Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Dark Days

For those of you wondering about why I disappeared all of a sudden, right after coming back from my last hiatus, let me explain. Long story short, I’ve been dealing with a stalker situation since mid-January. For a while, it was kind of all I could do to leave my house in the morning, because suddenly I couldn’t be sure that nothing bad was going to happen to me. Not that there was any certainty before. At any moment, wherever you are, a sinkhole could open up beneath you, a falling brick could land on your head—life is tenuous. But there’s that illusion of certainty, you know? Losing that illusion takes up a lot of mental energy. 

The little part of my brain that cares about what everyone thinks of me (hello there) has been pestering me, saying, “Oh no, you can’t tell people you had a STALKER, they will assume it was your fault, and also, you literally PUBLISHED ON YOUR BLOG that you go to Starbucks every day. What did you expect?”

Well, I mean, not that.

This is something I will probably talk about at greater length in the future, when I have my thoughts more collected and my opinions more defined, because while I joke about it, it’s true, my first instinct is to look for the fault in myself. What did I do to bring this down on me? It’s what I’ve been taught over the years.

He first approached me at Starbucks, but I get the sense that he had been following me for a while longer. Somehow he figured out where I work, asked my coworkers for my work schedule, and on at least one occasion, tried to follow me home. So that was stressful. I could joke about how I only went to the police after he got upset and stopped tipping me large sums of money, but not everyone understands that I use humor as a coping mechanism. And anyway, I used all that tip money to buy two stun guns.

Once the police were appraised of the situation and gave him the old, “Now remember, you can’t stalk people” talking to, my life got a great deal more peaceful. I’ve run into him one more time since then, and I only had half a panic attack, so that was good. I think he pretty much understands that he could get into a lot of trouble if he doesn’t leave me alone—and also that if I go missing, he’s the first person they’ll visit.

During the worst parts, numerous people advised me to quit going to Starbucks every day. Maybe you’ll read this and think, “Wow, she was sad about the thought of giving up Starbucks, talk about first world problems.” And you would be right in recognizing that I have been so remarkably blessed in my life. But my Starbucks routine was about more than simply pouring out my daily coffee libations to the two-tailed siren. What bothered me about the whole debacle is that I had worked so hard to carve out a space for myself. For me the whole thing symbolized my push for freedom and independence. I was enjoying a fledgling social life. I had overcome my fear of going places by myself. I felt like I was waking up (but, like, not just because I was drinking more coffee). Since I accepted Starbucks into my heart, I have finished one book and drafted another, which is more consecutive writing than I have done in years. I didn’t want to give that up because some man decided to go all predatory, even though everyone was telling me it was an unacceptable risk.

I took necessary precautions. Among other things, I made up a secret code to use with my sister, in case I needed to call her but he was around (which I ended up having to use), and I checked in with her four times a day so she would know if something had happened. I mapped out multiple routes to the police station. I bought an inordinate amount of pepper spray. I even set up Home Alone style booby traps inside my apartment. All this time, I kept writing, every day, even when I felt like I was having a 24/7 panic attack. And guess what? This last Saturday I finished the first/second draft hybrid of another novel, which predictably, features a serial killer. I’ll probably share a snippet with you soon, but this post is long enough as it is. Suffice it to say that my fears of never having fun writing a book ever again were unfounded, because despite all the stress, or perhaps as a result of it, this book was a haven for me.

But enough about that. Let’s talk about my new kitten!


Meet Hlao-roo. So far this sentient piece of dryer lint has a) taught me the true meaning of sleep deprivation, b) failed to catch a single spider, and c) managed to get stuck at the top of the staircase. I think we’re off to a fine start.

And last but not least, I can’t end this post without mentioning that my sister has a blog now! Of course I fully expect to incite a blogging feud between the two of us, but shhh, don’t tell her.


  1. Oh my goodness, that's so scary! I'm so glad you're okay. And I totally understand about the "self blame" part of it -- it's messed up, but so much a part of how many of us learn to think. Hope he's out of your life forever and that your writing life continues to thrive.

  2. I'm so sorry! That sounds frightening. I'm glad you were able to maintain some normalcy in your life through your writing.

  3. That is super scary. But it's your fault. Everyone is responsible for their own actions, and if someone's acting like a creep and stalking you, that is THEIR fault. They chose to do that. That's on them, not you. (Also, saying "I go to Starbucks every day" does not translation to "Please come stalk me and weird me out" unless someone's brain is messed up. You honestly have nothing to feel guilty about.) Also, I can totally get not wanting to "give up Starbucks," because it's not about giving up Starbucks. It's about giving up your writing routine and interrupting your writing flow (which is technically a work flow since writing isn't your hobby). It's wrong that someone tried to sabotage that for you because of their own selfishness. Sorry, it just makes me really angry when people take advantage of other people's safety and peace of mind. Especially when you're simply minding your own business. I'm sure it was probably nerve wrecking, but I think it's really brave of you to stick it out and keep going and keep writing despite it all. And you did it intelligently and took necessary precautions. Not many people would've handled the situation so well.

    Congrats on your finished drafts!!

    Also, your cat is adorable. :) Hopefully, the little guy will grow up to be a true spider slayer.

  4. Oh my gosh I’m glad you got out of that situation. I agree that you fight for that space. I mean if someone was following you to work do they expect you to quit your job? No, we have police for a reason. And I’m so happy you got a new friend! Squee! She’s adorable! My cat helps me so much with my anxiety. That fluff will be your new buddy!