The Four Letter Word

What is this four-letter word that drives the DC-area so nuts that the ingredients for French toast are the first things that they run to the store to buy?

french toast weather

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Let’s Chat…some more

Last October, 2016, I wrote a post after reading about how women are frequently sexually abused. It was real and true, but I hid it after a day or two because I was embarrassed. I didn’t feel comfortable sharing the events because I rarely share anything about me with really anyone at all. Private? Well yes. Strange for a blogger, right? ūüėČ

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In Answer to All of the Current stupid in the world

I write. I like to write. I get lost in writing.

But I also read. A lot. I read the paper. I read the comments on articles in the paper. I read the comments online. I can’t believe the ignorance. I want to respond. Then I realize giving in to stupid is not where I’m at. Instead, here. This is where I am.

Don’t Make a Scene!

I know it’s odd for me, but this is a true story.Presentation1.jpg

 

The fact is that as women we have let things happen to us because we’ve been taught not to make a scene, not to trouble. Yesterday I read a social media post¬†about how often women have been sexually abused and I thought, well, that’s never happened to me. Then I read one account: “a man touched me inappropriately when I was …in a public place.” Another: “A man propositioned me.”

And I thought: crap, as a teenager both of those things happened to me. I was raised extremely conservatively from age 11 on after my Dad died. In my teenage years, I never dressed provocatively or got drunk or high. I barely wore makeup.

The first incident happened when I was in high school. I was on the volleyball team and practicing my wicked serve in my front yard, dressed in shorts, not sexy shorts, sports shorts, when a teenager probably my age selling candybars so he could go on some funded trip asked me if I would change my clothes in front of him for money. Say, what? I said no, I had to leave for a volleyball game. Even now I think, girl, you should have jumped up and down and screamed bloody murder at some boy even suggesting you should strip for money.

The second incident happened when I was on the metro to school in DC. I was wearing my favorite pair of brown cords, nothing spectacular, nothing sexy. They obviously weren’t short and showing anything. They weren’t tight. They were comfortable because I liked to dress comfortably. But I was slim with curves and probably had a butt and I felt a hand on said butt as I was traveling up the metro escalator. I ignored it because what could/should I do? Today I would have yelled bloody murder and knocked the man with an unholy sized messenger bag stuffed with heavy crap. Then, I just hurried up the steps to sit on the train where the man actually had the gall to sit near me and ask me about myself. I was so timid, but even then I knew stories and made one up. I pulled out my Spanish newspaper, held it in front of me until I got off at the next extremely busy stop hoping that would stifle his unhealthy libido.

The third incident happened when I was twenty-one and out jogging. I was on my route back home when a man in a sedan asked me if I knew how he could get to downtown DC. I started to tell him and then I realized that he was stroking his penis as I told him. I just shook my head, stopped talking and jogged home, thinking: effing, disgusting men.

Until the article yesterday, I hadn’t given much thought to these situations, but now, I think what a repulsive¬†combination of events for a young woman to go through and I doubt that mine are the worst. I have never been raped and therefore I thought, well, the other things aren’t so bad. But, really, they aren’t great, are they? If you are a man, what would you think about your daughter experiencing these situations? I think that unfortunately every woman has such a story, but it would be excellent if that were not true.

While I never thought myself to blame for any of these situations, because really I was a tomboy and dressed like a tomboy but even if I weren’t, how could¬†I¬†be to blame for a man who was so obviously taking advantage of a situation? The thing that I realize now is that I was also brought up to be passive and¬†many other women are brought up this way. We try not to make scenes. We try not to be drama queens. But sometimes a situation necessitates it and we don’t allow ourselves to act out. We were raised with: what would the neighbors think? But this moved beyond to: what would the woman in the third row who I’ve never seen before and will never see again think? These days I would say: who cares? Not then.

Why did a boy think it was fine to ask me to strip for money or another man to touch my butt or another to masturbate in front of me? That’s not even to mention the man who commented on my wearing a Las Vegas t-shirt while jogging and said that Las Vegas was putting on a pretty good show. wink wink. Forget construction workers, in retrospect those dudes don’t even rank in the hall of whatever.

I know that my situations are by no means the worst out there. I’ve mostly lived a quiet life and that’s why I figured that nothing untoward had happened to me until I really started to think and consider. And, hell, I swept these things under a mental rug in order not to think about them. But did that happen because a society also thought those things weren’t so bad?

I’ve no answers. Just a lot more questions.

Color me: aware.

 

end 10/9/2016 (5)

S. Darlington

 

A News Report Squelched My Carefree

I just paused a few moments for a break and checked out Facebook. When I saw this link from The Washington Post. A black therapist trying to help an autistic man was shot in Florida by a cop, who, when the therapist asked why he did it, said: “I don’t know.”

Now, I’m not a mind-reader and won’t begin to say that this is the reason, but I do try to put myself in people’s shoes, to empathize. If I were a cop after the cop shootings in Dallas, Baton Rouge, Washington, DC, and probably elsewhere, I would be jittery. And, not only that, I’d be jittery about whether I would do the right thing in uncommon situations. Anxiety is a pretty unpredictable¬†reaction because your emotions are not in control.

(None of the above is to condone or make excuses for police officers shooting an unarmed member of a minority group, by any means. The shooting of an innocent, unarmed individual is inexcusable. )

Then I read the comment section. The very first comment I read was a racist remark, drawn from emotion because the person had no fact to support it. A deluge followed.

Yesterday a group of Black Lives Matter protesters blocked a commuting route near the Fraternal Order of Police office in DC. They were in their 20’s and of mixed ethnicity, but mostly white. They held signs and chanted:¬†“you can’t go to work … I see your white privilege.” I read an (unsupported) tweet that they made an elderly man walk around their protest line shouting about his white privilege. It’s been hot and humid here all week, probably far too hot for an elderly man to go blocks out of his way. If this tweet is true, I do wonder about the level of compassion of these young people. Did not one of them think: “that could be my grandfather” and let the old man through?

Again, the comments section went ballistic. More hate. More racist remarks. This time from the other side of the table.

Emotions in all groups are out of control.

Carefree is gone. I like to think that I am an optimist. I like to see the good in people. I like to think that we all have the ability to take a walk in other people’s shoes. I know that there is also a limit to this unless we’re mistaken for one in¬†a minority group and shown first hand the “ugly” that others go through on a daily basis.

A friend of mine told me about an incident in which she was at the grocery checkout line one Saturday evening when a couple of white guys in their 20’s were in an adjacent lane buying cases of Miller and Bud. They started going off about lesbians and gay people. She told me: “I just ran over to pick something up for dinner for my husband and me. I didn’t put make-up on or change out of my sweats. They figured I was a lesbian. They were laughing and saying¬†disgusting things. I was confused until the woman at the register, looked at me with compassion. She was a black lady who’s been in there forever. There was no one else around. They were making fun of me.”

She said that made her realize to a very small degree what other people go through on a daily basis. She hadn’t done anything to them. She just existed (in their minds as a lesbian). And that was enough.

Last week a transgender woman who had a loving and supportive family was murdered in DC. The police haven’t called it a hate crime yet, because it’s unsolved; no motive. It seems that her existence probably offended someone who then thought they had the right to murder her.

I am sad. There’s no two ways about it. I thought we were moving beyond racism and hatred of people different from us and, in some cases, the same as us. But these past few years showed that as naive.

We need an entity of peace and rationality.

We need an entity of peace and rationality. We need people who speak of peace and acceptance and being kind and being generous of spirit because that is what we all can bring to the table. And, we need to respect.

I am smart enough to know that there are people who will never be enlightened and that speaking of peace and respect to them would be like bashing my head into concrete and that there will be people who hate, but it would be nice if they were the minority group that we spoke about. “Those five people in all of the world who just can’t help themselves.”

Here’s hoping.

end 7/21/2016

S. Darlington