Monday, November 13, 2017

FIFTY SHADES OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT

PREFACE
I have encountered sexual harassment at many levels throughout my life. I have not always recognized it as such at the time. Sometimes I realized it right after it happened, after thinking about it for some time (days, weeks, months, even years), and sometimes never realizing it until relating a story about it and someone else pointing it out. How odd is that?

STORY
I was working in a 7-Eleven on Saturday, setting up a display for the coming Christmas season. This store was the 15th location I had completed in the past six days. I work from a seated position as my lower back cannot take the bending and stooping required. I take my two-step A-frame step ladder with me and use it to sit on and get to lower levels and bottom rows.

A customer came in and walked over to me, standing behind me, he reached around leaning into my back to "reach for something" hanging on the display. I could smell the strong odor of Listerine (used to mask alcohol, as it triggered a memory of my alcoholic father). As I turned to see if I recognized him, he said something apologetic, giggled and walked away. Maybe this was his idea of flirting?

He then returned and leaned in behind me to give me a hug (of sorts), again feigning that he was going to buy something off the display I was setting up. Both his arms encircling me at just below shoulder height. Held only long enough as to not make me too uncomfortable. He said, "You know I'm just kidding around. I'm a regular in here," and then walked away again. Minutes later, he returned with a single rose bought from the counter as he checked out. He said, "For you, for putting up with me messing around. It's just that I hadn't seen you in here before. See you later." To which I replied, "You probably won't see me later, as I don't work here. But thanks for the flower."

CONCLUSION
As I reflected on the whole experience, I started to get creeped out. What he had done was sexual harassment at the least, sexual assault at the worst. He invaded my space. Touched me (a stranger) without permission, twice! And then gave me with a present to apologize for his actions. It had made me uncomfortable. He had had the positional advantage of standing while I was sitting. He had approached me from behind with no warning, both times, and had made the second encounter more intimate than the first. It was creepy.

While walking on the sidewalk or riding my bike, I have been sexually harassed by men on the side of the road or from moving vehicles, cat-calling; bosses making advances; customers being inappropriate while I worked as a server; and at least one incident of misjudging a sexual encounter. But not until recently, with all the "outing" of sexual predators, would I have taken notice of this brief encounter as an incident of sexual harassment. All the other times were when I was younger, slimmer, prettier, and I dealt with them as accepted behavior (as Weinstein's actions were accepted but not acceptable behavior). I have always thought it was disgusting but "it happens all the time." I am glad that this behavior is being called on to be accountable. That men need to realize that what they think is flirting, IS NOT. That it is NOT acceptable to invade someone's space or touch their body without permission. ESPECIALLY IF THEY ARE A STRANGER! Geez! Men need to be re-trained in the art of social contact.

Monday, September 05, 2016

BROKEN HEART REVISITED

PREFACE
I guess it's not a real broken heart but it definitely hurt my feelings and changed the direction of my plans. Should you ever revisit a past relationship even if that relationship was short-lived? At this point I would say, "No."

STORY
We had met on some online dating site and then in real life. We hit it off well and I spent the night at his place which he shared with his roommate and his daughter. I liked him and he liked me. We were hot for each other too. I invited him to my house at the time, and we got busy right away. Then I didn't hear from him. I'm not the type to push, or nag, or text someone a million times. I seem to remember trying several times to contact him but then gave up.

I've had his email & picture in my Gmail account ever since then. JS contacted me on Facebook. I hadn't heard from him in 10 years. We went out to dinner and talked for 3 hours. We made out in the parking lot and it was hot. We texted every day and went to dinner the next week. We talked for almost 3 hours and made out in the parking lot. We continued to text every day. From the time we got up to the time we went to bed. Then we had lunch one day and we kissed and hugged at my car before parting ways. We had long, frank discussions about how we wanted to have sex but couldn't make that happen with our living arrangements. He made us reservations at a hotel suite but then had to cancel due to his not having the money. This went on for a month. Last week we were going on a road trip to central Florida for me to deliver a chair to a friend and get some stuff from my storage unit. I had to cancel because I didn't have enough money for the trip. We finally set the date for me to come over and spend the night if I wanted to. I texted him that I was going to be coming over later than we had planned. He texted that he had to cancel.

His first reason was a cold sore but there was another one too. I asked what. He said that his ex had texted him and started talking to him about getting back together. He hadn't really gotten over her and didn't want to hurt me by continuing forward with us. I was very, very hurt. I cried, and cried, and cried. I texted him that I would have to take some time to process this.

CONCLUSION
I texted my son about what happened. He said to tell him that "I'm not a fire extinguisher. I'm not there as a backup to anyone else and he either needs to choose me or not." And he said if he doesn't respect me enough for that, he hasn't earned my time. I am trying to live in the now. The now today was painful. It made me cry. It also made me contact two other men that had showed an interest in me last month. I hadn't cultivated the contacts due to JS. Now I am.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

COUNTING 1, 2, 3...

PREFACE
Today Friday and tomorrow, Saturday, I have signed up to count all the patrons going to see the new Superman vs Batman movie at the Aventura Mall Cinema. Suffice to say I didn't know what I was getting myself into. I do patron counts (or Open Checking) at many theatres, at many openings. Never one this BIG! This is a new adventure in market research (aka mystery shopping).

STORY
I had checked the number of auditoriums playing the movie on Thursday night and they had 13 shows listed. That's a lot of shows normally and three to four auditoriums would be normally showing them. When I got up on Friday morning, they had 30 SHOWS!! listed, starting at 9:30 am and going to 12:30 am (Saturday morning). NINE auditoriums showing the movie 30 minutes apart! It was a hectic day to say the least. I barely had time to eat some chicken fingers and curly fries at 9 pm for dinner, which I was STARVING by that time. I always bring protein bars and bottled water with me but that doesn't sustain me through 15 hour days. I did get to watch the movie after my midnight count. It was very good but set too dark. You couldn't see what was going on on the screen at times.

I was glad they dropped one auditorium on Saturday, leaving me to check only 8 and having a few more minutes between shows. It wasn't so hard to get to the shows but they were at opposite ends of the theatre and at peak times it was very difficult to get through the crowds. I took to counting the line waiting to get in as they went in and then counting those who came in after. The hardest part of counting is the patrons that leave their seats and go to concession. Those going in and out can cause a huge difference in total numbers if you don't write down something about them you can remember when they come back in.

CONCLUSION
I am very grateful for my sister ordering me a counter machine and getting it delivered by Friday. Having this device made my counting go so much easier. The right tool for the right job! It was a very long two days but I earned over $180 per day, so it was worth it. I don't mind spending all day and night at a movie theatre. I feel very comfortable there after 15 years of my late husband managing and district managing them. I am a movie freak, plain and simple.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

SUPER BOWL SUNDAY, 50TH ANNIVERSARY!

PREFACE
It's the 50th Super Bowl and I'm celebrating it at my nephew's house. I really don't care much who wins. I do like to see a good football game, so I hope it is one. My sister is cooking mac'n'cheese to take and I'm off to try to do two installations before joining the festivities.

STORY
I really enjoy the commercials more than the game or half time. My late husband, George, was an audio/visual-phile and taped all the Super Bowls while we were married. I had 20 years of them on VHS. They sold well at my yard sale after he passed and I lost my home. I miss George more than any of the things I have lost since. There are times I am more emotional about his absence. Super Bowl Sunday is one of them.

CONCLUSION
As you enjoy the pinnacle of the favorite American past time (or one of them), hold your loved ones close and imprint the joy in your memory. You never know how many more chances you have. Yell at the screen! Eat, and don't think about the calories! Tell stories and laugh out loud! Put down the cellphone, the iPad, the laptop, and immerse yourself in the friends and family surrounding you. EAT! DRINK! AND BE MERRY! Enjoy! (and GO PANTHERS!!) :)

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Adventures in Flying! Happy New Year!

PREFACE
A happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year to you and yours! I had a wonderful time, once I got to Wisconsin. Adventures in flying! My flight was cancelled twice during my layover in Charlotte, N.C. and finally I was put on a flight to Dallas! and then flew into Madison, instead of Milwaukee. I left Ft. Lauderdale at 10 A.M. and didn't get into Madison until 11 P.M.! But it's all good. 

STORY
There was 7 inches of new snow on the ground and I was very thankful for my sister's snow boots and gloves. The ceremony for my son, Ian, and his bride, Erin, was informal at the courthouse. There were local friends and family there. The bride and groom's mothers were the official witnesses (me and her mother). The vows made me cry and I had no tissues, of course. The judge was friendly and funny and the ceremony was moving. Then we all went to dinner. Good times!


CONCLUSION
My son and his new bride are starting the new year out as husband and wife. My own parents chose Dec. 31st as their wedding day. I think it is a nice repeat of a tradition. I can already see that they will be much happier than my parents were. They are much more in sync and have more commonality. They remind me of my marriage to Ian's father and the soul-mate, best friend bond that we had together for 20 years. It gives me  a warm feeling in my heart and comfort that my son will have the kind of love that made him be possible. HAPPY, HEALTHY, & PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR! 2016!

Sunday, December 06, 2015

MEASURING MY LIFE BY THE CATS I'VE LOVED

PREFACE
The vet that treated my cat, Milo, sent me a condolence card. It was a sweet gesture and I do appreciate it. It is never easy to lose a pet. He was diagnosed with Lymphoma two years ago August 2013. I could not afford the $300 additional chemo treatment that would only give him a possible 18 months. I decided to research natural cures and treated him myself with colloidal silver and aloe vera. The disease attacks the digestion and blocks their ability to absorb the nutrients from their food. My treatment allowed him 9 more months than the chemo promised.

STORY
I was Milo's person for the past 16 years. He came to us as a kitten (6 weeks old) and I had originally intended for him to be my son's cat. I had Molly (female brown Burmese) and my late husband had Sox (male Tuxedo, black and white). Milo spent his first few weeks sleeping in a box next to my bed at night, when he wasn't out and about getting to know our other two adult cats.
 Milo

Molly

 Sox


Milo was to be Ian's cat. Ian was 14. As it turned out, Ian was allergic to Milo's saliva and Milo liked to lick as a show of affection. Molly had no maternal tendencies toward him and attacked him repeatedly. He was a tiny kitten and could not defend himself, so I decided that Molly was to become an outside/inside cat (but mostly outside). Molly had always resented becoming an inside cat, so she was happy. Sox adopted Milo and protected him against Molly.

When we got Sox, he was a stray kitten that someone had abandoned near a friend of my sister. My sister called me to say that this kitten needed our family. We had been without a cat for a while, since our last kitten had been put down due to spinal problems, loss of use of his back legs and potty functions. Spooky was less than two years old. It was traumatic and we had gone for over a year without looking for another cat. Sox was a wonderful addition to our family. He LOVED my late husband and was a sweet, loving, adorable quirky cat. At max. weight he was 24lbs! but had a tiny little voice (mew!) like Mike Tyson. He also loved cantelope and watermelon!

Sox was about 4 months old when we got Molly. Molly was originally named Bonnie, but it didn't fit her. Her owner was going to be forced to take her to the animal shelter (to be gassed!) so I agreed to take her. I'm not partial to female cats but I didn't want her to be euthanized at seven months old! She came into our house always wanting to squip out the door to be outside. It was a constant battle. Molly knew how to open doorknobs! We had to keep the door deadbolt-locked so she couldn't get out. Molly also liked to open the side-by-side refrigerator doors (and LEAVE THEM OPEN!). We would come downstairs to find both doors standing wide open! My late husband had to devise a "lock" for the doors. He used a piece of aluminum rod, bent in a U-shape to slip over both door handles at night when we went to bed. Molly finally stopped after a few months.

All our cats have played "fetch", usually with small aluminum balls that we would fashion for them. They would run after them and bring them back to be thrown again. Molly was the most insistent. She would bring a ball and drop it on your bare foot to let you know she wanted to play fetch. They loved the sound they made on the tile floor.

Molly was the first to go. At 15 years old, arthritic and thin, she stopped eating. I force-fed her water and drops of food through the night, but she became lethargic and less responsive. I took her to animal control and had her put down. Soon after I was forced out of my house due to the landlord selling it, and I could only take one cat with me to my new living arrangements. Sox was 15 yo but in good health. I took him to the animal shelter and gave up ownership with the hope that someone would adopt a 24lb Tuxedo cat. This was in 2008 and there was a lot of animal rescue going on at that time. I hope he got a good home.

Milo was my sole companion for the past 7 years. I was his person. He saw his family go from 3 people, 2 other cats to just him and me. My son moved out on his own but couldn't take Milo due to his allergy. Milo kept me company, was very talkative, would rush to the door if someone knocked or rang the bell (like a watch-cat). He slept in my bed with me. Woke me up when it was morning (to feed him!). Milo watched TV with me sometimes and ALWAYS watched the Annual Westminster Dog Show (intently!). His favorite place to lounge was on my chest (while I watched TV, worked on the computer, or drove him in the car!). He was a total inside cat, never venturing outside.

CONCLUSION
These are just three of the cats that have populated my life, become part of my family, and owned a piece of my heart. When we take on a pet, we have to realize they have an expiration date. Lots of people don't think about a pet being with them for 15-20 years, nor about how close you can become or how involved in their lives. When it gets to the end of their life, it can become all-consuming in the daily caregiving involved, but you do it without a thought. The hardest is when you have to decide if you are being selfish and keeping them here because you can't let go. Luckily, Milo told me in his way that it was time for him to go (for me to let him go). I miss him every day but know that he is in a better place, running and chasing with Sox and Molly.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

WHAT I HAVE TO LEARN...

PREFACE
As the title addresses, what I have to learn...is a lot. I am always learning and hungry to learn. Sometimes the lesson is not so easy to identify. We go through good times and bad times and we should learn something from both, but bad times are harder to substantiate with a lesson. Our reality is made by our thoughts, so we are responsible for both the good and bad. Most people do not want to accept this premise.

STORY
I have recently gone through much change in my life. Experienced trauma in several different ways and I've had to work towards resolving what is the "now" of my life. In April of this year, I was forced out of my long-term housing (5 years in a house and location that I loved!) and had to humbly move back in with my sister. I am exceedingly grateful to her for her generosity because it is a terrible imposition and disruption of her life and home. During this vacation of my home, I broke my leg! The first broken bone of my lifetime. LESSON: I should have started sooner to pack and disseminate all my belongings of 30 years of accumulation, gotten a storage unit, and stored all that I could before it came down to a deadline.

After moving 140 miles to my sister's, and my broken leg healed, I caught a respiratory infection from visiting a cancer treatment center with a family friend who was going through chemotherapy. I was sick for 8 weeks! LESSON: ALWAYS wash your hands and sanitize while visiting a hospital/medical center! WEAR a mask if possible too! And keep your immune system strong (I had run out of most of my supplements that I regularly take to keep my health at optimum.)

I had been sick with coughing, low grade fever, and general exhaustion for 6 weeks before I went to the clinic for evaluation/treatment. I HATE modern medicine and was treating myself with remedies but needed an antibiotic to kick this bug out of me. I had almost healed when my sister gave it back to me again, and I just couldn't fight it off the second round. LESSON: Keep your immune system at optimum.

In one week in October, my family lost two dear family friends and our 19 year old cat. Three deaths within four days. Dan (74) died Wednesday night from complications of cancer treatment, Barry (67) died Tuesday from a heart attack, and Snowball (19 = 92 human years) died in his sleep of old age (warranty on all the parts ran out). This was HELL week for my sister and me. LESSON: Appreciate every day you are given. It's a gift, don't waste it. Tell your loved ones you love them every day.
Dan (1940-2014)
Barry (1947-2014)
Snowball (1995-2014)

CONCLUSION
The lessons we are presented with will be presented again and again, if we don't learn from them. I am very bad at meeting deadlines. It's a control thing and I have to get over it. I need to take better care of my health, especially when I'm depressed and overwhelmed. Many difficult times are hard to explain at the time, but great things will come out of tough times if you are open to seeing them, open to positive thoughts about the future. Embrace the present, enjoy your loved ones, and seek joy everyday!