I hear my voice and its been here silent all these years. I’ve been here, silent all these years. - Tori Amos
It’s been a year since I took my writing out of its virtual closet and started a blog. Sometimes, it feels like 15. Strange that the traditional gifts for a first anniversary are clocks and watches, especially since I consider time to be my biggest enemy.
In reality, it’s been a short ride, but it feels much longer for the bumpy side trips.
I started off this project writing about Anna Nicole Smith & Howard K. Stern. I still scratch my head over my involvement in that whole mess, not only because the subject matter would normally be a turn-off for me, but because — good God — so many of the people that were interested in that subject were just beyond strange.
One accused me of exerting mind-control over her by my “hypnotic” way of writing and threatened to call the FBI on me. That was just the tip of a slushy iceberg from which everything from threats of lawsuits to investigations into my personal life fell.
I no sooner deleted all those stories — hoping the “fans” would move on — when I received a letter from one of the sane among them, asking if I would write about her sister’s murder. I was then drawn into a tragic and brutal story, made all the worse for the lack of interest, care, and closure.
I threw 110% of myself into the victim’s life story, only to become public enemy #1 of the small-town sheriffs in charge of the lackluster investigation, who seemed to do their damnedest to not catch a criminal. Not only didn’t they show an up-to-date picture of the victim to the public, they didn’t show pictures of the people of interest, or use pictures and timelines to engage the public’s help, or find possible eyewitnesses. The lack of urgency and thoroughness was outrageous, especially considering the brutality of the murder.
Yet, not only did the small-town sheriffs reject any criticism, they demanded the sister end her association with me. And she did — with a swift kick, and a letter that sounded nothing like the person whom I’d gotten to know for two months. Later, the grapevine news was about more lawsuits — even a possible arrest for “witness tampering” since I interviewed one of the persons of interest.
Seriously, at this point I considered just giving up. With a few bright exceptions, the people I was meeting through this site were not the kind of people I’d want to have contact with in “real life”. They were people who enjoyed high-drama, personal attacks, threats, and other dark internet arts, including “outing” whatever personal information they could find on their make-believe enemies.
Oh joy. (Not so much).
It was a relief to write about other subjects close to my heart, and I appreciated the few rational people who stuck around for that. I didn’t care that there were fewer people here — I liked it. It felt freeing to be released, finally, from the desperate, drama-driven clutches of the last of the Anna Nicole Smith crowd.
And then came Rosie. It was like a breath of fresh air and twelve rays of sun came swooping into my tiny blog when I wrote an article on Rosie O’Donnell. Like I said in the piece, I can’t lay any claim to being a huge fan of her television show since I rarely watch TV, but I had seen her, listened to her, read her work, and found a sort of kinship there, whether by generation, passion, or personal convictions.
I connected to her mostly through her writing, which some people find hard to read because of it’s stream-of-consciousness form, but that’s how I begin when I write something only for the love of writing. My heart connects more naturally to free-form verse than proper sentences when I’m trying to connect the dots between thoughts and emotions. I only “clean up” the form later, if it’s something I decide to share.
I think Rosie’s blog and her books contribute something to the world that her television appearances cannot, meaning there’s a depth to the words and messages that she controls the content of — and that isn’t dependent on ratings. I’m a writer, so maybe that’s my natural bent, but I can’t help but think that the world needs more truth-outings than pure entertainment. Not that entertainment isn’t valuable — even philosophers need to laugh and dance and feel something outside their realm — it’s just that the past decade has really cast long and dark shadows over the natural light of human truth.
Anyway, I have to say I liked Rosie’s fans way more than most of those who gathered for the ANS/HKS story. Out of more than 10,000 visits, I didn’t get one letter that threatened to sue me, call the FBI on me, stalk me, or that accused me of subliminal mind interference. It was a weird five minutes being inundated with all of Rosie’s “stranger-friends”, but beautiful. (By the way, Happy 46th Birthday, Rosie!)
I did get more threats from the ANS/HKS crowd, though. They were going to write Rosie, and tell her how crazy, terrible, and rotten I was. They even dug up an ex’s name from 27 years ago, vowing to get the “real scoop” on Jane Devin.
There is no big scoop. I breathe, I write, I deliver mail. I spend as much time as I can with the people I love, because life really is short. I carry on, and put one foot in front of the other until I’m past the obstacles. When the obstacles won’t go away, I strap them on my back and carry them like the elephant girl I am. I like to sing in the shower, I talk to my dog as if she’s human, and I can spend hours staring out of a window and daydreaming. I have a literary crush on John Irving and a real one on KR, who works at a bookstore and hardly knows I exist. I buy way more books than I should, and I always feel awkward and pretty much like an idiot when I do.
I am essentially a kind, (over)sensitive, and decent person, but I tend to be a hermit. People, like those who threaten others on the internet, can be nutty in a bad way. I prefer the good kind of nutty, like I find among my creative friends, who can even turn a strange visit to the doctor’s office into something funny. Unfortunately, because I am a hermit, who doesn’t like crowds, and who is rapidly developing into something of a peoplephobe — someone who is beginning to love the thought of humanity more than the reality — I don’t have near enough creative friends.
Maybe that’s a good thing. More time to write, right? Except that time is really working strangely now that I’m nine days away from my 46th birthday. Meaning it’s disappearing faster than Midwest farmland. I get home from work, and it’s 4:00. Barely a few seconds later, it’s midnight. My days off run on some crazy clock where every other hour seems to disappear.
There was a chapter in Valley of the Dolls where Neely said she just wanted to sleep for a year. I dream of the opposite. I would like to have a year where I don’t have to sleep at all. Where I can have an extra six hours a day without, of course, going insane.
I’d just like to have a year. To dream, to write, to think — without all the dull necessities of work and maintenance.
It seems somewhat cruel to me, our way of aging, and that most of us will have to wait until we’re late into our sixties before having such a year. I think we should be born old — small, frail, incontinent, and forgetful — and be loved and held and coddled because we are brand new to the world and were created in love. We should hit high school sometime in our sixties, where we’ll spend our weekends making out in cars and dancing. We’ll hit the job market after that, having our own kids in our fifties and enjoying family life until our thirties or so, after which we’ll retire with our sex drives at their peak, and all the energy, spunk, and ideals of youth. By the time we were close to the end, we’d be eight pound bundles of cuteness that everybody fights to hold and spoil, and then we’d just fade into zygotes, eventually returning to our vessels to start all over again.
That’s how it’d be if I created the world. The older we got, the more likely and able we’d be to ignore the passage of time — to jump on the swings and run wildly through life’s playground. We wouldn’t even learn how to tell time until the end was almost near, and as quickly as we learned, we’d promptly forget.
So, one year of blogging. And now an intense political interest that friends tell me I shouldn’t cater to, because literally thousand of others are writing about it, and there are better, more effective things I could be doing with my time. I’ve never been particularly good about following advice, but in this case they’re right. I am one of a million ants on Mt. Vesuvius. The eruptions will go on with or without me.
I don’t know what’s around the bend, either here on the blog, or with the novel I’m slowly writing in my spare minutes, but I have to say — I feel really weird when something I post (that isn’t advertised somewhere bigger) receives no comments, or only gets comments from my neighbor-friends. It’s not ego so much as wondering why. . .or wondering why I have a blog in the first place, since I can just as easily write to myself offline and spare my mind the little self-humiliation of seeing the dreaded “0 Comments”.
A blog is nothing without readers but an exercise in writing to one’s self. I do that all the time anyway, but online I’d rather have my efforts result in some sense of community and camaraderie. Without that, there’s no reason to blog — since the couch, a window, and a pad of paper will yield the same writing. . . .without the fret of wondering if “0 Comments” is a message in itself.
So here’s the deal I’ve made between myself and the silent others. If there aren’t ten comments (by ten people!) on this post by the time I log in tomorrow night, I’ll take the message of silence for what it is, and go back into the closet.