Saturday, October 24, 2009

This is my hand in the spider's mouth.

Thank you for all of your sweet, kind comments on that post. They made it seem okay.

And then, pretty much right after I wrote it, things got worse at work. Really bad. And since it's all I think/pray/talk about, it's hard to think of what to blog about. I don't want to say much.

This week, the fight was out of me. My fate seemed sealed, and I was ready to just quit before it could get any worse. Not fight, not defend myself, even though there was (is) this mountain of injustice. I just wanted to quit and move on. That's what I WANTED to do. That was the only thing it made SENSE to do.

And then I had this dream. It was an answer to prayer (it probably makes me weird that I dream my answers, but I love them.) and I don't want to forget it:

I'm in a kitchen, trying to make a salad, but the bag of lettuce explodes, and it's all over the counters and I'm frustrated. And then I notice there is an ENORMOUS spider on the counter, flipped on its back, its evil legs waggling wildly. It has bright green markings on its tummy. I scream and my mom and little brother, Gavin, come in to see what's wrong. And I am so upset. I'm stomping my feet and begging Gavin to kill it and thinking it's going to murder us all. Then the spider is rightside up, in a corner of the kitchen, the size of a little yappy dog, and Gavin says, "I think this is the kind of spider that likes water."

I dump a glass of water on the spider's head, and it makes the spider really angry. I can tell the spider hates me now, even though I was trying to give it what it wanted. Gavin comes up to it really slowly, and very gently puts his hand its enormous mouth. I am sure the spider is going to bite his hand off. He says, "I think ..." and rubs its tongue a little. I am horrified. "Yeah," says Gavin. "Its tongue is smooth. That means it's harmless." I am flabbergasted. Gavin says, "I think I'm going to keep it."

And then I wake up.

My mom says Gavin hates spiders with the white hot intensity of a thousand burning suns. He's allergic to them, so they can never be friends. And it seemed like, if he could put his hand in the spider's mouth, I could, too.

And I did. Pouting about it the whole way. But I fought.

I still don't think it will do any good.

But I did it.

I was at my office until 11 working on the fight, and when I came home, Sam I went out to rustle up some dinner. Waiting to turn off of our street, I saw a raccoon walking along a telephone wire. It was dainty and sure-footed. I turned, stopped in the street, and looked up at it. He looked down at me with his elegant black eye mask.

This seemed a good sign.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dear Little Girl

I've been fighting off writing this, even though I knew as soon as it happened that I would. It's scary to write it, more personal than I would care to be. But I can't stop thinking I have something so say, and so I must say it.

I'm in Utah visiting my parents for 30 seconds or so (Saturday-Monday). While here, I usually hit up Ross, as there ain't no Ross in Boston.

So there I was on Saturday, at Ross, waiting in line to purchase several cozy, well-priced sweaters, when two little girls came up behind me, pointed at my butt, and said, "Big butt! Big butt!"

Oh, the things I wish I could/would have said.

I turned around, said, "That's very rude."

Her mother heard me say it, asked the kid what she had said, and a minute later a very embarrassed seven-year-old came up and told me, "I'm sorry."

I didn't know what to say there either, as my smart sister (Kira) has pointed out that telling kids "That's okay" when they apologize gives them the wrong impression: it's NOT okay. Pointing at my butt and calling it big was decidedly NOT okay.

So I just left off the "that's" and said, "Okay."

This has never happened to me before. This random insult from a child.

And I have all these thoughts about it, how weird it all is. I mean, I don't think she meant to hurt my feelings. It was almost like, for her and her friend, the butt wasn't attached to a person. It was just out there, big, and worthy of comment.

But that's perhaps the worst part, that it came without malice. It makes it feel more like the message came from the universe, somehow. Like the kid was this pure source, even though that's probably not true. I mean, truth be told, she was sort of chubby, and I think her mother's butt was bigger than mine, and so, aside from how much it bothered me, it also felt like the three of us--mother, daughter, me--were this bendy triangle of body anxiety. The insult got pointed at me, but it came out of all of our angst, even from the little girl, who is probably just figuring out her butt doesn't look the way it's "supposed" to look. And I was that little girl, so I know what that feels like.

I've been thinking about this kid for two days, wishing I could hate her. But I can't.

And it's weird to wish I could have explained to that little girl what she had done, how she had cut into a wound that's already gaping and raw. How much of my emotional/physical/intellectual energy I devote to worrying about that very butt's bigness. How many YEARS I've worried. How tired I am of worrying. How, in the last year, it's grown with abandon and without permission from me and despite every possible effort to counteract it. How many doctors have thrown up their hands in bafflement and blame. How NOTHING I've tried has helped--and I've tried everything I can think of. How people assume I'm lying when I say that, that I must have cheated or done it wrong or been half-baked about it, or it would have worked. How hunted and judged I feel by everyone in the world, like this is my fault; I can fix it; it's so simple and straightforward and healthy, so why not?

I cried on the way back to my parents' house, called Sam and sobbed. And the poor, sweet man, who is endlessly patient with all of this, just kept saying, "I'm sorry. I'm so so sorry."

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Speaking of Teaching

This morning, while trying to grade papers, I asked Sam, "What am I supposed to do with a paper on cheerleading?"

"Hmmm," he said. He was really thinking about it. "It's too bad we don't have a paper shredder because if we did you could shred it up and make two little pompoms and shake them."

This made me giggle uncontrollably for several minutes. Lately everything he says makes me giggle.

And it's a good thing someone is here making me happy, because my job is terrrrrible again. Not the students. I love the students. The teaching is fine.

But, to be vague, there's a bad guy in the department who is out to get me.

There are channels for me to fight back, which I'm doing. But the chair is his best buddy friend, so I'm probably out of luck. They'll make me miserable.

And I am miserable. Sad, and disappointed, and angry. It's different this year because I know they're wrong and I'm healthy enough to deal with it, but oh it's a bummer. A serious bummer.