I can still remember the conversation I had with Jennifer Francis Martin on January 14, 2001. We left Alyssa Leighton's Brunch Clutch together. Francis used to live up in Riverwest near me and was providing me with a ride. I thought this was fortuitous because, at that time, I wanted to get to know her better because she had displayed a penchant for cataloging that was similar to mine, though her sensibility was perhaps a bit more unabashedly and unapologetically vain. Plus, and this is probably more important, she had the tech. I remember, during a Miranda July show at the Bamboo Theater, the soft light from her PDA as she made notes.
ANYWAY, in the nearby parking lot, Dan Ollman was throwing snowballs at our car. Later, driving North on Water Street, she asked me if I knew that boy's name. Yeah, I did, and why? "I'm keeping track of all the people I speak to."
That talk with "F" was the only push I needed to start me on this year's (2001, that is) most ambitious project. Truth being told, the idea of keeping a list of all the people I speak to each day had come up a couple of times before. Specifically, during conversations with Christopher Spivey several years ago when he and I lived blocks away from each other in Evanston, IL. The aim was to try to measure a person's social sphere.
Another aim was to determine the relation between speaking to people and my mood. The graph above reveals nothing to me.
Top Ten - List of the people who received the most DIWITTYs in 2001
The Umalis - Kind of like the Emmys.
Q & A
Q: Do you keep track of each time I speak to you?
A: Only to the extent that I speak to you on a specific day. So if you call me (414.372.4659) to wake me up and then we really do meet up for lunch that same day at the Brady Street Pharmacy (your treat?), that simply gives you 1 DIWITTY, not 2.
Please e-mail me if you want to know how many DIWITTYs you got last year.
Q: What do you do about strangers?
A: I try to classify them. I have certain catch-all categories, such as "waitstaff/cashier", "stranger: street", "stranger:bar", and "neighborhood kid." Countless others. Waitstaff/cashier gets kind of weird because invariably I chance upon their name. Thus, Marc the cashier at Sentry is distinguished from other Sentry cashiers.
Q: Who's the most famous person you spoke to?
A: Rod Carew. He said, "thanks."
Q: What about e-mail communications?
A: Doesn't count. Although computer-mediated conversations, such as in a "chat room" or in a MUD, counts. Unfortunately, I didn't talk to anybody in any of the MUDs I visited this year (I know, what's the use, right?) but i did speak to Bob Wernerr over the network he set up at the Hartford University School for Urban Explorations. That was weird and singular.
Q: Since you teach at UW-M and at Hartford University School, do you count those students who attend lectures but do not engage in discussion?
A: No, I don't count these students. Their grades go down accordingly.