Irrelevance: Evolution on the Fringe


The other day I received an email from a friend that was so en pointe it was a bit frightening.  Why? Because she used the word I’ve been thinking (feeling?), but afraid to say out loud–or on paper,–irrelevant.  Sure, the thought has crystalized in reference to my fiction, but as important as writing has always been to my sense of me, it is only one part. I was thinking it walking dogs, thinking it more these past weeks as I’ve been unable to walk. Thinking it as I speak with my kiddos, as there are fewer issues that I can actually help them with.  (Mom, you can’t help, you never took calculus.) Thinking about it as Man Child approaches his college graduation.

Besides the obvious pride and general the world-is-waiting-for-you momstuff, I’ve also been excited about his graduation because one of my feminist heroes will be speaking, and I wondered if I might have a chance to meet her and say hello.  Then I thought, what would I actually say?  “Thank you for being brave and paving the way. Thank you for remaining active and relevant so young women can see the possibilities of who they can be.”

And if that imaginary conversation moment occurred, then what?  “Who me?  No one.”  Not the representation of possibilities, but the caricature of women of a certain age, right down to the busted pelvis from a simple slip on the ice. Irrelevant.

No, hon, I never took calculus.  In fact, when I graduated from high school, my father commented on his surprise, they didn’t think I’d do it.  He wasn’t being snide, it was just a fact. My school experiences left me at a bit of a loss dealing with my children’s school experiences.  I never wanted to make a big deal about grades, I was afraid they would interpret it to mean that was all I cared about.  Now I’m afraid they think I don’t care about their efforts. I try, and tried, to stress learning, and school as a tool for a better life. I don’t think I’ve been as successful as I hoped, but no doubt my boys are in a much better position than I was at their ages.  I want Art Child to continue finding success through her art.  I want them to have enough, to feel they are enough.  I hope none of them will feel irrelevant when they’re forty thousand years old.

No one is ever going to confuse me with Hillary Clinton or Sandra Sotomayor; Arianna Huffington or Maya Angelou. Why do I even want to meet this woman at Man Child’s graduation, when I have nothing to offer? No degrees, no pedigrees, no byline or book jacket or contract. I’m a reefer who’s never been snorkeling or scuba diving, a self-proclaimed feminist without a career. Ridiculous. Then I remembered.  This isn’t new.  Mrs Fringe, a peripheral life.  There’s a reason I don’t blog as Ms Important. I thought about my first post, almost three years ago.  My space to be me, not “just” a mom, and not “just” someone trying to get published, either. The blog has evolved, I have evolved–hell, we even got that three bedroom apartment–but I am who I am, and life is what it is.

Regardless of how much Virginia Woolf I read I don’t have a room of my own, but I now have a desk, something I didn’t think was possible a few years ago.  From it I see my beautiful reef, where I watch the interactions of all the critters, and remember how important even the simplest ones are to maintain the balance of the system as a whole.  I’m not writing the Great American Novel, calculating royalties, or reading fan mail when I sit at this desk, I work on the occasional story and post some silliness or a rant here on the blog.  Sometimes, just when I’m devolving into thoughts about my lack of success, moaning about not knowing the best way to encourage my kids, and ready to break out a tape measure to torture myself with how much I’ve sagged; I get a note from someone out there in cyberland, telling me one of my posts resonated with them, or made them laugh.  That is pretty excellent, and fucking relevant.

Turbo snail eating algae off the glass.

Turbo snail eating algae off the glass.

Cleaning the sand under the plate coral.

An unlikely pair, but the turbo and the plate coral stayed snuggled together for two days.


  1. They never warn you how slippery relevance is in Relevance School, do they? Every so often I look up and think, “When did that stop being relevant?” or “When did THAT start to matter.” *sigh* I miss the old days (yanno, my teenage self) when everything I deemed relevant was, in fact, Relevant. Firm ground, not the goosh I walk on now.

    Experience sure has a way of liquefying the substrata, Mrs. I think we need bigger shoes.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This post touches on something I’ve been thinking about for a number of years. I don’t have a post secondary education, but I know I’m smart. I know I’m a strategic thinker. I know I can make things happen. I don’t learn sitting at a desk. I learn by rolling up my sleeves and doing and learning as I go. I learn through mentors and conversations with people who are educated and experienced in areas that interest me.

    The lack of a degree does brand me though as stated to me by others and my own self judging. It’s something I continually have to stand up against. But I have come to think it’s pure bullshit, in the sense that it’s just a reflection of what most people think, or say they think because it’s a societal norm, if that makes sense.

    haha guess I’m a bit sensitive on this topic 😀

    What I really meant to say mrs f., is don’t be so hard on yourself. ❤
    Diana xo


    1. I get it, Diana. I really do. Yes, there’s self judgement, but there’s also a reality as to judgements and assumptions made when you don’t have a degree. Seems to me if you aren’t in a field that requires years of specialized schooling, life experience should be equivalent. If only I were king…. (((((Hugs)))))

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I never took calculus either. I went to college (humanities, heheh), but my personal experience left me thinking that I went to a daycare rather than a place where you learn. Oh well.

    Anyway, I wanted to let you know that I find it admirable that you are supportive of your children. It’s rare to come across parents who want their children to find success in say, art, or literature. I think if it is something you love, and you are persistent with it, you should continue to pursue it.

    I also don’t find you irrelevant. You seem to have done well in supporting your children in meeting their endeavors. A lot of parents don’t, whether that’s due to crab mentality (“If I didn’t go to college, you shouldn’t either, etc.”), or feeling their children aren’t good enough.

    Keep going, keep thinking, keep writing. You are an engaging individual with insights I’d like to read. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Some of the things that are now irrelevant once was very relevant, just saying if you took someone from the year 1750 and asked them what they thought was relevant it very well maybe different from what someone in the year 2012 would say……………just a thought

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You’re you and I’m glad you are! I like your perspective from fringeland, and you’re the only reefer I know.

    I do hope you’re feeling better (physically, mentally, whatever you need really) and congrats to Man Child on his college graduation!

    Liked by 1 person

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