Internet Brothers Community · Essays About Life

What this is about:

Community is the cornerstone of the Internet. E-commerce may get all the press, but communication among like and not so like-minded individuals is what keeps the net alive. This particular community of Internet brothers and sisters contributed their thoughts about the net, and life in general. As Joe Jenett once told me, "Look around you — see all the little sites who have bought into the myth of gaining riches on the web — see all the creative content ruined by the effects of over-commercialization. The lines between creative content and commercial content have become blurred and as far as I'm concerned, that really sucks."

Ron Wilson

Ron WilsonWhat happens if people don't see your wife for long periods of time? If you're a married man, people always get curious and want to know where she is. They say, "Haven't seen your wife, where is she?" as if you must give a personal account of your wife's whereabouts on demand to anybody who requests it. Again, you have to lie. You can't say, for example, "Oh, she misbehaved yesterday and I had to lock her in the closet."

Some of the Old Songs

“I secretly realize what the outcome would be should she ever speak to me: anything, everything she could ask of me I would do.” — Ron Wilson

"Some of the old songs, Sam." Yes, spoken by Ingrid Bergman to Dooley Wilson (no relation) in the film Casablanca. What are the old songs? Old songs are any songs older than the new songs. (Who said you had to be a genius to understand these things?) The old songs are the songs we remember from our youth (any year prior to this year when we suddenly aged) to which we attach strong emotions and events.

In my case it is old rock and roll. Now the old songs pose a good-news-bad-news scenario. On the one hand you have rock and roll associated with wild horse, fast women, and good liquor (to paraphrase an old western song). On the other hand you have heartache, somebody-done-somebody-wrong.

The old songs are not always a guarantee of fond memories. I believe that Dr. Joyce Brothers is right when she concludes that men tend to live in the past, while women tend to opt for the present and the future. While Ron Wilson replays all of the tapes of a bygone relationship, overflowing with "he said — she said" kinds of reflection and "if only I'd done this or she'd done that," the woman (bless her) is reaching yet another crossroad in her life and finds herself saying like Scarlett O'Hara, "Oh well, tomorrow's another day."

For a man, a man — what is a man? I sometimes think of the joke we little boys used to hear in the Days of Yore. It goes like this: A little girl comes crying to her mother and says, "The boys make fun and won't play with me because I don't have a pee-pee like they do." She adds, pointing, "All I have is this." Her mother takes the girl in her arms and answers, "Don't worry, Dear. With one of these, you can get all of those you want."

"Oh, laugh if you will," says Captain Renault in Casablanca. But truth is truth because it oftentimes stings. And this joke stings me. A television entertainer I watched recently talked disparagingly about a self-styled expert on male-female relationships. He remarked, "This guy says that women don't want to have sex with men they don't know." Hey Doc, "women just don't want to have sex with you."

It's an old song. Ilsa wanted to hear some of the old songs. Rick did not. Sam simply didn't want anyone to shoot the piano player. He was only the messenger.

So I listen to the old songs . . . the 50's, 60's, and 70's. I think of my days at Washington State University. One in particular. It's evening and many students are assembled in the field house. Bonfires usurp the chill. A football game or something is the purpose of the rally, but my brain is numb as well as my limbs. I spot the most beautiful girl on campus and I can't look away from her. All I know about her is that she comes from California. Why on Green Earth she is in Pullman, Washington, I do not know. She is beautiful, I think, as I gaze at her long blond hair and womanly features. She stands there alone, absorbed by the speaker's words and clapping her white mittens when the others around her do.

I could never bring myself to speak to her, but I secretly realize what the outcome would be should she ever speak to me: anything, everything she could ask of me I would do. From suicide to sex I wouldn't hesitate. Just ask and it is yours. That you would ask me is all the validation you need for the request to be fulfilled. Just open your mouth, say what you want, and instantly you have it from me. Any possession, any act (legal or illegal), any sacrifice, any humiliation, demerit, or penalty — just ask and it shall be given unto you. I surrender everything I have, readily, eagerly, greedily.

Have you ever noticed that "fat chance" and "slim chance" both mean the same thing? She had the power, but never used it. Why? Because I was a non-entity, nothing, nada. Hey Doc, "women just don't want to have sex with you." She couldn't see me because I was invisible, cruelly without substance. I was the runt of the litter, the one they took to the pound.

Some of the old songs? Please, just one or two.

Multiple Personality Web Design

“These children are seeing things like fireflies for the first time and want to catch a jar full. Their heads are full of thoughts from the latest Harry Potter book read by the light of bugs...” — Bobbie Osborne

     Just last year, my workstation at home was in front of a window. Through this window, I would watch the sun come up in the morning as I woke up, drank my coffee, listened to the husband and dog snore, read my morning e-mail, touched base with some of my favorite web sites, played with the "pay attention to me" psycho kitty and fed the turtle.

     A few years ago, I walked away from the old school work world as it expected me to be. I did this to spend 10+ hours a day, 5+ days a week for a new job that I knew I would love. As an Internet hobbyist, I jumped feet first into the world of Internet and web design. What I became was a middle-aged, tender gender member and jane of all trades in a testosterone shop of IT junkies.

     When I was not at work, I spent another 2-4 hours a day reading e-mail, sorting out my real email from the 100's of spam/junk mails that came into my multiple email boxes and then — evenings and weekends, most of my friends and family knew they could find me online with chat open, playing with web work. People that knew me well, also knew that most likely I was chatting with them at the same time I was playing with graphic work and didn't feel neglected when I often disappeared from the net for a while and on a regular basis.

     More recently, I have moved my workstation to a room without windows and distractions, where the coffee overflows and the cigarettes are burning away in the ashtray. Real life has intruded into my world. My multiple play web sites stand neglected and the psycho kitty has defected with a cult of ragtag wannabees that roam the neighborhood in search of freedom from tyranny. The husband and the dog still snore, but I now wake up to two special needs children, my niece and my nephew; both searching for love, consistency and stability from the often neglectful world they have lived in most of their short lives. My new children are 10 and 11 and they are now doing sleepovers with friends, baseball, Boy Scouts and french lessons. I have recently discovered that the husband is a great Mr. Mom.

     My passions have changed from being excited at the thought of learning a new graphic program or code, to being excited instead that Shelly actually slid into home base and scraped her leg; a huge accomplishment for this very effeminate little lady who has no real self confidence. These children are seeing things like fireflies for the first time and want to catch a jar full. Their heads are full of thoughts from the latest Harry Potter book read by the light of bugs at their bedside. They are catching snowflakes on their tongues in the winter and hiking the beautiful trails that surround us in the spring.

     My world has become one of multiple personalities. I now search for child safe web sites and won't allow the internet to be "the new baby-sitter" of this generation, like the television was to the 70's and 80's. We have pizza and movie nights every Friday, with family housecleaning day every Saturday. For the children, camping in real tents is next on our agenda and planting flowers in the front of the yard is now on the top of my list. I 've actually bought my first digital camera and my hard drive is filled with images of children playing on a slip-n-slide and the rope swing that now hangs in our backyard.

     All of my more recent web work has been related to creating and personalizing small business web sites, like the one I recently created for a crusty "old sea dog" type of a man, who happens to be a well known local artisan. He is a man of the earth who hates technology but still feels a need to be part of it. Everything he creates is from nature's hand me downs and he creates his artistic pieces with tender loving care.

     So, why am I telling you this? This is the challenge. It should be a challenge as well as a reality check for all of us as web designers, hobbyist or professionals, to remember how many people don't and/or want to understand the intricacies of the Internet. Many people want it to be magic. The last few years have forced me to find the balance between learning and creating cutting edge design work to making sure it is still "all people friendly." I have been challenged to change my focus and remember how the real world, "average joe" so to speak, views the internet world.

     Since those of us in the baby boomer age group didn't cut our teeth on technology, it wasn't an ingrained aspect of our education. We grew up playing in our own neighborhoods, and skinning our knees. Our best friends lived down the street. Computers and the thought of communication through computers were something for science fiction novels and movies. Unlike current high-schoolers that crunch code for breakfast, we the second career folks, often have to ferret out the new technologies and information for ourselves. On the internet, this often makes the learning curve much steeper for those of us who have entered this world instead of being born to it.

     The dot com generation has been as slow to accept second career designers and often believes we don't have the abilities to withstand the constant changes. But, that's exactly what we DO know how to do. We grew up in a world where direct human contact and care still mattered. We already understand that everything in life is about constant changes, both on and off the Internet.

     As new and used; first and second career; hobbyist and professional web designers, if we can personally bridge the gaps to find harmony and balance, we will all be better for our experiences as we continue to learn and evolve. The people oriented combinations that are beginning to emerge on the internet are taking root and these combinations are promising to be electric. It's a great time to be excited all over again.

Now, if someone could just teach me how to set my laser printer to stun.

Bobbie Osborne

Bobbie OsborneI think M&M's might just be better than money, because you can eat them. I believe everyone has a creative destiny, you may just have to really-really look hard for it sometimes. I believe the game of life needs to be played under an old oak tree, with your friends hiding in all the strangest of places. But you'll have to catch me first, because tag, you're it.

Kitty Mead

Kitty MeadSo I swing my legs out of bed while turning the alarm off... 4:00 a.m., stumble in the dark to the bathroom, and halfway there smoosh my foot in dog poop. DAMMIT! ok, my neck is still killing me from the other nite when I fell asleep in the desk chair, and now I'm gimpin' on my toes on one foot, turn on the bathroom light so I can see something, and grab some toilet paper to pick up the poop. Of course it's a bit difficult to pick up, 'cos I squashed it into the floor. And how did you start YOUR day?

Sometimes I Think I'm An Angel

I never told anyone that before. You have to admit that it sounds a bit schizoid, and I wouldn't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable, not knowing how to respond to such a statement. So I've never told anyone.

See, I've lived quite a few lives, and I've died a few... well, almost died. I believe that I survived because there's a greater purpose for me. There are some things that I have to stick around for. I'm not really sure what those things are, but I have a feeling that I'm doing them now.

I absolutely love people. I really do. I love to watch them, talk to them, listen to them, and help them. At times, I feel like I have all of these little curly antennas that invisibly protrude from my body... soaking up other people's emotions, absorbing the feelings that they're trying to hide while trying to be normal. I read people well, and I talk to them.

When I look at people waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store, I see a tough looking biker, smoothing out the back of his T-shirt. I see an embarrassed, middle aged woman, looking sideways to the line of people waiting behind her, and apologizing because she doesn't have enough money with her. And I smile. I smile because it's ok. I understand, and I'm embarrassed for you. I smile because I straighten out my T-shirt to cover my butt too.

There are people that never smile. They never say nice things, and they're always crabby. Sometimes that really bothers me, but most times I try to convert them. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. I can't change the world. But I try.

So why do I feel things so intensely? How can I convey such emotion in my art that causes people to say so? Am I a medium for the message? Can I help you to feel, to respond, and to become a part of it all? I was sitting here tonight, pondering how I could write what I feel. As I watched Stone Philips talking on the television, I thought about what he does in the privacy of his own home, when he's not in front of a camera. I thought of my friends on the web, and how much I care about them, how everyone is so special in whatever they do, and I could cry.

Maybe everyone should almost die once or twice. And when you live because it's not your time yet, maybe you'll see people with their emotions showing. It won't be about impatiently waiting for old people. It won't be about the money and it won't be all about you. And you'll care. Maybe you'll feel like an angel sometimes too.

Beyond the Dream

“Our walk through the trees is leisurely and without conversation. Despite his size he walks so lightly that no twigs are broken, no leaf crushed.” — Sally Mclean

     I lie awake under the cover of the large mosquito net moving silently in the gentle breeze from the open window. In the distance an owl hoots his welcome to the moon, or maybe to scare an unsuspecting mouse out of hiding. I turn, feeling the clean cotton sheets brush sensuously against my skin, wondering where he is.

     He always appears on nights like this. Tall, his long flowing hair glowing silver in the moonlight, a look of unearthliness about him as he silently enters my world and turns my life inside-out. Slowly, as if I have summoned him by my thoughts, I feel his gaze. Shifting to look at the open doorway, I see him leaning almost nonchalantly against the wooden frame.

     "I've been waiting for you" I say, before I even realize the words are out of my mouth. He slowly smiles, like the sun rising through the trees and extends his hand to me.

     "Come." It is a statement, a fact, not a command, but I know I wouldn't argue, even if I wanted to. Slipping out from between the sheets, I throw on a discarded shift and pull on my rather ungainly hiking boots. He makes no comment, just watches, as I hurriedly dress. Sensing that I am ready, he steps out of the doorway, knowing I will follow.

     Our walk through the trees is leisurely and without conversation. Despite his size he walks so lightly that no twigs are broken, no leaf crushed. I, on the other hand, despite my best efforts, cannot seem to emulate his grace. Sticks snap, leaves crunch. I often wonder if he is amused by my efforts to copy his gentle stride, but there is no indication from him that this is the case. He walks beside me, helping me over the more difficult sections of the forest floor, silently pointing out a protruding tree root or fallen branch, and all the time I am so very aware of his closeness, his presence. Wild, untamed and yet almost gentile — he is an enigma that I know I will never truly understand.

     Finally we reach the clearing. I nod to the Others who have gathered there, all familiar faces. Some respond in kind, others also flash a smile. We walk to the centre, under the canopy of the dark trees above and he raises his hand for silence.

     Even the breeze obeys his command. The clearing is still, breathless, waiting. Finally the sound of the horn echoes through the forest, reverberating through the trees and felt to the very core of my being. It is time.

     Without conscious thought we have all moved to stand next to our partners. Paired in a circle around the open space, each couple joins hands looking into each other's eyes. In the centre of the circle, I turn to face him and feel the familiar momentary thrill before he reaches for my hand. He smiles.

     "Antaguar," he whispers, using the name he gave me, "my love".

     Closing my eyes, I feel him enter my mind, placing images of wonder and amazement, magic, beauty, desire, love, enchantment, joy. A part of me regrets that the only things I can give him in return are fear, anger, pettiness, un-enlightenment, drabness and materialism, although I know we both give each other the knowledge that our worlds need to survive, to balance, to understand.

     I feel him lean into me as the onslaught of my knowledge hits him. I can feel his pain and begin to withdraw my thoughts back into myself, to protect him.

     "No."

     It is a quiet reassurance. I know that this is why he comes to me, to learn, to re-acquaint himself with the human world, but the pain it causes him each time distresses me. I open my eyes to plead with him, only to find him looking at me with a gentle reprove in his eyes.

     "I come to you to learn" his voice is like the rustle of leaves on a Spring day, "but I also come because I love you. We are as one, two halves of a whole. As we have been many times before. And to comprehend the whole, we must know each half. Do you understand?"

     Looking at him through the sudden tears stinging my eyes, drinking in his beauty, his pure magic, seeing the moonlight glint off the sheen of his antlers, I smile.

     "I understand."

Sally McLean

Sally McLeanI am Antaguar. Part myth, part faerie, part real. I am a weaver of words, teller of tales, bard of fact and fable. I wander the worlds collecting stories as I roam. Bringing memory back to life, myth back to reality, dreams back to truth, love back to understanding. Travel with me now as I take you on a journey beyond the wall of reason, into the realm of madness, onto the light of existance in all it's varied forms. Come, walk with me...

Joe Jenett

Joe JenettI've been accused of being too verbose. Verbosity takes time, and nobody has any time to spare. So, verbosity is out. Understand? This verbosity has to stop right now! We don't have time for your nonsense and endless rambling, so stop it, and I mean right now! I'd like to respond to the accusation, but unfortunately (without being allowed to verbalize), I haven't had time to teach any of my fingers more than the few words they already know, so I'll have to leave it at that.

Running

“Men and women, in her mind anyway, each had their roles to play. The men took care of the women, and in return the women did whatever they had to do.” — Joe Jenett

"You'll see... things will be better in Florida."

Packing us all into the old Ford and hitting the road was the plan of the day. Running was always the way of dealing with things and this was a run for the gold.

"I'm gonna miss him. He took care of us and now we're on our own. But don't worry, I'll find another man who will love us."

She couldn't understand the concept of being worth something. Men and women, in her mind anyway, each had their roles to play. The men took care of the women, and in return the women did whatever they had to do. She would start a business in Florida which would feed us all until she found the new Mr. Right. It all meant nothing but a temporary belief in herself. She could start a business but if she had to do it on her own, it would have to be temporary. How could it be otherwise?

"Can we stop? I have to go to the bathroom."

"Soon, dear, soon."

The long road flies by us as rain hits the hood of the old Ford. What could we do but go along with this plan? One day we'll grow up and do our own running. One day we'll grow up and regress just like she has.

"Why do people die Mom?"

"They just do honey, they just do."

We finally stop and for a moment, I think of running away. They won't miss me — I'm not worth anything to them anyway. It's a circular thing. I go to the bathroom and return to the car knowing that I have nowhere else to go. An eleven year old goes where he's taken.

"You'll see, kids, it'll all work out in Florida."


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