In Which Our Guest Contributor Laments His Inability to Comment on Anything of Substance

My Crime 

by Nicholas Freilich

“Love and Mathematics” — Broken Social Scene (mp3)

I enjoy writing. I really do. I like to experiment with various methods of relaying overheard coworker conversations on subjects of limited import. For instance, the other day these two guys were discussing ‘that geeky kid on Different Strokes.’ I knew they couldn’t mean Gary Coleman’s character – anyone who gets parodied in a smash hit Broadway musical could never be a geeky kid on a show about being adopted by pre-makeup Count Chocula – and they couldn’t mean Willis, the charlatan whose name tagged the greatest catchphrase in the history of 80s television. ‘You know who I’m talking about’ the one guy continued ‘with the glasses and the laugh. What’s his name? Urkel!’ It wasn’t until a third employee joined the chat that diligent workers managed to identify ‘Family Matters’ as Urkel’s core operating environment.

The above conversation might prove chuckle-worthy as described.

If I revealed my place of employment, however, the preceding paragraph would gain tremendous comedic force. Of course, having been busted blogging before, I’m the last person who is going to reveal that information via the net.

It was the summer of 2001. I was young – younger at least – and working with kids at a high-profile academic camp. I had also been recently introduced to the world of LiveJournal by a guy who grew a feral hockey beard whenever the New Jersey Devils made the playoffs. He had been blogging safely for years, so I figured there was no harm in my trying the same. Of course, he was smart. He didn’t use real names, or even fake names, and often posted ‘friends-only’ entries that only a dozen or so people were privy to. I, on the other hand, was not an only child and required substantially more attention and adulation. I posted everything publicly, revealing full names, addresses, and social security numbers whenever possible. It never occurred to me that the people I wrote about could actually find my journal.

The joy of exhibitionism turned to crippling guilt when I got a call from a girl I was dating at the time. After starting with the stock ‘I can’t believe you,’ she angrily stammered for two minutes before hanging up. ‘Damn,’ I said after hanging up. ‘Who knew that people could find my journal?’ I sighed for two hours and then walked around campus sheepishly, certain that every camper knew I had badmouthed one of my fellow counselors on the internet. It didn’t occur to me that I should take my journal down, however.

“Eight Arms to Hold You” — The Gear (mp3)

A few weeks later, the plot thinned. One of the campers had Googled – or, more likely, Yahoo’d, as it was 2001 – her own name and found a mention of her in my journal. The mention was highly unfavorable.

Later that day, via an anonymous email sent through a website that facilitated the sending of anonymous emails (a brilliant creation, really), I was told to take my journal down or face legal action.  

Having just endured three years of law school, I am confident that an anonymous email does not constitute legitimate service of process under any jurisdiction’s code of civil procedure, including the exceptionally idiosyncratic California’s.

I could be wrong though; I was the kid who walked out of our Civ Pro exam and asked a classmate, ‘wait – WHAT Erie question?’

At that point, I jettisoned the journal. I took up a new username and occasionally posted ‘friends-only’ laments about the progress of my senior thesis, but the experience had lost its fun. I longed for the days before self-censorship when I could write about anybody for the sake of humor, art, empathic connection, or whatever it is that bloggers peddle in high quantities these days.

I tried blogging just once more before heading off to law school, posting publicly on blogspot.

Unfortunately, I found safe subjects boring – e.g. making droll comments about pieces of news, picking on King George, promoting a singer-songwriter I knew casually, etc. – and couldn’t bring myself to broach any subject remotely personal. I let the blog wither before I finally erased it prior to my first round of interviews with prospective legal employers. I figured that I couldn’t let them, nor anyone with Google technology, know that I religiously watched the Little League World Series and occasionally played hold ’em at seedy LA card rooms.

Today, I sit at work and brainstorm topics that later strike me as being either too dull or too difficult. I hear a funny conversation on my way to the bathroom and want to detail it, but I can’t, not in its absolute entirety. I attend a screenwriting class, an environment ripe for the blogging, but know better than to violate the confidentiality agreement I’ve signed.

I’d write candidly about my family, but unlike Alex and all the other twenty-somethings out there trying to make it, I still live with mine. I’d tell people about the amazing software I’m beta testing, but again I’m bound by the letter of the law. And who really wants to hear about my exercise routine? In time I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

Nicholas Freilich is a JD from LA.

“Sweet Georgia Brown” — Django Reinhardt (mp3)

“El Manana (Metronomy Remix)” — Gorillaz (mp3)

10 thoughts on “In Which Our Guest Contributor Laments His Inability to Comment on Anything of Substance

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