In mid-January I started working at a job, envisioned originally as part-time and short-term, where my duties include managing a corporate social media presence. As you can probably imagine, this is the most effective social media addiction aversion therapy I’ve ever had. All that torment over the years about my ambivalent relationship with my Internet habit, and it turns out all I needed to do in order to curb my desire to scroll through Tumblr on a Saturday was to spend the preceding Monday-Friday thinking of how best to use Tumblr as a marketing tool! Well, now I know.
Besides its incidental Internet-Antabuse benefit I am also enjoying the work and being around people. The only downside is that I am rusty at writing things that aren’t copy and fear that I have maybe completely forgotten how. Oh and also my shadowy one-sided relationships with People From The Internet are suffering, which is a weird problem to have, but I like to know what’s going on in my favorite semi-strangers’ lives. Unfortunately I have been so overwhelmed — with this gig, with Emily Books, and with my nagging guilt about not having even looked at the edited manuscript of my novel that’s been in my possession for a month now — I have been barely managing to maintain my friendships with my friends who I see regularly IRL. The one huge exception to this trend is that I started posting little profiles on the Emily Books blog of some of our subscribers and frequent book-buyers, which has given me an excuse to peek into the lives of people I’ve previously only known by their usernames or avatars. Now I know all about the books they’re reading and how one book leads to another for them and how the Internet informs their book -reading and it’s one of those exercises that’s simultaneously superficial and so intimate. I am totally obsessed and what I’d really like to do is make every single one of our subscribers answer these questions, and maybe I will!
One of the first things I did after it became clear that the subscriber profiles were a GREAT IDEA (they were Blake’s idea, btw — thank you Blake!) was to contact someone who’d recently purchased ten books from us over a very short span of time who, per her order information, was located in Tokyo. She wrote back and explained that she was 9 months pregnant and had been put on bed rest due to threatened premature delivery. She apologized for her English, which was perfect. She wrote “Devouring those books you selected really really saved my life (thus, I guess, my baby’s too).” I can’t even try to describe how I felt, reading that! Like my heart would break from joy, basically. She was due to be induced last Wednesday. I hope she and her baby are well. I have thought of them so much, even though I know almost nothing about them except that she publishes a zine named after Kathy Acker and has translated Michelle Tea into Japanese.
Today I put some of my collection of early-period East Village Inkies in the mail to her because that’s what I always think of giving new parents, and because she is a zine publisher. It was a gray day, my neighborhood had a sad fried chicken and damp smell, and no one I passed on my way to the post office seemed particularly thrilled to be alive. I also had really terrible period cramps, not usually a problem for me, but I haven’t been exercising much and have been drinking a million cups of coffee a day. I felt okay on the walk but then standing in line at the post office I suddenly felt extremely terrible. I thought about maybe just going home. Then I had the sudden thought that giving birth was probably kind of like this but a whole, whole, whole lot worse, and how on earth does anyone ever do it? How does anyone do any of the excruciating but necessary tasks that must be done?
The moment passed, though, and I went on to the drugstore and the grocery store and home.