Ether Friends

I’ve had a lot of feelings about the internet over the years. Excitement when I first got on in the mid 80s. A thrill that what I’d done on my Commodore 64 had turned into something that connected the entire world. The internet was utterly text based when I started and I made a few contacts, mostly other geeks or English students. A while later, after I retired both my Atari 1040 ST, (yes Atari made computers for those of us who couldn’t afford a Mac or IBM way way back in the 80s) and an IBM I helped make, along with friends, from dumpster dived parts (this was before they knew about throwing out computers)and acquired both a divorce and a Mac that I needed to learn how to fix, I discovered a talent. Actually I discovered the talent right before the divorce, and my ex husband’s disbelief in the talent was one of the straws on that proverbial camel (the gun was the other but that’s a different story).

I immersed myself in the guts of various computers, fledgling networking, webpages and other great bits of the net (IRC, Usenet etc) and some other perhaps not as kosher activities (not that you can prove anything thankyouverymuch). I was finishing up my grad degree and working in computers to support myself. I started making some serious SF-net friends that I met years later when I hooked up with the SFgoth crowd. That email list helped me make many great friendships–I’m still friendly with many of those folks today and some have been incredible support over the years.
I backed into a LAN Admin in a Netware shop that turned into a first, then second then third Tier support position in another company, that turned into a Sysadmin and Mail Admin career, that ended up as a Senior Sysadmin and IT director before the bubble burst and I burnt out. Throughout all this my socializing was centered around computers–I worked with geeks, talked to geeks online, played with geeks and even our parties ended up with laptops and all extra computers hauled out and fired up so that those not there could join in the fun. The drunk IRCing and emailing was quite hilarious at those parties. The friends were friends IRL and online. Add a webcam and a vodka and pickle juice (long story) and it’s just like you were there.

Fast forward several years to dating a geek and then marrying him in SF, moving to Chicago, spawning, moving to the burbs then moving to Fayetteville. Pretty much the only way to stay in touch with those who were my lifelines and best adult friends was by email. After being part of the net culture for so long I’d forgotten (and still have to work on) how to use the phone. Email was easy and quick. Livejournal is a good way to have a near daily conversation with old and new friends. I have a Vox account, a multiply and myspace. A blog for the Bean ( Bean Soup not as updated as it should and will be again)and this blog. I comment on and read Metafilter and a few political sites. I’m a member of moveon.org….OK you can see where this is going. My life, while not as much about the net as when I was a sysadmin or in SF, still has a large ether component.

Over the years I’ve been aggravated about the influx of stupidity as it took less and less geekiness to get on the net. IRC became a thing of the past as I got too much like the old guy yelling “get off my lawn,” and less like a l0pht heavy industries wannabe. It was time to go and grow up a bit. Being pregnant shifted the focus from the edge social to the supportive social. It wasn’t about making so much as keeping friends. But, I have made a couple of friends online in the last few years that have made a large difference in my life. One, C, has a blog here and we met on a mail list trying to find non right wing families to playdate with. Our girl’s hit it off (both being strong personalities and very social) and we hit it off (being opinionated and introverted, as our husbands are). We had playdates and dinners and the first of the Bean’s two visits to “the big mouse and cheese.” We kept emailing after we moved and shared some other intense,life changing experiences very close in time to each other. I won’t go into detail because I haven’t heard from her it’s OK But emailing with her has been something of a life preserver. Most certainly a sanity preserver. I would never have met her without the net. We lived close enough but not in the same burb. We likely would have ended up at some of the same events in Chicago, being of similar natures, but those things are big and you don’t often strike up conversations with strangers in real life like you do on the net.

And now, I’ll need to go back and look but my friend Rob is someone else I would never have met in person. Well I would have if I still lived in SF (and that friend we have in common still did) I’m guessing. But I’d moved and my friend Matt had moved. We came across each other on LJ on Matt’s journal  I’m guessing. I’ve been reading, emailing and even calling him on the phone after my last miscarriage (and it was one of the best, most loving conversations I had about that very hard time) for wow, is it like three or more years now? He’s incredibly talented and funny and a great dad and husband. He’s got a gorgeous daughter that they are the best parents. If you read his journal you will find your eyes delighted and your stomach hurting from laughing so much. He’s thoughtful, intense and well, wonderful. The coolest thing is how much we’re like twins separated at birth in our viewpoints, but also how our lives literally parallel each other. I left SF, he left SF. We both moved back to our hometowns. We both have the same angst and joys going on almost simultaneously. It’s so nearly identical it’s bizarre. And both of us Libras :-). I could go on for hours about how wonderful this man is, but as of this morning I’ve developed a galloping case of carpel tunnel and this entry has already taken more than three hours (interspersed with Beaniness and an Iron Chef episode). Go, read these two folks 🙂

I’m finally back to loving the net again. If not for it, I’d never have met these two incredible people. And I wouldn’t have had all the miscarriage information gleaned from a multitude of blogs that really helped me make it through. I got information I wouldn’t have had which helped me face down the nasty OB, and support ( for example–a couple of really really kind emails from Julia that gave me hope and some perspective). There are a whole host of folks out there who write so well, it can be a bit intimidating to do this at all, but 98% of the time they are incredibly kind when you comment or email and the information they provide is beyond helpful. But the best best thing the net has provided of late? These two folks and the continued contact with some good people in SF and Chicago. I love ya’ll so much, you’ll see me in your inbox.


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One Comment

  1. Rob Wolf

    Awww…how sweet are you? I feel the same way about you. I feel so blessed by your presence in my life. The Internet Gods were certainly looking out for us, to make sure we crossed paths. Although the number of “near misses” beforehand where we could’ve met but somehow just didn’t quite manage it….must’ve given them quite a laugh. Seperated at birth. Absolutely. I flatter myself with that, because I think you’re one of the coolest, most wonderfulest (ha! grammar be damned!) people on the planet.

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