Futility {Just Write}

I’m listening to Handel’s opera arias, but the soaring notes are competing with my neighbor’s lawn mower. She works nights as a nurse, and once a week she comes home and mows the lawn after her shift. If I had a lawnmower, I’d mow her lawn too. No one should have to work overnight and then mow a lawn. But in our nine years in the suburbs we’ve never purchased a mower, choosing to just hire neighborhood kids to mow our lawn, a hint of city stubbornness that shows we probably should have stayed in the city. When we move back into town, I will not miss the constant buzz of lawn care.

This morning I started the day with slow stretching, then I went into my office and danced. Long, long ago I used to dance every morning to classical music; a sort of meditation/exercise thing that calmed me and made me feel good each day. Today, though, I felt horribly self-conscious, sure Tori would come running upstairs to see what I was doing, and she’s see my fat, lumbering body trying to find grace. So I stopped after only a few minutes, even though no one was watching. Even the dog was asleep on the office chair, uncaring that I was twirling in front of her.

Work looms as I write this. I’ve had a huge work load taken off my plate – I’ll only be writing for Babble a handful of times a month now, instead of every day – and I feel a pressing need to fill that time with something else. It’s silly, though, because for the last two months Babble has been down more often than not, so I wasn’t posting there anyway, and I’ve allowed my client work to increase and fill that gap. So I don’t really have any extra time after all. Yet I still feel a hollow space that I should be filling.

That’s the overwhelming theme of my life: I feel a hollow space that needs filling. I’ve tossed everything into that space to fill it; first food, then booze, then men, then drugs, then food again. Always with the goddamned food. Just thinking about it I feel hungry. Seriously, right this second, I feel hungry, even though it’s been less than an hour since my healthy breakfast of greek yogurt with paleo granola, blueberries, and chia seeds. In a personal dichotomy, I feel both virtuous and ravenous at the same time.

Sometimes I think I am so fucked up, but I’m reminded over and over again that I’m really just shockingly normal and not at all original or unusual. I am no more fucked up than anyone else, even if my twisted alcoholic pride would love to believe that I am just the WORST.

Goodness, my brain is going in circles today.

At a recovery meeting this morning I was reminded of the futility of trying to control other’s actions and that it’s my number one job to allow people to be who they are at any given moment because when I try to control people I merely exhaust myself and make myself sicker. I found myself thinking about that and wondering if it applies to the Supreme Court, because I cannot believe the decisions they’ve handed down in the last week. I cannot believe that for some fucking reason corporations get to be autonomous people that can make decisions but women fucking don’t. I am so goddamned tired of fighting for the rights of my body and my daughter’s body, and I am constantly shocked by the people that say things like, “Why is it such a big deal? Each company should be allowed to choose what they do!” It makes me believe the worst of people, and I don’t want to believe that. I want to believe people are inherently good, damn it.

God, I’m so fucking tired.

It’s only Tuesday. I have to believe this week will improve. But right now I kind of want to go back to bed and cry.


I sporadically enjoy participating in Just Write, an exercise in free writing, created by the lovely Heather.

Abortion Clinic Buffer Zone Decision By Supreme Court Causes Blogger To Lose Her Fucking Mind

Philadelphia, PA, 10:38am EST: While innocently working in her office and listening to Morning Edition on NPR, blogger Cecily Kellogg of Uppercase Woman heard this report from Nina Totenberg regarding yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling on McCullen vs. Coakley, also known as the abortion clinic “buffer zone” case in which anti-choice protestors claim clinic “buffer zones” violate their free speech.

In discussing the ruling, Ms. Totenberg mentioned that Justice Roberts referred to clinic protestors as “counselors,” and Ms. Kellogg’s head immediately spontaneously exploded. She spent some time then scraping the brain matter off the wall and reassembling her head and then turned to the actual court ruling to verify that such a clearly ridiculous statement could actually be true, even though Ms. Kellogg has deep and abiding respect for Ms. Totenberg’s reporting. “I just couldn’t believe it could be true,” She said. “I had to read the decision to see for myself.” Unfortunately, Ms. Totenberg’s reporting was – as usual – accurate. In the original decision, the Operation Rescue clinic protestors are described as “counselors” six times, by both Justice Scalia and Justice Roberts. For example (Eleanor McCullen is the plaintiff and a member of Operation Rescue):

“Are we to believe that a clinic employee sent out to “escort” prospective clients into the building would not seek to prevent a counselor like Eleanor McCullen from communicating with them? He could pull a woman away  from an approaching counselor, cover her ears, or make loud noises to drown out the counselor’s pleas.”

“A woman enters a buffer zone and heads haltingly toward the en­trance. A sidewalk counselor, such as petitioners, enters the buffer zone, approaches the woman and says, “If you have doubts about an abortion, let me try to answer any questions you may have. The clinic will not give you good information. At the same time, a clinic employee, as instructed by the management, approaches the same woman and says, “Come inside and we will give you hon­est answers to all your questions.” The sidewalk counselor and the clinic employee expressed opposing viewpoints, but only the first violated the statute.”

“I just can’t believe it,” Ms. Kellogg stated. “I’ve engaged with these protestors before, and in my personal experience, they weren’t offering any counseling. They were merely yelling and shaming those that entered the clinic, rather than offering any of the quiet support you general receive from someone counseling you. Some, in fact, actually physically assaulted the women attempting to pass by.” Ms. Kellogg begins to quietly sob. She adds, “While I understand the free speech elements of the case, how could they refer to the protestors as counselors?”

When pressed, Ms. Kellogg began babbling incoherently and then stood up and began throwing things around the room while gesticulating wildly and stomping her feet.

Additional questioning will be attempted once Ms. Kellogg returns to her normal calm demeanor.

Victimhood Status?

My daughter is having what can only be described as a blessed childhood. We live fairly comfortably in a nice suburban house, she goes to a school where learning is play-based and self-directed, she has five best friends, she has parents that are happily married and work from home and are always available, she spends time outside and in the woods, and she’s had many amazing memories that are a direct result of having a mother who blogs.

By the time I was Tori’s age, I’d already been riding a public city bus alone each day to get to a school that was in a slightly better neighborhood. I’d been jostled and harassed, I’d witnessed a man masturbating as he stared at me, I spent much of my time home alone (Tori has never spent a minute home alone), and I was bullied at school for being a year younger than my classmates. But I had it easy compared to my own mother, and certainly easier than Charlie did at the hands of his sad, angry, and abusive mother.

Sure, we’ve had our fair share of money struggles, and we’ve only partly shielded Tori from that reality. We’ve had to say no to Tori more often than not when it comes to things she wants, whether it’s yet another beanie boo or going to Disneyland. But she is a happy child – and at eight years old she is fully, unabashedly a child. I did not have that luxury; I felt like a grownup by her age.

But she is growing up, and she’s become very sharp, and she doesn’t miss much. We’ve had a lot of hard discussions recently in relation to questions she’s asked us, like why her school mate’s moms could only get married recently, or why that guy shot up all those people in California, or why her friend J (who is black) gets treated differently at the convenience store than Tori does, or why people got angry about that girl who decided he was really a boy.

Tori has become sharply aware of the reality that some people are treated differently based on things outside their control, such as their sexual orientation, gender identity, or skin color. She doesn’t read like I did (and still do) – falling headlong into imaginary worlds that bear little resemblance to reality – but she’s a digital kid and has access to far more information that I did at her age, and things that go viral and news items filter down to her more quickly than I’d like. The world is a place full of sharp edges and angry words, and I want to protect her from that forever – but it’s not possible. Not at all.

I’ve been very acutely aware of being the mother to a daughter these last few weeks, particularly since the shooting in California with its misogynistic roots and how so much of the media ignored that part of the story, which led to the launch of the #yesallwomen (I wrote about that over at Babble last month). On Facebook a man told me that “most sexual assault reports are manufactured by victimhood merchants.” That was followed, of course, by George F. Will’s wildly offensive and utterly clueless article at the Washington Post about, I shit you not, the way colleges and universities “make [sexual assault] victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges.”

When I was 17, I foolishly moved away from my mom. In the second place I lived – a group house where I rented a room – the landlord broke into my room and attempted to rape me. We fought (god bless my mother for teaching me to fight) and I got him off of me, but when I tried to call for help he ripped the phone out of the wall – but not before my boyfriend heard what was happening and showed up at the house with his roommate and a baseball bat. I packed a paper bag of clothes, grabbed my cat and my dog, and got the hell out of dodge.

When I got to a safe place, I called the police to report it. The cop listened to my story and then deliberately closed his notebook (before he wrote anything down) and said, “Well, this just seems like a goodnight kiss that went too far.” Again, god bless my mother, because I said, fiercely, “NO. It was NOT. We were not on a date. I was in my own bed behind a locked door that he opened against my will and tried to assault me.” Then I showed him the bruises on my breasts where he had grabbed me to push me back down into the bed. Even so, the DA tried to plead it down to domestic assault, and I fought tooth and nail to get a different DA assigned to my case. At court, the lawyers asked me all sorts of questions about my sexual behavior, my drinking, what I was wearing, and more. The only reason the man served any time – 45 days of a 60 day assault sentence – was because the judge allowed me to make a statement at sentencing, and he tossed the plea deal.

Nothing about that nine month process felt like a fucking coveted status.

My mom marched in the early 70s in the “women’s lib” movement, for the ERA, and for women’s rights. I was always with her, since she was a single mom, and I remember even as a little girl feeling the world begin to change. I have to hope and believe that the world IS still changing, and these incidents are simply the last gasps of dying ideas. Because I cannot bear to send my daughter out into a world where she will be told she is trying to achieve “status” if she reports a sexual assault, or where some man will believe it is perfectly okay for him to kill her because she rejected his advances. This has to change – for our daughters AND our sons.