Open Salon has dribbled itself from a place I go to a place that comes to me. I had it compartmentalized, who I read and interacted with, who my real friends were, and then who were not my real friends, but people I knew through Facebook. Facebook changed things. "Friend" became a verb.
On Facebook, I had maybe a handful of people I'd never personally, physically met. One is Jaimie Franchi, a blogger/writer/English major/mother of two who lives in Canada and "friended" me because our names were so similar. Turns out, there are a lot of similarities and for a while there, we butted into each other's profiles to comment and chat and get to know each other. I don't feel like she's a stranger anymore.
I discovered Meta Salon Blogatorium a few months ago. I'm not quite sure, but it must have appeared on one of my OS friend's pages, and I went to investigate. I was allowed to join. There I found a mobile community. OS came closer to my world. The edges became blurred.
I must have "friended" Joan H. first on Facebook. Although her writing slays me and humbles me, she doesn't intimidate me. I thought from her posts that she was gentle and kind. I am right about that. Right, and still humbled to "know" her. Though we've never met. From there, I ventured to friend Ann Nichols, whose writing skills and recipes I covet.
Candace Mann scares the hell out of me. I discovered her when she made some crack about me on Tr ig's page, commenting on a post he wrote about farting or something. I had written a post called "Aromatherapy," fueled by the scent of a man who sat next to me on a train, recalling the way my father smelled of cigarettes. High on an EP, I went to investigate this Candace. I favorited her, just to send a little message. Like, yeah, I see you talkin' bout me.
Then I read her posts. I went back to the first one, on Kissing. Awestruck. Half in love with her, I kept reading. I must have read ten posts by the time I got an e-mail telling me Bingo! There is a comment on my blog. It was from Candace. She complimented my words. Knowing where that was coming from, I was high again.
Candace is sassy, and gorgeous, and has smarts and attitude and talent. She is what I wish I was, but can't quite pull off.
Responding to a private message I had sent Chicago Guy, he suggested (insisted) that I submit something to a web site called Fictionique, which he asserted had a great editorial presence and would be a good home for my writing. I did. I was rejected. I did again. I received a personal note from LC Neal telling me what good things she'd heard about me from her assistant editor, Candace. The Candace. She told me to keep submitting. I did. I looked through my files for some fiction, something that might be great, or maybe good enough. I found the first chapter of a novel I had an idea for, months earlier. I had written it on a plane, saved it, and forgot about it. It was one of the best pieces of writing I'd written. There's a novel there, most of which I have mapped out in my head. I sent it to Lisa. And she took it.
I started to write it again. To write a lot. Though I've since abandoned it, the acceptance of my work by Fictionique and the continued EPs here and there and encouraging comments built my confidence. I friended Candace too. And so many others. It doesn't feel like we've never met.
I started here one year ago today. I was interning for a celebrity online rag and talked my way into writing column for their stay at home mom web site, and another daily column on Obama news. I began to secretly post the bits I wrote there on here. And I got found out. Got a stiff talking to. Got fired. It inspired the post "Fuck Me? No fuck you". :) (My year here hasn't equipped me with the knowledge of how toi link a post.)
But it was freeing. I would blog a few times about jobs I got fired from, trying to work out what it was about me that couldn't stay gainfully employed. The rules, stacked so neatly, outlining boundaries and behavior practices that for others don't appear as the taunts of delicious dares, at some time or another became things that couldn't reel me in.
I came here to stretch my legs, to get "discovered." Yet, it was me who discovered you. This year I read your talented words and wished I'd written them, but what touched me always was the honesty. The confessions. The unblinking anguish that you put out there so plainly. I'm thinking of LunchLady here, who I'd never commented on, but read, and dreamed about, and loved from here. I peeked inside your childhood homes, held your hands as you dealt with illness and loss, swallowed lumps in my throat when you shaved your son's head and sent him off to boot camp, cooked your recipes, listened to your songs. I learned of political injustices. I laughed at stories of talking animals and food fights at Thanksgiving, vowed to touch people more, and wished you all a Merry Christmas. I cheered as you recovered from sickness and traveled again, when your son took up fencing and found the thing that he felt good about. I cried at your brother's slow decline. I shook my fist at the empty sky when LA Swat team officers stormed your apartment and threatened you and your mother. I loved.
And somewhere along the line, I discovered something about myself. The elusive job I can't hold? It isn't out there. It's here. It's the part of me that continues to learn from you, the part that can't be separated from me at the hands of a boss in charge. It's the writer I've come to accept in myself. The part that OS taught me to own.
I thank you all for that, my friends (noun and verb.)