I did not want to #MeToo

I had no intentions of taking part in this social media trend as dointoddlerg so meant I had to face the demons once again. However, comments made on some #MeToo posts  ripped me to the core.

Those participating in #MeToo have suffered at the hands of someone who felt the need to be more superior, powerful; who felt privileged.  True, not everyone is honest about their experiences, however, based on those I’ve experienced, I suspect the falsities to be very small.

In 10th grade, a male student, maybe a year younger than me, began groping at my butt and breasts at any opportunity in which no one could witness.  I reported it to the Vice Principal on at least three occasions, only to be told “we’ll take care of it.”  I don’t know if anyone ever spoke to this young man, as the sexual harassment continued … until the day it didn’t.

I was released from gym class a bit early, and, apparently, this young man was in the empty hallways as well.  He groped me for the final time.  At this point, I grabbed him by his shirt collar and slammed him against the lockers.  I don’t recall if I ever spoke any words to him, but I do recall the class release bell rang and students began flowing into the hallways.  A group of young black women gathered around us and began screaming at me to let him go.  The young man was black.  Ultimately, this did not become a sexual harassment issue, but a racist issue.  I was disciplined for my behavior.  However, the young stayed clear of me from then on.

TeenagerDuring senior year I was working part-time for a chain grocery store.  After graduating high school, the store manager approached me one day to share how impressed he was with me as an employee and asked me to work for him when he opened a new store in town.  More money.  Flexible hours for attending business school.  Wow!  Of course!  No brainer!

All was good until the sexual harassment began.  He would whisper in my ear the things he wanted to do with/to me.  He would touch me and I would cringe.  How do I get out of this?  Small town.  I need to pay for school.  Then there are thoughts of explaining this to my family … “What did YOU do to cause this?”  As I rejected him, work became only more intolerable. My only solution was to quit.

At age 19 I moved from Long Island to Ft Lauderdale, shortly after completing business school.  Got a great job at STP.  First big job, away from home, first apartment, an old friend and many new friends.  Life was good!  We went clubbing.  A guy asked me to dance – how flattering!  However, my agreeing to dance with him somehow gave him the idea that he had the right to grope me on the dance floor.

Age 26.  I was on leave, traveling between military schools.  A friend in Atlanta, offered me her place to stay overnight while  she was out-of-town and I was traveling north.  A knock on the door.  It’s her “on-again, off-again” boyfriend.  He’s drunk.  We chat at the door; I attempt to send him away.  I’m overpowered.  Me – the girl who had beaten up her brothers when deemed necessary.  The girl who slammed the high school guy into the lockers.  I lost this time.

I was pregnant.  I shared this with only one person.  She was my confidant.  I chose to abort as I couldn’t bear the thought of being discharged from the military, disappointing my parents, nor hearing about how I could have prevented the rape.

I publicly shared the rape experience with a local news reporter in 2015 when interviewed about the nonprofit I founded in 2010 – a nonprofit promoting awareness around intimate partner violence, teen dating violence and sexual assault impacting all races, genders, religions and ethnicities. The interviewer asked me if the rape experience caused me to be promiscuous.  At the moment, without thinking about it, I said “no.”  I’ve since reflected, and, if asked again, I would say “yes”.  I didn’t feel I deserved to be loved. I was damaged goods.

Has this lead me to hate men?  No, I love men.  I love being cherished, appreciated, intimate.  I love their company and their different perspectives on life.  I’ll admit, though, the negative encounters haunt me and trust issues linger.

I’m a mother of two daughters now.  I’d shared my story with them in hopes that somehow raising their awareness would prevent such experiences from happening to them.  Wrong.  One daughter shared with me of how she wanted to leave her boyfriend’s residence to come home one evening, however, he, drunk at the time, did not want her to leave.  He blocked her departure.  He choked her.  He was in charge.

Yes, males also go thru some of these same experiences – sexual assault  by a man or a woman, and typically when they are young, as well as in prison.  There is no denying it.  In fact, I’ve read requests on Facebook that men post #MeToo if they were a survivor of these atrocities, as well.  And if you read Alyssa Milano’s exact Tweet of Sunday evening, she wrote “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”  Non-gender specific!  By Monday, “#MeToo wasn’t just mushrooming on Twitter—when I checked Facebook Monday morning, my feed was filled with friends and acquaintances acknowledging publicly that they, too, had experienced harassment or assault. Some shared their stories, some simply posted the hashtag to add their voices to the fray. And it wasn’t just women: Men also spoke up about their experiences with assault.”

Our justice system is screwed up all around.  Our society is screwed up, even more so under the current leadership – a leader who, himself, has admitted to sexually assaulting women. However, this does not warrent commenting on someone’s #MeToo post with unrelated injustices. Doing so invalidates their traumatic experience, just as much as “What did you do to cause this to happen?”  or “What were you wearing?” does.

If my child came to me and shared that they had been raped, and my reply was, “Did you know our neighbor was unjustly imprisoned”, what have I taught them?  If they came to me, crying, and sharing that they were groped at work by their boss and I responded with, “Well, my coworker lost their child custody battle to their incompetent spouse”, what have I taught them?  I’ve invalidated their very personal, traumatic experience.  I’ve shamed them into thinking their experience is insignificant. Nullified.  Negligible. Or it was their fault.

We each have our own causes of which others may not agree.  That is our right.  However, to demean someone’s personal, heinous experience by brandishing other atrocities in their face is simply uncivil and lacking in any compassion.

In these times in which our own goverment seems to be turning us against each other, please pause for a moment and consider your words and on what forum or platform you are using them.

One more thought … A few years ago I expressed to one daughter, of whom I understood and supported her cause and her passion, but of whom choose to express those feelings in such a way that it offended many (including myself – I actually unfriended her on FB at the time) vs drawing us in and leading us to understand her cause, “you’ll catch more flys with honey than vinegar.

#MeToo

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POCHO will be IN THE HOUSE!

Back in 2010, I had the pleasure of watching and listening to a dear friend, Joe, perform a one-man show he had written himself … Pocho In The House.  In Joe’s story he reveals the various elements of being raised Mexican-American, providing me a better understanding of our contrasts and sameness.

Emphasizing the ways that our differences reveal our similarities, Pocho in the House opens a window on the human condition and gives us a chance to laugh, cry, and explore our common humanity.

Thanks to Santa Rosa Junior College, Joe will be returning to the North Bay for two FREE, PUBLIC performances of Pocho In The House on the Santa Rosa and Petaluma campuses.  You’ll laugh and you’ll cry!  You won’t regret it!

Pocho

Mr. T’s Rite of Passage

As an individual returning to school in the “sunset” years of his life, on the morning of Saturday, May 24, Mr. T received an AS in Geospatial Technology.  Mind you, in the “sunrise” years of life, he earned an AS in Electronics Technology, so earning a degree wasn’t new.  What was new was his taking the opportunity to participate in the pomp and circumstance of formerly receiving a degree.  Mr. T, coworker Andy Goldstein, my coworker Anthony Wise, the daughter of coworker Lynn Parker, and over a 1,000 more were recognized by family and friends for their hard work and dedication, among the old oaks of Santa Rosa Junior College.

Mr. T spent the past six years studying, struggling through homework (even while vacationing in places like Oahu), an internship  with the City of Petaluma, being a dad and spouse, and being employed full-time.  He even had to take classes for which he received credit for many years ago as they were now “outdated”.

Congratulations, Honey!  Now, how about we take a vacation without homework!

As I began recording the announcement of Mr. T’s name and degree, my phone decided to overheat.  So, unfortunately, you miss observing him “hamming it up” on the stage … throwing kisses at the audience, etc.!

From Balboa to Old Town

Rumor had it there was a great breakfast joint about a quarter-mile up 5th Avenue, Hash House a Go-GoTwisted Farm Food, that served meals generous enough for two.  We’d seen it as we walked the half mile up to Huapango‘s several days earlier.  As I and Mr. T always love a good breakfast joint, we wandered on up the street Thursday morning to test the Hash House menu.

Once we’d ordered our meals – a task in itself as they options were quite interesting – we began noticing what others were eating and how LARGE the meals were!  As I took note of a waffle that was at least 12″ x 12″ and a pancake with at least a 12″ diameter, I was grateful I’d not ordered either of those.  However, our choices were still sufficiently large enough to take half back to our room and have for breakfast the next morning!  Worth a stop if you’re in the area.

After breakfast we wandered back over to Balboa Park to view the Desert garden and Botanical Building. The Desert Garden contains more than 1,300 plants, including succulents and drought-resistant plants from around the world, within its 2.5 acres. The peak blooming period is January through March; however, these plants are interesting at any time of year because of their unusual shapes. Thankfully, we discovered some lovely blooming going on in the cactus garden.

The view of the Botanical Building with the lily pond in the foreground is one of the most photographed scenes in Balboa Park. Built for the 1915-16 Exposition, along with the adjacent lily pond, the historic building is one of the largest lath structures in the world. The Botanical Building plantings include more than 2,100 permanent plants, featuring collections of cycads, ferns, orchids, other tropical plants, and palms. Unfortunately for us, we discovered the Botanical Building to be closed on Thursdays.  So, with sufficient time on our hands, we traveled up to Old Town San Diego.

They say Old Town San Diego is the birthplace of California, where the Europeans settled. If you enjoy reliving history, this is one of those points of interest to include on your list when visiting San Diego.  Old Town is a representation of what San Diego was in 1850, with over 17 historic points of interest, professional theatre, museums, artisans, galleries and shops, as well as live entertainment, mariachis, dancers, and period attire docents providing tours.

The Jewel of San Diego

On recommendation from “Mr. Gino”, Wednesday I took a short ride up I-5 then headed due west into La Jolla, the so-called “Jewel of San Diego.”  While there was significant quaint shopping to be enjoyed, I choose to spend my time along the coast line.  What a treasure to discover sea lions basking in the sun, a cove with a cave and finally to simply sit by the ocean to listen and watch the waves as well as the dolphins swim by.

 




A Harbor, an Island & a Feast

After tending to some personal business, we headed toward San Diego Harbor for a drive.  We briefly visited the Maritime Museum, consisting of several sailing ships, submarines, and steam-powered boats.  Due south was the USS Midway beside a park which hosted a memorial to Bob Hope (including hilarious audio of Bob sharing jokes with soldiers).

From here we were briefly derailed as we visually attempted to locate the correct route to take us over the Coronado bridge.  Of course, once we pulled out the GPS, we discovered we’d passed it earlier on.  Once over the bridge and on Coronado Island, we drove by Hotel del Coronado (a historic landmark and seaside resort built in 1888 that is supposedly haunted) and found parking along the beach, where we took some photos and video.

All that fresh ocean air stirred up our appetites, so off we went to the highly recommended (for food and views) Island Prime.  We were not disappointed!






Lawn Mowing – Ptown Style

goatsThis is how the high grass is maintained around the fine homes on the west side of Petaluma each year.  A few years ago I also had the fortune of observing them “chow down” at Rancho Obi Wan.

Might you consider giving up your lawn mower for a goat mower?  There are drawbacks and advantages. Goats can get to places normal mowers cannot get to, and animal mowing retards regrowth because the animals’ digestive systems sterilize the seeds. You also avoid the traditional fumes that come with gas-powered lawn mowers.  And they may very well add some humor to your day!

However, you would have to plan to protect any plants you do not wish to be eaten.  Hmmm, maybe I should consider a goat mowing rental business for my retirement … NOT!

 

 

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