So, fine: there may have been a bit of vanity Googling happening earlier this evening. And there among the dozens of book-related links (or what I assume to be book-related links but cannot confirm as such, given that they're in a language other than English of French) and other work-related stuff were a few bits and bobs from Sinister.

Can I even begin to describe Sinister? There was a point when I had to try to do that fairly often, to explain how it was that I got to know JDS, how it was we came to decide we were compatible enough to spend several weeks traversing southern Europe together in the summer of 2002, in a car sans AC, en route to and returning from a music festival in Spain. The explanation would go something like this:

"Sinister? It's, um, a mailing list. About this band named Belle & Sebastian? They're Scottish."

And then whoever had been foolhardy enough to ask would more or less immediately find him- or herself sated, not wanting to know any more.

Sinister was (and still is) technically a mailing list devoted to all things B&S. But for several years running, roundabouts the turn of the century, it was much more. It was, for dozens of 20/30/40-something kids like me the world over, a sort of proto-blog. It was a place to post long, rambling messages crammed with literary allusions, news about indie bands, references back and forth to other posts, and more miscellaney than you could shake a stick at.

It was, for me, at least, an excellent procrastination tool: I can't imagine how many hours of Microsoft's time I spent reading and writing posts on Sinister. It was a connection to the UK (where vast swaths of Sinisterites resided), to other chunks of Europe; to J, first in Montana, then in Argentina, then in Slovenia; to sweet indie kids like Laura Llew (whom I found on Facebook but have not yet friended) here in the U.S. It was the source of much of the music I now can't imagine living without.

I read my Sinister posts now (find more, if you're truly a glutton for punishment, by searching the archives for my name) and feel a pang of something I can't entirely describe. There's a fascination in such a clear look back at my younger self, a little sigh at some particularly pungent memories, a bigger sigh at having moved beyond the substance of those memories. There's a sense of opening a time capsule and being able to fully identify the contents but not really having much idea of what to do with them other than hold them for a little bit and smile.

Once, I was in my late 20s, lived a very different life, didn't have to use eye cream every night, actually wrote in a journal, and found friendship and connection and sometimes solace in a random spot: among fans of a band I happened to love. That was Sinister.