If you can believe it, there was no internet when I was in school.
(I'm talking elementary school here, people. Not, like, college school. I am not that old.)
My dad was somewhat of a geek for his time and one year my mom bought him his very own personal computer for Christmas. It was an Apple something. I still remember the beeping sounds it made while it was booting up and what the keyboard sounded like. If we were good, we got to play Educational Games on the Apple Something. And if you are the child of elementary school teachers, there is no end to the Educational Game Options. My favorite, if I remember correctly, had to do with spelling. My passions, they began early.
My dad moved up to an early Macintosh and then one year we got a PC. The PC was our favorite because the screen was in color (COLOR!) and we could play a lot more games. There were many many fights over who was going to get to play Duke Nukem and who was going to get to play Civilization.
In high school I learned things like Pagemaker and random paint shop programs. And my junior or senior year of high school some of us discovered pre-MSN Hotmail and Yahoo and got ourselves some email addresses. Some of us also used to toy around with an online chat site in class which, now that I think about it, was WAY CREEPY. But at the time it was the height of cool.
My parents finally got dial up when I went to college. Do you know how much it costs to call Italy from your dorm room? Thank God for email.
I didn't have a computer the first couple years I was in college. There were plenty of libraries with plenty of computers and quite honestly, I was a much more productive essay writer when I was stuck until I finished in a library. You could also print things for free on recycled paper, which is how I have a giant binder full of Indigo Girls guitar tabs. I hear you can't do that anymore.
Certain people, by which I mean everyone, were shocked- SHOCKED- at my computer-less state. Didn't my parents care? Didn't I want to graduate? Didn't I want to join the 21st century?
I was proud of my simple life. No computer for me! Only the nerds and Asian-American students with demanding parents had computers in their dorm rooms.
I got one, eventually. My uncle was the type of person who bought electronic equipment willy nilly and was constantly gifting his used items to one of us. An old-ish computer found its way to me and I didn't turn it down. I discovered the happiness that is walking away in the middle of your essay to go watch TV in the lounge with your friends.
Then I got the kind of job where you do nothing. You know this kind of job. Technically it is an office job. Technically you are the assistant to an assistant and you mail things and type things and copy things and fetch things. But a lot of times the assistant is behind or gone or too busy to give you something to do, so you end up sitting at your desk twiddling your thumbs. And while you try to spin it as being paid to do what you would be doing at home, you are actually bored out of your mind.
I worked for the university so I had access to the university email system. And oh, how I emailed. Some friends, working equally miserable jobs, would email back. And we emailed throughout the entire day, instantly responding to one- and two- and three-line emails. Call it a precursor to instant messaging. Had I not discovered email, that job would have succeeded in sucking out my will to live. But with email! I had a connection to the Outside World.
Suddenly I could not live without email.
Suddenly I had a dozen email addresses, all for different things. I had to have an internet connection wherever I lived. When I got my own apartment it was the first thing I did when I woke up. (Except for the couple of months after Phillip gave me The Sims. Then it was The Sims I was concerned about as soon as I woke up.)
I got another job in which I did nothing. And where my boss was often gone for days at a time, leaving me to hold down the fort. It was then that I discovered blogs. Blogs. Do you know what these are? Technically they are online communities, personal journals, ways for likeminded people to connect and share ideas and support each other. But I will tell you what they really are: Ways To Kill Time At Work. (I won't tell your boss if you won't tell mine.)
I met (well, it felt like meeting them) all the Internet Rock Stars. I obsessively followed their every move. I clicked on their links. I realized you didn't have to be an Internet Rock Star to have a blog. You didn't even have to know how to write! (Although this helps.) I became a devotee of political blogs, celebrity blogs, infertility blogs, writing blogs. I started to talk about them with my friends and I realized another key point: knowing about blogs did not necessarily make you cool. An Internet Rock Star was a rock star only in her own country. I stopped talking about my beloved blogs, mostly, but I decided to start my own. I mean, if they could do it I could do it. Right?
I picked a good excuse- a three-week trip to China- and fired up my brand new Typepad site. It had a dumb name and an ugly theme and all of one reader (hi Mom!) but I loved my new website. I spent hours making mastheads in Photoshop. (Hours because I do not know how to use Photoshop. And I never will. My brain cannot handle the complexities and intricacies of fricking Photoshop.) One day I figured out how to tweak my template. I looked up "horizontal navigation bar". I found out was CSS stood for.
And I signed up for a beginning HTML class. Which I loved. It's very powerful, the access to self-publishing tools. I can write whatever I want and post it for the world to see and I can make it look exactly how I want. Well, I could if I were good at it. Which I'm not. (Someone tell the woman who wants me to build her website next month? Please? I'm skeered.)
I "met" some bloggers who started linking to me. I got pregnant and people were very interested in the details. Suddenly someone other than my mother was reading my website. I wasn't sure how I felt about this. On one hand, you are dying to see your name in lights with the other Internet Rock Stars. On the other, WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? And oh dear God I better comb through my archives.
One day you realize you've turned into a bona fide mommyblog. You try to write a lot of television posts to make it up to your readers who have no interest in the mommy stuff.
You try to write better. Or at least not be so silly. (Then you decide you prefer silly.) You spend a long time responding to comments. You try to be a better commenter on other people's blogs, even if you don't really like them, because you're flattered that they commented on yours. You want your readers to know you like having them around. You start a Google Reader or Bloglines account and spend your valuable shower time reading other blogs. You excitedly tell your husband about new blogger babies, sad blogger news, funny posts, posts that made you think. You start to think of blogging and its related activities as your Job.
You find that you have spent all of naptime reading blogs and writing email.
You are disturbed to realize that is exactly how you want to spend naptime.
You are still in your pajama at one in the afternoon.
WHO IS GOING TO ORGANIZE THE INTERVENTION?