Before I was myself on the Internet or really knew that what I wanted to be doing was writing about and making pop-culture, I named myself after a character — a surly, teen hermaphrodite with green eyes in a world where green is the color of death — from Elizabeth Hand’s Aestival Tide, and spent a lot of time documenting my life on the Internet.
It was a pressure valve more than anything else when I chose that name in 1992, but it was also an early experiment for me with ideas about branding and fame and just not being able to shut the hell up. I didn’t know how to see myself or other people at that age without telling a story, and, in truth, in many ways, I still don’t. Eventually, though, I felt neither that young, nor that self-revelatory, starting going by my real initials online instead, and became both less and more my public self.
But I was still Reive, barely, on September 11, 2001. And I wrote about it, some of it, anyway, because that’s what there was to do. Every time we’d show up at the muster sites with supplies, they were the wrong ones. I remember, standing on a corner, carrying a couple of cases of bottled water and talking business with some dominatrixes while they walked their dogs. The Twin Towers were burning, but dogs still needed walking.
A few years ago, I got a note from an online friend who also uses the name Reive as part of his online identity. An editor had contacted him, thinking he was me, to get permission to publish one of my old LiveJournal entries about that period. Eventually, the editor and I were put in touch, I signed something or other, and that was that.
Well, apparently, the book is out! I just received my copy of New York Diaries 1609 to 2009 edited by Teresa Carpenter for Modern Library, and I’m in it — absurdly, alongside people like Noel Coward and Keith Haring and Kurt Weil — with the last thing I’ll ever publish as a person I never was.
It wasn’t a good time in my life, that year. And I tend to think people mostly have unpleasant memories of who I was when I was Reive. I’m more than a little ashamed of her — of me — and of what you might think of me, or think you know about me, if you read the entry, so littered with nicknames for people, like Sir.
But it hardly matters, all the people you’ve been, when you live and write about a place like New York, full of terrible creatures and brilliant illusions. Apparently, some girl who wasn’t quite a girl and named herself Reive was once one of them. Mostly, I try to be okay with that.