For a while, when I was pregnant and blogs were still new, I was the top commenter on my blog. And of course, every post I write is sort of an ode to me, or at least an ode to the current diatribe-colored glasses I’m wearing. So there was no need for a shout-out.
Then I wrote a lot on mainstream media sites, and I didn’t need to write an ode to my top commenters because my bosses did. When they fired me. I got fired from Yahoo because a big advertiser commented one too many times that I was terrible for women. I got fired from a newspaper because a guy set up spam bot, or whatever it’s called, to comment that I’m an idiot for saying job hopping is good.
Usually my editor, who is now Melissa, would take out the part where I misuse the word spam bot. She works hard to make sure I don’t look old and outdated. She tells me I should not use Snapchat like it’s email, and then she edits one of my best snaps for the blog to celebrate my coolness. So I’m writing a note here to the editor: don’t delete the part where I misuse spam bot. If I did misuse it. I’m ready to risk sounding old and technically incompetent on my blog. There’s a reason old people sound technically incompetent: They don’t fucking care.
Speaking of Melissa, she used to be my top commenter. But probably it doesn’t count. Because she’s always been the top commenter on blog posts my last editor, Jay, said I shouldn’t post. Melissa’s comments were something like, “Jay is right. It’s stupid. No one cares.” And anyway, I’ve written 500 odes to Melissa. She doesn’t need anymore.
Oh. Wait. She’ll be upset if she reads that. Because unlike everyone else I write about, she never gets sick of popping up in blog posts. So here’s a tidbit. Melissa sent me an article about how Gen Y is Gen Y is obsessed with plants. I didn’t tell her that I think a Gen Y-er wrote that to feel important.
Really, I think that data is related to the data I read in The Economist about how Gen Y women make sex too easy for Gen Y men so the men never want to get married. And even though Melissa’s boyfriend is Gen X, and I really really like him, I think she should tell him she doesn’t have time for sex because she’s taking care of her huge collection of plants. I bet he’d get much faster with a ring.
Mark is the top commenter. If you read the comments you know him. I think he’s been reading my blog since before I was even writing it because sometimes it seems like he knows what’s in my brain before it’s even on the page.
In a comment on my last post he said he gave up trying to win the game of life. Of course I get it. I strive to be less game-playing and more in-the-moment-living. But since I fail at that let me say that I wish the game of life were to send me the most great links and post the most comments on my blog. Mark would win. (Well, spammers would win, but they are in a different category.)
And Mark’s emails to me are so heartfelt that I always think they are squandered in my in box and should be comments so everyone can see. And he manages to express so much in an email without ever using an emoji, which I have started noticing because I read that we perceive people who use emojis in emails as less intelligent.
I wonder if the person who authored that study is really old (which I guess is probably my contemporary, now that I’m 50.) I remember when “polls” showed Gen X has no ambition and “studies” show Gen Y are narcissists. And it all seems to point to universal truth that people old enough to fund research are disconnected from the realities of people too young to fund research.
Generations always feel disconnected from each other. It’s just that when you are young and disconnected we call it forward thinking. Now I look for new badges of honor. I think somewhere in the pile of badges unformed is a badge of honor for being connected. Maintaining a relationship over a long period of time becomes a badge when you have lived a long time.
So life is a game, even if Mark and I are trying to make it something else, and Mark is a winner, and so am I. And the link Melissa sent me about Gen Y taking care of plants is really about their attempts at connection.
I went to visit Melissa and her engagement-delinquent boyfriend in LA, because Melissa, like everyone else in the world, can identify good advice (if you’re 30 don’t relocate without a ring) but she doesn’t follow it. And I went to a garden place which had amazing, museum-quality bonsai and starter vegetable packs. And she bought plants to replace the ones that died on her watch. I gently steered her to sturdy succulents but did not tell her they’re harder to kill.
She lined up her succulents in neat rows all over her apartment like I used to line my apartments with books.
The she called me a week after my visit.
“Remember the tall plant in the corner? The one I’ve kept alive for two years and watered so carefully? I just realized it’s actually fake.”
It’s scary to commit to anything long-term. It might be a deep connection. It might be plastic. You have to take a leap of faith, with every comment, every email, every visit, that the time investment is good. Connection is difficult and fragile that is why it’s a badge for winners.