The Friendster Apocalypse

My wife and I met on Friendster back in the winter of 2003-2004. Then we moved onto MySpace, then Facebook, then Twitter. And there we finally settled, like homesteaders headed further and further west until they said, “There it is.”

Imagine where you met the girl of your dreams. It was likely a place in the real world, one that you might occasionally visit.

Now imagine that place disappearing, and the memory of it fading into the ether of history. That’s what happened to ours four years ago today.

Friendster has long been a shell of its former self, but in 2003 it was announced anything related to its current form was about to go bye-bye. Time for everyone to log into their accounts and preserve their memories, we were told. So I did.

I logged into my account for the first time since November 2006 (I’m sure this coincides with Facebook opening its doors to the non @*.edu blessed). Not much was there anymore.

Sure there were some grainy photos, but nothing I didn’t already have a copy of elsewhere.

There were connections with other profiles. A good majority of them were to people I don’t speak with anyone or even connect with on other services. They’re friends who are now strangers. It’s amazing how your social circles change in just a decade.

Finally, there were tons of messages, 118 in fact, sent by all sorts of random people — or “people” — desperate to connect online.

However, I stuck with the messages, digging for the most-important one of my life. And there it was, dated 1/14/2004. It was the first thing I ever said to my future wife:

Subject: Nice Backpack
Contents: I sense that it should be holding fish instead of markers. Either that, or fantastically-powerful fuel that powers what is actually your top-secret jet pack. Either way…howdy!

And thankfully she responded this this stranger and decided to marry him & have two beautiful kids.

R.I.P. Friendster. Thanks for helping make me the happiest man on earth.

Typical Chat With My Wife

[11:39] Jenn: I just realized how if I didn’t know you I would have nothing to do for the next 4 days
[11:39] Jenn: today – soccer game
[11:39] Jenn: tomorrow RUSH
[11:39] Me: 🙂
[11:40] Jenn: Sat – Terrell and Sunday Jennifer
[11:40] Jenn: It’s all linked to you
[11:40] Me: I’ve ruined your life, haven’t I. 😉
[11:40] Me: If I didn’t know you, I wouldn’t have a dog to beat.

Ignite Dallas 4: The Art of Caregiving

My wife has an incurable & devastating neurological disease which affects the lives of her and everyone she loves. I serve as her primary caregiver. Come to hear my advice on how her condition is one of the best things that could ever happen to us — or you.

That was my synopsis for the above video, which records my 5 minutes as an Ignite Dallas speaker. I can’t begin to tell you how hard it was for me to speak about the subject, and for my wife to graciously share her story with me — and the world.

Several people approach us afterwards to express their own stories of dealing with chronic disease. I’m glad to have met these people and that we mutually touched each other’s hearts! Hopefully, I fulfilled the Ignite missing by enlightening you and being quick about it.

Permalink to the video is here.

Be sure to check out the other videos from Ignite Dallas 4, as I was privileged to share the stage with some very fascinating people. My favorite of the night was Bill Holston’s video about his human rights work.

Saint September

Jenn and I were walking along the path, underneath a patchy canopy of trees that bordered the coastline. In a clearing of burnt grass and exposed earth, we encountered Matt, a groomsman from our friend Bob’s wedding. He was sitting alongside a faded green Ford Escort that likely dated to the early 1990s.

From a keyhole atop the thin back hood grew a scraggly fruit tree just a few feet tall. Although the summer air was unbearably hot, the tree was covered in a thick frost, like the walls of an old freezer that had not been defrosted in many millenium.

The two of us asked Matt if he could explain, and he simply said that the tree was known as St. September. An odd feeling rushed over me, as if this woody creature, with a name like that, had something to do with the local art and music scene.

Upon closer examination, I could see the tree was broken at its base but not completely severed from its roots. Typical of most broken trunks and branches, it remained attached by thin, stressed strips of bark and wood, its upper half resting on horizontally on the trunk. I reached out to touch it and could feel the cold — and also the sweat as it thawed under the sun. The tree was definitely laboring.

I grabbed the tree and raised it back vertical, but realized it needed some support to stay in that position. Looking around, I saw in the dirt what looked like soda can tabs with rubber rims, like the colored jackets people buy to put around their house keys. I jammed two of these in the gap between tree and roots, then let go. The gap was filled up sufficiently that the tree once again stood tall.

Time appeared to pass, and I caught a future glimpse of the plant. Gone was the Ford Escort, and the tree was now planted firmly in the earth. A tight, 3′ x 3′ chain-link fence surrounded and provided it with all the protection it was missing. It was a taller tree, but it appeared to be just as skinny as before. Its greater height was reinforced with various hardware such as C-clamps and makeshift braces. But up it went, a truly magical thing.

Matt reappeared and informed us this would now be a magical and famous place. On cue, Jenn pulled out a sign that appeared to be printed from the side of a Pioneer baking mix container. It read “Texas Peachtree Memorial”. We posted it under the canopy of trees near the water, then stepped back to ponder/admire our work.

Then I woke up.