Those secrets have to go somewhere, don’t they?

When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.   

— Frank McCourt

lock3

“Why are you so secretive about everything?”

My husband asks me this question all the time.

He does it when someone asks  “So, what’s new?”

He does it when I answer, “Oh, nothing …. ”

He wonders why I lock it all up and throw away the combination. Why I write anonymously. Why everything is in code.

My husband doesn’t wear a wedding band. He wears a decoder ring. For me.

So, why am I so secretive?

Conditioning. Culture. I’m Irish?

I wasn’t always so reserved with information. But a few blurt -and-regret incidents shut me up.

You learn through conditioned responses what’s acceptable to share with family and what needs to stay in the vault.

The way my husband and I react to new experiences in our lives tells the tale of our vastly different childhoods.

This past Sunday we tried something new.

Later that evening I heard my husband on the phone. He was giving his long-distance family a recap of the day.

This is so different from the way I operate.

Here is all anyone needs to know to understand my family dynamic: I had a grandmother who died before I was born. She died young. End of story.

Not until I was filling out adoption paperwork and had to complete several physical exams did I pry a bit to learn that my grandmother had colon cancer. That she was in her 40s. That she had been continuously pregnant for all of her fertile years. I don’t know if one thing has anything to do with the others. I don’t know if she could sing. I don’t know her favorite perfume. I don’t ask.

My father, who was the first-born of the brood, was just old enough to order a Tom Collins when this happened. I understood this was tragic. Not that he could legally drink. But that his mother was dead. My grandfather had a household full of children who needed a mother. This was not the era of  Mr. Mom. Apparently you picked yourself up and moved on. You did not dwell.

Dad never spoke of his mother’s illness or her last days. I once thought the information was withheld because I was young. Later I learned no one knew anything because it was understood that you did not ask. You waited to be told. If nothing was told, you accepted that. They were not told.

This approach has carried on for decades. Things happen in the family. Maybe you hear about them. Most likely you do not. People have married into and divorced out of the family without comment or announcement. People have life-threatening medical conditions and don’t tell their closest relatives. They die, allowing their survivors to uncover their deep secrets, begging questions that never will be answered.

Recently I learned someone in the family had a Facebook account. I asked this person to be my friend on Facebook.

“No, I’m not friending any family. I don’t want you to read what I put on Facebook.”

I’m not surprised.

___________________

* I wrote this post in May 2009. It’s still true. I’m reposting it today as part of Edenland’s Saturday writing prompt, Fresh Horses Brigade, which asks, why do I blog?

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PrompTuesday: a childhood friend and a cheat

A post I’ve labored over for a week vanished. It’s not really Tuesday unless you’re living in the past, which I am not most of the time, but I am desperate to forget the lost post. So, I’m jumping on San Diego Momma’s bandwagon a day late AND with a repost. Her prompt:

Describe your closest childhood friend
–from June 2009


jumper

This was my wardrobe for six years

Like many of you, I found a childhood friend on Facebook.

We were best pals in grade school, where we both wore our itchy wool plaid uniforms, stiff white blouses and knee socks. The two of us, along with a few others, formed a “Batman” TV show fan club. This involved tying our jacket sleeves just-so around our necks to double as super-hero capes. We made some type of “utility belt” out of paper and tape and staples. We often fought about who got to play Batgirl.

I have other hazy memories of those days:

  • Pedaling my bike home as fast as I could to beat the buzzing, flickering street lights that awakened at dusk.
  • Marveling at how her big, happy family occupied a house the same size as our family-of-four’s home.
  • Wishing I could take her freckles, which she didn’t like. I thought freckles gave a face character and depth.
  • Planning out our whole lives and how we’d play a role in each other’s future.

Then my family moved after 6th grade.

My pal and I exchanged a few letters, called each other once in a while, then our fading friendship became lost in the fast-moving currents of life.

Earlier this year, as I was sifting through big boxes containing the relics of my life  I found a packet of letters held together with a rubber band. They were from my old pal. I wondered what had become of her.

A quick search on Facebook and a mutual “friending” put us back in touch. A while afterward we agreed to meet.

As I drove to the little coffee house, I flashed back to last fall when I volunteered at a local campaign office. Turns out one of the organizers was a classmate of mine in high school. Had he not pointed it out to me, I never would have recognized him. I never would have known what happened to that well-muscled jock I rode the bus with freshman and sophomore years.  While I casually flirted with him on those bumpy rides to and from school, I knew he was out of my league. Last fall, I saw the future of a teen girl’s fantasy. It features a cranky, balding fat man.

Meeting up with the past is always a tricky business. Exciting. Scary. As my friend waited for me to arrive, I’m sure she probably tossed around in her head some highlights of our friendship: How I was like a monkey on crack. A skinny, wide-eyed monkey on crack who logged a lot of time in the principal’s office.

Facebook does allow some idea of how a person looks today, where she works, and how she votes or what books she reads. So a meet-up shouldn’t be a total shock. But virtual connections are not the same as sit-down chats over steaming mugs of coffee.

I stepped into the coffee house a few minutes early, hoping to at least place myself in a flattering way, armed with a cup of something caffeinated. It turns out she was even earlier. She’d already ordered her coffee and was engrossed in a book when I spotted her in the far corner. She was the same freckle-faced girl now living inside a grown woman’s body. Same smile. Same laugh. Same good humor and good nature. Whatever life had tossed her way, she’d caught it, dealt with it, and kept on going.

We didn’t have too much trouble starting a conversation or keeping it going. We found that we shared similar views on a number of issues. Sure, our lives took very different paths, but not in ways so divergent that we couldn’t find common ground.

I wondered if we would have remained close friends if my family had not moved.

I wondered how different I would be today.

I wondered if she still liked Batman.

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What I haven’t done

Recently I conducted my first jump-start of a car using those confusing cables. Not that it was a successful attempt, but I’m patting myself on the back anyway for at least trying. Until now, I’ve always deferred to whomever was the fastest to act, usually whatever man was around. Dead batteries are one of those let’s-see-how-much-of-a-manly-man-you-are kind of moments. Who am I to get in the way of that? Except when there’s no one else around but you, your daughter’s car with the dead battery on the faraway subdivision street, and your very-much-alive car purring away behind you.  In the spirit of doing new things or of procrastinating on things that you don’t really want to do — ever —  and inspired by Suniverse’s post on the matter, I submit my top 10 ne’er-do-well  list:

1. Sang Karaoke. It’s so popular. Everyone loves to sing. Everyone has such a good singing voice. Not really, but if feels that way sometimes. I always feel like a party pooper when the equipment is pulled out and plugged in. Recently, I’ve decided I need to practice a go-to Karaoke song so that, if forced, I can fake my way through. How about  Meg White singing “In the Cold, Cold Night?”  Can’t mess that up too much, can I?

2. Skied down a big hill. Never made it off the bunny run. Childhood traumas are hard to overcome. It’s cross-country all the way for me.

3. Paid for a manicure or pedicure. But maybe I will someday. I used to think I never would, but after my first session with an esthetician as a birthday gift, I realized it’s really more than just a frivolous indulgence, it’s about taking care of your body. I have skin problems. This has kept me away from places where people might scrutinize it.

4. Had the good drugs at the dentist. The “laughing gas” was pooh-poohed by my mother and the post-surgery pain pills were always flushed down the toilet. “Those things will turn you into an addict,” she’d say as we watched the colorful dots swirl to their watery grave. For whatever reason, the dentists I’ve gone to as an adult don’t use laughing gas, or their shots don’t seem to work on me, or they’ve deemed my procedures below the need for the “good stuff.”  Dentistry = pain. What’s up with that? Am I on some list?

5. Dated a man outside my race. Not by choice.  I would have been open to it if it were the right guy. It just never happened. I was quasi-stalked by a guy of another race, but it was more of a family effort at matchmaking. Did I mention I was a sophomore in high school at the time?

6. Seriously played a drinking game. Even at the nadir — or would it be zenith? — of my youthful stupidity, I backed away from those games. I had a deep fear of projectile vomiting in public.

7. Mowed a lawn, used a weed-whacker or one of those loud, exhaust-spewing blowers. I feign ignorance around garden implements requiring gas and oil. I do what I can by hand and leave the rest to the experts.

8. Visited the tropics. I’ve been to the semi-tropical areas of Florida and the Mediterranean region, but never to a place with rain forests, bird-eating spiders, and sassy monkeys that jump out of the jungle and throw fruit. I’m not sure why it doesn’t appeal to me.

9. Walked a picket line, crossed a picket line (I should note that I was asked to do so but would not.) or engaged in a public protest. For many years, as a member of the media,  this was expressly prohibited. Now? I feel unless I’m on fire for a cause, I’d rather do good works (plant trees, pick up trash, tutor children, feed the homeless) that have tangible results.

10. Watched one episode of ‘Oprah’ except that time when I was called for jury duty and sat in that big room half the day waiting for my number to be called. ‘Oprah’ was on and I admit to peeking at the screen for a few minutes. Which reminds me, I’ve never served on a jury. I’ve been called three times and dismissed three times. I’m sure it’s because I never watched ‘Oprah.’

And because my list is so awesome it goes to eleven:

11. Participated in NaNoWriMo. Not that I didn’t entertain the idea for a few days, poll friends on Facebook, develop an outline and a chapter plan, set up an account on the site, name the book, and be struck with a great plot idea on Nov. 1, the first day.  LIfe, however, got in my way. In addition to many other things, our Internet went out yesterday. Not that it should stop me, but all my notes and plans were hidden online. When I considered packing up and going to a local coffee house, the school called to tell me one of my kids was sick and needed to come home. Later that evening, after a new Internet wireless router was purchased and installed, the words would not come. I was tired. I was beaten. I gave up. Not on the idea in some form, but on NaNoWriMo itself. Damn.

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Face(book)

By chidorian

It started out quite innocently.

He wrote: “You look like the spitting image of my ex-fiancee. Could you be one of her daughters?”

He was a stranger who contacted me through private message. We have a Facebook friend in common, he explained, and my face jumped out at him because it looked so familiar.

Daughter? Ex-fiancee? Am I talking to one of my mother’s old boyfriends? My curiosity was piqued.

“Who is your ex-fiancee?” I wrote back.

Within moments, he wrote back. Based on the ex-fiancee’s current hometown and back story, there’s no connection. The thing is, my father’s extended family tree has many long limbs. Once in a while I meet a stranger who turns out to be a second cousin twice removed. We trace our branches along the tree until we reach a familiar intersection. We nod, ask a few questions, then part ways.

I thought this was one of those times.

Several hours later, he wrote me again. He’d found some stuff of mine online. He commented on it, then added: “I can’t believe how much you look like her.” 

Suddenly, I’m reminded of an odd moment in the mid-’90s when a man old enough to be my father — who’d been flirting with me at the coffee shop next to the paper — turned out to be the guy my mom was dating. I started to get an itchy, oily feeling. This isn’t going to end, is it?

I clicked over to his profile, poked around, saw class pictures, graduation dates. I did the math. He and I are about the same age. There is no way I could be the adult daughter of a woman only a few years my senior.

I wrote: We are close in age.

He wrote: Your profile picture makes you look much younger.  Is it recent?

I wrote: Thank you very much, but it is a recent, non-Photoshopped picture.

He wrote: It doesn’t look like your other pictures.

Hold on a minute, Mister. My other pictures? What the hell? So, you’ve been Googling me. You’ve been comparing pictures. My, how very stalker-ish of you. I double-check my Facebook privacy settings. They’re as tight as a nun’s drawers.

As much as I’m tempted to say something, anything, I decide the best move is to ignore him.

Hours later, he wrote again: Sorry to bother you again. Have I jumped to a conclusion? Is this even your picture at all? Sorry, I just have to ask.

I’m speechless at this point. What will he say next? “I’m sorry, your picture is simply inaccurate. You have deceived me. I’m going to have to kill you.”

I do the online equivalent of hiding behind the curtains. I maintain my silence. So far, I’ve not heard back.

Still feeling a little itchy from the experience, the next day I open an e-mail request from a former co-worker who is trying to connect with me on LinkedIn.

She wrote: “I think I worked with your mom years ago at (Newspaper XYZ). Tell her I said ‘hi.'”

I wrote back as politely as possible, even tossing in a joke that maybe I need to update my profile picture, that we worked together, not she and my mother.

She wrote: You look way too young in your profile picture to have worked with me.

Again, speechless.

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Attendance not necessary

Photo by MZ

Let’s get right to the point, shall we?

What? You were talking first? Sorry, but I think what I have to say is far more important.

What happened to manners?

I’m not talking about high-society etiquette and dispute over the proper spoon to use. I’m referring to everyday, common-sense, Golden Rule kind of stuff.

My nickname isn’t Emily Post. I don’t pal around with Judith Martin (but I adore her weekly column on social graces) and often I let slide things that maybe should be addressed. Rather than call out the store clerk who yaks into her cell phone headset while ringing up my order, I just grab my receipt and make a mental note to spend my money elsewhere. There does exist hope amid all the chaos: While scouring the racks at my favorite resale shop, I was pleased to overhear the owner taking to task two of her employees for “excessive texting” on the job. High five to you, woman.

Excuse me, I ‘m talking now. Please put down your phone. I see you over there.

I can trace this slimy little trail of behavior right back to the first cordless phones. When was it? Sometime in the early 1990s? Suddenly everyone was multi-tasking: They were doing their nasty business in the bathroom while being interviewed by a reporter; they blathered on about this bitch and that ho while steering a shopping cart through a grocery store. The sounds of ring tones bleating and chirping out all genres of musical hits during church services, movies, plays and children’s programs grew more commonplace and acceptable.

Next thing you know a new generation is reaching adulthood with this model of behavior as the norm. You cannot  blame parents for all of this. Spread it around to the cell phone companies and cable TV and reality programming.

In a search for common ground on this stuff, I find myself nearly alone in a field. My mother has a cell phone but she only turns it on when she wants to make a call. (Overly polite and from another era.)  At the other end of the spectrum is my daughter, who sleeps with her phone next to her pillow, eats with her phone in her lap and performs household chores with one hand while texting with the other. Sometimes she takes a break to log on to Facebook. (Unable to disconnect, ever.)

Here is a recent conversation I had with my teen, in which I explain how I went to a fine-arts fundraiser concert, at which we were asked to turn off our cell phones before the show, and how no one listened and just kept on texting and surfing the Net on their smart phones all through the show. What the freakin’ hell, people?

She: So? What’s your point?

Me: What do you mean, so? That’s rude. I hope you don’t do that.

She: Mom, it’s not rude to text during a show. Texting is silent.

Me: I don’t know about that. I can hear that annoying tap-tap-tapping from across a room. It’s not subtle. And it is rude to ignore the performer and chat no matter in what form. You think the people on stage can’t see what you are doing?

She: You need to lighten up. You’re the rude one with your stupid phone always ringing and vibrating in your purse. Half the time you can’t even find it and you never answer it. Talk about rude.

I reminded her that I keep my phone on vibrate these days and I return calls as quickly as I can. I’m even trying to respond to texts with something more in-depth than “OK” or “THX.”

She: Whatever.

Me: How is it OK to be in someone’s physical presence, yet ignore them in favor of chatting or texting with whomever is on your phone?

Apparently this is a gray area, one that I have a hard time wrapping my aging gray matter around. So, it’s not rude to ignore the person or performance in front of you as long as you are saying nice things about the performer on Facebook and Twitter and posting pictures from your phone to the Net? Is this how it works?

She: Do you want some kind of award for politeness? I think most people would rather be with someone real than with some prissy woman who’s trying to be perfect all the time.

Am I am pris? Am I not real? God, if she only knew me back in the day. Hah!

Why must I shut off my dumb phone while you tap away on your smart phone? In my one-person quest to uphold lost social graces, am I viewed only as uptight and outdated. Is there any hope?

While I considered whether I was a prissy perfectionist old skool mom, my preschooler interrupted our debate with this directive:

“Shhhh, mom,” she whispered and pointed to a Barbie doll “mom” seated at a miniature desk with computer and phone.”You have to be quiet. She’s working on her computer.”

Great, now I’m a hypocrite as well.

Back on the other side again — sort of

fence

By evelynishere via creative commons

This week I had a revelatory moment. It struck me as I was walking into a building and caught a glimpse of my reflection in the plate glass. I saw a smartly dressed woman with a laptop bag slung over her shoulder.

“Where have you been the last three years?” I asked the mirror image as I pushed the intercom button to announce my arrival.

As the door buzzes open, I consider how it feels to wear a black dress with flowing red scarf tied loosely around my neck, stockings, heels and all-business glasses. Even if I feel a little shaky on the inside, I have all the right props. No one here will have any idea that I haven’t done this full-time in three years.

I was glad to leave my current persona at home for a while. I liked wearing my old self even if just for a day.

I love my children. I love my husband. But they cannot define me and be enough for me. I need a little more. It feels good to be working again.

Several weeks ago I accompanied my husband on a business trip to Chicago. Mostly I did it to get away. Partly I did it to witness the presentation I’ve been hearing about, and helping him with in small ways, for more than a year. Afterward the organizers invited us to dinner at a popular restaurant in the downtown business loop.

While I’d secretly hoped for a quiet dinner for two, so I didn’t have to worry about how many glasses of wine I’d ordered, and I could kick off my uncomfortable shoes under the table, it wasn’t to be. Instead I felt “on” since it was more of a business dinner. I had to watch my words and not get all, well, the way I can get sometimes.

After a few exchanges of pleasantries I was asked: “So, what do you do?”

I mentioned my  part-time freelance business that is temporarily full-time.

“Oh, so mostly you are just a mommy then.”

Why the instant leap? Why the dead-end of conversation once the leap is made? I felt crushed.

Mommy — not even mom or mother — mommy! was said the way someone might spit out the word pedophile.

And I had thought the guy was pretty nice at first.

Just this week I logged on to Facebook to find a so-called friend had sent me some application quiz that determined my dream job was to be a wife and mother. Huh? First of all, this person knows I’m trying to return to the workplace. Where  this whole you-are-better-off-at-home sublimation comes from I’ll never know. Rather than fire back some snarky remark, I just deleted the whole post.

But back to this week: I check in at the front desk, hand over my business card and announce who I am. Then, I’m led down a long, polished corridor that winds its way to the CEO’s office to conduct a joint interview with two high-ranking members of this organization.

I was taken seriously. I engaged in adult conversation, discussed plans, strategies and  deadlines. I had a schedule to juggle, appointments to confirm and my planner was bleeding ink to the margins. It all felt so natural. People were paying attention to me. I wasn’t so-and-so’s mother or somebody’s wife. Not that those things are bad but I do have a name and my own identity. Motherhood and marriage can shove those things to the back of the closet.

That’s the upside.

The downside: My poor, poor house is a wreck. Tasks both inside and outside sit uncompleted. There are three family birthdays fast approaching, not to mention the whole holiday stress-fest.  I have a mother who feels ignored, a visiting brother who feels slighted and probably a husband and two daughters who feel they’re not getting the service they’ve grown to enjoy.

Sorry, folks.

This is my first big paid gig and I feel the need to do a good job, to be viewed as dependable, reliable and able to deliver on time, as promised when we set our terms in September.

It feels good to have a task, a deadline, responsiblity. I’m hoping these seeds planted will nurture a larger garden of opportunity down the road. If nothing else, I learned what I needed to do to be successful working from a home office.

I’m on the other side  — even though it’s a short visit.

And I like it.

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I can see clearly now;I wish I could walk

Me, 1982

Me, 1982

foureyes

Me, today

Today I provide for you two pictures to illustrate my  post. It’s about my new glasses — the first prescription pair I’ve ever worn.

I consider these glasses — freakin’ progressive lenses, for god’s sake — the official end of my youth.

Friends on Facebook and in real life are always telling me: You haven’t changed one bit since high school.

Sweet things, all of you, for lying to me. I’ll take any ego-soothing lie I can get these days.

But guess what?  I have changed. No more denial. No more faking it.  It took a few doozies — most of them involving cooking disasters —  for me to stop paddling against the current of reality.

So I gave in. I scheduled an eye exam, figuring the optometrist would tell me what I already knew: I needed reading glasses.

Imagine my shock when he told me I was far-sighted and probably had been for a number of years. I counted back at least three years to when I first started noticing eye problems. Not only were my eyes “a little bit worse than most 40-somethings,” but also my work as a copy editor  had exacerbated the problem. Wearing $20 over-the-counter glasses for the last two years hadn’t helped, either.

I picked up the new lenses on Friday. Little did I know there’s a learning curve. There’s about two weeks of adjustment.

“Be careful on the steps,” the optician advised as I pulled on my coat and grabbed my new frames, case, cleaning kit and paperwork.

Did I look like a klutz to her? Maybe she should be careful on the steps, I muttered under my breath as I stumbled out the door.

Within minutes I knew what she meant: Wearing progressive lenses at first is like navigating the fun house at the county fair. Nothing is as close or far way as it appears.  The floor/ground is all-at-once right under your nose and somehow very far away. The contrast between objects near and far almost feels like a 3-D effect. Vertigo hit me almost instantly as I attempted to walk across the expansive parking lot to my car. I felt myself taking big, stiff lurching footsteps like the Frankenstein monster.

When I arrived home, I was overcome by nausea. I had to rest  for a while to get my sense of balance back.

A few days later I understand that I cannot look down while walking. I need to feel my body moving through my environment using instinct and experience rather than trying to navigate entirely with my eyes. Once I had my sea legs, I started really looking at things. Much has escaped my attention in the last few years: mysterious spatters on the walls, a lacework of fine cracks in our plaster, my Girl from the East’s ears (does no one else in this house clean ears at bath time? I thought I was but apparently my efforts were useless.)

I won’t even go into what a terrible job I’ve been doing on my eyebrows. All I can say is I hope most of my close friends have terrible eyesight, too, otherwise let me just add this: I’m not really so slovenly. I thought I was doing a good job on personal grooming and housework. That counts for something, right?

Now I’m adjusting to a piece of plastic wrapped around half my head.  I thought it would be fun. I’m sure over time I’ll forget they’re on. But now, it feels like I’m in a rocket ship, looking through the cockpit window at space junk hurtling toward me at the speed of light.

I’m working on toning down the zombie shuffle, but I may keep it until Halloween has passed.

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Put down the damn phone

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

I love social media.

I have two blogs. Two Twitter accounts. I’m on Facebook.  I belong to countless online communities.

So I understand the lure, the pull, the sexy side of it. Even though I have all this stuff, I know I don’t always use it in a productive way. This has bothered me a bit more lately, as other matters push for my attention. I’m trying to strike the right balance between doing things that are fun, doing things for professional benefit, and living in the real world.

I’m trying to keep a firm line in the sand between online and real life.

However, lately I’ve noticed more and more folks hauling out the iPhone or some other model of smart phone for all kinds of reasons that have nothing to do with phone calls. 

My teenage daughter and her QWERTY camera phone are a thorn in my side. Just today she sent me a picture message. Of what? Some stupid candid picture of me doing yard work. Great. It’s probably on her MySpace page by now.

Sure, we pay the bill. If she pushes our buttons too much she knows she loses the privilege of having it. We’ve threatened it and we’ve followed through.

But what to do with all the adults out there who don’t have that behavioral threat hanging over their social-media addled brains?

Which brings me to today’s installment of Bitchfest:

Unless it’s a social media event or work-related, put down the damn phone.

At back yard cookouts, weddings, family parties, children’s birthday parties, time and again I see one or two folks checking out of the moment and getting lost in cyberspace. I used to be ignorant. I thought they were checking their messages or calendars. Maybe they were on-call for work? Nope. They are Tweeting away or Facebooking or browsing around. 

I’ve watched a guest at a cookout sit and stare down at his phone nestled in his lap while his children splashed in the pool and his not-so-social-media-savvy host sat nearby. Last weekend I was at a party where a guest just could not stop talking about and using his iPhone. It was a child’s birthday party. Obviously he was bored.

His rudeness paved the way for a few others to haul out their smart phones. Let the pissing contest begin. Meanwhile, who’s watching the kids?

Let’s put it another way: If I pulled the book I’m reading out of my purse and opened it and began reading while seated at a party, would I be viewed as rude? If I brought my laptop to a wedding reception so that I could compose a blog post or check Facebook, would I get a few dirty looks?

Put down the damn phone.

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Gutless goes for a cleanse

from imbd.com

from imbd.com

Are you on Facebook?
Do you Twitter?
Uh…..
I get asked this with more frequency.
Um……
Two words: Old boyfriends.
Two more words: Weirdo magnet.
I’ve signed on to many social networks, gotten so far as a preview page. And when I see all my stuff out there, like so many pairs of my big-girl panties blowing on the clothesline, I freak and shut the whole thing down.
I blog, true. But semi-anonymously.
But old boyfriends and weirdos scare me. Sometimes old boyfriends are the weirdos. Sometimes the weirdos are old and they want to be my boyfriend. Get the picture?

A million years ago I was a paid writer. I had a daily byline in the newspaper and a monthly column with my mug shot attached to it. While I enjoyed the opportunity to get my words out there to the world, there was the downside. There are the scary folks who come out of the woodwork. They call or show up. Sometimes they want your time or a favor. Sometimes they have inappropriate gifts. Sometimes they want a pair of your big-girl panties.
The fringe element made me want to go anonymous.
Maybe I don’t want to be found, to reconnect with certain people from my past. I’m sure there are privacy settings and all that, so this long-winded diatribe is probably a lame-o excuse. I realize I am a hypocrite. I spent about two hours on the Internet last night Googling the names of old boyfriends. I found nothing. Do they feel the same?
Somehow all this made me think of “Northern Exposure,” a show about Alaska that made me want to go to Alaska, before Sarah Palin ruined it for me.
There was an episode in which former debutante/current bush pilot Maggie follows a Native American ritual and cleanses her soul by writing letters to all her dead boyfriends so that she can move forward with her life.
I’ve often imagined how something like that would go:
Old Boyfriend No. 1: Former altar boy gone bad. What was your turning point? You were so chaste and hot and sweet as a young man. Last I heard you were working as a DJ in nightclubs and had quite the notched belt, if you know what I’m saying. I know you thought we’d get married someday but it just wasn’t in the cards. Especially considering your appetite for the buffet table.
Old Boyfriend No. 2: I blame my reclusive ways on you. We reconnected on the Internet a few years ago. I thought it was for the purpose of a platonic friendship. We vowed we would stay in touch this time. I guess I was wrong. After two years of what I thought was nice communcation, you pulled the plug when I told you I was adopting a child. I may as well have said I was pre-op transsexual. Can you say shallow?
Old Boyfriend No. 3: You died in a horrific airline disaster right here in our hometown. You were 24 years old, just married and had a baby on the way. I cried for you and your family for months. I wanted to come to your funeral but was too afraid. I still think of you and your little family that never was to be when I drive by the airport. Do you  miss life here on Earth or are you truly in a better place?
Old Boyfriends No. 4-7: Hi, it’s me, your good-luck charm. I say that because after me all of you went on to success and wealth. When we dated, you were poor. You scraped together change and singles to take me out to dive bars and drink pitchers of watered down pee water beer. You drove in your ghetto cruisers to pick me up. Don’t get me wrong, we had our fun. But it still kills me a little to hear years later that all of you are living the good life: huge McMansions in the tony suburbs, all the amenities, including the blonde beautiful wifeys who made beautiful babies for you. You all owe me a real dinner, in a restaurant with cloth napkins, you hear?
And finally, Old Boyfriend No. 8: Have you come out of the closet yet? If so, I hope you’re living on the East Coast and not the West Coast. I hope you have a nice life partner and live in a deliciously appointed loft in a gentrified district of a dynamic city. Seriously, no girl likes to hear the failure of a relationship is due to “I think I might be gay.” All I can think is: Was I the one to help you come to that realization? Ah, well, I forgive you. Times are different now.
As for the rest, yeah, I think we both knew the chemistry was off. Either you or I made a very bad judgment call. It’s best that we keep the distance and the mystery in “Whatever happened to?”
Now that I’ve cleansed my soul, maybe I can now move forward and put my face out there.