Posted by: jeanne | September 12, 2009

i’m back

i took what amounted to half a year off recently. around easter i got obsessed with the swine flu, found a couple of flu boards, located a good worldwide newsfeed, and was off as an official flu chaser, first class. meaning a newbie, in what turns out to be a rather tight and tightly wound group of people who suspect that everyone is out to stop them from alerting the world to the deadly threat the powers that be are suppressing.

it’s hard to overestimate the power of belief.

i once invested a great deal of belief in an email that proved that aspartame causes cancer. i read it intently, nodding my head at every point. i mailed it to everyone i knew, bursting to tell them before it was too late.

turns out it’s an urban legend. but i believed in it with all the intensity of a born-again’s belief that jesus is their personal savior.

i spent months sitting in front of the computer with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. i watched with sick fascination as the flu spread from mexico, as it grew in britain, as it grew in australia and south america. i posted article after article that i’d found about it, anxious to record the news on the flu board before anyone else could, and before the news organization pulled the story.

we were all convinced that the powers that be were suppressing the numbers. hell, it’s been proven, who needs convincing at this point? the numbers were never real. but there were several flu boards devoted to ferreting out what numbers there were, trying to peer between the lines to find the cases everyone was certain they were hiding and misreporting.  it was tense. they looked under every rock.

heartened by the camaradery of these small groups of far-seeing survivalists, i began to join in various topics that interested me. i was always careful to play nice, and always counted to ten before composing that snarky reply i usually didn’t send. it started to feel like home. i started to learn more about the complex world of online newsgroup ettiquette, and started to see the differences in the various online flu communities. the history of flublogia is fascinating, as much for the interpersonal dynamics as anything else. people make enemies in that world, and take threats seriously.

and so it happened that a chance remark got me canned from two flu boards, the ones i called home. not at the same time, and not for the same reason. the first time it was because i complained that this particular board sure wasn’t very nice to newbies. well, i learned my lesson there, and was very supportive of my remaining board from then on. but then i bumped a topic by asking what the new news was, and found my post deleted and my access cut off.

damn. i hate rejection. especially when they don’t talk to you and don’t tell you anything about it. but i’m not a kid, and life’s not fair. they canned me and don’t want to hear my opinion, and i don’t want to be part of any organization that won’t have me. sour grapes make a great cough syrup.

i can’t blame them for being canned. the swine flu was just ramping up to epidemic proportions in england, an it was about to begin here in the states as the first school systems reopened for business. the board moderators were being hammered by attacks by trolls and harriers, there was more news every day and all of it bad. they had their hands full, and here was this newbie making noise. fine. don’t go away mad, just go away.

when i got canned from the last board was after i’d already gone off to the beach with my sister, who didn’t allow me to dwell on swine flu at all. that was one week. and then we went off to the mountains where there was no talk of swine flu. and then my husband fainted again and we were in the hospital for a couple of days working him up (a bunch of tests that found nothing, thanks very much). i had better things to worry about than swine flu.

because it’s here now.  people are getting it, and it’s the flu. some people are getting it, and it’s a cold.

and i don’t give a shit. i’ve got better things to be anxious about than a fizzled-out worldwide decimation.

i’ve got a husband to spend more time with. i’ve got paintings to paint. i’ve got blogs to write. i’ve got two novels in notebook stage. i’ve got a 21 year old daughter and a 2 year old grandson.

i’ve been wasting my time concentrating on swine flu, and i realize that thanks to the nice people who kicked me off their swine flu newsgroup. the next catastrophe is right around the corner, but i’m thinking it won’t be an aspartame kind of catastrophe, won’t twang my anxiety center, and i won’t have to spend any time worrying about it. i can go back to painting now and stop being a hulking form in front of the computer.



  1. Jeanne, I need you to keep making me laugh.


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