Saturday, February 2, 2019

And The Challenger won! We are happy!

The Challenger will do Great Things, we hope. She might not have won if it were not for the groundwork Primo laid over the past few years. She told Primo that she focused her campaigning on the areas where he had not been - specifically, she knocked on doors he had not been able to reach.

She won.

It's been a little hard. It was hard. It was hard for Primo because he wonders if he could have won. It's been hard for me because I want him to be happy, but I would really like him to be happy outside of politics.

He did learn that the Big Money County Rich Inherited Money guy was prepared to spend $70K backing The Challenger in a primary against Primo. I don't think Primo could have won against that.

But - it's still hard. We are mourning the death of a dream. It's really, really hard.

Here's another cat sitting on stuff.

Image may contain: indoor

And here's the same cat again in a different post but on the same glove, which she loooooves

Image may contain: shoes

Omigosh HI I DIDN'T KNOW ANYONE WAS READING AND COMMENTING I AM SO SORRY!

1. Primo took the job.

2. He hates working.

3. There's a club for that, etc., etc.

4. As of a week ago, I have a new boss, so - I am not sure. I really really liked my previous boss. I have never had a boss that long - 4.5 years - and I have never been such good friends with a boss. We are the same age and really get along well and it's just hard. I am grieving, I think.

5. Primo does not like working.

6. Duh. That's why they have to pay us.

7. But we really need to figure out what to do with our lives and I hope it never has anything again to do with politics.

8. So there's this, which is kinda fluffy. Not sure what's going to happen with it.

Here's a cat:

Image may contain: 1 person, cat

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

In which I take a blog break because I am super busy at work trying to convince the Germans to be happy we are killing their product line

but I will be back soon.

With election results. :)

Everything is fine, I promise. Just super busy and about to go on vacation, so something has to go for now.

Also, life is uneventful, which is excellent.

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Candidate's Wife, or, should I say, The Engineer's wife?

Less than 48 hours ago, one of Primo's former co-workers called to ask Primo if he would be interested in coming back to work.

Primo has since spoke to the woman who would be his boss, a friend he has known and worked with for 20 years. He is now speaking to another former co-worker. 

The job is pretty much his if he wants it.

But - he would like to work in politics.

Which does not pay as much.

And if he returns to his old job, he feels like it would be an admission of defeat (which I can totally understand).

The decision is his, but I am putting my finger on the scales.

Primo: If I go back to work and you're already working, who does the chores?

Me: We would have to re-negotiate.

Primo: If I return to [old job], I wouldn't mind keeping the laundry and the vacuuming because that's easy to do working from home. But I hate cleaning the bathroom. I don't want to do that.

Me: I guess I could take back cleaning the bathroom.  

Primo: Good!

Me: But only if you go back to [old job]. If you get a political job, I'll be making more money than you and I will say you have to do the bathroom.

Primo: But I hate cleaning the bathroom!

Me: I know.

Friday, November 9, 2018

For those who don't believe, Number Nine

I am 54
And this is so, so bizarre because I didn't even think of it as assault, I thought of it as a pass. Who makes a pass at a middle-aged woman wearing a loose sundress?

It's 8 p.m. on an early August evening. I am walking home from the state fair. It's only three miles and Primo is staying late to help with some political stuff. I could take Primo's car, but I don't like driving his car. I could take the bus, but the next bus isn't for 30 minutes.

It's nice. I have time. I can walk.

It's crowded by the fair, but gets less crowded the further north I go.

As I wait to cross a major street, I see a teenager waiting to cross as well.

Because I am such an Enlightened, Good Person, I make eye contact with him and smile slightly. I acknowledge him because are we not humans together on this planet, bound by common experience?

Am I not Noble, to look a young man in the eye, a stranger?

Am I not Good? Am I not Unlike The Others who ignore strangers?

I am! I am Good! I am Noble! I am Enlightened!

I smile in smug satisfaction at myself as I cross.

Finally, I am alone on the sidewalk.

Which I have been waiting for. I didn't mention it to you, but my underwear has been crawling up my butt.

I know! I know! TMI! TMI!

But it's part of the plot.

I am finally alone, so I reach behind me to make the necessary adjustment.

As I pull my hand away, I still feel a hand on my butt.

And I hear a voice say, "Would you like some help with that?"

I turn and  - it's the kid I saw waiting to cross.

He stares at me.

"Stop that!" I order him. "Stop that right now!"

He stares.

"Go away!" I shoo him with my hand. "Go away! This is completely inappropriate! What would your mother say? She would be ashamed of you."

He stares.

"I am old enough to be your grandmother!" I tell him.

I have completely missed the point. Completely.

This? This is not about sex or attraction or flirting.

This is about power and men thinking they can do what they want.

I am not concerned, though. I outweigh this kid by a good 20 pounds and he can't be more than 15 or 16.

"Go away," I tell him. "Just turn around and walk away."

I turn and start walking again.

He follows me.

"Oh my gosh. Would you just go away?"

He doesn't.

I keep walking, but now I am looking at the houses, thinking maybe I should knock on someone's door.

He follows.

"Go away or I'm going to call the police," I say.

He follows.

I turn toward a house and dial 911.

It's a kid following me.

It's not a fire.

I'm not being beaten.

I'm not being robbed.

I'm not being raped.

This? This is not 911.

Yet I call 911.

He follows.

"I am on the phone with the police!" I tell him. "You need to go away!"

As I am talking to the operator - "I am so sorry to bother you with something so trivial," I ring the doorbell.

The kid keeps following, across the grass.

It is only when a man opens the door that the kid decides to leave.

And all I can focus on as I tell my story to the man and his wife is that wait I am 54 years old why would anyone grab the ass of a 54 year old woman?




Saturday, November 3, 2018

For those who don't believe, Number Eight

I am 50
This one - this one I don't even think of as any kind of assault. It's just kind of disgusting.

I wasn't hurt. I wasn't scared. I was more - shocked. And then offended.

It didn't occur to me to think of this as anything other than, "Well, that guy was gross."

It's the middle of the afternoon. I am running on the tree-lined streets in my quiet, middle-class neighborhood.

I notice a car parked and a young man sitting inside it. Odd, I think. It's the middle of the day on a work day (I am working from home). Why isn't that guy at work? Why is he just sitting there?

I continue to trot along. Whatever.

A few minutes later, I notice the same guy parked on the next street.

That's really odd.

Do I notice him a third time? Or is the second time enough for me to be nosy and want to give him a Hey if you're casing the neighborhood, I am watching you. You have been seen.

I try to memorize his car and plates. I'm not good at that kind of thing. I would make a horrible detective.

I approach him.

"Hi there!" I say. "I keep seeing you around."

That's a coded, "Dude. What are you doing? This is not common behavior."

He greets me.

"So - what are you doing?"

He tells me that he wants to start an online real-estate business so he is looking at houses for sale in my neighborhood.

Fine. Whatever. I don't really care what you're doing - I just want you to know that you have been seen because your behavior is not the behavior one expects in the middle of a workday.

And this is where I get really stupid and why I'm kind of embarrassed - no, not kind of - completely embarrassed to tell this story and I almost didn't tell it because I feel like I kind of asked for it.

I joke. I joke to dispel the awkward of, "I approached you because I am suspicious hahahaha but really I'm sure there's a perfectly good explanation and this is none of my business anyhow."

I say, "Yeah, I'm pretty sure you're not just following a chubby middle-aged woman out for a run."

Ouch.

It's embarrassing even typing these words.

I should not have said that.

Why did I say that?

Why didn't I just go along on my way?

I am an idiot.

Because apparently,,  my comment  opens the door for him.

"Oh you got some nice jiggle!" he says.

Ummmmmm.

What?

This is not where I saw things going. I expected him to laugh and be on his way.

But - I stupidly said it.

I laugh nervously.

And he says something about how he likes thick women and is my husband thick --

"We are not having this conversation," I say. I back away.

"No, no, no! Come here!" he says.

And - I see his arm moving up and down.

And. I run.

I am an idiot.


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

In which The Woman Fights Back

You guys, run, do not walk, to your bookstore or your library to get my friend Jeff Abbott's new book, The Three Beths. It is worth it just for this scene. (I mean, it's worth it for all of it, but THIS SCENE!)

A young man with a weasel's smile had stopped at the patio's fence along the shopping center walkway and was trying to chat up the solitary young woman, who was trying to focus on her book.

"That a good book?" he asked. "You could turn my pages."

The young woman didn't answer, but she fidgeted in the seat, eyes on the page.

"Question is why a fine young babe l like you needs to fill her time reading when I'm right here, ready to buy you a drink."

"I'm not interested, thanks," the young woman said. "I have a boyfriend."

"Yet here you are alone."

"No, thanks."

The jerk took immediate offense. "Listen, you think you too good for me? You're not."

"Excuse me," Mariah said. She stood and walked over to the table.

"Mariah..." Reveal started to say,  but he kept his seat.

"Please, I'm just trying to read in peace," the young woman said to the jerk. An angry edge in her voice now. "Go away, I'm not interested."

"Listen, books make you into a snotty bitch, from what I can see," the jerk said.

"Hey," Mariah said, now standing at the woman's table, across from the jerk. She was tall, but not quite as tall as he was. "She said she's not interested. Move along."

The jerk smiled. Then he laughed. Mariah watched him study and gauge her  and could imagine his thoughts. Here was this tall, solid, mouthy annoyance, dressed in black slacks, black mock turtleneck, even a black barrette holding back her hair. "Listen, was I talking to your ugly face? Is this patio bitch central? Because all of you need to..."

At the word need he jabbed a finger at Mariah, and a sudden sharp rage rose in her chest. Her hand lashed out and caught one of his fingers and wrenched it. The jerk's mouth opened in pain; he tried to pull the hand back, but with the table between them Mariah had the leverage.

"Another millimeter, genius, and it breaks," she said gently. "Step back and walk away. And consider how you talk to women. I mean, has this idiotic banter ever worked for you? Ever?"

"You whore..." and he tried to yank his hand back.

The snap of the breaking bone was loud.

Oh. Yes. This is so satisfying.

Friday, October 26, 2018

For those who don't believe, Number Six

I am 24
I am 24 and I have had a few boyfriends. I think this happens after Friends' Boss, but I can't remember. I remember these events by where I was living at the time. Friends' Boss and The Broker Who Kissed Me both happen while I am living in the apartment off Steck Ave in Austin.

I date the Turkish guy when I rent the house on Indian Trail with my friend Rebecca.

The Dentist happens when I am in the duplex on Stamford.

Nobody while I am in the duplex on Windsor.

Anyhow.

I am 24 and I dated my college boyfriend - Calvin, the one I almost married, and a sweet, sweet man for about six months in Houston before I  move to Austin.

And maybe Friends' Boss or maybe he is after.

I can't remember.

I work for an insurance company. We work with brokers. The brokers bring us the requests for proposal. I am paid a salary, but I get a bonus for every new account I sell. It is in my financial interests to develop and maintain good relationships with my brokers.

A broker comes to us for a bid. My boss tells me to work with him. So I do.

I like Broker. He is funny and nice.

He is also old. So so old. He must be at least 50. Like - he is my dad's age.

Ancient.

Ancient and married and someone from work which, I have learned, is not a good idea, as sweet, sweet man in Houston works for the same company I do and working with someone I date was not the problem. It was working with someone I used to date that was not so great.

Don't get your honey where you get your money. I learned that lesson and have abided (abode?) by it since.

Let's list the facts again:


  • It's WORK
  • He's OLD
  • He's MARRIED
  • It's WORK
But I have fun with broker. I like talking to him.

If you talk to a man and you laugh at his jokes, does that mean you want him to kiss you?

What is the standard of behavior a woman must maintain to make it clear that no advances, verbal or physical, are welcome?

How must a woman dress? What must she say? What must she do? How must she look?

Are my navy blue Joseph Banks suits with the starched white blouses and those stupid bow ties too provocative?

Is it that I have conversations with Broker?

Surely I do something.

For when he kisses me - which he does when I see him on my way home from the grocery store and pull the car over to say hi at the soccer field where he is coaching a kids' team - and when I tell my boss I no longer want to work with him because he kissed me, my boss tells me that I must have done something to invite that behavior.

In my world, a kiss on the lips is not usual in professional relationships. A kiss on the cheek is not even usual in professional relationships. I will hug some of my corporate HQ co-workers I see only twice a year, but - I initiate the hug.

I have never thought I should kiss them, even on the cheek, and have never thought such a thing would be appropriate.

But in my boss's mind, I have done something to make Broker think I want him to kiss me on the lips and that such behavior would be welcome.

It was my fault. I asked for it. 


Monday, October 22, 2018

For those who don't believe, Number Five

I am 23
I am living in Austin. I meet my friends' boss. He is in his early 30s. I think he's kind of hot, but - he's old and he's my friends' boss and he has a girlfriend anyhow.

Friends' Boss (FB) quits his job to return to school - out of town - for a master's degree. He comes back to Austin for spring break and shows up at a party I am attending with my friends. We talk. A lot. He has broken up with his girlfriend. So I flirt with him, as much as I know how.

(Remember, I am the girl who was not asked to a single high-school dance - except the ROTC ball, which is still weird, because I never had one nice conversation with the guy who asked me.)

In retrospect, I see that youth is its own beauty. Twenty three is gorgeous. Twenty three is firm and unblemished and glossy.

This one is the hardest to write. I don't think I have ever told this story to anyone in real life. (I may have written about it here before.)

I told it to Primo last week and his first reaction was, "But - but why did you see him again?"

And Primo is the person who loves me most in the world outside of my mother, my brother, my sister, and my other blood relations.

When the person who loves you the most questions your actions, how do you not question them yourself?

This is the one that causes me the most shame. The one that makes me question myself the most. The one that makes  me blame myself.

And then I get angry because WHY DO MEN PRESUME? AND WHY WON'T THEY JUST TAKE "NO" FOR AN ANSWER?

All I want is for my space and my voice to be respected. All I want is to sit in a seat and not be bothered by some man who decides that his desire for company overrides my desire not for company. All I want is to be able to tell a man to leave me alone and have him LEAVE ME ALONE.

No. All I want is NOT TO HAVE TO TELL HIM THAT IN THE FIRST PLACE. What makes some men think that they get to decide everything? That just because THEY WANT, I have to listen?

So FB calls me from Houston after the party. He wants to see me again.

Stupid me. I think he means take me on a date. Sure! I tell him.

He knocks on my door the next day. I don't remember what we do - maybe we do go out to eat. When we return to my apartment, I ask him - out of politeness, more than anything - where he is staying.

"With you!" he says.

Ummmmm.....

That was not  my plan.

"No," I tell him.

And what ensues is an hour-long conversation - and I use that term lightly - in which he convinces me he can stay - "I guess you can sleep on the couch" - and then convinces me to let him into my bed -

DO YOU SEE WHY I AM SO ASHAMED OF THIS? DO YOU SEE WHY I FEEL SO STUPID?

This is why I don't tell this story. This is why I know this is my fault.

Because I let him.

I let him into my bed.

And then I let him - you know.

And - this is where Primo was in absolute disbelief - I let him visit me again in the summer.

This is the part I don't even understand myself. If he didn't respect my wishes from the outset, why would I let him back into my life?

He was funny and smart and - I was going to type "nice" but how nice are you if you don't respect a woman's "No!"

I liked him.

And maybe by letting him return I don't have to admit to myself that he did not treat me well? That his talking and talking and talking until I finally just wanted him to SHUT UP constituted - what? - is that a form of date rape? I don't think so. I don't. But --- I had no intentions of sleeping with him. None. I hadn't even thought he would stay over at my place, even on the couch.

This one still confuses me. I still don't know what to think.

Except I am still angry.

After visit number two, he writes me passionate letters.

He asks me to move to California with him once he graduates.

I ignore his letters. I ignore his phone calls.

He writes more letters, telling me "not to be afraid of [my] passion," which simultaneously pisses me off and makes me roll my eyes. I'm not afraid of my passion. I'm afraid of him.

He calls one day to tell me he's leaving St Louis and will be in Austin in X hours. I hear the message on my answering machine and look at the clock in a panic.

I grab my purse and leave. I don't come home until after dark.

I never hear from him again.

Four years later, my friend Cathy asked why I hadn't warned her about my former boyfriend.

The only former boyfriend I can think of is Calvin, who is getting married to my former college roommate in a few months, so I am very confused.

No! she says. FB!

Right! She is in that same group of friends who worked for FB.

"He wouldn't leave me alone when I tried to break up!" she said.

I google stalk him every now and then. What would I do if he were nominated for some important position? Today, he just rolls on his very liberal credentials (he's super big in renewable energy). Would a story about his behavior discredit him? Would my story? No. No, it wouldn't, because just re-reading what I wrote, I can see that almost everyone in the world would say that I was asking for it.

This. This is why women don't tell.




Thursday, October 18, 2018

For those who don't believe, Number Four

I am 30, I am 31, I am 32
I don't even think these bear mentioning, just because they are so much part of the culture. It didn't occur to me until yesterday that these would even count as harassment, but then I watched this brilliant piece and it made me remember.

In Panama, in Chile, in Peru, in Guatemala, men say things to women.

It's supposed to be a compliment! they protest.

They say things like, "If I were your pants" or "Saint Michael opened the gates of heaven and an angel fell out!"

The second one is nicer than the first, but - if you are not accustomed to men you do not know talking to you - staring at you - in public, it's disconcerting.

In Panama, in high school, my best friend Julie and I would take the city bus home after swim meets. We'd be at the bus stop in Panama City, two ten graders with wet hair, long t-shirts, and shorts. 

Men would make this weird sucking kissy noise and shout, "!Ay! Chica americana!" as they passed in their cars or walking on the sidewalk.

I'm not sure what we were supposed to do with that.

It's disconcerting to have men yell things at you. You are used to the rules in the US, where a man yelling at you on the street (at least in Texas) can precede a man attacking you. When I got to Chile, men yelled things at me. I started planning my escape routes - where could I go if the situation became dangerous? Was there a house nearby? A major street? A cop?

After a while, I got used to it. It was just part of the landscape. I asked Chilean women about it and they laughed it off. "It's just what men DO," they explained.

I go to the movies on Sunday afternoon. There is nothing else to do - everything else is closed. 

The movie theater is almost empty. I pick a seat in the middle.

Five minutes later, a man walks in. He looks around. He sees all the empty seats. 

He sits right. Next. To. Me.

I exhale impatiently and move five seats over.

He moves and sits next to me again.

"There are a million empty seats! Why can't you sit in one of them?" I hiss angrily.

I tell this story at work the next day. My female co-workers - I work with a co-op of indigenous women whose main purpose is the empowerment of women - laugh and tell me that a woman who goes to the movies alone is trying to get picked up.

A Chilean woman is nostalgic for La Dictadura. 

"There were no rapes then," she says.

"There were no rapes reported," I answer.

When I finish my Peace Corps stint, I return to the US by land. 

I find seats by myself on trains, buses, ferries. I find seats alone when there are plenty of other empty seats.

Men sit by me.

I move. 

They move with me.

I politely ask them to sit elsewhere.

They do not.

They start talking to me.

I tell them I do not want to talk and to leave me alone.

They ask, concerned, if I am not feeling well.

Because the only possible reason a woman would not welcome male attention would be if she were ill.

Friday, October 12, 2018

For those who don't believe, Number Three

I am 28
I am in grad school and I work for a finance professor. I really like Prof S. He's brilliant and funny and nice.

I like him in the way I like all brilliant, funny, and nice men my mother's age.

He's a nice guy who is my mother's age. As in, he is OLD.

And he is married.

But even if he weren't married, he would be OLD.

He calls me to tell me I can't work for him anymore.

"My wife doesn't like me working with nubile young women," he says.

I am confused.

Since when am I nubile? Have I been nubile around him? I am a bespectacled, slightly-chubby, ordinary-looking woman who gets her hair cut at SuperCuts (grad school, remember?) and who wears baggy jeans and sweatshirts. Is that nubile?

He paid $20/hour. I needed the money.


I am 33
After I return from the Peace Corps, I go back to Austin to look for work. I use the placement office at the business school and run into Prof S. He needs some work done and hires me. I am grateful. I work at his school office and at his house. I am careful to look not nubile in both places. I have met his wife. I don't want to offend her or prompt her to ask Prof S to fire me.

I use Prof S as a reference. He talks to the people who hire me in Miami.

Me: What did they ask? Do I know Black Scholes? Can I calculate an NPV?

Prof S: If you come to work on time.

Me: I am a top graduate - a 4.0 GPA - of a top business program and they asked you if I come to work on time?

Prof S: Yes.

I start my new job. My new boss got his MBA at Chicago, where Prof S also teaches. Turns out my new boss had a class with Prof S. Small world!

There is a problem with one of my paychecks from Prof S. I call him to straighten it out.

Prof S: How are you liking Miami?

Me: I love it!

Prof S: I've never been to Miami.

Me: Well, you and Mrs Prof S need to visit. It's a great city.

Prof S: I would like to visit.

Me: I have a spare bedroom. You guys are welcome to stay.

Prof S: Mrs Prof S can't come.

Me: Oh....

Prof S: Are you dating anyone?

Me: Nope. Out of practice.

Prof S: I could come and we could practice sex together me.

Me: What?

Prof S: You and me. We could practice sex together.

Me: Stop! STOP! You are a married man! Do not talk to me like this!

I tell my boss immediately. "Can you believe he talked to me like that?"

My boss cannot believe it. But - he believes me.

Monday, October 8, 2018

For those who don't believe, Number Two

I am 22
I am in my first job out of college. I have traveled to the Albuquerque office to give a training session about a new product. I am 22 and a woman. The people in the office are almost all men and range in age from early 20s to early 60s.

I am sitting at a desk making a phone call.

I feel hands on my neck.

Let me say that again.

I am AT WORK in an office where I do not know anyone. And I feel hands on my neck.

I feel hands on my neck and I freeze. The hands stroke my neck and shoulders. The hands gently squeeze my neck and shoulders.

I remove the phone from my ear and my arm freezes. I stop speaking. I stop speaking from shock. I stop speaking because I don't even know the words to say.


I am 22
I am still at the Albuquerque office. A group of us are at lunch, including the neck massager.

He asks, "Would you like to have dinner tonight?"

I don't know what to say. No, of course I don't want to have dinner with you, you creepy old man! I don't want to have dinner with a stranger. I don't want to spend my after-work hours with someone from work. And I especially don't want to have dinner with an old man like you!

But - I don't know what to say.

And - I have to protect a man's ego, don't I? I can't shame him! Because men's feelings are more important than women's feelings.

I think desperately. What do I say? How do I get out of this?

Can I say he's too old for me?

No! That would be rude.

So I say, "I think I might be too young for you."

His friends laugh and his face turns red.

The then-me was horrified and concerned.

The now-me thinks, "That's what you get, asshole, for preying on a young woman at work."

Thursday, October 4, 2018

For those who don't believe, Number One

And these aren't even bad. I wasn't hurt. I was ashamed for some of them, but - never hurt.

But in almost every case, my wishes, my voice, my space - subordinate to what a man wanted. There are men like this.

I am five
I am at the park across the street from our apartment with my friend. We are playing on the swings.

This is back in the days when parents would let their children go to the park alone. I still think it's OK to let children go to a park alone. Just teach them.

My friend and I are playing. A man sits on the swing next to us. I notice he has some weird pink thing on his lap.

I realize that the pink thing is his penis. I have a brother. I have seen a penis before. And even though I am only five, I know that a penis is not something you show to other people.

Then he asks us if we want to go into the men's room with him.

We run back to my apartment and tell my mother, who calls the police immediately.

My friend says he had long hair and was wearing jeans. I remember that he had short hair and was wearing khakis. (I doubt I knew the word "khakis" at that age, but whatever.) We disagree on every aspect of the story except

  • He had a pink thing in his lap, a pink thing that was his penis
  • He asked us to go into the men's room with him

I am eight
We live on a military base in Spain. A  military base has controlled access. This one has a barbed-wire fence around the perimeter; that perimeter is patrolled. You do not get though the gate without proper identification. If you wanted to walk or drive onto the air force base near where you live, you probably would not be allowed to.

My sister and I are walking home from school. 

We are walking home from school in an area with controlled access.

A man - not in uniform - approaches us. His penis is hanging out of his pants.


I am twelve
My friend and I are walking home from school. It's the middle of the afternoon. 

You know where this is going. A man walks toward us with his penis hanging out of his pants.

Honestly. What do these guys think will happen? That we will be so entranced that we will forget that we are just little girls and decide that we want to play with that thing? Even as an adult, I don't understand the purpose of penis photos. Are they supposed to make me interested? Titillate me? What is the point?