It was August 2001.
I had been in Grad School for two years. In 1999, I arrived on the campus of Wake Forest University with a full scholarship and a fantastic, freaking gleam in my eye. Beaming with pride and excitement, I was ready to Get My Masters Degree On. Here I was, ready to start real research and studies in my chosen field!
Fastforward through 2 long years of huge disappointments and lows, both personal and professional, which I cannot even begin to describe to you in detail. Run on past the frustration of being forced to spend those years deep in research I had not wanted to conduct. Fastforward through years when I suffered my first bouts of serious Clinical Depression (my counselor sucked, btw) and skip over the night when my bathroom contained me, my full bathtub, a bottle of weakness, and a razor. Pass by the dissalusionment, betrayal, and building hopelessness in bloom.
By August of 2001 I had reached a point where I felt like a complete loser and failure. My thesis defense was textbook ugly. I went into it actually thinking I was on top of my game. Apparently, I was an idiot. They hated my work. My own professor did not back me up during the meeting. That is unheard of, frankly. My deadline had been extended. Extensive revisions loomed before me and an impending second thesis defense stood out there in the near future, mocking me with fears of a second failure.
And all of this? Wrapped up in a ball of research that I hadn’t been interested in conducting in the first place. So thanks a lot, asshats.
Grad School had definitely not been all I had hoped it would be. And this was the first time in my life that I could truly appreciate the term “burned out.”
That year, I was so very burned out.
And what did I do? You got it. I ran to the Internets to save me. “OOOOhhhhh, Internets! Please take me away from all of this!”
I was a Chatter. A Chat Rat. A Chatroom Addict. Classic Escapism.
Over months of avoiding my thesis revisions for large chunks of time, I forged oddly strong and special friendships with people all over the globe. Several of them I actually met in person, and it was really nice. Many of them I still have relationships with.
My boyfriend thought it was dumb. The Chatting. It was soooo lame and geekful.
Here’s the part where I could say lots of really mean things about him, but I’m not going to do it. Because that would overshadow all the nice things I could say about him but have no reason to say right now, and while our relationship was never perfect, there were really good times balancing out the really bad times. And there’s no reason to dwell too much on any of it anymore.
But, you know, he really was an asshat to me sometimes. Heh. (Obviously, I just couldn’t stop myself from pooping out a lil’ negative there, eh?)
By August 2001, I was a regular in a particular chatroom. I recognized other regulars and gave those I rarely talked to the standard greeting… those I spoke with often, I was rowdy and silly with. A good time was had by all. And when a jerk entered the room, a beat-down was administered by all. It was fun times.
Occasionally, a “bot” would enter the chatroom. Bots are basically programs designed to annoy the CRAP out of normal people, making them lose sanity and have homicidal rages. No? Just me? Bots often showed up and started spouting programmed messages like, “OMG, like, totally come see my naked web cam, hot-naked-shots! Click over to http://blahblahblahimaho.com now!”
You get the picture, right?
Well, one night one of the chatters programmed a bot and brought it into the room. Only this bot was funny. It was designed to go off when certain words were used – “potty-type” words. For example, if someone said, “BRB, I have to pee!” (happened often) the bot might quip, “Don’t forget to wipe!” HAR HAR HAR! *slaps knee*
At first, it just appeared to be a dorkus fellow chatter. But before long, it became apparent what was going on, and everyone kind of fell into a silly game of trying to come up with words that the bot would key in on, just to see what the response would be.
“I heard your mom’s got a big one!”
“Ew, what’s that smell?!”
“Someone needs a butt-plug.”
And so on….
You can imagine the torrent of colorful words that started being Manually Blurted.
Apparently, the charm wore off rather quickly for most chatters.
But not for 2 of them. Two of them must really think Potty Mouth is funny.
Two of them kept throwing out more and more imaginative terms for the bot to chew on.
And when John finally typed, “Browneye?” I was cracking up too much to type any more of my own entries.
We’ve been best friends ever since.
And soon after, in September, I was single. Maybe I’ll talk about how that happened one day. Maybe not.
I was almost stupid enough to push John away, to hold him to just being a friend, thinking I needed time to “be my own person.”
But it’s silly to take a pass when love is up for grabs. And I’m glad I didn’t.
How did you meet your honey?