THE GREATEST MOMENT OF MY LIFE HAS OCCURRED!

It’s true. I have peaked. This news shall not be surpassed by my wedding day, the births of my children, or the announcement that Hollywood has remade Titanic and Rose chooses Cal over Jack…*

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*probably not true

…  because this week, I finally got the call. I HAVE BEEN PROMOTED TO FULL TIME SUPERVISORY LIBRARIAN! 

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When I was 21 years old, a year and half out from graduating with my bachelor’s in family and consumer science education (home-ec), I announced to the world that I wasn’t going to teach. I was going to immediately enter the graduate program to receive my master’s degree in library and information studies. The general consensus was a resounding scoff.

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“A librarian? Do they even have librarians anymore? Isn’t that mostly a dying field?” – everyone ever

Before I met Jake, every date I ever had was with a man who either openly mocked my profession or downplayed it as a secretarial hobby job. After I finished my master’s degree, the exact same people who rant about entitled millennials expecting to start at the top, berated me for working only half time after spending so many years in school. As much as I love my daddy lunches, I began to dread the moment he’d ask if I had heard about any more job openings. Four months into my relationship with Jake, I hesitantly asked him…

Me: “Does it bother you that I’m only half time?”
Jake: “What? No. Not at all. If that’s all you were doing and you couldn’t pay your bills, I wouldn’t be here, but you work.”

Work I did. Some weeks, I worked 65 hours only to go home and do 20 cumulative hours of graduate school work. In the beginning, I was substitute teaching and working at the community center for minimum wage. Those 65 hours wouldn’t even pay my bills. Later, I saw a wage increase when I got my first library job, working circulation, but even that was only  $11.50 an hour. Finally, after graduation, I was promoted to half time librarian, where I am today. I was overjoyed that I could finally afford my bills without financial aid assistance, but only just. Between substitute teaching and working as a very well-paid (hourly) librarian, I was still only pulling in $30,000 a year, with no benefits save for the year and a half I qualified for my dad’s health insurance. I had to pay student loan debt and buy a new car, after discovering that that wasn’t condensation leaking from the engine. All the while, I hoped and prayed for my health, because even a single hospital stay could financially ruin me.

Over the last 10 years, my entire adult life, the closest I have ever come to a sense of financial security were the months I subbed every day I could, averaging out to that 65 hours per week. Not only was I too exhausted to enjoy it, but it still didn’t mean anything, because I had to save that money to get me through the summers without substitute teaching. Sure, I could’ve gotten another job, but not one that paid me any more and allowed me my nights and weekends at the library. If I worked full time, I wouldn’t be able to take off for interviews, if and when I got them. I couldn’t work a weekday that a coworker was out, go to staff development or state conference, or do any of the things that would make me a competitive candidate for a full time librarian position. Substitute teaching may have only averaged $10 per hour, but it allowed me to work the hours I chose. So, I worked every day I was able, lamenting any time off I took because there weren’t open sub jobs or school was closed for snow or a power outage. I looked forward to the days I only worked one job or the other, because I might have as many as ten waking hours free.

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Just five weeks ago, I was devastated to learn that I’d been passed up for a position, after an interview I felt went really well. I cried inconsolably into frozen pizza and even refused to answer the phone, when Jake called me. For two days, I could barely speak a sentence without bursting into tears. I had to, of course, because I worked both jobs to afford the aforementioned frozen pizza. I was exhausted and considering looking for office jobs or teaching positions just to have benefits and a comfortable wage. I convinced myself to wait it out, though. My system recently announced several internal openings. If I couldn’t get one of those, fine, my career with the system was over. I wasn’t being dramatic, either. If I was qualified, experienced, and interested, but still couldn’t wow anyone in regards to an internal postion, for which I had little competition, there wasn’t a lot of hope for any forward momentum.

I got the email three weeks ago, that I would sit down at my library for a short interview. After only two days of preparation, the meeting on which my career was riding took all of ten minutes. For a moment, I genuinely started to hyperventilate, which is not considered a desirable leadership trait. Ultimately, I thought it went alright, but how much can you really tell from ten minutes?

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This time, I told no one about the interview, in part because every one of my coworkers knew I’d go for the job and it took place at my own library. If I didn’t get it, they would all know, eventually, that I’d been turned down. I hoped I’d hear back before the holiday, so I could enjoy my Thanksgiving (or skip it and eat pie in tears), but had no such luck. For nearly two weeks, I literally waited by the phone. I vacillated between two extremes: either my career was over or just beginning. I went into deep bouts of depression and got very little sleep, all in silence, because I couldn’t bear to break the news to my family and friends that I’d failed. Then, on Monday, I couldn’t find a sub job. I knew I’d hear back that day and quite literally stared at my phone all morning. I tried to do things that would distract me like starting a Harry Potter marathon. During The Sorcerer’s Stone, I received the e-mail that a different position I’d applied for would no longer be filled. I was still looking at the phone, because if HR was sending e-mails, then I’d be getting something soon. The screen lit up…

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… and my adult life started. I finally feel like a grownup. I start my new supervisory librarian position the first week in January. I get excellent retirement benefits and health care. The wait is over. I did the college thing. I worked my way up. I have financial security. Come Christmas break, I’ll no longer substitute teach. I can buy Christmas presents and get my car repaired and start paying off some of my debt. I can get new glasses and see a dentist. I can move and finally get a cat! I can afford to turn on the heat!!!!!!

I’m not only going to be okay, I am going to be wonderful, doing the job I love, the job I’ve dreamed of for years and taking care of myself. It all worked out and it was worth every second of struggle. Five years ago, I was a broke, terrified, 23-year-old graduate student, just days from filing for divorce. Today, almost all of my dreams have come true.

 

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Blogiversary Number Three!

The trouble with my blogiversary is that it’s actually on my birthday…

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… not that my dad remembers when that is. After I sent the “what’s up?” text, I checked my voicemail to receive his happy birthday wishes.

The man is a parody of himself.

Anyhoo, the blogiversary post is always a tough one to fit in, because I love birthdays. I birthday myself to death. Saturday, I got together with Gaily, Catherine, and Laura. We stuffed ourselves with cookie cake, pizza, and liquor and talked about boys. I told them all about how I drove to Wellston after work on Thursday to see Jake, who made me the boyest and sweetest dinner ever: pork chops and canned peas and corn on paper plates that got soggy before I was finished eating. It was wonderful and he obviously missed me as much as I missed him, so I stayed the night and drove home at 6:00 the next morning.

Monday, Gaily and I drove 40 miles for donuts that aren’t as epic as everyone claims and I illegally downloaded Trainwreck for us to watch while crafting. Last night, Niki brought sushi over and we gorged on leftover cookie cake and caught up on each other’s lives. Tonight, on my actual birthday, I get dinner with my favorite lady in the whole world: my Gramma. Later, I’ll see my work friends at a grown-up arcade. Tomorrow, my guy comes to town for two days to see me and meet Gaily and Terry and then my dad and Lena.

So, if this week is any reflection on how 28 will go, I feel like I’ve come a long way. I started this blog on my 25th birthday, a grad student carefully navigating the dating world, while still coping with a young and tragic divorce. While I’m hoping I’ll get a full time position at the library soon, I’m pretty darned content with my life right now. I have wonderful friends and family, a career I love, and a blog I’ve maintained for three years to the day. I’m excited to see my future entries. It’s not the life I planned at 18. It’s better.

Staring Down the Barrel of 30… at 27?

Me: “He’s 29 years old, lives with his mother, and plays video games all day. He is staring down the barrel of 30 and has nothing to show for it.”
Gail: “Wooooow. That is a really unhealthy way to think about your 30’s.”

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My 27th birthday is just a couple of weeks away. I’m big on birthdays. Every year, I exhaust Gail with birthday hoopla and insistence that we celebrate not just mine, but also hers a few weeks later. Not only is it a holiday that’s all yours, it’s also a time for reflection. Reflection is sort of like a self-imposed grading system and there’s nothing I like more than grades, y’all.

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So birthdays, for me, are a time to judge my accomplishments thus far and set new goals for the next year. Most people have a list of things to accomplish by 30. have a list of things to accomplish by 27 and a half. For now, however, I think I’m just going to start with the things that I should probably stop doing before everyone in town releases their fire lit lantern into the sky on the eve of my 30th birthday.

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Gaily, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you that, in addition to bridal and baby showers, coordination of the Synchronized 30th Birthday Disney Lantern Release, also falls to you.

… using the phrase “superraped” to describe a dangerous situation. i.e. “I am so going to get superraped.”

… ironically answering the phone with “Whaddup gangsta?”

… using Xenon’s “zetus lapetus” as a swear word.

… excitedly exclaiming “Oh em jingles!”

… typing out “bee tea double ewe” in text messages.

… watching (and reciting) Hocus Pocus more than 20 times per year.

… arguing with people about Titanic.

… marathoning CW teen dramas and declaring myself a team member. C’mon, Elena. TEAM DAMON!

… engaging people in the Superman vs. Batman debate, only to angrily shout that Superman wins “… BECAUSE HE’S SUPERMAN!”

… deciding a man is just not right for me, because he clearly hasn’t researched the above Superman vs. Batman topic enough for an educated discussion.
* I’m sorry, but he used the phrase “brain beats brawn.” Duuuuuude. No. Superman absorbed all of the knowledge of Krypton, a far more advanced civilization, which included Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Jor El programmed it into his ship, so he knew those things by age three. I don’t care which private school Bruce Wayne went to, he’s not beating that.

… calling everyone dude for emphasis. i.e. “Duuuuuude. No.”

… referring to sketchy scenes as “a wee bit rapey.”

… blurting “That’s what she said!” to the wrong audience. “No, Gramma. It’s a joke. You see, you don’t mean it sexually, but it can be taken that way… never mind.”

… shouting “Emotions belong with the last fucking Horcrux!” when things get dramatic.

… reading fiction that almost exclusively costs 99 cents on Amazon, because it’s about an alien race that saved the people of earth for the low, low cost of our ladies.

… only getting 2 hours of sleep, because I’m almost done yarn bombing the living room, while whispering “… just one more episode.”

… hoarding original packaging and warranty information for everything. Was I really planning to return the kitchen knives I got for Christmas three years ago?

… going to the grocery store just for the free samples and leaving with a bag of cheese cubes and dried okra.

… driving 20 miles to the mall to get assorted bags of candy.

… somehow offending people in sex shops.

… addressing problems with the phrase “I tried to make it better. That wasn’t working, so I figured I might as well make it worse.”

… picking fights with Jane about Disney.

… provoking strangers in sports bars, when they cheer for free throws and field goals, by drunkenly ranting about the Trophy Generation.

… using the phrases “sucks balls” and “go suck a bag of dicks.”

… trying to talk unwitting people into watching Human Centipede, by insisting it’s “a tale of surgical exploration and sensual teamwork.”

That, folks, is how I am going to become one classy lady… in three years.

An Open Letter to My Engaged Teenage Cousin:

Recently, you announced to the world, via Facebook, that you are engaged. I thought you were joking, not only because you just celebrated your first boyfriend, first job, and 18th birthday, but because you’re regularly announcing engagements to your best girlfriends. But no, you clarified… this time you’re serious. There’s even a ring. I had a ring as a teenager, too. I didn’t say that, though. I didn’t respond at all, because I had a ring as a teenager, too. You are a brand new baby adult and there is absolutely no reaching you on this subject. I’m sure that your aunts have tried… your dad… your grandmother. My name was possibly even brought up as a cautionary tale.

If I thought you would hear me, I’d remind you of what you’ve surely heard in health class: that 60 percent of marriages for couples between the ages of 20 and 25 end in divorce.* I won’t though, because you’ll insist (as did I) that your relationship is different. What I’d like to tell you, is that it isn’t. Your relationship is not different from any other young marriage, in that you are not the people you will be in 10 years… not even close. We live in a society where individuals are encouraged to grow the absolute most between the ages of 18 and 25. So, while you’ll grow as a person throughout your life, you’ll likely never change so much as in the next seven years or so. Everything about who you will be, who he will be, is unknown. You are working with unmolded clay, and the odds are infinitesimal that, after seven years, you’ll exist as two pieces who properly fit together. It is entirely possible that this teenage boy, through much influence from the world beyond his teen bride, will be molded into a screaming liberal, a soldier, a vegan, a drug addict, an online gamer, an Atheist, a smoker, a pro-lifer, a techie, a role player, a devout Christian, an alcoholic, a workaholic, a thief, a cheater, or an abuser.

Maybe you won’t be crying over another mysterious phone call, wondering where the Blu Ray player went, or icing a fat lip. These are obviously pretty extreme scenarios. Perhaps you’ll just find, at 22, that you love British comedy and sushi, have a strong passion for animal rights, and aren’t totally sure if you want to bring children into this world. Your young husband will grab a beer, sit down on the couch next to you, ask what the hell you’re watching and bring up the baby conversation again. You’ll look at the man you once considered adorable and see a simpleton… the reason you can’t join the Peace Corps or take that job out of state… the only adventure you’ve ever had. 

I know, I know. I’m jaded and broken, after two years of sleeping with my wallet in my pillowcase and wondering why the dog was bleeding. I’m hardly one to give marital advice. Maybe you’ll be just as in love at 28 as you were at 18. Then what will I have to say? Then… I’ll be happy for you. I’ll be thrilled that you don’t know the soul crushing effect of divorcing a monster in your early 20s, or the fear and nerves of going on your first Grown Up Date at 23, the awkwardness of stumbling over the “I’m divorced” conversation in a new relationship. However… I’ll still be thinking of all that you missed; like the vacation you never got to take with your girls, that trip abroad that wasn’t even up for consideration, the boy at that party you had so much in common with, maybe even the bachelor’s degree that got pushed aside when the babies came.

You can always get married and have children (pre-menopausal), but you can never undo the decision you’re making right now. You’re only 18, which means that you’ve never made any decisions that will effect the rest of your life and, happiness or despair, getting married will effect the rest of your life. You will make more choices, based on that decision, and they will effect the rest of your life. Perhaps the wedding won’t be soon, but then why even get engaged? Engagement is a time to prepare for marriage, not a pseudo commitment to provide security in a time of upheaval. Your life is supposed to be scary and unknown right now. I guarantee that it’s a lot more fun right after high school, than it is at 23, when everyone else is finding stability in the world.

Those are the things I would say, but I know they’ll fall on deaf ears. I know they already have as other family members have made the same points. If I could get just one thing across, though, it would be that they’re saying these things for a reason. They love you. They’ve watched people make this choice again and again. Maybe they even speak from personal experience. They want you to be happy, just as they wanted me to be happy. Your engagement announcement shouldn’t require the assurance that you’re serious, because you’ve barely outgrown faux relationship status updates to your best gal pals. It shouldn’t be met with cautionary tales and pleas to wait. Marriage, under the right circumstances, is a wonderful thing and your family wouldn’t warn you off a wonderful thing. It hurts them to see you make this mistake, just as it hurt them to watch me do the same. I just hope you don’t shut them out, because you will need them, if the worst occurs and your world falls apart, leaving you to start over as all of your friends announce that theirs are finally coming together. I wish you could understand this, but I know you can’t, because I had a ring as a teenager, too.

* http://www.drphil.com/articles/article/351

Big Girl(?) Woes

You know, for someone who doesn’t make a dime off her blog, I’m incredibly reliable, fueled only by your follows, likes, and comments. Maybe it’s because I think too much and without some kind of outlet, beyond Gail, I’d drift slowly into madness…

… or quickly.

It’s a unique disappointment though, when a favorite blogger writes less and less consistently, gradually weaning themselves into oblivion. If you’re anything like me, in your blog reading, you become truly invested in the characters. You want to know what happened with that interview/date/visit to the couple’s therapist. When I’m following a blog and reading about the trials of new marriage, the heartache of divorce, or the stress of watching children grow up and move away and then they just stop writing…

Maybe I put too much stock into the lives of strangers. The thing is, I love reading someone’s story as it’s happening. When I read your dating blog, I’m not just experiencing your disastrous online dating efforts. I’m watching the montage at the beginning of the love story and who wants to stop after the montage?!?! And so, it is with this little rant that I apologize for my sporadic posting, as of late. I have been working 60 hours per week, saving for a summer without substitute teaching, in addition to…


… drum roll please…

Big Girl Woes.

Y’all, I love being an adult. I see and hear constant complaints and ecards about how “being an adult isn’t going to work out for me” and I’m all whhhaaaa?!?! Being a grown up is the greatest and I mean that in a Tom Hanks in the first half of Big sort of way. I get to stay up late for no reason, eat candy for breakfast, have random snack foods for dinner, never fold the laundry, make the bed only when I change the sheets, and have trashy Netflix chick marathons all summer long. Even better, no one hits me, the bills get paid, and there are no compromises at all.

The last few weeks, however, everything has just seemed to snowball. It started with needing new tires… then my phone died forever… then my Judybug cost me $250 in X-rays to diagnose him as a drama queen… but through all that, I didn’t accept a dime of help, because I have an awful lot of pride tied up in the fact that I take care of me. I haven’t accepted help on that front since my daddy paid for my last graduate course, so I could get my diploma. Then the washing machine broke down…

Dad: “I transferred $100 to your account.”
Me: “I’ll pay you back by the middle of next month.”
Dad: “Don’t worry about it. It’s fine.”

$100 does not a Big Girl make. That’s not so bad. Right?

… then finally my car (with its new tires) was no more.

Mechanic: “Well, what’s wrong with it?”
Me: “It just.. stopped working.”

I’m an articulate gal. I promise. Just don’t ask me about cars.

By God’s infinite graces, I was able to get back to my sub job in time for class and borrow my daddy’s Jeep in time to be at the library by 5:00. I didn’t have to rent a car and my car insurance covered the towing. I however, did not receive the news I was hoping for, that my repair would be Cheap As Free.

Mechaninc: “It’s going to be expensive.”
Me: “How expensive?”
Mechaninc: “Well, I don’t know for sure yet. $1,500 to $2,000?”

Fine. Lesson learned. That wasn’t just water leaking from the undercarriage after the rain we haven’t had lately. Don’t just turn up the radio, when you hear that noise. Also, never buy a car from a company that prompts the question “Wait. They make cars? I thought they just made motorcycles.” If it hadn’t rattled like a box of nails, I might have considered said noise to be more significant and if it weren’t so low to the ground, I might not have blamed a puddle.

So, it is with this stroke of fortune that I spent last Thursday evening shopping for a new car, rather than writing my latest blog post.

Dad: “Well, if you need another $500 for the down payment, just holler.”
Me: “Yeah… I’m just gonna take you up on that, then.”

Me: “I had to accept $500 from my daddy to even be considered for financing. Growing up takes so much longer than I had planned. I’m 26. I have a master’s degree and work two jobs. Is it ever going to happen?”
Gail: “You know, people don’t talk about borrowing money from their parents. This is really just something people do sometimes… which is why it’s so scary when your parents die, because you are truly on your own.” 

Bee tea double ewe, if you ever find a friend who will spend her only night off that week, suffering through the pain that is buying a car, keep her forever and let your kids call her aunt.

I did it, though. Almost on my own. I made the negotiations. I went all Rosie the Riveter and quoted Kelley Blue Book, when they tried to get me to double my down payment. I signed the papers for my very first car payment… and only had a small panic attack while doing so. I got all the documents sent into the financing office and switched the insurance. I even paid the mechanic and made the arrangements to have my deceased roller skate of a car towed to the salvage yard and picked up the check. Still, everyone seemed to think it was the wrong move.

Bo: “70,000 miles on a Nissan isn’t bad. But if you’d had dad cosign, you might could’ve gotten a new car for the same payment.”
Me: “I’m 26 years old. I don’t need my daddy to cosign on a car, if I can get approved. I want to do it on my own, as much as I can. Besides, I don’t think Lena would be cool with that.”
Bo: “It’s really none of Lena’s business.”
Me: “Um, she’s married to him. His credit is her credit. That’s totally her business.”

I figured that, surely, my daddy would agree when I told him the next day.

Dad: “Well, I’m gonna help Bea out, when she buys a new car.”
Me: “Yeah, but Bea’s 20 years old and in college. I’m 26 and could get approved, just at a higher interest rate. I’d rather do it myself and refinance, than be tied to you financially for six years.”
Dad: “Yeah, but if I’d cosigned, you might could’ve gotten a new car for the same payment.”

Today, all the trouble was supposed to be over. The Freon was supposed to be charged, as agreed upon in the initial sale, when the car salesman assured me that’s all it was. Alas, another lesson has been learned: never buy a car with a broken air conditioner. Fortunately the dealership will cover the repairs, despite the fact that the warranty doesn’t apply for a preexisting issue… all but $100 that I just don’t have.

Me: “Can I have $100 if I promise-”
Dad: “Well, sure.”

God’s infinite graces? Certainly.

But I may have officially lost the title of Big Girl.

Growing Up Professional: Mistakes I Can’t Believe I’ve Actually Made in Job Interviews

So, yesterday I had a job interview. It was sort of a big deal.

My best friend was positively useless. 

Me: I don’t think I could be more prepared for this interview, but I’m terrified they’ll ask some question I just haven’t considered.
Gail: “Do you fidget at work and, if so, is it a result of meth use?”
Gail: “Yes. I mean, I fidget. I don’t do meth. I don’t do any drugs. I mean, I’ve taken prescription drugs, but they were mine. I mean, they were prescribed to me for conditions I legitimately had. I don’t steal prescription drugs or do meth, but I sometimes fidget.”

Those who know you best, mock you best. Congratulations Gail. You’ve been replaced by a houseplant. You know, the one you gave me and I facetiously named Blaylock, after the redheaded gay vampire warrior from that paranormal romance novel, but now refuse to plant in soil, because I’m afraid I’ll kill it and cry, because I named it? That one.

Anyhoo. I was prepared for this interview, y’all. I created my own workbook of possible interview questions, filled it out, and quizzed myself for a week. That kind of prepared.


That kind of prepared.

I didn’t substitute teach for three days this week so I could obsessively go over everything from “What don’t your coworkers like about you?” to “Wait. Should I wear silver or gold jewelry with the pearls?” The latter was part of a text/photo message conversation with Jane, in Vegas, that started with “Good friends stay local for I Have Nothing to Wear! crises!!!!”

But why? Why would anyone prepare for an interview on such an extensive level?


No. Besides that.

Here’s why. These are mistakes that I have actually made in the past… and that I can thank the good lord I didn’t make yesterday.

That time I showed up with a mangled neck…
After I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I was desperately trying to save my marriage. Certain that getting a teaching job would provide the finances and security to do so, I applied for every applicable job… including one 80 miles away. This was going to finally fix my husband, y’all!


It’s just that exorcisms are so expensive.

In hindsight, the whole thing was stupid, particularly the part where my ex-husband gave me a gigantic hickie the night before. Now, do not misunderstand. I know I exaggerate a lot, but this was hardly the kind of mark that could be covered with concealer. Seriously, it was like what Old Yeller looked like after the wild boars got a hold of him. At the time, however, my hair was nearly to my waist, and I felt I could hide it. So, off I went, for the two hour drive, to the high school in a town of 2,000, with no concrete plans as to what I would do about the distance were I offered the position.

Lucky me, that last detail was never something I had to consider. Halfway through the interview, the snaggle-toothed principal left me to write a short essay, and I heard him discussing the gaping wound on my neck, with his secretary. They were talking about sizeAt that point, there really wasn’t much to be done, so I sort of just blew off the essay and left. Not only did I not get the job, but I never got any kind of acknowledgement that I had even interviewed.

That time I wore a fairy princess costume...
Just a few months after I started working at my first library, I had the opportunity to interview for a 3/4 time position, as opposed to my half time one. Having recently lost a lot of weight, I really didn’t have many clothes that fit me. Even the dress I’d worn to my interview just four months earlier had been given to Gail. Not long before this, though, I’d bought a flowy, strapless, black dress with an uneven Tinkerbell-style hem. It was adorable and comfortable and sexy… and entirely inappropriate for an interview.

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I really wish this were more of an exaggeration.

In my defense, I did pair the dress with a black shrug, to conceal the fact that it was strapless, but I also referred to it as “not-much dress” when Gail wore it in Crawfish and Smarmy

Bee tea double ewe, Gail, thanks for taking my hand-me-ups. It makes me feel skinny.

In addition, I only had one bra, at the time. Seriously, y’all, losing weight is expensive. You have to buy new everythingand a black bra didn’t make the list, when I was in grad school and working two jobs. Unfortunately, the only one that did was a white racerback bra, that practically wrapped itself around my neck, so there was just no way to keep from repeatedly flashing bright white bra straps from beneath my black prom dress. I don’t know that the outfit was the sole reason for my not having gotten the job, but really, I can’t see how it wouldn’t have played a part. I would not have hired someone wearing that costume.

That time I couldn’t walk in high heels…
As I worked my way through school, I applied for each and every position that opened in the library system. When an associate librarian position was made available at my location, I jumped at the opportunity, even handing my boss a copy of my resume, personally. Although I wasn’t done with school and it’s rare to hire librarians without a master’s degree, my boss still gave me a shot… and I blew it. Desperate to look professional, I bought new shoes for the occasion: four inch heels.

Like every little girl who repeatedly wished someone else was her mommy, I never had a woman to teach me how to walk in heels. As it was, Gaily and a Youtube video taught me to apply eyeliner at 23. Not wanting to mess up my pretty new houndstooth heels, I didn’t walk in them much prior to my interview, either. I also wasn’t sure how heels were actually supposed to fit.

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Hint: not like this.

Not only were the heels too high to walk in, but they were also excruciatingly painful. Realizing, too late, how incapable I was of wearing these foot vices, I speed-hobbled into my manager’s office and tried my hardest not to have to walk in front of him. Zetus lapetus. I’m having hindsight embarrassment just picturing how I refused to move to the left or right to grab something and just leaned way over.

Beyond the shoes, I really just wasn’t ready to be a librarian. It’s a much more difficult job than people think and I’d yet to realize just how involved it is, so I don’t blame my old boss for not having chosen me. I also, however, wouldn’t blame him if he decided that taking off my shoes the second I left the office, and running through the library and the parking lot barefootwas an inappropriate exit. I’ve since sold the heels to Gail. Joke’s on her, since they’re filled with my blood. 

That time I didn’t know my boss’s name… or who was interviewing me…
Okay. There’s an explanation. It’s just lame.

Despite all of my panicked and tearful phone calls to Gail, where I insisted that I was going to have to join the armed forces, because I was “never going to be a librarian!!!!!”…

… just one day before my MLIS graduation ceremony, I received my first call for an interview. Unfortunately, said interview was given during a truly busy and exhausting time. I had been working about 55 hours per week, in addition to finishing up the last of my graduate coursework. I was also still coming down from the stress of presenting my portfolio, upon which the future of mankind rested. I was overwhelmed. I was just so very tired. Just parking downtown for my interview had me near frustrated tears during the elevator ride.

The woman giving the interview was my boss’s boss. I had read her name in print and had possibly met her in person, but I was mistaken on the pronunciation of her name. You see, a nearby branch manager was named Maria. The woman interviewing me was named Mariah. In my head, I’d been pronouncing them both Maria. Not only did I say this woman’s name incorrectly in my introduction, but I continued to mispronounce it throughout the interview. I corrected myself each time…

“Maria… I mean Mariah.”

… but it got to the point where the other interviewer was laughing. No really. That happened. My interviewer laughed at my awkwardness. That deserves a fucking trophy, not like that means anything these days, but come on!!!!! 

Aaaaaand, speaking of my other interviewer…

I wasn’t aware, upon entering the room, that Mariah was going to be the primary interviewer. She’s the manager of the managers, and as far as I understood, she was just supposed to sit in on the meeting. So, the entire time she was asking me questions, I was addressing my answers to Chuckles McGee. Only later, did I realize that Chuckles  was the interim manager of the hiring branch. He was supposed to sit in on my interview with Mariah, not the other way around, because he wouldn’t be the one making the decision. So basically, I turned the interview into a conversation with the ventriloquist’s dummy. To make matters worse, I started to get nervous, realizing that this interview was going horribly and my answers quickly deteriorated. Recently, an unstable coworker had yelled at me for not breaking policy for a customer.

Mariah: “What don’t your coworkers like about you?”
Me: ::to Chuckles:: “I tell everyone no.”

As I left the office, I did one thing right. I thanked my interviewers.

Me: “Thank you. It was nice meeting you, Maria.”
Mariah: “Mariah.”
Chuckles: ::laughs out loud::

“KARMA IS NOT A THING!”: The biggest lie they told us in high school.

So, I know that I am not supposed to take joy in another’s misery. I get that. I also know that I am flawed, as are all human beings.

When I was a kid, I was bullied a lot. I’ve told you before, but I was just an easy mark. My parents weren’t giving me any guidance on how to treat people, or dress, or even wash myself there for awhile… so school pretty much sucked. While I was, indeed, a target for many, three bullies stuck out, in particular. Starting in the fourth grade, there was Sal. Sal was the boy who threw chunks of brick at my dog and I, while screaming obscenities daily, as I walked by his house. When he had friends over, they were extra sets of hands. If they took up for me, he accused them of having a crush on me, so they’d hurl a rock extra hard to prove him wrong. Ah, childhood.

Along with Sal, there was Chuck, who joined him on the roof several times, once middle school started. You know that bully that just doesn’t quite fit? He’s short and goofy looking, but still a mountain of dicks? That was Chuck.

bullies a christmas storyIn general, after the 9th grade, the bullying tapered off. My friends and I had our very own lunch table in front of the auditorium and none of the cool kids wanted to join our spinning contests or learn how to knit, so they mostly let us be. I’m telling you, if we’d just been born five years later, after being weird was cool…

hipster with camera
Ugh! I have an exact fucking copy of this picture from when I was 16. Only I looked a lot less hot and the black framed glasses and that film camera I carried everywhere were just “nerdy.” Suck my dick, pop culture.

Anyhoo…

There were still a few scattered moments, but I don’t even think Sal bothered me come 9th grade. He sort of just faded away. Chuck, though? Chuck was quite the persistent little shit, and decided to go free agent, as he spent our entire 10th grade year taking things from under my desk and hurling them at my head, in Geometry class. Every. Single. Day. Even in our senior year, it was not unheard of for Chuck to continue his antics. It wasn’t just me, either. Six years after Gertie Lake wet herself in our 6th grade reading class, Chuck still called her Gertie Leaky Lake. That’s not even clever for an eleven-year-old, and I’d be willing to bet money he calls her that at the 10 year reunion.

Speaking of which, what are Sal and Chuck up to, today? Because I research for a living and I’m an epic Facebook stalker, I can say that Sal and Chuck are living the lives that all of those teen movies swore to me Sal and Chuck would live. Sal is a felon, who does little beyond recreational drugs and Chuck is working as a cook with no plans to move forward, if the last eight years are any indication. I don’t know that they’re miserable, but I certainly don’t envy them. Now, Carl, the guy who used to fool around with Malik on the weekends, then call him a fag and toss his CD’s all over the school parking lot? He’s a registered sex offender who’s lucky to have finally been transferred out of that Texas prison. Indeed, Rachael Leigh Cook would be proud.

she's all that
Do not even get me fucking started.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand that we all had our bullying moments. I know I sure did. I don’t care if you were sweet as pie, there was at least one time when you made someone else feel less about themselves, even if it was just for not being sweet as pie. You know what, though? We grew up. I am fully willing to admit that the girl who had a screaming match with me in Algebra class is an adult now. She’s a Facebook friend and I like seeing her happy. The friend who turned on me in the eighth grade and intentionally made my life hell? He’s close with his family now and has a full time job, which he enjoys. The girl who mocked me for dressing as 2020 on decade day? The last I heard, she was a dance major. The girl who threatened to cut me at the seventh grade dance? Okay. Maybe I’ll just stop there. 

My point is, I don’t wish bad things on every single person who ever said something mean to me. I’m happy that they’re happy. I’m also making a disclaimer, because I’m about to Dramatic Rant… about Nate.

Nate was… hmm… how shall I put this?

pet cemetary
Nate: age 2.

Sal and Chuck, while walking penises, clearly didn’t have the best of home lives. I get that now. I mean, really, what parent lets their son sit on the roof with his friends and hurl rocks at passerby? At the very least, these people didn’t play an active role in their children’s lives. Neglectful parents, or parents who reward meanness with laughter, create bullies. It sucks, but that’s the way of the world. Nate, though? Nate was a child of privilege. He was cute and funny and made good grades. Everyone loved Nate.

Except me. For the last two years of elementary school, just as Sal was working up a sweat, Nate just hit the ground running. Living on the outskirts of town, I was the third to last stop on the bus route, meaning I spent about an hour a day on it. Through some misfortune, though I never recalled seeing Nate live nearby, he was the very last stop, so he spent that entire hour with me… calling me fat… and ugly… and stupid. The kid would sing songs about my weight. He’d get the kids who lived near me, who’d known me my whole life and played with me when we were little, to sing along. It was epic. One day, after overhearing me confide in a neighbor about my parents’ pending divorce, Nate acted concerned and asked “Your parents are getting a divorce?” When I sadly told him yes, he got right in my face and laughed hysterically. 

I kid you not. The truly disturbing part of all of this was that no one believed meI told friends about the bullying, even the guidance counselor, and they all swore that he was just the nicest guy. It was bizarre. Looking back, the idea that this kid could go from All American Boy to the fucking Chucky doll… it’s really kind of creepy. Like, “Honey, where’s the kitten and why are you covered in blood?” creepy. My kid would be in therapy. Maybe he should’ve been. Maybe he was going through something.Who knows?

So, the other day, just out of curiosity, I decided to look up Nate. I knew he’d come from fairly wealthy and supportive (apparently blindly so) parents, so I doubted his fate would be teen movie worthy. I assumed he’d be dating someone seriously, probably just beginning his career, maybe married… you know… normal.

But no. Facebook done me wrong, y’all. “I HATE SOCIAL NETWORKING!!!!!” screamed the blogger… in a restaurant with Gaily.

Me: “I want you to guess what his wife does. Just guess.”
Gail: “I don’t know.”
Me: “She’s a fucking model. The boy who tormented me, for two years, is not supposed to marry someone whose Facebook profile has the words ‘Ended work with Miss America’ on her profile! Freddie Prinze Jr. fucking lied!!!!”
Gail: “So he married a hot chick. Who cares? What does she actually do for a living?”
Me: “I just told you! She’s a model!”
Gail: “I thought you were kidding.”
Me: “NO. She was seriously in the top five for the state. Her profile actually said ‘Ended work with Miss America Company.’ KARMA IS NOT A THING!!!!! Ugh. At least he grew up weird looking.”
Gail: ::looking at picture:: “He looks totally normal to me.”
Me: “It says he’s a builder. Maybe he’ll fall through a roof or something. No. That’s terrible. I don’t actually wish harm on him.”
Gail: “You do know that a builder isn’t the guy who builds the houses right? My uncle’s a builder and…”
Me: “Shut up! You’re such a bitch! I need more supportive friends!”
Gail: ::laughing:: “I mean, he does dry wall and he’s really unattractive.”
Me: “He does too look weird. See?”
Gail: ::looking at new picture:: “Yeah, okay. He looks weird there.”
Me: “So, how much does a builder make?”
Gail: “You don’t want me to answer that question.”
Me: “NO. He is supposed to be making mid-range wages, bitching about his wife, and longing for the glory days from high school. Your elementary school bully is not supposed to be fucking Christian fucking Grey and married to Miss America!!!!”
Gail: :laughing:: “Calm down. Is that all she does, though? She doesn’t have another job?
Me: “I don’t know. Let me check. … It says she works at a retail shop.”
Gail: ::looking at phone:: “Huh. The good news is, this dress is half off. The bad news is, it’s still $542.”

So, there it is. That’s the biggest lie they ever told us in high school. All those movies where the wealthy popular guys become losers? Horseshit. They take the charisma and charm that convinces elementary school guidance counselors that they can do no wrong, and they rule the fucking world with it.

* Disclaimer: I wish this guy no actual harm. Freddie Prince Jr. and Rachael Leigh Cook, however…

“It’s just not a good fit.”

In the last couple of years, I’ve learned to deal with a lot of rejection. I coped when I didn’t pass my graduate portfolio for the first time. I’ve dealt with my mother hurling cookies at my door on my birthday. I’ve even gotten better at accepting the fact that some men just aren’t feeling it. Now, I have faced these things, but in all of the above cases… I did so horribly. So, it’s with little surprise that I’ve handled my very first professional rejection so poorly, today.

sadgif

I’ve worked with one library system for two and a half years. They have my loyalty and, luckily, I have theirs. Not only does termination in this library system require murder while intoxicated and an intricate system of strings and pulleys, but I just had my three month evaluation with my new branch. My boss informed me that I was meeting all expectations, she had no complaints, and I seemed to be fitting in with everyone. I’m holding onto that pretty tightly right now, because…

… my other boss just informed me that, after six weeks, I’ve worked my last day at library number two.

Yup. I was let go… for the first time ever. Why?

Boss: “It’s just not a good fit.”
Me: “I don’t understand. I’ve never been late. I do everything I’m asked. I jump up and help customers. I’ve made any changes you’ve suggested. Isn’t there a procedure for this?”
Boss: “You’re still in training and it’s just not a good fit, so we need you to clean out your locker.”
Me: “Did I break some kind of huge rule or something? I don’t get it.”
Boss: “It’s not a good fit. It’s time to get your things.”

So… that happened. I’d be lying if I said things were going wonderfully. After three weeks of working for this library system, the same supervisor told me that she was concerned about the “negative language” I’d been using.

Me: “What do you mean?”
Boss: “Well, when I asked how your training went, you said it was ‘okay.’ When I asked what you thought of staff day, you said it wasn’t what you expected. Those sound like backhanded compliments.”

tumblr_inline_mum0h5rgxi1rc3mra

Um… what?

I said the training was okay, because it was okay. There were things I found useful and things I didn’t. I said staff day wasn’t what I expected, because staff day wasn’t what I expected. We do staff day differently at my other library system and she knew that, because I clarified. Even at the time, I desperately wanted to respond with:

“Well, I’m sorry you’re choosing to take it that way.”

I also didn’t. I told my boss that I’d work on the things she suggested and I did, raving about the useful things I learned in training. But then…

Boss: “You’re not allowed to wear hoodies at the desk.”
Me: “What?”
Boss: “If it has a hood, it’s a hoodie. It’s just too casual and unprofessional.”
Me: “I’m sorry. I’ve just never had anyone express that opinion before.”
Boss: ::scoff:: “Uh, yeah… I guess that’s my opinion. I’m pretty sure it’s the opinion of everyone else in the system, too.”
Me: “Okay. I’ll wear a sweater next time. Just to clarify, it’s the hood that’s the issue, right?”
Boss: “Yeah. We like people to dress professionally. Think bank attire.”

I know what professional dress is and didn’t need the clarification, hence the heels I regularly wear. I also know that it’s cold in libraries and the dress code said nothing about a fleece jacket in November. That makes it a personal preference or… wait for it… opinion I’d also worn it several times before this and she never had a problem with it. Regardless, I never wore the jacket again. I even bought a sweater without a hood, because she did verify that the one with a hood wasn’t acceptable. 

There you have it. I knew things weren’t going smoothly. Just last week, we had one of my boss’s weekly bouts of criticism, where she told me that she had expected me to be further along. I politely explained that I felt like I would be, if the desk time weren’t so spread out, because I was constantly at staff training. I mentioned that I had a lot of desk time coming up and I thought I’d catch on quickly in the next week. She said that would be great. The next shift we worked together was my last.

In retrospect, I’m proud of myself for how I handled our final conversation. I defended myself and made it crystal clear that this woman had no justifiable reason for ending my employment, which was witnessed and understood by the other supervisor in the room. While my boss couldn’t see her face, the woman looked horrified and supremely uncomfortable. I did not cry. I did not beg for a second chance. I made her admit, more or less, that this was a personal issue of hers, because apparently, it’s a thing for someone to let you go, because they just don’t like you… and it fucking hurts.

I probably could’ve done without burning my shirt and name tag in the kitchen sink, though. That was, admittedly, extreme. What can I say? I have two settings:

1. handling it with grace
2. fire

Fortunately, I deleted my old boss’s phone number, so I can’t do anything stupid. One month is a blip in time, not worth mentioning. A restraining order is not.

While I understand that not everyone is going to like me, this woman disliked me so deeply, that she was willing to go through the trouble to hire someone new. Furthermore, I was supposed to do a program in a few days. She’s been blowing me off every time I mentioned it for weeks. I’ve never been able to find her profile on Facebook, though I know she’s friends with her other employees, meaning I’m pretty sure she blocked me ages ago (I even looked through mutual friends… totally rational.) It’s mighty convenient that she only scheduled me for a few hours this month. She was plotting this. She never gave me a chance, because she disliked me that much. Fucking ouch.

Me: ::crying:: “What if this means I’m just a bad librarian? What if this isn’t for me and I never get full time?”
Gramma: “Oh, Belle. Stop it! You’re a good librarian! You just said a man was thrilled that you downloaded a book on his phone. They love you at your other job.”
Me: “How can anyone dislike me that much? I did my job! I didn’t do anything wrong!”

I once read an online article about the most crushing moments in a person’s life. One of them was the first time you’re punished for something you didn’t do. Here, here.

First and foremost, it’s the hurt feelings and unfairness. I don’t need everyone to like me, but you still have to work with people you don’t like. That is so unprofessional and inappropriate… and it sounds like total horseshit to say it was a personal vendetta. Every jilted ex employee plays the victim. I sound pathetic and I know it. Second, it’s the loss of security. I felt like a big girl. I could finally pay my bills and just knew there would be work, and therefore income. Now, I’m back to substitute teaching. I’m unsettled all over again, and in my pain, I was downright weak to my best friend, Rosie the Riveter.

Me: I’m tired of feeling so unsettled. I just want a full time job and a husband. I don’t care if that kicks feminism in its big hairy balls. I want a settled romantic relationship and guaranteed income.
Gail: I don’t think that reduces your value as a person at all.
Me: I’m tired of my twenties. I’m over it. Can I just have screaming kids in the other room and a boy who’s on my side at the end of the day? Can I do that now?
Gail: Other than “you’re allowed to want that,” I’ve got nothin’. You’re doing your best. It’ll probably come. 

As usual, the rest of the world thinks I’m overreacting.

Me: “What if I never get full time at my other job?!? What if this ruins my professional reputation!?!?”
Dad: “Belle, you are reading into this waaaay too much. You barely worked there for a month and you didn’t even like it. It’s not going to ruin your life. You’ve said yourself that the two systems don’t even talk. I’ll bet anything she has someone else she wanted to hire for this position and it has nothing to do with you. Calm down.”

Gramma: “Everything happens for a reason. This is just paving the way for better things. Calm down.”

Coworker at my other job: ::scoff:: “We’re not gonna think less of you. We’re gonna think less of them.” 

Other Coworker at my other job: “Just don’t put it on a resume. It’s not going to affect anything. You’re fine. I don’t know that anyone in the systems even talk to each other.”

So, I’ve allowed myself a limited amount of time to dwell, cry, pout, and be devastated, humiliated, and outraged. Tomorrow, when this blog will post, I will work to put the last month and a half behind me. I will work even harder to regain my confidence as a librarian and recover from losing a job for no reason.

There were no experiences from this position that I’m not getting from my other one. I never wanted to be full time with that system, because they pay significantly less and their benefits suck. My boss stressed me out to no end and I had fantasized about quitting anyway. She’d already made me cry twice and if she continues with this attitude, it’ll all come back to affect her professionally. The time I spent at that job allowed me to catch up financially and I’ve accepted two substitute jobs, just this week. My primary job is going better than I would have ever dreamed. I’ve already updated my resume. I’m set. 

Gail: “You know how, when you’ve made plans to hang out with someone and you don’t want to anymore, but you made the commitment, so you keep it? Well, then, that person calls and cancels and you’re like ‘Seriously? You’re canceling on me?”

Gramma: “Belle, you’ll get over this. You’ve been through a lot worse.” 

Damn straight.

Why did you marry that?!?!!?! No, seriously. I want an answer.

Every now and then, something will happen in my personal life that has me incensed. I’ll excitedly think “I’ll blog about it!” only to realize that I already have… and quite accurately at that. So here it is.

In hindsight, I often feel a great deal of sympathy for those who love me and had to watch me marry my ex-husband, regardless. Of course sometimes that sympathy is replaced with resentment in the form of: how could you let me do something so fucking stupid when I was just a child?!?!?

wedding day portrait
My wedding day portrait.

Sidenote: Googling “child bride” will totally put your bitching into perspective.

Most of the time, however, I feel terrible that my dad had to watch for four years while I struggled to keep my head above water as my ex-husband abused me. He couldn’t say anything, because I wouldn’t have listened. It would have driven a wedge between us and we were already struggling with our relationship. Similarly, pretty much every other person in my life felt the same way. As much as they may have wanted to sit me down and say “Listen. This guy doesn’t work. He lies. He’s stealing from you… a lot. Also, that fire was super suspicious” they couldn’t. I’d have turned away and clung to him out of loyalty, because that’s what marriage is.

Sadly, I got a taste of how they felt when Gail was married to Shane. One afternoon, Gail called to tell me that she was bringing by my copy of the movie Elf, which I didn’t recall lending her. I legitimately thought that this was a cover to get out of the house without Shane forbidding her to hang out with me and was shocked when I opened the door and saw her holding Elf on DVD. It turned out that she’d just borrowed the movie a couple of years earlier and never returned it, because she’s a cotton-headed ninny muggins who hates me and wants me to die. The fact that this was my assumption, though… well, it explains why I once told her that the movie The Waitress perfectly depicted her relationship (and mine, though I ingored that part).

the waitress
Ugh. How did we not notice we married the same fucking man?

This, however, was the only time I gave Gail any truly negative opinion of her marriage… because she immediately shut down and told me that she needed to stop telling me things, since I was getting the wrong idea. It didn’t happen, of course. Gail and I can’t not tell each other everything. But I didn’t insult Shane again… until he shook her baby. Then it was a free for all.

Luckily, Gail finally met a nice guy I don’t secretly hate… or openly hate ::cough:: musician ::cough:: after a series of asshats. Terry is good to her, works, pays his own way… and he doesn’t get pissed when I make inappropriate jokes about Gail cheating on him, which translates into him not being threatened by me like all the men before him.

zombie crowd
You see, the horse is Gail’s vagina.

Me: “So Terry, how do you feel about cheating?”
Terry: “Um… what?”
Me: “Well, since we were kids, I’ve always said that if my husband cheats on me and wants to fix our marriage, then he needs to keep his pants on and his mouth shut. I don’t want to know, just so he can ease his conscience. What’s your opinion?”
Terry: “Um…”
Me: “C’mon. Should Gail tell you her secret or not?”

I wasn’t actually telling the guy that his girlfriend was cheating on him over dessert in a Chili’s while Gail sat beside him grinng… fucking obviously. Kudos to Terry, though, because he just laughed, whereas every other guy she’s dated has been oddly sensitive about that kind of joke. Her ex-boyfriend, Cam, whom I actually liked (despite the fact that he was 12 years old forever), even got defensive about the way I teased her, though he did the same thing. Look, dude, she’s been my Gail for ten fucking years. This is what we do and it goes both ways. Just because you’ve been fucking her for six months, does not give you the right to an opinion on the way we interact. It’s not like that even makes you special. You’re not exactly goin’ where no man’s gone before’s, all I’m sayin’.

smilingdog1Terry, though, just laughs and occasionally throws in his own joke, which works in his favor, because Gail likes to fancy herself the sweet one anyway. Even if he doesn’t get our humor, he gets that he doesn’t have to get it. Despite my affection for the man, I did make it clear that said approval was conditional.

Me: “If you hurt her, I’ll cut off your ears… and no one wants to fuck a man with no ears.

van gogh
The man wasn’t exactly rollin’ in the pussy.

I am nothing if not eloquent.

Gail is the person I’m closest to, along with my Gramma, so I’m elated that she’s over her all-the-douche-bags-in-the-city phase. However, there are still multiple people in my life who have married into the ninth circle of Hell and I’m not allowed to fix whatever the fuck is wrong with them. I can’t even talk to these people without a running log of questions I’m not supposed to ask flitting through my head. Do you have any idea how much effort it takes for a person like me to filter this shit?!?!

Doesn’t it bother you that she spends all of your money?
“How’s the new house?”

How can you stand the way your children are being treated?
“How are the kids?”

What the hell is wrong with you that you would let someone treat your family like that?
“We miss you. You don’t come around enough.”

Do you think your parents might hate him for a reason?
“Are he and your mom getting along better?”

Statistically speaking, you are going to get a divorce. What are your waiting for, exactly?
“You’ve been married for how long, now?”

If he’s not there for you over this little stuff, do you really think he’s going to give a shit when you get cancer one day?
“That must be hard, living so far apart.”

He’s cheating on you. There is no way he is not cheating on you.
“Does he work out of town a lot?”

You know that the divorce is only going to be harder on the kids when they’re going through puberty, right? You’re holding out for nothing.
“The kids have really grown.”

You should be logging the abuse by date and incident, because you will need to use this in court one day.
“How’s (spouse) doing?”

Have you considered a secret savings account in someone else’s name?
“How’s work?”

But no… the Shane situation taught me an important lesson. You’re never allowed to ask “Why did you marry that?” as long as they’re still married… and it fucking sucks. I don’t care how your spouse is, because I’m tired of watching them treat you and your loved ones like a means to an end. I hope yours is the next divorce I hear about, because the heartbreak of that will be much shorter lived than being mistreated, disrespected, and taken advantage of for another ten years. Now that I’m out of my abusive relationship, the only thing comparable to the pure terror I feel after a nightmare where I’m still married is watching someone I love go through their own unique torture. This isn’t going to get better and you need to plan a fucking exit strategy, because everyone you love misses who you were before the light left your eyes and your children will never know that person. Wake. The. Fuck. Up.

“So you guys just celebrated another anniversary, right? That’s exciting.”

pulling hair out

Why didn’t anyone like me?!?!: Why I was a bully.

When I was little, I had many of the personality characteristics I have now. I was determined, prideful, creative, intelligent, funny, competitive, and obsessive. I was and am very much my father’s daughter.

All of these characteristics, however, occasionally manifested in negative ways. In fact, as an adult, I can see that there were definite times when I was just a bully. The very word “bully” declares my behavior excessive, of course, but nothing I did was newsworthy. All of my antics were relatively standard teen movie moments, but it was still cruelty. I’m not proud of it. I don’t tell those stories to get a laugh and I know people who do. I, however, analyze what made me act the way I did, particularly when I hear story after story after story of children pushed to the brink over bullying… because bullying ain’t new, folks. Cain bullied Able for crying out loud. Perhaps, since the act hasn’t much changed, maybe the reasons behind it haven’t either. So here it is, from a former (occasional) bully.

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I thought it was funny.

I grew up in a really sarcastic family. Just a few years ago, my cousins (who are my age) spent a good 20 minutes encouraging one of the little kids to blow out a candle that was battery powered. They thought it was hilarious.

battery powered tea light
They were so totally right.

The same little kid was informed that if he acted up, all of the mounted animals in the house would come alive and eat him.On that note, I had to have been seven or eight when I figured out that the rest of the deer was not, in fact, on the other side of the wall, as my dad insisted. When I was little, I would cry when the horses died in westerns and my dad would laugh at me. This is the same man who convinced me he was driving me to the orphanage to leave me with Miss Hannigan from Annie when I’d act like a brat in the car. For realz, yo. I was raised by sadists.

scary deer mount

We’re still all like this, and for some reason, we expect the kids not to pick up on said meanness and sarcasm and think that’s what funny is. That’s precisely what I did. Why, exactly, was it funny when my dad pushed me into the pool, but not when I shoved my cousin without warning, only for her to fall against the side and remove a layer of skin off her leg? Why was everyone so mad at me? Why wasn’t it okay when I went through my weird pinching phase, even though my dad and uncles did that kind of stuff all the time? How come I couldn’t call people fat when my aunts could? Why didn’t anyone like me?!?!?!

Not only do we tease each other relentlessly, we’re also really open with criticism, some worse than others. I once watched my aunt stand directly outside her 9-year-old daughter’s dressing room and loudly tell my grandma Kay that her little girl was “getting a belly on her.” We have a ladies-only party called The Water Buffalo, every year, because all of the women are big. My grandma Kay told Bea, just last Thanksgiving, that my hair “looks more interesting” than hers, because of the highlights. I adore my family and I think we’re all fucking hilarious. It’s not that anyone’s trying to be cruel. That’s just how we interact.

As an adult, I take these things with a grain of salt and acknowledge that none of this is how normal people interact. I save my barbed humor for Gail, Jane, and Niki and have no other female friends. As a child? Well, I didn’t quite get why I couldn’t tell someone those shoes were ugly or that that hairstyle looked stupid. Why didn’t anyone like me?!?!

I was bullied.

From about the second grade on, I wore a target on my back. Not only was my humor mean, but with divorcing parents, who were too preoccupied to keep track of my personal hygiene, it’s no surprise that I was the smelly kid for awhile. The day I realized I needed to wear deodorant was the day my dad snapped “God, Belle, did you not put on deodorant today?!?” In his defense, we were very much the household where the woman had that discussion with her daughter and the man with his son. As time went on, I was left in charge of my own eating habits, so I put on weight. I was an even bigger target… see what I did there?

I once cried in my Gramma’s arms for hours when a popular boy, who regularly called me fat, upped the ante by laughing at me, because my parents were getting a divorce. I’d never done anything to him. This kind of thing had made me intensely defensive and sensitive. I remember a pair of popular boys whispering in the lunch line, when I was in the fourth grade. I got really upset and yelled at them to stop talking about me. They insisted it wasn’t about me and I only got angrier and angrier. Who doesn’t want to be friends with the emotionally unstable, fat, smelly kid?

crying girl

By the time middle school hit, I had resumed regular hygiene, but was still surly and sarcastic, with a terrible self-image. So, when the popular boys in my neighborhood started throwing rocks and bricks at me when I walked by, I took that anger out on other people; as I also did when a popular girl sang Who Let the Whales Out as I walked down the hall. That chick did not even know my name. In retaliation, I made fun of everyone that was considered popular, even the people who were never mean to me. They could’ve been my friends, but that would’ve required I risk more rejection and I’ll tell you right now, a chunk of brick to the thigh does not cause strictly physical pain.

So, my hostility toward anyone popular lasted, quite frankly, straight through high school. If everyone liked these people, it must be because they were putting on a new persona with each of them. After all, everyone liked the people I just mentioned. No one believed they would do those things. At this point, it was really just me keeping us from being friends. While I still had the same fucking 6th grade bully on my back in my damned senior year – I just looked him up on Facebook and jeez, he is still a dick – the majority of popular people didn’t refuse to be my friend. I just wasn’t that approachable and pretty much refused to talk to them, because I assumed they would be mean to me. I isolated myself with Jane and Gail and a handful of other loser friends dressed up in tiaras for an AP English class. Fuck those other kids. We were having a spinning contest at lunch.

I had a lot of creative energy.

I was the smart kid. You wanna know a quick way for all the juniors and seniors in your chemistry class to think you’re a kissass? Study with your AP friends and get a 93 your sophomore year, when everyone else is failing. Even better, walk across the gym to receive a certificate for having the highest grade. Yeah… those kids were mean to me, especially considering the fact that I was completely mute in that class. Come to think of it, they did the same thing in geometry… and French… and history. Huh. Maybe that’s why I decided to start a blog with my friends, targeting my hometown of Shetland.

nerd girl at computer

Now, do not misread that last sentence. I did not target people I didn’t like. I targeted the town. I quoted people I didn’t like. I will say that most of these people had actually bullied me, but it still wasn’t a very nice thing to do. No one wanted to kill themselves over it and the people who did get really upset were being melodramatic, because no one had more than one quote. I am certain. More than anything, I wrote stories. I wrote a story about the drug bust during Red Ribbon Week, the time the little person did jumping jacks as a novelty during the assembly, the hypocrisy of the cheerleaders being allowed to break dress code. I had a voice and people were listening to it!

Today, I realize that this showed some real potential. I didn’t just like to write, I was fucking great at it. I made well thought-out arguments and I was funny. If someone had helped me channel that creative energy properly, perhaps with a school discussion board, a school newspaper, a debate team, I could’ve not only saved some hurt feelings, but honed a skill. But, no. We didn’t have those things at my high school because our funding went to football, cheerleading, football, soccer, and football; despite the fact that our academic team went to nationals and we had one of the best bands in the state. Welcome to the Midwest, y’all. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why I decided to start a blog with my friends, targeting my hometown of Shetland.

No one corrected the behavior. 
When I was in the 6th grade, I got my first real crush. His name was Nate and he was friends with everyone, including the rock throwers. He was so nice, though, even to me. I figured it must be because he was madly in love. Alas, I was wrong. Utter heartbreak. Soooooo, naturally, I responded by telling everyone that he was an asshole, throwing things at him at lunch, and instant messaging him constantly. With encouragement from a friend, I even played a part in dousing him with soda at a school dance. What?!?! THAT’S HOW YOU MAKE BOYS LIKE YOU, BITCH!

carrie blood

This is the absolute worst bullying story in which I played the antagonist. dread the day my child has any interaction with someone who has my mother for a parent. My treatment of Nate got so bad that his mother called mine to tell her to get her daughter to back the fuck off. She only did so after getting on Nate’s AOL account to message me and warn me that she’d be contacting my mom. I actually told her “She’ll take my side.” I wish I could apologize to this lady today, without sounding like a total lunatic. I was awful. You know what? I was also right. My mother did take my side.

What the fuck?!?!?! Why on earth did she let me treat someone that way?!?! I was 12 years old! I was a child. I didn’t understand that was the bully in this situation! I thought this boy was just another kid sitting on a roof and hurling rocks at me and my dog. It hurt a lot more this time, though, because I had a crush on him and thought he’d liked me back. I thought he was being intentionally cruel and had told everyone he knew that he’d turned me down. I was being rejected again and handling it poorly. At the very least, it should’ve been made clear that I was to have no contact with Nate ever again after my letter of apology. Honestly, some counseling would’ve been the best result. The aforementioned reaction to “nah, let’s just be friends” is a sign of some deep emotional trauma. I clearly had severe self-image issues and should’ve been put in an environment with kids my own age, where I felt consistently safe, like a religious class. Church youth group, a once a week visit with the school counselor, and a demand that I never treat another person the way I treated Nate may have kept me from taking up cutting myself that year. Guidance. That’s what I needed. I was obviously ill-equipped to figure that shit out myself.

My home life… sucked. 

My mother was either extremely hands-off or extremely hands-on. The former was a joke about neglect and the latter was a joke about abuse. Told you I was funny.

You know what I had to look forward to after a long day of middle school kids throwing things at me? A mom who either set absolutely no boundaries or tried to set boundaries by hitting me in the head with a step ladder. Those were her two settings. To this day, I can’t believe the neighbors never called DHS. It would have been for the best if they had, because my father would’ve gotten custody. As it was, I either did whatever the hell I wanted or I got dragged across the floor with a dog leash. That shit happened. If I had gone home from a day of fat jokes, to a place of warmth, where I knew I was safe and loved, maybe I wouldn’t have been such a shit to everyone else. People my age talk about how much they hate being adults and I think it’s the bomb. No one hits me as an adult. That’s almost guaranteed. How fucking awesome is that?!?!

My point is, if hadn’t had to defend myself at home, perhaps it wouldn’t have been my default at school. Maybe I would’ve been more willing to subject myself to the vulnerability that it takes to make new friends. Maybe I would’ve known how you’re supposed to treat people you value. Maybe I would’ve been okay with the idea that someone didn’t like me if I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that more people did. I needed support, structure, and protecting, because I was a child, damn it!

A couple of days before my freshman year, I got online and asked someone in a chat room how to make friends. That has got to be the most depressing part of this article. Fo sho. His advice was “You can’t force anyone to be your friend. You just have to be nice to people and it happens.” I had to have someone online tell me to be nice to people if I wanted to make friends. It sounds like such an obvious piece of advice, but there’s a reason I still remember it. I didn’t understand that my humor wasn’t humor to some people. It was just hurtful. No one taught me to fit in with anyoneso I didn’t have a support group of friends until high school. I was creative and didn’t have anyone channeling that interest somewhere productive, rather than harmful. But most importantly, I was the occasional bully, because I didn’t realize it. I never would’ve called myself a bully when I was in school. Granted, no one died, but I either didn’t realize I was being hateful, or I felt that it was my only option for retaliation. No one corrected the behavior, because no one was paying attention to me or providing me with the structure a teenager needs.

So there it is. I guarantee all of the newsworthy results of bullying have the same roots. We like to fancy teenagers as requiring less energy than grade school kids, because we’re all lazy, self-indulgent, and irresponsible. We’re plugging youth into technology to get them out of our hair, only to look up from our own gadgets and see they’ve simply reformatted their normal teen antics. After all, the Mean Girls phenomenon ain’t new. There’s a friggin’ movie named after it. The trend has just escalated because adults have allowed it to do so, by giving children unlimited access to the Internet. That’s the difference. Fewer parents are paying attention.

parents on phones

Note: I may not have my own teenagers, but I do have a degree in secondary education and years of experience working with teens.