The Yarn: My Story

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At Sloan, we have something called the Yarn. Once a month, 5-6 speakers from the community are chosen to share a story of deep importance to them. Some are funny, some make others cry, but either way they allow us to connected by sharing deeper parts of ourselves. Here is a link to some previous talks if you are interested.

Being someone who enjoys talking about herself, I’ve been throwing my hat in the ring every month since school started. This last go-around, I was chosen to tell my story. What I didn’t realize until the night of was that it was an all ladies night. I especially appreciated that (it just so happened to work out that way).

For some reason, I wanted to take the easy way out. I wanted to read a few excerpts from my book to give a glimpse into my childhood. Luckily, I met with one of the organizers to do a dry-run when she asked “why read something you’ve written rather than just telling the stories from your heart?” I realized I had become a little too fond of the work I had put into developing them and didn’t want to change it. But, the truth is, I’m good in situations like those and stories are so much better when told rather than read. Ultimately, I decided to tell the same stories, which also gave me more ability to read the room and adjust on the fly.

I requested to be the first to speak because I get pretty nervous if I have to sit in anticipation. I got up, told my story, and the entire time my arms got beet red from the nerves. Or maybe it was the bright lights. Yes, we’ll go with the bright lights.

Afterwards, a lot of people came up to me and thanked me for telling my story. It was really nice to get the feedback and everyone mentioned they are excited to read the book. At least 10 people told me they’d buy it, which means I only need to lock in about 999,990 more to have a chance at a book deal, right?

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These are the excerpts I was going to read. The first is the opening of the book, and the second describes a situation that occurred during 3rd grade.

“Katie, it’s all over. Everything. It’s done. The shit is hitting the fan here, it’s all over.” This was all Pat could say before his phone was taken away. I was sitting on the second floor in the Campus Center at school. It was my sophomore year of college and I was meeting with a tutor I had hired for help with my multivariable calculus class.

It’s strange, getting a call like that in a place that feels so safe. It was dinnertime and there was a lot of commotion on the floor below. I always preferred to sit near the balcony because it is so easy for me to daze out when I watched everyone else. I practically lived in that building my four years at Macalester. It was the center of life on campus, and because the student government offices also resided there, the center of my life.

My tutor was a fellow calculus student. She was extremely smart and really nice, if not a bit of an outcast, so one day after class I bashfully approached her and asked her to help me study. I quickly offered to pay her for her time, knowing that succeeding in this class would be more valuable to me than any money I could throw at her. I also think I felt comfortable approaching her because of the fact that she was a little over weight. As much as I hate to admit it, I don’t have the highest self esteem at times and approaching someone who was “below me” made me more comfortable.

Tonight wasn’t about that though. I was no longer concerned about getting all of my calculus homework done or even doing well on the quiz the next day. I had to, once again, step in to worry about, and take care of, my mother.

Yet, I had nothing to go off of. I knew nothing really, other than shit was “over.” What did that even mean? I packed up all of my belongings and rushed out of the building. I had no idea where to go- where does one go in situations like this? I couldn’t go “home,” if home even existed anymore. After a brisk walk across the campus on what had been, and I guess still was, a beautiful autumn day, I ultimately found myself outside my best friends’ dorm room.

I first met Devin and Mollie the week before classes started during orientation. It was a simmering late August day and without air conditioning, I was melting. Their dorm room door was open and on the inside, there was a fan. I hesitated for a moment, but then walked in and introduced myself. “Hi, I’m Katie and I’m melting – can I sit in front of your fan?” I pressed ahead before Mollie even had time to respond. By the chuckle she let out, I knew it was going to be fine. “I’m Mollie,” she replied, “it is nice to meet you.”

Mollie reminds me of a character I would read about in a children’s book. She has beautiful, brown curly hair, a kind smile, and a style that would make you feel comfortable leaving your kids with her for the evening. In fact, I instantly trusted her as I walked in her room that hot summer day.

After a few minutes of small talk and sitting spread eagle on the floor in front of a whizzing fan, Mollie’s roommate walked in and gave me a look that conveyed “what the hell are you doing spread eagle on my floor?” Mollie, seeing that I was at a loss for words, chimed in “This is Katie, she lives across the hall.” Devin let out an exasperated breath and I skedaddled out of there without much more than a “goodbye!” Let’s just say, this was the better of my first impressions that introductory week of college. The next interaction we had went a lot better. As a petite, blonde jewish girl from Wisconsin, Devin surprised me with her love of The Simpsons, a mutual obsession.

By the time I got to their room, tears were pouring from my eyes and I was in a deep state of panic. I couldn’t make out any words and I couldn’t decide how, or if, I wanted to tell them. Yes, something bad was going on at home, but home and school don’t mix. My life at college was in no way connected to my life at home and bridging that gap could have disastrous effects. But, what could be worse than what I was already facing?

I don’t know how long I sat on their futon hyperventilating. Mollie was sitting next to me trying to console me while Devin was handing me a continuous supply of Kleenex. I had spent just as much time in their room as I had in my own, so I definitely felt comfortable there. I knew I couldn’t be alone, but at the same time I hated ruining their evening. They were both good kids, working hard on homework, and here I was messing it all up.

I eventually began to talk.

“For as long as I can remember… my mom has sold drugs,” I said. They listened intently, with supportive and encouraging demeanors. “I just got a call from Pat and I have no idea what it means or what even happened, but he was crying. He said it was all over and the cops were there.” From what I could discern, my house was being raided. I knew it wasn’t a joke because I had heard the cops voice, but other than that I had no more information to go off. I did not know who specifically was there, why it happened (rather, what specifically set it off), or where all my closest family was.

Suddenly, as quickly as I had entered their room, I now needed to leave. I felt cloister phobic and I needed to yell. I needed to run and scream and cry. What I wanted was for someone to understand. Mollie and Devin were my best friends, but they came from such different families. They had perfect upbringings, parents who loved each other, enforced boundaries, and above all else, stability and security. How could they possibly understand what I was going through? How I felt like everything had been pulled from underneath me?

I thought talking to Alice might help. Alice was another close friend of mine, but unlike others, she had seen things in life. I knew that her father had struggled with alcoholism and that her family had their own faults. Mollie didn’t want me to leave alone, so her and Devin walked me over to Alice’s room.

I managed to stop crying as we walked through the buildings and underground tunnels. Often a blessing, Macalester is a small campus in St. Paul, MN. Tunnels and skyways connect a majority of the building to protect us in harsh winters. Today though, the smallness was suffocating and I didn’t want everyone to see me crying.

Once outside Alice’s room, we knocked a few times but got no answer. Eventually I just tried the knob and luckily it was unlocked. Alice was actually just sleeping on her bed. It was still relatively early, seven pm or so, so we tried to wake her up. She was groggy but was able to look up and recognize that we were in the room.

“What…? Huh? What do you guys want? I’m sleeping,” she said, clearly not happy to see us there.

“My mom has been arrested and I don’t know where to go or what to do,” I pleaded with her, hoping she would know the right thing to say.

“That sucks…” was all she managed to grumble before she passed out again. We learned later that she had taken a few pills and really had no recollection of us even coming in.

So there I was. 19 years old, just trying to make something of myself. My mom had just been arrested for drug dealing (I presumed) and I had no one to turn to. Alice was right, it did suck.


Before long, I realized something was going on downstairs. A combination of others talking in hushed voices and me always being asked where I was going if I went into the basement, clued me in. I started hanging out downstairs more, hoping to pick up on what was happening. Mark basically lived down there, playing video games or watching wrestling. Him and I became close during that time, and I developed a crush on Lara Croft.

My ploy worked like a charm. Every few hours, someone would come downstairs and enter the closet underneath the stairs. Sometimes there was a light glowing from inside and other times there was not. Once I saw inside, I realized what a dipshit I had been; weeks before, I found a roll of super awesome metallic wrapping paper that I wasn’t even allowed to touch. I thought they were just being selfish with the wrapping paper (something I understood) until I finally saw inside the closet. The walls were lined with it!

Let’s be honest; I wasn’t an idiot. The instant I looked in the closet, saw the lamps and the soil, I knew what was going on. Even though I was never explicitly told, I knew I was never to talk about what I saw in there.

So, a few months later when social services pulled me out of class, I knew what to say. The woman was really nice. She told me who she was, said she had received concerns about things going on, and just wanted to check in on me. As warm as she was towards me though, I knew she was the enemy. I knew that if anything happened to my mom or if anyone found out about certain stuff, she would take me away from my home.

The initial questions were harmless on the surface “does your mom have friends over a lot?” But I knew what she was digging for, and even though I knew how I had to answer, I was scared as shit that she would be able to see through it.

“I know she recently moved in with a man,” she began, “did you know Mark long before he moved in?” Of course I didn’t know him long, we had only lived in Minneapolis a few months “yeah,” I answered, “I’ve known Mark for a while now and I’m really happy he moved in with us.”

“How are things going living with another person now?” was her next question. “Well, even though it has basically been my mom and I forever, I’m used to having people live with us, like my cousins and stuff. So, it wasn’t weird for me.”

Soon her questions became more direct, “do you ever have bad dreams about Mark?” Instantly I got a knot in the pit of my stomach. Yes, in fact, I had been having really bad dreams lately, scary things about Mark. How did she know that? Was I being that obvious with my lies? “No, of course not, I like Mark a lot,” was all I could muster.

Next she went back to my mom. “Does your mom work at all?” Crap. This one through me for a curve ball. She didn’t work, but employment is more verifiable. Plus, it is illegal to work and not report it, so, even if she was working under the table she would get into trouble. “No, Mark has been really great and helps my mom out when she can’t find work.” Seemed… reasonable… no?

If you knew my mom, it most definitely did not. But I was banking on this woman being a stranger and not really knowing the ins and outs of who my family was.

“Does your mom like to garden?” was her next angle. “No, she hates plants. Once I got her an aloe vera plant for mother’s day and she managed to kill that thing in months!” I thought that by adding more context it would help sell my story. “Have you ever seen plants growing inside?” was the last of her questions. “No, I’ve never seen any plants.”

At the end, she gave me her business card and told me I could call her anytime if I ever needed something. I knew damn well I didn’t need that card though. So, the second I was brought back to the classroom, I took the card and flipped it into the trash. I remember thinking how bad ass I was doing that, like, I was protecting the family and no one could break me.

That evening, when I got home, my mom and Mark were already fighting about it. After visiting me at school, the social worker went to my home. Mark was the only one there at the time because he had weird work hours. This time, they didn’t even worry that I was listening. Turns out, one of my mom’s friends got upset with her because she had cut her off. So, in order to get back at my mom, she called social services. My mom vowed to never deal with the woman again, she was hysterical. She was never really concerned about herself, but as soon as anything affected me, her precious baby, she couldn’t hold back.

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2014 Wrap Up

I haven’t written in what I would describe as a long-ass-time. Ideally I would blame this all on having the hectic life of a business school student. However, this is simply not the case. First and foremost, I have just as much free time as I did while working my corporate gig. Although, now I’m in Boston which is lovely and daunting at the same time. Second, not writing was actually a conscious decision rather than something that just sort of happened.

One thing that happens in business school is you are introduced to hundreds of successful, brilliant, beautiful people. Somehow, it seems like most everyone else has things figured out, yet I am still floundering around. Soon, I began to question the “me” others saw. Was I too perceived to be smart and awesome? Or, was I sort of a nerdy introvert who wandered in off the street? I thought a lot about first impressions, and lasting ones too. When I first met people, did they want to get to know me more? Once they knew me, did they feel they could rely on me and did they have a desire to work with me in the future?

Interestingly, my communications professor described business school as a time to experiment and test out new styles. While liberating to an extent, testing out new things on people who will make up an extremely valuable network seemed… risky. Could my openness to the world about depression, my family, and other struggles make me weaker in the eyes of others? Probably, and I’m not writing today because I somehow stumbled upon all the answers. I’m writing because I realized that writing is an imperative characteristic of who I am, and getting feedback from others is just as crucial.

In September, I had penned the following:

Today was my first day of orientation. In a lot of ways, it was overwhelming. So many people, so much going on. I did realize however, that I need to let things go. I have a tendency to let small things bother me and I let them impact me in a larger way than any normal being would. Example number 1: the lady in front of me on our bus ride back from rafting this weekend reclined her seat. Not only did it jab into my knees, and I’m not that tall of a girl, but she was in the front and therefore had nearly unlimited space otherwise. Instead of politely asking her to move her seat, or ignoring it all together, I sulked for the next 2 hours until she moved to the back. Am I just overly reactive to small annoyances or do I have a complete tendency to avoided conflict?

Example 2: today we had our first class. It wasn’t an official class, but a first class nonetheless. At this point, we were already divided into our cohorts, meaning I was in the room with the 60+ others I will be attending class with for the next full semester. Every. Class. Next to me, a woman sat texting on her phone for literally the full hour and a half. Maybe a normal person could have ignored it, somehow tuned it out. I, however, was completely distracted by it. Things to say to her kept rushing through my head – “are you even paying attention?” “Are you not interested in this subject?” “Can you please put that away, it’s really distracting for me.”

I posted it here to highlight the difficulty of public self-reflection. The note was meant to be about me and how I deal with stuff. However, given the nature of my program and the fact that I share so much of myself online with people who may be mentioned, I risk offending others. This is never my intention and is just something I’ll need to continue to be mindful of as I press on writing.

To quickly summarize the last 4 months, let me just say and Joe and I are now engaged. I don’t plan on this being a wedding blog, but I will share the story of how it happened. After finally settling in to our new home, Joe and I decided to host a housewarming party. It was scheduled for Saturday December 13th, and the evening before we were just going to have a nice dinner with friends before going home to wrap up the final touches on the apartment.

When I arrived at the restaurant to meet Joe and the other couple, I was surprised to be handed a note from the matri de. All it said was “Jump in the Uber waiting for you outside. Love, Joe.” I nervously approached the black car and once I was inside, I called Joe to confirm I wasn’t in fact being abducted. Soon I could tell we were headed to the harbor.

I arrived at a boat that was beautifully lit in the Boston night sky. On board we just Joe, and I private table for two. We set sail and sat down for dinner and had a beautiful evening and in my cupcake dessert was the ring! I obviously said yes.

After that, we went back to the apartment and SURPRISE! All of my family had been flown in to celebrate with us. Good thing I didn’t say no.

Just kidding. None of that happened to us. Joe proposed while we were looking at Christmas lights around Boston (a holiday tradition of ours). We were walking down Commonwealth Avenue, which has a pedestrian median lined on both sides by huge trees. The trees were covered from trunk to tip in white Christmas lights and it looked like an infinite archway that clearly went on for blocks. He moved into it by readdressing a conversation we had been in the night before: if we got married, what last name would we go with? I was a little dead on the subject so I slightly zoned out and because I was getting cold, suggested we turn around. We were coming to the end of the block and there was a big statue at the end that we looped around. I wanted to read it so I stopped and it just happened to be a memorial for firemen that were killed many years ago. I was all like “oohh that’s so sad!” when I heard Joe summarize “and that’s why I want to marry you.” Then he took out the ring and asked “Will you marry me?”

I was definitely surprised. I think I just hugged him for a minute and then said “yes” and then tried on the most beautiful ring I have ever seen. We started to walk back because we had a dinner reservation but I think I was a little overwhelmed and made us stop to sit on a bench. I sat and hugged him and smiled and may have even cried a little, but chances are he was the one crying. Just sayin’.

We had a delicious dinner at a joint in the Four Seasons. Joe had reserved a table overlooking Boston Commons and it was just perfect.

(Regarding the fake story: this was actually a proposal story of a close friend that Joe had the dumb idea to tell me about as we walked to the restaurant. Really, Joe, you think that was the best time? I now like to throw him under the bus with it every now and again…)

We walked home and debated whether to tell people right away or maybe wait for Christmas (we’d be leaving in just a week). The excitement took over and right when we got home we started calling people.

First, it was my mom. We both sat on the couch with my phone set to speaker. Once it started ringing I got nervous and said “you have to tell her.” So she answered, we both said our hellos and then Joe went into it “Well, Sandy, I asked your daughter to marry me tonight.”

— Twenty second of silence — we thought we might have dropped her.

Finally, “… and what did she say?”

Joe clarified by stating I did in fact agree to marry him.

— Twenty more seconds of silence —

“Is she pregnant?” asked my mom in a way that I should have expected but threw Joe off guard.

In the end, it was a beautiful night and I’m excited to marry my best friend such a hot piece of ass.

Why I read Elliot Rodger’s Memoir

Tragic events always hit me hard. Whether it is the movie theater shooting or something as horrific as the Boston Marathon bombing, my mind is consumed by the terrible pain the families of all involved must be feeling [I just published this previously unreleased draft, written right after the Newtown shooting]. I question what brings a person to do such a thing, I ask how their life was so different from my own and others who live non-violent lives. I wonder how it could have been avoided in any way. Are there signs that people missed? The recent story of a boy in southern Minnesota is one such case in which a disaster was thwarted, which means people can see things and speak up. Yet terrible things continue to happen…

Trying to find answers to so many of these questions, I continue to read the articles and follow the updates. This University of California Santa Barbara shooting is like nothing we’ve seen in recent times (aka, my adult life). Not only is there video that gives us a peak into his mind but there is also a memoir of his life that may shed some light on how this tragedy came to be.

I hoped that reading the story would help show how some people end up so damn fucked up. Sadly, it didn’t.

At the beginning, I found many ways that I connected with the younger Elliot. He was never popular in school, he wanted to be liked, etc., and how many other people feel this same way? Having a similar experience in school, how did I turn out differently? At the same time though, he always blamed others for his misfortunes. Even in school when he got in trouble he would blame it on the other kid, thinking it was their doing. In effect, I think he truly believed that everything was happening *to* him, rather than him having an active role in his own life.

At age four, he blamed his inability to swing on physical limitation, and this along with his shortness are things he believed always stifled him. Even at a young age, everything was just handed to him and this caused him to take everything for granted, and actually caused him to believe that these things were needs rather than just desires. His NEED for Pokemon cards was only fair, he NEEDED cool clothes and instantly they were delivered.

Another example of the world being utterly unfair to him, and therefore deserving of retribution, was his inability to become a professional skateboarder. He practiced for an entire year!

While I understand his feelings of loneliness, I truly believe he has no ability to feel empathy. He saw himself as an all-deserving man, tortured by women and anyone else that had things he could not.

Another curious element was that he was extremely revolted by sex. At age fourteen, he caught a glimpse at porn and the fact that humans did this was horrific to him. Even as he aged into his early twenties, the idea of sex was “vile.” But then what drove him to believe that sex was his right and something that women “owed him?” Why was it something he desired more than anything else? He repeatedly claimed that no women would give him a chance, but because he was unable to have any conversation with someone new, let alone a girl, I find it hard to believe anything would escalate to sex on the timeline he desired… by the end of the first day.

As I got to the end of the book, I became completely shocked by his beliefs. “Women are incapable of reason or thinking rationally,” and “women are the main instigators of sex.” He truly felt that women should be abolished, and spoke of having a concentration camp filled with women and from his tower he would watch them all starve to death because if he couldn’t have them, no one could…

From a young age, he sought therapy. He had psychiatrists and counselors that he saw on a regular basis. He had caring parents and friends that knew his true feelings – it is shocking that everything came to this.

In the end, reading this didn’t make me feel any better and it was naive to think it would. Not only am I now more scared to face the world because of a deeper understanding of the kinds of people out there, I don’t see a solution to a problem such as this when therapy and medication didn’t work. Should he have been hospitalized? And to what end?

How did he come to have these beliefs and what could be changed so that they don’t continue on in society? He described very little of his relationship with his mother, other than that they were close. He has a deep hatred for her though, because she wouldn’t marry rich so that he could have everything he desired because money = sex with blondes. I have so many questions about how to tackle this, because at some point we need to accept that what we are doing is not enough.

Mother’s Day Reflections

The cloudy weather and non-stop rain really does a number on me. As does Mother’s Day because I kind of hate the holiday. Not because I hate my mother, I don’t, I love her dearly, but I also don’t have the relationship with her that I want. I’m not blaming anyone else for this but me. At 25 years old I still haven’t accepted my mother for the woman she is and even though I’ve come a long way I haven’t come all the way.

I look on Facebook and I see everyone posting pictures of their mother’s and it makes me wonder what a normal mother/daughter relationship looks like, if one even exists. What is it that I’m missing from my relationship with my mother and is there anything I can do to take steps towards that? What is it that I am expecting?

As I’m currently watching The Wire, I can safely say my mom is Jimmy McNulty. He does things all the time that are destructive and make you just want to shake your head and say “fucking McNulty” but even though he isn’t a favorite character you still have to love him because he is a main character. And yet, I find myself more accepting of Jimmy than my own mother maybe because its just a TV show and not real life.

Then Eminem went and posted this video so it is Tuesday morning and I’m teary eyed wishing the sun would shine.

Joe, my Significant Other

So Joe will be joining the SO (significant other) club at MIT. Mainly because he is awesome, but also because we both think it will help with the transition for him to have connections too. We were chatting about housing when Joe says “oh, that reminds me, I’ve gotta reach out to the SO group!” because he is just that proactive.

So then he started researching them online a little bit more… He realized that the entire board is literally just women. He found on their website reference to events “Favorite SOS events: scavenger hunt and mani-pedi.” and all he could say was “This could be interesting.”

I suggested he could use a pedi though, which he totes could. I’m sure that there are more men involved with the club, just not at the board level though. That’s my guess.

Anyway, Joe is perfect and I’m excited that he is excited about Boston and actively looking for ways to participate in the things I’ve got going on. And create his own stuff so that when I’m busy and traveling the world I don’t have to worry about him getting bored.

In other news, my mother is staying with us this week. I’ve also realized that I don’t write as much when I’m not drinking (February was relatively successful!), but now that it is March maybe things will pick up again.

 

Immunity Necklace

Growing up, when ever I did something bad but felt so guilty I needed to tell my mom, I would ask for an immunity necklace. She would always grant me one, I’d tell her what I did wrong, and we would move on. Once and a while I’d get a sigh or a short lecture, but I think she valued my openness more than anything. Also, clearly I knew I had done something bad if I was asking for an immunity necklace in the first place… maybe she always felt I learned from my own mistakes. Which I did. Usually.

Then there are other times when you think about telling someone about something that you did. You play it through your head a hundred times. “How will they react? Mad? Indifferent?” “How much ‘cute’ should I lay on him?” Until finally it just comes out. Other times, you tell him in a blog post, like I just-so-happened to do with Joe when we were first dating. (See: An okay day in corporate land).

Which brings us to the today, where I need to tell someone something I’ve done. It isn’t bad. In fact, I think it is really awesome. But I’m nervous about it because I’m buying a condo and apparently I should be more fiscally responsible. Plus, it is probably mostly Joe’s fault anyway for even getting me started on twitter in the first place.

So what did I do? I backed a kickstarter. A kick-ass kickstarter. I backed the Veronica Mars Movie. [This is where Joe says to himself, “but Kate, I already knew you backed it, you told me yesterday”]. Now that I’m a “backer” though… I get all the update emails. Including the one that said they released more/new rewards for backers, including tickets to the movie premiere and after party. And luck would have it, that since I was at the gym like a good girl because I promised Joe I would go, I was on my iPad and saw the email come in right away.

On my sprint/slow walk back carefully, carefully considering what I was about to do… I tried calling Joe. Just to like, run it by him. But, he didn’t answer. And then I remembered I’m a big girl and don’t need to ask permission. So, in what some may call the heat of the moment, I pledged for that reward and am damn sure proud of it.

Toys for Tots

I’ve always loved Christmas. And my birthday. Mostly just winters in general because all of the best holidays fall within it. I think it boils down to the fact that I love to celebrate. Whether it is Easter or my best friend’s birthday – I’m first to arrive and the last to leave.

Which is why it was such a shock for me to learn that Easter actually falls on a Sunday. The Bunny always came on Monday evening – why on earth would he come so late? Same with Valentine’s Day. We always celebrated on the 15th. Totally normal, right?

Wrong.

My mother created this lovely illusion that holidays’ fell after they actually did. What sounds terrible from the eye of an onlooker, was really joy in the eye of a child. Anything on a discount meant I got that much more. 20% off? 20% more! 70% clearance candy? Yes, I will have 70% more please.

So, when “santa” came a couple days after Christmas, I wasn’t even taken aback. I got a few great gifts – fake barbie dolls and a few coloring books. But… why was Christmas coming for a second time? Hadn’t Santa already left the loot?

Somehow I knew that it was really Toys for Tots bringing me my presents. But, Toys for Tots didn’t mean anything to me. Sure, we were on welfare and sure, I was in a single parent household… but… does that warrant free Christmas gifts?

To this day I struggle with it. I feel so less deserving than kids that truly grow up in rough times… Yet, I didn’t grow up in a basket of roses. Was Toys for Tots created for children like me? Am I really the target audience?

just a bully

Trigger warning: depression and suicide

When I was in middle school, I was bullied. Others perceived me as being a lesbian and “weird”, both of which were at odds with the small-town-Minnesota community I was in. Multiple times I went to the counselor’s office and eventually spoke to the principal to make the mean kids stop. Each time, I was told to “avoid them” or “ignore them.” Whether or not they were ever spoken to, I’m not sure, but I do know the effects on my mental psyche were huge.

I went to a therapist to talk through some of the issues. I was pretty sure I was straight, but I thought maybe everyone at school was right. Did they see something I didn’t know? My mom telling me “it would be easier if you were a lesbian! Men suck,” didn’t help. But neither did being a 13 year old girl.

The worse part was feeling so alone. I was new to town and didn’t have friends I could confide in. Finding notes on the floor that talked about how “dirty and gross Katie is” told me that yes, in fact everyone was talking about me behind my back. I turned to the internet and friends I made in chat rooms or on neopets to relieve some of my pain, which may be the only thing that got me through it all. Neopets. I’m serious.

Every night I would cry, think I was worthless, and couldn’t imagine things ever getting better. This is when I became more and more depressed, beginning to fantasize about ending it. How could I envision life getting any better when it was so terrible? Wouldn’t taking a knife to my wrists or a handful of pills make things better?

One day, I eventually had enough and retaliated against someone that had been taunting me mercifully. I got into trouble and had to take an anti-bullying class. Because I, was the bully. Oh, the irony.

This was my rock bottom. My mom brought me to a doctor and I was placed on antidepressants. Yet, this only made me feel worse. Before the effects really kicked in, I just felt crazy and weird for needing them in the first place. The logic of their existence, and that clearly I was not the only person on them, was not enough to make me feel better.

And then eventually the school year was over. My mom let me change schools and I was able to move past that terrible point in my life. Sort of. But it is my own experiences with bullying and depression/suicidal thoughts that makes me so passionate about these issues in state law. State Sen. Scott Dibble has been a great proponent of anti-bullying measures, but as of yet, has not passed any laws.

According to MPR, the new legislation Dibble is working on for 2013 could change a lot of things. Until now, every law proposed has been more about the punishment of bullies. But the conversation should be shifted to the prevention. This is what is happening and I couldn’t be more supportive of it. Favoring local control (leaving it up to each school district to determine how to handle) assumes children and parents speak up at a high level. This alone means things are already out of control and the student has a supportive parent that does anything necessary. Why not one standard for all of Minnesota? A standard that protects students by better training teachers and administration how to handle it.

NaNoWriMo, Day 1

Day one of both NaNoWriMo and my memoir class and I’ve already made the tears flow; in public nonetheless. I’m chilling out at Open Book downtown, where my class took place (it’s through the Loft Literary Center). I felt it would be an inspirational place to continue the writing, so I find myself perched at a table. I have to write 1667 words tonight (of an actual book, meaning, this doesn’t even count!) to meet my day 1 requirement for NaNoWriMo (which stands for National Novel Writing Month and takes place every November. The goal is to write 50k words by the end). I’m not writing a novel, because I don’t believe in fiction. I’m using it as a structured force to write my memoir. The fact that today was the first day of my class was just a coincidence .. I like the ways things tend to fall together for me.

The tears came from what I was writing. In terms of the book, I’m at the point in my life where I had lice one summer. My mom sent me a care package because I was staying with family at the time and they agreed to keep me so my mom didn’t have to deal with the lice. Except, the care package made me miss her so bad that I made her drive out to see me that exact same day. I still feel guilty about the money she spent on shipping the package when I had her drive out anyway.

The class so far is fantastic though. Usually I get bored by people and don’t like to come back to things like that. However, there are reading assignments and writing that we have to do before the next class, both of which I’m excited about.

Further, the people in the class are perfect. None are intimidating to me, in a good way. I feel comfortable, like I bring my own strengths to the group, similar to how I felt at She’s Geeky. While some people have really awesome stories, experiences and educations, I also feel content in having my story be my own. I’m also intrigued by the stories of others and am looking forward to being inspired by them.

Tomorrow I am flying out to Pittsburgh to visit Tepper Business School.. I’ll let you know all about it ;) Also, I’m writing sober right now. High five for that.

Community: Found

Many things came out of this past weekend at She’s Geeky. First, I reinstated my mother’s blog commenting privileges. I took them away when she began using it as a text messaging system (“call me!”), but realized I’m not getting enough comments as it is so I should be thankful for those that I do get. That, and someone in my “I blog… now what?” session said her comments add a dimension to my story, and hey, if it’s what the readers want…

Next, and clearly this is coming up in order of importance, I was offered the Interim Managing Director position for Girls in Tech. I accepted it without hesitation, and am really excited to get started. However, the exchange also marked the second time in 24 hours that I had been labeled “green.” I’m not arguing the validity of the statement, but rather commenting on how it always seems that once you learn a word, it comes up more and more. I suppose the fact that I just learned its meaning adds justification for being labeled so. This is just even more reason to fully take advantage of this opportunity and show folks what I can do :)

Lastly, I met amazing, amazing women. Sometimes I feel that I need to travel to the ends of the country to be connected with people that are truly inspiring and making a difference. Truth is, it’s always in our own backyards, we just have to look. This is the community that I have been looking for and yearning for ever since I graduated from Macalester. It feels so great when everything falls into place… yet a bit overwhelming at the same time. Good thing I also know I’m not alone in that sense too :)