So last night I ordered:
A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812 , Suite Francaise: A Novel , I Don’t Want To Be Crazy, This is Forever, and set up an account with Boca Java because of WinZip 11 and their stupid Trial Pay. Eh, whatever. At least I can look forward to having banana coffee and a pink travel mug in my mailbox now.
In my massive collection of new books that I’ve started cataloging on Shelfari, last night I picked up the book I wasn’t so sure I was going to be interested in. I started reading the introduction and felt compelled to pick up a pen and underline important passages. I do this often with my Russian non-fiction but never in a “girlie” book. I’ve accepted that I should be more open to reading “girlie” books and while I’m not into the moronic characters of chick lit, this book had an interesting title: The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman’s Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine . I always had women at school and at work telling me how they loved The Secret Life of Bees but it seemed overly sentimental and, in fact, girlie. Not for me. But this book is non-fiction and has a very interesting theme, hence the title, so I ordered it and last night realized how glad I am that I did pay the $6 to have it sent from Powell’s:
I parked in front of the drugstore where my daughter, Ann, fourteen, had an after-school job…
I spotted her right away, kneeling on the floor in the toothpaste section, stocking a bottom shelf. I was about to walk over and say hello when I noticed two middle-aged men walking along the aisle toward her. They looked like everybody’s father. They mad moussed hair, and they wore knit sportshirts the color of Easter eggs, the kind of shirts with tiny alligators sewn at the chest…
My daughter did not see them coming. Kneeling on the floor, she was intent on getting the boxes of Crest lined up evenly. The men stopped, peering down at her. On man nudged the other He said, “Now that’s how I like to see a woman — on her knees.”
The other man laughed.
I had the exact same thing happen when I worked at the grocery store when I started college. We had this old man who worked as the daytime bagger / janitor / all around “nice” guy whom everyone loved and whom other old retired customers in the daytime hours would only allow to help them out with various needs. They would actually tell me that they didn’t want me or one of the other girls or the manager or whomever that they only wanted him to do something and to call him because we wouldn’t do it right.
One day, my friend, Kelly, a girl about 30 at the time, married with a little boy, was helping a customer clean up something that had fallen from the cart and shattered on the floor while they were in my line. She was bent down at my line, as I was hanging her paper towels to help her clean up the spill. The old man bagger said the exact thing to Kelly at that particular moment. In front of everyone at the store. Kelly, normally kick ass and brassy, a former security guard for crying out loud, looked up at me with her big blue yes even bigger, silently saying, “You’ve got to be freaking kidding me.” I don’t even remember what she said to him because she was so astonished that she couldn’t even come up with a proper, polite yet jabbing retort.
Sue Monk Kidd. I’ve only read a few pages so far but, yeah, you’re absolutely right to write this book. You are right to say, “We tell tell our stories for ourselves, of course. But there are also those thousand other women.” We have all seen this happen and I’m glad you spelled it out for us so well.
For some reason, I think I can almost hear a group of men laughing as they read this. Hhmm…
Anyway, so while I’m mentioning the journey of women, let me go into the infuriating story that Fran told me on Monday:
On Monday the teachers had their in-service classes and all the department have to get together from other schools to meet up and sit in a class for eight hours and do hands on crap and are taught by ex-teachers who think they are still experts in the trade or are elementary teachers who talk to other teachers like their are five years old. It’s an experience like no other and you cannot understand the magnitude of the situation unless you experience it for yourself. I was always the one in the back of the class, slumped back in my little desk, writing notes to my teacher friends who had come with me or chatted with my new friend next to me and felt above it all. You know, like I did when I was sixteen.
Anyway, so when Fran was with her teacher friend from her school, they started talking to a girl who said it was her second year at my old school. Fran said she asked the girl if she knew me and the girl rolled her eyes and said, “No comment.” Fran rolled her eyes back at her and said, “Whatever.”
Whatever is right. The girl ended up being one who I talked to fairly often and who came and ate lunch with us. I talked to her all the time and never had a problem with her. This just goes to show that the evil supervisor that I use to have not only has misrepresented me to my principal, assistant principal, students, parents of my students, the union, the school board, any potential employer I may have in the future who needs a reference and Lord knows who else…she has also spread lies and gossip to the girls I use to be friends with who still work at my school. Of course it’s obvious that most of these people kiss my old supervisor’s ass and look up to her like she’s the genius of middle school English (no rhyme intended). They always did. What pisses me off is that while I’ve gotten away from that situation as much as I possibly can, she is still spreading lies and making me look like some horrible person when I was totally victimized by that woman. I can’t even begin to explain how much the anger builds inside of me when I talk about that woman. Even Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada ended up being like-able in the end. At least her character was running a multi-million dollar business. This lady is a mole at a tiny school and once she’s gone the forty teachers that feel her wrath will dance a jig of glee.
I’ve never, ever given anyone a reason to be despised and treated so maliciously. That’s why the whole thing baffles me still. Why would anyone believe that I did anything to cause someone else enough reason to roll their eyes and make “no comment” and the mention of my name? Absolutely amazes me.
The ironic part about the whole thing is that last week I emailed my closest friend at the school just to ask her how her year was going and she said, “You know, everyone keeps asking me if I’ve heard from you. They’re wondering how you’re doing.” Those are the normal ones who would ask. The ones who were sincere and friendly and who had the sense to stay away from my evil supervisor so they didn’t listen to her bullshit gossip to know anything about everything that I was going through with her.
So, hence, my picture for this post. While I am not sitting in Maine in my little New England dream house that overlooks the bay, I am much better off sitting in my tiny Floridian apartment that overlooks the retention pond, being poor and bored instead of working and being torn to shreds at that job anymore. While those women are hauling their asses to school each day to complain about each other and their kids, I’m sitting here writing my blog posts, writing my stories, reading my books, wandering around town and not having anxiety. I use to get so upset each morning when I would get up that I would put off taking a shower as long as I could because the minute I did, I would start getting ready for work and think about all the things that that woman was going to say or do to me once I walked into the door. Just thinking about it now makes me heart start pounding. I was helpless every day but, by God, I stuck it out until the end. I never gave up the money I deserved just to make her smile as she squashed me completely. Every week she would spout some ridiculous complaint about me so I looked like the most ungrateful, incompetent, loathsome, idiotic, lazy, disrespectful and unprofessional piece of shit that ever walked the earth. She would go around talking about me to everyone else because she didn’t teach any classes and had nothing better to do but go around gossiping to everyone about everyone else. She gossiped about what a horrible piece of shit I was while I spent all of my time trying to teach 120 kids how to read and write when they didn’t even know what a syllable was. (I love them though; they were funny as hell.)
I worried every day that she would somehow find a way to take my summer pay away from me. I worried that she would take the bonus money I received from the school board. I worried that she would be the one to answer the phone when an interviewer called for a reference. I even worried that she would find out that I wrote about her in my blog and she would report me so I never talked about anything that was going on at work to anyone other than the people I knew I could trust. I emailed them from a separate account and even used pseudonyms. My heart would jump and my skin would crawl whenever I saw her. She wouldn’t even say hello to me in the hallways because she hated me so much. I could stand there with five other people and she would speak to all of them and exclude me, like we were the kids in this adolescent zoo. I mean, can you imagine being so harassed that you would sit there and cry in front of children because you were so afraid of one little old woman? Thank God that nightmare is over.
Incidentally, I asked the secretary before I left about references and she said the supervisor wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone who would call for a reference. I seriously doubt that old woman would adhere to any kind of rule like that though. What would stop her from talking to a voice from human resources about me? She use to talk smack about me to my kids. The best thing was though, at the last day of school she said something to one of my kids about me and he told her off in front of everyone in the office. It was the best thing. Ever.
Anyway, my new thing was going to be that I wasn’t going to dredge up old crap but this new story made me re-assess the monstrous hell I went through. It made me sort of look at it in an objective manner. The old woman supervisor is a miserable woman, hence, she has to make everyone else miserable. No one honestly likes her and she knows that so, all I can do is feel bad for her. I have hope for the future of being honestly liked for who I am and the knowledge that I don’t purposely try to get someone just to make myself feel superior. If there’s any consolation in any of it, that is at least what I have on my side.
I said, pointing to her, my finger shaking with anger. “You may like to see her and other women on their knees, but we don’t belong there. We don’t belong there!”
Well, it’s not just men, Mrs. Kidd. Women like to put other women in that place too. Their anger and gets so overwhelming that they shake the foundation of this sisterhood we are suppose to establish. Hence, Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye; the next book on my wishlist.
With that said, I’m going to start typing up my damn story that I have to submit to class tonight. I was going to start working on it Monday but I didn’t bother. Instead I ended up taking the old box full of CDs that were still at my parents’ house and started rumuging through them as they now sit on the back seat of my car. (Tori Amos, R.E.M., Peter Murphy, Catherine Wheel ((I’m hearing them all over XM now. I thought I was the only one who knew about them in the 90s)), Concrete Blonde, Hole, Smashing Pumpkins ((the best of the best of the best)), industrial mix CDs, 80s compilation CDs, and the list goes on.) After hearing that story I was sidetracked mentally for the rest of the day. At least I have the thing started and all I have to do is type up what I have. I’m not superior as a writer in any respect but, man, some of the stuff people submit each week baffles me. Just as an example, people are actually writing stories that include, “As I woke up, I realized it was all a dream…” Give me a flipping break. This is something that warrants an eye rolling. Of course I would never do it in front of their friend. But that’s just me and that whole polite, nice, classy, mature thing I can’t seem to shake. Sigh…no comment.