Tag Archives: essays

My Week (7/6)

A few paragraphs on what I can’t get out of my mind in early July.

You don’t want me. You want a woman who’ll tell you you’re the greatest. I won’t lie to you. You want a flouncy, thin beauty with a button nose and that kind of history. You can’t handle my mess. And I can tell you what you can handle, because I’m stronger than you are, and you don’t argue with me. Find someone with lovely eye sparkles who knows how to put on subtle. Talk to her about her blushing secrets and tampons. You can’t brush with complexity. And you still suck at grammar.

We treat these people who care like wild flowers we want to press inside novels with hardback covers we’ll pretend to our friends we’ve read. That’s how rare these strange creatures are in our lives of you can’t shock me anymore. We’ve seen it all. You cannot offend us. We have no scruples. Until you hit a nerve, because they’re so well hidden. You show us a gif of a woman’s legs breaking backwards and that’s it. We lose it. But we’re invisible so it doesn’t matter that we don’t care.

Folk music is about people. There’s isn’t a pop fault veneer. It says this is the way it is. This is the way these people lived. And you’ll love them for it. It says I know the person you’re singing about, I’ve met her, she is me. There’s no glancing over pain. The pain is there with the beauty and the winter and the gloom. They’re always simple songs, it’s like I don’t need mixing to show you how I feel. The songs are clear. They open themselves up with a guitar and a story, and say sit down for a minute, and I’ll tell you about me. These are the people who are barely getting by saying, I’m gonna live with music. And I won’t die with nothing. And that’ll be just the way it is. These are the songs you need not to get through the bad times, but to get through the good.

The switch in my brain just swotched and now I know I’m talking too much.

There’s nothing left of me now. All gone and empty. They took it all. I can feel where the thoughts used to be.

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Same as You Are: Personalities Traits Online

i had myself a bit of a rant

I consider myself a fairly reasonable person. I want to understand both sides; it’s part of how I make sense of the world. If I enter an argument online I do it the same way. I don’t change a fundamental part of my nature because I become anonymous. I am the same.

I often hear, or read, that people online are so awful. I hear that anonymous users online say the worst things. They contribute in the nastiest battles. They terrorize. They group together to yell. They say things they would never say in real life. They’re worse humans. They look at filth; they are filth. But, this, is not so.

People do not suddenly change their compositions, their natures, because they’re in front of a keyboard. The same person who types from behind a wall of identity protection also speaks the same way in a bar. It is not two different people who sit down to type and sit down to eat with their families. Like in all things humans alter their course with circumstance, mood, attitude, and ambiance. But to say you’re not responsible for your actions online, or to say people are worse online, is ridiculous. It dodges the same moral responsibility as saying the drunkard bears no blame for his crimes or the angry for their words.

Those who are rude and belligerent online possess those same attributes offline as well. One might feel freer with one’s speech or actions. For the same reason flings seem easier on vacation. You know these people will disappear, and you don’t have to deal with immediate consequences on your immediate social circle. In the same way a casual comment about the vlog poster’s hideous shirt gets voiced. There can be no personal confrontational repercussions. There are rude people everywhere. The internet just keeps better track of them with the written word. Imagine if every bar fight was transcribed to a chatroom, there might be calls of indecency or rudeness, calls for bannings of bars.

Quit telling me people online are worse because they don’t have accountability, or they think they’re untouchable. If people act socially reprehensible online, it’s because they are acting socially reprehensible. They’re breaking the social guidelines of the website just like they would be breaking cultural norms if they were speaking their minds to their friends. The medium of the internet is their outlet. Those people get banned or called out, and rarely lauded, just like in normal crowd settings. The difference between the internet and face to face interaction is that anyone can see it, so it’s all up for grabs, instead of selective communities only hearing what their friends have to say.

I know this is an immensely complicated issue, because it deals with complex social-cultural interaction. I’m dealing with a small aspect. I’m just tired of hearing, the internet is a horrible place when I’m watching news video footage of bombings from all over the world.

March Madness

It’s sloppy. It’s personal. It’s march madness college basketball, and I love it. Let me tell you about it.

Basketball isn’t my favorite sport to watch, it’s not even top three. But I’ll put aside anything I’m doing to put on my back-of-the-closet, haven’t worn in months, college t-shirt to yell at the tv so loud I’ll scare my dogs. It’s tradition.

I remember on vacation in Boston, my dad asked me and my sister if it was ok if he left the tv on while we went to sleep. He would try to be quiet; he promised. But his alma mater had made it to the finals and who cared that he was on vacation, those guys, his guys, could win. This place he told us stories about growing up, where he went wild and crazy for a couple years, holds strings on his heart. So in the middle of our vacation, I was awakened by my dad’s calls and muddled screams of – yes, and what are you doing, and no no no, and sighs, and nervous pacing in a hotel room. It meant that much to him. So it means that much to me.

There are some things you pick up from your parents. How loud am I when I watch the NCAA tournament comes straight from my dad. I’ll scream for a team I’ve never heard of before today. I’m rooting for them because they’re the underdogs. You always root for underdogs – the dream. I got that from him too. I root, now, for my alma mater, then my dad’s alma mater, then the teams in my state, then whoever is picked not to win. And I cheer with all my heart. Suddenly, these five boys on the court become my hope at salvation. I take their dreams as my own. I yell things toward opposing players I don’t even yell at cars in two hour stopped traffic. I suddenly become a coach, a lifelong fan with that team’s colors in my blood, and I hope and pray to the basketball gods they pull off a win. I’ve scared next door neighbors with my bellowing and throwing of inanimate objects. Because I care. They make me care. The stories make me care, and I get to do something with that emotion, I get to cheer, and root for the win. I get to root for something with a substantial and definable goal. I get to put my pride into action. I have an opportunity, once a year, to be a fan, undiluted, just like everybody else.

It’s not just tradition though, it’s plain fun. These guys are young, my age, and here they are on my television with people around the country screaming their names, names we learned yesterday. They have this chance at greatness you don’t find anywhere else. It’s a momentary greatness, I have to see what happens.

These players make mistakes, the look unkempt, green, eager, skilled, parts lucky, and parts so damn unlucky. They pass the ball in a way you’ve never seen, they shoot like they’ve got nothing left, and they play with their whole hearts. It’s beautiful too, watching players play their best, hitting shots no one else could make, eying wary seniors try their hardest to make it to the end before their dreams die with graduation. You don’t see that in the clinical, statistical, polished NBA. You don’t get to see players fall on their asses, or shoot hail marys from half court, unless you’re watching the college ball tourney. I get to see seven guys awkwardly going for rebound to try and make another play with the twenty-two seconds they have left in the game. I get to see competition. I get to see good games, because they care, and I care, and this is it for them and for us – one game. One shot. It makes my heart beat faster.

I get to watch greatness being made, I get to watch stories that will get recited next year with a revert hush of – can you believe it. It’s beautiful. It’s fast, uncoordinated, risky, uncouth, and exciting. It’s a story, it’s heartbreak, it’s emotion, beautiful, uninhibited, emotion from grown men playing ball. I get to hear the unabashed favoritism from announcers rooting for that last minute upset. I’ll have something to talk about after this. I watch every year. And for about a month I have something to talk to my Dad about. I know exactly what I can say to start a conversation with him without any reservations or restrictions that we usually struggle with.

We talk about the teams we like. Which teams have a chance, the same chance as everyone else. And it feels like I have a chance again. They’re stuck in the tournament and the best they can hope for is to get through. We get a chance to pick our favorites. We get to stare at names and numbers of printed off ESPN brackets with the bottom half of the last team name cut off from our stupid printers. We get a chance to pick who we think will win, just like those guys in suits on tv who played on these teams before their knees went out. We all have the same chances. That little school, that’s only a thirty minute drive from the house has just as much chance at winning as the big school with the twenty-year, stuff-of-legend, dynasty. We get to live the stories.

I remember my senior year of high school I had my friends over because I said we’d have the game on after school. We waited up till almost midnight screaming at the tv over the little school just down the road that became the nation’s cinderella team. My friend’s boyfriend was on the team. We saw him on national television adjust his shorts after a big play. His team made a deep run, they played in the national championship and suddenly everyone knew their glory. They couldn’t find the net, but they held on close. Here we were seven teenage girls in my parent’s living room, not yet adults, not yet graduated, our hometown ties still strung strong. Here we were, cheering for just one more shot, two more points. We had the same hopes, the same dreams, and for just a minute, we were united with the same feelings as half of the country. Living out our pride through them. We watched as the last second shot from half court bounced off the rim twice, only to fall by the side at the buzzer. We agonized, we cried out abut justice and fate, together.

You don’t have to know all the exact and picky rules. All the analysis in the world can’t predict this. Dreams spread and engulf. Emotions, buzzer-beaters, iffy calls, break out stars, long-shot hopes, grown men crying, history, rivalries, pride, year-long anger, upsets, runs, frustrations, disappointments, legend. This is where legend lives and grows, breathes and adapts. And I get to watch it all. We get to watch it all. Together. A bit like a community, for just a little while.