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Category Archives: bullies

The leader of the children of the damned

Through most of my teen years, I was a fairly quiet, bullied kid.

Except for the time I bullied someone myself.

And, because I have always been a go-big-or-go-home person, I didn’t choose a kid to bully. Oh, no, not me.

I chose a TEACHER.

Mr. P was fresh out of teachers’ college when he showed up in our seventh grade classroom. He looked like a J. Crew model. He was all preppy cashmere sweaters and perfectly blowdried blonde hair and way too many very-white teeth. He laughed heartily. He had pink cheeks and sparkly eyes.

Immediately, my class decided they must destroy him.

Why we came to this decision, I’m not sure. We were a small school in a farm town. Did he represent the other, and we feared that? Was he too gung-ho? Was he trying too hard? Was he just TOO DAMN BLONDE?

I’m not sure why the rest of the class didn’t like him, but my dislike of him was twofold.

First, historically, teachers had been my only safe place. Especially English teachers. They praised my writing and they called on me when no one else would answer their questions because they knew I’d done the reading (hell, I’d probably finished the book on the first day) and they were kind when the kids weren’t.

Mr. P. wasn’t. For whatever reason, he had no time to be kind to the quiet, bullied kid. He graded me more harshly than I thought I deserved (whether or not I was right, I’m not sure – I was twelve, what the hell did I know) and snapped at me quite often in class. He also forced me to participate in things that other teachers would let slide – things where I had to talk in front of the class. Which was my biggest fear. And when I asked him, as I always did, if there was a way I could get around such a thing, he SNEERED at me.

This didn’t fly with the shy, but snotty about her intelligence, kid that I was.

The second reason was a lot more selfish.

All of the other kids were doing it. Dammit, I wanted to be cool. I wanted to be cool SO BADLY. Even though I knew, on some level, I never would be, this seemed like a way to be cool.

It was hard to be cool when you were the school's Napoleon Dynamite, yo.

It was hard to be cool when you were the school’s Napoleon Dynamite, yo.

So I led the class in a campaign of terror against Mr. P.

See, I was quiet, and I was shy…but I was smart as hell. And I read. A lot. I had ideas about how to be cruel to people that the other kids hadn’t even THOUGHT of. (Mostly because they’d taught them to me by being cruel to me all those years.)

Things we did to Mr. P. over the two years we tormented him, that I can remember:

  • all brought apples back from lunch and, one at a time, loudly rolled them up the aisles at his desk when his back was turned and pretended we didn’t know where they came from
  • he brought in an “heirloom mug” to teach us the meaning of the word heirloom (I’m pretty sure seventh graders don’t need an object lesson for such a thing) and one of my classmates broke it (this was NOT on me, I’d just like to make that clear, but I did laugh along with everyone else)
  • we refused to answer any questions in class, raise our hands, etc., until he instituted “participation points” and we were FORCED to, but then we’d answer briefly and in snotty tones
  • we had a class spelling bee, and he was SO EXCITED, and I knew I could win, but just didn’t give a shit, so when it was down to me and another kid I refused to continue spelling and he was all “BUT THE PRIZE IS A CANDY BAR!” all sad-eyed and I laughed like he’d offered me a mudpie and said “you can’t do better than that?” and sat down
  • and, our coup de grace, another student and I took the musical thingy out of a musical birthday card and hid it under his desk, so there was this tinny “happy birthday” music playing all day, and he was all “WHAT IS THAT MUSIC” and everyone pretended they couldn’t hear it and we walked past on a free period and saw that he’d torn all the drawers out of his desk and was sitting in his chair and he was CRYING.

After that, it wasn’t as much fun anymore. I mean, seriously, we made this guy CRY. We BROKE an ADULT.

The worst part, though (I KNOW, there’s a WORSE THING) was that he’d started a junior-high drama club. He actually got me into acting. I should be thanking the poor guy for this, you know? So in seventh grade, we did Heidi. I was Heidi’s bitchy aunt. I sprained my ankle so badly the day before the show I couldn’t perform and my understudy had to go on for me and I was HEARTBROKEN.

In eighth grade, we did The Diary of Anne Frank (I know, this guy was really optimistic about our talent – well, until we got through with him) and I was Anne’s mother. (Yes, I always got cast in the parent roles, or the bitchy roles. I apparently have always looked old and always read bitchy.) In news of ZOMG, my crush was in the play, too (but I didn’t know at the time he was only in the show because HIS crush was playing his wife. Sigh.) At this point, we had bullied Mr. P. to a point of constant nerves. He was no longer cashmere sweaters and perfect hair; he was more often greasy and sweaty, he’d grown a weird, patchy beard, and he had this constant thousand-yard stare.

I’m not sure what, exactly, happened, the night he had the nervous breakdown. We were acting jerky, I’m sure…but keep in mind we were 13- and 14-year-olds. That’s how those kids act, usually. They’re bundles of hormones and jackassery.

I just remember him screaming “THIS PLAY IS CANCELLED!” and it was an hour before the afterschool bus was coming, and he stormed out of the auditorium, and we kind of whispered and then crept out into the lobby to use the pay phone to call our parents to see if they could pick us up early and he was sitting in the lobby, looking furiously through a phone book and rocking.

“What are you doing, Mr. P.?” one of the kids asked him.

“I AM LOOKING FOR BICYCLE STORES,” he said. “I’m going to RIDE a BIKE across the COUNTRY and eat nothing but BEANS for the rest of my LIFE.”

The kids we were thought this was HYSTERICAL. The woman I am now is HORRIFIED. (Seriously, though, we were kids. The word “beans” made us think of “farts” and “farts” was SO FUNNY. Come on, it still kind of is.)

This was near the end of the school year. He did finish out the school year, but the play didn’t happen, and he didn’t come back the following year (his tormentors – us – had moved onto high school at that point, so he’d have probably been safe, but I can’t blame him that he wanted nothing more to do with my school.)

I seriously think back on this time and cringe.

I was TERRIBLE. I wasn’t the only one – we were all little sharks who had scented blood – but a lot of these things wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t said “hey, why don’t we try…” because THOSE KIDS WOULD NOT HAVE THOUGHT OF THEM. I had no empathy for this poor man, who was new in town, new to his job, and probably trying really hard. And who knows why he was (what I perceived to be) dickish to me? Maybe he was trying to get me to work harder; maybe he wanted me to be able to talk in front of people, and thought this was the best way to go about it. Who knows.

I know. I was twelve, and I was a lonely bullied kid. I did a lot of things that were, in retrospect, not good choices. (I also made some brave choices, but the bad ones probably equaled those out.) But this poor guy, sincerely. And he talked me into acting! Which changed the whole course of my life! And my actions (well, mine and others, but I totally egged those other kids on) MADE THE MAN QUIT TEACHING!

I still feel terrible about this. I’ve totally tried to find him on Facebook and on Google and I cannot. I sadly imagine he is still riding solo across the country on his bike, subsisting on nothing but legumes, like a Forrest Gump without a Jenny to come home to. He’s probably about 50 now. Still pedaling. Trying to escape the mean kids and the tinkling “happy birthday” that won’t leave him alone and just…won’t…stop.

Mr. P., it’s too late, and it won’t fix anything now, but I am very, very sorry for the time I decided the best way to deal with an adult was to bully him into a nervous breakdown and to make him quit his job. As an adult now, I know how mean children can be, and I sincerely cringe at that child I used to be. You have no reason to forgive me (and I am quite sure you’re probably never going to read this – what are the odds, right?) but I do hope you’re well, and you found your happiness somewhere, and you were able to forget about those two terrible years in the late 80s when the children of the damned of upstate New York used you as a punching bag.

(I promise I’m doing penance for this on the regular, now. I’m nice to old people AND animals AND children and one time I found a lost kid in the Target and totally brought him up to the customer service desk so he wasn’t stolen by a pervert and his dad tried to give me money and cried. I REALLY AM TRYING TO MAKE UP FOR MY PAST TRANSGRESSIONS.)

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On Wednesdays, we wear pink.

I survived high school.

I assume most of you did, too. Or you wouldn’t be here reading this. Well, some of you might still BE in high school. (If so, you have my most abject apologies. You’ll make it out. Just keep your head down and remember: it ends eventually.)

Once you’re out of high school, if it was bad, you breathe a sigh of relief. The worst is behind you; the rest will be cake. Right? I mean, you survived high school. You survived being shoved into a building with people who wanted to destroy everything you were on a daily basis for four very, VERY long years. What else could the world throw at you that could compete with that?

What no one tells you is, the bullies don’t always grow up. Sometimes, they just move onto another building, be it actual or metaphorical, and continue doing what they do best: making others feel small so they can feel big.

Lately, I’ve noticed the building they’ve moved into is the blogosphere.

And blogging, lately, has been like attending the school in Mean Girls.

You got your freshmen, ROTC guys, preps, J.V. jocks, Asian nerds, cool Asians, Varsity jocks, unfriendly black hotties, girls who eat their feelings, girls who don’t eat anything, desperate wannabes, burnouts, sexually active band geeks, the greatest people you will ever meet, and the worst. Beware of Plastics.

Blogging attracts all kinds of people. That’s honestly one of the cool things about it. I mean, if we were all the same, what fun would that be? On any given day you can read about life in Europe, the latest tech news, a humorous take on a trip to the laundromat, a serious piece about the nature of grief, a post about motherhood, a post recapping the latest episode of True Blood, a book review. All without leaving the comfort of your living room (or your office chair, if you’re reading at work, I suppose. Keep an eye out for your boss.)

It’s great because it’s open to anyone with access to a computer and an internet connection. It’s equal-opportunity. If you have a voice, and words to express yourself? Welcome to the community.

Except, as we learn in Mean Girls…beware of Plastics.

In the movie, the Plastics rule the school. They’re mean to everyone they don’t like (and even people they do like, sometimes.) They have rules; how you can act, what you have to wear on certain days, and where you can (and can’t) sit, depending on what you’re wearing.

In the blogosphere, the Plastics are…well, pretty much the same. Only they’re hiding behind a computer screen, so they feel their anonymity brings even more power. Let’s call them the Web-Plastics.

The Web-Plastics think their writing is better than anyone else’s; therefore, they rip apart everyone else’s writing.

The Web-Plastics think certain topics (mommy blogging, book blogging) are lesser-than; therefore, they run those bloggers down. They depreciate anything they do. They try to make them feel small, because their writing isn’t as important as whatever they’re doing.

The Web-Plastics steal ideas and posts from “lesser” bloggers, then when they’re called out on it, turn it around on the one who was stolen from: “You’re just trying to hitch a ride on our popularity. You’re no one. We’re someone. Shut up and stop whining.”

The Web-Plastics think they’re the only ones doing anything worthwhile; if other bloggers aren’t doing it the way they would, they mock them, and shame them, sometimes even publicly, so that sometimes those bloggers become so disheartened they stop writing altogether.

The Web-Plastics think that “funny” equals “cruel,” and write posts tagged “humor” in which they mock…anything. Whatever they feel like mocking. But usually people that are just trying their hardest to get by.

Best of all, the Web-Plastics have minions.

As numerous as these minions, but nowhere near as adorable.

As numerous as these minions, but nowhere near as adorable.

These minions are other Web-Plastics, or wannabe Web-Plastics. Who will like and comment on everything they do; who will go to the posts of the people who are out of favor with the Web-Plastics and troll them with mean comments and insults and sometimes skate the edge of threats; who will say or do whatever the Web-Plastics tell them to, because it’s easier to go along with the dictator than to become one of the people who’s being bullied. And believe you me, that’s who you become, if you buck the Web-Plastics. You get the full-frontal of their wrath. And their petrified minions’ wrath, as well.

The Plastics and the Web-Plastics have many things in common, but it all boils down to this:

On Wednesdays, WE WEAR PINK.

And if you don’t wear pink, you can’t sit with them.

Social (media) suicide.

There are two kinds of evil people in this world. Those who do evil stuff and those who see evil stuff being done and don’t try to stop it.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m tired of being told I need to wear pink, and I’m tired of being told where I can and cannot sit, and I’m tired of seeing evil stuff being done and not trying to stop it. I didn’t go through 8 (yes, 8, the bullies started early at my school) years of hell just to be told what to say or do or be now.

I’m tired of seeing mean posts about fellow bloggers. And mean slightly-veiled Facebook statuses. And snarky comments on other bloggers’ posts that they obviously worked very hard on. And don’t think the irony has missed me that the minute, the MINUTE, anyone says a word about any of the Web-Plastics, they run crying for sympathy, or run to their minions crying “vengeance shall be ours! You’re all my best friends until I no longer need you, and when that happens, I will ignore you as if you never existed.”

They had no idea they were going to be jettisoned so quickly. Look at their sad little faces.

They had no idea they were going to be jettisoned so quickly. Look at their sad little faces.

Or, even more delicious, the irony that the Web-Plastics would be the first ones to come out as anti-bullying, because NO! THEY would never bully anyone! And anyone that WOULD, my GOODNESS, hang ’em up by their TOENAILS! Bullying is, like, just so WRONG!

Because what they’re doing, see, it isn’t BULLYING. They rule the internet, you see. They’re just running it the way it needs to be run. Who better to make the rules for the rest of us?

Here’s a rule I like to live by on the internet.

If you don’t like someone’s blog: don’t read it.

It’s very simple.

Take it out of your reader. Don’t click on it. Don’t click on people’s links when they tweet about it.

If the blog is offensive, if the blog is openly offending you, or a large group of people, or it’s just flat-out wrong about something – fine. I get it. I do. You want to fight against injustice.

But if the blog is, in your opinion, poorly-written, or about a topic that bores you, or a topic you consider beneath you and your perfect sparkly rainbow taste: just don’t read it.

There. I’ve freed up precious moments in your day to do whatever it is you do. Kick puppies. Berate your children for not being better at sports. Scream at your spouses for not getting that perfect crease in your slacks. Masturbate until you weep about your empty, sad, lonely life.

Today, I unfollowed fifteen blogs that I noticed were getting meaner and meaner; that had gone full-on Web-Plastic. Going around doling out attention to people they wanted to join their cults, but not too much attention; it wouldn’t be seemly. Writing posts telling others how to behave, and how not to behave. Calling out others for not doing it right. Calling out others for not being them.

Join me. Love me. Want to BE me. Until I'm finished with you. Or decide to make you my target. Either way. There's no escape, otherwise. Just so you know.

Join me. Love me. Want to BE me. Until I’m finished with you. Or decide to make you my target. Either way. There’s no escape, otherwise. Just so you know.

It’s metaphorically Wednesday, and I’m wearing black. I’m wearing green, blue, yellow, white. I’m wearing anything but pink.

Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter. And ruining Regina George’s life definitely didn’t make me any happier. All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you.

Bloggers: we’re all worthy. We’re all writing our truths. We’re all doing the best we can with what we have. I’m not talking to the Web-Plastics. I’m talking to the rest of you. If we join together, we’re a bigger group than they are. If we support one another and refuse to let the negativity into our lives – if we just flat-out refuse to participate, be it by reading, commenting, or being sucked into the maelstrom of drama these people need to survive – they will eventually wither and die. Because they need the drama. They feed on what’s created when they’re mean. They’re psychic vampires.

If we put out all the good we have, if we refuse to accept it when it is addressed to ourselves or others, if we support our fellow bloggers…

…THEN we’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

It’ll be like pouring a bucket of water on the Wicked Witch of the West. Lots of screaming. Lots of fizzling. And, best of all, lots of disappearing.

On Wednesdays, they may want us to wear pink.

I’m here to say on Wednesdays, as on any day of the week, you can wear whatever the hell you want. And you’re going to look FABULOUS, darling.

Keep writing. Keep doing your thing. Because I can tell you from experience – there’s nothing a bully likes less than someone standing up to them. Unless it’s being ignored. They’re not too keen on that, either.

And hey, you guys? You’re welcome to sit at my table.

It’s a huge table.

It’s the size of the whole fucking internet.

(Special thanks to Emily at The Waiting, whose blog is wonderful and whose post earlier in the week – and the conversation with her I had in the comments – helped bring this post, which was percolating at the time, to the page. Emily, you are always welcome at my table. No matter what you wear. I’ll save you a seat and one of those little milks.)


Douchebags, are, apparently, the only exception.

Whoo! Busy couple of days. Lots went on! I’m just going to ramble for a while. Ready for rambling? Oh, shush. You LOVE it. SO SO MUCH.

First, look, you get TWO posts for the price of ONE today! And by “price” of course I mean “free!” Here, if you go over to the lovely sj’s blog, you can read my thoughts on reading The Hobbit for the first time. I know, I’m a little old to be reading The Hobbit for the first time. That’s addressed in the post, not to fret, my little chick peas.

Let’s see. Yesterday, I went to see my friend N.’s play he wrote be performed. I mentioned this a while back, right? N. sent me a message not long after I wrote the post about all the high school people sending me Facebook friend requests, asking if I’d be ok with him writing a play using that. Now, listen. I was ok with that on a lot of levels. One: I’m a writer. I mine ALL of my friends for material. Sorry, all. I totally do. I walk around my day gleaning shiny information like a magpie. Some is for my poems; some is for my blog, some is for personal emails; some is just for me. I honestly believe what separates a writer from someone who doesn’t write is that a writer sees more. And remembers more. And then uses that to build imaginary worlds, with that information as building blocks.

Oh, back on track, sorry. Second, N.’s writing is phenomenal. If N. asks if he can use something of mine for some of his writing? That’s a big fat yes every time. Because he’s going to make that shine, no matter what it is. Third, it’s nice to be asked. I mean, I thought that kind of showed a lot of respect, to ask about that. N. had similar high school experiences. He knows where I’m coming from with the high school thing.

So he sent me a one-act a while ago, which I read, and I loved it. It was fantastic. In short, a man returns home to tend to his ailing mother; while shopping for her, he runs into one of the people who used to torment him in high school. It was well-written (not that I’d doubted it would be) and touching and there were a lot of moments were I nodded and said, “YES” and a couple of moments where I had tears. It was painful and perfect.

Then last week, he emailed me and said it was being performed at a local playwrights’ night, and I said, “When and where,” and I meant it, even though I hate leaving the house. Especially when it’s hot. Oh, by the way, IT IS SO EFFING HOT. Hopefully it will go away soon, but blech it’s like almost 100.

I’m a delicate blossom and I frizzle easily.

Last night (well, nights and nights and nights ago for you all, since I’m days in advance, I promise this will stop happening in about a month when I go on vacation, I’m trying to get you all some vacation posts written, IT’S ALL FOR YOU DAMIEN) I got to see it on stage, along with four other one-acts, which varied in successfulness. Oh, also I totally saw my THEATER NEMESIS. I totally have a theater nemesis and I saw him there last night. I haven’t seen THEATER NEMESIS in probably a few years, or so? Since I had to FIRE him. From a show we were working on together. That was running at the time. For a number of reasons. And he was sketchy and we were SURE that he was going to murder me and put me in his trunk and drive my dead body to Mexico. So, yeah, I saw sketchy potential Mexico-killer last night for the first time in years. I don’t know if he saw me. I gave him the secret stink-eye the whole time.

He had these creeeeepy eyes. So creepy. Gah.

Anyway, N.’s play was fantastic. N. and another actor I know starred; N. played the bully (and broke my heart, knowing the little I did about his background, having to play the enemy; I don’t know that I would have found it any easier seeing him play the bullied adult, either, though.) I loved reading it, and seeing it made it even more poignant and painful and incisive. It was also interesting to see the reaction of the audience; I lived some of this, or variants thereof, and hearing people laugh, and seeing their reaction, to things that happened to me, or at least things that almost happened to me, or close to happened to me, was kind of cathartic. I’m not 100% sure I was supposed to get all of that out of this, but I did. And then I clapped until my hands hurt because it was wonderful. And also, I may have cried a little.

Then it was so ungodly hot so I went home and sat in front of the air conditioner and sighed merrily.

Aaaahhhhhhh.

Then then then, I had work all day today, and it was the WORST. Second job day today. Not enough employees showed up; there are over a million people without power in Virginia at the moment, and we recently purchased an answering service in Virginia, so that meant a KAJILLION phone calls about no power or no air conditioning or no oxygen, and then some woman yelled at me for like a year and a half because she was a douchecanoe and thought she was special.

This is courtesy of BFF, who saw this and thought of me. AW! Best BFF EVERRRRR.

No, seriously. She actually said, “I understand there are RULES, but I am the exception to those rules.” Um. Yeah. No, no you’re not. She also dropped that she had two vacation homes in Maine in the first thirty seconds of the call, and that she was friends with VERY important people. Then she told me she was going to get me fired, and said I WOULD tell her my last name (heh, I didn’t) and that when she died of a heart attack on Tuesday, I’d have that on my conscience FOREVER. When I said, “well, you could probably call the office on Monday for help, so that doesn’t happen, since they’re open then,” she was FURIOUS. Listen, rich lady. You’re irrational, you’re used to getting your own way, and you’re more than a little bit nuts. And you’re a huge bully. Think I deal well with bullies? No. No, I do not. Threaten me all you want. I’ve been threatened by better than you. Face to face, actually. High school kids were a lot scarier. Trust me. They even would have scared YOU. With all of your VACATION HOMES.

I AM VERY IMPORTANT.

Tomorrow is going-to-visit-C.-and-C. day, so I have to get to bed so I can do that because I have to get up insanely early for a Sunday (sigh, but it’s for a good cause) and then go to a fancy brunch and then go to a fancy play and then home and relax, whoo!

THEN THEN THEN! This weekend is The Nephew’s birthday! I can’t wait to see him. He was at my parents’ house tonight when I called to talk to them and was ADORABLE and LIVELY and had a bugbite and I told my dad to tell him the bugs like to bite him so much because he’s so sweet, and The Nephew said, “I AM NOT SWEET” all seriously and then giggled and giggled. And – ready for the best news? Next Saturday, I took the day off work, because I decided I deserved a full weekend off. Guess what my mom said? “We’re going to need someone to watch The Nephew all day Saturday, because we’re going to be busy preparing for the party. Do you know anyone who’d be willing to do that?”

I WOULD BE WILLING TO DO THAT FOR SEVENTY BILLION YEARS YES PLEASE.

I get to babysit The Nephew! All day Saturday! We will play and watch television and frolic and laugh and laugh and laugh! I couldn’t be more excited if you told me I had won ALL THE PUDDING.

Oh. OH! Shit. I forgot, I wanted to make a huge huge huge shoutout. You know Ken? The great and powerful Ken, right? Ken works for a newspaper now (along with a ton of other things, because you know what Ken is? Multitasky) because he’s amazing and wonderful, and writes beautifully, and The Munich Times snapped him up, as they should have.

(SIDE NOTE: Ken’s reporting at The Munich Times is not only Amy-approved but AMY’S DAD APPROVED. My dad read one of his articles not too long ago and said, and I quote, “You tell that assassin he’s quite the journalist. This article is both fair AND balanced.” Listen, I don’t know if your dads throw out compliments like Mardi Gras beads, but mine doesn’t. He thinks compliments are only given out when a person really, really, REALLY deserves them, otherwise they are lies. Sound like anyone you know? Anyone writing this blog, perhaps? So it was totally a deserved compliment from someone who probably gives out about ten of them a year. Tops. And eight of them go to NASCAR drivers for navigating difficult turns.) Anyway, TODAY, The Munich Times goes from being an online-only publication to a print publication. Ken’s been working like a madman with his coworkers to get this off the ground, and today’s the day. So, congratulations, Ken! I am so happy for you and so proud of you. This is only the first step in a million kabillion amazing wonderful Miss-Kitty-Fantastico things that are coming to you, I just know it. I don’t think I have anyone reading this who is within the area that can actually buy one of Ken’s papers except FOR Ken, who can probably have one for free if he wants one, but if I by-chance do, please go buy a copy of The Munich Times and support Ken and his people and print journalism and also it’s very good. I’ve been reading it online for a while now and I don’t even LIVE there and it’s good, is how good it is.

Happy day! Time for bed! Even though I’m at work now as this is publishing! I know, you’re all confused. My timeline’s off, too. Whew. Imagine living in MY head. It’s CRAZY in here.


He was different, he wasn’t cool like me

The news has been very, very depressing lately. I KNOW, it’s ALWAYS depressing. But it’s more depressing than usual. Am I the only one that’s noticed this? I can’t be, right?

Even this pug wearing clothing is super-depressed.

OK, first, this whole thing about the bus monitor in Rochester that was bullied by middle school kids has me insane. INSANE. I tried to watch the video and I absolutely could not do it. I watched approximately a minute and a half and had to turn it off. Yes, yes. I know. The world stepped right up and donated her a ton and a half of money, because if there’s one thing people are good at, it’s throwing money at something that makes them sad to make themselves feel less sad. (Sorry. That’s rude. I’m sure people have the best of intentions.) So far, as of the writing of this post, the fundraiser to send her on a vacation has raised about $668,000. That’s a hell of a vacation. I’m not judging, and it’s not sour grapes, but there are a lot of people saying she “deserves” this money. Really? There are a lot of us who were bullied that much or more by children. Other teachers, even, according to my friend who teaches junior high. Do we also deserve that kind of payout? I don’t think anyone in the world deserves anything. I know, that’s kind of insanely conservative, coming from me, right? I’m a big fat enigma, what can I say. Is it nice that she’s gotten all these donations? Sure, it’s nice. Is it DESERVED? Debatable.

Whew! NOW my conscience is appeased!

That’s not the point. The point is, middle school. MIDDLE SCHOOL. Those children were, what, 12-14 years old? What the HELL are we teaching our young adults that they think it’s ok to verbally harass a senior citizen to the point of tears? Did you watch this? Did you all watch this? I think everyone’s watched this, right? I’d link to it but I don’t want to. I just don’t even want to. You know how I feel about bullying, you know that. I know how cruel children are to each other, of course I know that, but when did children stop having even a little bit of respect for an adult in authority? None at all? Really? I mean, sure, we were all kinds of eye-rolly at adults when we were children, sure we were, but we didn’t taunt adults to their faces until they cried. Is it the mob mentality? Like, these children weren’t really all that bad, but as a group they all just got meaner and meaner and meaner and spurred each other on? Or are they? Are children this bad now? My teacher-friend says they are. I don’t want to think they are. I can’t think that, I just can’t. Not without my head exploding.

See? THIS is how I want to imagine junior high kids. All shiny-happy-people. DAMMIT LET ME HAVE THIS.

I don’t know what the solution to this is. First, we didn’t have bus monitors when I was a kid. I asked my parents, and they said this is a thing now. Well, good. The buses were a NIGHTMARE when I was a kid. Just complete and utter chaos. Like, Lord of the Flies but the island was a moving motor vehicle. People were beaten, having sex in the back seats, things were thrown at each other, out of the windows, at the busdriver – and our bus was worse, because it had kindergarten through senior year on it, so you can’t tell me those little five-year-olds were safe with senior year hooligans around them. So, yeah, a bus monitor is a good idea. But apparently not in this case. What was HAPPENING on this bus? This shit kept happening? The busdriver didn’t stop it, or stop the bus? Did this woman report these kids? It’s obvious she wasn’t able to do her job as bus monitor. So were all the other kids she was supposed to be protecting unsafe, because she wasn’t even able to protect herself? I am kind of flummoxed by this entire situation. This couldn’t have been a one-time incident, right?

Look at this shit. This is what happens on the bus, don’t think otherwise. Buses are UTTER CHAOS. On WHEELS.

And listen, I was not an angel-child by any means. No no no. I was often quite cruel. Mostly because I was dealing with a lot of personal shit and I lashed out inappropriately. I don’t think it’s called PTSD when you’re currently experiencing the trauma. Current-traumatic stress disorder? I don’t know. Anyway, I’m just saying, whatever the reason, I wasn’t always nice. Far from it. I was often mean and sarcastic and bitter. Middle school kids are terrible. Just terrible. All those hormones? It’s lunacy.

SO MANY EMOTIONZZZ!!!!

The whole thing makes me nervous and upset. Do I think the kids deserve punishment? Hell yes. Everyone, no matter how old they are, needs to understand there are consequences for their actions, and that you can’t treat your fellow man in such a way. These kids grew up in a culture where anti-bullying was taught as part of the curriculum. According to the Greece School District Website, they teach using the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.  (I have my doubts that these programs work, really, but they have to be better than not having a program at all, right?) It’s not like these kids don’t know what bullying is. Were they not aware that bullying an adult is the same thing as bullying a peer? Did they just not care? I know they’re minors, but I’d love to hear the kids’ side of this. What led them to do this? Were there thought processes involved, or was it just something that seemed fun at the time (like most things we do when we’re hormone-addled teens?)

I’m thinking about this too much, aren’t I? I do that with things like this. They upset me more than they should. Andreas wrote a very compelling post about compassion in the human race recently, but I don’t think it’s compassion that’s fueling my cyclical obsessive thoughts about this. It’s childhood trauma, and my need to know why. Why did this happen? What led to this happening? How can we stop it from happening again? Can we stop it from happening again?

And then, THEN, political shit has turned the country into lunatics. There is SO MUCH SHOUTING RIGHT NOW.

So, so much. And hating. And the Republicans are at war with the Democrats. WE HATE EACH OTHER SO MUCH. We can’t be friends. Because the Democrats are a bunch of dirty damn hippies who want the government to give them free…well…everything and also hate Merka and complain a lot and hate God and want us all to be vegetarians and also smoke all the legal weed, and the Republicans hate women and poor people and people of color and illegal immigrants and love guns a lot. So of course we can’t get along because we’re like cats and dogs or maybe oil and water and THERE IS SO MUCH SHOUTING. We seem to forget we’re all just people, and when we finish work, we go home, and we all worry about bills and our loved ones and we like to laugh and we sometimes cry and wear shoes, and we sleep, and we are sometimes loud and sometimes quiet and we’re all a little nuts. Nope. We’re not humans. We are DEMOCRATS or REPUBLICANS. Or, I suppose we can be something else, like Socialists or Green Party members or Independents or whatever, but no one takes those parties seriously. Probably because they aren’t shouty enough.

Listen, I love election season.

YIPPEE!

LOVE. I love that it gets all exciting, and that there are debates, and people get on television with charts and graphs and you try to guess who’s going to carry which states, and best of ALL you get to VOTE, which, listen, I love so much, I’ve mentioned that before, my insane love of all things voting-related. I love when the vice-presidential candidate(s) are announced. I love when these SCANDALOUS stories come out like “ZOMG BIRTH CERTIFICATE!?!1?!?” or “Romney was a total bully in high school” or “I can see Russia from my HOUSE” or whatever. Love. It all makes me very excited. I love how our political system works, even though it’s a little confusing even though I’ve totally studied and researched it and I’m quite intelligent. I love that we get a say in it. I love that there are PEOPLE whose JOB it is to decide what COLOR TIE a candidate should wear to best come across as compassionate or diplomatic or intelligent. I love it. All of it.

Listen, Merka. You are SUCKING THE JOY OUT OF MY ELECTION SEASON WITH THE SHOUTERY.

I don’t remember us hating each other this much four years ago. I really don’t. We all started hating each other this much since Obama became president? I’m confused by this. He really doesn’t seem to be doing that bad of a job. I mean, were you all asleep during Dubya’s presidency? The mess Obama stepped into when he entered the White House – I mean, I think if it was me, I would have just put my head down in the Oval Office and wept for like a month. It’s like everyone forgot the Dubya years. I didn’t. I didn’t forget them at all. At least now I don’t have to apologize for the president when speaking to people who aren’t American. I did that a lot during the Dubya years. There was a lot of “yeah, I KNOW, it’s so EMBARRASSING, what can you DO” coming from me for 8 years. A LOT. I haven’t had to say that once in the past four years. Mostly because I’m not embarrassed of Obama. He doesn’t make embarrassing gaffes or stand under big old “MISSON ACCOMPLISHED” signs when the mission wasn’t even accomplished or stare off into space for seven minutes while reading My Pet Goat while his country is under terrorist attack.

This just makes me sad.

Obama’s intelligent. Have you heard the guy talk? He’s intelligent, and he’s personable, and he’s got a sense of humor that’s more New Yorker than frathouse shenanigans. He doesn’t give his staff members nicknames like “Boner” and “Hillbilly Frank.” Is that the problem? Do people resent him because they think he’s smarter than they are? Don’t we WANT a President that’s smarter than we are? I know I sure as hell do. I want the person with his (or her, dammit, her, HER BEFORE I DIE PLEASE) finger on the button to be smarter than I am, and not think kegstands and/or red Solo cups are a good way to spend a Friday night WHEN YOU ARE IN YOUR FIFTIES.

Do you WANT someone like this running your country? I mean, maybe you do. I don’t know your life. But I’m going to hope not.

We’re talking politics. Sorry. SORRY. I know, I try not to do that here.

All I’m saying is, can we stop with the shoutery and the hating? Please? I know. It’s a lot easier to hate someone than it is to put yourself in their shoes for a few minutes and think, huh, if you put aside the politics, we’re just all people. Or if you stop bullying for a minute and look, that person is being injured by what I’m doing, and how would I like it if someone did that to me? Or if (and the kids who did this in Rochester are getting some of this now) people I love saw what I was doing, would they be proud of me right now? What if someone was doing this to my mom? My sister? My grandmother? Would I allow this to continue?

If we all just try to realize that every single person in the world is just that – a person – and trying to do their best, even when they’re being an INSUFFERABLE ASSHOLE – maybe we could just be a little nicer. And then I wouldn’t have to avoid watching the news or clicking on links or talking to my dad about anything but the weather. I need more happy “look, this guy rescued a dog for no reason other than he was a nice man” and less “another kid killed himself because he was bullied into thinking he was worthless” stories. Can we work on that? Any chance? Thanks so much, so appreciated.

This entire photoset is worth seeing. It’ll lighten your day. I almost promise it. Click. What can it hurt?

You know, we really are capable of such amazing things. Why are we wasting our voices and energy on shouting and tearing down when we could be singing and building up?


If you’re wondering what I love him like, the answer is obviously pudding.

Happy Tuesday! We’re randoming today. I’m at work and have to get this written and realized, I have lots of things I haven’t mentioned, let’s do that.

I went to a concert last night, but didn’t have time today to write it all up and tell you all about it, so that’ll be tomorrow. Promise. It was awesomesauce. SPOILER ALERT FOR TOMORROW.

So remember how I wrote the whole bullying post? That was a while ago. You probably all read that. Anyway, I mentioned in the post, one of the main high school mean girls kept sending me Facebook friend requests. And I’d delete it. And then she’d send another one like a week or so later. Then I’d delete it. Over and over. I think we got up to six times? Then I’d get ones here and there from some of the other mean girls. Delete delete delete. But that one girl was PERSISTENT, yo. Finally, the last time, she sent me a MESSAGE. Well, that made me almost vomit. But I opened it.

“Amy, I’m going to need you to accept my friend request, and also immediately message me your home address so I can mail you an invitation to the class reunion.”

No “Hello” and no “thank you” and no “please.” Just two orders. Because she’s the boss of me, apparently.

(Oh, bee tee dubs, it’s my twenty-year class reunion this summer. I AM SO EFFING OLD YOU GUYS. Twenty YEARS? Good grief, where are my Rascal Scooter and my dentures and my AARP discount card?)

20 years. SO OLD GAH.

So I thought about it. What would be the best course of action?

I could ignore it completely. But she probably wouldn’t give up. Apparently, the years had given her the tenacity of a bulldog. (Is it awful to hope they’ve given her the face of one as well? Probably. I won’t hope that, then, ok? Great.)

I could do as she asked; roll over and give in. Yeah, that was about as likely as me running out tomorrow wearing a dress and high heels. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. You give me orders, I immediately do the opposite. I don’t take well to being bossed around.

I could reply. What would I say?

I decided to reply. Mostly because I wanted her to go away for good. One of my Twitter people told me I should reply with a link to my bullying post and nothing else. I thought about it, but decided it would be like throwing pearls before swine. YES MEAN GIRL YOU ARE THE SWINE IN QUESTION. She wouldn’t read it, and if she did, she wouldn’t remember any of it the way it happened, anyway. And it was obvious, from her message to me, she hadn’t changed at all.

After much soul-searching, I decided on short and curt. I know! I can write short replies sometimes. I know you’re shocked. Ready? Here it is in its entirety:

Thank you for thinking of me, but I have absolutely no interest in attending.

The first part of the sentence showed GRACE and CLASS (with just the slightest tinge of snark, as I’m SURE they’ve spent no time at ALL thinking of me, I was just on a list of graduates); the second part made my position clear on the matter (with the “absolutely” thrown in there just in case she thought, “Hmm, maybe she’s just undecided.”) Yeah, I spent some time thinking about it, why do you ask?

It’s been about a month now. No response from her. No more friend requests. I think I’m safe. I can’t even IMAGINE the gossip about me that’ll happen from those cliquey bitches at the reunion this summer, but go to, ladies who lunch, go to. I’ll be safely four hours away, living my life which has no bullies in it. Well, I suppose it might have bullies in it. But I’m better equipped to deal with them now.

(Also, can I just say, if I showed up at that thing, I think I might lose my shit and punch one or more of those girls in the mouth? I’m not even kidding. I’ve only ever attacked one person in my life – well, I don’t count my brother, we used to hit each other all the time – and I probably would be spectacularly bad at it. But I think it would be one of those “I saw red and I don’t remember exactly what happened and MAN is there a lot of blood and her nose looks kind of crooked?” situations. And I’d end up with an assault charge or something. Best I stay away.)

Anyway, moving on; hey, graduating class, you guys have a great time at the reunion, ok? If you all get food poisoning or maybe attacked by a swarm of locusts (not that I wish that on you all or anything! HA HA!) I hope the bad thing bypasses the three of you I don’t wish terrible things would happen to!

Happier thing: yesterday I got a video from The Nephew’s mom where he was playing with a toy phone and he said, “Aunt Amy’s on the phone!” and he was having a wee conversation with me. After a few minutes, he gave the phone a VERY dirty look and then hung it up very decisively and said, “She hung up.” (That was totally rude of me. What the hell was I thinking?) His mom said, “Do you love your Aunt Amy?” and he nodded. She said, “how much?” and he said, “About an eight.” An eight! Like I’m on Star Search! An eight is a very good score. I think I would beat the other contestants with an eight. I’m not really sure what I can do to get myself up to a ten? But I consider an eight a WINNER! That is, if the other contestants were to suck. Let’s assume they do.

When I did a search for “Star Search,” this came up. Who’s the kiddo in the teeny cowboy hat? A baby Justin Timberlake, that’s who. HOW ADORABLE IS THIS?

(UPDATE! I talked to Mom tonight, and she told me that he did NOT say “an eight” but “an EGG.” So I said, “That’s nice, that makes no sense,” and she said he’s started comparing his love to people to his favorite foods. For a while, he loved everyone “like a doughnut,” and now he loves everyone “an egg.” I said, “He does love eggs, right? It wasn’t a subtle toddler-insult, or anything, right?” and she laughed and said no, no, he LOVES eggs. So, he loves me an EGG. I’m king of the world, Ma! The Nephew loves me AN EGG!)

So yesterday I made a to-do list. I’m not really the best at those. But I have a lot of things coming up, and I needed to make a list of them. It was two pages long. This is…daunting. However, I do have, after this week, a lot more free time opening up. And, good news for people who like reading whatever nonsense I spew out on a regular basis, it looks like there’s going to be a LOT more of it to read over the next few months, as I will be using my free time to write and write and write. Serious things and humorous things. Get ready, interwebs, I’m going to be typing til my fingers fall off or I have a nervous breakdown, one or the other. Actually, neither of those would be a very good thing, would they? Let’s just say I’m going to be creating many things this summer, and leave it at that. I think you’ll like them. I will be drinking many cool drinks and sitting in front of a lot of air conditioning and typing and typing and typing. It’s going to be great.

Also, big blog anniversary coming up next month. A whole year of craziness! I haven’t decided what will happen. I’m poor, so probably not much. But you never can tell, really. Maybe some plans and schemes, who knows? Or maybe nothing. One can never quite tell, with me.

OK, here I go. Work work work. Oh, ALSO, I am ANCIENT, the concert lasted until almost ELEVEN last night, meaning I didn’t get home until almost ELEVEN THIRTY and I am SO SO TIRED TODAY. I know. I’m like a grandma, here. Where’s my cane and my fiber. But seriously, I am wiped. Whoo. Work’s going to be fun today! What with the eyes closing and such!


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