Life, cross sectional


Note to world #6649

Thank god for social media.

It reminds me every day that I’m not really as strange as I worry I might be.

In fact, I am downright plainly normal compared to the world wide web and that is a pretty

a w e s o m e

revelation for me.

Note to world #8843

The bartender offered her a special drink to sip while she sat and watched the hurricane swirl magnificently across the screen above the bar.

He had invented it himself, he said – called it the Mandatory Evacuation.

She turned it down because (a) she was annoyed by the interruption and (b) it sounded more like a heavy laxative than a fun cocktail.

She just wanted her usual vodka tonic and silence tonight.

Note to world #3352

It was my favorite sort of irony, really – so how could I even be hurt or angry?

My youngest child made an irritated and impatient note about the fact that I had purchased shampoo and conditioner that had no bearing on who my actual daughter was.

“Mom, this is for people with curly hair, and it just makes my hair weird.”

I had been so enraptured by the hot pink color of the bottles and the fancy font that screamed ‘mango butter and lemon’ that I hadn’t noticed the ‘curly’ part.

I had been so proud of finding a new trendy shampoo in millennial pink that I couldn’t see ‘curly’ on the label.

I apologized. My daughter, super charged on teen annoyance and otherwise quite confident that I hadn’t been paying attention to the details for a while now, said: “Don’t worry. I’ll order my own from Amazon.”

And oh, she did. Yes —-

She ordered something called “NOT YOUR MOTHER’S shampoo”…. and as a woman who bought a shampoo named VERB because I love words and not because I knew anything about the product … I just couldn’t help but wonder about the message being conveyed.

[With delight, I admit. With delight.]

A journal, says Oliver

I kept journals intermittently as a girl … before I started to worry that the journals would betray me.

It all began with Ms. Hayward, my seventh grade English teacher, and her fondness for passing around ripped pages from Readers Digest. My favorite pages held the Quotable Quotes, many of which I wrote down in my journals.

This one stayed and haunted me: “Keep a secret and you are it’s master. Tell a secret and you become it’s slave.”

I felt like my entire existence was a shameful secret, something I didn’t want anyone to know, something I wanted to forget. So I stopped writing it all down.

I let go of it – and all my words – for such a very long time. But slowly, I have been gathering my words together and trying to make sense of myself again. And this time around, it feels liberating.

[Although – for the record – I am a huge deleter of emails, texts, voicemails and other electronic errata]

Note to world #9399

It was difficult to watch:

my ex husband so full of whiskey and bullshit, smoking one cigarette after another

criticizing my daughter in the same tones he had used to undermine my own fragile confidence over the course of our marriage

I knew she wanted me to let it go, and I was trying hard, but I finally asked him to stop being so mean

to which he said: I’m not being mean, I’m just making fun of her – which I’m entitled to do as her dad

and for two seconds, we were married again and a lonely pang pierced me so I couldn’t breathe

gloria beatty, 2018

Sometimes I get carried away and think my life belongs to me.

I forget momentarily that I am someone’s mother, manager, employer, pet owner or coworker – and that I have a Pavlovian response to their needs and desires.

Other people’s needs, the dog’s schedule, my job, my incessant guilt, the sheer fatigue at it all – these are the things that stop me and hold me in place.

Oh, and the enormity of all my failings and flaws and imperfections.

I hold myself in total self-inflicted paralysis.

I become an internet astronaut, an explorer of the World Wide Web – reading about everything I don’t dare do or see or taste or experience – all of which can be wedged between everyone else’s stuff.

I rationalize these imagined restraints on my alleged life until they seem so real that there is no other choice.

I seek temporary relief in the form of randomly scheduled facials, erratically timed trips to the gym and the occasional new top.

But it’s not enough.


I am: never enough.