96 Tears by
(303 Stories)

Prompted By Regrets

Loading Share Buttons...

/ Stories

Lying in bed one night, thinking about this prompt, I was overcome with tears. I started dwelling on all the mistakes I have made over the years that I wish I could go back and fix. Thus, the title and featured image.

There are times when I regret thinking it was a good idea to have my own website when I don't know how it works.

Many of my regrets involve my children – things I should have done but didn’t, or shouldn’t have done but did. I’m not going to tell you any of those.

One regret that I have now about my childhood is that when I told my parents I wanted to drop out of religious school, they just said okay, without even any discussion. I was the third child, and I guess they had been through enough with my sisters. At the time I was delighted that I no longer had to get up on Sunday mornings for Sunday School. It was only decades later, when I promised to learn Hebrew with my daughter Sabrina, that I wished I had studied it as a child. It turned out to be too hard for my forty-year-old brain, but easy for her.

I regret some of my course choices in college, especially freshman year. I somehow thought I should take an English, a Social Studies, a Science, and a Math because that’s what we had in high school. Wish someone had told me to take courses that were fun, and different from high school subjects.

Sometimes I regret moving out to California, because I love Cambridge so much. But in the last forty years I have only been there in the spring or fall, when the weather is lovely, so I tend to forget how awful the winters and summers can be. Anyway, I’ve made my peace with that decision, as discussed in Did You Ever Have to Make up Your Mind?

Finally, there are times when I regret thinking it was a good idea to have my own website when I know nothing about the technical aspects and am at the mercy of others to fix it when something goes wrong. As an example, let me tell you what is happening now. In September we started getting notified of new registrations on the website every day. At first I was pleased, thinking it meant the word was getting out and more writers were joining us. But then there began to be too many of them. And while at first they had normal-sounding names, later we started seeing names like “Sapphire Limousine,” “Beaming Flame,” and “Mumbai Hot Models.” Obviously not legit. There began to be dozens of them, three or four every day from mid-September until now. How were they getting past the approval process that was supposed to be required? We still don’t know! Our website developers are trying to solve this mystery, or at least make it stop.

Then, to make matters worse, four of these registrants published spam stories, although I took each one down as soon as I saw it. Their titles were “Gobank Login Gobank Account Gobank Card Login” (sounds pretty interesting, right?), “What is reason that the Canon mg3600 setup is not successful?” “Laptop repairing Institute in delhi” and “Know- why random person sent me money on cash app from cash app service.” They had links in them that I was afraid an unsuspecting reader might click on. And mainly, I just didn’t want this nonsense on the site. I knew how to trash them, but not how to prevent them from appearing in the first place.

I also discovered that registrants were posting something called status updates. I can’t figure out where these might appear on the site. I can see them in the Activity Log which is only visible to administrators, but haven’t found them anywhere else. These are all ads for different products or services, with clickable links. I mark them as spam as soon as I see them, and they disappear, but new ones come up, so it is like playing Whack-A-Mole. I have to check the Activity Log every day, when I didn’t even know it existed two months ago!

I have never had any other type of problem where I had no knowledge base to use for tackling it. I am beginning to think that if we can’t stop it soon, or if it is going to cost a huge amount of money, I will have to shut down Retrospect. That would be something I would greatly regret!

Profile photo of Suzy Suzy

Characterizations: right on!, well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Let me start by offering a heartfelt hug/sympathetic agreement with all you’ve said and done. I also have many regrets that I would not discuss for this prompt. I, too, took courses in college, but wish I’d taken others (I wish I’d taken more with a political bent instead of focusing so much on the arts).

    But let me say how much your efforts to keep this site running are appreciated. I remember Patti telling me that she had to knock out phony accounts on a daily basis, and I noticed that weird story “Laptop repairing institute in Delhi” come up; had no idea what it was. I fear in this atmosphere of hackers and scammers, Retrospect has become prey also, perhaps we are vulnerable to mini-attacks or even though we are small, nothing is too small for attacks these days. Somehow, it saddens me, but doesn’t surprise me. You would be justified, if you felt you needed to walk away from Retrospect.

  2. OMG Suzy! Don’t shut down Retro!

    I’m no techie, but isn’t there a way to prevent anyone from publishing until you or one of the admin team reads and vets the draft?

    Don’t shut down Retro Suzy, or there’ll be more than 96 tears!

  3. Laurie Levy says:

    As one of your co-administrators, I get your frustration over all of this hacking nonsense. Why people would want to harm our lovely little website is beyond me. But if it becomes costly, let’s all chip in to fix it. Just share what you need in an email to the Retro writers. Thanks for all you have done to keep this website going.

  4. John Shutkin says:

    So sorry for your tears, Suzy — however many there were exactly. I uspect that you were not the only one of us brought to them by thinking about this week’s prompt. But, on the bright side, that is to your great credit in choosing such an emotionally challenging prompt.

    As to Retro, I have long suspected that there were great technical challenges in all the workings behind the proverbial curtain. So your concerns about it do not really surprise me, much as I know how devoted you are to it. Just know that we contributors/commentators have nothing but gratitude for all of your efforts to date.

  5. Dave Ventre says:

    Indeed it would! Finding Retrospect has re-ignited my long-banked writing fire, and in a new direction. I hope a workable solution is found. Greed is the enemy of everything that is good.

  6. Khati Hendry says:

    I can only echo what others have said—your untiring work for Retrospect is VERY much appreciated, and I hope we are not spammed and discouraged out of business. The site has inspired many of us to write and reflect and share. Do ask for help if you need to! Being a tech inept, I empathize with the difficulties of administering the site. On another tack—I thought I was the only one who signed up for math as a freshman out of lack of imagination! Although in my case it was a fortunate error, since I ultimately needed it for pre-med.

  7. OMG, Suzy…that song, I’m so glad you chose it. What an ear worm, and I’m still loving it at this point! That said, I’m sooo sorry it’s the perfect song for your story. As a fellow admin, I join Laurie in hoping we can all chip in to keep things running smoothly. And I’m not sure how sites get “chosen” to be hacked, but I would actually love to know why and how all this new activity came about and if there’s a way to prevent it.

    As far as your frustration at not having the chops to tackle it yourself, very understandable. I would normally say it might be worth taking an online or community college course to learn the basics of web design, but like learning Hebrew, it might be too hard now. It’s certainly beyond the ken of most of us, although thankfully Mare has a better grasp than we do. We’re lucky to have her onboard!

  8. Marian says:

    The other comments say it so well, Suzy, that we appreciate so much what you are doing and have done for Retrospect. It is a mystery why the site is being hacked, and I hope we can find a solution. However “techie” I am, I am no match for the hackers, alas. I love the 96 Tears song for your theme. Seems we all have regrets about college courses we should have taken and didn’t. There weren’t enough hours in a day to do them all.

  9. I can echo the other active Retro writers in my appreciation of whatever it takes to keep this wonderful channel open and willingness to be “part of the solution” if there continues to be a problem.

    But back to your story: I was so glad you wrote the first part, about your course choices. It’s not what I’m thinking of writing about for this prompt, but I have long regretted that nobody told, me, “you’re in college now; don’t just think about literature and French and history and the things you were good at in high school–spread your wings and look for something new!”

    Hey, is it true that the “96 tears” were a sexual allusion? That’s what I always heard.
    Finally, I have to admit I have been referred to occasionally as “Beaming Flame;” but not the one who tried to submit on Retrospect.

  10. Susan Bennet says:

    All I can say, Suzy, is that it is these despicable hackers who should be feeling regret. These months I have admired so much the artful way you manage and design the site. It is beauty itself. I too echo the gratitude and hope of others.

  11. I’m super grateful that you decided to carry Retrospect into the future. Brava, Suzy!

  12. Ben McKelway says:

    Yikes! Thanks for telling us all that. And good luck keeping this site going.

Leave a Reply