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May 13, 2011

About comments

We need to talk.

Since everyone gets supremely interested in the comments on/off thing (and since I pretty much hate addressing it) no one ever really knows what's going on with me. So let's address it once and for all. Here is what's really going on.

I started this online diary for one reason: I love to write. I didn't write it for other people or for approval or for feedback or to start a career or a platform or to "social network" or for any reason at all other than my deep desire to blab. I love to yammer on and on about all kinds of things and I needed an outlet and that's how this particular website started. Prior to this blog, a word I still don't much like, I used to write a small, quirky online diary with no comments. That site was funny and kind of bitchy and mostly focused on how much I wanted to eat carbs and how dumb I thought the corporate dress code was. I stopped writing that website when my marriage fell apart.

Before the grumpy carb-crazed diary I wrote and managed an online magazine that was gigantic and had a huge message board community. But even with its massive size there was a buffer for me -- I wrote my daily essays using a pseudonym. It was a character I played, no one knew my real name. And message boards are not quite as personal and direct as comments. The stuff I write here is very personal. My name is on it. You know what I look like. The comments here feel more like a conversation.

Most of the time I love that conversation. I love reading about your lives and kids and dogs and cats and shoes and what you're eating. I adore those comments because they make me feel like I have a social life! Through the blog comments I have learned about all kinds of great products and recipes and websites. I appreciate it and it makes me feel good about life and about writing. I like the way you see the world.

Then there are all the shoulds. You should do this, no you should do that, no you shouldn't clean your house so much, you have OCD and should be on medication, you're an alcoholic and should be at a meeting, you should find Christ, you should buy a new car, you should have a baby, you should leave L.A., you should you should blah blah blah.

It makes me insane. Some folks thrive on that kind of feedback. I do not. It makes me want to stab Debbie Downer with a knitting needle. It makes me want to end this website and start a new website but with a fake name where I can be free to be myself and not have strangers pee on my cornflakes.

And that is absurd because I already have a great website. And most people are fantastic and I love them. Why should I leave my own house because one or two or 200 people have no filter? This is nuts! So things are changing. Today. Now.

I have tried to be graceful and accepting and shrug off the barrage of shoulds. The rational portion of my brain reminds me people are just trying to be helpful in their own way, and I remind myself not to be sensitive but it isn't working. The louder part of my brain says SHUT IT DOWN. It's changing the way I write and not in a good way. I self-edit in anticipation of what the naysayers and pickers and pedants will say, sometimes to the point that I give up altogether on a topic and just post a cat picture.

On the Friday episode of Oprah the great Toni Morrison spoke softly about her need for one sacred space that was all hers, where she was free to be herself. She said that everyone needs a small thing in life that is theirs, something they can put their whole self into. Something nobody else can dictate. And for me that's writing. Especially this website. I built it, I wrote it, I (poorly) programmed the database, I made the goofy artwork. It's imperfect and sometimes the writing is whiny or dorky or badly punctuated or way too selfhelpy but it's all mine. And I get to shape it into what works for me.

What works for me is using this online diary as an outlet, not as a forum for strangers to tell me how to live. I need to be still and quiet and real and I need to write. That's how I stay sane. In the past month and a half I lost a home, a friend and now my car. That is a lot of fucking turmoil. It's perfectly normal and natural to be a little fragile when your whole life goes beserk. I have not handled the recent shoulds all that well. I'm sorry if I snapped at people. It's not your fault. This is my responsibiliy. I made the mistake of letting the comments stand, thinking I could will myself to be a different person that I am. And I didn't set any clear ground rules. Obviously it didn't work.

I need room and quiet to settle down and clear my head so that I don't feel like running off to Mexico to join a cartel and wear billowly MC Hammer Pants and call myself Senorita Gatita.

I need time spent in the pure pleasure of writing -- not worrying or defending myself or explaining myself or carefully wording things so that people don't peck at them. I know other people are awesome at accepting all the advice of the internet but it's just not my strength. That's never going to be my movie. Let's accept it and move on.

I am no longer the world's largest ongoing communal art project. You share your life, I'll share mine and let's make a pact not to tell each other what kind of car to drive or who to love or where to live or how to worship or where to volunteer. Also, let's all recognize that it's just rude to tell a woman she needs to be medicated because she likes a clean house. That is mad ridiculous, ya'll! Cleaning is great cardio!

That should stuff is now over and done. Those comments will be deleted and IP addresses will be filtered. I don't need everyone to love me or agree with me or even like what I like. I do need to stop allowing crazyass comments from people I would not even ask for directions to the store. I'm going to be in a whole new age bracket soon, this is as fine a time as any to start drawing big lines on how I allow people to talk to me.

Wow, I kind of sounded like a badass there. Go me.

And sometimes I may just want to write and not have chitchat. That is not a bad thing. Not everything in life has to be a committee vote. Toni Morrison is right. Each of us needs to have a place to breathe, a sacred space to cultivate and grow exactly as we wish. This is mine. I want to keep it and not have to run off and join a Mexican drug cartel and assume a new identity. Even though I do secretly think I would look awesome in some MC Hammer pants.

Posted by laurie at May 13, 2011 7:55 PM