I Hate This.

August 5, 2009 at 1:23 am (By Amba) (, )

It’s like hunting ghosts.  It’s like eating in dreams.  It’s like climbing a mountain and still being at the bottom, and then doing it again just in case it’s different this time.

Online.  Isn’t that a prison term?  Or is that “walk the line”?

This is not a life.  It’s barely even the mirage of a life.  It sucks the life out of life in exchange for an empty promise.

#      #     #

I wrote a post late last night and deleted it because it was churlish, ungrateful, insatiable, and inhospitable.  If someone saw it at that late hour, and I hope not, know that it was intended for you least of all.


  1. Donna B. said,

    I didn’t see that post, and frankly I’m confused about what you mean. I’m also concerned.

  2. michael reynolds said,

    Okay, look, by now we all understand that you’re human. If there’s one thing you’ve done above all else with this blog it’s present the character of Annie Gottlieb. I think I speak for pretty much all of us when I say most of us wish we had your strength and loyalty and wisdom and endurance. There’s not one of us who doesn’t think the world would be a better place if there were a million or so clones of you added to the mix.

    But no one expects you to be a fucking saint. We’re not idiots, we can fill in the blanks. The things you do that you’re ashamed of we’ve long since guessed. You’d be boring if you were some paragon. You get mad. You get unreasonable. You feel self pity. We guessed all that.

    I didn’t see the post. But if you blew off some steam, got rude, demanding, bitchy, cranky, whatever, we all kind of figure you’re entitled. No one’s going to be offended. No one’s going to give up on you. No one’s going to stop reading the Annie and Jacques story because it’s a great story. You’re writing us a book, bit by bit, over the course of years.

    We’re not much use, we faithful readers, but as useless as we are, we’re here.

  3. amba12 said,

    That doing this leaves me empty and nowhere. It gives the illusion of movement, engrossment, company, and productivity but it all evaporates, it gets no traction, only distraction, it changes nothing. (Might as well be a distracted since can’t change anything regardless, but it wears thin and the void shows through.)

    I should just get in bed and go to sleep at night.

  4. michael reynolds said,

    Have you tried drinking?

  5. amba12 said,

    Michael, I felt I was abusing my readers — basically saying “Writers, have you noticed how often readers come to you looking for something that’s already in their own minds, and when they find it, or think they do, they don’t see anything else that’s there?”

    But that’s so not true of my readers — you know, all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time. Besides, we should be grateful to be read at all, for any reason; and besides, as a reader I’m the same way myself (the post’s best value was to remind me not to read that way quite so much; you guys are far better about that than I am). Anyway, that’s why I deleted it.

    I did like the last line, though: “Readers, you don’t want to see how sausage is made. Writers, you don’t want to see how it’s consumed.”

  6. amba12 said,

    Have you tried drinking?

    FUNNY YOU SHOULD MENTION THAT. I was just giving it some serious consideration earlier this evening.

  7. michael reynolds said,

    It’s a great line. Save it, use it somewhere else.

    You have no say over how people read you. I’m constantly being shocked by what people take away from what I write. We do what we do for lack of anything better to do.

    Some folks get depressed when they drink, I tend to get philosophical. Plus slurry. So it’s more like I get philosho (hiccup) phical.

    Pour yourself a glass. Shake it off. And I’ll take my own advice, too.

  8. amba12 said,

    Recommend me something, I’m up for something new. (Not that I can go out and get it tonight — what do I think this is, New York? — but I’ll treat myself one of thes days.)

  9. amba12 said,

    One o’ thes’ days, Alice . . . one a thes days . . . contact high already.

  10. Rod said,

    Hi Amba!

    I just got on and saw your latest post. We all write or say things we wish we could take back. I do not know what you posted that reflected anger or frustration, but do understand that you are not alone. The important thing is that you recognized it and wanted to take it back. That is the redemptive part.

    I would not want to be judged by a single statement, and I daresay nobody who regularly visits here would judge you that way. A little latitude is is always given among friends, and you are among friends here.

    While I can’t really tell what was bothering you from your post, I’m wondering if it isn’t the isolation and lack of social connection inherent in your current situation, and a sense that these dots on a screen are not quite the same as connecting with real people.

    In the comments, it looked more like you were making an observation about the nature of posting and commenting. To start with and return to certain ideas comes with the territory of being grown up. None of us is at the starting line of forming a world view, and It is human nature for us to see in someone else’s writing a reflection of the world as we already see it, or a comic book version of world views with which we disagree.

  11. amba12 said,

    the isolation and lack of social connection inherent in your current situation, and a sense that these dots on a screen are not quite the same as connecting with real people.


    With, for garnish, the fact that one of my cats won’t live much longer and the same could be true of my beloved job (nothing to do with me) for an endangered print medium.

    Of course, we all read looking for things we identify with or that connect with one of our own trains of thought or experience. Me too.

    Sometimes, you just write something and are disappointed because people don’t relate AT ALL (or at least don’t react at all) to the parts of it that matter most to you. You realize at times that you’re off on a very different wavelength than most of those around you. But that’s like any relationship, there’s a certain amount of aloneness in it and you have to do what you do for its, and your, own sake.

    Finally, I should be using night for sleeping. ;)

    Anyway, thanks for the comforting and good suggestions, guys (like, drinking).

  12. realpc920 said,

    “You realize at times that you’re off on a very different wavelength than most of those around you. ”

    Does that happen to everyone? I feel that way pretty often. I think it’s because our society includes so many different wavelengths, it’s hard to find anyone else on the same one. There used to be a limited number of subcultures and everyone belonged to one. I think this blog is one place where we acknowledge that we have not found a subculture to join, because we are ambivalent about so many things.

    I didn’t see your hate post last night, but I hope I didn’t help inspire it in some way. Anytime anyone is unhappy about anything, I always assume it was my fault.

  13. amba12 said,

    Oh, it wasn’t a hate post (it is now going to attain mythic proportions in its absence, like the shark in “Jaws” before you actually see it with its absurd popeyed mechanical chawing). As Rod observes, it was more just about the nature of reading and commenting. I deleted it because I felt ungrateful expressing that feeling of disappointment in not being seen (happens with a post occasionally) to a group of readers who are all in all more generous in that regard than I am as a reader myself. Jeez, you’re lucky to be read at all!

  14. amba12 said,

    A subculture of the unsubcultured, a tribe of the tribeless?

  15. Ron said,

    Think of the post like Harry Lime in The Third Man; all they do is talk about him for 40 minutes so that by the time he show up on screen you can’t wait to see him! But even though he’s a silver-tongued devil he’s still a bastard and must be taken down….you’re Joseph Cotton in this metaphor I guess!

    Cue the zither music!

  16. Rod said,

    I write and post here because I am attracted to exchanges of ideas. Most office conversations are either superficial or on task. Most home discussions are exercises in problem solving.

    Like Amba, I have felt disappointment when nobody responded to what was (in my mind) some particularly witty or incisive comment. When I come to this site, the first places I look are usually where I last commented.

    Looking at my own behavior here, I sometimes go a few days without commenting at all. There is no reason to comment unless I have something to add to the conversation and the time to say it coherently. So, to Amba and to anyone else who has felt the disappointment of no response, do not assume you have not been read or that your words haven’t made a difference in somebody’s day.

  17. amba12 said,

    Oh geez . . . Holly Martins (sp) . . . such a loser and whiner! If I start drinking I’ll REALLY be like him!

    The moment of appearance of Harry Lime, in the doorway lit by the revolving beacon — even the cat is attracted to him — is one of my favorite moments in all moviedom. J and I adore Orson Welles. I sobbed at his death as if he was a relative.

  18. wj said,

    Look at the bright side: you made a post here which you regretted. But which apparently even those of us who visit frequently mostly didn’t see before it got taken down.

    However, you could have sent it out as an e-mail. In which case, you could never get it back, and it could get forwarded to thousands of people more. Count you blessings.

    P.S. let me also echo everybody else here. There’s no shame in being human. Second thoughts come with the territory. Far more to worry about if you never ever had occasion to doubt anything that you did. Those are the people who scare me — because it’s not that they never are wrong, it’s that they can never admit, even to themselves, that they might be.

  19. amba12 said,

    do not assume you have not been read or that your words haven’t made a difference in somebody’s day.

    The same to you, Rod. You invariably make a difference in mine, whether I make an audible sound or not. These are like other friendships/relationships, only with many fewer cues, so it takes longer to know and trust that what you say is resonating in the other person’s “breast,” as they used to say in the olden days. Also like IRL, it takes different amounts of time with different people, depending on how difficult or easy it is to find a wavelength in common.

  20. michael reynolds said,

    I’ve resurrected the post in question. Obviously Amba started drinking before she wrote it not after:

    Oh yeah? You guys all think you’re so cool don’t you? Come here and read and then you don’t even call or buy me a drink. Bastards! Pearls before swine, that’s what it is. Swine all of you! That’s right, I said it! I just want some hot monkey love sex, that’s my point. Plus, Jesus, I’m in North Carolina! North be-fucking Carolina. How the hell did I end up here surrounded by cousin-marrying goobers? That’s it, I’ve had it, you can all drop dead.

    So I guess I can see why she took that down.

  21. realpc920 said,

    “it wasn’t a hate post”

    I meant it was a post about hating something. I didn’t mean the current political meaning of “hate.” I don’t see anything wrong with hate as an emotion — if we didn’t hate anything we would be in real trouble. But now days we are supposed to hate hate — which is a paradox because you can’t hate hate if you refuse to hate anything.

    I just figured the post you took down was about hating something, like the shortcomings of online communication.

  22. amba12 said,

    *helpless giggles* (at Michael channeling my id) Yes, it is the dog days in North Carolina … you know them well …

    you can’t hate hate if you refuse to hate anything That’s sort of the problem with cultural relativism, no? Scratch “sort of.”

  23. amba12 said,

    “The Lost Chord” as a screech of dissonance?

  24. amba12 said,

    I’m laughing because the missing post, if in fact restored, could never live up to the reputation it’s developing. I LOVE this. I would like to do more of it. Things not seen, but imagined, are far more powerful than things seen. My favorite examples being the shark in “Jaws” and the sheep in the box in The Little Prince. And Harry Lime is another good one (although he, in his first appearance, more than lives up to it, as almost only Orson Welles could do).

    I wonder if it would be possible to write a novel with a missing central character.

  25. Ron said,

    Maybe a black-and-white picture book “Where’s Harry Lime?”

  26. Ron said,

    as for the post….Please! I get compliments from my barber (when he’s telling me another of his rambling Nam stories!) that are harsher than that! Besides, as you observe, such posts only burnish your legend!

  27. Ron said,

    Amba, have you seen “F is for Fake?”

  28. amba12 said,

    I actually haven’t, although I’ve read a good bit about it!

  29. david said,

    Wow. What a phenomenon. Twenty-eight comments and counting for a post that none of us saw. You have all the qualities of a fine writer — including knowing how to build a buzz.

    Now, if you could (per Michael) get the occasional buzz *on,* you’d be less stressed about it.

  30. amba12 said,

    Count on it!

    Actually, I didn’t plan or expect things to take this turn, at all! Mentioning the deleted post was a throwaway. Which is why planning is so overrated!

  31. amba12 said,

    I’m contemplating more than one kind of buzz, too.

  32. Ron said,

    Hah! I just wrote a comment that would have brought Althouse to tears! But…I deleted it!
    Thus…my legend is complete….

  33. amba12 said,

    Ohhh . . . post THAT in a more visible place, and the speculation could spiral to vortex heights . . .

  34. PatHMV said,

    Don’t make us go all “It’s a Wonderful Life” on you to prove to you how valuable you and your words are to us, my friend!

  35. amba12 said,

    Periodic fishing expedition? The nonmaterial equivalent of a bleg? Sorry. But thanks, too.

  36. El Pollo Real said,

    Now, if you could (per Michael) get the occasional buzz *on,* you’d be less stressed about it.

    You have Trader Joes in NC right? Some of their 2-buck Chuck, er Robert Shaw, reds are quite quaffable.

  37. Ron said,

    This whole thread is giving substance to the ‘dark matter’ theories of the universe…we stare at what’s there, when most of the universe is ‘not’ there!

  38. El Pollo Real said,

    Are you trying to say that there is no “there” there?

  39. amba12 said,

    Ron: it’s more ominous than that. It’s not that it’s not there; it’s there, it’s most of what’s there, but . . . it’s not stare-able, touchable, or detectable. Eek.

    El Pollo: yep, we have TJ’s. I just bought a $3.99 bottle of California shiraz from Whole Foods, not bad. I still have some Jack Daniel’s I bought for my dad’s visit a year and a half ago, which I recently discovered makes a mean mint julep. I’m stocking up like a survivalist! (You can tell that I’m a pathetic drinker. Just recently finished the 750 ml of vodka in the freezer from my April wisdom-tooth extraction.)

  40. amba12 said,

    There is a “there” there, but not to stare, bare, share, or care.

  41. Ron said,

    The Beatles explain it!


  42. PatHMV said,

    Where’s the beef?

    (I mean, if we’re going to start recycling cliches from the 80s, you can’t omit this one!)

  43. reader_iam said,

    Michael, sometimes I want to slap you. Other times, I want to speed to the airport, blowing through every red light, hop a plane to California, hunt you down and hug and kiss the life out of you.

    This is one of those times.

    [And thanks a lot for making me cry, you old curmudgeonly wonderful bastard, you. ; ) ]

  44. reader_iam said,

    Annie, hang in there. I love you.

  45. michael reynolds said,


    I am a polarizing figure.

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