I don't think I've ever seen my mom so upset.
If her brows had reached any farther up, they would have become part of her hairline. Her eyes were wide with fear and her mouth aquiver. She appeared stunned, like she had just heard terrible news and what I was about to say would only confirm her darkest fears: An old boyfriend or (even worse!) a mean girl from high school (twenty plus years ago) had found my blog and emailed scathing remarks to me about my writing. In turn, I had clearly become distraught and spiraled into a dark place of self-loathing and violent, retalitory plans. I would slit my own throat and convince my attacker to electrocute his or herself in the bathtub with their plugged in laptop. I had truly gone off the deep end, and Mom was watching it all happen before her eyes. No wonder she reached for the phone in panic, deciding between a frantic call to my sister or 911.
12 hours earlier...
I'm at home, on my couch, laptop screen glowing white. My blog is up and the cursor is blinking. Blinking. Blinking. Come oooooon! Think of something to wriiiiiiite. I was suddenly aware of my inner-critic kicking in. I've been working on tuning it out, turning it off- and this is one reason writing frequenly on a blog has been helpful for me. I just write. Write, a quick scan for spelling errors, and click "publish." I allow no time to revise. I don't sit on anything long enough for the self-criticism to kick in. I just take the plunge.
So, when I heard the critic start to whisper, then pick up volume, and eventually pull up a lawn chair in the little nubbin part by my earlobe, I knew I had to address it somehow. People can't stand reading your self-indulgent crap. I looked at the blinking cursor. You think it's interesting for other people to read about your random thoughts? Cursor still blinking. And how about the images that flicker in your head. They're not only boring, they're freaky. Freaky bad. Not freaky entertaining. And the cursor blinks on. Besides, even if you do happen to post something funny, you won't be able to do it again. Blink. Blink. Blink. You're a one-hit blogging wonder. You should have stopped after the first post. Way to lure people in then serve them up a pile of crap. And it blinks. And blinks. And blinks.
Okay. So what if there were someone who absolutely couldn't stand reading my blog, but did so anyway? What if this person wasn't just mildly irritated by my writing, but it infuriated them to the point of near violence, like road rage on the computer? I started to picture this person, getting all worked up and finally snapping in the most absurd way. And I began typing to him.
My fingers were clicking on the keys; the words were coming at a rapid pace. I got the smile that I get when I'm entertained by something- the one where my tongue sticks out just a little tiny bit. I was personifying my own critic, and it was hilarious to me. At the end, the critic becomes so enraged that he flings his laptop around the room, knocks down a bunch of shit, and crawls, fully-clothed, into a filled bathtub. Ridiculous.
Leaving this guy in the bathtub, crying "angry tears," cradling his laptop and rocking slightly back and forth, I clicked on "publish" and snapped my laptop shut. I readied myself for bed. I did a little journaling, and soon fell asleep like a little baby.
I'm sure I was up and at work the next morning by the time my mom woke and decided to go online. Perhaps she checked her email first. Caught up on the news. Maybe she checked the weather forecast. Either way, she made her way to my blog and read the latest post titled "An Open Letter To Those Who Don't Care For My Writing." By paragraph one, her heart began racing. By paragraph three, her stomach had sunk to the ground. By the middle of the post, her legs were like two cement blocks. And by the end- well, by the end she was nearly beside herself.
Who had hurt her baby? Who was it? Who drove her little girl to such despair? My mother vascillated between utter fear and mother-bear insticts; ready to find the bastard that infiltrated my blog and drown him in a tub herself, if she had to. What had they possibly said to me? My mom began searching, searching. Clicking through each of my previous 9 blog entries and reading the comments below. They had seemed benign enough. Maybe I had already deleted it. Certainly this monster could be blocked from ever reading my blog again, right?
She had no idea that my writing was meant to be humorous. She had taken everything quite literally.
"What is going on? I've been sick about this all day!" It must have confused my mom to see me bouncing down the street, walking my dog and smiling in that way that I do. That general content with life smile that seems not to be the face of someone who was planning both a murder and suicide.
"What do you mean, Mom?"
"I read your blog." (Pause. Frightened stare.)
"Who is the person that is writing such mean things to you?"
"I...uh...what do you mean, exactly?"
"It was so....violent. Slitting throats. I thought you were trying to get someone to do something because you were so upset."
"You know. Go into the bathtub with their computer. And electrify themselves."
"Mom...that was meant to be humorous."
"Well, maybe next time you could write a disclaimer or something. You know. Like, 'the following is meant to be funny.'"
"Didn't think I needed to, Mom."
"Well, you did." (Long pause.) "I guess now you're going to tell me that all the animals in Animal Farm weren't actually animals."
I love you, Mom.