Thursday, March 8, 2012

Bullies, UFO's and Me

While I was growing up, my family moved a lot.  By a lot, I mean multiply any random number in your head by ten and then again by 10 or so and that would be about right.  No, I take it back. Just keep multiplying.  Don't stop.  Ever.  We inexplicably became morally opposed to staying in just one place, or fifty.  That would have been just wrong.
Here are a few examples of what "a lot" is...

The first day of school, every school, caused my stomach to spasmodically tighten before I even entered the building.

I was bullied, horribly, at every school I attended.  I was always the "new kid." Apparently, new kids are an entire race of people, ready to be pounded and smashed at any given moment.  That feeling stays with you a lifetime.  It didn't help that my family's sweet ride was a land barge on wheels wrongfully abducted from some movie called Cheech and Chong.  This thing took up half a country block and could easily transport a mass migration of Star Trek fans.  I was optimistic about the car, though, and harbored two of every kind of animal just in case of a great flood.  Optimism, however, can be very exhausting.

Still, I would try to have hopeful projections for myself, but usually, by the first or second day, the teacher would figure out my IQ was well above room temperature and would say something brilliant like this:
I was always a high target for bullies because I never knew anyone to take up for me and I never fought back and the ego of bullies feeds off of the weak.  Their ego would eat me alive.  


I would look for places to hide.  Usually, it was in the restroom, which ironically was not a good place to rest.  There would be puddles everywhere, almost as if a giant shaggy horse had bathed in there.
I staunchly believed in talking out differences by being diplomatic, tactful and graceful; whereas bullies just want to keep it going to continue feeding their ego.  And trust me, whatever you do, don't touch their ego.
There came a time, though, when I realized that I was stuck in this neverending loop of being bullied. I tried to come up with a plan.  I was not street smart, at all.  I knew the only thing going for me was I had a slightly higher intelligence.  By slightly higher I mean they weren't smart at all and I could have been Einstein squared. 


One thing that made me stand out and did not work in my favor was the fact that I was reading at a college level in the third grade.  I was reading Shakespeare and Bronte by the age of 8 and would often sit and dissect the hidden meanings and symbolisms in literature.  In the story, "Beauty and the Beast," books symbolize a way of escape for Belle, away from the life she does not want.

One reason I would read was because it gave me the opportunity to hide behind books so that I wouldn't have to make eye contact with anyone.  Eye contact never went into the direction I wanted it to and always ended badly.

The only problem with reading classic books at such a young age is I talked liked this:
And then this would happen:

Then one day out of the blue, just like a brick, it hit me.  I simply needed to blend in more with my environment.

First, I tried to tone down my 18th century free-speech vocabulary so that I wouldn't stand out quite so much.  I added in a few extra effects to appear more like them and less like someone from the Dead Poet's Society.


I probably went overboard on the effects.

I even tried the "Mafia Staredown."  I secretly practiced an Italian accent and would subsequently advise them that my dad was a Mafia crime boss.

But, then they would see me drive up in our attractive land barge and that gig would dry up quicker than the Mojave Desert.  I became trapped in the soft vice like grip of their oppressive bullying as my self-esteem lazily drowned in a sea of complex post traumatic stress disorder.  My stress levels soared to infinite portions well beyond my day to day childhood love of stress.

I doggedly learned the art of being "gangsta," and would constantly reaffirm to them just how gangsta I was.  

I would handle up on my bizness and still have a sense of honor and integrity about me.  That would buy me only a little bit of time and ultimately I tried to coach myself on moving my internal organs so that their punches felt less like the hull of the Titanic repeatedly crashing itself into my stomach.
My insides began to stealthily wish that they were on the outside of me.  My outside of  me wished it was on the other side of the playground in another country. 

Secretly, though, I wished my family could move us someplace a bit less hostile, like Iraq.
It would have been nice if I would have had something to fight back with like a chocolate cake or a bomb. 

They would call me "Tracie Lion" (my last name was actually an animal name so they were pretty brilliant with that one) as my hair is naturally curly and I hate curls and would try to comb it straight but it would just poof up like a golden giant mane.  Then, they would roar at me and say bad poetry. 

Their heartwarming behavior of torturing me began to take its toll.  I began to realize why UFO's don't bother to land.  We don't play nice here.  

Then one day, one of the bullies grabbed my coveted Gilligan's Island lunch box with the matching thermos that had Gilligan himself on it.  OH, but no! I don't know if it was the gangsta or the mafia crime boss coming out of me, but I became enraged and wanted to give her a dose of either fresh air or a severe head injury.  I stood there chaotically envisioning in my own head what type of ninja I should morph into and secretly hoped that something heavy would fall on her, like a waffle house.  

I was not street smart and all I had going for me was my Mensa I.Q. certificate.  Prepare to be thought at!  I pathetically stood there with them pointing and laughing at me.  They had something that was mine and I wanted it back and I knew that it was time to pull out the punches.  I wanted Gilligan back with everything that was in me.  But, I just stood there with my fist in the air.  I wanted to pound the daylights out of her like she had been doing to me, but I just couldn't do it.

In those seconds of remembering I remembered who I was.  Just like the land barge I was so ashamed of and would duck down deep on the floorboard of the car and slither out hoping no one would see, I was lowering myself to their level.  I was giving them the power that they were so desperate for.  My power.  I thought of the UFO's and how the aliens were frightened of us, thought of Iraq welcoming me and ultimately decided I wasn't going to do something brainless, so I languidly put my fist down.  Carefully, I stood back and waited for the universe to dispense some exemplary crack justice.   

At that instant, while I was standing there waiting for a waffle house to plummet down out of the sky, one of the bullies lunged over and punched me in the stomach.  Then, they laughed.





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61 comments:

  1. If it's any consolation, you turned your childhood trauma into something funny. So glad you illustrated what "a lot" means, I was so lost. And I had a Popeye lunchbox that someone tried to take one day. In the struggle, I vomited on the kid. I was only ever mocked from afar after that. So that's my tip to bullied kids, learn to vomit on command.

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  2. oh dear. bullies are in every school all over the planet. it must have been extra hard for you since you moved around a lot.
    but you turned out great :)

    i studied in the same school all through my primary and secondary years and there was a girl who bullied me till my final year in that school. in the end, she never graduated though.
    :p

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  3. LOL well at least you sorta had a Home Alone 2 moment with the brick..hahaha. You did take it and turn it into something funny, always great when one can be humorous about it. I just pushed back and they left me alone, as I dulled their ego's teeth..haha. And if I times 56 by ten and then 10 am I close?

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  4. The lunch box. What happened to the lunch box? Did you get it back?

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  5. I love your posts. You're so adorable, I just want to hug you until you pop. It's not a threat. It's not violence. It's an act of love.
    I moved around a lot, too, which led to being bullied. It never mattered to me. I was happy in my bubble. The bruises healed, and in the end, I won. Most of them ended up 16 and pregnant WITHOUT being featured on some Mtv show.

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  6. Sadly, sometimes even when get involved bullying doesn't stop. My son was brutally assaulted by 2 upperclassmen on his high school football team because he was the only freshman still left in the locker room. That was the ONLY reason. My husband and I talked to all of the coaches and the principal of the school. The bullies were suspended from school and kicked off the team. Unfortunately the bullies were the star football players and lots of the remaining players bullied my son for the rest of the season calling him a "snitch" because he told the authorities. Uh, excuse me he had broken ribs and a concussion and could barely walk out of the locker room. How could he NOT tell anyone? Redemption came when my son caught an interception against our rivals and those bullies were sitting in the stands watching the game instead of playing. Lemme just tell ya, this Momma was less than forgiving!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  7. FIRST!!!! okay, second!!! (*goes back to read*)

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  8. i`m loving this post, i know what that feel is,, always the new kid. same thing here.

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  9. I too was bullied for a time in school. I grew up and joined a band and got the crowd to chant "F" you Eugene (Bully of note). It made me feel better. It really did.

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  10. Tracie, It does stay with you a lifetime, I know. But I went back to my high school reunion this year proudly displaying who I was and who I loved. I looked happy, healthy and a heck of a lot better than most people there. It was kind of sweet and the closure I was looking for. I hope you found yours

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  11. Tracie, this is a great post on a very serious topic. My favorite sections were the 10 pictures on the stress scale (with #9 looking surprisingly like the Walmart grandpa) and also the line about "something heavy, like a waffle house."

    My family also moved a lot (my step-dad was in the military) so I can relate to you being the "new girl." It sucks. One time when I was in 5th or 6th grade, this kid stole this special deck of cards that my great aunt had brought me from Russia. (The class was studying Russia at the time, I did not randomly bring cards to school to play poker on our lunch break.) The cards were all in Russian and had beautiful Russian pictures on them. The teacher knew who stole the cards, and in the end we did get *most* of the cards back, but as you probably guessed, no one really wants to play cards with a deck of 46 cards. You kinda need all 52. Even at the age of 10 I somehow knew that the deck was pretty much worthless now.

    I am glad your Mensa IQ means you can laugh about these things now. And I am sorry about your lunchbox.

    Keep fighting bullies, Tracie! Maybe you can draw a super-hero cartoon version of you with a big "B" on her shirt for bullies but with a giant "X" through it! Put this in your online shop (like Haley's Comic does) and I will totally buy the t-shirt!!

    best,
    MOV

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  12. Hmm, my experience with hugging the toilet is a little different, and it involved beer and not bullies.

    Btw, your stomach is adorable.

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  13. Awww I feel sorry for little Tracie! I was teased a little when I was a kid - but none of the people around me were real bullies. Whenever things got out of hand I would start crying my heart out - which would make them feel bad and they would stop. "They" being my brother and his friend. Or, if they didn't stop, my mom would come running and make them stop. I was, and am, a big baby lol...

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  14. I forgot to say that the portraits of you and Einstein were priceless! Couldn't stop laughing :-) ......

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  15. So funny...and yet so sad. Integrity is prolly better than a Gilligan lunch box, but it's not something you can sell on e-Bay. Life's just full of unsatisfying trade-offs like that.

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  16. Another brilliant post!

    Bullying is a problem I care deeply about. I was massively bullied as a kid, for the same reason - always being the new kid. My family moved around a lot (haha, loved your 'a lot' explanation) and sometimes to countries where I did not know the language. And balls man, kids are bloody mean!

    You turned out more than okay though :)

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  17. I wasn't the new kid. I was the girl mocked for being good at school and I didn't care for baggy jeans or lining my lips with a dark color and then wearing a shiny lip gloss (as was the trend a few years ago). Oh, how we smart ones become easy targets in school...

    -Barb the French Bean

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  18. Great post, Tracie! I want to hug young Tracie... I totally would have been your friend. I was never the new kid - stayed in one place until I got married - but I always made friends with the new kid. Or the kid in the corner with the book. Or the kid with the strange lunch. Because those kids were the INTERESTING kids.

    While I never did get outright bullied, I did have the audacity to get picked to go to choir camp one year and when I got back, my entire class shunned me. It was the strangest experience. No one in my class talked to me for months, and being in the French Immersion class, no one outside my class talked to me either. I have to hope that the kids who do this sort of thing just don't realise how hurtful it can be and if someone takes the time to explain it to them, they'll start acting like decent human beings.

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  19. I wrote about my bully experience as well. This is an excellent example exposing this sort of behavior. I enjoy your drawings. :)

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  20. Kids are mean. Do you ever stalk them on Facebook to see if their lives are sucking? If that waffle-house ever comes one day, you probably don't want to miss it.

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  21. Hate bullies but love your drawings. BTW...made you blog of the day.

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  22. What cruel kids. I'm sorry you had to go through that, although I have to admit that the way you told the story did cause me to want to laugh out loud.

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  23. I was bullied a lot, and sadly I did lower myself to their level. So I commend you for not doing it. For having your realization that you're a badass.

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  24. AWWWW I think we would have been friends in school for sure. I was called "car keys" in 3rd grade by Chris contreras (last name was keys) and you would have thought that he was calling me a psycho hose beast. It hurt so bad. Stupid kids. I guess what doesn't kill us makes us stronger...or more messed up with great stories! HUGS

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  25. What are we, twins? I, too, moved a lot. Was smart wherever I went. Had stomach issues because of it.

    A sense of humor helps. :-) So does running into some of these people now and taking note of mis-spelled tattoos.

    Pearl

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  26. I moved a lot as a kid. OMG I remember my first day of sixth grade, I got made fun of so badly, I couldn't even eat my lunch, I became so nauseous and upset. I was the new kid and, to top it all of, I had a little mole on my face that all the kids thought was oh so funny. I ended up getting it removed out of humiliation. However, I don't regret it because it could have potentially been cancerous :) I remember kids asking me to play football during recess and sometimes I would but I would also tell them that I would rather stay inside and work on my art projects. That led to some nice bullying. I was fortunate enough to always stick to my guns and just be myself. Bullying is so sad :( I wish I could change it and help all the kids that have to go through it.

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  27. I was 6' tall in 6th grade and also a huge Bronte fan. Easy pickings. What a great post, and I hope somewhere, out there, a Mean Girl is reading this and feeling some remorse over the pain she once caused. If not, maybe she just has really bad psoriasis and scabbies. Karma, you see. I'm a big fan of the Karma.

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  28. Can you draw my stomach after laughing so damn hard? Girl, you CRACKED me up!!! hahahaha

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  29. Wow! In the end you're a better person for it! You have a lot of compassion!

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  30. Wow but in the end you are a better person for having gone through all that. You're more compassionate.

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  31. You're a far better person than me - I wish I could walk away from situations like that, it would have saved me a lot of problems.

    Great post and always funny

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  32. My evil ancestors moved every three months. I was about the same. That's why I developed a sense of humor. If I want to I can make anyone cry now just with my big mouth. Unfortunately I still have too much compassion from being on the flip side. I think I still need more psychological damage.

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  33. New follower from MothersofBrothersBlog. What a great post. Not great subject matter, but great lesson.

    I have always talked to my children about bullying. I mean from day one, it was always included in any of our important discussions.

    Never ride with strangers, promise you will run and scream if anyone tries to grab you, always tell me or your father if someone ever makes you uncomfortable, birds and bees, and BULLYING!! Never be a bully, you never realize the extent of how bad you can hurt someones feelings.

    If every parent would include that in their life lessons, this world would maybe be a little bit nicer.

    No bullying here on your blog, here you RULE!!!! :) Happy to be a new follower.

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  34. Good for you! Bullies suck. Being a parent it's one of my worst fears EVAR! :/

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  35. No, not the Gilligan!
    That waffle house always comes for those kinds of people.
    Bullies make me lose my mind.
    Hugs to you and your badass self.
    New follower. :)

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  36. Fantastic post, probably therapeutic also.
    I had a bully appointed to me in high school. Three years of this girl making my school life hell. It stopped the day I was alone with her walking to class (we both got the room wrong) and I asked her friend later why she didn't like me. I didn't get an answer but it stopped. I just wish I'd whacked her when it was happening - my one big chance to have a damn good reason to whack someone and I missed it.

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  37. its such a sensitive issue, probably a nightmare for all parents who have timid kids... I guess teaching our kids to stand up and fight back, maybe enroll them for martial arts and creating a friendly atmosphere at home so that they are comfortable enough sharing any bullying incidents with parents, could help...

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  38. As I'm reading this I was hoping that it was going to say you pulled her hair or beat them up with your Gilligan-fury, but you didn't. And I get it. It would just perpetuate the cycle. Bullying isn't just "kids being kids". It's a real problem and it's nice that you were able to recognize this at a young age.

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  39. I was definitely made fun of and disliked for "breaking the curve" - which I did not know existed, I only knew there were A's, B's and dissatisfaction. But I have a big brother who not only walks on water, but was known for his temper. I was gold...just not well-liked gold.

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  40. Outstanding post! Wow, so much work with all those drawings and SO FUNNY! Thanks for popping by my blog... so glad I found yours.

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  41. If you omit the part about moving a lot this was my childhood. I read all the time too. I think me impression of other people up until my senior year of high school was that they hated my guts. For no good reason. It was like they could sense that I was not one of them and they would tear me apart. Yup. When poeple talk about how much fun childhood was for them I look at them like they are crazy. Really crazy.

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  42. I remember way back in the days when bullies punched people in the stomach. I have to say, I'm glad I grew up in that era instead of now, because these days bullies all kick the groins of their victims, video the sexual assaults, and upload it to the internet for the whole world of bullies to laugh at. It's infinitely worse today than it used to be. And the same nothing is being done about stopping it.

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  43. Damn! That was great! I am stoked I stumbled upon your blog!

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  44. I feel kinda bad that bits of that made me laugh.

    But I guess sometimes humour can be used as a weapon too, I could see value to this being made into an anti-bullying handout.

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  45. Yeah, I found that unless you stood up for yourself (i.e. beat the crap out of a bully or all of the bullies) they usually don't leave you alone.

    But it was hard to as a scrawny Asian guy. :\

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  46. I think some kids bully others because they're scared if they don't it'll happen to them. Don't suppose that's much consolation to the victims though.

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  47. What a great post! Yeah, you probably would've done better in Iraq. LOL!

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  48. AWESOME post! And timely ... honestly, how many of us were bullied as young kids, but no one ever did anything about it? It's about time we start to speak up for those who haven't yet found their voices. Thank you!

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  49. hilarious and thoughtful post. going faster is a time-tested survival method. bullying is a part of society becuz we are a waring society and celebrate death and destruction all the time. kids learn quickly that might makes right and they act it out. nothing could be more predictable.

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  50. I was reading this saying to myself "I hope she gives some advice on how to stop bullying", and then you did at the end. What I never understood was that if I went up to some random person that was much smaller than me in public, and pushed them, or threw something at them, or hit them etc. etc. I would be arrested for assault. But when this would happen to me every day at school, and if you would complain about it, they would call you a wuss, and tell you to man up. Hmmmm...dem crazy equivalencies.

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  51. I didn't have the pleasure of moving around allot but I was tagged as different most of my adolescent life. I was dyslexic and didn't know or understand what that meant or the effect it had on how people viewed me. So I hid allot, drew more because It was the easiest way I knew to express myself. Even though I struggled with reading i worked at it with a vengeance when no one was watching. Bravo for letting it hang out there and being a survivor with a sense of humor. :-), Susan Cooper

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  52. There are all kinds of escapism; my favourite is vodka... But even that isn't powerful enough to get Gilligan back! :)

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  53. Whoa, most excellent blog! I once traveled in the Amazon along with a guided group and participated in a religious ritual. I saw some UFO like figures.

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  54. Too true, adults and peers can stop bullying. Below is a recent post I wrote on being bullied. I ended up enrolling my kids in Tae Kwon Do, so that they would know that they could defend themselves if they have to and the result is they never have to (except from each other sometimes). I have studied martial arts with them and it has changed my life/self perception in ways I never would have imagined:
    http://reasonable-thought.blogspot.com/2012/03/confrontation-frightful-visage.html

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  55. Holymackerel!

    sorry. just had to!

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  56. I wish I had been there. You wouldn't have been bothered nearly as much, either that or we would have both been getting beat on. Even so, it's better to nurse wounds with a pal.

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