REUNION PLANNER EXTRAORDINAIRE

Social media is the bane of my existence these days. Along with two other high school class officers, I’m in the process of planning my 20-year reunion. Back in 2005 when we planned our 10-year reunion, social media wasn’t really on the scene yet. We had a couple conference calls with the three of us, decided on a venue, hired an on-site catering company and put together some name badges. A few people used PayPal to purchase their tickets, but most people sent checks (remember those?) via snail mail. We called a lot of last known phone numbers and emailed even more last known email addresses. We tried our best to use the classmates.com website to track people down. We didn’t do too many surveys or ask for too many opinions. We didn’t have much of a forum for such things. We were in charge. We planned the event. Mainly word of mouth gave people knowledge of it. We held the reunion. People seemed happy with it. They moved on with their lives.

For having grown up in a red state, in a predominantly Mormon environment, I think of myself as a pretty open-minded, liberal person. I support gay marriage and a woman’s right to choose. But having to hear the opinions and (often) verbal diarrhea on Facebook of so many former classmates about each and every minute detail of what we have planned for this reunion has been exhausting. I sometimes want to ask people’s opinions, but then I want them to shut up rather spewing them at me or at the very least, give useful input rather than stating the obvious. I realize this is probably too much to ask. We’ve had some comments such as: “I wasn’t planning on coming to the reunion anyway, but here are all the negative things I’m going to tell you about what I don’t like about what you have planned….” You know what? Put a cork in it. Part of the issue may be that I don’t care a lot about what other people think, and some of these people I don’t know very well (and don’t want to) so I find it even more difficult to put their opinions into perspective, and to have a like-mindedness about their commentary. The other thing I wonder is why people care so much. I want to scream, “There are starving children in Africa (AND AMERICA) why do you care so much about whether or not your spouse is invited to the evening event?” People need to learn to focus their energies on things that actually have bearing. When we ask for helpful assistance such as photos for the slideshow, we have three people, out of our 270 classmates, respond. When we don’t ask for opinions or guidance, we get frequently negative, unsolicited spewings by the dozen.

That said, it’s a good thing I’m the only person on the planning committee who gets fired up about anything. I’m not offended by people’s words, disrespect, or ignorance of the planning process; it teeters far more toward…annoyance. I’m always trying to understand why people think the way they do and why so many people fail to be logical. I haven’t learned yet that I should give up, because it’s something I will never “get”. When my daughter is in school and has her various afterschool activities, I have time to watch a stupid TV show in the afternoon. My stupid TV show of choice is “Dr. Phil”. (Try not to judge.) I watch the show with the primary purpose of trying to figure out these people who come on as guests with their wide arrays of issues. (Side note: How does anyone fall for “catfish” scams? It’s unbelievable!) Most people would say they watch those types of programs to feel better about their non-screwed-up lives. That is not why I watch. I watch because I genuinely want to understand people’s behavior. I’ve known my ex-husband for nearly 20 years, and I’m still baffled by nearly everything he says, does, doesn’t do and says he’s going to do. I keep saying I’m going to stop trying to understand, but I don’t think that’s a quest that will ever cease.

The other two class officers involved in our planning talk me off a ledge at least once a week. I’ve threatened several times to fly or drive up to Utah and throat punch some individuals. It’s an action I still may follow through on. I’ve already established that I don’t plan to plan the next reunion. By then, I’ll be almost 50 years old. If I’m unable to tolerate the annoyance of Facebook and I don’t have patience presently for random opinions/rantings, imagine how much of a curmudgeon I’ll be in ten more years. Ultimately, I suppose I’m still trying to figure myself out too. Why did I put myself through this process? There are some people I’m interested in catching up with, but a great majority of people I wouldn’t give two shits if I never saw them again. Perhaps morbid curiosity about how people “turned out” has something to do with it. There are a couple of things I’ve learned: 1. I’ll be quite glad when it’s over. 2. I’m taking an extended hiatus from social media when it is.

REMAIN OBLIVIOUS

I was genuinely pissed at him
through the majority
of August.
But isn’t that the way
when you have a
burn for someone
and they can’t return it?

My heart jumps
in front of my head.
Just like my fingers
when they type.>>>!#$

If you’re the first one
to make sense of this,
clue me in.
Don’t drop subtle hints.
Make it blatant.
That’s the only way
I can take it.
Raise your hand.
I’ll call on you.
Then you can deliver
the news.

My friends tell me
I should find a publisher
for this garbage.
If you dig through the
bin long enough,
you’ll find it at the bottom.
It’s possible that it belongs
in the incinerator.
Along with thoughts
I had of anything
ever working out
in my favor.

WHERE IT TAKES US

For Aethea

When we were 14,
we didn’t think about
cancer…
divorce…
or leaving the religion of our youth.

We wore the flowery dresses,
attended the camp meetings,
and ate the morning donuts.
We crossed the street
for daytime seminary
and let God nibble at our hearts.

The rage of teenagedom welled in me,
and I punched you at the party
after the football game.
We collapsed on the curb and sobbed
and talked.
I’d never seen you cry before.
I’d never felt worse and yet,
never better.

I helped you collect bottle caps
from under couches
after the parties,
and drag the chiming bags
to the trash
so your mom wouldn’t know.

We’d spend all our time with Mike,
trekking to and from the college,
to and from class.
Finance 101 was the worst.
We were 18.
We didn’t want to know
about credit card debt
and what life had in store.

We dove into the mud,
covered head-to-toe
champions of volleyball
during homecoming week.
Sheer elation on our faces
in the newspaper picture.

You were always the strong one.
The one who says it like it is
with a middle finger in the air.
Honesty continuously overflowing.
I liked you being the center of attention,
so I could quietly take up a corner.

You helped me carry boxes,
when I was moving
across the state line,
forced to start a different life.

You came to visit,
and met the Prince impersonator.
We shouted about Julius Caesar
when we ate at the feast
and swam in the backyard pool.
I smiled huge.
Something I didn’t think was possible
anymore.

They say we’ve strayed,
and that we’re lost sheep —
that’s why bad things happen.
They’ll tell us bad things happen
to good people too,
that life is a test,
and something better awaits
in some distant eternity.
We should pray more
and recite scriptures from memory.
Make it all better.

I’m used to having words to say.
Something that makes life seem
less harsh,
less real.
Right now,
all I have are these,
and they seem insufficient.

All our memories;
they’re carrying us.
Pushing us forward.
More adventures
and healing await,
regardless of whether
you set foot in a chapel.

My heart swells.
I will grieve by your side,
and help you lift your burdens.

Thea and me