Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The day off yesterday has thrown me off entirely. My limbs don't move with precision and my language is slightly off-kilter. Please overlook this and perceive the essential core of my expression.

I'd joined three other online pen pal networks, in an attempt to make friends around the world. Yes, sometimes I wonder why a 39-year-old man feels he needs pen pals, and why I'm not interested in the things that other men my age are. I assume those things include sports, middle management, and popular bands, none of which hold an iota of interest for me. Yet I feel somewhat childish, writing "hello my name is Christian" to new people around the world.

One of the pen pal networks may have been legitimate when it started, but today it is overrun by Russian bridal organizations and tear-jerking scams from Ghana and Kenya. (I'll feel like an ass if it really turns out that three people from the same refugee camp seriously gained reliable Internet access and were sincerely hitting me up for friendship, in the name of our Lord.) I terminated my account there last night. And I haven't heard anything from one of the organizations--nothing but silence. That's fine.

The third organization has at least provided one potential contact. Oh, I'm still getting hit up for cash donations from various African nations, but also a woman in France has expressed interest in a postcard exchange. And today my profile was critiqued by "Ali," a 24-year-old Turkish man living in Moscow:
Chritian, your hobbies r really tediuos and simple and common, change them.
if u change DVD-s or CD-s full of clasical music or something like that, it would be another thing. :)
how can u prove u r a gifted writer?
do u have many penpals? I have 24.

Yours, Ali :)
Baffling. Was he trying to make friends? Or did all the vodka in his tummy gang up on his hands and write me some constructive criticism? My profile doesn't mention anything about being a writer, and I think my interests of "grilling, stationery, and scotch" are a little more interesting than "I like DVDs." And at one point in my life it would have been my technique to attack his spelling, but I can't speak Turkish or Russian at all, so his effort in my language goes far beyond my skill in his. I just wonder what he thought he was doing, whether that's how people make friends in his culture.

Overall, I have the weird sense that I'm supposed to be doing something else. I feel like I have an appointment I'm about to miss, but there is absolutely nothing on my agenda currently. I'm pleased that my new URL is working here; I'm trying to get my Heavy Boots domains pointed to my Google Sites account, which I need to shape up in a hurry. Right now it's kind of a holding station for cruft, but I could make it look nice by the weekend.

I'll lose the custom e-mail and guestbook capabilities, but no one's written in the guestbook in several years. The last person was my illiterate roommate (in various guises) who threatened either to come over to my house and beat me up to get his name off my Web site, or to hire a lawyer to alleviate his $300 debt to me and sue me for "deflamation of character." The custom e-mail address was kinda neat, though it was exceptionally prone to spam.

Last night I started reading Steve Martin's Shopgirl. I haven't seen the film and probably don't need to--it's a short book and I'm not anxious to see how Hollywood padded it out. It looks like Martin likes to explore character study and interaction, so this should be a very entertaining read. I'm hoping it's good, anyway. I'm in the middle of The Very Best of Gene Wolfe as well, and I'm actually taking the time to savor it. I'm not plowing through the short stories: I'll read one and let it sit for a couple days, read another, let it stew, etc. I know it's annoying to hear someone go on and on about their favorite (writer/actor/politician, etc.) but my favorite author is still alive. So many of my other beloved authors are not. I'm trying to psyche myself up to write a second letter to him and, as my instructor suggested, set up an actual correspondence. Which seems to me vain and presumptuous, given that I'm nobody but a cold, worn lump of potential, but it's also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

...Oh, hold on. "Prince Kafui" from Ghana wants to be pen pals too. I may be busy for the next ten years, don't wait up.

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