Update – Monica never offered me a reading, and Joe Biden never extended me a lunch invite. I know! I’m shocked too. So I’m calling out Felicia Day, since this obviously works for me. Or not. But maybe it will this time – I’ve entered double digits (>10 followers).
I just finished Felicia Day’s memoir, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost). I recommend it to those grieving child loss. Or to ANYONE. It’s a hilarious distraction, free from triggers (Felicia doesn’t have kids). And Felicia marches to her own beat, which is oddly comforting. Because, I feel now, more than ever, I’ll march to my own beat – forever (<= sentence rhymes, like beautiful poetry – read it again). But, it’s true. Because most people don’t understand child loss.
So my mom surprise-mailed me this memoir. I opened a package, and there it was – “You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)”. Was Mom trying to tell me something?
Nonetheless, it was my own effed up version of X-mas morning (this year real X-mas morning will BLOW). The memoir looked… Well? Weird. And I love weird! Also, it was easy. I don’t do difficult things anymore (like actively seek new reads), because life without Matthew is difficult enough. Thus, I’ll read pretty much anything placed in front of me.
I’d read anything in the early days too, often to my detriment.
On Sunday, August 16 (~one month after Matthew died), Mark’s mom texted me:
We are now singing Amazing Grace. Grandpa is playing God’s Amazing Grace for us and Matthew!!! ❤
August 16 I was still incensed by the sight of one exclamation point, let alone three. Like I remember everyone who sent me texts with exclamation points in those early days, and I’m still not okay with it (though Mark’s mom I forgive). And I wasn’t interested in praising God either, if you know what I mean…
So I replied:
Thank you. Easy to be angry with God. Mark might go to church today. I will not be going.
Mark’s mom replied linking a YouTube video of Jeremy Camp (or Campfire?), a Christian singer, describing his heart wrenching journey with grief (at 21 he lost his wife to cancer). Shortly thereafter, I discovered he’d written a book (I Still Believe). So, I was ON IT, like a fly on shit – in 2.5 seconds I downloaded to Kindle and started reading. I didn’t research it – I needed company in my pain, and that company was Jeremy.
Not all Jeremy’s spiritual beliefs resonated with me, but, again, his company worked. Until it didn’t – like people believed Jeremy’s wife would miraculously heal from cancer seconds before her death, people pressured him to lead his family in praise music just moments after she’d taken her last breath, and Jeremy remarried and had two LIVING kids like BAM (he deserves ALL the happiness, but hello? TRIGGER).
After I finished Jeremy Campfire’s book, I checked its reviews, and everyone LOVED it except for me and one person who said he preferred Choosing to SEE, by Steven Curtis Chapman. Again, ON IT, like a fly on shit – on Kindle in 2.5 seconds, ignoring the definition of insanity (in this case, reading another book on grief by a Christian singer expecting it not to suck (they should stick to music)). But, by this point, I’d gone too far down the rabbit-hole of reading things written by grief-stricken individuals to turn back…
Steven’s story is awful too – his teenage son accidentally ran over his five year-old adopted daughter with the family’s SUV, tragically killing her. But most his book is about how they had so many other struggles – like they had too many kids, too soon, on limited funds, and it was stressful, till they got rich and had all these grandchildren. DAMN TRIGGERS. So I stopped reading half way through…
Embarrassed, I confessed my book choices to my Wednesday-walk friend, but, luckily, she reassured me, “I can’t further judge you – I already know you love Real Housewives.” Touché.
So I gave up reading until I received Felicia Day’s memoir, which was well-timed, considering I’d just begun my blog. I had high hopes, and it measured up!
Previously, I’d never heard of Felicia Day. Apparently, she’s acted in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, among other things. But Felicia rose to stardom after her low-budget show shot in her garage, The Guild, went viral in the earlier days of YouTube (2007ish?). She then started her own company, Geek and Sundry, the purpose of which flew over my head. And now she does other things.
The Guild, as I understand, was kind of a parody of experiences compiled through Felicia’s gaming addiction days, her game of choice being World of Warcraft.
At first, I was like, “WTF? How could this be interesting?” My only previous experience with World of Warcraft was through this crazy chick who sat in a cube outside my office before, one day, she had a psychotic break, said “eff it”, and never returned to work.
I worried, because she’d moved to my city, away from family and friends, to be with a husband she’d met playing World of Warcraft, and I didn’t know what the eff that meant, but I’m accepting of everyone, so I agreed to hang out with her once, so she thought we were besties and had meltdowns in my office, behind closed doors, but everyone could see said meltdowns through my glass wall.
But Felicia Day is a storyteller, who could make anything, including details of her gaming addiction, fascinating. I love her writing style – conversational and hilarious, and, through her writing, I could tell she’s brilliant.
I enjoyed reading about Felicia’s childhood. She was “unschooled”, which is like being homeschooled, but your parents are laissez-faire with the whole education part of it. At 16, Felicia, an accomplished violinist, took the SAT, scored damn near perfect, and attended University of Texas to major in music and math, where she graduated with a 4.0, which kind of calls into question the necessity of formal education, amiright?
Until 16, Felicia had little interaction with peers, so she turned to the internet, which allowed her to socialize and explore her interests (video games) free from judgment. She credits much of her success to this freedom.
After college, Felicia used her 4.0 to move to Hollywood to pursue acting. She landed small roles, often stereotypical secretary-type ones… Disenchanted, she eventually fell into her gaming addiction, where she played World of Warcraft for like 18 hours a day, which went on for like five years. Apparently, people take this shit SERIOUSLY – like strangers from across the world, of all ages, and from all walks of life spend hours planning “raids”, scream at each other when things go awry, and attend conferences and meetups…
Reading this reminded me of some weirdness from my childhood. I wasn’t unschooled, but my mom went through some phases. And, like Felicia’s mom, my mom warned me murderers lurked on every street corner, just waiting to kidnap me (my mom worked in social work and knew such things were possible). Though, despite her verbal warnings, my mom allowed me to roam the town.
It also reminded me of something I’d forgotten – my younger brother, Andrew, once had a gaming addiction.
In 1999, my parents purchased our first computer – a Compaq Presario. Though my parents were super strict, somehow, I remember plenty of unsupervised internet hours.
Andrew used these hours to play Yahoo Games – either Word Racer or Chess, but mostly Word Racer, which is like Boggle. There was this big chatroom, but you could join mini chatrooms to play Word Racer against another player. The actual game included a square with a bunch of letters – the goal was to type all the words you saw as fast as possible, until time ran out. Whomever typed the most words won.
He played constantly, under the screen name riverplattemid10 (after a popular Argentinian soccer team). I’d annoy him by stealing his keyboard and typing hilarious words like “fart” and “diarrhea” and “hemorrhoids” into the chatroom, while all the others typed in “a/s/l?” (meaning “age/sex/location?” – pervs!!!).
During this time, Andrew learned to type like 800 words per minute, which was neat.
Once Facebook launched, Andrew joined a Word Racers former players group, and they remembered their old screen names and recognized each other, and they planned a meetup where they’d play Boggle at Starbucks in New York City. Can you imagine? Purchasing a plane ticket to NYC. To play Boggle at Starbucks. With people you met online. In middle school. Yeah, I can’t either.
Andrew said most these people were ~26 years old when they planned this meetup, so maybe the a/s/l questions weren’t coming from pervs but from sexually curious middle schoolers? Andrew never attended the meetup, but he said, based on their pictures and interactions, at least half these people seemed semi-normal. And, occasionally, an Asian guy from California, a former Word Racer player, will shoot him a “hello” on Facebook.
I had no idea Andrew was THAT into Word Racer. Felicia Day to World of Warcraft was like Andrew to Word Racer, apparently. Who knew?
I think these little communities, made possible by the internet, are fascinating – they’re comprised of unexpected members with intriguing backstories. I think Felicia Day believes all this too, which is why I LOVED her book, and I want to meet her, and I want to be her friend.
I bet Felicia would find this bizarre – that I’m recommending her memoir as a “grief read”. But there’s literally NO triggers, and it’s hilarious – a distraction that could get you through AT LEAST ONE MORE DAY, like it did me.
And, if you’re a blogger, whether or not you’ve lost a child, you should definitely read this – Felicia’s style epitomizes authentic writing (what we each strive for).
I’m so thankful for Felicia’s message – that it’s okay to be yourself, even if you march to your own beat, and even if it includes being weird on the internet. And I’m so thankful her memoir distracted me through a couple more painful days, part of my distraction being the opportunity to walk down memory lane with Andrew.
So, Felicia, thank you for all this, and I want to be your friend!