A couple of years ago, I sat in an old friend’s office in Cape Girardeau, and since we’d been planning a big reunion mostly via Facebook, we asked each other what we thought of the whole FB thing.

Me:  You don’t post much.

Him:  You don’t post much either, unless it’s a picture of your dogs.

Me:  Because I’ve learned the hard way that my dogs are the least controversial thing I can put out there.

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19071-Cold-Vanilla-Ice-Cream-ConeThe problem with this kind of thinking, especially when you’re a writer or really anybody, is that makes it easy to become lulled into vanilla, wary about taking a stance.  And come on.  Who wants to read anything where the writer — the person thinking-on-the-page — doesn’t come right out with it already?

Last week I came out with it by criticizing the Pope because I was outraged, and I couldn’t understand why every person wouldn’t be outraged.  I’m still outraged and wondering where the bigger outrage is.  But when many of my Catholic friends went silent —- not a “like” in the land —- I knew I’d left Vanilla Land.  Which was both hurtful and a big neon sign.  I found my missing voice, but the cost was a really long and quiet week.

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Last night I was making dinner for the neighbors on my patio and switched plans less than an hour before.  This very “right” decision resulted in my rushing to cut the bread which resulted in me trying, accidentally, to cut off the tip my finger, which resulted in me pretending for the rest of the night that my finger was “fine,” that I was “fine.”  Because haven’t we all been trained from early on not to be a bother, even when we’re bleeding?

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An old friend recently said that just because I have an opinion doesn’t mean I need to state that opinion.  This comment has been  heavy on my mind.  Because it makes me wonder about the price of being quiet.  The price I pay by posting only pictures of my dogs because they are so very very vanilla.

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Today I read this.  http://thenewinquiry.com/blogs/the-beheld/fat-and-happy-and-loved/

When was the last time I woke up and didn’t think about whether I was fat or thin, could fit into these or those pants?  I’m thinking we could all do with a little more speaking out like this.  Brave woman.

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Which brings me back to the voice. Our voices.  To why we keep quiet. Don’t bother anyone. Don’t cause a stir. Don’t draw attention. Don’t cause “trouble.” Don’t stir the pot.

One of the most difficult lessons I’ve learned about memoir writing is that you have to boil that pot. Or why bother?  And when is “boiling” ever comfortable?

 

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