Busy Day, Getting Meta

14 August 2001

Good mornin', baby.

When Jenny and Christopher were still dating, Jen would come into the physics office every morning and say, in her sweet Georgia drawl, "Good mornin', baby." And Christopher's voice would get about an octave deeper than usual, and he'd say, "Morning, baby." Did Heather and I make fun of him for it? Oh. Would we have done something like that?

Not Heather, of course; didn't meet her until we moved out here. A different Heather. Sometimes I wish my friends would get weirder names, so that it doesn't sound like I'm making them up. "And my friend, um, shoot, what's a normal name for someone my age? Jen. Yes, that's it. Jen." "Didn't you have a friend Jen last week?" "Um, this is a different friend Jen." "How many friends Jen do you have?" I used to be jealous of Scott's friends, because they had names like Imran and India. Now they have normal names like Jenny and Steve. They didn't change their names, though. He just got some additional friends.

This morning, Michelle and I have been e-mailing back and forth. I would say we've been having an argument about realism, but that would require us to take different sides. So instead, we've been having a mutual gripe-fest about realism. Elaborating upon each other's points and providing further examples. With the number of theoretical points of agreement we have, you'd think that Michelle and I would be able to arrive at a larger number of books we can actually enjoy in common.

It's going to be a busy day here in M'risland. I'm working on the Not The Moose Book and research related thereto this morning. I have come to the conclusion that books about spies can be the most boring things in the world. More boring than obscure Reformation debate position papers, and yes, I've read some of those in the original. But I'm so excited about the NTMB, I don't even care if the research would otherwise be boring, because the wheels are constantly spinning. I'm also working on a short story that sprung full-grown from the head of a discussion of MZB's old guidelines. It's going to be lots of fun. Just trust me here. Anything with a brain-sucking performance artist has to be at least a little fun. One would hope.

Anyway, eventually I will get cleaned up and Timprov will get cleaned up and we will both get on BART to meet Avi for lunch. (Avi! A name that nobody else has! Except a friend of Timprov's from high school...but this isn't his journal.) And then I'll come home and work some more and probably chatter at Timprov about the NTMB, and work on [a not-directly-writing project I will talk more about later]. And then Mark will come home and we will go to La Papillion for dinner. La Papillion! The remaining French restaurant in our immediate suburban area. We tried the A St. Cafe, which lost, big. We tried La Maison, which started out really well, but went downhill a bit. I don't like being lied to about what's on the menu! And now, Papillion.

There's a suburb named that near my home suburb, also one called La Vista. And we have a La Vista Quarry right near us. On our road trip up to Portland last summer, Mark and I were pondering, wondering what town names were the most common and whether any state in the contiguous U.S. lacked an Oak Creek. It's weird that Fremont (a freaky town in Nebraska) and Newark (an airport, as far as I'm concerned) have their California analogues right next to each other. And we confused my mother last "winter" by telling her that Amber was moving to Pittsburgh and would thus be a lot closer than when she was in Berkeley. (We lived in Concord at the time, and Pittsburgh was a close northern suburb.) Are there really that few things that people are willing to name their cities? Why not go out on a limb?

This is why it frustrates me when people use New New York for a colony/city name in SF novels. Even when Joe Haldeman does it. Because there are so many other things that people could name cities. So many themes they could go with. Also, I don't believe that New Yorkers would be willing to call anything else New York, even if they were willing to leave it and its gravity well forever. And non-New Yorkers -- why would we want to do so?

Anyway. Well. Yesterday I was asked by a very nice reader if I knew of any good entries that were "meta," that were about the experience of web-journaling. I pointed him to Tim's, or will once I get the e-mail sent out. (I have this horrible habit of writing bits of e-mail at a time and postponing them to do something else and then having five or six half-written e-mails sitting around.) But Tim's was kind of a "why do you do this" entry -- appropriate, since that's the question I asked him. (Yes, the lovely correspondent in question was me.) I guess I've got a stab at the question the very nice reader actually asked me: "What's it like to keep a web journal?" (The rest of this entry is about that topic, so if you're not interested, stop reading, come on back tomorrow and I'll talk about something else.)

Um. It's like any other journal, for one thing: just pouring out random thoughts, rants, ideas, whatever. But it's also like getting everyone you know together in a room, and everyone they know, and talking to them a little bit every day. Only you're never really sure which of them are listening, or which of them are really interested by a given entry. I don't keep a hit count or any kind of tracker, myself, so I have no idea who's reading me and how often. If I lose one of you guys, I never know about it. Often I don't know you were there in the first place.

Some people keep their journals with the assumption that some people will never find/read them. Some people take steps to make sure the people who know them won't find/read them unless asked to. I don't do that. For one thing, I'm a writer. If you like my rants, I hope you'll like my stories. Someone asked me once if I did this to get fans for my stories and books when they start coming out. Not really...but if it works out that way, what harm? I can understand why some people want a webpage that their friends and family will not find if they do a search. I'm not doing this for the same reasons, though.

So when I write an entry, I assume that everybody I know could be reading it. Everybody. I know that my parents read me daily, but I can't do a total ordering of who is likely to read me, in order of the people I'm close to. Scott (the one who doesn't go with Michelle) only looks at my webpage when I give him specific URLs, and he's been one of my World's Favorite People, best friends, people I'd take a bullet for, for the last eleven years as of the end of this month.

(Sorry, I just need to take a moment and think about that. Eleven years. I'm twenty-three. Do you know what this means? As of next year, I will have had Scott in my life for more than half of it. That's so cool.)

I got an e-mail from my friend Erica a few weeks ago, and one of the things she said was that she figured out why she didn't write to me as much as she used to: because she reads my journal every day, so she doesn't have to give me the stimulus of a new e-mail to answer in order to keep up on what's going on in my life. (Which is great for her, but....) And I've gotten "get well, darn it!" messages from people I didn't know were reading my journal -- old friends, ex-boyfriends, whoever.

So what does all this mean? It means I'm a little more careful than I otherwise could be. I wrote an entry last month that was very angry, an open letter to someone I know. I didn't use his name, but it was clearly him, and anybody who knew me at that point in my life could have picked out that it was him. I've also made reference to some people who have disappointed me, although again, I haven't used their names. In that case, it feels more like I'm talking at a big party, and after something has escaped my lips, I look around, quickly, to see if someone heard me who shouldn't have.

In some ways it is like writing a letter to a friend, as you, oh very nice reader, theorized. And people do respond to you as if you are becoming their friend. But first of all, friendship has to be reciprocal, so it's more like writing to a friend from college who has gotten to be really busy with his own life and never writes you back, despite always claiming to be eager to hear from you. (Not that I have any of those. Nope.) And then, it's not. Liz and I wrote each other letters for years, and the fact that we read each other's online journals hasn't killed them. Hasn't even weakened them. Because I don't write journal entries to Liz, even though sometimes I address her in an aside.

Getting mail from people who read my journal is a new thing for me still. I wrote to Heather about someone who said he read both of our journals, and she was not at all fazed; she's been doing this for enough longer than I have that it seemed like a fairly normal thing to her, especially since the person in question was not scary in any way. I can understand how people whose journals you read can seem fictional, almost. Meeting Karen when I had read her journal was more than a bit surreal, but that was pretty early on. Now I just keep in mind that the people whose journals I read don't necessarily know me, and that they're not fictional characters. Most of the journals I read are friends or friends of friends, so that makes it easier to keep track of their reality. But I don't think that's the only way to do it.

(My mom doesn't follow links. If I specifically write to her and say "follow this link" or "here's a URL I'd like to share," then she'll follow links. Otherwise, she has no interest in reading other people's journals. Why would she? she reasons. She doesn't know them. And I really can't fault her logic on that one.) (It did make me leave off a link the other day, though: I was going to comment that I'd found some really good porn, stuff that really made me drool, and then link to some pictures of Minneapolis. But if Mom doesn't follow the links....)

I don't feel like I'm fictionalizing my life in this thing. I write my fiction in different files, and while it spills over into this journal in some ways, it doesn't feel the same at all. And my fiction spills over into everything, so I'm used to it.

So. I don't know how new this is, very nice reader. Nor how deep. But keeping an online journal isn't quite like anything else, and I'm still getting used to how it goes.

I'm really curious as to why Mary Anne thinks I'd have a better idea of where there are interesting "meta" entries than she does, though.

Back to Morphism.

And the main page.

Or the last entry.

Or the next one.

Or even send me email.