I have a genuinely fresh story for you. Already! In case you missed it, my last post was intended to be, well, my last post. For a while anyway.
But here we are. Hello. It’s me. Ha.
(None of that was ironic, by the by.)
I wish I had a massive a-ha moment to share. Or something wicked exciting. Alas, I didn’t win big. I haven’t fallen deeply in love. My dog isn’t magically home from puppy heaven. But I have that almost unfamiliar yet deeply embedded drive to blog. So I am going with it.
(We still haven’t gotten to irony. Wait for it. Please.)
I think this writing fervor is partially due to a recent and intense binge watching of Jessica Jones. Peppered with sleep deprivation. And the deliberate choice to step back from work and allow myself just a hint of disorganization. I’ve not dismissed the possibility that I never truly wanted to stop writing… I merely had to make a grand declaration of “being stuck” and needing to “unstick” so that I could exhale and let the edges do their natural thing. You know, turn and twist a bit. Like wallpaper before you peel it off. What can I say? I go to extremes. You know who else goes to extremes? Billy Joel. (Yes, I was subjected to too much Billy Joel karaoke over the weekend. It’s cool; I will be okay.)
I suspect the proverbial kick in the pants, however, was hearing someone else call me a “victim” today.
Allow me to clarify before we go any further. Legally, I am probably a victim. You see, after months of dealing with an incompetent and predatory student loan servicer, I learned that I am most likely the victim of identity theft.
Cue up the laugh track… because there’s the beginning of irony. Someone stealing my identity?
But this isn’t a sitcom like That ’70s Show. Which is too bad… I do enjoy me some bell-bottom, corduroy pants. I seriously dig disco, funk, and soul music. A moment for Maurice White. R.I.P., sir. The love is not gone. Let’s groove, indeed. And I was born in September. Earth, Wind & Fire will play on my Bose wireless, loudly, until my neighbors with a small child come a knockin’.
Back to what’s ironic. It’s really threefold. 1) I painted a former coworker, a woman who took extra precautions regarding using the Internet or ever providing one’s Social Security number, a “conspiracy theorist.” Really, her truth is more accurate than my ignorance. 2) I used to seriously joke that I never had to worry about identity theft. Not after an intense period of severe financial distress and consequences. My FICO score is–after almost two years of hard work on my part–on the low end of “fair.” I know this because I spent hours pouring over credit reports last night. Some ass clown used my numbers to accrue even more student loan debt. And open a line of credit. And try to collect unemployment benefits. I did not see this coming. If my dad was still around, I do believe he’d shrug his shoulders and tell me, Well, the egg’s on you. 3) I bawled about this on the phone with a friend about 24 hours ago. He is a candid, truthful fellow. Sometimes entirely insensitive. I know this. Yet I think I really craved his particular brand of honest around this issue. He listened to me for a while, then, as expected, pointed out that while it “fucking sucks,” I am and will be okay. Not touchy feely but correct. You see, after sleeping on it (meaning not sleeping at all), I made calls to verify my suspicions. Then I did some digging around. Finally, I connected with advocates. Persons who could help me determine the best course of action. After that, I was no longer a victim. No. I was empowered. And more than that, I was super grateful. I remain super grateful.
And that, there? That is the greatest irony of all. I am, by definition, a victim in this instance. But I don’t feel like one. For the first time in years, I don’t feel like a victim. I am not lost in self pity. I am not stuck on the perennial, Why? I am not pouring myself into a bottle of wine. I am also not seeking approval. I am not blogging for validation. It’s not important that you “like” my writing. It’s more about sharing what’s going on because I know there are many who can and do relate to this situation. I also recognize how much it can help to hear another voice. Because the sensation of being alone in something–even when you know you are not alone–makes it unbearably lonely as well.
I am no Jessica Jones. (Sigh.) I cannot bend iron bars like Twizzlers. I will never be able to sort-of fly/jump onto a building. Shit, Krysten Ritter’s skinny legs are longer than my entire body. (Sigh, again.) But fuck that. My nickname in high school was–and I offer this to make a point, fully aware that it’s super lame–Scrappy. Like Scrappy-Doo. Scooby-Doo’s nephew or whatever. Anyway, I was Scrappy because I did stuff like hit my opponents’ shins super hard with my field hockey stick. Moment of honesty: clearly I should have played ice hockey. A sport in which you do not get removed from the game for being a tad aggressive. But I can’t skate. Not at all. I fall down. It’s really bad.
I think I gave up scrappiness. Maybe I dropped it. Don’t know. Don’t care. No one said I can’t pick it back up at thirty something. To boot, I now have an arsenal at my disposal. A freaking incredible education. Tons of painful life experience. An ever-stubborn disposition (for which I thank my mother). And a bizarrely enduring sense of humor (a shout-out to my dad for that).
I also have people. Many, many people. Some I know well and love furiously. My family. My friends. Others I’ve never met. Employees of government agencies and non-profit organizations who are going to bat for me, over the wire. And somewhere in between are my colleagues and coworkers. Professionals with far more wisdom and perspective than I expect I will ever possess. They remind me that throwing around the “I am an attorney” card is generally not the way to make friends. Or that telling a debt collector that he is a fucking asshole is unlikely to work in one’s favor. Because that debt collector is just another human being doing his job. A job that requires him to relentlessly phone people who may, in fact, not owe said debt. And that job must blow. Plus–and don’t forget–that call may be recorded for training purposes.
All of the empowerment in my bones, gratitude in my spirit, and light and love in my heart, to yours.