Tag Archives: mark twain

Because this Facebook post is going to save America

I’ve been reading a lot of Mark Twain this summer. In fact, a few weeks ago, I dramatically declared to my husband that “this is The Summer of Twain!” while wearing a straw hat and holding a fishin’ pole (because everything is more fun when you can annoy your spouse with it).

It started out that I simply wanted to re-read the adventures of Tom and Huck on long, hot, lazy afternoons. But then, while searching for my copies of these books, I found seven other Twain books languishing on my shelves. Challenge accepted! I thought to myself as I instantly started searching for fishin’ poles on Amazon so I could properly break the news to my husband.

I’m happy to report that so far it’s turning out to be one of my better life decisions (much better than my decision last summer to sign my toddler up for soccer). It’s also having some unexpected patriotic side effects.

I was halfway through “Tom Sawyer,” for example, when a flood of memories from my semi-feral childhood in rural Ohio crashed into my brain. The next thing I know I’m asking my kids if they want to go down to the “crick” and have a picnic (to which they responded by staring at me with professional-grade disdain).

I was only one chapter into “Life on the Mississippi” before I found myself doing CPR on my ancient, wheezing junior high plans to visit every state in the Union.

And then there’s the quotes. Oh, those quotes. The man would just spit out viral-ready gems like “Loyalty to the nation all the time, loyalty to the government when it deserves it” long before the Internet was even a twinkle in Al Gore’s great-grandpa’s eye.

It’s that last one I blame for convincing me it was a good idea to write a political post on Facebook even though previous experience has taught me that there is only one way that ends, which is with all parties involved concluding this world can only be cleansed by fire.

I knew better. You reading this know better. My dog, who has his own Twitter account, knows better. Yet, there I was, romanticizing in my head how Twain brilliantly shed light on our faults as a country and why can’t I do that? I mean, I know words and stuff. Sometimes even BIG words. And with that fail-safe logic, I quickly assured myself that this Facebook political post would be different.

Not only that but it would MAKE all the difference.

It will be well-thought out, says I, clever even, a bit funny, yet poignant, a chastising that morphs into a rallying cry but with a sprinkling of self-deprecation so as to make the medicine go down easier. I mean, I’m not such a Pollyanna that I think a cheesy little paragraph on social media could truly solve anything (I’m only a quarter Pollyanna on my mother’s side). But, on the other hand, these four sentences could be the wisest and most courageous thing the Internet has ever seen.

I won’t know until I try, right?

So I type it out on my phone while pacing the dining room floor, my fingers flying over the tiny keyboard. I’m excited. Nervous almost. So much so it takes a while because I keep making typos. I reread it. Erase that part. Think it over. Put it back in. NO, SWEETIE, MOMMA CAN’T HELP YOU WITH YOUR UNDERWEAR. SHE’S BUSY SAVING AMERICA. Change the wording here. Is that how you spell “tyranny”? I don’t want to get ahead of myself but can you win awards for these kinds of thing? SO GO NAKED THEN. I’LL HELP WHEN I’M DONE BEING AN AMAZING PATRIOT.

I quickly post it. Before I lose my nerve. But already regret has started to set in. I take a deep breathe and remind myself it will all be fine. I just need to remember not to respond to any comments. I already said what I had to say. Let everyone else sling mud at each other down in the gutters.

And I firmly stick by that. For all of three minutes. It’s just this one guy, you know? He’s so smug. So I gently point out how he’s wrong. And three exchanges later, I gently point out how he can suck it. I’m outraged and also nauseous that anyone could believe the things this random person I now hate believes. But I can’t stop. I can’t just WALK AWAY. I have to win this fight. I have to make them see how stupid they are. Win the online fight, win AMERICA.

Except no one wins. Except maybe Facebook.

Hours, sometimes days, later, it’s all over and I feel vaguely dirty and vow to never, ever discuss politics ever again.

But I will. Because this country has been very good to me and I love it for that. So I’m going to keep fighting to make it good for everybody.

And because I may just be another idiot arguing on the Internet but I refuse to let those other idiots have the last word.

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I’m happy…and it’s just the worst

Writer’s block.

Block o’ the writer.

Le bloc de scribe.

Blockity block block.

Block is a funny word.

Block.

Block.

Block.

And the word has lost all meaning to me.

Block. It doesn’t even sound like a real word. Blockblockblockblockblockblock.

I want cheese.

I don’t know if you can tell or not, but I’ve been having a touch of the writer’s block lately. So please forgive me for my introduction. I once had an English professor tell me that the only cure for writer’s block was to just start writing, even if it didn’t make sense, and eventually the words would start flowing.

And he was right. They are now, indeed, flowing. Right up shit creek. Sans paddles.

A point. I should have a point. Yes, because that is what writing is for, to get to “the” point. Unless it’s poetry. Or a thinly-veiled autobiographical novel by a 25-year-old post-grad student who writes on a typewriter because it’s more “authentic.”

The point is, I’m happy. And that is, obviously, the problem.

See, happy people generally don’t become writers. Not that they can’t or that there aren’t currently happy people writing. Or even that an otherwise miserable writer can’t be happy from time to time. But there is a reason the majority of the best ones end up in the gutter dying of tuberculous and alcoholism and cousin-marrying diseases.

Let’s put it this way, our most optimistic motto comes from Ernest Hemingway and goes “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

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A lot of writing comes from dark places. Even if you fancy yourself a humor writer, such as a certain someone I know that is totally me. In fact, I’d even be willing to throw out the theory that funny writing often comes from some of the darkest places of all. I got ten bucks that says Dave Barry, Erma Bombeck and Mark Twain all sacrificed baby goats and then drank a gallon of whiskey before putting pen to paper.

And while in general I think I’m a fairly content and optimistic person, there was always some deep down angst I could draw from before in my writing, no matter how great my life was going. Daddy issues. An eating disorder. Betrayals by former boyfriends. Financial instability. The premature cancelation of “Firefly.” That one time I had to go to the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving.

Not that I really wrote about those particular things (the grocery store incident notwithstanding…that one was a three-parter). I just used my former bitterness and sadness to help me laugh at the world. In fact, that’s why I wanted to become a humor writer in the first place. The world is significantly less scary if you can make fun of it.

However, I am currently living through what will be my good ‘ol days. And I am lucky enough to realize this as I’m going through it. Which is amazing.

But as a writer, it’s kryptonite. No one wants to read about other people’s happy lives. We want to read about how messed up other people’s lives are so we feel better about our own messed up lives. We weren’t forced kicking and screaming to read “Anna Karenina” in high school because she ends up happily married with a half dozen adorable, cherubic babies running happily through her skirts. No! We were forced to read it so we could all go “well, at least my life ain’t as screwed up as that chick’s.”

It’s like my stupid, adorable, perfect husband and my stupid, adorable, perfect son and our stupid, adorable, perfect life together has shot a ray of pure friggin’ sunshine and rainbows into my very own heart of darkness. How do you make fun of your life and have sentences dripping with snark when you wake up every morning like bloody freaking Snow White, singing as you get dressed and feeling absolutely no desire to throw your hot coffee on the bird singing outside your window?

I’m happy, dammit.

I guess the only thing to do now is just sit back and enjoy it like the happy and mature person I apparently am now. (But all while secretly counting down the days until my baby hits the Terrible Twos and I’ll be miserable again).

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go think of some trivial subject that I can pick a fight with my husband over so I have a topic for next week.

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