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Me Too

January 16, 2018

I don’t really write here any more, and I don’t really expect anyone to find or read this post. But because this blog has served more than anything as my personal journal, I wanted to get some stuff off my mind in light of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.

When I was somewhere around 12 years old (1978 or thereabouts), a neighborhood friend and I went to the nearby convenience store for candy. Because the street that the store was on was a busy one, we took a shortcut through a vacant lot around the corner from it. On the way back, and old man came up to us.  His back yard was adjacent to the vacant lot.  He came up behind me, and held my back against him with one arm around my neck/shoulders. His hand reached inside my shirt and began to fondle my newly forming breasts. I was paralyzed with fear, and so was my friend. He finally let us go and we went home.

I told my parents what had happened. I had no memory of any repercussions other than being firmly told to only walk on the sidewalk. Decades later, I asked if they ever confronted the man who did that to me or filed a police report. They did not. This was my first instance of sexual assault.

Fast forward to high school.  It’s 1984 and I am on a trans-Atlantic flight with the French Club going to Paris! I’m 17 years old. My seat is one in the middle section – one of maybe five or six seats. A man (or perhaps it was a male student; I don’t recall) seated next to me takes it upon himself to start grabbing my crotch while I am asleep. I wake up, realize what’s happening, and turn in my seat so that my back is facing him and he cannot reach me. I told no one. This was my second instance of sexual assault.

On that same trip, I was seated with my friends on a Paris subway when a man came in, stood in front of me, exposed himself, and then got off the train before the doors closed. It happened so fast it almost didn’t register. I wouldn’t call it an assault, except upon my eyes and my still-virginal psyche, but it happened.

In college (1986), I went to a party at another university with some friends. I personally did not know anyone there but my friend did, and assured me that we could crash at so-and-so’s house for the night. Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, I awoke to realize that one of the guys in the house had his hand inside my pants, fingering me. Using the same technique I had on the plane, I pretended that I was still asleep but tossed and turned until his hands were off me and he could not continue what he was doing. This was my third instance of sexual assault.

As a 23-year-old career woman in the DC area circa 1989, I went out one night with my friends. As I moved through the club, someone grabbed my ass. Maybe it was because I’d had a few drinks, but this time I didn’t just pretend like it didn’t happen. I swung around and immediately slapped him. He was shocked (frankly, so was I).  I told him that he had no right to put his hands on me. This was my fourth instance of sexual assault.

I do not wish to minimize any of the above. While they happened long enough ago that I do not think of them often, I do wonder.

I wonder if my lifelong feelings of worthlessness have anything to do with the fact that my parents never defended me against the pedophile who fondled me all those years ago.

I wonder if I didn’t stand up to offenders #2 and #3 because #1 was allowed to do what he did without repercussions.

I know with absolute certainty that I cannot sleep in any environment that does not have a locking door. No camping, no staying at a friend’s house. I need a lock to feel secure when I am sleeping.

There are countless other examples of inappropriate things men have said and done to me over the course of my life. One night in college I was out with friends, drinking and dancing. A guy I was dancing with suddenly leaned in and said to me, “So, are we going to have sex or what?” This was rude and crude, but not an assault. I looked at him with one you-must-be-joking eyebrow raised and said, “No. Not tonight, not ever.” He quickly lost interest after that. Again, this was rude and crude, but not an assault.

(Why is it I couldn’t seem to stand up for myself unless I was under the influence?!?)

In my first post-college job, a male co-worker started calling me “Holly” for no apparent reason. When I asked why, he said that I reminded him of the title character in a pornographic film, Holly Does Hollywood. While this was highly inappropriate, it was not an actual assault. I didn’t ask him to stop, nor report him for it. I should have, though. But at 22 years old and in my first “real” job, who was I to rock the boat?

Incidents like this can have a profound impact on us, physically and psychologically. How we respond to them can have just as profound an impact.

So take a moment to talk to your kids about these issues if they are still minors (and maybe even if they aren’t). Tell the boys how to sexually respect girls and women. Tell the girls how to defend themselves when they are assaulted. Believe your girls if they tell you they were assaulted and follow up with local authorities.

However, do not lessen the seriousness of true sexual assault by using that as a term to define crude behavior such as catcalls and suggestive comments. Denounce both types of behavior, but know the difference.

 

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Thursday 13: The Dos and Don’ts of Planning a Trip to the Grand Canyon

May 31, 2012

A couple of months ago, we went to Arizona for the express purpose of visiting the Grand Canyon. Unlike most of my impeccably planned travels, this one was seriously lacking. Hopefully you can benefit from my mistakes by following these tips.

 

  1. When researching the local weather, don’t check weather temps for Phoenix.  Do be sure to look at Grand Canyon weather instead.  Even though I knew there was a 4-5 hour car trip between the two locations, it did not occur to me that I could look up Grand Canyon weather.  After all, I can drive four hours from home and only have temperature variances of a few degrees.  Imagine our surprise when we left 90 degree Phoenix and drove up to the Canyon, only to be greeted by a snow storm.  We now own tacky Grand Canyon souvenir sweatshirts as a result.
  2. Do plan way in advance and stay at one of the park lodges.  (They fill up early, so it’s essential to get reservations as far out in advance as possible.)   The only other hotels nearby are going to be ridiculously expensive ($200 a night for a substandard Holiday Inn Express) and lacking in amenities.  The park lodges are less expensive, provide shuttle service around the park, and have all different types of restaurants either on site or nearby.
  3. Don’t plan to be there more than a day or so.  You can see all of the majesty and nature that the Grand Canyon has to offer in one day.  You just don’t need more time than that, unless you’re planning to do some serious hiking or exploration.
  4. Don’t eat outside of the park.  The restaurants in the hotel area just south of the park are mediocre at best and ridiculously expensive.  If you must eat at a restaurant outside the park, I recommend Wendy’s or McDonalds (which will still be more expensive than they are elsewhere in the US).
  5. Do stay hydrated.  The Arizona air can leech every bit of moisture out of you, even if you aren’t sweating away in the sun.  Keep a refillable bottle of water with you and/or stop to buy beverages often.
  6. Don’t overdo picture-taking.  I have approximately 450 photos from the Grand Canyon.  Most of them fail to capture the vastness and beauty of it.  Many are barely distinguishable from the others.
  7. Do take pictures at sunset.  The lighting is better and the colors more vibrant.  You can even book a relatively inexpensive “Sunset Tour” that will take you to various lookout points by bus at the right time for awesome photos.  (This was one of the few things I did right!)
  8. Do utilize the park’s shuttle service.  It is fast, free, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get an entertaining driver who will share some tips about seeing the park.
  9. Do take time to look at more than just the canyon/rocks.  There are California condors, ravens, and mule deer throughout the park.    There is also a Tusayan Museum and Ruin that sheds light on the Native Americans who called that area their home.
  10. If you have school age children, do have them complete the Junior Ranger program.  It’s free and it will keep the kids from getting bored.
  11. If you’re hiking down into the canyon, don’t do it on a whim and don’t underestimate the distance or time you will travel.  There was a chilling poster in one of the visitor centers about an athletic young woman, age 24, who had run in the Boston Marathon, but died on a hike into the canyon.  Why?  She under-calculated the length of her hike, and didn’t carry enough water with her.
  12. Do check out the Desert View Watchtower.  It’s an amazing, beautiful building.
  13. If you do venture into to the money-sucking town south of the canyon, do see the IMAX movie about the canyon and its explorers.  You’ll be impressed with the one-armed Civil War veteran Major John Wesley Powell, who was responsible for mapping most of the canyon.
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Menu Plan Monday: April 16-21, 2012

April 16, 2012

 

Comments on last week’s menu:  Last week I did minimal cooking, and tried no new recipes at all.  Doesn’t look like I’ll be doing much cooking this week, either, as I’ll be trying to use up our leftover camp food.

Monday — Girl Scouts for Sophia & me; Bible study for the guys.

Tuesday — Spaghetti, garlic bread, Caesar salad.

Wednesday — Fast food for the kids; date night for Dan & me

Thursday — Chicken tacos, served with southwestern salad.

Friday — Heading west to visit a friend while Dan does some cycling.

Saturday — Not sure if we will be home by dinner time.  Probably not.

Sunday — leftovers or snacking.

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Menu Plan Monday: April 9-15, 2012

April 7, 2012

We were on vacation in Arizona last week, so no menu to comment on. I need to get back into the swing of things this week… at least temporarily, before I go camping with the Girl Scouts this weekend.

Monday — a fast dinner on the run before our Girl Scout pre-camp meeting.

Tuesday — Ravioli with Italian sausage, Caesar salad, garlic bread.

Wednesday — Date night for Dan and me; church activities for the kids.

ThursdayHurry Up Chicken Pot Pie

Friday — I’m leaving for camp late this afternoon.  The boys are on their own for the weekend!

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Menu Plan Monday: March 26 – April 1, 2012

March 25, 2012

Comments on last week’s menu: The rotisserie style chicken in the crock pot was fabulous!  The chicken was tender and moist, and the mix of herbs & spices was perfect.  There won’t be much cooking for me this week, but here’s the menu, such as it is…

Monday — Girl Scouts for Sophia & me, Bible study for the guys.  Dinner on the run for all of us.

Tuesday — Ladies’ night out at my church.  I have a Baked Spaghetti in the freezer that I’m thawing for the rest of the family.

Wednesday –Church for the kids, date night for us.  We’ll probably stay home and try to use up some leftovers since we’ll be going out of town soon.

ThursdayBacon Cheeseburger Meat Loaf, mashed potatoes, peas

Friday — leaving for a vacation!

 

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Menu Plan Monday: March 19-25, 2012

March 19, 2012

Comments on last week’s menu:  The So-Good Corn Chip Pie was, once again, a big hit. So was the Creamy Chicken Crescents.  Highly recommend both recipes.

Monday — Girl Scouts for Sophia and me; Bible study for Trevor and Dan.  We’ll grab a quick dinner beforehand.

Tuesday –I have a meeting to attend this evening, so dinner needs to be easy.  I’ll fix Tater Taco Casserole and serve it with a southwestern salad.

Wednesday — Fast food for the kids; date night for Dan & me.

ThursdayStromboli and Caesar salad.

Friday — Family movie night:  Light fare and Enchanted.

Saturday — Trying a different recipe for rotisserie style chicken in the crock pot.  I liked the last one okay, but it didn’t taste like rotisserie chicken.  This one has more herbs & spices, so I’m eager to see how it compares.

Sunday — leftovers or snacking.

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Menu Plan Monday: March 12-18, 2012

March 12, 2012

Comments on my last published menuNone of us liked the White Cheddar Chicken Pasta.  It was just plain gross.

Monday — Girl Scouts for Sophia and me; Bible study for Trevor and Dan.  We’ll grab a quick dinner beforehand.

TuesdayCreamy Chicken Crescents and broccoli

Wednesday — Date night for Dan and me; small groups at church for the kids.

ThursdaySo-Good Corn Chip Pie

Friday –I’m heading to a weekend crop with an old friend in PA.  Dan and the kids are on their own!