What Mother Does This?

I have zero desire to be a parent. I have no idea what it’s like, and I don’t want to. But I do know that if I had become a parent, there are certain things that I would have never done.

Sometimes I look back on my childhood and wonder how I ever made it to adulthood. My mother was an amazing human being. You’d have loved her. Everybody did. I’d never be writing this post if she were still alive. But I have to say that some of the choices she made with regard to my upbringing leave me absolutely speechless now that I’m looking back at them as an adult.

I won’t even get into the whole looking-the-other-way-while-I-was-sexually-abused thing. That’s a subject for another day. I’m just too worn out to even tackle that topic.

No. Today I remembered something that makes my adult eyes widen in horror, and sorry, I need to vent. So here goes.

When I was about 8 years old, my mother, my stepfather and I went camping. We had a little trailer and we stayed in a very nice campground. So far, so good.

But after we got there, the campground manager approached us and said that a violent offender had escaped the local prison and police would be searching the area, so we should probably stay in our trailer and lock the door. No sooner had he said that when we saw a helicopter fly overhead with a spotlight. The guy was close.

So we sat in the locked trailer. I don’t know how long we were in there. I was 8, so it seemed like an eternity. My mother was content. You have never seen anyone get lost in a book the way that woman could. My stepfather, too, was content. He fell asleep sitting up, as he was wont to do. The man spent very little time conscious, which suited me right down to the ground. I, on the other hand, was bored silly.

I guess my mother finally got sick and tired of my whining, so she let me sit outside at the picnic table. She kept the door open, but locked the screen door. Safety first, I suppose. For them, at least.

It was pitch black outside. I saw police flashlights in the woods in the distance. I was fascinated by the helicopter.

Then, out of the darkness, I saw a scruffy man approaching. Suddenly I was aware of my vulnerability. I went to the screen door and whispered, “Mom…”

I didn’t want to draw his attention, in case he was the bad guy and he wasn’t heading specifically to our site. I didn’t want him to notice me. And being the respectful child that I was, I also didn’t want to insult him with my fear if it turned out he was one of the good guys. I whispered again. “Ma…”

She was lost in her book. And her parental radar, which was feeble at the best of times, was apparently switched off. My stepfather slept on.

The guy was getting closer. I was terrified. Even after all these years, I can feel my heart beating a little faster just thinking about it. “Maaaaaaaa…” I hissed.

When she finally looked up, I was clawing at the screen door and the man was looming over me.

“You should get your kid inside, Ma’am. It’s not safe out here.”

So she unlocked the screen door and let me in.

And then she yelled at me for not saying something.

It was awful then, but I didn’t grasp how outrageous the situation was, because stuff like that happened all the time to me. I still have a hard time feeling safe to this day.

But from an adult perspective… damn! Who does that? What mother does that?

Jeez. My inner child needs a hug.

Vulnerable by Julia Galemire

Hey! Look what I wrote! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

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That’s Bill Cosby’s name now. Let that sink in for a minute. Cliff Huxtable is in prison. And that’s exactly where he should be. Chickens do have a way of coming home to roost.

But it makes me really sad. This pathetic, legally blind, 81 year old man is rotting in jail because of the vile choices he made, over and over and over again. And the reason he got away with it for so long is that America loved Cliff Huxtable. We bought into his brand.

Now that his mask has finally slipped away, it reveals a sick, twisted, pathetic shell of a human being. A sex offender. A rapist. A criminal who deserves what he gets, even more so because it could so easily have been avoided. He had it all, but it wasn’t enough without the kink of destroying women’s lives along the way. Such power. So warped.

America’s TV dad.

Prison Bars

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Why I Boycott Texaco

When I was 8 years old, my mother decided it would be a good idea to put me on a bus, all alone, to take a 15 hour trip to Rutland, Vermont to visit my 18 year old sister who was living in a teepee on a hippie commune. From an adult perspective, I cannot believe that any mother would make this choice. It had “very bad plan” written all over it. But my mother lived in a state of denial, which meant I never felt quite safe. (I rarely do, even to this day.)

I can’t remember how long I was there. A couple weeks, I think. It felt like an eternity. The general theme of this little jaunt seemed to be, “Barb, why can’t you just go with the flow?” Because, like, what 8 year old needs structure, right?

At some point my sister realized that just running back and forth on the path from the teepee to the outhouse wasn’t going to keep me entertained. And teaching me to pick mint (“See? The stems are square.”) wouldn’t distract me for long. So she decided we’d take a road trip.

The only problem was, she didn’t have a car. She enjoyed hitchhiking with me, because people would always stop to pick up a little kid. (Which is borderline creepy in and of itself.) But where she planned to take me would require legitimate transportation.

To be honest, I can’t remember where we were going. A zoo, or something. We never got there.

She borrowed a friend’s car. It was barely roadworthy. The upholstery was all cut up, and it backfired a lot. I was just happy to get out of the damned teepee. So off we went.

Part way to our destination, we stopped at a Texaco station to get gas. This was the early 70’s and there was no self-service. The gas station attendant, a clean cut, tense-jawed man, took one look at this hippie-mobile and was immediately hostile toward its scruffy occupants. (I can’t remember how we bathed. Needless to say, there was no shower in the teepee.)

I didn’t understand what was going on. We just wanted gas. We had money. This kind of thing never happened to mom. Why was he being mean? He also seemed to be very focused on our license plate.

A couple miles further down the road, we found out why. A cop pulled us over. Our license plates had expired. My sister had known this. She was just hoping nobody would notice.

In this more innocent time, my sister got out of the car to talk to the officer. Left alone while he took her license and registration, I got it into my head that he was going to take her to jail. What would happen to me? Where would I go? I didn’t even know how to contact my mother. I burst into tears.

That’s putting it mildly. Actually, I started wailing. My sister was going to jail, and I was going to be left on the street in some strange town to starve to death. I was going to DIE!

Finally the officer approached the vehicle and said, “What’s the matter, honey?”

I screamed, “You leave my sister ALONE!!!!”

In this day and age, I’d probably have gotten my little ass shot.

I was left alone in the car to wail until the tow truck came, at which time my snotty, red-faced self was bundled into the back of the cruiser with my sister. I cried during the entire drive to the station. I cried in the station.

My sister called another friend to come get us. He had his deaf 4 year old in tow. Kids have always freaked me out, even when I was one myself. But this kid, with his hippie parents who had allowed him to go rogue, was completely out of control.

I was trapped in the back seat with this Tasmanian devil for the entire ride home. I must say, he caused me to stop crying, because, not being able to hear himself, he was able to scream so loudly it could cause your ears to bleed. To this day, I’ve never heard another human produce such a prodigious sound.

And it didn’t help that I suffered from migraines, and all my crying and the lack of food all day had brought one on, big time. So I proceeded to throw up all over this guy’s back seat. (I could produce amazing amounts of vomit back then when the spirit moved me.)

That’s really all I can remember of the story, other than the fact that I heard my sister tell her friend that the Texaco guy had turned us in. I vowed from that moment on to never, ever buy my gas at a Texaco station.

And I never have. I’m a 52 year old woman. I’ve been driving for 36 years. That’s a lot of freakin’ gas. I will drive miles out of my way to avoid Texaco. On more than one occasion I’ve nearly run out of gas while searching for a non-Texaco station. Take that, Texaco!

It’s really kind of ironic since we can’t know for sure if that hippie-hating gas station attendant actually ever did drop a dime on us.

I also boycott Exxon, because of Exxon Valdez, and BP because of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This makes fueling my car an increasing challenge. I look forward to the day when all vehicles are alternatively fueled. It’s not easy, voting with your conscience. It’s even harder to vote with your post traumatic stress.

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Wild mint. I tried to find a picture that shows that the stems really are square, but I had no luck. You’re just going to have to trust me on this one.

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Debtors’ Prisons

A couple of months ago a friend of mine got a $450 parking ticket. Yes, Seattle is one of the most expensive places in the country to live, and parking is definitely at a premium, but that is ridiculous. That would constitute 5 weeks’ worth of groceries for me. It’s safe to say that a lot of people would find this to be quite a hardship.

I was discussing this with a coworker and he told me something very interesting. If you get ticketed in many parts of this country, they subcontract the parking tickets to a private agency, and much of your ticket is actually processing fees for that agency.

If you are unable to pay your ticket, you have very little recourse. Penalties will pile up, making any chance of a payoff even further out of your reach. Eventually, you could be facing the loss of your license or even jail time. For a parking ticket.

This is a system that is unfairly weighted against people in the lower pay scales. A rich person would flick this away as if it were a minor inconvenience and move on. But a poor person who makes the same exact parking mistake in an often incomprehensible system can find himself being fingerprinted and cavity searched. How is that fair?

First of all, at least here in Seattle, they need to increase the number of parking spaces for its citizens. Before you throw up another high rise condo, you really ought to consider where those residents are going to put their cars. One slot per household is not realistic in this country. Second, there has to be some way to reduce these insane processing fees, and if someone can’t afford to pay their ticket, they need to be able to do community service instead of being taken out of the community entriely.

Last I looked, debtors’ prisons went out in Charles Dickens’ day. For an entertaining and informative explanation about Municipal Violations by John Oliver, go here.

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“Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?” [Image credit: thinglink.com]

The Life Penalty

As sick as I am right now with the head cold from hell, death sounds very appealing to me. Please put me out of my misery. Please. Sure, I know that in a few days (God willing) I’ll be feeling better and my attitude will change. But right now, I’d dearly love to shuffle off this mortal coil, wrapped in flannel and wearing bunny slippers.

That’s also how people who are suicidal feel. At a time when every single aspect of their lives feels totally out of their control, their mortality, or lack thereof, may seem like the only choice they have left. That’s a short-sighted view and one I disagree with, but there you have it.

Call me crazy if you like (and a lot of people do) but I am completely opposed to the death penalty. Not for moral reasons, although there are many of those. Not for financial reasons, although there are tons of stats out there that show that it costs more to put a human being down than it does to lock them up and throw away the key.

No. The reason I oppose the death penalty is that dying is easy. Life is what’s hard. Especially a life behind bars without the possibility of parole. That’s why people refer to death as being taken out of their misery in the first place.

Most murderers and serial rapists and the like are all about dominance and control. Putting them in a situation for the rest of their lives in which they don’t have control over anything would be hell on earth for them. They are also usually under the impression that they are the smartest people in the room, and now they’ll be surrounded by fellow idiots. Torture. Imagine being condemned to a life with no future, full of boredom, frustration, hostility, violence, ignorance and helplessness. I can think of no more apt punishment for a psychopath.

I know that the families of victims often think that the death of the perpetrator will bring closure to them. I can’t even pretend to understand what they are going through. But I will say that I used to long for the death of my abusive stepfather, and when he finally obliged me, I felt… nothing. Nothing at all. The damage still had been done. Death will not negate the atrocity that was visited upon you. Death cannot bring your loved one back. Nothing can do that.

I could talk about the racial disparities that are related to the death penalty. I could discuss how it has been proven not to be any type of deterrent. I could blather on about how people have been put to death and then have been found to be wrongly accused, which makes murderers of us all. You can get plenty of information about these things on other web pages. But what I will tell you is that if revenge is your thing, then death isn’t the worst punishment. Life with no freedom and no potential for joy is.

Life Penalty

[Image credit: seattletimes.com]

848 and 2,572

According to an article in the New York Times, a representative of the Vatican recently told a United Nations committee in Geneva that, “In addition to 848 priests dismissed between 2004 and 2013, 2,572 members of the clergy had been disciplined for sexual abuse, putting children beyond their reach.”

Disciplined? Disciplined??? How about jail? And how about jail, too, for the many in the administration who have been shunting these men from diocese to diocese for decades, thus making it even harder to identify their horrendous acts and allowing them to continue? In what universe is a slap on the hand good enough for destroying the life of an innocent child?

As far as I’m concerned, there is nothing as heinous as a person who is placed in a position of trust who abuses that trust, is discovered, and yet still gets away with it. Sexual abuse is an unforgivable act, but it’s a million times worse when it is carried out by a parent, a doctor, a teacher, or a member of the clergy. More horrendous is the fact that these were men whose job it was to be our moral compass, to tell us how to avoid going to hell, when they, in fact, will be headed there themselves on an express train.

No organization, regardless of how powerful, has the right to take the law into its own hands. Until justice is meted out to each and every criminal among their ranks, the Roman Catholic Church has blood on its hands, and there isn’t enough penance or forgiveness in the universe for that.

The most terrifying thing about all of this is that for every perpetrator we know about, there are probably 20 we don’t, and it most definitely isn’t restricted only to the Catholic Church. The world we live in is brutish at the best of times. It’s about time we start taking steps to hold animals accountable for their acts.

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[Image credit: rawstory.com]

 

Trapped on the Washing Machine in a Powder Blue Tux

“You know, midgets are because humans used to breed with trolls.” These words of wisdom were issuing forth from my coworker, “C”. I wish I could say that I was shocked, but after years of working with this guy, nothing could surprise me anymore. There was no point in trying to explain that trolls are mythical creatures, or that midget is a derogative term for dwarf. This guy was just too unrepentantly dense for that. He also believed that the Amazons, the mythological race of female warriors, actually existed and still exist, because he’d read it in a comic book. It’s C’s world. We’re just living in it.

He once called in sick to our drawbridge using the excuse that his pants had gotten caught in an ATM machine.

I’ll just let that sentence stand alone so it can sink in.

One night he walked into work in a state of high dudgeon because one of his relatives had been incarcerated unjustly. Apparently the guy was a house painter with no access to a bathroom during his work day, and he felt the need to masturbate. With no good place to do so, he just did it in the yard, and a 10 year old girl walked by. When I mentioned that there were, perhaps, more appropriate places to do his thing, C responded that without access to a bathroom, what was he supposed to do? “Uh…wait ‘til he got home?” C did not speak to me for the rest of the shift. He actually thought that that was a punishment to me.

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Waxing nostalgic one evening, he told us about his honeymoon. He took his bride down the street to the Gator Lodge. Now, for those of you who are not familiar with this fine establishment, the Gator Lodge can be rented by the hour, and there’s a prostitute stroll right out front for your convenience. Nothing but the best for his darling wife! Hearing this, my best friend said to C, “I bet you wore a powder blue tuxedo and a frilled shirt at the wedding.” “Well, it was the STYLE back then!!!!” C snapped. I laughed so hard that I actually sank to the floor. I thought that only happened in books.

He also couldn’t come to work one time because his wife was stuck on top of the washing machine. Hate when that happens.

He once came to work feeling triumphant because he was now positive that his girlfriend’s child was his. He was certain because that very day he was sitting next to the boy, both had their feet on the coffee table, and their feet were exactly the same! Jeez, and people have been wasting money on DNA tests all this time.

C no longer works with me, and we’ve long since lost touch. I will say this about the guy: he meant no harm to anyone, and he was a constant source of entertainment if not logic.