living out loud

bad news, good news.

A Tale of Two Cities! A book that I once did a Star Trek-themed, student-created film summary of, that 3 friends and I wrote, directed, and filmed all by ourselves which was so stunningly bad no one in my 11th grade AP English class could even look at us, move, or speak when it finished and I so wish I had a copy of it right now. I bet we'd be YouTube stars.
A Tale of Two Cities! A book that I once did a Star Trek-themed, student-created film summary of that 3 friends and I wrote, directed, starred in, and filmed all by ourselves on location in Ephraim McDowell hospital and a country radio station in Danville, KY which was so stunningly bad no one in my 11th grade AP English class could even look at us, move, or speak when it finished and I so wish I had a copy of it right now. I bet we’d be YouTube stars.

That quote pretty much sums my life up right now. Let’s start with the bad news, shall we?

Bad News #1 – my trust levels are at an all-time low, I’ll just be bluntly honest. Getting stalked and harassed and then obsessed about on the Internet is the opposite of fun. I did have trust issues before this started, and the whole thing just made them 1000 times worse. May it never happen to you. Because even after the scary direct contact stops, the creepage lives on in various different other forms. I think people who talk about kindness, love, compassion, etc and then do and say the opposite in private aren’t the kind of people I want to know or hang out with. Because honestly: I can tolerate a lot of bad behavior, but what I have a really hard time tolerating is hypocrisy. Second only to racism. Humans can be exhaustingly tainted.

So I am really fighting hard, you guys, so hard not to become a person who absolutely distrusts other people. I think I do need to be more careful and really know who someone is before giving them that level of trust, ever again. Because now I know. Now I know there are people out there in the world who will take what you give them and use it against you when they feel desperate and justified enough.

And again, I don’t hate him. I’m fairly disgusted by him and yeah – I’m bitter. Not with the world, just with him.  But it’s been a great learning experience. One takeaway I’ve gotten from it is that words are pretty things that are easily manipulated and look really lovely on paper/computer screens and sound really lovely in your brain…but what matters is what you actually DO.  You can say sorry all you want, but if you’re still doing bad things in the dark that in the light you’re saying sorry for? Please. Shut up. Just walk your talk. You want healing, you want love, you want real friends? Walk your talk. Do what you say you’re doing.

Another takeaway I’ve gotten from the experience is that most normal people will quickly figure out: whoa! Internet creep! Problem human! And back away. But there are other people out there who will read the pretty, manipulated words and agree with them. Either because they don’t know the whole story (distorted facts and outright lies being an impediment) or because they lack boundaries themselves…or both. Sucks. Bites. Can’t do a thing about it. Can only control me and what I choose to say or do.

And so the last and (I think) most important takeaway I’ve gotten from going through this is that I’ve decided to never, ever shut up about what being stalked and the victim of emotional manipulation and abuse feels like. Too many people (particularly women) experience this, mostly at the hands of men. There are men in the world, ladies, who feel like if they’re just nice enough to you that you will give them whatever they want in return, and when you don’t some of them can become very unhinged and scary. I will never, ever shut up about it, because part of telling stories and writing is being honest – that’s where connections happen. Real, human connections. The artist Kesha was very brave about her abuse experience, and so I will be too. So sorry (not sorry) if that’s a problem for people who stalk and emotionally abuse other people. And if you’re a person who’s actually realized the person you’re interacting with is a stalker/emotional abuser? And you keep interacting with them? Lands. I don’t even know what to say to you. Except maybe: Wow?

At any rate, the whole thing – combined with my inability to exit my own effing head – has turned me weird and given me even bigger trust issues than I already had. But it’s happened for a reason. I’m going to work through these issues, I’m going to forge on. Because I refuse to allow this experience to darken my Light, and I refuse to allow this experience to erase my belief that most human beings are kind and good and try to do the right thing.

So that’s bad news #1.

Bad news #2 – Oh my god, you all. I finally called my credit card people. I spoke to a really nice lady on the phone. I’m sad this nice lady works for Satan, but she does. Credit card companies are of the devil. They let you charge and charge and charge, and they don’t even send you a warning like: Hey, uh. Dial it down, Mama Warbucks. You’re at your top notch limit.

No! They do not! Because what they do is they let you go waaaaaayyyyyy over your limit, and really. Thank god for nice estranged husbands and tax refunds. Jesus lord of all that’s holy. I mean, for REAL credit card companies?! For real??? This is why people hate you, you crazy loan sharks. Exactly why.

At any rate. I just. I can’t even. It’s so shocking to me – I have so shocked myself with lack of financial self-control and know-how that I can’t even. So let’s do some good news.

Good news #1 – I’m going to learn how to stop being weird and suspicious, except when it comes to credit card companies.

This money situation is going to teach me self-control and how to live within my means. Plus also, since now I can’t go out and have wild parties in the ATL on my credit card’s dime (signing away my soul, my daughter’s soul, my mother’s, my deceased grandmothers’, practically writing my name in blood on every. friggin’. receipt. Gah!), now I’ll have more time to stay in and just write. And I’ll finally stick to a budget. (I’m going to say January and February were just for practice, since neither month was pretty.) Oh, and! Coupons. I’m going to learn couponing. (Will you be okay if I come here and wax poetic about coupons and how they can save your life?) The worst part of this is that I can’t afford the organic section anymore, and I don’t know WHAT I’m going to do about my hair and nails, y’all. But I’m going to figure it out and make it work, because I need to be a brave girl now.

Good news #2 – I have received word,  officially, that I get to go back to teaching English as a Second Language (ESOL) next year. Thank you, bless you, a million kisses if you sent prayers and/or light for that. Teaching English has always been a passion of mine – I love working with immigrants and language and words. If I must stay in education for another 12-15 years, then I wish to do it with sweet foreign children learning language and words.

On the positive side, classroom teaching for the last four years brought me amazingly dear, life-long friends – people who will be pieces of my heart forever and ever amen. And I got to love a lot of really lovable (and some not so lovable) children. And I think I learned a lot about poverty and fear-based parenting and how to hold my pee for almost an entire day. I did not ever really learn how to keep a mini-lesson mini. And organization will never be my forte. Neither is proactive planning ahead. Or holding grown people’s hands. Or arranging a classroom logically and keeping it clean. Or using technology that involves a lot of clicking a lot of hyperlinks to upload one single thing.

But I got to share a LOT of books I deeply love. And I had really amazing moments, like the one time the one kid connected the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz to Captain Hook in Peter Pan by recognizing they were bullies, and people who bully other people are actually cowards and so they bully to keep other people from figuring out that they’re cowards. And there was that one time the little girl had to be in the hospital for brain surgery for 2 months, and the tough, angry little girl who’s totally going to either get jumped into a gang one day or start her own Fortune 500 business or both started a WELCOME BACK WE LOVE YOU!!! poster project all on her own.

I feel a tremendous responsibility to not be a slacker in my support teaching position because listen, seriously: Classroom teaching is one of the hardest jobs on planet Earth right now. It is hard and stressful. It can be thankless. You spend a lot of time in meetings. Sometimes you get to school when it’s dark and leave when it’s dark. Parents yell at you and accuse you of crazy things. Kids yell at you and accuse you of crazy things. You get MAYBE 20 minutes to eat lunch. You hit the ground running at 7:30 AM and don’t stop until you leave at 5:30 PM. Sometimes you have to work after school events and are there until 8:30 PM. You spend more time with other people’s children than your own. And you spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about your data. And what your lesson plans look like. And if today’s the day they’re going to come in and observe you – can they wait until next week when your cold is finished and the schedule is back on track?

Classroom teaching can be intimidating and exhausting. I feel like starting a hashtag NeverForget campaign for teachers who luck out and get to work support teaching positions. If you get that kind of luck, really focus on the word SUPPORT. It matters. Like, first I’m going to make the teachers they give me take a bathroom break as soon as I come in their rooms. And I’ll bring them fresh baked cookies and lovely seltzer waters, and sometimes Starbucks treats if I can swing it that month. And if I can just take over a whole class and teach a 45 minute Language Arts lesson so the teacher can grade papers or do some data entry or just,  you know, go sob in a bathroom, whatever…I plan on doing it. Because helping each other matters.

So there it is. Best of times, worst of times. I’m okay, right now. Except when I get moody and weird and my trust issues flare. (I took a really long Twitter break, though, so I’m hoping that’ll help set me back to semi-normal, pre-stalker levels.)