Writing about your friends on the internet

I bite into this apple of creative energy and there’s a worm in it; another project eats away at the time and thought I normally put into my Thursday update. I’m working on a thing that my collaborator and I avoid putting the b-word on like that’s some sort of curse, but yeah, it wants to be a Book.

(We’re basically writing about our sexy times and our sad times, framed as a series of letters between lovers.)

I’ve been somewhat hush about this writing project because I know sharing too much too soon can crush my enthusiasm. Once someone’s read it, it’s lived its purpose and I lose interest. However... The thing is upwards of 50k words by now (raw, disorganized words at times but still words) so I feel a little braver. I can almost see the finish line, and this time instead of tripping over a false sense of confidence, I’m eagerly putting one foot in front of the other to draw the conclusion closer to me.

I’m not just sharing this information as an excuse of a blog post, and I’m really not sharing this to create hype out of my writing project & 50 friends bugging me to finish it already && when can they read it? — though that may be a fun side effect. Truthfully, I just want to say it occurs to me that I’m struggling with the same thing in my writing project as this blog project, and that is, writing about my friends.

I navigate thornier ground with the b-word thing, because I’m writing about friends I’ve seen naked. Wait, who am I kidding? At some of the parties I go to I see y’all naked too. Anyway, at what point am I crossing the line between enumerating the details of my personal experience to exposing too much about people I care about, even if the law of memoirs means truth is fair game?

I think we can all agree that killing a rattlesnake, cleaning, baking, and eating it at dawn* is an occasion worth commemorating. By contrast (though proudly displaying the burn marks to all) the guy who opted to get branded with a potato masher may not want me to publish any of his identifying details. Yeah, you didn’t go to that party, you don’t get to know.

Remember, though, the “list 10 friends” fad back in Myspace days? It probably started with guidelines like:

  1. Say something to the person you wish you could talk to but can’t
  2. Say something to your BFF
  3. Say something to your crush
  4. etc….

I think by the end of the meme’s lifespan, the rules disintegrated/purified to their true motivations: let’s write 10 anonymous things about each other so we can splash around in puddles of narcissism.

It was glorious to recognize myself. Perhaps I’m really fucking arrogant to believe this, but I think it’d be pretty fun to find yourself in this blog, too. Unless, of course, you said something sexist to me. And while sexists are assholes that deserve to be defamed, anyone reading this should realize my perception of reality has its limits.

FOR FUCKING EXAMPLE: I described a guy in a cookie monster onesie in a less-than-flattering context, only to realize later that I know this guy and he was chummy with me for good reasons. My bad. Guys with brown hair all look the same to me. We all have a lot of people to keep track of in this day and age — and for some reason I prioritize learning the faces of lady people…

Anyway, my dear readers, my baby birds I want to feed and feed, what’s going on here? Do you prefer reading about other people? Are you yearning for your own cameo? Are you just glad I manage to update every Thursday, like a goddamn consistent person? Like, you read me the same as you’d watch a dying TV show past its prime but you might as well since it’s still going every week, did you hear they’re making a season 6 why don’t you kill me already…

The truth is, for me, I’m just obsessed with all of you sometimes. I want to know if it’s okay to write about you. Picasso’s girlfriend probably didn’t tell him to hide away the portraits he made of her saying, ‘baby, what? I look so ugly, do you really think my nose is that big? My eyes are that..awkwardly placed in relationship to the rest of my face parts, seriously they aren’t even pointing in the same direction…??’ But I’m not Picasso and these sentences are search-indexable. I owe you your privacy, perhaps.

P.S. If you’ve been waiting for your cameo, here it is: Yes I did write this because at your party you said, “Careful around her, you might end up on the internet.”


*This occurred the night I contracted strep, but I didn’t write about it because I missed most of the rattler feast when I conked out early on a bottle of Jameson. Didn’t feel like my story to tell, which is the rubric I’ve used thus far in choosing what to put to words.

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Don’t Apologize & Never Say Sorry

I cringe when people apologize to me. Exchanging guilt and forgiveness is one of the most awkward human experiences, in my opinion. When a scared dog is on its back pissing itself, I’m not feeling like the sadistic alpha with all the power. Instead I’m thinking, “Oh, no, jesus, there is urine everywhere.” There’s something insane about the idea that I should barter my shame for an ounce of redemption, when I honestly think most people don’t even want my shame. I mean, they want to hear about it, but they don’t want it specifically vomited in their direction like some sort of unanswerable question.

Think about it. Any time someone has told you in so many words, “I’m sorry, I’m terrible, I’m a worthless person,” you just wanted them to shut up. Are they trying to get you to comfort them? When did you sign up for this? You were so over that thing they did so long ago that you forgot it was even a thing.

At some point in my life, I just stopped saying sorry. Repercussions? Zero. I think people like me better for it. “That lady is kinda mean but I think I like her.” I am a whirling force of fun. Some calamity is inevitable. I make it clear I intend no malice, and the impressions of my misdeeds fall away like fat off a spit-roast. Besides, I pay for most of my sins automatically, foremost in nasty hangovers. And, you know, I get the strep of death.

I really think nobody cares that I almost never apologize. No one is keeping track. Nobody notices what you’re doing, until you do it eleventeen times and they finally realize you are a writer because you like, have a blog…

Guilt feels like a wasteful emotion. I know if I wrong someone bad enough, begging for their forgiveness isn’t going to magically make them happy with me again. If I can’t fix things, or time can’t fix things, or if their achy breaky heart just don’t understand….then they’re kind of a lost cause to me. Feeling guilty is all that’s left and is really my own problem, a problem that I choose to not have.

Just saying sorry is totally different than owning your mistakes. I still do this on the regular. “I totally thought your drink was my drink, and I drank all of it.” You should see the relief on people’s faces when the source of their woe is a real human person and not malicious, drink-stealing mystery gnomes. People only like good mysteries, as in, “Sami is being mysterious, maybe she’s fantasizing about me being naked with her. Maybe she is writing this as a secret message directly to me because she thinks I’m super great. Naked. Great when naked, specifically. Ok maybe in general, also.”  People hate bad mysteries, as in, “Is that vomit on the floor, or just rice pudding?” When you can fill people in on the mistake or bad decision that negatively affected them, they are usually relieved that the puzzle is solved. Oh, that’s Susan’s vomit on the floor? Susan better clean that up.

Or, of course, there’s the scenario when you know somebody is guilty and you’re sure they’ll never confess. Suddenly you’re relieved when Susan says, “I did it. I threw up on the floor.” And you had worked out an intricate yet stressful plan to expose her to everyone at the party for the secretive puke monster you assumed her to be…

So, yeah, if I screw up I will do the opposite of try to hide it. Bonus, if I shout my mistakes to the world they are more receptive to my bragging. “I know Sami said she is a badass who orders bacon on her vegetarian sandwiches, but I am more likely to believe it because she also admitted she sucks at Pinterest. Haha, Pinterest is so easy she must be an idiot be a well-rounded individual who is totally dumb at some things and totally awesome at other things.”

Other people have not gotten on my anti-apology train. For long-time friends who make a habit out of saying sorry for everything, I just let my eyes glaze over and pretend it didn’t happen. Or, if they know me well enough, I tell them, ENOUGH WITH YOUR PARANOID GROVELLING. Prospective friends get a brief on my feelings on the subject. Most do well and quit telling me they’re sorry they said this thing or the other when my reaction isn’t immediate sugary approval.

BUT, once in awhile, from the leftest field of whackadoodle, I get an “expired apology.” That’s what prompted this rant, btw. An expired apology is one that is so old in respect to its crime that it’s completely missed its window and should stay in a deep basement to rot with the rest of your baggage. Seriously, it would make the recipient way happier if you just felt bad about yourself the rest of your life rather than bother them by digging up that musty dirt clod…

This particular musty dirt clod was an ex-boyfriend. He preempted his apology by saying, ‘I know this is too little too late.’ IF HE KNEW THAT WAS TRUE, THEN WHY BOTHER? He wrote to me what, if I based my knowledge on the serial-dater that I once knew, I could only assume came from an apology form letter that he sent to all 20 of his exes. Hint: if your apology contains the words, “I fucked up and there’s no excuse or explanation that can make up for it…” you are not revealing a mature knowledge of your mistakes and their consequences. You’re just pissing yourself.

I planned to contemplate why he might be contacting me 5+ years after our brief and ridiculous relationship to solicit forgiveness. I really don’t assume that he gave me a form letter – I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt that they are being sincere, and I bet he wrote up a stale-apology just for me. I was going to try to offer him some solace, tell him I was crazy back then anyway and it’s not a big deal.

But I didn’t do that. Maybe apologies confuse and irritate me or maybe I’m just a big meanie but I definitely did not react the way he hoped when he sent me his plea for a pardon. I’ll share my first paragraph:

Come on, we dated for 2 or 3 months. If you really think the damage to my pride via you lasted more than a couple weeks, you’re insane. Sure, when people are exchanging dating horror stories, I do tell them about the immature and idiotic way in which you ended our relationship.* I hope you’ve learned not to date anyone when you are literally too broke to afford to dump a woman over coffee like an adult.

Or I could just be bitter because I thought I was in control and so out of his league like I was his Charlie Nicholson, but he dumped me.

I have had apologies come from the deep past and work. The key, it seems, is when the ex-boyfriend first attempts a conversation with me. A conversation without motive. This ex was my high-school beau, whom I dated for a long freaking time. We ended up in a class together in college, and I decided to reward his uneasy wave and smile by taking the seat next to him. I wanted to be an adult, too.

We chatted at each lecture, both very aware that he had been awful to me (that is, more awful than teenagers are to each other by default) but wanting to be civil. After all, we’d spent a good chunk of our lives together and it seemed silly to not try to be friends, or to not, at least, try to learn from each other. Eventually, the apology came. He hinted at some horrifying moment in our past, and stopped. He said, “I understand now that I was a complete asshole to you. I’m really sorry.” Now that, that was a professional apology. He was owning his mistake, when it was relevant, and not making it more or less than it needed to be with platitudes or drivel. He wasn’t saying it because he wanted my forgiveness, he wasn’t saying it for closure, he didn’t have aims to say it in the first place. The moment came for it, he took it, and I do feel a lot better hearing it.

An apology is meaningless when you ask it for yourself, when it is presented without context, when it is premeditated and rehearsed, when it is meant to heal your own shame. But if you’re ever given the chance to tell someone, honestly and without personal gain, that you’ve made a mistake, take it. Strangely enough, I think that’s the moment you’re most likely to receive forgiveness.


*He dumped me over the phone because he didn’t have enough gas money to meet me. This, after spending the night at my place the evening before. Poor planning, really.