I am writing this at the request of an individual from The Post and I hope I come up with what they had in mind. Whatever I come up with, I would just like you all to know this is my own real life experience even if it happened all online. I don't claim to know any stats or patterns of behaviour or any geeky terms to explain how I feel and how it all worked out. It's just how it was with Lil and me, and I only share it with you to share her, because she was worthy of that. It's not been a very long time since Lil moved on from this world and the grief is fresh in a lot of people. Some of those people, even here, know Lil in all her many manifestations. In other words they were truly close to her in real life. I would never want to cause those people any further pain, and I feel confident none of you would either. I hope I do justice to what she meant to them.
Having said all that,
when I first met Lil it was one of those explosive first encounters that stick in your mind. Not that it was exactly a positive interaction, but anything you learn something from can't be negative really. I saw something in Lil I hadn't seen in a long time. Some things that I used to see in myself, and at first I tried to tell myself she would grow out of that stuff like I did. I did come to see eventually, I didn't grow out of it, I chose to move away from it because it was too real. Life is so much smoother if you can strike the right balance of real and make believe. Smooth is not always just what you're going for though, and the rocky times, well they are the most interesting.
Let's see how did it go now? I was ranting and raving about sex on the Internet, how you just can't avoid it no matter how hard you try. I was roaming around this place we all got shunted to when our regular hangout went under for good. I clicked on this rather innocent looking link and out of the blue I'm looking at some really raunchy chicks doing some really raunchy stuff. Pop up after pop up and it took me some time just to get that stuff out of the history and get rid of the cookies. I was in one of my more self-righteous states and telling anybody who would give me access to their bulletin board. One of those bulletin boards was at a community called worry web that Lil and Pedro had made so we knew for sure we all had some place to meet up. I didn't really know Lil at that point; she had joined the old community right before it went down. But I knew Pedro and I knew Lil was his girlfriend and I was caught a bit off guard when I pissed her off right off the bat.
Well not right off the bat. I started out sort of simmering you know, saying how sick they all are, how it ain't right. I shouldn't have to deal with it. Then she said,
'Sooo... where's the problem people? Why do guys go out and pay for what they oughta be getting at home for free? Why is internet matchmaking such a big thing? Why is porn such a big thing? Something ain't right here. Doesn't anybody know anybody anymore carnally, biblically or otherwise?'
She said a lot of other stuff too, but the gist of it was we all created this scenario and now most of us, me included, want to point our finger at somebody else and say, and 'It's their fault'. But I didn't see that at the moment, and Lil had no idea why I was so worked up anyway, since I hadn't mentioned the unfortunate link I had followed. I kept on ranting and raving. I told her,
'...when you look around and here are a lot of healthy, pretty women, who could do any number of things to make a living, and they choose to reinforce the destructive stereotyping that has oppressed us since the beginning of time. I just want to smack em around a little is all. I want to see them when they are fifty and everything they had going for them is hanging about a foot lower. But that won't help the rest of us cause there will be a whole new bevy of empty headed, big chested women who choose to exploit the natural assets God gave them rather than do the work and develop some that will last them a life time.'
Then she did a surprising thing. She said I was dissing her and she stopped talking about it. Really it took me quite a while to figure out why she thought I was dissing her. It was because that was exactly what I was doing. Of course I had no way of knowing all the details of Lil personal and professional life, and that is where the lesson lies. I am really glad now that Lil decided to come back to that conversation and enlighten me. I may never have known just how many women are out there so much like me that I would dismiss as having sold themselves as no more than male sexual gratification.
Then she did another surprising thing, after she understood what had gotten me upset, she got all meek and apologetic. She thought at first I was attacking her, and she stood up to me with pride in what she is. Then she thought she had attacked me and the way I believe, and she was sorry for it. I felt so hard then, sort of superficial you know, taking things for their face value. I thought about one of those girls in the pop up a little harder. I tried to imagine her with a family and concerns about life and what it's all about. It made me remember all those mistakes I made, and all those things that seemed like major mess-ups but they made me who I am.
The conversation did go on though, and it moved away from sex for sale to love in general somehow. Lil made one statement, in the course of my getting a look in her head, that seems to sum up life in a way.
'What you blowoff you can't take in.'
'So like I tried to run the universe for awhile...
and it didn't work... in fact it almost killed me... so then I gave up and told god to do it because it's god's thing ya know?'
'My generation seems like they are always thinking about ways to get stuff they see on tv or whatever... to get rich ya know? To get enough for later because we know social security ain't going to be there when we get to be your age or older and companies don't care about people anymore even if they ever did. It's everybody for yourself. And that's reeeally sad. Like nobody cares about anybody so nevermind love or anything else. The earth is turning into a septic tank and nobody cares.'
'..... Ya gotta take life one day at a time and trust that the creator didn't make mistakes that's all. And when you die maybe this creator will tell you the punchline and we can all have a good laugh.'
The Lilith Factor
Lilith Cookie was her online moniker of course. Her real name was Shayna Lilith Miranda. When she signed up at the computer vine she had to pick a 'family' she wanted to belong too. There were themed cities too, and the family names all related to whatever city you chose. They might well have created the Cookie last name just for Lil, it fitted her so perfectly.
She told me one time she thought her father had played a dirty trick on her by naming her Lilith. Coming from the Weminuche tribe as she did, her upbringing was rich in oral histories. I had never heard of The Lilith at all myself, and if I had it would have been from written accounts. Lil didn't learn it from a book though. She learned it from the tales passed down from one generation to the next within her own family. She thought having that name may have predetermined her nature to an extent.
Whether giving her the name caused her to become as she did, or her father somehow felt the undeveloped mystery in his newborn child, I don't know. But I do know that Lilith played her part well in whatever life she touched.
There are many versions of The Lilith, and many are not what you might consider flattering. She was supposed to have been Adam's first wife, in one version, who became dis-satisfied because Adam would not allow her to be on top. So she left him and God replaced her with Eve. But Lil was still out there, and she made it her task to show people the dark side of themselves. The sexual dreams of adolescent boys were attributed to her. Many versions held her responsible for the mysterious death of infants in their sleep. She tempted Adam with her dark and sensual persona and represented always the choices and sacrifices that are life.
Of course she probably chose the name Cookie because that's how she felt people thought of her. She played up that perception in fact. But it has another relevance I think. Have you ever looked at that temporary Internet folder? You know how some of those cookies just don't expire? That's how Lil did with me. She said things that stuck in my head, and when the time is ripe, they bring themselves to the front. She put a little cookie in the computer that is my head and every life I encounter is filtered through it.
On September 11, 2001 Lil, me and the rest of the gang were hanging out at a place called 'Community Zero'. That morning I was working at home and listening to the news and getting madder and madder. I was furious. All I wanted was to get the people who did it and kill them like they had killed ours. All the people around me in my real life, that's what they wanted too. We were, for a while, a nation of irrational individuals, letting our actions and our words be guided by our emotions.
Lil was emotional too, but she wasn't mad. She was just sad, so sad. She just kept on telling me to look a little deeper. She told me the reasons it had happened. She chastised me for not already knowing, and at the same time she offered me her love and support in my time of grief. Lilith told me I could never deal with that grief though; I could never learn to avoid it in the future, unless I could understand how it came to be.
'Let's show the rest of the world how civilized we really can be instead of how we can play the same savage game as everybody else only more high tech. Let's be the leaders we've been telling everybody we are instead of big bullies just repeating the same old s**t that ain't worked for centuries.'
'I know you're hurting now but you can't heal that hurt by hurting others but by doing the right thing by them. And some people would say that ain't me talking but God but you can decide that for yourselves.'
'But hey... this is my land girl... mine... I'm like rooted to it like a weed or something... so I'll be here no matter what like the wind and the rain and the dust... it's me and I'm it and if I can help ya or scold ya or whatever I'll do it same as the land but don't expect me to follow ya off the cliff like I said before. It ain't gonna happen because who would make the sun go up and down if the corn goddess rep... aka ME.... was always doing sales calls with Pauline huh?'
'Just give me your hand... because it's gonna be a rough ride for awhile and everybody needs a mama to hold their hand when things get rough ya know? Even big tough gorillas like Zee call for their mamas when they spill their guts in the dust and die.'
Lil's Luscious Counter Terrorism Plan...
'Everytime the thugs show up and break things and kill people we send our thugs after them to bring them back alive if we can... at least the ones that ain't crispy critters already... and we make them rebuild what they knocked down and we take their kids... the same number as the people they killed to replace them and we raise those kids to be beautiful people.'
'And if they don't wanna play and stuff and say... 'just kill us'... well we could just tie their thumbs to their toes until they came around which oughta be in 3 or 4 days max.'
'Then after awhile the dolts will maybe get it through their thick skulls that if they wanna break things they're just gonna have to rebuild them and if they wanna kill people their gonna have to give up the kids they were gonna raise to be ugly like them to replace them.'
'And I'm talking about ugly in the heart ya know? Because you can be a knockout looker on the outside and an total monster on the inside right? So we can raise beautiful kids while they have to make more.'
'And even if we can't get their kids we can make more babies too until they get the idea that they can't beat us. Then maybe... just maybe they might decide to join us and wouldn't that be a trip?'
'But we gotta start by building beautiful things and raising beautiful children... not ugly forced armtwisting I want my little way stuff but beautiful sharing loving stuff. And then if anybody wants to retaliate against us for doing that they'll just have to build something more beautiful and sharing and loving and revenge will like really be sweet ya know? For a change.'
'So like I know this probably sounds like something Crazy Lil would think up and you'd be right about that but is it any crazier than going around killing and destroying like those ugly people do? Is that really sane or what?'
'So maybe we should just give it a try and if it's wrong we ain't any worse off because if ya wanna kill somebody you can always wait until tomorrow and if ya still wanna do it then you can and you can do that one day at a time.'
'Oh yeah... I'm a lover not a fighter cuz I ain't big and strong and stuff so ya gotta use what ya got not what ya wish ya had right? And I don't have to win all the time neither. Just once in awhile is ok. ;)'
'So like maybe I'm more into making love than war and even if I get dragged to afghanistan and put to work in some taliban dude's kitchen I bet I could still look ok with a sack over my body because it ain't what ya got but how ya use it and I bet I could get even them gorillas to come around eventually.'
'Anyways I might as well try because otherwise I'd just rollover and die ya know?'
'And if it got too bad I could always jam a nail file in his eye all the way into his itty bitty gorilla brain when he was asleep and give his oldest son a shot at being a real man.'
'And not only that but ya know? Those terrorist dudes were little boys once with mamas and papas maybe. And that got me to thinking about something.'
'I mean how children are sacred because they have the power of life or death when we bring them into this world and the challenge is to channel that for good things not ugly thug things.'
'And maybe meeting that challenge is the most awesome weapon of all... way better than threats or bombs or armies and maybe we oughta try doing a little R and D on that huh?'
'I bet it wouldn't cost as much and it's victims wouldn't have no complaints or atrocities they could fume about for years and years getting psyched to drag themselves and everybody they can drag down with them into the toaster.'
'But I'm just crazy so don't pay no attention to none of this.'
I know why Lil was always able to look deeper I think. She knew that anybody who would really know her would have to look much deeper than they were likely to. One time we were sort of fantasizing about meeting each other for real. Me and her and Jas talked about a get together someday if we could ever arrange it. Lil told me though that she wasn't sure she wanted us to meet her face to face. If we did, she thought we might come to think of her as just another pretty face like so many people did.
She said even though we had come to know her intellect, her commitment to humanity, even her unique sense of humour, when we saw her face it would seem to represent what she is to us. I never believed that but I never had the chance to test my theory either. Sometimes when I think about it a little harder I can almost see it. People do tend to form immediate opinions based on what their eyes tell them. When people met Lil in real life, I imagine their reaction would have depended on their gender most times. Guys no doubt would have gotten hung up on her wow looks and maybe just been unable to digest much more. Women are often jealous of gifts they perceive to be greater than their own.
If they took the time to look deeper though, they would have found something in Lil to truly inspire jealousy. It was her gift, her ability to look deeper, even into herself, and to deal with what she found there good or bad. Every detail she ran across was greedily sucked into her attempt to understand life and how we could make ourselves worthy to live it. A person might almost get the impression she had a photographic memory if they didn't know her well. I think it was the fact that it was so important to her that she not waste even a fraction of that precious life that made her grasp onto all those details with such a firm hold.
Just having known her helped me to develop just a bit of that gift myself. What had always seemed like boring details to me now represent real people and real struggles. If Lilith could be integrated into every teacher in our schools, within a lifetime we would be a society that knew the truth and was willing to make that extra effort to deal with it. The real truth, not just the words and numbers that record the boring details. You just really need that deeper look, that attempt to feel what they might feel, to put yourself truly in their place and look around you at what you can see that the history books just could not record.
Lilith the Goddess
Pauline the Goddess, You the Goddess, is it unhealthy for us to look for this deep deep part of ourselves? You can believe and trust in your fellow human beings without giving up that belief and trust in yourself. You cannot allow that belief and trust to blind you to reality, but you have to be looking for it or you'll never find it. That's what Lil said to me, and I think it's as good a message as any.
My life has become such a wider, deeper vessel with my venture into the virtual world. Lilith played a huge part in that, in part by making me see the value and depth in every other person I encounter here. Because of her everybody else plays a bigger role. I am driven to look deeper, always in the hope I'll find so much more like I did with Lil. And I do, always I do find more than I ever imagined.
It may seem at this point that I am romanticising considerably, and probably I am. If I had known Lil as a face-to-face acquaintance would she have had this effect on me? I can't know for sure, but I don't think she would have. Sometimes looking deeper requires that you look past some things. Like sticking your head around the tree. In life it is hard sometimes to do that, maybe the tree is just too wide. Online though, there are so many more possibilities. You can disregard what somebody looks like, what they do for a living, most anything, if you are fully involved in digesting their thoughts.
Thanks For All the Cookies
Romanticised or truly a factor in socialising as we may come to know it, I'll probably not know until I am looking back from my golden years. Maybe then I'll see how it fit in with the huge intricate pattern it took my lifetime to create. At this moment in time I can only be thankful to have experienced it.
I can think deep about what Lil said and see how deep it really goes. I can tell people how it touched me and how it sticks. They can believe it or not. Or they can think I create this situation in my mind. It makes very little difference really in the long run. Life will go on as it will and we can only try to steer clear of the rocks. Lil gave me some invaluable pointers and I have them all stored away safely. That has a very definite and real impact on my life, in every facet of it. We only communicated online, Lil and I, but we knew each other as real people.
Not real in the sense that I know the exact colour of her hair, or what she ate for breakfast, but the real that sometimes doesn't make its way past all that. It's a shame really that we can't project that part of ourselves out into our real lives most times. But a blessing that we can do it somewhere I think. Somewhere you can say I love you and it means only that. How much more satisfying would life be if you could just say that whenever you please and it be taken as just pure love of understanding?
I told Lil I loved her, many times, and she told me she loved me, and it was real love, despite the fact that I didn't know the Lil the rest of the world knew. A gift of love, a gift of understanding, the trust in opening up and letting the other into your soul, that's a gift I'll never forget. I thank you for that Lil, and I will miss you as long as I live.
'It's probably just as well we never met face to face. I think it's better you remember me not as 'just another pretty face' but a person who cared for you and others and wasn't shy about expressing herself on those issues. You can remember me as a motormouth dedicated to screaming in the wilderness and loving every minute of it... and a showoff too... although I ain't got much more to show because the show's nearly over.'
'Right now I'm waking up every morning sorta amazed to still be in this world. I was watching the water in creek today real close and marveling about how intricately beautiful it is.'
'I'll be in the wind and rain... the sunlight and the moist green earth... but mostly I'll be in your heart I hope... and in my words to you here and at the sites. Maybe you can use them for something... '
'One thing I do know is I love you and will remember you until my memory's no more which ain't gonna be that long but this moment we share can be as long as you want I think.'