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EXCERPT: Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom – The Beginning

I am so thrilled to share the beginning of my new release Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom with you. Enjoy!

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Long ago, in a time before we confined our magic to fiber optic cables and microchips, there was a beautiful kingdom nestled in a valley, surrounded by mountains. The ebony mountains only brightened when the sun shone directly upon them, the peaks frosted with snow nine months out of the year. Rolling hills led up to the mountains, carpeted in thick, green grass on which white cows with black spots grazed. The fields of grain and beans created a patchwork in the countryside. In between the patchwork fields were modest wooden cabins that housed families, smoke from the fireplaces curling up towards the sky, the scent of the burned wood ingraining itself with the scent of the cows and dewy grass.

To the north stood a stone castle where the king for the whole valley lived. It wasn’t as large as the castles on the other side of the mountains, but that was fine. Everyone knows what they say about kings with big castles; they must be compensating for their small family jewels.

The people of the kingdom of Inniskellin were happy, for the most part. Sure, there was the occasional brawl at the pub or a land dispute. But everyone got up at the crack of dawn, worked hard, and slept well at night. Inniskellin was growing, little by little, every year.

King Talbot was not the brightest king that had ever existed. But he wasn’t particularly cruel either, so the villagers let his reign continue with no motion to remove him from the throne. He was young, still only twenty when his father died unexpectedly and he took over the ruling duties. That was going on five years ago.

King Talbot was single and a ladies man. He always had a beautiful woman on his arm. At royal balls, his dance card was perpetually full. Coming to power as he entered adulthood may have contributed to his hard-partying ways. He had dark hair and rather plain looks while being slightly overweight and not particularly athletic. But the lasses were all over him, because they all dreamed of one day becoming queen. And the king liked it that way.

The people who lived in the villages directly around the castle were known as living “in the shadow of the castle.” They perceived themselves to be better than the rest of the villages in Inniskellin, because they saw the king more frequently as he traveled in and out of the castle. This caused the people of those close villages to put on airs. The faraway villagers thought of them as snooty for assigning themselves an honor that really only existed in their big heads. Even those within the castle walls did not like the villages in the shadow of the castle, although the king loved the attention they showered upon him.

One day, he was at a faire in a village in the shadow of the castle. All the beautiful ladies were hanging on him, trying to get a dance as the band played a raucous tune. An older woman with a long nose and crooked, umber teeth wearing ragged clothes approached him.

“May I have a dance, sonny?” she screeched.

“Oh, definitely not” those who were witness say he replied.

“What? Well, why not? I just want some face time with my king,” she responded.

“No. What you need is a new face!” the king yelled too loudly to his hangers-on. He guffawed, his belly bouncing with the exertion. He was eating too many treats baked for him by the wannabee queens, and it was showing.

“Excuse me?” the old woman replied in disbelief.

“Wow. Not only is she ugly, she is deaf and dumb too!”

More laughter erupted.

“My ears better be deceiving me. I would hate to have to punish you for disrespecting an old woman.”

“Oh, right, like you could punish me. My royal guards would have you subdued in no time. And I wonder if you even are a woman anymore. You are probably all shrunken, like a dried fruit,” the king snickered. The crowd doting on him hooted and hollered their agreement.

“You best find some respect for your citizens fast, or they will all pay for what you have done here today.”

“No one can harm me. I am the king! Now get out of my sight, you ugly old witch.” The king even made a gesture with his hands, as if he were sweeping her away and out of his sight.

“Oh, you have no idea how right you are, sonny!” The unknown woman cackled loudly. She raised her arms to the sky and magenta smoke began to billow around her.

“I am a witch! And I don’t appreciate being talked to that way. And neither do these greedy whores around you, but they won’t tell you that. You think that your precious guards can protect you from a curse? I think not. I will spread a curse across your land. Death will surround you. As the years pass, it will only get worse, until your whole kingdom and everything in it shall perish.”

Half the people gathered chuckled, thinking this was a joke or an illusion, including the king. The other half trembled in their boots, knowing this could be the end of the pretty charmed existence they had enjoyed up until now.

“But I feel sorry for your kingdom, all those who will die innocently because of your incivility. So, I will give you the key to breaking the curse. Your first born son must kiss the girl in the land who has the truest beauty, through and through. You better hope that he is blessed with the gift of knowing true beauty that you yourself lack.”

And she cackled, disappearing into her purple cloud, and was gone.

All the villagers stared at the king, waiting to see his reaction. They looked to him to know how to respond to this horrific event.

And he laughed.

The king laughed off the curse.

A few others did too. They were suck-ups who would agree with the king on anything. If he said the sky was green, they would agree with him.

The others simply looked at one another. And when their eyes met each other’s, they all reflected the same uncertainty. And this spread like wildfire as they told what had happened between the king and the witch, over and over again, to their families, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances.

At the same instant the angry witch’s curse spread across the land, a baby girl was born. The parents were horrified. The newborn came out as the ugliest baby they had ever seen. When the baby was placed in the mother’s arms, the mother screamed. The mother was so revolted by her baby’s appearance that she opened her arms and the infant fell to the floor hard, and began to cry. Not wanting to kill it, but also not wanting to keep the child, the midwife took it to an orphanage in the next village. It was run by a lady named Miss Peters. She accepted the deformed, mutant-looking pale infant. The baby girl had a giant, bulbous nose. One eyelid drooped lower over the right eye than the left. Her eyes did not contain a bright circle of color, but rather a milky glaze that hid whatever true color may lay behind it. She would tell the girl that she had been found on the doorstep with no one around, to prevent her from ever hoping to reunite with her parents who would never accept her. Miss Peters gave her a beautiful name, hoping it would make up some for her gruesome appearance. She prayed it would improve with age. She named her Guinevere, the name of legend, and often understood to mean “white phantom.”

*****

They all felt the same worry that had not before hung over Inniskellin. Generations of villagers had experienced good fortune. There was still the divide between the rich and the poor. But the people had enough to eat, they were all happy and healthy. No war had come to them. But they could all feel the shift now. As the days passed, an anxiety permeated them as they had never experienced before. It hung on their clothes like campfire smoke. They always were just a little on edge. It was as though a gloomy cloud hung over each of their heads, even though the sun still shined.

But they began to notice subtle changes. The leaves of all the plants started to always be black on the tips. The fruit and vegetables were still grown and harvested. But it made everyone nervous. The cattle stopped getting quite as fat as they used to. Some chalked it up to the people’s paranoia. But when weighed year to year at market, the numbers proved their suspicions right.

In other noteworthy news, shortly after the witch’s curse, King Talbot abruptly married. Some said that he had to.

Seven months later, all the mysterious happenings were momentarily forgotten with the birth of the prince. The bouncing baby boy was chubby and beautiful, with eyes like molasses and curls to match.

The girl named Guinevere grew to be obedient and hard-working, helping Miss Peters with the chores whilst the other children played. Early on they would invite Ginny to play with them, only to be cruel to her. A girl with long, golden hair named Lydia was always the ring leader. She had been at the orphanage since she was a toddler, and was roughly the same age as Ginny. She would have been pretty, had her face not wore a pinched expression at all times as if she smelled something rotten.

The other orphans would play hide-and-seek with her, then forget to seek her, heading off to play another game that did not include her. Sometimes the girls would play knights and robbers and make Ginny be a robber, so that they could tie her up. Once they bound her to a tree in the woods and left her there. Miss Peters did not come looking for Ginny till morning, commenting that she herself was too afraid of the dark to enter the forest at night. Ginny would continue to have nightmares about that incident in the woods for the rest of her life.

Miss Peters told Ginny, “Do not let anyone see that you are weak. Do not let them see that they hurt you. Do not let them see you cry. They will exploit it until you are completely broken.” Ginny felt that Miss Peters should make the other girls stop their behavior. But Miss Peters’s words had told her that it was Ginny’s burden to bear. Ginny was the one who needed to change, not the other girls. She needed to grow a tougher skin against all the teasing and torture. But Ginny could not find that inner strength inside. She always broke down. And that was when the others would tear her apart.

Once a fellow orphan girl named Bridget, who was very fair but so dim she sometimes forgot her own name, happened to touch Ginny’s hair during a game of tag. It was not hard to catch Ginny, as her extra-large feet and short legs gave her a speed and agility disadvantage. It was probably the only reason they let her join in at all. She was always the first one out.

“Your hair is soft,” Bridget remarked in surprise.

“Why wouldn’t it be?”

“I just assumed it would be nasty and stiff like the cow’s hide.” It did not escape Ginny’s cloudy vision that Bridget always escaped milking duties. Or that Bridget was comparing her to a cow’s ass.

“I wash it with the same soap as you do yours. You assumed it would be unpleasant because I am ugly?” Ginny meant for it to come out incredulous, but instead her words were feeble.

“Of course.” Satisfied that their non-conversation was over and Ginny was safely eliminated, Bridget ran back to the game with her band of make-shift sisters.

Ginny knew that is how they all thought of each other. And even at this young age, she knew that that sorority would never include her. She always thought that they teased her all the time only because she looked different. But Bridget’s comment had upset her more than usual. Ginny now knew that they didn’t just think she was different on the outside, they thought she was on the inside as well. She had hoped she would one day grow to be more beautiful and they would accept her. But this new development made Ginny lose all but the tiniest hope of that happening. They made up a jump rope chant, in her honor, that they sang over and over again all day long as each girl took their turn:

 

I smell the roses

I jump with my feet

All that is beautiful

Can’t be beat

I see a monster

The troll gurl

Watch out!

She will eat you

faster, faster

You better watch out

She’ll eat me too.

 

After Miss Peters turned down the lanterns and ordered all the orphans to silence and sleep, she always returned to her nearby cabin with the thatch-covered roof for the duration of the night. The girls would then prattle on endlessly about one silly topic or another, sometimes for hours, until exhaustion finally overtook them. Ginny did much of the work that had to be done on the farm and in the kitchen as the others chose not to. She was always exhausted when she hit her pillow, and wished they would all be quiet and go to sleep. But she had to stay awake until the last one was unconscious. She had learned her lesson the hard way. Many nights they had gotten together, coordinated and executed tactile assaults on her while she was in slumber.

Tonight they were supposing on the existence of magic.

“I think magic is real. It has to be,” Marta declared, always the dreamer.

Ginny often had strong opinions on these topics, but she knew better than to speak up. Last time that happened they had cut all her hair off. It was only just now growing out.

“Real things are rain and mud and cow shit—all the things we are surrounded by every day in this hellhole,” Lydia sneered into the darkness.

“So Lydia, you don’t believe that if you kiss enough frogs, one will turn into a prince?” Natalie asked.

“Never.”

“But what about this curse? Without magic, there would be no curse,” Angie inquired.

Although it was dark, Angie’s face popped into Ginny’s mind at the sound of her ragged voice. She had hair that was only one shade shy of being orange, and hung long and loose, though Angie never bothered to brush it.

“There’s no curse. It is all just stories the crazy old folks tell to scare us,” Lydia replied.

“No, it’s real!” Angie protested.

“Oh really? Then how come we are still here? How come the kingdom hasn’t disappeared like cotton candy on your tongue?”

“Now that sounds like magic,” Marta whispered.

“You’ve never had cotton candy,” Angie retorted.

“Have too.” Lydia always had to have the last word. It didn’t matter if it was a lie.

There was silence for a few moments.

“So you think when I wish on a falling star, it means nothing?” Marta asked.

“Nothing. Life, death. None of it means anything,” Lydia responded.

“That is a horrible way to be,” Marta said.

“It’s real,” Lydia stated.

“The king is smart. He wouldn’t fight a curse by collecting more taxes and drafting more knights if no such thing existed.”

“The king isn’t smart at all.”

Ginny could agree with that, from fragments of what she heard the adults say.

“Maybe it is all a lie. Maybe it is just a way for the prince to be the talk of the kingdom. Some day he will pick out the best kisser to be his queen.”

“Nobody said that he would have to marry the girl whose kiss breaks the curse.”

“But why wouldn’t he?”

“Because maybe he won’t love her.”

“Maybe love is the real magic,” Marta offered.

A hush fell over all the girls then. They were all here, stuck in the care of Miss Peters. None of them had known a mother or father’s love. But the others had hope of one day marrying a dashing stranger. Ginny had no such preconceived notions. There would always be only herself, and whatever self-reliance she could muster. When all their breathing fell even in the room, she crept outside into the pitch black night to look at the sky.

Ginny could not shut her mind down. Was there really a curse? And if so, why wasn’t the kingdom destroyed yet? Most of all, why had Ginny ever been born to look this way, instead of normal? She felt normal inside, she thought. How had the outside gone so wrong?

Ginny yearned to know what it was like to be beautiful. She wished one day that she would wake up and could peel the ugly off of her face. She was so tired of how everyone looked at her. They saw her glazed eyes, her droopy eyelid, her giant nose, and assumed she was also feeble-minded. But she had millions of ideas run through her head every day. Brilliant ideas! She had feelings! If you threw rocks at her, did she not hurt? If you cut her, did she not bleed? There were just as many deep thoughts going on inside her brain as anyone else. Probably more than some of the air-brained girls she was forced to share a bedroom with.

She looked up at the stars then. They seemed so bright tonight. Then she saw it: her first ever shooting star. Hadn’t Marta, so small and impressionable with her big round eyes and short black hair, said you should wish on it? So Ginny wished her deepest, most heartfelt wish. She wished to be pretty.

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

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NEW RELEASE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

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Troll Gurl is my attempt at writing a fairy tale. I don’t know if it was too much of ABC’s Once Upon a Time or reading Gabaldon’s Outlander, but this is just how Ginny and Jeremie’s story presented itself to me. I’m calling it new adult, but really it is the story of her entire life, from birth to age twenty. It could almost be young adult, except for the gratuitous sex scene (as is the case with all my books).

I had some issues I wanted to explore in this book, and I guess it was easier for me to do if a fantastical element was involved, where they all lived in a time so far removed from my own. But human nature is the same, no matter time or place.

I wanted to do something close to traditional romance writing with The Riley Sisters, to see if I could do it. And I think I, more or less, accomplished that, adding my own flair. But it left all the heroines feeling whole AFTER or BECAUSE they found their man. Don’t get me wrong, I love to read that kind of story. But in Troll Gurl, I made a conscious effort to make Ginny grow to be a full, satisfied person before she finds love in her life. Was I successful? Well, only you can be the judge of that! While the prince does save Ginny’s life in this book, she reciprocates by saving his as well.

This is my fourth book published in just under two years. I often regret not publishing sooner in my life. I always took writing seriously, but for personal pursuits such as a dream journal, amusing myself & my friends, and keeping my sanity. But really, in those years I was accumulating the experiences I write about now. So, if I am honest with myself, I never really lost anything. It was all a gain. But knowing how much those experiences hurt at the time, it is hard to look back on them with a positive light. They still try to dim the brightness.

There are five poems in the book that separate it into five sections. They were not written specifically for this book, but they fit so well you will think that they were. I pulled them from my archives, with dates ranging from 1994-2013.

troll-gurl-final-available-now

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

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Another Country Song: DENTS

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Yes, I have attempted to write another bad country song. I don’t know anything about reading or composing music, so maybe that just makes it a poem. I was kind of inspired by the three books I am working on lately. Hope you likey…

Dents: Full of 'em

Dents: Full of ’em

DENTS
Cars and trucks are an extension
Of our body and personality
That’s why when someone gets
too close on the freeway
We extend them a profanity
Some people baby their cars
Keep them locked away from the elements
But what makes a car special is not
How pristine you keep it
It is the experience

It is not the outside that counts
But the memories within
These dents are displayed
Like badges of honor
From the battles fought
It may look worn and used up
But at the same time it is stronger
From all those miles and those loads
Don’t count me out
Because I will be there with you
Until the end of the road.

I had a car, I called it an SUV
An SRV according to the manufacturers’ files.
I don’t care, it was special to me
Two-hundred and sixteen thousand miles
Drove that car north and south
And halfway west across this great county
Slept under the stars
And president’s heads
It bore the scars
Of two hail storms
And one hail mark slightly larger and deeper than the rest
Where I lost my temper
When a campfire wouldn’t catch.
I never felt bad about that blemish
Because it was part of the history

It is not the outside that counts
But the memories within
These dents are displayed
Like badges of honor
From the battles fought
It may look worn and used up
But at the same time it is stronger
From all those miles and those loads
Don’t count me out
Because I will be there with you
Until the end of the road.

I have fallen down
All on my own
I’ve also had a little push
A time or two
I never wanted to let this hate
Eat me alive
But I regret not standing up for myself sooner
For setting the record straight
That I am more than the names
You chose to call me.
I want you to know, at the end of the day…

It is not the outside that counts
But the memories within
These dents are displayed
Like badges of honor
From the battles I’ve fought
I may look worn and used up
But at the same time I am stronger
From all those miles and those loads
Don’t count me out
Because I will be there waiting for you
At the end of the road.
 

And I say DON’T COUNT ME OUT
Because I WILL be there waiting for you
At the end of this road…

 

For those of you who haven’t heard, I have an event this Saturday from 12pm-5pm at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Lansing. You can click on my Events page for more info. See you there!

 

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

Freezing Rain on the Block

There seems to be a big debate out in the world right now concerning whether school gets delayed or canceled for weather more now than it did previously.

This debate seems to come up every year about this time. It takes me back to a simpler time. A time in Michigan between the Blizzard of ’78, caused by regular old winter and the large snowfalls of 2014, caused by climate change. It takes me back to a certain winter, 1989-90, when I was in 8th grade. There was not snow that winter, but endless freezing rain. Freezing rain caused by global warming that no one was talking about yet.

Freezing rain, in case you live somewhere without it.

Freezing rain, in case you live somewhere without it.

My life was very complicated at that time. I struggled every morning with what clothes and jewelry to wear so that I wouldn’t get teased once I arrived at the bus stop/bus/school. I desperately wanted to wear things that would be “in fashion”*. Instead, I tried for “blend in”. Usually, I achieved something just north of “you’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny”. (Although, I assure you, my mom was not dressing me at that time.) Luckily schoolwork came rather easy to me, because I spent most of my time stressing about all the different cliques at my school. And if any boys would ever like me. (Seems kinda obvious now that no boys liked me in 8th grade because I had zero boobs and looked like I was about 10.) Little did I know that my future husband was still in elementary school at this time. My school looked like a prison, with tall gray walls and few windows. Gum chewing was banned. I was lucky enough to be able to say I had 6 friends that year. That is probably the only time in my life I have been able to say that.

My bedroom walls circa 1989, partway through NKOTB-ification.

My bedroom walls circa 1989, partway through NKOTB-ification.

Now that I have painted the picture for you of my day-to-day existence, I must let you know that it was the year of New Kids on The Block. Their presence in every part of pop culture had sling-shotted me into puberty. My asbestos friend and I made a daily pilgrimage to the nearby pharmacy to loiter and read the teen magazines to gain all the knowledge we could about Danny, Donnie, Joe, Jon, and Jordan. (I would marry Jordan, and she would marry Jon, and we would be sisters-in-law.**) When we had some money, we would buy the magazines for research purposes, such as the name of Jon’s dog and their bodyguards. We also hung up the pin-ups all over our rooms. What better way to memorize every line on their faces?

EVERY girl at school had a NKOTB T-shirt. So, of course, I had to get one. As all the fashion was still 1980’s-based, and I was fond of all things fluorescent. The New Kids shirt I bought had a black and white picture of each of them, accented with fluorescent yellow. On the back were hand prints in hot pink (presumably theirs), with a print of their autographs on it. I think only one or two other girls in my school had that particular shirt.

My NKOTB scrapbook

My NKOTB scrapbook

You might wonder what all this has to do with freezing rain. I’m getting to that.

I learned a trick. If you wore a risky article of clothing on a Monday, the other hellions at school teased you about it ALL WEEK LONG. So, I took to wearing risky clothing on Fridays. Then, it would be forgotten about over the weekend. By everyone else, anyway.

So, the winter of 8th grade, I always wore my New Kids on The Block shirt on Friday.

“But, they were popular?” you ask.

Yes, they were. And other girls in the school liked them too.

But just because the popular kids like the same things you did, that still didn’t mean you weren’t safe from getting teased for it. Especially if you had a reputation for being an easy target. (Please, kids. NEVER let yourself get that reputation. It will scar you for life and force you to use your blog as therapy for it.) Although I did once impress a group of girls a rung or two higher on the popularity ladder than I by showing up at school with the first known magazine of Jordan with his shirt off. Of course, they still didn’t let me be in their dissection group in biology class.

Jordan Knight showing off his chest.

Jordan Knight showing off his chest.

And I never knew if I would walk into school one day, and that would be the day everyone else decided that NKOTB were uncool. (It turned out that happened during the summer after 8th grade.)

So, I put on my NKOTB shirt every Friday, ready to head off to the hell that was middle school. And every Friday, for what seemed like all winter, school was either delayed, cancelled, or delayed until it was cancelled, due to freezing rain. I guess something about the roads being slippery and not thinking it was safe for the school buses to drive on them or something. I was a kid. All I knew was that my NKOTB shirt was my “lucky charm” to get school cancelled. If I wore it, I got to stay home! Or, in most cases, hang out with my asbestos friend all day.

Just because the roads were too icy to drive on, didn’t mean they were too icy to walk on, right? My asbestos friend and I would go up to the pharmacy to look at teeny bopper magazines, all the while clinging on each other as we slid along on the ice-covered sidewalks. One time the ice was so bad that she got out her ice skates and skated down the road of our subdivision (i.e. trailer court). I followed along, sliding in my boots. It was great fun, until the sun came out and melted the ice and she had to hobble home in her ice skates on concrete.

One day, I even fell down–which was AWESOME!!

You see, my mother wouldn’t let me cut holes in my jeans, as was the style at the time. But when I fell on the ice, I tore a tiny little hole in the knee of my jeans. I picked and picked and picked at that hole until it went from side to side, seam to seam. (She is still mad at me about that to this day.)

So, you see, that is how winter weather, New Kids on the Block, and fashion are all stored together in my mind.

Oh, I never got to see the New Kids in concert. Still kinda hoping my asbestos friend and I might go someday. But, I did meet one in person!***

* In retrospect, it is all so fucking stupid. We were a bunch of farm kids in Michigan. Why were we trying so hard to dress like the people we saw on TV and in magazines anyway? It’s not like we were going to grow up and be famous models or Miss Teen Michigan or anything.

** As an adult, Jordan seems very self-centered and egotistical. No longer appealing to me. And Jon turned out to be gay. I was always sure that with that high voice, Jordan would be the gay one.

*** I met Joe McIntyre! There is a picture of him hugging me to prove it, but I was unfortunately never able to actually get my hands on said picture. *sigh* Now I think Joe may be my favorite.

My first book, The Wind Could Blow a Bug is NOW AVAILABLE!

PURCHASE as a Paperback or eBook on Amazon.com TODAY.

Holding A Grudge

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*NOTE:  This blog post is going to suck.  I am using my blog to do a little deep psychological cleansing.  If you have a weak stomach (or just don’t give a sh*t about things that happened to me over 25 years ago), skip this one.  I will understand.  Actually, I won’t know the difference.  This is just some sh*t I had to get off my chest.  It has been weighing me down for a while.

A long while…

I am working on it...

I am working on it…

I can hold a grudge.  I was bullied in school, and I am still bitter about it.  It is something I still can’t let go of.

Today I noticed that the documentary “Bully” was available to watch on streaming Netflix.  I told my husband, “Oh, throw that in the cue.  I want to watch it.”

One beat of time passed.

“You know what, nevermind.  I lived that.  I don’t want to watch it again.”

Bully is the documentary that the Weinstein Company argued with the MPAA over the final rating of the film.  The MPAA originally rated it “R” for language.  You know, the language kids hear and use every day at school.  You know, the whole point of the documentary.  (The film was slightly altered to eventually earn a PG-13 rating.)

And that is about all I know about the documentary.

Once I hit middle school, my life was hell.

Sixth grade.  All of these cliques formed.  I didn’t even know that that word existed until that year.  I never had many friends in school.  But suddenly that became a terrible curse, instead of just an inconvenience.

I was teased.  That is how it was referred to around 25 years ago.

Yes, I can hold a grudge.

I will not discuss what I was teased about, because, well, I am not there yet.  It wasn’t anything that deserved all the attention that it got.

I had my own nickname.

The other assholes kids would say it to me in class.  In the halls.  On the bus.

Oh, don’t get me started on the bus.  It was its own particular brand of HELL.

There are several openings in my county for school bus drivers.  Why are they not being filled?  Maybe everyone has memories of bad experiences on the bus like I had.

Imagine getting on the bus in the morning, and all the kids visibly slide to the edges of the seats, closest to the aisle.  Most of the seats have just one student in them.  You walk toward the back of the bus.  When you are brave enough to ask if you can sit by someone, they all respond with “This seat is saved”.  By this time, the bus driver has already put the bus into motion again.  You have to hold on to the edges of the seats to not be dumped on the floor by the sway of the bus.  The bus driver starts barking at you to “Sit down”.  But you can’t.  You can only stand there, holding on to the seats.  You can’t even manage to be thankful that there is only one more stop before you get to school.

In that moment, you just want to die.

There is one particular girl I always thought was the ring leader of that.  Although, she wasn’t really smart enough for that.  Maybe I just blamed her because she had an ugly f*cking face.

I broke down every morning before school and begged my mom to not make me go to school.  She always made me go.  There are several photos she took during that time, of me before school in some outfit she wanted a picture of.  In all of them I had red rings around my eyes from crying.

I won’t scan them in and display them here.  Too depressing to display how much they all got to me visually, even though I am writing about it.

If only they had had Internet home school then.  I would have been an ideal candidate.

My nickname, in part (the part that didn’t specifically include my name) was published in the school newspaper.  No one seemed to find this disturbing.  Except for me.

Two boys in my class had to do a skit in English class.  They did it as Hans and Franz from Saturday Night Live (yes, that was popular then).  They used my nickname in the skit.  To her credit, the teacher did actually ask me if that one bothered me.  But that was actually so funny that I couldn’t complain.  And they were two guys who usually didn’t bother me too much.

Others’ were worse.

There were more events in middle school.  So traumatic that I have blocked them from memory.  The few above are the ones that stick with me.

Once I got to high school, almost everyone had given up that sh*t, unless they were particularly juvenile.

And there was one boy, who never gave up teasing me.  I hated him.  I wanted him dead.  It’s a good thing at the time that I didn’t realize that high school kids actually could do such things to each other.  He said terrible things to me in class.  Obscene things.  It wasn’t fair.

Why couldn’t one of the cute boys I ACTUALLY LIKED say obscene things to me in class!

When I found out years later that he had died in a car accident, I shed no tears for him.  I was actually a little happy about it.

I know.  That makes me a truly terrible person.  But in his death, I knew I would never have to look upon his evil face again.

Now he has a skateboard park named after him.

If I had killed my self due to all his tormenting, I am sure I would not have received such an honor.

And sometimes I did contemplate that.

And my mom will remind me of things I said or did at that time, things I have blocked out.  Like one time when she was doing the dishes and I apparently threatened to cut my wrist with a knife.

Which begs the next question: If your kid does that, why wouldn’t you get them some help?

And another question: Teacher, if a kid in your class choses to do a report for your class on suicide, shouldn’t you take them aside and make sure they are OK? (It may have been for Psychology class, but still…)

Have you ever seen the movie “Never Been Kissed”?  I find the high school flashbacks in that movie really relatable.  My not-so-secret crush never invited me to prom and threw eggs at me, as happens in the movie.  But when it was time to vote for who would ride on the Homecoming float, sometimes they would vote for unpopular people, just so they could ride it and be laughed at.  Obviously it was meant to be an honor for the most popular girls.  One year they did vote two sisters in who were not popular.  They wisely declined from riding.  One year I heard that I ranked quite high in votes as well.  Thank you, assholes.

We were all stuck inside those walls together, sharing experiences.  We all knew so much about each other. Why couldn’t we have embraced that?  Why did we have to use that to cut each other down?

I had a dream, years after I was out of college.  I dreamed I was in the Waldenbooks store at my local mall.  (FYI—at the time I worked for a company connected to Waldenbooks.)  In the dream, there were lots of people in there from high school.  Some of the people I hated the most.

I began yelling at them, and telling them off.  Telling them what I thought of them.  I pushed bookshelves over on top of them, to hurt them physically as they had hurt me emotionally.  And when I woke up…

I felt good.  I felt like a little of the weight had lifted.

A little while later, I had a similar dream, where I was in the local grocery store.  I was face-to-face with one of the guys I hated the most.  A guy that my asbestos friend did hate the most.  I yelled at him and told him off.

I also felt better after that dream.  But, eventually, that relief passed.  And now I write this post.  To try and achieve some of that relief.  To try to wash away some of the extreme hatred I have had for these people for decades.  People who, I am sure, don’t remember me at all.  They don’t remember they teased me.  They don’t remember that I existed.

Some of these people have tried to be my friend on Facebook.  I laugh at them and ignore their friend requests.

I will admit that I am not even sure I remember all of these events accurately, because time and hate have most likely warped them in my head.

I have SO MUCH HATE for these people.  The ones who were the worst.

I still struggle with self-esteem issues to this day because of their name calling.  Because of them snatching my stuff because it seemed amusing to them.

Will I be going to my 20 year reunion next year?

I not be thinkin’ so.

I definitely need to still work in it...

I definitely need to still work on it…

And all the bullying laws around today aren’t going to keep these things from happening.  I was a quiet person (Oh, don’t ever call me “shy”. UGH!  What is with adults and their mother f*cking labels!).  I would never have reported that stuff to anyone.

Hell, at my job I had a girl make fun of a physical attribute I have, and I didn’t report her to Human Resources.  But I totally wish I had.  To this day.  Ten years later.

God, I can’t imagine what kids today go through…

With cell phones and social media, they can’t even get away from bullying when they get home!  At least after school I could nap on my couch to Ducktales and hide from it all.

Do I feel better after all this?  Can I move on?

Meh.  Probably not.

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