A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Tag: love thy neighbor

“But he seemed like such a nice guy.”

Holy Mother of God…

Ariel Castro

WTF?!

The news story out of Cleveland about the three girls who were kidnapped and held against their will for a decade by 52-year-old Ariel Castro has shaken me to my core.

Are you as glued to the news about this as I am?

How can this have happened and continue undetected for a whole decade? And in a neighborhood where the houses are that close together?

My heart is just aching for those girls and their families. Truly, this kind of violence, extreme selfishness, and utter disrespect for humanity makes my blood boil.

Evidence suggests that Castro knew at least one of his victims and her family. Can you even imagine?

And let’s not delve into the fact that this piece of shit was a school bus driver.

I repeat: A SCHOOL BUS DRIVER. Of children. For twenty years. It makes the skin crawl, does it not?

One neighbor said Castro liked to give neighborhood kids rides on his ATV.

Honest to Pete, I am shaking as I write this.

The very notion of those three beautiful young girls bound and chained inside his nasty rundown house for a decade, away from their families, friends, and basic comforts is beyond my comprehension.

And I swear to God, if I hear one more interview where a neighbor says “He seemed like such a nice guy,” I am going to pull out my hair and choke myself with it. (Although, I have to admit, those interviews with Charles Ramsey are pretty damn entertaining.)

Sure, we should all be so lucky to have a neighbor who is willing to put down their McDonald’s to help rescue someone who is obviously in peril. Not to detract from Mr. Ramsey’s heroic act and Internet celebrity status. But wouldn’t it be even more fabulous if the neighbors had gotten to know Castro better and had figured out he was a psychopath, oh I don’t know…8 or 9 years ago?

PEOPLE. LISTEN TO ME NOW.

Put your shoes on, your smart phones down, step outside, and get to know your goddamn neighbors.

We cannot as a society continue to feign ignorance when we discover that the guy next door has a freezer full of human heads or a den of stolen children being used as concubines.

This is not okay.

Castro’s family is doing the news circuit, trying to convince everyone they are totally shocked their dad, cousin, nephew, etc. was such a sicko.

Who else is calling bullshit on this one?

Hasn’t anyone ever stepped foot in that house for the last decade? If they had, surely they would have noticed the locks, or the girls, or the squalid conditions. And if nobody has visited him, why not? Listen, I watch enough Hoarders: Buried Alive to know that if a loved one or friend never invites you in? Serious red flag, m’kay?

When Charles Ramsey was listening to Salsa music and barbecuing with Castro, why didn’t he ever say “Hey man, those ribs are starting to kick my back door down. I need to use your bathroom real quick,” and go inside for a little medicine cabinet peek-a-boo?

I’m ashamed to admit this, but I don’t know most of my neighbors either, and vice versa. Any one of them could be directing someone to “rub the lotion on its skin” in between flesh-centric sewing projects and I would have no idea.

How well do you know YOUR neighbors?

How well do you know YOUR neighbors?

When we moved into this house ten years ago not a single neighbor stopped by to welcome us. Not one. We eventually had an open house to invite them all over and only a few stopped by.  “Southern Hospitality” my ass.

Sadly, I’m no better. We have relatively new neighbors across the street who moved in over a year ago and I keep meaning to invite them over, but never get around to it.

I always have some excuse…my house is too dirty, or where would I put everyone, or they’re afraid of dogs, or we have lice…

But that all ends today. From now on, I’m going to go out of my way to be more neighborly.

…just as soon as I clean up a little bit.

Because I firmly believe in my heart of hearts that if we were all better neighbors, there would be much less violence and heartache in this world. 

Now here is my challenge for you, dear reader. Don’t make me do this alone. I want some camaraderie up in here.

Perhaps you enjoy reading my blog because you are as socially stunted as I am and it’s easier to connect with virtual friends than real life humans. I get that. I do.

Or perhaps you’re just here for the free guacamole and/or occasional photos of my feet. That’s cool too. Whatevs.

Maybe you think this doesn’t apply to you because you live on one of those idyllic cul-de-sacs where you all get together to play Bunco every Friday night and you’re SURE that nobody in your subdivision would EVER walk into an elementary school armed to the teeth with semi-automatic weapons.

Yeah. That.

But whoever you are, and regardless of your social acumen or socio economic status, won’t you please join me in stepping outside of our comfort zones? Let’s all be better neighbors, shall we?

Don’t put it off. It doesn’t have to be Pinterest worthy. Slap some slice-n-bake dough in the oven and take a plate of cookies to one neighbor.

Maybe start with the neighbor who “seems like such a nice guy,” but never invites you in.

When he opens the door, peek over his shoulder. Do you see any ropes or chains? Hear any screams? If you do, call the police. And if the police knock on his door and nobody answers and you see the police officers shrug their shoulders and drive away? OMG. Call back! (Geez Louise.)

If we were all better neighbors by The Bearded IrisStick your neck out. 

Form relationships. 

Trust your gut.

Be a good neighbor.

Or just sit back and be the next clueless schmuck to say, “But he seemed like such a nice guy.” Your call.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some slice-n-bake and a police scanner calling my name.

Look out neighbors! Here I come!

(Lice-removal tips coming soon. Thanks for your patience.)

And that’s why I finally took The Mom Pledge.

Funny story: about a year ago, I came across a pretty little button on someone’s blog that piqued my interest.

BWS tips buttonI clicked on it and read all about the author’s campaign to end Internet bullying, particularly “mom-on-mom” aggression.

And I thought to myself, “Huh. That’s odd. I’ve never seen anything even remotely redolent of online bullying, particularly by women against other women.”

Then it hit me like a sock full of quarters, “Oh my God…is she talking about ME? I am pretty snarky sometimes. OH SHIT. Am I a cyber bully?”

I immediately emailed the author, Elizabeth Flora Ross, and asked her to please tell me more about it.

Elizabeth kindly explained that she was particularly concerned with:

“women who attack specific individuals…by leaving hateful comments repeatedly on a person’s blog…by writing nasty posts on their own blogs specifically aimed at that individual, and by saying bad things about that person on social media sites. It happens a lot. I see it all the time.”

And I wrote back, “That’s shocking!” and “Oh phew, that’s not me!” and “Thank you for the information!” But I never did anything further about it; never took “The Mom Pledge,” never even gave it another thought.

As many of you know, last week my satirical blog post about Bucket Head and the gum ball machine was viciously attacked by a small and particularly hateful group of anonymous commenters. 

It was eerily reminiscent of a (virtual) home invasion.

They crashed into our little community and verbally assaulted me, my parenting, my children, and even my readers. One of them even wished us bodily harm.

The whole experience was rather unsettling and caused me to feel a wide range of complex emotions.

At first I was like, “Huh?”

confused face

And then I was like, “Oh-Em-Gee.”

Come Bobo, they're being meanies.

 

And then I was all, “Oh no she DI-int!”

You should learn to take a joke...

And now I’m just like, “Ha!”

Got trolled; page views through the roof. Success!

I’m just saying.

So where were we? Oh yes, Internet bullying.

I recognize that publicly sharing this blog puts me in a vulnerable position. It’s like hosting an Open House every day and not knowing who might walk through my door. And perhaps I’m at greater risk than some because of my colorful vocabulary and willingness to “tell all.”

But that doesn’t give anyone the right to disrespect me. Ever. 

This particular pack of attackers chose to check their manners at the door and “crap all over my house.” Not okay.

Many of you who jumped to my defense here and on Twitter, Facebook, and your own beautiful blog posts (here and here) were as stunned as I was. Your support was incredibly comforting to me. Thank you.

Several of you applauded me for ignoring the nastier comments and thus “not feeding the trolls.”

Interestingly, some of these attackers did not take kindly to being called “trolls,” even though their actions were clearly in line with the Urban Dictionary definition of a troll.

Unwelcome, offensive, stupid or abusive commenter on a blog, chat room, user group or BBS.

Silly me, I didn’t even know what an Internet troll was before last week. But now I do, and I feel compelled to officially announce my stance on this issue:

Any questions?

No, I didn’t think so.

It’s really quite simple. No matter what your background, race, religion, age, gender, interests, or politics…just be nice.

Or like I say to the ladies at my church potlucks, if you don’t like what I’m cookin’, don’t fucking eat it. 

Love thy neighbor.

Now, for you citizens of the Internet with your own blogs, I urge you to learn from my mistakes. Take action NOW. Don’t sit back and think “Oh, that will never happen to me.”

It can, and it might. It’s the nature of the Internet.

If I had taken The Mom Pledge a year ago, I would have been more prepared for how to deal with this issue. I would have immediately recognized the difference between a dissenter and a bully. And I would have known my rights and how I should react (by immediately deleting such comments and not giving attackers a platform for their hatred).

I’m proud to say I’ve finally taken the pledge, better late than never, and I encourage you to do the same.

Be prepared. Know your rights. Take the pledge. 

“The internet provides an unprecedented opportunity for women to connect. What we should be doing is celebrating the joys of motherhood together and supporting one another through the challenges. This is the environment we hope to create. Take the Pledge today and join us!  ~ Elizabeth Flora Ross

Together we are strong,

-Iris

© Copyright 2012, The Bearded Iris. Be nice.

 

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