It’s the End of the World As We Know It

In a few short hours my daughter will officially turn 16 years old. As I have felt with increasing intensity for the past 15.9 years — time goes by so quickly!

Perhaps as nod to the compressed time I’m feeling, my daughter decided to have a time-travel-themed birthday party. It includes dinosaurs, space travel, swords, 50s-style diner baskets, and medieval goblets. Things you might encounter if you trapesed across time and space collecting random bits.

She and a group of friends have been stuffing themselves full of gummy dinosaurs, Star-shaped fruit, aged cheese and a classic dinner of baked descendant of dinosaur (aka chicken) with assorted side dishes. There’s astronaut ice cream. And banana split birthday cake! They’ll enjoy games and time-travel-themed movies as they discuss the thrills of starting their junior year of high school. And I overheard mention of the wonders and problems of thawing permafrost. Ancient viruses have been released. 

School began about two weeks ago. Like a broken record, I wonder where the time went? 

The summer flew by! 

I feel like it just began. I would like more! 

I grew peppers, tomatoes, and lots of basil in a balcony garden. I may have been visited by a ghost … at least twice. And I did a few things I haven’t done in years. 

This summer my daughter relaxed or studied instead of being carted to or from camps. We hung out, watched a few movies, played fun games including a great assortment of video games and pinball at ReplayFx in Pittsburgh. Talk about a blast from the past.

ReplayFx is a classic video game and pinball festival held at the David L. Lawrence convention center in the heart of Pittsburgh. I got to play hours and days of some of my favorite games, a few of which I haven’t played in forever (or in many cases since the last ReplyFx). And my daughter got to enjoy pinball and games like Centipede, Rampart, and Time Crisis that I played when I was her age or a little older. We even played a new board game. 

I stayed up late. Got up early. And basically ran myself ragged in the most enjoyable way possible. 

We ate Thai, assorted meatballs, fresh seafood, and some of the best tacos ever. We saw friends, family, and parts of Pittsburgh that were new to us like The Strip and Carnegie Mellon University. We stayed at a hotel that was once a federal reserve where we were offered complementary breakfast as well as evening drinks and dinner. There was a pool, a hot tub, and a rooftop terrace with a fantastic view of the sunset behind the city. Can I just stay there? Forever? Okay, no. 

Closer to home, we spent a weekend at the beach where we got to play in the sun, sand, and ocean. Zillions of baby jellyfish swam past us as we marveled at their clear bodies. Too young to sting, we caught a few of the strange critters in our hands and examined them close up. 

We spent time with friends and stuffed ourselves full of yummy food. I was especially happy to visit one of my favorite restaurants, the Hobbit, where we had delicious dip, exquisite entrees, and a dessert called Merry’s Delight. Next we scarfed down crispy Thrashers fries with vinegar — so yummy. Once again, can I just stay there? I would like to.

For all these reasons and more, there are most definitely days I would like a time machine. I could visit my favorite times and spots again and again. But now summer is winding down. High School is spinning up. And my little girl will be sweet 16. Happy birthday! 

We will have all-new good times ahead. 

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Ghost in the Machine, Life on the Balcony

Balcony is just two letters too many to spell, “bacon.” And bacon is yummy!

Now that I got your attention with bacon, I’ll share my ghost story.

A couple of weeks ago, I disconnected my phone from the charger in the kitchen to learn that a series of things had happened. A) a map app was open and on magnify, B) my music app had been entirely deleted, and C) my main browser had been moved from my home page to the back page of apps. Not only that but in the map app letters had been typed in.

It goes without saying, I had not opened the map app myself, I hadn’t moved my browser or deleted my music app (like serious d’uh), and I hadn’t typed anything. Everyone at home denied touching it. Even the cat. I’m no stranger to butt-dialing or -clicking, but this was pretty over the top even for that.

Really, my phone should have been locked in its normal, run-of-the-mill home page, plugged in & charging, and not much else. But that’s not at all how I found it. Because not only did all of what I already mentioned happen, but the letters that had been typed in to to the map app were the initials of someone I know who has passed on.

I’m normally pretty logical about this stuff. But that was a lot of stuff. All at once. I’m sure there’s a non-ghost explanation, right? Hackers? Super accidental-clicking? And the framed photo that spontaneously flew off my daughter’s shelf when nobody was near it probably had nothing to do with any of this. Right?

Well, ghost or not, such things have a way of making me think about life.

With my music app deleted. I had plenty of space to update the iOS on my phone. That was helpful. So I should update life more often.

And life goes on. School has been out for about three weeks now for my daughter. I managed to carefully avoid over scheduling her summer with summer camps. She finished her last dance recital for the year. She was beautiful! Now she’s relaxing. Doing yoga, science and math in Khan Academy, and generally enjoying the summer. Plus she’s learning to prepare more of her own food including cooking salmon and making beautiful yogurt parfaits which she’s happy to make for others too.

Still life with yogurt parfait and coffee goop

My balcony garden is slowly going strong.

I decided to plant only one or two tomato plants this year. They’re a lot of work. Growing a decent yield of full-size tomatoes is tricky in containers and especially so when you have to carry all the water. There’s no hose hookup on the balcony.

Balcony Garden 2018

The 2017-2018 winter was harsh which meant that a lot of plants that had come back year after year previous years gave up the ghost. So I had to replant several plants. But some hearty plants laughed in the face of winter’s sting and returned to warm in the beautiful summer sun. Some plants always need replanting anyway.

Growing strong are an orange variety of sumptuous cherry tomatoes. Hot peppers. Strawberries. And I have a lot of herbs. Basil is one of those herbs that really loses something in dried form. Fresh is amazing though! Three varieties in five different containers are growing strong. Plus there’s parsley, chives, sage, and oregano. Sweet mint (which came back from last year) and a tasty surprise called Strawberry Mint which has tiny leaves that smell fruity like minted strawberries.

The bee balm from last year popped back up and this year even sprouted a flower.

Strawberry mint blossoms with bee

Bee Balm flower without bee

I had to replant the curry plant (helichrysum italicum). Mine had been growing for years! But then winter. It’s not the kind of curry used for cooking, but I enjoy the smell when I run my fingers along the silvery leaves. Something about it is so soothing and healing. The comfrey shocked me by sprouting leaves out of what looked like a totally dead pot of soil and then sending up long stems dotted with buds that bloomed into clusters of jellyfish shaped, lilac colored flowers.

Lemon Balm grew back from last year too and it has tiny yellow and white flowers this year. As do the Japanese giant mustard greens which replanted themselves from seed.

Sweet basil and Thai basil

I love being able to grab a handful of fresh herbs and adding them to whatever dish I’m cooking or tea I’m steeping.

Ghosts are wild, but a flavorful life is living!

 

Stay On Target

Yesterday I drove my daughter to dance class and rehearsal. Took our cat to the vet. Then met up again with my daughter to enjoy some of Taste of Vienna where we basically ate lunch in open air as we sampled the fare of local restaurants. Then home. Then back out to more dance rehearsal. While she was at dance, I did some grocery shopping at Target. Then I picked up the kiddo, took her home, and made dinner.

Somehow all this seemed notably less busy than January, February, and March. Thank god!

During those months, Robotics season was in full build-and-competition season. First Robotics, while a fantastic learning experience for teens, is a major time suck for kids, volunteers, and parents alike. The robotics team did a great job this year. There were so many improvements over last year! But I spent mega time in my car driving my daughter to somewhere or picking her up from somewhere. 

Plus with her so busy after school, she was often up late at night to get homework done. That led to a frequent missing-of-the-school-bus. Which meant I had to drive her to school in the morning before I went to work. I was tired before the day started.

Along with Robotics, my teenager had several dance classes and Science Olympiad. Two things that are also no small commitments. I was running on fumes from driving her places and trying to keep track of everything. 

The schedule is more manageable now. 

I was relaxed as I shopped at Target. My well honed life skills include efficiency while grocery shopping, so I quickly filled my cart. At our Target, a gallon of milk is only about $2.40, so I find Target to be easy on my wallet too. I was not in a bad mood at all. 

While loading a few beverages into my cart, I was blocking the aisle for another shopper. She said, “excuse me, pretty lady,” to get me to move. I’d have moved anyway. It’s busy there on a Saturday. We all have to make accommodations. (Most of us anyway.) But somehow adding “pretty lady” to her request caught me off guard before making me smile as I scuttled out of her way. 

Realizing this stranger had singlehandedly coaxed a grin out of me while on my speed-shopping mission, I looked up. She had chocolate skin, a bright green and blue patterned blouse, and white earbuds. I’m not sure if she heard me when I uttered a heartfelt, “and thank you!” I should have called her beautiful. She may say those words to everyone, but her soul made a bright spot in my day. 

I may have brightened the day of a dog owner earlier in the morning. While waiting for our cat’s blood-pressure check at the vet, I leaned over to check my kitty-buddy. Fletcher is a laid-back cat, but he was meowing more than usual. As I straightened back up, I realized that my shirt had spilled open during my lean, revealing a healthy dose of cleavage and bra to the man across from me. At I sat up, I noticed him grinning. I stifled a laugh but smiled back, and made sure I held me shirt closed the next time I checked the cat.

Kitty’s blood pressure is better but not great. At 18 years, he’s an old cat now. But he’s still lively, and I still adore his company. One of the techs at the vet said he was more like a dog the way he’d get in and out of his carrier. I’ve said this about him many times myself. It’s strange to think he’s almost as old as some of the employees at the vet.

It was a quick trip to the vet. And that was also my goal at Target — quick.

But I slowed myself up at check out. I started loading the contents my cart onto the check-out belt. Milk. Ice cream. Again, trying to be quick. I had other things to get done. I reached for the cans in my cart and noticed a young father standing in line behind me. He held a toy, an apple, and the hand of his young son. Nothing else. I asked him if that was all he had — gesturing to the boxed toy and apple. Then I told him he should get in line in front of me. He declined at first saying that his son could learn patience. I practically insisted as I pointed at my full cart. He accepted and his check out was speedy. 

It was a lovely day. 

Yo, February

You were here and then you … well you are here still. But you’re never here as long as other months, and you’ll be gone in the blink of an eye.

I had a big birthday. It was the biggest one yet. Which is the case with all birthdays, but ya know, I felt this one more.

My little family ordered me a birthday cake off Amazon. As you do. Or as they do anyway. Normal people may not. Because, cake.

We have a store with a nice bakery across the street. You can literally walk there in less than ten minutes and most of that is waiting for the stoplight. But instead, my cake was shipped frozen in dry ice. Kind of like shipping steaks only in chocolate form.

It was fulfilled by David’s Cookies and arrived with dry ice warnings. Dry ice is cool! [Really, did I just write that?] So I didn’t mind the dry ice except that nearly all had evaporated by the time the cake arrived. The last swirls of vapor gave my shrink-wrapped confection the mystique of having journeyed through time and space. Which, ya know, it did.

It was a somewhat rich and dense chocolate cake, a texture that probably holds up better for long distance travels. The entire cake including the frosting and “Happy Birthday!” decorations made it through surprisingly well. I have one small piece left, and it isn’t even totally gross. Pretty darn good still.

Cake!

We went out to eat yummy food with yummy dessert. I got two bouquets of orchids because last year when flowers were ordered from Amazon they arrived wilted. Lovely but wilted. The company sent replacements. This year backup orchids were ordered, so I got double. They’re still quite beautiful as I type this! Along with roses for Valentine’s Day, I’ve been awash with flowers. I can’t complain one iota. The roses even sprouted new leaves. I’ve seen roses do that before, and I always find it somewhat magical. That last spark of life trying to find a way.

I got a new computer! But no, I’m not typing on it right now. February’s schedule was pretty much a mad dash.  So I still have some setting up to do.

February and January my daughter stayed after school nearly every day and went back for more on Saturdays after her dance class to work with her team on their robot and preparations for First Robotics. I popped in to help where I could. Robots are cool! But my main job was mom-taxi.

Their first competition weekend is only a few days away. This team worked so hard for so long — not just January and February but since the beginning of the year. The team improved over last year on many levels including being further ahead in the robot building process, so they actually got to test their robot more and work out some problems before the competition.

I hope that all their hard work pays off and that they have a fun and successful competition season! I’m excited to see the robot in action!

This time last year I barely knew what the Robotics club was working on, and I had no idea what competition weekend was. I’d imagined a small robot the size of a toaster and competition to be a few hours on a Saturday. But no. The robot is bigger than a push lawn mower and competition weekend starts on Friday night and ends Sunday evening. It’s like a huge sporting event but with geeky people.

In the midst of this, I’ve been playing in our pinball league, not one but, two nights a week. Because that’s logical. Crazy busy mom with no time, so I’ll just add another thing. But it’s a fun thing!  So I’ve survived so far.

Last weekend was Science Olympiad because, perhaps like her mother, my daughter signed up for more than she probably had time for. So we spent last Saturday at that. I accidentally missed registration for Pinburgh, a pinball tournament. So now I’m on the waitlist. Again. Gah. Serves me right.

And here we are at the tail end of February marching on ahead. Wish us luck. The good kind, please. Thank you.

So This Happened

I’ve been expecting the renewal stickers for the plates on my car. So, after getting home from work and picking up my daughter, I checked the mail even though I had to dash right back out again.

I found no stickers. Instead I found this:

AARP1b

That’s right. It’s my first AARP Membership letter. Just in time to be almost a week early for my birthday.

I am not effing old enough for AARP thankyouverymuch. Do not rush me.

As I gaze at the stark black & white of the envelope, I’m struck by the bold arrows along with “From” and “To” on the outer envelope. Apparently in case I am already senile and easily confused they are going to help me understand that, yes, this is special just for me. Golly, thank you AARP. You even spelled my name wrong.

Inside, I found a form with faux computer pin-feed holes. Because I guess my generation should be able to relate to pin-fed paper. And our eyesight is going, so we shouldn’t notice that those are not actual pin holes, but instead are little gray circles.

Also, included was a bright red sample card and a reminder that I haven’t yet registered for the valuable benefits of being old. I mean, the valuable benefits of AARP Membership even though I am quote “fully eligible” for said benefits.

They lie. I will not be fully eligible until next week. So there.

As if that wasn’t blow enough, I dashed out to our last night of pinball league at a place called Red Zone Grill.

I’m pretty bummed that this location will be closing. While the food was meh. And the floors pretty icky, the people were great, it had pinball, and it was only about 6 miles away from home which meant I could get there in time for league.

There will be a new location, but it’s about 5 miles farther which means I may or may not get there on time. It may require additional juggling. (Which I am getting pretty good at, but I still drop too many balls.) I already found it tricky to get to the old location on time. Traffic may well be the deciding factor.

The good news is that the new location sounds nicer, with better food, and cleaner floors all of which are big pluses in my book.

As the saying goes you’re only as old as you feel. Some days I feel it. Some days I don’t. I just want to have fun! But my schedule is bonafide crazy right now. I’m not sure how January 2018 came and went so quickly. Combined with other changes it is all giving me an unsettled feeling like I just clumsily dropped a glass, and I’ll need to catch it or it will shatter. I have caught them before. I can do it. But will I?

Until it hits the ground, I plan on having fun practicing the juggle that is life until I either get it right or die trying. Wish me luck.

Happy groundhogs day!

 

AARP2b

General-Leia Updates and Other Teas-es

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the passing of Carrie Fisher. She can be seen in her last big roll as General Leia Organa in the new Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi. Jedi has been pulling in big bucks at the box office but has a hugely mixed reaction from Star Wars fans.  One thing is fore sure, it’s great to see Carrie Fisher in her roll of Princess Leia, now as General Leia Organa. I would have loved to know what she thought of this as her final roll.

The movie itself seems to spark love or hate reactions, and I’m feeling a little of both. Overall I really liked it and thought it was a fun movie. Lots of entertainment value there! Adam Driver goes shirtless and other stuff. There are really only a few scenes and plot twists that I have problems with. I can deal. (But I would fix those if I could.) Overall, I think it depends a little on which of the previous Star Wars movies are your favorite.  Folks who love Return of the Jedi probably really like The Last Jedi. Folks who love original Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back or even The Force Awakens may have a few problems with it. But it’s going to vary based on personal tastes and expectations, so just go see it for yourself.

I saw it on opening day, December 14, at an AMC Theater where we paid extra for the Fan Event. “Fan Event” really just translated to get-to-see-the-movie-one-hour-earlier-than-other-people, get a small popcorn, and a pack of three “collectible cards.”  Plus there was a few minutes of film on the music of John Williams in Star Wars. We didn’t know exactly what to expect. The description was pretty vague.

When we purchased these “special” tickets I really pictured this as being more of a fan event. Like perhaps they would have something special going on. And at the time of purchase we knew we’d get a “concession stand offer,” but didn’t know what it would be. Previous fan events have had large popcorns and drinks included. The John Williams film was advertised as “special content.” Plus I pictured something more substantial for the collectible cards. We’re used to Magic The Gathering card packs where you might get 15 cards in a pack plus a foil, etc. So overall, this Fan Event seemed more expensive than others we’ve read about and with fewer goodies. It felt like AMC was trying to take advantage of big Star Wars fans. I’ll think twice about doing another Fan Event with AMC and will explore other theaters in general for that matter. AMC grabbed enough of our movie money for a while thankyouverymuch.

That said we enjoyed the actual theater where the fan event was held. It was a Dolby Cinema theater with laser projectors, great sound, and comfy reclining seats. I would see a movie in a Dolby Cinema showing again. That part was nice and worth a few extra bucks. The only down side of the Dolby Cinema was that we had middle-of-the-row seats, so when everybody else was reclined with their feet up, it was nearly impossible to squeeze down the row to our seats. I let the family sit while I went back out to get our popcorn. There was a break in the rows right behind us, so I just climbed over the backs of the seats. It was faster and inconvenienced fewer people.

Fast forward a bit and Christmas 2017 has come and gone. I don’t know how it manages to come and go faster each year, but it does. We had a nice Christmas split between home and visiting my mom.

I got to see Santa very briefly as he exited an elevator I was entering. He’s our favorite mall Santa and was returning from his dinner break. A few minutes later I saw that he was saying “hello” to the kids standing in line. I waved and told him how many years of photos we have of him. He was kind enough to pose for a selfie with me, but my phone died before I could take the picture. Ugh.

I searched high and low for an Etch-A-Sketch for my daughter for Christmas. Ya know, red plastic rectangle and turn the white dials to draw a picture? One dial for vertical, one for horizontal. We had these as a kid. They could be fun and frustrating. It was super easy to draw a staircase! Not so easy to draw a circle. Modern kids can see Etch-A-Sketch featured in the Will Farrell movie, Elf. My daughter is one of them. So she wanted one for Christmas. I think everybody else must have felt this way too because I could not find one anywhere. I visited no fewer than six Targets! Walmart! Craft stores! And two regular toy stores and asked many questions of employees along the way.

But it was like gremlins visited each store right before I arrived. I searched online websites to see who might have them in stock before I visited each store, yet they disappeared by the time I got there. Amazon had them for a while, but reviews were mixed, so we worried about quality and cheap knock-offs. Yet I would have purchased from Amazon if I knew it would be so hard to find them in an actual store. In the end, I was only lucky enough to find two mini-Etch-A-Sketches that we’d have by Christmas. These will have to do. One is the “World’s Smallest” and one is a little larger with a clip that allows it to be attached to backpacks, etc. My daughter liked both and appreciated  tales of the Etch-A-quest. I braved traffic, quicksand, and the darkest asphalt jungles!

Along with a lot of other holiday shopping I visited a Teavana tea store a couple of times. If you like Teavana, then know that some stores will close by December 31, so they are having clearance sales. Those stores now have EVERYTHING in the store 75% OFF!  Tea and tea ware is selling very quickly at these prices! I got a great price on some really good Oolong a few other things.

Some Teavana locations will remain open into February and possibly March. Those locations may have some sale prices, but not everything 75% off. Those locations will, however, have a much larger selection of tea and tea ware for now. So if there’s a favorite that you really want then visit a location that is scheduled to remain open longer. You should be able to call stores to find this out. If nothing else, visit the closest Teavana and ask them questions. There are some great deals in tea! But I’m still a little sad to see Teavana leaving.

That’s it for now.

May The Force Be With You … Always! And Happy Holidays!

 

 

Good Bye Teavana

Like the death of an old but dear friend that I kept meaning to get in touch with … and then boom they’re gone. That’s kind of what I feel like. (Only a lot less personal.)

Starbucks purchased the Teavana tea chain a few years ago. A lot of Teavana fans wondered then if that was the beginning of the end. Starbucks: Teavana killer.

This past July Starbucks announced they would close all 379 retail locations of Teavana — news that flew under my radar (probably because I’d stocked up on Teavana at their last seasonal sale and didn’t need to buy more).

Two days ago I received the normal sale email from Teavana only instead of “normal” it was a EVERYTHING is 50% off because WE’RE CLOSING TEAVANA.com SALE which shocked me. But I still didn’t buy anything right then. I wasn’t sure what I needed and it was busy week. Plus the Teavana.com website was never the best — especially for sale tea because they had a pretty bad inventory system. Teas you thought were available to purchase would change to out-of-stock after you placed your order, so that you then had to hope for a timely refund.

The email claimed that Teavana.com would stay open until December 15, so I figured I had time. Then boom, yesterday, December 1st, I received another email from Teavana saying, “oh sorry, our bad, we’re closed now.”

Done. Finito.

All (or nearly all inventory) sold out in only two days! But the email suggested I visit their retail stores which were still open.

So yesterday night I visited the nearest Teavana store while my daughter was in her Friday-night dance class. Thankfully, the mall was fairly empty by that time even though it’s the holiday shopping time of year. Crowded shopping malls are so not my favorite. But there were a couple of Teavana favorites I wanted to check for, and I generally wanted to see what they had in stock on sale. Yay, sale tea! Their normal prices were always on the high side. It’s the time of year I drink a lot of tea. I’ve been filling my Teavana tea tumbler with tea every morning.

Well I visited Teavana so late in the day, that they were already out of all the brewed sample tea they usually have, so bummer. But I was happy to find our Teavana store are still open, and learned two things.

1.) Not everything is on sale at the stores. (At least not yet.)

2.) They are already sold out of some items.

I grabbed a few favorites like Jasmine Dragon Pearls and Darjeeling de Triomphe, a new Oolong, a bit of on-sale, new-to-me fruit teas that smelled excellent like Strawberry Daiquiri and Mandarin Mimosa, and an extra Teavana Perfect Tea maker along with two of the measuring spoons emblazoned with “Teavana.” I misplaced my old measuring spoon, and it makes a nice Teavana remembrance. I love my Teavana Perfect Teamaker, and now I have an extra (and prettier) one for if mine ever breaks.

Most of the teas are currently 50% off in stores except the seasonal teas like White Chocolate Peppermint which are still full price. That may change, but they usually sell quickly. A few clearance teas are 75% off. The Perfect Tea Maker was only 30% off, but that’s still pretty good.

There are many excellent places to purchase tea both in person and online. But Teavana was convenient for me, the staff was always friendly and fairly knowledgeable, and I liked that I could smell and often taste the tea in person. I’ll visit again before it’s completely gone, but I’ll miss that little tea oasis at the mall called Teavana.

Vote

Just a quick reminder — if there are elections where you live then vote! 

People fought wars, got arrested, went through many hardships to gain the right to vote. Don’t take it for granted! 

Voting tells our government and politicians that we care and we’re paying attention. It’s not a big presidential election year, so lines shouldn’t be huge in most places. 

Just do it!

On This Day

In seventh grade I moved from a suburb of Chicago, Illinois to what I thought would be a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee. A lot of things weren’t quite what I expected.

First, the area we moved too — an outer section of Mount Juliet — was not exactly suburbs. It would be better called a rural area with some subdivisions.

We had to drive about 25 minutes to get to the nearest grocery store. No traffic, just winding roads and hills. We had a few convenience marts / bait shops closer than the grocery stores. So you could grab soda pop or toilet paper if needed. But any real shopping would have to wait.

From our new home’s balcony we could see Old Hickory Lake in the distance and lots of land and trees and a few sections with houses. The view was spectacular! There are a lot more houses and subdivisions now.

Our yard was large, dotted with trees, and edged in wild-growth blackberries and weeds. And snakes. We had snakes.

The bus and new school scared me. The sound of my alarm in the morning seemed cruel and unusual.

There was culture shock and more culture shock. I got called a Yankee more than once. I mean, really, how many years ago was the Civil War?

But eventually the shock wore off.

I found friends and food  I liked. Dear friends and yummy food that I still love to this day.

Me Too, Brave

If you spend any time on social media you’ve most certainly heard of Harvey Weinstein, sexual harassment, and the hashtag #metoo. Some of you may feel like you’ve heard enough. Many of us have HAD ENOUGH.

My own #metoo.

I’ve experienced multiple instances. I think most women have to varying degrees. Some we may forget. Some we don’t. I have a pretty good memory. So here’s the first instance that I can clearly remember.

I was about six years old. A strange man tried to get me in his car. As I’m pretty sure he wasn’t enticing me to a game of hopscotch, I’ll venture to guess what might have happened if I actually got in the car.

Teachers and parents warned us kids many times — don’t take candy from strangers and don’t take rides from strangers. We’d seen filmstrips even! This man did not offer me any candy. I was confused. If there was no candy did that mean he was okay? He didn’t fit the mold of child abductor or even seem strange, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to do … except to not get in the car.

Thinking back, what he said to me was clear manipulation. And harassers manipulate. He told me that he knew my dad and that my dad had asked him to give me a ride home that day. (I think he even knew his name.) He told me that my dad would be mad if I didn’t get in the car. Fucker.

I stood staring at the man. I didn’t want to make my dad mad at me. This man looked like any upstanding man or dad in our neighborhood. He was dressed in a suit and drove a nice, four-door sedan.

I didn’t always walk home alone, but I’d stayed at school a little later that day. Having a ride home would be nice. Did my dad know that I was walking alone and send a ride for me?

I froze — neither getting in the car nor running. That small bit of doubt in my head was holding me in place. If the man was telling the truth, then my dad would be mad if I didn’t get in the car. I was always told to tell the truth. I assumed most people told the truth. But I was also faced with all those warnings, “Don’t take a ride from a stranger.” I didn’t know this man.

I stood on the sidewalk several feet away from the car. The man had the passenger-side door open, and he sat in the driver seat. To get me in the car he would have had to have gotten out and grabbed me.

He finally gave up and left saying, “your parents told you not to take rides from strangers, didn’t they?” And I nodded. He told me I was a good girl for listening. (Did that make me bad if I had gotten in the car?)

I walked home as quickly as possible. It stuck with me that being alone made me an easy target.

I wasn’t sure if I should bring it up with my parents. But I actually doubted myself for not getting in the car. Would my dad be mad? I quietly, nonchalantly asked my mom if Dad had sent somebody to give me a ride. She said, “no.”

Afterward, I kept trying to forget. I mean, really, actively trying to get it out of my head because while nothing bad actually happened, the event made me feel creepy and bad. So I’d forget for a while. And then I’d remember again. And sometimes, I was mad at myself for not running away — right away.

And no, that wouldn’t be the last time some man made me feel like that — made me feel bad — not because of something I did but because of something bad they did or tried to do.

Ronan Farrow broke the story about Harvey Weinstein in an article in The New Yorker. Brave job, Ronan Farrow!

When all those women that Harvey Weinstein harassed or raped had a hard time coming forward. I could relate. At six years old, I promise I was not wearing sexy or provocative clothes. So when women are asked what they did to provoke an attack, I have no reason to believe that the women did anything other than be female. Yet when so many of them doubted themselves … wondered if they had done anything wrong to bring it on themselves … I can relate. Those women are brave!

How is it that society has allowed these actions to continue?  How can the Harvey Weinsteins of the world not realize that what they are doing, what they have done, is so wrong? Just because a man is sexually attracted to a women, does not mean that she wants to attract him or have anything sexual to do with him. And manipulating women into those actions through candy, power, or threats is wrong.

Woody Allen called the situation “sad.” He spoke even more words to say, “You also don’t want it to lead to a witch hunt atmosphere, a Salem atmosphere, where every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself.”

How can the Woody Allens of the world worry about a “witch hunt” over the physical safety of women and children?

Witch hunt. Let those words sink in. Instead of saying, “Mr. Weinstein did bad things.” And that maybe people shouldn’t do bad things. Allen brings up images of … of … witches. When many people think of witches, they think of women who practice evil. Nice to know what’s on your mind, Mr. Allen.

The Salem Witch Trials — where women were falsely accused of evil that resulted in trials that lead to the deaths of innocent women, men, and children … and Woody Allen worries that winking might get men into trouble because of the Harvey Weinstein situation —  Harvey Weinstein, a man who is not innocent, has admitted guilt, and is guilty of some pretty nasty things. Maybe Mr. Allen should blame Harvey Weinstein for any negative fallout from Harvey Weinstein’s actions. Instead Mr. Allen seems mad about the publicity and article.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t nice, good men out there. Thank god! There are nice men! Men who know boundaries. Men who can find a woman attractive, but who don’t assume that their own attraction automatically gives them license to touch or force women into actions.

Trust me. Most of us women know when a wink is just a wink. (And really, maybe, winks are best left out of the workplace anyway.)

If you aren’t sure how to act in a way that will ensure that you don’t get accused of sexual harassment, then you might be interested in The Rock Test: A Hack for Men Who Don’t Want To Be Accused of Sexual Harassment. Feel free to share it. The Rock himself even endorsed it on Twitter. (Makes me kind of love the 3D, 7-11, souvenir Slurpee cup featuring The Rock that I’ve been using to water some of my plants.)

Women don’t want the nice stuff to go away! We even like sexy stuff too (under the right circumstances). But if a person must be coerced into something sexual that they don’t want to do, then that person is being sexually harassed or worse. We will usually be happy to tell you if we do or don’t like something. Amazingly, we have brains, and we’re interactive too.

Unfortunately, sexual predators are a lot like terrorists. Most people are not terrorists. Most people don’t want to hurt others. But it only takes that one terrorist to cause a lot of damage to many people. One of the biggest problems with sexual predators is that people don’t seem to like to bring the instances to light. Women who do are often more punished than the man who commented the act.

Brave women and men who come forward to clear away the terror and stop predators are heroes.

#metoo

Aside from sharing actual experiences and opinions, this was also written as a response to the WordPress: Daily Post’s Daily Prompt, Brave.

 

Follow up May 8, 2018.
In case you didn’t already think Ronan Farrow was brave: https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/ronan-farrow-finds-calling-exposing-sexual-abuse/

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