Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Good Ol' Boys Club

On Christmas eve, Martha’s niece J. had something slipped into her drink, didn’t feel well and went up to her apartment over the bar. She woke hours later to find herself naked, her sheets wet with semen, and all her money and jewelry stolen. She called Martha who is a retired cop. Martha told her to call the police and she would meet her.

The male State Trooper who met them took down the basic information and then started with questions like “what were you doing in the bar?” “How much did you have to drink?” “What were you wearing?” etc. Martha went ballistic. The trooper said he would go down to the bar and ask some questions, but he was obviously annoyed that his Christmas was about to be interrupted. Martha left to take J. to the hospital for a rape test. That came back negative although a sexual assault had obviously taken place.

The trooper got the security camera tape which showed J. going upstairs. Then a man going up. And shortly after, that man comes down and asks his buddies to go up. From this, the trooper found the man and questioned him. The guy didn’t deny he went up to J’s apartment but said the sex was consensual. On Christmas night the trooper calls J. and says there is nothing he can do - it is just her word against the guy. And Martha once again went ballistic, made a few calls and had this guy removed from the case.

Meanwhile the bar guy calls J. and mocks her saying that he knows all the troopers and no one is going to believe her, and she should just let it drop because, after all, didn’t they just have a good time. Martha immediately called the new investigator and asked him to get an order of protection. He called back to say the judge would not issue one. Martha then called a female judge she knows and got the order. Although, as she says, a piece of paper is no protection at all if someone wants to hurt you. But she is hoping that it will stop the guy from calling J and further harassing her. She has also arranged for DNA testing and insured that J’s blood sample will be tested for evidence of whatever drug has given to her.

At the beginning of this, Martha was not telling me much because she knew how much it would upset me. But it has been tough not to overhear her conversations with the police, the investigator, and J. What amazes me is how little things have changed. It is just so wrong that a young woman would be questioned as to what she was wearing at the bar, as if she provoked a sexual assault. Or that a police officer would just write off the case as “the guy said it was consensual so there’s nothing else I can do.” Or a judge wouldn’t issue an order of protection.

I don’t remember much of the immediate aftermath of my attack, but I do remember some officer who was questioning me saying “well what did you expect?”

What did I expect? I think I expected that things would be better by now.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Interrupted

For the past 20 + years, Martha and I have developed a calendar of traditions to be able to celebrate the season with all our friends and family. This year almost everything crumbled.

The season usually begins with a feast at our elderly neighbors home. But she is now at her daughter’s in Virginia while her house is being reconstructed. (A car hit the house and moved it right off the foundation)

Then there would have been the office Christmas party. But most people declined because everyone was feeling down about recent layoffs.

On Christmas Eve eve, we have always gotten together with our favorite couple, C & K. They were due at 7 for hors d'oeuvres but called at 5 to say C’s grandmother had just unexpectedly passed away.

On Christmas eve we go to Martha’s niece’s house for dinner and gift exchange. I was just delving into some ham when my cell phone rang. One of my closest friends had gone to the hospital, suffering from more depression than she could handle. And so I left to be with her.

I came home Christmas morning around 4 am to find that Martha’s car was missing from the garage. Both the girls were in their beds but there was a note on the counter - call me when you get in. Apparently her niece’s 23 year old daughter called her in a panic after spending some time in the bar she lives above, she woke to find herself naked and everything of value missing. She had no memory of what had happened. So Martha went, called the police and went to the hospital with her. Apparently someone slipped something into her drink. And then invited his friends.

That was enough to put me into a whimpering fetal position until Martha came home around 7 am. (Rape test came back negative, so that was a relief, although something else obviously happened.)

But we pulled it together, and tried for some semblance of a normal Christmas morning for the girls. Open gifts, fell asleep for a few hours in the afternoon and then went back to the hospital while Martha spent her xmas on the phone with the police making sure everything that could be done was being done. Same with most of Sunday, but at night Martha’s best friend and her family came for our traditional roast beef and yorkshire pudding dinner. Even though they left early due to the snow storm, it was the first moment we had to raise a glass and relax.

Tonight I would traditionally be getting together with my oldest and dearest friends. But one is in the hospital, the other dealing with her own domestic drama, and I have to go to a wake.

I keep thinking this has got to get better and in two weeks I will be traveling to celebrate Christmas with my family. But then my sister called to say her father-in-law is in hospice and not expected to live much longer. They will most likely be leaving for Florida to say goodbye.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

19 years ago today

19 years ago today I was handed this bundle that changed my life forever. We brought her home on Christmas Eve.  Best present I ever got.

Tonight we will all go out to dinner to celebrate and then to a girl’s high school basketball game where Beanie will meet up with her former teammates, all home from college. They will be coming back to our house to celebrate, over night.

Tomorrow her college friends will be arriving from far and near, joining with hometown friends to take her out to dinner and then back to our house to continue partying. I will be driving to Massachusetts to pick up one friend, meeting her half way from Connecticut. Beanie will be shuttling others from the train station. Her former boyfriend (they broke up when she left for college and he joined the military) will also be here. At least six of them will be staying over until Christmas Eve, because, you know, this time of year is not crazy enough.

I may be looking for a room at an inn.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Communique

Celebrating the spirit of the season,

and the technology of the times...

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Gift of Gratitude

I volunteer for a community organization that links people who need a little help with folks who can provide a little help. This year I was asked if I could give a little girl a ride to dance class because her mother is blind. They live very close to where I work, and she goes to dance studio where my girls went, right around the corner. So once a week, I pick up 5 year old Becca, walk her into the dance studio, help her put on her dance shoes, and then return to pick her up. Easy.

This week when I took Becca home, her mom asked if I could come in for a few minutes. Then she told me that Becca had a present for me. She asked me to sit while Becca disappeared and then returned with a DVD player, a little tutu over her leotard, reindeer antlers on her head and began to perform her own dance to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Very, very sweet.

I remember the elaborate productions my girls used to conjure up. They would give us admissions tickets and usher us to own front row, living room seats. They would create costumes from all their various princess/ dress up paraphernalia. And then they would dance. Making up their own choreography, dancing with abandon and giggling joy. I used to love these personal performances, so much more than their formal dance recitals.

As I watched Becca leap and twirl, I also noticed her mom. Sitting, smiling at her daughter who she could not see. I can’t even imagine what that must be like. When the dance was over, I stood and clapped and cheered, as did her mom. It was a wonderful, delightful gift.

When I went home I pulled out old home videos and watched my own daughters. I watched them dance. I watched them play various sports. I watched their numerous accomplishments, large and small. And all I could think about was what it must be like to experience your kids growing up when you can’t actually see them growing up. The birthday parties, riding a bike, scoring the winning goal, the prom dresses, the receiving of a diploma.

I generally start each day with a prayer for all I have to be thankful for. This week I received a gift. And I realize that I haven’t even scratched the surface of what I have to be grateful for.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Puppy PSA

Saturday night we had a small party at our house. Peachie also invited a group of friends, although they stayed downstairs. For the most part, our dog was confined in a bedroom because otherwise she would go up to everyone with those pleading puppy dog eyes begging for food and licking everyone to death.

All the guests had left around 11:30, the dog and cats reclaimed their house, and Peachie went downstairs to clean up. She ran back up announcing that the dog had eaten an entire plate of brownies.

We vaguely remembered that chocolate is very bad for dogs but didn’t really have a sense of it. Fortunately our vet is also a friend of mine so I called his cell phone. I obviously woke him from a sound sleep and with huge apologies for the lateness of the hour, I explained what had happened. He calmly asked how many brownies? At least 8! What kind? With chocolate chips and chocolate frosting. (I’m not sure how those slipped by me) How long ago? About 10 or 15 minutes.

He explained that chocolate is extremely toxic to dogs.  He said the amount eaten for a 50 pound dog would not be deadly, but would certainly give the dog major gastro intestinal problems. But since she had just eaten them, we should try to make her throw up. And how would we do that? Make her drink some hydrogen peroxide. Really? He explained that it will make her gurgle and foam but will make her vomit. So we forced a couple of swigs down her throat and sure enough, not 30 seconds later, up came the brownies. Eight whole brownies. She hadn’t even chewed them.

So there you go. Don’t let your dog around any chocolate. But if they get into some, give them hydrogen peroxide. Who knew?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Ref

This weekend I attended a regional sports banquet honoring my daughter, among other athletes. Standard affair - about 80 girls with their hetero normative families - Italian buffet, long winded emcee, some alumni telling the girls to give back to their sport, yada, yada, yada.  I have been to dozens of these.

The program also listed a speech by the guest of honor. I’m already yawning. But when the time comes, they introduce the honoree as a woman who has been a ref for over 20 years. Who this year, due to illness, is retiring from the sport. And up comes this very beautiful, very butch woman, who begins her speech (and I’m paraphrasing here as much as I can remember)

When I was in high school there were no other girls who looked like me. There were no other girls who dressed like me. There were no other girls who talked like me. I was an outcast. Classmates laughed at me. I had no social life. I had no friends. I was different. I knew it and they knew it. Until I stepped onto a playing field or an athletic court. And then I was part of a team.

(And I’m looking around at all these very straight mom and dads, in this very conservative part of the state, and every person is listening with full attention)

It was my teammates who accepted me for who I was. An Athlete. And for all those horrible years in high school, being an athlete was what got me through.

After college I became a ref. And I loved reffing your games. Not the freezing cold games in drenching rains that always went into overtime. Not the coaches questioning my calls. Not the parents screaming at me. No, what I loved was watching you girls play your sport as a team. Full tilt, all out, leave it all on the field. Athletes. Before the game I could see there were girly girls and there were girls like me and all the differences in between. But when the whistle blew, and you came onto the field, you all wore the same uniform and you played as a team. If one player was injured, the entire team was diminished. When you lost, you lost as a team. And when you won, you won as a team.

And I know all the things that happen off the field. The team meetings, the team dinners, the team sleep overs. Team bonding. No one is excluded. Every member, no matter what their differences, is part of the whole. And the team would be weaker without them.

Today I want to urge you girls, to continue with the lessons of hard work and dedication that you have learned from playing a sport at this level. But mostly I want you to remember that when you go out into the world, there will be many, many people who are different than you. Remember we all bring different abilities and skills to the field.  Everyone has their specialty.  But it is only by working together, and encouraging each others talents, that we can succeed.  Never, ever let your teammates down.

As she walked off stage, every single athlete and parent in that room stood and gave her a rousing ovation.

And I was totally floored.

Monday, December 6, 2010

and you held me

and you held me and there were no words

and there was no time and you held me

and there was only wanting and

being held and being filled with wanting

and I was nothing but letting go

and being held

and there were no words and there

needed to be no words

and there was no terror only stillness

and I was wanting nothing and

it was fullness and it was like aching for God

and it was touch and warmth and

darkness and no time and no words and we flowed

and I flowed and I was not empty

and I was given up to the dark and

in the darkness I was not lost

and the wanting was like the fullness and I could

hardly hold it and I was held and

you were dark and warm and without time and

without words and you held me

~~Janet Morley