As the Charley Project’s fifth birthday approaches (on October 12, if you want to send cards) I feel it’s time to sit back and take a look at how things are going.
Charley started out with, I believe, a little over 4,000 cases, mostly taken from the former MPCCN (trashed by hackers, poor thing). There was just one listing for them, the geographical one. Over time I added alphabetical and chronological listings, and I started posting more runaway cases and family abductions, and I nearly doubled the number of cases profiled. There are now… hmm … *counts* 7,732. Not counting the cases I plan to post with today’s update. And of course there is this blog, the newest innovation.
I am proud of what I have accomplished. Jennifer Marra started it all, it’s true, and if she hadn’t handed the MPCCN over to me back in 2003 I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now. I owe her a great deal for that and I never forget it. But Charley is bigger and better than the MPCCN now — much better organized, for example. I believe, without any kind of ego, that it is the very best site of its kind.
I’ve taken short vacations from time to time — sometimes I was traveling, sometimes I was sick, sometimes I just needed a break. And one long vacation to work on my writing. Lately, the last three or four months, I’ve been updating less. Part of it was the stress caused by the attack — I wasn’t able to accomplish much of anything for awhile. And I think (as a result of the rape or otherwise) that I’ve kind of reset my priorities a little. I’ve realized that it’s not my job to save the world, or to find all the missing people in the world, or to catalog all their cases. That I don’t HAVE to spend two or four or six hours every day doing updates, if I don’t want to. I’ve been trying to reserve a little more time for me: to sleep, to read, to write, to hang out with my boyfriend, to play computer games, to play with my rats. Last night I went with my boyfriend to a smoky small-town bar (he does computer work for the owner) and sat at the table eating a hamburger and drinking a strawberry margarita and playing Civ4 while he sat across from me doing whatever he does. It was very nice just to be with him, not doing anything in particular, just hanging out. We don’t get to spend as much time together as we should, and we couldn’t have gone out last night if I had chosen to update instead.
I much enjoy working on Charley. I wouldn’t do if I didn’t love it. But I have to say that lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed. I think it may be because of an information overload: five years ago, there was no NamUs, there was no Nebraska state clearinghouse, there weren’t nearly as many news agencies and blogs online as there are now. There’s a lot more available online now about missing people than ever before, and I’m struggling to keep up with it all. I don’t know whether I should reduce operations, or just try to carry on as I do now, taking it easy and updating when I can. I just don’t want to get burned out. I haven’t found anyone whom I could trust to assist me in writing and updating cases. I have very high standards for that, standards which most people can’t meet, and I’ve seen other similar sites go downhill after they take on more people.
I can only hope that I can continue to work on Charley for as long as possible, through thick and thin and all that, and five years from now we’ll be celebrating ten years of the Charley Project. I don’t see any reason why that can’t happen — after all, I’ve kept it up this long, and it’s bigger and better than ever before.
Signing off. Adieu.