Tag Archives: Internet

The Burdens of Internet Fame

Wooo! We just hit 1000 subscribers! In honor of this momentous readership event, and because everyone’s been so supportive, Sam and I would like to say thanks and take a look back at the Fresh Pressing that started this electrically unsafe daisy chain of fortune.

I’d always viewed the internet as a vast, unicorn-infested, cat-plagued, time-sucking mega-void that would chop up whatever creativity I was brave enough to offer it into tiny, troll-size bites, but I wasn’t about to let a few grammar-defying kittens stop me.

I knew damn well that I could be mildly, vaguely, intermittently amusing, not to mention the fact that Sam’s artwork is torn straight from the heavens. He declared that any representation of this truth would be self-serving, but luckily I have no such qualms.

And so, it was with a great sense of achievement that I wrote and published my first post, ate some microwavable mini-quiches, and promptly fell asleep.

I awoke to the sound of bells.

My first thought is that a bunch of angels, now armed with the bell-induced power of wings, are hunting us down for stealing their heavenly artwork, but it’s only the doorbell—the computer guy’s here to fix my internet.

I wriggle into pants (the last guy had filed an official complaint), boot up my computer, and briefly glance at my page views—WHAT THE GRAPH?! The number is so huge my atrophied English brain can barely comprehend it. I call Sam to make sure this is real life, but he’s either asleep or at the mercy of the battle seraphim and can offer no persuasive evidence. Before I can come to any conclusions, the doorbell rings again.

The plumbers! My apartment is soon filled with jostling servicemen, and the computer guy has shut off my internet. I have no idea what’s happening out there in the mega-void! The plumbers start sawing into my ceiling all over the place and suddenly it’s disgorging water in three spots with vindictive aplomb, and the now-soaked drywall is collapsing like the Soviet Union.

Long story short, after my internet was revived about an hour later, after the water-spewing pipes had been sealed off and the gaping holes in my ceiling were—well, those are still there. Anyway, after dealing with my assorted apartmental issues, I was able to resume my e-vestigation and found out I’d been freshly pressed…on my very first post!

Still in shock, I scoured my kitchen for smelling salts, only to realize that I live in the present day, so I gave up and proceeded to bask in the joy of one of the most exciting moments of my life. It was a singular experience, receiving ludicrously positive feedback from complete strangers. I still can’t figure out what they stand to gain! Since then, though view rates have naturally never come close to that chart-ruining outlier of a first day, the blog has grown as slowly and surely as a lesson-teaching tortoise, and for some reason, the people reading it seem to actually enjoy it.

And it’s all thanks to you! You, my readers and new favorite people ever, made this happen. You are the first wave of hope in a stormy sea of fear and slimy kelp, helping propel us forward on the journey toward the shores of moderate internet fame. And it doesn’t matter that I’ve already been offered dozens of jobs all over the tropics. I don’t care about the fact that scores of moon women have been throwing themselves at me, and so be it if the state of Rhode Island promised me a small herd of attack lions if I’d only drop everything and compose their official State Poem.

You know what? I don’t even care that Ex-Vice-President Al Gore offered me a position by his side saving baby albino whales from underwater greenhouse gases. I told him the world would have to wait, because by god, I’ve got readership now, and if he didn’t want me ignoring literally every other aspect of my life in the pursuit of becoming internet famous, then he damn well shouldn’t have invented the thing.

Now, it’s not all fun and games. Every week I’m filled to the brim with frothy, bubbling panic as I realize I’ve finally written the post that will prove I’m merely a fraud masquerading as a merry minstrel of the mega-void. Sleep has become such an unattainable fantasy that whenever I manage to snag an hour or two, I invariably dream of more sleeping. It’s like a boring, sedated version of Inception.

And now that I spend all my time alone in my room attempting to befriend the internet, my social skills are going the way of the red wolf—critically endangered in the wild, but thriving in World of Warcraft.

Yes, internet fame may require great sacrifice, but you’re worth it, readers, and you can bet your oversize bonnets I’ll be here for you this Tuesday, and barring serious injury or any non-fictional job offers, every Tuesday after that.

Like an abacus, you can count on me.

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Oops, I Got an English Degree!

This morning, I woke up to a horrible realization. Actually, that happens pretty much every morning, the realization being that I’m awake and no longer in the blissful world of dreams.

But on this fateful day, I came to recognize a much more devastating truth: I had spent four years of my life studying English.

You’d think kids who get into Stanford would be smart enough not to pursue their dreams, but I’ve always been quixotic (and as an English major, I can tell you that word’s based on a character…from a book!), so I studied what I loved, future be damned! My parents, idealistic saps that they are, actually encouraged me towards this! They said, “Russ, you can do anything if you put your mind to it!” Can you believe that?

So I kept at it. I enjoyed my major, and I’ve never been one to deny myself any desire, no matter how whimsical or potentially hazardous.

And it was just so easy. Wait until the final paper is assigned, read (or skim) a single book, then write an eight page treatise on the main character’s Oedipus complex. How could I turn that down?

Unfortunately, it just so happens that people in “real life” expect you to have these pesky things called “skills,” and for some reason, nobody mentioned them to me until it was too late. All my computer science friends had these amazing resumés, and I didn’t have an iota of work experience. I assured prospective employers of my vast intellect and chronicled all the fantasy books I’d read, but still I didn’t receive a single call from any of the companies to which I’d applied. Didn’t they see how well I’d praised myself? Didn’t they understand how my comprehensive knowledge of potential post-apocalyptic scenarios could come in handy?

Suddenly it’s graduation and all my friends have moved to San Francisco and New York to do important work, so obviously I have to pretend that I have my life together too. I decided to take a year off to “find myself” and “work on my writing.” They seemed like good excuses at the time, but then it turned out that finding myself was hard to do when there was so much good TV on, and working on my writing was nigh impossible when you end up joining a fraternity that’s always throwing booze and women at you (not that I succeeded with the women). When I was working toward my degree, I didn’t mind the distractions, but now I was starting to realize that without an outside force giving me a series of easily attainable goals, I had developed some sort of weird conscience/guilt complex that made me feel horrible about myself.

It was terrible! Before this year, I’d always loved myself (heck, somebody had to!), but now my life was a travesty of my ill-formed childhood plans. I was supposed to be a multi-billion-dollar writer person who lived on the moon.

Sure, living in San Luis Obispo is nice, but it’s no the moon. Now, I could blame the lack of lunar accommodations on the government, but there was no excuse for the unearned billions. Clearly, I had to start doing something that would get me paid, or laid, or anything really. And with that, we’ve returned to the head of this ouroboros* of a conundrum: I have a degree in English. Where could I find people crazy enough to pay me for that?

*It’s a thing.

And then it hit me: the internet!

There are plenty of people who make money on the internet, right–plenty of people who are (presumably) a lot less “qualified” than I am? If they can earn a living by remorselessly spewing out their life stories and pointless observations, why shouldn’t I? Why shouldn’t I enter this modern-day gladiatorial ring and battle my fellow English majors for the love of the wealthy masses. After all, it’s up to us to stave off the ennui of conquering the known world, and if we’re good enough, somebody might pay us.

On the web, everyone can put themselves up for examination, and if they’re pretty or funny or ugly enough, never have to do any real work. And in the end, isn’t avoiding real work what being an English major is all about? That’s why I’ve started blogging. Even if I can’t achieve anything real, I might at least become internet famous. So here goes. This is my blog and my chance to show my parents that their money wasn’t wasted, or that it wasn’t quite as wasted as they previously thought, and that I’m not quite as wasted as I was five minutes ago. Funny how that works.

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