days of naze
a notion of a glorious kind
A little audio gift (85 kb .wav)
for my Faithful readers on
the first anniversary (7/14/99) of
the site. Hand cranked to help
you on the long march.
An obnoxiously large
(101k .wav) audio greeting
from the Author.
|July 14, 2000
Confessions of a Web Guy
Two years ago today days of naze was unleashed upon the world.
(Do you remember when everyone would say "and that's two Internet years" reminding you that Internet years were like dog years except much, much faster? Yes, that still really irritates me too.)
After launch, in the ancient ritual known unto all net writers, I took my hat in hand to the creators of personal sites I admired and followed. Just an e-mail to acknowledge their influence and offer a humble invitation to my goofy little tilde address. I was somewhat surprised at how many responded. But one in particular meant the world to me. I shared my aim with him: that all I really needed was at least one true "wow, I really connected with one of your stories" reader e-mail per month. I figured that that would be sufficient fuel to keep me going and he agreed that keeping the focus on the reader connection would serve me well.
Of course, secretly in my heart I hoped that I too might score mega-traffic, but that's something I wouldn't permit myself to think too often.
And here we are: two revolutions around the sun later and what have we learned? Well, I'm a little older, a little fatter, and a little wiser.
Forgive me Readers, for I have sinned.
I have coveted my Neighbor's web site, my Neighbor's web traffic and occasionally the Neighbor as well. (That's an awful lot of coveting don't you think? I'm just a covetous old bastard...)
Envy is one of the Deadly Sins, and not without good reason. It'll eat away at you, blackening the edges of your heart. On the web, Envy is definitely the Dark Side. It all starts with those damn traffic statistics links at the bottom of this page. It's just too easy to check them wherever you might be. Where's the traffic coming from? Any new links? What monitor resolution are they using?
And then you get linked and that first visitor comes through and it's really something wonderful. And you think, man, I really connected with somebody. An e-mail here, an e-mail there, and you're feeling the love. And if you keep plugging and produce something somewhat stellar (it doesn't hurt if controversy or nudity is involved), you just might get The Big Link. The Big Link catapults hundreds and hundreds of humans from all over the world to your campfire and it makes your heart beat faster, makes you do a dance.
And you'd think this would be enough, wouldn't you?
<guilty ashamed look>
Envy creeps in. Checking that site traffic like a nervous tic. How many more years until I draw triple digit daily visits (especially when I'm not that far over double digits)? Checking out other people's site traffic. Aaaaggghhhh!!
And then cometh the new wave of young, nubile, whip-smart women. I can't compete with that. Oscar Wilde said that youth was wasted on the young. These women give the lie to that little witticism. Big-time, real life drama. Creative cursing. Prolific as hell. Movie star good looks. And most of them are having actual sex. Game over.
The terrible truth about the web is that with very few exceptions, personal sites earn every bit of traffic they get. It's probably one of the purer meritocracies around. You'd better believe that with all of the better ones, there is a price. But then it wouldn't be life if there weren't some suffering involved.
Sometimes I comfort myself in drawing comparisons between myself and men I admire. Not on any kind of achievement level, but the natural pace of guys like Leonard Cohen who would go a decade between albums and George Bizet who produced only a few works (but damn! Carmen ain't bad...) before dying at age 37, one year older than I am now.
I've gotten a little better at walling myself off from doubt and self-criticism. There is a part of me that is very stubborn and resilient, and this is the larger part. The other part is highly self-critical and attenuated to criticism. It helps to bring balance to my decisions and is at the root of my reputation for even-handedness. But it also stirs internal conflict.
Certainly, when someone tells you they want more of your stuff, it is a high compliment. I get that type of feedback pretty frequently and I truly appreciate it. My situation is that this stuff all comes to me in a very particular way, which is my way, and I have come to embrace that. There are usually two or three ideas on the front burner that occupy my attention and a bunch more on the shelf that I've scribbled down in the journal. And then one of them rises and offers itself. What is the story of this thing? How did it come to be and why do I even care?
And answering these questions in my mind gets me more pumped as the story swirls and coalesces. A phrase here, a quote there, sometimes a defining moment. So when I get to this point (after getting the kids to bed - oy vey! - I know from getting kids to bed) I'm really jazzed to be at the keyboard, laying it down in fragments, looping back, discovering something new in process that ties it together. Putting on this pageant for you is just like my days in the orchestra: most of the pleasure comes in the crafting and preparing the performance. (It's probably a good thing for us all that I write a smidge better than I play...)
So (he said preaching to the choir -- sorry), if you've enjoyed your visits here, it is due in large part to this process. <tiny violin plays "my heart bleeds for chris"> I've had at least a couple sites drop their links to me due to my rate of "production". One of these not long after giving a glowing review. And that hurt a little. </tiny violin plays "my heart bleeds for chris">
Certainly everyone is welcome at days. But I tell you, only on the damned net is three weeks deemed an eternity. I'm immensely grateful that there are so many out there who run on faster cycles. It's a rich spectrum. If you've got a story, no matter how small or grand that compels you, it's time to tell it. Those are the stories I want to hear.
Two weeks before I launched this site, I was at my brother Craig's wedding reception. It was a glorious affair. I was coming down from an adrenaline jolt, enjoying a drink after having given the toast. Errett's mother (yes, *that* Errett's mother) started a conversation. I had been out of music making for about two years by then. She said, "Chris, you should be doing something artistic. That's who you are."
And I could barely keep my mouth shut, because I had been developing days of naze for about 10 months and I was ready to fly. It was like a little benediction.
The rewards have been rich. The traffic, when taken in perspective, is actually decent. If you accept that most of you Regular Readers subscribe to the list, and that the Irregulars (makes you sound like infantry, doesn't it?) aren't visiting more than once a week or so, then when all is said and done, about 400 of you visit per entry. Or conversely absolutely no one else reads, but every person on the list is riveted, twitching and paranoid that I notify everyone else before them, leading you all to tweak your computers so they fool the statistics into believing each repeated visit is in fact a unique one. Hmmm.
[Pardon me, I'm taking my pants off now, but not because web stats get me hot. It's summer in the city. Really. What are you wearing? Sorry...]
[Incidentally, I've taken that regretful step into geekdom where: 1) I'm wearing one rotating set of Gap khaki's to work, and 2) for some reason the stores don't carry the size I require to shrink down to the proper fit - odd given that there must be millions out there in the same boat - so you have to order them at the wacky web site. I smell conspiracy...]
I never expected days would be so successful at fomenting friendship. But it is largely responsible for a handful of dear new friends (if you think I'm talking about you -- I am!) and for sustaining older, distant (geographically) friendships (hi Mick, Rob Olson, Suzy, Mary! -- Steve Bernardez: why aren't you reading?).
I also never expected that this place would bring me closer to my siblings; Kim, Cara, and Craig; who I love very much. My sisters lived with my Dad after the divorce, so the splitting of ways that normally happens at college age happened earlier in our family. We lost some years together. They live in California now and we don't see each other very often. But I got a great e-mail from Kim a while back when she started reading that said she and Cara loved the site and the window into my life adventures. That meant a lot to me.
(My Mother and Step-Father read too. They are both dear to me, but sorry guys!, I'm still a little wigged out.)
In terms of personal expression on the web, things aren't as good as they were two years ago (or four years ago for that matter). They're better. The number of people out here doing everything from movies to jokes to forums to cam communities to stories -- it's much bigger now than can be known by one person. And that's a good thing. Although most of you know that the teeming masses have no idea that we are out here. I just finished a fairly depressing article in the July Harper's about the culture of work in Silicon Valley. The author, swimming in the hyper-secret, hyper-spin environment, reaches a conclusion: "... I can't deny that the Web offers a seemingly infinite array of products and services, it's still just shopping."
What a dreary prospect the net must seem to them. I am not inclined to evangelism. So, as Lao Tzu says, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. They are in for a ride.
While I've got my quote bag out, let me try another. Spinoza tells us that the longer we live, the more on reflection, our lives will seem to have played out along paths authored by Fate. Right now I'm looking at my French connections and getting a big kick out of my Bastille Day anniversary.
In the last episode of days, you may remember my entreaty for a translation of my first link from a French site. Several Kind Readers responded (thank you). Corina, came up with this:
That's a lot of pressure to perform. I only know some of the words to Fernando and Dancing Queen... Not only has this link resulted in a nice trickle of visits, but it has also resulted in French spam, which I can assure you is a much better class of spam than to that which you are accustomed.
And finally on the French front, I have to say how proud I am that our guy, Lance Armstrong, today has a commanding lead in the Tour de France. The Tour is truly one of the great tests of human achievement, primarily of athleticism and endurance, but of strategy, teamwork and technology as well.
Another thing I have learned is that the subject of death can be a quick path to radio silence. But go with me here for a moment. It was once explained to me that there is no such thing as cold, there is only absence of heat. Yesterday, pondering that idea, it follows that there is no darkness, merely absence of light. And finally, inexorably, there is no death, only absence of life. But isn't this merely a foolish word game? Does this make the cold any less uncomfortable, the darkness any less disquieting, and death any less heart-rending?
No. But consider these notions for a moment and you must confront the fact that as far as we can tell, most matter dwells in darkness, unfathomably huge chunks of the allness lie frigid, and so far only a fine little film on top of a blue planet shows any signs at all of this state of being we call Life.
I don't think that life is a given. Life is a quarter found on the floor of a cosmic arcade, a raindrop that falls so gently into your eye you don't even blink, the scent of mint carried in the breeze from a mile away. It's a gift. That we get it at all is something of a miracle. That heat and light subside is a given. Perhaps our stories will endure.
But for now, we dance.
p.s. A kiss on each cheek too much to ask? Well, then how about a happy anniversary e-mail for the big lug?
p.p.s. The Marquis de Sade does not subscribe to new days notification. But he enjoys the longing, the suffering, the waiting.
p.p.p.s. If you came here before, in the last 3 months or so, and tried to go through previous days of naze and found some broken links and cursed my name (hey, c'mon), they're pretty much fixed now.
|previously on days of naze :
big fat pipe
|May you never be more active
when you are doing nothing.
They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
-Carl W. Buehner
|in the feedbag:
more Elizabeth's nicknames & honorifics: Chop Suey, The Smiler, Full Force Fuss.
mag: The August issue of Esquire. Features a cover of Olympic pentathlete Mary Beth Larsen that makes Xena look like a cream puff. Mercy. And then an article that practically perfectly embodies the notion of schadenfreude - "Who's Killing the Great Lawyers of Harvard Law School?". And then dog poop poems by David Sedaris. A damned fine issue.
stupid father tricks: Dad (me) fixes dinner. What's on the menu? (Sung to the tune of Jimmy Crack Corn) "Chicken pot pie / and I don't care!" Hey, it worked for the boys...
cd: Lone Justice - Shelter. Over and over and over again. Gorgeous lyrics from those powerful, beautiful lungs; tonight, Springsteen - Nebraska. Nothing feels better than blood on blood.
also playing: radio days of naze - not as much ABBA as I would like...
© christopher naze