#Ibelieveyou

don'tcare

While AGMA has never been sexually assaulted or raped, I grieve along with the tens of thousands of women who have had that horrific, life altering experience.

I grieve that so many of them have felt too terrified to tell their stories and their attackers have gone unpunished.

I grieve for the women who have summoned the strength to tell their stories at great personal risk, but have been summarily dismissed as ‘troublemakers’.  Like Dr. Ford.  And their attackers have gone unpunished.

I grieve for the women whose rape kits are sitting in law enforcement labs gathering dust.

I grieve for the women who have been so damaged by sexual assault/rape that they could not function after their assault/rape.  Some have not been able to finish their education, hold down a job, have a healthy physical/emotional relationship with a partner and and and…

I grieve that the unaddressed, unacknowleded, unresolved pain becomes a generational pain.

I grieve for the women who felt they had not other choice to escape the pain but suicide.

I grieve for my cousin’s daughter who was raped at 16 by her 23 year cousin.  And who died in her sleep at 26 due to her alcoholism that started after her rape.

I grieve for my cousin who lost her precious daughter.

I grieve that I didn’t do more to support/help my college roommate when she told me her sister’s husband (her brother-in-law) came into her bedroom when she was visiting and sexually assaulted her.  I am so very, very sorry Joy…

I grieve that people entrusted with enforcing laws for the well being of their constituents just don’t care.

I grieve that the GOP is sending the message to young women through their refusal of an FBI investigation, that, for the sake of the entitlement of the rich and powerful, the claim of an assault on their bodies is of no consequence and not worthy of being taken seriously.

I grieve for a country that would appoint a possible sexual predator with a history of alcohol abuse who demonstrates vicious, unhinged and mentally unstable behavior to a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

I grieve for the women who think that it’s no big deal for men to sexually assault/rape women saying “Boys will be boys.”

I grieve that more good men aren’t more involved in changing a culture that marginalizes women who have been sexually assaulted/raped.

I grieve.

 

The Zen of Charles Schulz

CharlieBrown

So right now I could be working on Christmas cards or studying for my Personal Trainer exam or writing something for my blog. The first two are fairly urgent and time sensitive.  I’m kind of on a deadline for both.  They’re both important to me for different reasons and I know I would regret not prioritizing either one of them.

Guess you figured out which one I picked…

I heard a few days ago that A Charlie Brown Christmas was turning 50 this year.  It first aired on television in December 1965.  Not sure how the news source I was listening to worked the math on that one…    But have a feeling that NEXT December there will be lots of 50th anniversary tributes and accolades for my good buddy Chuck and his sad little Christmas tree.

I’ll just start it off a year early.

I remember watching A Charlie Brown Christmas when it aired for the first time.  I was 11 years old and had just moved to Kentucky from Pennsylvania to live with my father and step-mother.  My own, dear mother passed away just a little over two months before and left a huge empty space in my chest where my heart used to be.  I was devastated.

I had never lived with my father before that I remember.  My parents were separated when I was very young, and he moved out of state when I was six to marry his new wife.  After he moved, I saw him probably once a year.  And I had no clue he had remarried until I met his wife for the first time when they came to get me to bring me down to Kentucky after Mom’s funeral.

Surprise!

These were the days before there were grief support groups for kids who lost a parent.  The days before there were divorce support groups for kids from “broken” homes.  The days before counseling was considered an option for a child adjusting to the abrupt and sudden loss of her immediate and extended family, her school, all her friends and the only home she had ever known.  They just patted you on your back and said, “Sorry ‘bout your luck.  Now buck up!”

You were just expected to suck it up and move on.  No moping allowed.

Shortly after I moved to Kentucky, my father got me a small, used, portable black and white TV for my room.  Like all TV’s back in the day, my little portable had antennas to get the paltry four – count ’em, four – stations that were available at that time. The reception was horrible on my little TV.  Lots of snow and static and fuzzy pictures.  Those darned rabbit ears.

But I honestly think that television was my salvation.  It was something magical.  It transported me to places and into stories that made me forget…   Shows like The Wonderful World of Disney or The Ed Sullivan Show or I Dream of Jeanie would suck me in and I’d forget for a couple of hours that I was a lonely stranger in a strange land living with strangers.

Most of all, I loved the shows that made me laugh.  Red Skelton, The Munsters, McHale’s Navy, The Beverly Hillbillies, Gilligan’s Island. And Looney Tunes cartoons – they were my favorite.  Tweety Pie was the bomb.  Bring it on Puddy Tat…  The more ridiculous and absurd, the more I laughed.

There was solace in laughter.  Healing.  All those good endorphins.  I was too young to drink or do drugs to feel better, but I sure could laugh.  Probably better for me in the long run…

Enter A Charlie Brown Christmas on my little TV in December 1965. Boy, could I relate to Charlie Brown.  I was living his life.  Nothing was going right.  I was full of self-doubt and anxiety.  I had no control over anything that was happening to my life.  I felt like a piece of sh*t.  Charlie Brown was my soulmate!  And I watched that little guy try so hard to make sense of everything, and try make something really dreadful into something beautiful and happy.  He just knew down in his soul there had to be more, and that it was full of love and healing and joy.  And he was right.

It’s been a long time since Linus first stood on that stage helped Charlie Brown understand the real meaning of Christmas.  49 years to be exact.  But I’ve never forgotten the simple lessons I learned from my soulmate and my little black & white TV.  Never, ever give up hope that even the saddest thing can be transformed into something amazing, and laugh a lot.

Merry Christmas Charlie Brown!!

September Yin and Yang

September

Yeah, yeah – I know I’m a little late since it’s already past mid-September.  This is a post that really wanted to be written at the beginning of the month.  It begged me to be written.  But because it’s not my normal “wry humor” (and I say that wryly…), I said no. It’s been nagging me ever since.  It would not relent.  I gave up. Thanks for your indulgence for my indulgence.

September is a very special month to me.  I always feel big changes in the air.  I can smell the changes.  September is chance to start over.  Brand new beginnings.  Most good and welcomed.

But not all.

September always means a new school year.  As a child growing up in Pittsburgh in the late 50‘s/early 60’s, school didn’t start until after Labor Day.   I was always excited to go back to school.  I couldn’t wait to see my friends again.  And back to school meant a new dress and a new pair of shoes for the fist day.  Cha-ching!

Getting a new dress was a big deal for me.  Due to divorce, I lived in a single parent household – unusual for the time – and my mother worked as a nurse in a VA hospital.  There wasn’t much money for new clothes.

Or new anything else.

But for the first day of school, not only would I get a new dress and shoes, but a new notebook, new pencils and a new book bag too.  (FYI – bookbags were the old school version of the modern backpack…)  It was a huge treat to go shopping with my mother for all my new stuff.  She was always so very busy all the time with work and taking care of the house and doing laundry and grocery shopping and cooking – we never had time just to hang out together. We would ride a trolley to downtown Pittsburgh and shop at one of the big department stores.   We always ate lunch in a restaurant.  To me, it was a thrilling adventure!

I experienced the same type of excitement at the beginning of September years later with my own kids when they started school. We’d go down the list of “suggested supplies”, head out to the mall and shopped ’til we dropped!  We all had fun, but I’m pretty sure that I enjoyed it the most…

And September was always the beginning of another year of volunteering.  I worked part-time in IT, so I was usually able to make time each week to volunteer at the kid’s school.  Yeah – I was one of those moms.  I was in PTA, helped out in the classroom, worked in the bookstore and on after-prom, baked cookies, was a Football Mom and a Soccer Mom.  All through their grade school, middle school and high school years, I volunteered.  And I loved every minute of it.

Now, every September when I feel the chill starting in the air and hear the sound of the September “critters” in the morning and see the leaves starting to put on their Fall regalia, my head and heart flood with the memories those happy new beginnings.  But September also reminds me that new beginnings can have their challenges.

My children have long been out of school.  The high school PTA and Football Moms are now run by people whose children were tiny babies back when I was involved.  September reminds me that every season comes to an end.  That very happy time in my life is over. Oh, I’ve adjusted to the empty nest and have reinvented myself several times over, and stay very busy and active.  I even started a blog!  But so far nothing has equaled the joy I had in parenting my kids when they were growing up.  September reminds me, sometimes cruelly, that time marches on.  Relentlessly.

Also, on a September day in 1965, my dear, sweet mother who worked so very hard to support my sister and I, died suddenly from undiagnosed pancreatic cancer.  She was two weeks shy of her 47th birthday.  So young…  I had just started 7th grade.  After the funeral, I was shipped off to a new city in a new state to live with my father who I had barely seen since he moved away when I was six, and his new wife who I’d never met.  I would never see the house I grew up in or any of my grade school or neighborhood friends again.

The smells and sounds and “feeling” of September remind me of new beginnings. But they also remind me that sometimes a new beginning isn’t welcome.   But it comes anyway.

I sigh and remember and mostly smile.