in memoriam

I’ve struggled with what to say. I mean, there are so many things that can and can’t be said and just in the relatively short time since his death I think they’ve all been said multiple times.

 

I was not what you’d call a rabid fan of Robin Williams, as I’ve said before I can’t really say that I’ve ever really called myself a “fan” of anyone that often. I mean – I’m admitting something here – I know in my life span I have watched both Good Will Hunting and Dead Poets’ Society, but I apparently watched them too young because for the life of me I remember nothing much about either of them.

But oh, how I admired what he could do. To transform himself into this gleeful entity and also be able to portray deep – sometimes even dark and flawed – emotion. He was such a phenomena, such a bundle of possibility. It was like this special privilege that everyone shared – to be able to be surprised and entertained by this man that looked so ordinary and held so much unseen.

He made us laugh. I owe so much laughter to Robin Williams – laughter and sudden whop-you-in-the-gut elation were my favorite things that he was so good at providing. The first crow, the final Genie dance, the red clown nose.

It would be impossible to talk about this terrible loss without acknowledging the role that depression apparently played, so I will.

I am no stranger to depression. I don’t think any of us are, really. There have been days that I couldn’t see the point in being around, that it seemed things would be better altogether if I weren’t in the way. Days when it felt like ever having been happy was just a dream of a feeling.

Maybe that’s what he felt. Maybe there was more truth to Gabriel Noone than to Mrs. Doubtfire.

Even with all of this, I think what we’re supposed to remember is the joy. The belly laughs and the emotions conveyed. The bizarre and zany and even the strange and sinister. Whatever news comes to light about his death and the circumstances thereof, his state of mind and the secret self he apparently hid from a world who would want to help him – I think he deserves for us to remember the happiness.

I think that, especially now, if he could look back, Mr. Williams would say something a lot like what Chris Nielsen has already said.

“…I realized I’m part of the problem. Not because I remind you, but because I couldn’t join you. So I left you alone. Don’t give up, okay?”

The things I’ve read

I’ve always been a reader. Books, words, writing have all been a part of my DNA for as long as I’ve been aware.

Third grade, I remember I pilfered some book my sister (at that point a freshman in high school) was reading. It was about anorexia and I remember I told my Sunday School class about it at prayer request time.

There was also some book called Don’t Hurt Laurie that I read and Laurie had to put up with some shit. She had an abusive mother and a clueless stepdad.

RL Stine scared the piss out of me in sixth grade. I never got any of those books at the bookslibrary or anything like that – I’m unsure why. Probably I was too scared. The one or two that I did read I think came from friends or something similar. I know my mom never would have allowed me to buy them.

There always seemed to be so much to read when I was younger. So much that I would love and get lost in. Like the TV Kid, I think it was – he gets bitten by a rattlesnake under a house and makes a tourniquet. There were other things that happened in that book but I have no clue what they are.

Now? Not so much.

I mean sure, there are classics that I haven’t read and they will perpetually be on some mental list that I gradually check off.

But there is a fundamental thrill of losing myself in a story that I have apparently lost. Once I could devour a story, live in the universe and befriend every character numerous times.

I don’t have that anymore.

Any suggestions? I am currently plowing through the Song of Ice and Fire series as it is now – just so that I can say I did it.

Notes on a Socially Awkward Existence

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I’ve never been what anyone would refer to as a social butterfly. There is a slim section of the population I can stomach being around for any length of time, and the rest of the world of people who breathe are simply not my wavelength.

I’m sure there are people I would like, if I put forth the effort. I’m sure I judge interaction too quickly and give up too easily.

But people – creating a rapport, being approachable and interested, making conversation and thinking of things to say…

Just typing about it makes me tired and anxious.

I grew up among people, though. This should go against everything my pew-studded history embedded within me. Right? I mean, there were times, children. Times when I loved being among people and I was loud and jolly and obnoxious. There are still those times, yet I couldn’t name the last one. These days I’d much prefer staying home binge watching Breaking Bad (again) or reading comics with the lights off.

Is that so wrong? Am I so different? If you prick me, do I not bleed?

I can’t be the only one.

For example, the text message.

People, if you text me and I don’t respond it means I have nothing to say. Or that I don’t have time to respond. Or that I don’t feel like settling into a ten minute back and forth of “no way, why?” “Where are you now?” “I think those shoes would match.”

AND ALL THE OTHER BULLSHIT.

I love people. People fascinate me. I love text messaging. It jives splendidly with my random stream of consciousness existence. I do NOT love feeling obligated to check in or small talk when I really don’t have reason to. Chances are if I haven’t responded quickly enough to your text and subsequently received a “?” text from you – unless you are my husband or mom or otherwise important family, then well… I may not ever text you again.

It’s just a fact.

Embarking

I could give you reasons I've been gone so long.

 

Except that would be stupid.

 

Cheesy as it sounds, one of my resolutions in the New Year is to reestablish myself on this blog. To do that, however, I have to convince myself I have things to say.

I do, of course I do. I think. I also have to learn to ignore “Hey Mom. Hey Mom. Mom. Hey Mom.”

Anyway, a new year. 2014.

I can't even believe that's real. I'm looking forward to the things the new year can bring, all the promise and fresh starts. I'm sure I'll be over it soon, but for now it's fun to be so full of promise.

 

Who thought up New Year's Resolutions? What sick sadist (is it sadist? Masochist? Whichever of the whips and chains likes to dole out the pain) thought it up? And why do we do it?

I accomplished some stuff in 2013. I started a new job. I gained some weight which is not so much an accomplishment as just a fact. I started watching Doctor Who and Sherlock. I finished another semester of school and now there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I love you. I promise not to suck so much this year.

 

 

Random things I contemplated putting in this post but didn't:

The Simpsons is the best show in the history of animation.

Wine is unbelievable.

I've started getting zits. Like hardcore acne. What the fuck?

I got the Depo Provera shot in August (I think) and please for the love of all that is holy please never do that to yourself.

Josh now has a whole building for the podcast. He's well on his way to being very hotshot and official.

See you soon.

 

How Neil Gaiman marked me forever

I have not, as a rule, been a huge fan of any author since I sent a letter to Beverly Cleary in 1989 and got a reply.

 

I mean, there’s Stephen King, who I love and read and saw his house in Maine but if I ever met him in person I might cry and run away because Pennywise, but seriously I’m not what you would call a fan/devotee of any one author.

 

This brings me to Neil Gaiman.

I paid attention to Neil Gaiman because I have long been a twitter devotee of his wife (I remember when they got married – I saw the announcement tweet, even), and I figured anyone who recognized the awesome in her was my kind of cool.

I’d read The Graveyard Book, it was a book club selection when I was pregnant with Lucy and for some reason it had always stuck in my head, but I never really gave two thoughts to the brains behind the story.

Then we watched Coraline. And I fell in love with the very idea that someone could think this way. I admired it, I envied it. I ached with lack.

Then I read the book Neverwhere and didn’t understand the notion that I had gone my whole life and not known….well, this. It was kindred and it was home.

So when we found out that Neil Gaiman was coming to Nashville…well, there was no question. We had to go.

The problem was, however, that we found out about the appearance far too late in the game to have any hope of finding tickets. I mean, this was a huge deal. He signs for everyone who wants him to, and this was the last tour of that. Not to mention I’d never been to a book tour. I’d never heard an author read.

I stalked Craigslist. I trolled eBay. I begged on Twitter.

The day of the event rolled around and I had no tickets. I’d given up refreshing the venue’s ticket queue.

Until about noon that day. For some reason – I still don’t know why – I checked the ticket site. The quantities were listed as…

Very Limited

AND I JUMPED ON THAT SHIT.

Suddenly, we had tickets. We were going!

I had no idea what to expect. No idea of the number of people or the venue or anything at all.

We were going to be there, and that was enough.

Hours later, we arrived in Nashville and…guys. So many people were there to see Neil Gaiman. It was a little bit crazy. The perfect kind of crazy.

We waited in line, then we found some seats. All the things people do.

Then, once Neil appeared, he pointed out our section of the seating and said “Hey those people can’t see me, why don’t you move?”

We moved.

Onto a front row.

There were intros, then there was the man of the night. Bizarre, really. A person whose name is on a metric shit ton of books, but he was talking to us in that insane British accent like we were best friends and that took me right back to 2007 Episcopalian Emily because Hey-I-worked-for-a-Brit-and-I-speak-your-accent-andohbythewaydoyouknowTim?

The actual speaking/performance to me is a bit of a blur, because I was in such awe of all the people. These were amazing people. Friendly and weird and the kind of people that would give you a ride in the rain. A front row right in the center that I’m pretty certain was packed full of Amanda Palmer fans.

Then there was the thunder. The storm outside and the blanket of stifling auditorium heat that transformed this huge building full of strangers into a group taking refuge from the weather to listen to a story.

As the talk was winding down, Neil mentioned musicians. Being in Nashville and how if he could have dinner with anyone there who would it be.

*Spoiler* the answer was Bela Fleck, but for one instant I was convinced that Amanda Palmer was about to pop out of the curtains. Once I was proven wrong I sent the following tweet:

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To which, in a few moments, she responded:

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And after I died, I stood in line. Clutching my copy of his new book and hoping I wouldn’t get brushed off in the well-oiled machine that was the signing line.
We arrived at the table, and in a burst of bravery that is all but extinct from me in times of great pressure, I simply showed him my phone.
“Of course,” he said.
And in one move, the little lady with the bookstore shirt stepped aside, Neil turned, and…

 

You guys.
He hugged me like he missed his wife. I wanted her to be there just so he could hug her that much, because I had nothing to do with it.

 

Later we went home and went about our lives.

I received, in my email, a very special quote from the first book of Neil Gaiman’s that I ever read and loved..in his handwriting.

And then I decided to keep it forever, because I am, apparently…finally a fan of someone.

 

 

Only a month late

I’m sorry, Max.

Your birthday was over a month ago and I’m just now mentioning it on this chronicle of my thoughts.

Which is not to say that I didn’t think of it. Quite the contrary.

For eleven years, I’ve thought of you every day. It’s inescapable, really.

My firstborn. My son. It’s all very poetic.

Except lately it’s been quite obvious that you’re growing up – turning into a teenager, exerting your own brand of independence, testing waters and boundaries.

All in all, you’ve been kind of an asshole.

I know, it’s your birthday post and I shouldn’t say that – but let me expound. You are your own person. You are so like both of your parents that we are often blown away, but at the same time you’re so foreign and strange to us that we wonder what we’re doing wrong.

But then we realize that without a safe place to be an asshole, things could get kind of bad for you. For anyone, really.

Because that’s what family is. What home is. A place to let go and be awful and be unbearable and to know without a doubt that everyone there will let you be you. And love you no matter.

We do, so much.

You’ve grown so much in the past year. Your sisters adore you, even though they won’t admit it.

Your dad…you’re just like him.
Josh…I don’t know what he’d do without you to infuriate.

And me? You drive me crazy. Crazier than I already am. And I am, at the same time, simply amazed by you.

Amazed that I had any part in producing you.
Amazed that I get to know you.
Amazed that I get to see where this goes.

I love you. You are a stressful, grating, mindbendingly wonderful person. I wouldn’t change a thing.

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Being legitimate

Someone had to know I would broach this. It was inevitable.

 

In an interview aired this past Sunday, Todd Akin, a Republican candidate for Senate in the great state of Missouri, made this statement when asked about his feelings on abortions resulting from rape circumstances.

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

He really said that. Really and truly.

 

Now, let me start by saying, as a woman – he has no right to an opinion. Really. I don’t get all up in his scrote and he’s never carried a baby, so we should just agree to keep our politics out of each others’ crotches.

And secondly, as a rape victim – fuck you, Mr. Akin.

Legitimate rape?

What are the other kinds? Illegitimate? Imagined? Maybe she didn’t say no loudly enough? Maybe she was “asking” for it?

I realize that people are falsely accused of rape. I know that happens, and it is a sad thing to know that someone would abuse such a delicate area for whatever reason.

But the majority of rapes (60-68%, according to a quick Googling) go unreported, and do you know why? Because of douchebags like Todd Akin. Because the first thing asked of anyone claiming rape is not, “What can I do?” not “How can I help?” it’s…..”Well, what happened?”

Because its not enough to be taken advantage of. It’s not enough to be violated. It’s not enough to matter so little that you don’t even get a choice in what happens to you.

You have to justify. You have to prove what you’ve claimed. It’s no wonder that women and men in staggering amounts just choose to opt out. Why prolong things and expose yourself to embarrassment…criticism…shame?

It happened to me. And just because it wasn’t a stranger in a dark alley doesn’t mean it wasn’t real. It doesn’t mean I deserved it. It doesn’t mean I hurt any less. It doesn’t make it any less legitimate.

 

So while Mr. Akin sits in Missouri with whatever opinions he wants to have about situations he will never face, I will try with all my might to let everyone know that things like this are not okay. It’s not okay to trivialize someone else’s hurt. It’s not okay to make blanket statements when you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.

Help a little more, talk a little less. I think that’d do some good for everybody.

 

Taking stock

I generally think of myself as an open, honest person. I have worked for many years to be a very what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of gal.

And I think I’ve done well.

It does present a problem, though. Trying to live as an open book among the normals.

Because really? No one does that. There is always something underneath or to the side. Where I just let the freak flag fly and try not to worry about it, the rest of the world tries to pretend to have their shit together.

I’m not fooled.

But I do wonder if it’s even healthy to be so open. I mean, do I have to hide faults to make someone want to like me? Do I have to pretend to be something I’m not? Because I’ll be honest – I’m not gonna. Takes too much effort. And the result is that I’m pretty much on my own, but I’m content with that. I have people to love.

Being me is something I’ve become okay with being.

Since when does growing up mean missing out?

Always, right? It’s always been the case that being an adult means being responsible and not always doing what you want just because you want to do it.

Deep down I know this to be true.

I suppose.

But this weekend is BlogHer12 (in NEW YORK CITY), and I’ll just be honest – I am aching.

Aching not in the “oh, poor me” sense…though maybe a little bit…but mostly aching because I KNOW there are things (and people) there that I desperately need in my life.

Some people are gamers. They create networks of love and friendship through the common love of a specific goal – a set of rules, a way of doing things. Some people make these connections through church and belief systems. Still others find fulfillment and friendship through causes and uproar.

Me? I’m a blogger.

I’m not the best at being a blogger – I slack on commenting and I tend to gravitate my like of anyone towards how they interact on Twitter – but I give it all I have. I spill out my secrets and I tell you about my days.

For no reason, really. No reason other than the hope that somewhere, someone will see me and relate. Know they are not alone.

For me, the BlogHer conference is just that – a meeting of people like me when people like me are so hard to find. People who know what I mean when I say “I have a blog” and they know and understand all that is entailed.

They accept me even though all they’ve ever been confronted with is the REAL me. The me on these pages. Seriously – that in and of itself is enough to make me want to cry.

So while I can’t go this year, one day I will. And it will be just as lovely and right as I envision.

One Day.