In case you were wondering about the flight I was on today…

The only excuse I can even give for actually writing a blog post today is that I’m officially on vacation. Officially. A term I need to remember to reinforce for the next week because I tend to forget these things and work on work things. Or at least, I predict that is what will happen, because I always end up working on holidays and random days off here and there. This time, I am flying somewhere else though and despite bringing my work computer with me, I have faith that if it looks like I’m concentrating a little too hard on something of value, the computer will be broken in two. Cause that’s what friends are for.

The other reason I’m taking the time to write this blog is simple inspiration. I started reading a book by a Blogger… or, a Bloggess, if you will. The Bloggess to be accurate.  (She’s here: http://thebloggess.com/  — Read it. Also, info about the book I reference on her page, y’all. But if you’re my friends, you’ve already read it.)

After 17 pages over 45 minutes, I had to give up reading. Maybe because I’m a terrible reader. Except, that’s not true and it’s really everyone else’s fault.

You see, my vacation plans include a cross-country flight, with a layover. And I am a whole two hours into a nine-hour journey on the FIRST LEG and no one will let me read. Or listen to music. Or sleep.

First off, props to Southwest Airlines for a stupid system of seat assignments. Have you ever wanted to go back to high school? Fly with Southwest. You don’t get seat assignments. You get a number. A1-60, B-1-60. One of the numbers in those sequences determines where you can stand in line to get on the plane and you have to stand in your exact spot and the closer to the end of the line you are, the more it doesn’t matter at all because you’re definitely left with “whatever seat is left.”

I was B-fucking-59. Ha! to the one guy I was a head of! Better luck next time, sucker.

So, being the last person on the plane means you have to get on and… not go to your assigned seat… but find someone willing, in small rows of three, to give up the comfort of the extra space the empty middle seat allows the two people who are pretending to hold it for someone. Except, I’m B-freaking 59 and while there were four or five seats actually empty on the plane I ended up in a stare down with multiple rows of people who did NOT want to give up their extra space.

Thankfully, I’m a nice person and spent 20 minutes speaking to a woman in the terminal, and she said hello as I was walking near her and had a seat in the middle, and offered it to me. B-60 was still staring down the other four rows. Ha! Not the last one picked to play dodge ball after all. Twelve years later and I’m overcoming high school.

The problem with sitting next to the nice lady from the terminal, who after about an hour I learned was named Sindy—not Cindy. They’re pronounced differently, but she didn’t know it was with an S until she saw her birth certificate when she was 19) is that she wasn’t done talking. This is completely lovely… except that I didn’t really sleep last night and possibly could in a four hour flight.

Just not this four hour flight.

Nonetheless, Sindy is perfectly lovely and not anti-social like the passenger on my left. I pull out my iPod but I don’t think Sindy knows what it is, so my music listening is intermittent between learning Sindy’s life story, which includes her 2-year-old grandson, daughter and son-in-law who she moved in with, bratty step-grandchildren, she used to work for state government, hated her last boss, has had surgery six times, and tackled a 200-pound weight loss success story for her knee replacement surgery. Which at some point, developed into how she could probably still have sex at her age, thanks to the new knees, but now she lives with her daughter and son-in-law and they might find that inappropriate.

Beverages finally come and I still haven’t gotten to my point of writing this all down.

So the passenger to the left… let’s call her Apple Girl, because she brought her own apple on this flight and I can’t decide if that makes her super-prepared or super-pretentious. Because the rest of us had to eat Nabisco snacks but she brought an apple. Fine, whatever, you’re super healthy and prepared. Stop shoving it down my throat, girl-who-hasn’t-said-a-word-to-me.

Apple girl, in her quest to prove her superiority to me, pulls out a book to try and up the ante on who’s more impressive, which means I need to do so as well. Obviously.

So I pull out the one book I brought with me – Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, by the Bloggess (Jenny Lawson) – and start from the beginning because I already read it once and believe if you’re willing to buy a book, it had better still be worth it the twelfth time you read it, because you invested in all that paper. And I’m only on time number two. I manage to get through the introduction when I notice that Apple Girl is no longer playing close attention to her Game of Thrones (heh, I’m winning this imaginary contest of superiority) and is now trying to not-so-discreetly discover why the first chapter is titled “I was a three-year-old-arsonist.” Which is a fair question, if you’ve never read the Bloggess’ blog, but I’m desensitized to such statements and cats in wearing anything but fur thanks to Jenny Lawson.

Apple Girl continuing to read over my shoulder for the next 10 minutes isn’t the worst of it. Because now I’ve ignored Sindy for 10 minutes and she wants to know about the book.

“This is an autobiography of a well-known writer” I start with, hoping that it quenches her curiosity just enough. But by this time, Sindy and I are old friends and I know this is a hopeless cause.

“Mice can’t write. Where’s her picture?”

“Why is the mouse wearing a cape?”

“What does she write that she’s famous for…?”

And finally “What’s a blog?”

Ooh boy. So, I make a decent enough attempt to explain the internet to my new/old friend while she reads the book in my lap.

“She sure says “fuck” a lot,” Sindy announces.

My response to this is a hesitant but polite smile to the mother in front of us who turns around to scowl as her three-year old son begins to repeat the word. Over. And over. And over again.

To be fair, I don’t believe this was the three-year-old’s first experience with the word. Mom was a lot less shocked and a lot more frustrated and I think she should take that frustration out on Dad because he probably got the three-year-old started, but at the end of the day, it certainly was not my fault, because I didn’t say the word.

Then Sindy starts to ask about taxidermy and swearing and is swearing allowed on the internet, and can you say other works like *bleeped to retain your innocence in life.*

And I decide that now’s the time to help this mom out and quickly switch Sindy back to our unfinished discussion of her potential new boyfriend, his potential sexual prowess, her new knees, and how to tell her kids. Because THAT just became the most comfortable conversation we could have.

Me: You could tell them you have a boyfriend.

Sindy: I’m not 13.

Me: You could call him your friend. Your gentlemen caller. Your companion.

Sindy: I’m 68 and live with my kids, not the Golden Girls.

Me: Fair enough. You could establish a euphemism. Like “Today I’m going to my knitting club.”

Sindy: Why the hell would I start knitting?

Me: You wouldn’t actually be knitting anything; you’d be seeing your gentlemen caller.

Sindy: But what if they want to see what I knit.

Me: Try buying a scarf at Target. Rip the tags out.

Sindy: What if they want to see my old-lady-knitting-basket?

Me: Leave your “needles” at your “friend’s house.” Then you have reasons to leave. To get them.

Sindy:  And by get them, you mean…

Me: Yes. Go knit some more.

Sindy: Hmm.

Then Sindy fell asleep and I shrugged at the mom who was still glaring at me,  because I got Sindy to stop saying “Fuck” and that was something. And the rest of our conversation used code words and her kid can’t possibly understand what we mean by knitting, gentleman caller or euphemism.

Or if he does, we should all just throw in the towel because these kids will own us by age 12.

That’s when I pulled out my computer and started to type. While Sindy, an active sleeper, proceeded to elbow my ribs repeatedly.

I should also point out that the guy in front of me has leaned all the way back, so I have no legitimate way to open my computer so that anyone – me included – can see the screen. Essentially, I’m typing with my hands jammed into the keyboard, with no idea if I’m actually tapping the right keys. This could be hilarious.

Needless to say, I put the book away to avoid having to explain it any further…  out of sight, out of mind, right? Because not everyone is ready for the wit and taxidermical lifestyle of The Bloggess. Which is a shame, but sometimes, reality hurts like that.

Update: Apple Girl asked me if I liked my neck pillow, which she watched me blow up. I said yes. She said it was a better idea that her squishy pillow. If I was still keeping count, I would so be winning this. Also, I caught like a page and a half of that Game of Thrones book she’s reading, and HBO series or not, that book/page sucked.  But since she was social, we’re no longer enemies. So I can’t actually declare how much I won my imaginary contest. That wouldn’t be nice.

Legitimate Rape! Who else is outraged?

I have to say that I feel very fortunate to be talking from a place of “I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about.” At least, not from the personal experience of getting raped, as I have never been raped (Legitimately or illegitimately, though Congressman Todd Akin needs to explain to me the difference. Which he won’t do. Because there is none.)

I’ve been lucky, to have never been in a situation before. And don’t get me wrong… in college, I took self-defense classes to increase my safety when walking campus at night and carried a whistle and organized rape-defense classes for the girls who live in my residence hall.

And still… I’ve just been “lucky.”  Lucky that it hasn’t happened to me. Yet. That despite these extra precautions I’ve taken over time to make me… braver? Confident? Hyper-aware of my surroundings whenever I walk outside? Some mix of all three, I think. Despite these actions, I’ve just been lucky.

Because most rapes don’t happen outside, behind a bush late at night when no one is nearby to hear your screams. Most happen when you’re in perfectly average situations. Situations where you feel safe enough to let your guard down.

My problem with Congressman Akin is I think he thinks rape only occurs behind those bushes.

And that kind of thinking is incredibly dangerous and demeaning.

I said at the beginning that I didn’t know much about this topic from the personal experience of getting raped. But I do know some things about what happens next.

I grew up in a generation of kids who knew about and most of whom were having sex long before that reached the legal age of 18.  And I grew up in a generation where most people didn’t want to tell us anything about sex. No one wanted to teach us what it means to have sex. We were taught to “Just Say No” to drugs, but never taught the young men that “No means No” and never taught the women that “It’s okay to say no” and to report it if someone didn’t listen.

But my college experience changed everything I knew. As a resident assistant, I organized Rape Aggression Defense classes with our campus police department in our halls. I created bulletin boards with reminders about drinking the unknown and keeping yourself safe on campus. We all preached walking in teams, embracing the buddy system and had long discussions about calling home for help if you drank something and felt funny while at a party.

It was not my job to be a tattletale on my girls for their underage drinking or partying ways. And I made sure my girls knew that, because it’s how I built trust. (And because it wasn’t my job to bust them for underage drinking when they weren’t on campus.) Which is why I got many, many calls, on countless weeknights and weekends, from girls in my hall, who couldn’t get out of a party or a house. Girls that had been drugged. Girls who needed help to prevent being raped.  Girls who weren’t sure where they were anymore or what had happened to them, but knew something wasn’t right. Girls who had already been raped and needed help getting home because they were literally too scared to move.

Along with my girls, I had great relationships with many of the boys in our hall and whether I was able to leave the building or not that weekend, I’d literally knock on doors and wake up a couple of sober guys up to make retrieval parties.  One time, we had organized a group of 10, mostly men, to a frat house to retrieve three girls, one who was absolutely certain the other two had been drugged, but she couldn’t get them out of house nor protect them both herself. Like an army, they marched in together and carried our girls home, got other girls who looked like they were in trouble, out of the house. (And then I called the cops.)

Why not call the police at the first sign of trouble? Because with the police came consequences. Reports. Arrests. Possible school suspensions. And to most people, the worst of it was having their parents find out. And what happened the couple of times I’d gotten calls from girls who had already been assaulted? The absolute worst thing that could happen to someone who’s just been violated in the most egregious way is to force them to talk about it and sit through an exam because a police officer picked them up and dropped them off at the ER and asked them for details and she’s nothing but alone.

Once we got my girls home, all but once, I was able to convince them to keep their clothes on, (when all they really want to do is take a shower and peel off their skin), and let me or a friend or whoever made them comfortable, take them to the emergency room. This way they’d have support and a sense of protection while having to submit to a rape kit. Have photos taken of them. Have their most private areas swabbed for evidence.

And I’d get them to do it by telling them having the kit completed doesn’t mean you have to file a police report.  It just means you have it, if you decide you want to say something, eventually. Most of the time, my girls were terrified of saying anything. Because saying something meant they had to relive it. It meant people were going to have questions and they were going to have to answer them. And sometimes, it was the pure mortification of knowing they had been raped, but having no idea who did it to them. Having no idea about who drugged them.

But the worst, the absolutely worst part of each of these situations for each of these girls that I’ve been present for?  It was the doubt.

Whether the police or the staff in the ER, their parents… you name it.  Someone always doubted the truthfulness of their stories. Someone always doubted her motives. They’d doubt these girls simply because of the outfit she chose to wear, or the decision she made to drink that drink she was offered. Her decision to go to a party. Or to follow a guy home.

Human beings make mistakes. But we live in a society where people assume most rape victims asked for it.  And that disgusts me.

It’s this attitude, this doubt that women are telling the truth about being raped, that simply makes Congressman Todd Akin a dangerous human being, much less an elected official. Because to deem a rape as anything but disgusting and horrific hurts ALL women and he did just that by suggesting there are things such as “legitimate rapes.” And it’s a disservice, not just the women who have already been raped, but all of the women who will be raped.

Rape is rape. And most women will never say a word to anyone. I’ve never been raped, but I’ve heard my fair share of stories and seen first-hand the effects rape has on women that have lived through it. Some of have never told anyone. For some, I am their secret keeper. That doesn’t make them weak.

So this all comes up this week because Rep. Todd Akin said something ridiculously asinine: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

He later clarified his comments. What he meant to say?

Akin: You know, Dr. Willkie has just released a statement and part of his letter, I think he just stated it very clearly. He said, of course Akin never used the word legitimate to refer to the rapist, but to false claims like those made in Roe v. Wade and I think that simplifies it….. There isn’t any legitimate rapist…. [I was] making the point that there were people who use false claims, like those that basically created Roe v. Wade.

My point here is not to rehash this argument. The idea that a woman can will he body not to get pregnant when a man forces his sperm into her reproductive system is so out of touch with reality that anyone who repeats the point as truth or evidence should simply be punched in the face.

In 2010, Todd Akin, along with 158 other members of the House of Representatives, supported a piece of legislation, which introduced the term “forcible rape” in to legislation titled: HR 5939 – No Taxpayer Funded Abortions.

See the full text here:  http://chrissmith.house.gov/uploadedfiles/hr_5939.pdf

Let’s get a definition for Forcible Rape.

Forcible Rape: The carnal knowledge of a person, forcibly and/or against that person’s will; or not forcibly or against the person’s will where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity (or because of his/her youth).

I mean… legitimately, it kinda sounds like it covers everything, right? Except for the use of the word’ forcible’ – because all rapes are forced.

(UPDATE: I heard in an interview on this issue today that the term the anti-choice folks use as a counterpart to “forcible rape” is”consensual rape”… insert your ‘what the f*ck’ here.)

The problem with inserting this term into this legislation is simple:  In order to obtain an abortion for a pregnancy gained through rape, you have to prove that the rape was forced on you or against your will.

You have to PROVE your RAPE to the government.

What. The. Fuck.

My point in writing this is not to rehash ludicrous arguments with no scientific backing, or to write something that you haven’t heard thusfar, if you’ve been paying attention, or to highlight the plenty awful things I’ve dreamed might happen to Rep. Todd Akin’s own reproductive system.

My goal is that you get out and vote in November.

My body may not have magical powers of sperm rejection, but it does have magical powers at the ballot box. And I encourage you to review this list (http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr3) and not just hold Todd Akin accountable in Missouri by sheer will, but hold every man and woman, Democrat and Republican, who supported this legislation accountable.

My list of people I won’t support is long. Rep. Paul Ryan supported this legislation and he’ll be on the presidential ticket this November.

And he won’t have my vote.

Rep. Mike Pence supported this legislation and he’s running for governor of Indiana this November.

And he won’t have my vote.

Rep. Joe Donnelly (a Democrat) supported this legislation. I may loathe his opponent in Indiana’s Senatorial race, but neither man will be receiving *my* vote.

(My representative, Dan Burton, also co-sponsored this bill, but is retiring. I’ll have to live with the fact that he’s never had my vote in the past.)

These guys aren’t getting my vote.  My magical body rejects the hypocrisy of these men, thinking they have the right to demand a woman prove she was raped.

As if simply being raped wasn’t awful enough!

And this is not about whether you believe in the right to choose, the right to an abortion, whether in cases of rape, or not.

It’s about believing a woman, when she says she’s been raped and supporting her, whether you know her or not, whether you’ve been in her shoes or not, no matter what.

We need to unite in outrage.

There’s no such thing as Legitimate Rape and we are hurting women and discouraging them to report a rape, when we simply want women to prove that they weren’t asking to be RAPED. That those women didn’t kinda sorta want to be RAPED. And that, if they didn’t like being RAPED at least a little bit, they wouldn’t be pregnant because honestly, a woman’s body usually takes care of that for her.

Be horrified. Be outraged. Be disgusted. And don’t let anyone gloss over this issue and say it’s just this one guy with no idea about what he’s saying. There were 159 members of Congress who supported this legislation.

Tell these “people” that Rape is Rape. Say so with your voice. And, please, say so with your vote.

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr3
(This list actually list all 227 sponsors for the bill, additions from the original draft.)

Other stories you should read on this topic:

Wake Up: It’s not just Akin

The Official Guide to Legitimate Rape

I’m Shauna Prewitt. I got pregnant from rape at 21. Legitimately.

The whole story and video of Rep. Akin’s interview

It’s simple. I’m an easy sell.

This is why I shouldn’t be allowed to spend my own money.

I blame her. I don’t remember her name. I feel horrible about that. But being bad with names doesn’t mean I blame her any less for the $29.99 I spent tonight. Because… well, you see the neatly shaped fruit on the counter?  And all the sliced vegetables.

Aren’t they so pretty?  I like pretty things.

And she announced there would be free things, too. And I did get the free knife that makes the v-shapes in the fruit. In fact, she gave me three of them.

That’s a good sign they really cost about $.20 a piece.

My v-shaped designs need a little work, but that’s definitely not an ugly green pepper.

I thought maybe the mandolin (the slicey thingy on the counter) would be cheaper (if not free, because she said we’d get more free things). But it was $30.

Plus the cost of the extra vegetables I bought to bring home and slice things, because what’s-her-name looked like she was having SO much fun doing it. Damn her.

Now I should probably figure out what the heck I want to make for dinner. It’s 10 pm and I haven’t eaten yet. Just sliced, diced and julienned vegetables for some unknown dish.

Oh, and the other free thing she offered?  It was a pair of kitchen shears. I already have a pair, but who doesn’t need two… right?

Living on a dime and a prayer…

How frugal slash disturbing is the following thought?

Image

I came home and saw this shirt, laying on the floor of the bathroom, where most of my clothes hang out until I decide to wear or wash them, in no particular order. The dusty speckles? Mineral makeup that fell during the application process this morning. And a lot of it.

So the question becomes… is it wrong to just rub my shirt on my face in the morning so it doesn’t go to waste?

There are probably some thoughts I shouldn’t think out loud.

But mineral makeup is expensive. *shrugs*

Promiscuously Diverse

The story today that I just couldn’t shake has something to do with Grey’s Anatomy. And for this alone, let me apologize.

Shonda Rhimes, executive producer of ABC shows Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and Scandal, called out the new ABC Family television series Bunheads for i’s lack of casting diversity.

(See the story here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/13/shonda-rhimes-bunheads_n_1594251.html)

Yes, everyone in the cast, and almost the entire town, is white.

Ms. Rhimes is famous for her “blind casting”– none of the characters she writes are of any specific race.  And she tweeted:

I have a couple of things I want to say about this. Carefully, is probably the best advice at this juncture.

First, I don’t disagree. The cast is entirely white. And diversity on television is important.

However… and hang with me here… Is it realistic to assume that the small town being replicated is incredibly diverse and would therefore have an abundance or even one black ballerina?

And if ASP were to adopt Shonda’s “blind-casting” bit, isn’t it entirely possible that they chose the best ballerinas for the show, and they all just happened to be white?

It’s fiction, so the small town could have been “created” to be diverse, I suppose. But I live in the real world and in the real world, I remember attending a school for seven years in which I could count the black students on one hand. And not a single one of them was in my ballet class. Or tap class. Or modern jazz class either.

I’m not saying the show shouldn’t have cast a non-white actor as a ballerina. But at the same time, how about we not force people to hire non-white people just so they can say “I have a non-white cast member.”  To me, forced diversity isn’t actually diversity at all.

And when they finally end up casting a black or Latina ballerina (because it’s an issue now and networks hate that) it’ll be because the decision was forced and not necessarily because the actress was the most talented for the role.

But my second point is really the one sticking to me today. Because hypocrisy in any form bugs me.

Ms. Rhimes daughter is 10 years old and I understand the importance of exposing her to diverse television.

And while I’m yet to be a mother, if you were to poll 100 Moms of daughters, black, white, green or purple and asked which show they’d prefer their daughters to watch, Bunheads or *Insert A Shonda Rhimes Show Here* hands down, Bunheads is going to win that race.

Because no matter how diverse Ms. Rhimes may be in her casting, I can’t imagine many Moms wanting their little girls watching shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, where every episode someone is having sex or debating sex or cheating or thinking of cheating on their significant other. Where promiscuity not only becomes dominant features of every character and storyline, but also gives anyone admitted to a hospital pause when considering what STDs the doctor trying to touch them may or may not have.

But hey… at least those shows have diverse casts.

Priorities Mama Rhimes.

No Means No.

It’s June 18, 2012 and you’ve heard the news these past few days. But just in case the you who’s reading this is doing so in 2112, let me recap for you.

*please still be a website in 2112, youtube*

First, let’s stop to acknowledge how Rep. Lisa Brown is my favorite vagina owner of the month.

The Republican leadership of the Michigan House of Representatives banned her (and Rep. Barb Byrum, my former representative) from the floor of the house. Not because, in their words, she dared to say “vagina” but because she said “I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but no means no.”

They banned her because she equated the legislation, which would require women who wanted an abortion to provide proof that they weren’t coerced into ending their pregnancy (and may I ask… how does one prove that?) to rape.

Except she didn’t.

She did, however, equate this legislation to a woman being forced to do something against their will.

And while I struggle with how someone can possibly prove that no one at all discussed the option of abortion with a woman, much less how a woman is supposed to make a decision without information (which I get is more to their point…), I’m absolutely flummoxed by Republicans fascination with what goes on with my vagina. And apparently, their inherent fear of my vagina and it’s future path of destruction.

Dear Men: I have no such interest in your penises.  Nor do I choose to comment on your mass murdering tendencies. I mean… millions and millions of potential baby-making sperm die at your hand every single day. Perhaps if you were fined for every time you masturbate or had to pass some sort of government-issued test before you’re allowed to have sex, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on my vagina.

Anyway. The vagina discussions of the last week have led to some mighty fine moments, starring me, shouting “VAGINA!” whenever my brain decided to. Eventually, it occurred to me that my name sounds kinda-sorta-not-really-but-close to vagina and it would make an excellent title for a blog.

Which is how this page got its start.

So thank you to Lisa Brown for the idea. And may all the proud vaginas across this great nation remind all the douchebags we’re forced to share air with that No Means No and it’ll be a cold day in hell before I allow them to have say over my vagina.

Vagina.

Vagina.

VaginaVaginaVagina.

See. Now they’re good and scared.

Ms. Pacman is on the run inside my brother

My brother called tonight to discuss a very serious problem he’s been having.

And before I go further, I want a disclaimer stating that I *know* this is a serious problem. I get it.

But I’m the girl who laughs at funerals and cries when something’s really funny.

My brother recently learned he has a heart problem. In that, he’s lost a part of his heart. A little hole got punctured in it and the piece of the heart that’s gone is now traveling through his body, causing seizures and other problems. And to make it worse, he might have to have open heart surgery someday and because of other medical conditions he has, the doctors don’t think he could survive such a surgery.

Yes, I know it’s serious.

Tonight, he calls me to say that the Docs have figured out what ails him and in the past two days, he’s had some sort of radiation treatment to help the doctors find these pieces (because the original piece then split in two) of his heart floating around his body.

But instead of the radiation finding and “tagging” these pieces, like it was supposed to, my brother said it just “ate them up.”

This is when I began to laugh inappropriately.

Of course my brother, being the big sissy he is, with a hole in his heart and all, is outraged.

“Why are you laughing about this?! This isn’t funny!” he cries.

Oh, but it is. The doctors didn’t know the stuff they put in him was actually going to eat up his floating heart pieces. Come. On.

And through my laughter, I managed to spit out that it sounds like Ms. Pacman was let loose in his insides and she just ate a piece of his heart, cause it was in her path

Then, I laughed more. But this time, my brother joined in.

After we hung up, he downloaded the Ms. Pacman music to make it his ringtone.

Laughter really is the best medicine. 🙂