Pre-Tumblr (2007), pre-Twitter (2006), pre-Facebook (2004), pre-WordPress (2003), pre-Blogger (1999), pre-LiveJournal (1999), and even before the word “blog” (1999) became part of our everyday vocabulary, a twenty-something girl with lots of opinions and is an exhibitionist at heart started putting her life online in 1998 (1995).
In those days, we did not style ourselves as “bloggers” but as online journalists, diarists, or memoirists. We banded together on mailing lists like Diary-L and went to JournalCon. We often kept not only our own sites, but also companion sites at LiveJournal and DiaryLand.
Things were different then. Vastly different. You weren’t a brand, you were a person. Some wrote anonymously, some wrote brazenly, others wrote somewhere in between. You wrote to explain, connect, bend, fabricate, conceal, and open. You wrote because if you didn’t, you would explode.
We were fearless. We gave no fucks. We were the voice of a generation who came to the Internets guileless and unafraid, knowing whatever transgressions would ultimately be forgiven. We knew anything and everything was possible and we wrote about it all with no pretense. There was an intimacy and an immediacy to the writing. It was also comforting, knowing, shocking, and absorbing.
It was all life unrestricted.
We were all Samuel Pepys, but with laptops and modems, not quills and parchment.
Jarring shift: Last week I found out that whomever now owns simunye.org now has set robots.txt to NOFOLLOW.
And boom, just like that 10 years of Lisa on the ‘net has been wiped out for good.
This becomes important because simunye.org was the first domain I ever purchased, and the first home of The Lisa Chronicles. Once that robots.txt file was changed, tangible proof of my historical online record are forever gone. Now all that is left, other than the local copies safely tucked away in the cloud, is a mention of my early work in an article in Wired from February 1999.
(The incredibly short version of how I lost access in 2010 to the domain registrar where the domain was registered, the domain expired, and I didn’t grab it in time when it was free to renew. Despite this, I was still able to link to the simunye.org archives that lived on via Wayback Machine, but with the new domain owners setting robots.txt to NOFOLLOW, this also effectively wiped out the entire history of the domain at Wayback Machine.)
(And if that doesn’t get you thinking about the so-called permanency of what the Wayback Machine was meant to be as a social history archive of the Internet, then why does it even exist?)
(And it was perhaps fortuitous of me knowing this day was coming? I’ve been steadily putting up the old archives, which is why everything pre-2010 is in spurts. In 2008 I said it would be done by the end of the summer. So.)
But let us not mourn too much about the past, or what it has become. But let us look at this world I’ve inhibited for nearly two decades and how it is starting to come full circle. I was one of the few writing about their whole lives online then and I’m one of the few doing it now.
Now, everyone has an agenda. A brand. A business. A sale. They have a schtick and job, with goal settings, social media analytics, and use phrases like “bounce rate” and “conversions.” They write to make money and hope their kitschy blog on a niche thing will turn into a book or a movie deal.
However I find for all these sites that tell you how to do something, solve your problem, or make you laugh under the banner of “personal blog,” seem to lack a certain soul. A certain personality. Sure, many include tidbits and trinkets about their life in the piece, but the piece is not about that tidbit or trinket; it’s about selling you something and getting you to keep on buying what they are dealing for every time you click a link or land on a page, they are somehow making money.
So we swing back and here we are on the 16th anniversary of my online diary, my journal, my memoirs.
The anniversary of my online journal has always been fluid. Things were put up on GeoCities as far back as 1995, but apparently it was not until July 16, 1998 that I made an executive decision to do this regularly and The Lisa Chronicles (and subsidies) were born.
After a very prolific period that lasted well into the 2000s, I started to write less sometime in 2006, and then almost never and to the point I thought I would never come back. Various forms of the site evolved in bursts and in August 2010, after finishing library school and floundering around for a bit, I decided to resurrect the site in its previous glory. I also explained why I kept my world online:
When I started keeping an online journal in 1998, the main reason I started chronicling my entire life online was for me to remember it. I have no memory of my childhood and most of my tween years up until the age of 13 and there are even spots of time in my 20s that are vacant. If personal recollections, photographs, handwritten letters and other realia were so incredibly fragile, were my words digitally constructed that much stronger? Could I not access them at anytime and any point with no fear of deprecation?2 Wasn’t this the whole point of the internets?
I became obsessed with chronicling my life because I wanted my imprint to last forever. And this is why my online journal was called, The Lisa Chronicles.
The 2010 resurrection did not breathe life to the site as I had hoped and I started thinking maybe it was time for a new domain and a new name. I had been The Lisa Chronicles for so long but it didn’t feel quite right anymore. I needed a change.
On a trip to England in 2012, I was at Shakespeare’s Globe browsing the gift shop when I saw a pin that said, “Exit, Pursued by a Bear,” referencing the stage direction from The Winter’s Tale. Almost immediately I googled to see if the name was being used and it was in various forms that seemed to be mostly defunct but definitely not as a blog.
This is where I needed to be.
The tag line, “A Most Unreliable Narrator,” is a spin of the literary term “unreliable narration” which refers mainly to first person narratives, typically in fiction, as they are often biased and filled with self-interest. You know, like life.
In 1998, I was an unmedicated bipolar living in sin with TheHusband in near dump in Oakland, working for a sleazy ISP in San Francisco, and with a borderline drinking problem. I also smoked like a chimney and got into a lot of trouble. In 2014, I’m still unmedicated bipolar living no longer in sin with TheHusband in a too big for us house in a historic district in Grand Rapids, working freelance life as a writer who can barely have a drink a month, no longer smokes, and finds staying up late on Friday nights to be worrisome.
Who the fuck knows what this site, and me, are going to look like in another twenty years?
But personally, I can’t wait.
- Someone once made me The Lisa Chronicles ICQ skin
- I produced t-shirts for supporting the site (and still have one)
- Most of my oldest, and dearest, friends were met either via IRC or my online journal
- I have been signing all of my entries, “xoxo, Lisa” since the very beginning
- TheHusband figures prominently in the beginning since we were together when I began the journal
- After nearly a decade of not being in touch, TheHusband tracked me down via my journal and we picked up right up in 2008 where we left off in 1999
- I’ve had romantic and platonic relationships end and begin because of my journal
- My preferred disposable pen is still a Pentel RSVP in fine point blue
- I still love nachos (but I no longer smoke)
- I finally finished college and went on to grab two masters after just to be safe
Total Words: Over 1 million
Total Posts: 2000 and growing (Average 125 posts a year for 16 years)
Content managed by: By hand until 2004ish, then Moveable Type, Blogger, WordPress, Joomla, Indexhibit, and back to WordPress.
Domains: simunye.org, trippingonstars.org, pronstar.org, bitchasshoe.org, modgirl.net, shesgotplans.net, biblyotheke.net, and finally, exitpursuedbyabear.net.
Here is how the site looked in 2001, 2004, 2007, and 2011.
Here is what I looked like in 1998, 2003, 2006, 2012, 2014
2001 About Page
I’m 6′ tall in stocking feet. I don’t know what my natural hair color is. I was born in Toronto, Ontario Canada; I have a half-brother, my father is dead, I’m eight years older than my fiancé. I have a shoe, handbag and clothes fetish. I style myself as a voracious reader and I have had up to 14 piercings at any given time. I dropped out of highschool – twice. I have yet to finish college. I’ve driven cross-country solo and I chain-smoke like a sailor. I love music, literature, walks on the beach and torturing ants with a magnifying glass.
2001 About page alternate
this isn’t going to be some sort of deep psychological debate with myself. you can form your own opinions about me via reading what i write. but that is just the tip. the basics are as follows:
- I’m 6′ tall in stocking feet.
- I’ve driven cross country (san fran to dc) solo
- I’ve been engaged multiple times (but not all at once)
- my fiance is eight years younger than me
- my brother is 7’2
- i was born in Canada and raised in Michigan
- i was arts/entertainment editor on the college paper
- i’m obsessed about harry potter and Anita Blake books
- the first thing i do when i get up is: feed the dogs, make coffee, pee, smoke a cigarette and check my stocks in that exact order
- i make more snide comments than i do straight answers
- i’m obsessive /compulsive
- i’m a drew carey fanatic.
- i admit to owning albums by “Aqua” “Color Me Badd” and “Britney Spears”
- i have a purse/shoe fetish
- i only write with Pentel’s rsvp pens in fine point blue
- i also tape (via tivo) beverly hills 90210 every time it’s on
- i’m a zelda fanatic
- my favorite comedian is eddie izzard
- if i would, i would marry christian slater in a heartbeat.
- same thing for brendan fraser
- ahh hell, imhotep from “the mummy” would so be my bitch
- i cannot live without my cellphone or my visor
- or cigarettes, cawfee (from Barnies) and nachos
2004 About Page
Don’t know. I’m an exhibitionist at heart? Whatever the reason, I’ve been keeping an online journal since 1996, a written one since I was a kid. Yah, I’m an old-timer. Fuck this blog shit!
I decided one day to keep an online account of my life and my feelings. I wanted to see how much I have changed (or not) through the years. It is also much cheaper to write than to see a shrink or take drugs. 😉 It’s become some sort of personal project for me and I hope to continue working on it. I write about anything and everything that strikes my fancy. I’ve had partners break up with me over the journal and others fall in love with me because of it. Chances are, if you know me, you’re in here somewhere. I do not use last names or try to reveal identities too terribly much. I don’t have issues about people knowing who I am, but others do. I try to respect their privacy as much as possible. I don’t believe in being anonymous and I don’t believe in keeping secrets. I try to provide as much detail as possible. I’m very verbose — you’ve been warned.
2007 About Page
I first started keeping my journal on-line in 1996 at the age of 24, before the word “blog” was ever coined. And by that logic, I’ve never “blogged” but journaled. Old-schoolers will back me up on this.
The first incarnation of The Lisa Chronicles started on a now-defunct Freenet in my hometown, moved to GeoCities, and found its first permanent home at simunye.org. Various minor moves to other domains that I procured over the years before its final resting place here at modgirl.net.
And in the last decade plus of journaling my life on-line, I’ve met amazing people from all over the world, fell in and out of love, found employment, ranted about the things I despised and raved about the things I loved. It’s been my cheap therapy, my way of expressing myself, of often much needed ego boost, and I have often been humbled by those I’ve met simply by their sheer amazing selves.
2011 About page
In no discerning order: 30 something. Punk rock librarian and archivist. Sassy. Waffle. Pug owner. World traveler. Pierced. Tattooed. Tall. Music and book lover. Discriminating Guinness taster. Aging, alternative hipster. Eco-conscious. Geek. Equally in love with James Bond and Jane Austen.
2014 About page
I am from the Internet.
You may know me as @pnkrcklibrarian, or from my previous online journal, The Lisa Chronicles. If we’re going to go back even farther to the days of Undernet IRC, as simunye or lisha.
You may also know me to a lesser extent from LiveJournal, Goodreads, Tumblr, and Pinterest and things I have created.
“Fuck” is my favorite word and I also have a lot of opinions.
I used to want to write for Rolling Stone but have worked everywhere from meat packing plant to a newspaper salesperson to a network engineer and then a librarian with multitude of stops along the way. Now I write full time and wave my cane at the kids on my lawn.
2 thoughts on “3 More + 16 Years: The Chronicles Of A Girl Online”
OMG this is fantastic. Awesome post…loved every word.
Those damn Pentel pens….I will only write with their EnerGel 0.7 version.
Keep up the great work….you need to keep doing this.
See, despite not claiming the title as a profession, you’ve been a writer all this time.
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