Sunday, November 22, 2015

Awfully Detailed

It's probably just the Gee, Aren't You Full of Yourself? disease, but when something is my responsibility and I have to be away from it for any length of time, if someone has to fill in for me, I turn into a terrible, awful person.

I'm awful because I truly believe that whoever is doing it, if they're not me, they're going to do it wrong.


I'm awful, like, obsessing over ever minor detail, awful.

I'm awful, like, make myself sick with worry that it's going to be irreparably fucked up, awful.

I'm awful, like, leaving 12 pages of single spaced, typed instructions, awful.


I have gotten to the place where I at least make the attempt to *not* be awful. I trim the instruction pages down to 5 or 6.

Then I become horrified that one of those things I left on the cutting room floor will be the thing that they screw up because they didn't know.

My best (worst) example of this was when I worked at a Top 40 radio station, and I had to go home for my brother's wedding (Yes, "had to." I would have NEVER taken a fucking vacation day for the hell of it, are you kidding?). My fill-in, a truly lovely person, should have kicked me in the head. Instead, he accepted my typed-in-minute-detail list of instructions, AND patiently listened to my live presentation of said instructions. I left with a pit in my stomach and he, I hope, went home to tell his wife that I was a complete psycho.

Because nothing says, "I disregard your claim of talent" (or hell, responsible adulthood) like telling someone, "I know you may be tempted to do it your way, or even just add some of your own personal touches, but if you do that, the whole thing will go straight to hell, so for god's sake, DON'T."

I can't tell you how many times I have done exactly that. It's a lot.

There is, of course, another angle to this, which is that as a person who massages ever little detail of my work, I am mostly an outstanding employee. I'm good at things. That poor fellow filling in for me for those two stupid days was taking over an insanely highly rated radio show at the time, one that I had created with the sweat of my own insanity. In fact I remember when we got the numbers in, my boss Jack (RIP) just shook his head and said, "well I knew you were *good* but jeezuz-christ." It was a bit of a big deal.

Of course, it wasn't enough of a big deal for me to act like I was handing a Ming vase to a chimpanzee, but ratings are a weird thing. At my job now, where the only person rating me is my boss, I feel confident that she can see that the Pile of Amazing over there is a product of my hard work, and the Heap of Shit is that other guy's stuff (and if she doesn't, I feel confident that I will bring it up next time I talk to her, and she will say nothing more challenging than, "Oh, OK."). With ratings, you need to grab the attention of a group of people who don't really care, make them care, and give them a reason to continue to care, even when their inclination, their instinct, is to, well...not care. Oh, and that same group of people are a bunch of straight-up ADD motherfuckers who have a multitude of other choices. Even when they're easy, it ain't easy. You have to put in the hours, often to the detriment of other things in your so-called life. I'm sure my children have stories. All my exes definitely do.

In short, I have complicated feelings about the awful. I's awful, but I continue to justify it, and actually encourage others to be awful, too.

Example: You're giving me directions to your house because I have never been there. You say something like, "Go down this road three miles and it's on the left."

As I drive down that road, please know that I'm cursing your lack of detail. Sure, I have your house number, but what color is your house? Are there landmarks I should look for to let me know I'm getting close? What does your mailbox look like? Blah, blah, blah.

One time, I was giving someone directions to my house, and I sent them a Word document with PICTURES taken from Google Street View, showing stuff they would see on the way to my house. I even included...and, unashamedly so, suggested points along the route, where it would be a good idea to *change lanes* on the highway.

Yes. I fucking did that. Who doesn't do that, right? What? You think those people got lost? Hell no...they drove straight up to the house (and parked in the location I conveniently pointed out for them, in my finely detailed instructions).

As impressively sick as that is, you better believe that until they arrived, I sat at home, worried that I might have left something out of that document that in its absence would cause them to become horribly lost.

And now...part two of that story...those same people came to visit me on Labor Day weekend. They hadn't been to the house for about a year, and they live far away in a small town, so they have virtually no day-to-day experience with getting around Minneapolis. The husband called the day before they left and asked what is the best way to get to the house. It occurred to me that the previous route I had given them was now completely torn up by road construction and was this year's shit-show of traffic nightmares. I couldn't send them that way again. Only a sadistic monster would do that.

As it happens, there was a LOT of construction between my house and theirs. There was only one route that didn't show up as a red line on the traffic map, and it was my least favorite route. When there is no construction at all, I avoid that route like the plague, but, like many presidential elections, it was the least bad of all the shitty options.

I told him the name of the road.

But...what happened was, because I never drove that way, I didn't know any of the landmarks, or lane changes, or any of that. No clue. I just knew the exit.

I told him the exit.

So, recapping...they have just the name of the road and the name of the exit.

Do you think they got lost? Hell no...they drove right up to the house.

Because they are grown-ass people who can manage without me obsessing.

Of course that didn't stop me from expecting a "we're lost" phone call. Because I'm awful.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

I'm Your Huckleberry

On a recent visit, I looked around the place I grew up and wondered how I would describe the experience of growing up there, or going back to visit, to someone who never had the benefit of the experience.

Maybe you grew up in a city, or hell, even just a town someone has heard of. Any person who had no more than a casual exposure to American sit-coms has an idea what your life was all about.

I didn't grow up there--or anywhere near there. I grew up in a place remote enough that even people who grew up in the same State as me have to be educated as to where that little town is because it's 100 miles from anywhere they've heard of, too.

I left that place. I didn't get pissed and say, "Fuck this, I'm out," or anything like that. I went away to school, liked what I saw, and stayed gone.

I've been gone ever since.

I make little trips back, see all the people who were kind to me, and then I leave again, wanting to bring the people I love back with me to a place I perceive to be better than the place they are.

They would probably be as uncomfortable here as I was there.

There is still a certain Wild West feeling out in Western North Dakota, and not just with the craziness of the oil boom. The sense of "what's right and what's wrong" is carved in the guts of so many people there, and they react to things in the only way that makes sense to them.


A friend of mine back in my home town had one of her children experience a fatal run in with some bad, bad, people.  Her reaction to that was to pull a Curt-Russell-in-Tombstone style of confrontation with some of the lower level bad dudes, telling them to let their bosses know that they just kicked a hornet's nest.
And where I grew up?  That's a perfectly normal reaction to someone fucking with your family.

Where I live now?  That shit would get you arrested.  It doesn't matter that the dude was responsible for the death of your kid--you harass them, and cops put out the closest and most obvious fire. If you're the one who is agitated when they arrive, you're the one that's going in the back of their car.

This weekend someone who lives in North Dakota called me "brave" because I drove them safely through holiday weekend traffic at Mall of America without flinching.

One the courage scale where the high end is "Face to Face Confrontation With Drug Dealers," I can assure you that the opposite end is "Driving to the Mall."

I wonder how soft I've become, having lived away from there for so long, or, if I moved away because I never really had what it takes to make it in a rough and tumble environment.

I assume the latter. I'm a chicken-shit.

Well...maybe less chicken-shit than I think.

Ultimately, it's was through a series of confrontations here in the city that went badly for me that I lost whatever nerve I had.  I approached things with my gut sensibilities when a more sophisticated approach was called for. You can take that to mean I was hoodwinked by someone better at bullshitting than me--that is how I look at it, anyway, because I'm not from around here.

You have to weigh the pros and cons.  I mean it's all well and good that I live in a city with everything available to me and can go out for Pad Thai at 10pm on a Tuesday night, but living in a place where people think it's OK to park in front of your driveway because they do NOT have your same sense of right or wrong makes it difficult to go anywhere at all.

If I still lived out on the prairie, I would totally own a shotgun--the sound of that gun cocking is like a universal (thanks to Hollywood) signal that you are not looking for trouble, but you will defend yourself with deadly force if it comes to it.  Perhaps I will buy one anyway, and keep it here at the apartment--I don't have to ever use it, just cock the gun when I'm feeling vulnerable. (Which would, of course, result in me being arrested for threatening someone with a deadly weapon. Even if the other person was an asshole who needed a little fear put in them, I'd be the agitated one when the cops got there...)

Every time I go back to the prairie, I bristle a little, at the perceived lack of...stuff.  It's not a lack of material things, but, fewer things to do or look at and a limited number of perspectives. It is exactly that limited number of perspectives that makes people who live there feel so strongly about what is right and what is wrong--everybody they know feels the same way they do. I guess that's why I left.  I didn't feel the same way--at least not about everything.

I am not at a point in my life where I feel so beat up by the city that I would leave. I'm not saying that day will never come--it just hasn't yet. If it does, I think I could take it. My shotgun and I would mind our own business until someone messed with us, then we'd be all, "You called down the thunder."

Until then, better sharpen my skills so I can be the thing that cities call for--sophisticated and charming...with my ability to apply deadly force masked behind my sickly appearance.

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Master Debaters

There's no other title for it.

I mean, I'm a creative person, and a sometimes funny person, but even creative people sometimes look at a thing and make the jerking off motion because that's all they've got.

The year and a half of politics leading up to the good part (the part where you vote for the President of the United States if you happen to be a citizen) is going to be especially stupid this time.

In some ways, I want to embrace the stupidity.  I mean...good comedy, right?

Meh...not really.

I mean, it's funny, in the right hands, but mine are tired hands.  As a person who lives here and a person with a over-abundance of empathy, I am ultimately forced to think about this stuff and the thinking leaves me exhausted. My brain is just wired to do it. I tend to think about All The People, like I believe our current President should, and does.

I am physically uncomfortable listening to people...being assholes to other people.

(Of course, your mileage may vary--I'm a Whitey McWhite Girl living in the Middle North, and there are likely plenty of people I've never heard of with very real issues I know nothing about, but yes, as soon as I hear about it, they live there too. With The All.  In my brain.)

I've been in public relations a long time, and I've watched American politics a long time.  My bold statement is this: You cannot be elected President in this country unless people think you are a good guy (or gal...). That have to relate to what they are going through.  You must have empathy.  It is an absolute must, and it is nearly impossible to fake.

Because I firmly believe that you cannot be elected President of the United States without displaying empathy, I know that the billions of dollars, and hours upon hours of time being spent to parade these 17 people around is being completely and utterly wasted.

I want to clarify what I just said there.  I'm sure that each of the individual candidates, in their own space, at home with their families, etc. is probably smart, and nice, and civil to others, or maybe a jokester or family cut-up who makes breakfast for their spouse or takes good care of their families and friends...but that's not what they are selling.

What they are selling is..."I'm an asshole, and an asshole is what you need."

It simply is not true.  It has never, ever been true.


There has not been one time in my life where I have needed one outside of my own personal anus, so...I call bullshit on the whole GOP field right now. Rubio is about the closest thing to a non-asshole they've got, if you ever listen to him in a one-on-one situation, but, how's he doing? Not as well as a perceived non-asshole should be.

So, my media friends will get richer, and comedians will do well, but what's in it for the rest of us?


Zip, because the scenario that puts one of them in the White House involves several people having to DIE first, or otherwise be rendered unable to compete.  That's how much of a long shot we're talking about, here.

Thankfully the bullshit is getting more and more obvious every time--thanks Celebrity Candidates!  You're really driving the point home about how it is all just for show--but for now we still have to go through it, most of us holding our noses the whole way through.

And thank you Social Media for keeping it funny so we can at least laugh about it.  And the Daily Show, and Nightly Show, and all of the other sources of sanity I'll rely on until next November when I nerd out with Maddow on election night.

Til then...just a girl, making the jerk-off gesture over here (which, I suppose, since I'm a girl, looks like I'm offering, but whatever...), because that's all I've got for this bunch.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Mope and Suffer

People who suffer from chronic pain sometimes forget they suffer from chronic pain.

Let me rephrase that...people who suffer from chronic pain work hard to forget that they do, and sometimes achieve that result long enough to be unpleasantly surprised when it inevitably rears its ugly head.

Because if your choices are "mope and suffer" or "try to be as normal as possible," you try.

You always try.

And, depending on the nature of your situation, you can sort of get there. Everything seems normal.
Then one day you find yourself laid out on the sofa with the pillows stacked just so, watching Paul McCartney sound check videos on YouTube with only your right eye open because you think it is entirely possible your left eye might POP OUT due to the fact that it, and the rest of your face feel like they've been whacked with a shovel.

I might be slightly obsessed with that Shovel To The Face thing...

Also...hi! Have you seen that cool sound check video? Get it before the lawyers swoop in! never sure how to go about discussing the fact that I have basically had a headache every day for the last 11 years, or that my ears are always ringing a little, or I always feel a bit of pressure behind my eyes.  I prefer to avoid the subject entirely. The problem is, when you never talk about it, even your best friends forget that it's a thing. Then, when you're not acting like "yourself" they ask what's wrong and you say something like, "It's the same shit that's been wrong for 11 years."

Then everyone feels bad.

Ultimately I suppose that's why we avoid the topic--in addition to wanting to pretend it's not really happening: It's that you're trying to make other people feel better about the fact that you feel like shit by pretending you don't feel like shit.

That's not as martyr-y as it sounds. Maybe you got sick of them asking about it when it first started happening, or maybe they were just never all that interested to begin with.

So you pretend, until you can't.

I'm so used to pretending I'm fine that even when the pain comes back kicking, I maintain my normal activity level long past the point that I should. It gets to the level of, "Hey dipshit, it doesn't matter what pair of glasses you put on. Your eyes are blurry BECAUSE YOUR HEAD IS FUCKED UP."

Anyway...that's my day, today. Sofa-bound. I'm telling the blog instead of telling my fiends because I'm pretty sure nobody here will ask me to explain it or tell me I should "just go to the doctor," as if that thought had never occurred to me in the eleven years I have had a headache. (The only person I want to talk it over with LESS than a friend would be yet another effing doctor...) Secretly I want my friends to bring me ice cream and keep me company but I suppose "mope and suffer" is meant to be done alone.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


I have not been able to watch the "arrest video" of Sandra Bland.

I have seen it roll, without sound, or with subtitles, or hearing only a snippet, several times today, but can't bring myself to watch the whole thing because I'm afraid the ugly will make me physically sick.

Of course, I have that privilege, of not seeing it. The subject of the video does not.

I sense that the cop in question will appear to me as one of the evil racist characters in a movie about the civil rights era, only not as elegantly written, and that's why I don't want to watch it. Those characters make me feel sick, too.

In those movies, there is a lot of oppression and killing, and, at the end they show the victims displaying some grand dignity as they rise above it all.

I suspect that part of the reason you see the "dignity" piece at the end is because we want to tell ourselves, "See, they're OK! They're OK. They made it."

Like it wasn't that bad.

We soften the picture so much that it becomes completely detached from reality. We pretend the suffering was short term and that everybody is happy now.

But that movie hasn't ended yet--it's on some infinite loop at the part that made white people uncomfortable. weary, as I think a lot of people are. I am weary even though I, as a typical white American, can turn off the TV or not read the hash tag, and ultimately never experience anything remotely as awful at the experience thrust upon Sandra Bland. As someone smarter than me said recently, if you're tired of hearing about it, think how tired you would be of living it. That, stupidly, adds another layer of exhaustion to the whole thing, because I'm not capable of living it, so...I dunno.

As a person who makes a study and living from image, public relations and similar science, I must say...the bad guys in the USA have been bringing their A Game to this "paint black people as lesser humans" for...well, forever, essentially, or at least ever since they first thought about bringing one to this country. They don't even need the secret meetings anymore-- everybody knows exactly what to say to maintain the image:

"He went for my gun."
"She was being combative."
"He/She had a shady past."
"He shouldn't have talked back to the cop."

And we nod our agreement, like, "yes, yes...they talked back...he had no other option but to wrestle them to the ground and perhaps put a bullet in them." We don't even notice how utterly absurd that is that we have drawn a straight line between You Committed A Misdemeanor (or no crime at all, just perceived non-compliance) and You Must Die.

We keep buying this shit. It's killing us like a cancer, but the sales pitch is so perfect at this point that even some black people believe it.

I guess my question is, who has to be killed before we wake up to the notion that it's wrong?

Seriously, I'm asking as a sociology question.

Do you remember how when HIV was new-ish, everyone said, "Sure it's bad but that's one of those things that other people get, not me"? And then Magic Johnson happened and Snap! we all woke up to the idea that it was bad, AND we could get it too?

That's what I'm talking about.

I have seen numerous intelligent, well  respected and well paid people who happen to be black say out loud on national media, "Hey, you know what? It can be different for black people sometimes. We have to tell our kids to behave a certain way to hopefully keep them safe, and we have to be really, really on top of our game to make it because of this perception of 'less than' that permeates our community."

So it's not like nobody famous is saying it's an issue.

Where is the Magic Johnson moment? When does the turnaround happen?

Every time there is some highly publicised and sketchy death of a black person in this country, there is an immediate "What were they doing to deserve it?" followed by a round of "Here's the victim's criminal record". And very handily, the dye is cast and a killing is "justified."

At what point is this society finally going to kill a game changer? Someone not so easily dismissed as "justified?" Are we there yet?

Let me be clear. I don't want any other people to die in this way--to be in the wrong place at the wrong time on the wrong person's bad day. I don't want that. Each time breaks my heart.

I want it to be now. I want that person to be Sandra Bland.

I already see people online saying, "she shouldn't have been so arrogant or talked back to that cop." To them I can only ask, when was the last time YOU spent 3 days in JAIL for failing to use your turn signal? When was the last time you were pulled over for ANY reason, and asked to exit your vehicle? Because the thing is, it doesn't happen to everybody, so I get that you can't relate. It only happens to some. If you're white, you can sit there and tell that cop you know your rights, and nothing will happen to you. If you're not white, you are somehow, bizarrely, charged with "resisting arrest," which is...what the fuck is that? You can't be resisting arrest if you're not being arrested for *something* in the first place and after 14 times of asking, "Why am I being arrested?" that cop never once answered Sandra.

Even if it turns out that she did in fact kill herself in that cell, the reason she was in that cell in the first place is all right there on that sickening tape. It's wrong in every possible way.

So I am asking...hoping...that it is Sandra who turns out to be the game changer. Please let it be her. Let us put ourselves in her shoes as best we can in our privileged existence and say, "Yes, if that had happened to me, I would identify that arrest as unjustified and wrong."

Keep saying her name.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Misery May Love Company, but Company Thinks Misery Should Crawl Off and Die Already

Every once in a while, I answer a random phone call and as a result, end up spending a fair amount of time consoling a friend who just got done talking to their parent and that (shitty) parent chose to make their own kid feel bad because their kid happens to be gay.

I'm sending a mental shovel to the face for that parent.

I'm picturing that Johnny Depp movie Secret Window, and, obviously, the shovel to the face scene. That's the exact Shovel To The Face I'm picturing for that dad.

Or should I say "dad"?

"Misery causer"


"Your Idea Here"
Worth noting, my friend is not some scatterbrain dipshit deserving of any kind of scorn, much less scorn from her own father, and she has been with her one partner 4 times as long as any relationship I have ever been in.

Can the bigot POS generation just die already?  And leave my friend a big fat inheritance that she ironically spends on some kind of super-gay party?

Because that would totally bar-tend for that function.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

That Time My Blog Went Into A Coma and When I Pulled the Plug I Discovered It Was Still Alive

I have had this space for a long time, and I used to love it so much. Then I stopped, and I think we can just come right out and say now that it was in fact Facebook that ruined this blog for me, and Facebook that made me stop writing for fun.
So I hate them for that. social media...whateverthefuck you are! How dare you force me to visit repeatedly?
But seriously...the integration of the blog and FB made me stop talking because you know how it is over there.
Oh come know.
The same reason you can't post political crap is the reason you can't tell some jokes on Facebook.
You know that if you drop the big scary f-bomb that your elderly aunt will call your mom or some shit, and they'll have a long discussion about how embarrassing you are and/or how you're making yourself look like a terrible person with the language and the sex jokes.
And worst of all...she's a liberal!
Oh, that's just me then? Seriously? The rest of you don't have "conservative" friends on Facebook? Not politically conservative, I mean friends like the ones who scold you because they think calling some bad driver a "fucking cunt" for cutting you off and almost causing a crash is like, WAY over the top.
It's not. Let me tell you something: When I am driving, virtually EVERY OTHER PERSON on or near the road is a fucking idiot. And some of them are worse in varying degrees. Got it? Good.
Anyway. What happened was this: At some point, I got a Facebook account. Shortly thereafter, I decided to import the blog into my Facebook profile, under the misguided notion that it would be "fun" and there would be more readers and of course it's the best thing to do! Why would you not do that?
Because it's a terrible idea.
Here is the thing. I have what I call the Fortified Inner Circle. It is a very small group of people who get Shelly: Fully Loaded for most conversations. That includes the language and the OH MY GAWD THAT'S FILTHY AND I FUCKING LOVE IT bits. In other words--unfiltered. I hate to use that word because everybody is using that word but sometimes people latch on to words that the rest of us would like to use in real speech instead of hashtags for pictures of our fucking lunch on Instagram so yes...unfiltered.
That is not to say that all I ever do in real life is make blow job jokes and swear. I just have certain people with whom I can say anything without fear of them freaking out.
I tried, and was mostly successful, doing "unfiltered" here at the blog. For the most part, I liked it. It was mostly smooth and occasionally scratchy. Just like me.  Every once in a while I would write something that became somewhat popular with a certain group of people. Unfortunately, it was usually a "smooth," and the people in question were people I knew in real life--like when I wrote about being proud of my husband for taking a big risk and career move. The people who liked my husband in real life (there were many) loved that post. What they didn't love is when they noticed that I wasn't always so nice to him on the blog. Or nice in general. Or that I used this space to poke fun at people doing ridiculous shit. My husband thought I was funny, by the way, and I would estimate a good 70% of my jokes about him came directly FROM him. People would not understand that because they don't understand the writing process, I suppose. Here's a hint: You use EVERYTHING. If you're good, you can do it in such a way that doesn't anger your significant other. Mine was never, ever, upset with me about anything I wrote. But people thought I was a horrible person because of...jokes.
And that is what was happening over at Facebook. Bottom line, I actually know the people. There are very, very few "friends" of mine on Facebook that I have not and spent time with in real life. They think I'm a certain somebody, but, as we now know, only the Fortified Inner Circle is aware that I'm not really her. People, that elderly aunt of mine is a tough audience. Those jokes were not things I would say at her dinner table. She's the one with the 600 Jesus posts interspersed with the God Bless Our Troops posts. To her credit, she did stop posting anti-Obama stuff when I appealed to her good Christian nature and asked that she pray for him instead. While I don't personally pray for the President, I do find the ploy, er...I mean idea that the man clearly needs help in prayer to be a good diversion for the actual Christians who are not just hateful bigots hiding behind a cross. (Those idiots cannot be reasoned with.) "Real" Christians will stop being assholes if you ask them nicely, because they're not actual assholes, they just got temporarily sucked into the asshole vortex.
Long story longer, I have de-integrated the blog and the Facebook. After a long time writing broadcast quality jokes (clean) for wide consumption there, I am ready to return to this little outlet where I can write longer stuff without giving a fuck about who might be paying attention (or calling my mom). I am going to assume that NOBODY is paying attention. If I write something I like, I will link via twitter only, if at all.
This is also a little challenge for me to write more of my own stuff and start using my brain again. I do write for a living (actual money changes hands...), but that is a precision thing, very technical, and examined by a team a lawyers before publish. This is just the old "from the hip" stuff. It's going to be rough, maybe for a long while. I don't care, though, because I have the luxury of knowing that unlike on Facebook, nobody is reading this shit, which is a good thing, because it's going to get a little scratchy.

Friday, July 17, 2015

It's a Blog

The last time I wrote in this blog, somebody died.

That's what it takes to get me to scratch out more than 140 characters anymore, apparently.

I'll try to do a better job, though don't expect this post to be any good. Somebody else has died.  Because that's what it fucking takes.

I discovered, against my will, that when someone dies, and it affects me, I take to the page. It's the only thing that makes sense to do.

I've not been called to do so, but, I *know this girl, so...this is what I do when someone dies.

Her ma and I used to pull shit back in high school together, though she was much better at it than me.  I grew up and moved away, she grew up and stayed.  Babies, grand babies and all--she lived the rural thing with her land, and her horses and kids and husband.  Jodi was her youngest child, at 20.

My friend and her husband, I tell most anyone who will listen, are two of the finest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  There is a line in an Indigo Girls song that goes, "That's the place where it feels good fallin'." That's what those two are to me. Go away, come back, flop down in a seat in their shop and it's like you never left. Hours later, you finally look at the time and say, "shit, I should probably call my mom." That's just how it is there. Sophisticated? Purposefully not. Educated? They know their shit, meaning, they know everything about what they need to know about and don't bother with the rest of it, which keeps things simple for them I guess. Seems luxurious in the telling.

My friend jokes that she is Granny Clampett, and I think that's as close a pop-culture description as any of us could pull out of our asses, so we'll go with it. Yes, she has oil money. No it hasn't changed her. She is the exact same person she always was: Heart of gold, means well, mischievous as all hell, easy laugh, always offers a pipe, and takes care of her own. "Her own," by the way, is an ever expanding circle.  When she is talking about one of her kids, or even just someone close to the family, she calls them "our Jane" or "our Mike" (or whatever) and takes ownership of their well-being in that way. It's a thing so unique to anyone I know, and demonstrates fully how very much she considers she and her husband a team, and her family a team. 

Anyway...about Jodi.

When I say I know this girl, I must confess up front...I don't know this girl.  I've not met her or spent time talking to her or babysat her, and she and my kids weren't friends or anything like that. And I accept the fact that I am an asshole for saying that I did know her, but you know what...?  Fuck it, I did.

I WAS her, for several years, anyway, and she was certainly her mother's daughter, so...yes. I know exactly who the fuck she was.

And that's the best and worst thing about this story.

Rural North Dakota...that life is not easy. It's not any easy thing. Not easy to raise kids, not easy to get by, not easy to drive to the store and get fucking groceries in February. I left because I'm fucking lazy and I thought I was special. The people who stay, even though it is the modern times now and you can get the internet and everything (yes...people still assume it's wagon trails...), it's still not easy for them. Being a kid there--ages 15-22, say--it's not like being a kid here in the city. I tell people I am lucky to be alive, and you know what? I'm not kidding. Teenage life, depending on who you hang with, can be harrowing there. You get in the wrong car, go to the wrong party, might not make it home. 

One could say the same is true no matter where you grow up--I'm not so sure. My kids grew up in a city and I never once thought about them dying by being drunk and chasing a herd of deer through a pasture in a 4WD pickup being driven by someone equally drunk and stupid. I suppose my mom never thought of that, either, but that's one of the many ways I almost died in my teens. Got lucky. On my father's 50th birthday, he was called out to help the volunteer ambulance crew cut my younger brother and friends out of a vehicle they had smashed up while drunk. Everyone survived, but again...lucky. The history of Western ND, and especially my friend's family, is full of young people dying, in ways city kids don't even think about. I'm more afraid for my daughter when she visits her grandparents and friends out there than I ever am here in Minneapolis.

And so...Jodi.  I won't say how she died, but I will say with some certainty that dying was not her intention--probably never occurred to her. She was doing something that I probably would have done, if I was her age and I still lived there. She was a smart girl, and smart girls...have a harder time in that place. Being a girl, first of all, comes with more and different pressure than being a guy. That's true everywhere, but really amplified, I think, in a small town. You spend a lot of time thinking/wishing things were different. The things you do to shut your brain don't admit that's why you do them, but it is. None of it ever works, and if it does, it's only temporary, but you do it anyway because the thinking can be painful when you feel like people won't understand or accept what's coming out of you.  It's different for girls. You dream the same as other girls in other places do, but your options are limited, and yours seem so far out of reach that it's painful--that's not to say that these kids are killing themselves purposely, they're just taking risks that 9 times out of ten will be a funny story later, but the 10th time, it's the sheriff driving to your parent's house and asking to come in. Their moms and dads may not remember being bored and unhappy and looking for something. To them, it's the perfect life--quiet, everybody knows everybody, and they know exactly what to expect, every day. That's like walking death for some kids, so they do things to just shut it all out for a while. To this very day, I still crave that--it's in the blood. Sometimes I can't take people telling me what to do or even suggesting what to do with my life. I just have the wisdom/luxury/maturity to be alone now, instead of trying to medicate or scare it out of myself like I used to when I was her age.

The randomness of it all is what hurts those left behind, especially because we've all done that kind of shit. I'd raise a fucking beer to the girl, and I know that's what her family and friends are doing, but it all just seems so fucking wrong that this is the first way of honoring her that pops into all our heads. That's how we handle it. That's how we handle everything.

Is there an "It Gets Better" campaign for rural girls? There should be.