I’m baaaaaaaaaaaack!!!!!!!! Ugh, guys, I can’t tell you how much I missed being The Married Cat Lady! I am beyond excited to be back!
Now, depending on how loyal a follower you are, you may or may not know why I was on hiatus. This is why:
On that fateful Monday, I was actually out all day running my annual reading competition. I had posted the Wake Up Call, and at lunch noticed I was getting more views than usual. I was happy about this.
Towards the end of the school day, I was catching up on some work when I received an email from one of my students:
Oh boy. Oh no. Oh shit, was pretty much my first reaction. Then I was like, Aw, that’s kind of sweet. But then I was like, Ugh shit.
I opened my WordPress app and my stats were booming (for me). I’d had over 350 views, when I normally get about a hundred on days that I post. I immediately (and sadly) turned my site to private and went to tell my principal about it.
She wasn’t too concerned. I’d turned off the site, so that you needed permission to access it. I made my Twitter private, and I turned off The Married Cat Lady Facebook page because I knew the kids would be exploring all that too, once they’d seen it on the blog.
I was super freaked out, and not because I post anything bad on here– at most it’s PG-13, and I know for a fact these kids watch much worse. I had kids this year who did a characterization activity about Shameless characters! But that’s besides the point. My principal was glad I came to her and told her what was going on, and it was all shut down for the time being.
After school, two of my friends and I were trying to figure out HOW in the hell these kids had found my blog. If you Google my first and last name, my blog does not pop up– I’ve checked! Now, if you put in my first and last name, followed by “married cat lady” it pops up, but without knowledge of the married cat lady part, they wouldn’t have known to put that in. Being sneaky, and legally allowed to do so, we looked at some search histories. (Honestly, I might do a Wake Up Call of some of the things these kids put into Google. For example: “Fuck you gifs” and “diarrhea.” WTF?) The kids who had been on the site, though, had been searching “Becca Barracuda” which is my username for pretty much everything: WordPress, Twitter, Instagram… but again, HOW did they discover this?!
Eventually we gave up and went home. My friends, annoyed on my behalf, and me super-freaking-annoyed. Not because the kids “got me,” but because I had to put something I really care about on hold because it became the latest sensation for our 7th graders. And I know, legally, I didn’t have to shut everything down– free speech and all that– but at this point, it was just easier…
The next morning, the kids started coming in at 8:15. At 8:18, I texted my work friends: Definitely going to have to address this. Kids are being super weird and giggling and staring at me.
One kid peeked in the window in my door, and I heard him run away shouting, “She’s here!” I heard someone else in the hallway say, “She shut everything down!” And still another say, “She got caught!”
After walking in the room, one student came up to ask to go to the bathroom, and blatantly avoided looking me in the face.
Once the bell rang, everyone was sitting, silently pretending to get started on their journal (very out of character), but really sneaking glances at me and then smirking at their friends. After the pledge I said the following (or just about):
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Let’s address the elephant in the room?” *Mumblings of responses.* Well, it means to talk about what everyone is thinking but doesn’t actually want to talk about. In our situation, it’s that I know, that you know about my blog. *They start giggling and making eyes at each other some more.* Believe it or not guys, I have a life outside of this place– outside of YOU. I am not embarrassed about anything on my blog. I write because I love it and because it’s fun for me. Nobody “got me” in this situation. I’m not in trouble. It’s shut down because you are not my intended audience. You are thirteen years old. You are not the ones I want reading it. So, we are done giggling, whispering, and making faces at each other. Capisci?
I gave the same(ish) spiel at the start of each of my classes. After my first class, I asked the student who had emailed me on Monday to hang back so I could ask her how she found the blog. She said something about trying to do an assignment in Google Classroom, and it just “popped up.” Obviously, this was a lie. But I let her have it.
“I didn’t mean to get you in trouble,” she said, her eyes welling up.
“Oh, honey, I am not in trouble. Do not feel bad at all! Like I said in class, you guys are just not my intended audience.”
“But, it’s really funny,” she said.
“Thank you. I do appreciate that, but until I’m no longer your teacher, it’s going to have to stay closed.”
Now, there are obviously kids that I don’t teach, so they didn’t hear what I had to say about everything. There was a lot of talk about the group chat with my work friends in Wake Up Call #17 because 1. it’s a conversation with their teachers, and 2. we called ourselves assholes. There were also a few kids that thought we were calling our students assholes. (Obviously not. This is an example of why 13 year-olds are not my intended audience.) We’ve since changed our group name.
There were actually a few of my students who said to my dear friend–who is the (unintentional) middle school gossip spy, “She has a life outside of us and school. She writes for adults and not kids. Why can’t people get that?” And so, the rest of the day went, for the most part, normally.
Until 3:00, when that same dear, dear friend came to find me with a look on her face that said This is going to make you want to punch something, but also cry tears of laughter. You know why? Because somehow, somewhere, someone started telling people that I AM A PORN STAR.
Before I say anything else about this, let me set a few things straight:
- I AM NOT A PORN STAR.
- I REPEAT, I AM NOT A PORN STAR.
- If I were a porn star, I would not be a teacher because I would be making A LOT more money.
- I AM NOT A PORN STAR.
So, you know what inspired this revelation? This:
Nowhere in this anecdote did I say I was IN porn! I was flabbergasted. I put my head down on the table. “This is unreal,” I told my friend.
“I mean, you should take it as a compliment,” she shrugged. “They think you’re hot enough to be a pornstar.”
“Ugh, gross!” But I did have to laugh. I was disgusted and embarrassed, but I decided just to ignore it. My friend had obviously set the record straight, and word would make its way around.
And make its way around it did. The next morning, I got this email:
Of course, as soon as first period was over, I went running down to my dear, dear friend to show her. And then we headed to the office to share this revelation with our principal– because wouldn’t that be an interesting phone call to get from a parent: Yes, hello, my student told me that his English teacher is a porn star. How do I know what kind of “literature” they’re really reading?
To my principal’s credit, she once again was not too concerned. She’d only gotten one email from a parent about the whole ordeal, and apparently when the student explained it to Mom, it sounded like I had shared my blog with my students, like, “Here, please read my blog.” Obviously, that is ridiculous. My principal tried to call the mother back, left a voicemail saying she’d be happy to discuss the situation, but she must have been misinformed. The mother never called back, nor did she respond to my principal’s email.
The only thing that bothered me was that my friend and I thought it would be better to open the blog back up, so everyone could see that I have nothing to hide/ am not a porn star. However, my principal asked that I still leave it closed until school was over. Le sigh. (Again, I know that legally, I did not have to do that.)
We go about the rest of the day, and the chatter about my blog seemed to have mostly passed. I wasn’t as exciting anymore, at least for the seventh graders; there was probably a couple that had broken up for them to talk about.
But, believe it or not, that’s not where this story ends! (I promise to keep these last bits brief, bear with me just a little longer.)
One of the PE teachers came by to tell me that there were 8th grade students asking if I’d gotten fired.
Then, one of the other teachers in my school told me she’d had the following conversation when she went to get her hair done the previous day:
Parent: You teach at [school], don’t you?
Teacher: Yes, I do.
Parent: Did you hear about that teacher that was forced to resign because of what she wrote on her blog?
Teacher: No, I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Then she said she got out of there as fast as she could.
And another teacher at my school had a conversation with a parent who also teaches at one of the elementary schools in our district that went like this:
Parent/ teacher: So I heard the teacher with the blog resigned before she got fired…
Teacher: Do you really believe that that’s true?
But wait, THERE’S MORE! After an incident, we’ll call it, at my school. Parents started bashing me on Facebook, saying things like my blog is dirty and sexual, and that I talk shit about students. Here are my responses to these comments (about which my blood is still boiling):
- Yes, there are sometimes dirty/ sexual comments in the Wake Up Call, but by no means is this a “sex blog” as it was referred to.
- I have NEVER, ever “talked shit” about students on this blog. Period.
- Plus the fact that none of these parents have even read anything on the blog, seeing as it has been private since all this drama started.
- I know kids have the world at their fingertips via the internet, but some things are not meant for them, even if they can find it. Perhaps monitoring their internet use would be a better idea, as opposed to bashing what is on the internet. When I was a kid, there were certain things I wasn’t allowed to do, and my parents (annoyingly) monitored that. Can you monitor everything, all the time? Of course, not. But don’t hate what’s posted because of it.
- Finally, for people responding to acts of bullying, the comments about me were awfully hypocritical. Calling me/ my blog dirty and nasty– that’s bullying, when you think about it. And it’s been my reputation you’ve dragged through the mud.
So, in the last few weeks I’ve been all the gossip for 7th graders, high schoolers, and most impressively, parents. This next part is for all of you, for anyone who thought I got in trouble for this, or got fired, or was forced to resign:
None of that is true. I did not get in one ounce of trouble, because there is nothing for me to be ashamed of. I did not get fired, plain and simple. And, I was not forced to resign before I could get fired.
But I did resign. I resigned on April 5, 2017. Almost a full month before all this happened. Need proof? Here’s a picture of my letter of resignation:
And here’s a picture of the board of education’s approval of my resignation, dated May 1, 2017. A week, to the day, before The Married Cat Lady became the talk of the town.
Why? That’s for another post, another day.
I’m not bitter or angry about any of this. Really. Once this is posted and the blog is back up and running, I hope that you all read it. I mean, any press is good press, right? You’re here, you’re reading my writing. And I hope that you continue to read it. I love this blog. I love writing. And that’s what I’m going to continue to do.
To all my wonderful family, friends, and followers, I’m back, baby! Thank you for being so kick-ass, and supporting me on this wild ride. I love each and every one of you so. fucking. much.