I am feeling more than slightly provincial.

My explorations into outer space are freaking me out man!

I remember my first intrepid step into public cyberspace. I did it with a friend. It was years ago, when she and I were both married, and our husbands were in the next room (giving each other congratulatory pats on the back). My husband-at-the-time and I were over for our weekly couple’s therapy dinner. With another couple we had been reading and discussing one chapter of Harville Hendrix’s Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples each week alternating houses for dinner. The book was pretty good – don’t judge it by the eventual failure of both mine and my friend, C’s, marriages.

C and I were at her new computer which had “internet access,” back when you still had to explain what that meant to your parents (every time you visited them). We were giggling over the possibility of searching for “midget porn” or “poop”… No, wait – that came later with the advent of google and youtube and youporn.

Rewind.

C and I were at her new computer which had “internet access,” back when you still had to explain what that meant to your parents (every time you visited them). We were giggling over the possibility of searching around a new place, “a cyberspace,” and meeting strangers.

We decided to visit a “chat” room. Sounded pleasant enough. We jumped through a few little hoops, gave our online identity the name “Mocha,” and when we got to some choice between “Child” or “Adult,” we chose “Adult.” Suddenly we were instant messaging a stranger, a man apparently, who seemed nice enough. He was married and his wife was in the next room.

It took us another ten minutes of chatting for us to discover that we weren’t willing to give him what we realized he wanted. Which was… let your imagination take over here… C and I were mortified. On the other hand, C and I were also dying with curiosity! This guy was engaging in sexual encounters online with his wife in the next room? We pummeled him with questions for another ten minutes until he politely excused himself. Really, he was a very polite and articulate guy.

Of course this was all way, way back when it hadn’t occurred to me that an “adult” chat room might be x-rated. Back when the internet was seemed like a chaotic, teeming, unorganized mega-city, a slightly dirty dangerous place, where children should never be left unattended. Since then, I’ve come to like cyberspace very much (not as much as NYC or Montreal), but still, I don’t do much exploring any more. These days, I hop on the internet, cruise down familiar avenues and pick up the same groceries week after week.

I’ve never been very interested in learning new programs or pressing up against the edge of internet possibilities. I rarely spend any time just surfing. I’ve just kept up enough to be able to function with the rest of the world. Whenever there was an especially big new computer trend I would get moderately involved – just enough not to be a total computer hick. I had students writing persuasive essays on whether they should MySpace or not (I know, I know, it’s all about Facebook now), I started using Google Maps and Gmail, etc, etc.,

Then I discovered blogging. And it took me while to discover that blogging meant bloggers. And even though I loved the medium it seemed to me as a newbie that it wasn’t that easy stumbling across a blog I enjoyed visually, intellectually, or informationally. After slogging through too many disappointing random blogs, I just backed off and stopped searching. A friend turned me on to Dooce.com and metro dad – and then every blue moon another likeable blog would pop up in conversation. You know how different that is from today? I can’t go one link without finding GREAT BLOGS ALL OVER THE PLACE. And lots of blogs where the writers started with small personal blogs on a free platform – and grew to become much bigger exciting things than ever anticipated.

Take The Flog. for example (thanks to Kristina Kite over at Overduin and Kite for that recommendation). You know how I’m always saying I want to write about art in LA? It’s happening already, with a calendar, gallery links, and lots and lots of photos, by an artist named Fette. Through her, I found Flavor Pill, which publishes ten email magazines, covering art, books, music, fashion, world news, and cultural events in five cities. Flavorpill already has a list of the 35 should-see L.A. art shows of the new season.

Then I started going through my notes from my lunch meeting with Ann Song at Modern Luxuries (publishes The Angeleno among others). She had mentioned that a contributing writer to the Angeleno had an L.A.-based blog called Blackburn and Sweetzer. Turns out that Tasha Nita Adams is doing pretty much exactly what I want to be doing: maintaining a blog, writing freelance for a magazine, and writing guest features on a web magazine. And just last month she upgraded from being a blogspot blog to her own slick website called BlackburnandSweetzer.com.

Except neither me nor my blog would ever look so sleek and fashionable. And mine would probably have a lot more words.

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