3 a.m.

It is a simple story and I will tell it simply. Not in that drunk Yoda voice in which I typically tell my tales. You believe you want to hear this but you don’t. This is like… a prequel, I guess, this is something which sounds better in theory than in execution. Like “Let’s do a whole movie about that throwaway line at the start of the original ‘Star Wars’ about stealing plans for the Death Star!” Moses Hadas once said, in reviewing some old book or other, “This book fills a much-needed gap.”

This post fills a much-needed gap.

This post starts long ago, back when I was blogging at Livejournal. Everyone was blogging at Livejournal. Jamie was. I was. Jamie’s friends were. No one much read my blog, however, and the reason was it wasn’t very good. That did not stop me.

Not being very good did not stop me from writing. Not being very good did not stop me from posting. And not being very good did not stop me from cross-posting over at a place called Yahoo!360, which was a thing back then and had what they called “blogging capabilities.”

No one much read my posts at Yahoo!360, either.

Then came a day, while cruising through Yahoo! 360, when I struck upon an idea. A stroke of genius, of stupidity, or of desperation. If I were to start another profile, on Yahoo!360, but with a single change, it could well bring in more eyeballs to my words. The change was this: Instead of my picture, I’d use a picture of a pretty girl. Instead of my name, I’d use a name like “Adrianna”.

I suppose that’s two changes.

I needed bait pics for my hook words and so I right-clicked a random girl from a Livejournal self-portrait group in which Jamie was a member. The random girl was a redheaded bartender from Buffalo and the possessor of the world’s most entrancing cat eyes, and she was the one who became Adrianna. It was wrong, I suppose, to do that, I can see that now like I could sort of see it then. I am not proud. It was only an experiment.

The thing is, it worked, and when a thing that is wrong works, we often keep right on doing it, the wrong thing, at least in my experience, like I kept doing this wrong thing then. For when I posted my words as me, they got 20 views. When I posted as Adrianna, they got 1,000. When I posted as me, it got 3 comments. When I posted as Adrianna, it got 50, then 100, then 300, and more! And the comments – o those comments! – they weren’t just of the “You look pretty” variety. They were considered, thought-provoking, even inspired.

And I don’t remember when the blogs began diverging, mine from Adrianna’s, but they began diverging, and then Adrianna (“Adri”) said things I would never say, things I could never say. She had her own voice and it was a voice that was not mine. It was confident, brave, and wise. It was authoritative and funny. She was rich and reckless, riding around town on a BMW motorbike and hanging with Thanatonauts.

For 5 years, I wrote the most crazy, brilliant, and mind-blowing words I will ever write. As Adri. First at Yahoo!360 and later at Multiply, which was another thing back then. It was all very good. At one point during this madness, Adri’s Sanitarium accounted for 8% of all internet traffic to Multiply, a platform which bragged of having 10 million individual accounts. The wrong thing got easier and easier to do.

And it might well have kept getting easier forever, I suppose, but for three things the year 2010 brought:

First, that bartender from Buffalo got bored of posting pictures;

Second, Multiply began shutting down;

and Third, some readers got obsessed, fell in love, and even tried tracking me down, or Adri down, or whomever down.

And so something had to change…

(so on to Katy and on to Nasreen!)

Comments

  1. Confession is good for the soul, Harry.

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    1. I sort of feel like the confession came two years ago when I started this blog and said I'd blogged as other people. But looking at it now, I guess this is more of a confession than that one was. I'm glad I didn't notice that while I was writing it.

      Delete
  2. Yes, confession makes one feel clean and righteous.

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    1. Hi, Susan! Enough time has gone by that I don't think about it much, although lately, I've worried about keeping the old posts in some form where I can retain them for my records.

      If people stick with me after learning about this, all the better. It seems like most people did!

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  3. It was the internet. A WTF moment ...and life goes on. The Adri blogs were brilliant as was the ruse. Harry has a special talent. I bet he will get his groove back soon.

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    1. You were a big part of the old Multiply stuff. I know I've said it before, but I miss those days, and the people.

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  4. I'll admit to having been a little flumoxed when I found out you weren't what Nasreen's posts said you were, but in retrospect, I'm really glad that I found you and your writing, whichever name you are posting it under.
    I suppose my reaction would have been different if I felt there was something slimy at the bottom of your deceptions, but there just wasn't.
    And I must admit that I would forego some indeterminate amount of harsh judgement of the behavior of anyone as smart as yourself who could also quote from Supper's Ready...

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    1. Thank you. A couple people wandered off as soon as I posted the first post in this blog, two years ago. Ironically, perhaps, one had always blogged under a Latin name that wasn't his real name, and the other hadn't come anywhere near the Nasreen blog during that blog's life.

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    2. I had to look up Thanatonauts, as I was confusing them with Pynchon's Thanatoids...

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    3. The term has been used for different things. For my old writing, they were a bunch of crazy guys who wanted to experiment with dying just to have a look around. I wanted it to be basically like "astronaut" except into death realms, but I used the term before googling it, so didn't realize it had been used for various things over the years.

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    4. Your preference for Yahoo!360 and Multiply reminds me of my favorite platform so far, the now long defunct RiloKiley.net. It was a message board and fansite for the band that turned into a community that lasted four extra years after their last recorded output. If I was on Facebook I could probably still talk to some of the people I know from that site, but every time I get to wondering whether I'd be better off with a Facebook account, they do something that makes me glad I've never had one.

      -Doug in Oakland

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    5. It's weird the places I hear that people met other people and formed communities online, back before the whole internet centered on only a handful of sites.

      I still remain in contact with a few people I met over at the Adri blog, and some of them on facebook. Frankly, though, the only thing I use facebook for these days is to promote this blog. I get a lot of traffic off of my weekly links over there (on my fake account, still in Katy's name).

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  5. This is such a tough thing to pull out.lol i almost fell in love with the character of nasreen even after i found out things r not what it seems.certainly things go haywire when people develop feelings for ur character and pursue the person behind it. hmm this is such an interesting story..would wait for continuation.

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    1. I'm amazed that people can feel that much for a character I write, especially since so few seem to feel anything at all for the real, three-dimensional, flesh-and-blood me in my everyday life.

      I just hope to keep writing, especially in the coming year, when I'm hoping to write something NOT for the blog while simultaneously keeping a presence around here.

      Delete
  6. I know of at least one guy who still feels a bit betrayed by the duplicity. (cough cough)

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    1. I know, I know. There are a couple people, actually, and I appreciate that some stuck with me. It's been a long slog, but I managed to move on with minimal damage.

      Delete
  7. I don't remember the Adri days at all. So... when did you find me?

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    1. I think it was during Nasreen, which was in 2016. It doesn't feel like that long ago, though!

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    2. That wasn't long at all. When you unveiled the man behind Nasreen I thought maybe you'd had a previous persona among my visitors. I started in 2006.

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  8. My first blogs were on a video game site called 1UP, which is now defunct.

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    1. I hope you kept copies of everything! I sort of did.

      Yahoo!360 and Multiply are defunct as well, even though I actually preferred both to anything that's around now. It must be really tough to keep a site like that afloat.

      There are a lot of new places, many of them attempting to be conservative alternatives to the biggies, but none of them have served my purposes very well.

      Delete
  9. I didn't know(?) you when you wrote as Adri. Squatlo and Mooner made me read Katy's words, though, and I was hooked. When Nasreen showed up on the radar is when I figured you out. I don't mind telling you that I was pissed and felt betrayed. Cheated, even. but. um. At that time I was blogging as a mean spirited, hateful clown named mystrbreeze. So. I kinda understood. Understand. Most everyone followed you over here, though, didn't they? And your writing is as good as ever. Whoever you are, Thanks! for the ride.

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    1. OH! When I read the first three paragraphs of this post? Drunk-ass Yoda's voice was reading them to me. heh

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    2. Some people felt betrayed. Some have disappeared forever as a result of it, although, well, although nothing. Obviously, I've accepted that some people are going to feel that way and I've moved on.

      It's not hard to figure out who I am now, as you discovered. So long as no one can from everyday meatspace can find me by googling me, I'm fine with that.

      Delete
    3. I came back over here to leave this: https://www.cnn.com/style/article/amalia-ulman-instagram-excellences-perfections/index.html

      That's what Adri, Katy, and Nasreen were. YOUR Performance Art. Thanks for the ride, Harry.
      beej in CO

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    4. Certainly, I told stories I wouldn't have told otherwise. And with all three, I started with pictures of the character to accompany the posts and then moved away from them (usually because I was running out of oics).

      The article includes this: "While the performance would win Ulman acclaim in the art press, it received backlash from followers who had become invested in her character's narrative and felt they'd been deceived. "

      That was true in my case. People were invested and some got mad.

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  10. I missed out on Adri, but caught Katy and Nasreen! Both very interesting characters and I thought they were real. I was totally sucked in, but found the whole thing even more fascinating when I found they weren't real. Especially my own reaction to them! You have a gift Harry!

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    1. Thank you, jono. I think I'm going to talk about those two in my next post. If I am disciplined enough to follow up on this one, anyway.

      It's almost embarrassing to admit this, but writing as those characters were as much fun as anything I've ever done, and definitely more fun than anything else I've ever done with my writing.

      I hope that I can keep on making things interesting for a while as plain old me.

      Delete
  11. Back in Yahoo360 and Multiply days, I always looked forward to reading the latest in the Sanitarium. Very well done, very well written, entertaining and I enjoyed the Adri ruse and the twists and turns of the writing. The social media was different in those days, not nearly as paranoid and more open to creative efforts. The Sanitarium is quite a legacy if you were to never do anything else!

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    1. Thank you! You were the fruit guy back then, right? (I'm not insulting Sam - that was actually his name.)

      I miss Multiply a lot. I haven't found any social media or blogging platform since then that is quite the same, although you use facebook for your pictures to great effect.

      Delete
  12. I wish I could remember what it was that first brought me to your blog. Was it the avatar? Was it the perspective I thought I was getting from Katy and her background? Regardless, I know what brought me back was your writing. Can't fake that. Did any of this yield profits? I don't remember donating to any cause, so no harm no foul. Or, no cash exchange, no catfish. Also, this if the first I have heard of Multiply or how enthusiastic Yahoo! was for their 360 (is the exclamation really necessary, Yahoo).

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    1. Thank you, Pickleope.

      I had to go check to see whether, even after all of these years, Yahoo! still has the exclamation point. They do. They're still excited. Remember when Yahoo! used to be ubiquitous?

      I don't know that any of my blogging has ever yielded me a penny, but I'm looking at the old Multiply screen grab, above, and it says I had a "premium" account, so it might have cost me something.

      Delete
  13. In the words of Dr. Who - "Never be certain of anything - it's a sign of weakness." Red may actually be Red. Or maybe not. Or someone who thinks he really is Red. Or someone just seeking anonymity so that he can say what he really thinks. Or just a stupid pretense. Who was O'Henry or Saki or Harry Hamid really? Why does it matter if it is entertaining or thought provoking? Let the reader beware.

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    1. That was sort of my attitude, after a time. I mean, i didn't put on a red wig and go date these people.

      The only person it was unfair to is that poor bartender from Buffalo.

      Delete
  14. I first met you as Nasreen at an airport trying to smuggle a snake. You stopped by my blog--can't remember what got you there. But... then you were Harry, and that was cool, too. I pretty much like words. I think all characters are real (in some way), so... who knows, there is probably a wee Adri still screaming inside your head.

    And yes, what Debra said.

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    1. Adri might be more ME than Harry is, actually. The problem with blogging as myself is that I try to come across as a nice guy, which is insincere. Well, I don't TRY, but there's a certain part of me that is more hesitant to say something that could alienate people as Harry than it was as Adri.

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  15. I only "knew" Nasreen. I did like her but really sensed she was slightly fake. I prefer Harry, but for a long time I thought he was fake too. But then I always worry people will feel I am too. The online "voice" and the real life one don't always match up.

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    1. Hey! I'm glad you prefer Harry. Nasreen was difficult - I didn't have a lot of parallels to my own life to grab into, and I couldn't just hide behind bad behavior when I got to the difficult bits like I could with Adri and Katy.

      My ex, when she read my old Adri blogs, said she couldn't make the blogs come out in my day-to-day voice at all, no matter how she tried.

      Delete
    2. When I first had a blog on Alkablogs (Back in the day) I had 2 characters, Joe and Joey. Joe was a nice guy, Joey was the bad boy. Joey was everything I wanted to be, the Eminem of the blogging world, but over time Joe and Joey merged together. Sometimes I cringe when I read some of my early posts. Now I like to think I'm a mix of both of them.

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    3. That sounds like a great premise. But it's still good to be a whole integrated person.

      Delete
  16. Well Harry, I met you as Nasreen. I think there was a snake? I forget the story right now, but I often wondered how you even found me? LOL! Then, when you made this blog, I was confused. But, now, I'm happy to get to know you! I have to admit, I was very fake, when I was on facebook, for a year. So happy I got off of that. I'd rather be me! Keep being you!

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    1. Oh wow: Is that TWO people who remember Nasreen because of "The Magic Snake" post?

      I need to go back and read that to get a sense of what people read me for.

      Delete
  17. What a heartbreaker you are, Harry. A lot of dudes had their dreams crushed. I love it. =)

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    1. Ha! As I might explain in the next post (I haven't decided), the heart breaker aspect was a big part of the reason my next blog after Adri (Katy) was a lesbian. It kept the proclamations of love and obsession to a minimum.

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  18. Can only imagine.. I use an alias for blogging, but everybody knows it's not a person's name (kutu=bug, kamus=dictionary) so I guess I've never been in the same shoes. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Hi, kutukamus! It's been a couple years now since this all changed, so the concerns I had about just coming out and saying it have largely passed. Your kind of approach would have undoubtedly been a better idea than what I did, but... it's not what happened, in my case, and oh well. Live and learn.

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  19. This story is absolutely fascinating. I mean, I know that people are always surprised when they read my blog then see me in person and realize I'm funnier in print, but to have a whole other alter ego is just wow!

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    1. People liked me much better when I was other people.

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  20. This is one of the best posts about the truth in all sorts of ways from sexist sellout to catfishing. Bad ass. Should be on the front page of every major legitimate news outlet...Oh wait, there aren't any! I'm sending the link to this all over. Great work. Honest, insightful, scary.

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    1. Thanks, Phil. It was a very strange phase of my life, but I don't think it was unique in the world of the internet. I mean, surely not.

      Delete

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