Something That Summer

Me at my last house in Paulding County in the early 2000s.

In 1999 I returned to live in Paulding County for the last time. I moved there for the privacy and I also missed home. I lived in an isolated house surrounded by trees in an area between New Georgia and Union. Though I worked in the city and most of my personal life centered around Atlanta, it was comforting to cross the Paulding County line and pull into my driveway. I had returned to my roots, though I was a much changed and different person. Paulding County had changed too, but the southern end of the county was no different than when I was younger. It still felt like Paulding County, there was even a dirt road across from my house.

For the first few months, my boyfriend of five years lived with me until we split up. We wanted different lives. It was the first time in my life I had lived alone and I relished it. 2000 was a great year, 2001 was better and 2002 began even better until something happened that summer. What happened upended my life and I had to make difficult, necessary and swift decisions to protect myself. It felt like I was back in the school system.



I am trying to keep private what happened in 2002 until I write about it in my next novel. It was a serious enough incident, followed by an escalated second incident that I involved the county sheriff's department and the head of the security at the broadcast network I was employed by at the time. On the advice of my employer, I stayed at a hotel for a period after and soon relocated while simultaneously paying for the property in Paulding County. 


Two realizations sunk in: I could never live in Paulding County again no matter what my heart wanted and I had to live a very careful life.

I can visit the cemetery where my mother and grandparents are buried, pass through Paulding County on my way some place else, maybe stop for gas or take a walk on the Silver Comet Trail, but I can never sleep there again.

There were many reminders to be careful leading up to what happened in 2002. Putting aside everything that happened growing up, I was attacked at a gas station in 1995, had a stalker/"fan" at one of the radio stations I worked at in Louisville which led to "the night of the Walrus" and the police believing I was being held hostage in the studio (funny in retrospect I suppose) and I was assaulted at the beginning of 1999 which precipitated my return to Paulding County hoping it would be more peaceful.


The world is a violent place as much as we may pretend it is not.


The network I worked for in the 2000s took security for those of us in television and radio very seriously. We had reserved parking at the front door, armed escorts if requested and special access restrooms inside the building to protect our privacy. There were additional measures too, including training classes on how to protect yourself and your privacy. Being a public person, even a minor one like myself, comes with added risks that most people will not fully understand. I pity those that are truly famous and have many layers of security between them and the public.

Since 2002 my life has been relatively calm, at least there have been no new physical attacks. Online threats or risks are now my primary concern - it is difficult to assess whether an online threat will mature into an in-person threat. There have been a couple of unfortunate incidents that happened since Dweller On The Boundary came out in 2020. Those were incidents that I put too much trust in giving out my very private phone number to former classmates from Paulding County. I learned that I cannot do that except with people that have earned my trust over an extended period of time. I accept the blame for being naive.

I acknowledge that given the subject matter I have written about, that it may attract a few unstable types among the better adjusted people. I take precautions by not sharing where I live, posting photos of the full exterior of my house, giving out names of some people, posting travel plans that align with the actual days or times and other measures that I will not elaborate. 

It is impossible to cover all of the bases and there will always be some risks unless you want to spend your life hiding away - a prospect I will not entertain. I know how dangerous some people from the past remain decades later. After the sixth episode of The Southern Extension, This Is Not A Game, I received a text message to my very private phone number that contained other very private personal information. In that episode I mentioned that some people on my Facebook are connected to one of the boys from Blackout Log. I also said that I had seen comments from them until I blocked them. Maybe I should not have divulged that information, social media has made the world uncomfortably small and people are too connected to all sorts of people that they really do not know.  The message was not an obvious threat, whoever sent it was not that dense, but it contained information that a stranger should not know.


Did someone want to play with fire?


I do not know for certain if this flare up originated from Facebook or not. If so, they really do not know how dangerous that fire can be and I am fully capable of extinguishing it. Deciding to be better safe than sorry, I axed The Southern Extension for this reason. The previously released episodes will remain online. I am sorry it had to be this way.