Saturday, October 29, 2011

Whatever it was, it wasn't my sister: The Doppelgänger

Merriam-Webster defines a Doppelgänger as:
1 : a ghostly counterpart of a living person
2 a : double 2a
b : alter ego b
c : a person who has the same name as another

My story concerns the first definition.

It was 2004 and my sister was going to Chicago with her then-boyfriend to visit his family who lived there. To the frustration of many of live here, flights to Chicago are hard to come by at our little airport here in Muscle Shoals, so we -- meaning the whole family -- were forced to wake up at 5am, and then drive the alleged two hours to Nashville, TN, which has to have a nice, big airport to support its main industry of country music and BBQ restaurants.

(There needed to be green birds, alright?)

Now, friends, I'm going to tell you up front: I'm not a morning person. I'm not a morning person after living 23 years on this planet, going to college, and having two little sisters who screamed through the night as babies. Everything that should've conditioned me to, and prepared me for, getting up early actually made me do the opposite. Why? Because I'm that rebellious. If someone tells me not to touch the lit sparklers, I'm going to do it anyway -- just because they told me not to. (That's a true story. It was my third birthday. I got a bad second degree burn and my Mom put Bactine on it while the whole family told me what an idiot I was.)

So, yeah. I'm more apt to stay up 'til 5am. I never get up that early and I certainly didn't that morning. While the other denizens of the house were scrambling to pack and eat breakfast and all sorts of normal, last minute things like that, I was blissfully unaware of the fact that it was now half-past five -- until my dad flung my door open and said in his gruff morning!voice, "Carrie! Get up!"

Past experience had taught me that when his voice sounded precisely like that, only two things could happen if I didn't wake up: I could be left alone for several hours, the food all gone (because that's always the case when you're left alone as a kid), and left to my own devices which, if there was food left, chances were, I would decide to fry it and get oil in my eye. (I don't learn.) That, or the other thing could happen: they could wrap me up in my blanket, throw me in the car, and drive off while I'm asleep and none the wiser.

At first, you're thinking "that doesn't sound so bad," but that's because you're not really thinking about it. When that happens, you wake up in Tennessee, probably around the area where all the Mennonites are, and you disorientedly ask, "Where the fuck am I?", because you really want to know, only to have Dad shout, "Don't cuss!" and not offer any explanation. Then, of course, there's the fact that it's fall, nearly winter, you're wearing shorts, a tank, and no shoes, and they literally expect you to still go inside the airport.

So, since both of those scenarios would be bad things, I decided to open my eyes. As I said, the door to my bedroom was wide open, and me, in my bed, was on the other side of the room, where I could see directly out of it. My parent's room, being across from mine, could also be seen when their door was open. And their door was open that morning, slightly. I couldn't see into their room, but the opening was definitely more than a crack.

I glance down for a quick second as I peel the covers off of me, but look up when I hear a noise, a single patter-like noise, the noise of one bare foot hitting the floor. I look up and see my sister standing in the hallway, in the space between my room and my parents'. But immediately, I know something wrong. The noise I heard, the single pattering sound, was due to the bizarre gait she had, like someone hobbling. She had her side to me; her long dark auburn hair, curly and thick, hung down to her waist and blocked her visage except for the tip of her button nose -- it was all I could see of her face. But despite that, I knew something was wrong.

She wore a white linen nightgown, one I'd never seen before, which covered her legs down to her mid-calf. Even so, I could see how her feet were positioned oddly, pointing in an odd direction as she traveled in that slow, hobbling gait. And her posture -- she was hunkered over, making everything just seem and look a lot worse.

(Forgive the fact I can't draw well on the computer and go with it.)

My heart pounded wildly. Instantly, I think she's badly hurt, I think maybe she fell -- from where, I didn't know -- I just knew that's what came to mind, because I thought for sure she had leg and back injuries and probably some kind of brain injury, because she was moving so odd, it had to be neurological.

So, yeah, I panicked. I gasped, jumped out of bed, and ran to her. I make it to my doorway in about three strides, because I bounded in my terror. But when I reached my destination, I felt a wind on my face, neither hot nor cold, a wind that felt like nothing, but mostly, I noticed the fact there was nothing there.

And so then I wonder how my sister made it down the hall so fast, because she's obviously severely injured. I run to her room and I cry out her name, thinking for sure that I'm going to see her severely injured. But what I find scares me in a different way.

My sister was in her room. But she wasn't hurt. She was sitting on the floor, putting on her makeup. Her hair was bound, pulled up in a tight, folded over ponytail. She was wearing bluejeans, a pink sweater, and boots. She looked nothing like what I'd seen just two seconds before.

My sister will want me to tell you that she DOES have boobs now.

She looks at me like I'm crazy. And I think I've gone crazy. She asks me what's the matter, but I tell her nothing; she's about to get on a plane and go on a week-long trip, and I don't want her to worry about my sanity.

Meanwhile, I decide to write the incident off. I was obviously having some sort of waking dream. After all, I was old enough to know that the mind was a powerful thing. I knew a lot back then.

But there was something I didn't know: what I saw that morning was nothing compared to what was to come. The thing that wasn't my sister would soon come back, but not just for me -- but for many others who cared for my sister. This was only just the beginning.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Bell Witch: When family legend gets too close for comfort

The Bell Witch is a famous Tennessee folk figure; the tale is often thought to be a lesson in mass hysteria and the power of suggestion. A non-human entity with the power to manifest as animals, she wrought havoc on the Bell family and the residents of Robertson County; Major-General Andrew Jackson, American hero and later president, fled the Bell estate after one night in her company. The events that took place during 1817-1821 made the Bell name infamous.

But we shall skip to the end of their story:

After the Witch succeeded in killing old John Bell, she decided to leave, promising to come back ever so often to check up on the family: my family. My great-great-great grandmother, Caney (short for the bizarre American Victorian-era name "Canarisa Lousia"), was a Bell. And now, you're probably thinking, "SURRRREE. Three greats. Like that's possible." Hah. My family actually keeps their records. And, like me, my grandmother was sent to stay with HER grandparents a lot. Her grandmother was Caney's daughter. And that's where my story begins.

The first time my grandmother ever even heard of the Bell Witch, she was four. She was sitting on her grandmother Mary Agnes's front porch. After all, it's summer in Tennessee in 1943; there wasn't anything else to do to cool off. So, they're sitting there, and my grandmother says something childlike and innocent. She can't remember what she said; all she remembers was her grandmother's violent reaction.

"DON'T YOU EVER SAY ANYTHING LIKE THAT AGAIN!" she shouted. "You're a Bell -- you can't say things like that! Do you want the Witch to come after you?"

And, child that she was, it made my grandmother pause. Why would what she said, coupled with who her family was, summon a witch? In her mind, she had a picture of the Wicked Witch of the West of  the Wizard of Oz, ugly, corporeal -- and most importantly -- fictional. She couldn't imagine the invisible force that tormented her family over 100 years before she was born. And being a human like any other, she quickly forgot the thing she couldn't imagine, and made a point never to think of it again. Until 2001, anyway.

It's early spring of 2001 and I'm still laid up from my recent near-death experience and subsequent surgery. I can't get up off the couch, because an 8 inch gash has my abdomen completely open, guts and all. I'm stranded, 12, and bored. So, what does a kid do when they've seen every rerun their ever was? They read. A lot. I went through book after book after book until I came to Thirteen Tennessee Ghosts and Jeffery by Kathryn Tucker Windham.

I knew perfectly well who Jeffrey was, of course. The librarian at the elementary school I attended grew up as a neighbor of Kathryn Tucker Windham; I had spent my formative years hearing of the exploits of the author's famous, friendly ghost. But the other ghosts in the book? I didn't know them. I also didn't know that one of them knew me.

It's nearly midnight -- like it really was, this isn't for effect -- and I'm reading the ghost book. I come to the story of the Bell Witch. I read it rather quickly and I think it's eerie, but I find it captivating, because I'm a kid that loves a good ghost story (and I still do). As I reach the last couple of paragraphs in the Bell Witch story, I begin to feel very nervous, like I'm sure somebody's watching me from behind. But I shrug it off. I know that's paranoid, crazy, and everything else irrational; and I spend an abnormal amount of time concentrating on those last few paragraphs, the last few sentences, desperately attempting to ignore that weird feeling. And then it happens. There's a huge BANG on the window behind me about six feet up. And when I say a "bang", I mean it sounded like someone threw all of their force at hitting the window. Except it was high up, too high for even my dogs to reach via jumping. And the noise was so loud, so insistent that my mother immediately hopped up and ran to look out the window, in case it was a prankster or a psycho or something. Surprise, of course, there is nothing there.

And then I start to freak out and I tell her what I was reading when it happened, and this weird look comes over her face: the harrowing look of dreadful knowing. You gotta remember: this was right after I almost died. I knew that dreadful knowing face very well, because it was all over my family and the doctors as they looked at me and knew, more likely than not, I was not only going to die, but it would be a very painful and very miserable death. (I am happy to announce, if this story isn't evidence of the fact, that I am indeed alive and sometimes very much so.)

So, yeah. She has The Look. And that's when I hear the story for the first time about what happened to my grandmother as a kid and the personal, family details of the Bell Witch haunting, etc. Was I surprised to be related to the Bells? Not really. After all I already knew that, through Caney's mother's side, I was also descended from Mary Queen of Scots. I had already accepted the fact that pretty much everyone has a famous (or infamous) relative, unless they come from a way-to-small gene pool.

But being related to the Bells didn't affect me. After a couple of nights of nervously awaiting The Noise to return (which it didn't), I then settled back into my normal routine where I didn't constantly worry over a spirit that, as far as we knew, hadn't bothered the family since 1828 (which was when the Witch made the promise to Lucy Bell, John Bell's widow, that she would occasionally visit her descendants for the rest of time).

I successfully didn't think about the Bell Witch until 2005, when my dad and I decided to go to a movie and picked a random one simply because it wasn't a chick flick. And, alas, it was An American Haunting.

So, I'm 17 years old, I'm sitting in the theater, and I'm like, "Holy crap -- did they just say John Bell?" And as the movie progressed, I saw the other characters of the legend -- Betsy, Lucy, and Richard Powell -- fall into their legendary places, and I watched a highly fictionalized version of events where John Sr. was an incestuous daughter-raper, Lucy was a murderess, and the Witch was a poltergeist brought on as an expression of Betsy's repression of the fact her father had raped her. Yeah. It was really fucked up. And in horrible taste, because it takes people who really lived and fallaciously accuses them of some of the worst crimes imaginable. (There is literally nothing worse than hurting one's own innocent child, especially in such a twisted manner.)

What do I do the second I get home? I call Connie. And here's the thing about Connie: when we met, we quickly became the closest of friends, despite a decade's difference in age and living on opposite sides of the continent. Something about her was just like it was already a part of me, like we'd been friends for all of forever. Come to find out, several years later: we are cousins. Even though her parents are from the Philippines and my dad's family has been here east of the Mississippi for 400 years on the English side and thousands of years on the Cherokee. Against odds like that, we both descend from an Irishman, a Kennedy, and English nobility. (So, because we are double kin -- literally -- she calls me doubekin really fast and it's super!cute.) In short though: she's the Christina to my Meredith. We're as mentally connected as twins. So, when I call her, I say..."

"Oh my GOD. You'll NEVER believe what I just saw."

"An American Haunting -- I saw it too."

"Oh my GOD," I say, "I cannot believe --"

"--Me neither --"

"--it's ridiculous--"

"I know, right?"

And we go into this belligerent thing where we're finishing each other's sentences which are mainly protestations about the gross falseness of the movie and how crazy it all was. This goes on for awhile. So, I'll skip all the in between which you'd have to be a doublekin to understand and get to the next main point...

There is an unearthly howl outside my window. Not like a dog, not like a cat. Not like a wild dog or a wild cat either. (I live in the suburbs -- panthers, coyotes are in the country.) It's something that just sounds horrible. It's kind of like a shriek -- not from pain -- but from something else. Again, unearthly is a good description, because it was simply bizarre and I've never heard anything like it since -- until night before last.

My Twitter friends who were up around 3am CST that night know what I'm talking about because I freaked out about it on there. I was sitting, once again, with my back to the window. And kind of up high (which sounds weird, but that's what it sounded like -- higher than my head) there was bizarre snort. All my dogs were inside. And it wasn't like a normal snort. It was really freaking weird. It was like a very low sound that was a cross between a pig noise and a horse noise -- it had those qualities. It was just freaking weird. To make things worse, a friend on Twitter who'd been talking to me about this -- her lights and flicked on and off. Yeah, probably was a power thing -- but you never know. All I know is, when I went to bed again, I heard the shriek.

And that recent incidence: for some reason, I instantly thought of the Bell Witch being the cause; out of all other supernatural explanations, she's the one I instinctively chose. (Though, granted, it could just be past experience.)

So, is it the Bell Witch? Or, could it be, perhaps, the calling card of another family legend, an older legend where the witches are really witches and goddesses as old as time have form and walk with man. (Among other things.) That legend...that's a legend for another post.

Until then, sleep well my fellow humans.

Monday, October 24, 2011

They're OUR Bitches: My View on Politics and Why it Should Be Yours Too

Democracy as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

1.a : government by the people; especially : rule of the majority
b : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections

Could it be any clearer? Let me break it down into modern terms.

We hire politicians via voting. We pay them (far too much) via taxes. We are their bosses; they are our employees. But it's more than that. We hire them to represent our interests on a national level, because all of us doing it at once, in person, would be far too confusing. And since they are specifically hired to do our bidding, they are, in effect, our bitches.

But everyone seems to have forgotten that. Instead, when they vote somebody in, they think they're voting for an autocrat that rules them and makes their decisions for them. If you think a democratic government rules you, then you need to read the definition (several times if need be). Instead, the real point of a democracy is that we, the people, create an administrative body to represent us on a national scale. They do our grunt work to keep society flowing smoothly. Laws should be for the protection of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Any law that tells you what you can read, who you can talk to, or where you can go, what you can wear -- that's a dictatorial law of an autocratic fascist and you really shouldn't even listen to it, because it came into being by your bitch (aka politician) usurping the job you gave them for their own agenda.

Now, I don't mean to tell you what political party to believe in. That's not why I'm here. The reason I'm here is to educate you on how a democratic society works and to tell you -- whatever your political affiliation -- that in a free country, you are the boss.

It's time for us, as Americans, to take our country back. From this moment on, I challenge any and all politicians to go to work for me, for their people, and not themselves. And I challenge the American people to remember their place, to remember that you rule this country.

We live in the best country in the world. But it often doesn't seem that way. The reason is this: We forget why we're here, what our ancestors fought and died for. We forget that this was supposed to be better, we forget that we're supposed to be the best. Anyone not willing to stand up with me and adopt this philosophy is already beaten and you might as well just go ahead and lay in that hole in the ground, waiting for them to pile the dirt on you.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think my little blog post can effect overnight change. But I hope that this idea takes hold, that you share it with your friends, that they share it with theirs, and eventually Americans, on a massive scale, are reminded why we are here and of the power they posses.

So, be a human and pass this on. If you don't pass this on, I assume you like being the bitch of your bitch and I'll remember to buy you a blindfold, gag, and some fuzzy handcuffs for Christmas, because you're apparently going to need it.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Hey you! Be a human: the compassion post

As I was eating my breakfast yesterday morning, I stared at the battered, lifeless corpse of former Lybian dictator Muammar Gaddafi, and had an epiphany: people really don't recognize the moment that they become hypocrites.

I firmly believe the rebels had a right to be pissed. And they had a right to oust Gaddafi. All people deserve to be free and live in dignity, served by (not ruled by) a government of their choosing. But when I saw Gaddafi all battered and dead, I realized something even more harrowing: the rebels had become Gaddafi. And isn't that the way it goes? We turn into the thing we hate, because instead of rising above it, we think to give it a taste of its own medicine.

I was talking to a friend on Twitter yesterday. And, in the midst of my disappointment and shock, I actually said something wise and mature: "The only right way to fight oppression is to fight smarter and better and righter -- not violenter." Violenter is not a word, but the rest are, and I think I made a good point: our evolved brains are supposed to give us the ability to rise above of oppressors mentally, physically, and -- most importantly -- emotionally.

As people opposing Gaddafi's ridiculous autocracy and ethnic cleansing, the rebels' main job was to get him out of power (and hopefully not tear the country to ribbons while doing it). That was their original goal. But then, how do you explain Gaddafi's battered body yesterday? Easily: it was hate. It was anger over him and everything about him and the fact that he was the enemy. Why is it that hate is the most human trait there is, yet it's the one we're supposed to rise above? But that's the thing: every human, no matter what their beliefs or culture knows that hate is wrong. They know what it does. They know that hate festers until it's all there is. Fear is the mind-killer, but hate is the soul-killer. We all know it, but we still let it get the best of us.

Overwhelming anger and passion is the only way an average person could actually go through with killing someone. (Psychopaths and sociopaths obviously operate differently, but we shan't go into them now.) But when you're full of hate, you change. Killing becomes less of a big deal. It becomes less justice and more vengeance, and you've probably forgotten the real reason you were angry in the first place. That dudes who were parading Gaddafi's corpse were all like "Fuck yeah! We killed that sonbitch!"

Yeah, you killed him. Now what?

Because that's the thing: killing him during a raid is just vengeance. You showed everyone (especially Gaddafi) that you were pissed off. But you forgot why. If he was put on trial and had a sentence according to the local legal system, the whole world would've seen why the rebels were angry. They would've showed everyone that Gaddafi's a bad guy, he did bad things, and they refuse to be ruled by that. Execution under law is a political and social choice of a people. But Gaddafi was just killed out in the streets; what was done to him, he'd probably had done to others in the past, but that doesn't make it right.

And, when you kill someone: you just became a killer. You just became the thing you hated. The bullied became the bully; the beaten child beats his children. And that, my friends, is the worst kind of hypocrisy there is.

But with all that said, I sincerely hope the Libyan people find peace, because they deserve it. Everyone does.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

That awkward moment when this was overdone

I chuckled the first couple of times when I heard "that awkward moment when" comments. Some of them were actually funny -- until it became a thing. Now that it's a thing, people think it's cool to come up with their own "that awkward moment when" phrases. But here's what happens when it becomes a thing: every moment gets awkward.

"That awkward moment when..." is the knock-knock joke of the 21st century. Yeah, it was funny...once. How to remedy the awkwardness of "that awkward moment"? You actually use your brain. The day wit, observation, and comedic timing die is the day my soul dies too. 

So, to put this to bed once and for all, here's one more...for the road: 

"That awkward moment when you read this." 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Reasons I won't date you

Don't think of it as me being a snobby bitch. Think about me, being harassed by weirdos that have done this crap. And also, if you're a guy, listen up, because this is just generally good dating advice.

Here be reasons:

You wear socks with sandals or sandals/flipflops at inappropriate times.

Unless you're an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, sandals are NOT appropriate evening attire. That's thing number one. Thing number two: socks with sandals is just WRONG. Anyone with a brain cell knows it. If you don't, then you're not anyone, and all of us who are ones will shun you. (Interpret that how you will.)

2. You get in my personal space when I don't even know you, haven't invited you there, and clearly have no intention in doing so.
I once knew this guy that would just edge closer and closer to me if we were somewhere out in public at the same time. He would just keep edging in until he would be a foot away or less -- right up in the middle of my personal space. And then -- and then -- he would talk to me. The way it made me feel was like he was bearing down on me in an odd and skeevy fashion. It was so off-putting. I would literally say "Dude, you best be backin' up." Did he invade my personal space next time? Yes, he did. He didn't learn. And I eventually started avoiding places he would be simply because the only other option would be to kick his ass and get charged with assault. Creepy dudes aren't worth being arrested over. And that, my friends, is maturity.
3. You've been in a serious relationship with my good friend -- even when she's definitely over you.
This explanation is multilayered. I've had friends that are all like, "Why don't you date my ex? I think y'all'd make a cute couple." Here's why.
Firstly, if you were with my friend, I know all of your faults. You're a naiviot (naive idiot) if you think I don't. Not only do I know all the faults she told me, but I know all the faults that she was too blind to see out of her love for you.The second reason: Any girl with self-esteem isn't going to let a penis that has been in her friend's vagina into her vagina. (But that's not to say dating in my world automatically equals sex -- I'm not that easy.) Lastly, the friend is never okay with you dating her ex deep down, even if she can't stand him or is normally above such clichéd behaviors. When it comes to amour, no one is above clichés.
4. You talk down to me.
One of the easiest ways to piss me off is to talk to me like I'm an idiot. Just ask my family. They treat me like an idiot all the time. But here's the difference between family and prospective dates: you can't choose family. And they actually love me, despite their attitudes.
But when a stranger treats you like shit, they don't love and they never will. So, yeah. If you tell me things like, "Go make me some muffins, darling. The men are talking," and then puff your cigar smoke in my face, I will probably (figuratively) kill you. I'm not going to lie. I will probably take my muffin tin and beat you upside the head until you cry. And then I'd laugh. And then I'd tell you to make the muffins yourself.
5. You talk down to others.
You ain't a man if you do that. At least not a real one, anyway. Seriously, some intelligent person actually had something to say about it:
"If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals." - JK Rowling
A good rule of thumb is if Jo Rowling said it, it's probably right. At least, I hold stock in that.
Only a small man on the inside treats someone poorer than him, less brainy or shorter than him like they're less human than him. I was raised to treat hobos with the same respect I would show the Queen. I think everyone else should too.
6. You've never dated anyone before.
I'm simply too old to break you. I'm 23. I'm not 15. I can't be training boys to know how to be boyfriends at my age. They should already know that shit.
7. You caress me oddly during a normal conversation.
This has happened before. And it is so weird, I thought it deserved a whole separate talking point from the personal space issue. If I meet you and we're talking about something nonsensical like did Nero really own a fiddle, and then you caress slide your hand up my arm, my thigh, or even -- yes, this has happened -- my boob, I will make you cry. Seriously. If I'm in a good mood and it's NOT one of my more intimate parts, you might get a warning -- might.
8. Poor hygiene.
This is supposed to never be a problem -- I mean, don't you guys have mothers? -- and it definitely should've been stomped out by middle school. But, alas, it is a problem. Guys can be really gross. And if I can smell you from a foot away, you're too gross for me. In fact, you shouldn't stink at all. I don't mind the smell of sweat and activity so much as just that gross, fucking nasty smell dudes get when they don't bathe enough. That's what really bothers me. And it bothers every other girl too. (Or at least it should. A lot of girls don't have good self-esteem, so they put up with it. But they shouldn't.)
9. You're a Republican.
I'm pretty open-minded. I don't care what religion you are. You don't even have to be religious or spiritual at all. But I cannot abide Republicans. The current ideals of the party are so crazy and heinous that Lincoln is simultaneously rolling over in his grave AND looking down from heaven and crying.

Yes, you assholes, you made Lincoln cry. Be ashamed.
To me, to even be a Republican, you have to either A) be a wicked moron, B) be uneducated, or C) let your parents think for you ala "Well, Daddy always voted Republican." Either way, you need to read some sort of book. Whether it's like an educational text book on the core beliefs of different parties or else a holy/spiritual/touchy-feely book about human compassion. Just SOMETHING. Because being a Republican is about as wrong as you can legally get.

10. You have no confidence.
I'm a nice person. I'm really nice, despite all my talk of Republicans (who are non-persons). But honestly, if you have no confidence, I probably won't notice you. And that's not because I'm a bitch -- it's because, you're in some kind of shell that makes you unrelatable and often unnoticeable.
Then there's the other type of no-confidence guy who just sits around complaining how bad their life is, how loser-y they are, and then uses that to try to gain a sympathy date. That's just dishonest. You tell your troubles to your friends, your agonies to your aunts. You don't moan to girls you want to date. It's really not sexy.
So, there you have it, folks. Ten reasons I won't date you. And that's just ten. There's actually a lot more. And again, I'm not a bitch. I just have some really nifty qualities like self-esteem and standards. And those are just two reasons why I'm awesome.

(Oh yeah. And I did all of that "art". Can't you tell by the three-year-old-ish skills and humor?)

Friday, October 7, 2011

The one where I say things to piss you off: My view on Steve Jobs' death

I wanted my first post to be something lighthearted and altogether more exemplary of what the majority of this blog will be like -- but that's not going to happen.

Unless you've been frozen in carbonite , you've probably heard the sad news that Steve Jobs passed away two days ago. And yes, it's very sad news. He was a genius, relatively young, and he died way too soon. My deepest sympathies go out to his loved ones, who no doubt miss him very much. (And I really do mean that.)

But, do you see what I did right there? I reacted normally to the death of a stranger whose work I respected; I reacted normally to the death of a fellow human being. But what's getting me is all the abnormal reactions other people are having. I'll elaborate.

I first heard about the news on Twitter. Like the rest of my generation, I find it much quicker to read a 140 character or less tweet about said event than to watch CNN anchors drone about it six hours before they actually get to the point. And, since I learned about this sad news on Twitter, I had the unique opportunity to instantly see the reactions of everyone who was commenting on Jobs' death. The first couple of condolences were normal, sober, and well-expressed. (i.e "I'm very sad to hear about the passing of Steve Jobs.") But as I continued reading, it became apparent that people who never even knew Steve Jobs were freaking the fuck out. "OMG. I can't believe he's dead!" -- which is, granted, rather normal.

And I get that. Everyone reacts differently to death. And the death of someone you look up to -- even if it's someone you've never met -- is very hard for a lot of people to wrap their heads around. You know, I can understand it. And with that said, I can move along to my point.

There is a line between being upset (including very upset) about the passing of someone iconic in their field and between turning that being upset into a yuppy trend, a bandwagon for others to hop on just so they can feel included in this tragedy. Further more, I saw a lot of celebrities who probably didn't care one wit about Steve Jobs tweeting vehemently about his death. And I mean, I can't say that with a categorical certainty -- that they didn't care -- but I can say that a lot of them seemed to be using it as a platform to get attention. That is Thing Number 1 I saw very wrong that day.

And then there is Thing Number 2, which I found even more disturbing. And it may seem like a small thing to a lot of people, but just humor me, follow along with my thought train for a moment, and THEN see what you think...

When I was reading through my Twitter feed, I saw a tweet done by Alyssa Milano:

This tweet came after a usual sort of sympathy tweet, where she spoke her sentiments from her heart. This tweet however, is merely a well-meaning gesture that's actually rather shallow. And what thought did this tweet provoke in me? I thought to myself: Why is she using her celebrity to get her followers to do a tribute to someone who's already died when she could instead be using it to raise awareness for the disease that killed him? 

I have lupus. Right now, I'm doing rather well and I'm grateful for that. But I've nearly died from it before. And if I ever did die from it and I was looking down from above, I would want a celebrity to use their power and influence to help save others from my fate via raising awareness, charity work, etc. My spiritual, spectral self would probably appreciate sincere comments, but empty gestures? Just no.

And I want to make it clear I don't think Alyssa Milano was doing this as a purposeful thing to gain attention for herself. I mean, she could've been -- I'm not her and don't know what she's thinking -- but whatever the motive, I wish she knew that a better, more meaningful tribute to Steve Jobs would've been something to raise awareness. After all, one of the greatest things Jobs is known for was his innovative spirit. He saw the world going forward. He saw new ways to look at the world, to make daily life easier, to make entertainment more entertaining. And since he had that way about him, I think a greater tribute than an empty gesture would be to carry on his message, you know? For instance, helping solve what caused him to die -- even in a tiny way -- is an innovation. And aside of the tribute aspect, I think, even in death, he'd want the rest of us to use every opportunity to just keep moving forward.