I Have Never Once in My Whole Life Understood You

What if I’m spiritual, but I don’t believe in organized religion?

What if I want justice, but I don’t believe in organized rallies?

Should we open the zoos and let out all the animals?

Should we open the libraries and let out all the verse?

Maps are old-fashioned. They’re ancient. They point to places that aren’t even there any more.

Did your book clubs last? Mine started strong. I still read though. Every night I read.

Will our schools stop learning? Will we unspool education into threads?

In college they make you say — declare—what you will learn. Your major. The college says you have to —that you have to want to — learn one thing more than any other thing.

Study until they say you’ve studied it enough. Paper in a frame. Hang it.

I never not once in my life understood college. Not one time.

The transfer of knowledge from one person to another.  I dropped the baton. Then I found stuff on the ground I liked better. Ants and acorns. Shiny objects.

I thought things would make sense when I got older.

I eat healthy but I don’t believe in organized nutrition. Avocados can pray or not pray, as far as I’m concerned.

I can’t kneel at church. I don’t kneel. Don’t you know it’s taken me this long to stand tall, shoulders back, head up? Not everything is my fault.

I don’t believe in organized exercise. Pilates killed aerobics. Aerobics killed black coffee and cigarettes. If I want to run I’ll run to the basement and scream while the washer’s on so the neighbors can’t hear.

I drive but I don’t like organized transportation. Why should the government tell me where my sedan does and does not belong. Our old gray pickup growing up had three gears on the steering column. I stayed off the roads, so the government never found me. Underage driver. Coughing and sputtering and clouds of dust. Jerk shifts. I killed it.

I grew up far away from here. You never went there.

My friend Missy got her license and ten minutes later almost murdered us. Headed home from school at 90 mph. In some places 16 is still young enough to kill your friends.

I need a heart but I don’t believe in organized transplants.

Isn’t an audience just organized listeners?

If your alphabet isn’t organized you have a learning disability.

What if I like people but not all at once? What if I like people scattered, random, a little lost.

I have never once in my whole life understood you.

I want to make a church out of something you can’t see. What’s that sound? the kids will ask, looking up into their parents’ eyes. Eyes burning with love. With fire. What’s that sound?

We are closer now than we have ever been.

I have always wanted a god that had something to do with cardboard. Flea markets. A shaggy Shepherd wet from a storm, it shakes and the water drops fly. Who knows where they’ll scatter.

I miss people I don’t even know. I want to be with you. I want to zig and zag to get you a tissue in time when you sneeze. I want to be everything our Lord and Creator meant me to be. I want to share it with you. Everything I have.

But not every time.

 

I’m a Bitch, I Looked it Up

As a middle-aged woman, I’ve ninety percent stopped smiling. It’s not that I’m not happy. I don’t even know why I should have to explain that. I just don’t see the connection between, say, living my life and walking around with a grin painted on my face.

I’ve never really worn makeup. Maybe that’s what a smile is, another decoration for your face. Which makes us Christmas trees?

I went to Paris years ago and the guidebooks said don’t walk around smiling all the time or they’ll know you’re American. It being the age of Freedom Fries I wanted to, one, reflect well on the United States and, two, pretend I wasn’t from there.

I remember how weird it felt not to smile. Like my muscles were going backwards. My face kept making the motions and I’d have to stop myself. At ease, face. Do something else. Like see Paris, Bombay, Antarctica. The moon. Even though I stopped smiling in order to conform to yet another culture, it became an open door.

In Seattle I walked with my best friend a couple weeks after she’d experienced something horrifically painful. I couldn’t even believe she’d left the house. As we made our way through the crowd a young man barked “Smile!” My friend walked on. I looked at this man and I wanted to yell that he had no idea, no idea at all. I still hate myself for doing nothing. Meanwhile, this man has no memory. To him it wasn’t an event, a moment, it wasn’t anything.

What if my friends and I shouted out helpful suggestions to the men around us? Smile! Stand up straight! Try some hair plugs! Loosen your belt and your belly won’t so dramatically cascade over your crotch region! We’d chuckle and then pound some more mini Snickers.

For my trouble, I’ll expect a smile back. Recognition, from you, that I’m charming. Acknowledgement, from you, that I’m witty.  I will need reassurance, from you, whatever it takes you to provide it, that I am allowed to lob my thoughts at you, and that you will have to drop all your parcels and grocery sacks to catch them.

Or you’re a bitch.

You know who doesn’t smile? Babies. You smile at them for months and they don’t smile back. They don’t have resting bitch face. They have resting genuine true self human being face. The face created by their Creator.

I don’t think bitchy is a look. Bitchy is merely the absence of what you were expecting from my face. Your expectations are not my concern.

Though even in my 30s, I thought I had to answer to those expectations. I couldn’t let you down. I thought I had to respond to every inane comment that came my way. Do you know you have the complete option to look blankly at people who make inane comments? About you, your children, your choices. You can let them hang. Sure it’s awkward. But they can stew in it. You don’t have to think up a way to make them feel less awkward. You don’t have to toss them a lifeline. You don’t have to save anyone or fix anything. Walk on.

There is a school of thought about Christian kindness. I am not able to address this.

I’ve stopping using exclamation points in emails to try to seem more fun and less serious. Serious leads to cold. Cold leads to bitchy. I think this is where people can stop liking you, also a deadly fear for a woman. I’m stepping off the ledge. I will sit at home alone with no friends, not smiling at myself in the mirror.

I guess I’m taking the chance. It’s starting to feel worse not to.

I looked up bitch in the online Oxford Dictionary. I wondered if they’d actually list the word but of course they do.

Bitchy as an adjective had one meaning. Malicious or spitefully critical. Malicious means the desire to harm someone. Which is weird because the crime stats show the ones harming others tend to be the dudes. What’s the word for how a man’s face looks before he harms someone? Does the witness say, yeah I knew he was going to kill his neighbor, he had a total bitch face.

What’s the antonym of bitchy? There is none listed.

There are synonyms for bitch: vixen, she-devil, and hellcat. I was surprised when I read the synonyms because my first reaction was that those words didn’t seem negative. Maybe I’m way off but she-devil and hellcat I can almost picture on sports jerseys.

The second meaning of bitch is “a spiteful or unpleasant woman”. This is the second reference to spite. What’s all this fear of being spited? This meaning is marked informal so that you know only to call a woman a bitch in casual settings like a barbecue.

Here’s where I truly was surprised. And lost some wind in my sails. Under meaning 2 point A– marked as offensive so you know you’re about to be offended– bitch means “a woman”.

A woman. Just, a woman. Any woman. All women. Cheerful or spiteful. This takes all the impetus out of the smiling then doesn’t it? Because I lose either way. So does your mother. And your grandmother. Your favorite auntie who sent you tins of oatmeal cookies in college. Your kids’ 3rd grade teacher. The principal with the little duckie collection. The doctor who delivered your babies. The surgeon who knit your heart back together, scowling over your gaping wound. Your senator.

It’s not easy to stop smiling.

Oh wait.

It is.

 

Celebrities: We’re Just Like You

Celebrities. We need gas. We need groceries. Our kids want to go to the park. We push them on the swings. Sure there are some divas, but a lot of celebrities are pretty down to earth. And it’s the same for families with Down syndrome.

Celebrities. And Down syndrome. We’re just like you.

We’re in line at Starbucks. You see us. We see you see us. We see the stare that lasts a half second too long. You look away. But you’ll look again. You have to. You have to be sure of what you’re seeing. Something at once familiar and new.

Wait? Is that…?

Celebrities. And Down syndrome. It’s hard not to look.

Some of you want to talk. We have something in common and you will tell us what it is. The checker at Fred Meyer lights up to see my daughter. One look at her uncorks his memories of working with adults with disabilities. It was amazing. It changed his life. A transformation. All these years he’s never forgotten. He shakes his head, remembering.

But we only came for milk.

We didn’t tie our shoes this morning and say, okay family, let’s go out there and show them what a family with a disability is. We don’t wear badges, we’re not official representatives. We have school. We have work. We have seven errands on our to-do list and if we stop and Have An Experience with every person we encounter we’re not going to make the dry cleaners by five.

Celebrities. And Down syndrome. Sometimes we just want to walk down the street, like a regular family. Sometimes we want to blend in. But you can’t put the cork back in the bottle.

Celebrities. And Down syndrome. You think we remember you. From a concert, a train trip, the taqueria. From my daughter’s school. Four hundred children, of whom 300 and their parents greet her by name, while I look blankly at their child, hoping to return the greeting. I have no idea. I’m so sorry people. What are we calling you now? Regular people? Civilians? Typicals? I have to tell you a secret. All you non-disableds? You all look the same. I can’t tell one blonde-haired girl in leggings from another.

What’s the alternative? People could ignore us? Turn away in horror? We could go back to segregating people, locking us in categories—physical, social, economic. Adjectives for all. Adjectives that unlock some doors, double-bolt others.

This all sounds really ungrateful. Would it kill me to listen to some lady at the MAX stop talk about her niece while her dog sniffs my shoe – is that my re-payment for having a child who wasn’t whisked away at birth? This might sound selfish and entitled but being grateful that my daughter lives her life in full view of society feels a little like being grateful I was never sold as a child bride. Um, sure, but in Portland, Oregon, kind of removed.

Undoubtedly someday, too soon, I will miss people talking to us. Stopping me to tell me how adorable my daughter it. We hear it all the time. The person at Powell’s has no idea we just heard this in World Cup and before that in the Rose Room and before that on the streetcar.

What a luxury to complain about someone complimenting your child. First world problem? First and a half? And it will seem either a paradox or disingenuous when I say that I appreciate every comment. I know that doesn’t make sense. Parents of other kinds of children assuredly hear familiar comments that fit their child’s “category”–twins for example. Parents in general hear many of the same comments over and over. “Got your hands full,” is a popular one.

Given that children with disabilities were until embarrassingly recently hidden away, blotted from existence, being noticed in public perhaps has a special resonance. And I don’t blame the public. The public hasn’t had much practice. And the fact that so many people aren’t sure what to say and reach out anyway carries special weight.

So while this will seem hypocritical, I thank people from the bottom of my heart for trying to connect with us. Maybe they’re trying to make up for the past. Maybe they are acknowledging the recent injustice. Maybe they see the little social triumph that is my daughter, in her pink flowered flip-flops stirring her hot chocolate to cool it down. And if they want to offer a little thumbs up? What crank could have a problem with that?

Not to mention, my daughter, is pretty adorable. But she’s six. Heading toward seven. One day 10 and 11, the awkward years. She’s going to be an adult. People can’t call her adorable when she’s forty. She’s going to need to be noticed for her other characteristics. She is also kind, thoughtful, silly as a snail sandwich, and as I tell her multiple times a day, a hard worker, which is the understatement of all time.

Celebrities. And Down syndrome. It’s good to have a fallback, after the looks fade. One day the smiles will dry up, the comments, the conversations, the adorables. Just like they say you’ll eventually miss every aspect of parenting you currently struggle with, I will hate myself for complaining, for not realizing it could be so much worse.

What if my daughter grows up and no one notices her? What if someone gives her a hard time, makes a rude comment, and no one looks, no one sees. And I’m nowhere. No one who loves her is anywhere. And the smilers? Well, lady, you told us not to. You told us to leave her alone and let her live. We’re just treating her like we treat everyone else. We’re busy and we’re tired and we don’t have time to notice anyone. So welcome to the club.

Celebrities. And Down syndrome. It’s a tough game. You catch us in isolated moments. Sweet moments. Awkward moments. Unglamorous moments. Maybe you think the moment stands in for the whole story. But even we don’t know the whole story. We are stumbling, struggling, piecing it together, while the opinions, the trolls, come quick and furious, darts at a dartboard.

Celebrities. And Down syndrome. Images in the public’s eye. Skin deep. One-dimensional.

Take a look.

A deeper look.

My Personal Confidence is Leaking

I think it’s safe to say I’ve never scared: anyone.

Five foot five. Birkenstocks with socks. My wrists have the circumference of an Oreo cookie.

Not scary.

Or am I?

It’s a quiet moment in the restroom of a charming professional building in Portland, Oregon. Flowered wallpaper and cozy, golden sconces.

Then I turn my head. The alarm sounds.

PLEASE DISPOSE OF FEMININE PRODUCTS IN THE RECEPTACLE PROVIDED!!!!!(The bold, all caps, and garden trail of exclamation points are not mine.)

I’ve seen these signs all my life. Haven’t you? I see them so much I don’t see them. They blend into the woodwork.

And if you haven’t seen one of these signs, they’re not talking about “feminine” products like tiaras and toenail polish. They don’t mean glitter.

This is what those signs mean. They mean blood comes out of your body and, unless you’ve been shot, that is disgusting. Any items you use to deal with this blood are disgusting. Before you use them, they are embarrassing. After you use them, they’re embarrassing and disgusting.

No one wants women to be disgusting. Not when we need them to be soft and pretty and ready to be a helpmate. Blood ruins the illusion. Blood makes women people.

Please! Our pipes are old. Nothing down the toilet but toilet paper!!!

Landlords, maintenance staff, wastewater treatment facilities – I wish you no harm. That’s why I also don’t flush facial tissues, baby wipes, cotton swabs, diapers, phones, or puppies, which have also been found in community wastewater.

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I’m curious about the “only”. If you put a paper towel in there does the can explode?

I would guess that the number of exclamation points in the sign correlates to how many plumbing backups have been experienced at a given property. Water seeping into the cracks in the linoleum. Cupboards rotted. Floors ripped out. I could really screw this up for someone. Some landlord, building manager, superintendent. Flooded. Broken. A city block brought to its knees.

Again, I wish no one any harm.

It’s just that, to be feared. It’s so new. Women spend so much time being scared. Mostly we’re trying not to get raped. It’s a fear we accept. Girl Power, Title IX, college, Sheryl Sandberg, and…all the while…don’t get raped! Like a lifelong simultaneous hobby.

It’s not like bloody tampons turn the tables, but just for a second I have to hmmmm and raise an eyebrow: Ladies…what have we here?

All those tampons we stash away. Hiding. No one taught you exactly, but we know to hide them. Even clean unwrapped ones. Just their existence is embarrassing. No one wants one to fall out of their hobo bag in a crowded Starbucks. You don’t tuck one behind your ear like a cigarette. (Even though smoking actually is disgusting.)

And it’s funny because the culture splashes women’s bodies everywhere. You’d think we loved women’s bodies. Especially boobs. Boobs in shirts. Boobs in shirts sell hamburgers, pickup trucks, gum. The only thing you can’t do with a boob is feed a person. That’s disgusting.

Women’s bodies. Hot. Sex. Mine.

Bodies doing what they do. Disgusting. Alone. Yours.

The woman on the cover of Sports Illustrated this year pulling her swimsuit bottoms down so far you can see her pubic bones. Does anyone wonder if this person on the cover of the sports magazine plays a sport? Does anyone wonder if the woman in the swimsuit, I don’t know, swims?

What if I told you she was menstruating? What if under that bikini suit she was wearing a bloody tampon. That as you ogle, she is shedding unused uterine lining!!! Would you keep the picture around? Or would you put her away? Until she can be good and sexy again.

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There were teenage boys in the aisle when I took this picture. I was so embarrassed. Luckily, I didn’t exist.

When I started my first office job after college, I learned how to conceal tampons as I walked from my cubicle to the restroom. I tried to make sure I wore pants with pockets when I was menstruating. But when I forgot I would slip the tampon up the sleeve of my suit jacket and sort of hold it against the inside cuff. Just one finger tucked up so that it didn’t look like I was clenching my fist. All the while I strode down the hallway hoping my boss didn’t stop me to chat about the new marketing initiative.

I don’t want to hurt anyone. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s property. But maybe just one teeny time, just for practice, we could stand tall in restrooms across the city, and make people pay attention. Listen up city, I got at a network of weary, slightly anemic menstruating sisters. We’ve all got a jumbo box of Supers from Costco. We can stand here all day and twenty-eight after that.

And not to be a snot, but what do you have, monsieur? A little sign you printed on your printer and hung up with Scotch tape? You got “please” and seventeen exclamation points?

Here’s a secret. You don’t need to make signs.

The women who disobey your sign aren’t going to obey just because you added seven exclamation points instead of three.

And the women who wouldn’t flush a tampon down your creaky rusty stupid pipes because that would cause trouble and trouble isn’t nice —those women will wrap a used tampon in ten yards of toilet paper to try to un-disgust it before contorting themselves to reach the tiny feminine garbage can six feet away from where they sit with their pants down around their ankles.

And I would just like to suggest here in what I’m sure shows only my bitterness and lack of maturity but NO MAN WOULD DO THIS. A friend said, you know how they have those new toilets – flush up for pee and down for poop. She said a man would have another button for flush sideways for tampons. Flush diagonal for maxi pads.

You know what else clogs toilets? Giant poops. Does the men’s room have signs:

PLEASE GENTLEMEN DO NOT FLUSH YOUR OVER-SIZED POOPS!!!!!

Like the airlines with the carry-on luggage. “If your bowel movement cannot fit in this box, please see an agent.”

And I’m not trying to get all over this but men are disgusting. They blow snot out their nose and it lands on the sidewalk. They hack up huge globs and hurk them out the car window. In front of other people. They leave the seat up and don’t even notice what is on the seat – grime and curly hairs and coagulated pee.

The man staring into his laptop, right next to me in the coffee shop, just sneezed a juice bomb into his bare hands and wiped it on his pant leg. In full view. Smiling before, smiling after.

His personal confidence.

I would flush for it.

My Husband’s New Wife

My husband’s new wife is a peach. I really like her. My husband is the happiest he’s ever been.

She’s the kind of woman I always thought I’d be.

She and my husband have so much in common. If they don’t have it in common, she gets it in common. If he describes the cool way the circuit-amp-breaker-plugs were wired in our new living room she says Wow that’s fascinating and doesn’t excuse herself to watch Downton Abbey.

My husband’s new wife likes war movies. She thinks chick flicks are lame. She doesn’t watch a romance and then sigh and glare at her husband and think not once have you stood in my yard with a boombox over your head blaring an 80s love song.

Even if she did like chick flicks she wouldn’t get annoyed by the term chick flicks and say then why we don’t call war movies dick flicks and my husband wouldn’t have to sigh and think Lord not this again.

My husband’s new wife thinks bacon is a food group. She does not order pizza with zucchini on it. She doesn’t know any recipes for garbanzos.

She never gets PMS. She’s never happy and sad at the same time and all weeping into the salad spinner, not knowing why she’s crying except that love is huge and pain is huge and when it all gets too big it doesn’t fit in her heart and has to come leaking out as tears.

My husband’s new wife owns makeup. And she wears it. She can shade and contour and conceal.

When she’s back from a run she changes out of the sweaty running clothes.

My husband’s new wife says thank you when he unloads the dishwasher,

thank you when he folds laundry,

thank you when he replaces the bar of soap which never happens.

She doesn’t care if he doesn’t change the toilet paper. She just changes it!

If he leaves a wet towel on the bed she just picks it up! Or lets it sit there and grow mushrooms! They eat them for dinner! Wrapped in bacon!

My husband’s new wife thinks, he does so much. He’s a good dad. He is give give give. Why bug him about stupid stuff?

Before she married my husband she dated some real losers. She remembers walking through the city alone, boot-steps on concrete. She will never forget the miracle of waking up to see this incredible person next to her. By what miracle is he here? Sharing life with her. Step by blessed step.

You don’t find this every day.

My husband’s new wife fills his car when it’s on empty. Week after week. She doesn’t say do you ever fill this thing??

She doesn’t say ever. She doesn’t say you always, you never.

When his alarm goes off at 5:00…5:07…5:14…she doesn’t knee him in the back.

She doesn’t save him the last chocolate chip cookie and then resent him for actually eating it.

She isn’t kind and generous and then needing neon signs to point out how kind and generous she is. She’s not writing the invisible book of her loveliness.

When my husband decides he’s going Paleo two days before Thanksgiving his new wife doesn’t think, oh my fucking hell. She orders a cookbook. She makes a pecan pie out of cauliflower.

My husband’s new wife doesn’t talk to him when he’s on his phone. She doesn’t frown and convey her silent judgement that he’s wasting time with this tiny screen that he could be spending talking to her.

When his new wife wants to talk, she waits until he’s ready. She can wait forever.

She’s not younger but she seems younger. She has endless energy. She thrives on tasks. She organizes coat drives. She shapes policy. She has a career she never quit, thinking it was more important to make homemade diapers out of organic cotton that she grew in her backyard. She didn’t stumble out of the preschool years, squinting into the light going, where the hell am I?

She is supremely confident and there’s nothing sexier. Your husband’s old wife would feel confident but then worried that her confidence made her arrogant. She lopped herself. She gave when she had nothing to give. She accepted emptiness.

My husband and his new wife entertain every weekend, drink apple martinis by the fire pit. She invites his college buddies, high school buddies, she doesn’t grumble and say how did she get in charge of his friends what is she his mother?

He stops working on weekends. He stops because she calmly and clearly and showing gratitude for his contributions to the household explains that this is not working for her. She asks for what she needs. And because she can do this, he hears her.

My husband’s new wife plans romantic trips to Colorado or maybe Zurich. It is assumed that time together is more important than elite swim camps for the kids.

My husband’s new wife loves our children, to pieces, but she does not let them dictate their lives. They sleep in their own beds. Their needs are not more important than hers. Or their needs as a couple. How could there be anything more important, she says, than the well-being of the people responsible for the children’s well-being?

It makes so much sense when she says it.

My husband’s new wife feeds on chaos. It fuels her. She likes when two kids and a husband talk to her all at the same time while the phone’s ringing and the timer’s going off and possibly in the oven is a small fire. Her hair doesn’t pop out on end like she’s been electrocuted.

My husband’s new wife is everything he wanted, all he dreamed of. Everything his mother wanted for him, when she gazed at him in his crib, wondering who was out there for her beautiful baby boy. My husband is happier than he’s ever been. He wonders why sometimes it seemed so hard.

Not any more, dear husband. Your new wife is coming.

2015.

It’s still a new year. It’s still possible.

I am your old wife.

And your new wife.

I’m really going to like her.

I’m going to like them both.

5 Things I (Still) Don’t Get About Facebook

For some people, Facebook is an escape. For me, it’s heading right into the rats-den.

Do I “Like” enough?
Can you Like too much? Do other Facebook people shake their heads and say, “Geez she Likes a lot.” If you like too many things do people think you’re easy? “Oh that Like doesn’t mean anything, she’ll Like anything.”

Why do some people never Like me? Ever? Not even once?
Am I not interesting? Do I not select visually appealing photographs? I never did learn to use that Instagram thing. You can say a lot with sepia.

I’ve posted my kids, they’re super cute. They do cute things. If you’d read you’d see what a cute thing they said. What are you, made of stone?

I should get a cat.

Or are they not even reading it? Are people just scrolling past me, looking for their real friends? Looking for athletic-shoe freebies?

I should get my Mom on Facebook.

Did you accept my friend request only to dump me in some “Group” abyss of people you never have to think about again?
Every now and then I think, huh, I swore so-and-so and I were friends but come to think of it I have never actually seen a single post. Maybe they are really super busy. Maybe they are “on” Facebook but “never go on it.” Or maybe they relegated me to a group. A group called “Flotsam” or “Miscellaneous Past Acquiantances” or “untitled” because it’s not even worth your time to give all us social lint-bunnies a name.

How soon until we become intimate?
We had ninth grade English together. Teamed up for a project on The Merchant of Venice. It was a really fun English class. We did real good on Shakespeare. Pound of flesh and all that. Super good.

I haven’t seen or talked to you in 29 years. Except for the A on our team project and a vague remembrance of your red and white Norsport sneakers, I don’t know anything about you. Twenty-nine years later, the first post I see of yours is that after years of infertility, you are pregnant with twins. A boy and a girl. That’s fabulous.

Do I jump out of the past with a giant banner shrieking “Congratulations!” It seems kinda personal. Like I haven’t earned that kind of closeness. When we met I didn’t even have my period. And now we’re all up in your uterus. I signed your yearbook with bubble letters. Are we frozen in time? Today we are not in each other’s lives. The only reason we are now connected is because of an experience from the past. If we leave the past, do we actually have anything? Should I comment on your post with a cascade of rainbow hearts? Is there an emoticon for Olivia Newton-John? I want this to work.

When do I Like and when do I Comment?
Did I mention I’m an introvert? Likes are better for introverts. And lazy people. Are some people just Likers and some Commenters? Dogs/cats? Boxers/briefs? Liking seems a lot easier. Like microwaving water for tea instead of waiting for the boring old kettle.

Elan Morgan (www.schmutzie.com) has a great article about how she stopped Liking for two weeks and made herself write out comments. She felt more connected, which is what this is supposed to be all about. Right? Right?!!

But to Comment, I have to think of something. I have to spell, construct parts of language. And what if I comment and someone already made that comment which is fine if it’s a no-brainer like “Happy birthday” or “Have a great time at OysterFest!” but not if it’s something more complicated like “I never knew you could drive and take movies at the same time! Eeks!” But maybe the Eeks sounds like I’m reprimanding. Maybe the whole thing sounds judgmental. I should read the other comments first. This is taking too long. Never mind, just Like it.

There is a strong suggestion from Wise People that says throw it all out there, fly your flag, open your heart… it all sounds good except: I don’t want to look stupid. I don’t want to expend more of my personal stock of warmth and caring than is ABSOLUTELY WARRANTED. This feels important.

We’re friends. Really. We are.
I sent you a friend request – thinking of that chunk of time we shared, the talks, the thoughts. You accepted my friend request. So I’m all thinking, oh you remember too.

I run into you at a wedding. It’s been years. Last time I saw you we were both young. We hug. We are glad to see each other. You wrinkle your eyebrows, “I think maybe we’re friends on Facebook or something?” The “or something” is a dagger. I feel like the over-eager little sister. “Yeah,” I say. Here I’ve been Liking, maybe even going to Facebook Second Base by leaving a Comment. Here I thought we were at least remotely connected, when actually, in Facebook world, the only world we now share, you don’t know I’m alive.

The next time I see one of her posts, I see that she has 996 friends. We are not actually friends. We are people together in the mall during a super awesome shoe sale.

How do I keep from being the 1st to Like something?
I’ve come across a post that was great, enlightening, a cool photo that reaches across boundaries to unite and inspire. And my impulse has been, “Amazing!” I get my pointer finger ready, ready to tap that Like button with enthusiasm.

Then I realize. No one has Liked it yet. And I’m not actually that close to this person. We worked together ten years ago. In different departments no less. Hmmm. When was this posted? Seven minutes ago. I could Like and hope others Like after me. SOON after. I don’t want to be the one Liker dangling out there. That would seem way too intimate. That would seem like me and the Poster were closer than we are. It would be like we were a two-some, a team, maybe even dating.

If the post has been there for hours and NO ONE has Liked or Commented, I’m sorry, I’m not touching it. You’ll have to hang out here, in your brilliance, alone.

Maybe by your next post, I will have become a stronger person.

A lot of people would like that.