Friday, November 05, 2010

It gets better. Meanwhile, you don't have to put up with shit.

I grew up in Milwaukie, Oregon, which was then, and by all accounts still is, a very poor, rather squalid, working class area just outside of Portland. In fact they refer to that whole area these days as 'Felony Flats'. My family was a mess. I spent the first three years of my school career in Catholic school, and it was there that I met my first crushes...a little girl named Robin and a boy named Patrick...both of whom I wanted to marry. Both of whom I felt exactly the same way about.
Yes, I was bullied.
The thing is, I wasn't bullied for being bi. I was bullied for being a victim. Bi never came into the equation. Of course I got called 'dyke' and 'lezzie' like every other girl did back then, but it was just another epithet. Shit; I didn't even realize there was such a thing as 'bi' until I was in high school, and hadn't a clue that it applied to me until I was 18. That's why my voice doesn't really belong in Dan Savages' 'It Gets Better' project. But having been bullied is something I need to come out about anyway, and maybe some kid will read this and grab a few pointers about how to survive until they can get away from the vile, substandard, hopeless snake pit full of dull norms, moral cowardice and future real estate salespersons that is the American school system. Feel free to pass this along, but be warned: it is not politically correct, and it is not the typical adult 'just tough it out' sophistry that people my age are supposed to pass along when talking to kids. It's real, and 'real' is not pretty. I'm not going to dumb this down or lie.

I was bullied. I was the goat. I was the kid in class that everyone could mistreat, and did. I was the kid that all the adults disliked and ignored. Anything you did to me you did with impunity, in front of anyone you pleased, without a care in the world for any reprisal or punishment whatsoever. I was that kid. It started in first grade and continued up until I started Jr. High. Bear in mind that the things I'm going to recount were perpetrated by little children, little grade school aged children, ON a little child. Your precious angels are capable of being bloodthirsty little hyenas, folks. If you look away, you collude.

I was hit. Shoved. Cursed. Struck with tree limbs and dirt clods and pieces of pavement and rocks. I had traps laid for me, where some kid would pretend to be my friend and lure me to some secluded place where a group of others would ratpack me. One group of kids tried to catch me by the neck with a rope. I had shit thrown at me many, many times...and I mean actual shit. I was hunted around the neighborhood by huge packs of kids, on bicycles, running, screaming 'Kill her! Get her!' I couldn't go swimming unsupervised; not at someones' house and not at a public pool. I cannot tell you how many times kids tried to drown me, holding me under and take turns doing it.

This kind of thing went on every day. Every single day. It happened in front of adults, who would simply turn their backs. It happened in front of teachers at school, who either turned their backs or made me spend recess in the classroom. It happened in front of my parents, who did nothing to hide their utter contempt of me, who did nothing to prevent it, and who blamed me, to my face and to anyone who happened to be present, because I was being spoiled and sensitive and weak. That I was just doing this for attention. That I was deliberately inviting other kids to bully me because I liked the attention. Yes indeed.

School was its own kind of hell. Summers were worse. At least in school there were rooms to hide in and doors that closed behind me. In the summertime if I was out in the open I was prey. The only way I could go outside my yard was to either sneak out at night or wait until it was Sunday, when all those good little children were in church.

I spent the majority of my childhood hiding. From everyone. I spent that entire time in a constant state of mortal fear. And that's no exaggeration. I had absolutely no backup whatsoever. Any adult who took my side was actively discouraged from doing so by my parents, who took pains to explain to them what a contemptible, sick, bad, weak, lazy little girl I really was. Once again, this is no exaggeration. None of it.

By the time sixth grade rolled around I had perfected the art of judging when it was relatively safe for me to be seen, and how, and where. The vigilance was constant. I cried in school every day. I went home and cried every single day. All the adults in my life were either sick to death of me or had been so thoroughly co-opted by my parents that they worked at ignoring what was going in in the name of not feeding into my perceived sick attempts to get attention.

To this day it horrifies me to think that most of the children responsible for the worst of the bullying actually went on to have children of their own. Most of the kids in on it were simply going along with the crowd and acting out whatever aberrant group behavior dynamic was happening. But some of those children, more of them than you'd think, were absolutely fiendish... calculating, unrestrained, gleeful little psychopaths. I always wondered what their parents would have done if they'd known that their darling little angels spent recess kneeling on a little girls chest wiping dogshit in her face and trying to force it in her mouth, or trying to pull down her underpants and shove sticks or pencils into her crotch. I remember looking up into the glittering eyes and hectic faces, the spitty red lips and fast breathing, and being repelled and horrified and feeling terror beyond belief. It was like rape. It was like being attacked by demons. And I wonder of any one of the group of kids standing around in a circle laughing and jeering, watching all this happen to me, ever remembers any of this at all. Or what they think of their own participation, if they do.

The adults, when they deigned to notice, wrote it off as 'kid stuff'. I cannot tell you how many times I heard that hateful, dismissive phrase. "Oh, its just kids being kids. One of these days she'll figure it out but I guess she just has to learn it the hard way!"

The first time I ever thought of suicide was when I was six years old. I thought of suicide every single day. The first time I realized that God was not there was when I was six years old. God still isn't there, but I no longer expect it either, which is a huge relief. Adults lie about God to children. God will fix everything. Nothing happens to you without a reason, and the reason I was given was that I was being punished. I was told to pray. I was told to ask God for forgiveness. That was supposed to fix everything. All it did was take the complaints out of their ears.

The reason that all this happened to me was because of two things: First of all, I was raised by extremely disturbed, antisocial people, and my earliest behaviors were all centered around trying to placate and please people who simply were not going to be placated or pleased by anything except the opportunity to bully someone. I learned how to be a bully magnet, in other words. A perfect one. By their lights, when I was being 'good', I was being a victim. I was trained to be a specialist at drawing out the worst behaviors out of the worst people. And I was no charming little girl to be around either. When I was very little I acted out many of their behaviors. No, I was not a nice or a pleasant little girl.

Secondly, I had juvenile onset clinical depression. I would go in one sweeping moment, apropos of nothing at all, from feeling normal to barely able to think or move, and I can remember these episodes occurring when I was as young as four years old. As I got older they would happen more frequently and would last longer each time. My only defense was to simply 'blank out' and become inert. This did nothing whatsoever to further my career as 'nice' or 'pleasant'.

Everyone learns that survival of adversity is a matter of inner strength and perseverance and bravery and clean living and moral rightness. And if your name is Meg, Jo, Beth or Amy that might in fact be the case...but here in the real world the only thing that counts is what you DO. No psychopathic ten year old is going to stop and reflect on the error of their ways in the face of their victims courage. A psychopathic ten year old is going to continue to gleefully smack the crap out of that victim and to enlist all her little friends to come help. Children love a victim. A victim is someone upon whom they can act out their anger and take out their frustrated powerlessness. A victim is someone who has even less power than they have. This same dynamic plays out for adults too. Ever noticed? It also explains why girls are by far the most horrifyingly evil, sadistic, calculated and most of all SNEAKY bullies that walk. Society still has a long way to go, and there is nothing angrier or more frustrated than a thwarted little girl. Give that same the leadership of some deranged little psycho and a secluded spot on the playground and your darling daughters think nothing of stabbing that kid on the ground with a sharpened pencil. In the breasts.

I was not the worst case of a bullied child at that school. There was one boy who got it worse than me. There were two other girls who were shunned for being poor and smelling like piss. I have to say though that I hold the dubious distinction of having been the most hated girl at Seth Llewelling 1968-1971. Go me!

The thing-the ONE thing- that saved me was anger. And how did I discover that buried beneath everything I had learned and everything I was going through?
I went through puberty.
Nothing releases the floodgates of hell like a few extra squirts of estrogen, folks. I'm telling you!

And boy, did I know all about acting out anger. I learned from PROFESSIONALS. My whole childhood was like a textbook. And I practiced. Yes, I actually practiced. In a mirror. I looked back on my own history and thought about what had worked and why. I read all kinds of things I should not have to pick up as many swear words and putdowns as I could. I studied movies for devastating lines. I plotted out sneaky tricks and pranks. I began paying a lot of attention to vandalism and the tools of that trade. I laid plots for revenge. Most importantly, I mapped escape routes and devised convincing alibis. The day I first set off to Jr. High my feeling was "There is no way in hell that I'm going down without a fight. Fuck them ALL."

As important as this decision was, there was another aspect to it that is possibly more important than simply the declaration of war. You see, there was no doubt in my mind that I WAS going down. There was no other fate for the person I was then. As I laid my plans, I had also, as a consequence of finding out just how much anger and hate I was filled with and capable of putting into action, come to the realization of who I was. I finally faced and accepted, with the worst grace and the worst motives in the world, myself as I was. There was no 'love' involved. Self love played no part in that whatsoever. I did not like who I was. Frankly, I was not at that point a lovable person. But that acceptance, THE SIMPLE FACT OF THAT ACCEPTANCE OF WHO I WAS, resigned and grim and negative though it was, was in fact the most important thing I ever did in my life. And it's important that I make that as plain as possible here.
Your inner motives are secondary to your ACTUAL DEEDS. The fact of acceptance. That you HAVE ACCEPTED. No matter what you are or how you feel about yourself or what brought you to that place is all aside the point! Having accepted yourself will lead you to great things. Having accepted yourself, as shitty as you might be, will actually lead you out of the darkness. It will lead to good things. It will lead you to a better self. It will lead you to the rest of your life.

All you have to do to get there is survive. Your inner reasons for surviving don't have to be pure. Revenge is a perfectly good reason. In fact it's a great reason. So is hatred. And anger. My reason, back then, was that I wanted to live long enough to see my parents get old and die, which is certainly less than noble or pure.

You only have to find something that you want more than you want to die. It doesn't have to be nice.

Nobility or purity of motive play no part in survival whatsoever. You don't NEED nobility or purity! There is no RIGHT way to survive! That you DO survive is the only thing that's important! Nobility and purity of motive are luxuries of the privileged and the protected. They're superfluous. Not necessary. Aside the point. They don't matter a damned bit more for the privileged and the protected than they do for the victimized and the abused.

Now, I never expected for a moment that I would survive past my 18th birthday anyway. I have a chronic lung condition that was severe enough to put my life expectancy at about 18 to 21 years (that is, if the people who 'loved' me didn't take me out first.) But I was determined as hell that when I did go out, I was going to go out trailing a wake of nuclear fucking devastation. People wouldn't just be sorry....people were going to be MADE SORRY. By ME.

And they were.


I am a 50 year old woman with five grandkids. I have been married for close to 22 years to an amazing Biker. I am thought of by most as a relatively nice, unassuming, average little lady. I'm a housewife. I grow sunflowers. And yet to this day some of the proudest moments of my life are when I set the school bathroom on fire...spit on the chair of the boy who'd come up and grabbed my tits hard enough to leave marks, just before he sat down (to the delight of all his 'friends')...took a magic marker, disguised my handwriting and wrote even viler crap on the walls about the bitches who were tormenting me than they were writing about yours truly. I am proud of all the times I snotted off to the teachers who played to the popular kids and mistreated everyone else. I am proud of vandalizing their cars, their purses and their desks. I am proud of devising the most disgusting rumours imaginable about the people who took such glee in starting them about me. And nobody ever wanted to get on the wrong side of my sense of humor once I developed the ability to make up phrases and nicknames that STUCK.

This all began to take on momentum. Soon I thought nothing of snotting off to anyone who irritated me, despite who they were, despite their threats. I knew how to duck their threats. I had no problem whatsoever running from a fight. Oh HELL no. I was no fighter. I'd skip a class, hide, duck around corners, I had no problem with that. Pain HURTS. Many's the day I took a later bus or walked home to avoid people who were waiting beat me up. Was it cowardly? It was. Did I get called a pussy? I did. But I didn't get beat up either, which I figured was the more important issue at hand. And after all, 'pussy' was the least of what I'd already been called. That, and the expletive 'pussy' was merely a minor weapon in MY arsenal.

I ended Jr. High with the reputation as a flaming bitch; meaner than catshit. I was avoided. I was feared.
And I started to make friends.
Real friends.
The bullying stopped. Gradually, but after word got around that I was taking less shit than before, it cut off sharply and just kept on diminishing.
It took six months.
And when I got to the point that I took no shit whatsoever, the bullying STOPPED.
Oddest of all, when it did flare up, the teachers suddenly began to step in and do their jobs.
I swear to God this actually happened.
It was the Goddamndest thing.

I did not treat my first friends very well...I thought they must all be snivelling victims like I was who were simply drawn to my acting out and who would probably desert me as soon as I stopped being amusing and dangerous. I got rid of them first.

But I made more.
And people started to like me!

By the time I hit high school I had quite the reputation as a dangerous, though amusing, nutcase. I dressed outrageously. I said and did outrageous things. I was not by far the most outrageous, disturbed or amusing person in school, but I was among their number, and for the most part I still kept my head pretty low. I am proud to say that never once did I stoop to bullying, that I stuck up for people who were being bullied, and that I never started shit. I just FINISHED IT.

And all of this was done without resorting to interpersonal violence. I mean, God help your locker and God help your car if you fucked with me, but I didn't smack anyone around....for what that's worth in light of all the property damage I caused. I dunno.

I arranged my classes so that I graduated half a year earlier than the rest of my class. I did not attend graduation. Fuck that. The day I graduated high school I walked out the front doors, turned around and flipped the place off with both hands. I will never forget that day. I went down to Perry's drug store and caught a bus home in a daze. I walked around in a daze for a week before it all finally hit me: I never had to go back to that place EVER, EVER, EVER AGAIN. IT WAS OVER FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.

It was immediately better.

It was far from perfect. I had two bad relationships and five years of therapy ahead of me before all the monsters from my past were slain. But I swear on John Cleese and H.P. Lovecraft that the worst day of my adult life (and I've had some doozies; you don't just stop being a hateful bitch and I inflicted a lot of pain on myself and others) was still better than the best day of being nine years old. Or any day of any age between 1960 and 1978. Because I was out of prison. I had got the fuck out of Dodge. My tour of duty in Vietnam was over. I was free.

I AM free.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Seven Dangerous Dogs Carry A Terrible Tune!

...and speaking of contemptible pukes, I started smoking again a couple of months ago. Oh yes! And I'm now in the process of trying to quit.

It is a stone bitch.

Now, I deny myself nothing. If I feel so inclined, I will and do avail myself of whatever recreational chemical, unhealthy eating practice, dangerous idea or impulse that captures my fancy. Avail away, is my motto; life is short and all that crap. But I never get surgically attached to any of those things either. Why that is I have no idea; it certainly isn't because I posses any uncommon strength of character. What I dislike I leave by the wayside and what I do like I continue to do when the whim strikes, or not.

That doesn't apply to smoking, unfortunately. I am having one tough motherfucking time getting this nasty smelly expensive monkey off my ass. What the hell is that about? Smoking? Of all the things? If anyone has any insight into this issue it would be most appreciated because it is baffling the fuck out of me.


I went out trick or treating with the Goonybird and the SSA last night. The Goonybird was G.I.Joe, his mommy was Gwen from 'Mad Men', and I was kind of a cross between Wendy O. and Adam Ant, although I told everyone I was Sarah Palin. Danger Lady, the SSA's newest bump, was dressed as a kitty. She had to stay behind with the Biker and her daddy The Lucky Bastard, which made her cry, the treatment for which, according to her grampa and her daddy, is chocolate. When we left she was a little pink kitty, When we returned she was a little brown kitty with a 'Twix' wrapper stuck to the side of her face.

The neighborhood was full of kids out trick or treating; running up and down the streets, their parents standing under the streetlights talking and laughing. It was so great! I was so glad to see it! For a lot of years there you saw nobody out, and nobody decorated their houses either. Something has changed. Maybe parents feel safer, or maybe everyone just got sick of the whole 'Halloween is evil and Satanic' thing that was part of the local culture around here for so long. I know even when I was a kid, if given the chance to choose between going out trick or treating in a cool costume for candy, or going to some lame church-sponsored 'Harvest Carnival' and playing musical chairs for a plastic ring with a pumpkin on it, I wouldn't have even stopped to think about that shit. Maybe all those new parents, former Harvest Carnival survivors all, vowed to themselves 'I'll never do this to my kids when I'm a grownup!' and carried through on the promise!

The coolest house we stopped at this year had the single most freakyass decoration I've ever seen...up in the second floor windows, right over the front porch, they had set up two big television screens. Each screen had the image of a huge green eyeball, and they moved together and blinked in unison, as though the house was aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive and its big ol' eyeballs were looking up and down the street AND AT YOU! I would have never gone up to this place when I was a kid. Shit no, are you nuts? I would have stood at the end of the block and cried! It was excellent!

I cannot help but snort in derision whenever I pass the boxed and canned stock in the supermarket. Please. What a scam. Just go set some dollar bills on fire and toss them into the toilet, folks; really? Box O Stock? No. No no no no no. Make your own stock. Need instructions? Here:

See? A nice post about making stock. Just go. Make your own stock. It's ridiculously simple. Need a good reason? Because I said so. There ya go.
Now go here:

read that, feel great guilt, then fire up the stove and fill a big pot with water. Get going.