True Gallantry

I have this amazing husband. He takes such good care of me. And that’s not something I’m used to, at all. For 53 years I’ve either been alone or in a relationship where I had to be the caretaker, and it was exhausting. I could definitely get used to this, and I plan to.

But on the other hand, I hate it when people infantilize me or act like I’m not capable of taking care of myself. I hate the implication that as a woman, I’m somehow incapable and automatically need help all the time. I’ve written about this before. I am NOT made of glass.

It’s a struggle to find the balance. And yet somehow my husband seems to find it the vast majority of the time. I’ve spent hours trying to figure out how he does that. How does he manage to be so solicitous, so caring, without giving the impression that he finds me incompetent?

By way of example, we walk hand in hand. That’s not only for the romance, but also because I have suffered a lot lately from vertigo and blurry vision, and, let’s face it, I have lacked focus, and often overlook pesky things like uneven paving stones. He also helps me down flights of stairs, as I’ve got some wrist damage going on, and it would really be unfortunate if I fell. He opens doors for me, not because he thinks I can’t do so myself, but because he wants to show his love. And if I have to go to a sketchy rest area bathroom, he listens out for my scream, not because he thinks I can’t kick some major butt when adrenalized, but because the world is going mad.

So why doesn’t this feel like infantilization to me? We’re both getting older. I tend to point out cracks in the sidewalks to him, too. We’d like to keep each other. We balance like a tripod, and that’s a much more stable structure. He also makes it quite clear that he has confidence in my agency. He knows I’m intelligent and that I plan for contingencies and avoid stupid risks. He seeks my advice as much as I seek his.

I think I’ve finally figured out the difference. He does what he does because he happens to be a gallant man. He’s not demonstrating that he’s somehow superior. He’s showing his love, and that as a part of this team, we both are protecting what we have. That means so much to me.

But I have to say that the other day we were walking hand in hand at the farmer’s market and I hit my shin on the handle of a badly placed delivery cart. He looked at me in horror and said, “Did I just walk you into that cart?” I had to remind him that I’m a grown a$$ woman, and I, myself, stupidly walked into the cart. I walk with him. He’s not steering me.

There will always be slight course corrections in every relationship. I don’t envy the fine line on which he’s forced to walk. I see it. I appreciate it.

The world will always throw random obstacles in our paths. Yes, there will be bruises here and there. But I sure am loving the path that we are on.

Holding Hands

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Go Away, Secret Admirer

It happened again. Almost exactly 13 months from the last time. And it rattled me. It still rattles me.

Late at night, someone left a flower on my car here at work. This time a pink rose. No explanation. No identification.

With the motive unexplained, the only conclusion I can reliably draw is that someone was here. Right here, where I was standing now, alone in the dark. Someone being secretive.

And because all other information has been withheld from my emotional database, it becomes, intended or not, a very eerie form of passive aggression. As I said when I wrote about the first incident, the secret admirer thing becomes creepy after about the second grade. Please read that blog post for more details on my thought process regarding this behavior.

In the meantime, here’s a handy rule of thumb: If you think you need to remain anonymous in order to take action, then DON’T TAKE ACTION. Either man up, step up, and own what you do, or leave people alone.

Please.

Pink Rose

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She’s a Beauty

It happened again the other day. A captain, in an attempt to compliment my bridge, said, “She’s a real beauty.”

He meant well. And I took it in the spirit in which he intended it. But it still got on my nerves. At least he didn’t go on to say, “She has a hard time getting up when it’s cold, just like my wife,” as another captain has been known to do.

Can someone please give me an example of an inanimate object being referred to as a he? Please? I’m not talking about the gender designations of nouns that some languages use. That’s different.

No, I’m talking about those smarmy, affectionate references to cars, boats, drawbridges, and all things mechanical. Yes, maybe it’s because those objects are, more often than not, worked on by males, and they feel uncomfortable loving these things if they’re not female. Maybe it’s just the average hetero guy’s fear of being considered homosexual. (Heaven forfend.)

But I suspect that if you scratch the surface, what you’ll see is that many men like to play with mindless, passive things that will do their bidding without question. And even if they aren’t from the 19th century, somewhere, in some underground curriculum that we women are generally not privy to, they are all taught the same thing: that all those qualities mean that this thing must therefore be female.

I’m sure that most guys who do this haven’t even given it much thought, but I’m telling you, it’s offensive. It cramps my little lady-brain, just thinking about it. And I find it even more offensive on the rare occasion when a woman does it, because a woman should know better. It’s just one more microaggression in the sea of microaggressions that women have to swim in every single day. So please knock it off.

As a tiny form of resistance, I’ve always given my cars male names. But even then, I can’t bring myself to refer to them as he. My car will always be an it.

Women are not wind up dolls, and your classic car isn’t going to kiss you back. Well… unless you’re an objectophile. Then it’s a whole different ballgame. Read my thoughts on that here.

classic car

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#youknowme

According to this Los Angeles Times Article, talk show host Busy Philipps recently sent out the following tweet:

1 in 4 women have had an abortion. Many people think they don’t know someone who has, but #youknowme. So let’s do this: if you are also the 1 in 4, let’s share it and start to end the shame. Use #youknowme and share your truth.

Apparently this has prompted an outpouring of heart-wrenching stories, and that made me feel like I should add my voice to the ever-increasing, truthful, agonized din. Because #youknowme. (I’ll add some other stories to the end as well.)

When I was 21 years old, I was living alone in a studio apartment in Jacksonville, Florida. I didn’t know anyone there, but that was where the decent job was, so off I went. My family was only 2 ½ hours away in Central Florida, but they may as well have been a million miles away in terms of my day to day life.

I was lonely. I’d come in to work on Mondays and my voice would crack, because I hadn’t talked to a soul over the weekend. The loneliness was physically painful.

One day I was sitting in a lawn chair in front of my apartment when a guy approached me. He lived in the same complex, a few doors down. He’d just moved in. We talked for a couple hours. It felt good, talking to someone. It felt good to be listened to. So when he asked me out, I said yes.

I can’t even remember what we did or where we went. All I remember was the rape afterward, when he brought me back home, pushed his way into my apartment, and got what he had been after all along.

It was a Friday night, so I spent the weekend hiding in my apartment. I didn’t call the police. I didn’t tell anyone. It would have been my word against his. And I was so ashamed for having been so stupid.

And he would pound on my door at random times of the day and night. Three in the morning, for example. And he’d be laughing. Laughing. I would curl up in a fetal position on my bed, crying, and hope the lock would hold. He’d also ring my doorbell. Over and over and over again. I put a wadded up paper towel between the striker and the bell. He’d still do it. The click, click, click sounded as loud to me, emotionally, as the bell. Because it proved he was crazy.

For weeks I would do nothing but rush to and from my car when I had to go to work. I’d try to stagger my times so he wouldn’t be around. I’d peer out the window, then make this desperate dash.

Then I found out I was pregnant. I never wanted children, and I certainly didn’t want one that would keep me in this horrible moment for the rest of my life. I also did not have the means, financially, to care for a child, and I didn’t have the ability at the time to raise one. I was coming from a place of total emotional instability.

So yes, I had an abortion. And no, I have not had one minute of regret about it. And meanwhile, this guy was still harassing me.

So I exercised another choice. I bought a baseball bat, which I still own to this day. The next time he pounded on my door in the middle of the night I threw open the door with the bat in my hand and came at him like a banshee.

“LEAVE ME ALONE YOU SONOFABITCH!!!!”

He backed off my porch, terrified, and never bothered me again. Shortly after that, he moved away. But he did manage to get a last word in, of sorts. Just before moving away, he parked his car in front of my apartment and made out with a girl on the car’s hood, all the time looking over her shoulder at my window. And the circle of violence is unbroken. (I did find her and warn her, though.)

So, yeah, #youknowme.

And I know of other stories, too, of abortions that should have been, but never were.

When I was in junior high school, one of my classmates was pregnant. She must have been about 13 years old. One day, she disappeared, never to be seen again. They say she had the baby, and threw it over the back fence, killing it. So I can’t imagine that the rest of her life went well.

Also there are these stories from when I was an eligibility specialist for Aid to Families with Dependent Children in the state of Florida.

One guy, a single parent, actually stepped up to care for his children, but just needed a little help. But when the 6th baby came along, I guess it all became too much for him, so he threw the baby out of his moving car on Interstate 95, brutally killing it as it bounced along the pavement. The kid didn’t stand a chance. I had the pleasure of sending his cancellation letter to him at the county jail.

Another woman was receiving assistance for her 10 year old daughter. And then the 10 year old daughter got pregnant. How on earth are you not able to protect your 10 year old from that? Well, the girl died in childbirth because her little body could not cope with the birth. The mother’s response was to make sure that I added that baby on to her welfare check so that she’d receive no interruption in funds. Because yeah, the baby is all that matters, isn’t it? Or is it the money? Or the control?

Nobody WANTS to have an abortion, but sometimes you can’t see any other way. The idea that there are people out there who think they know better than me about how I should handle my life is outrageous. We are living in scary times, my friends. Very scary times.

youknowme

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Seals Will Be Seals

Trust me, you don’t want to be a penguin on Marion Island. The seals there seem to have lost their moral compass. And now that they’ve tasted the forbidden fruit, it seems, there’s no turning back.

According to this BBC article (which, I must warn you, includes several very disturbing videos), the first time scientists spotted a fur seal attempting to copulate with a king penguin was back in 2006. Needless to say, that raised a few eyebrows, but they assumed it was an anomaly.

But no.

Since then, these penguin rapes have been on the rise. And it is more than one seal that’s in on this act. Fur seals are capable of learning from one another. Unfortunately, they seem to have chosen a pretty twisted mentor.

What they’ve been doing is chasing these penguins down, throwing themselves on top of them, and having their way with them for up to 5 minutes at a time, all while the penguin screams in agony. In one really creepy incident, the seal then killed the penguin and ate it. What a horrible way to go.

The perpetrators of these moral outrages are all adolescent males. It figures. The victims, on the other hand, seem to be random penguins of either gender who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I’m sure that there are seal apologists out there who will chalk this up to the fact that there’s really nothing much to do for fun in the sub-Antarctic. Or they’ll say this has something to do with how the penguins are dressing. As enthusiastic penguin-shamers, they’ll say those birds just lead them on. They’ll say they wanted to be crushed by an animal that’s at least three times their size. Because size matters. Seals will be seals.

I, on the other hand, feel that this is a sign of the coming apocalypse. Someone has to speak for the penguins. They cannot speak for themselves.

(Shame on me for making light of this situation. It really is disturbing and disgusting on so many levels. I just wanted to make it blatantly clear how absurd and wrong it is to blame victims.)

https _upload.wikimedia.org_wikipedia_commons_5_55_Antarctic_Fur_Seals_of_various_sizes_(5724162986)

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Why I Struggle with Joe Biden

Yes, I know there are an unprecedented number of Democratic candidates this time out. All but one will fall by the wayside. And it’s fairly obvious, already, which ones will do the falling. That’s what’s making me sweat.

Unfortunately, Joe Biden has name recognition on his side. As we’ve learned all too well, that is often all that it takes. And there are a lot of things about Joe Biden that I really like.

But the things that I like do not offset the things that I don’t. Not by a long shot. And I’m not the only one out there who is saying this. I only wish my party would listen this time. Because we’re playing for all the marbles here, folks. It really won’t do to screw this one up.

Here are my three basic issues with Joe:

His treatment of Anita Hill. Yes, the Clarence Thomas hearings were three decades ago, and people were disgustingly backward about sexual harassment back then. But Biden bungled those hearings. There was no good reason for his not allowing the other female witnesses to come forward and corroborate her testimony. His choices then have impacted decades of women who have suffered the abuse of men.

Recently he apologized to Ms. Hill. Why now? Not because of remorse. Because he’s running for president. And from the sound of it, he didn’t seem particularly remorseful to me. She was not satisfied. Nor am I.

The second issue I have with him is the way he inappropriately touches women. So many of his photos make me squirm, because I can tell that the women in them are squirming, too. He claims he meant nothing by these actions, and that may be true, but I’m sorry, how many times do you have to be told it’s wrong before you listen? His apology for his behavior was, “I’m sorry you were offended.” That’s more of an I’m sorry for your reaction than it is an I’m sorry for what I did.

And issue three is this quote, which I mentioned in a post years ago. During a visit to Japan, he asked some women, “Do your husbands like you working full time?”

This goes to a mindset that should have been left behind in 1950. I mean, seriously? This man is not a president for the modern era, in so many, many ways. I can’t overlook these things, despite the good stuff.

And yet, if it comes down to a choice between Biden and Trump, I’ll be forced to hold my nose and vote for Biden. Because the pussy grabber is even worse, with his trophy wife and his inappropriate references to vaginal bleeding. The Republicans have made it blatantly clear that they have no moral compass with regard to this issue, so they’re not going to vote their conscience. I have to do what I can to at least partially reset the scale that is so heinously weighed down against women. Nothing quite like the lesser of two evils, no?

Okay, now that I’ve admitted that. I’m going to go take a shower and try to wash off the shame and disgust. I hope it doesn’t clog the pipes.

Creepy-Joe-Biden-YouTube-600x338

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10 Day Album Challenge #5: Stella Donnelly, Beware of the Dogs

If you haven’t been following this series of posts, a friend of mine nominated me to do an album challenge. “The task is to post once per day for the next 10 days about the top ten albums that have an impact on your life, and to pay it forward by nominating someone else each day to do the same.”

Okay, so I’ll play. But I’m changing the rules to suit me. First of all, I’m not writing about this 10 days in a row. I will write about 10 albums, but only on the occasional “Music Monday”. And I refuse to nominate anyone else, because I try to avoid adding stress to the lives of the people I love. Having said that, if you’re reading this, and would like to take up the challenge, go for it!

_______________________

Once again, National Public Radio has introduced me to an amazing artist that I probably wouldn’t have heard of otherwise. (I struggle to keep up with pop culture.) But on this day, I was driving down the road, listening to an interview with a delightful singer named Stella Donnelly.

Before I even heard her music, I fell in love with her Australian accent and her upbeat, positive, enthusiastic personality.  She’s one of those people you can tell you’d enjoy hanging out with, even if you were only, I don’t know, folding origami cranes or something. She’s intelligent and fun and sincere.

From that, you’d expect to hear a bunch of songs about rainbows and unicorns. But what I heard next took me a little by surprise. They talked about how her first breakout song, Boys Will Be Boys, came out right around the time the #MeToo movement took off, and because of that she received death threats and obscene messages. In my opinion, messing with Stella Donnelly would be like drop kicking a puppy into an active volcano.

As the title makes clear, the song is about rape. And it addresses how women are often blamed, and made to feel guilty, for the violence perpetrated upon them. The last line in the song is “Time to pay the f***ing rent.” When I heard that, I cheered. You go, Stella! You tell ‘em!

Stella is a study in contrasts. Her melodies are as sweet as she is, but her lyrics are often like a straight shot with a barbed arrow, and they always hit the bullseye. I think that is because she speaks her truth softly, so people will actually listen.

After that interview, I ran straight to her website and discovered that her tour was taking her through Seattle, so I immediately bought tickets. The concert was at Barboza, a venue I’d never been to. It was a dark, sticky, underground, claustrophobic little hall. But this place manages to book some edgy acts. It was full of hip Seattleites, and we were arguably some of the oldest people in the place. I wanted to rescue Stella. It didn’t feel like she should be there. But she held her own. In fact, she thrived.

That’s Stella in a nutshell. She seems so fragile and vulnerable, but she has a backbone made of pure steel. It’s that dichotomy that appeals to me the most.

For an introduction to Stella Donnelly, check out this Tiny Desk Conert. After that, I strongly encourage you to check out her debut album, Beware of the Dogs. You’ll be so glad you did.

Beware of the Dogs

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