Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Wisdom Of Ally McBeal

"The more lost you are, the more you have to look forward to."
-Ally McBeal (Pilot Episode)

I miss the brilliant David E. Kelley series, Ally McBeal. I felt a kinship to Ally, and the fun little special effects were pretty much right on the mark. The little moments like the one in the picture above. In this scene Ally has just learned the love of her life has gone and gotten himself married, but he consoles her by telling her that, "he is looking forward working with her." Yep...that is pretty much how it would feel. I mean that's the way it has felt when I have encountered old flames, who when for a lack of better, made the conversation flow with expected niceties. Sigh.

It's already the end of November, and I will be seeing the November man soon. I don't usually plan to see him, but sometimes it can't be avoided. As long as I live I will never understand why just seeing his face or hearing his voice reduces me, a usually intelligent woman, to little more then a weak kneed, perspiring, sometimes unable to speak mess of humanness. Don't get me wrong, I am a content and happy in my life, but for some unknown reason what they don't tell you when you get married is that the opposite sex doesn't cease to exist...especially if you were head over toenails at one point for someone else. Nope, one day I will be walking down the street, enjoying the autumn sun...and there he will be...walking toward me, smiling that smile, and as he gets closer, 20 years will disappear with each step and when he gets within a couple feet of saying a simple, "hello," I feel like it is 1985 again.

Ordinarily I wouldn't be fretting about Mr. November, but I have been so tired and achey today that I could do little more then get up...fiddle on the computer for a half hour or so at a time, then return to my bed. So much going through my mind, plans for the holiday, Mr. November, Elvis needs to get his shots, the tree needs to be put up, the presents need to be wrapped, what am I making for dinner this week, will I be eating alone? I hate that most of autumn has gotten away from me...all because the doctor didn't evaluate me sooner. I feel like every minute is so precious because I noticed that one day does make a difference with the beautiful leaves on the trees. One day could mean they will all be gone for another season. I would rather have a bouquet of autumn leaves, then a bouquet of flowers.

I fret a little when it comes to what's happened to AOL Journals. I don't understand the things that have happened since "Black Tuesday." The lack of concern for those of us who had paid accounts on AOL. The fighting that has gone on in the community. I have seen two really good essays written on the subject from Patrick and Karen. I have seen a lot of bullying and protest. Some I have agreed with, some I haven't. I suppose everyone must do what's right for them. I have received emails asking me about my choice to close Ellipsis to all readers. It was was the only way I could think of to keep control of my journal. No one can read the entries I write or the ads at the top that I have NO control over, but it also keeps my journal SPAM safe because as we all can't count on AOL alerts.

Let me just put this out there, and keep in mind, you know I don't dictate how others should think or feel. One of the things concerning me is the push to boycott or in some extreme cases openly malign the advertisers who now have banner ads on our journals. I don't think the advertisers have done anything wrong. They simply bought ad space in order to promote their product. If we begin pushing them to remove their ads, by nasty articles in our journals, and looking for dirt on them and then spreading it further, then eventually we will make them into victims, because someone, sometime, will go too far, and once that happens we will have a ripple effect that will ruin the reputation of everyone who blogs to a degree. The situation in general has been allowed to blossom into one of the nastiest occurrences I have seen on the Internet. I am shocked that AOL is putting NO time into fixing the problems this weekend, instead they gave their tech people the time off for the holiday.

I can't help but wonder...was that their way of pushing back? It was clear to me that AOL had me over a barrel when I realized that the ad on my journal was NOT a mistake. They haven't recanted the press release where they contend that only a handful, about 100, have written letters of complaints. They lied when they said this was standard practice among other blog servers. And now I read where they may be considering an incentive for paid AOL customers with journals to return. I can't think of a single thing they could offer that would make me come back as a blogger on AOL. I have settled in, I have friends who have already put my new address on their sidebar, and I am learning new things all the time here on Blogspot. Like Shelly said, this is an opportunity to grow and learn new things. But that's what's right for me, everyone has to find their own way and hopefully we will all find each other...then hold on tight.

Still I mourn. I mourn watching my friends on both blog servers who are hurting because it seems that as every bitter day goes by, a little more of the people I knew them to be is slipping away. There have been things I have read here and there that surprized the hell out of me. I have been disappointed in a few, but I understand where the ire is coming from. Don't think for a minute I wouldn't like to be invited to a summit with the AOL Overlords. Don't think for a minute I wouldn't have a few choice things to tell them as customer feedback. I do...but I know that most of the anger, hurt, wishing it was different, giving anything if it was, and knowing it simply isn't going to be is all a product of my grief.

I know, I sound like a broken record. See the thing is...I didn't know until it was too late that all the pain I swallowed when things came to an end, all the hurt I suppressed when I had to switch jobs, move, end school, see the loss of a love affair, the death of a beloved pet, endure my home being broke into and Alan's wedding ring being stolen by a family member, all of that carried the five stages of grief. I didn't say out loud how bad I hurt. I cried when I was all alone, I cried on a swing set at a local park, I cried in my car while I ate lunch. I learned to cry silently so that all the happened was tears would roll down my face without even Alan noticing, because I didn't know that grief happens for more then just death.

We are conditioned to believe that material items are "just things," and it is true to a degree. Most things can be replaced. Memories can be both a great help and a terrible reminder. It's something most adults have to come to terms with when faced with how to go forward when a loss has taken place. Again, it is all a personal choice, but don't think for a minute that grief is not there whispering in your ear. Anger seems to be the most pronounced of the five. I know it was for me when my father died. I will be sharing how I found my anger button in my upcoming series on grief, but for right now trust me. I am not an angry person in life.

The thing is, I can look back on all my losses...even when I lost my mind...and realize where I went wrong with anger. In it's place it can help you be proactive. It was anger that helped me through burying my father, but it was the same anger that made me lash out. Alan says I was right in the situation that I will be sharing with you, but I see that had I just took a step back, just a small step back to think about what was happening, I wouldn't have been in as much pain as I was. Anger helped perpetuate a lot of pain. That is it's negative power. Haven't we all said and done things in anger we wished like hell later we hadn't?

I wish I could change what's happened in the last two weeks. I wish I could make it all ok for all of you. I think of you as my family. I haven't had to endure mean comments or emails. I don't know why that is. Maybe I simply wasn't as popular as the folks who received them...shrug...I am so sorry everyone is hurting this much. When Frank died, we all helped each other. We were there when it was time to take him off our sidebars, we were there when community events were coming around and we felt his loss, but this situation is so much different. Frankly I thought it would bring us all together, but it hasn't. Will it be getting better, before it gets worse? Is that the goal? If we got our AOL Journals back tomorrow, ad free, are there friendships that have already been damaged beyond the point of repair?

Please consider taking a couple days off from doing anything regarding the journal situation, and please consider joining me for my series on grief. It begins Monday. You don't have to feel any pressure to comment, although if you want to drop me an email to let me know you are reading along I promise to not tell anyone if you don't want me to. If you have known me for any amount of time you know that I will be discreet. I don't promise to solve all your problems with this series, and it will be pretty basic, but I do promise to share my thoughts and some of what I have learned with honesty. Couldn't we all use some of that right now? I look at the picture of Ally and I think about the days when it felt like I had 20 arrows in me, each representing something that hurt, and I think about the times when one thing felt like 20 arrows piercing me, like the day I closed Ellipsis.



Karen Funk Blocher said...

Wonderful entry, Carly. I could not have said such things half as well as this, or with a tenth of the knowledge and experience. - K.

Solitary Dancer said...

I understand and agree with your decision to close down your journal. The only reason my journals are being kept on AOL and here at blogger are at the request of some J-Land friends.

Some folks on AOL cannot figure out how to comment on blogger or how to use it. It's not their fault. Techonology is not their strong point.

Yes, I believe AOL was wrong but my friends are more important so I have decided to maintain both journals for all my friends.

I will do what I need to do to keep my circle of J-Land friends together.

BTW, You would be great at a summit with the AOL Overlords. :-)

The pic of Elvis is just adorable, but you already know that. :-) Kiss him on the head for me.


Bill, the Wildcat said...

Your comment about how the opposite sex doesn't disappear when you get married is SO true. March will be ten years since I got married, and I'm frustrated that I must still make a conscious decision not to let myself be attracted to other women. I can't even say that it ever gets easier, just that some days are easier than others.

Glad to see you're still blogging!

V said...

Aww, it`s so nice to be able to visit an "Ellipsis".
I`ll be back for your series on grief.

Globetrotter said...

Dear Carly,

The following words that you have written are obviously directed at me...

"I don't think the advertisers have done anything wrong. They simply bought ad space in order to promote their product. If we begin pushing them to remove their ads, by nasty articles in our journals, and looking for dirt on them and then spreading it further, then eventually we will make them into victims, because someone, sometime, will go too far, and once that happens we will have a ripple effect that will ruin the reputation of everyone who blogs to a degree. The situation in general has been allowed to blossom into one of the nastiest occurrences I have seen on the Internet."

First off, IMHO it's the AOL community who are the victims here, not the mega corporations who have ads across our pages. AOL made a decision to advertise companies that many people would normally avoid like the plague. Frankly, I have had personal experiences with Bank of America that were so nasty that I was brought to tears of frustration. So you aren't the only one crying, Carly. My youngest son's debit card was stolen. Since he was a college student at the time, it was his parents that were putting all of the money into his account. Upon discovering a negative balance in the thousands of dollars in his account one day, we immediately contacted the bank. Some of that negative balance was a result of repeated overdraft charges of $38 which the bank applied to the account 8 times in one day! This was at the time that someone else was using his card! I cannot tell you how many tears I shed before we finally won our case and had the account cleared. Customer service? Sorry- none. Patience...sympathy for the
customer's plight? None.

I have no problem "Maligning" as you call it this whore of a bank.

As far as our community is concerned, it saddens me as well, my friend. Especially since things have obviously changed between us. Do you think I haven't noticed that neither you nor Karen have left any comments in my journal since you came to your new home? That in spite of the fact I have commented repeatedly in Karen's journal and left you a couple very nice comments in the last couple days, as well? Yes, Carly that hurts.

You and Karen aren't the only friends that I once had that are doing this to me. And to be quite frank Carly, I have my own ways of dealing with grief management. If "maligning" an institution that I hate is one of them, so be it.


DesLily said...

I made the decision a few days ago to maintain 2 journals.. here and aol.. I had opened an aol UK journal with no ads..(nice! nice!) but in truth since my entire journal wasn't there i felt lost.

Since my decision i have moved my entire journal (lucky for me it was only 2 months worth) to blogspot.. I will now move the few entries from aol UK "back home". I've just stretched myself too thin to keep 2 journals going, check on the old one to see if anything has changed for the worse or for the better and back up my journal onto Word. (something i'm doing since reading horror stories of how aol lost peoples journals with more then a years posts in it. (which could happen anywhere, at any time)

So.. though it takes me a good 5 minutes to load my "old home journal" (added time due to the very large animated ad at the top) I will mirror my blogspot there so that aol people can have alerts they way they are used to them. I think a big problem with some comming here to read is "comments" and not being able to leave them.. maybe some that have moved here don't realize they need to change a setting to "anyone can comment" which takes off the fact that they have to be a member.. i don't know for sure but it seems to be what's wrong. Anyway.. it took all this time for me to figure out what to do.. i don't mind two journals since it only takes a few minutes to "mirror" to the second journal.

I will always hold out hope that one day aol will do the minimum for the aol journals and at least make the dang ad "stagnet" ..its a very large file to download that animated one.. and me on dial up!!

I will read your forthcoming articles on grief for sure.

Patrick said...

Beautifully said, Carly.

I agree with so much of what's been said by you, Karen and Shelly.

It's ironic that AOL's advertising would pride itself on its 24-hour customer technical support, yet send the people that could do something about the ongoing problems with AOL Journals' new revision rollout home for a four-day weekend!

I also agree that it's wrong to target the advertisers in this. If you have a genuine problem with the advertisers, as Maryanne has with one of them, then I can understand an even greater amount of frustration in finding that that very institution is suddenly renting space on your blog.

But to target the advertisers in general, well, all they did is take advantage of space that AOL offered them. They probably didn't even realize that there hadn't already been ads on AOL Journals. And even if they knew this was a "new opportunity," the advertiser would assume that AOL would have let those of us who have been PAYING for the service know that this change was coming.

And more than that: if an advertiser is able to break its ad contract, all AOL would do is put a different company's ad in its space.

To me, unless you have a specific problem with an individual advertiser, an advertiser boycott isn't going to be that productive.

In any case, more than the disagreements over who is to blame for the ads' appearance, it's particularly distressing that J-land has turned into a "we" versus "they" mentality among individual journalers, when the real "we" versus "they" should be between ALL journalers, past and present, and the company that hosts those journals. It's like there's a civil war erupting in the middle of a foreign invasion.

What's that going to accomplish??

Anyway, thanks again for the link and for the words of wisdom. I'll definitely be back for your series on grief!

Shelly said...

Excellent entry, as usual. Dare I say that I've been enjoying your blogging on Blogger more than when you were blogging on AOL? I feel more passion, more honesty, now, tho that might just be the current situation that has everyone's emotions at the surface.

For me, as I've said, it's not the URL that matters, it's the journals and the people, wherever they are. Right now, I'm going thru an emotional rollercoaster as I prepare to close one of my Blogger blogs and move the entries into Cyber Chocolate. I know I can't maintain Retro-Spective anymore, but I will miss it.

Re: AOL. Sometimes, I wish TW would be forced to sell it (TW stockholder Carl Icahn has been pushing for that and to oust Dick Parsons, TW's head) and then we'll see what new owners will do. Sometimes, I wish Steve Case would/could buy it back and maybe bring AOL back to its people-oriented roots, back before it became big business. But I doubt it's possible anymore, or that Case is the person who could/would do that.

So we muddle on. And the people who really do want to stay in touch and read each other's journals, will. And I think I'll use these comments and expand on them a bit over on Presto Speaks!

Looking forward to your series on grief.

Barb said...

Heart too overflowing to comment, hon. Just came by to say I love you, admire you, and will always be in your corner, no matter what side of the fence I'm on.
Big hugs,

Monae said...

Good evening.....I too was a fan of the show. I really miss seeing that show. I really have missed leaving you comments so I thought I would leave you this little note. I just wanted to say hello and let you know I am visiting you and your journal.

Steven said...

It's tough all around with those who stayed, those who left and those who are in the process of figuring out what they are going to do. It's a personal choice.

I started my photoblog to share my photos. I'm still doing that. I'm still me and I will not let AOL define me. The entire web is filled to the gills with ex-AOLers in some fashion or another.

I'm still in good company :-)

Stacy-Lynn said...

Great entry Carly and I agree with Shelly....your writing is different somehow and I like it.

I will be reading!


Laura said...

look forward to it.
the day after I told myself the way I felt was part of the giref process I know so well as a medical professional. Once I dientified it, it wasn;t easier for me, but at least I had a name forwhat I was feeling and that helped immensely.
thank you!

Tammy said...

Carly, I was very moved by your entry. You have been through so much and I look forward to reading more. No comments required here! Get lots of rest!


jennifer said...

Good job, as usual, Carly. I admit to being one of the ones who blew her stack early, primarily because I was already ready to explode and seeing my one spot in this world defiled, well...

Had I known beforehand, I would have had the opportunity to prepare. As it was, my anger surprised some people, and possibly hurt some people, but it was necessary for me to let it out in the best outlet I know: my words.

But I think now that the shock has subsided, our heads should have returned to level and all of us can go about deciding where we belong. And we must all make that decision for us -- not because of the expectations of others -- otherwise, how can we truly be happy.

I'll be anxiously awaiting your series.

sunflowerkat said...

BTW...I LOVED Aly McBeal! The visual metaphors were always right on!