Quick Update

So Little Time

 

I just wanted to drop in real quick, prove that I’m still alive, and let everyone interested know what was up, and what will be up for the coming weeks. It seems I got sidetracked by one little project, and before I knew it two weeks had passed. I love building this blog, but I also have a lot on my plate, and balancing all of my WIPs, projects, and such has become nearly impossible. I’ve devised a sort of rotation that should help, but that does mean periods of inactivity.

I have a few novels that are begging to be written, so those have become a high priority, as well as hunting down a good agent, so I won’t be able to publish lengthy, detailed articles here for a while. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be around at all. If you still want to leave a comment or otherwise interact then please feel free to do so. I’ll be checking in as much as I can, and at the least I’ll leave interesting tidbits when possible.

 

 

I’ve been a huge fan of Tom Petty since my earliest memories, and right now Running Down a Dream describes what I’m trying to do pretty well. Hopefully soon I’ll have caught up with my dream, and I’ll be able to share how I did it so others can obtain what they really want from life.

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Alright, Here’s the Deal with Comments

Comments Mean the World to Me

 

I really do mean that. Every time someone leaves me a comment it tells me that what I wrote was significant enough to cause someone to pause what they were doing for a moment. Publishing content that’s worthy of such an action isn’t as easy as it used to be, what with the busy schedules most people follow and the millions of other blog posts out there vying for attention. Whether it’s comprised of 12 sentences or two words, it all still validates what I’m trying to do, but only if it’s a true comment.

Comment spam has become such a huge issue now that I’ve barely started work on this blog and I’m already plagued by nonsense. I have less than 100 subscribers (though that number is growing a lot faster than I anticipated) but I still end up with at least a dozen spam comments a day, a lot of them repeats from a few stubborn sources. It’s because of this onslaught that I’ve decided to post a short explanation of how I handle the comments here.

 

If You’re a Real Person…

 

…then I welcome you with open arms and I hope you like what you see. If you want to speak up about something then please do, even if it seems contradictory. The best compliment you can pay me is to join in on the conversation. All I ask is that you don’t start trolling and you show respect to others.

 

If You’re a Spammer…

 

…then you’re wasting your time here. There’s no point in even trying to get your irrelevant, greedy comments on my blog, so you might as well leave now and be done with it.

 

“Rule is Rules”

 

I have some pretty basic conditions for comments here. I’d also like to point out that I moderate every single one of them, so it may take a short while for yours to appear. I’m very diligent about it, though, so if you still don’t see your comment after a day or two let me know and I’ll check to see if it accidentally got deleted. If you happen to be a spammer then you’re out of luck, and better off preying on some other blog. I just want to be sure that I’m loud and clear on this, so here’s the deal: every single comment, real or not, that gets submitted on my blog is sorted into moderation folders, and none of them are actually published until I approve them. I know the repetition is getting annoying, but it bears repeating.

Here’s the criteria I use when looking for spammy or unacceptable comments:

  • The first thing I do is look at the poster info. If you use a regular name it still doesn’t allay my suspicions entirely, but it helps. If you use a name like “cheap homes 4 sale” or something else that sounds commercial it automatically throws up a red flag. But if the name happens to fall under the same topic I used for the article I might approve it, depending on other considerations.
  • My next step is to take a look at the link provided to your own site. Unless I’m already certain the comment is spam, I always pull up the preview window and get an idea of what you’re all about. If all I find there is an attempt to sell stuff it doesn’t bode well for your comment, but it isn’t an instant failure, either. If you happen to be the type that provides useful information to your readers while selling a few of your own related products then this aspect won’t be a problem for you.
  • And, of course, I look at the content of the comment. I try to be as fair about it as possible, but if any of these problems are consistently presented then it’s a good possibility that your comment won’t be published: gibberish, which tends to have a lot of special characters throughout it; text lingo (I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t look nice and it’s hard to read); rampant spelling, grammar, and vocabulary errors (so much that I would have to practically rewrite the entire comment); going off on a topic that isn’t even remotely close to the original one I used in the article (I can understand little detours, though); writing in all caps (using it for emphasis here and there is alright, but digitally screaming through most or all of a  comment is just rude); suspicious links, like affiliate links and those that lead to unrelated products or sites; anything directly inflammatory toward anyone (you can say you don’t like someone, but if you start name-calling and such you’re done); and tons of profanity (I can handle a curse word here and there, but I’d prefer it if you tried to keep your comments fairly clean).

 

Common Sense Rules Here

 

I know a lot of what I’ve said is obvious to most people, but it’s best to be upfront about it. Mostly, I’m posting this in the hopes that some of the spammers who continually submit the same comments day after day will get the message and stop wasting time. Other than that, I thankfully haven’t had any other comment trouble, like fights and such (probably because I have awesome readers). Before I wrap this up, I’d like to note that a few errors here and there is nothing to worry about (you’re human, after all, and so am I). Usually I leave typos alone, but if it makes part of the comment a little confusing I’ll edit it. If this happens I’ll leave a small note at the bottom that explains that the content has been altered.

Well, that should be it, so thank you for reading this and happy commenting!

 

Just a quick note: the “rules is rules” quote is from Family Guy.
 
pretty spam

“Spam” by Neil Motteram (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrdodgy/) in its original form. Used under a Creative Commons License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode).

Sudden Thoughts #1

Some people, myself included, get irritated when cats won’t let us hold them, but I understand them now, and I don’t blame felines for struggling anymore. How would you like it if the Jolly Green Giant scooped you up and started walking around, never giving you a single hint of his intent? I’d panic, too, if I had no idea where he was taking me, and I’d be constantly afraid of him dropping me.

 

Just a thought.

 

jack chased by giant

I’d probably run away, too, if this is what cats see when we pursue them.

The Swift Death of a Career

Sometimes One Bad Experience is all it Takes

 

As I was writing my response to yesterday’s Daily Prompt it reminded me of a strange incident I had that ended up changing the course of my life significantly. I made the horrible mistake of ignoring my gut reaction to someone, and the consequences shattered my enthusiasm for something I’ve loved since I was a child. In the end, my abandoning that prospect was for the best, but I still shudder with repulsion every time I think of the uncomfortable confrontation I had to go through for it.

 

Never Say “Full-Body Massage” Around Me

 

When I was about 10 years old I discovered that I had a natural affinity for seeking out tension in people’s’ backs, and I had a knack for creating a pattern that suited each of my ‘patients’ perfectly. I also had a firm sense of pressure (pun intended), and I was able to work huge knots out of my family members’ backs that usually took professional therapists a week to break up. I loved possessing the ability to help people feel better, but all it took was one creepy incident to turn me off on it entirely.

When I was 16 I dropped out of high school (so I could help in supporting my family, which I’ll explain another day), and shortly after that I decided to make some extra cash by using my abilities. I put an ad in the local paper, clearly stating that I wasn’t licensed, but offering a lower price than most professionals requested, and I ended up getting a few calls. My first customer, a very kind elderly man, was completely normal, and our session went well. I was a little afraid to work on him because it’s so easy to accidentally hurt someone in his sort of condition, but I paid close attention to his reactions and moved my hands as gently as I could. He was happy with my work, and we made plans for him to return.

A few days later my second client showed up, and as soon as I saw him a nervous feeling sank into the bottom of my belly. He just looked like the kind of person you couldn’t trust. I wasn’t afraid because everything was taking place in my home, with my capable step-dad never far away, and I really needed the cash. I ignored my initial instincts about him, invited him in, and got him set up.

The first sure sign that something was wrong was when he was making preparations. I gave him a towel, pointed him in the direction of the bathroom, and asked him to take off his shirt and pants (but NOT his underwear, which I was very clear about) because he’d asked for me to work on his extremities in addition to his back. I never ask anyone to take off more than is necessary. But when he returned to the living room it was clear, judging by the clothes he was holding in his hands, that he hadn’t listened to my instructions.

He verified my suspicions of his nudity just under the towel he wore when he settled himself on my makeshift massage table, telling me he was more comfortable that way. I wanted to run away right then and there, but I ignored the bad signs yet again in the interest of earning some much-needed income for my family. I started working on his back so he had to lay on his stomach, which felt like a less threatening position for him to be in, but it didn’t take long for him to roll over and request that I work on his chest.

My reticence should have been apparent to a toddler, but he still persisted in trying to pervert what should have been a clean, detached session for me. It took less than 10 minutes for the creepiness factor of the situation to reach critical mass, and just as I reached my limit and prepared to ask him to leave he escalated the inappropriateness far beyond any level I’d ever imagined.

 

This Isn’t a Strip Club, but the Same Rules Apply

 

As I pulled my hands away from him, fed up with his suggestively lewd behavior, he snatched my fingers in a strong grip and yanked them toward his crotch, telling me in a desperate tone that he’d pay me for the entire hour if I “just touch ‘it’ for a few seconds”. Luckily, my palms were still covered with oil, so I slipped away and scooted as far from him as I could. Harried and scared, I demanded that he leave in the kindest, least threatening tone I could muster. He begged for a while, pleading for my ‘assistance’, but eventually left, to my immense relief. I was so shocked by the incident that all I could do was sit there for a while.

Apparently, the man had disregarded the professional, serious tone I’d used throughout my entire ad, and had zeroed in on the term ‘full-body massage’, assuming it meant I was a hooker. I’m not positive, but I’m willing to bet I’m not the only person he’s sexually assaulted in such a subtle manner. Luckily, he didn’t cause any severe mental damage, but he did take away my ability to give massages to strangers, so that was the end of that idea. I haven’t touched an unknown body part since.

 

Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda

 

In retrospect, I probably should have called the police after that man left. I had some information on him, so it would have been easy for the authorities to track him down. The soliciting wasn’t that bad (it wasn’t the first time that had happened to me), but if he was bold enough to grab my hand when he knew there were others nearby what would he have done if we’d been alone? He could have full-on raped me, and there’s a chance he did just that to another girl after I wouldn’t comply. It sickens me to consider such what-if’s.

When my mother came into the living room and found me sitting there alone she asked me what happened, and didn’t like the answer. She was livid over the insult to me, and my step-father was so enraged he wanted to hop in the car and hunt the man down. I stopped him, thinking it was a waste of time, my mind down-playing everything so it could cope with the stress of the situation. I don’t think I can ever forgive myself for not taking action when I had the chance, and I sincerely hope the pervert didn’t hurt someone else.

 

And that is why I failed to become a massage therapist.

career day

Acceptable Failures

NOTE: Yes, I’m publishing this article a day late, but my schedule yesterday was bogged down, and I’d rather ensure quality then rush through the process. For what it’s worth, I apologize for my tardiness.

Sometimes Life Doesn’t Listen

 

No matter how hard you try, if your goals just aren’t meant to be you’ll end up doing nothing but treading metaphorical water. It’s amazing, really, how fate always seems to know which direction to point you in, how it leads you back to the track you’re supposed to be on. Whether you believe it’s destiny or just the power of your own will doesn’t matter; there’s still some sort of guiding force that helps you along.

In my experience, the best thing to do when you encounter one of the stubborn elements of Life is to just let it ride. To roll with the punches for a bit and see where it takes you. I’m not saying you should drift forever, but sometimes you just need to let it pull you along for a bit. Eventually, though, we must all face the ugly truth: just because you have a lot of passion for a profession doesn’t mean you have the attitude or aptitude to be successful in it. I love art, but the only things I can paint are child-like abstract wiggles. It’s when you find yourself trapped in a job you’re not meant for that failure becomes positive.

But before I get too far ahead of myself, here’s the Daily Prompt that inspired this article:

 

Today’s Daily Prompt is:

Futures Past

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? How close or far are you from that vision?

 

One After Another, My Dreams Fell Like Dominoes

 

Because of the fact that just about anything in the world can draw my interest (I’m not kidding here) I went through a lot of different career plans throughout my childhood. After a while,  my focus would change for one reason or another, and eventually the practicality of such a profession would dissolve. I’d revisit those old goals occasionally, sometimes reviving them enough to work on them again, but it never went smoothly.

If I had succeeded in just one of the many jobs I’d yearned for when I was young I would be ‘sitting pretty’ right now. I’d be making large amounts of money (not only because I’d be good at those jobs, but also because they almost always pay well), have a bunch of fancy possessions, and would be able to afford buying a house and starting a family. Yes, I would have financial security, but the ‘other hand’ isn’t as pretty as this one. Every one of the fields I was enthusiastic about had at least one major stress factor involved. I might have made a lot of money in those jobs, but I’d be constantly working and have very little flexibility in my schedule. And what’s the point of having a family when you can’t spend any time with them?

It took me a while, but I finally figured out what I was meant to do. I’ve had a lot of false starts, too. I’ve attended (and failed) college twice (my grades had nothing to do with it, though), I’ve had a lot of entry-level jobs just stalemate on me, and even when I absolutely loved my position something still bottomed out somehow. It was frustrating, having so many professional issues and no idea what to do about it. But when I finally returned to the one job that holds me like a magnet, writing (of any kind), technology and the internet had given me more avenues for profit and success than the slim pickings that used to be available.

At this point, even though I can barely survive financially, I’m happy with the work I do, and I’m glad I didn’t end up stuck in something I hated. Sometimes it takes a lot of backtracking, even starting over, to find the right path, and I’m so relived to finally be where I’m supposed to be. From what I’ve seen, it takes a long time, and a lot of trial and error, for most people to figure out what they really want to do with their lives. That’s why I think it’s unfair when a parent or teacher puts so much pressure on the kids they care for, expecting them to have it all figured out before they’ve graduated high school. How can someone know, without a doubt, what they want to do for the rest of their life when they aren’t even old enough to drink yet?

career day

“Career Day” (http://tythecooldude06.deviantart.com/art/Career-Day-49394575) by tythecooldude06 (http://tythecooldude06.deviantart.com/) in its unaltered form. Used under a Creative Commons License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/3.0/legalcode)

 

I Get to Eat My Cake Every Day

 

The three most notable careers I was interested in was neurological surgery, law (starting as prosecutor, then working my way to judge), and massage therapy. I’m still a little bummed about missing out on two of them, but the upside to ending up where I am professionally is that I actually can “have my cake, and eat it, too”. I may never cut open someone’s brain, but I’ve picked up enough about medical science (and can learn even more on my own) to at least write about it. I’m not an expert, of course, but I can create articles geared for the public about every field I ever aspired to join.

All things considered, I ended up in the perfect career for me. It’s always been hard for me to completely focus on a single topic or interest, so being able to write about anything I want suits me well. The only regret I have is that it took me so long to get here.

Yet Another “Kooky Night”

It’s Kind of Like Full Moon Fever…

 

When I say “kooky night” I don’t mean I went out and partied so hard that everything got crazy. No, anytime I use that term it always means something bad, or rather, somethings bad. Every now and then (more so when a holiday is coming up), there’s a night, which is sometimes precluded by a similar day, where everyone seems to have lost their ever-lovin’ minds. On such days or nights it almost feels as if Satan or some other dark force has visited Earth for a small moment just so he can cause as much trouble in the few free minutes he has. Trust me, once I give you an example you’ll see that these short occasions are anything but normal.

I have no idea what causes these strange moments of chaos, but I’d like to think it has to do with several lines of personal karma all colliding or aligning at once, like the fate of everyone in the vicinity have somehow combined and caused a shift. Sometimes my own line is involved in the process, and sometimes I’m just an innocent observer. Whatever it is that causes such an unexpected clustering of strange events isn’t simple, though. It’s hard to explain, but I always get an uneasy feeling when stuff like this happens.

So, in short, a “kooky moment” is when everything around you seems to go out of control, and you end up surrounded by uncommon or even extraordinary events. Don’t worry, I’ll show you what I mean soon.

 

Tuesday Night Was the Worst

 

I end up going through these “kooky moments” fairly often because of the area I live in, but last Tuesday night (May 27th) was exceptional compared to all the others. I’ve seen all sorts of madness, like mobs blocking the streets, high-speed police chases that run right by my house, fights galore (even with weapons), and once there was this crazy man (which we confirmed when the police found out because they knew him well) stumbling around in the middle of the street in front of my house, threatening my fiancé in an oblique fashion (we later found out from the police that someone had claimed the man had hidden a gun in his jacket). When you read what happened Tuesday you’ll probably start thinking “this isn’t that bad”, but my reason for getting so shaken about it stems more from emotions and the underlying meanings behind what happened than anything else. Let’s start from the top.

A Simple Trip to the Store is Never ‘Simple’ Here

Late Tuesday night (shortly before midnight) I realized that I needed to run to the Safeway down the street before they closed. There was no way around it because the stuff we needed couldn’t be bought anywhere else in the area, and they were products we use first thing in the morning (like coffee creamer and sugar). The Safeway I always shop at closes at 1 am, so I had just enough time to make it as long as I hurried. I power-walked down there, picked up everything I needed, and left just in time for them to lock the doors.

As I was walking home (now barely into Wednesday) I noticed how quiet it seemed. The weather was mild and the traffic was very thin, but I just shrugged it off since it was a weeknight. My walk was going really well for most of the trip, but when I was drawing near a major intersection a few blocks from my house the peace I’d enjoyed was shattered.

I’m Always Edgy Around Here

I’m not saying that this is the worst neighborhood in America or anything, but it certainly isn’t anywhere near classy or sophisticated. I do consider SE Portland to be a ghetto of sorts, and I’m not the only one. After two and a half years of periodic gun shots, a couple of small bombs, finding numerous dirty syringes on the ground, and occasionally being confused as a hooker I’ve learned to never let my guard down when I’m out and about around here. I don’t trust a single stranger until they prove through body language and voice that they’re friendly enough to converse with, and I’m always looking out for those who might mean me harm.

There are many reasons for this area’s darker reputation, but there’s a certain establishment here that has become a sort of hot-spot for trouble, especially on the weekends. I like strip clubs as much as most men, and more than some women, but there’s a popular one (the name of which I won’t publish because I don’t wish to slander them) at the intersection I was coming up on that usually ends up requiring police assistance on a fairly regular basis. Of course, it isn’t the club’s fault that aggressive people like to congregate there, and no one can be expected to prevent violence and crime entirely.

I’ve seen police show up at that club enough to make me nervous about walking in front of it, particularly when I’m crossing the entrances to the parking lot, but usually weeknights are calm there. The path I’d taken Tuesday night doesn’t grant a clear view of the club or its parking lot because of large bushes that skirt the edge of the sidewalk, so when a loud unidentifiable noise came from beyond those shrubs it not only took me by surprise, but also freaked me out a bit. I’m ashamed to admit that I even jumped a little from the sudden aural assault.

Suspicions and Stink Eyes

The noise caused me to stop in my tracks, making me wonder if it was advisable to continue and risk becoming a witness to something bad. The sound was nothing like a gun shot, but I’m beyond the point of being shocked by the occasionally extreme crimes committed in this area, so it wouldn’t have surprised me to find something gruesome around the corner. In the end, I had no choice but to continue. At that point it hadn’t become a “kooky moment” yet, but when exceptional things happen that carry a violent tone I hurry on home and stay there, so I soldiered on.

It only took a few steps for me to get close enough to figure out what had happened. A man, looking to be in his 20’s, was maneuvering his black sedan in the parking lot, pulling away from a red car that had a distinctive dent in the rear door. Considering the direction the guy in the car was driving and the erratic, almost hesitant way he pulled onto the street (he cut someone off who was turning into the lot, only missing them by a few inches, and actually fully stopped in the turn lane for a moment before slowly sneaking away), it didn’t take much for me to figure out that he’d hit that car. His behavior, which had a fearful quality to it, also suggested that the driver of that car was drunk to some extent.

As soon as I figured out what was happening right before my eyes I planned to do the right thing, but something really weird prevented me from being so bold. I’d wanted to observe as much as I could about the car that was leaving the scene, and had hoped to get a glimpse of the license plate so I could go into the club, tell them what happened, and have them call the police. I was particularly worried about the possibly inebriated state of the driver (there’s a very good reason for my stance against drunk driving, but that’s a story for another day). But remember how I’d said the guy responsible had almost hit another car (a brand new black Cadillac, too) on his way out? Well, they decided to act strange as well.

I’d stopped on the edge of the entrance to the parking lot because I was nervous about the guy fleeing the scene, and I’d wanted him to go first just to be on the safe side. The Cadillac they’d cut off immediately started pulling in, never giving me a chance to continue, but they didn’t just keep going like any normal person would. Instead, they slowed to a stop in a position that was just right for blocking the entire sidewalk. Not only did they cut me off for a long moment, but they (there were two people) also stared at me the entire time in a very nerve-wracking way.

I’ve gained a good amount of experience in the darker sides of society, so I know how to spot some types of criminal behavior, and the look those guys gave me wasn’t just regular curiosity. I’ve felt similar calculating stares in the past, and every time it was because someone was trying to decide if I was the kind of person they could trust. Basically, they were looking for signs that I was a snitch. Most of the people who utilize such practices have become very good at reading people, and it never bodes well if they don’t like what they see in you. That is why, as soon as that Cadillac finally pulled out of my way, I kept walking as fast as I could without looking suspicious.

I have no idea if the guys in the Cadillac were associated with ‘Hit and Run Dude’ or not. For all I know, they could have just been drug dealers who like to play it safe by staying aware of their surroundings. Now, just because someone owns a shiny new Cadillac it doesn’t mean they’re a criminal, but as I’ve said before, my ability to pinpoint others of my previous ilk is pretty reliable. I know what I saw, and those types aren’t people you want to tangle with. Their intense scrutiny gave me a strong urge to skedaddle, no matter their reason.

The Icing on the Cake

Because of my weird visual confrontation with the guys in the Cadillac I decided to avoid going into the club, and instead formulated my Plan B. Rather than trying to find the owner of the red car and risking some altercation with my ‘admirers’ I started to head for the Plaid Pantry that was kitty-corner to the strip club. I know all the people who work in that particular store pretty well (for those of you who aren’t familiar with the name, Plaid Pantries are like a regional version of 7-Eleven) so I knew I could trust them to call the police in my stead. It would have worked out well, but my intentions were derailed yet again.

If you’ve kept up with my articles lately you’ve probably read my post that mentions the safety issues pedestrians face in Portland. If you haven’t seen it, well, long story short, Portland is a dangerous place for those who walk or bike to their destinations. Accidents between cars and pedestrians are so commonplace that I’ve become desensitized to reports about them. I still get really angry when someone in a car risks my health for the sake of shaving a few seconds off of their travel time, of course, but I face these kinds of threats at least once a week. Such close-calls have become almost inconsequential.

I’ve had just about every form of vehicle threaten me at some point, from tiny sedans to school buses, motorcycles to full-blown semi trucks, but the last type of car I ever expected to see barreling down on me was one of these:

By M.O. Stevens (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By M.O. Stevens (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Even though there was no traffic to worry about, I still waited for the stop light to signal me before crossing the street (I’m just a tad  inflexible about crossing at the wrong times), but following the rules didn’t do me a single bit of good. As I stepped into the crosswalk a car heading in the same direction as I started to move forward, but I didn’t bother glancing at it. The lack of distractions around us and the likelihood that they’d just continue driving straight (like most people who drove in that lane did) had caused me to harbor some undue faith in the driver. I paid for that mistake a few strides later when the car swung toward me, the reinforced ‘push bar’ on the front of the cruiser heading right for my knees.

It was lucky that the officer saw me before it was too late because they were about to floor it after a car that had just passed. I know this because of the behavior they exhibited once I’d gotten over my shock and moved out of their path; they sped away as fast as they could, giving me an accusing glare before they took off. But here’s the kicker: they didn’t give a single indication that they were in ’emergency mode’ (lights, sirens, etc.).

Unless an officer has something they need to rush to they are required to follow the same laws everyone else does, which means that I had the right-of-way. They didn’t even try to get my attention. It makes complete sense that they wouldn’t want to turn on their lights too soon since that might cause the person they’re after to flee, but they could have at least rolled down their window and verbally told me what they planned to do. I was standing in plain sight, too, just a few feet from them.

In the end, I was more upset about who was driving the car than the threat of injury. Police and other emergency personnel were the only people I trusted on the road. Yes, they get a sort of free pass when they turn on their lights, but considering their professions, you would think they’d be less likely to make such stupid mistakes. So, now I can’t even relax when a police cruiser passes me.

 

That’s Some Pretty Heavy Straw

 

Once I almost got squashed by a cop car I was done, plain and simple. All of the strange stuff that took me over 2,000 words to explain all took place in less than 5 minutes, and when that much weirdness crowds itself together I get out of Dodge, so to speak. So I practically ran to the other side of the road, watching as the negligent officer drove on down the road without consideration for anyone else that might cross his route and wondering what this world has come to. I was so tense from the previous chain of events that I immediately perceived a man standing on the sidewalk I had to traverse as a threat.

As it turned out, the man was heading in the same direction that I was, and I was pleasantly surprised by his friendly personality. He’d witnessed my run-in with the cop and struck up a conversation with me about it as he matched me stride for stride. We talked about various life-oriented subjects during the four blocks it took to get to my street, then we parted ways with no fuss. Our short interaction almost made the stressful moments just before it completely worth it.

Aside from meeting a nice stranger, that’s what a ‘kooky moment’ is.It’s when the world around you goes bonkers for a few minutes (or days). Have you ever seen this happen?

 

Oh, and one last thing: that cop ended up speeding off in the opposite direction as the guy that hit the red car. And it didn’t surprise me a bit. They never seem to be in the right place at the right time around here.

How I Beat My Bullies (Literally)

NOTE: Before I begin, I’d like to point out that physically fighting your bully should always be reserved as a last resort. It never ends well, it causes trouble for everyone, and it makes you look just as guilty as the bully to the authorities. In some cases, fighting them isn’t even feasible, and it could get you into a situation that changes your life (in a very bad way). Despite that, being demure isn’t the solution, either. Deflecting a bully is a delicate process that I can’t fully explain here. This article is only about a few of my interactions with bullies and isn’t meant as direct advice in handling your own adversaries. This article is only meant to demonstrate the consequences in tense situations. 

You’ll Never Find A Bully Free Zone

 

By Eddie~S (Bully Free Zone  Uploaded by Doktory) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Eddie~S (Bully Free Zone Uploaded by Doktory) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

There’s a good chance that there’s at least one bully near you in every public place you go. For some, the same applies to their home life as well. The bullies may be quiet then, or might be distracted by someone else or something that interests them, but the fact still remains that they’re there. Just because they aren’t pushing you to the ground right then and there doesn’t mean they won’t try to do it as soon as you step outside.

Just about everyone ends up having a run-in with some sort of bully at some point. Some of them are pretty mild, resorting to scathing words or calling attention to something embarrassing, but others take things too far by getting physical. Just like pretty much everyone else, I’ve had to deal with a few bullies, either because they directly focused on me or victimized my friends.

I may not have handled the situation with maturity, but I caused several of them to think twice before employing their scare tactics again, especially if I was present. Sometimes it took more than one altercation to dissuade them, but eventually I’d get the peace I’d wanted. Here’s the two most notable times when I’ve taken a stand.

 

If David and Goliath had Attended Elementary School Together

 

This demonstration of my loyalty actually caused the most apprehension for my mother, but it wasn’t that I’d gotten into a fight or that she’d had to leave work early that bothered here. No, it was something much worse that had caused her entire body to quake when she’d embraced me in the school office.

When I was in the 1st grade I lived in the mountains of eastern Washington, in an area that was known to have harsh winters. The plummeting temperatures meant the teachers wouldn’t allow us to go outside for recess unless we were wearing thick, heavy jackets because the danger of frost bite and hypothermia was too great. It was that sort of winter coat that both proved my ferocity and protected me from unpleasant repercussions. The jacket of my ‘victim’ was stuffed with poly fiber, giving it a thickness of about an inch and a half, and it’s the only thing that stopped me from doing some serious damage.

The school I attended at that time had precise methods we all had to follow at the end of recess. We had to all line up, I’m guessing to the teachers could take a count and make sure none of us had wandered off into the woods that were just beyond the fields, and once we got the permission to enter the school we stayed in our lines. The line I was in always ended up next to a 6th grade class, and one day a boy who was known to push around children that were a lot younger than him ended up standing near myself and my friends. Bored from waiting, the bully decided to turn toward us and intimidate one of the members of my group. At first, it was simple verbal abuse, but it quickly escalated to physical assault. It mostly involved pushing and pulling, but I’d always had a hard time making true friends so I developed a fierce sense of loyalty at an early age. As soon as the 6th grader put his hands on my friend I saw red (a term I’ll use a lot when I talk of my pre-teen years).

Before the older boy could realize what I was planing (because I was coming at him from an angle) I rushed forward, grabbed his arm, and bit him as hard as I possibly could. He screeched in pain, which summoned a teacher, but that didn’t convince me to let go. I stayed on him, like a pit bull with his jaws locked tight, until an adult grabbed me by the waist and pulled me backward. The boy continued to cry as we were quickly ushered inside and taken to the principal’s office.

Once we were in a private area and the teacher reported what little she knew about the incident to the principle they took us into separate rooms and questioned us about the fight. As expected, the boy claimed that he’d been doing nothing, and that my offensive behavior was entirely unwarranted, but the adults knew better than that. Despite their sympathy for me, they had no choice but to call my mother and request that she leave work and come to the school immediately. While I waited, which seemed forever because she was over an hour away and I was only six years old, they had me sit quietly at a secluded desk. It was torture for me since I hated causing my mom distress.

As soon as she arrived she rushed to me. As the administrators explained everything to her she hugged me tightly, her worry easily transferring to me and causing me to weep. When the story was finished she pulled away from me and commenced the scariest lesson she ever gave me: a detailed explanation of what AIDS was and how I’d risked contracting it. We’d both seen the distinct teeth marks on the boy’s forearm, and it was obvious that I’d been millimeters away from breaking the skin. My mother knew it was unlikely that I’d catch an STD from another child (this was in the early 90’s, so usually it was only promiscuous people and drug users that spread the disease), but she also knew that if she didn’t teach me the danger of such actions at an early age that I might end up getting into trouble at a later date. So she gave me a vivid description of how my life would alter if I ever caught AIDS or HIV, and it was enough to prevent me from biting others ever again. Well, at least it was enough to keep me from biting strangers.

On the plus side, the entire ordeal was worth it because that jerk never messed with anyone he noticed around me ever again.

 

When Push Comes to Shove

 

A few years later, when I was in the 3rd grade, and after we’d moved to a new small town in North Idaho, I had another significant run-in with a bully, and that time the damage I inflicted actually caused me to feel a little guilt. While I can be rather hateful, I don’t like resorting to violence, so it’s common for me to blame myself even though I wasn’t the one who initiated the problem.

Some Things I Just Can’t Ignore

On a fall morning I’d gathered with the other children that lived in the trailer park my family had moved into some time before at the bus stop, quickly seeking out the few friends I’d made. I was acquainted with everyone around my age in and around the park, and I’d join in when they all congregated for fun, but I was never really treated well by most of them. In some ways, they all bullied me almost as much as the real bully did. But there were two boys, the grandsons of the elderly couple that owned the park, who never exhibited even a smidgen of cruel behavior.

Bobby and Markie were good, kind kids, and Markie had no trouble interacting with the myriad children that lived in the area, but Bobby wasn’t so lucky. He had a learning disability, not severe enough to force him into special ed classes, but enough to make him noticeably slower than most of the other kids. Some of us were raised right (like myself and my neighbors), so we knew better than to treat him poorly, and I always enjoyed hanging out with him because he never searched for reasons to pick on me like the others. Unfortunately, those of us who didn’t single him out were in a minority, and many of the children in school felt no remorse for the malicious things they’d say to him. But even with his near-constant mistreatment by our peers, most of them didn’t dare lay a hand on him. At least, until that morning .

Waiting for the bus always seemed to take forever, so we’d always initiate group games like Tag and Mother May I to pass the time. That morning the dozen or so of us decided that a rousing game a Tag would help us overcome the chill in the air, and everyone was invited to play. The game went well until a particular kid was tagged, making him the next to be “it”. Once again, this male child was known to be unpleasant, and he’d antagonized every other kid present with his rude behavior and ridiculous claims. It seemed every time we were kind to him he took advantage of it, making us regret his inclusion. Well, that morning he took out his aggression on the wrong target.

As all of us scattered to avoid the bully and lightheartedly taunted him when we were far enough away, so he zeroed in on the equivalent of the weak gazelle of our herd: Bobby. With his slightly distorted cognitive skills and the few extra pounds of weight that slowed him down, it was easy for the bully to catch up to him. As he drew near Bobby found himself running over wood chips, which only hampered his scrambling escape even more.

The bully closed the space, and he knew he could simply tap Bobby on the shoulder and be done with it, but he chose to turn a friendly game into an opportunity to hurt an innocent child. The bully only quickened his pace, then used the force of his motion to slam into Bobby’s side. Bobby crashed to the ground, receiving scrapes and cuts everywhere, and even ended up with splinters from the wood chips. He couldn’t restrain his distress, and began crying until his brother, Markie, ran to his side and helped him up. I wasn’t far behind Markie as I ran to help, but my attention was centered on the on the bully, his enjoyment of Bobby’s pain infuriating me.

Lying in Wait

Once he was righted and reassured, Bobby got over his minor injuries, but he didn’t resume his participation in the game. In fact, all of us stopped playing, the incident destroying the happy environment we’d enjoyed a few moments before. As time passed everyone began to find small distractions to help pass the time, splintering off into little groups.

I watched as the bully joined the most popular of us, laughing along with them and having a wonderful time. I seethed at the idea that he’d escape punishment, that everyone allowed him to join them after what he’d done even though they never liked him. I kicked a rock on the ground in frustration, which inspired me to devise a solid for of retribution.

Nonchalantly, so as not to draw too much attention to myself, I began to gather small rocks from the ground, most of them about half the size of a golf ball. When the bully wasn’t looking in my direction I’d gently throw one of them, testing my aim but allowing them to fall short on purpose. I knew I’d only get one shot to make him pay, so I wanted to warm up my arm and ensure precision. As more and more rocks landed near him, the bully would hear them and look in my direction, his suspicion clear, so as soon as I exhausted my initial handful I scouted for one with a little more bulk.

After a few minutes of searching I found the perfect projectile, its shape making it ideal for lobbing. I hefted the rock in my hand, which was twice the size of my practice stones, taking the extra weight into account so I could hit the mark. I returned to my vantage point, the ground slightly higher and a good distance away, and swallowing my nervousness, I chucked the rock through the air. It sailed through the air, arcing high just as I’d wanted it to, and hit its mark, my throw displaying the efficacy of a major league baseball player. As soon as I heard the sickening thud of the rock striking the back of the bully’s head regret flooded me.

You Get What You Give

To this day, I’ve never done more damage to another human being as I did to that boy. Don’t get me wrong, I still think he deserved a taste of his own medicine, but I’d never intended to inflict so much pain, to injure him so seriously. My anger had overridden common sense, causing me to overlook the fact that a rock to the head could seriously harm him, even kill him. It was lucky that his skull was hard enough to withstand the impact, that he didn’t even lose consciousness, and every time I think of how that scenario could have ended up much worse than it had I hate myself a little more. In the end, I can’t change the past, and my actions, rash as they were, did actually do some good. But I wasn’t out of the woods yet.

Shortly after my malicious assault the bus we were waiting for showed up and everyone filed into it, not a single person mentioning the incident to the bus driver. I saw that as a good sign, and relaxed enough to enjoy the ride. At that point the injury I’d caused wasn’t very apparent, so I began to wonder if I’d somehow avoided actually hurting him. I couldn’t find any serious marks on him during the bus ride, so I shrugged off the matter and focused on the other children around me.

When we first arrived at the elementary school it was business as usual for me, but shortly after the bell summoned all of us inside for the start of our day my routine was derailed. This nice, caring woman from the office showed up in the middle of my teacher’s math spiel and led me away immediately. I had been so certain that my run-in with the bully wouldn’t amount to anything that I was completely confused during the entire walk. It wasn’t until we entered the office and I saw the bully sitting in a corner that the purpose of our spontaneous meeting was clear. And all it took was a single glance in his direction to know that I had really hurt him.

As it turned out, most of the damage I’d done to him had taken almost an hour to become visible. The bully always kept his hair shaved almost clean, so it was easy to examine my nasty handy-work. The rock hadn’t broken the skin on his head, but the deep purple, blue, and black bruises that covered almost half of the boy’s head were gruesome on their own. His altered appearance had shocked me so much that I didn’t even hear the adults as they started berating me. I’d never thought myself capable of causing so much harm to someone, but the evidence was clear.

Mom Saves the Day (Again)

Once again, my rash, angry actions forced my mother to leave work significantly earlier that she should. Of course, this wouldn’t have been such an issue under normal circumstances, but she was the only adult with a job in my family. But even though she was annoyed with me, as well as scared out of her mind (she was very protective), she immediately jumped to my defense as soon as she walked through the door.

Once the truth of the matter was sorted out and apologies were shyly mumbled the principle told my mother to take me home for the day. I’m not sure what happened to the bully, but more than likely his mother (who oddly didn’t seem surprised at all that a girl had wreaked such havoc on her son) hauled him to the hospital to make sure he didn’t have brain damage. Beyond going home I wasn’t punished in any other way. No suspension, no detention, no nothing, not even from my mom. Because I was always the silent type and never started fights the principle knew there was no need to crack down on me, so he didn’t bother. But shortly after my mom took me home the situation got very strange.

More Than I Deserved

Although I know the bully didn’t sustain any lasting harm because I saw him often after the incident (and even ended up getting into another fight with him) I still hurt him pretty bad, and sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t have gotten off so easy. I know that kid was always hurting whoever he could, but that still didn’t excuse my own poor decisions. It seemed I was the only one that felt remorseful, that felt sorry for him.

A few hours after I returned home the news of my little ‘curve ball’ had spread from ear to ear (as any news does in a small town), but instead of scorn and disappointment, most of the adults seemed pleased by my actions, and two in particular were absolutely thrilled. An unexpected knock on the door turned out to be the elderly owners of the trailer park, Dave and D.J., but their reason for the visit wasn’t what I had anticipated.

I’d always enjoyed spending time with people much older than myself when I was a child, so I was well acquainted with our landlords. They were good, fair people who worked hard to provide a pleasant environment for the many children who lived there. They were always paying attention, and they never tolerated fighting anywhere, so I’d witnessed them reprimanding children for such acts on numerous occasions. I’d expected a similar tongue lashing, but there wasn’t a single trace of rebuke on their faces.

Ever since Bobby had started going to school he had been ridiculed and mercilessly teased by every child he came into contact with, even the ones that were supposedly his friends. Dave and D.J. had seen their grandson come home upset almost every day, and the constant abuse was beginning to take a toll on Bobby mentally. Their situation was getting so tense that they were considering pulling him out of public school entirely, and no one, aside from his brother, Markie, had ever stood up for him.

They were so thrilled to hear about my actions that they actually rewarded me. Dave and D.J. had built that trailer park themselves, and they’d been very clever in every aspect of it, so it was a great place to live. It had beautiful, lush lawns, large yards, and was situated on a lake so it had a wide beach, dock, and a miniature park. But the smartest addition they made was the small general store they’d built at the entrance, which all the kids loved because it had a good variety of candy and toys. I was known to make at least one trip every day to that store, typically to buy some of the several types of penny candies they carried, so it wasn’t a secret that I had a sweet tooth.

After effusively thanking my parents for raising me to defend others, Dave and D.J. escorted me to their store themselves and told me to pick out whatever I wanted. Unlike some children, I was always the type to never take advantage of someone’s kindness, so I chose a single candy bar as my reward. The landlords seemed to only find my behavior more endearing, and insisted that I take more. The process continued a few more times until I finally ended up with enough snacks to fill a small paper bag, and even though I was thrilled to receive a bunch of candy for free (I love chocolate) I still felt a little odd about accepting the gift. But my parents had taught me the different ways one could accidentally cause offense, so I knew turning down their generosity wasn’t right.

Dave and D.J. never forgot what I’d done, but they thankfully didn’t continue their praise for long. The other children, who had always thought of me as a pushover and had never taken me seriously, began to view me in a different light after that. Seeing my assault with their own eyes only reinforced the image, and they started to think twice before making me the butt of their jokes like they had before I threw that rock. In many ways, my life and the general atmosphere in the park had improved because of what I’d done, but I’ll never forgive myself for it no matter what justification is presented to me.

 

So, What’s the Point?

 

I have many reasons for writing out these snippets of my past, but as far as identifying the lesson behind them goes, you’re on your own. The moral of this story will be different for everyone, and it’s up to you to figure out what you want to take with you from it. In the end, it’s the act of finding the moral right for you that I was trying to inspire.