is the grass any bluer...

is the grass any bluer...
on the other side?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Jeepers Creepers, Glad They Caught the Peeper!

As some of you may know, this past year my neighborhood was terrorized by a peeping tom.  I hate to use that term, because some of my best friends' names are Tom, but as legend goes, there was a fellow named Tom who peeped at Lady Godiva (the original Lady Gaga) when she made her infamous ride through the streets of London to protest a tax or some such nonsense.  

At any rate, despite the joking and smartypants comments, peeping toms are not funny. They are not just looking in to be looking in.  They are not just a bother -- they are sick, they are sociopaths who need help, and need to be off the street and not looking into windows of unsuspecting women.

After all, it is a reasonable expectation to have privacy when you are in your home watching television late at night, or playing your ukulele, or reading a book, or doing whatever the hell you want to do in your own home. It is also a reasonable expectation that your friends and family will show empathy and support you in your post-peeper trauma.  For the most part, that was true for me, however, I was thrown under the bus by the weekly paper's editor for whom I covered the arts for five years and for whom I was a regular contributing editor.  I wrote my last cover story on January 1 of last year and thereafter, after I became a victim of the peeping tom, my name no longer appeared on the masthead, and my 40 hours of volunteer work writing and covering the arts were no longer appreciated or needed, as there were other writers eager to get their stories in print.  With frenemies like that, who needs that sort of affiliation anyway? 

By Halloween, the perp had been caught and I was happy
to be frightened by folks lurking around downtown

So, after the third time the peeper victimized me, I did allow the news folks into my home to talk to me, I did tell them to show my face and not my hands wringing in my lap or disguising my identity.  After the third time the bold goober stalker peeper strained his neck to look in at me when I least suspected it, through the blinds, through the curtains, standing on wooden makeshift ladders and leaning over staircases to do so, after all that happened and I'd called police who told me both to hide when I saw the guy, but also asked me which way he went, after I went sleepless night after night after night, I did allow WLEX, WKYT and WTVQ to send their news people out to talk to me,  I spackled on my makeup and I did tell them to get my face, not my angst-ridden hand gestures and body language, on camera.  I hated the word victim, and I wasn't gonna be powerless anymore. I was going to put a face with the story so that people would know this could happen to anyone's daughter, mother, grandmother...

Well, that started my year off with a hell of a bang, folks.  Not the good kind of bang, either, but the shock that happens when people you trust become people you do not trust.  After my appearances on television news, I began getting hate mail, and postings on the various news channels' websites about my lifestyle. Yes, I smoke. Yes, I drink. Yes, I hang out at Cheapside and the Grey Goose. Yes, I was unemployed.  However, I am not a pothead, nor am I a pill-head, nor am I a drunk, nor was I milking the story for attention while I "sit back and collect unemployment."  That's what was said about me, and quite frankly, I believe those comments were made by a former "friend" who used me for her own good before she tossed me to the wayside after befriending those who could bring her more status in the community.  In fact, I know it was her, because of the words that were used in an effort to be coy -- and I yam the Sherlock Holmes of local I know who writes what, even though they try to post their inane comments anonymously, and I knew who it was making those slanderous statements about me.  However, since they were posted by anonymous people who chose Biblical names, nothing could be done, and the news stations wisely removed such statements.  Still, the hate mail kept coming, with all sorts of ridiculous and insulting remarks being thrown my way.  

Me and my Chancel Choir buddies

I ought not go on about all that, but it hurt me to have someone post hurtful comments about me when all I was doing was trying to unite my neighborhood in order to help the police catch the perpetrator.  And we did.  We formed text trees. We chose block captains, we met and formed a neighborhood group who met in public and asked the police questions about ways to enable them to find the man who I called Lurkel, because he looked like Erkel from the old television series (I can't remember the name of the show. I can't remember on purpose, I'm sure) -- and by my talking to folks from the local news stations, I gave a face to the story that went for months with nothing to show and hear but tearful voices from faces that were hidden in the shadows for fear of being victimized further by their landlords, their employers, their not-so-bright so-called friends...and since I am a daughter of a coal miner's daughter and I'm a Thomas, dammit, and we Thomas women don't take a whole lot of grief without becoming activists and advocates, I came forward, and I'm glad I did it.

Tommy: The Encore at the new ampitheatre MoonDance

I don't need that sort of attention to affirm my life, by the way. I am a God fearing volunteer grief minister, I'm a member of the Chancel Choir, and I play the piano for nursing home worship services.  I have a lot of cool friends in the arts community -- writers and speakers and playwrights, like those who perform at Holler Poets Series (I wrote the first cover story about Holler, as a matter of fact).  I am a voice for the theatrical community, and also wrote the first cover story about Actors Guild's Long Time Travelling by Silas House, covered the Pet Milk Project organized by Kelly Burton at Arts Place, I covered the Merrick Inn's benefit for Bill Keightley's memorial fund, the Flight 5191 tragedy's one-year anniversary observance, Sex & the City's return, Mind Body Soul health coverage, Art in Motion, and many more subjects).  I spend countless hours at rehearsals and talking to people about drama, comedy, opera.  I write about their projects and their devotion to their craft.  I have thanked those people and the people who gave me the venue to give them a voice and don't need to continue to kowtow to the weekly rant anymore, because plenty of people log on to see what I've written here in KimmyVille, and they tell me they enjoy what I have to say...unedited...unfettered...un-BFF'd.  I write about anyone who gives me the opportunity to discover more about them, and I am not afraid to talk about projects that don't necessarily get noted in the local daily's arts coverage.  Sometimes, just sometimes, the stories I write get pinched and then are slightly regurgitated and found in their pages, though.  

Rehearsal at BCTC for Middle Aged White Guys

Enough about that. I say all that to say this.  The news people in Lexington were more than fair to me about my issue with the peeper problem. The story was on the news every night for weeks on end. The peeper kept terrorizing our downtown neighborhood, not just my home but many others, and so the reporters covered the story.  I did come forward because by golly, I am articulate and I am able to be a spokesperson for people who have no voice.  By organizing my community, I became friends with some very cool people whose friendship I would have never known otherwise.  By becoming a better neighbor to my neighbor, I became a braver and better person.  By talking to other victims, I learned that indeed, there's power in numbers, and by organizing and communicating with each other we were able to accomplish what some said was impossible.  And there ain't nothin' wrong with that...

So I am taking this opportunity to thank folks like WLEX's Jackie Congedo, Janice Park, Jessica Moore, and Nancy Cox (they were the first to cover the story of our neighborhood group) and WKYT's Wendy Enneking, Gabriel Roxas, Elizabeth Dorsett and WTVQ's Cate Slattery and all the other reporters whose names I cannot remember who called, knocked on my door and asked for my thoughts about the issue.  They showed up at our group's meetings in the atrium of Victorian Square every Saturday during the process and were there to hear what the law enforcement officers had to tell us about how to protect ourselves in our homes.  

I also want to thank former Mayor Teresa Isaac for her support and help in getting us in touch with the police personnel who could most appropriately and effectively address our situation.  I want to thank the Lexington Police who gave us tips on how to help them and how to help each other - and even though they weren't all that happy with me being such a loud voice for the victims, they were still cooperative and helpful and in the end, they caught the criminal and got him off the MY street, where he was living in an abandoned garage, I heard, at one time.

I especially want to express my gratitude for the news reporters who covered our story due to the fact that when finally, in August - eight months after the reports began to come in -- the man was caught on Transylvania campus, by a Transy cop, and he was arrested and put in jail for at least long enough for all of us to take a deep breath and once again enjoy the reasonable expectation of privacy that we all have a right to know -- I'm grateful for their fairness and mindful coverage of a sensitive story -- and they never told me I needed to close my blinds, or stop being so outspokenly provocative, or to stop playing my ukulele.  Yeah, there were emails about that as well...well, I'm still playing my ukulele, and I'm getting ready to turn another year older, and I am not changing one thing about myself.  I am working 4 jobs to get by, I'm still singing in my choir, and I'm still tending to people's spiritual needs, even though I am a sinner, I am imperfect, and I am not necessarily a BFF of anyone, nor do I want to be.  If I am your friend, I am your friend forever and ever.  I don't need a tweet saying that I yam, sweet potatoes, I just am what I yam.  

I am, like you and I dare say even the dreaded peeping tom, a redeemed and forgiven child of God, and even though I may sometimes bask in the false assumption that I am in control of my life, I ask God to help me to love my neighbor as myself and to serve more faithfully each day.


No comments: