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» Hatrack River Forum » Archives » Landmark Threads » Swansong--A semi-landmark

   
Author Topic: Swansong--A semi-landmark
Joldo
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I know that the tradition is to wait until your thousandth post to write your landmark, but between the various screen names I’ve used on this forum, no doubt I total quite close to that sum. And I have to write this now, while it’s fresh in my mind. This is the story of my time on Hatrack, on the Young Writers’ Forum, and my final farewell to it. My other thread was locked of course; this is to be expected from YW's last note, and I have no quarrel with that. But please, allow me this.

It begins, of course, with a book. I came across Ender’s Game in my school library, read it, and fell in love with it. I was in eighth grade. At the time my greatest ambition was to be a writer, and such a story impacted me and renewed that passion with vigor.

In OSC’s various acknowledgements, I came across a mention of Hatrack, his website. I planned to go there and yet indefinitely postponed it. At the end of my eighth grade year, one evening, I went to Hatrack and found the Young Writers’ Forum. Naturally, I immediately joined under the name Anthropo.

I think my first post was a poem. It was an awful free verse piece about masks, because having discovered the first real online medium I had ever been a part of, I was drunk on anonymity. I had noticed already I was less nervous, less hesitant. In many cases, anonymity translates into a moral waste. I, however, was amazed. I was an entirely different person, one who I liked much more than the kid I metamorphosed into the moment I reentered real life.

That summer, I wrote and wrote and wrote. More stories than I’d done in a lifetime. I posted them and I learned and changed. I started debating and discovered a knack for it, if not a passion for dissecting arguments. I made a few friends over the course of those months, though not many. I wasn’t very attached yet.

I started high school, and every day I rushed home to check Hatrack to see what was going on, often at the expense of my schoolwork. Oddly enough, I didn’t use that anonymity to express one of my most tightly held secrets—Anthropo was never openly gay or bisexual. That was the year of confusion, when I was trying to figure out who I was and where my feeling lay. I didn’t tell anybody. My family wouldn’t understand, I thought, and my friends would shun me. It was my first real exposure other than news and knowledge osmosis of other gay people in the world—the bi girl on my bus, whom I delicately questioned about coming out, was probably my first gay-ish friend.

That was the year I made friends. In middle school, I was quiet to the point of disappearing. I wasn’t antisocial; rather, I was unsocial. I didn’t like the people I met, who too often seemed bigoted or unconcerned with more than pop culture and gossip and crush soap operas. I’m sorry: this sounds like contempt. For me, it was just that I didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere.

But in high school, I started getting to know people, making relationships and friends I felt I really could trust. And on Hatrack, I was changing too—I felt, well, respected and important, as one of the regulars who were serious and tried critiquing and helping. They weren’t few then, though Young Writers’ has changed now. I also picked up a new name, by accident: Anthrocoatl, lord of the commas and mighty god of punctuation. I went on the other three forums, but Young Writers’ was my haven.

Yeah, yeah, I know, I know. I was one of those geeks who live on the internet because they feel bigger there.

Then came last summer. Not much time for Hatrack, because I was going places and doing things. Having fun. Absorbing sun. I grew four or five inches at least and slimmed down with undue speed, a surprising turn for a guy like me, who always identified himself as the short chubby kid.

Over that year and a half, I had made friends on the forum too. Gothic Author and Marina, and my Ecuadorian Arch-Enemy, JuliusBonapart. Names? Forget those. The screen names were the people I really knew. In fact, I even managed to yank a friend of mine over to Hatrack—she got herself a nice little nickname of my own devising, and if Lucy Fer appears over here, well then—much love, Haley.

This year, I made a new name: Joldo. Joldo was an experiment, me trying to find some outlet where I could finally say yes, I am bi. I like men. Joldo was a stroke of fortune for me. If I had not created and posted under that handle, I don’t know how long I would have gone before coming out.

Haley/Lucy made a chance remark to Joldo on Hatrack, and I decided to test the waters. The next day, I told her I was bi. She was the first person I ever came out to, and I just felt so liberated. Finally there was someone I could talk to without guarding every word, my typical paranoia killing any conversation. Finally I had a bridge. She opened the floodgates—over the next few weeks and months, I told most of my friends. I could joke about it now, without fear of being spotted, because I had a layer of people who knew and didn’t care.

That ego died on Young Writers’, though it’s my only surviving incarnation here. It served its purpose. When I returned to YW, it was under yet another new name. Anthropo I was done with. I’d grown old and sedate under that name. It was still who I wanted to be, but it wasn’t anywhere near who I was. I reincarnated again as Hector Victorious, pretending to be a newbie. Hector was sharper, meaner—in fact, the type that led to YW’s gradual decline. But I hardly ever used him. I was being drawn out of virtual life and quite enjoying it.

That autumn, I tried out for my school’s drama club’s play, a beautiful tragic one-act called Yellow Boat. I got a much better part than I expected, and even with the long hours, I loved every minute of it. The first night we performed, aftwerwards I felt so overwhelmed, practically crying. Incredible.

Then I auditioned for Dracula, a massive, straining project. Over the months we produced it, I grew bonds to the Drama Geeks. Strangest group I’d met so far. Even with all the petty rivalries, there were ties throughout, strong ties, never the sort to easily snap. I felt like I could be anyone and still be friends with these people. It’s a family, or maybe a cult—either way, I fell in love with it. Fitting in on Hatrack? Forget it. That was great, yes, but this was wonderful. Now I think I’m breaking out of my mold, quiet/hyper awkward kid. I’m finally becoming someone else, what I longed for when I first joined YW, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

YW was dying. I hardly posted anymore. I noticed that debates were breaking down more and more quickly into insults and immaturity, and hardly anyone still critiqued, but I did nothing. Apathetic contributor, I only made a few halfhearted shouts for change.

Last night, I logged on and found a strange post. Stetman, our much maligned moderator, was leaving. I was confused. Did it mean there was to be a new one? Or was YW to be discontinued, a few whispers in the breeze? Today I read its funeral speaking, and felt a sort of pit inside. My haven so long, lost. I saw its sickness and understood the necessity to its death, and yet still . . . It had changed so terribly and grown unruly beyond any moderator’s ability, and yet still . . .

I look at myself now in the mirror. I’ve changed a lot over the past two years, both physically and emotionally. I like to think I think more now, that I’m hitting maturity. I thought that two years ago. Wouldn’t it be funny, if it’s always just another step up?

I know this is an irregular landmark. But so far, I’ve had little great events to shape my life. These past two years in many ways have affected me more than the previous fourteen combined. This is a eulogy, my mourning.

To Hatrack River Young Writers’ Forum, may you rest in peace.

Anthropo~Mockfox~Anthrocoatl~Joldo~Hector Victorious

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ElJay
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Thank you for sharing, Joldo. I'm glad you're finding real life more interesting these days, but of course I hope you stick around and continue to grow with us as well.

[Smile]

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Anna
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[Group Hug]
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Morbo
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A very interesting landmark, Joldo!

That's too bad about the Young Writers’ Forum. But it sounds like it was no longer the place it was when you joined, and you have grown as well.

Is writing a hobby or are you serious about it?
What about acting?

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TomDavidson
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I'm always fascinated when people say they've changed screen names in order to be someone different.
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twinky
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quote:
Wouldn’t it be funny, if it’s always just another step up?
Wait and see. [Smile]
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SteveRogers
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Great Landmark, Joldo!
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Joldo
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Writing's a hobby I want to be serious about. Acting ditto, though I doubt that I have it to be more than an amateur actor, and I think I'd grow to hate it if it was my only way of making money.

Thanks all. Irregular landmark, I know. But it turned out to be very interesting to write, given that I'd never much thought about this stuff. And yeah, I plan to stay firmly here, even though I'll probably always be a lurker.

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Phanto
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Landmark? Eh. Focus more on human. Because that is what this post reveals, and a fairly nifty one at that.
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Joldo
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quote:
Landmark? Eh. Focus more on human. Because that is what this post reveals, and a fairly nifty one at that.
What? [Confused]
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