Saturday, March 15, 2014


Got myself fired from the last blog I wrote.  I woke up yesterday not feeling well and feeling, especially, emotionally drained.  This business of studying my anxiety and studying what happens when I push against it, is wearying and it drops on me once a week like a black cloud that can't produce rain.  When I got the Facebook/text message telling me I was fired, I pretty much fell prey to the vapors.  I apologized, of course.  I hadn't intended to hurt anyone nor did I use names.  But I've seen myself caricatured in former friends' novels and stories and I know as well as anyone how much words can hurt. 

My immediate feelings were regret at hurting people I respect, and outrage at an anonymous reaction to the blog, which I published and you can read if you want.  A long time ago, I decided to vett comments because I was getting sales pitches; by having that option, I sometimes hear from people who want to maintain their privacy.  I didn't close comments to polish anything.

And I guess that led to my third reaction: I am what I am and I choose to write as honestly as I can about it.  I feel so full of fucked-up-ness that almost the only thing I can do is try to make it an asset.  I don't do this anonymously, I don't respond to people anonymously, I take risks.  Sometimes I am harsher than I should be because the writer takes over and calls a dog autistic.  I think I've called myself worse things in print.

I can see why it's hard to be my friend or be related to me.

In thinking about "I am what I am," I thought about the fact that the people involved in this firing don't know that I've pitched in financially to help people I know but have never spoken to when they were at rock bottom, or that I pick up litter or that whatever other stuff I'm not coming up with in the moment that is generous or kind or sweet or paying it forward, a sentiment I believe strongly in.  It became all about the Bad Stuff.  I wanted to claim in public that I have some good stuff, too.  I need to do that for myself.

This morning I asked myself the important question: would I not have posted that blog if I could turn back the clock?


I was startled at that answer.  It made me ask if I would have changed other, worse disruptions I've created and I was equally startled at the no I answered with.  If I have blogged from great pain and it has hurt someone, I was still telling my truth.  If I blew up at someone and was fired as a consequence, looked at honestly, it was time for me to blow up in a hamstrung situation.

If I made a comprehensive list of all my regrets, would I change them?  I have to think maybe not.

What I would change is my reactions to them, the unfortunate tendency I have to harbor regrets and grudges, the weight, literal and metaphorical, of them that I carry.

And I would change how I act on regrets from here on out.

Oddly, one of the friends who dropped unwittingly in to my rescue is someone who, in my mind's eye, swims in such regrets.  This friend is part of the graveyard that my hometown is for me.  There was an Incident.  I have never known how to get past the Incident and all the residual damage it caused.  It happened long ago and I have a hard time separating the living flesh of a relationship from the decay and bones of what can't be revived.

But I badly want to.  I'm going to try.

Sometimes the regrets aren't only about what is dead and should be buried but about the things left for dead that, when time passes, prove to be dynamically alive.

The worst of my fondling of all my regrets is that I leave myself for dead among them.  That is when life happened; this is the elegy.  It's time for me to re-evaluate regret, I think, and recognize that I'm alive.  My future is so terribly uncertain -- I don't want to be a dog walker in Brooklyn and I don't know how not to be.  But I'm breathing, I have a big vocabulary, I have no known mortal diseases.  The most secure of future-oriented persons in the world could be hit by a bus tomorrow: certainty and ambition and desire are only qualifiable, not quantifiable.   I may not have much of these things but I'm not dead.

And I have this post to prove it.


Sylvia Marshall said...

Blogs, when well done are open, honest to the point of brutality, self-deprecating in the extreme and occasionally painful to execute. And funny to the reader! That is the mark of a great writer. Your post was all of these things and I'm sad one of the commenters took it too literally (obviously someone not accustomed to reading with any literary comprehension competency. The other commenter took the blog as it was to be taken, and inside view of the moment to moment thoughts we all have but rarely have the skill to put into words. That commenter understood what a blog/memoir is about.

I feel sad that some can't see past literary endeavor and you ended up losing your job over it. But on the bright side, it seems more people than you expect are reading your blog! How else would they have been offended. However if they have been reading your blog with any regularity, I'd have thought they would recognize your caustic sense of humor by now.

Hilary said...

Frances, Once again, I love it that you're posting so often again and am enjoying reading your stuff so much. We know you're a decent person--not every dog walker would have cleaned up that poop! I think most of us love the unvarnished Frances with her newly varnished toenails.

Want you to know that I've loved the Rosary in the past but hadn't said it for quite a while. You gave me the idea and I said it yesterday and it was great. It was just the way people talk about meditation which I've never been able to do--the kind where you just keep repeating the same word--boring! The Rosary is prayer and meditation and thanks for reminding me of it.

Who is that guru who talks about the "pain body" we all carry around? I forget. But we all have one. We all have guilt and rage. Take comfort in your writing. Congratulations on writing the short story! Enjoy the company of your dogs. My brother dearly loves his dog and just recently lost a friend because of an offhand comment he made about him. We'll never please all of the people all of the time.

Anxiety sucks big time!

Nanette said...

Well, Frances, it's like I told my mom when she worried that I'd be sued for writing about things that happened 3 generations ago: people will be offended by anything, even the words "and" and "the".