Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Sally Jessy Raphael Revenge Fantasy/ The Case of The Disappearing Bully

You know how on talk shows like Sally Jessy Raphael and Ricki Lake and all the other ones, they used to have those "geek to chic" episodes where a school bully would be surprised on the show by a former classmate they used to tease who was now hot and awesome (or, in the case of Jenny Jones, a stripper or porn star)? I used to love that shit. In fact, fantasizing about the day when I would finally appear on one of those episodes was half of what got me through middle school. I knew exactly who I would bring on, too. This girl Rae Ann, who made my life a living hell all through school. She was horrible to everyone, but I was her special project. She hated me for reasons I've never understood, nor do I really want to.

"How could you have been so cruel to this obviously marvelous human being!" Sally Jessy would say.

In this daydream, she'd be there, sitting in the chair, all raggedy and trailer park-y and possibly missing teeth. Still with the spiral perm and tight rolled pants and cruel eyes and stupid pointy face. "I can't possibly imagine who this could be, I was so popular in school!" she would say. And then I would emerge from backstage. She wouldn't recognize me because I wouldn't have braces or the huge gap in my teeth that I had before the braces, I wouldn't have frizzy hair, I wouldn't be backed into a wall on the playground while she and her minions surrounded me, demanding to know why I was wearing bell bottoms when I was not in fact wearing bell bottoms. I would be a GLORIOUS BUTTERFLY, and I would be wearing a long red sequined cocktail dress like Jessica Rabbit, because that is what I thought glamorous people wore all of the time when I was 10. I would be a Broadway Star, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Acclaimed Novelist and Renowned Tireless Advocate for Social Justice! I would tell the whole audience, nay, the whole world, how she had tortured me. How I had hid from her in the ceiling of our sixth grade bathroom to avoid her trying to beat me up. How I spent every day hoping to god she would just leave me alone, and how that never happened, ever. Except for the one time where she told me that I was pretty and could be popular if only I would tight roll my pants and not be so weird all of the time. Sally Jessy would be all like "How can you live with yourself knowing that you destroyed this poor girls childhood! And how do you feel about the fact that she is so much more awesome than you are now?" And the whole audience would cheer for me, and demand that I favor them with a song from my new show. And they would boo her, and maybe throw some rotten vegetables at her or something. She would be filled with such shame, and she would apologize for having made my life a living hell for ten years, and she would beg my forgiveness. I would give it to her. I would even offer to pay to have her teeth fixed, because that would just be the kind of wonderful, gracious person I was.

Feel free to listen to this while you read for the full effect.

I don't fantasize about that anymore. Because I am an adult now and would feel pretty weird about going on a TV show to brag about how awesome I've become. Also, I think bullying is shitty whether you grow up to become a glorious beautiful butterfly or not. For the most part, I am also pretty much over the whole Carrie Without The Telekinetic Powers era of my life. I mean, there was definitely some PTSD going on for a while. There were things that I thought and ways that I dealt with things that were a direct result of all of that. Some of them were good, like the fact that I am always very concerned that people feel included and important. I've made some great friends that way. Some of them were not so good, like the fact that it took me a very long time to accept that people who were my friends were not going to turn around one day and yell "Psych!" at me. On my more depressive days, the well that I go to is still that everyone must secretly hate me. The hardest thing to get over was this idea I had that there was something deeply wrong with me that everyone could see but that I would never be able to understand. Like the whole world was keeping some secret about how terrible I was, and I was so awful that they wouldn't even deign to tell me. A lot of that is because I never really understood how or why I had become a target in the first place. When you're a target,  it's like every single thing you do is wrong, is something people will make fun of you for. Anything you do is wrong simply because you're the one doing it. It's horrible, and it can make you insanely paranoid. 

That being said, I've searched for her for years. I've googled to no avail. I've asked people about her, and no one has any idea what became of her. Hell, they don't even know if she graduated with them (I moved to Rochester when I as 15). She's not on Facebook, though I can hardly blame her. I imagine if she did have one she'd be constantly inundated with messages from people like me. I wonder about what happened to her a lot. I wonder if she's still cruel. I wonder if she is locked up in a mental institution, driven insane by the guilt. I wonder if she pissed off the wrong person and ended up in WITSEC. It used to be because I needed to know why. I had this thing in my head, telling me if I could just understand why it happened, why I was a target, then I could fix it all. I always had a really hard time believing that people were assholes "just because", probably because my mom had me read The Diary of Anne Frank in 2nd Grade and if Anne Frank could believe that everyone was really good at heart, than how could I not think that? After all, I was just some girl who got picked on in school! I wasn't being hunted by Nazis. Who was I to not think everyone was good at heart? And if everyone was really good at heart, then they just must have had a had a reason for hating me that they wouldn't disclose to me, because it was *that* terrible, that shameful, and that awful. I realize now that this is faulty logic, I realize now that sometimes there just aren't reasons, but hell, I was a kid, not a logician. 

I don't feel like I need to know why anymore. I doubt I'd ever get a satisfactory answer, in fact, I doubt that there is one, and even if there was, I doubt that I would give even really give a shit. Growing up and meeting other people who have gone through this, whom I find nothing deeply, inherently wrong with, is sort of what made me realize that. In fact, almost every kick ass person I know was bullied as a kid. Also, realizing that I will never go through something like that again, but that I did, and that I survived, is also pretty awesome. I know that it wasn't just her doing the bullying, it was a lot of people. It was also the people who never said anything. Hell, in a way it was some of my "friends" who were only willing to hang out with me in secret, outside of school, for fear of getting taunted themselves. But a part of me will always be dying to know what ever became of her. I will probably Google her name once every few months for the rest of my life. There will still probably be days when I lie in bed and daydream up a letter to her, admonishing her for all that childhood cruelty. Hell, there will probably still be days when I have my Sally Jessy Raphael revenge fantasy. It will always feel like some strange unsolved mystery to me, it will always hang over my head in one way or another- because no matter how "over it:" I am, this girl still played a huge part in who I am today, both good and bad, and I will probably always want some sort of closure, whatever that is. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Delusions For Everybody!

So, here are two things you can know about me right now- I have not posted anything about my personal self on the internet in a few years for the same reason I have actually been avoiding the crap out of any dude that I feel may not promptly disappear after a few weeks. As previously mentioned, I had a stalking incident involving this very blog, and even thought it wasn't that bad, I never fully recovered. I didn't realize that I'd been seriously avoiding men until last night when I got a message from Rick Astley and felt sick to my stomach.
Get it? Rick Astley? Never Gonna Give You Up?

Rick Astley was not my stalker. He's just this sort of clueless dude that stuff happened with a few times by accident SEVERAL YEARS AGO who does not seem to realize (despite my ignoring him for three years) that I am not interested in him. It's not a big deal, he's not a jerk, I should not feel "threatened" in anyway. Of course, I feel completely threatened because I always have that lingering fear that a dude is going to go all Glenn Close on me again. 

However, I need to get the fuck over all of this. Now that I have come to terms with what my crazy is, I can just go ahead and stop it. 

Now that THAT'S dealt with, let me tell you about last night.

I work at a fancy ass restaurant. Last night, at said fancy ass restaurant, a lady came in wearing only a bra, a cardigan, tights and a sheer lace skirt. Not a fancy bra, mind you, but like, the same sort of t-shirt bra that I was wearing UNDERNEATH MY CLOTHES. Like a sucker. Or an Amish person. One of those things. She was all kinds of nonchalant about the fact that she was out at a fancy restaurant, on a Wednesday, in her underwear. Because why shouldn't she be? 

I was a little jealous, honestly. I've had no less than fifty seven panic attacks this week over the fact that I am obviously a hideous monster and the fact that everyone secretly hates my guts and all of my friends are just humoring me out of pity. Every time I leave the house, I want to die/ just run back to the bell tower and sob and pet my cat and eat Nutella out of the jar as the good lord intended. Before you get all "OH NO GIRL, YOU ARE LOVELY AND EVERYONE LOVES YOU AND YOU ARE OBVIOUSLY JUST FISHING FOR COMPLIMENTS" on me, I should tell you that I am cognitively aware that these things are not true and also that I am totally uncomfortable with compliments and would therefore never fish for them. It's just that I've got this wacky pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder thing that makes me feel like they're true for a few days each month. It's fucking horrible

But something about the naked lady caused me to snap out of it. So, you know, thanks, naked lady!

So anyway, AFTER work I go to the bar next door to my apartment because obviously I need a goddamned drink, and I need to tell people about the naked lady. Obviously. And obviously, I end up in a conversation with some random dude about privilege systems, because that is just apparently how I roll. That's my comfort zone, I guess. 

It came up because he was talking about how he was homeless at one point and, um, was mad because a random black person yelled something out of a car at him one time? I don't know, it sounded like he made it up. Anyway, the gist of his story was the fact that said black person didn't realize that he wasn't white. 

"I am pretty sure you're white." I said, being that he was a white guy and all.

"I'm not white and neither are you", he tells me. I stare at my pasty ass arm. 


He then goes on some diatribe about how we're Italian and thus descended from Moors and thus not white. Which is actually not even true (sorry, you can't believe everything you hear in Quentin Tarantino movies...), and even if it were, it would not matter because no one is sitting around contemplating our ancestral history before deciding whether or not we get to benefit from white privilege. That is not how it works. That is just not how anything works. 

Because I have poor judgement, don't realize when I'm talking to a dumb person, and also probably just like to hear myself talk, I think I went on for about five minutes trying to explain Sociology 101 to this idiot. I am pretty sure that at one point I yelled "Race is a social construction!" into the night.

This whole "Italians are not white" thing is only something I've heard since moving to Chicago. Maybe because there are fewer of us here? I don't know. I mean, sure, some people here totally think that any relative I mention with a vaguely ethnic sounding name is DEFINITELY in the mob, and will give me knowing looks to that effect, but that is merely hilarious. That is not systemic oppression of any kind. 

So what fantastic moral lesson did I learn last night? I learned that everyone is fucking delusional in their own special way. If I am going to be delusional, I want to be delusional like the underwear girl was. I want to be that kind of delusional. Because I bet she's really happy and feels great about herself always. We should all be so lucky to be that kind of crazy. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Is This The Weirdest Crisis Pregnancy Center Ever?

Ok, so, here I am, going about my own business, Googling around to see what sort of crazy crap the Republicans are pulling *today* regarding our collective vaginas, when LOW AND BEHOLD, an advertisement for an organization called "My Choice Chicago" stating, and I quote, "Abortion Chicago Free- It's Your Choice: "You May Not Need An Abortion! Free Ultrasound and Test". 

I had to "re-google" a couple other things to find it again, but please note that 2/3 of the ads in search results for "Abortion Free Chicago" are for CPC's

Though I am loathe to click on such an advertisement, for fear that said click will result in some kind of implicit endorsement of something shady, my curiosity got the better of me. Why, oh why, oh WHY might one not *need* an abortion? Inquiring minds, bitches.

Obviously, My Choice Chicago is one of those "Crisis Pregnancy Centers". If you are not familiar, Crisis Pregnancy Centers are unbelievably shady organizations that pretend to be abortion clinics, but then when a woman shows up looking to obtain an abortion, they attack her with a barrage of crazypants anti-choice lies and try to talk her out of it. There are also several instances in which these organizations have lied to women (either by telling them they're not pregnant in the first place, or by repeatedly "delaying" their "appointment" for an abortion) in order to put them off until the abortion would no longer be legal. Amazingly, these centers are funded by your tax dollars. Which is incredibly frustrating given the huge cuts to organizations that provide actual health services to women. Here are the results of a study NARAL did a while back on 15 different CPC's:

■ 73% of the CPCs investigated repeated the false claim that there
is a link between abortion and an increased risk of developing
breast cancer.
■ 87% of CPCs investigated advised that abortion will lead to severe
mental health problems.
■ 67% highlighted a link between future infertility and abortion
either through personal stories, pamphlets distributed at the CPC
or through their website. In addition, 75% of CPCs investigated
suggested a link between abortion and future miscarriages.
■ One CPC lists their position on abortion explicitly on their
website. For other CPCs, it is only after a woman arrives in-person
at the CPC that their true bias is disclosed.
■ None of CPCs investigated refer women for birth control. In
fact, 67% provided misleading information regarding the risks
associated with birth control and 60% provided medically
inaccurate information about Emergency Contraception (EC).
■ Based on research by NPCMF, the majority (87%) of CPC representatives
were medically untrained volunteers.

So, yeah. Your tax dollars at work! In the few instances in which there has been some kind of legislation to prevent these organizations from lying to women, they have insisted that it is their "first amendment right" to do so. Which is gross. It hasn't worked, but it's still gross. 

So what's different about My Choice Chicago? Remember that little blurb about "You may not need an abortion"?

Well, guess why? On their website is a darling collection of "statistics" stating that 1 in 4 pregnancies will just end in miscarriage anyway! Which, duh, is not true- only 10% of pregnancies are likely to end in miscarriage after the first missed period. But, they are more than happy to provide "testing" to see if you are one of those lucky women who don't need an abortion because the pregnancy will likely end in a miscarriage.

(This is from the Nevada branch, I couldn't find an image for the Chicago one, but it's the exact same thing)

Why, oh why, do I have this sinking feeling that any woman who walks in there looking to get an abortion will be deemed "likely to miscarry" regardless of the actual health of the fetus? Does anyone know a pro-choice, newly pregnant woman who wants to do an undercover investigation? There can be trench coats!

As it turns out, "My Choice Chicago" is part of a much larger network of CPC's called "Enlightened Woman Centers"- all of which have the "You don't need an abortion! You're just going to miscarry anyway!" angle. Do I even have to elaborate on how disturbing that is? Especially because I think we can all understand that not having to go through serious invasive surgery, or pay for said invasive surgery, might seem like bit of a relief. Surgery is scary! I'm still to scared of it to have a breast reduction! I can completely understand why someone might find this appealing on some level, despite how traumatic (and painful, and possibly dangerous) a miscarriage would be. 

Once you get to the fine print, the organization does not state that any of its centers (there are three of them in the Chicago area) actually provide abortions. Which I suppose is a plus. However, the rest of the site seems to explicitly use "pro-choice", kinda feministy language ("It's your choice! This is what Roe v. Wade said! Yay women!), which to me seems intentionally misleading. Not to mention the "Free Abortions!" ad on Google. 

I find this particular CPC far more disturbing than any other I have come across. The likely result of telling women they are going to miscarry when they will not is not only unwanted children, but unwanted, possibly unhealthy children- given the fact that a woman who believes she will miscarry will likely not get the necessary medical treatment. How these people sleep at night is beyond me.