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10 years

Ten years have now gone by, ten long years since my body and my trust were violated. Ten years of rebuilding my self-confidence, my body image, my perception of sexuality. The letter written to Stanford rapist Brock Allen Turner by his victim brought on a wave of emotion- sadness, anger, frustration. I need to say a few things, too. 

This woman deserved her moment of truth. Her words were eloquent, heartbreaking, honest and raw. She sounds like she could be anyone’s friend, sister, daughter. Her attacker was caught in the moment, her rape was obvious from the moment it happened. And STILL she was tormented during a trial, having to defend herself as if she was guilty until proven innocent enough for the world to care. Despite all this, her attacker only got six months. Six fucking months for forever damaging her. How is this justice? 

The country has surprisingly supported this woman and outrage has been flooding social media regarding the rapist’s light sentence. This story isn’t new. We can’t possibly be surprised that an affluent white athlete was given a pass. Are we suddenly outraged because this victim is the one we needed? The circumstances left nothing for us to judge about her? And even with this ideal victim a rapist gets a slap on the wrist. 

This. This is why I held my tongue ten years ago. Society had already trained me to question how I had brought about my own rape. Did I fight hard enough? I knew my rapist and he was a friend of mine. Maybe I sent mixed signals (even after pushing him off me, crying out “no,” maybe I wore something slutty?). I had been drinking a lot. What was I doing at a club drinking if it wasn’t to “hook up?” Maybe he only did it because he liked me and I shouldn’t be so offended. With these thoughts swirling in my head, I’m not surprised I tried to kill myself shortly after it happened. 

I didn’t want to admit it was rape. I didn’t want to be one of those people who had been raped. The way I would explain it in my head was “I am really confused why he was inside me when I didn’t want that.” It wasn’t until after I tried killing myself and saw a psychiatrist that the word rape was even brought up. At that point, legally speaking, it would be my word against his. And clearly I was crazy, I had just tried to kill myself! Who would believe me? What was the point of pressing charges? 

Years later I found out my rapist had done the same thing to two other women I know, though they were in high school when it happened. From what I understand they also didn’t feel anyone would believe them and kept quiet, allowing him to continuously prey on new women. Our silence was a heavy burden within our own selves and a dangerous pact that guaranteed more to join us. But the legal system and societal norms continue this tragic pattern. We do not believe victims. We judge them. Even when the truth of what happened is right in front of us-witnesses, physical evidence-our legal system does not stand with them. 

I wish I had been able to address my rapist in a courtroom, see the fear in his eyes as he realized the consequences of his actions. I was not someone to strip down and dehumanize, I was not a “passing bit of fun,” I was not your power trip. I didn’t get that moment of reckoning, but I hope this outrage against Brock Allen Turner helps another woman get hers. I hope this outrage creates a backlash against our rape culture, our victim shaming/blaming, our rapist apologists. 

Rapists be warned- you will not be able to hide behind a cloak of alcohol, the guise of athleticism, the blanket of wealth. We are seeing the monster underneath and will plaster your face on every social media outlet until you feel as exposed and vulnerable as the ones you have tried to victimize. Your days are numbered. 

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Old man

Denial can be a saving grace, like a door allowing the slightest sliver of sunlight to pass through. Hope still lives in that fading glimpse of happiness. 

I’ve battled the logical side of my brain, denied the cold hard facts of my dad’s health. He’s been an alcoholic for years, smoked like a chimney, broken his bones several times over in accidents, falls, fights, you name it. He is a man larger than life in my memory and now smaller than me in reality. His skeletal frame is on the brink of closing that door, closeting his secrets forever. 

My dad. There are incredible stories, amazing laughs, outrageous fights, indescribable sorrow. And now it all comes down to this. His body is failing and his doctor has stated that it is now a matter of how much we can prolong his life. It’s unfair! He is 61! He has lost so many, he’s suffered so much, he deserves peace and old age! I want to simultaneously cradle his head and protect him while crying on his lap like a child. 

Denial. It’s been a gift, but the door is closing. I’ve seen the signs and joked them away with him, making light of it all in hopes that his problems were all pretend. Silly doctors! Forgetful dad! Daddys are made to be strong and live forever. 

I’m scared about the possibilities. I don’t want to know he is in pain, I don’t want his body to shrivel to nothing, I don’t want to hear his bold laughter become rusty hinges creaking to a close.

I’m not ready to lose my dad. 

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New respect for Edward Cullen

Never in my life did I think those words would come out of me, but then New Year’s Eve 2015 happened. 

It all began innocently enough. My night began with picking out a cute outfit, glittering up my face to represent the sparkle of each new possibility in 2016 or some bullshit like that. I was excited to dance my face off…a seemingly benign thought that would turn all too real right after midnight. 

Now part of my super cute outfit were some killer high heels. Not terrible to walk in while sober, but after the fourth or fifth shot they felt as high as Lindsey Lohan circa 2007. Flirting with disaster? Hell, I was gonna get married to it.

At some point my memory blacked out. Next thing I knew I was being held by a friend and felt something strange- my own teeth piercing my lip. During this blackout, I was turned into a glitter-covered crazy ass vampire face. Welcome to the dark side, idiot. 

I’ve already got the pale skin and scary bitch face thing down. I’m getting better at darting behind things, hiding my face and moaning into the night about how nobody understands me. No matter how bad it gets though, I never see myself falling for Kristen Stewart. 

Thankfully, I’ve found the cure. His name is Dr. Cho and he is going to return my face to normal, but not until Monday (damn you holiday weekends!). If I’ve learned anything from this experience, it’s that you should never get your New Year’s kiss from the pavement in a dark alley outside of the club.  

 


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Reading all the books

As work and family try to vampire munch my energy levels, books continue to be a source of knowledge and escape. Let me tell you the story of awesome books I love. Note- I will add as I go through my collection. I brilliantly started this post at 1 am, limiting my ability to make a comprehensive surveillance of my favorites. 

A Problem From Hell by Samantha Power

Well, let’s just talk about the evolution of the word GENOCIDE, nbd. Though this books is dense, it is entirely engrossing and gives the perfect balance of urgency and facts. I am now looking at this Syrian refugee crisis through the lense of history. Try to turn a blind eye to the world after this scathing and brutal assessment of America’s involvement (or lack thereof) in times of global massacres. 

Half the sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Take a journey through the lives of women around the world. Experience the plight of third world countries and hear stories of change through education and outreach. I love how inspiring this book is and how accessible they make helping for those who read it and want to do something

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin

I love the cultural perspective of an African writer, telling the stories of people you would fail to meet elsewhere. The characters are unique and hold extreme depth, keeping the book moving at a quick pace. The secrets aren’t fully revealed until the end, resolving in a way that feels genuine.

Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho

I’m one of those readers who feels Coelho can do no wrong. I’ve loved everything I’ve read of his and always come away with a sense of learning a bit more about myself and the world. This book tackles apathy, suicide, rebirth of love, passion, and redemption. Parts of it truly resonated with me because of my own experiences as an artist, a crazy person, an inmate in a mental facility following an overdose. Perhaps my affinity for this book stems from it being a mirror, but others can surely recognize the need to live their passion and rediscover what makes their own life worth living. 


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So my sister had a secret.

It seems that some people draw the shit stick in life. My little sister must be one of them.

She was a toddler when our parents divorced, leaving her to see the broken alcoholic shell of the man who used to be Dad.

She sat by her high school boyfriend while his face was stapled up after retrieving a bullet from his head, then watched as he went on trial and eventually to jail for murder.

She suffered migraines for years, plus she had a difficult time eating without feeling ill. She underwent surgery last year to untwist her intestines and continued to live in pain.

She endured an abusive husband who physically and emotionally abused her, though they are thankfully separated right now.

…so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I guess the signs were there- the mishandling of money, stopping work, losing touch with her old friends, lying to family. When I stepped back and thought about it, her behavior was familiar. Much like my ex who overdosed.

I got the call that my sister ended up in the hospital after getting beaten up and robbed by a male acquaintance. He took the last belonging of value she had- her phone- which is the second time in a month that she has had her phone stolen. Probably because she owes money to the guy dealing her heroin.

Yeah. My baby sister somehow ended up on heroin. I feel like I’m writing the words to a book about someone else’s family, someone else’s life.

Being a few states away from her is brutal. I want to take her out of the hell-hole town full of either Christian wanna-be, ex-football hero homeboys or dirty, lying, skinny snakes peddling meth (and heroin I guess). I want to get her in a program as fast as possible…but how do we afford that?! I want to beat the shit out of her stupid husband who no doubt got her started. I want to protect her from ending up a week dead in a dirty, lonely apartment like my ex.

Do you know what the hospital did when she came in? They gave her pamphlets. Pamphlets about getting off heroin. I want to take a survey and see how many people were saved by pamphlets. Pamphlets! Fuck.

I keep flashing back to the adorable gap-toothed kid who scowled as we stole her Monopoly money, the kid who loved to draw, the animal lover, the “shrink dance” she’d do when her big sisters got new clothes she wanted.

I’m afraid I don’t know her. I’m afraid of what to say. I’m afraid I’ll lose her completely.


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No good deed…

No good deed goes unpunished, right? I got a taste of that after volunteering at a church I was invited to. I’ve never been hugely into institutionalized religion. I’ve done my stint. Not really something that feels comfortable to me. However, I like helping and volunteering and churches provide those opportunities.

So I work all the freaking time. Like 12 hour days, six days a week. I had just come off a day sort of like that and happened to have $115 in cash, an oddity for my wallet. My gas tank called out to me before making it to the church, so I stopped and pulled out $20 in cash, leaving the remaining $95 safely in my zipped wallet.

I went to the church. I sang. I wrapped gifts for underprivileged kids. It was fun and rewarding, if not slightly awkward with the forced merriment and back patting. After a few hours of this, I drove to Target to pick up a few things I needed. It was at that point I noticed the money missing from my wallet.

Now, despite my crazy working hours, I am not rich by any stretch of the imagination. This missing money made me first feel a bit numb and shocked, then confused, but as I pieced together the day I became sad. I know without a doubt that someone at the church stole it. It’s the only thing that fits in the timeline.

This violation of my private property and the theft of something I desperately need right now caused me a lot of worry. I contacted the pastor to see if I could reach out to the group and make a plea for it to be returned, no questions asked. Imagine my surprise as his call turned ever more condescending and accusatory toward me. I was the other in this situation and his flock would never perpetrate such a “high level of criminal activity.” Let me be clear. I have a pretty decent idea of who stole my money. A 12 year old girl had been sitting almost on top of my bag the whole time. My wallet was easily reached in my bag. I don’t feel like it was stolen with malice, just a bit of greed. The pastor then went on to insinuate that I was trying to leach money from him. Of course that was not my intent- I just wanted to give the person who stole my money the chance to return it.

This experience has reminded me some things in life. I’ve met “criminals” who are good people. I’ve met “God fearing Christians” who are some of the douchiest self righteous sinners. Morals and religion are not the same thing. They can exist quite separately from each other. Guess it’s time to find a nice group of atheists who want to do good deeds simply to be good.