Thursday, January 24, 2019

More Stories from Behind

My son said at one point he was interested in hearing more stories from when I was a kid. Here are a couple of them.

Childhood story: 

My sixth grade teacher was Miss Joseph. She was probably a lesbian, she was in her 50's and very athletic. I don't care. She loved the Cincinnati Reds and let us listen to the World Series that year on a radio in the classroom. She made us use the word "lavatory" instead of bathroom when we needed a pee break.

There was a little twerp in my class, I think his name was Jeffy or something. Anyhow, he used to sit next to me and whisper abuse in my ear, "You're ugly, you're stupid, everyone hates you." One of the good things my mother taught me was to ignore people like that because they just want attention and I could choose not to give it to them. (Sometimes I wish I'd been able to do that with her, but alas every hurtful word made its way directly into my heart)

One day, it had been going on for awhile, Miss Joseph walked past and finally heard him. She hauled him out of his chair and asked me why I hadn't said anything to her about it. I looked at her and told her what my mother said. She asked my deskmate why he never said anything and he told her I didn't say anything, why should he? 

Then she grabbed Jeffy's arms and pinned them behind him and said to me, "Go ahead, hit him."

. . .

I said no, of course. Even at the age of 11, I knew right from wrong and was appalled by an adult's behavior. She moved him to an isolated desk at the back of the classroom and probably, although I don't know for sure, made his life hell for him the rest of the year. And I know she never favored me after that, getting on my case for crossing the double yellow line on the playground that separated us from the little kids and yelling at me at the 6th grade picnic when I stated how disappointed I was with the chinzy little prize I got. 

We moved that summer, so I didn't go to Jr High and High School with those classmates. I never saw Jeffy again, at least I don't think so. And I got bullied far worse in Jr High and High school than whatever he could come up with.

Not  a happy ending. It's just a story that sticks in my mind. 


High School Hijinks

When I was a freshman in high school, my English teacher's name was Mr. Wergeland. He was a kick! When he was in college, he worked at a mental hospital . I don't remember any of his stories, but it helped shape my perception of him that I knew he was teaching English to high school students after dealing with mentally ill folk. He also had a banana in a jar. It was pure brown liquid, because it had been in the jar for several years. 

Freshman English was the last class of the day and I'm sure Mr. Wergeland was just happy to be almost done by the time we all trooped in. The people in my class, and you know who you are DK! were a bunch of wild and silly people, mostly boys. I remember one day during a spelling test, one of them piped up with, "How do you spell that again?"

Mr. Wergeland sighed and proceeded to spell it out for us. Then he spelled the next word. And the next. About 10 words in, he looked at us and said, "Was I spelling those?" We cracked up, and so did he.

Another time, he was trying to tell us something about his Argumentation and Persuasion elective that we could take the next year. He gave us a topic, asked us to defend, then proceeded to rip apart all the arguments. 

Then he got to me. 

I made my statement, then he went off like he had with the others. In the middle, I interrupted him and said something like, "You're off topic, that doesn't have anything to do with what we were talking about." The rest of the class just stared. He smiled and said, "That's right, and you were right to interrupt me." I was the only one who dared argue back. 

I'm thinking my anti-authoritarian tendencies probably date from that moment.

One other thing I wanted to say about Mr. Wergeland's Freshman English class was that a bunch of the guys in there got together and invented a fake person. His name was Alan Hobbs. Alan Hobbs checked books out from the book room and library, was blamed for several incidents of mischief and his sister even dated my friend DK just to make one of my other friends jealous. Alan Hobbs almost graduated with us, I'm pretty sure. 

Next class reunion, DK, let's hold up a sign that says, "Alan Hobbs, where are you?"

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

On the Edge of Normal

I haven't posted here for awhile. Normal is just beyond my reach most of the time and when I get to where I think I'm able to put down some words, normal scoots away again and I'm stuck with nothing to say.

Or too much to say.

I was laid off in December, and believe me, that is no easy thing for a woman in her 50's. Four months before that I had to give my car back to the bank because the job I had paid poverty wages and I could barely pay my rent. A few months before that I ended a toxic relationship that was sucking me dry emotionally and is only just resolving itself this month. Not a good year for me.

My mental illness keeps me from seeing things the way normal people see them. Which can be a good thing a lot of the time. The problem is that normal people run the world, want me to pay my bills, want me to work for a living, want me to say and do the normal things. I struggle to find activities that allow me to do the normal stuff while still being me. 

Daunting. Scary. Infuriating. 

My dream for a long time has been to open a daycare. I like kids. I'm good with kids. They don't care that I'd rather watch cartoons with them than sit behind a computer doing soul-sucking busy work. They're happy with glue and glitter, the same way I am. They like to eat macaroni out of a box and don't care if we play all day instead of doing something the world deems productive. They're easy.

I know some of you are horrified. Children? Easy? Yes. They don't judge, they just get on with it. I love 2-5 year olds. They delight me. 

So, is working from home doing the things I love the great lie we've been told by Facebook? 

The normal people want me to pay them money so I can do what I love. I want to do what I love and get paid for it. I don't want to make a million bucks, I just want to pay all my bills on time every month. And I want to love on babies. I'm a good grandma because I love being grandma so much. That makes me happy, it fills my soul with joy and helps me face the normal world. I have a t-shirt that says, "I used to be a people person, then people ruined it." That doesn't mean children. They make it worthwhile. 

For those of you who love me, agápē, I am honored. For those of you who know me from way back when or from church or other places now, please be patient with me. For those of you who know me only through this blog, I say welcome to my world but don't get lost. 

For everyone else, well, is there anyone else out there who feels like they're on the edge of normal?

Throws glitter