While I was at West Point, cadets were isolated from the world. We depended on the New York Times for news. I didn’t know about Christopher Reeves’s accident, or Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie, or O.J’s wild ride until weeks or months later.

It’s so different now. Cadets have internet, and cell phones (!) and Facebook (I’m glad it wasn’t around back then). We were at the beginning of that when I was a cadet. My first email account was through West Point, and even then I wasn’t completely sure how to get anything sent to me from anyone outside of our school network. You could talk to the outside world through MUDs. It was a little tricky, but you could navigate through a few different menus, establish a username and password, and boom, you were in. I figured this out and had conversations with people. During my second summer, I became friends with some guy all the way in Manchester, England. It was a way to talk to people you would never run across in a normal day. Depending on the hour you logged in, you would find different people in different time zones all over the world.

And sometimes you found people that were behind the same walls, doing the same exact thing you were.

Once I asked a guy where he was, and he replied: “I go to a little school north of the Hudson.”

Oh, ha-ha, I thought. This guy thinks he’s clever.

“Oh really?” I typed, “I’m in New York too.”

I strung him along until we got into specifics.

“Where do you go to college?” He wrote.

Heh. I thought. Heh-heh.

I typed: “A little school north of the Hudson.”

He could do one of two things with this bit of information: laugh it off or take his ball and go home.

“Fuck you.” came the reply.

A message telling me I had been blocked followed right after that.

When you were hiding behind a computer screen and a keyboard, you could be mean without anyone calling you on it. Log off and poof, you’re back in the real world where no one could connect you to the things you typed. I gave this guy his comeuppance because (in my mind) he clearly believed he was impressing some civilian chick, not someone living in the same setting, wearing the same uniform, and doing the same things he was (and therefore not impressed). I thought this guy deserved to be played, but I also can’t blame him for being pissed.

Another time I ran into a cadet online, it wasn’t so hostile. We got along. We joked. He didn’t seem cocky about his status, or dismayed that I was another cadet. In fact, he was glad. This meant we didn’t have to explain every dumb detail of our lives to each other, we could move past that. He was a year behind me, in the pipes and drums club. They wear kilts—with dress gray tops! Bagpipes! Tartan! Knee high socks! What’s not to love?

It wasn’t anything like the conversation with the other guy but I guarded my identity. I told him what class year I was in and left it at that. I was one in a hundred that way. If I gave him my company, he could easily narrow it down to one of three people. He could find my room, knock on the door and figure me out with just a few questions. And then we would have to talk! In person! Oh no!

When pressed by someone who wanted to know me better, I chose to stay disconnected. Maybe I wouldn’t look like the person he pictured on the other end of the Ethernet cable (because there was just one black guy in that club and this wasn't that guy). Maybe I wouldn’t have anything to say. I wanted to reveal myself, but I was afraid of being rejected. I know. Lame.

I made a lot of friends at West Point, but I’m sorry I didn’t make room for one more.

More thoughts

1) I watched Ricochet with my husband on HBO. It starred Denzel Washington, John Lithgow, Kevin Pollak and Ice T. Kevin Pollak had a dying scene where he was shot about seven times, yet managed to share some key plot points in his last words. We also got to see Denzel in a pink fluffy robe. Denzel in red lipstick. Denzel getting the news that he has the clap. Denzel’s sex scandal tape that led to him catching the clap. Denzel taking big bites of scenery playing the man on the edge. Lithgow was the bad guy (but this villain can’t top the Dad from Footloose). As if we couldn’t figure out he was the bad guy, he had a cataract. Because, you know, cloudy eye=Eeeee-VIL! It was hilarious, and if you’ve never heard of it, there's a reason.

2) Anyone who claims we’re a paperless society has not participated in burn bag day. Picture lines of people with carts filled with brown paper bags that are filled with paper in line to load them into a box truck. If the truck gets filled up before your turn, better luck next week, pal. If it sounds tedious, you’d be right.

3) My daughter accidentally split my lip. I was leaning over her, telling her to get up and use the bathroom. In normal full speed ahead little kid form, she sat straight up and I didn’t get out of the way quickly enough. She bonked her hard head on my chin and my tooth went through my lip. I look like the victim of a collagen injection gone wrong.


Important conversation

I found my daughter watching Access Hollywood (the horrah!") and I turned it off. She saw some footage of actresses from an award show and informed me:
"Mommy, all of them look pretty."
"Yes, but is it important to be pretty?"
"No, it's important to be yourself.
*Me, thinking: Wow, good answer*
And then:
"Mommy, what does important mean?"


Perfect 10

I just packed up a dress I bought from a company that makes clothes where sometimes I'm an 8 and other times I'm a 10. Don't you hate this? Of course I ordered it online and of course I ordered an 8 when I would have been better off with a 10. It fits if I suck it in (because I have made a full--and I mean full--recovery from the food poisoning), but it's still snug at the hips, and the hip bones just can't be sucked in. Returning stuff is a pain, but I decided to get the 10 and send back the 8. Better to have something that fits and can be worn without constantly contorting myself than something that sits in the closet taunting me. (and no, I don't want to hear about that sausage casing shaper thingy known as Ardyss)

Oh, 90210

I have learned that today is "90210" day (the zip code that lives in infamy, thanks to the late Aaron Spelling). I'm not going to say I watched this dreck, or that it may or may not have been my guilty pleasure. The first season was awesome because the twins just moved to California and hey, so did I! Never mind that they were in Beverly Hills and I was in Half Moon Bay, or that it was a TV show and not real life (or anything remotely close to my suck-ass 8th grade life), but to my deluded mind it was close enough.