38 Minutes

I Love Lucy

When I read on a friend’s Facebook over the weekend how her heart was with the residents of Hawaii, and how thankful she was, you could have painted me covered with question marks. I hadn’t a clue on what she was talking about.

There are times when I’ve gotten my breaking news stories from friends on Facebook. Not so much the details, as the headlines themselves, but this time it was cryptic. I puzzled over it, and quickly perused my Facebook for other mentions, before  toggling over to Safari and typing in “Hawaii News”. My first thoughts were earthquake or tsunami, which are fearful, but nothing like what I actually found.

I wasn’t prepared to read that an Emergency Alert had been texted to the residents, advising them that a ballistic missile was coming inbound to Hawaii and stressing that this was not a drill.

What. The. Fuck.

My heart sank, not because of fear of the missile. Quick headlines showed that the “This is not a Drill” portion of the statement by now, was a misnomer. Technically it wasn’t a drill either, but a mistake made by human error of one employee.  No, my heart sank at the adrenalin pumping fear that the residents of Hawaii must have felt.

In situations like this I immediately ask myself what would I do? How would I react? Would I be calm, or would I panic? When the fires hit so severely a hundred miles north of me a few weeks back, I wondered would I be prepared to grab what I needed in a matter of minutes if I was ever evacuated?

When I was a kid one of my favorite TV shows was I Love Lucy. I probably reach back to run parallels in my blogs about that show a little too much. I can’t help it, it’s who I am. Lucy and her world represented everything to me. Ultimately everything in life I can relate to a good old 30 minute rendering of comedy, as portrayed by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

Anyway, pulling up panic, and cross-referencing it to ILL, I think of the episode where Ricky, Fred and Ethel are doing dry runs in preparation of Little Ricky’s birth. They are so calm when they place a jacket around the pretend Lucy’s shoulder’s, while one coolly picks up her suitcase, and the other places the call to the hospital to advise they are on their way. I can even picture Ethel’s voice with a slight British twang to it, informing the mock hospital operator that Mrs. Ricardo is on her way.

Of course Lucy goes into labor soon after and bedlam ensues. Panicked, screaming, — I think they even leave the house, forgetting Lucy behind. It’s funny how the calm portion is so imprinted on my memory, but the chaos is a little sketchy.

I don’t like chaos. It makes me nervous. Even pretend chaos in small comedic bursts.

I know that imagining myself given a mere five minutes to grab my belongings and I too come off as cool as a cucumber. Heading to the important drawer for those papers and then gently picking up my equally calm cat and placing her in her carrier before heading out the door. Reality could be closer to confusion, where I grab one of my mom’s art pieces, more likely the one closest to me, and hastily wrap my now yowling confused cat in a towel, as I run out of the house in my underwear and bare feet.

I actually did get a banging on the door like that once. A neighbor’s bathroom was on fire, and she had been instructed by the fire department to bang on the four doors of the master unit we all shared and announce “Fire!” I had enough time to grab those most important things, but the severity of the fire seemed small, so  what I felt was important, and left everything else to fate. My sleeping kid and my purse. (I had no pets at the time, so don’t think that Purse > Pet) Even the contents of the purse were replaceable. I stood out there on the cold grass at midnight, wrapped in my thick robe, arm around my kid as we waited for the fire department to arrive and then give us the green light to head back in.

Fortunately there hadn’t been much damage to her unit, let alone the neighboring three. I think the worst was a  slight lingering odor of fire.

I guess my point is, we can have drills – physically or mentally, and then we can have reality. I was a bit calm when the neighbor pounded. But how many of us in reality know what to do in a nuclear warning situation?

One of the reasons I cannot watch the POTUS on the news anymore is because he just stresses me out. I won’t go on and make this political, because I’d need chapters to hit on everything, and one of my New Year’s Resolutions (so to speak) was to stop getting so worked up about things I cannot make a change with. One of the stressors I had to come to grips with, (and was surprisingly shocked more people weren’t concerned with) was if this clown had the actual ability to throw us into a nuclear situation in a pissing contest with North Korea. They are both as ego-maniacal to consider the other would lose. I seriously haven’t worried about anything like that since probably childhood. As American’s, especially of the last couple of generations, I think we’ve gotten a little relaxed, and dare I say it, complacent in our fears of nuclear wars.

Lucky us.

While I won’t say that Trump cost me lost sleep, the combination of everything was so toxic, and for the first time since I was little and barely worried/wondered ever-so-slightly about the Russians, here were possible real nuclear threats. I came to the conclusion that whatever will be, will be (Que Sera Sera) and all the worrying in the world can’t and wouldn’t change the fates to end up the way they will. Do I want to go up in a nuclear cloud of smoke? No. But I don’t want a bus to hit me, a shark to eat me, or have a strike of lightning take me out either. We can’t all die in our sleep however, so I think coming to peace with who you are takes a lot of the fear of death away from me. I mean ultimately are we afraid of dying or simply not living anymore? I think for me it’s the latter, and when I’m dead, I won’t care that I’m not living anymore, so scratching that from the equation helps a lot.

There is really only one arena that unsettles me about the possibility of tragedy, and that is My Kids. And THAT my friends, in the long drawn out version of this post, is where I went when I thought of these ordinary citizens, these happy-go-lucky island vacationers. What the fuck are they doing about the kids.

I imagine I am sent a message basically stating “Yup, you’re probably going to die. – I’m not kidding, it’s happening” and I have to have the forethought of handling my children, without possibly panicking them. Protecting them, but how? It was my understanding that there wasn’t exactly shelters available. Some were hunkering down in bathrooms. Hotel lobbies. Some were lifting manholes and placing their children underground. Some were running around in a panic. Others were reaching out to loved ones, to let them know they loved them.

And then waiting. And wondering. Will you hear it? Will you feel it? Will your children feel it? Will it be quick? Will you survive it? Will your children survive it?

Waiting 38 fucking minutes until the government sent a new message that essentially said “Whoops. We fucked up. So very sorry about that.<insert sheepish looking emoji>” – I think the relief would be so strong, that a hysterical euphoria would hit me at that point.

But prior to?

WWGD? What would Gina do? Well assuming I’m on the island and my kids weren’t, obviously reach out to them. Hopefully by voice, but if at worst by text. Tell them how goddamn much I loved every ounce of them. How my best years alive on this earth were the ones I spent caring for them. God forbid they were with me, because I would simple love every fiber, every being of them. I’d probably suffocate them with every ounce of love I could squeeze from my body.

Because, like I’ve said it’s not the dying that scares me. It’s the Not-Living. Some say live like today is your last day. Well that would really require me to quit my job, and I really do need that. I know – I HOPE – my kids are already aware of how deep their mother’s love for them both goes. So I hate to tempt the fates, but technically, if that was my last worry – that leaves me worriless doesn’t it?

38 minutes is a long time to look at your life. To ponder on decisions made, opportunities won and lost. I wonder how many lives were changed after that? I wonder, how many lives were created in that 38 minutes? 😉

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First Quarter Blues

I started to think about how sucky January is in general. I’ve written on this topic before, because for me it’s really strong. It simply represents loss to me in too many ways.

The holidays are over with, and replaced with the twinkly colorful merriment of the Christmas décor that I love SO much, is murky grey weather. Even if the sun is out, the overall general feeling is grey mush. My door needs a wreath, but in January I don’t have an applicable one. I have wreaths for every season, or holiday, but nothing for January. So I come home to the staleness of a simple white door, until I can appropriately hang my Valentine’s Day sparkly wreath, oh so briefly.

Money is tight. I’ve overspent like mad the previous months, and now I am shopping, not nilly willy – but with precision, to make the bucks last longer. Add to that, this is the Year-Of-No-Shopping, which in title isn’t as bleak as it sounds; I am allowed to buy what I need, but in theory it’s horrible because I am not allowed to buy simply just what I want.

Right before I sat down to write this blog, having the heaviness weighing on me, I thought “I’d sure like a new white cardigan. I wonder if The Gap has any sales going on?” and immediately this small wave of pleasure passed through me when I thought of online shopping for my lunch hour. No sooner did the warm wave hit, then the gasping stinging cold bucket of reality hit me with YEAR-OF-NO-SHOPPING.

Yes it’s self-imposed, and I could break the rule (which is what my inner shopping freak reminded me of), but just like dieting and then binging on eating a large pizza alone (like I’d ever do that!) I’m just going to feel icky afterwards. Plus I have to bring the credit card debt down. That is non-negotiable.

Fuck First Quarter Blues.

It’s the last paid holiday until May for me. I look at these next months as a Sahara of Work, where I have to parcel out my vacation days carefully. Much like one might limit their sips of canteen water while trekking across a dry hot desert. No three-day weekends on the company’s budget. Nothing for 134 more days, weekends included.

These are all murky pull-up-your-big-boy-pants kind of complaints. I know that, and I rub them off of me more like pesky flies than anything. If anyone else were bitching about this with this much intensity I’d be rolling my eyes by now.

But then the big one sits there like an overfed drooling lump of a baby in soiled diapers. Kurt’s birthday. For the next couple of months, it feels like a Kurt-athon of hellacious reminders. Born In January. Relinquished in February. Died in March. January. February. March. Bam. Bam. Bam.

I had to do the math to realize he would be 35 next week. DAMN.

Hellacious First Quarter. It’s why January no longer takes the brunt of things. It gets spread over a three month period, where profits are not expected to be high, but we hold on knowing the remainder of the calendar year will be better.

I’ll give February a break really. It just happens to be sandwiched in between two awful months. Plus as sappy as it is, I am a fan of Valentine’s Day, even when I’m single. I love the hearts and the reds and pinks, and the happiness (and exasperation by those non-romantics) it brings. I think any holiday that makes people happy, generally speaking makes me happy. Except if there is a National Eat Your Dog Day, celebrated in some remote country that brings salivating good happiness to their countrymen. That happiness won’t carryover to me.

Jesus Christ. You can see where my current darkness is just in that statement alone. My mind comes up with Dog-Eating when tasked with imagining something unhappy. Fucking DOG eating? I almost make myself giggle in my madness.

Now stay with me, because this is going to seem random. I live in a little bubble of a community really. The largest complaint that set the city afire with rage was our notorious Tire-Slasher. Some random weird guy who really got his kicks out of slashing people’s tires. He unfortunately pegged my daughter’s boyfriends car at one point. That was as close as he got to affecting me personally. But man oh man, did he set the community social pages afire with his crimes.

For the record he was apprehended. I am surprised my town didn’t have a parade for that to be honest. We are pretty crime free. Well we were.

A couple of weeks – actually less than that – a local college aged boy went missing. Weird circumstances, where he left the house with none of his belongings, and simply disappeared without a trace. You just felt something bad was going to come of it, while you hoped beyond hope you were wrong.

Yesterday they announced his body had been located in the remote park he was last seen in. At first sadness for his parents set in. The heartbreak they must have felt getting the news. As I was driving home, the sadness seemed to envelope me a lot stronger than what tragic news about a family I didn’t even know should feel like. I mean I tend to think I am a bit more empathetic than maybe the population in general, but this – this felt that sadness that makes you want to throw up. Haunting in an emotional sense. I absolutely couldn’t shake it. Not through happy-go-spritely-texts with friends, nothing. I couldn’t exactly explain how I was feeling really fucked up about this news story, because I wasn’t going to make my point. I mean I would have had to really pounded home the point that I felt REALLY fucked up about this, and I didn’t know why.

Then, as it usually does, the lightbulb went off, — or on. I think the lightbulb goes “ON!” as in an idea. Duh. Whatever. Everything fell into place, and I looked at the calendar, and saw it was almost the 19th. I wanted to wryly chuckle at my subconscious, but instead I was pissed.

I really would have preferred to convince myself my grief at this terrible loss was my empathetic self, feeling for a family one town over that I’ve only seen in the news. I would have preferred to think that was ALL my grief was calling out for. But my subconscious instead sat there like a grinning dog, waiting for me to get it. “I brought you this information, you might have lost…” it seemed to say. I’m supposed to say “Thank you. Thank you for painful reminder.” I’m supposed to say it with grace, as I gear up to face the next eight weeks stoically.

But see, I want to say, “This is how I operate best. Surprise me. Let the 19th guide by with a whisper, nary a sound behind my back as I frolic with friends oblivious, and thankful my aging memory fails me. Let the fucking first week of March show up on my door with birthday balloons in hand for my grandson and my youngest wee babe. On say the fifth of March or so, bang a pot or something and remind me that I missed the date. Let me wallow for a moment in the reminders and memories. It’s how you’ve let me deal with my mother’s death, these 18 years and counting.”

I know with time all things heal. I am a living embodiment of this saying. I know as my mother would say, “This too shall pass.”, but I feel like a woman with a stomach virus. I cannot foresee the future because my head is in the toilet. I cannot hear the sage words of comfort very well, over the retching sounds I make. I know this won’t kill me, but I do know that it feels like it could.

That’s the hardest part of the First Quarter Blues. Knowing you will live through it, only to repeat it again next year.

That’s the extent of my whining. I hear my mother’s voice calling out to me, asking me if I want an award for my dramatics. So this once a year show will be closing its curtains. Instead I’ll leave you with this GIF of Krusty the Clown juggling on a unicycle to cleanse the palette of sadness. *cue circus music*

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One Pill Makes You Larger and One Pill Makes You Small …

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Jefferson Starship’s “White Rabbit” is probably one of those songs that makes my absolute Top Ten of favorite songs ever. I hear those first few bass chords that start the song, and my heart gets all happy. Outside of the header of this blog, and that brief statement, this blog piece doesn’t have a thing to do with my love of music or that song.

It centers around my distaste of medications. And — when I think of meds, I think of that line from “White Rabbit”.

Now I’m not one of those who is adamant about not taking a pill. I’m probably more middle ground. I don’t shy away, but I’m also not “give me a pill every time I sneeze” either. For the most part, I really just want to know what this pill does, and how the side effects are. I trust my doctor per say, but coming from a family background that taught you doctors are just a bunch of drug-pushing sycophants, you also have this nagging feeling in the back of your mind that questions how much the medical community is merely the puppet for the pharmaceutical companies.

I also know my doctor has the slightest of tendencies to shove a pill down my throat for most everything. Which works wonderfully when I want my Xanax prescription refilled. (Chill, — it takes me more than a year to go through a sixty day supply) But, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that it worries me at times that he relies on pharmaceuticals so quickly. I really have to balance my trust of him (I’ve been his patient for nearly two decades now)) and my distrust of pills in general.

Years ago I opted out from seeing my oh-so-busy regular doc, and started to see his new PA. I forget what I actually went in for — something minor — but he noticed my BP was higher than normal. I pooh-poohed it, because my BP has always run a little on the higher end. But he was one of those super involved PA’s that took his patients health seriously and involved himself in seeing things through. I actually really liked him. He gave me the attention I think as patients we all wish our doctors would. I mean seriously there have been a couple of times I am in and out of seeing my doctor in less than five minutes. I appreciated how the PA on the other hand, sort of fawned over me and took what appeared to be a genuine interest.  Anyway, we played around with a couple of the meds, increased this one, added that one, and had him monitor me for a couple of months, until we came up with this perfect cocktail that I take daily. Two HUGE in the morn’ (includes my vitamin) and two tiny in the evening (includes my melatonin). They seem to work like they should, and I’m adjusted and happy with just these two.

Time fast forwards and next thing I know, that damn sugar disease steps in and of course the first thing they want to do is stick a couple more pills down my throat. I’ll be honest. The diagnosis scared the shit out of me, and had they said they wanted to inject me with bee serum in my left nostril daily, I’d have said “Sounds great!”. I think that’s what some of us do. Follow the directions out of fear of the initial diagnosis and just do whatever they instruct.

Of course me being me, I immediately went home and read up on the side effects of the diabetes meds and didn’t see anything too alarming. For the most part, I am lucky to be one of those who rarely has issues with the side effects. The only time I did have an issue was with Wellbutrin years ago. I took it to stop smoking, because I had heard ALL these wonderful things about it, and how easy it was, and sunshine and lollipops, blah blah blah – Except for me. A couple of days into it I thought I was losing my mind, when I literally wanted to peel my skin suit off. I found out quickly that those of us who suffer from high anxiety should take very low doses of that med, or it can set your soul on fire. I stopped taking it immediately.

Anyway six, seven weeks into the diabetes diagnosis, I’m getting used to taking yet another set of meds (I’ll be honest I have forgotten from time to time. This one is having a hard time imprinting on my memory) when I notice a missed call on my cell. Voice mail indicates it’s someone from my drs office advising that my doctor thinks there is one more med I need to be on.

I went back and forth between being irritated, and flattered. I mean, I don’t know what a medical office is like behind the scenes. I don’t know how they can suddenly be reminded to call any patient for whatever reason. My paranoia and ego battle it out that there are one of two scenarios: They are simply pushing the Pill of the Week, versus my ego fantasy that yes I really am that special.

I know realistically he probably has a reminder set up for new patients with this or that. Maybe a bulletin went out that stated those with diabetes really are in danger of strokes and heart attacks, so he has his office round up those patients and voila, the calls go out. I just like to entertain myself with the paranoid and egotistical storylines.

Of course I do what I do when I hear what drug it is. A Statin. Hmmm, haven’t I heard negative things about Statin’s? So I Google it. Good news! Bad news! No defining news! Seems everyone has a horror story, or a life-saving story with that med. I read how it can cause diabetes, but nothing about taking it as a diabetic. Finally I do find some information, but by now my brain is a tangled mess from being pulled left and right. I decide to take the concerns and call my doctor in the morning. In the meantime I post on social media, and basically get a more personalized view of the same stuff I found on Google. Those who think the pharmaceutical companies are the devil, those who swear by it, and most who just find problems with it.

I also recall that in my Diabetes Education classes they were very unbiased when it came to new information. They conceded that doctors don’t always know what’s the best treatment for diabetes. The class preached caution and education. I figure if I am going to get an unbiased answer out of anyone, it’s going to be them.

By now my doctor has called back (well someone on his staff) and said in a nutshell, “You’ll be fine, just take the damn pill.” – I have a few more questions, like liver damage and the mere fact that I am taking a med that actually increases my blood sugar, and isn’t that counter-intuitive to the fact I freaking have high blood sugar? His office calls back once again, this time elevating it to his assistant, who I really have an affinity for – but her response is basically, “Take it or don’t take it. But if you don’t take it, you better be exercising and dieting like crazy or you’re going to die.”

I’m still at an absolute crossroads. One moment I am certain you will never be able to pry my mouth open to get that pill down my throat. Some more of the side effects are weight gain, and I have done so well to lose weight to begin with that it makes me want to cry to think that a fucking pill could change all of that. I have the absolute same feelings when it comes to the sugars, because I really am doing so well to bring those down.

The next moment I think how I don’t want to die quite yet and I am like a baby bird, mouth agape, waiting for you to drop whatever pill you have down my throat.

Finally after two days, the Diabetes Education Center gets back to me. I feel like I am about to open the Secret of Life, and I read it so fast that I have to go back and make sure I am reading it again. The educator assures me that she understands my concerns, and lets me know that it’s quite common for diabetics to get prescribed a statin. Of course without my lab work, it’s hard for her to give me with certainty the correct answer, but informs me that blood sugars inflame blood vessels, making them very prone to plaquing. In a nutshell she believes the pros outweigh the cons. Take the pill. Give it a try. She gives me more information, but it was honestly that line above that sold me. With bad blood flow not only is heart attack and stroke feasible, but organ failure as well.

Seriously? This makes total sense. Maybe it was the information coming from them, an unbiased source. Maybe it was the actual explanation other than “Diabetics are more prone to heart attacks and strokes”, but the relief of simply knowing has lifted this enormous weight off my shoulders.

I hate feeling old before my time. I hate knowing that between genetics and fast, hard, devil-may-care attitude of living, that I am paying the price now. I can’t help but wonder at times, if knowing what I know now, would I have changed things before.

Perhaps slightly, but let’s be honest here. Probably not much. Instead I’ve made room in my little old lady daily pill box for one more med to fit in.

 

Solitaire

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Alzheimer’s runs in my family fierce like. Well along with a handful of other diseases, like cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, — suffice to say when hereditary diseases were being passed out, my family was first in line.

Anyway, I’m vastly aware that there is at this present time, no sure fire cure for Alzheimer’s. All I can do, is to hope, pray and do everything I can to not kill off the brain cells I didn’t destroy in my teens and twenties. Oh who am I kidding? Let’s add our thirties in there too.

So one of the things I do to keep my mind sharp is to play Solitaire. Simple enough. It’s never the same game, so I’m doing repetitive action, and I’m forcing myself to be logical, and think a few steps ahead of the game.

The online version I play has a daily challenge; it’s absolutely winnable, but it’s up to you to figure out how. A lot of the time, the cards simply fall into place. 1-2-3, and boom easy win. Sometimes it’s a bit more challenging, and other times I am at a standstill, where I can’t figure out the win to save my life.

I hadn’t played in a few weeks, so today I had a handful of games to catch up on. I’m quite competitive, so winning every single day’s game is pretty important to me. While I was winning some, and getting stumped on others, I had this very sophomoric ephiphany that life in itself is so much like these hands of solitaire.

Some of us, are handed these super easy wins. Everything just falls into place. We are born into a secure and safe path. Two parents, no upheaval. No drama, or addictions. There are bumps, but we manage to follow the main road — happy childhood, good marriage, healthy children, and a nice easy slide into death.

Others, well we are presented the challenging hands. Sometimes we have to play the same hand over and over, trying to figure out how to move that 8 of hearts off of our deck. We might replay, choosing the same moves, over and over, until we understand the move made three turns ago was the wrong one. It’s frustrating, and at times, its beyond challenging. Sometimes I have to walk away from these hands, and decide to figure it out later, only to be met with this astounding moment of awareness that tells me not to make the move three cards ago.

I would like to have had a less challenging life. I would like to have had a normal childhood, where the cards were turned at the right succession, to land perfectly where they should have. I’m not certain why circumstance beyond my control were laid out to be what they were for me. I do know that the cards I chose to play once control was mine, weren’t the correct ones all of the time. That I’ve had to play the same game, over and over again until I get it right.

I wish I could say with all certainty that clarity has been bestowed upon me with age, and that at this age, I’m constantly turning the correct card, but that’s not who I am. That’s not the life I’m meant to live.

I think some of us were born to meet life’s challenges in a different manner. I’m not all cosmic and karmic, but the truth is, without these wrong cards, these incorrect moves, I wouldn’t have experiences, the relationships and the children that make me who I am today. Yes, I’m having to replay the game over and over again. Deciding not to turn this card, but to turn that one. I have to constantly fight the urge to do what appears easiest. If there was a way to cheat at this, I can’t say there wouldn’t be times it would be easier to take that path.

My deck may be a little worn. The cards a little bent and chewed up on the edges. But damnit, I win every single hand given to me, and that’s quite a feat.

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Complicity

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Donna Karen made another public apology today about her original statement in defense of Bubblegum Face HW’s alleged sexual assaults. In a nutshell her offensive remark was that women may be asking for sexual assault by the way they present (dress) themselves.

Her full statement is here.

As they interviewed her on GMA this morning, and peppered her for her reasons in making the statement, I actually felt a twinge of sympathy for her. Not because I think Bubblegum Face deserves comfort and defense. Far from it. But because there was a small part of me that could slightly understand why she said what she did. Not condone it, but understand it.

The woman is 69 years old. This puts her just about a generation older than I am, so anything my generation learned was gleaned from hers. And with that said, I have to admit that when you are talking about the victim knowing their perpetrators; my generation was raised to defend the attackers and to look for blame on the victims.

Especially if the accused is your friend. Your workmate.

Friends don’t rape friends. Men don’t rape their dates. Bosses certainly don’t rape their subordinates. Rapists hide in alleyway’s and wear masks. Or they at very least don’t let you get a good look at their face. Or tell you their name. Or buy you dinner and drinks.

It’s hard enough to believe the victim of sexual assault to begin with, but you especially cast doubt if they knew their attacker. Those victims have motive. And to prove that point, victims pasts were scrutinized. The way they dressed, the locations they were at. “She should have known better”. “Look at what she was wearing.” “She seemed to be asking for it.” “Well, she was drunk you know….”

DK was a walking encyclopedia of cliché’s from the 1970’s.

We were not raised to look into the pasts of our perpetrators. We were taught that women were often vengeful, or mistaken, or worse that we should be silenced and not cause trouble with our inflammatory accusations. That silence permitted the Weinstein’s and Toback’s of the powerful world of entertainment and the Brock Turner’s of the academic world to be issued a hall pass for sexual assault.

The people who judged them were taught this. The people who defended them were taught this. Old Boy’s School of thought even elect people who were taught this.

In being taught this and perpetuating it, we deny the accuser’s their voice.

I’m ashamed to admit that I helped a friend, who with my clarity and judgment today, I believe committed one of these atrocities. I DK’d (Donna Karan’d) a situation, by first, believing the story he told, and secondly, verbally defending him to the police who wanted to arrest him.

This was decades ago, and I was young, very young, and these are not excuses for my own horrible behavior. For denying a victim her right, and for taking the possible one shred of credibility she had and obliterating it. I shut off that part of my brain that wondered, “What if …” as I lied for him. As I gave a glowing character assessment for him, even though I knew what I was saying wasn’t completely truthful. For alibiing him for a small window of time, that crushed her truth.

I don’t know why I did it. I guess I thought I was protecting a friend. The real truth whispered in my ear, and I shook it off like an irritating mosquito, because I didn’t want to believe it possible. I had briefly dated this man, and couldn’t have — wouldn’t have dated someone capable of this. For this to be true, made something wrong with me. I told myself that under the the most bent reality of this happening, it was probably just a misunderstanding on his part. Maybe on her part. Not a real rape. Maybe, like he said, she changed her mind after the fact and called it rape. After all he didn’t have a list of accusers, this was just one bad date.

I told myself what I wanted to believe, even though — I didn’t. I didn’t take into consideration that victims get absolutely nothing from making these statements falsely, and instead believed she was this crazy lying fucked up bitch, or whatever similar creative words he used to convince me he was in the right and she was in the wrong as he quickly begged me for help. And I parroted what he wanted to the police. It was a long time ago and I don’t recall the details. I just recall the shame and this small bit of bile that rises every time I think of my collaboration.

My shame today doesn’t make my actions yesterday, right.

 

And I did with this to a girl I didn’t know, for my friend. My work associate. And DK did with these accusers for her friend. We made comments, or judgments, or false statements, because we hoped what we were doing or saying was for the benefit of sleazeball we mistook for a friend.

I’ve known for decades that  NO woman is asking for sexual attention thru her choice in dress. Unless she is walking Santa Monica Blvd.

But even then, THAT doesn’t mean they are asking to be raped or assaulted.

We should be able to dress the way we want, without fear or recrimination and certainly not be attacked – physically, sexually or through the media.

In a perfect world, the way we dress, or don’t dress, should never ever be any sort of an indicator for unwanted attention. But the same society that taught DK’s generation of women that dressing in a certain fashion might be “asking for trouble” taught the males that women should be judged morally by their hemline.

It’s hard to un-teach this frame of thought. I know, because honestly for the grace of another generation, I have had to relearn how to fold this map of sexuality against the creases I’ve been taught.

I’ve always known the basics; that it’s never a victims fault for being assaulted or raped. It doesn’t matter how you dress, or if you had drank too much. I’ve known the term Victim-Shaming, but in my heart of hearts have I always followed it? Has there ever been a small part of me that wonders if there is ever a time that NO doesn’t really mean NO? Would I be a swayable juror with the right defense team?

Well my above stated confession apparently shines the light through my hypocrisy there. I judged. I helped. I was complicit. I victim shamed, and I didn’t buy into No means No. I am deeply ashamed of this, and could I go back in time and change things, I most certainly would.

EVEN being a victim of sexual assault and harassment myself, I still perpetuated some of this. EVEN being judged as being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, I still perpetuated. It took countless conversations with my no-nonsense youngest daughter who fervently believes with every ounce of her fiber, that never, ever is it a person’s fault to be sexually assaulted. I took my old school arguments with her, my unknowingly patriarchy loving ways and found they didn’t hold water with her. But still I held the belief, that victims could be liars. And then, like some find religion, I WOKE to the reality of these archaic arguments and couldn’t find one that when pushed to I could say were arguable defenses in assault.

If the person is stating yes, yes, yes up to the point of penetration, and then screams NO — no means no. If the girl walks into your room in skimpy lingerie and does a strip tease and declines your insistent offer of sex; no, still means no. Owning your sexuality, means making the fully informed and educated decisions on who a person is going to have sex with. So if your partner is impaired, is he or she able to do this? Then impaired consent should mean no, as well. Silent consent should mean no. And without doubt a clear, firm no, ALWAYS — without any hesitation — means no, the first time spoken. Not the tenth. Not the pleading 15th.

The first time.

And lastly wearing whatever you want, no matter how inviting it might appear; no will still mean no. Learn it Donna. Accept the fact you weren’t taught it, and unlearn the outdated generational way that allowed this to happen in such silence for so long. Teach any young male that will listen that women are always afforded the same amount of respect, belief, and dignity that their opposite sex has been given for no reasons other than birthright.

Trust me when I say the truth might just set you free. Because you can’t possibly feel good about your old friend Bubblegum Face. I know I don’t about mine.

The Good News is I’m Not Dead

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I have to say that considering I treat my body and my health like some might treat a rental car, I am fairly lucky that my body hasn’t failed me sooner. I might have broken down in the lanes of life occassionally and from time to time my transmission might get stuck in second gear, but hell, I’m still giving it a go.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t care about living a full healthy long life. I think it’s more tantamount to living a bolder, edgier, devil-may-care life. Enjoy the moment, even if that moment might consist of copious quantities of alcohol, cigarettes, and deliciously bad food. I don’t keep my eye on the end goal, because I am too wrapped up in the party occurring right this moment.

So it wasn’t a huge shock when I finally ended up with high blood pressure a few years back. It wasn’t sudden. My doctor had been monitoring it for years and it kept creeping up, more and more, until VOILA – we couldn’t ignore the numbers anymore. I’ve taken some measures – mostly diet related to get it where it needs to be. It was hard. Mama loved her salty foods. But today? I’ve trained myself pretty well, and in doing so, I can instantly taste something too salty, which is why I don’t eat out as much, and why fast food is a rarity.

Running parallel to this were my blood sugar numbers. I haven’t ever really had a huge sweet tooth, and people hear blood sugars and sometimes think it has to do with that. Refined sugar. I knew that wasn’t the only thing that was sugary though. Being a diet expert, I understand how white carbs basically disintegrate into the most deadly of sugars themselves. But I still sort of pooh-pooh’ed it because most people I know who end up with diabetes love themselves cake and pie.

After a number of dental surgeries this past year, and limited soft food choices my diet felt like it consisted of  The 3 P’s; pasta, pudding and potatoes. I’d heal, another surgery would come, and there we would go back on it again. I joked with my dentist how when this was all over, I was going to end up a diabetic.

Oh the foresight jokes can have.

So fast forward, I get the diagnosis last week (see Pour Some Sugar On Me) and voila here we are. Old habits are very hard to break, but just as I broke that all-loving salt habit, I can break this all-loving carb habit – but in the meantime, I’d love some fucking help from the health community.

I get that I can’t run around trashing my body, and then whine that everyone in the world hasn’t stopped to make sure I know how to apply the band-aide. BUT – when I’m getting auto-calls from my insurance company advising me that my referrals have been approved and I don’t know what I’m getting approved for, there is a problem.

Friday I get the above mentioned call from my insurance company. I’m pretty lucky that my company affords me good insurance, and that they work so quickly. I call the company that they advise and immediately am connected to a call center in the Philippines. They cannot tell me what the referral is for, because they haven’t received the request from my provider. So now I have to call my provider and leave them a message to please provide a referral for something to this company. They promptly call me back the following day and advise they will send the referral over, but don’t initially tell me what it is for. I have to ask, and she tells me it’s the strips. I explain, being brand new to this wonderfully shared disease, I have no idea what to do with the strips, because I have had no experience with this, and don’t the strips need a meter?. She realizes I need an approval for a glucometer and lancets too – aaaaand, the thigh bone’s connected to the — knee bone, and the knee bone’s  connected to the — shin bone.

My point is everything here is connected to me having the knowledge of what I need. But how do I know what I need without the education? I’m really trying to hold it together, both in anger and tears while I’m on the phone, because really this gal is very sweet, and my living life on the edge and now reaping the rewards, is not her fault. I am shakily trying to explain this to her and how I haven’t met up with an educator, and how everything I am learning is off the internet and do you know how contradictory the information on the internet can be….?

She finally ends with the promise of the referral going through immediately, and how I should have everything by Friday. In the meantime she gives me the name of the diabetic educator who I immediately call and leave a message for. (Still waiting to hear back from them)

In the meantime, life goes on. Little by little I am getting used to things, like coming home and making myself a sensible dinner. I hate cooking for one. HATE IT. But I’m learning. I had a very small amount of brown rice, with sautéed shrimp and spinach last night. My appetite is smaller, so the meals tend to last me a couple of nights. I read up on some of the natural sugar items I could have, and along with apples (which I love), banana’s and pears are good too. I’m learning terms like Glycemic Index. My grocery shopping bill is through the roof right now, but hell I recall that from my diet days. It’s so much cheaper to eat like crap, which is why I believe, we have such an obesity problem with lower income families.

This lack of education also means every day is like waking up living in a video game. What new surprise awaits me today? Is it a bop on the noggin, enough to knock me out? Is it a box filled with new super-powers? Today is a noggin bop day.

I don’t have the greatest eyesight. Yes, I know I am literally the whole package. “Scoop me up now boys, before appendages start to drop off!“. Anyway, along with bad eyesight, I do this thing with my eyes, that my youngest daughter dubbed “Dead Eye” a long time ago. I don’t know if it’s anything to do with blood sugars but when I am tired, my eyes are almost lulled into an open-eyed coma. They do this — well lack of focus is the best way to describe it. It’s like they take a break. I never knew anyone could tell when I was doing it, but damn if  she didn’t have an eagle eye for it, and would immediately call me out, forcing me to snap back into it, and re-focus. Most of the time I am able to snap myself out, but sometimes it’s really difficult. Like proverbially shaking a rag doll.

When this happens, my focus is blurred on anything near me. Late last week I noticed sometimes my vision had that same blur. I assumed I was inadvertently not focusing. Doing Dead Eye and not being able to snap out of it. But it was frustrating. This morning when it happened, I did everything I could to shake the Dead Eye syndrome off, until I realized it was not that. I simply cannot see anything two feet in front of me with or without my glasses on, unless I tilt my head back and use the bifocal portion of my glasses.

I was dumbfounded. I am literally blind, either way with my six-fucking-month-old new prescription. With my $700 (including my sunglasses here too) non-breakable, non-glare, transitional, magical unicorn fucking new lenses.

This would explain the neck issue, and my constant need to clean my glasses the past four days.

!!WHAT THE FUCK!!, I internally screamed. I immediately went to my doctor, Dr. Google that is, and looked up Metformin and blurred vision, and there it is, page after page, forum after forum, talking about how common the vision changes are after starting diabetes meds. Blood sugar negatively affects your vision as well as your nerves, and your internal organs. Of course it does. It affects everything! – anyway it’s quite common with blood sugar lowering medications to have your vision change as your blood sugars drop.

The good news is my BS is probably lowering significantly with the new diet and meds and the changes are immediately evident. The bad news is this effect on my vision could last for months.

The other good news is my eyesight could actually improve. The other bad news is, who cares, you’ll need your prescription corrected. See above for $700 lost dollars.

The last good news is at least I’m not dead.

That’s what I tell myself when I want to cry and throw a temper tantrum. At least I’m not dead. And I’m down four pounds. Not dead, not entirely blind, and down four pounds.

Yeah, life could be worse.

#MeToo

 

Let’s get serious here for a moment.

It’s a very strange concept to believe that people have been raised in a “rape culture”. I think the more appropriate terms is that acceptance of rape – that harsh ugly word, is now being peeled like an onion and that little by little women are waking up from this low-level sleep, opening their eyes to the fact that accepted (not to be confused with acceptable) sexual harassment, assault and forced sex is simply not going to fly anymore.

We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!

I don’t believe that my generation was necessarily raped more than any other, but I do believe more men got away with it. Frankly speaking the thin grey lines of sexual assault were simply silenced; it was more victim focused than where it should have been.

On the perpetrator.

I think the term Sexual Assault is becoming a more understood and wide spread word being used in conjunction with all sex crimes. While assault of a lower level than penetrable rape is understandably less devastating, it’s still traumatizing. It still leaves a victim filled with fear, shame, guilt and the wonder of what could the victim have done differently.

I don’t believe with any other crime that comes to mind, does one have to prove the crime was committed before it is believed. Rape does. When someone is robbed, we don’t immediately question the validity of their claims. We don’t wonder if that masked man is being unjustly framed.

It’s wrong to have to say “Well back in my day….” when discussing something so grim, but back in my day these things really were silently accepted by most. Women were supposed to “know better”, which included not being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Not wearing the clothing that elicited these responses from men. And God forbid you have too much to drink. These were all viable reasons to not believe a woman.

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It was as if, men were these stupid animals who had absolutely no control of their basic sexual instincts, and we had to know better than to set off their hormonal or sexual urges. Don’t set a fire in front of a Rhino. Don’t bleed near a shark. Don’t run from a bear. Don’t entice a man with just being you.

On top of that rape, or assault as a form of power-play and not sex were words we knew, but victim blame was just so much easier. Men raped to fuck, and women who didn’t want that to happen should have followed the above mentioned rules. Or share in the blame. Men blamed. Women did it. Fathers did it. Mothers did it.

With time, common sense, whatever thankful thing that happened, spurred things on and we re-learned that a victim is not responsible for her attackers actions. But somewhere along the line, we didn’t teach the victim that the silence, and the shame need not be hers. We didn’t teach them not to fear they wouldn’t be believed. We didn’t teach them that there had to be a viable, proven pattern before they could say anything. So women remained tight lipped, and the rapes, the assaults continued.

I’ve joked about seeing more dick as a small child than some grown women do. The thing is I joke about a lot of pain. I don’t like to make others uncomfortable with my darker realities, so most of the time I paint my stories with bold colors of what might make you laugh.

The reality is, these parts of my life shouldn’t have been treated as a joke, either then or now. While I hate when people jump on the victim bandwagon just to be part of a growing trend, the fact is the growing #metoo campaign, relates to almost every adult woman I know. Almost ALL of us have at least one of those situations where we were groped, assaulted, harassed, or raped. A friends daughter questioned the point of the campaign. She said it wasn’t like we were actually doing anything about it. But for me, and I suspect a lot of others, there is this growing sense of strength that we are not alone. That strength? It might empower a woman to come forward today and report her rapist. Or help her sleep a little more, knowing that millions of other women have suffered in some form of this abuse. If you don’t believe me, go through your active female friends list on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and see how many are posting the hashtag.

As a child, I don’t know if this dick issue was due to  my shy nature, or maybe my inherit belief that bigger people, aka adults were always right because of their size and age. If an adult asked you to come to their car, you might know that a different adult aka parent, said “Don’t Talk to Strangers.” But that same adult might have also said, “Respect your elders”, so which trumped which? I was too well behaved not to follow the rules, so I went with the latter. The first time that was. After that men who liked small children to see their erect or flaccid penises had to work harder to get my attention. Like standing in front of windows, sitting in discreet areas of a park, or pulling up near a crosswalk and honking their horn.

I was nearly immune to constant flagging me down by the waggle of a male appendage by the time I was teenager, and my attitude must have shown it. I had read that confident women were rarely targets, so I learned to walk with my head held high, even if it was dark or late at night. Regardless of that stance, direct assaults happened on two occasions, and thankfully neither was a fully penetrable rape. When I wasn’t being assaulted, on different occasions I was nearly (sort of?, half-way?) molested when I was sleeping, and with all my bravado today of what I would tell someone to do — at the time I was too terrified, too ashamed to lash out. There was no screaming of “Get your fucking hands off of me!”. There was no swift kick to the balls, or an elbow to the nose. Instead there was shock of what I did to spur this on, followed with silent praying that it would stop. Which on both occasions it fortunately did.

Wait. See, right there? I downplay it. I tell myself I wasn’t “raped” and therefore my assault was less than. Honestly for decades I didn’t even really count most of the above mentioned encounters as any type of sexual assault. Real sexual assault is rape. It’s not exposure. It’s not an unwelcome masturbating session in front of me. It’s not a copped feel. Even a terrifying hostile one.

To make matters worse, my mother suffered very much from the “blame the victim” mentality. I’ve wondered why at times. I’m such a roaring mother lion of a parent, I can’t fathom anything less than ripping someone’s balls off that did this to either of my girls. Maybe it was generational. Maybe it was anger at me for what she felt was me placing myself in bad situation. I think this just drove in the thought that had I behaved, had I not talked to a stranger, been home on time, fallen asleep, these sorts of things would never have happened to me. Since it was my fault, then it really didn’t count as a crime.

That first man who exposed himself to me at nine? I remember the conversation, the color of his car, the sunglasses he wore, the license plate, with clarity even today. I remember he wasn’t a creepy old man. I recall him calling me over to his rolled down passenger window, leaning over and asking me for directions to a street that was very close. After I gave him the directions, he steered the conversation towards my interest in boys, and I politely answered his questions, growing a little bit uncomfortable, but not wanting to be rude. Not wanting to be disrespectful. Until VOILA! – he unwrapped the present in his lap that he had been so discreetly hiding, and asked me if I had ever seen a grown man naked. I stammered and ran away, but of course, making certain I crossed at the crosswalk, even if it was a longer way home. He drove a red Pinto, and wore red, white and blue trimmed aviator glasses, and had a vanity license plate.

When I told my mother, as I mentioned, she was angered that I talked to a stranger. I get that. But also be angry at the grown man who showed his penis to your child.

Weeks later when I was out in front of my apartment building, I saw his car parked TWO BUILDINGS DOWN from me. I ran home in absolute fear and told my mother, who promptly did nothing but tell me to stay away from the car and not to play out front.

Neither time did she call the police. Sometimes I wonder if we were on the lam for some crime long before committed, because what other fucking excuse does one make for not getting law enforcement involved with a man who lives or frequents your area, while exposing himself to children?

No joke. Yes, I’m pretty sure she loved me, she just hated dramatics, and apparently a stranger pulling on his wiener in front of a nine-year old girl must have fallen into that category. To be honest, I don’t know why she reacted (or didn’t) the way she did.

The point was again, it sent home the first message, that if I behaved things like this wouldn’t happen. After that I didn’t tell her of penis sightings anymore. They were, apparently just part of life.

See, that’s where I learned silence. I learned if you were even believed, just be quiet about it. Maybe it was her shame at not protecting me, but we never ever talked about any of these things again.

When I was assaulted at a bus stop in the beautiful little beach town I lived in, I was coming home late. I had been karmic-ly smacked with the heavy Book of Life for breaking the rules, and I was again taught, had I followed said rules, things like this wouldn’t occur.

Fortunately my younger brother witnessed my near hysteria and on his shoulders he carried my fear, promising to protect me to the best of his ability. Sort of ironic that the male was the hero in that story wasn’t it?

Which brings me to the point at hand, the #MeToo campaign. Whether we are talking Cosby, Weinstein, or even the brushed under the carpet gossip (?) of the Affleck brothers (yes Casey, I’m looking at you. You too, Ben.) there are always going to be people who will co-sign, who will accept the behavior of these men, because come on, those women, exaggerated, lied, or asked for it. And now when we realize they didn’t? We create campaigns.

On the latter, did you know designer Donna Karan in defending Weinstein actually suggested that some women may be “asking for it” based on the way they dress? A Woman, co-signed a man who looked like a chewed up piece of bubblegum with hair (thank you SNL for that, because it fit perfectly and I laughed my ass off) with a reputation that crossed continents. Made me sick.

I have two daughters and while they think (especially my younger one) that I smother them with my overly cautious nature, I think part of it is based on being exposed (literally and figuratively) to the vile side of society. I never ever want either of them to have that moment of fear when a strange man comes up behind you and bear wraps his arms around you, grabbing at you. When your mind doesn’t know if this is the 1-in-3 chance of being raped, or if it’s someone who hasn’t gotten that far along in his crimes to go that far. Who thus far is capable of getting his kicks at gropes.

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In closing, I have to say it’s taken me decades to recognize all of this. It’s taken me voices of others who’ve experienced same, similar and worse experiences to recognize my part in this. That never, ever is a child even one ounce responsible for the illegal, immoral sexual actions of an adult. Not even a teenage child. And never should a woman be made uncomfortable because her boss, or a co-worker, or a mechanic, or ANYONE else, cannot make eye contact because they are leering at her breasts.

 

 

Sadly, we have a long way to go before the reality of assault is understood and completely unaccepted. Sadly, we have still place men in positions of power that can make statements so stifling, so terrifying and yet still so accepted as locker room talk by a nation.

“When you’re a star, they let you do it,” he said. “You can do anything. Grab ’em by the p—y.”

Hopefully someday this will change. Until then, #metoo.