Small Town Fame

“Sometimes I feel like a clown
Who can’t wash off his makeup…”
– Zac Brown Band lyric

***

So, turns out, I’m famous.

Yep.

Famous.

Now, hold on. Don’t go busting out the Google and whatnot. You’re probably not going to find anything except a reference to this blog and maybe some award for the most speeding tickets a human could possibly receive before the age of 30 or something. Oh, and maybe some Chicken Soup for the Soul books I’m in. (Okay. That part is kinda cool, not gonna lie.)

But otherwise?  Nada.

But I’m not lying to you though. Really. I am famous. It’s just that apparently you have to live in this small town to know it.

And, believe me, I do live in this small town.

Ugh.

Three days ago, I deactivated my Facebook account.  And trust me, y’all. THAT is a record. (I’ll be placing that trophy beside the  “Most Speeding Tickets Before the Age of 30” one if anyone ever gets around to bestowing me with the credit I deserve.) And while I’ve fleetingly wanted to pop on and see what’s up in Fakebookland, I’ve told myself that I’m not allowed to even peek until I get this blog written.  I’m mad at Facebook and I need to figure out why.

I have a wonderful (way-better-than-me-at-it) writer friend Vanessa who sent me something the other day that she had written but was not quite ready to post. While discussing what she had written, she said, “I don’t know how people who don’t write deal with feelings. I can’t even see the problem until I’m writing about it.” 

That really got to me.

I, along with probably every other writer in the world probably, agree with that statement. And yet, here I’ve been struggling with some kind of unnamed emotional turmoil and I haven’t even attempted to get it out onto this computer screen.

[Okay, sidebar. That’s not really my fault. I’m busy as everlovin crap these days. I work two jobs now. One of which has gotten progressively busier over the past few years. (I accidentally typed “tears” there instead of years and I’m thinking that may be my subconscious writing this blog for me. In fact, I’m switching between my work email screen and this blog as we speak so please ignore me if I start randomly turning into a passive aggressive smartass about your upcoming refinance.) So yeah, I’m finding it really hard to fit in time to write these days. Or run. Or sleep. I do find plenty of time to cry though, so don’t worry about me. Alrighty. Moving on….]

So yeah, I’m pissed at Facebook. And while I’ve been pissed at it many times in the past, this time has seemed to stick. I didn’t get over it in like 2.2 seconds like I always do and log right back in. This time kind of stung.

Here’s what happened.

I posted something late last week that I knew might not go over well with some people. Now, if you know me at all, you’ll know that there’s really no reason for me to give that disclaimer because pretty much everything I post doesn’t go over well with some people. But this time, I seemed to offend my own people. The progressives. The left-wingers. The Democrats. The liberals. The people that I am. Yup, I pissed off my own kind.

That was new.

Without getting into much of the details (because that is not what this blog is about), I posted about the recent firing of Megyn Kelly and how I thought that – in this instance – this may have just been a slip up and not the time to break out the “SHE’S A RACIST” posters and march though town. But hey, what the hell do I know, right? Many people commented tactfully – both agreeing and disagreeing with my stance – and I was honestly enjoying the conversation.

Until I stopped enjoying it.

Suddenly I started getting comments like this one:  “I thought Melissa had started this in order to have a discussion, but now I’m not so sure.” (Yes, this person referred to me as if this weren’t my post she was commenting on.) I asked her what she meant by that – weren’t we having a discussion? What was I missing? And then she proceeded to tell me exactly what I had done wrong.

I hadn’t agreed with her.

And she was just the first. Other comments followed and then the icing on the cake came by way of private message. Among other things, this message said this:  this is actually a very serious issue and you, as the liberal voice in Ashe County, publicly took a side that is against every collective body that you support, including the NAACP, BLM, etc.”

Um. Huh?

I am THE liberal voice in Ashe County?

Whoaaaa.  Hold up here a minute.

Who appointed me with that title because, no thank you. I’m not the voice of anything. Except maybe Melissa and most of the time I get what she’s trying to say wrong too so I can’t even really count that.

Seriously, when did I cease being a human being and am suddenly some kind of “personality?”

My second job that I’ve mentioned up there is at a grocery store. In the past few months, I’ve been surprised by how many people have come through my line and asked “Are you the Melissa that has the blog?” I’ve always met them with a surprised face and a “um…yeah?…” because I’m shocked that anyone reads this thing. I mean, yeah, I see the stats but I just assume that’s my husband clicking on it over and over again to see if I’ve bashed him lately.

[Sidebar #2. One of these customers actually came through and told me he was really pissed at my husband because of the last thing that I had written about him.  Yes, Guy at the Grocery Store, my husband and I have had a rough year. And I was really mad at him for a very long time. But we’re in counseling and I’ve forgiven him and we’re working on our marriage. And if we can manage to last two more days we’re even going to make it to our 4th wedding anniversary. So you can stop being mad at him now, okay? And I’m sorry I didn’t update you. My fault.]

So, yeah. I truly believed that it was just people who know me that read this. Not random strangers. So there’s this: the blog. I guess that makes me known, whatever that means. But I also guess that running my mouth has gotten me a bit known here in this town too. Like the time I, a progressive (unless you ask the people who are pissed at me right now), spoke about transgender rights at a local Republican party meeting. Or the time I joined a local protest at the courthouse when the county spent a bajillion dollars (ok, $2500) on putting big gold letters up that say “In God We Trust.” No, I’m not an atheist. But I’m aware that there are many that live in this county and we shouldn’t waste their hard-earned taxpayer money on something so blatantly unnecessary when we’re one of the poorest counties in the state. And then that protest led to me starting a group called Agreeable Disagreers which worked to raise that $2500 back and spread it back into the community where it was most needed. No, it didn’t take those letters down – what’s done is done – but some of us – Christians, Atheists and everything in between –  felt a little better about doing what was right.

But, of course, there were also those who didn’t think what we did was right. And those people don’t ever forget me.

And then, when Agreeable Disagreers didn’t stop at $2500 as was its original goal, there were the people who got used to the help that our group was doing in the community and when I had to slow down for my own sanity (y’all, taking on the problems of an entire county will weigh on you – trust me), these past supporters got mad at me too.  No good deed goes unpunished, right?

Okay, and there was the time I got into a screaming match with a police officer over a parking space, but I think I’ve given enough examples and we can move on here. The point is, I’m well-known.

And I don’t think I really realized that.

I’m not from this county. I moved here four years ago when I married my husband. I’m not used to this. I’m a gypsy. A nomad. A drifter. I never stay anywhere very long. I’ve been the “new girl” about a million times, but it’s never mattered that much. Sure, I’ve run my mouth, but then I take off.  If I became “famous” in those places, I didn’t stick around long enough to figure it out.

But I’ve stuck it out here. So far.

And man, I just don’t know.

On some small scale, am I seeing what it’s like to be a celebrity?  Am I finally starting to understand why Meghan Markle (this is a different Meghan, calm down) had to take a few days off from her recent tour because she was so overwhelmed? Am I starting to, sadly, see why people like Amy Winehouse and Robin Williams couldn’t handle the pressure the public put on them to perform?

I started this blog with a quote from a Zac Brown Band song. “Sometimes I feel like a clown, who can’t wash off his makeup.” 

Yes. That.

Guys, please try to remember that I’m a human being. Sometimes I’m going to disagree with you. Sometimes I’m going to say something that you agree with 1000% and other times you’re going to want to punch me in the face. That’s okay. You’re human. And so am I.

And when you tell me that I’m the liberal voice of Ashe County, please know that you’re wrong. No, I’m not. The only voice I am is that of myself. My overworked, overwhelmed, critical, weird-ass self. That’s it. That’s all I am.

Human.

Okay, if you read this far, kudos to you. This was a long one. And honestly, I do feel better. Thanks for the reminder to get this crap out, Vanessa.

Onward.

***

“Fame doesn’t fulfill you. It warms you a bit, but that warmth is temporary.”
– Marilyn Monroe

***

 

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3 responses »

  1. I did miss you, I just assumed with two jobs you were just spread too thin.

    I’m glad you and Richard are working things out. Marriage is hard.

    I always appreciate your point of view. I’m a radical moderate myself. If you are an anti-Trumper around here, that qualifies you as a flaming liberal in most people’s eyes.

    Thanks for another thought provoking post.

  2. Be unabashedly yourself, Melissa. You have a strong, clear voice in your writing! I appreciate your honesty and courage in putting your life out there in such a public forum as FB without sugar coating it. Boo to the naysayers! seems everyone is hypersensitive and reactive these days, at the same time as we’re becoming numb! Your voice is proving to have power – don’t be afraid to use it!

  3. Dude, I’ve been throwing words at you for months now trying to get something quoted to make up for the last time. Glad something finally stuck AND helped you remember how to help yourself cope. I love the way you write! I love gnashing my teeth at the things we disagree on. I enjoy our friendship. So glad you don’t let people take your voice.

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