Accessory Of Ego: The Resurgence of Darla


Having been raised in an Authoritarian household, I came into adulthood like a magnet that was constantly attracting domineering personalities into my personal atmosphere. When I was younger, I had no idea that being in a friendship with someone who would constantly bowl over others with their fierce stubbornness, embrace judgement on all who would pass, and claim they had the answers to everyone’s problems was not normal.

[Enter Darla.]

I met Darla at the age of 19. Despite being well past her college years, we ended up at the same apartment party. We bonded while chain-smoking menthol cigarettes (yuck) on a night that would become notorious among the partygoers, as Darla’s hefty frame broke the toilet when she decided to have sex with some guy on it. However, well before the honey badger, it was Darla who didn’t give a shit. I think it was Darla’s unbreakable confidence that really drew me in. She was charismatic and smart, she worked in the media industry and gave me a ton of advice as I began my entertainment career. I liked Darla, she always had interesting stories to tell because she had a lot of “crazy” people around her (red flag) and somehow the most hapless things would always be happening to her (reddiest red flag in all flaggitude). We never officially resided in the same state, but shortly after our acquaintance, her father fell ill, and since she had a very complicated relationship with her many siblings, she often opted to stay with me. At that time, it was a mutually beneficial relationship full of good times. We would gossip daily about boys, work or school, and when she came to visit she would always sneak me drinks in the club.

About the time I was heading out west, Darla had a child with her ex. She had to leave her media job and return to her home town to make ends-meat. She spiraled through ups and downs, typically relative to what her current leading man was or wasn’t doing for her. Conversations with her became feast or famine, if there was drama happening in her life, I got the play-by-play, other times, even if I was in need I’d leave a dozen unanswered calls over several months. Not yet realizing that I was a mere accessory to her ego, and despite working 80-hour weeks, I always picked up when she called.

She was in her 30’s and wanted nothing more than to be married. She would cling onto questionable relationships with whatever hotdog stand, or married bouncer guy that would pay attention to her, and she would call and tell me the same cyclical stories about them breaking her heart. Despite frequently contributing her own unsolicited advice, Darla wasn’t the type to want other’s opinions. Taking a contrary stance from her would typically end with rapid-fire condescension and her early exit from the conversation. But, at this point, we had been friends for years, and I assumed that she was merely failing to see that I had grown into official woman-hood, now steadily in a successful career and a with few solid relationships under my belt. There was a lot of not right happening, but I just didn’t think that it was worth throwing the relationship away.

At one point, she took on a project in my town and I set her up with a room at the home of one of my closest friends. Darla unilaterally decided my friend needed some attitude and life coaching, so she would spend a lot of time and effort sharing her personal philosophies on life and then would complain to me about how draining it was to stay there.

[Cut to: first big fight]

Darla told me I was a toxic friend, and that I had a darkness growing inside of me. I called her a bully, but I was still the only one to apologize a few weeks later.  Darla assumed herself an expert in the field of mental health care and stood by her claims. She had taken some college courses to become a counselor, but was asked to leave for being disruptive to the other students as she would use the group training sessions to discuss her own trauma in such a way that the bulk of the time would be devoted to her alone. Basically, they told her she needed to resolve issues within herself before she would be welcomed back. Even well after being ejected from the program, she still made sure to proudly claim her attendance on her Facebook page.

[The beginning of the end]

When another close friend and love interest died in a car accident on christmas, I didn’t get near the same amount of support I had given when her father had passed years earlier. The imbalance of our relationship was becoming more apparent, I saw how she would project her own struggles as issues that I needed to work out on myself. I made an active choice to stop initiating phone calls to see how often we spoke. And we pretty much didn’t for well over a year. Right around the time of silence began, Darla began dating a guy, and one day she included me on a group text with a photo of her engagement ring. Not really being in the loop on this guy, due to our estrangement, I shot her back a congratulatory response.

[The end of the end]

By happenstance, I was working on a project and with Darla’s blessing, I offered an opportunity to let one of her sisters present a bid to be one of our local coordinating vendors. Darla and her sister had a difficult relationship, but she vouched for her sister’s ability to do the job well. The sister claimed she had a house and could work locally at the project site. On the day I called the sister to solidify the deal and draft the paperwork, she suddenly needed airfare and a daily food stipend. This made her bid no longer affordable and the company ended up working with another team. My phone blew up with nasty calls and texts from Darla’s sister. She claimed to had spent two days working on the bid and demanded pay at an absurdly high and, never before mentioned, daily rate. I explained to her that is not how contract bids work, but when she started getting aggressive with my team, we opted to pay her to make her go away. I looped Darla into this, and she chalked it up to a “yep, told ya she was crazy” sort of comment.

Three days later came a series of texts, a literary assault on my character. Darla had determined I was masterminding a plan to poison her relationship with her sister and caused this situation.  She was apparently appalled that I didn’t do enough in response to her engagement and I was a terrible friend. She made sure to let me know that she was blocking me, so I shouldn’t even bother to respond. How very like her. 

[The resurgence]

Perhaps it’s the five years of time that had passed, or the fact that we are now both married, and in seemingly much different places, but I really should have known better when she sent me that Facebook friend request. The things she said in her final act were bridge-burn worthy, but having spent a small amount of time training and working in the field of behavioral health myself, I had a glint of hope that she may have finally taken up that professional suggestion of therapeutic healing. Between running my business, developing a podcast, my writing and general love for myself, I’ve got zero tolerance for needless drama.

I can only assume Darla caught wind of my last post, American Narcissist: A Cure For What Ails You, in which I praise an article that led to a differing of opinions on my private Facebook page, something I mentioned in the public blog post. Apparently, all Darla really wanted to do was scroll down past 10 days worth of content to rouse the referenced material up and share her thoughts. In her go-to style of condescension, she explained (sometimes in caps and with the help of the teary eyed laugh emoji aimed at my comments) that she universally disagrees with me, the author of the article and to no surprise, has THE solution.

Nope, sorry, na-huh, I am not a 19-year-old any longer and this honey badger don’t have time for that shit. I am so thankful I’ve had enough personal development to know that healthy relationship’s require mutual respect and support. Not just when it’s convenient for one party, but unconditionally. I am lucky to say I’ve got that in my life, so anyone else can step off.

If you have a Darla in your life, let her go. Trust me, you will be totally fine. May you all find love and peace, even the Darla’s of the world.


Better than TV: my obsession with the Serial podcast and the case against Adnan Syed

One thing that I have learned as a result of launching this website is that aside from a recent reference link snafu that got me a ton of hits from Brazil, I am pretty much just talking to myself here most of the time. In that dancing-with-myself kind of spirit, I am going to post my thoughts on some podcasts I recently listened to. Besides sharing with the world how I get my nerd on, you will come to see that I probably have way too much time on my hands. Now, I know I am coming into this particular podcast party way late in the game, but since this story continues to develop and there is still a large divide of opinion among the internet world, I think it’s all still relevant.

For those who many not know, Serial season 1 featured a thrilling look at the convoluted conviction of Baltimore resident Adnan Syed in the 1999 murder of 17-year-old ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. Show producer and host Sarah Koenig takes you on a journey that unfolds so slowly and skilled, you will feel like you are in the grasp of a fine Fincher film. Everything you thought you would think turns around on itself and you’ll find your inner dialogue splitting into halves and arguing over what to believe. If you have not yet listened to Serial – STOP – and download it now on iTunes for free. My particular theory will be best digested by those who are familiar with the case. I’d hate to use the word spoiler, because this is a real life murder of a real person and I don’t want to cheapen the loss of life, but for a lack of a better word I don’t want to spoil your Serial experience.

Beyond listening to the full Serial series, I also took in most of the Undisclosed podcast, which I would not recommend because besides being painfully biased and funded by the Free Adnan Trust, it’s defense lawyer perspective narration frequently turns into sloppy ramblings that are hard to follow and often contradicts it’s own points without being able to see the irony. Undisclosed does uncover a few really interesting and important facts that were discovered after the conclusion of Serial, but overall these didn’t really sway my opinion and working theory – as a matter of fact, I think they helped solidify it. So, if you can stomach a drawn-out everyone is out to get us type conspiracy theory drivel, then by all means, check Undisclosed out.

One last super important thing that I will reference is the only interview that Jay Wilds, the star witness and conviction linchpin, did since the trial ended and the Serial obsession began. This three part interview can be found on The Intercept’s website.

*Here we go*

I fully believe that the states timeline of the murder can be easily disproven, but despite this Adnan is 100% guilty. I must say that I was a little bit disappointed in the final episode because Koenig took the easy way out by not giving a more definitive conclusion than – I think he is wrongfully convicted but, I can’t say he is innocent.

Just say the guy is  G U I L T Y.

I was really on the fence about what I thought until the episode where Koenig went to visit Jay and there was something about the way she described her interaction with him and the types of things he said. Jay was surprised at the visit – not something I would think would be typical of a person who had completely fabricated a story about seeing his friend bury a body – I tend to think if that were the case you’d spend the rest of your life waiting for the other shoe to drop because you’d know there’s someone behind bars with nothing but time on their hands. Secondly, Jay made a comment about Adnan still not being able to admit committing the murder to himself.  All of a sudden, things began to click in my head and I realized Adnan likely suffers from some sort of Borderline Personality Disorder or Narcissism, which would explain why people close to him were in disbelief that such a good, upbeat and popular guy could commit such an act. This would also explain why a theoretically guilty Adnan would think he was smarter than the cops, Jay would just do whatever he told him to do, and possibly be the motive for killing Hae (ie. you think someone lame like you can break up with someone awesome like me? I’ll show you how little you are).

The again, I doubt we will ever know the full motive for exactly why Adnan killed Hae. One motive I think we can put together that kept coming up and creating doubt was why Jay would lie so much. I think there are a myriad of valid reasons, many of which Jay points out in the Intercept interview (which I totally buy as the closest a real recount we will ever get to know). But here are my 4 top assessments:

  1. He was afraid of being pinned for the murder – I have to think that the first reaction when being taken in by the police for questioning of a murder is to make sure you don’t say anything that can get you in trouble or make you a suspect. I think for some people it’s like a physical defense mechanism to lie and misdirect to try to save themselves and much of the conflicting information provided by Jenn and Jay in the initial recordings could be explained by this.
  2. He will say anything to make sure the crazy guy he knows KILLS people is taken behind bars as fast as possible – I don’t doubt for one second that there was fear every time Jay saw Adnan after January 13th. However, we know that Jay is a drug dealer and his image comes off as more gangster-like than it actually is. I imagine this was a serious crux in his life where we was leaning between two worlds, one where he is all in and murder becomes apart of his life and the other where his own morality takes over and he knows he will lose his lifestyle, the drugs, money, etc. If you topple into the latter and spill it all, you may be worried about sharing the streets with someone who could kill you. This in no way excuses the lazy policework done in Baltimore and I do believe there was a lot of coaching thrown at Jay, I am just saying that this explains WHY he would be willing to mold his story to match any other evidence.
  3. He wanted to protect his family / didn’t want to go down for selling drugs during the 90’s war on drugs era / he was afraid of drug partner retaliation for being a snitch – refer to the Intercept interview.
  4. He was a total POTHEAD – I haven’t really seen anyone talking about the fact we know in ’99 Jay is the kind of guy who smokes multiple blunts per day and seems to always be high. If you’ve ever known a person who chronically uses copious amounts of marijuana, then you know their memory can be completely useless at times.

Ok, so now we can all stop saying “well why is he lying!”

One of the more useful things that Undisclosed brought up is that there was no wrestling match the day Hae was killed. We have the last two people who saw Hae both explaining that she was going to be back at school later for a wrestling match,  I think the best way to explain this is by using something Undisclosed tries to lean on heavily to help prove Adnan’s innocence – memory is bad. I think both people are mistaken about the which day they are recalling – there was no french fry stop, there was no chat about scoring a match on January 13th – and if that’s the case, it actually makes it easier to point a finger in Adnan’s direction because the lady running the concession stand can no longer claim there was nobody else in Hae’s car after school. This also widens the gap of time between 2:15pm when school let out and 3:15pm when Hae was a no show picking up her cousin. Maybe it’s that incoming call at 3:15pm that is the Adnan come pick me up from Best Buy and not at 2:36pm. Maybe Asia was totally mistaken about what day she saw Adnan after school.

If we take Jay’s Intercept interview as truth and we know it’s after midnight when Jay sees Hae’s body at the trunk pop, then that would explain why the blood settled before burial and why Jay was so dodgy about what kind of tools they used and where they came from (his grandmother’s house). Also, let’s throw out the cell phone records and tower data just like the defense wants and even then it seems to make a stronger case against Adnan.

I don’t claim to know exactly how it all went down and I haven’t taken the time myself to review every single piece of evidence (because, I sometimes have a life), but I am pretty confident in my personal thoughts on this. I think it’s a downright shame that the Baltimore Police Department didn’t put enough effort into this case. Being a believer in Adnan’s guilt, I wish they would have done something more so there would be no room for debate. I can’t help but feel bad for those who have put forth a tremendous amount of effort and money trying to free a murderer.