Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I have 23 Usernames and Passwords, and the list is growing.

My Mom used to ask me all the time why I let my friends use me. Sometimes I didn't even know it was happening, but most of the time I did. Whatever my excuse was, the real reason was that it felt good to be needed. It took me a long time to figure out that being genuinely needed and being blatantly used were two very different things. The resolution to this issue is that now, I know instantly which thing a person is after, and I act accordingly. If someone needs help, I offer help. If someone wants to use me, I evaluate the situation, and if I can, in turn, use them for something too, I let them.

I don't have many "user names" in my address book these days. But that hasn't always been the case. There have been several "I call you to talk about ME" friends. You know these people...you say, "my dog died" and they say, "my dog died worse than yours". There have been countless work associates throughout the years who smile in my face and stab me in the back five minutes later. And men, that's a whole other book altogether. There's not enough space on this blog to delve deeper into the topic of "Men Who Use Women and the Idiots Who Stay With Them". Alternately, and to be fair, there's an unfortunate amount of women who use good men and spoil it for the rest of us.

When I was about 10 years old, I cut my hand trying to slice some cheese for a sandwich. My Mom was at work and I ran to my brother's room with tears in my eyes. After finding the door locked, I pounded on the door with my good hand and screamed for him to let me in.

"You can't come in unless you know the secret password!" I don't have time for this, I am going to bleed to death, so I kick the door a few times and scream some more.

"Let me in, Scott!! I'm hurt!! Pleeeeeaasssee!"

"Not until you say the password."

"But I don't know the password."

"Well, then, you can't come in."


"Nice try. Not it."

"Please, Scott, I think I'm gonna die. Let me in."

"Say it."

"I don't know it." By this point, my voice is barely a whisper. I have slid down against the door and am absently knocking on it with my good hand, and saying my final goodbyes in my head.

"Say it."

"Scott is the coolest person on the planet." The door flies open and I fall into my brother's room with a squeak and a thud, now laying on the floor, bleeding to death I'm sure. "I cut my hand." Scott looks at my outstretched hand, blood now running down my arm.

"Shit, Julie, why didn't you just say something!"

In junior high I went to a summer camp called Camp Wilani. Several of the girls from my CampFire group went that year. We were almost too cool to go to camp, but thought we'd give it a try anyway. I remember one day we found this trail in the woods, that led down to the most beautiful little forest oasis you ever saw. The tree cover just barely let in enough light to see, but what light did come in made everything sparkle and dance. I imagined a little world of fairies probably lived there. That this was the place where animated birds and squirrels came to retire and sing all day.

The girls and I used to sneak down to the trail and go to our secret place when we were supposed to be canoeing or crafting bookmarks out of yarn and plastic. No one said anything mean in this place. No one knew what time it was, or cared. Not one of us tore a leaf off a tree or pulled clumps of grass or picked a flower. It was a sacred place, pristine, and damp, and beautiful. And ours.

About 20 feet down the trail toward our secret sanctuary, there was this old, torn and soaked-through bag of mixing cement. It was the only thing that didn't belong, and was so out of place that it almost fit. The wording on the bag was beautifully ironic - ALL PURPOSE WET/DRY WATER-PROOF CEMENT. We studied the cement bag thoroughly on our first trip out of the forest - kicked it with the toe of our shoes, poked it with a stick, and brushed the leaves away to read all the words. But we didn't try to move it. It was our landmark. It told us we were on the right trail, and soon all would be quiet and peaceful and calm. And so it became, that our password into this secret place would forever be: ALL PURPOSE WET/DRY WATER-PROOF CEMENT. No one who didn't know this password would ever be allowed entry into our safe haven.

Now I have 23 usernames and passwords - to pay bills, manage bank accounts, for social networking, to run a business, to make lists of music, to create photo slideshows, to report maintenance issues to my apartment complex, among other things. Today I had to make a list on my computer of all of these usernames and passwords because sometimes I forget them, or get them mixed up with each other.

Funny that a lot of other user names are burned in my memory, and I can still remember passwords from way, way back.

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