html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Year One.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Year One.

I didn’t expect much when I started the blog. I knew I was unhappy and wanted a boyfriend, and I made a decision to put myself out in the world more. That was about the extent of my thought. I started with vague intentions, and have been thoroughly surprised by how much From The Archives captured my attention for the year. It is the predominant thing I did in 2006. By and large, it went well, but there are real pros and cons.

Without a doubt, the most annoying thing about having the blog is that now I have to check my email spam. I missed some important emails at the beginning, and I find a real email from you guys every few weeks. That is too much to write off, so now I have to scan the spam box. It is a small but constant nuisance.

I don’t like how the blog pulls my attention from the moment. I’ve compared the blog to a long-distance relationship before, and it has some of the same downsides. I feel like a piece of me has been teased out and spread over the internet; I am not entirely here and present. I wonder what people I’ve never met are doing; I wonder whether people have responded to my posts; I track strangers’ interactions. All of that detracts from my life in the real world.

I got involved in internets drama this year, and I hate drama. In general, I’m thick-skinned and not looking for grievances. To a surprising degree, I’ve found I don’t care about ridiculous misinterpretations of my words, ‘cause if people can read me and be that off-base, fuck ‘em. But I also got mixed up with people I do respect and I hate authentic conflict so much that I question the value of any activity that leads to it.

I haven’t liked being a host for viewpoints I don’t respect. A conspicuous example is the gender-based strategizing for dating; that crap goes against everything I believe about people. I’ve also seen a rather callous disregard for people, especially people in poverty. I don’t like being reminded that real people, with whom I have enough in common that they are attracted to my writings, think that way.

You guys have made my life so much richer. You think and say great things in the comments. When we meet, you tell me about things I would never have learned. You send me drunken emails; you send me real, physical letters. I talk to a couple of you on the phone, often enough that we are really friends. You have been kind and funny and interesting. When I go places, I meet you and you’re even better in person.

The blog has changed the direction of my life. I am certain that I would never have entertained the idea of writing about Los Osos if you guys hadn’t convinced me that people are interested in what I write. Now I’ve got a two or three year obsession. I knew I was stagnant before, and now I’m energized. Being creative about the book has brought all sorts of other projects to mind; I can barely think how I’m going to fit them all in, and I love being so excited to try things.

Having a place to put my thoughts has been a blessing. When I’m with real people, I listen to them half the time, and talk about personal things and play catch. Doing all those things means there isn’t time to go on tirades about floods in Natomas or why complex modeling is flawed. Also, they don’t want to hear as much of it as buzzes round my mind. Putting them here has opened the pressure-relief valve, and I didn’t know how much I needed that until I had it.

Blogging has made me closer with my sister and the Dubins, and with my few friends who read. Lots of my friends politely ask for the URL and then never visit. But some of my friends chose to look through the window to some of my interior life, and they see a good deal of who I am. I like that they know what I’m thinking about. I wouldn’t have told them so much, ‘cause we would have been doing other things.

I am surprised by how greedy I am for attention. I knew I liked attention, but I’ve started to think I need a fixed amount of attention, although it can be delivered in different ways. Periodic focused attention from students, full-time attention from a boyfriend, intermittent attention from friends, diffuse attention from internets strangers. There is an upper limit to the amount of attention I want, but I’ve been wanting more than I’ve been getting.

I have become much less private. I’ve tried telling you guys the things I’ve hidden for a long while, that I am lonelier and sadder than I act in real life. That I am desperately scared that I won’t have kids with a man I love. That I don’t know why I’m not with someone and I constantly fight off the fear that it is because I am broken somehow. That my life is good, but not how I want it. I said those things, out loud, to the world, and nothing bad happened. Other sweet people said that they feel like that too. If there is that much grace in the world when I tell my secrets, there must be grace for less tightly held intimacies. I’ve started opening up to real people sooner and easier.

The blog may be one of the few places in the world where I don’t downplay my intelligence. I check my vocabulary in regular speech; I decided a long time ago that I would rather have friends than good spoken grammar. I don’t show real people the range of my interests or tell them how much school I’ve done. I keep my mouth shut when people tell me stuff and I compare their ideas to other disciplines or critique it or connect it to something I read. People say that want that, but if you speak up, they get quiet and turn away. Here I can talk and analyze freely, and y’all don’t just keep up, you outpace me. It is a gift.

This should be obvious, but it is a painfully learned lesson for me. I’m sure I’ll get a few more repetitions. Not everyone thinks like me! My small homogenous group of friends doesn’t represent the whole world! I say things that are patently clear and people disagree with them! Some of you are wrong-thinking freaks, posing as perfectly ordinary people I like and respect! It probably doesn't reflect well on me that I keep getting surprised by that.

So far, the good sides of the blog have vastly outweighed the downsides. The only thing that would make it better is meeting more of you more often. And if you pimped me to the hot single guys you know (hot = funny, tech-y guys who do things, mid-thirties). And if you libertarians read my words, saw the light and became bleedingheart granola-type liberal devout environmentalists. That would be better.

On to Year Two.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone who has been doing the Goole Reader lurking for the last few months but has been following the blog for a good part of the past year (and even commenting for a short period when I actually had free time,) I figured this post was as good as any to say that it was a good read all year! Glad to hear that it seems as if your experiences on the other side of it have been mostly positive; I look forward to reading/lurking in 2007!

2:37 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Bill! You were here often enough to get your name on the blogroll. Good to see you! Are you going back to your own blog anytime? I've been thinking of paring the abandoned blogs...

2:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Probably not, mostly because I've been too busy with real world things like my job, buying a condo, and traveling as much as possible (I need to con someone into going to Buenos Aires with me sometime soon!)

The blog was an interesting experiment, but in the end I think that I enjoy email correspondences with imaginary internet people more than the one to many form of the blog:P

2:56 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Well, I'm glad to know you're around.

Other lurkers, you should speak up too. You would be surprised how much I wonder about you. I haven't seen Aaron in months. I just wrote UnderwearNinja to arrange lunch. I do think of you...

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with Bill. I enjoyed the read in 2006, and can't wait to read what you have to say in 2007.

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like a good year. I know I felt (and probably came across as) defensive when you were itemizing the benefits of being in the world... strange to think I care about how you value your imaginary people.

I'm glad that on balance this blog experiment has been a good thing, and that it was your big thing last year. I enjoy reading you, and look forward to Year Two.

4:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post...!

5:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, gosh. We heart you, too.


5:38 PM  
Anonymous bryn said...

scottm, I had the same reaction when megan was so happy to be away from the internets/webs/tubes for that weekend recently and I don't even know her! Bizarre. I think it has to do with the scarcity of intelligent bloggers on the internet, and so I must fear there being one less due to the temptations of the real world. I am not a hypocrite on liking weekends away / real world for myself because my part of blogaswamp isn't jealous of my non computer time :) (just made that up because blogosphere = blech)

5:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I certainly look forward to reading what you have to say every day, and I'm very glad to have met you in person. :)

6:56 PM  
Anonymous justus said...

Year Two is when Batman gets the Bat Signal.

8:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you like drama a lot Megan, you just hate interpersonal conflict. In your ideal world, everything would be sparkling with drama yet very harmonious.

Heard a great country lyric the other day -- "This world so full of love / yet not enough to go around".


10:43 PM  
Anonymous Mitch said...

I've been anticipating the "State of the Meggie" post ever since it was first mentioned.

The state of the Megan is strong!

Also, I can't wait to get into my mid-thirties, so I can be hot too.

11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope all the imaginaries become reals.
I hope I don't read your blog any more.
I hope you don't write it any more.

i.e I hope you find someone or he finds you. Good luck!

Dex, glad you liked my peach soup recipe! :)

11:23 PM  
Anonymous wlotus said...

I'll de-lurk long enough to say I enjoy reading you, and I have similar fears about not finding the right guy.

5:53 AM  
Anonymous gigo said...

Good luck for year two.

5:56 AM  
Anonymous bill said...

I'm another bill, and I really enjoy the water engineering/Los Osos/Flood Disaster posts -- lot of fervor there. Congrats on Year One.

7:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this blog. Seeing a person’s authentic self is always powerful. I appreciate skipping over talk of Justin Timberspears and going straight to irrigating fields.

By the way I still would like the ground water reports on Los Osos. I’ll trade the final determination of critical habitat for the morro shoulderband snail in Los Osos for it.


9:11 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Hey Bertram:
I am basically working my way up from the bottom of this list.

Also, I have more interest in celebrity doings than you might guess. Don't know why I don't write about them more.

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're one of my favorite reads and I'm glad to see that the positives are still outweighing the negatives. Looking forward to year two.

10:32 AM  
Anonymous Jim said...

I'm one of the unknown lurkers. I don't know if it matters to you or not, but yours is the only diary-type blog that I read. You are a great person, and fun to read.

I won't tell you what other blogs I read, because then you wouldn't like me. ;-)

1:14 PM  
Anonymous quirkybook said...

Congratulations on your bloggiversary! I like smart blogs, and I like light-hearted blogs, and yours shows that the two qualities are not mutually exclusive.

7:26 PM  
Blogger jens said...

> And if you libertarians read my
> words, saw the light and became
> bleedingheart granola-type liberal
> devout environmentalists. That would
> be better.

Sorry, it usually goes the OTHER WAY. When I was your age (or maybe a few years younger), I WAS a "bleedingheart granola-type liberal devout environmentalists", except that I didn't like raisins.

Worked with scientists on an "adopt a turtle" program where they raised, tagged, and released sea turtles to measure their migration. Went on trash pickups and such.

As has often been (falsely) attributed to Churchill, "If you are not a liberal at 20, you have no heart. If you are not a conservative at 40, you have no brain."

I first soured on environmentalists when some gave a talk at my school in the Caribbean, and TERRIBLY exaggerated the situation in the Pacific, where I had just been the previous year. They pretty much claimed all the fish were already dead there. There truly WERE serious problems, with reefs being devastated by species invasions, but they were not EDUCATING, they were just ALARMING.

I still think there are serious issues that need to be dealt with, I just don't trust self-described environmentalists to say anything truthful about them.

And as disregard for people in poverty goes, that is where I am from myself (housing projects, food stamps, etc.). One of the libertarian positions I MOST disliked was their lack of support for public education.

Then I remembered that I went to public school myself (almost useless), my teacher talked to my single mom telling her she HAD to get me out of there (she ended up putting me in a church school that was not even our church), and that most of my education was due to PRIVATE charity, and the PUBLIC charity would have been a waste of time.

Libertarians don't reject charity...they just don't believe it should be handled by vast bureaucracies at taxpayer expense. It should be done by people who really care.

8:17 AM  
Anonymous bryn said...

I think my beef with libertarians and conservatives is over the number of people who really care and whether it's enough. also the flip side is the number of people that "if the just work hard enough can make something for themselves" I'm willing to concede most of the points about bureaucracies and inefficiencies, but not that the market economy will automatically work out for everybody (maybe a talented/lucky/trustfunded few)

1:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for keeping up the blog, and giving us all a chance to meet you - mwah!

7:29 PM  
Anonymous ananda said...

Anyone who thinks the market economy only works for the talented, lucky, or "trustfunded" has never visited a grocery store.

Anyway, I'm always interested in what it takes to really "care" about poverty. Peter Singer, for example, argues that people who do not send every single cent they earn (above what they need to survive) to Third World famine relief are morally equivalent to murderers, or very close to that. (Here is his argument.) He obviously cares a lot about poverty. Do you care that much? If not, why not? Why single out libertarians for not caring enough?

9:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ananda, I don't think the existence of varying degrees of altruism or empathy is an argument against the view that libertarianism is a narrow approach.

Since you've mentioned famine, isn't it possible that the market mechanism "works" so that those without purchasing power (a failure in entitlement in sen's terminolgy)starve? Aren't these the precise debates against market fundamentalism (as outlined in Mike Davis' Late Victorian Holocaust or Ignatieff' 'Needs and Justice')?

I think Bryn hits the nail on the head: the underlying assumption about libertarianism is that caring about oneself (self-interest) ultimately leads to a 'better life for everyone'.

So, the question is not just whether the market "works" (since it can be perfectly compatible with inequalities or undernutrition-see Debraj Ray's discussion of labour markets and undernutrition) but what that says about our underlying motivations.

12:50 AM  
Anonymous Ananda said...

I don't know what "market fundamentalism" is, so I can't say whether the notion that market-driven food policy will result in poor people starving is an argument against it. It does seem odd to characterize this as Sen's view, though, since he is most well-known for his view that famine would not exist except for bad political institutions, and he's not referring to market-oriented ones.

Moreover, I don't think you are appreciating the force of Singer's argument. If his argument is sound, then *everyone*, libertarian or not, who is not making massive donations (up to marginal utility) of his or her own income to help feed starving people in the Third World is insufficiently altruistic. The underlying motivation -- excessive value for self-interest -- is the same. (Or do non-libertarians who fail to donate most of their wealth to famine relief have some other reason for refraining?)

10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ananda, sorry, I didn't read the Singer article (it does sound quite extreme) . I'm afraid I cannot respond to your points since that would entail expressing my worldview and I have been asked not to do that.


12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fair enough.

3:53 PM  
Anonymous Ananda said...

(That was me, of course.)

3:54 PM  

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