#metoo

I’m wondering how many people there are, who like me, did not share their #metoo stories even though they had one (or many). during the hashtag craze. I did not mention my story, and I would ask myself why, and get the knowing that it would be the right time later. This past September 13th was that day.  I was talking to my best friend, and the memory that had been buried for 31 years, innocently, and painlessly  , floated to the surface of my brain. So for the first time, and with someone I knew would not allow me to fear my own thought process, I shared what happened.

I was sexually assaulted by 3 teenage boys in a rescue squad building where I volunteered, in 1987. I was the first and still the only female at that time, to ever to join the squad, I was also very good looking and not afraid to show it, and I got a lot of flack from both the men who I worked with, and their wives, for serving my community as a volunteer EMT. Now a days its common to see women in rescue squads. it was not when I joined in 1985. My assault took place in the very same room where I had attended class for EMT certification about one year before, It happened on a Sunday in 1987 when i was 17, that was the same year that my chest tripled in size and I started to feel really self conscious about my breasts, because all i wanted to do was climb into wrecked cars and get bloody, and help people, not be looked at or have my peers assume I was a slut just because I needed a really big bra. After my assault, I started drinking, smoking pot, staying busy with anything I could do to ignore things, and I started not allowing people to get close to me, while at the same time, very promiscuously screwing every guy i could find who would do me the honor. That sexual assault in the EMT room was the 3rd one I had dealt with since my first at age 14, and those first assaults didn’t include the rape at the hands of my great uncle who took my virginity when I was 4. The assault in the EMT room was the last straw, and it had happened in a place where I felt safe. It was the only sexual assault that I felt ashamed of. It was the only one that I didn’t tell anyone about. Not my closest relatives, not my closest friends, no one. I had had enough. Instead of following up on my fantasies of suicide, I buried it, with everything else. No one ever told me I had to be strong, I just was, but I was also afraid of love.

My friend asked me, why now. Why didn’t I say anything in 1987.

Because back then, if I had spoken up about it, I would’ve been thrown out, the captain of the squad hated the fact that I was even there, he didn’t like the idea of a beautiful young woman, being with a bunch of men all day, it was asking for trouble, he said. He told me that when i was a gawky, nerdy, stringy looking 15 year old…

Until I was assaulted at the rescue squad house, I wanted to be a flight paramedic after high school. I ended up not being able to stick with any plan to do anything. Back then we didn’t know vocabulary like “sovereignty” or, being a sovereign being. But I knew on some level I had a choice to either allow this to do me in, or go on pushing forward. Despite that assault and the others prior to that one straw that broke the camels back, I chose to keep going.

Healing takes time. Its personal and unique for everyone. We are always in charge of it. And forgiveness is not about forgetting. Its about remembering. Fear is what helps us forget. Love helps us remember, because love treasures all that we hold dear. Love, when I was finally not afraid to feel it, freed all the pieces of my memory, and when everything came to the surface for me to see without fear attached to it, I gave the pain back….

It’s been 31 years. For all the people out there who think too much time has gone by for them, it is never too late to give it back.

Peripheral Vision

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In my childhood memories, he was always there in the corner of my eye.  He would appear calm in the face of adversity or chaos, bringing sunlight to a soul walking alone, while we both waited for the moment when we would finally meet.  Did he know then, that my heartbeat followed his? My imaginary friend, my angel… the voice that kept me safe in the dark.

I wrote this for the 79th Trifecta writing challenge. Adam and me first met in 1986, when we were teenagers.  Since then, we’ve felt each others presence no matter where life has taken us, even during a 19 year stretch of time when we were out of contact, due to circumstances beyond our control.  Since then my heart beat strong when he was close by, and it has ached in a physically measurable way when we were apart. Recently his mother gave him a photo album made of his baby photos, childhood photos, every photo she had of him dating up to the present. It was a beautiful piece of artwork in itself.  Looking at his baby and childhood pictures made me realize that….I had known him all along. I knew him for years before we met. I recognized his spirit in his childhood pictures, as the imaginary friend I had, who would sometimes visit me in my childhood, especially (that I recall) between the ages of 4 and 7.  That explains why when we met that first day in 1986, both of us were overcome not with the newness of being introduced to a stranger, but with something that felt more akin to “It’s so good to finally find you. Thank God you’re really real!”

The Undertow

This Trifecta challenge was a tribute to a hero in 33 words. Well, hello. I’m a barista! My hero is made of roasted beans, and its harvested by a family that makes a life out of growing coffee, and has probably done so for generations.  God bless them all. 

Aroma of Irish creme, cold shot of breve,  splashed by the heavenly double shot of espresso that rains down from around the spoon. You devilishly, caffeinated angel! Awaken these senses and comprehensive thoughts!

A perfect house

I finally realized today, why I am terrified of a museum clean, perfectly decorated and ordered house.

I’m talking about one of those houses where you’re afraid to be there as soon as you walk inside. It’s the falsity of it. The owner, or more commonly the owners wife, spends every waking minute putting their life into keeping the order.  They welcome you in for whatever reason, and alarm bells go up. You know not to touch anything, not to interfere, and you feel like you are breaking the order just by being there. You feel like there is a monster living there, and the monster is meticulously,  carefully hidden from view so that the whole world believes that everything is perfect.

The monster may be a hidden abuse or addiction that is going on…it may be the despair felt by one spouse controlled by the other…it may be a sense of personal failure…a failed dream, failed conception…it may be the shame of a buried criminal background….it’s anything that could taint that feeling of safety and inner peace we all want. The monster is that feeling that normally makes you want to lock your doors to keep it out, except the real horror is that it’s inside, hiding in plain sight.

The feeling I get when I walk into a home where there is clutter and disorganization is that at least this person has the courage to be honest. Their world, in all its imperfections, is in your face. Nothing is hidden, there is no falsity or lying going on. You feel the freedom in the air.  I feel comfortable when I’m there. I’m not afraid to sit down, breathe deep, and laugh out loud with my head thrown back.

The real difference is that one place feels welcoming and projects expression, and the other projects rigid structure and a mind forced into closure.  To each their own, but I appreciate the freedom.

The Strength of Spun Yarn

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Walt Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” 1959

This weeks Trifecta challenge is to use an idiom and 33 little words to capture and dazzle the mind.  I find these much more tantalizing than 333 word stories because you, the writer, are forced to create a passionate desire from the inside and snag the reader, with very little space.  You’ve only got one shot at it, and realizing the limitations, you respond one of two ways – you either open your mind, and see the boundless entity within the small form, or you feel cornered. When you are cornered in any situation in life, it’s very easy for some of us to manifest a lie – a false reality – in order to breathe, or escape the crisis – to be able to momentarily live with yourself; as if doing so was a right of passage in our personal growth. But the power trip that you get from doing so is fleeting…and with that being said:

* * * * * * * *

It’s much wiser to lay out the ugly truth than it is to spin a yarn. Spinning yarn forges fashionable tangles, but getting the tangles out will rip out indisputable threads of trust.

Considering the Right Time

Image credits go to www.dnainfo.org

Image credits go to http://www.dnainfo.org

He was a lifetime smoker. He had never considered what came after. For more than 30 years he dragged, puffed, spent hundreds of dollars a year on new packs, flicked lighters on the hem of his jeans, and came to savor the smell of lighter fluid, and a freshly packed cigarette. He knew that it was time for a lifestyle change when breathing became more than an involuntary pituitary response. It pained him so, especially at the start of a new day. He wanted to quit so bad. For the first time, as he pondered the warning from his doctor, as he researched and recognized the signs of emphysema, as he considered the social stigma of being seen dragging around an oxygen tank, he wanted to quit. He wanted to live a hundred years.

Benefit concert for Mallory Owens

imagejpeg_4Last night I was invited to a benefit concert by a friend of mine. It was in a small bar in town, called Partners Bar & Grill.  Before it even started, I liked it.  It was for a very good cause – to raise money to pay the medical bills of a girl named Mallory Owens, who had been assaulted on Thanksgiving – beaten almost to death – simply because she was lesbian.  Now, I’m an open minded person, and I try not to stereotype – but in my honest opinion, it takes a special kind of stupid to commit a hate crime.  It takes the mind of a killer to beat someone almost to death.

I wondered if I would enjoy the atmosphere of the bar. I knew I wouldn’t fit in. After all, I’m not in my 20’s anymore, not a party girl by any stretch of the imagination, and I was afraid I might even get sleepy after 8 pm.  I hadn’t even been inside of a bar in 20 years! My fears of not fitting in quickly melted at the door.

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This was a unique place filled with old energy – a place where open minded people from all walks of life were free to gather and mingle. Soon, it was filling up wall to wall with people making their way in to hear the local bands and support the cause.  DSCI0412And when the music started (beginning with the acoustic musings of Cody Phillips) – the energy was amazing.

Izzy Miller was who I was invited by and who I came to listen to. I’ve known Izzy for years, because he grew up going to school with my oldest daughter, and over the last two years I have become a big fan of his original music. He’s only 20 years old, but his influences of rockabilly and southern rock, his maturity, and charisma give him an appearance that is years beyond.

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I arrived early to the bar – early enough to watch the sound technicians setting up an hour before the concert got started. Izzy got there early too.  My first impression when I got there was seeing Izzy doing a sound check as he walked the entire bar floor, guitar in hand, making sure he had adequate reception on the wireless amplifier. I was in the far back of the bar, near the pool table when he made his way. I calmly smiled,  “Heyyyyy, fool.” I said in a warm, tired voice, and he greeted me with an open arm and a smile, “Heyyyy, ”  as he strummed the chords and strolled by, undisturbed by the presence of little, old me.   I had no idea why he was doing a sound check in the back of the bar versus on stage. I naively thought, that must be how he gets ready for a show. Later on I found out though –  during his show when he jumped off stage and performed half a song walking around the bar, mingling with folks as he played and sang.  It wasn’t long before I was clapping to the beat of the rockabilly twang, and shouting with every applause, and like everyone else, I wanted more.

I’m told the benefit concert raised over $450 for the young lady.  She doesn’t even live locally, but that’s one thing that is awesome about my home town. It doesn’t matter if you’re from around here or not, we love you anyway.

May you heal well, Mallory Owens, and always love life – on your own terms.

My Heart Belongs to a Troubadour

snapshot_smaller Adam B. Carr is a troubadour of country, rock, blues, and folk music. A diamond in the rough and a master at his craft, he’s always prepared to give a great live performance with his “Bag of tricks”. His rich, mellow voice compliments his eclectic genre of musical styles. He is well seasoned in acoustic guitar, banjo, and bamboo flute.

Adam’s love of music began when his grandfather, John (descendant from a long line of Kentucky moonshiners and coal miners) first introduced him to the acoustic guitar at age 3. He began to master classical guitar at age 11. By the time he was 18, Adam knew that music was his unique way of connecting with others. Between 1990 and 2000, he also performed solo in Destin and Ft. Walton, Florida, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Richmond, Virginia. His passionate voice led him into a profession when he lived on South Padre Island, Texas from 2000-2005, where he sang lead and performed nightly with the well known local band Late For Work.

Today, Adam lives in the Great Smokey Mountains, where he is writing and recording music for two upcoming albums – one a collection of sultry, country hits, and another that brings his sexy, mellow style to some old favorites in rock, folk, and blues history. Both albums are expected to be available in the spring of 2013.

Keeping it real

It’s not a surprise to many that I’m not a fan of “dubstep” or computer generated music. I’m a old fashioned girl at heart, brought up in the country. I remember when I was very young, no one in the family having money for musical instruments (or for anything else for that matter) and using anything laying around the house that could be used to make noise, which me and my cousins would use to form a band during family reunions. There would be always be someone with an empty jug, grandma would grab a saw and spoons, and my dad used an upside down aluminum trash can,which made the perfect drum. When I was older, I remember there being an old guitar and used stand-up style piano in the house. Grandma found the guitar and my mother, the old piano (which was dated 1881). I learned to play the piano by ear, never learning how to read music.

As the years have gone by, my taste for music broadened, but I never lost the love of the old fashioned, unedited, clean sound of southern acoustic. My life partner, Adam, feeds my southern roots with his rich, mellow voice and natural gift for classic guitar, harmonica and “chicken pickin”. May I suggest, grabbing a cold beer and listening to him.

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10 Heartfelt Gifts for Christmas That Won’t Break Your Budget

ImageBelow are some ideas I have used over the last few years.  Christmas has always been hard because I’ve never been well to do, but that’s OK because it’s not about fancy gifts, fancy bows and gift wrap. It’s about love, giving from the heart, and making someone smile. The thought of re-gifting is easy, but if you need help with how to do it in a creative way….

  1. Make a photo calender using your computer and your printer paper. You can spend less than $10 and make multiple copies to send out to family as gifts. If you don’t have the spiral hole punch (like the majority of people don’t), take the calendar pages to Kinko’s, they can bind it for you for less than $10 a copy.
  2. Make a recipe book.  This can be added to year-round and given at Christmas, or it can  be put together quickly  You can use a scrapbook folder available at most department stores in the photo frame or craft section. Make sure and add any drawings or photographs to your recipes.  Add short family background stories to your favorite dishes. Make them personal.
  3. For your spouse: Go to a thrift store or flea market and find a rustic picture frame.  Write out and frame your wedding vows.
  4. Quilting never gets old. Surprise your loved one with a blanket made of your old clothes that have been cut into squares, lined, and stuffed.  Every square has a story and a memory that can be shared.
  5. If you have a skill in a particular area, such as music or dancing, hair design, nails, make up – offer a lesson for free. Give a homemade card that includes the invitation to “take the class.”
  6. Make a candle. Don’t be intimidated, it’s not as hard as it sounded to me at first. Do you have an old pot that you don’t mind melting wax in? If so, you can find everything you need to design and pour your own candle at the nearest hobby store. If you have small children that want to be involved, just buy the wick and sheets of beeswax, a few cookie cutters for designs, and you can make a very simple, rustic candle set, without heat, without mess, and in just a few minutes.
  7. Make a “coupon booklet” filled with things like “Doing the laundry”, “Babysitting”, “Sitting with grandma”, “Dinner’s on me!” and other personalized love offerings.
  8. Do you have puzzles that you don’t do anymore, have all the pieces, and are in good shape?  Collect all the pieces in a Ziploc bag and either give it away to a child, or donate that puzzle to your nearest assisted living/nursing home or orphanage.
  9. Do you have any knowledge of how to make a video using the Windows Movie Maker on your computer? Make a digital scrapbook. Make a short video out of embedded pictures and music, narration, scanned copies of family heirlooms, letters, graduation caps, etc.
  10. Write and perform a short skit about what you think life will be like in twenty years. This can be done alone or as a group. You can do this with your children, work buddies, church groups, or take the stage solo.