9 Jan 2010, 7:28pm
5 comments

pastfuture

i will write about new mexico, but i want to write a little about portland, first. and the new decade and all of that. a few days ago i took a break from my frenzied cleaning (the apartment is sparkling for the first time in longer than i would like to admit) to walk to the library. in my coat and hat and gloves i felt warm and cozy as i drifted through the weather–rain that did not quite fall but rather seemed to hang suspended in the air. new mexico was beautiful and portland is home.

when i was seventeen i wrote a little thing i probably envisioned as a prose poem of sorts and called it “what i remember, in case i die tomorrow.” it began “when i was five i” and all the paragraphs started like that, “when i was six,” “when i was seven,” and so on. i was thinking about it ’cause i was thinking about this past decade and i wanted to do a little summary of it sort of like that. in 2000 i, in 2001 i, etc. in my head i started in on 2000, and then i got distracted by the whole decade and what it has been for me.

in early 2000 i started keeping an online journal. it was on teenopendiary.com, which no longer exists and which now sounds to me sort of like a porn site. after that i used opendiary, and then i learned html and used pitas, diaryland, blogspot when it first existed, livejournal, greymatter installed on my very own domain name (stayshuh.net; i thought that was really witty), livejournal again, another domain name (lunisolar.net; i thought that was really mysterious and deep) where i tediously typed out the html for every single update for awhile and then installed greymatter again (it was the hip blogging platform back in the days before wordpress), and finally, livejournal again. and this here blog. hi blog.

i also had websites on any number of now-defunct servers with .nu domains that would provide free ad-free webspace to teenage girls who liked writing html and using frames and pop-outs and drop-down menus and kept personal sites with little bios and photos of (yes) their feet and maybe some poems. (yeah, so i never really left that behind.) i don’t remember my web addresses at any of those sites, but i do remember that i and other teenage girls on these sites would include in our bios a list of our previous internet addresses. you know, like: prettily.nu/belleslettres or spectra.unravel.net. sometimes girls who owned domain names would “host” other girls on their websites. when i owned lunisolar.net i hosted some of my friends. but mostly i kept my internet life and my “real” life separate and i would get sort of nervous and awkward when one of my school friends would bring up my internet existence, unless it was one friend who was my “sister” in an online roleplaying world that we both spent a pretty ridiculous amount of time in in 2000 and 2001. this entry is getting longer and more unwieldy than i intended.

in 2000, i created the persona i spent half the decade becoming. she had pink hair, a tattoo, piercings, and an outgoing personality to match, and she (unlike unbearably shy me-at-the-time) talked to strangers. on the internet. i remember the day in 2005 when i realized i had become her (as i walked through campus in turquoise shitkicker boots and a summer dress, my pink hair blowin’ against my shoulders in the breeze) and i had rarely felt better about anything. i suspect that someday i will even feel secure enough in my identity to place less importance on its external markers, but in the meantime i am so thrilled every time i look in the mirror to see the me i have created, the sum of choices i have made. i am still working on the talking to strangers thing, though.

i don’t remember the beginning of the 90s, and while i’m sure the difference between me in in 1990 (when i turned 5) and me in 2000 (when i turned 15) was astronomical, i am in more of a position, brain-development-wise, to be blown away now at the difference between 2000-me and 2010-me. in 2000 i hadn’t even figured out the questions yet, much less the answers to them. what fun i have had creating myself! i feel like the History of Me–if that is what i am trying to write here–is, in many many ways, the History of Me and the Internet. well, i dunno. it’s the history of a lot of other things, too.

i wrote this last june:
“i like to scout things out… places, before i go to them (i bike past, i show up early, etc); ideas, before i commit to them or even admit an interest in them, etc etc etc. this is why the internet is both wonderful (because it lets me do this) and horrible (because it lets me do this). mostly wonderful, i think. i was telling this to a. and he said, ‘i was thinking about it, and i think we have different relationships to the internet because i sort of grew up with a lot of these ideas and you wouldn’t even know about them if it weren’t for the internet,’ which is pretty true. goodness bless the internet!”
but i think i am getting braver. maybe my personal Age of the Internet is drawing to a close. time will tell–it always gives up its secrets sooner or later.

other things in my last decade:
* my parents ceased to be archetypes and became people (to me).
* god ceased to be an archetype and became first nothing and then everything (to me).
* i turned down a peculiar travel suggestion to go to cambodia for a summer and help my childhood best friend teach music to cambodian kids, because i was scared. i regret that a lot and have been trying really hard ever since not to miss those dancing lessons.
* the usual growing up stuff: i fell in love a few times; i chose a home; i left institutional schooling after 16+ years and tried hard to make my own way.

i just–you know–the way we keep accumulating more knowledge and more memories, and then even more. when i was a kid there would be a new group of people for me to be friends with every two to four years, it felt like, and we’d begin all over again that accumulation of memories together. now i live in portland and i go to dance parties at the houses of friends i have known for a pretty significant chunk of a decade, and i look around at the beautiful people i have leaned on and cried to and laughed with and all of that, and a wonderful friend of mine who i met in 1999 just moved here to portland too and i love her a lot and i love all these people a lot, the new ones, too, so much, and–

it just blows my mind, that’s all, this whole growing up thing and this whole living thing and this whole planet that’s evolving and revolving at nine hundred miles an hour and the fact that maybe a few of you caught that monty python reference just now. and how every person is more than they seem to be, and every thing, too.

written mid-decade:
“life is a constant journey towards forgiving myself. my feelings, my past. nothing exceptional; just a lot of trying to know and understand myself. all i want to do tonight is read about peace and other, faraway worlds. o world, grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change, and the courage to change the things i can. world, help me understand how good it feels to cry alone at sunset, and world, help me to believe it’s not just selfish self-indulgence. world, you amaze and astonish me; help me to believe in your beauty and your promise.”

found written on a bathroom wall earlier in the decade:
“i can’t pinpoint when i fell in love with the world. some days its intensity feels like a burden–but anything is better than the nothing i once had inside me. when i am overwhelmed with beauty, emotion, the sheer size of it all, so much that i am incapacitated, i must remind myself to give thanks–i am blessed to feel so much.”

i took a lot of self portraits this decade, as a way of making sense of who i was becoming and learning how to own my body. here are some of them. i wonder what the next decade will look like. here is a less gussied-up picture of me now, with my absolutely enormous master gardener handbook:

vive le passé et vive l’avenir! i am pretty excited.

It never fails to amaze me how many of the women I keep with online now were a part of that personal site deal. I was too… what you wrote struck such a chord! I didn’t think anybody remembered pitas except for me. Wow.

Anyway, I’ll be in Portland this spring (April) for a few days, and if you’re up to it, we should hang out.

you don’t know me and i live on a different continent, but i’ve been following your blog in its various forms for quite awhile now… does that make me a creepy internet stalker? the point is, your attitudes to life and the way you write about them have represented points of inspiration for me over time… i often find something on here to cheer me up when i’m down. dropping this note in the hope that it makes you smile.

thanks, m, your comment did make me smile.

annie: for sure!

[...] got an aol account at the age of 13 (i think). i started blogging at 14. i wrote about some of this a few years ago, when i was reflecting on the first decade of this millenium and on a decade of journaling [...]

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