Wednesday, March 7, 2012

MIDNIGHT RADIO: How I Found My Doppelgänger Via Twitter

Note:  Check out part two of this blog post here.

Last summer, one of my readers said to another reader:  "I think Lily is having a nervous breakdown."

Ahem ... alcohol-induced cougar attack upon local colleges perhaps, but never a nervous breakdown!

When it comes to camp and high drama, there is a high strung gay man living inside me.  When I hear "nervous breakdown" - I immediately think of some major movie studio sending me "to the country" (a.k.a. sanitarium) for some "much needed rest" (a.k.a. electroshock treatments).  I picture myself in a turban (think Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in "Mommie Dearest" here) and I'm probably screaming "I'm still BIG - it's THE PICTURES that got SMALL!"  Wait, that's "Sunset Boulevard" ... I'm mixing my old time Hollywood screen stars here.  

OK, correction -- I'm dragged away to the country while screaming "NO WIRE HANGERS, EVER!!"  (See the movie trailer for "Mommie Dearest" on YouTube here.)  

Whew!  OK all is right with the world again!  Correct quote inserted!  

(And if you have never seen the movie "Mommie Dearest," you need to stop everything and get it now and watch it!  MOVE!  I'll wait here patiently.)

Anyway, where was I?  Oh yes -- "resting in the country..."  Wait, I can hear you ... you just said "But Lily, you're not a movie star ..."

Shut up! "Now tear down that BITCH of a bearing wall and put a window where it OUGHT to be!" (Yeah, this blog post is going to be chock full of movie quotes.  Bear with me, people.  Turn it into a "name that movie quote" quiz ... who says blog posts are not fun and interactive?)

So the other day, I blogged about the after-effects of the demise of my latest relationship with "The Bad Ass Bandit."  Specifically, my bitterness at being thrust out into the cold, dark, redneck freakish world that is the singles dating scene over 30 in Tampa Bay, Florida.  ("Oh the horror, the horror!")  One friend wrote that my blog post "Blunderbussed" was "raw" and must have been painful to write.  I also received a couple of emails from people checking in on how I was doing.  Very sweet, very kind.  

However, writing for me is a complete catharsis.  If I can write about it (on a public - naked to the world - blog, no less) - it means that for the most part, the churning emotional lava is subsiding.  My blog posts are never a "cry for help in the dark" but instead a "crap, that was sucky - so I'm going to tell you all how sucky it was and then I'm going to move on!"  For me, the fear is more when I am not writing.  If I can't write about an event in my journal it means that I am still holding on to it too tightly - letting it ricochet in my psyche, wounding everything it touches.  Writing a blog post is never a cry for help to me.  It is a celebration that I am healing and moving on.    

And - as for Bad Ass Bandit who still follows my blog (although I bet he's clicking "delete" when the email comes through!), I just like to give my personal shout out that you, my sweet darling, suck on so many levels.  I hope your travels through irrational world are on a round-trip ticket.  Best of luck to you.  Thanks for stomping all over my heart.  

Wait, let me amend the above paragraph -- if you are musician Jack White - and if you read my last blog post where I used the name of your upcoming solo debut to describe my emotional angst ("Blunderbuss"-ed) - and you're wondering if I am OK ... I'm not OK ... it was a cry for help.  I am shattered ... dead inside.  This is the type of cry for help that can only be resolved by you and I spending a couple weeks at Third Man Records.  Hanging out, collaborating on some songs ... let's do an album ... a kiss and a hug as a "thank you" for collaborating with such a mega star like me?  Oh well, if you insist ... And then maybe after all that, I will feel better.  You bring the talent, I'll bring the sandwiches and the remains of my cold, dead, shattered heart.

But if you're not Jack White - I'm OK.  Not slicing my wrists or wearing nighted color (That's a Hamlet reference - I've slipped from movies to the Bard!)  There may be a voodoo doll shaped like the Bad Ass Bandit in my condo that I slap around and shove pins in whenever I have a SUCKY DATE post-breakup ... but that's allegation and speculation!  (And maybe only 74% true.  Maybe.)

However, I do appreciate the support and concern from my readers.  (Jack White, email me!)  And I have to say that I recently had my own "WOW- THAT IS DARK AND RAW- ARE YOU OK???" moment myself when reading the work of another blogger.  The other day, I found my doppelgänger via Twitter.  Yes, Twitter.  All this time I thought I was a unique snowflake and then I stumbled upon a writer who basically could be me from another universe.  (By the way, have you seen the movie "Another Earth"?  It is so good!  [Click the link for the movie trailer here.]  Brit Marling is wonderful.  Go see that one ASAP too!)  

Before I launch into the story of finding my doppelgänger, I have to preface this story with some childhood background ... lay down the psychological origin story, as it were ...

I was a very shy child.  Some hard knocks in early childhood had robbed me of my voice and personality.  I was a shadow - a wispy figure.  I was like a picture made by a printer low on ink.  I was composed of grays with big white spaces.  Incomplete and longing to disappear.  As a result, I spent a lot of time in my own introverted world, reading anything and everything I could get my hands on.  One day, one of the books I was reading referenced Plato's Symposium.  Specifically Aristophanes' speech on why love makes us feel whole.  He proffered that in "primal times" people had doubled bodies with faces and limbs turned away from each other.  However Zeus, in anger, decided to cripple the "doubled people" by chopping them in half - making two bodies.  So now we spend our time and energy looking for our "other half" to be whole again.  As a young child, I was mesmerized by this story.  It seemed to be a perfect explanation for men's and women's ardent, longing search for their "soul mate" or "other half."  The feeling of being incomplete, not normal in your own skin.  

(Side Note:  Take a reading break and watch the adorable John Cameron Mitchell signing "Origin of Love" at Amoeba Records in Hollywood, CA on YouTube here.  Or if you prefer the more formal version, watch the "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" version on YouTube here.  It's foreshadowing for the remainder of this blog post.  Viva la foreshadowing!)  

Or just watch this live clip from the Victoria Theatre here ...

Fast forward many years ahead ... I had recently moved to Tampa, Florida and was working for the absolute, most awful woman I have ever had as a manager.  She was a bitter shell of a woman who had made a devil's deal.  She had signed away her future happiness in exchange for security; leaving her to subsist upon the desiccated remains of her life.  She was hollow and dead and didn't even know it.  The only way she could achieve pleasure was by punishing others.  Whenever she saw someone else happy, she pounced upon them like an emotional vampire swapping the life blood of joy with resentment and cowering shame.  She and the company I worked for should have been sued for retaliation and discriminatory behavior many times.  This woman was a managerial menace.  If she favored you, you were golden.  And if she disliked you, you were anathema.  Each day working there was a Greek tragedy.  I was in Hades and there was no way out.   

One day, I just could not get myself to go to work.  I was so tired of toiling in this woman's underworld.  I called in sick instead.  I sat on the living room floor thinking "OK what now?"  My new life in Tampa was not going as I had planned (hoped/dreamed/imagined) and I felt paralyzed.  "Now what?" was ringing in my head daily.  

As I do many times when faced with major life decisions, I turned on the TV.  Veg out and don't think!  On one of the high number cable channels, the movie for the rock musical "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" was just starting.  I have heard rave, rave, rave reviews of this movie, but had never seen it.  In fact, I had the DVD in my collection for a couple years and still had never seen it!  (See the movie trailer for "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" here.  Read the Wiki for the movie here.)  

I watched the movie and I was absolutely mesmerized.  It was Plato's Symposium kicked up a notch ... but even more mind-twisting, it was "What if when we were cut in two - what if one half took all the good qualities and ran?"  I seriously was having a brain melt down at this thought.  The whole concept turned from two loving soul mates trying to reunite to more of a vengeful "I'll suck out the best parts of you and steal them for myself!"

(Side Note:  Just having had a relationship crash and burn - this whole notion of someone taking the best of me [Go ahead and play Foo Fighters' "Best of You" here.] and running off is a particularly poignant image.)          

While my self-imposed mental health day/hooky day may not have helped my career, watching "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" definitely got my mental and emotional wheels turning.  Plus, there are so many great quotes from that movie. 

"Hedwig" lived in East Germany before the wall came down ... 

"Okay. One day, in the late mid-Eighties, I was in my early late-20's. I had just been dismissed from University after delivering a brilliant lecture on the aggressive influence of German philosophy on rock and roll, entitled "You Kant always get what you want." At twenty-six my academic career was over, I had never kissed a boy, and I was still sleeping with Mom. The search for my other half on my side of the wall had proved futile. Might he be found on the other? But how to get over, you know. People died trying." (Hedwig and the Angry Inch)

John Cameron Mitchell wrote and starred in the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch off Broadway and then again in the motion picture.  If you're a frequent reader you may remember my gushing about John Cameron Mitchell in my blog post entitled "PANIC! SHAZAM! I'm going to Guam!"  (Which is a play on the Hedwig movie quote "F*ck you! I'm going to Guam!")  The original post I wrote for "PANIC! SHAZAM! I'm going to Guam!" is more hard-edged and angst-ridden, but I cut out some major chunks because I knew the person I was writing about read my blog.  Perhaps one day, I'll post "the director's cut" of that post.  It is much, much better.  I hate editing myself for other people.

"I stumble naked through the ruins, back towards blander, less complicated confections, leaving in my wake a trail of rainbow carnage."  (Hedwig and the Angry Inch)

So where are we in the story?  Lily - in childhood and then in adulthood- is obsessed (OK maybe not obsessed but "very affected by") the notions of our search for love is really about our desire to become whole again - reuniting with our other halves.  But also just as obsessed/very affected by the notion that the other half may not be the most kind or altruistic person - that they may have stolen all the great parts of our combined identity and taken off.  So instead of a search for love, it is more like a nationwide manhunt to get the best parts of ourselves back.  And I think there is something to this Hedwig view of Plato's Symposium ... because I know way too many people who think that if they find the perfect love partner, it will somehow cause everything they hate about themselves to disappear.  It's like we think someone's out there with a basket containing all the best parts of ourselves and when reunited with this person, we'll become this awesome, amazing person! 

(Do I even have to say how deluded it is to think that someone else can magically make all our perceived flaws disappear?)

"How did some slip of a girlyboy from Communist East Berlin become the internationally ignored song stylist barely standing before you?" (Hedwig and the Angry Inch)

But what if this person ("our other half") doesn't want to be found?  What if they are holding our talents hostage and hoarding them for themselves?  (Selfish bastards!)  The analogies and the metaphors drive me crazy with literary interpretative delight!  (I was an English major in college, people.)

"It is clear that I must find my other half. But is it a he or a she? What does this person look like? Identical to me? Or somehow complementary? Does my other half have what I don't? Did he get the looks? The luck? The love? Were we really separated forceably or did he just run off with the good stuff? Or did I? Will this person embarrass me? What about sex? Is that how we put ourselves back together again? Or can two people actually become one again?"  (Hedwig and the Angry Inch)

Another side note-- I just recently discovered that last week, the eternally youthful looking John Cameron Mitchell was appearing for 2 days at Sun Ray Cinemas in Jacksonville, Florida.  I seriously could have punched someone!!  Had I known in advance, I would have driven there to see and hear John Cameron Mitchell!  But noooo.... I had to find out about it 3 days AFTER it happened!  So please dear readers, if you ever hear of any more events with John Cameron Mitchell - do this weary gal a favor and let me know!!

I have a very unique face.  Most people have a difficult time ascertaining my ethnicity.  For most of my life, I have received puzzled looks and a "WHAT ARE YOU?" question.  Growing up in Minnesota, I was the olive child in a sea of white.  I seriously wanted to hand out etiquette books.  Who says "what are you?"  How about "what is your ethnicity?"  I used to answer "I'm human.  What are you?"  I also used to get "WHERE ARE YOU FROM?"  (Yes, the questions were always said with this fevered urgency - hence the all caps and BOLD.)  "Um, I'm from Minneapolis."  "NO, I MEAN WHERE WERE YOU BORN?"  "Um, right here in Minnesota, thanks."  "NO, I MEAN ... WHAT ARE YOU?"  

For the record:  I'm 1/2 Chinese, 1/2 Polish.  Born in America.  Not adopted.  US Citizen.  But depending on who is viewing me, I have been told I look Polynesian, Native American, Eskimo, Fijian, Samoan ... the list goes on and on.  People have a hard time deciphering what box they should be shoving me in.  I remember one time on the school bus, this awful girl who looked exactly like Charles Schulz's Peppermint Patty was screaming Native American racial slurs.  After about five minutes, I finally turned around and said "Are you shouting those at me?  I'm not Native American."  This realization took the sneer right out of her.  "Oh?  What are you?"  I looked at her incredulously -- "So you can insult my true ethnicity?  Yeah right."  And turned back around.

When I recently visited China, the Chinese people I encountered were very stern in pointing out that I do not look Chinese at all.  It made for a very bizarre growing up, identity-wise.  The whites telling me I wasn't white.  The Asians telling me I wasn't Asian.  Talk about alienation!  For a child already living in the shadows, this denial of my identity just made the matter all the worse.

Looking back on that experience, had the nasty girl been calling me Chinese racial slurs I would have felt shame and anger.  But because she was calling me Native American racial slurs, they washed right over me with no effect.  A good commentary on the power of words ... if I could have successfully ignored all hate speech like that, I would have had a much happier childhood.

As an adult, the "WHAT ARE YOU?" still manages to pop up.  Every now and again, people ask me how I feel about biracial dating.  And I have to answer that no matter who I date, I'm already biracial dating because there are two races within me.  I grew up as an only child.  My half-sister Squidge was not born until I was a teenager.  Being a shy, introverted child.  I longed for the company of a sibling.  Someone who was like me and could help me commiserate on life with my difficult mother.  (See a blog post on life with my mother here.)  While I didn't have some sort of "Oliver Twist" childhood.  I was lonely for many of my early childhood years.  

I've never known anyone who had my same ethnic combination background.  And it wasn't until I was 25 that a woman came running up to me babbling away.  She thought I was her friend - in fact she said I could be her friend's twin.  I was shocked.  I was unique - a unique freak.  There was no one like me.  After years and years of having "WHAT ARE YOU?" hurled at me, the thought of there being someone out there who looked just like me was inconceivable!  A childhood spent watching too many soap operas with my Grandmother caused me to wonder if I had been part of twins and one had been stolen away!  (Did I mention I live in states of high drama?)

After a couple years of living in Tampa, I met a woman who shared a very similar childhood background as me.  She is Asian and she has her own load of regret and emotional baggage from her childhood.  She was a late bloomer and I think if she had her way, she'd like to go back in time and get herself on the right path much earlier.  I felt an immediate connection to this woman.  My heart went out to her.  I knew her pain.  One of my friends asked me why I was so drawn to her.  I replied "Because she's me if I had gone down a different path.  We both had similar origin stories."  This is going to sound highly conceited and I don't mean for it to be - but I felt like I owed it to myself and to this woman to help her stay on a more positive path.  It was like I was doing it for both of us.  I had been fortunate to have some experiences in high school and college that helped me break out of my shyness, my depression and self-loathing.  (OK to some degree - it's not like I'm the poster child for perfect mental health.)  But if I had not had those experiences, I would be in a very dark place today.  In being friends with this woman I felt like I was reaching out to myself (as well as to her) as we both seem to be forged in the same, dark foundry.

Plus she's a cool chick and I like hanging out with her!

So now you have all the background information ... let's get to the story of how I found my doppelgänger on Twitter!

As you may know, Rush Limbaugh recently called Georgetown Law Student Sandra Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" on his radio show.  Yes, he's a "shock jock" and he's supposed to be creating controversy - but personally, I also think his radio speeches are filled with misogyny.  And I support that many of his advertisers are showing their disappointment through pulling their ads from his show.  (As of this blog post, ABC News reports that over 40 advertisers have stopped advertising on Rush Limbaugh's program.)  

The Twitter-sphere was focusing on a particular aspect of the Sandra Fluke story.  It appears that actress Patricia Heaton (of "Everybody Loves Raymond") was making some particularly low brow statements about Georgetown Law Student Sandra Fluke.  (Read the Twitter screenshots on awesome blog "Angry Black Lady Chronicles" here.)  I was shocked at how low brow the Tweets were.  Apparently many other people had this thought as well, as Twitter was filled with many tweets on this subject.  Allegedly, Patricia Heaton took down her Twitter for a short period of time.  Now just because the Twitter account says "Patricia Heaton" and has a picture of her, doesn't necessarily mean it was her.  But apparently it was indeed Patricia Heaton, as she later gave an apology after drowning in the backlash.  (Read The Huffington Post article here.)  I thought this is why actors had publicists?  Don't they pay people to keep them from sounding like total idiots?

I basically use my Twitter account (@SouthTampaLily) to publicize this blog, to shout out to local businesses and to occasionally remind Moto Restaurant Chef de Cuisine Chef Richie Farina (Bravo TV Top Chef Texas Contestant) that he has dreamy eyes.  But I have to say I was hooked reading about the fury over both Rush Limbaugh and Patricia Heaton.

I went to undergrad at a very liberal college and reading the political fervor on Twitter brought me right back to the good old college days!  But without the grunge flannel and the budget beer hangovers!  I started reading the blogs of some of the Twitterers ... intelligent, funny, impassioned people with writing skills way better than mine!  Their blogs linked me to other blogs ... and before you know it, I had lost several hours reading the wonderful thoughts and writings of the Twitter world.  It was through this "click on every link" session that I stumbled upon an Asian woman living and writing from Minnesota.  As a 1/2 Asian woman who lived a majority of her life in Minnesota, I was intrigued and started reading her blog.  I read less than 1 1/2 blog posts when I pulled away from the computer, very confused.  This woman ... this woman could be me.  Her experiences were mine.  Her thoughts and feelings were mine.  It was absolutely like the movie "Another Earth" when the scientist discovers her double on another planet.  

What the heck was going on?  I knew my Minnesota friends were very sad that I moved away.  But did they CLONE me?  And if so, I don't remember the cheek swab cell extraction!  Who was this chick that seemed so similar to me?  I kept reading her blog posts.  Her writing was much better than mine.  As anyone who reads my blog knows, I am a "rambling, stream of consciousness, no attention to grammar or run on sentences" girl.  In fact, I prefer to be like William Faulker -- my run on sentences are EPIC!  I write like I talk - in fast, furious frenzy with no need for correct punctuation!  The joke at my work is that I get paid by the word!  And I'm quite OK with this as my writing style.  But this woman - this clone of me -- her writing was much more succinct.  

"OH NO!!!"  I gasped!  "SHE'S LILY VERSION 2.0!"

She was NOT my clone!  She was the next version - the new and improved, advanced model!  The de-bugged, superior version!  Goodbye flaws and self-loathing, hello Version 2.0!

"ARGH!!!!"  So that's how it is, eh?  I'm the outdated model of myself?  Well that figures!  Sigh ...

I kept reading Lily 2.0's blog posts.  She had a history of depression and some of her posts were incredibly sad.  Her heart and her painful history were on full view right there on her blog.  Every painful bit.  My first reaction was "No-- too much -- why are you being so open?  It's the internet!  It's chock full of crazies!"  And then my second reaction was that I wanted to give this poor woman a hug.  She and I had a lot of the same issues, same insecurities, same angst, same pain ... but I had not let it shut me down to the extent she had in her earlier years (according to her blog).

So perhaps she was not Lily 2.0 after all ... perhaps I was her Tyler Durden!  

Narrator: Tyler, what the fuck is going on here?
Tyler Durden: I ask you for one thing, one simple thing.
Narrator: Why do people think that I'm you? Answer me!
Tyler Durden: Sit.
Narrator: Now answer me, why do people think that I'm you.
Tyler Durden: I think you know.
Narrator: No, I don't.
Tyler Durden: Yes, you do. Why would anyone possibly confuse you with me?
Narrator: Uh... I... I don't know.
[Random flashbacks]
Tyler Durden: You got it.
Narrator: No.
Tyler Durden: Say it.
Narrator: Because...
Tyler Durden: Say it.
Narrator: Because we're the same person.
Tyler Durden: That's right.  (Fight Club)

I prefer "Fight Club" the book by Chuck Palahniuk versus the movie.  Although I do have a very strong appreciation for Brad Pitt's chest in the movie.

My blogger doppelgänger wrote about the number of years she was riddled with depression and basically had been at a stand still in her life.  These were years that basically had been wasted, never to be reclaimed or relived.  Where do your hopes, dreams, spiritual energy and want of joy go when you are depressed?  Perhaps I am her manifested alter ego?  While she was suffering from depression, perhaps a part of her split off to have a life she was not emotionally capable of having at the time?  

"You wake up at Seatac, SFO, LAX. You wake up at O'Hare, Dallas-Fort Worth, BWI. Pacific, mountain, central. Lose an hour, gain an hour. This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time. You wake up at Air Harbor International. If you wake up at a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?"  (Fight Club)

Perhaps her hopes, dreams and energy just could not take another day of the depressed state.  It somehow transformed into a being of ether, too many hair products and Coke Zero.  This manifested alter ego then traveled the world -- Russia, Egypt, Latvia, Estonia, Malaysia, China, Japan, India, Turkey, Alaska and so many other points ... and now her own personal Tyler Durden was whisking around Florida in an old convertible, having love affairs with men not worthy and blogging about her life in long, rambling prose. 

Tyler Durden: All the ways you wish you could be, that's me. I look like you wanna look, I f*ck like you wanna f*ck, I am smart, capable, and most importantly, I am free in all the ways that you are not.  (Fight Club) 

But wait, if that's what happened -- that a part of her escaped to live a life more vibrant outside of her depression -- that would mean that I'm not human.  I'm some figment of this woman's imagination.  Ack!  It's the snow globe scene from the last episode of "St. Elsewhere"!  Too much!  Too much!  

But wait again, if I am Tyler Durden that means I am Brad Pitt ... very sexy and everyone wants to be with me ... But again, also then not human, figment of someone's imagination ... but incredibly sexy and with Angelina Jolie ... but I'm not real ... hmmmm .... it's kind of a toss up.  Not sure which outcome to be rooting for here! 

I went to grab my copy of "Fight Club" from the bookshelf.  Certain that the answer to whether I was real or a figment of someone else's depressed psyche would be contained within its pages.  The novella wasn't where it usually sat.  I searched my condo.  It was nowhere to be found!  Great.  I'm not only imaginary but somehow Lily 2.0 got into my house and stole my book.  Thanks a lot, Lily 2.0!  More of the good stuff you took from me and ran with -- a la Hedwig!

Tyler Durden:  "Hey, you created me. I didn't create some loser alter-ego to make myself feel better. Take some responsibility!" (Fight Club)

I kept reading Lily 2.0's/Edward Norton in Fight Club's blog and the similarities just kept pouring out ... she's Taiwanese living in Minnesota.  I'm 1/2 Chinese from Minnesota but my entire Chinese family lives in Taiwan.  She adores Alan Rickman, the actor.  I love him and just saw him in "Seminar" on Broadway.  She hates to clean.  As my maid service can attest, I do too.  She has black cats.  I have black cats.  She snores - I do occasionally.  She has a blog post talking about her summer of discontent.  I have a blog post talking about my summer where "Pink was the color of my itchy discontent."  She has a blog post where she mentions Guam.  I have a blog post that mentions Guam!  

She is an excellent writer.  I'm ... OK, I like to write.  She had been in a relationship where she felt complete and normal.  I had just been in a relationship where I felt the same way.  She wrote blog posts about how elated she was when she was with this man.  I did too.  She broke up with this man that she thought was "it" - the real deal.  So did I.  (Thanks a lot, Bad Ass Bandit!  You suck!)  We were close in age - I'm a few years younger.  She's 5'6", I'm almost 5'9".  She has very long hair.  I have much shorter hair.  She makes her living writing.  I wish I made my living writing.  I am heterosexual.  Her sexuality is of a more all-inclusive variety.  (My way of saying she is bisexual.)  She stayed in cold Minnesota.  I fled for the warm climates of Los Angeles and then Tampa Bay.  She has body issues.  I have body issues.  (OK what woman doesn't?)  

But the biggest difference between she and I is that she had the balls to post dignified naked pictures of herself on her blog as a sign that even though she may not have society's "perfect" body that she's not going to cower ashamed.  It is a powerful statement of her personality and strength.  Another sign she is Lily 2.0.

For the record, let me state that Lily Version 1.0 will never have naked pictures posted on!  Hell, I don't post my pictures of me with celebrities.  I crop myself out and post their pictures!  (OK OK if you're dying to know what I look like, check out my Twitter @SouthTampaLily-- my picture is there.  But I'm CLOTHED and will forever and always will be!  Prudy McPruderson, thy name is LILY!)

I read more and more of Lily 2.0's blog posts.  The blunt, vivid, matter-of-factness in which she wrote about the dark corners of her soul hit me like a caravan of cement trucks.  I now understood why some of my blog readers feel like they too are getting emotionally sucker-punched when they read about the lows in my life.  I also understood why these same friends were then sad/afraid/scared for my mental condition.  Everything was delivered raw, open and yearning.  Like a freshly open wound, nerve endings searing hot.  My readers could feel my pain, just as much as I could feel Lily 2.0's pain.  

Lily 2.0 had written all these wonderful entries rejoicing about her new love in very specific detail.  Then months passed before she posted the next blog post.  Her golden, joyous, whole-making, heart-warming relationship was over, she announced.  This blog post was also her last in the entire blog.  After several years of blogging, she proclaimed that she was going to put all her energy into writing fiction.  She was done with blogging and after all felt she was a much better fiction writer than blogger.  This last blog post was dated November 2011.  

After reading so much about this woman's life - her joys, her happiness, her pain, her struggles ... I couldn't believe that "the story" was ending there.  Had the break-up driven her back into depression?  Was Lily 2.0 like me, where if I can't write about something it means I am in the throes of darkness?  I wanted to send this woman an email and see how she was doing.  Was she in a depressed state or was the choice to pursue fiction versus blogging the right decision for her emotionally, psychologically and spiritually?

"She came up to me after the show and I thought, "This lady wants a piece of me." So, you know, I was alone, I had nothing in my hand, I was gonna go for the eyes... She came at me from both sides and she gave me a fucking hug." (Hedwig and the Angry Inch)

It is amazing how close we can feel to strangers when they pour their heart and soul out in a blog.  I once had a very close friend here in Tampa.  Let's call her "Fake."  Fake made an accidental faux pas in etiquette - disclosing some personal information about me that I hadn't wanted disclosed.  I very nicely told Fake that it was not her fault because I had not specifically stated it was confidential and should not be shared.  However, I did want Fake to know that I didn't appreciate her sharing the info.  (As it was of a nature that is ridiculously private!)  Instead of apologizing, Fake went bat sh*t crazy on me.  She said that no one cares about me and that the only reason I was even a subject topic is because I force myself upon people on my Facebook page.  Ahhh yes, I make people be my Facebook friends and make them check my page daily.  I have a big gun to their heads when they write comments on my FB page too.  This woman is no longer my friend.  When someone seethes "NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOU!"; it's best not to spend weekends hanging out with them.  I can imagine that Fake would think my blog is about me once again forcing myself upon people.  But it's a two way street.  I write because it is a creative outlet for me.  One that I do not have in my day to day job.  I write because it makes me happy.  It's a release.  Whether it's on a public blog or a journal, I write.  And I love when people email me or tweet me or make comments on the blog.  I'm close to 15,000 page views, so evidently there are some people out there who like reading what I write.  (Either that or I am very busy "forcing" a lot of people to read my blog!)

I grew up feeling very alone and alienated from the rest of the world.  Finding Lily 2.0's blog, I was reminded how very similar we all are.  We all have hopes, dreams, fears, emotional baggage and joys. And I would venture to say that we are all more fragile than we think we are.  Reading Lily 2.0's blog reminded me that I need to be more patient and kind with people around me.  That at the root of it, we're all just trying to make it through the day - finding peace or happiness or whatever our ultimate goal end state is.  

SPOILER ALERT - Don't read this paragraph until you've seen Hedwig and the Angry Inch!
"Hedwig and the Angry Inch" is the story of chasing someone to get back what you believe they have stolen from you - your art, your talent, your love and your life.  In the movie, Hedwig has a tattoo of a face split jaggedly in two.  (I met a man in Orlando who has the same tattoo - and I thought I was a big Hedwig fan!)  In the last scene of the movie, John Cameron Mitchell who is in drag any time he sings a song, is now in men's clothing without the wig or the makeup.  He sings the song "Midnight Radio."  There's a line in the song that says "Knows that you're whole."  And the very last scene is Hedwig walking away and his tattoo is now a whole face versus one split in two.  He spent the whole movie chasing someone else, trying to become whole ... but he only had to work on himself to become whole.  He didn't need the other person.  It was within him all along.  (Did I mention I love this freaking movie?  John Cameron Mitchell, please bring it back to Off Broadway - or even Broadway this time.  I need to see it performed live!)

The soundtrack for "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" is fantastic.  I was going to play it while I was writing this blog post, but I knew I'd end up spending my time singing "Wig In A Box" (YouTube video of the song here) instead of writing.  Check it out on iTunes or your favorite neighborhood record store today!     

After scanning through many entries over several years of Lily 2.0's blog, I knew I was not her clone.  I knew she was not exactly Lily 2.0.  I still hold on hope that I am Brad Pitt in female form, but I am probably not Lily 2.0's Tyler Durden.  So what was the point in the universe slamming me into Lily 2.0 so unexpectedly?  What is the message I should be taking away from all this?  (And as you know from reading my Ukrainian Restaurant blog post, I do believe that everything happens for a reason.  The universe is watching!)  Was it all just to remind me to be nicer to people?  To stop being an emotional bull in a china shop to those around me?  (By the way, Bad Ass Bandit - you still suck!)  Or maybe it was a universe bitch slap.  Telling me that I'm not a unique snowflake and here's a chick making her living writing and maybe I should too?  (Ehhh, would the universe be that bitchy??)  The public marketplace is not ready for my brand of run-on sentences!  

Tyler Durden: Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You're the same decaying organic matter as everything else. (Fight Club)

I do not know what the universe's message is supposed to be here.  I do know that I am not going to take the experience lightly though, however.  There is a reason behind all this.  When I read some of Lily 2.0's blog posts, I felt like I was reading directly from my own journals.  (Albeit, hers were better written!)  There was something chilling and yet curious in hearing your voice in someone else's words.  I felt like an amnesia victim - I had no recollection of writing those blogs but it sounded exactly like me.  There has to be some sort of grander design for such a coincidence to occur.  Just because I cannot see what that grander design could possibly be, does not necessarily mean that it does not exist.

However just because there may be a grander plan at play, it doesn't mean there has to be a grander message too.  After all, this could just be the universe telling me that it's time to watch John Cameron Mitchell's "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" again.  Whatever the message and whatever the purpose is, it should be honored and respected.  The universe doesn't just do these things for sh*ts and giggles, after all.  (Does it?)             

Tommy: Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal lord and savior?

Hedwig: No, but I love His work.  (Hedwig and the Angry Inch)

P.S.  Do I email this blog to my doppelgänger?  Will that cause worlds to collide?  (That's a "Seinfeld" reference, people.  See the "Independent George" clip on YouTube here.)  Will Lily 2.0 think me a crazed stalker?  Will she wonder why I keep calling her Lily 2.0?  I'm not sure what to do ... your comments and inputs are welcomed!

Note:  Check out part two of this blog post - about what happens after I tell my doppelgänger that I wrote about her and her blog!