Working It Out

Wednesday, November 30, 2005 | 0 Comments

Well I sent an email to my friend:
Hi Punky,
I was really disappointed that we weren't able to get together for Thanksgiving. I was really looking forward to seeing you again and finally seeing your place. In fact, I had pretty much planned everything else around my visit with you just to be sure that we could get together. It seems that almost every time that I try to get together with you, something comes up. I think from now on I won't be able to make plans ahead of time to get together with you. If we can get something together on the spur of the moment that would be great, then you would know if you are ready for a visit. Also, in the future, if we are supposed to meet and something comes up, please call me as soon as you can so that I can make alternate plans of my own. I'm not sure when we will be up there next, but I will be sure to let you know. I can't guarantee that I can get together with you, but if you have time and I don't have anything else planned, I'd love to come and see you and your family.

Hope that things went better for you after T-Day. Sounds like you had your hands full.

Talk to you later!

She wrote back apologizing, which is good and I already knew that she was sorry that things had not worked out. But she also seemed to imply that I should be more understanding. I don't think that I could be more understanding.

I mean to stick by my decision not to make advanced plans with her. I hope that she understands.


On the job front, I talked to my old boss and she has had reduced time approved again which means that I can get my old job back. It would only be for a few months, but that would give me enough time to find another job. It is only part time, but the pay is good, so I think that we can get by even if I can't find another part time job.

There is actually a full-time job coming open there soon. I'm hoping that they'll get that job open before my temporary position ends. That would be perfect! I felt very comfortable working there and the people were wonderful.


We are planning a bowling party for JD's 13th birthday. Well, he already had his birthday a week ago, but who wants to go bowling on Thanksgiving?

I can't believe that he is officially a teenager now. Eek! I feel so old! Although, when we tell people how old our son is we always get the same shocked look. Yeah, I know, we don't look old enough to have a 13 year old. And you know, I'm not complaining! :D

I don't think that we will have a lot of the problems that others have with their teenagers. I already see that he is a lot like me when I was his age. That's a good sign. My friends referred to me often as "Mom" since I was the voice of reason during times of idiocy and immaturity. I'm not saying that I didn't get into trouble ;) but I generally was a good kid. And he is too.


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Blogger Dr. Who said...

Your friend seems she got the message... Your email was very well-balanced and right on the target I think...

Rarely can I hold of myself so well! Usually I say what I think right away (which is bad) but most of the times I don't regret it (which is good!) since it saves me from more hassle in the future... Whatever works for everybody ;)

December 01, 2005 12:42 AM

Blogger Dr. Who said...

Oh!!! And happy birthday for JD!

Should I ask how many girls are coming to the party? (heheheh)

December 01, 2005 12:43 AM

Blogger nope said...

Very well-done e-mail to your friend! Congrats on saying what you wanted to say (and needed to say) while still leaving possibilities open.

Yay on the job ... as you've written before, things happen for a reason.

I know what you mean about the age of children - I met my stepdaughter when she was 11, and she's 19 now; it seems hard to think of her as a 19 year old. 19!!! Good heavens!

Have a great day! When do you start your new old job?

December 01, 2005 8:48 AM

Blogger ORF said...

Happy Bday to JD!!!

December 01, 2005 10:24 AM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Dr. Who, thanks! If I start a confrontation right away I always end up in attack mode because I am still too hurt. It is hard to wait and tell people once you have calmed down, because the longer you wait the less likely you are to say anything. That is why I love email. I can get out what I need to say and edit out any attacks that might pop up.

I think that at least half of JD's friends are girls. Would that look odd, a bowling party of one guy and ten girls?

Indiaiynke, thanks! It didn't even take me that long to write. Usually if I am angry I have to re-write for hours to get it just right. So I really don't think I was angry, just resolved.

I wouldn't actually start the job until January. That will really bite into our holiday. In years past, I wouldn't care because I didn't like Christmas, but I started a new tradition a few years back that I will hate to not take part in.

ORF, I'll let him know.

December 01, 2005 11:01 AM

Blogger sands of time said...

I think that email was good and you've made a good decision.
Hope your teenager has a great time bowling.

December 01, 2005 11:34 AM

Blogger Shannon said...

I think the email was a very diplomatic and mature solution. Bravo!

Ah! 13! Happy birthday JD!

December 01, 2005 1:36 PM

Blogger sideshow bob said...

Those shocked looks on people's faces when they find out our ages get sweeter each year.

Yay! I'm visitor #8000! And, as we all know, big, important looking numbers that end with more than two zeros mean something, right?

December 01, 2005 2:07 PM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Pink Lady, thanks!
JD has been bowling with us several times and gets better everytime - but maybe the girls could show him some moves!

Shannon, thanks! I'm sure that we will get things worked out between ourselves, and if we don't - well at least I tried!

SSB, 8000 baby! Thanks for helping me over the top!

December 01, 2005 2:55 PM

Back to the Drawing Board!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005 | 0 Comments

Aw HELL!! I just got "laid off" from my job today. She was very nice about it, but it still means that I am unemployed. Again!!

I don't want to have to go looking for another job. It took me two months to find this one. Looking for work is so depressing. Especially when there aren't a lot out there. And the ones that are out there suck. It can really make you feel inadequate when you have to suffer through all the rejection and realize that you are qualified for so little in the job market.

I generally believe in signs and that things happen for a reason (I mean, within reason); so I am hoping that this means that something better is on its way. Besides, that job was really cutting into my blogging time!


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Blogger nope said...

Syl, I am sorry for this news!!! You were so excited! "Laid off"? It sounds like they didn't plan well, and you surely don't want to work for a company that doesn't plan well. Oh, what am I saying. Just trying to commiserate with ya. {{S}}

I finally got a response from the City job I applied for- just a postcard, but it says they received so many applications it's going to take them 1-2 weeks to select those for an interview. Wow. At least I heard that much.

Keep your pretty blonde chin up; make SSB make dinner tonight.

November 29, 2005 1:53 PM

Blogger evilsciencechick said...

ugh! what happened? heads up their asses? didn't budget properly? catch you stealing quarters from the coffee fund?


November 29, 2005 2:54 PM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Indiaiynke, I just want to work! With my husband now out of work too, we kind of need the money. But, I was beginning to think that the job wasn't a good match anyway, so maybe it is fate once again taking care of things for me.

ESC, I'm going with heads-up-their-asses. But she was very nice about it and is giving me a week and half severance. That's more than I expected.

November 29, 2005 3:36 PM

Blogger OldRoses said...

Oh, Sylvana, I am so sorry to hear you got laid off. Especially with SSB out of work too. Looks like JD will have to support the family! Paper route? Snow shovelling? Hey, you could all do that!! Seriously, though getting laid off during the holidays is a real bummer. I hope things will be looking up for you and SSB real soon.

November 29, 2005 4:29 PM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Thanks, OldRoses. It wouldn't be the first time that we did jobs like that for money in this family!

November 29, 2005 7:47 PM

Blogger Shannon said...

Aw man, that totally sucks. I'm really sorry, but someone like you must have something to offer some lucky company/organization/etc...hopefully, it'll all be for the best.

November 30, 2005 12:32 AM

Blogger sands of time said...

Im sorry about that.Hope something comes up soon.

November 30, 2005 9:18 AM

Blogger Irb said...

Sorry about the layoff, mamasita caliente :( I know how you feel. I once got fired from a job just because I refused to make coffee for everybody.

Damn Starbucks...

Hope everything works out, swee'pea!

November 30, 2005 10:58 AM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Shannon, good jobs are pretty scarce around here. There is supposed to a job coming open at the library where I used to work. That's not to say that I will get it since there may be other applicants, but they really like me there, so I have a good chance.

Pink Lady, I am also hoping that this means that there is something better coming up.

Irb, YOU'RE BACK!! You are so funny! I loved that!

November 30, 2005 12:58 PM

Blogger Tayster said...

I generally believe in signs and that things happen for a reason

Maybe you're going to have quadruplets or something.

Just kidding. I wouldn't put that on anybody.

Sorry to hear about the job. Don't you love those that "let you go" right before December?

November 30, 2005 5:01 PM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Tayster, QUADRUPLETS!!! I wouldn't even want to have one more! Evil.
I think my boss was a bit flighty. She seemed to make hasty decisions while I was working there too.

November 30, 2005 7:53 PM

Blogger Indigo Red said...

There's always that Elf gig down at the mall!

November 30, 2005 8:14 PM

Blogger Sylvana said...

And I'd look real cute as an Elf too!

November 30, 2005 8:40 PM

Blogger ORF said...

Yeah, fortunately there's loads of seasonal work to be done at the moment, so maybe you could land a job wrapping presents or something? Snow shoveling is also good, esp. in Wisconsin!!

December 01, 2005 10:22 AM

Blogger Sylvana said...

ORF, we don't get a lot of snow in this part of Wisconsin, which sucks, because if it is going to bet this cold, there had damn well be snow on the ground. Otherwise, what is that point?!

December 01, 2005 10:37 AM

Blogger The Doc said...

Dang, Sylvana, that's too bad. But I think you could definitely hop on the "seasonal work" train; ain't nothing like being abused by impatient and clueless shoppers!

December 02, 2005 1:40 PM

Blogger Sylvana said...

The Doc, I even have lots of experience with customer abuse, so I'd be a shoe-in!

December 04, 2005 7:49 PM

When Good Friends Go Bad

Saturday, November 26, 2005 | 0 Comments

Go here for the long version instead.

My best friend back home - we'll call her Punky because she always reminded me of Punky Brewster--- has been frustrating me. I really don't even know where to begin. Everything that is happening now is really built upon things that have happened in the past - so to truly understand it all, you'd almost need to know the whole story. But that would take too long, so I will do what I can with as little of the whole story as I can.

She came to my graduation which I was very grateful for. At my graduation Punky made a huge deal about how she missed me so much and how she was sad that she didn't have me in her life more. She made a point to say in front of everyone that now that she had come all the way down to see my home that I would have to be sure to stop and see hers the next time I came to visit the North Woods. That sounds reasonable, right? Well, yeah it would be except she was leaving out a very crucial piece of the story - every time that I go up I try to get together and every time she is either no where to be found or we actually make plans and then she never shows up or cancels. So I'm really irritated that she makes it sound like it is my fault that we don't get to see each other more often. I go up there at least 3 times a year and almost every time I try to set some time up to go see her. In the last four years I have been able to see her twice. She's always got some excuse, and I never see it being a good one.

So I tell her at my party that I always go up there for the 4th since they have such great fireworks there. So it is settled. We will get together for the 4th. I called her about two weeks before the holiday to remind her that I would be coming up. She tells me to call her the week before so that we can work out which day we can get together. I do call her the week before. Her son tells me that he will have her call me back. I wait a couple of days and call her back. No one answers this time. I call almost everyday and even try to get a hold of her once I have arrived in town - no one answers. I later found out that she went to Arizona. Now, wouldn't you know that you were going as far as Arizona some time in advance? And even if you were leaving on short notice, wouldn't it occur to you to call the friend that you had set up plans with; especially the friend that you have perpetually stood up for years?

So whatever, I let it slide, like I usually do. I told her that we would not be coming back up until Thanksgiving. She told me that she was coming to the Twin Cities to pick up her step kid and she would be able to stop and see me along the way. I made sure not to make plans that weekend. She never showed up. I got a hold of her the following week and she said that his mom ended up meeting her halfway, so she didn't make it that far down. Again, you couldn't call?

The last time that we talked she told me how she missed me so much. She was practically crying when she told me how awful she thought it was that our kids didn't even know each other. I told her that was the way that it would be because we just lived so far apart. She said that she wished that we lived closer together so that we could see each other more often. "Make sure that you call to let me know the next time that you will be in town! We have to get together!" she said.

So I called her last week to let her know that we would be in town for Thanksgiving. We set a time to get together so that I could come see her place and her kids. Since I had never been out to her new place, she was going to come into town to get us after she got done with work at noon and we would follow her out there. SSB woke up that morning with a really bad cold, so we had to run to the store for some medicine. I called her to let her know what we were doing in case we weren't back before she arrived.

"Oh, uh, my littlest is sick. She's throwing up. You guys might get sick if you come out."

"That's OK. We'll just come out for a little bit and we won't go in the house. You can just show us the barn and stuff."

"Uh, yeah, I just don't know…it's just such a mess here. I'm cleaning up puke, and another of my calves died last night. I just don't know if you want to come out."

"I do want to come out. I can just come out for a little bit-"

"Well, it's such a mess here. I had all those people over yesterday and my kid is sick and I have to do something with that calf. I'm never buying a calf from there again-"

"I don't care if the house is messy. It doesn't matter to me if things are hectic. It sounds like you could use some help. I still want to come over."

"I don't want you guys getting sick or being-"

"Is it that you don't want me coming out? Do you not want me to come out? Just say that then. Just say that you don't want me to come out there."

"Hey, I love you! I really do! And I really do want you to come and visit, but it is just not a good time right now. How long are you staying?"

"We are leaving tomorrow. I already have plans to go shopping tomorrow and tonight-"

"Come out tonight. We can get together tonight."

"I already have plans to go see my grandma tonight."

"Well, you can come out tonight. I can show you my place. It will be great-"

"I have to visit my grandma tonight."

"When do you think that you will get back? You could come over after."

"I'm not sure. Look, just give me a call tonight and we'll see if it works out."

ARGH!!! What am I going to do with her? I made my plans with her first to make certain that I could go see her. I made all my plans around going and seeing her. I can't just drop everything because she wants to change that- to stand me up again.

I did get together with her on the 4th a few years back. She had bought a three story farm house with 10 acres for practically nothing. Seriously! I think she said that she paid $15,000 for it. NO KIDDING! Sure it needed work, but it was a steal! We went out to look at the work that she had been doing on it. We sat around on the second floor with the space heater going talking about old times and all the stupid, fun stuff we did when we were young. I told her the next time that we would be up was Labor Day, and we were planning on getting together again then.

I called her the week before I was coming up. Her phone had been disconnected. I figured that she had got enough of the work done at the farm to finally move out there. So I called her parents' house.

"Oh, she moved in with her husband. It was such a beautiful wedding! Everyone was there…"

Who the hell was she talking about? I had just seen Punky two months ago. She wasn't even seeing anyone. MARRIED? And why didn't she tell me? I'm supposed to be her best friend! Her mom gave me her new phone number, but I knew that if I called her I would just go off on her; so I didn't call her - for a whole year. I was that pissed. She never tried to contact me either. She didn't tell me or invite me for a reason. And I knew what that was. And that reason meant that she had no idea who I was. So not only was I pissed, I was also very sad that even my best friend from my childhood, a person who I thought really understood me, had no clue who I was.

The following year I had an epiphany on New Year's Eve. I was tired of keeping my hurt feelings to myself and not letting people know when they had done me wrong in order to save them their feelings. Why should I keep it to myself? So they could just repeat it over and over? Screw that! I decided that I would use New Year Day to get all that unfinished bad business over with so that I could know that at least I had laid it out there. I could start the year feeling good about at least hitting those balls back into their court so that they could deal with it. So I sent out letters and emails to everyone that I had issues with. She was one of those people.

She called me as soon as she got it. She apologized for doing what she did. She said that she was afraid that I would try to talk her out of marrying the guy. I told her that if she felt that I would dislike him that badly that I would try to talk her out of it, then she must not have thought much of him herself. I told her that if I knew that she was happy with him, I would be happy for her. This is something she should have already known, because I have already had that talk with her. I also made it very clear that I was hurt that she would think that I would make a scene and try to stop their wedding. Seriously, does she even know me? I would NEVER do that!!

Then she tried to turn it around- "I am sorry. I know how it feels. I was really hurt that you never told me that you were pregnant with JD. I had to find out from Suzanne (my brother's wife) after you already had him. It really hurt me, because we were best friends and I felt that I should have been one of the first people that you told. So I know how you feel and I was wrong."

What a beautiful back-handed apology, huh? Well, this is all a little fabrication. I tried to contact her when I found out that I was pregnant. I called her house, but she never called back. She might have found out from my sister-in-law; but I myself told her only two months after I found out. I went up to visit family and was actually able to track her down and visit with her as well. I even told her that I would call her when I had him - AND I DID CALL HER!! FROM THE HOSPITAL THE DAY THAT I HAD HIM!! I have no idea where she gets this crap!

So here I am again, not telling her how I am bothered by this because I didn't want to add to the problems that she was already having. She never did call me back that night to try to get together. I don't like giving up on friends, but I'm fed up with trying. There really is only so much a person can do before they just feel like a sucker. And believe me, there is still plenty more she has done!

I know that you are thinking that she sounds awful and that you can't even understand how she was my best friend. For ten years we were tight and did almost everything together. We were there for each other through everything. We got in trouble together, too. Nothing like two weekends of reform classes to really bond two people together! ;) I mean, you just really could not ask for a better best friend. We consider each other a sister really. Which makes what she has been doing for the last fifteen years all the more difficult on me. If she had been less of a friend, I would have sloughed her off years ago. So what do you do when a really good friend starts treating you like crap; especially one that does not take well to being confronted? I guess, perhaps another email is in order. Hey! New Year's Day is almost here!

Feel like you need more info? Go here for the long version.


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Blogger nope said...

So you were tight for ten years. And after that you've been ... screwed with for fifteen years. You've spent more time trying to maintain the friendship than you've had the closeness of a real friendship. People change as they go through life, you know that. You've already sent one message explaining how you're feeling. Would it really do any good to send another? If this girl has any intelligence at all she knows damned well what she's doing. She's made her choice, really. Now you have to make yours. I once spent a good portion of my life maintaining a friendship ... and then it hit me that I was doing all the work. I stopped doing all that work and ... I never heard from my 'friend' again; without the effort I was giving, there was no friendship, not in the end. People change, times change, our lives go on and they are richer for the experience. A friendship is like any other relationship - it takes work to maintain, and now I think it's time you fired this lady, Sylvana. She's definitely not keeping up her end, and hasn't for years.

November 27, 2005 9:46 AM

Blogger Shannon said...

I echo Indiaiyke's comment. Although if writing a letter helps you receive closure, then I say do it. I say cut your losses, cherish the positive memories of your friendship together, and let her go. For whatever reason, she's not willing or able to be your friend. You have every right to be angry, and I would be livid!, but just because you were close for 10 years doesn't mean you're obligated to a lifetime of frustration trying to maintain a friendship she doesn't want.

This really sucks. I feel your pain. Maybe we've all had friendships like these.

November 27, 2005 11:03 AM

Blogger Shamus O'Drunkahan said...

I admire that you use New Years to get those issues aired out. And as to this friend, well, her actions speak her true feelings, right?

November 27, 2005 4:01 PM

Blogger The Doc said...

This woman gets emotional when thinking about how much she misses you but then can't make the time to see you? She ignores you until you express your disappointments with her, and then comes back with her own? From my perspective Punky talks the talk, but can't walk the walk. Might be time to just walk away.

November 27, 2005 4:58 PM

Blogger evilsciencechick said...

whatever is going on in this woman's life does NOT have to be your drama! it's OK that we don't all stay BFF with our childhood friends. people change and move on. you can, too. It's OK. explain to her that you will no longer go out of your way to see her or make plans with her. if your paths should cross, of course you'll catch up, but you will no longer rearrange your vacations and holidays to see her.

it's sad, but it happens. Obviously this woman is a source of frustration for you. and I'm sure you have plenty of friends that DON'T cause you so much grief. those are the ones that deserve your visits and attention.

so...when are you coming to atlanta? ;)

November 27, 2005 8:49 PM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Indiaiynke, if she put in no effort at all, I would definitely call it quits. But she does call or email me every couple of months (more often than my parents, I might add - and that chain email crap my dad sends does not count!).

Shannon, I know that I would feel really bad just letting it go without letting her know what she is doing and giving her a chance to redeem herself - so yeah, a letter would definitely help me get closure. Of course, if she chooses not to redeem herself, well then, I guess I might not have a choice but to let her go. I think that I try so hard with her because 1) she was such a good friend and 2) she has been through some really crazy shit over the last fifteen years and I'm afraid that perhaps this has led to her behavior. I feel that as a friend I should try to help her rather than just walk away.

Shamus, I really don't know why I didn't think of that before. I mean, who wants to start out a new year with all that unspoken grudgery hanging over their shoulder?

The Doc, I totally agree that she's all talk and no action. My biggest problem with this is not really that she stands me up - although that is highly annoying - but that she tries to make it out like it is my fault.

ESC, I had been planning on telling her that very thing. If she really wants to make me trust her again, she will have to put in the effort. I will no longer make plans with her. As I said, I couldn't put in the whole story because it would just take too long, but she was more than just a best friend. I think at some point after I left for college, she kinda cracked under all the craziness that was going on in her life. I'd hate to turn my back on her if she needs help, but if she's just being a bitch - well Pthhhh!
You'll be the first person I notify when I find myself going to Atlanta!! For sure!

By the way, SSB read the original draft- the pre-trimmed version, and suggested that I offer it for those that might like more background. It still does not cover EVERYTHING, but it will fill in some blanks, and is rather entertaining. Click the link at the end of the post to read it.

November 28, 2005 12:12 AM

Blogger sands of time said...

I fell out with one of my best school friends a few years ago.I think the problem can be that we move on make new friends and find we dont have as much in common with our old friends.You seem to be wanting to keep your friendship with her but she doesnt seem to want to make any effort.Maybe the most you can hope for is a keep in touch christmas card and letter.

November 28, 2005 9:59 AM

Blogger Sandy said...

I'm sorry that this friend has hurt you Sylvana. A similiar thing happen to me three years ago. Except it was three friends. I finally just walked away and haven't looked back. I thought I would miss them and you know I just don't. We just don't have anything in common anymore. They are all still in party mode. Don't get me wrong..I like to tie one on every once in awhile. Every Friday, Saturday and more, no. When you are a teenager it is one thing, when you are pushing 40, your a drunk.

I think these things happen to everybody and as I get older I expect very little from people. I have alot of people in my life but few I would really consider a 'good friend'.

To me you sound like you would be a great friend. Use it on someone who deserves it and appreciates it.

November 28, 2005 1:04 PM

Blogger sideshow bob said...

It's stories like this that make me glad I'm a crazed loner.

November 28, 2005 5:22 PM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Pink Lady, it would be so much easier if I thought that it was just that she didn't really want to get together. It's far more complicated than that. I know the reason that she has ditched me so much is that she has become overwhelmed with her life. Plus the anti-anxiety drugs she is on kind of make her loopy. I feel that she's in emotional trouble and as her friend it is my job to help her. But because she is so overwhelmed, she can't even figure out how to get help. It really is sad.

Sandy, you sound a lot like me. I AM a good friend and I could have more friends, but most people I find are not worth the trouble. That's why I do so much to hang onto the ones that have proven to be worth while. And even after sifting through all the possibilities that have come into my life to get those few gems, I have found that even THEY take me for granted and don't treat me as well as they should. But I have found that some can be shown the err of their ways - even it does take some time and lots of effort on my part. But in the end, we become better friends and they become better people. If gave up on everyone that became very difficult in my life, I would not have SSB right now. And that would be such a shame!

SSB, so what does that make me?

November 28, 2005 6:48 PM

Blogger Derek Knight said...

just do what I do:

"Hell with (insert name here)"

it's worked for years, no sign of stopping!

(it may help that I lack any semblance of a conscience).

November 28, 2005 11:31 PM

Blogger nope said...

Syl, I want to apologize to you for giving you advice on what to do about your friend. Your question was "what do you do when a really good friend starts treating you like crap?" - and I answered as though the emphasis was on YOU, not me. Just keep up with what you've been doing, and venting about it to release the pressure. She sounds like somebody you want to keep as a friend, come hell or high water, so do it! :)

November 29, 2005 9:02 AM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Derek, that's what my dad does too. Only then he spends years complaining that no one comes to visit him anymore. Of course, if they weren't visiting you in the first place are you really less off? I would say not.

Indiaiynke, don't worry. You're opinions are welcome here. It's good to get outside perspectives. I might seem determined in a preset decision but that is just me being careful about the decision that I do make. I mean, when it comes to things like this, I don't want to make any hasty decisions. I don't want you to think that I am not valuing your opinion because I might seem to disagree. I want to make sure that I have thought things through thoroughly; so I try to defend the other position. If I can't, there must not be much merit in it, right?

November 29, 2005 11:02 AM

Blogger ORF said...

good luck with this, Sylvana. I think you're friend is crazy just for saying she doesn't like SSB. I mean, he is clearly awesome.

I suspect you are right, though, about her having difficulty being around you or keeping plans with you because she probably feels horribly insecure that you know how she USED to be (i.e. so hardworking, caring, etc.) and now, when she's been through an abusive relationship and made friends with some not-so-great people. My guess is that she actually DOES care a LOT about you and she's honest about that, but when it comes down to it, she probably is also a bit embarassed by her lot in life and is afraid you'll judge her. You don't really seem like a judgemental person to me, so in that respect, she clearly doesn't know you!

December 01, 2005 10:20 AM

Blogger Sylvana said...

ORF, I think you are right on the money here. But she should know that she could be living in a cardboard box and I would visit it like it were a 4BR house in the suburbs. Those things really don't matter to me. It does make me sad that she thinks that they would.

December 01, 2005 10:50 AM

Two Side to Every Coin

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 | 0 Comments

Today is the one year anniversary of one of the worst hunting tragedy in the state of Wisconsin. Last year on this day a lone Hmong hunter, Chai Soua Vang, was confronted by a group of hunters for using their deer stand. After an exchange of words, Chai openned fire on the group killing 6 hunters: Robert Crotteau, Joey Crotteau, Allan Laski, Mark Roidt, Jessica Willers, and Denny Drew.

This is such a complex story. I remember my dad talking to me about. His initial reaction was that these hunters had gotten really bold, talking way too big, threatening bodily harm and he felt he had no choice. Which is weird, because my dad usually comes across as racist. I know the way that rural Wisconsinites are. I've lived in the woods of Wisconsin for half of my life. They like to throw their weight around. It is totally believable that these hunters were very aggressive and scary. But even so, even if Chai had started out shooting to defend himself, in the end, he was shooting out of anger.

And many would like to write this off as a simple case of a crazy murderer. But really, it is way more complex than that. It really had to do with good ole boy machismo and racism hitting head-on out in a tract of isolated woods with a guy who had suffered too much racism in his life and felt very threatened by the large group of very angry white people.

The group that were shot at have conflicting stories among themselves. Some say that racial slurs were not shouted at Vang, some admit that there were. Some say that Vang shot the first shot and none of them had loaded weapons, but one in the group said that he did shoot one shot. Vang tried to leave two times, being confronted each time, before he finally gave up trying to leave and just started firing after, he claims, he was fired at first. I don't think that we will ever know the whole story, but as you can see, there's more to this than just some crazy guy with a gun and a score to settle.

I hope that people come away from this with more than, "Chai was just a crazy man." By allowing it to stand at that we will never learn the lessons that we should from it. I do believe that he snapped out there in the woods, but he was helped over the edge by some in that group. I hope that others see this as a warning to how quickly a situation can get out of hand - especially when there are weapons involved! In other words - don't go ganging up on some guy alone in the woods with a gun throwing racial slurs at him! Not smart.

Chai was convicted, as he should have been. He did it. He admits it. He even turned himself in. But we should not forget the part that the people that he shot played in tragedy.

So this Thanksgiving, we should all think about the way that we treat other people. I know that we can't always be nice to everyone, but we should at least treat people civily. In the immortal words of another complex man - Rodney King - "Can we all get along?"

(Read the Wikipedia article for more background)


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Blogger pastamasta said...

Sadly not, apparently, dear Rodney. I wish it were otherwise, but it seems to be bred into the species. Here's hoping we can learn to rise above the baseness of our genes and be nice to people (even if only because it would make used-car salesmen's jobs a damn sight easier).

November 22, 2005 3:10 AM

Blogger nope said...

Sylvana, this is a wonderful post. I guess it is not so peculiar to have the same thoughts - yours own a local scale, involving a horrible tragedy, and mine on a global scale, involving the world. The common thread is the human being, and the facility for meanness is indeed based in our genes, as pastamasta mentions above. As long as there is humankind we will be killing each other - as long as there is humankind we'll find something about each other that somehow makes us seem unequal to our presence. I do not understand how we came to be the top of the food chain; it's a wonder we didn't kill ourselves off eons ago. But,, then - we are grounded in civility and kindness, so perhaps that saves (has saved!) us in the end. I find it fascinating that we kill and then gather for comfort.

November 22, 2005 10:03 AM

Blogger sideshow bob said...

good post!

November 22, 2005 6:58 PM

Blogger Sylvana said...

PastaMasta, glad to see you are surviving your new addition! And I'm not sure used-car salesman count in this. ;) Bluntness is the only thing they understand!

Indiaiynke, I'm glad that you got the global connection that I was going for. It is not just about these particular people, it is about all of us. How easy would a tragedy like this happen to us if we do not take into consideration the other people involved. I mean, they are people after all. It just reminds me of how we dehumanize people all the time - like cashiers (since it is that time of year!) - and therefore treat them as if they are not human beings. It's way too easy to be rude and down-right mean to someone that you do not see as a person. And I think that is exactly what happened out in the woods last year and helps people all over the world do bad things to others.

SSB, aw shucks! I wanted to put together an eloquent, well thought out essay about what this local tragedy had to show us about ourselves - you know, get to the basic human tragedy. But in the end, I was feeling pinched for time and thought that maybe it came out like I had just thrown it together. But then, you know me - such a perfectionist!

November 22, 2005 11:52 PM

Blogger Shannon said...

Great post. The first Hmong I ever met was when I lived for a year w/ my grandma in Neenah. I had just moved there from a rather diverse middle school in Vegas and was, no offense Wisconsin, shocked by the racism in not only my classmates but my family. There was complete intolerance for the Hmong and disrespect for their culture. I'm not saying Chai was right, but I could totally see it happening. I could just hear it! I saw my unlces there, big macho hunters, after a few beers, talkin' shit, throwing out the racial slurs, and...and wow, I'm glad I escpaed their closed mindedness.

An all around tragedy.

November 23, 2005 12:49 AM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Shannon, of course the people that do it see nothing wrong with it. They have a sense that it is OK because they are better than those people and that everything they are saying about them is true - which both of these assumtions are false. And I do emphasis the ASS in that!
People here have turned a blind eye to it all. They don't understand how harmful it is. Then you'll even get the jerks going on and on about "P.C." and how real people just say it like it is and others should be able to handle it. But they forget that what they are talking about is rudeness and utter disrespect.
It really saddens me that I have to admit that many people in Wisconsin are like this. And I just want to say, that the whole idea that you are only a product of your environment is false. I was raised in this environment and I realized at a very early age that it was all bullshit. I chose my own path. Many do not because it is just easiest to go along with the crowd. What I hope that people get from this is that they don't have to do that. They can stand up against it and do what is right. Maybe if someone had done that out in those woods, Chai would have been allowed to walk away and the tragedy would have been an option not taken.

November 23, 2005 9:00 AM

Blogger SierraBella said...

Good post, I remember the tragic event.

November 26, 2005 4:12 PM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Sierrabella, thanks. It will be remembered here for a very long time!

November 28, 2005 6:51 PM

Blogger Indigo Red said...

Yep, couldn't agree more. It was the victims fault. And they were all victims in this case. None of the participants were innocent of an event that should never have happened.

November 30, 2005 11:28 AM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Precisely, Indigo Red.

December 01, 2005 10:50 AM

Blogger someone said...

Ok, I see your point. I do not agree however. We have to respect all people but you are forgetting that not everyone in Wisconsin are people who have a few beers and push others around with their "machoness". You are defending the hmong hunter because he is hmong and you are stereotyping the other hunters as hicks who like to push others around. There were only 3 people of the hunting group who actually said any thing to Vang. The others were innocent bystanders who didn't deserve anything on that day. Look at Vang's criminal background and compare that to the other hunters' non-existent criminal background. Color is not an issue in this case. White, black, hmong, whatever, we are all the same. Look at the real causes for once and forget about skin color. Look at the innocent families and friends who lost everything that day and the young innocent hunters who lost their lives. They deserve to be remembered for the people that they were. The people that we should be. Understanding, caring, people that you are saying we should be. No one is ever really going to know what happened that day and God has judged them all and I believe they are all in heaven where they belong while Vang is where he belongs as well.

January 06, 2006 8:23 PM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Someone, if you seriously believe that race and machismo were not issues, you are mistaken. I have lived in Wisconsin all but two years of my life. I have lived in just about every section of the state. I know how the people are here. I am not stereotyping them, it was admitted that he was threatened and was called racial slurs. Those are facts of the case. It was also admitted that they did not just let him leave. He was repeatedly confronted. Why? He was trying to leave. It could have ended there. But there were some in the group that felt they had something to prove. Machismo. Plain and simple. They sparked the tragedy because they just couldn't leave it go peacefully. Not everyone that was shot was involved with the instigation, that is true. No one deserved to die out there, it is just how things played out.

My point with this post was that it is not a good vs evil, cut and dry case. Vang was a victim in the tragedy too. He deserves to go to jail for what he did, but he does have a reason for doing what he did. He didn't go into the woods that day looking to get into a fight and kill some people any more than that group of hunters was looking to get shot. If we don't try to understand how this whole thing happened, we really can't learn anything from it, and that would make this an even greater tragedy.

January 07, 2006 1:33 AM

Blogger someone said...

I have thought about this case way too much over the past year. It has been a part of me in every way. I have lived in Wisconsin all my life. I know that not everyone is the stereotypical hick. I knew all those people who were killed that day. I know that these people didn't do anything that day that should have caused them their lives. Name calling while it isn't right is not a reason to kill anyone. No gun was pointed at Vang no gun was shot at Vang before he opened up on these innocent people. He had no right to do what he did. I sat in the court room while he got up and pretended to point his gun as he explained how he ran down and shot all of these people. He had excitment in his voice as he did it. I sat there and listened to him tell me that these people deserved to die. He had no sympathy for what he did. He is a man that will forever haunt my dreams. No one in their right mind could kill six people because they made him angry.

January 07, 2006 7:50 PM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Someone, I'm sorry for your loss. This event certainly was a tragedy for all involved.

It may be that you are so close to those killed and you may not have had enough similar life experiences to Vang's that you can't understand what led Vang to do what he did.

Racial slurs are not simple "name calling". It is easy to not see how invasive and threatening racism can be when you are a white person who never has to deal with it personally. Racial slurs denote that the person that they are being directed at are inferior, not even seen as real humans. They conjure hatred and unreasonability from the person saying them. When shouted, they will even bring to mind the possibility of great bodily harm, maybe even death.

Now combine that with a large group against a lone Hmong, out in the woods, miles away from anyone that might help him. It doesn't take the whole group to say these things, it only takes one with no disagreement from the others to appear that the whole group supports that feeling.

Now combine that with the fact that the confronting group will not let the person leave the situation that they are in. They continue to block his exit; they continue to threaten. What would be the reason for not letting him go except that this group feels that justice has not been served yet? When this is mixed with anger and racial slurs, it can easily be assumed that this group means to hurt in some way.

Combine that with more of these people gathering to confront the Hmong. This signals an escalation of the situation.

Combine that with the thought that these angry, unreasonable people probably have weapons, guns to be exact.

Combine that with the fact that this particular subject of racism has been through a war where he has had to flee people wishing to kill him and his family.

Combine that with the fact that this person was beat up regularly by white kids because he was Hmong.

Combine that with the fact that this particular person has been trained for 6 years by the military to react quickly to potentially life-threatening situations.

Combine that with the belief that someone has just pulled a weapon on him as he has turned to walk away. It didn't even really have to happen, he only needs to believe that it did. How many stories have you heard of police shooting unarmed people because they thought the person had pulled a gun?

With every decision that was made out there in the woods, each of these people were brought closer to the tragedy. We can't know the background of everyone that we meet, the things that have happened in their lives to make them the person that they are. This is a great reason to be respectful of others, if not simply because it is the right thing to do. People sometimes do very terrible things simply because of the situation that they are forced into.

Being in a situation where you must protect yourself from mortal dangers brings up a weird concoction of emotions. You are scared at first. Adrenline pumps into your body to keep you alert. Your mind often turns fear to anger, since fear isn't as effective of a motivator to keep you successfully fighting for your life. The person may even feel a sense of satisfaction or joy at having succeeded in keeping themselves alive. Adrenline itself triggers good feelings in the mind and body.

My father was in the Vietnam War. His rare recounts of what happened over there are very similar to Vang's reaction - a detachment because of the horrors, yet an excitement since the mere act of recounting the story brings him back to the scene as if he were there all over again; the adrenaline pumping through his body once more. All of the emotions that you say you saw Vang go through I have seen my father go through when recounting his stories. My father isn't a heartless killer. People couldn't put themselves in the Vietnam War Veterans' shoes, they couldn't understand what the soldiers had to go through while in the jungles of Vietnam. This was a huge problem when they came back to America and people spit on them and called them baby killers and even evil. People didn't understand because they had never been in those situations themselves. They didn't try to understand because it was just easier to say they were bad people. How could you justify killing women, children, and the elderly; especially unarmed ones, right? I'm not saying that these two situations and circumstances are exactly parallel, but the basic instincts involved are.

I believe that Vang began shooting because he felt mortally threatened, but after a while, the fear turned to rage. He had reasons for doing what he did, but having a reason for something does not make it the right thing to do. Vang was not right to do what he did, which is why I say that he deserves jail time. But if we are to prevent something like this from happening again, we must be honest in understanding how it happened. It might help you to cope with your loss by just assuming that Vang was a terrible person, but that really isn't going to help this from happening again

January 08, 2006 4:53 PM

Blogger someone said...

I don't want to argue. I don't want to say that you are wrong. No one knows what really happened that day. I just want respect for the people killed that day. And I want people to know that they were not racist hicks. They didn't threaten this man because he was a hmong they did it because he was in a permanent tree stand on private land. There was no need at all for Vang to go into kill mode. Especially when only one man of the four that were talking to him had guns. Chasing down each victim one by one and then shooting other victims when they were coming unarmed to help those already shot is not how to handle a situation that could have been handled with a few words. There was one shot fired at him after he had killed 4 people already. All these men wanted was for him to leave their land and realize that there is something called private property, a map and a compus. Vang was a terrible person. No one can change my mind about that. He was a man who threatened his wife. He had trouble in the law and a bad temper. I don't think that a person that can snap so easily and start killing people should be allowed in society. It is not an issue of race it is an issue of Vang's personality. I don't think that we are ever going to agree on this situation. I just wanted to express my opinion and help to make these men be remembered for who they really were.

January 08, 2006 7:24 PM

Blogger Sylvana said...

The thing is we do agree on some things: those people did not deserve to die, Vang did snap, and he deserves to be in jail.

It's always good to get a different perspective on things, so I'm glad that you took the time to stop by and leave yours.

January 09, 2006 7:25 AM