The Daver was reading a book recently (he’s the literate one around these here parts) that had in it something I found more interesting than the cat video I was watching.
He said to me, that there had been a scientific study in the 1980′s in which groups of people talked about a negative experience with an untrained individual. These participants believed that sharing these experiences out loud may have helped them cope with their feelings, but it was not so, ickle Pranksters.
In fact, talking about these experiences did nothing to change the manner in which they coped with their problems.
Instead, The Daver told me, the individuals who engaged in a daily writing exercise, jotting down their most personal feelings and thoughts about their personal trauma in a journal, found a huge boost in their psychological – and physical – well being. The people who wrote down their innermost problems became happier.
Turns out that thinking and writing are actually very different. When we think about something – and chat about it – our conversations are chaotic and disorganized. However, when we write them out, we’re more invested in creating a story-line; a structure to our thoughts. While we write out our pain, we begin to make sense of what has happened and systematically approach a solution.
Those who write it out are happier.
And, Dear Pranksters, this would be why I blog, even after all these years.
And mostly, that is why I’m grateful to have found a family. My Pranksters.
SHUT YOUR WHORE MOUTH.
I DO SO HAVE FEELERS SOMETIMES.
The first woman – ever – to chair a department at University of Illinois, she knew exactly what she wanted. She didn’t let her gender get in the way of doing things her way, during a time when gender dictated everything. That chair happened to be Chemistry, a synchronicity I found charming once I’d met her.
She was a career woman before her time, never settling down, having children or getting married. Until she met my Uncle in the 1980′s.
She adopted me as her own when I first met her. Peas in a pod, my mother called us, and rightly so. Every time I saw Ruth, she brought me a new present or bauble; the sort of things a kid likes. Even without bearing her own, she understood children.
Being a lonely kid, I loved her immediately. Whenever she was around for a visit, I’d clamor to see her, probably annoying my parents and everyone around me half-to-death.
When I couldn’t see her, instead I wrote her letters. Who knows what I’d blathered on about in those letters, but I wrote them diligently. She’d lovingly send me back another letter, each time I took crayon to paper.
As I got older and more independent, I’d fly out to visit her where she’d ended up: Sun City, Arizona. It’s a retirement community nicer than my own neighborhood, where old people zip around in golf carts and Live Life.
Remembering I loved Chinese food, immediately after picking me up in her car – one of those gigantic things that make you feel like you’re riding in the cockpit of a very comfortable living room – she took me to the local Chinese place, fussing over me and making sure that I had at least three different entrees in front of me at all times.
She’d gone to the baker and bought me a bourbon pecan pie, too, and even though I’d never had one before (they look, well, SCARY), it was delicious. Now that I have my own oven and a decently good recipe, I make the same pie each year for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The china and silver she gave me when I was 16 still sits in my china cabinet, waiting for a day when my children aren’t so small; a day when I can cook a meal that isn’t made of one of three food groups: pasta, chicken bits, and something else I can’t remember. Some day, we will eat off my finery.
And when we do, I will share with my babies the stories of their Great Great Aunt Ruth, who loved their Mommy very much. Who took life by the balls and made it her bitch during a time when women were supposed to be in the home, cooking and cleaning. A woman who never stopped; never took no for an answer, and followed her dreams and her heart where it took her.
A woman with a heart a million miles wide; who loved deeply and without regrets.
A woman who we all can learn from.
This is what I will tell my children as we eat Chinese food and bourbon pecan pie off the very finest china given to me by a woman who loved beyond words.
Two days after my son turned ten, on August 22nd, 2011, my great Aunt Ruth passed away. She had a full life; more than I can ever hope for, but that doesn’t stop the aching in my heart when I think about what the world is now missing.
I’ll miss you Aunt Ruth.
I remember the first time it happened to me: I was recovering from surgery, stuck on the couch, hopped up on pain pills and crying because, well, that’s what pain pills do to me.
See also: abdominal muscles are ACTUALLY pretty important.
See also also: humiliation when you suddenly cannot pee by yourself because standing up hurts like a motherfucker.
I’d stupidly written a post about my struggles with weight and although I hadn’t titled the piece “Being Fat Made Me Invisible,” (which was what the site owner went with) the post was fairly heartfelt.
Now Pranksters, if you learn NOTHING from Your Aunt Becky (besides, “it’s always better not to be Aunt Becky.”) learn this: The Internet has lots of opinions about weight. And people can be cruel.
Anyway, someone got chocolate salty balls about my post – in which I was talking about my OWN struggles with weight, not telling the world to drop a couple LBS – and left a fairly hurtful comment. The pain pills exacerbated my hurt feelers and suddenly I was weeping about the comment. It was just so…mean.
And what’s worse? I couldn’t do shit about it.
On my own blog, I have no shame in deleting a particularly cruel comment. I don’t get them often, but you know what? I don’t need you to take a shit on my nicely swept porch. I know this is a hotly debated piece of the Internet (should you delete nasty comments?) but I, for one, have no shame in using the delete button. Go ahead and talk about how much I suck somewhere else, y’all. My front porch doesn’t need your shit slung on it.
It may surprise you, Pranksters, that I freelance around The Internet.
I also Site Master.
See: Band Back Together.
See also: Mushroom Printing.
The comments on either site are moderated, although, Band Back Together has a more strict set of moderation requirements, because people are pouring out their hearts; the least I can do is protect them from well-meaning-yet-unkind shit.
And recently, on my freelancing posts, the comments I’ve received have become particularly unkind. The sort that make you gasp and feel like you got punched in the gut. Because while you can laugh that shit off some of the time, sometimes, it really, really stings.
When you’re writing about your life – it’s still your life.
Being blasted for it sucks. Period. I don’t know how you’d handle it beyond doing what I do: ignore them. I do not read a single comment from those posts. I don’t need to know how badly I suck at life from Internet Mole People, especially considering my personal blog is an homage to my suckitude.
However, I got to thinking about it.
(I can think sometimes)
And I genuinely believe that site owners – the sites that aren’t courting controversy – have a responsibility to their writers. Some sort of, “I got your back,” where negative comments are policed and removed. Because frankly, one less Internet Mole Person makes the world a better place.
How fair is it to let your staff get shit on so you can increase your comment count? Doesn’t the person who has the ability to write in non-text speak and know the difference between “there” and “they’re” matter a little bit more than someone flinging shit for the sole purpose of cruelty?
I say, yes.
Now, what do you say, Pranksters?
Should site owners protect their writers?