Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Flowers for michael

So I popped home yesterday for a 30 minute break and checked the blog. There hadn't been too many comments, but there was one individual who had taken issue with my writing and then took issue with one of the beloved and faithful commenters. I was instantly hacked off. I felt much as I do when I see someone let their dog shit on my lawn without picking it up. I fired up my fingers to write a definitive and scathing response in the comments as I couldn't respond to the individual privately. But before I clicked "post comment" I remembered to breathe. Now this is progress. I actually stopped myself before acting on the rage. I just told a story about this very thing a couple days ago, from when I was 10 years old. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am a slow learner.

I left the house and cursed drivers and traffic instead.

Arriving at the afternoon lesson a bit early, I had 20 minutes to enjoy before beginning. I took my book and sat in the adjacent park and opened to the next chapter. I had to read the first paragraph five or six times because the angry voice inside me kept dragging my attention away. To what I should say, or should have said. To what I will write the next day about the silliness of the word terrorist. I'll spare you the details. Okay, except maybe just one. You know, I much preferred "suicide bomber", as it more aptly described individuals now known simply as terrorists. Trust me, we (the west) sow plenty of terror. Yes, I had a veritable masterpiece of vitriol I was composing in my head. These thoughts made my stomach contract and my jaws clench. So I kept bringing my attention back to the paragraph, much like you try to ignore a toothache. Finally, I read.

Sometimes you have to be hit over the head repeatedly to understand something. Cue hammer.

The chapter was like a direct lesson to my current experience. Funny how the universe does that sometimes. The chapter titled "The Carpet Guy" tells of how he swindled the author out of $50. (She talks about God a lot in this book, which doesn't bother me that much, because I just substitute the word universe when I'm reading. A little "higher power" trick I learned at a meeting somewhere.) Once realizing she had been cheated by the carpet guy, she flew into a self-righteous rage. But at the end of the tale, she sends the guy some flowers because she actually learned something about herself. She never got her money back.


I started to giggle at myself. A whole hour of my interior life for a semi-anonymous comment from one of what, six? seven? billion people on the planet. I just offered up all my power on a platter, didn't I? Relinquished happiness, my specialty. And then something strange came over me, as the lesson, ding ding ding we have a winner, really sunk in. And I just loved myself. Not in the boastful gloaty way. More like in the motherly way when her child shits the bed, or lets the skunk inside to play. We're all just awful messes, we human beings. Well, maybe not all the time, if you're like me, long stretches of non-messed-upness can come off quite convincingly. Still, there is always death, and that's bound to be messy anyway.

A broad smile implanted itself on my face, like it was taped there. I went inside and greeted my students.


Michael said...


I had no idea my comments would affect you in that way. I didn't mean to make anyone upset, and I certainly didn't mean to "take issue" in the way you think I did.

As a NYC resident, I wanted to let you know why I disagreed with your comments. I wasn't nasty, nor was I trying to be mean.

I am unsure how the Iranian's visit played outside of NYC, but here it was a huge deal. The remarks made by the President of Columbia pretty much sum-up the mood.

Leaving aside whether the Iranian President should have been able to speak, the man himself represents many things to the people here.

My two comments represent those thoughts:

1.) Iran is a state-sponsor of terrorists and a visit to Ground Zero would be a publicity stunt/propaganda tool.

2.) Iran isn't the entire Arab world. If Egypt's President wanted to visit Ground Zero, there wouldn't have been a backlash because Egypt's President doesn't represent #1 above.

Whether the US and other countries "sow plenty of terror" is a debate not meant for a comments thread. But, taking that comment as true, I fail to see how that modifies anything current to the Iranian President.

Ground Zero is a hallowed place for NYC residents (not to mention, most of the country). Whether the US is doing things outside of the country that are "terrorist-like" means pretty much nothing to NYC residents. It's our site. We went through the day, and broader international US actions do not give any foreign leader the absolute right to visit the site.

To reiterate: I am not trying to be upset anyone. I am just trying to explain my thoughts.

Lemuel said...

I really do not have an SM fetish (well, maybe I do in secret ;) ), but there have been many times when my friends (yes, friends) who read my blog or whom I know in real life have taken me to task for something I said, wrote, or did. Sometimes (often) I see truth in their chastisement; sometimes, not. Sometimes what they say angers me at first. But I try always to reflect on what they say and learn, as your author did and as you did, a truth about myself.

I celebrate your experience!

The Wisdom of Wislon said...


It's good to rant :>)

David said...

I didn't see anything aggressive in Michael's comments yesterday. And his response to Ed was measured and reasonable. I can't say I disagree with anything he said. I am also impressed that he made a point to apologize for upsetting you and rephrased his comment.

I certainly have "taken issue" (i.e. disagreed) with you on numerous occasions and you have always treated our differences of opinion respectfully, just as I respect yours.

I wonder what it was about Michael's comment that set you off? Still, I'm glad you let it go.

tornwordo said...

I just take issue with the hijacking of the blog thing. Plus the self-righteousness that so many of us (including myself) are blind to.

mainja said...

nicely said.

Ed said...

Opinions are like belly buttons, everyone has one. I think we have stirred up a hornets nest in the middle east and will live to regret it. Abe Lincoln said, "If you want to destroy your enemy, make him your friend."

Snooze said...

I am so happy that you are willing to share your reflections and learnings with all of us.

Cooper said...

I often think we are all muddled, glorious messes as we struggle to belong, to feel loved, to find something deeply meaningful in the way we live our lives. Maybe we all need to send flowers to ourselves once in a while.

GayProf said...

I really agree with your zen-like strategy. It's something that I feel like I have lost over the past few months.

em said...

Oh God.

Devo said...

This is all so interesting. I can very much relate to your experience and your feelings about it, although as a reader, I didn't see that coming at all. If it were my own blog, I am sure I would respond differently, much as you did. So darn interesting, and I love that you sorted it all out in your head and then shared that so openly with all of us.

Patricia said...

learning to breathe... it's a huge accomplishment. and i mean that with all sincerity! sometimes i succeed, sometimes i sputter and fly off the handle.

i just love being in on the process (by way of blogs) of people i have grown to care about.

Gregory said...

i guess i can understand your feeling...a blog, though public, in some ways feels like a personal space, so while someone might disagree with me about something in particular, i still feel as though this is MY space to blather on and i don't feel that it's a space to get into a political debate, etc. so when a political debate becomes "tacked on" it feels kind of like an invasion. like someone at the next table jumping in on your conversation at a restaurant and suddenly taking it to a place you never intended.

having said that, though, i guess when you put thoughts out there, it's part of the natural order of things...

by the way, i read your blog like every day and have for ages...it's weird to feel like you know someone without them having one iota of your existence.

Daniel, the Guy in the Desert said...

I kind of popped off, too, and lost my center.
I don't do very well responding to what I perceive as fountains of dogmatic certainty.

Enemy of the Republic said...

I haven't read the comments, but I had one who tried to hijack my blog until two commenters told me to lay off. He wrote me very nasty emails. It got so ridiculous that my husband had to write him back and pull the man thing. Yes, we all get preachy at times. But it's your blog, your rules and you know who has your back here.

Lightning Bug's Butt said...

Good work, TW. For a second, I panicked because I thought the offending commenter was me.

I really teed off on that Aqua-Velva-jad bag-o-douche.

abnitude said...

what a great lif lesson you have given us. it reminded me of an interview i saw of maya angelou who was commenting on her abusive husband. she said that she had realized he had been verbally abusing her and every comment he made, picked away another piece of her. the lightbulb went off and she knew there would eventually be mothing left, so she ended her marriage. she said she would never let anyone"s words eat away at her again. she was better then that. i think you made the same point. going on with your day and refraining to put your anger in writing, you didn't lose any part of yourself!

Laverne said...

It's so strange how we all interpret other's comments. I immediately went back to yesterday's comments and couldn't figure out who you were perturbed with... had to read today's to figure it out.

First off, there's no tone or inflection to hear, some people want the give and take of discussion, and then there's what's important to whom.

Sounds like you ended on a good note.

dbv said...

great story!!!

Signalite said...

I've learned to embrace the mess. It's the only way I get through the day.

Mark in DE said...

Wow, such a beautifully told lesson. I think the whole of the experience can be summed up by your comment "A whole hour of my interior life for a semi-anonymous comment from one of what, six? seven? billion people on the planet. I just offered up all my power on a platter, didn't I? Relinquished happiness, my specialty."

Too many times we spend/sacrifice countless hours of time and precious energy deciding how to 'right' those who have wronged us, even the anonymous ones, when all we really need is to keep it in perspective.

Good lesson - thanks for sharing it with us.


Truthspew said...

Seems you've learned what I've known for some time. The world is full of mud and shit. Once you acknowledge the fact you can rise above it all.

dawn said...

Well look at this, life lessons in blog form.

I kinda expected some inspirational music to accompany the last part of the blog. Maybe a high-five with a stranger. And a hug. Always a hug.

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