Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Donna Nobis Pacem...November 4, 2018



I saved this template for more than a year.  I had been doing the Blog4Peace for a few years in a row from 2010-13, but then took just as many years off.  I suppose I meant to do it last year, which is why I saved the template, but I forgot about it, and by the time I remembered, it was obviously so far past November I thought I may as well wait until it came around again!  so I was all ready to do it this year, but...a separate issue came to my attention, and had to be dealt with in a timely manner, so it got set on the back-burner, and here I am past the deadline again.  I'm sure no one will care if I'm a few days late, peace is peace after all, right?

so I downloaded the template with every intention of playing around with it creatively before posting it with some attempts at demographically-expected attached text, and feeling like I'd done my moral duty as it pertains to blogs and blog blasts and blog blasts for peace for the year.  as it turns out, I don't happen to have access to my own computer at the moment - mine had a terrible mishap and hasn't been working properly, so I've been getting by with my son's older outdated refurbished MacBook he was gifted at his Bar Mitzvah that has since been replace by a much more up-to-date system.  what that means is that I don't have access to all the features and programs I would normally, so I wasn't able to play around with the peace globe template.  so there it is.  that's what I got.

to be honest, I haven't been feeling very peaceful with all the hate that's going around lately.  I mean, I tend to try and maintain a certain personal calm when dealing with the intrusion of unwanted energies and elements into my daily life, but we all live in this world together, and we all experience small moments that trigger our anger or frustration, and truly stressful events that can bring out our fear and rage, so I find it's been more necessary of late to stand up and identify myself as someone who's available to act as a shield to others who maybe aren't feeling so safe these days.  and I say that as a member of several targeted populations - more than some, less than others - which is to speak to my seriousness when I say Never Again, and We Will Outlive Them, to my experience in handling these types of attacks, and to offering the care necessary to heal from them.

yes, I pray for peace.  I hope for it with every ounce of my being, with the belief that willing for a thing in the right frame of spirit can bring it into being.  but what do I do on the daily?  remind people that racism is unacceptable?  tell them that anti-semitism Must become a chapter in our less than illustrious past history as it pertains to human dignity and tolerance?  act as a reminder that people who stand next to me on the street every day have the same rights I do?  that people who are struggling to get here deserve the same?  that people in foreign countries deserve to not be thrown into the depths of a humanitarian crisis by Our country so we can continue to pretend America is any kind of measure of freedom and justice in the world?  to get us to pledge our support to the Ferguson activists who are being systematically murdered for their parts in attempting to heal and uplift their communities?  what about two unrelated people simply shopping in a grocery store?

what peace have I brought today?

who's peace have I bought?

certainly not my own...

it's still a choice, though, and given the option, I will usually choose peace.  but if diplomacy fails?  and something or someone plans on coming for me and/or my friends?  I won't be going down without a fight.

Appropriation Soup

if broccoli & cheddar soup is made from broccoli & cheddar, potato-leek soup made from potatoes and leeks, and tomato soup is made from tomatoes, then is G*psy soup made from G*psies?  I mean, it does seem to follow, doesn't it?  and you see that asterisk (*) I put in place of the 'y'?  I picked that up from other Roma who do it to indicate to non-Roma that for them, the 'G-word' is synonymous to the 'n-word' for Black people.  I also use a capital 'G' to show that I'm designating an ethic group.  while there are plenty of Romani people who use the term with pride, there are also many who would prefer to see its use dropped from the lexicon of world language entirely.  I can't and don't blame them, as the exonym comes from the mistaken belief that Roma people come from Egypt, and the term 'tsigane' (tzigane, cigany, zigano, cingaro, gitano, zigeuner, tigan), which is used for Romani all over the world, is synonymous with 'slave', and literally translates as 'untouchable'.  so can we maybe call the soup something else?  unless the cook is Romani, in which case, it's up to them.

now, let's take into account the fact that Roma are not just people, but A People, with roots in Northwest India before spreading in a diaspora throughout Europe, and the rest of the world, escaping oppression, enslavement, torture, and murder.  Roma have no homeland, and though they live in many different countries, have a mostly common language with many dialects, a flag, and a cultural pride - which is why it would be better for non-Roma people to find other ways to show their admiration for the Roma than by naming their businesses, their children, their food, and their pets 'G*psy'.  as the common term for an oppressed and maligned minority, the word 'G*psy' became a curse in the mouths of non-Roma, hurled at generations of children as a supposed measure of their collective worthlessness, their inferred inferiority.  every manner of sin is attached to their public image; they are often the prime suspects to many an inquest.  is that the spirit with which non-Roma don t-shirts emblazoned with slick graphics denoting their 'G*ypsy Souls'?

oh, look a this - with the ridiculously inaccurate, and therefore doubly insulting - to two cultures, so FOUR times as insulting - excuse for a Native American headdress. 

maybe living in refuge camps and substandard housing without clean, running water or access to other municipal services is what non-Roma people mean when they talk about 'loving their G*psy life!', or makes them proclaim 'G*psy life forever!'?  or maybe they're thinking of the stereotypically hyper-sexualized Romani woman as exotic 'other' trope to be found in literature, film, and theater, like Hugo's Esmerelda or Bizet's Carmen?  maybe they simply mean they want to be like my friends and I who are all just trying to make a living, make ends meet, get the bills paid and have enough left over to get something nice for the kids, have meaningful experiences and warm family moments, living life like the majority of other people on the planet, in our roles in our communities as teachers, police officers, singers, writers, dancers, full-time parents, doctors, government officials, musicians, fashion designers, bakers, athletes, constructions workers, machinists, etc... 

visit Chad Evans Wyatt's work over on his website RomaRising

while it seems romantic to live in a horse-drawn vardo traveling the countryside playing music around the campfire, much of that lifestyle was the necessary result of having to either fend for oneself out in the wilderness, or submit to the aforementioned horrors of oppression and slavery.  and while the Roma were eventually free of legal slavery, if not the stigma of being considered 'untouchables', there are always other expressions of racism lobed in their direction, always more news of some atrocity or other, as if losing 80% of the total population of an entire ethnic group to the Nazis in World War II wasn't enough.  and the majority of Roma have been 'settled' for several generations, now, it's time to stop perpetuating the myth that we're a traveling people.  we're simply done running.  I know, I'm belaboring the point, but I wanted to make sure to include plenty of backstory for the rest of what I came to the page to say.

for many years, there haven't been people in any kind of position to stand up and talk about this stuff.  I mean, for sure there have been many Roma over the years who have raised their voices repeatedly for long periods of time, and their having done that obviously laid the ground-work for all the great progress made so far, but there are an unprecedented amount of young Roma coming up in the world who have managed to fully utilize all the benefits they could get access to as a means to forward their education and careers, who are doing all manner of amazing work across a variety of fields, and as a result, as A People, the Roma are beginning to be recognized as an ethnic minority it is no longer acceptable to discriminate against (not that it ever was), and that our cultural contribution to the global community is worthy of respect.

Roma Education Fund Early Childhood Education Program

as a woman of Romani descent, even though I wasn't raised in a 'traditional' way, taking part in activism on behalf of the Romani people is something I do as a way to honor my Romani ancestors and heritage.  one of the main ways I am able to do that is by making sure everyone in my circle of family and friends is aware of the issues facing many Roma today, both overseas, and here in the United States.  I bring that awareness out into the wider community by talking to people about how they use 'the G-word' when it sneaks into everyday language, or comes up in conversation.  I approach it on Halloween in the streets, and in songs at the music school.  I write in to the newspaper to let them know their use of the term in specific contexts is prejudiced and misinformed.  I helped a store-owner recognize that she had the creative ability to come up with an even better name for her shop to put on a big sign out front than something that would have been insulting for to me to have to see every day in my local community.  I sign and share petitions concerning Romani issues, and I support Romani artists and endeavors when and wherever I can.  so here is where we get to the meat of my story today ~

this Halloween, while helping to chaperone my friends' and my small tribe of trick-or-treaters as they lay waste to the town's candy supply, one of my friends mentioned to me that they had heard, or read an article about, a new restaurant opening up in the next town by the name of 'The Twisted Gypsy'.  they mentioned it to me because they knew it would matter to me.  deeply.  and they were right.  I went immediately into defensive mode, deciding on the spot that the minute I got home that night I would begin doing everything I could, as fast as I could, to make sure that didn't happen.  I sent an email to the diner up the road from my house, because the guy who owns the diner, my beloved, hometown diner, where my kid and I get our locally-sourced 'eggs any style, rye toast, crispy bacon, and roasted potatoes' with generous tip included for $20, is the very guy who is the one opening up this latest insult on my culture, right here where live, where I'll have to see it, and hear about it, and deal with pretending it isn't killing me inside a little every day.  and then I'd have to boycott my beloved hometown diner up the road from my house where my kid and I have gotten many soul-healing $20 breakfasts, which supports local agriculture, economy, community, and families.  and that wouldn't feel good.  besides, I'm just a poor, single mom, with little to no pull in this community - this guy owns at least one successful business if not more, and is about to open another one.  what chance do I have to be heard, to be taken seriously, of being respected?

here's the article from when he bought the property:  https://hudsonvalleyone.com/2015/10/24/phoenicia-diner-owner-buys-gypsy-wolf-property/

in my email to the diner, I told them I had heard about the new restaurant, and a rumor about a proposed name for which I suggested the restauranteur sit down with me so I could help him pick a more appropriate name for his new endeavor that did not include a racial slur for my people.  I offered to work together to find a way to move forward as friends and neighbors, in an environment of mutual respect and understanding for each other's cultures.  then I posted the information on facebook.  I told my friends that I had learned of the plans for the new restaurant, the proposed name, and insisted we could not allow it to happen.  I asked them to be ready and willing to support a coordinated action to help the owners understand why finding a new name would win them many new fans and loyal customers.  my friends said they had my back.  then...

article where the 'Twisted Gypsy' rumor began:  https://hudsonvalleyone.com/2017/10/02/woodstock-building-boom-continues/

a friend of mine who knows the restauranteur stepped in and asked me to hold off on the letter-writing and boycotting, because knowing him to be a fair and decent guy, he wanted a chance to talk to him before I went full social justice warrior on a local business owner over a misunderstanding, and perhaps even facilitate the proposed sit-down I suggested.  knowing my buddy to be a fair and decent guy, I agreed, and he responded promptly with all assurances that the new restaurant would not carry that, or any name like it.  just like that.  I heard about it Wednesday night, by Friday morning I had a second-hand assurance, and on Friday night I had an email from the restauranteur thanking me for reaching out with my concerns.  he explained to me that when he purchased the building and property - having been, in its previous incarnation, a cantina by the name of Gypsy Wolf, which functioned on that spot for 25 years, and was still open when I first moved here, which I never patronized for the offending name, and has since shut down - they needed to form an LLC, and settled on the name 'Twisted Gypsy' by combining a nod to the old Gypsy Wolf, and the twisted willow trees indicated on the site plan.  they had no intention of offending anyone, and do not plan on using that name as part of the new restaurant.  done.

I haven't responded with a thank you email yet, but I'm getting to it.  I keep a file of articles and stories like this on a facebook page I manage called Romani and Allies 'Gypsy' Activism, because as a community, it's important for us to recognize when people make the right choice; like Chef Mitch at Taco Moto in Milwaukee,  Students United Ithaca who refused to whitewash Esmerelda's character in their school musical, a retailer in Dallas who renamed her shop Favor the Kind from something less...kind, and the Actor's Equity Association for renaming their traditional Broadway ceremony, and its accompanying accoutrement.  I am happy to now add to that list the Phoenicia Diner, where they "serve your favorite diner standbys based on locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients from nearby Catskills and Hudson Valley farms."  so they do that, AND respect the culture of their neighbors.  feel free to let them know you appreciate their decision, and integrity.  if you're local, go visit (the food is Amazing, and it's a real friendly place!), if you're within traveling distance, make a weekend of it!  if you're far away, just send a thank you note.  I'm sure they'll enjoy knowing they won a few fans by choosing to be on the side of history that favors inclusion; and in recognizing the importance of the individual ingredients, will find a better name for their soup.


Thursday, November 1, 2018

Utter Nonsense Unworthy of Being Read

in accordance with my own parameters, I like to post here once a week as my own personal 'use it or lose it' boot camp.  I only posted twice this past month, and while I'm quick to forgive myself (because it's not like anyone really cares about this blog other than me), I'm still annoyed about it for it's place in the web of other tasks I didn't manage to complete in a timely fashion recently.  I have four drafts that I've been working on for varying amounts of time, according to their relative emotional difficulty to get out on the page, and my own laziness/busyness.  so in the interest of 'getting something out there', I'm going to whip up a list of:

"Things I Think About While Awake at 3am"

  1. why am I awake at 3am?
  2. should I go to bed, or will I just lie there with my eyes open, staring at the ceiling, thinking about everything I could be doing instead?
  3. how long will the logs in the woodstove burn?
  4. what music should I listen to?
  5. what is there to eat?
  6. can I just keep snacking on candy all night/morning?
  7. there are dishes in the sink that need doing.
  8. there is laundry that needs doing.
  9. my bathroom needs to be cleaned.
  10. I need to sign up for the parent-teacher conferences tomorrow.
  11. I need to pay all the overdue bills...somehow.
  12. I shouldn't eat any more candy.
  13. where's the cat?
  14. why didn't I know about that gig that cool band I like played?
  15. I hope everyone got home from Trick-or-Treating safely.
  16. the kitchen floor needs sweeping.
  17. I just ate another piece of candy.
  18. why do I have so much stuff?
  19. why do I censor myself?
  20. will I ever love again?
  21. does it matter, as long as I get to have sex?
  22. this isn't music I'm listening to - it's annoying noise.
  23. when will I finish that 3k-word story?
  24. my desk is a mess - I really need to spend a few hours doing paperwork.
  25. I don't think I'm going to be under 200 lbs. for my 50th birthday.
  26. I could be under 200 lbs. for my 50th birthday if I work really hard at it.
  27. why can't I think of myself as attractive if I'm fat?
  28. there are lots of beautiful fat people.
  29. why are all the people who contact me on dating websites sub-par (for me)?
  30. does that mean I'm sub-par?
  31. how do I up my game?
  32. why do I want to 'up my game'?  I don't have any 'game'.
  33. what is going on in that woodstove?
  34. I ate more candy...
  35. look at all the stuff I have to Read!
  36. it's November - time to batten down the hatches.
  37. should I get the cat a kitten?
  38. can I stop the horribly named restaurant from naming itself so horribly?
  39. will people help support me in getting them to cease and desist?
  40. 'when you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way, from your first cigarette to your last dying day'!
  41. am I pretty?
  42. can someone please Tell me that I'm pretty?
  43. 42
  44. 27
  45. 18
  46. hut, hut, HIKE!
  47. the car is going to need new tires...
  48. I feel disconnected from my spiritual community.
  49. I often feel disconnected from my community.
  50. gotta pee!
I think that might be enough to knock me out for the next three hours before my alarm goes off, but we'll see...we'll see...

Friday, October 19, 2018

Mysteriam Ink

The Unused Portion has been neglected, lately, and for that I apologize.  work for money generally takes precedent these days, so in order to get my hustle on the past few weeks, one activity (or two) had to take the fall for me to get back on track a bit with some pressing issues.  I've gotta start these posts earlier in the week so I'm not banging the whole thing out of a Monday, trying to get it all in, failing with the rushed effort.  give myself time to look at it, reflect, let it breathe - it's supposed to be my day-off Monday Meditation!  which is even harder when heading into the season of the year where time seems to roll so swiftly towards some bitter end, bringing melancholy and "that old familiar feeling of impending doom", as a friend lost to time and circumstance once said.  while I tend not to feel the doom and gloom, I do feel an incredible need to rush and get things done "before the snow flies".  15 years living in Vermont taught me to Be Ready For The Winter, which was more important there, than here in NY, where I live now - where the plow truck drivers are out salting the roads as soon as the first flake hits the ground.

it's time to trade salad greens and fruits for root veggies and squash.  I already made soup, a pot of chili, and lit the woodstove.  I brought all my house-plants back in from the porch over a week ago, because I could Smell the snow coming, and even though we still had a few warm days after that, I'm glad I did.  over the course of the summer, I may well have propagated almost double the amount of plants I had before the weather warmed up, so now I have to find room for them all in my small, poorly-lit cottage!  they're currently being 'staged' in the kitchen, and my Teen Wolf has had about enough of the jungle on the table and counters.  they'll find their places for the winter soon enough...I think I may have solved that dilemma in thinking about how the market season is almost over for the year.

I finally made it back to the Market this year!  I haven't had a booth at a flea market in...23 years or so!  (wait - I'm lying.  the kid and I had a booth at a homeschool market or two within the past 5 years).  it took me a lot to get there, but I made it, and it was a lot of fun.  Teen Wolf came with me and we made a day of it.  he even went and got us lunch at the deli across the street - not the sort of thing he tends to take on individually, but I sent him, so he went, and didn't even say anything about how nervous it probably made him.  but we chatted a bit about how I was scared to walk up to the flea market guy and ask him where I should set up, but I did it anyway, because I'm the kind of person who can talk to anyone, and...I needed to know where to set up, or I wasn't going to get very far with my plans.  the teen said he would have stood in that field all day because he wouldn't have had the courage to approach the guy.  interesting, right?  well, he'd been to the deli across the street before, and I wasn't about to leave our booth when we got hungry, so...he had to screw up enough courage to go get us some lunch, and he did.  I mean, he's 14...he's perfectly capable off crossing the street in the town he grew up in and around to get a couple of sandwiches at the deli, all teenage awkwardness aside, and I like for him to go walk around town, and feel comfortable in the local shops because it's a big world out there, beyond the bounds of our small town, and he's gonna have to navigate it!

we talked about confidence, sales and marketing, money management, customer service, fashion and style, aesthetics, profit and overhead; we got to be outside all day in glorious weather; we got to chat with some nice people, and make some sales that not only put money in our pockets, they felt good.  there was that guy who bought 15 vinyl albums of Israeli folk music and army songs for a birthday present for his dad, who is a retired Israeli soldier.  the couple who bought the glass music note for their musician daughter; the butterfly lady who adored the butterfly paperweight, and the lady who loved the Murano one.  there were some beautiful scarves that went to new homes, and stylish purses; a pair of shoes, some earrings, and a couple of pots and pans.  Teen Wolf sold some 'older' toys...only from the past decade, though some of them are apparently rather collectable.  we didn't even bring everything we had to sell - there wasn't enough room in the car!

more than anything, being at the market reminded me of my traveling days, when I lived on the road, in my car, with my cat.  I made jewelry, and other various forms of art which I sold at flea markets, enabling me to move from town to town, pitching my tent in campsites and national parks, visiting with other traveling friends who were taking a minute off the road in one town or another (as well as those who preferred more permanent dwellings), crashing in dorm rooms and motels, sleeping in the car.  god, I was so free...  just a few short years before the teen is legally allowed to step away from government-sanctioned education, and then who knows where I'll be?  will he need me to stay here?  will he be going somewhere else?  somewhere he'll need to come 'home' from?  can he stay here on his own if he wants?  can I leave?  there are a lot of questions about to come up in my life, and given the way I've been feeling since we got back from Israel, I'm sensing some major changes in the wind, and on the horizon.

first I've gotta sell off the rest of the flea market stuff I already have - which will probably have to happen next season, at this point - and whatever else I manage to whip up between now and spring.  maybe by then I will have figured out how to get my computer fixed so I can add photos and other cool things again.  it's such a pain in the ass to not be able to access technology, it's like the cornerstone of the online cottage industry, and I'm just starting to figure out how to use it!  do you know The Unused Portion is going to be 10 years old this spring?  that's crazy!  and I just 'built' a new page - a business page.  there's a page on this blog called 'Mysteriam Ink', and you should go check it out, if you haven't all ready, but a friend recently advised me that my business page shouldn't be an after-thought on my blog, so I felt inspired to create one that stands alone.  you can find it (still under construction) here:

Monday, October 1, 2018

Framing Ford's Fiasco

content warning:  description of non-consensual sexual contact and related issues

when we were around 19 years old, a friend and I met two guys at a street fair where we were vending, and made plans to catch up with them later that evening at a local arcade.  at some point that night, while killing a game of Black Knight, I started to feel sick and began to slump over the pinball machine, but I was racking up the high score, and didn't want to give up the game.  eventually, I asked my friend to take over so I could go outside and get some air, yelling at her over my shoulder on my way to the door not to lose my ball, because I'd be Right Back to finish the game myself.  after walking around the parking lot a bit to clear my head, I decided to go sit in my car and relax for a few more minutes before heading back in.  the guy I had been hanging out with suddenly got in next to me, started touching and kissing me, making out with me, and I know I told him I came outside to breathe because I wasn't feeling well, and I'm sure there was a "No" or a "Stop" in there somewhere.  he started to climb on top of me, and managed to lower my seat back to a reclining position (I was in the driver's seat).  he started rubbing himself on me - took his penis out of his pants, and with his full weight on me, thrust himself between my breasts until he came all over my chest, at which point, he jumped out of the car, and was gone.  I remember laying there in my car, thinking "what the hell just happened?"  I don't remember finding something to clean myself off with, but I must have, because I Do remember walking back into the arcade, finding my friend, and telling her that we were leaving - Now.  she was confused, and made some half-assed attempt at arguing, but the guy she was hanging out with wasn't all that interesting, and I was her ride, so off we went.

and that might have been the end of it, however inappropriate it was.  I would have gone home, taken a shower, and moved on with my life without giving the incident too much conscious thought, though obviously, the experience has never left me.  I hadn't been hit, bruised, beaten, threatened, held down, or hurt.  I hadn't tried to scream or fight - mostly I remember being dizzy and confused, and wondering what was happening, what he was doing to my body, wondering why he was doing it.  it was over just as quickly as it had started, and he took off like a shot, leaving me lying there, covered in his mess, not understanding why I let it happen in the first place.  sure, I wasn't feeling well, I was dizzy and nauseous, and having to fend off an overzealous date wasn't something I thought was in the game plan for the evening, but I'm not a 'lay there and let it happen' kind of girl, so...why?

about 5 years or so later, I was living with a boyfriend, and in the cottage next door lived another couple we were friends with.  one afternoon, my neighbor and I were hanging out and she was gushing about this new friend she'd made, telling me how awesome he was, how she had invited him over that evening, and that my boyfriend and I should come over, too, and we'd make a night of it.  Sure, sure, no problem, we'd be there, can't wait to meet him.  so the four of us (the two couples) are sitting in the living room of the cabin when the new guy arrives.  the moment he stepped through the door, my blood turned to ice.  yeah, it was That Guy...I stared him down while our friend made the introductions.  The look of sheer terror on his face when she introduced us turned to shock as I smiled and reached my hand out to him.  "Nice to meet you," I said, as we all settled in for a night of board games, adult refreshments, and camaraderie.  my skin was on fire, or icy cold.  my head was pounding.  I found it hard to follow the conversation, speak, or make eye contact with anyone.  I excused myself, and went back to my own apartment, shut off the lights, and lay in bed with my eyes burning holes in the bedroom wall, fists wrapped tight in the blankets, while my boyfriend, our neighbors, and their new friend, all had a grand old time together.

this asshole now became a part of our group.  he was invited to all the parties.  he came on all the hikes.  he was brought to our special swimming spot (where he forged an inappropriate friendship with another one of our friend's girlfriends, go figure).  he 'was in the neighborhood, so he just dropped by'.  he came to my house, and expected to be let in to hang out with the rest of us.  I think that must have been the point at which I finally said something to my boyfriend.  I remember telling him that I didn't want that prick in my house, and I resented the fact that saying so would make me look like the asshole, because everyone just liked him so much.  I don't remember how my boyfriend reacted, but I do remember words like 'long time ago', and 'different person now' floating around my brain, trying to connect with words like 'it would be weird if we suddenly stopped letting him come around, especially if we're all hanging out'...

here it is more than 25 years later, and I no longer know those neighbors.  the old boyfriend is still around, less a friend of mine than a friend of a friend.  I have no idea what happened to 'the asshole', but I wouldn't be surprised to hear he ran for congress or something, because that's where these fuckers seem to end up.  I don't even remember his name (ok...wait, yeah I do.), but I can still recall the look on his face every time he spoke to me - it was like he was pretending to be sorry for doing something he knew was wrong, but also like he didn't get caught or called out for it, so he was smug about having 'gotten away with it'.  I should have knocked his teeth out, or pushed him down my stairs, or told my girlfriends, or...Something.  I shouldn't have just let him off the hook.  especially after he and that chick at the swimming hole cheated together on her boyfriend - a good friend of mine to this day - and effectively ended their relationship (it's ok, my buddy married someone way better than that bitch).  hell, my so-called boyfriend should have done All those things on my behalf as soon as I told him what happened!  I don't recall whether or not I told anyone else.

while it certainly wasn't the worst thing to ever happen to anyone, if he did it to me, he may well have done it to others.  others who aren't tough-as-nails like me, women who may have been devastated by less...or seriously damaged by more.  how might he treat his wife, if he ever got married?  his daughters, if he has any?  and to be fair, my beef is not specifically with this one person, it's with All the people who use others as if they have some special privilege (there's that word, again) to walk through this world without the consequences of their poor behavior to hinder them in any way.  he was neither the first, nor the last person who treated my body like it belonged to his personal desires rather than to me:  there was the inappropriate babysitter I just learned about recently; there were incidents with my brother's friends who spent the night at our house; there was the 21 year old college basketball player I gave my virginity to when I was 15; the high school footballer who took me into the bathroom at a keg party and made me give him head for what felt like hours; the 'boyfriends' who only ever wanted to have sex and wouldn't hang out with me if I refused; the high school hockey dude who got me drunk at the drive-in, had sex with me, and took my underpants so he could bring them to school and yell down the hallway, "you left these in the backseat of my car the other night!".  there was the random dude at some party where I must have been drugged because I still can't explain how I woke up in a strange bed, my neck black with hickeys.

do you want to know what I was wearing when these events took place?  do you want to know why I chose to give up my virginity to a college dude who was 'home on break' that I hoped never to see again when I was so young?  do you want to know what I was doing at keg parties while I was still in high school?  do you want to know why I went out with guys who were only after what was in my pants?  why I went to the drive-in and got drunk with that loser who stole my undies?  why I was at a party where I didn't know who I was partying with?  who cares?  I was a teenager - a kid.  and yeah, a pretty stupid one, at that.  I hitchhiked around in mini-skirts and three inch heels (and mostly got picked up by little old ladies who were Very concerned about my welfare).  it's called life.  it's called learning.  did I learn how alcohol works in my body, and decide that drinking wasn't really for me?  yes I did.  did I learn the mechanics and politics of sex?  yes I did - and after many years (and several kind and patient lovers), I eventually learned how to enjoy it.  did I learn that dating meat-head jocks was best left to some other chick?  abso-fucking-lutely.  did I learn to party responsibly, and only with people I know and trust?  definitely.  did I learn to recognize a dangerous situation and how to extricate myself from it?  yup.  did I spend years training in the martial arts?  you betcha.

does my working through my issues excuse any one of those boys from treating me like an object to be used for my parts then tossed aside?  No It Does Not.  every one of the above experiences (barring the babysitter) happened when I was a teenager.  less than 20 years old.  by the time I was 21, I took no more shit from anyone, for any reason.  and I'm in no way attempting to diminish my own irresponsibility in these instances, because I was most certainly irresponsible, but that doesn't in Any Way mean that a series of belligerent, entitled, white boys under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol had the right to use me like a sexual doormat.  the weird thing is, given all I've written above, I am also guilty of not having believed one of my college roommates when she claimed she was raped.  in the room next to ours...by one of the nicest, and most gentle human beings I have ever met.  to this day, I believe she slept with my friend of her own free will, regretted it, and made up the rape story to pre-empt and redirect her boyfriend's anger from focusing on her, to the guy who supposedly violated her.  I don't think he bought her story, either.  my friend, on the other hand, locked himself in his room, stopped coming to meals and going to classes, lost a ton of weight, got sick, and eventually moved to another dorm.  you'd think if the allegations against him were true, the school would have kicked him out rather than simply move him across the quad...

in retrospect, the other three of us roommates were kind of shitty to have looked at her askance, and thrown all the rote, misogynistic questions at her, making her go over it and over it for us so we could pick her apart, and still not believe her.  the thing was (still is, I guess), I knew a girl who made up a rape story to cover a lie she told her boyfriend.  I also knew a girl who made up a pregnancy story as a way to exact 'revenge money' from her ex, ostensibly for an abortion, with which she bought herself a pair of rather stylish and expensive boots.  so learning that there were women with the same poor judgement skills as the idiots I had the misfortune to cut my sexual teeth on definitely contributed to my general skepticism, but knowing a person's character gives you a really good idea about who a person is, and how they may behave.  in the case of my college roommate and my buddy, our neighbor, the differences in their characters told the story:  she was a social climbing, party-girl who came to college to find herself an athletic husband, and a career that offered a flattering uniform; he was a shy, sensitive soul, an art major with a low, quiet voice, and a bit of a dark edge due to a certain depth of knowledge.  who knows what happened?  maybe, for all I know, he did it, and they gave my roommate that line about how it wasn't fair to ruin a young man's life, blah blah blah, and they moved him away from us, but nowhere she didn't have to still see him most days.

we have to be sure about these things.  for instance, I can get behind the death penalty, but only in cases where the evidence proves beyond the shadow of any doubt, and all that.  there are few upstanding and righteous individuals - most of whom are not students of the law - I would trust to judge delicate issues, such as the one I've mentioned above, and others of a similar, or even darker nature, because of their understanding of 'truth & justice'.  what I've seen recently, in relation to current events, is one particular person looking to be appointed to the national committee we have in this country that oversees that sort of thing, but he's kind of just like that arcade-parking-lot-molester-type dude, and doesn't belong in that position.  was it a long time ago?  yes.  could he be a different person now?  yes.  are his buddies asking me to be silent in my own house so they can have their little boys club that benefits them, and harms pretty much everyone else?  YES.  am I going to?  NO.  why?

because they're going down in flames, these assholes, and they know it.  and they're grasping at every last straw of power they can get their mitts on before they go.  and that means it's going to get a bit worse before it gets better.  and that means a few more bodies on the fire before we manage to see this thing through.  but we will see it through, we're closer than we've ever been.  we have to build on the work that's been done before us, and smash all this nonsense that been going on around us with the words we've been holding in for too long.  and (white) guys, I get it...so many of you who are good and decent people are getting a raw deal because of these assholes, but the truth is, you all have had the benefit of the doubt for way too long, now, and it's time to share the sandbox.  that is all.  and stop touching women in ways you wouldn't touch other men.  or your mother.  maybe this is a good place to talk about sex work, even, who knows?  or a jumping-off point for that discussion, anyway.  it's all related.

we shouldn't even need to be having this discussion.  from what I saw on national television, the general consensus is that a certain party does not appear to be a model of impartiality, or an arbiter of justice, and we can do so much better.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

How It Began

how did I get to go to Israel for a two week vacation?  well, my father was Israeli, and when he died, we buried him over there, on the kibbutz he grew up on.  also when that happened, my mom sort of let it be known that she would eventually want to be buried in the spot next to him.  having had some health issues of late, she decided it was time to make those plans legal and official, and as a cousin of ours invited us to her wedding this summer, it seemed the perfect time to make the trip, and get that done - before she might not be able to make the trip again.  as it was, she couldn't go alone - she'd need help.  could I go, she asked?  as long as I could bring my teen, I was ready, willing, and able, so - bon voyage!

here's an excerpt from my travel journal, that I started on the airplane:

8/18 - What a trip so far, and we haven't even left the ground!  Everything was good on my end, my insane planning and scheduling having paid off in a well-planned exit, getting us to Grandma's around 10:30pm, exhausted, where we went straight to bed.  Up early, I started a load of laundry around 5:30 or 6am, and no one else got up until around 8.  We puttered, and helped Grandma get ready, exiting to a Pouring rain-storm at noon-thirty.  After a few stops, it was "our last American burgers" at the diner for lunch, then on our way!  Still pouring, it was 40mph through flooded roadways all the way until we hit sunny skies in Jersey.  Finally arriving at Terminal C at Newark, the party split up (against my better judgement) with Grandma heading to the bathroom, my teen standing on the curb outside with our bags, and me heading to find the 'long-term parking'.  It worked out ok, though, and we managed to regroup without incident.  Then the wheelchair didn't happen.  Then tempers got short.  Then we actually strolled casually towards the gate.  I found a wheelchair, which was a godsend, because...our flight, scheduled to take off at 10:50pm was delayed - until 1:45am!  That is where we are, now...sitting in our seats on the plane, watching the boarding circus parade by.  So.  Much.  Fun.  I think my teen is totally Not digging his first air travel experience, but I think he'll fall asleep once we take off, and it'll all be good.

8/19 - Aaaand, we're back in the airport.  Have been.  For hours.  After sitting in the plane for...ever, we finally deplaned, and have been sitting in the terminal forever.  It's 6:15am.  On Sunday.  We're SUPPOSED to be boarding at 7:15am...7:45am...some time before 8am.  This is the worst bullshitty bullshit I've ever dealt with in an airport, or with a flight.  Like, Seriously.  I waited in line for an hour to get food vouchers for all three of us, and no one was hungry which was fortunate, because I couldn't manage to get any food with them.  More Big Fun.  I'm exhausted.  I've been up too long, and done all the heavy lifting, so...yay.  angry face.  REALLY Fucking Angry face.  *censored*

8/21 - Oy...so what happened?  They finally let us back into the gate area (after rechecking us and our carry-ons), and we waited in line quite some time to reboard the plane.  Then we sat on the plane some more, waiting for one crew member or pilot or whatever, before finally FINALLY taking off around 9am or so.  The flight wasn't awful, with a screamy kid behind me and an obnoxious teen next to me, and I even managed to catch a few winks here and there.  It was...maybe 2am or so when we landed and deplaned, then had some more bullshit with some more lack-of-wheelchair nonsense, and THEN, there was the asshole cart driver who took my mom and my kid off to somewhere while I trudged along alone through the airport with too many bags, a walker, and a cane.  I caught up with Grandma eventually, but she had sent my unseasoned traveller son off alone into the wilds of Ben Gurion airport to find me, which made me FURIOUS, and when he got back to us (just as I was storming off to find him) I angrily demanded of them both to NOT separate the party again under any circumstances with out my say-so.  And so, we trudged angrily through the passport check, which I failed, and had to explain how my updated Israeli passport hadn't been mailed to me in time for this trip, and was probably sitting in my mailbox back home in America, in order to be granted a two-week stay, and told to go check in with immigration so that I'd be allowed to leave at the end of our trip (and I did have to promise to leave at the end of our trip).  Now comes me at the baggage claim, with all three checked bags, and me dragging Grandma and Teen Wolf around with our 4 personal bags looking for immigration (she was nice, and was maybe the easiest person to deal with thus far), and now we're up & down & around trying to find the car rental place...further nightmare.  Too long a wait, I complain, she sends me 'downstairs' to the other kiosk to 'save me some time', I FUCKING LOSE IT with not finding the place, someone at the info booth FINALLY manages to tell me where it is, and we head outside...glory!  a whiff of Israeli air!  we hike quite another ways to the booth (I had to leave poor struggling Grandma & the teen behind on a bench, promising to return with a car) where I am denied our pre-paid, reserved vehicle through some confusion about payment methods, drivers, language barriers, and exhaustion.  After giving up and power-walking back to my small party, I yell at them to get up and get moving, as I plow on ahead, in full rage-monster mode, and get us a taxi into Tel Aviv, to the hotel we were SUPPOSED to check into about 12 hrs. before.

They let us in - extend our stay, even - and just as soon as we hit the room, I shower and put on clean clothes, Grandma does the same, and we head back down (with dirty, unchanged teen) for Israeli buffet breakfast.  ...Deep...Sigh...then we (Grandma & I) leave the young man to nap (he's done in) while we stroll the few blocks towards the sea, and the car rental place, then drive back to the hotel where she toddles up to pack, grab the teen, check out (against my better judgement, but I had to sit idling in the double-parked car for a half an hour or more while she accomplished those tasks), and beat it out of the City with much stress & screaming (things were left behind)...

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Poor Gourmet

if there's one thing I totally don't have down, it's food.  I do my best in the kitchen, and have made some lovely things from time to time, but that is Not the norm, and I make up for my lack of food planning and preparing skills by being charming in other ways.  if you read along, you may have caught my recent posts about doing the Whole30 challenge, for what that was worth, and it was worth enough for me to start paying much closer attention to what I eat, and how it affects me.  also if you've been reading along, you may have noticed that I recently spent two weeks in Israel, where I ate an array of tasty foods in a number of venues!  for starters, knowing I was going away, I just served up whatever needed using up in the fridge before we left, so we ate a bunch of sandwiches from the deli, and pizza.  I had a burger before I left my house, knowing I wouldn't get a 'good American cheeseburger' overseas, then ended up getting just one more the next day at my mom's, because she had the same plan!

there's nothing good to say about Newark or the airline (United) at all, in terms of food (and other matters), so I'm just going to skip ahead to the first real Israeli meal we had, which was the breakfast buffet at the Artplus in Tel Aviv.  it was small, but everything I would expect from an Israeli buffet:  scrambled eggs, shakshuka, hard boils, greens, hummus, tchina, pastry, cereal, juices, salads, bread, coffee, tea.  everything was delicious but my hard boiled egg - the yolk was too green for me, and it affected the taste of the white.  we hit the road pretty quickly, only stopping for some ice cream and drinks for a snack/lunch before continuing on to the kibbutz we would be staying at for the next few days, where we were met with Israeli salad, and challah rolls.

our friends on the kibbutz had the best eggs!  fresh and delicious, with bright yellow yolks and creamy whites.  they were perfect hard boiled, scrambled, or as a thin, Israeli omelette.  there were plates of Israeli salad at every meal (tomato, cucumber, lettuce), cheeses, leben with oil, home-made challah rolls, olives, mango, watermelon...there was schnitzel - chicken pounded thin, breaded and fried to a golden crisp.  there were figs from the trees.  there was lunch out at the nearest roadside diner, an Arab place where we all had kebob, either beef or chicken, as well as the standard salad/hummus/tchina/pita spread (yay!  finally!), including Matbucha (the teen's first new love on this trip), pickles, olives, and some sort of coconut flan for dessert with the sweetest pink syrup I have ever tasted (along with the standard baklava, and other delights).

Netanya...what to say about Netanya?  we had a rough time there, and it wasn't the experience I wanted it to be.  we had dinner of a sort, eventually...the last pizza from under the heat lamps, hummus and pita from grocery store packages, a bottle of inexpensive red wine, and some ice pops.  breakfast wasn't much better, being pastry from the local gas station, in which I didn't take part.  lunch, when we finally got to it, was Caesar salad, and some hummus/pita/tchina.  then we headed down to Jerusalem where we checked in for a few days, and ate mainly at the hotel.

the hotel buffets were brilliant - like the one I described of the Artplus earlier, but much bigger.  the one at the Crowne Plaza was fantastic, with a coffee bar, breakfast bars, meat and veggie options in a wide variety, a salad bar, cheese bar, bread bar, drink options, and desserts aplenty!  I was feeling pretty good with my food choices so far, and being on vacation, I did choose to go a little wild, but the vast amounts of items on display made me take a step back, and make even more conscious choices than I had already been.  also, having the opportunity to see what my mom and son were choosing to eat gave me the ability to compare and contrast the fuel we were putting into our bodies, and how we performed throughout the day, energetically.

I basically stuck to protein and greens, with a bit of cheese and bread at each meal.  when things fell apart, and we turned to store-bought pizza, packaged chips and snacks, never mind the alcohol, moods and relations suffered.  a big bowl of greens always helps to get back on track (even those drowning sadly in dressing), and had me circling the salad bar at every meal.  on the street it was felafel, lemonade, baglach with za'atar, seltzer, chips (fries), schwarma, and Caesar salad.  we had a sort-of fancy meal at the Israel Museum...it had been a busy day, and though we didn't do much, the little we did involved a great deal of effort, and left us tired, so when we got to the museum, we got my mom a wheel chair, and pulled her up to a table in the fancier of the two cafes there were to choose between.  she ordered a glass of the house wine, and we took our time over a well-prepared meal before heading out to explore the grounds and exhibits.

out to dinner on the mall with a friend was more Caesar salad and cups of ice cream, followed by a casual Israeli breakfast prepared by the same friend, and we were off to Masada in the desert, where we had more felafel and schwarma!  after a dip in the Dead Sea, it was pizza for dinner, and another amazing hotel buffet breakfast to sustain us through a morning on the beach, and the ride back to Jerusalem where we lunched at the Elvis American Diner on our way to Tel Aviv.  as per the norm, the hotel in Tel Aviv had a life-sustaining breakfast buffet, but for two nights, we ordered in tacos, and had the one schwarma lunch that we walked to and from, dragging my poor mom along because she needed to eat, too.

then we had the last leg of our trip at another fancy hotel, with breakfast buffets, and room service, because we were just too done in to get dressed to a level to feel presentable enough for the restaurant after a few days on the beach.  then up and out - from breakfast buffet, to the airport, with airline food generally a non-mentionable, we found ourselves back in the States, having pizza delivered for dinner, and diner breakfasts of eggs, bacon, toast, home fries, and one chicken Caesar salad for a certain growing teenager.  back home to frozen pizza.  grocery run, and a protein salad, then more pizza, ice cream, and nachos.  then that sick feeling I get when I've overdone it, but much milder.  manageable.  I put on about 6 pounds while I was eating hummus and pita like a fetishist, but there's no way in hell I wasn't going to enjoy that food while I was in the Middle-East!

when I got home, I made a batch of mayo to mix with the batch of ketchup I made so I could have the Russian dressing I grew up with on my protein salad yesterday (was it yesterday?  I'm still not sure what day it is) - mayo/ketchup/red wine vinegar.  I bought some fresh greens (basil, parsley) for the chicken salad I thought I'd make (there was a pouch of schwarma-flavored 'instant marinade' we were fooled into buying at the store), so maybe there could be pesto?  and I want to make at least one 'decent meal' this week, by which I mean 'a proper dinner'.  if I can only stay awake long enough to cook it...

I must remember to eat.  I must remember to cook.

I did make the chicken schwarma, which was, as we knew it would be, a joke.  the food alone is reason enough to move to Israel...but that's another subject for a post about how I want to 'live differently', that I'm turning 50, and it's time for something new.  I need to make some moves.  why not a different language in the old country?  it's not like I can't come back - or even go somewhere else from there!

egg for breakfast, schwarma chicken salad for lunch, pita/oil/za'atar, too.  can we talk about the pita?  the pita we buy in the bakery section at the local store?  it's horrible, no?  I don't even know what to say...and the schwarma, with that chemical-spice-taste that's not 'spice' per se, but chemical burn in a pouch.  it's not even a flavor, it's just...burn.

and ice cream, and more ice cream.  with whipped cream, as well (of course).  and chicken parm from the pizza place (we miss the schnitzel).  but then there was more protein salad, and apples and honey for the holiday.  and chocolate.  ugh...

the fact that's it's chilly and grey out is kind of bullshit, too, actually...after sunny summer beach weather, I'm about done with the cold and rainy, even though it's a relief to the NYers, because they've had hazy, hot, and humid misery while we were enjoying the gorgeous Mediterranean.  also, I bought summery salad foods at the store, and now I want chili, which I don't have the ingredients for!  GAHH!!!