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Have I Really Been on LiveJournal for Ten Years?

On May 5, 2010, my LiveJournal account turned ten years old.

LiveJournal has been there for me virtually every minute of this past decade. It’s where I recorded my thoughts on the morning of 9/11. It’s where I documented my move from Las Vegas to Seattle in 2002. And it’s where I groused about “Spider Man 3,” which was really kind of awful. I’ve made lifelong friends through LJ; indeed, my 2002 move would scarcely have been possible without the network of friends that LJ had helped me to build in Seattle even before my first visit.

And yet, when May 5 rolled around, I didn’t say anything about the anniversary in my LiveJournal. I didn’t even check into the site that day, or say anything about the milestone on Facebook, which is a big part of the reason I’m neglecting my LJ these days. I feel like the eyes of Frank The Goat are upon me, and they’re like twin lasers of shame.

LiveJournal and I have had an interesting relationship. When I signed up for Brad Fitzpatrick’s upstart blogging service back in 2000, I thought I was simply leaving a comment on a friend’s guestbook or something; it wasn’t until after I’d fully signed in that I realized that I had an entire online journal of my own to play with. I began issuing curt, punchy daily posts to an audience of maybe a dozen people, and within a month, that number shot over a hundred. (I credit early web celebrity Ana Voog; she added me to her friends list, and a bunch of her readers followed suit. Then she dumped me.) Suddenly and unexpectedly, I had an entire second audience to write for — and an entire new community of friends to interact with. I’ve kind of made it a mission to meet everyone on my friends list in person. I’ve met a little less than half so far.

I kept my LiveJournal under a pen name for the first four years or so. I did so partially because I’d always wanted a pen name — I like to believe that that “Beatnik Sidearm” could stand toe-to-toe with “Kilgore Trout,” though I know that Kurt Vonnegut can kick Geoff Carter’s ass, even now — but mostly, I did it because I was afraid of what potential editors/employers might think if they stumbled upon it. Even though my more personal entries were hidden from public view, the very act of keeping a LiveJournal account had a kind of stigma to it. Early on, the greater online community took a dim view of people who use LiveJournal, and that disdain never really went away.

In the end, though, it didn’t matter. My journal was revealed in 2003 when an associate unwittingly linked to “beatnikside” using my real name. Google immediately picked it up, and my LJ became public knowledge. Curiously, the potential editors who saw my journal commented on it favorably; they saw it as a good indicator of my daily productivity. Score one for neurotic force of habit.

I honestly don’t know what to say of my LiveJournal decade. I hardly post in there any more, partially because of the easy distractions provided by the likes of Twitter and Facebook, but most because I have to write for so many other sites that I hardly have the time to write about myself.

Still, I’m not giving it up. There are some writings that are too expansive for Twitter, too personal for Facebook and too freaking weird for any other online forum. Looking back over ten years of my springtime postings in LiveJournal, I’m finding a bunch of those orphaned thoughts, and I’m happy I had a place to put them down.

May 6, 2001: “You’re karmically screwed,” Julie told me last night. “You are so karmically screwed.”

I don’t know if she’s right or not. Hell, I’m not even sure what she meant by that. So I left her house, cabbed it to the nearest dive bar and sank three Manhattans, one after the other. If there’s bad karma in me, it had better be able to swim. A few ounces of bourbon will strip any old karmic screw down to the quick.

May 7, 2002: Word from the press screening: It ain’t bad. It’s superior to “Episode I,” but that bar was set pretty goddamn low. The dialogue is stiff and stilted and Hayden Christensen has the range of a gerbil, but the look of the film is brilliantly conceived, and a little Ewan McGregor goes a long f—ing way. More holes in airtight hull: Jar Jar — in moderation, yes, but still skulking about. Heavy, heavy, heavy use of CGI; even Yoda was built on a workstation. (Let Muppets be Muppets, dammit.) And still no Wookies.

May 5, 2004:
There are 3,053,907 users on LJ at this moment in time, and I remain number 2,642. Taken in scenester terms, that enables me to say, “Ah, I liked LiveJournal better when nobody liked LiveJournal.” I have made 1,350 entries and 7,649 comments, and I’ve lost track of how many images I’ve posted or how many times I’ve used the conjunction “albeit.”

May 4, 2005: Were I to appear in a British “Pulp Fiction” ripoff — y’know, like “Snatch,” or “Layer Cake,” or “Four Weddings and a Funeral” — I’d want my theme music to be “The Prisoner” by The Clash, “Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?” by Ted Leo + The Pharmacists or “Theme from Black Milk” by Gallon Drunk. I choose these songs for no particular thematic reason; I just think they sound badass, and British “Pulp Fiction” ripoffs are apparently the new Grunge.

May 10, 2006: They’re poking a hole in Keith Richards’ head. While on vacation he fell out of a tree (not touching that one), and his head filled up with stuff — fluid, swollen tissue, bourbon, whatever. It has to come out, all of it, to make more room for the blues, so Keith Richards gets a trepanation. Finally, the Stones go that one extra step beyond the Beatles.

I think something similar has taken place in my head; today it feels like it’s busted wide open. The piñata is on the ground, savage reader, and before long you’ll get to pick through the goodies — visual, psychological, literary. Every third candy may or may not have a razor blade secreted inside, but I wouldn’t worry about that, ho ho no.

May 8, 2008: My life is full of things that happen, I promise you. Every day I see something luminous or taste something delicious or hear something angelic, and I think, “I’ve got to share this. I’ve got to put this in the LJ.”

Then the rest of the day happens.

Geoff Carter

PHOTO BY KLEARCHOS KAPOUTSIS

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2 Comments »

  1. Heck, we may even be LiveJournal buddies–I have a huge list (I’m Flyswatter). I kind of stopped posting so much because of the whole Harry Potter slash fiction = child porn stupidity a few years back, after Brad sold out to Six Apart who then sold it to that new company.

    Remember that fad where every single post was a stupid test? Remember having to give out invite codes (after that was stopped, it really went downhill, oddly enough). Remember when people would do things like go to a random journal, and then surf back through the friends list until they finally made it home, and then posted how many steps it took to get back home?

    My older daughter said she still reads it and posts there. I hear groups are still going strong.

  2. I still stubbornly post there every day, except when I’m away (and even then I do, sometimes). I really like the community I’ve found there (which of course includes you).

    I know what you mean about Twitter and Facebook pulling you away, though. Sometimes small bites are all I have time for, and they’re easier to skim through.

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