On Online Diarrhists / 11 July 2001
I’m a freelancer writing a story about online Diarists for The Montreal Gazette. I’ve been enjoying your site for a while now and was wondering if you’d take the time to answer a few questions for my article.
My deadline is next week, so unfortunately I’d need a response by Sunday at the latest. Hope to hear from you. If not, have a great weekend and keep up a great site :).
1. What are your vital stats (name, age, occupation, city of residence, anything else you think is vitally important about you)?
please … please i beg you … AB+ … posthaste … so very sleepy—
2. What motivated you to start the site and what makes you continue?
Kapn Krafty, he a digging friendly muskrat in my backyard! And I get sad and lonely late at night, sneak out under the porch and he tell me stories, sometimes made up right out of his head, others mostly out of the Book of Jesus.
3. How much time do you spend on your site each week?
All. The Riddle of the Heptographers is what does it. A period somewhere on the site is a “hyperlink” leading industrious readers to a secret page explaining the rules and the prize, and, because of the nature of the game, I’m required to constantly make minute alterations to random words on random pages of this site. The delta between old and new are then discovered and summed up by the participants to create pieces of an ongoing riddle, a string that has reached, as of this morning, over 12,000 characters. Kit Williams, you hairy hippie, return to me!
4. How many hits have you had?
Funny, strange, small old world. I had a tiny black notebook back in the day, spiralbound along the top, embarrassingly large line-height, as the man says, and I’d jot down coincidences and repeated themes. Desperate to find patterns and better improve my chances at successful aeromancy. E.g., turned out to be my very own father, and 666 (seriously, the number keeps coming up, like in my college student ID number, prompting one cafeteria employee [whose job it was to jot the number on the back of a meal pass] to suggest I get the number changed, especially with “a good Christian name such as [mine]”; later that same quarter she leaned over and accidentally [?] allowed me a peek of her nipple), and broken shoes, and I wish I still had it with me, since your question was asked at no less than four separate job interviews and I’d want to add it to the list.
5. How many e-mails do you get?
I made a triumphant return to HotWired on Monday, having lunch with E, and the place is a ghost town, silent and echo-ridden. There are also vast holes being dug in the surrounding streets. The heated argument over whether to change the Official Style Guide to “email” from “e-mail,” locking horns with Wired News there in the little conference room with an open section near the ceiling (prompting the laserprinted bulletin: Keep your voice down if you are discussing confidential information) suddenly seemed a little unnecessary. I get very few emails, and I comfort myself by thinking that everyone is assuming that others are doing the writing. I felt bad when Troy said something about how he redid his whole site and added new stuff and got no reaction to it, and I realized I’d enjoyed the new design and new stuff and didn’t think to write and say so. I am a foul hypocrite.
6. Where do you work?\
[ * ]
7. Does your employer know about the diary? If so, do they care?
Excerpts from emails from previous employers: “This is exactly what the deer looked like after I hit it with my car but before I attempted the tracheotomy.” [kw] “On our third time around Bjork walked by us, so did Goldie Hawn and Juliette Binoche.” [h2] “What do old lady undies look like? I’m serious, I wanna know.” [dro]
8. Have you made any friends through your site (online or face-to-face)?
I went to Fray Day last year (I know) — Jim and I were just talking about this, remembering the last time we’d seen each other “F2F,” the time when his car’s GPS system [sic] was shouting over the drunken revelers in the backseat using the word cunt in the presence of his wife who prudently waited in the car while what we’d hoped would be titillating kitsch turned into a kind of bleak despair. Everyone shorter than expected, but that wasn’t the problem, it was that peculiar brand of passive-aggressive smugness and laziness that comes from the pathetic memoir spoken aloud, acceptable only when delivered to a paying customer, i.e., a therapist. Made me flat-out angry, and even rounding out the evening in the basement of a lesbian bar didn’t help matters any.
9. Has a reader ever done anything that made you uncomfortable?
The thing Alexis did with the crayons was funny at first, but … but I don’t know anymore.
10. Do you ever feel like you’re a little bit famous?
The trick is to lull your interviewee into a sense of boastful entitlement, getting them to unwind and spew out some quotable howlers for your article. The mere possibility that your newspaper (and P.S. the fact that people can still earn a living writing about online Diarists is reason enough for me to head for the Great White North) might be interested in my thoughts is usually enough to get me in the appropriate mode, but the vibe is sullied when you add the “little bit” qualifier. The illusion is ruined, the interviewee is already seeing the sinister spin that the article could take and is probably reminded of the hundreds of likeminded stories over the years that are essentially the textual version of a “get this” mini-story at the end of a local newscast.
11. There seems to be a community of diarists on the Web. Do you keep in touch with other diarists?
We prefer to be called diarrhists! Please!
12. How does it feel to know that complete strangers are familiar with intimate details of your life?
Fuck, it’s sexy. You can’t imagine the frisson. It’s like when I take off all my clothes in front of the window and stand there, idly, deciding which pair of underwear I’ll put on after my shower. It’s exactly like that, actually — only three or four people can see me and when they do, they look away and remember never to glance in that direction again.
13. Is keeping an online journal an introverted activity or an extroverted one?
No one puts it better than Granma, who calls it storytelling as psycho-electrical rape.
14. Would you keep a diary anyway, or is it being online that interests you? I mean, is it more about keeping a journal or sharing yourself with an online community?
To quote the irascible Diaryland Hammy: “I feel like I’m writing into a void, and if I wanted that feeling, I’d scrawl in the margins of the phone book and throw it away when I was done.” Phone books keep coming up.
15. How important is reader input to the success of Fireland?
Can you have an orgasm with absolutely no friction whatsoever? I get the feeling there are some people who can do that, just because there’s always someone who can do something, just sit there and concentrate, probably, and get something going, just sitting there, arms crossed. That would be so weird.
16. How much do your readers have the right to know?
Let’s get one thing straight right out the gate: My readers mean everything to me. We have the kind of connection you only dream about, and even those dreams are tepid and tenuous, scaredy, because a small part of you wonders if you could even handle it. Let me ask you a few questions. Would you be willing to make the necessary sacrifices? Would you be able to give up that much of yourself and suffer the intense emotional highs? Would the fire cleanse or burn? Do you even have the capacity to love someone completely and selflessly?
17. Has your diary affected your real-life personal relationships?
I now go by the name Fireland Josh, having long since abandoned my meaningless surname for this far more powerful and recognizable title of honor. “Goodness me, who was that?” they say, sort of batting their hands to cool the breasts that are stuffed into too-tight bodices. “Him? ‘At’s Fireland Josh, it is.” “Really,” they say, almost to themselves.
18. What need does your site fill for you?
Chronic administration of morphine in rats shrinks dopamine neurons in the reward circuit. The receiving branches, called dendrites, wither and the filaments that transport important substances down the neuron’s axon are reduced.
19. Is your online life very separate from your real life, or do you sometimes feel the lines blurring?
I am currently shacked up with someone whom Jim once called The Most Annoying Girl on the Internet.
20. Do you think you’ll ever stop?
No, never, ever, ever, don’t you even think it!