Note: I have edited in a section about the Neil Gaiman message board because I wrote this very off the cuff and my brain is full of holes.
This morning I’ve been thinking a lot about friends and the internet, thanks to this tweet. I think I might have to back this one. I was going to write a big ol’ Twitter thread about this one, but it ended up being.. well, blog length. So! Thinking back over my internet-using years and holy damn, I’ve met so many people via the internet. For – good lord – over 20 years now I’ve been talking with folks on the internet.
I first discovered Newsgroups when I was a novice internetter; I never really found a community there. Not long after, in 1997/1998 I had a friend introduce me to a MUSH (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MUSH) that was hosted by the University of New England in Armidale, NSW, but used by folks from many places. It was such a fun interface. Text-based chat, but all sorts of weird stuff you could code, little bots to interact with, creating “places”, etc,. I ended up visiting Armidale for the first time to go to the annual party held for the UNE MUSHers and met SO many friends IRL!
It was a wild experience. I would stay close friends with so many of these people for years; I met my BFF (former BF) through there. My good friend Sarah who I lived with in London for a while. An absolutely wild thing, to have these people in my life, from the screen. At the same time as this, I was also playing/admining a MUD (RPG version of a MUSH). I wish I could remember ANYTHING about it there, other than my username (Illyria) & when that character turned up on Angel, I got a lot of people asking why my pic showed up in image searches. WELP.
For many years, that was my internet space. Well, and a little on ICQ as well. But as I moved away and got busier with Uni, I had less time for it. Hilariously, I ended up spending a semester doing an anthro subject on internet communities. Rather than being in an online community, I was studying it all; I ended up putting my thoughts on a personal site in what was a sort of proto-blog. A little while after that, I ended up shifting to Livejournal as I’d been following someone there anyhow & figured why not!
This was a ~whole new woooorld~ of internet culture and community and fandom and I spent SO much time there. Bursting out of just a text-based interface, this was somewhere I could blog, and comment, and use images and have user icons and project myself online far more than ever. With a much larger user base, I ended up interacting with a lot more people throughout the world, as well as folks in Australia. I found horror film lovers, comics people (oh the golden days of webcomics), vegans, fanfic writers – it was a plethora of content and friendships. I even met a boy I thought I liked (oh, hindsight) which prompted me to visit Toronto – and without that visit, and getting to know other people here, I’d have never moved here 10 (!) years ago. LIFE. It all intertwined with my life in Brisbane too – uni, D&D, music…
After a good few years, Livejournal (with all its ups and downs) ended up changing a lot, and I ended up falling out of the habit of blogging a lot, too (nothing has changed, there). Many of us ended up jumping ship to Dreamwidth – but I eventually just gave up on it all. At a similar time as shifting from LJ, I had transitioned to spending time on a forum set up by Universal Australia to shake up some interest for the Firefly follow-up movie Serenity. That fanbase was strong, and our community flourished – “Serenity Oz”, or “SOZ” as we affectionately called it, made us all many friends. Not only did we have meetups and screenings in Brisbane where I was, but even after the movie was out we started to have larger meetups around the country. We’d travel to Sydney, or Melbourne – and we even hosted one in Brisbane – and spend time with our strange forum pals.
To this day I am still very close to a good number of those people. Many have gotten married, had kids, and their lives changed fundamentally as a result of having been part of SOZ. Not too long before I moved away from Australia, we lost one of our core group to lung cancer, and it was an emotional experience, unlike anything I’d gone through before, because of the support of the folks spread out around Australia. When we couldn’t be there for a big life event, there’d be a webcam, or many photos shared. Eventually, Universal shuttered the site but passed us on an archive of the forums because even they realized it had been something special. Most of us just keep up via Facebook and Twitter now – which comes up below.
After LJ died down for me, and SOZ was still a big part of my life, I’d been shifting focus to Twitter, as of 2007. A lot of my LJ and SOZ pals were here, and we could have the casual conversations and stupid image sharing and all of that here, and LJ/its ilk became a bit unnecessary. It was new and fun! (Oh, the days of yore.) I could write swathes on how the community has evolved here and my experiences of how it’s become somewhat of a strange habit. Most importantly for this overall blog piece, it was a place that I started finding new people and things, and as the site grew, so did the people in my hobbies and interest areas to interact with.
Along with Twitter, there was a little nook that I found myself in for a bit — the Neil Gaiman message boards. During my time in London I met some people in the real world who were on the board and so I joined too. I was active a couple of years, and met all sorts of folks in the UK and the US. The year I moved to Canada, I road tripped to San Diego Comic Con with some friends in the “real life but also on the board” category and we stopped off and visited with so many of these internet people! Just like SOZ before it, I mostly see these people on Twitter and FB now, as I have pretty limited forum time.
My last big dip into internet friendships came out of board game Twitter, overall (there have been a few other folks here and there, but as a whole, it’s been this group of nerds). I’d chat with folks about gaming, I ran the social media account for a game cafe here for a good chunk of time, and ended up becoming friends with some amazing ladies in this hobby. We’d meet up at gaming events or cons and when we were apart, it was Twitter or FB chats that sustained us. We started creating content together – RIP Games on the Rocks – or even starting up little weird Slack communities around the content we made (I love you, Greatway Games). Twitter’s even led me to meet folks at conventions not because we chat online, but because they quietly watched along as I ramble and just wanted to meet. These people are my friends and my family and it’s weird to go a day without talking to them.
It must seem so strange for you normal folk out there, reading all of this. Yes, I have met friends without the internet, thank you very much. But I find it hard to make the distinction between the realness of either friendship. And as someone living distant from so many friends, it’s strange for me to not think about the ways that having the internet facilitates friendships, and sustaining them. Sometimes it’s just better than IRL for us hobbit-ish introverts.
Well, well. Here I am again, back at the helm! So far June’s been a pretty busy, challenging time for me, so writing even the basics here has not been a priority. I started a new job just at the end of May, and then on the 1st of June we moved apartments. I would recommend to anyone that this is not the greatest idea in the world, but it just kinda worked out that way. At least it’s all out of the way and summer can get on, now!
I’ve had a tough time motivating to make my ‘usual’ sorts of posts this last little while. I haven’t forgotten about my digital dozen posts, it’s just seemed like a lot of effort to curate them (I am hoping for one tomorrow though). And my efforts haven’t exactly been stellar for throwback Thursdays /Things I love Thursday either. It’s not to say i’m not still trawling my reader for neat things daily, getting nostaglic about the good old times through photos or being happy and thankful for things in my life big & small, I just haven’t had the mental energy to articulate blog-wise about ’em like usual.
However! I haven’t been totally absent, which is nice. I have kept up some content, albeit infrequently, and that’s good! It’s usually a total fall by the wayside for me and blogging. Hence the “I’m not sure what this is about but it’s something” sort of catch up.
Let’s think about recent times.. I hosted a bunch of wonderful vegan ladies for soup exchange (like a cookie exchange, but with jars of soup and way more practical and amazing for winter!) which was really just a lovely sort of potluck and hangout and a great excuse to have a solid pack of wonderful people packed into my apartment. I started back in therapy which I’m hoping will help me enter the new year with a better perspective and arm myself for the next few years of life now I’m settled here and figuring out what I want to do with myself. I’ve gone to the ROM for various reasons (member previews, late night events) and that’s been enriching the museum pocket of my soul (rather large and cavernous). Laughed my way through seats in the splatter zone of the Evil Dead Musical, which has finally come back to Toronto (so much fun!). Brunched at fancy-pants vegan restaurant Grasslands with a few vegan besties, the best way to spend a hungover Sunday morning. Saw the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special in the cinema with my gorgeous friend Jamie, among a crowd of Whovians. Attending the veg book club for the first time, with the added bonus of brunch and great company was wonderful. I’ve been playing lots of board games in general as well, obviously, but having a mini veg-folks game day was great also. Have enjoyed the first bits of winter peering over the horizon, too. Alas none of this recent times stuff involves crafting or creating, which I just gotta get on top of, or being more active/gymming more. Boo.
And among all of that there has been my family downtime, chilling out and recharging with Adam and Jake, nesting and being at home. It’s what I pin my sanity on and would be lost without it, really!
I had a trawl through my phone’s photo gallery to see what I might not have shared (or shared much) over the last bit, so here’s some pictures to wrap up. Thanks for staying tuned.
And have I mentioned it’s so friggin’ nice at this time of year?
And with that, I sign off!
Wow, where has the week gone? I’ve been meaning to say so many things, post so many photos – but it’s not happened! I hope to queue up some stuff for the days ahead – talking about my residency/job search, maybe taking part in a month long photo challenge, chatting about an exhibit I visited, games I’ve been playing, linking around to some Vegan Mofo stuff, product reviews.. There’s gotta be some space in my brain to churn those out! Until then, here’s what’s keeping me happy.
Postcards! One of my favourite things is receiving/collecting postcards. I’ve posted a small selection of what i’ve got on my walls before, but this week postcards have been happy-making because I’ve been getting them in the mail, another fave thing of mine! From Waterton & Prince Edward Island in Canada, and all the way from the UAE! It’s awesome, and they’re hanging out on the fridge making me wish I was going exciting places to collect more postcards.
A good while ago now I joined a vegan knitting group here in Toronto; I’ve got a little crafting in my bones and I wanted to meet some other lovely vegans. As a result I learnt to knit a little, but ended up learning how to crochet also and loving it even more! I just find it so much easier to grab the yarn and hook and go about something and the motions are much easier to remember. I’ve tried all sorts of things – hats, scarves, dishcloths, coasters, toys – and learnt a bunch of stitches and combinations along the way which make me feel more confident I could whip something up off the top of my head. Maybe I should give hat making another try!
I love that my garden has been going well! Some hitches to begin with, but great amounts of green abound. A modest amount of cherry tomatoes, some lovely herbs for dressings and salads, and more red hot chilis than I know what to do with. I’m sad as we go into fall (autumn) that I’ll have to harvest everything down to the nub in preparation for it all to die off in the winter. Booo.
And speaking of fall (autumn) – this is such a nice time of year! I love September anyhow, because it’s my birthday month, but even doubly so now that I get beautiful cooler weather and turning leaves to go with it (rather than albeit lovely spring weather back home, but terrible hayfever allergies, urgh!). September in Toronto is busy as folks squeeze the last bit of summer out of patios and parks and the islands, the Vegetarian Food Festival is on, and TIFF hits town. So much stuff going on! And I’ll be heading to Montreal for the last weekend of the month with my sweetie to celebrate my birthday this year. Awesome.
Enjoy your Thursdays, folks – or Fridays if you’re already on the way into it.
“There is nothing permanent except change.” Heraclitus, quoted in Lives of the Philosophers by Diogenes Laertius.
It’s pointless to resist change, it happens around us – most often without us even realising – and before we know it things/people/life is just different. As enduring as change is, it’s always been a challenge for me to deal with. Not the incremental stuff, but the big things that loom or are dropped on top of us suddenly. Whether we’re powerless to do something about it, or we’re the ones making the choices that lead to change.. well, that shit can be pretty tough.
I have changed a lot in the past 15-ish years. I can see it clearly in hindsight, but it wasn’t really obvious to me at the time. The changes that were “Big Things” were always the ones I had to have a very present part in – changing my direction in tertiary studies, changing my life to become vegan, changing from a stable life to uprooting to move overseas to see where that took me, and even more than this. I was so afraid of it all, but none of it turned out for the worse. I wish hindsight had me better prepared for change as it comes up now, heh.
Life this week has been a hovering mess of impending change – I can see all of it will be for the good, but the waiting to see the outcomes has me completely on edge. I’m changing part of my life to move on from a place that’s been very emotionally draining this year. I’m waiting on a change in my status from visitor to permanent resident. Soon we’ll (hopefully!) change from a regular couple to dog parents (yay!). I can’t guarantee when much of it happens, but I look forward to that tipping point where the waiting is behind me and the benefits of change will be reaped.
I feel like bookending this with another quote from a famous philosopher will help sum up where I’m at this morning:
“Ahh, the waiting game sucks. Let’s play Hungry Hungry Hippos!” – Homer (Simpson)
I feel like it’s been forever since TCAF, but it was only just the weekend gone before this holiday weekend just passed. I think i’m just wavering up and down with social exhaustion/anxiety a bit much to have time swinging by at a usual-feeling pace. I got out and about a reasonable amount this weekend at least, which was great. Lots of good things I can pinpoint when looking back, rather than just feeling overwhelmed with how blah I was at times.
Furthering my quest to make it a nice summer hangout, we got a nice patio set for our balcony; we then got the bikes off the balcony & in riding condition (greased chains, tires pumped etc) which is awesome. Although, our building’s bike parking is a godawful mess & it’s so difficult to find a good spot to chain up (& having Adam’s bike in the apartment is more than enough already; wish we could get someone with a super ultra great drill to come & attach us a wall-mounted bike rack!).
We headed to the Toronto Islands on Sunday – specifically Ward’s Island, where there’s a disc golfing course. I had some beginner’s luck, but was fairly inconsistent. It was just nice to have a chance to wander around in the lovely outdoors on a beautiful sunny (but not too hot!) day. Even better were awesome wildlife sightings! At one point, searching for a lost disc in the scrub, I spotted a wee garter snake! And toward the end of our wandering, we had an osprey circle nearby & land gracefully in a tall tree near the fairway we were on. I wish I’d managed to snap some photos of that – instead, mostly Island-y stuff.
It’s gotten thunderstormy this week, but it’s still mostly nice. I hear this summer’s not supposed to be as brutal as Toronto’s last year (but really, i’m grateful summer lasts less than 5 months at a time here!). This week ahead bodes well for good hangouts and trying to get more settled into summer in the apartment. Perhaps a trip to Ikea.. I do also hope that the blogging flows as much as it has been already – it’s still a rocky road to settle back into a writing tone that’s not quite so conversational (like this for instance, seems like an email!) but we’ll get there. I hope to also figure out a little more how I can embed images in a less “long vertical line” & more gridlike, without having to upload them here (all these point to my Flickr account). Suggestions welcome!