventure.

The next train car then loaded up passengers that would be for a Colorado Adventure. Last but not least, the last train car that concluded the train is the the caboose — which was full of passengers that were destined to arrive in Las Vegas.


However, unbeknownst to the conductor, these train cars were built to fail. These train cars were built by ’Chaos’ — and Chaos degraded the quality of these train cars in a similar fashion to when Boeing dropped in quality after switching CEO’s in the 90’s.


Also unbeknownst to me, the anticipated joy ride would turn into a 'Final Destination' of my own.

At sharp o’clock, the train left the station and was well on its way to a destination it would never reach...


(Photo credit: Saraii Seleeste Photography, at Trident Booksellers in Boulder, Colorado)



Train Car 3: The Caboose


After planning for this trip for over a year, my time had finally come. I looked out of the window of the Caboose of the train, and out into the desert to see a vast landscape sand (or, a blank slate). With this blank slate, the picture had been painted that I’d be a keynote speaker for an educational incubator for one of the largest tea conventions in the Corporate States of America. This convention was one of the pinnacles of the tea industry in the West, and anybody who was anybody would be attending this event. On top of these 'anybodies who were anybodies' were a higher tier of privilege, who got to speak at this said-event. Out of the entire industry, I was one of the lucky ones who held a Golden Ticket.


As one of the keynote speakers for this event, I gathered over a dozen allies to join me on this trip. I also sold booth space for this event to a vendor who relied on me to help them get set-up at the event. At this point, I had also supported this institution by writing for one of their subsidiaries for over two years as a regular contributor. The ticket prices to see me speak were extravagant, and I had finally made it to the pinnacle of tea blogging. I went from being a follower in the industry, to being a leader of it.

With being a leader, I also took the lead for organizing a blogger meet-up on the showroom floor.I wanted to meet some of the people who supported me in my journey, and also meet other fellow tea-bloggers who were on the same journey as me.


This was my victory lap. This was my time to celebrate my career in the industry.


However, I wouldn’t be writing about Las Vegas if any of this went perfectly well, would I?


When I got off of the train and onto the platform, the conductor of that train had halted and would be stopped in its tracks.


First, one of the event organizers reached out to me. She claimed she worked for the convention as a liaison of the bloggers. She hears whispers that I was organizing a meet-up with the other bloggers, and said that I was wrong for doing so. This particular person used to be a tea blogger herself, but abandoned her tea blog seven-plus years ago to work in the fashion industry. Despite that her personal involvement in the tea industry had long-belonged to the past, she told me she held the authority of tea bloggers and she was the authority I’d need to report to from this point on.

She then told me that I needed to compile a list of all of my tea blogger friends, with their contact info., and hand all of my work over to her so she could take it all from me, and that it was now all of her responsibility.


When I asked her why, she said it was because the tea expo viewed all of the tea bloggers as ‘users who only show up for free stuff’. She explained that her voice was more valuable than mine, and since my career was only in existence for the prospect of free shit, she could get me further. She said her voice was at the only one the expo would listen to.

She said she'd be doing this remotely, as her main career in the fashion industry would prevent her from going to the expo herself...


She was now both the gate, and the key, for me to carry on with my personal project of meeting other tea bloggers.


After we hung up that phone call, I immediately blocked her number. 


Now, as for my next horror? I had asked the event manager, and expo owner, for a hall pass for me to bring plus-one to the event. Given I was speaking as a headliner, and given I wanted to bring a family member with me for support, I figured this would be an easy accommodation, right?

Wrong.

Bot the manager and owner responded with, “No more free stuff.”


I was confused because up to this point, I had not asked for anything at all. Not only did I convince 12+ people to spend money at the event, but I had also got the expo clients to run booths at the event as well. 

With context, the conference paid me $400 to show up. I paid $1,000 for the entire trip out of pocket, which meant that I was $600 in the red for this event.

I brought the estimated $10,000 to their event, and when I asked for a hall pass, I’m somehow using them for free stuff...?


I felt manipulated, gaslit, and above all else, I felt utterly worthless. I didn’t want to go anymore, but also, I signed a contract, which meant that I am now using a redundant statement in this story by saying 'I couldn’t not go'. I was now forced to go to an event where the industry reduced me to being a ‘beggar’. I showed up to my presentation, gave one of the best presentations I’ve ever given in my career, took photos with friends, and left Vegas with a cup of bitter tea in hand. 


The train then left the platform, and resumed on its journey on the train tracks.


While further along on the tracks, I published my review of my experience of the expo on the blog, went viral with it, and got fired from writing for the publication that was tied to the expo. My editor of two-plus years unfriended me on social media, and my career as a professional writer within the tea industry was now over.

I was no longer a leader, and no longer a follower; I was nothing...


In a moment of sheer random chaos, a rock got thrown onto the train track — causing the wheel of the Caboose to jump off of the tack. After quickly noticing the train car losing speed, I quickly got off of my train seat and stumbled as the train car rocked back and forth. I grabbed my carry-on and went to the front of the train car — seeing that the hook that had pulled the train car to the locomotive had un-hooked. As the gap between the train cars slowly widened, I took a deep breath, clutched my carry-on, and jumped from the caboose onto the next train car. I grabbed the handle from the side of the next rain car, turned around, and watched the caboose come to a slowing halt —being left behind on the train tracks…


(Photo credit: Saraii Seleste Photography, at Trident Booksellers in Boulder, Colorado)



Train Car 2: Colorado 


While safely traveling further away from the disaster that was the caboose, I saught safety in a train car that was the most solid link on the train. This link was built on friendships that had spanned over three years. These were friendships that I had made through out my tea blogging journey, and after a while, some of these friendships turned into chosen family. My chosen brother got married, and I even flew out to make tea at their wedding. With this, his wife became my new chosen sister by default. My chosen brother and I had virtual tea for several years, and when he got married, we included his wife and continued to have virtual tea with each other on a regular basis.


To my joyous surprise, they booked a trip to Colorado. They booked this trip six months in advanced, and would be traveling to see me on July 4th. With this new Chosen Family Reunion, we invited several other friends to travel to Colorado to join us on our Colorado tea shenanigans. To join us was a bi-alley from Texas and another chosen family member whom I had collaborated with previously on my blog’s talk show (who, we'll call Saxophone for the story). This couldn’t have come at a better time — this was 3-4 months after the caboose of my train had derailed and I really needed the company. I had experienced a lot of social isolation by that point, so what could be better than visiting my chosen family?


July 4th came around, the newlyweds flew in, Saxophone also flew in, and the Bi-Ally drove up from Texas. Over the course of the next three days, we had a Colorado adventure. We became tourists in my hometown, had tea at various shops, ate at various restaurants, and hiked into the mountains. After three days of non-stop adventure, Saxophone flew home, then the newlyweds flew home, then the bi-alley drove home. The trip was perfect and had a Disney ending, and everyone lived happily ever after…


You didn’t actually believe that, did you? This is my blog’s anniversary post, which is famous for being a tell-all and full of drama and whatnot. As much as I want this train car to ride along happily to the train’s destination, it won’t. 

By the way, don't you just love fourth-wall breaking? Hi reader! How are ya? Are you enjoying this year's post? I know it's a little slow at the moment, but just stick with me here. It's going to fall apart even more, I promise <3 Anywho, let's get back to the story...


After everyone left, I realized that I was wrong to connect this car to my train because it wasn't as solid as I once thought. After weeks went by, none of my chosen-family had answered my calls. Our virtual tea sessions came to an end, and the friendships that had been an instrumental part of my life had suddenly disappeared. While insecure, I reached out Saxophone and inquired as to what I did wrong. He later replied and said he had just been busy with his new internship, school, and also taking a summer trip. He then said he loved me.


I took my newfound reassurance and went to the Newly Weds and asked them about if everything was okay. They said they had also been busy and had been too busy to schedule time to catch-up with me. They also reassured me and said the Colorado trip was incredibly fun, and they had a wonderful time. I had nothing to worry about. They also told me they loved me.


However, I reached out to the Bi-Alley and confronted him with my insecurity by asking, “Are we ok?"

Ten minutes of typing later, he said that our friendship would be coming to an end. Despite that we had virtual tea for over a year, meeting me in person was different. He said that he didn’t wish to be friends with me any longer. There was no further explanation, no further reasoning, and no clarification. Our near two-year friendship was over...


It's safe to say, Insecurity entered the train car.


Despite being devastated, I looked around the train car and realized that it was now empty. I spent three years filling this car with friends who turned into family, and despite the validity of them stepping off the train, it didn’t change the fact that they had gotten off. Even as of now, while writing this post seven months later, I had only had virtual tea with Saxophone twice, and never had virtual tea with the Newley-Weds again.


Three years of consistency turned into an infinite emptiness in the matter of minutes.


I packed my carry-on, opened the door that connected this car to the first train car, and turned around to look at the hollow structure one last time. I pulled out a hatchet from my carry-on and held onto it tightly as I took a deep breath. With the swing of my hatchet, and a tear strolling down my cheek, I took a swing and detached the car from the train. The connection broke, and the train kept traveling forward — leaving the train car behind in an infinite emptiness as it became a part of this voyage’s past…




Train Car 1: New York


While traveling on the last train car on my maiden voyage (Is that exclusively a boat term...? Ok that, but whatever the train version of that is…), I realized I was in the most structurally sound train car on this entire journey. You see, despite riding in this train car now, this particular train car had been under construction since January of 2023. The construction started with a meeting with an East Coast tea company, who met with me to discuss plans surrounding my talk show's fifth and final season. At this point, I had already been in production with the final season for several months and wanted to go out with a bang. That said-bang would be hosting the premiere of my tea talk show in New York City, in a joint event with this particular tea company. I would also film three episodes of the show while in New York as well — getting double usage for this trip. This was all set to take place in the fall, and given this would be a paid event, they’d be covering my travel expenses and sponsoring the premiere. After a very successful meeting, the train car started construction.


So what did she have to do with my rail journey to New York? We’ll get back to that in a moment. 


Anywho, at the end of my successful meeting, I began writing the script for the fifth and final season of my talk show. With the format being on Youtube, I decided to take a new approach to this season — I’d scrip comedy bits that were ‘out there’, and I would also be performing in a new persona that asked absurdly silly questions to a panel. After writing a script for a character that would be zanier than myself, I lined up the panels and began filming the talk show through Zoom. I also flew to Mississippi and filmed on-location at a tea far as well. This was great because all of my friends were on board with playing along with the show’s new antics. I filmed ‘in-character’ for three-plus months, organized collaborations that spanned across the globe, and even set up a charity drive for the talk show’s final season. 


However, as the fall arrived, I realized something was missing — the tea company whom I had been planning this event with. After reaching out to them for clarification that we’d still be hosting the premiere of my talk show, they verified they had a few locations in mind to host it and our plans were foolproof. I began inviting friends to travel to New York and join the event, I took PTO from work, and the ball was finally rolling. The turbulence of the tea expo and the failed friendships were finally in the past, and I had something monumental to look forward to. It would be the revival of my career.


Except, this is my regularly scheduled anniversary blog post… You what's coming.


Three weeks before the event, I got a message from the tea company. They informed me that they hadn’t been planning for the event all summer and that there wasn’t enough time to secure a location last minute for the event. With this, they said they’d only pay for my airfare, and I’d have no place to stay when I arrived. When I confronted them about everything, they said that a place to stay didn’t encompass the parameters of the term ‘travel’. They also said they got busy and didn't mean for me to plan for an event that was no-longer happening. I didn’t save for travel to NYC because I didn’t know I’d have to budget for it three weeks in advanced. After a bit of arguing (which mostly consisted of me telling the tea company off) we parted ways. 


I was then thrown into a massive panic attack as I realized two things would now have to happen, — I’d now have to call six separate people to tell them to cancel their reservations and travel plans to New York City. When making these phone calls, I learned that four of the six people had non-refundable travel expenses that they now lost money on. With this horrific revelation, the second thing I learned that I’d now have to scrap three and a half episodes of my tea talk show, which were filmed with the intent of having filming continue in New York City. I’d have to re-film nearly half of my tea talk show and start over. 


While in a panic, I tried reaching out to my writing friend. We had grown distant since filming my talk show earlier in the spring, due to her busy schedule with her up-and-coming project. However, when asked to have virtual tea with her, she said we’d have to plan a virtual meeting with each other for almost two months out due to her new busy schedule. While upset, I looked around my train car and realized that something was odd. The train was traveling faster and faster in the opposite direction of where I was supposed to go. I jimmied open a window, stuck my head out, and saw that the train was headed directly for the Grand Canyon.


In one last-ditch effort to save my train, I used one of my last lifeline andI phoned a friend. We’ll call him Coddled Rich White Boy, who I had befriended several years prior to this. CRWB and I had grown close due to the fact he was also a tea blogger. Him and I had met at the expo, and we had spent time together for when I few out to Chicago a year prior. When reaching out to him, I expressed that I had lost a part of my career, my close friendships, and now the one thing I had left — my tea blog. I told him that I was isolated, experiencing destructive loneliness, and my mental health was slipping…

To my surprise, he understood. He told me to book plane tickets to Chicago to see him so I could take a break from my life, and I could enjoy the company of a friend. He then sent me $100 to help afford a $400 round-trip plane ticket to Chicago, with the agreement that I'd help him host a tea-tasting event he was organizing.

With my new life preserver, my train switched courses and was now driving along the edge of the Grand Canyon.


Except, a two weeks later (a week away from seeing him on the same weekend I was supposed to go to New York), CRWB called me to tell me that a family reunion was happening the same weekend I was supposed to fly out and see him, so he made reservations to see his family instead. He canceled his event, I had to cancel my flight, and I told him I needed space from him. I told him that I felt betrayed, and inevitably, our friend ship ended.


I snapped. 


I started posting pleas for help on social media, and asked various friends for help. I was becoming suicidal and realized that I had a constant panic attack that lasted for three straight weeks. I looked around and I now had zero friendships, a tanked blogging and writing career, and a show that I had been working on all year — just falling apart last minute. I had lost over $300 on my trip to Chicago, caused four people to lose money on travel plans because of me, and was completely isolated from everyone who once mattered to me. 


As I sat in the last remaining train car of social and career isolation, with the train repositioning its GPS to go full-steam ahead into the Grand Canyon, I will ask you — the reader: 


How many friends watched me suffer and struggle, to the point that I was on the brink of death? How many people in my life do YOU think offered assistance to help get me off this train ride that was plummeting into the everlasting Canyon of depression and suicidal ideation?


Zero.


Everyone in my life became a witness to my mental health downfall as my train finally derailed, and headed straight for the canyon. As the train’s whistle began to blow full steam, ran to the back door of the last train car, swung the door violently open, ran, and jumped off the train as the train plummeted off of the edge of the canyon — disappearing into the abyss forever… 


(Photo credit: Saraii Seleste Photography, at Trident Booksellers in Boulder, Colorado)



Finale: Walking the Desert


As I walked away from the canyon of dispare, I called another tea blogger during a panic attack. For the story’s sake, I was wandering endlessly in the desert. In reality, I was on the rooftop of a high parking garage and was ready to jump off with a note in hand. 

This particular blogger talked me out my panic attack and helped calm me down.


But, how did I end up on a rooftop, ready to jump?


Well, shit continued to hit the fan. After pushing back the premiere of my talk show by a month, and scrambling to put together a show that was half-scrapped and re-shot last minute, I was accused of being on drugs. Despite giving a disclaimer before filming my panels, most of the panelists quickly distanced themselves from me and thought my being ‘in character’ was just a mask for me being an addict. While I had worked on the scrips for the panel for almost a full year at this point, what really hurt about these accusations was that not one person reached out to me to ask if I was okay… I wasn’t on drugs, but hell, if you saw me trippin' so bad that you thought I was winning gold for the Long Jump at the Olympics, I would hope that at least one person would ask how my mental state was.


My show went to shit, my freelance writing career went to shit, my social life went to shit, and I was isolated more than ever. With carrying a weight that was too heavy, and with the help of a fellow blogger, I found a therapist and started getting help. I began therapy, and slowly walked further into the desert and far away from the edge of the Grand Canyon.


As far as my friendship with the ‘coddled rich white kid’ goes, that also hit me pretty hard. I had harbored this friendship for around two years, and when I needed him most, he canceled on me. It wasn’t like we lived in the same city and our places were canceled last minute — I had invested over $400+ to visit him when I had reached rock bottom. When someone is drowning and you send them a life preserver, just to pull it right back and say ‘sike! I gotch’ya’, was very hard for me to accept. I knew he had issues of his own, but I still took time from this friendship.

After a few months of distance, I ran into him at the MidWest Tea Fest, where he was representing a tea company. After trying to come around to this friendship again and extending an olive-branch, he sent me a few angry texts — saying I was initially wrong to throw away our friendship. But, was I wrong to take time to myself to recover, when he left our friendship first?

I say no. He would say yes. But when I took time to myself to recover from how he hurt me, he claimed I 'disrespected his namesake'.


(I uh, I dunno how to respond to 'disrespecting his namesake' besides, how white-boy of him to respond that way but here we are).


While in my recovery, I had also reached out to the Newly Wed couple and the Saxophone friend who visited me in the summer. They all chatted with me on the phone, reassured me that our friendship was okay and I had nothing to worry about. I had to accept that although they still had love for me, the the dynamic of our friendships had changed -- and that's okay. They weren't wrong, and neither was I. They are the greatest three people I'll ever meet... I don't have a point with this, besides that I just love miss them.


This past year in my blog has had some bright spots, such as getting to film the talk show at The Great Mississippi Tea Farm and getting to go to the MidWest Tea Festival as a consultant for Snarky Tea. I also got to have my own tea cake pressed for the talk show, and also mat a lot of lovely people from the Colorado Tea Society (hi Peter, hi Jenn, and hi Brian!) . However, when it was all said and done I still walked into my apartment to find an empty home; I was still alone in the desert. 


It's not like I haven't tried making connections with people offline either. My failure at doing so would require a separate post, but one of the amazing things about the online community I had is that I could fall back on my online friendships. I mean, most of us were friends for several years who had virtual tea with each other on a regular basis, so it wasn't as much a fallback as much as it was a part of my life. However, for the remainder of my virtual friends all dropped out of my life. Through rumors, I heard that they dropped out of my life because they were also going through something. Instead of reaching out like me, they all reacted with an avoidant-attachment style, and when shit hit the fan for them, they dropped out of my life.


I watched nearly all of my virtual friendships fall apart and avoid me, yet still post on a regular basis because they said it helped their mental health -- but not so much that they shut me out and disappeared from my life. If my friends can't share their life with me, and be honest, and shut me out and ghost me, then I don't need any further proof of the way in which I perceived the valued those relationships, was not the actuality of how they were actually valued...


If a friend shuts me out (like, the coddled rich kid from Chicago for example), it's not up to me to understand them if they don't communicate that they're going through something. If I reach out to them and try to obtain a better understanding of them and they're avoidant, then it's not really on me to save those friendships because they never gave me the opportunity to be understanding of them or their struggle...

Could I have reached out to them and ask for reassurance again? Sure, I could have but didn't because simply, I didn't fucking feel like it. I couldn't deal with being ghosted again. My heart longs for them and I miss them terribly. However, I read somewhere earlier in the year that the term love is not a noun, it's a verb. Relationships go both ways, and it takes two people to make any kind of relationship work.


Some of the other friends I've made with other tea bloggers have expressed that they want to spend time with me and want to meet over tea, but only under the condition of meeting at the Expo -- the same expo that launched the start of my series of unfortunate petty events...

After expressing to so many of them that I would meet them anywhere else, and meet under different circumstances, they went silent. This in itself, made me feel devalued in these friendships as well. I don't blame them, because really, I was miserable around the majority of the tea friends I met in Vegas (due to the circumstances) and probably left a bad taste in their mouth.


Maybe I'm part to blame for this.

Maybe I ran them off.

Maybe I was clingy to some of these friends because I felt my reality slip through my hands and witness my world fall apart in real-time, and they distanced themselves so they wouldn't have to be apart of a derailing train.

Maybe if I was on a train that was derailing and I was desperate for help, maybe I needed people in my life who were understanding and loving, instead of avoidant.


Maybe I needed love and compassion, but, got silence and ghosting instead...


While walking in my desert, another tea blogger reached out to me and said the best way to fix my problem is to practice spending time by myself.

This social isolation hit even harder with the realization that I have gone seven months of the year without a hug from friends or family -- three months being the longest stretch without one. My loneliness is already killing me enough as it is, so the idea of being even-more alone feels like a death sentence...


I’m now walking into my eighth year in blogging and trying to find my way out of the desert. While trying to navigate social isolation, loneliness, and lack of community, I can at least say I’ve made a lot of progress with my therapist and I’m no longer suicidal.


No longer being suicidal should feel like an accomplishment, but it just feels like that the bar for recovery is still set too low -- especially when I feel more isolated now than I ever had. 


I’ll be walking out of this dry heat, and will be searching for a way out of this desert. 


My heart is hurting,


I’m sunburnt,


and dehydrated,


but I’ll be finding my way out of this desert the same way I began this journey… 


…alone


~Cody Wade

Aka The Oolong Drunk 


(Photo credit: Saraii Seleste Photography, at Trident Booksellers in Boulder, Colorado)



Also, P.S.


To the Oregon tea company who blocked me on Instagram when I told them they had a ‘white savior complex’ over their belief that all of the world’s wars were fought over tea, I have one question for you: How did I know that you were born a rich white kid who only dates Asian women?

How exactly did I know that?

For some reason, rich straight white guys LOVE Asian women, and claim that they are unique for drinking a drink that has caused all of the world's wars…


If you are a straight white man from America whose parents have an exuberant amounts of money, and you identify as a tea drinker, the following message also pertains to you as well so listen up:


Tea does not need a white savor, and you are not unique for drinking the second most drank beverage in the world. You did not invent tea, you did not invent tea culture, and you are not a part of the trade history of the tea industry.

Does the tea trade have involvement in some wars? Yes. But with the same logic, you could also stupidly argue that red lights cause all traffic accidents for people who run red lights…

In case my example is too complex for your 'I read Marvel comics and I can save her’ brain, I’m here to tell you that involvement does NOT equate causation


I'm also afraid to ask for the opinion of how this fits into WWII, because I'm afraid you'd say that WWII was caused when Hitler got pissed at China over the tea trade and took it out on the Jewish race, you idiotic fuckface. 


But, you know that making a statement like that would be incorrect, right?

Do you also realize that when you manipulate a complex Asian history into your Anglo-Saxon American narrative, you're making a racist statement, right?


You’re not unique; you’re a coddled rich white kid loser who has never had to work a real day in his life, and you’ll amount to nothing.


Go outside, touch grass, and go fuck yourself with your parent's money and go fuck yourself with your racism.


Oh, wait, are some of my assumptions about you wrong? Oh, my bad, you of all people should understand the feeling of grossly misrepresenting something to fit your personal narrative. Silly me! I wonder where I learned that from!?


That is all...


 

If you want to read previous-year's Blog Anniversary posts, you can check them out here:



Special thanks to the talented photographer Saraii, whose work can be found here! If you happen to be in Denver and need photos taken of yourself, please reach out to her!


Also, more special thanks to Trident Booksellers and Cafe, who gave me permission to have my photos taken at their shop. Trident has become one of my absolute favorite hang-out spots, and has been a place of safety for me over the past year. You can buy their teas online here!


Please show them some love :)

1 Comment


franklyteas
Jan 08

Wow, your honesty and clarity of voice is amazing. Thank you for holding people accountable as well. Also, feel free to reach out if you ever need an ear to listen and vent to.

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