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2002-03-08 - 3:44 p.m.

The madness is beginning, and Iím as giddy as a schoolgirl. Or perhaps Iím confusing my anxiety for giddiness. The South by Southwest Film Festival begins tonight. This is my fourth year to attend, and Iím feeling decidedly behind. Usually at this point, my entire scheduleís mapped out. Iíve referenced, and cross-referenced, and modified my plan of attack. Iíve analyzed when different films are playing, read reviews, and mapped out theater locations. But Iíve been a little busy this year. Iíve got a rough plan mapped out for this weekend, but after that, itís all up in the air. I do have one goal, however: I want to bike downtown each day. I donít live that far away, and parking will be impossible. So it will just be me, my bicycle, and the inevitable sense of my own mortality that accompanies biking in downtown Austin.

My goal every year is to get the most value out of my $50 film pass; after all, if I donít see these films now, Iíll probably never see them. Two years ago, I saw 21 films in nine days. That works out to $2.38 per film! Last year, I only managed to see 18, but I did score a free badge from the Film Society for helping out on a panel. My badge even said ďPanelistĒ on it, but they misspelled my name. I felt like I was in disguise. Sarah was the type of person who could be a panelist for South by Southwest. Sara, on the other hand, goes to movies alone and sits in the back.

And then thereís the Interactive festival. Itís always a strange event for me. Last year, I recognized at least twenty people, just walking around downtown Austin. They still donít seem real to me; I just know them by sight (or site, as the case may be). It was actually at the South by Southwest Film Festival that I first became obsessed with online journals, after seeing the documentary Home Page. When work became slow a few weeks later, and I finally got Internet access on my computer, I started plugging in the URLís from the promotional postcard someone handed to me as I left the film. Before I knew it, I was sucked in, and spent a good portion of each workday reading about the lives of personal strangers.

It was a long time before I got up the nerve to start one of my own.

But Iím not like them, those people I see on the street during the festival. My diaryland site provides a certain agree of anonymity, which may or may not be a good thing. I know just enough html to bold, italicize, align, and link, and Iíll probably never learn more than that. I get about twelve hits a day, most of them from my sisters. Itís more important to me that Iím writing, on a somewhat regular basis.

That said, I still want to go to the kickball game thatís being organized by that whole crowd. Iíll actually know a few of the people there. Also, Iíve been playing kickball on a regular basis for almost two years now. I bet none of them have played since elementary school. Who cares if I donít know html? I can kick some serious kickball ass.

I also plan to attend Fray Cafť. I went last year, and stood awkwardly in the back, and listened to the stories, and recognized a lot of people. This year, Iíll know a few people there as well. Iíll still stand in the back, and thereís no way Iím getting up on stage. Iíll never be part of the in crowd, but I wonít feel like such an outsider this year. Who knows? If someone asks, maybe Iíll even tell them about this site.

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