Saturday, December 17, 2016

3 Cheers for Liz

I want to stand up and cheer for Elizabeth Warren!

Democratic senators including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) said Thursday morning that they would introduce a bill next month requiring the president to “disclose and divest” from any conflicts, mimicking a law that already binds most public officials.

Finally the Democrats are taking action.  I've been waiting for them to make a move.

I wonder how different the outcome of the election might have been had Elizabeth Warren ran for president instead of Hillary.  I was always afraid Hillary would have an uphill climb.  Any thoughts?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Birthday Girls

My daughters are 46 years old today.  Unbelievable!  To me they are still my little girls.  I remember the day they were born like it was yesterday.  I went into labor on the 4th of December.  I was alone since my husband was in the service at the time so my mom came over to stay with me until it was time to go to the hospital.  Finally at about 8pm that night we decided to go but the girls were not born until Sunday afternoon at 4:40 and 4:42 pm.  What a day that was!  My dad had always teased me that he couldn't love me more if there were two just like me and then suddenly there were!  I remember that was the first thing I said to him when they wheeled me back to my room. "Hey Daddy, there are two just like me!

I was a young mom at 21 and a little overwhelmed with two babies but I always felt like I had won the lottery.  They were the cutest things even if I couldn't tell them apart.  There was only 6 oz. difference in their weight and they were both exactly 16 1/2 inches long.  I finally had to paint their toenails just so I wouldn't get them mixed up.

They didn't meet their daddy until they were almost 5 months old and unfortunately he only remained in their lives until the age of 5.  That's when we divorced and I'll never understand how he could have just walked away from the girls.  I always wonder if he remembers them on their birthday or if he has erased them completely from his mind.

No matter.......it was his loss for they are beautiful and wonderful young women.

We are off to have a birthday dinner with the girls and their Uncle Mike is more excited for an excuse to party that anybody!
 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

We finished up some last minute shopping today.  I made Ron pick out the wallet he wants because I had no clue what to get.  He also got some things for his daughter and grandson.  Guess I will be wrapping them tomorrow.

I am subbing in pre-k tomorrow afternoon.  I haven't been to school in awhile since I've been nursing this bronchitis but I think I'm better today.  Still coughing but not as bad.  Seems like everyone I know has this crud.

I love pretty wrapped packages and normally hate gift bags but when I get down to the last few it is so tempting to just put them in bags and move on.  Our tree is so full of gifts I'm running out of space to put any more.

All I want for Christmas is a recount that would turn the whole election null and void.  Can such a thing happen?  If it could now that would be a true Christmas miracle.

I heard Trump was tweeting fast and furious while Saturday Night Live was airing last night.  Doesn't this man have anything else better to do?

Saturday, December 3, 2016

For all practical purposes my Christmas shopping is done.  I've wrapped all the gifts and they are under the tree.  All this done while fighting yet another round of bronchitis.  With the exception of coughing my fool head off and blowing my nose every 6 seconds I really don't feel too bad.  I went to the doctor yesterday and got two shots, two inhalers, a steroid pack and cough medicine.  If this stuff doesn't kill me I should be cured shortly.

Ron and I have really struggled with this whole election.  He didn't vote for Trump but in my opinion voting for a 3rd party was a vote for him none the less.  He said he just couldn't vote for Hillary because he didn't trust her.  I asked him if he trusted Trump and he said no.  Makes no sense to me.  But then nothing about this election ever made sense to me.

I enjoyed having the house to myself today.  Ron was with Mike watching a football game.  I cooked all Mike's meals for next week and have them ready to deliver tomorrow.  I also managed to clean the house and mop all the floors.  Felt good to just get it all done. 

Ron and I bought ourselves a family gift, a new refrigerator.  We have wanted a french door refrigerator for quite some time.  I needed a bigger freezer for all the meals I prepare for Mike and the side-by-side just wouldn't work.  Everything was so crowded.  I have to say I LOVE the new refrigerator!!!!  Everything is so easy to get to and the freezer is wonderful!  Home Depot had a 40% off sale and it was the perfect time to get one.  Next year I've decided to get a new gas range.  Currently I have an electric glass top range but I really want to convert to a gas range.

Tomorrow I plan to make eggnog bread.  Now it's time to take another breathing treatment and then it's off to bed I go.

 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

For fear of sounding over dramatic I have been in numerous states of depression, disbelief, shock and sadness since the election.  I have tried to refrain of reading social media as well as listening to the news for each new revelation is more disturbing than the last.  I'm sick of hearing that democrats are poor losers and cry babies from the right.  This is coming from the party that bitched non-stop for 8 years about Obama claiming he wasn't an American citizen to calling his wife and children gorillas. The only complaints I've had about Trump are about the words and threats that have come from his own mouth.  Not fictitious crap fed to me by the GOP.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Winne the Pooh

Yesterday I subbed in pre-k and heard one of the funniest stories ever told by a teacher.  Mrs. Tims, who teaches kindergarten, told us how she went into her classroom bathroom and found pooh in the toilet along with a button magnet from one of their games.  She asked the last child that was in the bathroom to tell her what happened.  He reported he dropped the magnet in the toilet when he went to the bathroom.  

She then turned around to tell the onlookers that this was why they are not to bring toys into the bathroom.  

Just then she felt a tap on her back and turned to see the culprit holding the magnet in his hand, arm wet to his shoulder.  He held out his hand and said, "Here, I got it".  

Horrified, Mrs. Tims asks, "Was that Your pooh?"

"Nope"

And this dear parents is why all children should be vaccinated!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Give me a break

This whole election has gotten so crazy I find myself awake at 3:00 am thinking about it.  It has to be the nastiest election in history.  The insane accusations people have made about Hillary Clinton are just that....insane.  They have accused her of everything from stealing White House furniture to murder. 

Here's what gets me.  Are you telling me that there is not at least one republican politician or prosecutor in all the land smart enough to find evidence to charge her with a crime let alone prosecute her for one?  Not one?  Come on people where is the logic in that?  And they call democrats "libtards"!  Really...............................

Monday, October 3, 2016

Weddings & Pinterest "It's a good thing"

Wedding plans continue.  I think it is so neat that there are so many sites online to get ideas for weddings or just about anything else one wants.  Jamie has decided to have a cupcake tower topped with a small wedding cake for she and her groom to cut.  She looked online for inspiration and chose this one.
 

The only change she wants to make is adding a small wedding cake on top for she and the groom to cut.  I thought this was very sweet for a small brunch reception and will not be too expensive to duplicate.  I found an inexpensive cupcake tower on Ebay and purchased it.  If we gather things along the way it will spread out the expense for the next 7 months.

This is a dress I chose for myself.




I don't know what period this is styled after but I love the dress.  It goes with the style my daughter chose and what my other daughter will be wearing.  I haven't ordered it yet because I still want to lose another 20 pounds first.  I'm making progress slowly but surely.  I'm down almost 60 pounds from where I started 2 years ago.  Ron has lost about 30 pounds.  He looks sooooo good.  I'm so proud of him.

Since I have more time to work on the weight loss I won't order the dress until the end of April.  Of course I'm taking a chance that it will still be available.  If not I'll find something else!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Get us to the church on time.

The date is set and confirmed, wedding bells will ring on June 3, 2017 at 11:00 am in the chapel at our church.  A brunch reception will follow............

Mike went to my daughter's school and proposed to her in front of her class of pre-schoolers.  The little boys thought it was yucky and the  little girls want to be flower girls.  They used the center diamond from my mother's engagement ring and had it reset in a new mounting.  It looked beautiful!  My mother would have been tickled to death. 

My daughter wants a vintage wedding... this is the look she is going for.  I have no idea what I will wear.  Her sister will be her matron of honor and her brother is walking her down the aisle with her little niece as the flower girl.  That should be a challenge since s he will only be about 19 months old.  I guess they can pull her in a wagon.  Mike's 4 girls will be bridesmaids. I guess they can pull the wagon........
 


 Nataya Vintage Inspired Ivory Embroidered Tulle Empire DressNataya Vintage Inspired Ivory Embroidered Tulle Empire Dress

Monday, September 12, 2016

Yesterday was a sober reminder of how our nation changed over night.  Ron and I watched the Today Show broadcast from September 11, 2001.  I was home that day sick and watched the events as they happened.  I just remember feeling confused and scared.  When the second plane hit tower 2 it was obvious that we were under attack.  That was a horrible day as well as the days that followed.

I remember when they discovered that one of the terrorists had been here in Norman taking flying lessons at Max Westheimer Field.  That's just a few blocks from my house.  It was such a well planned attack.  I never doubt for a minute that it could happen again.  I'm just surprised that it hasn't already happened again on a major scale.

I don't know about you but I'm so ready for this election to be over.  It has been the craziest election of all time.  I'm holding my breath until it is over.  I may be holding it a lot longer if the right person doesn't win.

Strep throat is gone but bronchitis has set in to stay.  If I'm still coughing tomorrow I'm going back to the doctor.   My two days of substitute teaching has been costly.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Petri Dish

I almost finished out the week as my daughter's substitute teacher but unfortunately I crashed Thursday afternoon.  I went to the doctor to discover I have strep throat.  I haven't had that since I was 7 years old.  I just thought I was dealing with allergies.  Guess there will be an epidemic next week in pre-k.

I have learned that I don't bounce back as quickly as I did at age 7.  I have felt pretty miserable and still have a terrible sore throat.  At least after today I am no longer contagious.

Thank goodness Ron has been able to take over Mike's care.  He's going to do his meds today by himself.  I don't know what I'd do without his help.  He's one in a million.

My daughter has set a date to get married.  She and Mike are getting married in June 2017.  She called me last night and told me the plan.  She wants a simple wedding in the chapel of our church and will ask the girls if they want to participate.  They will have an intimate reception at their home afterwards.  Then they will go to Scotland for their honeymoon.  Sounds like a plan to me!  I couldn't be happier for them.  They are so sweet together. 

This just goes to show that we never know what life has in store for us.  This time last year she thought her life was over and that she would be alone forever.  Now she has met someone who loves her dearly and she will be a stepmom to four wonderful girls who think she's pretty awesome as well.  Couldn't ask for a happier ending if I wrote it myself!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Well my daughter's surgery went well.  The surgeon said her shoulder was really tied down by scar tissue and he released it.  He also cleaned up a couple of bone spurs so now she just has to heal.  He told us that something happened at the end of the surgery that he has never experienced in 20 years.  He said that my daughter woke up and said "thank you".  He said that has never happened before.  He said, "she's a keeper".  I told him we already knew that but it was nice to hear anyway.

I made a meatloaf this morning and took to her house so they'd have dinner this evening.  Now I have to go to the store and get ready to cook Mike's meals for next week.  

I've been fighting a cold and I really need to get over it before I have to go to school Wednesday.

My other daughter has been in Sante Fe this weekend.  It was the burning of Zozobra.  She sent us videos last night during the festival and it really looked cool.  I had never heard of this event before and I think I need to put it on my bucket list of things to do.

Well, off to the store!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Moving on

Well, we didn't get the condo.  The owner wouldn't come down at all and it was overpriced by $20,000.  I'm just waiting to see if he gets his asking price.

One good thing from all this is that Mike is willing to move and in fact very excited about the idea.  We also got some good advise about what to list his house for and what we can expect to get for it.

Ron and I were at his house yesterday cleaning up the back yard.  We are going to get the outside of the house painted.  Don't have an estimate yet on what that will cost but the realtor recommended we get it done before we list his house.  We are also getting someone to clean up the landscape.  

Tomorrow my daughter has surgery on her shoulder.  Ron and I are going to the hospital with her in the morning.  I am going to sub for her in her classroom next week.  I sure hope I have enough stamina to keep up with 40 preschoolers!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A lot going on here...

Well, I can't believe I've gotten into something again.  For some time now I've been watching for a ground floor condo to become available in a complex across the street from Sooner Mall.  Yesterday I found one.  It's a one bedroom one bath recently updated.  Ron and I went to look at it and we took Mike.  He loved it.  He said he wanted to live there if he could have a 60 inch television.  So we are in the process of trying to purchase it. The condo not the tv.

If we could successfully transition Mike to the small condo it would relieve us of a LOT of work.  We are currently trying to maintain our home plus the 1800 square foot home Mike is in.  All the yard work for both homes etc.  Taxes and insurance would be cut in half and no yard to worry about.  Utilities would be next to nothing.  It's a good deal for everyone.  Mike would be able to manage much better in a smaller place.

Right now our realtor agrees with us that it is over priced but we will make an offer and just see what happens.  If we get it we will first convert the bathtub shower into a walk-in shower and then move Mike in.  Then we will take our time preparing the other house to sell.  This would be less stressful for Mike.  Once we get that house sold we can payoff the condo.

So positive thoughts!  We will see what happens.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

First Day of School

I am soooo tired!  I helped out in pre-k today.  It was the first day of school.  I must say it was an easier first day this year than last year.  Only had one crier in each class.  The tears didn't last long and everyone seemed to have a good day.  I'm just TIRED!

I won't be helping out tomorrow as I have a doctor's appointment.  But I will be subbing for my daughter for 3 days while she is recovering from surgery.  Her surgery is scheduled for Sept. 2nd.  I'll be in her class the following Wed. Thurs. and Friday.  I hope I have enough stamina to last 3 days.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Just because life brings you a cactus it doesn't mean you have to sit on it!

Saw the orthopedist yesterday and I'm officially discharged now that I'm two years post-op.  I only go back when I'm ready to begin injections on my knee.  He said I'll know when it is time.  I'm still able to walk and I know it isn't time yet.

Today is medication day.  Ron and I go over to Mike's to fill his med planners.  We fill enough to last two weeks.  

Saturdays are when Ron goes over to help Mike clean his electric razor, empty his vacuum cleaner canister, and give him is Arby's and Subway gift cards.  We put enough money on the cards so he can go out to lunch twice a week.  Both places are within walking distance from his house and he loves going out.  

Sunday is church with Mike and the day we take his meals over for the week.

I just finished mowing our front yard while Ron and Bella went to the Indian Clinic to pick up Mike's meds from the pharmacy.  I was trying to get the yard done before it gets to horribly hot.  I'm trying to remember to keep myself hydrated (something I don't do very well which results in horrible foot cramps) ugh

I know I say this a lot but Ron is just the most loving, caring person to have ever blessed my life.  It still amazes me that he signed on to be a part of my crazy life.  Not many men would have taken on the job of caregiver to someone with schizophrenia.  But he treats my brother with such respect and shows him compassion and understanding every day.  He realizes that some day my brother may have to live with us and he just assures me that everything will be OK.  He told me yesterday that he knows the only way he can take care of me and be sure I'm OK is to make sure Mike is OK.  God, how I love this gentle man.  I don't look at him without thinking what a miracle it is that somehow we ended up together.  It only took 52 years but here we are.  He truly was my first love (six year-old love but love none-the-less).  I know we will be together until the end.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

What A Difference A Day Makes

Well, it's over.....Ron and I now own one and two thirds homes.  The deed has been transferred and this miserable episode in my life is now over.  Mike was thrilled when we told him.  Ron teased him saying he now owned one bedroom and one bathroom in Mike's house. I claimed the kitchen and half the garage.  Mike just laughed and seemed genuinely happy.  I promised him that he will live in that house as long as he wants and that nothing will change without all 3 of us being involved in the decision.

Today I see the orthopedist.  I'm doing much better now that I am able to continue taking my arthritis medication.  I'm going to continue to nurse my knee along because I'm not ready for knee replacement yet.  

My daughters reported back to school this morning.  Another school year begins!  I'll be helping out when ever I can and I'm excited to see some of the kiddos again.

Now if we could just skip through the rest of this election year I'd be one happy camper.  I'm just so sick of hearing all the rhetoric and nastiness.  Not to mention the shear stupidity!

 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Keeping my fingers crossed!

Well, here is my update on what has been going on concerning my brother and his house.  Ron and I finally got the money together to try and buy my older brother out.  So we first went to the court house to see how the deed was written.  What we found out was that my older brother had already given his 1/3 interest in the house to his wife's son.  He did it without even telling me he was doing it.  I know he had every legal right to do anything he wanted to do but it was just hurtful.

So we thought about it and tried to get our emotions under control and then we went to see my brother unannounced.  I acted as if I knew nothing about the deed transfer and just told him we had the money to buy him out.  I told him my only goal was to make our disabled brother feel secure and that his home would not be sold out from under him.  They definitely looked caught off guard and there were a lot of looks passing between he and my sister-in-law.  Finally she said they have given their part to her son Rick.

We then asked if we could have Rick's number to call him and see if he would sell it to us.  Instead she called and then said that they thought it would be worth more in 10 years.  They said that in 10 years when Mike has no more money left then we would have to sell it.  I responded that I had no intention of selling the house in 10 years and that Ron and I would then start paying the taxes and insurance on the house in order for Mike to remain in HIS home.  I then told her that Rick would have to start paying his share of maintenance of the house that we would no longer do it by ourselves.  Well, this seemed to change things.  She said her son doesn't have any money to help maintain the house.  That they wanted him to get the house outright in 10 years.  I just said that would never happen!  I suggested strongly that he take the money we are offering now because it was either going to cost him to help maintain it or it would just deteriorate over the next few years and be worth less than it is worth now.  They looked shocked.  They said the agreement was that Mike would maintain the house in exchange for living in it.  I said that agreement was between Butch, Mike and myself.  That agreement is no longer valid since Butch gave his interest to another party and without Mike's knowledge.  Now the rules change.  That seemed to work.

Ron is supposed to meet Rick at the court house to sign the deed over and Ron will give him the cashier's check.   I won't relax until Ron has the deed in his hand.

Now, what have I learned from this experience?  Money can make families turn inside out.  That you can think you know someone and then find out you were wrong.  That in-laws can cause havoc in families especially where money is concerned.

My goal is to remain focused on my disabled brother.  To try my very best to make him feel secure and to put all this trouble behind me.  

We took Mike to see his psychiatrist yesterday and learned that Butch had threatened Mike by telling him he was going to send him to the mental hospital.  Mike had not told me anything about this and I learned about it when he told the doctor.  The doctor assured him that Butch doesn't have the authority to hospitalize Mike.  He told him that only he has that authority and he sees no reason for Mike to go back to the hospital.  

Over the past few months (because of all this worry about the house) Mike has had a few episodes.   Mike took extra medication that could have really hurt him.  He tried to cut his wrists (but fortunately didn't cause himself any harm) and also tried to hurt himself by trying to fall down.  He said he did it for attention.  Well I had him tell Dr. W. about all of this and he said that he could increase his meds but would rather try some "self-soothing" techniques to see if Mike can lower his anxiety and decrease his intrusive thoughts.   So we discussed some strategies for Mike to use.  The drugs are a last resort if this doesn't work.  They have such horrible side effects.

Personally, I think if we are successful in getting the house in our name and I am able to tell Mike that he is secure I think he will settle down and we can avoid an increase in medication.  I feel so sorry for him that our older brother has scared him to death and threatened him in such a way.  It's just not right.

I think it is safe to say I won't be spending any holidays with my older brother and his wife!

 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Here He Comes To Save The Day

The endoscopy went fine.  We had to be there at 6 am and I was done and on the way home by 8:45.  He did a biopsy but I won't get the results for a few days.  In the meantime I am to continue taking the medication to coat my stomach 4 times a day.  He didn't find a bleeding ulcer but a very irritated stomach lining.  So for the most part doesn't sound bad.  Just need the biopsy results and all will be good.

Still having issues with older brother.  He told his daughter that he is giving his third of the house to his wife's son.  He was going to give it to his daughter but when she said she would sign it over to Mike or myself he said no he didn't want us to have it.  So he is giving it to his step-son.  

But my hero, my husband has decided to buy it from my brother.  He wants to get the pressure off of me and secure the house for Mike.  We are going to approach my brother with a check in hand and say take it or leave it.  I took the appraised value divided by 3 and deducted the cost of the appraisal, realtor fees and closing costs (divided 3 ways).  I totally believe his greed will make him take the offer.  I still think it is awful that he is putting us through this but I'm ready to end it and be done with him and his wife.  I need to be able to sleep at night and make sure my brother has a home to live in.

Spent the day today helping my daughters get their classrooms ready for back to school.  It's a great mother/daughter bonding time.  Gosh I love those girls so much!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Say ahhhhhhhhh

We are still in limbo about my brother's house.  Just waiting to see what happens next.  I did talk to my sister-in-law yesterday and that was a good conversation.  I just have to wait and see what my older brother wants to do.

I had a birthday and spent it with the GI doctor.  He's going to scope my stomach and esophagus next Tuesday.  Since starting on the new medication that coats my stomach I'm feeling much better but he thinks we need to take a look anyway because of the anemia.  

I did have dinner with my daughters on my birthday and spending time with them is the best present I could get.

So here's to another birthday and another year!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Money...the root of all evil.

There has been so much "stuff" going on the past month I have just been surviving.  My oldest brother called me out of the blue telling me he  wanted needed his third of the house my disabled brother lives in.  I was really caught off guard.  We (Ron and I ) have worked so hard to keep Mike in his house and living on his own I couldn't imagine what my older brother wanted me to do with him.  It seems that was not a priority or concern for him at the time just the money.  What I got from the conversation is that he and his wife have gone broke supporting all their adult children.  Now they need money and decided to get it from the house my mother left to all 3 of us.  I'm not arguing that he is entitled to the money it is just that I don't have it to give to him.  They wanted me to sell the house and put Mike in an apartment.  He said I could use Mike's share of the house and mine to support him.  (hmmm how generous)  Problem is the money won't last very long when he starts having to pay rent.  He only gets $800 a month from social security.  I already pay for all his food but he pays utilities, taxes and insurance and maintenance on the house.

When my mother died we agreed that Mike would continue living in the home for as long as he lived or was able.  I've had the sole responsibility of taking care of him.  I manage his money, pay his bills, take him to all doctor appointments, manage his medications and fill his med planners.  I cook all his meals and clean and maintain his house (inside and out).  I've never asked my older brother to do anything.  I realize he has his hands full with his own kids and his wife's kids.

Well to make this brief.  He has backed off one minute saying he will just sign over his share of the house to Mike.  Then nothing happened.  Then out of the blue we get a letter from a lawyer.  Unfortunately the letter was sent to Mike's house and just scared him to death.  He's scared his brother is going to force him out of his home.  I've refused to sign anything that would allow the sale but I have learned that if any one of us wanted to force the sale we could.  

I finally called my older brother and asked him why he hadn't told me he was going to a lawyer.  I told him I felt blindsided and hurt.  Which I do.  By the time we ended our conversation (me in tears) he once again said he would sign over his share of the house to Mike.  I did that a long time ago because I felt it was the right thing to do.  I made a decision that my mother was not able to make because I wanted Mike to feel secure.  So now I'll just wait and see what happens next.

I think we are getting closer to the day Mike will have to live with Ron and I.  He's way too paranoid for an apartment.  Too many strangers and his paranoia will shoot off the wall.  I was just trying to delay the day he'd live with us for as long as I could.

On the bright side......I'm so blessed to have my daughter's support.  They are both trying to step up and help us take care of Mike.  They are trying to learn what to do so that eventually we can get away for a few days and they can take care of him in order to give us a break.  We really need it.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

No more yard sales

Well, the last ever yard sale is over!  I think we made about 27 cents an hour.  If you include all the time it took to get ready for the darn thing.  That's a week I will never get back.  The to add insult upon injury it was Africa hot outside.  Truly a miserable day.  We are so adamant that this was the last one we even donated our card tables after it was over.

I just finished packing my brother's meals for next week and now I'm just waiting for Ron to get back from his errand and we will take them to Mike's house.

I saw two doctors last week.  I saw the orthopedist and he put me on a steroid pack for iliopsas tendonitis.  I just finished the pack on Thursday and have a little improvement.  I don't see the ortho again until August.  I also saw my regular doctor and she believes I may have a bleeding ulcer.  I've been losing blood and I'm severely anemic so she is sending me to a GI to be scoped.  Oh hooray sounds like fun.

My stomach is on fire 99% of the time and hurts.  I'm taking something to coat it before meals but I can't tell if it is helping or not.  What's weird is if my brother is having a bad day all I have to hear is his voice and my stomach lights up like a torch.  So I'm really ok with seeing a GI and getting to the bottom of the problem.

Well, life goes on.  Stay inside and avoid the heat..... my best tip for the day!

  

Monday, June 20, 2016

Well we are doing what I swore I'd never do again....we are having a yard sale.  YUK...of course the temperature is now in the high 90's and no relief in sight.  I wouldn't be doing this if it were not for my daughter.  She and her boyfriend have a lot of stuff to sell.  Basically an entire household of stuff.  Our house is located in a prime area for yard sales.  Her house is rather secluded.  So when they asked if we could have it here me being the big push over said yes.

The sale is this Saturday.  One day ONLY!  What doesn't sell goes to Goodwill.  If I don't die from heat stroke I'll be back!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Bang, Bang, he shot me down...bang bang...I hit the ground...bang bang

The Orlando shooting left me so angry I have had to stay quiet both at home and on the internet.  All I could think about was the fact that when little children were slaughtered at Sandyhook the country voiced its outcry for awhile and then silence. If that incident wasn't enough to translate into real change what makes this one any different?

I have removed myself from social media.  I can't listen to one more rant about guns or the paranoia associated with the mere mention of gun reform.  We live in a society that has become so desensitized to death and violence that it has become the new normal.  We don't need terrorists to kill us all we are doing a fine job of that ourselves.

Sometimes I just want to scream........look for the common denominator.  Can we agree on anything?  If you can't rationally discuss guns then how about mental health.  Can we all agree that guns and mental health are two common denominators in this violence?  Let's focus on one thing we  CAN agree on and demand change.  We can't stop ALL the violence but we can try. 

When I think about four year olds practicing shooter drills at school it makes me literally sick.  Our response to the deaths of innocent children was to teach them to hide in the bathroom, lock the doors and turn off the lights and listen, listen for the footsteps of someone wielding a gun with the intention of killing each and every one of these precious angels.  When I think of my daughter trying to execute these drills with her room full of babies without traumatizing them any more than necessary it makes me cry inside.  

What in the hell is wrong with everyone? 


Friday, June 10, 2016

Letter to a rapist

If you have not read the letter written by the Stanford University rape victim of Brock Allen Turner you should:

Your Honor, if it is all right, for the majority of this statement I would like to address the defendant directly.

You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.

On January 17th, 2015, it was a quiet Saturday night at home. My dad made some dinner and I sat at the table with my younger sister who was visiting for the weekend. I was working full time and it was approaching my bed time. I planned to stay at home by myself, watch some TV and read, while she went to a party with her friends. Then, I decided it was my only night with her, I had nothing better to do, so why not, there’s a dumb party ten minutes from my house, I would go, dance like a fool, and embarrass my younger sister. On the way there, I joked that undergrad guys would have braces. My sister teased me for wearing a beige cardigan to a frat party like a librarian. I called myself “big mama”, because I knew I’d be the oldest one there. I made silly faces, let my guard down, and drank liquor too fast not factoring in that my tolerance had significantly lowered since college.

The next thing I remember I was in a gurney in a hallway. I had dried blood and bandages on the backs of my hands and elbow. I thought maybe I had fallen and was in an admin office on campus. I was very calm and wondering where my sister was. A deputy explained I had been assaulted. I still remained calm, assured he was speaking to the wrong person. I knew no one at this party. When I was finally allowed to use the restroom, I pulled down the hospital pants they had given me, went to pull down my underwear, and felt nothing. I still remember the feeling of my hands touching my skin and grabbing nothing. I looked down and there was nothing. The thin piece of fabric, the only thing between my vagina and anything else, was missing and everything inside me was silenced. I still don’t have words for that feeling. In order to keep breathing, I thought maybe the policemen used scissors to cut them off for evidence.

Then, I felt pine needles scratching the back of my neck and started pulling them out my hair. I thought maybe, the pine needles had fallen from a tree onto my head. My brain was talking my gut into not collapsing. Because my gut was saying, help me, help me.

I shuffled from room to room with a blanket wrapped around me, pine needles trailing behind me, I left a little pile in every room I sat in. I was asked to sign papers that said “Rape Victim” and I thought something has really happened. My clothes were confiscated and I stood naked while the nurses held a ruler to various abrasions on my body and photographed them. The three of us worked to comb the pine needles out of my hair, six hands to fill one paper bag. To calm me down, they said it’s just the flora and fauna, flora and fauna. I had multiple swabs inserted into my vagina and anus, needles for shots, pills, had a Nikon pointed right into my spread legs. I had long, pointed beaks inside me and had my vagina smeared with cold, blue paint to check for abrasions.

After a few hours of this, they let me shower. I stood there examining my body beneath the stream of water and decided, I don’t want my body anymore. I was terrified of it, I didn’t know what had been in it, if it had been contaminated, who had touched it. I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.

On that morning, all that I was told was that I had been found behind a dumpster, potentially penetrated by a stranger, and that I should get retested for HIV because results don’t always show up immediately. But for now, I should go home and get back to my normal life. Imagine stepping back into the world with only that information. They gave me huge hugs and I walked out of the hospital into the parking lot wearing the new sweatshirt and sweatpants they provided me, as they had only allowed me to keep my necklace and shoes.

My sister picked me up, face wet from tears and contorted in anguish. Instinctively and immediately, I wanted to take away her pain. I smiled at her, I told her to look at me, I’m right here, I’m okay, everything’s okay, I’m right here. My hair is washed and clean, they gave me the strangest shampoo, calm down, and look at me. Look at these funny new sweatpants and sweatshirt, I look like a P.E. teacher, let’s go home, let’s eat something. She did not know that beneath my sweatsuit, I had scratches and bandages on my skin, my vagina was sore and had become a strange, dark color from all the prodding, my underwear was missing, and I felt too empty to continue to speak. That I was also afraid, that I was also devastated. That day we drove home and for hours in silence my younger sister held me.

My boyfriend did not know what happened, but called that day and said, “I was really worried about you last night, you scared me, did you make it home okay?” I was horrified. That’s when I learned I had called him that night in my blackout, left an incomprehensible voicemail, that we had also spoken on the phone, but I was slurring so heavily he was scared for me, that he repeatedly told me to go find [my sister]. Again, he asked me, “What happened last night? Did you make it home okay?” I said yes, and hung up to cry.

I was not ready to tell my boyfriend or parents that actually, I may have been raped behind a dumpster, but I don’t know by who or when or how. If I told them, I would see the fear on their faces, and mine would multiply by tenfold, so instead I pretended the whole thing wasn’t real.
I tried to push it out of my mind, but it was so heavy I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone. After work, I would drive to a secluded place to scream. I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone, and I became isolated from the ones I loved most. For over a week after the incident, I didn’t get any calls or updates about that night or what happened to me. The only symbol that proved that it hadn’t just been a bad dream, was the sweatshirt from the hospital in my drawer.

One day, I was at work, scrolling through the news on my phone, and came across an article. In it, I read and learned for the first time about how I was found unconscious, with my hair disheveled, long necklace wrapped around my neck, bra pulled out of my dress, dress pulled off over my shoulders and pulled up above my waist, that I was butt naked all the way down to my boots, legs spread apart, and had been penetrated by a foreign object by someone I did not recognize. This was how I learned what happened to me, sitting at my desk reading the news at work. I learned what happened to me the same time everyone else in the world learned what happened to me. That’s when the pine needles in my hair made sense, they didn’t fall from a tree. He had taken off my underwear, his fingers had been inside of me. I don’t even know this person. I still don’t know this person. When I read about me like this, I said, this can’t be me, this can’t be me. I could not digest or accept any of this information. I could not imagine my family having to read about this online. I kept reading. In the next paragraph, I read something that I will never forgive; I read that according to him, I liked it. I liked it. Again, I do not have words for these feelings.

It’s like if you were to read an article where a car was hit, and found dented, in a ditch. But maybe the car enjoyed being hit. Maybe the other car didn’t mean to hit it, just bump it up a little bit. Cars get in accidents all the time, people aren’t always paying attention, can we really say who’s at fault.
And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times. She was found breathing, unresponsive with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach curled in fetal position. By the way, he’s really good at swimming. Throw in my mile time if that’s what we’re doing. I’m good at cooking, put that in there, I think the end is where you list your extracurriculars to cancel out all the sickening things that’ve happened.

The night the news came out I sat my parents down and told them that I had been assaulted, to not look at the news because it’s upsetting, just know that I’m okay, I’m right here, and I’m okay. But halfway through telling them, my mom had to hold me because I could no longer stand up.

The night after it happened, he said he didn’t know my name, said he wouldn’t be able to identify my face in a lineup, didn’t mention any dialogue between us, no words, only dancing and kissing. Dancing is a cute term; was it snapping fingers and twirling dancing, or just bodies grinding up against each other in a crowded room? I wonder if kissing was just faces sloppily pressed up against each other? When the detective asked if he had planned on taking me back to his dorm, he said no. When the detective asked how we ended up behind the dumpster, he said he didn’t know. He admitted to kissing other girls at that party, one of whom was my own sister who pushed him away.

He admitted to wanting to hook up with someone. I was the wounded antelope of the herd, completely alone and vulnerable, physically unable to fend for myself, and he chose me. Sometimes I think, if I hadn’t gone, then this never would’ve happened. But then I realized, it would have happened, just to somebody else. You were about to enter four years of access to drunk girls and parties, and if this is the foot you started off on, then it is right you did not continue. The night after it happened, he said he thought I liked it because I rubbed his back. A back rub.

Never mentioned me voicing consent, never mentioned us even speaking, a back rub. One more time, in public news, I learned that my ass and vagina were completely exposed outside, my breasts had been groped, fingers had been jabbed inside me along with pine needles and debris, my bare skin and head had been rubbing against the ground behind a dumpster, while an erect freshman was humping my half naked, unconscious body. But I don’t remember, so how do I prove I didn’t like it.

I thought there’s no way this is going to trial; there were witnesses, there was dirt in my body, he ran but was caught. He’s going to settle, formally apologize, and we will both move on. Instead, I was told he hired a powerful attorney, expert witnesses, private investigators who were going to try and find details about my personal life to use against me, find loopholes in my story to invalidate me and my sister, in order to show that this sexual assault was in fact a misunderstanding. That he was going to go to any length to convince the world he had simply been confused.

I was not only told that I was assaulted, I was told that because I couldn’t remember, I technically could not prove it was unwanted. And that distorted me, damaged me, almost broke me. It is the saddest type of confusion to be told I was assaulted and nearly raped, blatantly out in the open, but we don’t know if it counts as assault yet. I had to fight for an entire year to make it clear that there was something wrong with this situation.

When I was told to be prepared in case we didn’t win, I said, I can’t prepare for that. He was guilty the minute I woke up. No one can talk me out of the hurt he caused me. Worst of all, I was warned, because he now knows you don’t remember, he is going to get to write the script. He can say whatever he wants and no one can contest it. I had no power, I had no voice, I was defenseless. My memory loss would be used against me. My testimony was weak, was incomplete, and I was made to believe that perhaps, I am not enough to win this. His attorney constantly reminded the jury, the only one we can believe is Brock, because she doesn’t remember. That helplessness was traumatizing.
Instead of taking time to heal, I was taking time to recall the night in excruciating detail, in order to prepare for the attorney’s questions that would be invasive, aggressive, and designed to steer me off course, to contradict myself, my sister, phrased in ways to manipulate my answers. Instead of his attorney saying, Did you notice any abrasions? He said, You didn’t notice any abrasions, right? This was a game of strategy, as if I could be tricked out of my own worth. The sexual assault had been so clear, but instead, here I was at the trial, answering questions like:

How old are you? How much do you weigh? What did you eat that day? Well what did you have for dinner? Who made dinner? Did you drink with dinner? No, not even water? When did you drink? How much did you drink? What container did you drink out of? Who gave you the drink? How much do you usually drink? Who dropped you off at this party? At what time? But where exactly? What were you wearing? Why were you going to this party? What’ d you do when you got there? Are you sure you did that? But what time did you do that? What does this text mean? Who were you texting? When did you urinate? Where did you urinate? With whom did you urinate outside? Was your phone on silent when your sister called? Do you remember silencing it? Really because on page 53 I’d like to point out that you said it was set to ring. Did you drink in college? You said you were a party animal? How many times did you black out? Did you party at frats? Are you serious with your boyfriend? Are you sexually active with him? When did you start dating? Would you ever cheat? Do you have a history of cheating? What do you mean when you said you wanted to reward him? Do you remember what time you woke up? Were you wearing your cardigan? What color was your cardigan? Do you remember any more from that night? No? Okay, well, we’ll let Brock fill it in.

I was pummeled with narrowed, pointed questions that dissected my personal life, love life, past life, family life, inane questions, accumulating trivial details to try and find an excuse for this guy who had me half naked before even bothering to ask for my name. After a physical assault, I was assaulted with questions designed to attack me, to say see, her facts don’t line up, she’s out of her mind, she’s practically an alcoholic, she probably wanted to hook up, he’s like an athlete right, they were both drunk, whatever, the hospital stuff she remembers is after the fact, why take it into account, Brock has a lot at stake so he’s having a really hard time right now.

And then it came time for him to testify and I learned what it meant to be revictimized. I want to remind you, the night after it happened he said he never planned to take me back to his dorm. He said he didn’t know why we were behind a dumpster. He got up to leave because he wasn’t feeling well when he was suddenly chased and attacked. Then he learned I could not remember.
So one year later, as predicted, a new dialogue emerged. Brock had a strange new story, almost sounded like a poorly written young adult novel with kissing and dancing and hand holding and lovingly tumbling onto the ground, and most importantly in this new story, there was suddenly consent. One year after the incident, he remembered, oh yeah, by the way she actually said yes, to everything, so.

He said he had asked if I wanted to dance. Apparently I said yes. He’d asked if I wanted to go to his dorm, I said yes. Then he asked if he could finger me and I said yes. Most guys don’t ask, can I finger you? Usually there’s a natural progression of things, unfolding consensually, not a Q and A. But apparently I granted full permission. He’s in the clear. Even in his story, I only said a total of three words, yes yes yes, before he had me half naked on the ground. Future reference, if you are confused about whether a girl can consent, see if she can speak an entire sentence. You couldn’t even do that. Just one coherent string of words. Where was the confusion? This is common sense, human decency.
According to him, the only reason we were on the ground was because I fell down. Note; if a girl falls down help her get back up. If she is too drunk to even walk and falls down, do not mount her, hump her, take off her underwear, and insert your hand inside her vagina. If a girl falls down help her up. If she is wearing a cardigan over her dress don’t take it off so that you can touch her breasts. Maybe she is cold, maybe that’s why she wore the cardigan.

Next in the story, two Swedes on bicycles approached you and you ran. When they tackled you why didn’t say, “Stop! Everything’s okay, go ask her, she’s right over there, she’ll tell you.” I mean you had just asked for my consent, right? I was awake, right? When the policeman arrived and interviewed the evil Swede who tackled you, he was crying so hard he couldn’t speak because of what he’d seen.

Your attorney has repeatedly pointed out, well we don’t know exactly when she became unconscious. And you’re right, maybe I was still fluttering my eyes and wasn’t completely limp yet. That was never the point. I was too drunk to speak English, too drunk to consent way before I was on the ground. I should have never been touched in the first place. Brock stated, “At no time did I see that she was not responding. If at any time I thought she was not responding, I would have stopped immediately.” Here’s the thing; if your plan was to stop only when I became unresponsive, then you still do not understand. You didn’t even stop when I was unconscious anyway! Someone else stopped you. Two guys on bikes noticed I wasn’t moving in the dark and had to tackle you. How did you not notice while on top of me?

You said, you would have stopped and gotten help. You say that, but I want you to explain how you would’ve helped me, step by step, walk me through this. I want to know, if those evil Swedes had not found me, how the night would have played out. I am asking you; Would you have pulled my underwear back on over my boots? Untangled the necklace wrapped around my neck? Closed my legs, covered me? Pick the pine needles from my hair? Asked if the abrasions on my neck and bottom hurt? Would you then go find a friend and say, Will you help me get her somewhere warm and soft? I don’t sleep when I think about the way it could have gone if the two guys had never come. What would have happened to me? That’s what you’ll never have a good answer for, that’s what you can’t explain even after a year.

On top of all this, he claimed that I orgasmed after one minute of digital penetration. The nurse said there had been abrasions, lacerations, and dirt in my genitalia. Was that before or after I came?
To sit under oath and inform all of us, that yes I wanted it, yes I permitted it, and that you are the true victim attacked by Swedes for reasons unknown to you is appalling, is demented, is selfish, is damaging. It is enough to be suffering. It is another thing to have someone ruthlessly working to diminish the gravity of validity of this suffering.

My family had to see pictures of my head strapped to a gurney full of pine needles, of my body in the dirt with my eyes closed, hair messed up, limbs bent, and dress hiked up. And even after that, my family had to listen to your attorney say the pictures were after the fact, we can dismiss them. To say, yes her nurse confirmed there was redness and abrasions inside her, significant trauma to her genitalia, but that’s what happens when you finger someone, and he’s already admitted to that. To listen to your attorney attempt to paint a picture of me, the face of girls gone wild, as if somehow that would make it so that I had this coming for me. To listen to him say I sounded drunk on the phone because I’m silly and that’s my goofy way of speaking. To point out that in the voicemail, I said I would reward my boyfriend and we all know what I was thinking. I assure you my rewards program is non transferable, especially to any nameless man that approaches me.

You are guilty. Twelve jurors convicted you guilty of three felony counts beyond reasonable doubt, that’s twelve votes per count, thirty ­six yeses confirming guilt, that’s one hundred percent, unanimous guilt. And I thought finally it is over, finally he will own up to what he did, truly apologize, we will both move on and get better. ​Then I read your statement.

If you are hoping that one of my organs will implode from anger and I will die, I’m almost there. You are very close. This is not a story of another drunk college hook­up with poor decision making. Assault is not an accident. Somehow, you still don’t get it. Somehow, you still sound confused. I will now read portions of the defendant’s statement and respond to them.

You said, Being drunk I just couldn’t make the best decisions and neither could she.
Alcohol is not an excuse. Is it a factor? Yes. But alcohol was not the one who stripped me, fingered me, had my head dragging against the ground, with me almost fully naked. Having too much to drink was an amateur mistake that I admit to, but it is not criminal. Everyone in this room has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much, or knows someone close to them who has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much. Regretting drinking is not the same as regretting sexual assault. We were both drunk, the difference is I did not take off your pants and underwear, touch you inappropriately, and run away. That’s the difference.

You said, If I wanted to get to know her, I should have asked for her number, rather than asking her to go back to my room.
I’m not mad because you didn’t ask for my number. Even if you did know me, I would not want to be in this situation. My own boyfriend knows me, but if he asked to finger me behind a dumpster, I would slap him. No girl wants to be in this situation. Nobody. I don’t care if you know their phone number or not.

You said, I stupidly thought it was okay for me to do what everyone around me was doing, which was drinking. I was wrong.
Again, you were not wrong for drinking. Everyone around you was not sexually assaulting me. You were wrong for doing what nobody else was doing, which was pushing your erect dick in your pants against my naked, defenseless body concealed in a dark area, where partygoers could no longer see or protect me, and my own sister could not find me. Sipping fireball is not your crime. Peeling off and discarding my underwear like a candy wrapper to insert your finger into my body, is where you went wrong. Why am I still explaining this.

You said, During the trial I didn’t want to victimize her at all. That was just my attorney and his way of approaching the case.
Your attorney is not your scapegoat, he represents you. Did your attorney say some incredulously infuriating, degrading things? Absolutely. He said you had an erection, because it was cold.

You said, you are in the process of establishing a program for high school and college students in which you speak about your experience to “speak out against the college campus drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that.”
Campus drinking culture. That’s what we’re speaking out against? You think that’s what I’ve spent the past year fighting for? Not awareness about campus sexual assault, or rape, or learning to recognize consent. Campus drinking culture. Down with Jack Daniels. Down with Skyy Vodka. If you want talk to people about drinking go to an AA meeting. You realize, having a drinking problem is different than drinking and then forcefully trying to have sex with someone? Show men how to respect women, not how to drink less.
Drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Goes along with that, like a side effect, like fries on the side of your order. Where does promiscuity even come into play? I don’t see headlines that read, Brock Turner, Guilty of drinking too much and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Campus Sexual Assault. There’s your first powerpoint slide. Rest assured, if you fail to fix the topic of your talk, I will follow you to every school you go to and give a follow up presentation.

Lastly you said, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin a life.
A life, one life, yours, you forgot about mine. Let me rephrase for you, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives. You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect. You have dragged me through this hell with you, dipped me back into that night again and again. You knocked down both our towers, I collapsed at the same time you did. If you think I was spared, came out unscathed, that today I ride off into sunset, while you suffer the greatest blow, you are mistaken. Nobody wins. We have all been devastated, we have all been trying to find some meaning in all of this suffering. Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.

See one thing we have in common is that we were both unable to get up in the morning. I am no stranger to suffering. You made me a victim. In newspapers my name was “unconscious intoxicated woman”, ten syllables, and nothing more than that. For a while, I believed that that was all I was. I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity. To relearn that this is not all that I am. That I am not just a drunk victim at a frat party found behind a dumpster, while you are the All­ American swimmer at a top university, innocent until proven guilty, with so much at stake. I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt, my life was put on hold for over a year, waiting to figure out if I was worth something.

My independence, natural joy, gentleness, and steady lifestyle I had been enjoying became distorted beyond recognition. I became closed off, angry, self deprecating, tired, irritable, empty. The isolation at times was unbearable. You cannot give me back the life I had before that night either. While you worry about your shattered reputation, I refrigerated spoons every night so when I woke up, and my eyes were puffy from crying, I would hold the spoons to my eyes to lessen the swelling so that I could see. I showed up an hour late to work every morning, excused myself to cry in the stairwells, I can tell you all the best places in that building to cry where no one can hear you. The pain became so bad that I had to explain the private details to my boss to let her know why I was leaving. I needed time because continuing day to day was not possible. I used my savings to go as far away as I could possibly be. I did not return to work full time as I knew I’d have to take weeks off in the future for the hearing and trial, that were constantly being rescheduled. My life was put on hold for over a year, my structure had collapsed.

I can’t sleep alone at night without having a light on, like a five year old, because I have nightmares of being touched where I cannot wake up, I did this thing where I waited until the sun came up and I felt safe enough to sleep. For three months, I went to bed at six o’clock in the morning.
I used to pride myself on my independence, now I am afraid to go on walks in the evening, to attend social events with drinking among friends where I should be comfortable being. I have become a little barnacle always needing to be at someone’s side, to have my boyfriend standing next to me, sleeping beside me, protecting me. It is embarrassing how feeble I feel, how timidly I move through life, always guarded, ready to defend myself, ready to be angry.

You have no idea how hard I have worked to rebuild parts of me that are still weak. It took me eight months to even talk about what happened. I could no longer connect with friends, with everyone around me. I would scream at my boyfriend, my own family whenever they brought this up. You never let me forget what happened to me. At the of end of the hearing, the trial, I was too tired to speak. I would leave drained, silent. I would go home turn off my phone and for days I would not speak. You bought me a ticket to a planet where I lived by myself. Every time a new article come out, I lived with the paranoia that my entire hometown would find out and know me as the girl who got assaulted. I didn’t want anyone’s pity and am still learning to accept victim as part of my identity. You made my own hometown an uncomfortable place to be.

You cannot give me back my sleepless nights. The way I have broken down sobbing uncontrollably if I’m watching a movie and a woman is harmed, to say it lightly, this experience has expanded my empathy for other victims. I have lost weight from stress, when people would comment I told them I’ve been running a lot lately. There are times I did not want to be touched. I have to relearn that I am not fragile, I am capable, I am wholesome, not just livid and weak.

When I see my younger sister hurting, when she is unable to keep up in school, when she is deprived of joy, when she is not sleeping, when she is crying so hard on the phone she is barely breathing, telling me over and over again she is sorry for leaving me alone that night, sorry sorry sorry, when she feels more guilt than you, then I do not forgive you. That night I had called her to try and find her, but you found me first. Your attorney’s closing statement began, “[Her sister] said she was fine and who knows her better than her sister.” You tried to use my own sister against me? Your points of attack were so weak, so low, it was almost embarrassing. You do not touch her.
You should have never done this to me. Secondly, you should have never made me fight so long to tell you, you should have never done this to me. But here we are. The damage is done, no one can undo it. And now we both have a choice. We can let this destroy us, I can remain angry and hurt and you can be in denial, or we can face it head on, I accept the pain, you accept the punishment, and we move on.

Your life is not over, you have decades of years ahead to rewrite your story. The world is huge, it is so much bigger than Palo Alto and Stanford, and you will make a space for yourself in it where you can be useful and happy. But right now, you do not get to shrug your shoulders and be confused anymore. You do not get to pretend that there were no red flags. You have been convicted of violating me, intentionally, forcibly, sexually, with malicious intent, and all you can admit to is consuming alcohol. Do not talk about the sad way your life was upturned because alcohol made you do bad things. Figure out how to take responsibility for your own conduct.

Now to address the sentencing. When I read the probation officer’s report, I was in disbelief, consumed by anger which eventually quieted down to profound sadness. My statements have been slimmed down to distortion and taken out of context. I fought hard during this trial and will not have the outcome minimized by a probation officer who attempted to evaluate my current state and my wishes in a fifteen minute conversation, the majority of which was spent answering questions I had about the legal system. The context is also important. Brock had yet to issue a statement, and I had not read his remarks.

My life has been on hold for over a year, a year of anger, anguish and uncertainty, until a jury of my peers rendered a judgment that validated the injustices I had endured. Had Brock admitted guilt and remorse and offered to settle early on, I would have considered a lighter sentence, respecting his honesty, grateful to be able to move our lives forward. Instead he took the risk of going to trial, added insult to injury and forced me to relive the hurt as details about my personal life and sexual assault were brutally dissected before the public. He pushed me and my family through a year of inexplicable, unnecessary suffering, and should face the consequences of challenging his crime, of putting my pain into question, of making us wait so long for justice.

I told the probation officer I do not want Brock to rot away in prison. I did not say he does not deserve to be behind bars. The probation officer’s recommendation of a year or less in county jail is a soft time­out, a mockery of the seriousness of his assaults, an insult to me and all women. It gives the message that a stranger can be inside you without proper consent and he will receive less than what has been defined as the minimum sentence. Probation should be denied. I also told the probation officer that what I truly wanted was for Brock to get it, to understand and admit to his wrongdoing.
Unfortunately, after reading the defendant’s report, I am severely disappointed and feel that he has failed to exhibit sincere remorse or responsibility for his conduct. I fully respected his right to a trial, but even after twelve jurors unanimously convicted him guilty of three felonies, all he has admitted to doing is ingesting alcohol. Someone who cannot take full accountability for his actions does not deserve a mitigating sentence. It is deeply offensive that he would try and dilute rape with a suggestion of “promiscuity.” By definition rape is the absence of promiscuity, rape is the absence of consent, and it perturbs me deeply that he can’t even see that distinction.

The probation officer factored in that the defendant is youthful and has no prior convictions. In my opinion, he is old enough to know what he did was wrong. When you are eighteen in this country you can go to war. When you are nineteen, you are old enough to pay the consequences for attempting to rape someone. He is young, but he is old enough to know better.

As this is a first offense I can see where leniency would beckon. On the other hand, as a society, we cannot forgive everyone’s first sexual assault or digital rape. It doesn’t make sense. The seriousness of rape has to be communicated clearly, we should not create a culture that suggests we learn that rape is wrong through trial and error. The consequences of sexual assault needs to be severe enough that people feel enough fear to exercise good judgment even if they are drunk, severe enough to be preventative.

The probation officer weighed the fact that he has surrendered a hard earned swimming scholarship. How fast Brock swims does not lessen the severity of what happened to me, and should not lessen the severity of his punishment. If a first time offender from an underprivileged background was accused of three felonies and displayed no accountability for his actions other than drinking, what would his sentence be? The fact that Brock was an athlete at a private university should not be seen as an entitlement to leniency, but as an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class.

The Probation Officer has stated that this case, when compared to other crimes of similar nature, may be considered less serious due to the defendant’s level of intoxication. It felt serious. That’s all I’m going to say.

What has he done to demonstrate that he deserves a break? He has only apologized for drinking and has yet to define what he did to me as sexual assault, he has revictimized me continually, relentlessly. He has been found guilty of three serious felonies and it is time for him to accept the consequences of his actions. He will not be quietly excused.

He is a lifetime sex registrant. That doesn’t expire. Just like what he did to me doesn’t expire, doesn’t just go away after a set number of years. It stays with me, it’s part of my identity, it has forever changed the way I carry myself, the way I live the rest of my life.

To conclude, I want to say thank you. To everyone from the intern who made me oatmeal when I woke up at the hospital that morning, to the deputy who waited beside me, to the nurses who calmed me, to the detective who listened to me and never judged me, to my advocates who stood unwaveringly beside me, to my therapist who taught me to find courage in vulnerability, to my boss for being kind and understanding, to my incredible parents who teach me how to turn pain into strength, to my grandma who snuck chocolate into the courtroom throughout this to give to me, my friends who remind me how to be happy, to my boyfriend who is patient and loving, to my unconquerable sister who is the other half of my heart, to Alaleh, my idol, who fought tirelessly and never doubted me. Thank you to everyone involved in the trial for their time and attention. Thank you to girls across the nation that wrote cards to my DA to give to me, so many strangers who cared for me.

Most importantly, thank you to the two men who saved me, who I have yet to meet. I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my bed to remind myself there are heroes in this story. That we are looking out for one another. To have known all of these people, to have felt their protection and love, is something I will never forget.

And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. As the author Anne Lamott once wrote, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you. Thank you.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Busy June

Ron just left for North Carolina.  I wish I could have gone with him but it just wasn't possible.  Mike is having enough anxiety just over the fact that Ron won't be here all week.  He sure couldn't handle both of us being gone.

I've decided to use the week to get back on track with my diet.  I gained 2 pounds and I want to get that off.  It's not that much but I worked too hard to lose 55 pounds and I don't want to start going in the wrong direction.

Last night we had dinner with my daughter and her beau.  She subscribes to Home Chef and she and Mike cook the meals they receive together.  Last night she fixed vegetable paninis, a recipe she received from Home Chef, and they were delicious.   

I'm considering subscribing to Home Chef after seeing a review on the Today show about them.  They took one of their recipes and then shopped for the ingredients to cook the dish.  They spent more than than the cost of purchasing the meal from Home Chef.  I like the idea that everything comes fresh to your door to prepare the meal and with step-by-step instructions.  You can collect the recipes and remake the dish if you like.  So far Jamie and Mike have loved every meal they have received.

This month I have a lot of doctor appointments.  I see the orthopedist, the dentist, get lab work drawn, see my  primary care doctor and my diabetes doctor.  A lot going on for sure!  I didn't plant to schedule everything in the same month but it sure worked out that way.

Well time to do a little housework and then I'm off to swim at my daughter's house.  Hope its a glorious day wherever you are!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Weekly menu

I went to the store this morning before the Memorial weekend crowd. I had to get some things for Mike's meals.  His menu for the week is as follows:

Monday:
Lunch:  Bagel and ham sandwich, pork n beans, chips
Dinner:  Salisbury  steak, mashed potatoes, asparagus

Tuesday:
Lunch:  Mike goes to Whata Burger for his free meal :)
Dinner:  Pinto beans and ham

Wednesday:
Lunch: Bacon Cheeseburger, chips, fruit cup
Dinner:  Beef Tips over noodles, spinach

Thursday:
Lunch:  Mike goes to the Golden Coral for fish
Dinner:  Pork Egg Rolls 

Friday: 

Lunch:  Mike goes to lunch with brother
Dinner:  Ham Steak, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts

Saturday:
Lunch:  Bagel ham sandwich, chips
Dinner:  Pepperoni Pizza

Sunday:
Lunch:  Bacon Cheeseburger, Chips
Dinner:  Roast, Mashed Potatoes, Honey Carrots

I take his meals over twice a week, on Sunday and Wednesday.  I label each one with the day of the week, contents and heating directions.  

The biggest challenge I have is keeping a variety of meals and working around his allergies and disdain for chicken.  If he'd just eat chicken I could really expand his menu.  But you can't fool a schizophrenic.  I know, because I've tried.

Thank goodness I found the cheese substitute because that opened up a lot of things he couldn't eat before.

I've been wondering lately how I managed to escape the cycle of depression that seems to have plagued my family members.  I can honestly say I'm a very happy person by nature but so was my dad.  I have never suffered from anxiety, worry or depression.  Oh, there have been situations in my life that brought anxiety such as Ron's cancer but it has never been the all consuming kind of thing that kept me from functioning.  I honestly attribute some of it to the fact that I just don't have time to think about myself.  Because I am so blessed to have so many people in my life that I love and care about I'm way too busy thinking about how I can make their lives happy I just make myself happy along the way.