Bumper Stickers

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I was referred to the above article by an old friend of mine.  Curious, I clicked through to read it, and it took my breath away.  But not in a good way.

 

I imagine that Lisa Khoury is dealing with a veritable maelstrom of responses in her email box today, and in fact I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s just stopped checking her email altogether at this point.  So I’ll say what I need to say here.

 

There is a part of me that wants to cut this young woman some slack.  She’s a college student, writing an opinion piece for her school’s newspaper.  It appears that it was some kind of “point/counterpoint” project, where one writer defended her tattoos, and Ms. Khoury was assigned the task of arguing against them.

 

I myself wrote for my college newspaper, and had a regular column which pitted me, the vegetarian theatre major with the jet black hair and Amnesty International buttons all over her knapsack, against the president of the Young Republicans chapter (who happened to be a pretty good friend of mine).  We were given an issue, and we presented our arguments.  Frankly, I haven’t looked through any of these 20+ year old columns, but I’m sure if I did, at least 85% of what I wrote would make me cringe today.  Not because my politics have radically changed over that time (they haven’t), but because I was – well – 20 years old with the firm belief that I knew everything there was to know about everything.  I cannot even imagine what it would have been like to have had some of those articles go viral, as Ms. Khoury’s has.

 

But we have the glorious, wondrous internet these days, and once you’ve put something out there, it’s devilishly hard to control who reads it, to say nothing of where it gets re-posted for others to read.  And Ms. Khoury’s silly, poorly-written-and-argued screed about women with tattoos is now all over Facebook, and various other blogs.

 

“an elegant woman does not vandalize the temple she has been blessed with as her body.”

 

Funny word, “elegant.”  It means “of a high grade or quality.”  Ms. Khoury goes on at length about elegance and the personal satisfaction that can be had through the acquisition of new clothes, a manicure, and high heel shoes obtained for the purpose of accentuating” one’s legs.  I wish I were kidding.  I wish SHE were kidding.  She isn’t.

 

“Seriously, though. Your body literally has the ability to turn heads. Guys drool over us. We hold some serious power in our hands, because – as corny as this sounds – we hold the world’s beauty.  But something girls seem to forget nowadays, or maybe have not been taught, is that women hold the world’s class and elegance in their hands, as well. So what’s more attractive than a girl with a nice body? I’ll tell you what: a girl with class.”

 

I mean, there are so many things wrong with this I scarcely know where to begin.  Your body is a temple that is designed to make guys drool.  Don’t desecrate your temple by getting a tattoo, dress it up in trendy clothes and high heels.  Your “power” is not in your intelligence or talents, it is in your appearance, and if you are to be considered “classy” or “elegant,” you’d better not be thinking about getting a tattoo, because if you DO get one, you will most assuredly

 

“…find yourself in a rut when your future grandkids ask you what’s up with the angel wings on your upper back as you’re in the middle of giving them a life lesson on the importance of values and morals.

 

And this, my friends, is where I well and truly bristled.  A woman with tattoos cannot possibly know a thing about values and morals, choosing as she has to permanently mark her skin.  I realize this is an “opinion” piece.  Ms. Khoury is entitled to her opinion.  I just wish it weren’t so odious, elitist, and downright insulting.  I’d like to invite Ms. Khoury to meet some of my friends and loved ones.  I would like her to tell them directly how classless and immoral they are.

 

Please, Ms. Khoury, tell my friend with the row of daisies covering her mastectomy scar that her tattoo is meaningless.  Tell my best friend, who has a hummingbird tattoo on her clavicle, which she has there to symbolize her struggle with chronic pain issues, that she lacks values.  Tell my sister, who has her children’s names tattooed on her body, that she has no class.  And then look me in the eye and tell me that my tattoos, which I have gotten over the course of the nearly ten years I have been sober, to commemorate both my successes and mistakes, make me somehow less “elegant” than you.

 

Because “elegance” has nothing to do with your rigid definition of morality.  It has nothing to do with what you wear.  It has everything to do with respect, and tolerance.  It has everything to do with carrying yourself with dignity, which you can do in sneakers or in high heels, in a dress or in jeans, with tattoos or without.

 

“Has this tattoo, for instance, caused you to learn something new about yourself? Has it challenged you? Has it led you to self-growth? Nothing comes out of getting a tattoo.”

 

I disagree with this last line, not only for the reasons I stated above.  Getting a tattoo is about communication.  It’s about trust.  It’s storytelling.  It’s sitting with an artist and explaining your reasons for your tattoo, collaborating with that artist, and coming away not only with a beautiful piece of art, but with the feeling that something sacred, and real, and HUMAN, has transpired.  I’m sorry that Ms. Khoury (and sadly a great deal many others) sees someone like me and comes to the conclusion that I am trash, or that I haven’t been brought up “correctly.”

 

I’d like to believe that twenty years from now, Lisa Khoury will read what she wrote as an undergraduate, and cringe.  One can always hope.

2011: The Year In Dumb Celebrity Tweets

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2011 is over and done, but I didn’t want to sweep it under the carpet without adding my own 2011 List of Something-Or-Other, pop-culture wise.

I think this is the first full year I’ve managed to stay on Twitter without pulling the plug.  I’ve kept a pretty healthy distance from the drama queens, spambots, and attention whores…keeping more or less to the promise I made to myself to stick to publishing houses, authors, and other writerly concerns.  But who am I kidding, really?  The real entertainment is in following “celebrities” who A) truly seem to believe that everything they have to say is IMPORTANT, and B) seemingly don’t have some underpaid lackey checking their nuggets of wisdom before shooting them into the Twitterverse.  2011 was a special year for Dumb Celebrity Tweets.  To wit:

Nikki Sixx, on the unrealistic standards of beauty:  PEOPLE MAGAZINE MAKES A LIST OF “THE 100 MOST BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE”. THAT THIS IS A STANDARD FOR YOUNG KIDS TO FOLLOW JUST MAKES ME SICK…..I HAVE MANY ISSUES WITH THIS..A LOT OF QUESTIONS ARE ANSWERED IN THE SONG “LIES OF THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE”.

First – note how he sets his outrage up to promote one of his songs. Isn’t that cute?

Look, it’s no secret among my nearest and dearest that I am a big fan of the Crüe.  I find them enormously entertaining.  But Nikki Sixx – while I admire his outspokenness on addiction issues and think he’s a marvelous photographer – can really be an insufferable dink sometimes.  Thanks for tossing us regular gals a bone, Sixx, but until I see you painting the town with someone like me, someone within ten years of your own age that might be carrying 10-15 extra pounds and still owns underwear dating to the latter half of the Bush administration, I just can’t take your pontificating anything like seriously.

Ashton Kutcher, demonstrating an inability to turn on the news before opening his twitmouth:  How do you fire Jo Pa?

I have no love for this asshat.  He’s the perfect example of Celebrities Who Think They’re Smarter Than You Because They’re Celebrities.  Before the days of Twitter, we didn’t have to hear so much about how very smart they are, how in tune they are with the latest news.  I believe that people like Ashton Kutcher should not be allowed anywhere near a means of “social networking” without a series of measurements put in place – not unlike a virtual obstacle course, if you will – to create a significant delay between their next brilliant thought and the ability to send it out.  I would also not rule out the possibility of a choke collar.

Tila Tequila, on attention whoring:  Ppl who whine & complain about how horrible their lives have been then take it out on others, I have absolutely no respect nor empathy for that because there are millions of ppl out there who suffer, but they choose to be SURVIVORS in life and try to stay POSITIVE!

I had to read that a few times, too.  Popping in on the feed for the former Thien Thanh Thi Nguyen is one of my guilty little secrets.  That’s why I can tell you that this particular statement is HILARIOUS, because when Tila Tequila is not breathlessly revealing her HUGE PLANS for world domination to her fans (who seem mostly to be Finnish teenagers, heavily medicated shut-ins, and people who use LOL in place of proper punctuation), she is the sovereign whiner of our epoch.  Girlfriend threatens to off herself online more than Sarah Palin sticks her foot in her mouth.  God, I hate that I know this.  Maybe I SHOULD quit Twitter again.

 

Thank You For Shopping At ______

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Want to get yourself good and depressed?  Go to the Lowe’s Facebook page.
If you’re not aware of what’s going on, lots of people are upset with Lowe’s for pulling their advertising from All American Muslim, a show that debuted on TLC not too long ago.
Let’s get a few things out of the way first:
  • Yes, I’ve seen the show.  I generally don’t watch TLC programming, as they ceased being “The Learning Channel” right around the time they started airing stuff like “Let’s Watch Jon & Kate’s Marriage Dissolve Before Our Eyes While Their 8,000 Kids Go Ignored.”  Compared to this, and to the execrable and completely creepy Toddlers & Tiaras, All-American Muslim is fairly bland and inoffensive, and its attempts to educate folks on the lives of everyday Americans who happen to pray facing Mecca is closer in spirit to a “learning” channel than it’s been for years.
  • American Muslims have mixed feelings about the show.  The general consensus seems to be that it’s a good college try, but in showcasing families in the Dearborn Muslim community only, it’s not an accurate representation of the breadth of diverse practices, origins and experiences.  Certainly the Muslims on this show aren’t punching walls and having every other word out of their mouths bleeped for profanity (something that can’t be said for the vast majority of “reality” programming).
  • Yes, as a matter of fact, I know a lot of Muslims.  I have worked with them, studied with them, hung out with them, and my life is better for having them in my general orbit.  The same can be said for the Christians, Jews, Wiccans, Buddhists and atheists I see on a near-daily basis.  I have no problem with religion, or lack thereof.  What I have a problem with is obstinacy.  What I have a problem with is willful ignorance.
  • I am completely pro-capitalism.  I believe it’s a company’s right to advertise where they see fit, and I also believe that it’s my right to shop where I feel comfortable.
So now we come back to Lowe’s.  They offered one of those apologies-that-aren’t-really-apologies, and left their Facebook page wide open for folks of every stripe to leave their comments.  And, oh, what interesting comments they are.  I’d say that 1 in every 200 comments attempts to be reasonable, but it’s quickly buried in a landslide of vitriol from all sides of the issue.  There’s the woman who steadfastly believes that American Muslims shouldn’t be treated with respect because they are – in her words – “barbarians” with a long and documented history of atrocities (the same can be said for Christians, but nobody seems to want to acknowledge that).  Conversely, there are the people who are comparing a frigging hardware store to the Third Reich.  And there are the people who are trying to work in that “Happy Holidays ruins everything” angle that has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ISSUE AT HAND.  But my favorite came from the dude who says that Lowe’s shouldn’t worry about boycotters, because “90% of them are rejects who probably rent instead of owning their houses.”  Um, what?

If you’re looking for a picture-perfect example of the state of “discourse” in this country, look no further than the Lowe’s Facebook page.  No one is having conversations there.  They’re just screaming at each other.  If you shop at Lowe’s, you’re a redneck hick.  If you don’t shop at Lowe’s, you’re a terrorist.  Muslims are ruining America.  Christians are ruining America.  More and more, we’re like a divided dinner plate, where the salad can’t touch the beans can’t touch the meat.  STAY OUT OF MY COLESLAW YOU FREEDOM-HATING SPARERIB.

I’d like to believe that I can practice tolerance, or at least ask people to consider tolerance, without being accused of being a brainwashedgodlessliberalsocialist.  But lately I’ve been shown that I can’t.  That’s not to say that I won’t keep trying to be a small voice of reason in increasingly unreasonable times.

It Can’t Hurt To Ask.

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I find this trend of asking a celebrity to be your date for _____ kind of interesting. Both Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake have made good on their promises to appear on the arms of their respective Marines at their respective balls. More recently, another Marine up and asked Tila Tequila to be his date, which will certainly be a hot mess provided she doesn’t already have a date with a pole somewhere in Detroit that night.

Of course, it’s good publicity for a celebrity to accept these invitations. In the case of Timberlake and Kunis, I like to believe that they are also just genuinely goodhearted people (jury’s still out on Tequila). I think MORE regular folks should ask celebrities to do stuff. And don’t just invite them to your prom/cotillion/ball/whatever. Get creative!

Ask Angelina Jolie to bring the snack at your kid’s daycare on Tuesday. With six of her own, you can’t tell me that she doesn’t know her way around a box of Nilla Wafers.

Ask John Malkovich to call you at a mutually-agreed-upon time in the middle of a blind date. If the date’s going poorly, there is no better excuse to bail than to have Malkovich call you with URGENT BUSINESS. “God, I’m SO sorry. I really wanted to hear more about your Ayn Rand documentary, but…well…it’s just that John can be so NEEDY.”

Just now, I flashed on an image of Lemmy Kilmister standing in front of a Stop & Shop with the local Girl Scout troop, peddling Thin Mints and whatever they’re calling Samoas these days. Someone out there needs to make that happen.

But, you know, if it has to be a date situation, you’d do well to throw in some “special requests.” Get these people to jump through some hoops. Ask Sarah Palin to the prom, but also ask her to bring a pack of wine coolers and tell her you’d REALLY appreciate it if she crimped her hair. She should also be responsible for hiring a powder blue Lincoln Town Car, or – better yet – a hearse.

Be sincere with your request. Like the Great Pumpkin, a celebrity is only going to notice you if your patch is a humble one. So even if you have access to state-of-the-art equipment, you’d do well to film yourself with someone’s 3-year-old camera phone. Be demure, but give the impression of sexual voraciousness. Seem down-to-earth, but look like you also might have access to good drugs.

Enlist your friends to help you with your campaign. Make sure it goes viral. Whore yourself out via every means of social networking there is, even MySpace. Then, wait for that celebrity’s “people” to call.

Good luck.

Random Thoughts

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Always dress as though you’re going to run into an ex, or someone who was mean to you in junior high.

Ranting and screaming and namecalling isn’t “political discourse,” it’s telling everyone you have a shitty diaper and are unwilling or unable to change it yourself.  And I’m not singling out one party here, either.

Belief:  that’s personal stuff.  By “personal” I mean this – let’s say I believe in magical jingle bell elves.  Believing in magical jingle bell elves gives me a degree of happiness, and comfort in difficult times, and provides a set of standards by which I live my life.  But as I am sitting here, jingling, I also understand that not everyone believes as I do.  As such, I don’t try to push my magical jingle bell elves on someone who – say – believes in glittery rainbow unicorns, or doesn’t believe in anything at all.  I don’t dare to presume that someone who doesn’t believe in magical jingle bell elves is less moral or ethical than I am.  More importantly, I don’t try to push legislation that requires everyone to at least PRETEND to believe in magical jingle bell elves.  My belief in magical jingle bell elves should not determine public policy.  Why?  Because it’s personal.  This has nothing to do with being a “liberal.” It’s simply common sense.

My mother is probably the best driver I know.  She’s the best driver I know because she, in her words, drives “as though everyone else on the road is drunk, stupid, or clinically insane.”  This works for walking, too.

I don’t get people on Facebook who “like” a page dedicated to something that they DON’T like, just so they can mouth off about why they don’t like it.  It’s like crashing a birthday party, jumping on the table, and announcing to everyone that the birthday girl has a zit.  This morning someone posted on the page of a television show (of which I am a fan) something to the effect of:  “I have an intense desire to see you fail.  The only thing non-transparent about you is your pilot episode.  The worse you get, the more people like you.  I knew people like you in high school.  They never went anywhere, either.”  To which I say:  I knew people like YOU in high school.  They were the ones who sneered at everyone’s good time, because they liked such-and-such before it was cool, and they want to make sure that everyone knows it.  You haven’t grasped the fact that NOBODY CARES that you had the seven-inch pressed on blue vinyl of which there are only 500 copies.  Furthermore, you’re whining about “transparency” on a show ABOUT ZOMBIES.  Honey, get out of your mother’s basement and go get some fresh air.

If someone compliments you on something you’re wearing, the correct response is:  “Thank you.”   That’s it.  No going on about how it was on sale, how you think maybe it’s too tight around your ass, or that it’s from two seasons ago.  “Thank you.”  Give it a try.

See that basket over there?  The one with the sign that says:  “TAKE ONE”?  You are not obligated to take any, unless you’re an alcoholic, in which case you take at least three, whether you need them or not.

Here’s the thing:  I can joke about being a recovering alcoholic.  But generally I’m not real into non-alcoholic people making jokes about alcoholics.  It’s like one of the last things it’s okay to make jokes about, because it’s still considered some kind of moral weakness on the part of the afflicted person, rather than what it actually is.  You don’t make jokes about cancer, do you?  Untreated alcoholism is every bit as deadly.  And to those who think it’s about weakness, here’s something to think about:  You have a mosquito bite.  Don’t scratch it.  No – don’t scratch it.  What’s that?  You scratched it?  Tsk….you’re so WEAK.

That said, I also believe that once someone has accepted that he or she is an addict, that person has an obligation to do something about it.  And then, that person can make jokes and….oohhh, look – free refrigerator magnets!

“Let me just say this about that…”

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One of my favorite writers, Marya Hornbacher, recently wrote a piece for CNN.com about being an atheist in a 12-Step program.  It was sensitive, well-thought-out, and interesting to read.  And yet there were 60+ pages of comments in response to the article, many of them taking offense at one thing or another (“AA is a cult! I know cuz Penn & Teller said so!”  “Miss Hornbacher I am praying for u because u can’t be sober without Jesus.”  “Religion is evil!”  “Atheists are immoral!”).

I mostly avoid commenting on internet articles for the same reason I avoid posting about politics on Facebook:  it invites a maelstrom of crap that I just don’t have the time or the mindset for anymore.  The internet, in general, is a giant pissing match where everyone’s incontinent.  Gullible?  Easily offended?  Inebriated and itching for a misspelled tirade?  Welcome to the World Wide Web, where surely you’ll find SOMETHING to set you off.

Commenters fall into several categories:
  • The Kneejerker:  this is the person who is going to be offended no matter what.  You could write a blog about glittery unicorns romping through a pastoral field of poppies under a lavender sky and this person would respond thus:  “So UR saying that its okay to be gay?  THATS WRONG.”  Or:  “Please be more sensitive to the many thousands of opiate addicts and refrain from casual use of the word ‘poppies.'”  And let’s not even get into the unicorns.
  • The Comeback Artist:  right on the heels of the Kneejerker, the Comeback Artist can and will engage the Kneejerker in a back-and-forth that will take up pages and pages of the comments section.  The “discussion” will mostly consist of puerile insults, culminating in vague threats which become less and less vague until one or both accounts are suspended.
  • The Soapboxer:  this person has an axe to grind, and will find an excuse to grind it even in a thread that has nothing to do with the axe in question.  For example:  “There wouldn’t be so many ‘unicorns’ if this administration would GET TOUGH ON ILLEGALS.”  Closely related to the Kneejerker, but typically operates independently of said.
  • The Peacekeeper:  always attempting to be the voice of reason, the Peacekeeper prefaces each post with “I see your point, but…”.  Nobody wants to hear from this person.
  • The Spammer:  “Hello! welcome to online shop.we can supply low price with high quality product.You can view our website for the details. Thanks for your reading ,,, pls email us if u have any questions about business . “
  • The Scholar:  responses are no fewer than three paragraphs in length and are rife with cryptic allusions and references to distinguished writers and/or philosophers.  They seem to make no point other than to let everyone know that they are very, very well-read.
  • The Hyena:  responds with acronyms indicating raucous laughter.
Am I missing someone?  Leave me a comment and let me know.

Making sense of senselessness.

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When a celebrity death happens at the same time as an unfathomable international tragedy, you invariably find yourself defending what you choose to acknowledge on your social network of choice.  Your priorities come into question the second you post about the dead celebrity, because her death was the result of “poor life choices” and therefore expected, unsurprising, and less worthy of your attention.  To post about the dead celebrity is somehow tantamount to ignorance or – worse still – apathy as regards the countless people who aren’t famous who have also died senselessly.

Because if I’m reading my Facebook wall correctly, one “dead junkie whore” does not equal 100+ murdered Norwegians.  These are the mathematics of compassion.

When an addict dies of his or her disease, I pay attention.  It’s as simple as that.

I pay attention, because I am an addict.  I pay attention because I don’t assume for a nanosecond that I am immune from a tragic, ugly death because I’ve managed to go a number of years without alcohol or taking medication for reasons other than why it’s prescribed.  I pay attention, because there are people out there who still believe that what they are doing makes them feel better, makes them more “in the moment,” makes them more creative, or any of the other bullshit we tell ourselves when we are still drinking and using.

And when an addict dies of his or her disease, I write about it.  I try to tell people that addiction is a goddamn horror show of epic proportions, and that two out of three of us will NOT MAKE IT, not because we’re weak, not because we’re morally bankrupt, but because we are sick.  I am, for all intents and purposes, something of an expert here.

I understand, all too well, the rancor that erupts when an addicted celebrity finally succumbs to years of self-abuse.  We are infuriating to live with.  We are baffling to those who don’t have this constant, screaming urge to behave quite abnormally.  Our behavior is the very epitome of selfishness.  We all come into this world naturally solipsistic:  feed me, change me, comfort me.  Selflessness is a learned behavior.  A brain in the throes of addiction is a brain controlled almost entirely by primal instinct:  all that matters is feeling “better,” which is to say not feeling at all.  I can think of no better way to describe it.  I can only try to make sense of senselessness.

And yet, a mind that is so disordered, so hell-bent on utterly destroying its carrier, is still something to be ridiculed.  And when addiction gets what it wants, it’s a chance for everyone who’s not addicted to point fingers and cast aspersions.

I write about this because it’s what I know.  I write about this because in doing so, I somehow believe that it’s helping.  I can’t stop a madman from going on a killing spree.  I can write about what’s wrong with me, and hope that someone identifies.  In the end, all we have is hope.

Celebtwitties

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Since being back on Twitter, I’ve tried to keep it to monitoring news in the writing and publishing world, and interacting with a handful of friends.

But being the pop culture junkie that I am, I can’t help wandering off my feed and examining the greater vomitorium of TMI out there, largely provided by “celebrities.” To be fair, some of these famous Tweeters provide interesting, amusing commentary. Some of them are unintentionally amusing. And still others really ought not to be on the internet in any way, shape or form.

Let’s get this out of the way first – no, unlike the millions of other users, I am not following Charlie Sheen. I will not follow Charlie Sheen. With all due respect to those of you who ARE following Charlie Sheen, I don’t get it. He’s not at all interesting anymore, and I am pretty well-known in my circle of friends and acquaintances as being a fairly unapologetic watcher of trainwrecks. In fact, Charlie Sheen could take a lesson or two from Tila Tequila, who always manages to keep it fresh-yet-rancid with her unique blend of crazy. When not tweeting incessantly about various conspiracy theories and the Illuminati (and Ms. Tequila fancies herself something of an expert on the subject), she’s promising financial aid to single mothers in between twitpics of herself “performing” at clubs with names like Poles-R-Us. Amazing.

I DO follow Charlie’s brother, Emilio. He strikes me as a very grounded, clever fellow. He’s an excellent gardener, to boot, and shells his own peas (although he did also put his father to work in that regard…and tell me you don’t love the image of Martin Sheen sitting on Emilio’s porch shelling peas). What’s more – EMILIO ESTEVEZ FOLLOWED ME BACK. I don’t know what I did to deserve such an honor (he only follows about 30,000 other people), but the fact that he just might see this (once I share the link on my feed) fills me with schoolgirl giggles. Emilio, if you’re reading this – I love you, and I wish they’d make a Breakfast Club sequel where you’re married to Ally Sheedy’s character and living in an artists’ colony in Basin, Montana, making giclee and dandruff prints of wintery mountain scenes. I’d see it at least as many times as I’ve seen the first one.

George Takei is quite possibly the funniest person on Twitter, famous or not.

John Cusack will still block you if you criticize his spelling and/or grammar. He’s a douche.

Leann Rimes. How do I put this politely? Leann Rimes is horrible. Remember that button-nosed little cherub with Patsy Cline’s voice? My God, what a hosebeast harpy shrew she grew up to be. You will never see anyone prouder and giddier to have destroyed two marriages. And pity the foolish one who suggests that Leann might benefit from a couple of cases of Ensure. She EATS ALL THE TIME, okay? In fact, she will fill your feed with an itemized list of everything she’s eaten on her honeymoon with Eddie. Because she’s ALWAYS EATING. Like, CONSTANTLY. And then she’ll post a picture of herself in a bikini looking for all the world like a skeleton anatomical model festooned with kite string, and wait for someone else to express concern about her protruding hipbones, so she can respond thusly:

those are called abs not bones love.

I think this can safely go on the record as being the Stupidest Thing Ever Posted on Twitter. Well done, Leann! I had no idea that properly-toned abdominal muscles jutted out in perpendicular angles like, well, protruding hipbones. I feel so stupid now. Also, I’m apparently filled with envy, because usually after she’s done litanizing her meals and snacks, she posts stuff she’s lifted from The Quote Garden about jealousy. Because who wouldn’t be jealous, really? Yeah. Leann Rimes kind of sucks. I really need to stop looking at her page.

Barry Manilow needs to take control of his own Twitter page. I bet that guy is hilarious.

I follow Nikki Sixx. He takes amazing photographs. I wish Mick Mars would tweet more. Tommy Lee is insane. I don’t follow Vince Neil; I’m not sure why.

If you want to know everything about everything, follow Roger Ebert. He’s the perfect example of someone who really knows how to use Twitter to good effect. Paul Feig is a good read, although lately all he’s been doing is retweeting praise for his Bridesmaids movie. Rightfully so, but I’ll be sort of glad when all that dies down and he starts tweeting his own stuff again. I can’t bring myself to look at La Lohan’s page anymore; the denial there is just too depressing.

Beyond that, is Katy Perry worth following? Let me know…

Back in the Saddle Again (and it chafes).

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After some internal struggle, I reactivated my Twitter account.  Mostly I follow other writers, as well as literary agents and publishing houses.  (I may or may not also be following three out of four members of Mötley Crüe, but let me assure you that this is totally above board and completely necessary.)  I don’t engage in Twitter fights, or most hashtag shenanigans.  I also get FREE BOOKS by paying attention to various giveaways taking place in my stream.  So thus far, it’s been a mostly satisfactory and drama-free experience.

But my previous observations of Twitter (and this extends to “social networking” in general) still stand.  The vast majority of people who use these sites seem to be recreating their middle school years.  Drilling down into the bowels of Twitter, one finds numerous people who fit into the category of “Really Ought To Know Better.”  Attention whores abound on Twitter: they’re the folks who post oblique, loaded statements and wait for the ensuing cavalcade of sympathetic responses.  Overall, there are a lot of virtual temper tantrums, pissing matches among the incontinent, popularity contests, and veiled jabs.  And don’t get me started on the ridiculous politics of “following back.”

It’s a culture of “LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME LOOKITLOOKITLOOKIT” and in my way I am just as guilty as anyone else.  I mean, I have a blog, a Facebook page and now – again – a Twitter presence.  In having any one of these things there is an implicit need to connect.  But there’s a danger of being unhealthily connected, of taking a series of characters across the screen too seriously, of mistaking late night online exchanges with real intimacy, of looking to a bunch of virtual strangers for validation, approval, and “love.”  That’s not to say that one can’t forge real friendships or find real community out there.  I’ve experienced that, to be sure, but I have also fallen into the wormhole more than once and suffered for having done so.

Knowing all of this, I have rejoined the ranks of Twitter.  I will retweet funny statements from the likes of Paul Feig and George Takei (and honestly, that guy’s a superstar and arguably the one reason why EVERYONE should have a Twitter account).  I will engage with the aforementioned writers and literary agents in the hopes of forging connections.  If the topic proves amusing and smacks of more advanced wordsmithing, I may even play some of your reindeer hashtag games.

But I’m not gonna feed anyone’s emotional tapeworm, and I’m not gonna expect anyone to do the same for me.

With that understanding in place, I think I should do just fine.

“Too Corporate.”

2

I’m on LinkedIn.  Like just about everyone else with a job or something about themselves that requires a hard sell, professionally.  I don’t use it much, simply because I’m more or less happy where I am and don’t necessarily need a recommendation, or an endorsement, or whatever.  But somewhere down the line, I’m sure it will be useful, so there I am.

A friend of mine from high school recently expressed surprise at finding me there, because he thought that this was “too corporate” for me.  As long as he’s known me (and we’re talking decades now), I’ve always been left of center/under the radar/quirky/artistic/not pulling down a six-figure salary.  So I suppose I understand what he meant.

But “networking” is not the sole property of CorporateWorld™ and so, no, promoting myself and my abilities on LinkedIn is not constituting a grave violation of my personal code of ethics, whatever that may be.

So this got me to thinking about what it means, exactly, to be “too corporate.”  And I just don’t know what it means, really.  Other than a brief dalliance in retail after college, my entire “professional” life has been in nonprofit arts management.  If anything, I know what it is to be completely NOT corporate.  To wit:

I know that I don’t have to cover up my tattoos in the office.

I know that for the last few weeks, almost every staff meeting and/or internal electronic communication has featured the term “butt sparkler,” and that this is 100% legitimate, relevant, and entirely professional.  (I suppose that merits an explanation, so here you go.)

I know that we recently received a lovely gift of orchids at the front desk, with an enclosed card addressed simply to “Bitches.”  And that the person manning the front desk knew exactly who they were for.

I know that the revelation that our webmaster is in an all-male Lady Gaga tribute band was met with as much shock and awe as a report on the weather outside.

And at the end of any given day, I know that a kid has seen live theatre for the first time, that the curtain will go up on an amazing set which will provoke gasps and applause, that someone will be moved to tears by an exchange onstage.

That, I suppose, is what keeps me from being “too corporate.”