When you go to tweet your break down, avoid the urge to ‘live tweet’, or state in real time your situation & your corresponding negative emotions. Feelings, especially violent upheavals & personal situations, are follower magnets if you go about it the right way. An effective break down is both planned & timed to maximize attention.
Some people will claim that using drama to succeed at twitter is immature, and denotes a lack of self respect. These people generally have low follower counts & should be ignored unless you are invoking them as an antagonist in your story arc. More on that later.
The first step is to determine the most effective timing of your break down, based on the estimated duration of your fit. If you are planning on a mini-tantrum, aim for early evening in the Eastern time zone or late Sunday afternoon. These are peak traffic times for rubber neckers, and you should be able to snag both an antagonist & a healing helper to bolster your story arc with relative ease.
If you’re going for more of a marathon meltdown, choose a week that does not overlap with any holidays or live tweeting events. Spring is an excellent time to schedule your break down, barring any unforeseen national crisis or Hollywood scandal. After all, you don’t want to share your audience’s attention with a natural disaster.
Maximizing your meltdown means timing your tweets so that you retain maximum attention possible without wearying your followers. Use this helpful guide to plot your tweet frequency:
Mini Tantrum: 2–3 hours= tweet rate of 1 tweet per 20 min, triple rate for half hour finale.
Mild Tantrum: 4-5 hours = tweet rate of 1 tweet per 30 minutes, plan on a four to five tweet finale.
Serious Meltdown: 1-2 days = tweet rate of 3 tweets per hour the first hour (to establish melt down status) then once an hour till climax. Climax may vary based on strength of story arc, input from helpful healer, etc., but should not exceed 10 tweets.
Marathon melt down: 1 week- 3 months (not recommended for beginners or those with 200 followers or less) = 5- 12 tweets a day to maintain story arc, bitterness, etc. Rate may double during ‘big reveal’, or, briefly, for redemptive epiphany. Twitter break of 5 days STRONGLY recommended immediately after, to stem follower drop & realign expectations.
Now that you have your tweet schedule, it’s time to draft the content of your break down. You may want to have an editor look over your episode and give you feedback on how to maximize the drama. Avoid any outright lie about your situation, as some followers may know you personally and take the time to verify your claims, but inference is a handy tool. Let it be understood that you are on the edge of some undefined precipice, about to suffer a dire if not outright fatal consequences on account of an unspecified situation, and that someone is pressing you closer to that edge.
This is when your antagonist will reveal themselves. An antagonist is simply someone who tries to talk you down from the ledge before you’re ready. This person may seem caring & concerned, but you should feel justified in lashing out at them unreasonably, because they are trying to cut short your time in the limelight. A helpful healer will wait until you’re ready to be talked down, at which point you can allow yourself to be soothed, petted & prepared for the redemptive epiphany, a logical conclusion to most meltdown story arcs.
Good luck, and may all your meltdowns be productive.
Still one of the greatest, most romantic songs of all time, whether you’re blasting it at your lover’s bower from a boombox or just dreaming alone while doing ballet in the kitchen.
I guilted myself into showing up at the dinner party, mainly because of math. Lily, though a distant friend, was an important one: Her support had opened up crucial opportunities for me at crucial times. In a small town it’s always who you know.
The math of successful friendship dictates you can’t turn down three consecutive invitations unless you return an invitation before the third refusal.
I was two strikes down at the bottom of the eighth, and anyway this was going to be one of those glitzy, glimmery affairs; easier to face than a small group of intimates + one outsider.
I said yes.
The hostess was in a flutter by the time I arrived, but I made a show of greeting her, putting in face time. Math.
The long dinner table was set so beautifully, I couldn’t help but feel a little thrill to be included. Engraved nameplates marked our spaces. I was seated halfway down the table, instead of banished to some bad friend suburbia down at the chilly south pole of pale linen & glass decanters. My neighbor to the left was a silver-haired matron in rich, rose colored silk. She was likely a donor to one of Lily’s pet projects on the Arts Council.
On the right, a reddish blonde man with an endearingly crooked smile gave me an encouraging nod.
I’m shy. Lily knows I’m shy. This shyness can manifest as an almost psychotic gregariousness in certain settings, or it can come across as a chilly, implacable reserve or even as a rough sort of back-alley bluntness. The sad part is I can’t really control which way I’ll respond to a situation, and I never know ahead of time. I gave my neighbor a sheepish little peek and then took a nervous gulp of water.
He leaned toward me and said, “Beautiful crowd, isn’t it?”
“Mm.” I responded, still drinking.
“Do you believe in monsters?”
“I said, do you believe in monsters?”
His bizarre ice-breaker was helping me out. I felt Backstreet Betty rising to the occasion.
“Well sure, doesn’t everybody?”
“I don’t wanna talk about ghosts.”
“Okay. What do you want to talk about?”
I looked at the room full of people. I looked at the table full of food. I looked at the animation all around me. I had nothing. A rogue, flirtatious impulse rose inside. I looked at him.
“How ‘bout pickles?”
My companion shifted a little.
“Or not pickles.”
He smiled. “Why don’t you want to talk about ghosts?”
“Maybe I don’t care to be haunted.” I tried to give him a haunting look.
“So you think you attract things when you…”
“Obsess on ‘em? Sure.” I was winging it, but this one was true. I really do think what you pay attention to ends up shaping your world, one way or another. It’s like opening a window, in a way.
He closed his eyes. He squinched up his face. He strained like he was doing something unspeakable in the privy.
“Hey… Are you alright?”
Eyes still closed, he grinned at me. “I’m obsessing.”
“Really? That’s how you do it? It looks kinda painful.”
He snorted through his nose, trying not to giggle.
“So what are you obsessing about?”
I laughed at that one. “Cucumber karma.”
He opened his eyes. “I want to talk about monsters,” he said.
I shrugged, “Look around.”
“I mean it.”
“So do I.”
“Yeah, okay.” He seemed non-plussed.
“What would you call them?” I asked. “That woman across the table, eating her meat. She’s all fluffy and done up and shit, but look at her. She’s ripping that flank with her sharp teeth. That flank never had a chance in hell. It was A LIVING THING until we lead its stupid, mooing body to the guillotine. Look at her rip that thing apart.”
“You’re talking about cows?” he sounded incredulous.
“Yeah, I’m talking about the cow. Somebody should.”
“But it’s a cow! Are you one of those PETA people?”
“No, no… It’s just a sick way to live. Bred like that. Utterly and completely born & bred to satisfy someone’s appetite. Existing like that…” I struggled to explain what I viewed as the repulsiveness of the process.
He shrugged. “It’s a cow, though; a big, hunkering bovine. Something was going to eat it, eventually. Something in your head has got to recognize that cows were created to be an entrée.”
I glared at him.
“And… they fart methane. Bad for the ozone. Not to mention deforestation.” He took a bite of asparagus.
“So are you –for- eating the cow, or against? Its not real clear.”
“Does it matter? Tonight I’m having chicken.” He grinned.
“Okay.” Now I sounded non-plussed.
“But we were talking about monsters.”
“Yeah!” He was animated again. “Real ones.”
“People are the only *real* monsters I know of.”
He looked at me with this sort of disappointed look. When he spoke he seemed almost sad. “The beast inside. The thing with teeth. I know, I know. Again with the Heart of Darkness shit.” He put his face close to mine. “I’ve READ Conrad, I’m asking you something else, honeypot: Have you ever seen a monster? A real one?”
I pushed baby peas around my plate and thought about it. I felt that he was mocking me. The beasts I see are real. Their eyes glow red, you can see it when you develop film. I smiled. “Fuck you,” I said.
He put his fork down. “Do you want to see a monster?”
“No thank you.”
“Are you sure?” He sounded earnest.
“I know this one.” I smiled. I just kept fucking smiling. “Some Ted Bundy wannabe gets a girl all intrigued with a dope line about monsters and drives her up into the Hickville Mountains so her blood can fertilize the pansies. No THANK you.”
He shuddered. It was a real shudder. I watched his face close in and a convulsion move down his body. I felt suddenly really bad, like I’d poked a sharp stick into something to see what it was, and it turned out to be a kitten.
“Sorry.” I mumbled.
“No.” he had picked up his fork again. “No, I’m sorry I scared you. I didn’t mean to make you think that.”
We ate in silence for pretty much the rest of the dinner. He mentioned something nice about the hostess. I made a pretty comment about dessert. We both seeped disappointment through our pores as we said goodbye. I went home and took a shower.
I laid in my bed later and thought about the party. I know there were other people there, Lily had invited a room full, but it felt like he and I had been in a small, sealed chamber. I turned over on my pillow, playing through the words. I played the conversation all the way through, and replaying this way I finally thought about monsters, real ones: Things with scales and teeth and horns; things with sinuous bodies that lunge and snarl and hide. Things that can be fierce or terrible or beautiful, but cannot be understood.
He had wanted to show me something. As the night wore on and our silence descended, that thing between us grew and took shape. It had been there in the room, something- something that desperately wanted to look like a monster.
And if he had asked me again, which he wouldn’t have, because of what I said, so that’s how it goes… but, if he had asked me again, to come and see the monster? I’m pretty sure now that I would have said yes.
It takes practice, being a mom. But the joy in such an achievement is boundless. I do not mean achievement as in the end of work, the setting down of tasks, but rather the achievement of finding balance. Being able to chide, instruct, befriend and even… dare I say, relax in each others’ company? To find fun & contentment in those crucial in-between times-
It’s been a long journey.
My cousin was my first love, in the maternal sense. Sister. We were once like sisters; me the older, she the younger one. Sisters who drifted apart on a vast sea. Sisters who went different routes, one sailing the rich and well traveled trade route, gaining wares & experiences along a series of ports & ultimately reaching her destination as an educated, prosperous adult with a loving life mate and good friends.
The other navigated a rocky shoreline & took a wrong turn, crashing its hull against the jagged stones. One harrowing mistake defined its fate for many years to come. This ship took on water & nearly sank, listing dangerously till the weather subsided. There was a period of terrible waiting, and then a longer, drawn out pause, for though this ship was towed to a rural outpost, repair seemed an unlikelihood until a chance encounter lead to the long awaited work of refurbishment.
I have never looked upon a ship and perceived a visceral sense of envy or resentment, or even felt that its tilting lines communicated abandonment, even in the act of foundering.
Ships can evoke sadness, but they aren’t like us, always feeling things. It’s easier, sometimes, to think like ships.
And when the second vessel set sail again, and began to make small trips to nearby harbors, slowly & cautiously increasing its territory, taking on small but crucial payloads, perhaps it would have been difficult to see that other ship from long ago pull into a neighboring harbor, flags blazing.
Perhaps. But resentments, these are a heavy cargo, and most of us learn to toss them overboard to keep our ship from sinking. Envy, too, must be chipped & peeled away like barnacles on a boat, lest they compromise the vessel.
What remained was a modicum of what I shall call wariness. Wariness was the overall emotion I felt when my cousin pulled into port.
I can speak richly and with pride of the wares she chose to bring on her visit: She brought kindness, first of all, for my daughter. She brought an olive branch, generously extended toward myself, and a cup to set between us on the table. This cup holds the small but vibrant seeds of hope for a friendship; something to plant and care for between us, & see what develops.
I don’t think I will ever look at the world with the same optimism my cousin feels, or the same faith that tomorrow will go the way it ought to go, but I have also gained something on my journey. Nights in cold places bestow a wisdom all the more precious for the price paid. I look now, at my daughter’s animated face, and I cannot regret the journey, despite the cost.
‘Irons in the Fire’ by John McPhee
‘Flight Behavior’ by Barbara Kingsolver
‘Fluke’ by Christopher Moore
‘The Financial Lives of the Poets’ by Jess Walter
‘I Am an Executioner (Love Stories)’ by Rajesh Parameswaran
‘Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore’ by Robin Sloan
‘Where’d you go, Bernadette’ by Maria Semple
‘Bella Tuscany’ by Fracis Mayes
& ‘wild’ by Cheryl Strayed
I am a ~very~ happy camper.
Stuck in your graffiti, again /Don’t know what I did to earn your hit & run attention
You slashed up all these walls, but never got to your confession
Looked like Banksy from the back,
but your vision’s all disjointed
Looked like Banksy from the back
So baby, paint me disappointed
1^ The outdoor Elizabethan theater in Ashland, OR. Does it look smaller to you? Yeah, I think it shrunk. They no longer have busty wenches selling Chess tarts in the courtyard either, which made me unaccountably sad.
2. Ancient Victorian houses are endlessly charming. Ancient Victorian plumbing - less so.
3. Three or more senior ladies working in concert can totally make a Walking Tour their bitch.
4. Praying mantises (disambiguation) find Ancient Victorian Houses trés erotique.
5. A neurotic, shambling Romeo makes a lot of sense through a modern lens.
6. No Chess Tarts! I still can’t believe it.
7. Be warned: Eating Indian food half an hour before a three hour production puts you firmly in the ‘idiot tourist’ camp for the duration of your companions’ memories.
8. If it isn’t a five alarm fire, please, please do not interrupt my gentle meander through an expensive greeting card section.
9. Time it took to be bored again after returning home, joyously: 11.6 hours.