Five years ago this week I first started writing journal entries and putting them online. At the time, I was posting them to some measly half-acre of free webspace I’d staked out and called “candyboots.homestead.com.” I wrote the entries in Netscape Composer. Every time I wrote a new entry I’d open up the file for the last entry and erase the text and type something new. Then I’d upload the page, again and again and again and again. It felt cumbersome and weird, like trying to play piano with a stick in your teeth.
It was about a week before Thanksgiving. I was in the midst of one of my most Weight Watchful phases and and I didn’t want to lose myself in the holidays. I wrote about going to the gym so that I would keep going to the gym. I wrote about Swiss Colony Dobosh Torte so that I could remember, for future reference, exactly what kicked my ass at Christmas dinner. I think when I wrote these entries I did so with the idea that they were just notes to myself, and I tried to make them funny for the benefit of whoever else might be reading. Which was nobody at first. Just the idea that someone else could be reading was enough.
When I first started, I didn’t disclose my last name or what city I lived in; I was just “Wendy Something-or-Other” and I lived “in the Midwest.” This was considered a perfectly sensible approach and not bugfucking paranoid at all. Usually you had a either a first name or a nickname. And either you almost never posted your own photo, or else you totally did and you had a webcam and maybe sometimes also a hinky sense of personal boundaries. You were either on Diaryland or your own domain. You were either an online journaler or a blogger, and if you were a blogger, you tended to write more about CSS standards than about your inner life.
What else was different: I lived in a studio apartment and I had dial-up access. Some of my friends were different. And this is very hard to measure, but I don’t think I felt quite as part of the world as I do now. I don’t know how much of that had to do with my body and how much is just a matter of becoming settled. I know just that there’s no sense of solitary existence when I write for this site anymore. And I think I’m glad for this, though you might have to be me to understand why. Maybe not.
Anyway, Happy Thanskgiving! That low-point pumpkin pie recipe they give out at the Weight Watchers meetings still tastes like ass. Like hell. Like licking powdered Cremora off a truck tire. Some things never change.