What Lies Below

Thus begins the part of this blog which isn't The Thing Is. It will continue to grow as I reconstruct my typing past. The posts which follow are a pour-over of what I've written since I began creating online columns online across a variety of platforms. Although I've been columning since I was sixteen, those earlier pieces exist solely on papyrus and as pictograms in Southwestern rock outcroppings.


This is the writer and person I was; the writer and person I was becoming. You'll notice that the earliest posts are suspiciously short, almost tweet-like. These are from a time when I was compulsively logging in as a matter of survival on a day job in an engineering firm. They are abbreviated shrieks from the deep, as time at work allowed. What now would have made for a social media post was slathered on a blog, even if it was only a line about the upcoming television schedule, especially if it was a line or two about the upcoming television schedule. Where else was I going to go with this? Have an actual conversation with another human being?


Part of me shied away from preserving what is the literary equivalent of hanging a finger painting next to a college admission essay, but the history minor in me won out. They constitute a record just as much as a census. Why find embarrassment over a listing of my old addresses and phone numbers? I made friends, both personal and virtual, with these posts. I built a (tiny, tiny) fan base. Where I see fault, they found something worthwhile at the time, and who am I to tell them otherwise? When my husband found my writing and, he says, began to fall in love with me, this is what he read.


Most of these posts survive in all their awkward angles and aunt jokes, although some weren't carried over because 1) they were just too... embarrassingly nasty and hurtful and are either words I would no longer write or reflect beliefs I no longer have (I had a lot to learn; still do) 2) they contained links to articles listed either in my portfolio or which have vanished into the Internet deep 3) they were political in nature, a thing I have quite abandoned.


Although I aimed for some time at a career in political commentary, I retired at the age of 27, after the 2004 election. The ugliness of that contest, combined with the polito-emotional agony of the 2000 recount, had seeped too far into my pores. And I found that I was becoming ugly, too. This turned out to be that great rarity--a wise career decision on my part. I thought we'd never see the like of that kind of inter-voter fighting again, but, as you might expect when humans are given a lifesaving device for instantaneous communication, it got worse.


We are now experiencing an all-out American civil cold war, and my role is now to create space for those who must rest awhile. I still closely follow politics, but as a quiet, tormented observer sitting atop a Red Cross wagon. Maybe someday we can speak softly and thoughtfully to one another as human begins. I suspect this happens now, in coffee shop lines and across bartops. But not often enough.


I vote; I read; I pray. But the daily exhausting e-fray is for people who don't burst into tears when her sandal accidentally falls in the trash can (don't ask.)


Working with this text has granted me a fresh appreciation for those of you who have supported me from the very beginning of my career--as far back as high school, as far back as those fat pixels on a hard-curved computer monitor. You commented. You emailed. You bought books. You sent money. Most of all, you settled in across the chasm, waving back, and I knew that no matter what else happened in my switchback career or spiky life changes, I wasn't alone.


Thank you.

Mary Beth is an introvert.

She is eager to communicate but prefers doing so via email, a giant stage, or intense conversation about Important Things.

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