Well today sucked

My day started off with finding a suicide note tucked inside a computer case and having to report that to administration, then half an hour later I got punched in the jaw while breaking up a fight between two girls.

(I’m fine.)

The day did not get worse from there, which I suppose is worth something, but that’s quite a starting point, wouldn’t you agree?

I’m going to spend my evening sitting in my recliner and reading Pete Buttigieg’s book. I’m only about 1/3 of the way through it but it’s shaping up to be a hell of a thing and you probably ought to assume I’ll be recommending you read it later.

RIP, Sonya Craig


Friendship online is such an odd thing.  I have a couple of friends in my Clark Kent identity who I’ve known for damn near fifteen years and who I’ve met once and never, respectively, and I don’t have the slightest idea when those numbers might go up again. We met through the previous incarnation of this blog, over at Xanga, and at the moment I can honestly say that the only reason I’m still on Facebook is so that I can keep track of the two of them.  I have a handful of other friends who I lost track of after college and reconnected with– again, on Facebook– and for at least one of them I think we actually have a closer relationship now than we did back then.  But I never see any of them.

And making friends as Luther is even weirder, right?  Because the vast majority of you don’t even know my real name.  I’ve got this network of people, mostly bloggers or independent authors, who I interact with a lot on Twitter and a bit less on Facebook and on the blog.  I consider a lot of them friends, but the thing is people have Real Lives outside of their online personas (well, I don’t.  I’m told people do, though.) and sometimes they just get busy or change jobs or move and their priorities change and suddenly someone you interacted with on a daily or near-daily basis has just gone poof and you don’t know why, and sometimes you don’t even notice for a few weeks, in a way that would never ever happen with people you know in the real world.

And sometimes you log into Facebook and you find out through the grapevine that someone’s depression finally caught them after a lifetime of struggle, and that person is gone, and you don’t really know how to react to it.  Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 11.30.25 AM (2).png

“Follows @nfinitefreetime,” it says there.  Were I not connected to her on Facebook, too, I’d never have known she was gone.  It’s not like Twitter is going to notice and unfollow me on her behalf, right?  There was an outpouring of grief among our little sci-fi indie community last night on Facebook and Twitter; I retweeted a bunch of them on my account, or you could just check the #thankyousonya hashtag if you like.  There were tons of posts, and the amazing thing, to me, was just how many of the people participating were also people I “knew” and considered friends the same way I did Sonya.  She was at the center of a big group of people online, and we were all reacting the only way we could.

I don’t really know her, is the thing.  I don’t know her family, or her RL friends, or what she liked to do with her time other than write and hang out with yahoos on the internet.  I know she had a cat, named Fang, who was frequently the subject of tweets and Instagram postings.  I don’t know where Fang is right now.  I hope he’s okay.  I know that she was the type of person who created random meme pictures for people she’d never met on their birthdays, which is where that picture up at the top came from.  (My Twitter bio at the time referred to me as a friend to muskrats.)

And yet.

I wish I could have been there for her, when she was suffering, to point out all these people whose lives she’d touched and would miss her when she was gone.  But I never did.  Part of the reason why?  I know people online who are struggling with anxiety and depression and the insane thing is I wouldn’t have listed her as one of them.

I dunno, guys.  I don’t know how to end this because I don’t know how I feel right now.  I don’t want anyone to ever feel like suicide is their best option.  And I want to say something like “If you feel that way, know that you can reach out, even to a relative stranger online,” but the fucked-up part of depression is that that information doesn’t matter and it’s not that simple.  She’d probably had people she knew in the real world tell her that, people who she’d actually recognize if they walked past her at the grocery store, not rando authors behind an @ on Twitter.  And she took her own life anyway, because that’s how depression fucks with you, because it’s a disease, not a goddamn personal failure, and you can’t help it.

God damn it.

You will be missed, Sonya.  I can only hope that you’ve found some peace.

On this week

CFog7gQWMAAlKa4The health app on my iPhone tells me that I walked ten miles– over twenty thousand steps– yesterday, and that is without a single second of anything that I could accurately describe as “exercise.”  It was just that busy of a day.

Every so often it hits me just how ridiculous my job can be, right?  Thursday, in particular, was like that.  On Wednesday evening the sister/cousin(*) of two of our seventh graders, who has been missing for several weeks, was found dead in a field a couple of counties south of here.  My understanding is that the man who murdered her turned himself in and led the cops to her body.  Thursday morning, as we were putting our heads together and trying to figure out what we should do about that, we had one fifth grade student brought down to the office whose nine year old cousin had just committed suicide the night before.  She had just confessed to a teacher that she was thinking about killing herself as well.

Within five minutes of that, we had two fights in two entirely different parts of the building, including one between two kids whose families have literally been feuding since they were in second grade.  

Within five minutes of that, the kid who got put up for expulsion for shoving me earlier in the year was back in the office because he blew up at somebody– an event that turned out to legitimately not be his fault, but he claims nothing is ever his fault.  On the rare occasions he’s actually telling the truth– which isn’t the case most of the time– we still need to do an investigation to verify it independently.

I tried to home iso him anyway, because generally once he gets his blood up he’s incredibly difficult to calm down even if whatever happened really isn’t his fault.  His mom’s response was to tell me that she wasn’t coming to get him, that we should put him in ISS, and that if he messed up in ISS– which everyone involved knew he was going to– we should call the police.

He’s 12.

I got to the office around 7:25.  By 7:48 AM, my morning was done.  Right there.  Done. Before 8 AM.

And y’all think I should be worried about test scores?

So. Right.  The ridiculousness part.  That was my morning.  Other stuff happened, but I had enough student issues on my plate before eight in the morning to keep me busy until well after noon.   What did I spend the afternoon doing?

Check the picture up there.  I spent the afternoon building radio-controlled sharks, learning to fly them, and then teaching 8th graders how to fly them.  And worrying about inflatable pools and popsicles.  We had our post-ISTEP celebration at the end of the day yesterday, and the theme was “beach party.”  And my boss is not the type to do anything half-assed, so there was extensive setup required to get everything right.  So there were games and competitions in the gym for a while at the end of the day, and then two dances– one for 5th and 6th graders, one for 7th and 8th, in separate parts of the building.

At the end of the 5th and 6th grade dance, something amazing happened.  There were, I dunno, 250-300 kids in the room, and maybe 12-15 adults or so.  We cut the music and the adults all raised their hands.  That’s all we did.  I was looking around while all this was going on, and none of the adults were talking to anyone.  The kids all did one of three things:

  1. Some went to stand next to their teachers;
  2. Some went and stood against the wall;
  3. Some went and sat on the bleachers.

But every kid in the gym was moving with purpose and to a destination, and they were all doing so quietly, with none of them being told what to do.  We somehow managed to dismiss half the building at the end of a dance on a Friday before a three day weekend, in– well, not silence, but manageable quiet– without talking to the kids.

And then I did a six-hour shift at my other job, which featured my high school co-worker not bothering to show up until an hour and a half after the start of his shift, a visit by a dozen or so special-needs adults, a group that comes by all the time and who I really enjoy having with us but who generally require about three times as much, uh, hospitality as any similar group ought to, and the immense, “well, this may as well happen” fun of having to clean up a pool of what was clearly menstrual blood on one of our picnic benches toward the end of the shift.  A pool that no one informed us about, and I only found because I was checking the gameroom.

It’s been a long goddamn couple of days, is what I’m saying.

(*) I’m not being dismissive here; I’ve heard both relationships from people who should know, and I suspect this is a situation where the kids are literally cousins but raised in the same house.

Last Patrick McLaw update

So, one more thing, because I just noticed it– if you go to the article I linked the other day, and you actually play the video, which I almost never do on news articles, they actually show two shots of the letter itself that got him noticed by law enforcement– apparently because some of the people he sent it to turned it in.  The first picture is insanely blurry but you can read bits of it in motion and, I dunno, maybe some of you are graphics wizards and can sharpen this or something:

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 4.34.08 PM

The second shot is from the last page, and is much clearer, and gives just enough detail to make it clear why people read the letter and called the cops.  Weird thing about suicide letters:  saying “This is not a suicide letter!” is actually not very convincing.

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 4.31.18 PM

Definitely a case of shitty initial reporting here, folks.