Thursday, February 28, 2008


I have just committed to a round of "secret blog pals." It's my first time. I heard about this practice from Alleen. She posted photos of her last secret pal gifts on her blog, so I've seen the process in action.

As I told Jessica today (she's a secret blog pal vet, too), I'd completely forgotten that I was going to receive gifts in this arrangement. I was all wrapped up in what I was going to send to my gal, who seems awesome, just based on a quick perusal of her blog. This makes me sound all selfless and generous, which couldn't be further from the truth. So I'm trying to figure out what I find so appealing about having a secret blog pal.

I think it has something to do with the internet. Or, more specifically, e-mail. E-mail and its role as a blog precursor. In 1994, when I learned about e-mail, the concept blew my mind. "Let me get this straight," I said. "I love my computer. And I love getting mail. And now I will be able to get and send mail INSIDE MY COMPUTER. It will become a magic box, just because I've attached a blinking, whining gizmo to it. Even better, no more delayed gratification--the mail will travel instantly. And I won't get just one "letter" a day. I might get TEN!" I couldn't imagine anything more freakin' cool if I were making a wish with a genie.

Don't laugh at my innocence, Readers. Remember, this was the time when Netscape Navigator actually had a button labeled "What's New!" which listed each emergent website. This was long before spam. It was even before emoticons! And because I had a university telnet account, I also had the stunning ability to type in anyone's e-mail address and say "Are you there?" and "talk" to them in real time...even if they were in Slovakia! Within two days of having e-mail, I was totally blissed-out in love. Gaga and smitten. I tell David that it took until 2007, when he gave me my 1000-photo digital frame for my birthday, until I found another technological invention I adored so unreservedly.

And then, suddenly, there were blogs. Blogs combined all kinds of things that I already liked. Journaling, for one. Audiences, for another (what can I say--I'm an attention whore!) And websites. Here was a website so easy that even a total technophobe like me could update it. E-mail remains warmly nestled in the bosom of blogs, too--because commenting (and receiving comments) became its own kind of conversation. And commenting added a new dimension, since you could chat up total strangers by spying on their lives, all of it perfectly up front and legal.

I mean, it's a cliche, and people talk about it all the time, but the world has gotten more accessible. I hearken back to my dear friends Marlene and Teresa, whom I met at an English conference in 1995. Together with some other folks, we spent a glorious week doing shots and screaming with laughter. One lived in Wyoming at the time, and one in Florida. I was in San Diego. So, basically, we had no shared geography, and probably never would. What was the point of staying friends? (I was asked that actual question.) But I had e-mail by then, and so did they. We started a correspondence, remarkable in both depth and simplicity, since all the trappings of a Victorian correspondence--paper, quills, sealing wax, liveried footmen--were suddenly obsolete. We could write two paragraphs in our pajamas with our morning coffee, and that was getting to know each other. I'm happy to say that today, 14 years later (!) they are two of my favorite people in the world. We've seen each other lots. And still we have never lived in the same place.

Now, I'm not saying that I expect to make lifelong friends by having a secret blog pal (and if my first pal reads this, I hope she won't be scared.) But I am absolutely tickled by the fact that the framework of the blogosphere creates an opportunity for me to send a package (complete with favorite candy) to another adoptive mom, in a faraway state, whom I have never met. What a beautiful way to make the world smaller.

And what could be LESS technological? Going to the post office with a brown paper package all tied up with string, filled with paperbacks and baby toys and yarn? Waiting with anticipation for someone to be delighted by their local post person? Sure, publishing a photo of the booty for the world to see is kind of new and different, but still. The game itself is old-fashioned. It's sweet. It's--as they say in the Catskills--haimishe. Look it up. It's a great word, and I think it fits.


Something Really Clever said...
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smittenknitten said...

Secret Pal Swaps are fun and a bit addictive, can't wait to see what our pal thinks of your gift, and she sends you :).