Blame the Lack

What’s missing, in no particular order as neither am I:

A job
An ovary, fallopian tube
Working joints
Christmas festivity - tree, lights, music, etc.
Pain treatment, management, healthcare in-general
My Daddy

More that I cannot dredge up as of now; my mind too muddled with the flux of hormones and the emotional cyclones they spew. “More” is so much mental debris, detritus, splintered sighs in salty corners of a brain that cannot fathom: half the plumbing yet…twice the deluge of estrogen?

I spend two weeks of every month at the mercy of a dysfunctional ovary (a fierce, angry organ that reverberates piercing, dissonant cacophony throughout my abdomen like a drunken, irate, stone-deaf Beethoven pounding against an out-of-tune piano) and have done so since age eleven because I so desperately want to be a mother. Now, at thirty-three, I recognize that with each passing month, hope wanes. It is a good thing that I am not, as yet, a mother; a child prior to now would’ve made what was a disastrous decade catastrophic for me, my partner and, worst of all, any potential child. What bursts fresh pain with every rupturing cyst - what terrible beauty is born - is the realization: not only does it seem I am not meant to have a child of my own, but now, after all of the incredible fucking-up that I’ve done, I’ve no means by which to have this god-forsaken useless beast removed, as I’ve no money, no job, no healthcare and, regardless of such, the notion of any medical treatment that might require the usage of narcotics for the assuaging of pain… As one in recovery from a severe addiction to painkillers, nothing terrifies me more.

So, what rough beast remains…slouching, this dreary December, towards Bethlehem.

It is difficult to garner upon myself any sympathy, as much (if not all) of my present circumstances came about by my own doing. Those conditions beyond my control, however, are my Hellers - my ever-present, ever-multiplying Catch-22s. I suffer from arthritis and poly-cystic ovary disease; these illnesses were treated with painkillers; after successfully taking my medications as prescribed for six years, things fell apart - stronger meds were prescribed and those chemicals served as the glue for a mind which, at its centre, could not hold; I majored in addiction, flourishing in self-destruction; despite the grades, the nominations and success it was all on paper and the page burns. My degrees went up in smoke in a conflagration of incalculable heat. It’s all I know, teaching. All I ever wanted to do - write, teach; teach writing. How lucky, I thought many years down the road, that I didn’t want to become an astronaut or ballerina or doctor or chef. Those jobs require a lot of movement - a lot of being on one’s feet and hustle and now that I am older, in this chronic pain and know that no, I could not work in fields that mandate such of my body - how lucky, how lucky that no, I do not have to do such things.

I’ve worked other jobs, of course. I’ve cashiered, I’ve retailed, I’ve outfitted, I’ve telemarketed (I’d rather die penniless, lice-infested and disease-ridden in a shoebox at the bottom of a toilet than do it again and I mean that with every ounce of my 108 pounds), I’ve booksellered (ooh - I like that one) and myriad other jobs more affiliated with my career-path (i.e., tutoring, proofreading graduate papers, etc.) but here’s the rub, Billy-Boy - even back when, working at this major pet store chain or that mall fashion store or perhaps a horrific bridal outlet which I most certainly DID NOT LOVE - all but the telemarketing job (which required nothing but the signing-away of my soul every morning) were held when I was using (or abusing) pain meds. And still - once I was older and more advanced in my illnesses - I couldn’t hack it. My knees, ankles, back - I’d drive home shoeless, feet swollen to…well, gross proportions and I’d shuffle to my room and fall - flop - into my bed. And cry. Take more pills and sob. Because all I wanted to do was sell some fucking tops and jeans to the sweet co-ed without having to stop to nurse my screaming knee halfway along my journey from the racks to her dressing room. Or to not have to make more than one trip to carry the hideous bridesmaids dresses to the pissed off best friends, cousins and sorority sisters because my arms feel they are about to snap off at the elbows from the weight of all that satin and taffeta, only to drop the few dresses I do manage to sling over my forearms. (And once you get ‘em delivered, said dresses are received by a general outcry of, “Oh, I am NOT wearin’ that ugly-ass thang! Take it back! Not even lookin’ at it! Jenny, get Julie’s dumb ass on the phone NOW and tell her I am NOT wearing that!”)

Only job I was ever fired from. Go figger.

Point is, this thirty-three year-old professor of English would happily hand you your order through a sliding glass window at your local Taco Bell or Mickey-D’s or what-have-you with a genuine smile. The happiest damn fast-food server on earth - me, right here. But I know from experience as a cashier (a few times over): stand in one place on your feet all day…you will want to kick your own ass - but your busted back and swollen, purple knees won’t let you. Dummy. (Me - not you.)

And this pain…this kind of pain…it’s just the invitation my addiction is waiting for. Is avaricious for. My fucking ovary tempts that devil enough, as do my regular arthritic flare-ups. My loved ones - they are so wonderful in their worrying for me, keeping an eye out for stressful situations that might pose the potential for relapse but it is not stress that pushes me into the path of the speeding train, My Darlings. The tracks make their mark when the physical pain overwhelms and oh, I wish…sometimes, I do wish I didn’t hide it so well. Because I do. Even when I exhibit some signs of hurt, physical anguish - it’s not even a raindrop of the internal maelstrom, and I like to keep it that way now. Sometimes, though, it does work against me; to my detriment, people mistake me for healthy or, at the least, feeling well and I let them. This is one of my many character flaws. My motto: “I am the multitudes.”

Alas, this one has been coming back to kick me in the ass as of recent…multitudinously. ;)

There’s so much I do not discuss. For all that you think I reveal - so brazen, outspoken is Annie! - I say so little about the inner-workings of my life. Mostly, you know my past. I think it good to divulge history; understand the current event that much better. That’s my theory, anyway. (Not like it’s a new one.) As far as the current tides rolling in, however…the Christmas tidings roll tired. Tired of explaining: I’m broke - I cannot go to ______ event/dinner/social gathering. And no - I am not cool with you paying. I have a “thing” about that and my “thing” is, if I can pay you back in kind - coolio. But I cannot, so no-go, Coolio. I’m in poor health - I never like to commit to engagements as I never know if my body will negate my RSVP and make of me a classless no-show. I’m weary - My Daddy doesn’t know what day it is, what year and I don’t want to continue on, detailing for you all the everyday maudlin details of his decline. I’m lost - I worked so hard for a career I let slip away - nearly four years gone, now - and today…I seek and seek, day after agonizing day and…I come up empty, save handfuls of burnt paper ashes.

I’m lonely - because I am far away from all of you. For all of the above reasons and more - more that I cannot dredge up. Because I am tired - and because I am unwilling. Scared. Retribution is for New Year's, no?

Many of you have written emails recently for various intentions, purposes and I’ve yet to respond and for this, I am so sincerely sorry. I find it so difficult, for reasons unbeknownst to me, to write back. I fumble for words, struggle to find the energy to just write that simple reply… I don’t understand it myself, so I surely cannot explain it to you. This - a rambling, Woolf-ian stream of words - yet I’m unable to write back, “Sure! Sounds good!” or, “Thanks - that’ll be great!” or, “Sorry dude - I’m not into that scene. Try Jon Zimmer.”

I looooooooooove you, Zim.

In all seriousness, I think the difficulty…I’m not one for one-line replies. I’m not one for one-line anything, save zingers. I feel insincere if I do not put great thought, care, genuineness into a response. And it depletes a woman, over time, that hopelessly devoting to you. Remember, My Darling Friends - “in the multitudes.”

It’s Christmas time, which means I am hearing from more of you now than usual. Sadly, this coincides with a time of my greatest depletion - of all resources. How do I… I am thinking in this way: It’s not Christmas without the lights, tree, music - presents. I’ve none of any of those. (The latter - none to give.) It’s not Christmas without friends and the joy of catching-up, reminiscing, familiar faces, old stories retold. It’s not Christmas without giving - I suppose that’s my point - the aforementioned exact a giving and oh, My Beloved Friends, I am empty. Of purse, of spirit, of mind…the right words

It’s not Christmas without My Daddy - our annual drives around Venice to look at the “billllllionties of lights!” Even when years passed and time moved, scattered us all about, I somehow managed to be there for his last ride around (by luck or, in 2006, more accurately, by lack) - the radio set to a dulcet default all-Christmas-themed station, Daddy warbling his best Bing, me laughing when he messed up the lyrics, Daddy indignant: “Crosby sang the wrong words, dammit!”

Oh, I miss My Daddy, so far away - in so many ways.

It’s not Christmas without children - yours, theirs, anybody's. Therein lies the spirit of Christmas - the holidays, whatever you celebrate - and I never had it more than when in the presence of my father, as his daughter - his child.

If you are reading this, have read this through no fault of your own (meaning you weren’t tagged), please remember that Christmas is the season of forgiving (isn’t it? Or am I making that up?) - I implore you to do so, regardless. All these pent-up emotions, now doused with hormones like so much gasoline to the fire? “Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…”

I won’t quote the following line; a tad-bit too apropos. :D

It’s a wonder I’m here. I do not believe in God but I do believe in the miraculous. That I live and live (somewhat) functionally - miraculous. March 13th, 1971 - eht elcarim taht emaceb ym lodi dna oreh ni esohw spetstoof I yrt ot wollof. (Don’t worry - I could have posted that upside down as well as backwards and he’d still be able to read it - he’s that cool - whether he likes it…or not.) March 14th, 1984 - the miracle that saved my young life. That…is just fact.

I suppose I simply wanted for you to know - I’m not ignoring you, ungrateful, slothful, angry, (too) unhappy, hardhearted or Scrooged. No. To put it the best, I quote one of the best:

“First of all: I am tired. I am true of heart! And also: You are tired. You are true of heart!”

Know that - as I do.

I think of all of you, all of the time. Do not doubt that. All of you - all of the time.


This is dedicated to Nick Young: Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus…

From the bottom of my tired, true heart: Thank you, Dear Saint Nick.

"Do you want me to finish it?"

Some call it fanaticism; others, insanity. Many who know nothing about the love of the (a) game label it "stupidity." Me? I call it by its right name: devotion.

That tag will never, ever change. Not so long as I'm a Florida resident.

Florida State fans who grew up in the era of Miami/UF dominance know...there was nothing fun about being an FSU fan in the 80s. Not as a kid. I think of Crystal Gale in this moment: I was Seminole...when Seminole wasn't cool. While other 5th and 6th graders donned bright orange & blue t-shirts bursting with kiddie-cool cartoon alligators, or, if they were children of a scarier corn, netted orange & green jerseys cut-off at the midriff and shoulders, boasting the numbers 12, 14 or the menacing, taunting 47, there straggled us few...the proud...the unconquered...yet mercilessly beaten...those so bold to wear the garnet & gold.

Good luck finding "cool" FSU garb in Foot Locker or Maas Brothers or any other fashionable outlet; no, if you were a 'Nole fan, you were buying your hats and t-shirts at K-Mart—Wal-Mart, if you were lucky. The latter generally ran the ilk of poorly bedazzled, fluorescent-hued, XXXX-L sized tarps I still believe were meant to cover cars, not torsos. Why neon green? Why, I ask again, was Chief Osceola matted against neon green? And, apparently, The Chief felt compelled to call out a shakily scrawled, puffy-paint war-cry of, "TOTALLY AWESOME!!!"

What, I can't even find a Biletnikoff iron-on?!

I blame not the 80s; rather, the 80’s dearth of FSU faithful, for it was during this era that Coach Bobby Bowden dragged The 'Noles across the country to learn 'em how to win. And—dadgumit—he did! By making them play every dadgum team in the nation, even — especially — if that meant gettin' their butts kicked. Yet somehow, Old Bobby figgered it right because we weren't awful those early Bowden years. In fact, our only losing season was his first — 1976. (Yay for the year of my birth!) His strategy of placing faith in those young men—not only are you boys gonna play the best teams in the country, but I expect you to beat them—it worked! Well now, don't that just beat all?

Eventually, yeah, it sure did beat all—but that comes later. Because at that early point, we still weren't UF and we certainly weren't The U. Florida State didn't play in a stadium regarded as "The Swamp," a moniker that struck fear into the hearts and jock-straps of Croc— Gator opponents. No. We had a "stadium" fondly referred to as "The Erector Set"—referred to fondly but justly because that piece of crap held together by a few interlocking metal parts you can find at your nearest Tru-Value for about $4.99. And much like your local streetwalker, Doak Campbell Stadium was hot, dirty and barely legal—and you stumbled away with a blistered ass from a nooner with either to prove it.

Long rows of metal bench-seats superheating under a blazing Florida sun... Ahhhh. I recall well the fleshy sizzle.

No, we didn't have the goods to garner the fandom: no posh or intimidating stadium, no Heisman winners, no National Championships (really now, Miami, you were just being ridiculous with that — showoffs), no "Great Wall of Florida" (nor the era of disgrace that built it but, alas, I digress...on-purpose...) and we didn't have any superstars.

Until we did.

No, I'm not talking about "Prime Time" or Buckley. Nor do I refer to Brooks & Dunn — country duo or former FSU/Bucs linebacker and running back, respectively. I'm not vaunting our first Heisman Trophy winner, Charlie Ward (themostdecoratedcollegefootballplayerinhistoryeatthatTeablow). Heck, I ain’t even talkin’ ‘bout The Bandit himself—Burt Reynolds. (But I can see how you might’ve thought I was.) They and many others came around early in the dynasty-days (or even long before — Turd Ferguson, I'm looking at you-ouu) and made their indelible marks in the turf. But one came first, foremost, ahead of their game:


None of the FSU superstars would exist as we know them without the easygoing, countrified, trickeratin’, impish, quick-with-a-one-liner but quicker-to-forget-your-name legend we’ve all come to know and refer to casually as…“Bobby.”

I don't know that I can express to you just what that first, 1993 Championship meant to those of us who suffered the indignity of Seminole fandom prior to the Dynasty Days; what it meant to hit my knees before our coffee table in fervent prayer as the seconds ticked away, Ward pushing the offense against that Nebraska Blackshirt defense try after try for the endzone, unable to get past the 3 yard-line and now, time has filtered down to under a minute-thirty and that inevitable field goal in—of all the dadgum places!—The Orange Bowl—are you serious with this crap? And to add a whopping dollop of annoyance to my hugeantic bowl of fruity anxiety, now sloshing over the edges, here comes my older brother, angrily pacing furious circles through the kitchen, around the dining room and back into the family room, now standing directly in front of the big screen TV Daddy and I are fixated on.

"GET OUTTA THE WAY!" we hollered in unison.

"I don't get why she cares so much!" Freddie bellowed, pointing an accusatory finger at me. "She doesn't even go to FSU!"

Freddie, who attended a certain university in Miami in 1994, was most displeased that not only did his little sister root for his archrival (who lost 28-10 to FSU that season, in addition to a loss to West Virginia, then that HUMILIATING shut-out to Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl...poor Fred...HA-HA!), but that archrival was on the cusp of winning...their first National Championship…in his team's stadium.

I cannot believe his mind didn't just explode all over his face — right there, right then.

My father interjected with reason.

"Fred, Anne doesn't go to Florida State because she is, as of right now, a senior in high school and, therefore, in high school. Now get the hell out from in front of the television or I will kill you."

As FSU's field goal unit lined up before the goal posts I am 100% positive are bedeviled by some Hurricane-wind wide-right/wide-left voodoo spell, I took to praying aloud, and with great specificity:

"Dear God, if you let The Florida State Seminoles—who are currently playing the Nebraska Cornhuskers—make this field goal and win this game and be National Champions of this year, the 1993 season, I will go to church every Sunday for the rest of my life. I swear it. PleaseohpleaseohpleaseohpleaseAmen."

Aaaaaand...kick. Aaaaaand...good!

"I heard you! I heard you!" My father, the uber-Catholic, was now pointing the accusatory finger. "You are going to church! I heard you!"


"God knew I was kidding," I muttered, irritated at the distraction; too much time remained on the clock and FSU just excessively celebrated. "He's a 'Nole, anyway. Like He'd let us lose."

Fast-forward a decade and Annie's an atheist. Go figger. THANKS FOR MY FAITHLESSNESS, CHRIS RIX!

Tooootally kidding. About blaming Rix for my godlessness, I mean.

The glory days: two National Championships and two Heismans; the first (only) AP wire-to-wire #1 team in college football history; fourteen consecutive Top 5 finishes in the AP Poll; twenty bowl wins. And still...we were—are—outnumbered. More Gator fans in the state, by far. ’Canes? They sucked so bad during their probationary years, nobody cared. (They're back now—you'll see the fan resurgence.) But I liked that even though we were dominating you, yo' mama and yo mama's mama, we were still unliked, deplored, hated. Because during the glory days, the Bowden regime, there were a'might few scandals: Free Shoes University, the Peter Warrick/Laveranues Coles Dillard's Debacle, mascot controversy (really? Y'all are gonna blame that on Bowden? Some do...), the academic cheating scandal, Bobby's too lenient, not punitive enough, they're The Criminoles, etc., etc.

Yup. Yup, yup, yup. Who can deny it? Y'all can read. Well, those of you who didn't matriculate from UF can, anyway...

Oh, gotta get my digs in where I can, folks.

At 3:25 a.m. last night, UF defensive end Carlos Dunlap was arrested for DUI: stopped at a green light—fell asleep at the wheel. Obviously, it's in the news because I am aware of it. Will it be the kind of scandal it was when Sebastian Janikowski was arrested for disorderly conduct outside of a Tallahassee bar in '98? Unlikely. Why? Because some programs are super-awesome at camouflaging their athlete’s blemishes — even prior to a National Championship game. (And here, I am not pointing a spear solely at the Crocs. Please know that.) But Bobby ain't so much on covering up the mistakes of his kids. So The Polish Powder-Keg was arrested and that was that? No. ’Noles fans know: you screw up and you pay. PPK ran those stadium steps — no longer the terrifying, swaying Erector Set stairs but long strides of cement built to hold over 83,000 devout fans, The House That Bobby Built and you better godda— dadgum believe that — and Sebastian ran them every day for a week, time and again and again and again. Don’t think much of that? Try it once. In the midday heat and scorching sun. Because that’s when the running — the punishment — occurs.

He’s an old school man with old school rules. Coach Bowden abides by the three strikes and you’re out policy — despite taking endless flak for it. Had Janikowski made it to the “Yer’ OUT!” point, despite kicking his way to a Groza by scoring 324 points for the team (3rd all-time point-scorer for FSU), Bobby would have let him go with a sad pat on the back and, given his inability to remember a name, much less one as complex as “Janikowski,” a kindly, “It was great havin’ you on the team… Buddy.”

He did it with outstanding wide receiver, Coles. He even let the great, venerated Randy Moss go after that wide receiver’s brief (and man, do I mean brief — he never played a down!) stint at Florida State under the proviso that his three strikes were whittled down to one: Moss transferred to Bowden having been dismissed from Notre Dame due to violence and drug use. Irish Coach Lou Holtz hoped his FSU friend, well-known for helping troubled young athletes, could take this young man by the hand and lead him down the right path. Instead, Moss took out his one strike in one stroke — make that "with several tokes" and, knowing he was cutting loose the best wideout in the nation, Bobby bid him a succinct farewell. We all know Moss went on to kick serious ass with Marshall and I’m sure, given that he’s now a self-professed pothead, he also smoked some serious grass whilst playing there. That’s his deal. But it’s also against the NCAA rules. Marshall went undefeated with Moss; he broke every record there was to break. He even won…the Biletnikoff.

Needn’t mention irony. Or iron-ons.

Some coaches care in ways seen as too lenient; some coaches care in ways not at all seen. Perhaps because they care...not at all.

I’m no sportswriter. I’m not much of any writer—but I love football. I love Florida State. And whether you agree with me or not, if you are a fan of FSU football, then you are in agreement with me on this: Bobby Bowden built Florida State football as we know it. There wouldn’t be a dynasty to refer to, Heismans in the trophy cabinets for UF fans to steal (nice try, you morons), National Championships to boast of and a litany of legendary players or…take-your-breath-away moments of trickeration and sheer coaching brilliance… The Puntrooskie, Weinke’s fake-out, flatfoot 98-yard touchdown pass to Snoop from our own end zone against Clemson in The Bowden Bowl (my favorite trick play ever—always)—The Choke at Doak! A 28-point rally? Twenty-eight unanswered points in the fourth quarter to tie the game against your biggest rival? Who coaches a team to that but a genius? And, of course, to the beginning—the beginning of the end of The Dynasty Days—the quote that entitles this blargh: the 1999 National Championship game against Virginia Tech and the vaunted Michael “I hate dogs” Vick.

“He’s unstoppable.”
“He’s unmatchable.”
“He’s all but won the Heisman.”
“He’s the new quarterback; Weinke is the old. Vick is mobile, runs, passes like a rocket from outside the pocket, scrambles away from defenders like a greased pig. Weinke can't run: stoic, standard-issue pocket-passer. He's a statue. Florida State doesn’t stand a chance.”

Vick was everything the sportswriters/channels touted him to be, as was the Hokie defense. But what the "objective" analysts and commentators forgot about was our biggest weapon. Not Weinke. Not Allen, Polley or even Simon and the rest of our ferocious D. Not Janikowski with his explosive leg. Not even MVP of the game and mouthpiece of this blargh title, Peter Warrick.

Bowden. Always our biggest—and, year after dadgum year— still, our secret weapon. ’Cause who’s afraid of Old Saint Bobby?

You—if you’re smart. Because those boys love him, because he has faith in them and they have faith in return. They want to win one for the Old Man, wanted to give him his first undefeated team. So when it came down to it, the score a tighter-than-it-may-look 39-29, “Ol' Numbah Nine” (as Coach liked to call him, because…well, names are dadgum hard to remember when there’s so many of them to remember!) approached his teammates, head coach, and asked,

“Do you want me to finish it?”

Peter already caught a TD, returned a 59-yard punt for another 6 and successfully made a two-point conversion. The Hokies were obviously more than a little annoyed by his presence; they just attempted a trick-play on a punt — unsuccessfully. Tech wanted to seal this deal just as badly as FSU did.

But not as badly as those 'Noles wanted to give Coach Bowden "The Picture" — one meant for a picture frame he purchased years ago with a single purpose in mind: to mount a photo of an undefeated FSU team. Instead, that frame hung empty, dusty, still awaiting its photograph in his office.

“I’ll finish it.”

Florida State’s offense returned to the field, exhausted in this, the final quarter of the biggest game of their young lives, but confident, knowing they had the winning play drawn out, ready to execute.

I’ll let you watch the results, here, as they roll out at video’s end (approx. 3:03). The results are better known by us FSU Faithful as “The Catch.” You can see why:

I don’t want to see the only coach I’ve ever known leave the program I so adore, but if he searched his soul, the faith in which he's so strong, talked to his best buddy—his God—and made this decision…then I understand. He’s called the greatest plays I’ve ever witnessed in collegiate football history; I cannot challenge the man now, in this fourth and final quarter of his life, on any of his calls.


From an SI article on Coach Bowden’s roast this past summer:

Richt, a former Bowden assistant, told the tale of his decision in 1986 to become a born-again Christian. Richt made the choice at a time of great turmoil, and Bowden was thrilled to help Richt into the flock. So the men went into Bowden's office and kneeled to pray. According to Richt, Bowden did the talking with the almighty.

"Dear Lord," Richt remembered Bowden saying, "I'm here with… What's your name again, buddy?"


It has been an honor to have been coached by you, Mister Bowden.


It's finished.


Okay—maybe not quite finished. The Rooster Crowed in 1998, when FSU "stood no chance" at beating the unstoppable Crocs. I was there. I rushed the field. Because FSU did stop the unstoppable Crocks—who went on to beat the hell outta' us two months later in a bullshit, never-should've-happened National Championship rematch. S'all right. Only proves my point:

UF beat us in the BCS National Championship game that year, were the ultimate winners in all of NCAA football.

Yet…we'd already beaten them two months beforehand, with our back-up, red-headed stepchild of a quarterback.

Yup. S'all good.

It ain't '98—not in any state—'least, not for the Gates, as of late.

Oh—and like it said on my back, driver's side window:

"Bite me, Gators."

See UFucks Saturday!

Why I Don't Want A Dislike Button on Facebook

See the little girl in my profile picture, timidly swinging, surrounded by endless acres of green? She appears anxious and awkward, gripping the chains with tiny fists, white saddle-shoes drawn together at the toes and though I can assure you I was nervous that day, left to swing alone without a protective figure behind me as Mom had to step away to snap the image, I was also the happiest little girl in the world. Because I lived in The Middle of Nowhere - Waukesha, Wisconsin - and the only people I interacted with on a daily basis were my parents, my Big Brover, Freddie, and my best friend, Flopsy - our dachshund.

I was such a happy child - until we moved to Florida, the suburbs, Flopsy sent to live with my grandparents in Texas because "the alligators'll get her!" and just after recovering from that loss, I entered the public school system and suddenly, I faced...people. So. Many. People. And I wanted to make all of them my friends.

But a lot of those people were not happy and were disinclined to make friends with such a naïve, smiley, goofy girl. I didn't understand then that not everyone lived the supremely lucky life I did at the time: a mother and a father under one roof, a doting big brother, a beautiful home and an upper-class income upheld by two working-class minded parents who knew to spoil us with what they never had, but never to the rotten point.

I didn’t know there was a thing in this world for me to dislike - other than the fact that my dog now lived in Texas.

I was blessed. Until life computed two fatal errors and my system crashed. And those fatal errors are, to this day, the only two things I simply cannot tolerate in this world. I may alter the terms somewhat in discussion, but, as My Daddy always said: “Math never changes.” The sums, sadly, always add up the same:

1) Willful ignorance
2) Meanness...for the sake of meanness

The latter I often call by "provocation just for the sake of provoking" - meaning, "Picking on people just to be a fucking asshole and to make yourself feel like a tough guy/chick." And when I see meanness for the sake of meanness, I always want to ask the inflictor of the mean: "Did it work? Do you feel AWESOME now? Are you a BIG PERSON now?!"

And in real life, I have actually done so. But on a social networking site, it's not as easy. We'll come back to that. For now, the catalyst of this mess - and when I say “mess” I mean it - this is not writing. This isn’t even blogging. This is blarghing - I am purging a mess of emotions and blargh and so now, to the gag:

Why do you people feel so compelled to share your negativity with the world?

Don't like it? Great! Then don't like it - and just “move along...move along…” Why in the name of roller-skating Olivia Newton-John must you have the means by which you can actually go to someone's status update or music video or news article or blarghedee-blargh and CLICK A BUTTON that actually shows --


Why you gotta shit all over their Xanadu?

I know what you are thinking. Yes, I do. I SAID...yes...I do. Annie, the hyper-sensitive. Annie, quick to anger. Annie, the Mick with the temper to show for it. All true. You're also thinking, "This is fucking Facebook, you jackass. Who gives a shit?"

Why, Annie, the bleeding-heart, of course.

You hear it all the time: everybody is on Facebook. Indeed, almost everyone I know is. And I care about and love just...everyone. So, given that we're talking about everyone and meanness being inflicted just, oh, everywhere on Facebook and the potentiality for more... Just call me Mick and let it bleed.

Since the following is imminent anyway, let us use it as an example, shall we? We shall.

"Annie McDermott's faithful gay companion of 13 years, Buster Bowden, has passed on."

Yeah, I don't like it either. It hurts my heart to even portend it but it will happen so let's use the example and get on with it. See what I said? I DON'T LIKE IT. To phrase it somewhat differently, I DISlike it. But do I want to post that update, step away from the computer so I might go bury my dog, have a service, weep and sob for X-amount of hours/days, then after appropriate mourning time (as mandated by either "The Official Dog Mourning Handbook" or by my Facebook addiction that compels me to check my notifications like a crack addict must check the status of a pipe-stem with their mouth), look at my profile page and see 37:


No! No I do NOT! Please! It’s bad enough my dog is dead - can we not further the misery? I was pretty sure you all would disapprove - really, I don’t need this button to serve as some kind of enzyme for your bête-noir enthusiasm! Cripes, take it down a notch and say I updated about stubbing my toe - and dammit, it hurts. May have even broke the sumbitch. I'd so much rather return to my Facebook to find a slew of ::Thumbs-UPS!:: and, "Nicely done, Grace. Were you trying to walk and breathe simultaneously again? Thought we talked about that." To which I would respond, "I thought we talked about your FACE - *BETH!*" Because, see, I'll take loving-sarcasm over meanness - or, negativity - every time.

I see posts I dislike all of the time, be they political opinions that take a severe right turn from my own, or religious views that...exist…or music videos that make my ears - literally - bleed rivulets of just, oh, the tiniest tears. But do I feel compelled to cyber-stroll on up to said person's post and say, "THE GRATEFUL DEAD *SUCK.* AND SO DOES CHERRY GARCIA ICE-CREAM!!!" Nope. I just scrollllll on past. I keep my dislike to myself. Because there's enough meanness in this world already. Do I need to add to it? No. As my Daddy used to say to the Krishnas in the airport: "I thought I just gave to you guys! Well, they looked exactly like YOU!" Really, I contributed enough anger and vitriol to humanity from ages 7 through...31. I'd been hurt - many times over - by the callous, indifferent hands of the willfully ignorant and those who are mean...just for the sake of meanness. In my experience, the two, unfortunately, coexist. I felt righteous in doling it back out - to YOU. Even if YOU were not in any way deserving of my wrath - you just happened to be in the path of this F-5 tornado. It backfired, of course; sure, I hit my marks and hurt, just as I intended - but as a wise green Whill once said, “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to…suffering.” You hurt others, they hurt, they get angry, they want to hate right back - at YOU. You suffer in return.

Damn, that puppet knew his shit.

I’m waxing too deep for you, ain’t I? Dislike it? Stop reading, because I’m not done waxing, Daniel-san.

Recently, I deleted over 40 friends. Meanness? No. That was an act of kindness - for them and myself. Many kept me around out of some Facebook formality: we went to school together in the 80s, 90s so we should be friends now so how are yo--oh. Recovering addict? Some...some issues with manic-depression? Huh. Well, it's good that you're doing wel-- Wait - did you just say you're an atheist? A liberal? Oh, you are a big freaky-freak you crazy-ass, God-hating, gay-loving, pill-popping, socialist-supporting WRITER!!!

And comments from them... "Nevermore," quoth the cuckoo... "Nevermore."

That, however, was fine by me - until those people racked up in numbers too many and I realized I had a case of Friends Filler and deletion was the cure. No, what really stuck in this cuckoo's craw were the "friends" who rarely commented but, when they did, decided the only thing to say was...something unkind.


I mean...just...


And here is where I light the flame of the flash-point of this Hindenburg catastrophe of, oh, the humanity - and it blows both ways: never, ever, EVER know what is going on in another person's life. Never. Status updates do not an every minute life-catalog make. Nor do posts of Oprah’s retirement, excitement over “Twilight’s” release, or a favorite Mötley Crüe video. And here’s where I come back to that earlier point: it isn’t quite as easy, on a social networking site, to confront a bully and say, “Hey - dummy? Don’t be such a jackass and potshot my post - or her post or theirs or what-have-you.” Because - and here’s the rub, Bill Shakespeare - this is a fucking social networking site. It’s - heh-HYUCK! - fer fuuuuun! I shouldn’t have to explain to you, “Dude. I posted this video of a weight-challenged young woman taking a tumble off a table in an effort to distract myself from the fact that I just came from the lawyer’s office where I officially filed for bankruptcy. And I’m playing it off like it’s a joyous thing but…really? Ya think so? So can we...can it with the mocking of me for my 'uncoolness' for posting said video?” Or, “Hey, ‘friend’ - can you maybe not say something nasty-sarcastic in response to one of the few updates I post that reflects my recent sadness? I had a bad day. I updated on it. And you say, ‘Yawn.’ Really? ‘Cause, honestly, I don’t want to tell everyone anymore that my dad just keeps on keepin’ on with the strokes and that I have - and I ain’t bein’ hyperbolic here - lost. count. It’s five or six now. I. Don’t. Know. What I do know is, I just spent a week in Hell, watching him suffer in delirium and you say, ‘Yawn.’ And, being that this is the internet and not real life…I simply don’t have the means to say what I really, really want to - need to - say to you.”

When you go out to dinner, walk through a mall, sit on an airplane - any of the people you encounter in those situations - just as it is on here. Friend. Acquaintance. Ex-lover, ex-teacher (maybe a lil' of both) - I DON'T CARE. You never fucking know what is going on in somebody's life, head, heart be they soul mate or stranger. They may be posting Marky Mark videos or FAIL Blog images in the hopes of making you smile, laugh - anything to make you think things are - yes - wonderful over here - anything to make you like life more - because that is her way. Because she doesn’t want to waste anymore of your time with the sadness from her life when she knows…you have plenty of your own.

You do not know what any one person is really going through. Do not presume to. Christ - people live entire lifetimes with each other and never know what the hell is going on inside the minds, souls of the other - generally, because they are too chickenshit to ask. Or leave.

Right now, millions of you are smiling in an effort to mask hurt beneath. I do it all of the time. We encounter each other in the briefest of moments and never know the difference. Some of us actually smile back. And then - for me, anyway - my smile becomes that much more genuine.

I will never understand how anyone can see something given freely and with a loving heart and shape it into something…sharp, cutting…unkind - be it a smile…or a status update.

Words. There are quite a lot of them here, if you‘ve made it this far. Don't they speak loudly enough? Doesn't somebody commenting with "Dislike" or "This sucks" say enough? Especially when - fuck all, man - that was NOT the response you were looking for? When you just wanted to put out a message of hope in a form you find...beautiful?

Yeah - I'm getting personal. Because, dammit, I'm sick of people taking my “cellar door” moments and making them unkind, unhappy - taking something I loved and morphing it into a memory I most certainly "dislike."

Why do you feel compelled to share dislike? Why should I awake to such a thing when what I really wanted was...comfort?

This is a segue. I have no other way to segue.

I am happy to play The Clown. I mean that sincerely. Live it, love the role. But I'm also human. My Daddy is dying a slow, tortuous death and every day, a little bit of his mind falls away; we kids lose a piece of him. Even if the strokes suddenly stop, he will never again be the Daddy we once knew - not with all the rehab in the world. He will not enjoy a grandchild provided by me. He’s barely had the time to enjoy the lone grandchild he has. She will likely not know his big, bountiful heart, always, always giving - to his own detriment; she will certainly not know his wit - his hybrid humor of Homer Simpson and Oscar Wilde - as his mind simply cannot make a return to that focus - not for great lengths of time, anyway. She will not know his brilliance - my god, his intellect, how smart…and here, I fail. I weep. Just as I have every day since this nightmare began…what? A month ago? Longer? I don’t know anymore. My father’s been in such poor health for so long now… But I learned from him how to play The Clown; any wit I may have - that’s My Daddy, through and through. He’s the one who taught us kids how to find laughter in even the darkest of hours - to remember the happiness, the good and nestle into it, make a home there, and cry…smiling.

I dislike the fact that my father, who gave so much love to this world - so much of himself to so many people - is dying an old man’s death at far too young an age. I dislike that he’s lived in such acute, chronic agony for the latter half of his life. I dislike that I was such a terrible mess of a daughter 7 of the last 8 years, and he’s only seen me well for just over 18 months and I’ve had such little time to show him how sorry I am, how desperately I want to make him proud of me, how much I love him…

I don’t need a fucking button to show that.


Actions may speak louder in the real world, but in cyberspace…

“Social networking.” I thought I was supposed to be talking to you people.

A post from a friend - an article on a terrible injustice, tragedy, catastrophe and, like your friend, you feel a strong sense of dislike for this. Here’s a suggestion: say something. For fuck’s sake - if a dislike button manifests, I’m going to one day head back into the classroom and have 30 students turn in essays for “Argument & Analysis” consisting of this thoughtful contention:

A music video, status update, policy, deity or thought you dis-like, posted by a friend who, clearly, likes it? Try this:


Leave the meanness and ignorance to those who have it outlined in their daily job descriptions: politicians, obnoxious morning DJ’s, people in the tobacco industry (yeah, yeah - shaddup), the guy who works at the Quik-Stop down the road who just…isn’t very nice to me…so I’m hoping it’s in his job description ‘cause otherwise…I dunno…

Or post your own opinion on said disliked…thing but why this compunction to sneeze your disgust on another person’s page like so much Swine Flu? Why can’t you just let them be…happy? Let them be Republican, hippie, pro-marijuana, anti-abortion, yay-werewolf dude, boo-vampire guy, I bet I can find 100,000 people who hate the Gators! without spitting your spite all over it? Yeah, the last one’s personal. All she had to do was join “I bet I can find 100,000 people who hate the Seminoles!” and - tah-dah! - revenge was hers! Instead, the only thing my “friend” said to me over the course of about 6 months was a venting of anger over my joining of aforementioned group - venting punctuated by smiley faces. So when the friends list deletion came nigh…buh-bye. There’s playful banter and then there’s…mean. Flourish your fury with all the winking emoticons you want to - snarky is snarky and your :) does not in any way make nice your nasty, eat-shit-and-die comment…that is now…ON. MY. PAGE! KEEP YOUR YUCK TO *YOURSELF!* I have more than enough shit sandwich on my plate, here, in the real world. Honestly - do I have to deal with such ugliness on a fricking website meant to help me connect and share with the people in my life? And if so…get outta’ my LIFE!

I’m exhausted now. This is good. I think it means I’ve purged and blaaaarrrgghed up a good deal of shit sandwich. I’m sure many of you will put up your dukes, protest with arguments of, “Yeah, but remember when you yelled at me for reading ‘Twilight’?!” and yes, yes I do. I never post my opinion on an update or some-such that doesn’t ask for it outright, or exhibit some sort of question, shock, “Can you believe this?”, etc. - unless I’m being sarcastic-nice. Yeah, it’s possible. My three closest girlfriendships are rooted in loving sarcasm. I don’t know how we’d communicate were it not for the language of the wry and sardonic. But some people don’t speak sarcasm and I now understand that so I tend not to say too much to them. (If I could flip a switch in my head and turn it on and off at will…well, I probably wouldn’t.) I have even been guilty of, I believe thrice, commenting with, “Dislike.” Which bothered me intensely at the time - still does. The blame lies with torpidity. For reasons of exhaustion or simply coming up overdrawn at the word bank, at that moment, the writer could not better express herself - but at least she used a word. "Dislike" or even the illustration of ::THUMBS-DOWN!:: is far preferable to a button clicked. I rarely use LMAO! or LOL! these days - I favor "HA HA HA!" Why? Because I'm a goddamn English professor and when last I taught, 3 years ago, I spent two entire class sessions explaining to my students that "LOL" is NOT A WORD. Not to mention...are we really so damn lazy anymore?

Don't answer that.

And let me state it clear: I was a member of a “make a dislike button” group at one point. Ohyes. So how dare I write this? Because, Confused Reader, your writer…is a stupid one. What I was actually seeking was an “unlike” button. As in, “Somebody liked a status update I posted about my dog dying. They LIKE that my DOG is DEAD. I would like to have the ability to unlike their liking of this.” Once I realized this was not the case, I…dismembered myself? (Really, people, read the update and follow-up comments thoroughly before "liking" - because it makes me wonder, sometimes, who the real crazy is in this dyad.)

But should you wish to interrogate me further, stand me up at the firing line, you will have to wait - for answers, that is. I have responses for all of those types of questions, should they be asked - should anyone even bother to read this…talk about presumption…but don’t expect for me to answer today. I am weary. I am sad. The phone continues to ring with the clamor of bad news.

Do I expect all of you who are members of various “Make a DISLIKE Button” groups to run to the Facebook hills and leave said groups? Hell, no! Do I expect all kinds of sarcastic feedback - specifically, blasé comments of “Dislike” or the more verbose, “Where‘s the dislike button for this?”- at the end of this rambling blaaaaarrrrgh? Of course I do. I may be soft, but I ain’t stupid. I am also Queen Sarcastic - know that, mentally, I’ve preemptively beaten you to the condescending punch.

Will such comments or - worse still! - ignorance of this blaaaarrrrggghhh leave me feeling my bleeding-heart efforts futile?

Nah. Remember - I’m a liberal. I’m used to it.


I dedicate this to you, Daddy. Because I know that, despite your conservative, Catholic, Archie Bunker-esque ways…you’d have read this, then asked me to make “a billlllionty copies on that…doo-flicky thing”…so you could show it off to everyone on your friends list.