Pulling Plugs.


I’m not quite sure what it says about the culture, or just about me, that I’m sitting here writing a “thinkpiece” about why I pulled the plug on Facebook this morning.  A Google search will yield all kinds of posts like this.  Why I Left Tumblr.  Why I Left Twitter.  And I’m not even 100% certain I’m going to permanently scrap my Facebook page.  What I do know is that it’s not helping matters right now.

I have clinical depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, and a host of other things simmering away in the janky old crockpot that is my head.  The medication that was recommended I take backfired, horribly. So I’m back to the drawing board.  And I am trying to think of what needless stressors I can jettison while I am trying to get well.

And I had to come to the conclusion that a big one was Facebook.

It’s not just because we’re in an election year, although that has something to do with it.  There’s an epic fuckton of negativity going around there, from all sides.

And issues.  So many issues.  So many people all of a sudden terrified that the “transgendereds” (sic) are demanding too much special treatment, treatment that is evidently going to throw wide the bathroom doors and usher in a terrible new epoch where molesters in dresses will lurk in stalls and under sinks.  And no amount of common fucking sense will quell the hysteria.

But then there’s just me.  Me being the obsessive, perpetually panic-stricken weirdo that I am.  Second-guessing every last goddamn thing I post, because I know that SOMEONE is going to take it the wrong way and launch some passive-aggressive ickiness my way.  I don’t like to make people mad.  But I also don’t like being pelted with “Well, actually…” when I’m trying to just work something out in my own space.  That happened fairly recently.  I also have had to deal with former friends creating fake accounts specifically to harass me after I terminated the original connection.  There’s something about the place that encourages disrespect, and brings out some nasty things in people, myself included.

And as I’m trying to deal with this latest, near-crippling, depressive episode, I’m finding that I just don’t want to be anyone’s court jester right now.  That’s pretty much always been my role, ever since I was a kid.  But jesters need a break, too.  But when I try to get serious, I’m apparently not serious enough. Or I’m exclusionary. I’m deliberately trying to make people feel bad. Can’t win.  Tired of trying.

The thing is – I love Facebook.  God help me.  I do.  I reconnected with a lot of old friends there.  Very few platforms are easier to share one’s writing on, and for that reason, I’m wary of completely walking away from it.

What I need to figure out is just how important it is for me, really.  How much I am really going to be missing by not being able to click in every 20 minutes?  And then that brings up the more uncomfortable question:  how much are people really going to miss ME?  I have to admit that, as I sit here writing this, Facebook is rolling along perfectly fine without my wiseassery and Peter Murphy videos.

I won’t lie – today it’s been embarrassingly difficult to not log back on, reactivate shit, and pretend like I never announced I was leaving.  I’ve seen that plenty of times, and I get it.  It’s like being in junior high again and knowing in my heart of hearts that everyone is having a slumber party, complete with a rousing game of “Light As A Feather Stiff As A Board,” without me.  And I desperately want to make sure that’s not true.  But for my own sanity, I can’t.  I’ve committed to being off this particular grid for at least seven days.  I suspect I am going to be happier for it, but right now, I am jonesing hard.

On cruelty


I spent a lot of this weekend thinking about cruelty.

It started with a viral video from a YouTube “comedian” named Nicole Arbour. I’m not going to post it here; Google is your friend if you must watch it for yourself. It’s not often I’m utterly blown away by a deliberate act of meanness such as this one. The video, entitled “Dear Fat People,” is a six-minute journey into the unbelievably puerile mind of a pretty young woman seemingly hell-bent on being as vicious as possible, while calling it “satire.”

I’ll give Arbour this: she clearly knows enough about social media to grasp that being really offensive garners more hits, and therefore more followers. This breathtakingly nasty little video has had 1.2 million views in the last four days, and has naturally rallied the Twitter Justice Troops to – in the vernacular of the medium – “drag her ass,” or call her out for, well, kind of failing at that whole empathy thing.

It’s always interesting when this happens. I find myself being secretly thrilled when a dragging takes place, even as I recognize the futility in shouting into the wind, as it were. You can’t really shame someone who isn’t particularly ashamed of herself, as is the case with Arbour, who steadfastly maintains that she doesn’t give a “fuk,” and furthermore has done a unique public service in telling fat people that they’re gross, because now maybe they’ll lose weight. Or something. (This is also known as being a “concern troll.”)

An interesting, if disturbing, thing invariably happens during a dragging. People are outraged over an act of cruelty, and in their outrage tell the person who committed the act a number of rather cruel things. Arbour, for example, has already been told countless times to kill herself. She’s been told she’s a slut. Her own personal appearance has been ridiculed. In the shrieking vortex that is currently Nicole Arbour’s @ mentions, there are very, very few tweets that could be construed as constructive criticism of her “comedy.” And so the cycle of cruelty continues.

I’m not innocent of jumping into these situations, myself, although I can say with certainty that I have never told anyone to kill herself because I didn’t like something she wrote. Likewise, I don’t believe that there are very many situations in which someone deserves to lose his or her job over a lapse of judgment on social media. But I have definitely taken a seat in the Internet Kangaroo Court, and I have definitely appointed myself judge, jury, and executioner. And it’s not something I’m particularly proud of. I’ll say that it’s intoxicating to engage in it. And it’s also very easy to convince yourself that you’re doing the right thing, or at the very least you’re not doing anything particularly wrong.

So I spent the weekend following the Nicole Arbour thing, reading the thinkpieces and watching the rebuttal videos, and cautiously engaging in dialogue about it: why do people like Nicole Arbour think that cruelty is the most effective means of getting a point across? And generally what I heard back was: SHE’S TELLING IT LIKE IT IS.

In the midst of all of this, I got a notification on Facebook that someone had posted to a group I belong to. The group is named something like “You Know You Grew Up In ____ If…”. There are scores of such groups on Facebook. You know you grew up in your town if you went to such and such and bought this or that. You get the idea. And the post was this:

Does anyone remember “Crazy Mary”?

Crazy Mary used to ride her bike all over town. She usually had various bags tied to the handlebars. Her clothes were dirty, she was dirty, and there were all kinds of rumors as to how she got that way. As kids, we’d sing the little bit of Miss Gulch’s incidental music from The Wizard Of Oz whenever we’d see her go by. I also remember a junior high classmate dressing up as her, complete with broken glasses and dirty raincoat, for Halloween, to great appreciation.

My mother corrected me one afternoon when I declared to have spotted “Crazy Mary” downtown: “Her name is not ‘Crazy Mary,’ it’s Kay. And to YOU, it’s ‘Miss Kearns.’”

Kay Kearns grew up in our town, the youngest child of a prominent businessman. Graduated from the high school in 1954.




Kay went on to get degrees in Biology, and worked as a bacteriologist. Top of her field. But her fiancé was killed, her father died, and Kay simply was not able to cope. She lived in the family home, long after the utilities had been disconnected, cooking for herself on a little Hibachi grill. The house burned down, and her parish chipped in to buy a trailer to put on the property.

I began talking to Kay when I was in high school. I worked in a bakery downtown, and Kay would come in to buy a small blueberry muffin (“heated, with one pat of butter”) and a cup of coffee (“with just enough cream so that it is the precise color of that brown sign behind you”). She was quite adamant about the coffee. If it wasn’t the right color, she’d make you dump it out and start over. For some reason, I was the only one who could get it right the first time, every time, so she’d insist on my waiting on her. She was always polite and well-spoken when I’d take her order, and so long as you were pleasant and polite, she’d have no beef with you.

But she made me cry, once. I saw her coming in, and went to fetch her muffin and coffee. I pushed it across the counter to her. “Here you are, Miss Kearns,” I chirped, thinking I was being nice to have noticed her coming in, and even nicer still that I remembered what she liked.

She scowled at me. “Do I not warrant the right to order for myself? I didn’t ask you for this.”

I stammered in protest. “B-b-but I thought…”

“Pour that out and put that away. I want you to ask me what I would like.”

I dumped the coffee, put the muffin back in the case, and – shaking – I took her order. Small blueberry muffin heated with one pat of butter, and a coffee with cream, the precise color of the sign behind me. I gave it to her, then went into the back room and cried.

She was right, of course.

Kay died in 1990, when a small fire she’d lit in her trailer for warmth wound up burning it down with her still in it.

I think about Kay now, and I am filled with sorrow for the way so many of us treated her. So much of the cruelty heaped upon her was our doing. No matter that we thought it was “funny.” No matter that we were just pointing out the way it was.

Now, we think we know better. We think that we would have been able to help Kay, somehow, or at the very least not have been so ugly to her. Because it’s not okay to laugh at mental illness, right? Generally speaking. Right?

But it’s still okay to laugh at fat people, especially if we couch our derisive laughter in “concern for their health.” It’s okay to make a six-minute “satirical” video complaining about having a fat person sit next to you on an airplane, and then it’s TOTALLY okay to claim that everyone is “too sensitive” when you’re called out on it. Because you’re TELLING IT LIKE IT IS. Comedy!

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not exactly the most PC person in the world. I laugh long and uproariously at all manner of inappropriate things. But there’s comedy, and there’s just viciousness for the sake of getting attention. I’ve been on the receiving end of that. I spent a good couple of years being bullied by classmates who, on the rare occasion I’d muster the courage to defend myself, would tell me precisely what Nicole Arbour and her fans are saying now: “It’s a JOKE. You’re so SENSITIVE.” Bullied, then gaslighted. Bullied, then gaslighted. Over and over again, until I wound up transferring to a different school. I spent a long time questioning whether or not it was as bad as I’d remembered. It was only fairly recently that all of it was validated for me in a very profound way. It did happen, and it was that bad. So I no longer question myself when it comes to recognizing cruelty for what it is.

Be My (Facebook) Friend.


If you’re not following Mara Wilson on Twitter, you need to be. She gives really good tweet.

She’s a former child actress. I mean – she’s considerably more than that, but a lot of folks remember her as Matilda, or the heartbreaking wee bairn in “Mrs. Doubtfire.”

(An aside – just now I tried to find a clip of her in that movie saying “Diarrhea FOREVER?!” If someone could loop that for me, I’d be ever so grateful. It fills me with a lambent happiness that probably makes everyone else question my sanity. Whatever.)

At any rate, yesterday Ms. Wilson tweeted this:


AMEN. I would amend that to include junior high and grade school.

I get friend requests from all sorts of people. People I played in bands with, or acted with back when I was acting, or worked with…and people with whom I went to school, at all levels. Sometimes I’m puzzled by these requests, particularly if I didn’t regularly hang out with the person making the request. But by and large, I’m pretty sanguine about accepting the requests. Why not. Certainly I deal with enough rejection issues myself to know what it’s like when someone declines MY request.

Here’s a story: Years ago, I was on Friendster. Remember Friendster, oldsters? Friendster was what us social networking types used before MySpace and Facebook. (Now that I think about it, I actually preferred it; it had a much cleaner interface than MySpace or Facebook. I digress.)

So – there I was on Friendster, being online friends with my real-life friends and thinking YAY TECHNOLOGY, when I decided to start poking around for people I used to know. Because we all do it, right? And I found this guy from my high school class. I was not real-life friends with this guy. I was not engaged with him in any capacity, really, except that I WANTED to be. He was smart and he was cute and he played in a band. But I knew in my soul of souls that I was just too much of an oddball and not smart enough to hang out with him. And by “not smart enough,” I mean that I lacked the drive and ambition to be in the Smart Kid Classes™. I’m pretty sure I could’ve held my own with him at lunch.

So there he was, on Friendster. And I decided to be bold and request his “friendship.” Because even though we didn’t hang out in high school, SURELY he would remember me. I was quite unforgettable, after all. Surely we would become INSTANT ONLINE PALS, trading barbs and witticisms, and he would see me as the delightful, quirky bon vivant that I was.

His response? “I’m sorry – who ARE you?”*

Devastation. Yes, Lord.

And so I am very careful about making these sorts of requests now. I learned a hard, yet necessary, lesson from the Would-be Friendster Friend: I am not nearly as memorable as I think I am. I’ll even take it a step further and posit that not everyone thinks I am as charming as I think I am. My rule of thumb is: if I am reasonably certain that I had positive interactions with someone from my past, I make the request. Otherwise, I am to sit on my hands and remember that I am not a special snowflake lady.

Now, on the FLIP side, if I get a friend request from a former classmate, I apply much the same thought process. Did I like this person? Was this person friendly? If I didn’t know this person particularly well, is it to my advantage to be “friends” with him or her now? Is this person interesting? In most cases, I accept these requests. If they turn out to be psycho hosebeasts I can always UN-friend.

I will say that I am at my MOST guarded when it comes to friend requests from people with whom I went to grade school (which was actually a private, K-8 Catholic school). It’s no secret to those who know me or read this blog regularly that I had a terrible go of it in that school, during the last two years or so that I was there. The bullying got so out of hand, and the school’s administration so apathetic regarding the bullying, that I left in the middle of 7th grade.

But I tend to accept friend requests from those classmates, unless they were perpetrators who flat-out don’t acknowledge what happened. Maybe this is wrong. Maybe this shows a lack of forgiveness on my part, or an inability to “get over it,” some thirty years after the fact. But ultimately my thinking is – if you can’t remember or acknowledge how bad this was, then we probably don’t need to be friends. Or “friends,” even.

It’s a complicated thing, being “friends” with someone. Maybe I should go live in a yurt.

* – Actually, I’m pretty sure he accepted my request once I explained, but probably thought I was absolutely batshit Fruit Loops crazy.  Also, I looked and he’s on Facebook, but I am totally not putting myself through that again.

This Week On Facebook


What’s happening This Week On Facebook? Or, rather, what are MY friends posting about? Let’s take a look:


Lots of people on a Fred Phelps Deathwatch. I’m not one of them. I have semi-personal reasons for not joyfully waiting for this man to die. In the last year-and-a-half, I’ve been getting to know a couple of ex-members. I have been surprised, and humbled, by their intelligence, humility, and wit. Say what you want about Westboro Baptist Church, the members that leave are invariably some of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet. And understand this – they leave knowing full well that they will probably never see, nor speak to, most of their family ever again. Fred Phelps may be a monster to most of us, but to these young people, he’s “Gramps,” and they are being prevented from going to see him, even though he himself has allegedly been excommunicated from his own church. I don’t know if a lot of us can comprehend this level of dysfunction, but it has to be incredibly confusing, and painful, for those who’ve left. What pleasure is there in rubbing it in?

I don’t cotton to fighting ugly with ugly. I have never encouraged anyone to go where WBC is picketing, to pick fights or threaten them, simply because in doing so, you are giving them exactly what they want. And given the WBC’s stance on funerals (they don’t hold them, believing as they do that it is “worshiping the dead,” rather than worshiping God), the fact is that if/when Fred passes, there will not be a funeral for anyone to protest. So those signs you want to make? Invest your time and energy into donating to LGBT, veterans, or Jewish causes.

I understand the anger that they inspire. I too believe that what they do is reprehensible, and I continue to be fascinated-yet-horrified at the sophomoric, scatological glee with which they go about their business. But I’m not going to “celebrate,” or take any pleasure in, what is happening to the Phelps family right now. The center cannot hold, and the WBC will disintegrate, sooner than anyone probably realizes. Let it do so, quietly.




I….yeah. Look, I suppose if you live in Manhattan and need a little extra scratch, renting your apartment to TOTAL STRANGERS is a totally great idea, because – after all – they’re “verified users” of an internet site, and everybody knows that the internet is completely secure and shit.

I wouldn’t know; I don’t live in a desirable location. I mean – it’s a nice enough neighborhood and all, and it’s an easy commute to the airport, but I couldn’t post my 2 bed/1 bath home as a place to stay while taking in the sights, unless “the sights,” for you, include a movieplex with a huge parking lot that accommodates the World’s Skeeviest Carnival every spring. In which case, you probably WOULD want to rent it to host your BBW/stuffed animal/Purple Drank* orgy. Just don’t let me know about it.


I saw an honest-to-god Juggalo once. Outside of the Walgreens on Centre Street in Malden. I wondered how he was able to survive so far away from any retail establishment that sold Faygo. Curiosity piqued, I went to Faygo’s website, only to learn that they require a great deal more personal information than I was willing to provide, simply to learn how Juggalos in the New England area get their Faygo fix, so to speak.**

I digress. I can’t hate on this. It’s love. Love, with extra helpings of face paint and (presumably) a Faygo Fountain. Bless their hearts.

* – In fairness, I haven’t located a single article on this in which Purple Drank is mentioned. I’m just, you know, assuming.

** – Apparently, you can get Faygo at K-Mart. ANY K-Mart.

I’m just going to leave this here…


I did the thing that always makes me roll my eyes when someone else does it.

I made a vague threat to leave Facebook, knowing full well that I wouldn’t.

I want to say that I didn’t do this because I wanted a chorus of virtual wailing and gnashing of teeth along the lines of “omg lisa plz dont leave FB its not the same w/out u.” Because while it’s not, ostensibly, the reason I made this vague threat, the fact is that I DID do this because I wanted to believe, somehow, that it would prompt change in the behavior of others, and if someone just happened to throw in a “Hey, you know, I find you enormously entertaining and it would be a shame if you left Facebook because some people are being unmitigated tools,” I wouldn’t be overly upset.

Here’s what happened: I saw – for the I-don’t-know-how-manyth time – one of those slapdash factoid JPEGS that people post and repost because it’s easier than actually expressing their opinions in writing. You ALL know what I’m talking about, because you ALL do it, no matter where on the political spectrum you fall. I’VE done it, and have almost immediately felt quite filthy for having done it. So I really, really try not to.

And I also really, really try not to react when one of these things strikes me as particularly egregious, poorly-articulated, and/or an affront to common sense. But this morning, I was in a bad mood. It was cold as the rocks of Torneo’s hoary brow, I’d had a very horrible drinking dream just prior to waking up (I don’t have these often, but they scare the shit out of me every time I do), and I was looking for something else to be upset about. And I found it. On Facebook. Because Facebook is VERY good for that kind of transfer of emotional incompetence.

The current slapdash factoid JPEG that’s going around lists the last five mass shootings, and states that the shooters are/were registered Democrats. You know, because all Democrats want to take away your guns, but it’s Democrats that are going ballistic and killing people. Or something.

And I thought, “Now, I could rattle off the names of a dozen Republican legislators who’ve been charged with child molestation and say, ‘See? Republicans shouldn’t attempt to dictate morality because these Republicans did horrible things.’ But I don’t, because for one thing, it’s a stupid argument. I don’t because it’s faulty logic. Fallacious reasoning. No high school debate coach in the country would let that fly. Moreover, it’s a cheap shot, it’s dirty pool, and we all should be better than that.”

Evil is evil. Period. And contrary to what most of us believe at one time or another, evil has no political affliliation.

And so I posted some rant-y screed about this slapdash factoid JPEG, lamenting the lack of civil discourse and the hyper-partisan horrors of the current administration, and closing with some wrist-to-forehead whine about I’M LEAVING FACEBOOK SO CALL ME AND WE CAN HAVE COFFEE AND HAVE A REAL CONVERSATION BLAH BLAH BLAH.

Coombsie – always able to talk me off the ledge eventually – heard me sputtering at my laptop and gave me the straight dope: “You’re being one of THOSE people.”

“What do you mean – ‘THOSE people’?” I barked.

He stood in the bedroom doorway buttoning his sleeves. “I mean, the kind of person who gets all hysterical and threatens to leave Facebook every couple of months because other people are posting stupid shit and getting bent out of shape. You can’t get into politics on Facebook, Lees. Because what happens there is not real debate; it’s people posting stupid shit and getting bent out of shape.” He reached for his sweater. “Congress is operating exactly the way Congress has always operated.” He picked off a piece of lint. “Always WILL operate. But unlike Congress, nobody ever caves in and capitulates on Facebook. I keep telling you this: you can’t argue with people on Facebook.

He’s so good at bursting my self-righteous indignation bubble. I hate him.

So, I’m not leaving Facebook. I get far too much pleasure from posting my brittle and blasé witticisms and waiting for everyone to tell me how brilliant I am.

If you’re prepared to argue your side (even if we’re ON the same side) intelligently and respectfully, I’m willing to listen, and I like to think that you’ll do likewise. But can we agree to stop posting the slapdash factoid JPEGs, particularly if they’re ugly and full of grammatical errors?

No? Carry on, then…I promise to keep my thoughts to myself.

(Real) Girls


I watched the Golden Globes last night because I don’t give a crap about football.

No, seriously…of all the awards shows, the GGs are my favorite. Everyone’s tanked by the end of them, and pretty much anything goes.

As in years past, I watched them while simultaneously following along with teh social networkingz. I have many hilarious friends (and friends of friends) on Facebook, so it adds a layer of mirth to the proceedings. Instead of just yelling at the television about what someone’s wearing, you can share your outrage with hundreds of other people.

And what people seemed the most out-of-sorts about (I mean, besides the gloriously absurd-yet-oddly-touching speech by la Jodie) was Lena Dunham.

If you haven’t heard of Lena Dunham, that will change during the course of this week, as everyone picks her apart. I say this because the reaction to her on Facebook was so, well, kind of horrible, that I can only surmise that’s going to be amplified tenfold in the mainstream media.

I’ve never seen her show. I don’t get HBO, so I am perpetually out of the loop as regards its programming. It’s been called “‘Sex And The City’ for millenials,” which is reason enough for me to avoid it, but the thing that did cause me to take note is that Dunham’s character certainly looks more like the women I know than Carrie Bradshaw & Company.

And so I was a bit horrified at the comments I was reading as she accepted her first award of the evening:  Lena Dunham is a “sloppy looking chick” with “ugly damn tattoos” that “ruined” her look. I wanted to say, “Am I the ONLY person sitting here being GOD DAMN DELIGHTED with this?”

Apparently – yes – I am the only person who saw Lena Dunham up on that stage and thought, “Okay, she’s awkward. Yes, she’s surrounded by people who work out 4 hours a day with personal trainers and who likely haven’t eaten solid food for a good 3 days before this show. Yes, she’s sticking out like a sore thumb. Yes, she’s ‘overweight,’ and has tattoos that she’s not ashamed of. AND THAT IS AWESOME.”

It’s awesome because Lena Dunham is an actress who didn’t have to “pack on” 20 pounds to play a role, to the collective ooh-ing and aah-ing of a culture that thinks that’s the bravest thing an actress can do.

It’s awesome because she can stand up there, looking like a slightly younger version of me, what with her few extra pounds and her great tattoos, and be absolutely radiant because she is successful, and doesn’t give a shit what her detractors – most of whom are sitting on their couches not wearing anything even as remotely fancy as that dress – are saying about her weight OR her tattoos. And she shouldn’t give a shit, either.

It’s awesome because it gives me hope. Real beauty is in believing in the value of your story.

Postscript: Since hitting “publish” on this, I have been told by several friends that the show is about as far from “Sex And The City” as you can get, and that it’s “an almost painfully accurate portrait” of life in one’s twenties.  I’d kind of like to not revisit my own twenties, truth be told, but I’m willing to give the show a shot.

Dreck Catalog



This is a rather presumptuous meme, no?  I wouldn’t call my disdain for Thought Catalog “fashionable.”  I’m not a fan of Thought Catalog primarily because I don’t find the writing to be all that original, or exceptional.  But since you asked…

Envy?  Hardly.  Status Anxiety?  I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean.  Ageism?  Mmmmaybe.  OK, probably.

Honestly, I think another reason I’m so irked by Thought Catalog is that it’s clearly not meant for someone like me.  I’ve worked at the same company for 20 years, I spend most of my day analyzing data instead of text messages, and I’m well past the point of obsessing over whether or not my “relationship” with Coombsie is “headed in the right direction.”  I’m not launching my wee raft onto the turbulent ocean of my twenties. I’m halfway across the bay. I can see the shoreline, and I’m pretty sure there’s a subscription to Reader’s Digest and a MedicAlert bracelet waiting for me once I get there.

In other words – I’m old. Old old old. I’m not jaded and/or disillusioned before my time; I’m a pragmatist. If Thought Catalog’s countless listicles are any indication, I’m living the dream, man, since apparently the dream includes being able to run around my house stark naked in front of the person I married. Of course, a lot of times that’s because I’ve been rousted from my bed by the telltale hrk hrk hrk sound of a cat about to expel something wet and flocculent into the shoes I’ve left in the living room, BUT STILL. LIVING THE DREAM.

Christ, I’d LOVE to be able to go back to wondering What It’s All About. I’d love to have the luxury of beating my past relationships into the ground in list format. Thought Catalog – alas – is not interested in my postmodern Bombeck-ian musings on age spots or why I insist on bagging my own groceries. I’m not in the throes of a constant existential dilemma; I don’t have time for it anymore. My immediate concerns revolve around when we we’re going to have to remove the knobs from my mother-in-law’s stove, what’s for dinner, and whether or not I bought trash bags.

In other words, I have come to a grudging acceptance of the fact that most twenty-somethings don’t want to hear what it’s like on this side of my forties. They don’t want to read about how I know Coombsie is “the one” because he laughed at the song I made up while I was cleaning the litterbox the other night (it was to the tune of Duran Duran’s “New Moon On Monday,” and let me tell you, it was some of my best work as a satirist).  And they certainly don’t want a lecture about why ceaseless, insufferable navel-gazing is just not an attractive trait at ANY age.

And this is not to say that I am living a better, more fulfilling, or “grownup” life than Thought Catalog’s readers and contributors. I’m not so old that I don’t remember feeling those feelings, even if the circumstances which prompted them are on the fuzzy side these days. I will say this, though: thank God it didn’t occur to me to use the internet circa ’96 to chronicle those feelings, in real time, any time I may have felt the urge to share them. Because I’m fairly certain that would’ve looked an awful lot like Thought Catalog. In fact, it would have been more accurate it to call it “Tripe Catalog,” or “Dreck Catalog.”

Because I’m not going to pretend I was anything close to a deep thinker at 25, despite what I may have felt about myself at the time.  Shit, I’m not even particularly sagacious now. At band rehearsal the other night we spent an embarrassing amount of time between songs coming up with increasingly terrible and puerile euphemisms for my Lagoon of Mystery. And I’m FORTY TWO YEARS OLD.

And so, since nothing I write will ever make its way into Thought Catalog, here’s my own Thought Catalog:

8 Things That Make Me Realize I’m Too Old For Thought Catalog

  1. I’ve been getting mail from the AARP, and I’m starting to consider opening it.
  2. Pondering the state of my relationship usually goes no further than: “Am I going to yell at him for leaving that dirty pint glass on the counter?”
  3. I have underwear in my drawer from the Bush administration. And that’s the “sexy” stuff.
  4. I graduated college the same year that the average Thought Catalog contributor was being potty trained.
  5. I have a Pinterest account. I use it for recipes.
  6. I am regularly addressed as “ma’am” by baristas.
  7. Was that a hot flash?
  8. I remember a world in which Jabba never appeared in Episode IV, and Hayden Christensen was nowhere to be found in Episode VI.

Now pass the Postum, and get out of my yard.

In which I think about my ink.


Say what now?

I’ve seen this “flowchart” bouncing around Pinterest and Facebook lately.

As someone who is trying not to take everything so PERSONALLY (and as a recovering addict, this is a daily challenge), I get that it’s a “funny” way to get people to think before they ink.

But as someone with a fair amount of ink, the assumptions this flowchart makes are – well – kind of insulting.

Now – I’m used to being insulted, both by total strangers and by people who know me. I remember showing up at a family reunion with half my head shaved and spending that long weekend enduring whispered reports that my hair was the topic of many discussions. I’ve had people come right up to me and tell me how much more “attractive” I’d be if I wasn’t dressed like a derelict. And I’ve gotten the stink-eye more times than I can count. This is part and parcel for anyone who’s made the decision to let his or her freak flag fly. I get that, and have tried to accept it ever since I was a teenager, when my friend Keith gave me the straight dope one afternoon in study hall: “Look, Lees – if you’re going to go around looking a certain way, you’re going to have to deal with people giving you shit for it. So either stop dressing like that, or stop whining about it.”

So I’m used to people expressing disapproval at my appearance, which isn’t even that extreme anymore. I now look like what I am: a somewhat-eccentric, “artsy” woman hurtling toward middle age. We’re a dime a dozen around here, and it’s safe to say that most of us have at least one tattoo.

I get why people don’t want a tattoo. What I don’t get is why some of these same people can’t accept that there are those of us who DO want them, and DO have them, without accusing us of possessing poor judgment, of being under the influence, or of lacking that nebulous state known as “class.”

And that’s what chafes me about this flowchart. It makes some pretty broad assumptions and/or sweeping generalizations which, I’m sorry, in 2012 are just fucking silly. Plenty of us tattooed folks hold “white collar” jobs. Plenty of women have tattoos on their lower backs and aren’t “easy,” nor do they particularly want to be thought of as such. And don’t even get me started on the homophobic undercurrent happening there.

So to the people who post this stupid flowchart on their Facebook pages, or repin it on their Pinterest boards, I ask you this: why are you wearing that dress? That hat? Those shoes? More than likely your answer will be that you wear these things because you like them, and you like the way you feel in them. Right? It’s decorating yourself, is it not? You’re making a statement about who you are and what you like. It is no different for us, only we’ve decided that we don’t want to take these decorations off.

The idea of permanence is uncomfortable for some. I understand that. Trust me when I say that I’ve weighed that particular concern very carefully, and ultimately came to the conclusion that I like the idea of my story – the people I have encountered and the things that have challenged and inspired me – right there, on my skin. And so I moved ahead with it. It is an ever-evolving installation. I have an artist I adore who understands me and – each time I come to him with another element of my story – works with me to make sure he gets it exactly right. My tattoos are about trust. They’re about enduring discomfort with the knowledge that when the discomfort has subsided, I will have something beautiful. That’s what my recovery has been about from the day I realized I had to stop drinking. And one of my tattoos reflects that concept: an cailín a bhfuil áilleacht an bhróin ina gnúis. It’s Gaelic, and translates roughly to “the girl with the beauty of sorrow in her face.”

Are there people who act hastily? Who get a little tipsy and make a rash decision that they may come to regret? Of course. In my experience, these folks are largely the exception, and not the rule. But you know what? They’re not “classless,” either. Think a minute. “Consider the source,” as my dad always says. That’s all I’m asking. I’m really trying not to whine.

Ask me about my tattoos; I’m happy to explain why I have them, provided you’re genuinely interested and not throwing shade.

To post or not to post…


There are a couple of pictures making the rounds on Facebook lately.

Political Posts!  Boo!

Political Posts!  Yay!

As I’ve tried very hard to do over the last couple of months, I see both sides of it.  People are REALLY concerned over what’s going to happen come November 6th.  I’M  really concerned over what’s going to happen come November 6th.  Truly.  I grew up in a family where political sociology was as likely to be the subject at cookouts and birthday parties as the outcome of whatever playoffs were on the near horizon.  To not vote, to not engage in the process, to not care about the outcome…these things are anathema to me.

Anyone who knows me knows who I’m voting for.  Anyone who knows me knows what issues I’m most concerned about.  And to the question that’s been posed over and over of late:  Yes, I am better off today than I was in 2009.

I made a decision to stay “neutral” (relatively speaking) on Facebook because I was really turned off by some of the “discussions” that came of posting anything political.  I didn’t like some of the blatant untruths and obvious satire that were being passed around as gospel truth.  I didn’t like the hysterical, hyper-partisan mud-flinging, and a great deal of that was coming from ME.  And so, to anyone who asks:

I don’t get into it on Facebook because that’s not what I use Facebook for.

I use it to promote my writing or my band, to make dumb jokes, to keep in touch with old friends.  I use it to pass on the message of recovery.  And, yeah, I use it to post pictures of my dinner.  Sometimes my dinner is really exciting!

If anything, I’m most guilty of using it to post pictures of my cats.  And that, I realize, is even more annoying than political posts.

Our Sisters’ Keepers

A good many of us were upset about the most recent Grammy Awards show, and the ridiculous amount of airtime they gave to Chris Brown.  More disturbing, however, were the many Chris Brown fans (most of them young women) who took to Twitter during the broadcast to post variations on this theme:

Buzzfeed, among other sites, picked up on these tweets, reposting 25 of them (Twitter handles and all).  Of these 25 Twitter users, several deleted their pages altogether, several more made their pages private, and the rest quite virulently defended their statements.  Further, they told us that we needed to mind our own business (and I’m sorry, but if you’re posting public tweets you kind of make them everyone’s business) and not go to their Twitter pages if we didn’t like what they had to say.

The young women who are coming to Chris Brown’s defense want us to believe in the power of redemption.  They remind us that Rihanna, who found herself on the receiving end of Chris Brown’s fists, probably provoked him and was therefore somehow deserving of at least a slap across the face.  They ask us to consider a life spent being punished for “one mistake,” and wonder if we, those who are not fans of Chris Brown, have not ever in our lives fallen short of the glory.

And then they offer themselves to Chris Brown to beat to his heart’s content, and say they’re “just joking.”

Ah, yes – the “it was a joke” defense.  It’s up there with “being taken out of context” or “No offense, but…” as the easiest way out of having to apologize for saying something really fucking stupid.

I belong to an online writing collective called Five By Five Hundred.  Every Friday, I turn in something that does not exceed 500 words in length.  It’s been a good way for me to flex my poetry muscles, poetry being something I’d abandoned years ago when I first quit drinking (that’s a long story, and one for another day).

One of the other writers in the collective is Mitra Parineh.  The daughter of Iranian immigrants, she writes eloquently about the struggles of women in that country, and everywhere else for that matter.  This week, she nailed the Chris Brown thing in less than 500 words:

I wonder, do my 18-year-old students who L-O-V-E-! Chris Brown-a famous pop star who beat his more-famous pop star girlfriend until her face swelled like a ripe plum-understand what human and civil rights are worth? Because I’m afraid they do not know, do not realize that the women they let down when they say “ya, he hit her, but it’s not such a big deal” are not only their classmates at American university but their unknown classmates, young women they’ve never met, somewhere over an ocean.

Ladies, you can protect your Tweets, and make your Facebook pages private, but neither of these safeguards lessen the impact of your words.  Even in jest, your tacit acceptance of violence against other women delivers the message that it’s no big deal, and that it’s even “funny” in certain circumstances.  As my aunt said today, we are our sisters’ keepers. Like it or not, you as women have an obligation to protect your sisters from being abused, and if you cannot – or will not – take some kind of real, meaningful action, you can at least refrain from making these hilarious “jokes” of yours.

And while you’re at it, you can thank your lucky stars that you have no comprehension of what it’s like to be abused, or to have witnessed the devastating effects of abuse on your loved ones.  Because I assure you that if you had, tweeting about wanting Chris Brown to “beat you” would never, EVER have entered your minds.