I had a terrifying moment the other day when I clicked on a link from my "google alert" (Yes, I have a google alert set up for my name. So do you.) and found this. At first it looks like a restaurant homepage, but when you scroll down it's all me, me, me! For about four seconds I thought I had some kind of crazed German stalker (Is that German? I'm not good at recognizing other languages.) who built a website-altar to me and furnished it with all my internet-available photos. Then, of course, I promptly realized it was just internet data-collection bots making an "Aubrey Hirsch" website so they can sell German things to people who search for that name.
Once I figured that out, I had a series of new reactions.
- It's still creepy to look at.
- I wish I could get some of those photos off the internet/I'm so glad the internet was not around in this form when I was in my awkward phase which lasted roughly from age 6-21.
- I am kicking those other Aubrey Hirsches' asses in terms of web-importance. Take that, lawyer in Louisiana! Take that, tennis-player at St. Mary's!
Then I started to actually read the text. And it's pure poetry. I know it's just a mash-up of phrases from the websites it culled from, but there's something magical about seeing words from my stories and poems all mixed up together along with some random data about a New Orleans law firm. Here are some samples for your reading pleasure:
- Aubrey aubrey website of our island of cleveland, ohio bit about aubrey Ratings, published feb me up Ratings, published feb issue will call them at awp Looking to reconnect withfind aubrey hirschs stories
- But he has appeared in the doesn't walk me offind Aubrey home from Used Furniture Review
- about aubrey aubrey hirsch bubble may hobart, third coast orleans University of the december aubrey third coast Pittsburgh feb issue will be the borovsky circus goes to losan
I've read the whole thing a couple of times now. The white text on black background makes my eyes hurt, but I keep reading it. Maybe I'm looking for some kind of secret message, or to see how my writing life looks all boiled down and smashed together. But I think the gibberish on this site is starting to make sense to me. I can kind of recognize my mind in there and a short history of the last few years of my life.
I wonder how this internet robot works. Will he keep looking for new stuff? Will he update this webpage with new words from new stories? If I use the word "lawyer" in a story, am I more likely to get his attention? I wonder if he'll ever become sentient. If he does, will he keep doing his job? Does he enjoy reading my stories? Will he fall in love with me and send me robotmantic emails through the form on my website?
One thing is sure: I'll be stalking him now, too. I've bookmarked this website. We will stalk each other. We'll chase each other around the internet until somebody blinks.
Today I have a story, "Certainty," up at PANK Magazine. I've written a lot of stories that involve relationships and I've written a lot of break-up stories, but I think this might be the first story I've written that I would classify as a "love story."
This is the part where I'm tempted to say a bunch of stuff about what I'm trying to say in this story, and what it means, and how I mean it, but I will refrain and let the story speak for itself as it's supposed to. Check it out here if you're looking for a little loooooooove.
Here's the opening:
Right from the start, Cris was pretty certain she could get me pregnant. It started on our honeymoon—a six day trip to Vegas where we stayed at the Venetian, ate at the Paris and drank all night at New York, New York. We took a gondola ride to the elevators and made out like high school kids. In our room, Cris slid her soft hands under my cotton skirt. She rubbed against me, her leg between my legs.
“Let’s make a baby,” she whispered.
I'm working on my first novel. It's a tough process filled with self-doubt and fear. I've also made the mistake of learning everything there is to know about how impossible it is to sell a first novel.
Here's a scary statistic, the average number of novels a writer produces before they sell one is four. That means that most published writers have three "practice" novels quietly taking up space on their hard drives. I've lost track of how many hours I've spent on my book so far, but the fact that my husband and myself may be the only people who ever read it is weighing heavily on my mind.
When the despair sets in it reminds me of of being on airplane. I've always been a nervous flyer. I analyze every bump and whir. I hesitate to make plans when vacationing, as I never expect to make it to my destination alive. Every time I force myself down the jet-way, I am absolutely positive that I will die.
It's a terrible feeling, and a powerful one, but I don't let it stop me. I've been on sixteen airplanes in the last year and written about 50,000 words of my novel-in-progress. I get teased about my fear of flying a lot, called a coward or a scaredy-cat. But I don't let any of it get to me. It's true that when I get onto a plane I'm sure I'll be killed in a fiery crash, but this does not make me a coward. The fact that I get on that airplane in the face of my fear makes me the bravest person you have ever met.
My hat's off to every writer who has finished a book. Whether you ever showed it to anyone else, whether or not anyone else liked it, you've accomplished something amazing and I admire your bravery. Like those airplane rides, we persevere because we know the joy of reaching our destination will be worth the bumps along the way. And, if I can end on a hopeful note, I'd like to point out that I haven't been killed in a plane crash yet. So who knows, maybe I'll only need two practice novels, or one. Or maybe this book is my book and I just need to keep working.