Some Thoughts on Bullying

A few months back I was working with a women whose daughter was experiencing bullying due to her body while attending school. Her mother would go into her school at least once a week after her daughter would come home from school in tears due to the horrible and harmful words they would so casually throw at her. When I thought back on my own experiences of being bullied in school I wasn’t at all surprised by my coworker telling me that every time she went into the school to speak to someone about the harassment that her daughter faced they didn’t take her seriously. She was consistently told that it was just what kids do, that her daughters experience at school was completely normal.

What is normal about this situation is the way the school administration ignores the bullying that is going on right in front of their faces. I had a teacher who would lean against the wall and not even comment while my classmates on a daily basis tortured me. He only reacted when someone would physically assault another student. This has been what still lingers in the back of my mind when I think back to when I went to school, not the words thrown at me by now faceless students who are only part of my past, but the teachers and school administrators who allowed for my torture to happen. They continually allowed for my other classmates to harass and belittle me until I was the one who took action. I became angry and closed off as a person because they didn’t take my experience seriously.

We need to change the dialog to stop from only speaking to the students about how they must change their behavior but change the behavior of the school administrators who passively allow this behavior to fester instead of acting proactively so that the Tyler Clementi’s of the world don’t exist. No longer should we stand for the idea that making another student feel like an outcast is just what happens. It is a form of violence, pure and simple. We need harsher punishment for all forms of violence, physical or otherwise, telling someone to ‘stop it’ when they doing what would be considered harassment in the adult world is not an acceptable reaction.

The bottom line is that teachers and school administrators are products of the very same environment that children live in today. They hold the same likelihood for prejudice as others and can perpetuate violence by blaming the behavior on the students when they themselves don’t take it as a serious matter. What we need are school administrations to take all forms of bullying or harassment as seriously as physical violence, because what harms the mind or spirit is violence.

We need to stop being reactive to the deaths of students that are the product of bullying and start proactively stopping this harassment in our communities by challenging the social norms of bad behavior from the top school officials all the way down.

What Defines Us?

I often sit up at night and think about this question, I actually sit up and think about far more trivial things, but the idea of what makes me a good person vs. a bad person is something that I am not quite sure about. Does my life as a whole define me? Or is it the small pieces of my life where I do good things make me a “good” person?

I was sitting in my friend’s living room last night watching a movie, two of my friends on a couch to my right, another friend laying against me while we watched the movie and I looked around being content with my surroundings and I thought about this. Every person in the room has their flaws but in all they are good people. For me I think what defines us as people to others are the attributes that we show on a continual basis, but what defines us to our self are the life experiences that we hold inside.

It’s often pretty hard to make me speechless, but just last week I was greeting a table of four 50-year-old men, when one of them asked me to “tell me who you are in 20 words or less.” I stared at him for a second before asking him to explain to me what he wanted to know, since most people want to make sure that I am actually going to do something else with my life other than work at a bar. He wouldn’t budge, so I was left telling him my age, where I go to school, the degree I’m getting and what I want to do out of school. All of the purely factual information that any normal human being can pull out of their ass in 10 seconds.

I left that interaction knowing everything I told him was not who I am, but part of this very complex person that I am. What actually defines me as a person has so much more to do with my past, the thoughts that go through my head every night have to do with all of the what ifs.

What if my mom didn’t go into therapy until I was 13 instead of 12? The verbal and physical abuse would have continued for an extra year but would my path through life have been more like that of my brothers? Or was it my personality that made me able to keep going strait instead of getting lost in his spiral drugs, self-mutilation and depression.

Would I be a completely different person if I were born thin? The answer to that is yes, but I wonder if the compassion I have for others is rooted in my own pain and in my own experiences with being ostracized.

I still have defining moments of my life that are still around the corner, but I cannot help but look back and wonder about all of those little things that made me who I am. What would be different, what would still be the same?

Most importantly would I gain those things that I feel I lack as a person now?

10 years later

Most days I feel small, alone in this world where most people are easily forgotten and only immediate family members remember their existence. The world doesn’t stop because someone is lost or forgotten but the memory of that person fades until something makes you remember them again. For me I remember her every time an amber alert comes across my television, when I watch ‘Without a Trace’ and they have a missing child report in the commercial break. It was so long ago that I don’t remember grieving for her, I only can recall the conversations that I have had with my aunts and uncles who spent months searching for her.

In 1994 my cousin Celina lost her mother, my aunt Lynn from a brain aneurysm, she was only 10 years old at the time and was living in New Jersey, where her mother was working at a custodian. I don’t remember the funeral, or Celina after that time but I remember my parents talking about the custody battle that my aunt Marilyn fought. When my aunt Lynn died, Celina’s father, came out of the woodwork and decided that he wanted sole custody of Celina who from my memory had very little contact with her since she was a baby. The judge decided that Celina would be better off with her father, who is black, due to the cultural differences and how Celina would connect better with her father’s family. What the judge didn’t know was how her story would play out soon after.

When Celina’s father was granted custody of her in 1996, she was moved into the church housing at the Gospel Of Christ Ministries Inc. where her aunt was the pastor. Her father was living in a different house, but was working as the churches book keeper while Celina was living among people she didn’t know. We lost contact with her once she left us, my family members tried contacting her but were turned away being told that she was not one of ‘us’. The next time we heard anything about her she was gone.

On December 16th 1996 Celina was 12 years old and 9 months pregnant, when she disappeared into the night. She had supposedly placed pillows in her bed to make it look like she was still there, forgot her prenatal vitamins and was never seen again. Over the years different stories have come out, from people spotting her as late as 2002, although no one has ever found her. One theory is that her cousin, the son of Cerita Smith, raped and killed her so he would not go to jail. Celina was due on December 29th so wherever she went it was most likely to cover up the identity of the babies father. The only theory given by Celina’s father and aunt was that she met a boy at a roller skating rink and became impregnated. Aside from this Cerita Smith’s church has been listed as a cult and since 1996 has been disassociated by the church for autocracy. Several members have reported how the church uses brainwashing techniques to keep people from leaving.

My aunt and uncle’s went down to Mount Holly, New Jersey for weeks to help in the search for Celina but came home empty handed. During this time Celina’s story was all over the country, having my brother’s teachers asking if this was his cousin who was missing. My aunt spoke to national news programs about the situation and how our family had lost all contact once she moved into their custody.

Now 10 years later Celina’s half brother, and her father are fighting over who has the right to the life insurance money that was left by my aunt Lynn. The judge that was in charge of the custody battle has been assigned to decide who receives what from the $100,000 life insurance settlement that was suppose to be given to Celina when she was 18. Now that 10 years has passed her father wants to declare her dead to get the money, but Celina’s brother was written in as the sole beneficiary if something happened to her.

This is one of the main ‘what if’ scenarios that makes me wonder, how would things be different. As much as I could mourn the loss I know that there is a greater lesson to be taught from this. All I know is please do not comment if it is only to say your sorry, figure out who your close to and let them know how much you appreciate that they are in your life. I know who I am close to, and one day I’ll be able to do something to remember.

-Playing with Barbie’s
-Loves her brother
-Doesn’t remember her father

Remembering Home

I’ve been sitting around, waiting, contemplating about writing something. Sometimes I don’t know how to let things out, how to put in words what I am feeling at any certain moment. When the season changes it reminds me of my past; all of the good parts that I have forgotten and all of the pieces that make me happy of my home. Spring came last week reminding me of Cass Lake, in front of our house, the lake would thaw leaving the canals still clogged with ice and snow. The ice that was broken up from the center of the lake would get taken with the current finding it’s self getting flung against the shore and canal. The sound during this time was a mixture of gurgling, splashing, and the noise glass makes when struck against one another. It is part of my childhood that I will never get back. The home I grew up in still exists but is no longer mine.

I live 10 minutes from that house, but no longer a resident of West Bloomfield Township, I find my self annoyed when people complain about living in my hometown. West Bloomfield is my home, to me it was biking in the spring on the chilly days, swimming, boating and tubing on the warm days. It was walking around barefoot with a bathing suit on, day in and day out. It was perfection with bright colors. All of my memories of my childhood are good; the bad days have been forgotten. In the fall my dad would spend hours raking the leaves from the 15 full grown trees that occupied our backyard. Winter always came with sadness, I wanted the warm days to continue but by the time that snow was on its way I was ready for it with a smile. During winter, my brother and I would go to my friend JP’s house where we would walk threw the woods that once existed near his house. We took our sleds with us and made our way to the ultimate sledding hill Big Ben. Big Bed was a 100 foot long sledding hill that was shaped like a toboggan run. It was risking life or death as a kid if you would go down Big Ben in a saucer sled.

West Bloomfield now is expensive cars that belong to people that don’t deserve it. The places where I use to go sledding are gone, when I was 11 at the bottom of Big Ben, they tore down all of the trees and put in a subdivision. Big Ben now ends at the back of someone’s yard where they just so casually put in a row of trees. West Bloomfield I once knew is gone and now has been taken over by commercialization, and subdivisions. I only wish I could figure out where home is now.

About the Author

I am everything the title of this blog says, I am fat 5’5 and 225 pounds to be exact, although it waivers on its own. I am also a waitress, serving food and bullshit (with a smile) since 2005. These two things make me who I am, combined with my thirst for knowledge I have been able to learn my own place in the world through the main ideas of fat acceptance and feminism.

I have been lost and felt alone long enough in my youth to strive for something different from not only myself but also others around me. That is why I write this blog. In hopes of someone who is where I was and making them believe that there is more than one way to go through life no matter whom you are.

I am an idealist and a cynic, throw some actual intelligence in there with the balls to tell you how I feel you have someone that can be quite amusing or annoying depending on who you ask.

This blog is about my life, observations I make about the world around me and the things I love.