But then I got mad. Because damn it, this is how I feel and I'm entitled to my opinions. What's going on in education today is not okay. It's NOT okay. And nobody seems to be listening to the foot soldiers in the trenches. So I did a slight bit of editing and then re-published it. (Here, I am singing Let it Go! Let it Go! Don't hold back anymore-ore-ore!) (Thank god for Disney songs, you know?)
Hey! Do you want to hear two stories? I have two stories. One is about stalkers and one is about ghosts, which are kind of like stalkers only friendlier:
Story 1: Stalkers are Gigantic Jackasses.
I have a statcounter on this page. The reason I have a statcounter is because about 11 years ago, I started blogging. I started blogging for many reasons, but the most important thing is that I started blogging. Eleven years ago, blogs were still sort of newish. I'd tell people I had a blog, and they'd go: "A what?? Is that like a big log? A blog? Or are you saying bog? Or dog?"
Nowadays, practically everyone has a blog. Moms have blogs, dads have blogs, kids have blogs, grandmas have blogs, dogs have blogs, gerbils have blogs. But 11 years ago, blogs were kind of like the wild frontier (sort of) of the Internet, and I was headed west. The problem was that I was very naive about blogs, the internet, and human beings in general.
Want to know a secret about me? Mostly, I remain naive about human beings (it never ever fails to shock me when someone I thought was super duper nice and awesome turns out to be malicious--I'd love to think I can suss out someone's character right away, but the sad truth is that I like people; I believe in the inherent goodness of humanity, and if we could all just sit around on long summer evenings singing Kumbayah, I'd be pretty dang happy). I give people 10, 12, 500 chances--well beyond their expiration dates--when they eff up. Because I want to live in a world where people take care of each other, and don't judge, and we're gentle with one another's hearts. (Kumbayah my lord....kumbayah....)
Which is why, 11 years ago, it never occurred to me that someone nefarious might be reading my blog. I'd accrued a following of a whopping 10 people or so--they commented on my stuff, I commented on theirs, etc and so forth. So when I wrote, I wrote to those people: my fans, my tribe, my very astute and totally good taste audience. And I practically drew them a map: here's where I get my hair done, here's my favorite supermarket, here's where I work, here's where I LIVE... come visit me, anytime! Bring duct tape and a hacksaw.
And sure enough, somebody did. Somebody showed up on my (internet) doorstep with his duct tape and a hacksaw. He was going by a mysteriously stupid (I won't repeat here in case he finds me again) internet name...oh, I'll just call him Jackass; that's fairly close to what he called himself anyway. And Jackass's big problem was that (a) he was a Christian fundamentalist and (b) I'd dared to use the gender pronoun "she" when making reference to God in a slew of my blog postings. (Because it's a well documented and scientifically proven fact that God has a penis, of course.)
He also didn't like the fact I wrote about hanging out with my friends. Teachers should go home, put on their appropriate, ankle-length Victorian flannel nightgowns, and sit by the fire with their knitting, an open Bible, and a little cuppa tea. Not go out to restaurants and be silly with girlfriends.
So he threatened to get me fired. I asked him not to do that, but also let him know I didn't think he could. So Jackass stepped up the crazy, set up a very scary blog filled with violent Biblical passages (the Bible: a disturbing piece of literature), and, in a psychotically detailed manner, outlined exactly what he'd like to do to me (slitting a lamb's throat over my unclothed body and then doing dastardly, unwanted things to me in lamb's blood were just part of it all). Because that's EXACTLY what Jesus would do, SO rape-y, that Jesus. I'm sure Jesus' mom Mary would be so proud as well.
I know when to wave the white flag; I'm not dense. So I deleted that blog, blocked his email, and stayed the hell off the internet for a good year, year and a half.
I still get mad when I think about it though. Stalkers make me so mad because seriously. Who are you? Who are you to threaten someone? Who are you to try to have that kind of control over another human being? Stalkers are perfect, stupid examples of how humanity is entirely more than capable of screwing itself off a perfectly good planet.
At any rate, now I have a statcounter. It logs IP addresses, just in case Jackass or his inbred cousins come back; next time I'll go to the police, I suppose. I don't know what the police could do for me, but I don't think stalking is okay.
But the statcounter also freaked me out today, because I do still need a day job even if I completely disagree with how they're doing public education right now. Until I publish my book and Hollywood options it, it gets greenlit, and 200 Hollywood A-listers all appear in the film and Oscar nominations come flooding in, I have bills to pay. (You know that's the only way to strike it rich with a writing career, yes? Yes, you do now. Ask the Twilight series chick--she's still reeling from the heady unreality of it all.)
Story #2: Ghosts Hate Reality TV.
Story number two is for my friend Patresa. Patresa and I met via the blog that Jackass found. Patresa is an amazingly talented human being and a freakishly lovely rock star of a woman (AND she's got great hair!) who I admire and love tremendously. She's a storyteller, too, both in words and music, of the best variety. You can visit her HERE on the internet. She's brilliant. But more importantly, she believes in ghosts and likes ghost stories, and I happen to have one (she demanded, on facebook, that I tell her the story...and so here it is, all for YOU, P-licious!):
It was a dark and stormy night, and Savannah's ghosts were restless. We'd come, a group of eight of us, married and exhausted, to find respite from life's demands...
No! Wait, I'm sorry. That's so 19th century over the top. I'll just cut to the chase: some friends & I went to Savannah for a girls' getaway weekend, about 4 years ago and I got to interact with a ghost.
We stayed in a 100+ year old renovated church. It was lovely. The only problem was, about 3:30 AM, someone would walk down the stairs...and never walk back up.
So here's the thing about this travel girl group: in that group, there are skeptics and believers about ghosts, but we all agree: ghost hunts are fun! And we picked to visit Savannah one summer because, quite frankly, you can't get more haunted in America than Savannah, GA.
On one of our last nights there, I was exhausted. I went to bed early while everyone else stayed up scaring the crapping bejeesus out of each other. I'd gallantly volunteered to sleep on a pullout bed in the sunroom, right underneath a creepy painting with THIS oogy guy staring down at me all night:
|That horn to the right probably belongs to Lucifer.|
But that night, for some odd reason, I was just utterly exhausted, and I didn't care. I flipped Man in the Yellow Hat the bird, and went right to sleep...until 1:45 AM, that is, when I was woken by a loud crash. I laid there, startled...and then it happened AGAIN (do do do!). Well, that was it, readers. I tried to go to back to sleep, but Yellow Hat Man was staring at me with his Beelzebub eyes, and when I heard that! That second crash! Oh. Em. Gee!!! That! THAT was something! Oh my god, did everyone else NOT hear those sounds?? Why are they still asleep?!? For the love of holy, those are the kinds of sounds that send everybody on Ghost Hunters, Ghost Hunters International, Paranormal Activity, and the Exorcist all running right into the poltergeist portal area of the house!!!
So I got up, went into the living room (turning on every single light in the downstairs area), and sat on the sofa. With the TV on. My friend S had a coughing fit about 10 minutes later, came out of her bedroom for some water, and saw me sitting--very very bug-eyed, please know--on the sofa. Desperately trying to distract myself with an episode of Bridezillas (it's all that's on, at 2 in the morning...Bridezillas, infomercials, and Fox "News." Bridezilla reality brides seemed to be the most honest choice of all three of those).
"What are you doing??" she asked.
"Did you not hear that?" I whispered in a "I see ghosts!" kind of voice.
"That...that...CRASH. That was SOMETHING."
(S is one of our skeptics, so this highly amused her, and she went into a coughing fit again.) Recovered, she said, "Oh my god, no. No, Amy! That wasn't a ghost. We were making fun of M, R, and H before we all went to bed, and so C got her shampoo bottle and dropped it from the laundry shoot upstairs after she thought they were about to fall asleep."
The second crash was C making sure M,R, and H heard the first crash. So, no ghost. Just a trickster Skeptic. Frickin' skeptics.
So S got her water, trotted off back to bed, but I was done. Insomnia had set in, and there'd be little sleep for me that night. I watched Bridezillas, an incredibly stupid show about women competing to lose 10+ pounds before their wedding, and Say Yes to the Dress. And I did ponder in my heart on doing a research project about why women are so obsessed with marriage and getting a man, and my feminist heart wept quite a lot that night, wee into the early hours of a gray, Savannah morning. Susan B. Anthony would be outraged if she knew. Those women are exactly what the 19th amendment didn't want to see happen.
Then, about 3:00 AM....stuff....started to happen. That's all I can say to describe it: just, STUFF. Started to happen. Weird pops, lots of creaks, strange rustlings. Thank god for electric lights! Thank god for them. I turned up the television louder. Ghosts hate that you know. I'm pretty sure loud TVs make them run away.
About quarter to four AM, I suddenly heard an old lady's voice say (in the doorway of the kitchen) in a sort of irritated, what-the-hell-is-going-on-here?? kind of way: "Hello? Hello?!?" And then that was it. All the noises stopped, and nobody ever materialized. And I finally fell asleep, funnily enough. (I had a nightmare about an evil bridesmaid in a yellow hat.)
I've told this story to several skeptics. The reaction I get is typically (a) maybe you thought you were awake, but you'd actually fallen asleep and dreamt the whole thing, (b) are you SURE it wasn't something off the tv?, or (c) have you been checked out for schizophrenia?
Listen you people: I was awake, it wasn't the tv (Bridezillas are simply not as polite as my old lady), and I haven't been checked out for schizophrenia, but I'm pretty sure my brother inherited that, not me. In addition, the voice wasn't in my head, it was outside of my head. As if someone (an invisible someone) was standing in the doorway speaking to me. Clear as a bell. Sure as death. As reliable as a politician turning up for a an all-expenses paid golf resort trip with a group of lobbyists in the Caribbean.
We named her Edna. And we spoke friendly words to her for the rest of our stay that weekend: "Hey, Edna! How'd you sleep?" "Want a glass of wine, Edna?" "Edna, did you just take my last tampon? Bad form, lady! Not cool!"
(Oh wait! Also: this one time, when I was living in Yuma, Arizona, a friend won front row tickets to see The Who at The Staples Center in LA and I went with her. We spent the night at a really cheap motel right outside Anaheim, and in the middle of the night, I woke up to see a man in a trench coat hunched over something. He was sitting at the foot of my bed, and for some reason, I just KNEW he had a gun between his legs and was about to pull the trigger. I certainly didn't want to see THAT, so I yanked the covers up over my head and begged God not to let the ghost in a trench coat get up to lean over me or anything or, Jesus Christ!, touch me with a dead finger! And I went back to sleep. I have no idea how I went back to sleep, but somehow I did. Actually, I think I may have just fainted from terror and woken up when sunlight hit my eyelids.)
Ghosts. They walk amongst us, sometimes down stairs like these:
But stalkers are scarier.