#metoo

Lets start this with something of a disclaimer- I am just about the worst 3rd wave feminist I know.  I can’t take credit for being the worst because I have friends who are at least as bad at it as I am, but it’s pretty bad.  We were raised with the radical notion that a woman can make any choice she wishes and every choice she makes is perfectly valid for HER.  Feminism is a uniquely individual concept- for me, being happily married for 17 years, enjoying both full time work and domestic pursuits including sending my hubby out the door with a made-by-my-hand lunch each day, including home baked cookies made with the Kitchen Aid stand mixer he bought me as a *gash* birthday gift 19 years ago (we weren’t even married yet and he bought me a Kitchen Aid. What’s not to love, right?) I love when he opens doors for me or makes some protective gesture or another when the circumstance calls for it.  He loves me and wants to keep me safe. I love him and want to keep him comfortable and happy. Together we make a great team and can take on the world and all the crap it throws at us. And nearly every day I see headlines and images that tell me I am the problem.  So fine. I am the problem. I’m pretty OK with that.

Now to the point.  I’m sure if you’re reading this you have enough of a grasp of social media to have seen the #metoo campaign that’s been going around the various platforms the last few days. It took me a sighting or two to catch up and it’s been on my mind ever since.  I understand #metoo but at the same time, I wonder if the message being received is the one we want to be heard.  Is #metoo an effective way to demonstrate the wide-spread problem of sexual harassment and assault, or is making it a hashtag and spreading it far and wide actually diminishing the significance of real, actual, sexual assault. And is this even a subject that should have qualifiers in my head like real and actual, vs perceived or somehow lesser.  Am I the problem for thinking this? Or am I a product of training where my own experience is, in my mind, downplayed because it was less than someone else’s. Have I trained myself to think I am worth less than others around me, or have I been told this by outside influences without ever really noticing the training was taking place? Wow. This head. Sometimes I think the rest of the world is lucky to not have to live in it…

Anyway, my #metoo story.  In late 1994 I was a 20 year old college student doing a study abroad in Tokyo.  Before heading off on our adventure, we had a chance to sit down with the folks who’d come back from our programs the year before, then relayed the favor to the next bunch.  One of the things that stuck with me was the warning that you’d probably get groped on a train at some point. There was even a phrase we were supposed to yell out to call attention to the groper and shame him publicly for his actions. Seemed a little odd, really, but who thinks it’s going to happen to you, so I remembered the advice but on a crowded train somewhere in Tokyo, do you think I could remember the phrase? Nope. What’s more, when standing in the overcrowded car and feeling someone’s fingers at my crotch when they were most certainly NOT invited to be there, there was no way I’d have yelled it if I could remember it because, for reasons my 43 year old brain can no longer comprehend, *I* was embarrassed! Why would I want to call attention to my shame?  I did a nice little hip check which caused my assaulter to remove his hand from my person and move away from me as much as circumstances would allow (if you’ve done rush hour on a train in Tokyo, you know the comedy of that statement.  If you haven’t, well, just understand we’re talking inches, not feet) until one or the other of us got off the train and I’m fairly certain I tried to burn that incident from my memory, telling only my best friend sometime after returning stateside and resuming normal life. And I can’t say the incident had any great impact on my life since then.  I think I hadn’t thought about it at all until a few months ago and it was out of my head as quickly as it entered until #metoo.

So now I sit here thinking about it again and diminishing the significance in 100 different ways- it was Japan. The culture was so much different than here. It was nothing to sit on a less crowded train next to or across from a businessman reading a skin mag. Women were, even in 1994, still very much subservient to men. It was only a little finger wiggle over the jeans and, while completely uninvited and unwelcome, what harm was done? I mean honestly, I have a good friend whose first sexual encounter was rape. What happened to me was no where NEAR as bad.

But was it? Is my downplaying it contributing to the problem?  I do not believe and will never advocate for a “boys will be boys” mentality so why would I think an unwelcomed touch was somehow OK-ish because it wasn’t as bad as what happened to someone else? In reality, I can’t convince myself these two things are equal.  I have no lasting scars, emotional or physical, nor can I really say I even think of it as an attack. Like I said, I rarely think of it at all, where I know my friend cannot say the same.  It is a part of everything she’s done since.  I don’t want my participation in #metoo to diminish what she’s gone through by making an un-level playing field flat.  But at the same time not speaking up, does that somehow make me worth less?  Do I think that because I was raised by a strong woman who also put others before herself and that is who I emulate or is it something society still tells us every day? Mostly I think society has its flaws but most of us are trying and we do ok-ish at it most of the time, so probably it’s just the choices I’ve made but maybe it’s time to evaluate those choices and make sure that I haven’t been telling myself a lie for all these years- that I am worth less.  Because if i’ve told myself i’m worth less, I’ve certainly told the rest of the world as well and I don’t think I like the sounds of this lesson at all.  I’m still pretty sure I’m a lousy modern feminist but maybe not so lousy as I thought?

Girl brains are tough, man.  I don’t envy anyone trying to raise a daughter in these confusing times. If I’ve had 43 years to work on figuring it out and am this confused, I can’t imagine trying to make sense of it for a teenager!  Mad props to those who do.

Of course, I don’t envy those of you trying to raise young men in their era either.  I like cats.

You Never Know the Day That Will Change Your Life

 

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I think this is true of both good and bad change.  You never roll out of bed knowing today is the day I’m going to meet my spouse, find a solution to a problem that’s been plaguing you, lose someone important to you.  You just don’t know.  And a lot of times, when those huge life moments happen, you don’t even know how huge they are until days, weeks, or even months have gone by.  But when it hits you, you realize just how huge that day was.

For me, one of those days was February 12, 2017 . Not so long ago, right? But also almost a lifetime ago.  February 12 is the day I drove myself to Columbus, OH, to attend a mediation with my brother as we finally resolved a long-running (and silly, but expensive) situation.  Sounds thrilling, right? The mediation was exactly as exciting as you might think, and while the impact had some great benefits and all, that isn’t the part that changed my life.  My big brother is the one responsible there.

For a couple weeks before meeting up with him in Columbus, he’d mentioned this new “diet” he was following- No Sugar, No Grains (NSNG).  Mostly I laughed it off.  There’s no denying I’d gotten past the part where my weight wasn’t a noticeable problem, but who in their right mind gives up sugar OR grain, let alone both, right?  But then as we were walking to dinner, he was telling me more. And every time food was a subject of conversation or necessity, he’d tell me a little more.  And being the gullible little sister I am, I resisted but was secretly paying attention. And I ate a little less bread at every meal.  And then I spent 8 hours driving home in a car that was malfunctioning while stuffing my gob with Chex Mix and washing it down with Diet Coke.

But once home, I kept pondering this NSNG thing my brother was telling me about. And I slowly started to dial back my grain consumption.  And I started walking past the candy dish at work, one trip to the bathroom at a time.  And then I started to tell my husband about this idea. And as always, he was incredibly encouraging and supportive. Because the elephant in the room was that I’d gotten rather large and there was no denying how this was affecting lots of aspects of life, from my pants not fitting to flirting with high blood pressure to a whole lot of other things.

Oh, and did I mention I was diagnosed with PCOS 15 years ago? PCOS is the best worst excuse for carrying extra weight. Honestly read anything about it and you’ll get the great conundrum- PCOS commonly leads to carrying excess belly weight that would be greatly helped by losing weight but its extremely difficult to lose weight with PCOS.  So the good news bad news here is that PCOS became a great excuse to hide behind- it’s not ME eating wrong, it’s the hormones making everything difficult.

It turns out this cockamamie diet idea of my brothers completely changed my life. In 8 months I have lost a little over 45lbs, gained a ton of energy and confidence and have learned that I can control my world by making good food choices. It’s one of the most empowering ideas I’ve ever stumbled across and for the first time in my 43 years I have truly changed my relationship with food. So as much as that years long legal situation wa frustrating and annoying and just plain stupid, it also brought me to a new place in life I might never have found were it not for two days of listening to my brother go on and on about his new NSNG lifestyle.  So like I said, you just never know the day that’s going to change your life.

Mono-tasking

I do stuff. A lot of stuff. All the time.

Tonight after work I had to hit Trader Joes for a couple of things (that they were out of, of course, but it’s Trader Joes so I bought other stuff) and got stuck in some horrid traffic on the way home. And couldn’t sit still while stuck in traffic.  Kicked myself the whole time I was sitting in traffic because this is the ONE TIME I broke Priscilla’s Rule #5 (never leave home without something to knit and something to read). Well technically I didn’t break it completely, I had my Kindle, but the knitting I left on my desk on the way out of the office because what the heck, I’m just stopping at the store and driving home and I have more knitting at home so this was good and logical.  IDIOT.

But I digress…  Once I got home (very late) it became a mad scramble to do all the things. Quesadilla Casserole from Anna Vocino’s Eat Happy  was on the menu but of course I’d done no prep ahead of time so it was brown the meat, chop the peppers and onions, get those cooking, while also making a wrap for MrMe’s lunch, add the mushrooms, remember to stir, finish assembling, get the casserole in the oven, empty the dishwasher, load the dishwasher, wipe down the counters, clean the sink, BREATH… Oh YEAH… Breath.  That was the part I was missing.  But the breathing led me to an epiphany…  Spinning is just about the only time I think I ever really mono-task.  Multi-tasking I’m good at, or at least very used to, but rarely do I do just one thing.

I’m not good at one thing. My brain doesn’t seem to function well when I try to do things in a linear fashion.  My body doesn’t always want to keep up with my brain, but there we are, constantly DOING.  But when I sit at the spinning wheel, somehow I am able to block out all the noise and just spin.  Perhaps because spinning itself requires multi-tasking (treadle with the feet, draft with the hands, control the twist, feed the fiber to the wheel, pay attention to the consistency of all the things) that makes it the one thing I can do by itself.  And in that single task, there is bliss. Oh what a relief it must be to do things one at a time! But alas that is not me, except at the wheel.  Where life is almost always good.

Things I’ve learned today

  • I can throw one hell of a tantrum
  • Crying at work sucks (not a new lesson, just reinforced)
  • Steaming cauliflower and garlic smells like rancid ass for the first 6 minutes
  • Steaming cauliflower and garlic takes on a whole new smell after 6 minutes. I’m not sure if this smell is good or not, but tis better than the rancid ass of the first six minutes.
  • Adding butter, half and half and shredded parmesan to steamed cauliflower and garlic is pretty fucking delicious. Its not exactly mashed potatoes, but it’s close enough visually and tasty enough to satisfy my need for carbs even though its a good choice
  • 3/4 of a cup of Patron is probably too much Tequila for a school night.
  • Its not a school night so fuck it.
  • I should NOT be knitting on my OWL
  • I am not drunk enough to not know I should not be working on my OWL
  • I am working on my OWL anyway
  • Tomorrow is my day off so it is not a school night!
  • Even my shitty day is still a millionty times better than an actual shitty day.
  • Life is good.

Friends

Turns out in life you make friends in some pretty strange places.

This revelation comes by way of  sad occasion, but maybe not.  Tonight hubs and I attended a funeral for a friend who recently lost the battle to cancer, but won a better place, free from pain and illness. In truth, our friendship is more with the husband she left behind, fostered over many years of Sunday morning bagels.  Apparently a cream cheese schemer can really bright folks together.

Funerals are, of course, a natural time for reflection, and this one really got me thinking.  We got to know our friends over shared breakfasts, but it turned out his name was familiar to us well before we ever met him over bagels.  He had something of a legend status in the local  reenacting community, a member of the unit I first joined but not really active any longer at that point, so I knew the name but not the face.  After several instances of walking into our breakfast stop with hubs in Civil War themed t-shirts, our very outgoing friend broke the ice. And we started to chat a little in line.  And then he’d pull a chair over and join us for a few minutes. And a few minutes turned into an hour or more many many times. And while he was pulling a chair over, his wife was chatting away with another bunch of regulars.  And through the weeks and years, we’ve gotten to know more of that group, too.  All of us pulling tables together from time to time or staying in separate groups as the mood hit, watching other folks come and go, seeing kids grow from tiny little infants into teenagers… even though we hardly know any of these people outside of an hour every Sunday, somehow we’re our own little community.  And walking into the funeral home, seeing smiling faces laughing and telling stories, knowing each other all because of breakfast, well, it made this girl think. Especially when walking through the line of family doing the “meet and greet” and explaining ourselves as S’s bagel shop friends and getting a response of “Oh. More bagel people. Wow, I really need to come for bagels”!

Then lets add in the other group of friends at the funeral- the reenacting community our friend has been more fringe than active member of for many years, yet folks we see on a regular basis in other arenas. Some I met 18 years ago when I joined the hobby but hasn’t seen since, others I see regularly, even one who was my “movie husband” for a day a couple of years ago- nothing quite like introducing your husband to your other husband, right? The funny thing about reenacting friends is they’re awfully hard to recognize in funeral attire, but even when the clothes are different, the people are the same and just as much a part of my family of friends.

My conclusion on the night, it’s odd, this friendship business.  The things that bring you together and turn into ties you can’t imagine severing.  As a dedicated introvert, I never think of myself as having a large circle of friends and then a night like tonight happens and I realize just how bug my “family” really is.  Its a heartwarming thing to see that family come out to support one of it’s own through difficult times ad makes me glad to know them all.