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Getting Better All The Time…

October 18, 2010

I’ve been watching the way Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project has generated discussion, responses, shared stories. Usually, I blog about bookish things. So… this is a digression?

Wait… no it’s not. How many of my dearest, closest friends now, have swapped stories with me about being “the awkward kid, the nerdy kid, lonely and bookish.” Like me.

I don’t know if my own story of the nasty power plays of tween and teen girls needs telling. Or needs telling, here. In short: Queen Bees and Wannabes? Been there. Lived that. And I still don’t much care for Girl Scout cookies. Never so much touched or hit, as enmeshed in the weird games of gossip and friends/outcasts turning on a dime. Sometimes, I’m still that kid. Perplexed and wary about shifting social rules.  What if they stop liking me?

I’ve seen some very strong, smart writing come out of the blogosphere in response to the issues and memories raised by It Gets Better, and the tragedy of the teens who have seen suicide as an end to their bullying misery.

Kate Harding’s piece calls out the bullies. (Some strong language, but it’s justified, if maybe NSFW.)

I am in awe of Karen Healey as an author and general creative badass. This is a perfect example. She frames the discussion “On Bullying and Being Failed” in terms of the ways school administrations and parents’ inactivity to help is screamingly unjust, and incongruous. Taking to task the “kids will be kids,” idea.

Karen linked to an essay by Marianne Kirby, of the Rotund, “It Gets Different; Leveling Up.” This, most of all, made me want to jump up and down, sending my laptop crashing to the floor, or reach and hug my laptop, as a proxy, because who knows where in the actual geographic world Marianne is, and whether she’d respond to a hug from a complete stranger.

I am so glad Angus came out on DVD this year. I would like to buy it by the hundreds, and mail it to every kid who’s strange, shy, awkward, and feeling alone.

Mostly because of the speech at the end…

Angus: I’m still here, *asshole*! I’ll *always* be here!
[begins to violently push Rick across the dance floor]
Angus: You push me down and I’ll get right back up again, and again, and *again*, and *again* and * again*!
[Rick falls, hitting his head on the steps to the stage]
Angus: I could beat you *right* here, *right* now! But *I don’t want* to be better than you, Rick! *I don’t want* to be better than *anybody*! I want to be who I *am*: a *fat* kid, who’s good at science, and fair at football. That’s who I *am*! I can *live* with it. Why can’t you?
Rick: Because it’s not normal. *You’re* not normal.
Angus: And who is? You?
Rick: You bet your ass.
Angus: And so what? to be normal, we all have to be like YOU? There are 400 people in this room that are *nothing* like you! Some of them are fat, some of them are skinny. Some of them are tall, some of them are short. Some of them have braces, some of them have birth marks, or scars, or frizzy hair, or *ears that stick out*!
[Troy’s head pops up out of crowd]
Angus: But most of them probably walk through these halls *every day*, never telling anybody the truth about what they really want, or need, or believe, because people like you, *normal* people like *you*, have them *terrified* of being who they are. I mean, if *you’re* normal, what does that make them? So which is it, Rick? Are you normal? Or are you just one of us?
Rick: Whatever I am, it’s something you’re never gonna be.
Angus: Thank God.


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