3-D Blogging

We tell our children they should never, ever agree to meet or provide personal details to the people they encounter on the internet — after all, that 12 year old they’ve met playing on the penguin website is most likely to be be an unshaven, unsavory thirty year old weirdo. And do not get me started on facebook. We all know that no one on social networking websites is actually in high school. They are all bored workers at law firms and investment banks, having fun for the first time in their lives pretending to be people they weren’t ten or fifteen years ago. Or worse.

And so I am a little nervous about admitting that the three bloggers I met in London were astonishingly normal, for fear that might make my children think it’s okay for them to have coffee with unsavory weirdos. Come to think of it, these three bloggers weren’t actually normal. They were more than normal — hospitable, kind, welcoming, funny, smart and (yes, I know you want to know), really good looking.

I met Ingrid, from The Girl in the Cafe first. This is only appropriate, because what made me love Ingrid’s blog so much is that she writes so beautifully about London, a city she moved to several years ago from Copenhagen so she could pursue her dream of making and writing films. I didn’t actually spot her for a while after I walked into the cafe near Piccadilly Circus, because she had her head down, marking up her film script with a very cool pink marker. Ingrid loves romantic comedies, and she is writing a marvelous script in that genre. Because I’ve been so immersed in Shakespearean comedy, which shares a lot with romantic comedy, it was really, really fun to have her tell me the story of her movie. And then we went to see Steve Carrell in Dan in Real Life, which was very funny. I left the cinema seeing Ingrid and her blog in an entirely different way. It was as though she’d popped out of the monitor and become even more real. Now I can hear her voice when I read her blog and imagine her in her seat at the cafe near the cinema.

A few days later, after an abortive attempt to make it to Cambridge to see litlove (who knew that a single tree could disrupt service between two cities so completely?), I had lunch with Michael, who describes himself as an unrelaxed dad but, in fact, is anything but. Michael works by the British Museum, so I met him there, and we had a lovely lunch of Korean food, which really took the edge off all the hummus and apples I’d been sustaining myself with. Michael and his wife have just doubled the number of children in their house, adding a daughter in the last month or so. He looked remarkably fresh for a man who’s got that much going on. His blog too seems different somehow after meeting him. It’s still the same interesting and thoughtful place but it seems to have a sort of accent and background it didn’t have before.

And then, on Thursday, the day before I left London, they got that tree off the line and I managed to get myself to Cambridge. Here I met not only the lovely litlove, whom I’ve been reading since she and I began blogging at almost the same time, but her husband who is, oddly enough, a British version of my own husband — tall, blond engineers both, guys who will go out to the store and get the stuff you need to have lunch with your friend, and then take your friend on a little tour of Cambridge that includes the best place to buy sweatshirts without a single sigh or a bit of impatience. I don’t know where these men come from, but am amazed that there is actually more than one in the world. (Actually, to be fair, litlove’s husband is his own very unique person — down to his nice sense of humor and his love of being on the water rowing — but there is something about his tolerance and patience that reminded me so much of my own husband, perhaps because I have been feeling so grateful to him for taking on the herculean task of caring for our three boys while I was out having tea and soup and going to the theater.)

There is, of course, only one litlove, and she was just so much fun to spend the afternoon with. I had seen her picture, so knew what she looked like, but it’s really not the same as meeting someone and sitting around in their rooms and eating the yummy soup they’ve whipped up for you. Her blog gives you the impression of an enormous amount of intellectual energy, and so does she, of course. But what I didn’t realize is how extremely good she is, a person without any malice or edge or regret. It’s hard to describe this really, but I left thinking that both litlove and her husband approach life with the openness, curiosity and fearlessness that comes from knowing that there is only one such life and it is full of good and interesting things.

That, in fact, is what I thought about most on the airplane home (well, that and why it is that they FEED you so much on airplanes). That there’s really no time for regret or anxiety because there’s just too much to see and do. So I leave you with one of my favorite London views, something I was so struck by every time I walked past it on my way to Paddington Station. My brother’s apartment is close to the Paddington Basin, which is an arresting place: a combination of the 21st century, with lots of steel and glass, and a different time, best represented by the Westminster Fishing Club, whose pink door looks toward the enormous Marks & Spencer headquarters building and serves as a reminder that cities, like people (and like bloggers) are made up of many layers and if we are lucky, we will get to see as many dimensions of them as we can while we are still here.

Westminster Fishing Club

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19 thoughts on “3-D Blogging

  1. And it was lovely to meet you too! And bloglily in person is also a whole set of additional dimensions – I think we could have quite happily chatted all afternoon. Well, I could have, anyway! I’ve never met anyone via blogging before either but took great care that we met in a public place with plenty of witnesses. Can’t be too careful with these ‘bloggers’…

  2. It’s good to hear you arrived safely home.
    And it was a pleasure indeed meeting BlogLily In Real Life.

    PS I didn’t pay Lily to say “marvelous script” and “good looking”! 🙂

  3. I remember the first time I met some internet folks from a moms’ list I was on — this was 10-11 years ago. I was sure they’d all be loonies or axe murderers, but they were lovely people. That group has been together for over 12 years now!

    Glad you enjoyed your trip!

  4. Lucky you, getting to meet so many bloggers in one short visit across the pond! I’m jealous, but hope a meetup in Philly will become a reality this summer and that I’ll get to meet many of the bloggers I’ve come to think of as friends (as well as to see those I already know in real life).

  5. I think as adults we have better instincts about weirdness of people over the internet than our kids do, so there’s no comparison. People may pretend to be who they are not, but they aren’t going to be big adult pedophiles trying to lure a child into a sex trap by pretending to be a kid.

  6. Oh dearest BL! I am so touched I don’t quite know what to say! It was a complete delight to meet you. I’m afraid your words have gone completely to my husband’s head, and I fear he might well print this post out and frame it, or make us read it every morning! It’s lovely to feel that our friendship is now well and truly sealed.

  7. I assure you, BL, I am as normal as they get, despite what my children say. I do have a Face Book (and MySpace) account, but I primarily use it to connect with other writers. However, I completely agree with you that there are far too many weirdos out there, waiting to pounce on the innocent and unsuspecting. Let’s pray that those of us with more mundane intentions are the predominant force at some point.

    kwjwrites
    (Kim)

  8. How wonderful for you to have met some of your favourite UK-based bloggers. Isn’t it fun when someone becomes so much more than just their distinctive voice? Promise me that I’ll be first on the list when you one day make a visit to Germany …

    (As for that Philly meet-up, I would seriously consider flying over for it. Imagine the fun!)

  9. Thanks, Ben. It’s a terrific thing, I think, the connections people make when they read each other day after day.

    Absolutely, Charlotte. I am going to try to make that event in Philadelphia also — what a great thing to look forward to.

    Hello Kim, and Welcome! What fun to see your site. I particularly liked your definition of “normal” for those who have children, which includes the eye tick I get many days when I try to explain for the six millionth time that we brush our teeth so they do not fall out of our heads.

    Litlove, sealed indeed. xoxox, L

    You are absolutely right, TIV. My children, of course, don’t believe that — they think if I do it, they can do it. Well, that has its limits, of course. For example, I wash an awful lot of dishes and cook an awful lot of meals and no one seems to think that means THEY can do it too.

    Emily, Here’s to Philly! Let me know when there are dates and I’ll try to make sure I’m there.

    Twelve years, yogamum! That’s pretty wonderful.

    Ingrid, Truth. I’m so looking forward to following the fate of that script, by the way.

    Oh, U-Dad, so THAT’s why we met at the British Museum, in the very crowded great court! No axe murderers we, huh? And yes, there was a lot left to say, wasn’t there, but then again there always is, and that’s what the blog is for, I guess.

  10. I’ll second all that TIV and Bloglily wrote; it is a microcosm of what all parents face, knowing the real world for what it is and showing the young’uns how to navigate.

    On a cheerier note — my retired Dad joined AOL early on and made fast friends with a group. He’s happy as a lark with them, visits them in England, and recently when one couldn’t make a planned trip to Naples and Sicily he and my Mom went in their stead.

    He passes their email jokes on. Some of them are even new. And even with the re-circulating humor, it’s nice to think they’re all getting another laugh. They deserve it.

  11. I’m so glad none of the bloggers you met turned out to be an axe murderer 🙂

    While I haven’t read Unrelaxed Dad or Girl in a Cafe, I have read lots and lots of Litlove. Now I, along with the blog historians of the future, will be looking for a trans-Atlantic influence in each of your blogs.

    “It was after a meeting at Cambridge that Litlove developed her later interest in Quebecian and Louisianian authors writing in French while Bloglily began writing her renowned book of the influence of Shakespeare on Harold Pinter.”

  12. It must have been wonderful meeting Ingrid and hearing about her script. It was enjoyable catching up with your blog. I haven’t read it for a long while.

  13. I just loved reading this post (although I should note I am on facebook and utterly represent myself, I PROMISE!) – the sensibility and character of the bloggers I follow I simply assumes would transcend the freak/axe murderer quotient, but one never REALLY knows…so good to hear about your experience!

  14. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. Your premise about telling our kids not to give internet “friends” information, let alone meet them, and then going off to meet your own internet friends made me stop and think since I’ve met several internet friends myself. But considering all the much riskier things I did earlier in life, like hitchhiking everywhere, it’s not such a worry. How wonderful that you have such a supportive husband and that you recognize him for the jewel he is.

  15. Hello Jana! He is a great guy — a jewel, as you say. As for meeting up with internet friends, good grief — do you realize we live minutes away from each other and we’ve never had coffee? I missed your art show last year, because I was recovering from radiation, but I’d love to get together, especially now that you know I’m not a total, huge, weirdo.

    Hey Courtney — I’m probably totally wrong about facebook. I should probably just embrace it, but then my job is to be deeply suspicious of things my children want to do, and then — after some appropriate amount of kvetching about the young ‘uns — give in and acknowledge that the world they are creating isn’t so bad after all.

    Hi Kate — I’m so glad you stopped by! Ingrid is lovely, isn’t she? I’m keeping my fingers crossed that others find her script as magical as it is.

    Oh Archie — I’m actually going to write a book about the influence of mad, funny, creative, and wonderful Australians on all the universe.

    Hello and Welcome, Nessa. Why, you’re welcome! There are a lot of good blogs out there, aren’t there?

    LK — Are you sure that wasn’t the number 51 bus rumbling by? Or maybe an earthquake? (And don’t you think we should be having coffee, because you, like Jana, live about two seconds away from me?)

    Ben, I love knowing that about your dad!

  16. What a wonderful post! I enjoyed reading about your meeting with litlove and Mr. litlove. Also, I’ve got two more blogs (unrelaxed dad’s and Ingrid’s) to check out now.

    The picture is awesome and I wonder why it makes me think of Sherlock Holmes.

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