Pressure, Pushing Down on Me

The pressure to write something pithy and brilliant after such a long absence is keeping me paralyzed. Instead, I’ll publish something short and maybe not my best work, but it will be a start. I told myself from the beginning that the only way I’m ever going to be successful as a writer is to write. 

My semester ended a week ago, and it was disappointing. I feel like I failed in nearly every way I could fail. I take that back. I didn’t lose my keys. I’m relieved that our district changed the calendar so our first semester finishes before winter recess. I have 17 days total to put between my first and second semesters as a buffer. We all need a fresh start.

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get my mother situated in a skilled nursing facility. Through some manipulation, some misunderstanding, and some tarrying, my mom hasn’t been getting the care she’s supposed to be getting and my sister and I are trying to amend the mistakes we and others made. It’s high drama, suitable to a Holly Hunter or a Laura Linney independent film. Painfully tragic and almost impossible to enjoy, yet ultimately life affirming. I’m still waiting on the life affirming. 

May the Medi-Cal Gods be with us tomorrow, Amen.

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The Glib Martyr

I was looking forward to my vacation too dearly. Too sweetly. My mom fell and broke her ankle and needed surgery.

Now, my mom and I, we’re like Shirley McClaine and Meryl Streep in “Postcards from the Edge” only without money, showtunes or humor. I only wish my mom had a Silent Stan by her side and our biggest issue was her fading stardom. She has another hero, my sister Beezy, but poor B has her own limitations.

I’d take my mom into my house, but, well, see above “Postcards from the Edge” reference. The real issue is that my house is tiny and hard to access, and Mom was a cantankerous cripple even before the accident, but I imagine we’ll have to really step up and do our fair share too. Waiting until your late thirties/early forties to have children means having to change diapers on your kids AND your mom.

 

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One week from today, I’ll be on vacation

And I’ll tell you everything. I’ll tell you about how I’ve struggled to be a teacher, a mom, a wife, a writer, and a cast-iron bitch. Well, that last one comes pretty naturally. Ask anyone. 

Hang in there. I haven’t given up. 

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Ask Mrs. Odie Thursday (it is Thursday, right?)

My blog friend Michael can always be counted on:

“I know you’re down and on a certain level I can relate. Just ask my wife. But let’s switch gears for a moment: Tell us your favorite: band, movie, actor, actress, book and/or author (you’ve probably mentioned that), TV show past or present color, food, drink, dream job, animal (dog and cat are off limits. So is armadillo) favorite planet (Mercury has a lot going for it) and I guess your favorite disease (I dig mumps) and whether you use an 8 inch or 10 inch pan for omelettes, and why. Just for the hell of it. And tell us whether you would’ve used semi colons instead of commas for this comment.”

I am very down today. We’re broke. Odie’s car was impounded from in front of a relative’s house, so we didn’t know about it for twelve days. Twelve. If you’ve ever had a car impounded, then you just went, “Oh, daaaaaaaaaamn.”

I don’t mean, “Can’t buy my usual egg nog latte” broke. I mean checks bouncing, digging through old diaper bags for diapers and looking up recipes for celery soup broke.

The levity, therefore, is much-needed and appreciated.

I don’t listen to music intentionally. When I was in high school, I deliberately chose some bands to follow, because I saw that’s what normal people do. Now that I’m an adult, I don’t bother. When people post on The Facebook about going to concerts, I think, “WHY would anyone want to do that?”

If I hear a song that I like, I will buy it and download it to my MP3 player, but I usually listen to the news or NPR while I’m driving alone and “Snacktime” by The Barenaked Ladies when the kids are with me.

My MP3 player has “Without Me” by Eminem, but I don’t like most of his stuff. Too much of the same, no catchy beats. “Freedom” by George Michael is on there, and I can always giggle and tap my toes to “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred. Still, I don’t follow any bands. Sidenote, I asked my students yesterday if they knew who Bruce Springsteen is, and they don’t.

I shouldn’t judge. I thought it was “Springstein.”

And honestly, when I think Springsteen, I think of Jimmy Fallon singing “Born to Run” at the Emmys a few years ago.

It’s hard to name favorite movies, actors, books, or authors. It’s like naming a favorite child! (It’s Pringles)

I think Daniel Day-Lewis is a great actor. I show The Crucible in class every year and never get tired of his performance. He moves me to tears every time. WHAT is Winona Ryder doing in that movie?! Girl has five different accents and she only has five scenes. Makes me nuts, because otherwise the movie is fantastic.

I am likely to want to see a movie if it stars Matt Damon, Colin Firth, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Affleck (Daredevil and Pearl Harbor aside), Paul Rudd, or Don Cheadle, but I’m really a TV girl.

Peter Krause and Six Feet Under, The men of The Goodwife (the ladies too, but mostly the men), Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus and The Walking Dead, Homeland and Masters of Sex on Showtime. Like most people, I loved Breaking Bad. Bryan Cranston may be the actor of his generation (which is roughly ten years older than I).

Actresses are a bit harder. I can’t help but like Jennifer Lawrence, even though I want to garrote her for being so young and talented with that sexy, throaty laugh of hers. There are more complicated emotions mixed in with female fandom. I love Jennifer Garner because of Alias and Thirteen Going on Thirty, but I haven’t liked her in anything else. I admire her in real life. Laura Linney is the actress I’m most often told I resemble, especially when she goes brunette for a role. My narcissism therefore forces me to admire her. Meryl Streep is an obvious answer. I also love Tina Fey, Julianne Moore, Joan Allen, Annette Bening, Gillian Anderson, Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, Clare Danes and Julianna Marguiles.

I admit to watching Reality TV, particularly Survivor, Top Chef, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and its spin-off Vanderpump Rules.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been reading Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake trilogy. I’m on the second book The Year of the Flood. I heard an interview with Atwood on NPR a couple of months ago and was captivated listening to her talk about her book. I recalled that The Handmaid’s Tale was one of the best books I’ve ever read, so I decided to give these books a look. I cannot recommend them highly enough, although I’m not sure why our culture is obsessed with apocalypse scenarios. Atwood is responsible for one of my most treasured sayings, “Illegitimi non carborundum.” Dorothy Parker gets attribution for the second, “You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think.”

I’ll read anything by Dennis Lehane, John Irving, or David Sedaris, and I wish John Kennedy Toole had found the right antidepressant.

For junkfood reading, I like the Phillipa Gregory, Diana Gabaldon, and Charlene Harris series. I got to do tons of reading when I was nursing my babies and taking a year off of work. Those were wonderful times. We had money in the bank back then. We both agreed that me being home with babies was worth the sacrifice. I wonder what we would have decided if we could have looked into a crystal ball and seen the past two days.

Wow, each of these could be its own post. At least I’m getting my mind off my troubles and taking a little breather from grading papers (I’m sick and have been at it for eight hours with a lunch/American Horror Story: Coven break).

Orange.

Cheese enchiladas with onions and a side of sour cream.

A tie: Diet Coke, red wine, Ketel One Martini, up with a twist.

Emmy and Pulitzer Award winning writer.

Alpaca.

Jupiter.

Bulimia.

10-inch, because that’s what my mom bought me when I moved out twenty years ago.

Commas; semi-colons are horseshit.

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So sorry, so busy, so sad

I feel like all I write lately is “I’m so busy; I’m so sad; I’m so sorry.”

I’m sorry.

It’s just that I’m so busy and so sad. I managed to get two college degrees, but never learned to manage my time, workload, or money (that’s a whole other Oprah). The papers, dishes, and laundry are stacked high.

Today I read an article promoting a book about being a busy mom. The comments section was like a punch to the face. “Why did you have so many kids?” “If she’s so busy, where did she find time to write a book?” “Who would take a job with a two-hour commute?” 

Although we are inundated with cliches daily, especially at the end of the day, I remember hearing that “It takes the village to raise the child.” Where is the fucking village? 

The village is judging you. The village is calling you an asshole. The village is burning down your hut. 

I’m not “hating on” internet critics. That doesn’t bother me much. I am an internet critic. The windows of my glass house are covered with grimy hand prints because I’m also a shit housekeeper. I’m still not going to throw stones; although, I have plenty I could throw. Pringles fills her pockets with rocks every day. She’s my budding geologist. And she steals things.

What I hate is how some woman somewhere once made a pretense of  “having it together” and everyone believed that she was the person telling the truth, while the rest of us who said “I’m falling apart” were lying. Thus “falling apart,” while it is actually the norm, is thought to be the exception. And not like “You’re so exceptional! Good for you!”

Not like that at all.

I’m terrified to admit that I’m not handling my responsibilities well. What about the women who are doing everything I’m expected to do but don’t have husbands? Or don’t have health insurance? Or don’t have ____________?

Fill in the blank with everything I take for granted that invalidates my complaints. You’re writing another blog post about how hard you have it? Some people don’t even have computers! Or fingers! 

Numbing out with ice cream while watching pay television? Must be nice, privileged bitch. Why don’t you CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE, and then tell me all about your problems?

I hate that admonishment. “Check your privilege.” I always think, “Glasses? Check. Seat belts buckled? Check. Privilege? Check. Okay, let’s go!” What? You said to check my privilege. Like most things English teachers complain about, it’s not the crux of your argument, it’s the wording.

I’m white, female, educated, and I’d be middle class if I hadn’t taken out loans to achieve that third thing. I’m grateful. I’m blessed. I know it. I remember it. But damnit, I’m also feeling like a big fucking failure. And I’m sad. I’m so sad. You know what the worst thing about clinical depression is? The sadness. 

I’m sorry. I feel like such a dolt complaining. And I have to wrap this up because I’m super busy.

 

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Mommies in Melancholia

The latest trend in Mommy Blogging appears to be confessing to your mental illness. Anxiety and depression are the new “Aden and Anais” must-have muslin swaddle blankets. We’re wrapping ourselves in terror testimonials and Klonopin confessions instead of adorable pastel prints.

It was inevitable. Heather Dooce Armstrong was the pioneer of blogging for a living, and when she birthed out the Mommy Blogging genre, millions followed suit. Her first book was a confessional about her postpartum breakdown and stay in a mental hospital. Not really up to the hype, in my opinion. Being awoken nightly by your roommate who’d escaped a Satanic Sex Slave Farm so you could help her catch the vampire bats flying around your semi-private suite in the state hospital — now THAT’S worth the price of admission. Heather had nothing like that in her book of tales. Just some hackneyed dairy trebuchet impressions.

Now, every time I open Facebook, Huffpost is directing me to mommies in melancholia admitting to angst, accompanied by a montage of black and white pictures of lovely young women with darling offspring. Their bylines saying they are writers and/ or stay-at-home moms. SAHMs, to the uninitiated. And the green-eyed monster nibbles at my toes while the flames tickle the sides of my face.

During my unit on The Crucible, I taught my students in the spirit of the book that when you go to name all seven deadly sins, if you forget one, then you suffer from it. Gamely, they challenged me.

Gluttony, greed, vanity, wrath, lust, sloth… Pride? No, it’s the same as vanity. Already said it.

“Envy, Mrs. Odie,” one of my students blurts out triumphantly.

“Is it true?” asks another. I grant that it is.

Shiny fuel-efficient cars, Craftsman houses, unchewed fingernails, black pants free of pet hair, flat tummies, perfectly draped scarves, and two year-olds without tooth decay. I see these daily and I covet. I envy. I sin.

It is deadly, too. It is the death of joy. The irony that I want to get into a suffering contest with other mommy bloggers over who really suffers anxiety. You’re obsessive about your carpet? Not sure your husband’s coworkers’ wives will think your dinner party is as good as theirs? I’m pretty good at feeling sorry for myself. I get up at five. Well, I get out of bed at five. My kids just don’t buy this whole “sleep all night alone” malarky and are far more into “Mommy sure is warm and soft.” I’m always tired. I teach high school. I seem to care about my students’ educations more than they do. I’m forever behind on my paperwork. I forget to do my attendance reports. Someone always needs to take a make-up quiz. My paychecks go right to the grocery store. Parents who would probably have been too shy, busy, or passive to pick up a phone in bygone eras and call me about every assignment grade may feel no qualms about email. Email is to passive-aggression what prosthetics are to amputees. They help them get around.

Bridget Jones once joked that she was “seduced by the informality” of the medium into “flirting with [the] office scoundrel.” Teachers in today’s social media-obsessed climate tell me some parents find the informality of email removes not only barriers, but also does away with things like the chain of command. After all, the principal, board members, and superintendent have email addresses too.

My class has moved on from the Puritans to the Transcendentalists. Carpe diem. March to the beat of your own drummer. Emerson reminds us that not only is envy ignorance, but imitation is suicide (Self Reliance). I want to kick my own ass down the block when I read a SAHM’s confession that the anxiety of keeping her carpet clean gives her red, itchy hives and I suddenly morph into Dennis Miller.

Now, I don’t want to get off on a rant here, but…

When my husband worked and I stayed home with each daughter for a year, he sometimes complained that coming home was not so much a reprieve and respite as it was showing up for his second job. It infuriated me, but I get it now. I feel the same way. Only I also have the night shift. I’m grateful he makes it so easy on me. I can always count on him to throw some of my laundry in with his, remember trash day, include wine on the grocery lists. I have a partner, and I don’t know how anyone goes it alone. I also don’t know how anyone can pretend to go it alone, misleading readers about how much help she’s really getting.

I know, I know. You can’t win with me. You don’t have enough stress to justify your anxiety disorder. Shut up about your goddamn depression. Why won’t you stop covering up your fucking OCD/ADHD/Manic Depression/NPD/BPD or whatever the hell makes you flutter around your perfect little home like a hummingbird, shitting crafts everywhere you land. Just TALK about your depression already!

There’s just no making this bitch happy. Well, there actually are three ways. Zoloft, Xanax, Ativan. The holy trinity, forever and ever. Chemical relief without end. Amen.

And Odie unloading the dishwasher. That’s my porn.

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Balance.

The worst part about being a teacher is grading papers. At first, I thought it would be fun. When I was a kid, I loved playing teacher, or sitting at my dad’s desk at the newsroom and playing journalist. During my student teaching, I’d take papers to the coffee house where I hung out and pretend I was doing oh-so-important work. The other customers might sometimes ask me, “Are you a teacher?”

“Training to be.”

“Wow. Good for you. I could never teach. I’d be afraid I’d have kids like I was in high school.”

Knowing smile with a twinkling eye, “Oh, I have plenty of those. Looks like you turned out alright though,” ah, ha, ha, ha. We all laugh and laugh together. Such noble work we do, we teachers.

I have so many papers to grade, I feel like showing movies for the next three weeks so I can have a chance to catch up on my papers. Problem is, I’d probably just get sucked into the movie. Plus I’d have to give my students some sort of assignment in order to make it an authentic use of class time and then I’d have even more papers.

I have two goals this year: 1) my students’ 12th grade English teachers feel I have prepared the students well, 2) my students feel like they worked harder than they’ve every worked in an English class.

I know one thing for certain. I’m working harder than I’ve ever worked. Maybe by second semester I’ll have a routine down and I can get back to a regular blog posting schedule.

Ah, who the Hell am I kidding? I’ve never had a regular blog posting schedule. I’m dropping the pretense.

I’m struggling with my depression and anxiety more than usual. Odie is struggling worse than I. We are too much alike. When we were contemplating taking our relationship from friendship to the next level, he expressed the concern that we don’t balance each other and would end up reinforcing each other’s flaws and faults. I don’t normally think of Odie as a prescient man. Boy, did he nail it. I can imagine the benefit of complementary personalities. One person balances the strengths and overlooks the weaknesses of the other. Together, they’re a team! I don’t have that. When I feel sad and hopeless, I wish I could count on him to tell me everything will be okay. I come home from work, he asks how my day went.

“I suck. Nobody learns anything. I’m a joke. What am I even doing in the classroom? I can’t teach. Everyone hates me. I’m so behind in my grading, I don’t even know where to start. Parents are going to show up with torches and pitchforks any minute now. OH, and I’m a shit mother. The kids don’t even want to come home from preschool. I have to spend twenty minutes begging them to get in the car and another twenty threatening them to. My parents should have smothered me at birth. How was your day?”

“Same.”

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Transformation

I stayed up late Sunday night processing the Breaking Bad finale. I had to watch the pilot episode again to remind myself that the characters I grew to love are still right where I left them.

Monday I passionately performed my reading/think aloud of a beloved essay. Some of my students, bless their hearts, struggled mightily against The Sandman, but far too many lost the battle.

Teachers always hear, “If you make learning fun, then the students will learn more! I always learned the most when my teachers were entertaining.” Of course this is true, but it isn’t always practical. Besides, everyone is different. When I was in high school, if the teacher announced, “We’re going to play a game!” I would groan inwardly while my peers cheered. Flip that script when our teacher announced a writing assignment.

Ultimately, whether it’s fun or not, my job description requires I show them how to write in different rhetorical modes for a variety of purposes and audiences. They have to become better readers to be writers. So far, I have not heard of another way to improve reading than to read. Have you? Because if you know one, my students are desperate for it. I just gave a homework assignment: read 10 pages of a play. That’s like 15-20 minutes of reading. 90% of them failed the reading quiz the next day. In one class period, literally not one student did the reading assignment.

We had been reading Act I in class, and I thought it was going very well. When the bell rang, I pointed to the board and told them to finish the rest of the Act for homework. They didn’t.

When confronted with dismal quiz scores they giggled about it. Very few seemed to mind. Sometimes I think our school system gives them too many safety nets. There’s summer school, computer-based learning, “continuation” school. Next year, they can take the class again if it fits in their schedules. Any option out there where they can rationalize doing nothing right now? They pick that.

As much as I try to convince them that there’s no time like the present and they need to put in the work now, I don’t get buy-in. The other teachers of the same subject and students report similar experiences.

     A few years ago, it hit me why my students seem to take my advice with a grain of salt. To them, I am a failure. What could be a more pathetic career than a teacher? Some of them believe that they go off and have lives while I and my ilk stay in high school forever.

How did Walter White of Breaking Bad become a bad ass? Being a chemistry teacher? Oh, hell no!

Millions of people and I watched the series finale of Breaking Bad. The end of the series will no doubt inspire viewers to go back to the pilot episode as I did to remind ourselves where it all started.

“Chemistry is about… transformation,” Walter White announces to a high school chemistry class. Noticing a boy out of his seat macking on a girl, he calls the kid out. Reminds him of the seating chart. The student drags his chair noisily across the room with an attitude of utter disdain. Later, when Mr. White is working at his second job washing cars, he has to endure the snide cruelty of the same bully as he is transformed into that teenager’s servant. Undoubtedly, that young man did not work for the money to pay for that car (channeling John Bender), but he still lords his privilege over the teacher who earlier exercised power over him. Chad photographed him with the likely intent of extending the man’s degradation arena to include Facebook and Instagram.

And what was it that Mr. White did to enrage this boy? What horrible sin did he commit? Mr. White tried to teach him something. Tried to come between him and ignorance. Refused to tolerate Chad’s rude disruption of his lesson. The teacher enforced his class policy, which exists so that every student can have a learning experience. Did Chad appreciate it? Did he try his hardest? Did he thank his teacher? No. He mocked his teacher. He broke his teacher’s spirit.

So, (spoilers coming) did you shed tears when Hank died? When Jesse was tortured and enslaved? When Walt killed Mike? Was your heart broken by the estrangement of Walt and Jessie?

Blame Chad. Blame fucking Chad.

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Good night, good people

I want my daughters to be good people.

I want them to be smart, successful, pretty, funny, and all of that, but I hope I will also help to make them good.

Tonight, Odie and I had dinner and margaritas to celebrate ten years together. Our anniversary coincides with the autumn equinox. The weather today was so delightfully cool, but I know my So Cal weather too well to believe that we’re done with heat waves this year.

Over tequila and chips, we talked about our girls. It’s so important to get a babysitter and have some time alone together as a couple. We don’t do it enough. Ironically, we end up talking about our children, sometimes even looking at videos and pictures of them on our phones.

I had a brochure from a place called “The Little Gym.” We attended a birthday party at one last week, so I picked up some literature. It was a good thing I had a cocktail to numb the pain of realizing what it would cost to send my daughter there for lessons. Boy, howdy! With our limited resources, we have to make careful choices about what extracurricular activities our girls will participate in. How will these activities suit their personal strengths, help buttress their weaknesses, and develop their character?

Pringles, two, is a people person. She says “Hi” to everyone she sees. She starts the day by jumping on my head and shouting “Hellooooo, Mommy! Get up, Mommyyyyyyy!” It may sound annoying, but I can’t help but smile. She’s such a charmer. How will that natural tendency for joy and human connection best be served? Theater? Dance? Odie and I believe that the girls should each participate in two types of lessons: one physical and the other creative. I find myself secretly hoping that neither one wants to pursue musical theater or softball. I am going to have to sit through all of the practices, performances, and games. Guitar and volleyball are also glorious pursuits.

Viva is effusive, serious, and bossy. Maybe I should say “she has leadership qualities” but she herself will tell you “I don’t want to play the way you want to play, I want to play the way I want to play,” and “You’re not the boss of me.” She takes everything her little sister says to her very hard. “Mommy, Pringles said that I have to go to bed. But I don’t WANT to go to bed! I HATE to go to bed!” We have to keep reminding her that Pringles loves to get a rise out of her, and not to take the ramblings of a two year-old to heart. But, she does anyway. Whatever lessons we enroll her in, I’d like to see her learn to work as a team member. To cooperate with other children and have a coach or teacher who knows how to give her corrective feedback without breaking her sensitive spirit. If we’re not careful, Viva will happily learn how to play chess and write poetry, thus permanently locking herself into a personality that is adversarial and isolating.

It’s a balance, I think, between encouraging what comes to them naturally and challenging them to stretch themselves outside of those comfort zones.

As a high school teacher, I meet a lot of kids. Some of them are amazing kids with qualities I’d love to see in my own children. Many of them are shy or quiet and I finish the school year feeling like I never really knew them. A small minority remind me that parenting is an essential job and a hard job. You can’t give up, not even when the finish line is in sight.

And honestly, is the finish line ever in sight? As Jason Robards’ character tells Steve Martin’s in the 1989 film Parenthood, “It never ends. You never spike the ball and do your touchdown dance.”

I love being with my husband and my children. I look forward to seeing them after work every day. They’re hilarious, kind, and fun to be with. I hope they never turn into the kind of girls or women who would delight in the pain or failure of others. Who will forget their privilege and neglect to empathize with others. Who are so self-involved, damaged, or narcissistic they think their worth is a jeans size or the number of likes on an Instagram photo. If they see their classmates bullying a teacher or another student, I’d want them to stand up for the victim, or at the very least refuse to participate. And I want them to enjoy hanging out with Mom and Dad, even if it is just brunch on Sunday or a movie now and then.

I’m off to bed now. I still have about seven months of sleep deprivation stored up, and I’m chipping away at it little by little. The workload that I’ve taken on going from an 80% to a 100% assignment has stunned me, especially since I have five composition classes this year. Last year, I had four grammar classes. The amount of grading I have to do takes my breath away, and I’m terribly behind. I feel guilty taking the time to do my own writing, but it’s essential to me.

Goodnight and good luck.

 

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None of this goes together

I haven’t been neglecting my blog. I’m just playing hard to get.

The world of blogging can be bizarre at times. The competition is stiff, so writers have to be more than just wordsmiths. We have to be our own editors, agents, and publishers. We do our own P.R. A blogger can hit it big by posting something that “goes viral,” whether that be on the blog or on another site. Kelle Hampton ended up on “Today” with Hoda and Kathie Lee, while Kelly Oxford got Matt Lauer. Based on this anecdotal evidence I have a feeling Mr. Lauer’s other head makes the decisions about which Mommy bloggers he deigns to interview.

I hate when I’m writing late at night like this and it isn’t going how I want. I call it having a T.S. Eliot moment. “That is not it at all./That is not what I meant at all./….It is impossible to say just what I mean!” The failure of language to really convey experience.

Or maybe I’m just not in the groove. The problem is, if I wait around for the muse, nothing will ever get written. Writing means nothing if it doesn’t mean putting down the words when you’re uninspired, when it’s drudgery.

I’m a terrible gossip. Actually, I’m a wonderful gossip. I excel at it. It delights me. I know, I know. It’s a terrible sin. But not all gossip is shit talking. Sometimes, it’s just talking. I love it when people who annoy me get raked over the internet coals. It tickles me pink. Who annoys me? Fakes. Phonies.

I don’t mean “sell outs.” To me, it’s okay to make money off of your art. Even lots and lots of money. If it’s good and you’re lucky, people are going to like it. I would love to make a bunch of money from my writing. But would it change me? Would the quality suffer? Do writers have to be unsuccessful to be good?

GOMI is a website (Get Off My Internets). I’ve mentioned it before. It’s a blog, but the articles published by Alice “Party Pants” are not the attraction, funny though she is. It’s a place for commenters. Commenters rule GOMI. There is a hierarchy, naturally, because humans are hierarchical. GOMI has plenty of Queen Bees and Wannabes. I definitely fall into the latter category. I’m starting to get pretty cozy as a wannabe. It’s a lifelong pattern and now that I’m 40, my skin is starting to feel oh-so-comfy.

There is the main page, and then there are the forums. I’ve been participating in forum discussions on the internet for decades. All the way back to “AOL chat rooms.” Facebook is just an evolution of those interactions. For busy people and awkward, socially phobic people, it’s a way to still have friends and talk to people about stuff.

And yes, people are mean. Some of them are just horrible. Or they seem horrible to me when I disagree with them. For example, I like something, and a GOMI-er hates it. Let’s call her Bacon Doorknob McPlexter. I pulled that out of nowhere, so if there is really a GOMI handle of this name, I didn’t mean you. I looked around my living room, and then added “Mc” and bacon.

Bacon Doorknob McPlexter can’t just say, “different strokes for different folks.” It has to be “How can you LIKE that? You must be a total fucking idiot. People like you shouldn’t be allowed to have children. I hope you get cancer.”

Or similar words.

I feel all bent out of shape for a while, but I get over it. In fact, I will probably see a comment written by Bacon Doorknob McPlexter that I completely agree with or that makes me laugh. Next thing I know: bygones. I’m thinking, “I like that Bacon Doorknob bitch. She’s a bit of alright.”

A while back, Alice Wright posted an article asking why blogs start sucking. The community had answers. I read them with great interest. I’ve seen in happen. I follow a blog because I enjoy the writing and something goes terribly wrong. This happened with me and Dooce. Well, I think it happened with Dooce and everyone, including her husband.

GOMI commenters seem to agree that a little taste of the fame sours the blog. Bloggers get narcissistic and their feces loses its odor. A few million page views and readers can’t identify with them. It goes to the heart of why we like bloggers in the first place. We feel like they’re our friends. I feel like I know Alice, and not just because Party Pants drunk dialed me once.

When you’re a “blogger,” you sometimes get to this place where you “know” other bloggers. I have internet relationships with several other bloggers, some well-known, others less so. We’ve had email exchanges and private messaged each other on GOMI and Twitter. If you’re “friends” (or God forbid “fwiends”) with the Big Bloggers, you may post pictures of you all hanging out together. Maybe your readers feel like you’ve ditched us for the popular crowd.

There’s one blogger I think you’d be VERY surprised to know made me promise to email her from the hospital as soon as Pringles was born (no, it’s NOT Kelle Hampton). Another one nearly gave me a heart attack when she emailed me.

Or maybe you wouldn’t be surprised. More than likely, you’d say, “I have no idea who that is.” Because “fame” in this world is so unlike real fame that it shouldn’t even be called fame. Maybe Glennon Melton can make a mash-up word for it. Nobodyoriety.

I’m Nobodyorious, but this person is even more Nobodyorious than I. Her Nobodyoriety precedes her.

And here I am, closing in on another one of my 900 word posts and I don’t even know what I’m talking about anymore. This is a perfect metaphor for my life right now. I’m still sort of wired from Back to School Night. I have nearly two hundred essays to read. Four periods of tests to grade. Notebook checks are tomorrow. I have no idea how I’ll manage that. A substitute accidentally ruined a piece of classroom equipment I use every day. Will Viva even be able to go to school tomorrow? Stupid viruses. Am I the only one who follows the school’s sick kid rules?!

But before I go to bed, even though it’s late, I’m going to check in on my favorite blogs and read some forum gossip. I heard from a DM on Twitter that some phony just pulled a dipshit move on IG.

Now she’s going to be even more nobodyorious.

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