Me, Too: The Thing About Thinking

Does the world really need another “Me Too” post?

At this point, I want to believe the ball is rolling, and that things will get better. I mean… if Hollywood looks like it’s about to clean house… Well, I think we all knew Hollywood’s a cess pool.

But somewhere along the line, I ran into someone who was saying–loudly, and angrily, and probably to some guy who accidentally stepped in the shit–that it is a big deal, and if he doesn’t understand why women are upset about it, it’s because every woman he knows… EVERY SINGLE ONE… has been the victim of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault.

But that EVERY SINGLE ONE thing made me start thinking.

You know that moment, where you start looking at your friends, and counting on your fingers?

That thing where you… didn’t really consider yourself a victim. I mean, you were lucky… and well… you were lucky.

So, I started thinking about the women around me. The ones closest to me, actually. You have to be… pretty close to someone before they’re going to tell you those stories.

Do I have to tell you how this turned out?

Is it EVERY SINGLE ONE? I don’t know. But it comes close.

A little bit of concentration, and I was remembering a lot of stories.

How many? Enough that I’m starting to believe maybe it is every single one.

Which brings me to my story. My stories. Because, of course, there are stories. And the only ones I’m going to tell are my own. And I didn’t know that this was my near-miss rape story until months after the fact.

I was living in a new city. I hadn’t made a lot of connections, but I had jumped head first into the dance scene.

Now, to be clear, I’m talking about the ballroom/historical dance scene. The mostly tea-totalling, discipline and practice dance scene. So, you can imagine what an orgy that was.

And I was taking a couple months’ worth of Balboa lessons in this kitschy little bar. (When dance is popular, bars always want dancers. Then, they find out we don’t actually drink while dancing.)

So, I’ve made a few friends–not close, enduring friendships, but buddies. You know how that common-interest thing works–and we’re palling around in this bar on some off-night. Tuesday, or Thursday. Not a big-crowd night.

Round about closing time, the owner–who, by the way, I’ve never seen before–appears, and starts mixing mudslides. Free mudslides. For anybody and everybody who wants one. He’s giving away more alcohol than he sold all night long. Big, enormous, syrup-y mudslides.

And I’m sitting there, drenched in sweat–because dance is a workout–and holding the beautiful, icy-cold bottle of water I’d bought about three seconds before last call.

Mudslide doesn’t even look good.

But I say “no thank you,” and “thanks, I’m good,” and he offers a couple more times. Made real sure I knew it was free. Kinda reminds me of the way an old aunt pushes a slice of pie.

And I kept drinking water and cooling off.

The party winds down, and I walked out of there.

And I kept going back.

Absolutely nothing about that night tripped my alarms in any way. I didn’t feel unsafe. I assumed the guy knew someone in the group, or maybe that he was doing it to keep his bar in the good graces of a pretty talented DJ who happened to dance with us. You scratch my back…

There weren’t any more free drinks, but then… who really expects that?

I didn’t have any idea that anything was wrong until the bar closed suddenly, and I heard why on the evening news.

The owner had been arrested on multiple counts of first degree rape.

And the victims had been drugged. Taken up to the VIP room and raped while they were unconscious.

The bar never reopened, and eventually, the building was sold.

So, here it is. The thing about me, too. I was lucky. That’s all. Just luck. I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t save myself. I didn’t know there was anything to save myself from.

And I know there are women out there–women who weren’t lucky–asking themselves what they missed. And I’m the one who can tell them. Nothing. You didn’t miss anything.

My friends and I sat in a room with a serial rapist who was laughing and pouring mudslides, and generally being a good host. A dozen of us. And not one of us saw anything.

Doing Things Out Of Books

Everybody needs things to do with their lives, and in general, books are a great place to go, if you need ideas.

One of the great laws of book people is that you will–eventually, whether you admit it or not–go out and do something because you’ve read about it in a book.

And we’re not just talking cook books and how-to’s. Not that cheese making and battle-robots aren’t awesome.

There are also the is that possibles, the how hard could it bes, and worst of all, the dreaded Oh, that sounds like funs.

And that’s how you wind up knee deep in papier mache or standing on a tourist-infested riverboat.

Yup. You have to go to these places. Some of them are pretty. Some of them are historical. And some of them are… fun.

So, in the wonderful world of American poetry (not generally my cup of peanut butter), there’s a poem that’s always stuck with me, at least in part because of the weirdness of it.  I never really “got” the poem, and I probably don’t, now. The guy pours two glasses, one sweet and the other bitter, and gives the sweet one to his friend, while drinking the bitter. And then, his friend marvels at how happy the first guy is.

The internet informs me that this is a metaphor for service to others making you happy.

In light of the fact that the bitter drink was wormwood, I always thought it was a metaphor for not having worms making you happy.

Or… in my internet enlightened phase… shall we point out that wormwood (one variety) is the same thing that gives absinthe its trippy quality?

Maybe Cliff Klingenhagen was just toasted.

At any rate, it turns out that wormwood is currently legal in the US (using it in alcohol manufacture apparently isn’t.) and that it makes a dandy tea. (I’m really not picturing tea in that poem, but maybe…)

Well, what the hell. Can’t be any worse than the corn meal mush was. And if it tastes worse than the pemmican, I’ll just assume it’s a divine punishment of some sort.

Three Dimensional Puzzles

My sister used to buy me three dimensional puzzles as gifts. Since I was never really into them before, I’m not exactly sure how it began. Maybe as an inside joke, or something “appropriately nerdy.” Maybe she ran into one on sale at some point.

At any rate, the trend stuck, and I wound up with a small collection of puzzles, and at least a little interest in them.

They’re challenging, and in the best of all worlds, also beautiful. (Well, let’s be honest, some of them miss the mark and land somewhere near just plain weird.)

I ordered a new one a few days ago. It’s the Hanayama Mobius, and it does happen to be an attractive do-hickey. It’s the first Hanayama puzzle I’ve had.

It managed to arrive a day early, so it was waiting for me when I got home from work.

So, the challenge–as always–is to take it apart.

And then put it back together.

The process took maybe ten or fifteen minutes, not including the time to take pictures, and eat a bowl of clam chowder. (What?!! I was starving!)

On the manufacturer’s difficulty scale, this is a 4 out of 6.

I’m probably going to place it in the basket with the easier puzzles in my world, but it gets points for being attractive. Really solid and well-made.

I’m probably going to look to the tougher levels for the next purchase. Some of the level 6 puzzles are bound to be nice enough for the bookcase, aren’t they?

So, what about you? Any 3D puzzle enthusiasts in the group? Any suggestions for puzzles I’ve got to try?

The Evening News: A Content Warning

So, one of the guys I work with stomps into the break room the other day, and announces… loudly, and with great consternation: THERE ARE WOMEN DRESSED AS VAGINAS ON THE SIX O’ CLOCK NEWS. When the kids… and THE SIX O’ CLOCK NEWS. (There may or may not have been more to the conversation, but that’s about where it landed on me.)

The oldest of his kids are about ten, and girls. And WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO TELL THEM?

He turned the TV off, but you know it. Daddy WHAT IS THAT?

I’m going to say it’s a safe bet that the average ten year old is not going to recognize a vagina built out of felt and hot glue, and that the first tiny hint she had that SOMETHING WAS WRONG was when her father tackled the television set.

You can probably tell that I find this whole scene to be… well, somewhat amusing.

And, if you know me, you’ll know that my chameleon circuit self-censoring mechanism has been broken for a really long time.

So, I had to ask. What did you tell them?


So, okay. Let’s go with that. There’s NOTHING on television, but your father just dove twenty feet across carpet to turn the damn thing off? At best, he’s lying to you, and at worst, he’s a completely irrational and unpredictable creature.

(Note: Co-worker in question is one of the most involved and able parents I’ve ever known. Vagina costumes just wig him out.)

And what if there was something on television?

You haven’t actually learned any of your family’s rules about what’s acceptable and what’s not.

At ten, you’re probably still debating whether it’s a Muppet or Patrick from Sponge Bob that set your father off. Being quite honest, there are a lot of vagina costumes out there that I wouldn’t recognize without a label, if I were a gynecologist, much less a ten year old. (Oh, look. There’s one with teeth.)

You can explain your family values, and not leave the kid wondering what they did wrong.

Well, kiddo, in this country, we have freedom of speech. Which means that people sometimes do things to make a point or attract attention.

Those women were dressed as (private parts, vaginas, pussies with teeth) to attract attention to what they were saying.

In this family, we don’t watch television shows with vaginas in them because (mixed company, inappropriate for children, we believe they’re private, etc.)

Then, you go on to discuss Pravda, and propaganda in various totalitarian governments, and how turning the television off from time to time is a small price to pay for freedom of speech, being able to criticize our leaders, and the rights we all enjoy.

Now, eat your beanie weenies.

In Need of A Road Map

There’s something about the added scenes I’ve been working on that’s vaguely disorienting. I know where I’m going… I’m just not all that sure how to get there.

It’s incredibly easy to spiral off into an endless tangent, a place where my characters may or may not ever get to “the end.”

Right now, I’m being distracted by the romantic sub-plots. Well, the ones that should really be cut to a minimum, and which I’m never sure if I have not enough or way too much.

And, of course, the romance has to be kept quiet, because… plot.

On the other hand, I’m having fun writing worthless scenes that will never make it into the final book.

Must stop that.

Off to Splash Water on My Face

It is two-thirty in the morning, and the wonderful Fitbit informs me that I slept for three hours and six minutes. That’s more or less average. I have the thing set to “sensitive” because it was telling me that I’d slept soundly all night long on the “normal” setting… you know… even when I know perfectly well that I was awake and reading a book.

So, now, it tells me how many minutes I was “restless”—there are a lot–and still misses chunks of time where I was awake. (I’m debating a different brand of fitness tracker, once this one dies.)

My schedule varies these days, and today, I am on the short end of morning. Just enough time to convince myself I’m awake and grab a bottle of breakfast before heading off to work.

I have a stack of papers waiting to be typed into my Manuscript, and more that’s supposed to be being written, but… wow, morning comes early some days.

The Thing About Symbols…

The thing that came up during my recent Twitter surge…

Well, the thing other than wedding dress porn. (You note the absence of a link.)

Was the idea of symbols. Well, that’s what came up for me. What came up for a lot of people, apparently, was YOU’RE WRONG!!!

I had raised the question of whether a white wedding dress symbolizing virginity is overtly sexual.

Well, obviously, in 170,000 (plus or minus) views, there were a few people who had to tell me I’m wrong, and a nifty assortment of other things white symbolizes and/or origin stories for where white wedding dresses come from. (None of them had an opinion on whether white wedding dresses are overtly sexual, except, of course, for the wedding dress porn guy. His opinion was “sure, and here are some things we can make them MORE overt.”

The glories of white wedding dresses.

If I ever get married, I’ll probably wear a hospital gown, symbolizing the idea of “Gee, I wonder what brain tumor made me think this was a good idea?”

There’s a range of symbolism in white wedding dresses. On the one hand, my friend… the one with the list… which was three pages… (front and back)… with little asterisks where she’d forgotten a sex partner’s name… wore white to her wedding. Because she wanted to, and that was more or less as far as it went.

On the other hand, if someone says his daughter will be wearing white to her wedding, it’s a fair guess that he doesn’t mean white’s her favorite color.

More often than not, symbols are an AND proposition.

You can’t argue that white doesn’t represent virginity, but you can point out that it has other meanings, too. You can add your own meaning to the list, and you can wear whatever the hell you want. Even at your mother’s wedding.

Anything else is like arguing that a cross doesn’t represent the Klan, it represents some little Jewish sect in 2nd Temple Palestine. It may represent both, but people are still going to be upset when they find one burning in their front yards.

My Editorial Diversion

Later on today, I should finish the last of the scenes that were not on my original revision schedule.

I’ve been having a lot of fun with them, at least in part because I’ve been getting a lot of OH, so that’s where that goes! Some of the things that just seem to fit, now were things I had generally envisioned having to cut entirely.

I’ll be getting back to regularly scheduled revision, and more or less on time for the month.

This month, I’m also working on a short story for the Storytime Blog Hop. It should be something Halloween-y, which is always a fun theme.

Has anybody but me noticed that when you have an hour, you actually use it, but when you have a whole day, you watch YouTube videos until it’s all gone?

I’m so very guilty of believing that my regular wake-up time is absurdly early (because it is.) and that I deserve another fifteen minutes. And then, that fifteen minutes turns into the rough equivalent of sleeping til noon. (If, you know, I woke up at a decent hour in the first place.)

I cannot get it through my head that sleeping til 4 or 5 is actually sleeping in, now.

Oh, well. Somewhere, there’s a glass of water that’s destined to resurrect my Kreb’s Cycle. I just know there is.

Any tips for keeping a schedule, even when you work a weird schedule?

NaNoWrimo Prep Month

National Novel Writing Month is coming up in three weeks. Three weeks?!? Yup. Twenty-one days.

And while I’ve always been a little hit-or-miss in winning NaNo, I usually start the month with good intentions.

This time, I’m starting the month with two pristine notebooks (240 pages each) and a shiny set of brand-new ballpoints in multiple victory-oriented colors.

What are we doing tonight, Brain?

Same thing we do every night, Pinky… Try to take over the world. Try to write a cleaner first draft.

So, I have notebooks. Of a hard-bound, and pocketed variety, in the hopes that I’ll

  • Write neatly organized and linear scenes. (And the truth is, what I hand write really does tend to be less fragmented than what I type.)
  • Be able to look and see whether a given day was a good day or a bad day.
  • Not have little scraps of paper running around the bottom of my purse and the back of my hard drive.

I’m also working on finishing up the revision of my current novel. Which demands at least some time in November to finish on schedule.

I have a couple of ideas. I’m not really at the talking about them stage, yet, but I’m working on deciding between them.

I’m not that much of an outline person, but I do have a wide variety of index cards so I can make myself a plot deck as I go along.

If anybody wants to buddy up, my NaNo profile is at and I’d be glad to hear from you here, too.

Are you doing NaNo, this year? Why or why not? Tips for the terrified? Leave me a comment, and hit the share buttons, to pass on the insanity.

Running My Mouth

I’m enjoying the last ripples of one of those freak social media surges, and–as usual–debating how on earth you can harness something like that. One week into October, my Twitter impressions are up. More than 500% up (yes, that’s a cool way of saying 507%) over September.

This is as a result of me hopping into a conversation between two people I don’t know, and running my mouth about something completely un-writerly, and unrelated to anything I do.

Last time, it was armpit hair. This time, it’s photoshoots involving children in the U.S., and child marriage in other parts of the world.

And it’s always something un-writerly.

Here’s the formula: Pop into conversation, and just talk. Sometimes, it turns out that the person you’re talking to is a minor celebrity, and **poof**.

Formula for avoiding any kind of writerly surge: Glance at conversation. Recognize brilliant author. Turn into quivering bowl of jello.

The bar to send me all fan-girl is lower in a sport I actually follow and recognize names from. And I’m positive that none of those people are even slightly concerned about my opinion, or the state of my armpit hair.

I’m not even sure I see them for the most part. I’m probably more likely to follow a band I perceive as an up-and comer than an author who’s–OMG–UP–and COMING.

I may have self-esteem issues, there.

Or delusions of grandiose.

Or it could be a matter of the writers are all under my writer rock with me, whereas I’d have to stick my head out from time to time to actually know I’m talking to a rock star, sports star, or popular stand-up comedian.

What about you? Who makes you speechless with awe?