... the journal

The Guest
Refrigerator Door

These aren't exactly magnets, but they were off of a wonderful wall at my friend diane's house in England...and there are a bazillion of them.

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* Discussion *

Talk about it here.



WHAT I'M READING...

Finished Sarum
by Edward Rutherfurd

Finished Shattered
by Dick Francis

Looking for a new book


WHAT I'M WATCHING...

Oprah's show on
Islam 101


NEW

Samples of two of the
slide shows I've been making
can be downloaded from
this ZDNet page

and three more are posted at Beechbrook Cottage


Pictures from our The England and Orkney trip are on my own Club Photo page.


Not to be missed:  Steve has uploaded some of his new songs to the web.  Check 'em out



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That's it for today!

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FRIENDS INDEED

6 October 2001

It seems years ago now...it was years ago now...that I was sitting at a little outdoor cafe here in Davis, nervously looking at the people passing by on the street, wondering which of them was looking for me. I was meeting an on-line acquaintance, my first encounter with a stranger I'd come to know a little bit through this odd new medium called the Internet. I had been on line less than a year and had visited some local bulletin boards. It was even before I knew about "the web." There were so few of us "older women" on line that I was curious to find out what another computer nut was like. I knew enough to suggest we meet in a public place. She was a nice lady. We had a good coffee and then never saw each other again.

I can't even remember her name now, but it was the start of a wonderful adventure that I certainly never could have predicted prior to connecting on line for the first time.

Local BBS's became quite unsatisfying because they were peopled by so many young people. I wanted to justify owning a modem, so I tentatively tried CompuServe. At that time it was completely text-based. Yellow words on a black screen. That was it. I'd heard horror stories of people going into discussion forums and running up humongous bills, because we paid by the minute in those forums. Knowing me and my propensity for getting hooked on stuff like that, I stayed away from the pay areas of CompuServe and stuck with the free areas. But it was pretty boring. There was a "practice forum," where people got to learn how to participate in forum discussions, but we weren't really supposed to have "chats" and visit--CompuServe wanted us in the pay areas.

Someone in the practice area introduced me to software that would allow me to download material from the pay areas and work off line, reading and responding to messages. It opened the world of forum discussions to me and the world was never the same after that.

Somehow I stumbled into the "Issues Forum." I still don't know how, since I've never been exactly interested in discussions of current events. I was also reading messages in other forums, like movies, music, and books. But somehow I managed to become active in the Issues forum and someone asked me if I was interested in becoming the Sysop for a section on women's issues, which had been kind of struggling to find a foothold.

I jumped at the chance, because it offered me free participation in this pay area and that was very appealing.

It was sheer luck, but I dragged a couple of people I knew from other forums over to Women's Issues and, after trying to find meaty topics to discuss, one day I wrote something about housework and the topic took off like gangbusters. It was the start of a little community of women who would get together for a daily on-line "coffee klatch," discussing everything from abortion to dust bunnies. That was about six years ago and, miraculously, most of those women are still participating and we have all become very good friends.

The next step was to begin meeting some of them in person. I was still not exactly comfortable with the idea of meeting someone I knew only from words on a screen. I'd heard horror stories about all sorts of things that could go wrong. But one of the women in the Issues forum lived in San Francisco and we agreed to meet. There was a lot of on-line joking about it, whether one or the other of us was an axe murderer or something like that. I was a little nervous when I rang the bell to her apartment, but neither of us had an axe in hand and we walked together to a neighborhood coffee shop and sat and chatted, getting to know each other.

That really broke the ice and I lost my uneasiness at meeting on-line friends. People often asked if I wasn't frightened, meeting total strangers. But I can honestly say that I haven't had a single bad experience and, in fact, have made some of my best friends as a result of this new medium. There's something about getting to know each other through writing that strips away a lot of the BS and gets down to the nitty gritty right away so that when you meet in person, there is just a momentary adjustment to make, putting the face to face person in the place of your mental image, but then the conversation picks up just where it left off when you last communicated.

I count among my closest friends many people I've first met on line. People like Steve, for example, whom I first encountered through his on-line journal, met for lunch one day, and found that he rapidly moved into the slot of confidante, ass-kicker (he won't let me get away with anything), and shoulder to cry on. We've traveled together, I've seen his show so many times I've lost count. He's spent time here and we've bared our souls to each other. Whenever I am in turmoil, it's Steve that I run to. I can't imagine life without him.

There's Pat, who lives in Southern California and with whom I've stayed on most of my trips to the LA area. She and I had an easy camaraderie from the start, when we began to know each other in the Women's Issues forum. We've shared a lot of wonderful experiences together and see each other a lot more frequently than one would expect, given the distance between us.

There's my friend back east, who never likes his name mentioned here. He and I have had incredible ups and downs during our five year friendship. We've loved each other and hated each other, brought each other to tears, and made up. We've now reached a very good point where we know each other's warts all too well and have watched each other go through tremendous life changes. We've only seen each other a few times--five, I think. But I consider him, like Steve, an adopted obnoxious younger brother and don't know how I got along without him.

I mentioned Laura a couple of days ago. This stranger who came into my life peripherally through the David Gerrold Forum and just showed up after Paul died to help out around here, coming nearly 400 miles to stay with us, relative strangers at the time, for several days, just to do what she could to help out.

And then there is David himself, talented, irritating, frustrating, aggravating, but with a big heart. David who dragged me into activism and made me a spokesman for human rights. David, who dropped everything in an instant, packed his son into the car, and drove 400 mies to be here after Paul died, to conduct the graveside services for us.

There's Olivia, who was there when Dave died, there when Paul died. Olivia was there when I lost my job. She's believed in me and encouraged me and helped me. She's also my "out of town apartment." She's been a good friend for a long time.

And then there's Peggy, who became my dearest friend last year, when she stayed with us for six weeks. I met her through Olivia, who knew her personally, having spent some time with her when she was vacationing in Australia. Olivia suggested I write Peggy an e-mail because we were so much alike that she was sure we would get along. Her predictions proved to be right and we formed a friendship which has become one of the things I prize the most. It's very difficult when your dearest friend lives 10,000 miles away, but thanks to the Internet, which allows us daily conversations, our friendship remains strong despite the distance.

It's fair to say that the Internet has brought some of the most wonderful people, and beautiful experiences, into my life, people I never would have met under ordinary circumstances, people who have enriched my life, and changed my life. Experiences I never would have dreamed possible ten years ago.

The Internet is reinventing the way we get to know people. The people I have met on line have become as important (and in some instances more important) than the people I've met in person throughout my life. I count myself so incredibly fortunate to be living in a time when distances are meaningless and where it's just as easy to make a friend 10,000 miles away as it is to make one next door. (In my case it seems to be considerably easier!)

I've come a long way from that outdoor coffee here in Davis, and I haven't met a single axe murderer yet.


One Year Ago:
My Personal Trainer


Some pictures from this journal
can be found at
Club Photo


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Created 10/05/01 by Bev Sykes