- Abby Franquemont
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“Wait,” my son said, “Mom, you have a blog? Like a real blog?”
“Of course I do, honey,” I told him, taking another sip of coffee, and wondering exactly what makes a blog a real blog.
“Well what is it about?” he asked.
“Oh, you know… yarn! What else would I write about all the time?” He pondered that soberly, nodding. After all, he was standing by my shoulder in my office, where in arm’s reach there are 3 skeins of finished handspun yarn totalling almost 2,000 yards, a small sample batt for a tweed I did for Helen, a dyed tussah top I decided to spin for myself, a toilet paper tube covered in random spindle-spun oddments, several notebooks recording yarn data, a handspun, handwoven plaque commemorating the opening of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco’s Avenida Sol location, a small all-but forgotten work in progress, 4 spindles, a half-empty box of business cards covered in photos of yarn and fiber, 2 lint rollers, several smallish tufts or twists of various kinds of commercial fiber, and a folder displaying paperwork proving Franquemont Fibers is a legal entity.
Well, and the odd Happy Meal toys, Lego constructs, and so forth that my son routinely brings me. I’d called him in to bemusedly show him a picture I had run across of someone’s Lego sheep farm (which of course, now I can’t find). Right now, there’s also a melting wizard’s hat made from Floam atop an empty jar of dry-roasted sunflower kernels, and a superball where one side’s Spongebob and the other side’s Patrick. And a big bottle of Advil, along with my coffee in the cup Chad gave me a while back, featuring (as Edward has noted) “the bad F-word.” Best coffee cup ever. The picture’s facing away from me, too, as a caution to others — if you can see this, careful: it means Abby’s still drinking her coffee.
As I continued to drink said coffee, I scrolled through a post or two in my blog. “Kaylee!” he laughed at one photo. He is, of course, totally inured to yarn. As he’s gotten bigger he’s realized that, yeah, everybody does not live in a world as filled with yarn as he does — but I’m not entirely sure it’s dawned on him that there are folks who really think it’s interesting enough to do things like read about in a blog, or that people other than his family have such books and magazines. I can’t fault him there — I’m not sure I really believed that until, oh, 3 or 4 years ago. So for him, the interesting thing about my blog is the very thing I sometimes feel a little awkward about — pictures of cats, talk about my family, and that sort of thing. You know, the fluff and the personal.
“Do you have any pictures of Inanna?” he asked me.
“Why yes,” I said, “I do.” We scrolled through the pictures together, reminiscing. She was a good cat, and we still miss her.
The online world has been a huge part of my life since long before my son was born. I was a BBS’er, then a sysop, then a UNIX sysadmin, a USENET news admin, a developer of web crap once the web came around and took over… I must have 16, 17 years worth of public online presence, all with my own name. And my son says, “Wait, mom, you have a blog?” Part of me reacts by thinking, “Kid, a blog is the least of your mother’s online life, even if it is the most recent,” and yeah, as long as I’ve been online, I’ve known that stuff is all out there, that someday my kid would find various kinds of online records of his mother’s existence, and most likely shrug ’em off and think, “Yeah, whatever.”
Thinking back even further, there’s my childhood’s worth of journals — which sadly I no longer have — and for reasons I can’t entirely put my finger on, I used to always view those as potentially open to the risk of someday being Wildly Public Information. A cringeworthy thought when you consider that includes my adolescent and teenage years, and those journals were last seen in the ownership of my ex-husband (one assumes, however, that they’re simply long gone). Or letters. It occurs to me that I’d have essentially no written record of all that time, given the loss of my journals, if it weren’t for Ayse having happened to save so many, and then sent them to me a couple of years ago.
Sort of like the lost journals, there was also a hard drive (2GB Seagate 15150, I remember it well) that contained a home directory filled with years of things I’d written, and one day it died — but we kept it around for ages and ages, thinking someday perhaps we’d send it to some hard-core data recovery joint, but then when I tried a few times, I used to keep getting “Uh, and it was… UNIX? Huh.” Those data too, then, written off.
So where am I going with this? Well, I don’t think I’ve drawn any real conclusions about what a real blog might be. I will, however, assert this is one. Whatever one is. But beyond that, you know, there’s just no telling about the permanence of any kind of data. You don’t know. Would I have guessed, 20 some odd years ago, that a letter I sat writing in a pissed-off teenage angst would outlast and outlive my carefully worded and considered journal entry in a nicely-bound, sturdy book? Never. And apart from the question of permanence, what ends up being of interest is also unpredictable. To my son, it’s that I wrote about the cat when she died. To me, well, I don’t even know — trying to decide is like trying to look objectively at my own life. An interesting exercise but arguably senseless navel-gazing and I might as well get up and do something, or just react viscerally.
One thing I do know for sure, though, is that I’ll be trying, all my life, to leave words behind me. Words words words! as someone once nicknamed me. I know I value words left behind for me, by folks who are gone now — including the me I used to be. So, I dunno, what’s a blog? Words words words. With pictures, and people can leave comments, and all sorts of random people can see it. Some you know, some you don’t. And when all is said and done, maybe it lasts and maybe it’s gone in a puff of splattering disk bearing. You never know.