Glass House

My world is weirder than your world.

Sunday, December 12, 2004


Back to Friday:

After some futile attempts to shame Nick until telling us what he'd been up to (futile because he's shameless), it was my turn. It was Jon who brought it up: "I think James has an encounter report to make."

"I do?" This was news to me -- I'd hardly been out of the house all week, except for dog-walking and one evening over at Callie's.

"You've begun your Internet diary, haven't you?"

"It's a blog," Dana said, exasperated. And the two of them started to argue about whether it qualified as an encounter by our standard definition. Jon did not object to the thing, but he did believe it was technically an exposure risk. Dana thought that was garbage, because I was changing all the names and many of the details, and because no one ever paid that much attention to anyone else's blog unless they were in it. I just kept my mouth shut.

Finally Nick said, "Fuck all that. When were you going to tell us about it?"

"We talked about it two weeks ago," I said.

"As a theory," O.J. said. "At the time you didn't even sound like you wanted to do it."

"I didn't, at first. Dana wore me down."

"James can really write," Dana said. "And he needed it. You all know how repressed he is. He needs to vent!"

"Repressed? Are you talking about me? That is the stupidest character judgment you've made yet! Shit, Dana, if your obsession with pop psychology didn't cloud your talent--"

"See?" Dana said triumphantly. "He's venting! It's good for him!"

Jenna cleared her throat before I could speak. She's got the kind of throat clear that could quiet the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. "Jon told me you'd started, but I have to admit I haven't read it yet. Can you tell us what you've said, James?"

This forced me to forget about Dana. "Uh, not much so far. I only started the other day. I talked about how Alyx helped me get that job interview... That's really it. Just old stories," I said. While I spoke, I saw with dread that O.J. was already firing up his iMac.

I was feeling really uncomfortable. I like to talk, but I hate being put on the spot. Nick called for a reading, and I said I wasn't up to it. "Of course you aren't," Nick said. "I was asking Lara."

Lara looked vaguely around, which is what people usually do when their instincts tell them they ought to be meeting my eyes. "Only if it's okay with James," she said. I was rather pleased that she was feeling embarrassed on my behalf.

"What the hell," I said. "You're all going to read it and argue with me anyway, it might as well be a good performance."

So Lara sat at O.J.'s computer, with the browser open, and projected into the room those first four entries, in my voice, filling in Jon's and Jenna's voices on dialogue. She'd never met Alyx, but her guess at Alyx's voice was pretty close. (Yeah. Lara does sound. Any sound.)

No one interrupted. Nick looked amused, Jon looked thoughtful, Callie giggled at some of the anatomical stuff, and Jenna's brow started furrowing halfway through. By the time Lara wrapped up, I had gotten tired of pacing and was sitting on the floor in front of Callie. She put her feet up on my shoulders.

"Damn, you're wordy," Nick said after it was done.

"That wasn't how it went," Jenna said. "Yes, I had the shotgun just in case, but I never pointed it at that thing. Alyx, I mean."

"But you did," I said. "You lowered it earlier than I said you did, but you did point it at Alyx briefly. I remember being struck that you pointed it at her face, not her chest."

"But why distort the facts at all?"

I was quiet for a moment, and then I mumbled, "...Better story."

"Is that what this is?" Other John said. "Is this all just stories to you? When you write about us -- you are going to write about us, aren't you?"

"If I keep this up," I said quietly. I was feeling very warm in the face.

"He'll probably write about this conversation," Nick said. "Word for word. It'll be boring as shit."

"The problem I have," Other John said, "is if you're going to be writing at this level of detail, you make it far too easy for anyone to trace us back. What does it achieve?"

Lara suggested, "Maybe people who should be here, or who need our help, might know we're here?" (That was her one contribution to the debate. I've thought about it since, and I think it's unfortunate that she was ignored.)

"I don't like it, James," Other John pressed.

"And I don't like being misrepresented," Jenna said.

Jon said, "Actually, if James is going to be chronicling his exploits, and indirectly our exploits, I'd suggest that the misrepresentation actually offers a small bit of security. I think that by following his natural ear for fiction, he predisposes the reader--"

Dana stood up and started yelling. (Which I regretted a bit, as I wanted to hear more about my natural ear for fiction.) "What the hell is wrong with you people? What is James doing that's hurting any of you? You already said that he could write about this group. Every one of you agreed. He's following your rules, he's changed all the names; he even changed his dog's name. He hasn't even talked about the Friday circle yet. Are we going to argue about this every week?"

"That depends on what he says when he does talk about the Friday circle," O.J. said. "Personally, I'm willing to go along with this game, but if we're going to be characters in his melodrama we should have approval over what's said about us. I think that's the minimum we can expect if our privacy's going to be invaded."

Everyone looked at where Callie's feet were hovering. I thought about it. It did seem reasonable... Then I saw that Jon still had his poker face on, and Nick was actually looking a little disgusted. Show some balls, his expression was saying.

"No," I said. "I don't think I can do this with a censorship committee. If any one of you wants me to kill the blog, I'll kill the blog. It's sucking up way too much of my time anyway. But if you want to be written about, I'm going to write about you my way. You'll just have to wait and see what that is."

"Word for word," Nick said. "Boring shit." But he was grinning.

I won't rehash the next ten minutes; most of it was more of the same, though I stayed out of it after that. Put as an ultimatum, no one really wanted to see the blog dead. Jenna reconsidered her objection, and Jon continued putting forward his logic that most people outside our social sphere were likely to view my writings as pure fiction anyway: "Ladies. Gentlemen. Here we have an invisible man, recounting the daily lives of his supertalented friends. If you hadn't met anyone like us before -- and most people haven't -- would you believe a word of this?"

Eventually they wore down Other John. He clearly wasn't happy about it, but standing alone, he couldn't bring himself to adopt the mantle of Blogslayer. If you ask me (and this might truly annoy him) I suspect strongly that, deep down, he really wanted to read about himself, and find out what someone else thought of him. I think everyone wants that.

Callie had the final word: "I'm worried about one thing, James. I love that you're doing this. You seem happy when you're talking about writing. But I don't want you to get so sucked in that you forget about other things. I want you to have time for me. Got it?"

Nick made a whip-cracking sound. Lara laughed.

"Piffle," I said. I lifted her legs off my shoulders and slid backwards. I began to roll silently to my feet. "Writing could never take the place of you. Half-Life 2, now, you might have to worry about."

She darted forward faster than physics should allow, but she couldn't catch me.

And that, my unknown friends, was Friday night.


At December 13, 2004 at 12:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You asked about Word Press on the Making Light blog. I use it for our blog and 99% of the comment spam gets moved to the awaiting moderation list. As new spam messages come in you can add them to the filter (by key word, IP address, etc.) if they happen to slip through. I recommend it highly, and it's free!

At December 13, 2004 at 12:30 AM, Blogger iJames said...

That I did, and I thank you for the information. Is there a particular plug-in you use to make WordPress filter comments the way you like them, or does it do this as built-in functionality?

Thanks again for taking the time.


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