Friday, August 29, 2014

Incoming Rant on Street Harassment

Since leaving the world of having a "regular" job, I have the luxury of running errands during the week day. Of course, this cuts down on lines in stores, but it also means I don't encounter the same people when I leave the house as when I had to do my errands during the weekends.

As a result, the number of guys who yell for my attention, hit on me, follow me and generally just harass me has gone down dramatically. It's been pretty nice. I get things done more quickly, and even though I still get that reflexive wariness, there have been far fewer situations where I fear for my safety.

Before yesterday, the last nasty experience took place in April, when the guy touched me inappropriately and I ended up talking to the cops about it. (The cops almost got me more angry than the guy did, what with how dismissive and belittling they were.)

Yesterday, I had to go to a couple of stores for random essentials for the house and a couple things for hubby's birthday/our anniversary. For the most part, I just ran into moms out for walks with young kids and older folks out for bike rides.

One guy, though, obviously had something else in mind. Really, the encounter was relatively minor, but it was still enough to get me watching my back.

We had passed each other, exchanged brief nods, and I thought that was it. Until, that is, I heard a "HEY!" from behind me.

I looked over my shoulder. He was giving me one of those disgusting leers some guys give to women they find attractive and motioning for me to go over to him. I just shot him a look, turned and kept going, listening intently for footsteps, taking my cell phone out and running through possibilities of how to react if he pursued me in my head.

He kept shouting at me until I turned the corner.

I don't really care if people think that thought process is paranoid. When you've had as many ugly experiences with strange men as I have, it's common sense in my book. If I need to defend myself, I will. That doesn't mean I'll hide away from the world, though.

I have just as much right to lead my life as I see fit as anyone else. I happen to have been born into a female body and identify as such, but that gives no one the right to control me.

It is a sad world we live in, though, because I, and many women like me, have to be careful with how we relate to men we don't know. Even polite greetings are seen as excuses to attempt to force themselves on someone, in the guise of "paying a compliment".

Yelling at a woman you don't know, using sexual advances, touching or any other unwanted attention isn't "paying a compliment".

Compliments are honest, respectful and positive expressions of admiration. I like compliments.

If they come with a request for my number or a date, that's alright, too, provided the guy is fine with being turned down, in an equally respectful manner. I am married, after all, and I do openly wear a wedding band.

I know there are guys out there who can handle rejection, but I also know there are also guys who don't. The guys who don't are the scary ones, because they range from simple cursing and yelling to physical violence or stalking.

The thing is, I have no way of knowing which type the guy is on sight. I've met men dressed to the nines who ended up being lewd jerks, and other men dressed like assorted variations of 'bad boys' who were perfect gentlemen.

So, really? I don't care if that extra layer of caution on my part makes me paranoid in anyone's eyes, or if the fact my past experiences have colored my trust levels of strangers hurts feelings. My personal safety - mental, emotional and physical - is the most important thing to me when it comes to this topic.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Happy Birthday, Hubby!

August is a pretty big birthday month for our family. Between hubby's family and mine, we have five birthdays to celebrate in that month alone. Six, if you count our wedding anniversary on Saturday.

For today, though, happy birthday to my guy! Hopefully, work won't be too stressful. If I manage to get the errands run and cleaning done before he gets home, he'll have a couple of goodies and a clean house in which to spend a hopefully relaxing evening.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Unconscious Mutterings - Wait, this isn't Monday!

Monday got missed, and mornings haven't been my friend, this week.

Rather, they've been less of a friend than usual. How in the world did my sleep schedule get so messed up? Ah, it'll be fun remedying that.

Anyway, I'm shutting Wednesday down with some word association, courtesy of Luna Niña!

  1. Burp :: "Better out than in!" (I think it's about time for a Shrek-a-thon.)
  2. Inserperable :: Glue mishap
  3. Flights :: fancy
  4. Schedule :: ...futile, this week.
  5. Bucket :: Ice! (So glad no one has nominated me. Sudden cold + asthma = BAD FOR ME)
  6. Divorce :: Sometimes a necessity, but almost always difficult/traumatic
  7. Office :: Space
  8. Tweed :: Something I had once thought was something to be pulled out of the ground.
  9. Mattress :: Monster.
  10. Priorities :: HAH. HAHAHAHA. I don't seem to have them, lately.
Ah, to be productive. That ain't me.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I love the Ren Fest!

Ah, Ren Fest. You're such fun. Every summer, the Minnesota Renaissance Festival happens south of the cities. We haven't been going every year, but when we do go, we always have a great time.

This year, we went with part of hubby's family. It was great to see his brothers, their significant others and our little niece on their side. Naturally, that's one of the highlights, but I wanted to share a few others.

Random Wedding
The venue itself is open to rental for weddings. The couples get a package of perks, and the ceremony may be held at the actual festival, if they so desire.

I've known about that for a while, but I hadn't realized that it would be open to the public, if the couple so desires. I personally would not want that, but I can see the draw.

I approved of the Princess Bride snippet, "MAWAGE. The most blessed of awangements", they snuck into their vows.

These are indeed my people.

Even though I don't know the couple, the fragment of the ceremony we got to see was lovely, and the joy of the occasion was something special. I wish them all the best.

Since I wanted my hands free, and didn't feel like having a bag hanging off of me, I decided to wear a hip pouch I'd made last year. While my husband and I were waiting for everyone else, one of the ladies who was in costume came up to me and said, "I'm sorry. I don't mean to be creepy, but my friend and I just love your bag! Where did you get it?"

She was genuinely impressed when I told her I made it myself, and asked for a picture of it. I was actually at a bit of a loss, because that had never happened to me before. It really boosted my confidence in my textile skills.

So. Yes. If you want to make my day, compliment me on something I've created!

Geek Love
Hubby and I both decided to wear geeky shirts. Mine was a visual pun shirt, which has the molecular chart for sucrose and an anatomical cartoon of a human heart. It's my sweetheart shirt. And my husband's?

Well, here. I'll let him show you.

It says "When in doubt, try another hole." Fitting that it's developed holes over the years.

We were complimented by so many people. There's nothing quite like someone dolled up in renaissance garb commenting on how they knew exactly what each computer hole pictured on his shirt was.

Thank you, Think Geek. If I had more disposable income, I'd add a few more of your geek-wear to our wardrobe. (Like a couple pairs of these. Or any other TMNT themed clothing article, for that matter.)

One of the criers was singing a variation of the below (slightly disturbing, darkly humorous) song to people as they passed the stall he was stationed in front of.

At first, he was telling people to stay hydrated, because the heat and humidity were downright oppressive. He then went into "Dead patrons! Dead patrons! Dead patrons aren't much fun!"

Naturally, I had to join in, because I knew exactly which obscure song he was referencing. He cracked right up, and when I grinned behind him at the guy running the shop, he lost the battle with his laughter, too.

As we were walking away, the first dude said, "I love Minnesota! The people just play right along."

Ah, such fun! I want to go back.

When we do our vow renewal for 13 years of marriage, that's where I want to do it, provided it's still running.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Woops - Friday Fictioneers on a Saturday

Well, this week's Friday Fictioneer entry got delayed. Thanks go out, as always, to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting.

Prompt used with permission for this purpose only. Copyright-Roger Bultot
Genre: Fiction
Word Count: 100

Salad Repair

They say it’s important to get a solid five servings of fruits and veggies a day, if not more. Personally, I prefer a nice, juicy burger. Hey, the lettuce and tomato are plants, right? Same with the pickle on the side. I could go for one of those, along with a cold beer to chase it down right about now.

“There’s no way I’ll get this piece of crap working again,” I grumbled, eyeing the plant infested truck they called me to fix.

Maybe I will start eating more salad, if only to spite these damn thorny vines.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Spooky August Fun

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were hanging out at our next door neighbor's house. That couple has two young daughters, one who's just entering her toddler years, and the other who's in early elementary school. So, naturally, there are always toys lying around their back yard.

At this point, it was late at night, and we were just talking about random things. As is often the case, the topic turned to ghosts and unexplainable experiences. Our neighbor had just finished telling us about how an old laptop had played his favorite song on its own.

The laptop had been in the basement, turned off, while he and his wife were in their room upstairs. Suddenly, they heard music coming from the basement, and when he got down there, he found the computer had somehow turned itself on and started the CD.

Pretty creepy, huh? Anyway, he had just finished his story when a scooter toy that could play music and had lights in front, turned itself on and then off again. It was well out of everyone's reach, and had been quiet up until that point. All four of us just stared at it, looked back at each other, and then looked at it again, before letting loose with variations of, "DUDE. COOL!!"

Of course, we tried to get it to do it again without turning the little knob that sets it off, but nothing happened. The rest of our time there was spent pretty quietly.

We went home an hour or two after the scooter played its tricks, and got ready for bed. He used the bathroom, as I straightened the sheets and changed. I noticed the alarm was on, but didn't think to turn it off. As I used the bathroom, he turned off the alarm without my knowledge, and crawled into bed.

When I entered the bedroom, I noticed the little light for the alarm was on. So, naturally, I turned it off, crawled under the covers and commented, "Ok, we can sleep in tomorrow. Alarm's off."

He paused, slowly rolled over to look at me and said, "...yeah. I turned it off before you got here."

"Uh." I looked back at the clock, then over to him again. "Ok. ...well, it was on again when I got here."

"But I turned it off, and I didn't hear the lever click, and...GOOD NIGHT I'M GOING TO SLEEP, NOW." He pulled the covers over his head, and I tried to muffle my giggles.

THEN, a few nights later, I wasn't tired when he went to bed, so I stayed up to watch a movie about a small town medium, The Gift. It was about midnight by the time it was over, and as soon as I turned the television off, hubby's phone went off.

I wandered into the kitchen to check it, and right in the middle of the screen was a big red circle with a white "X" in the middle, and bold white letters above it that spelled out, "TIME'S UP".

THAT set me on edge. In the movies, that sort of message is never good. Nothing bad has happened, though, outside of some frustration with PayPal the next day.

As freaky as the phone thing was, I later discovered that hubby had been experimenting with the apps, and had turned on a timer earlier that day. He'd forgotten about it, and it just happened to have gone off at the perfect time to mess with me.

With those events in mind, I'd say it's pretty understandable that I got a bit of a chill when I got the following picture while experimenting with the camera on my phone today.

Regardless of what I did, the follow up pictures all looked similar to this:
The shadow on the lower left is from my Raph charm. I'm also aware our floor needs some TLC. Cat puke is not healthy for hardwood flooring.
I have a little metal Raphael charm hanging from the phone, so I'd originally thought the odd light came from that swinging across the lens, which it wasn't.

Once I sat down at my computer, I discovered that odd image effect happens when my finger got a bit too close to the lower side of the camera lens. So, that's another chalked up to mundane causes.

Still. Those first two incidents were pretty neat. The first one was especially interesting, considering four people witnessed the exact same thing, and we couldn't reproduce it.

I guess Halloween can be every day for us.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday Unconscious Mutterings - Sore Muscles

I think I worked my upper body a little too hard yesterday. Muscles are so sore. So anyway. Unconsious Mutterings. Aaand...go!

Thanks to Luna Niña for hosting, as always.

  1. Chocolate :: and peanut butter! (Yum.)
  2. Spike :: turtle (from the TMNT cartoon. Raph's pet turtle. ...yes, I'm a nerd.)
  3. Puppy :: love
  4. Corner :: coroner
  5. Charcoal :: grill
  6. Game :: ON
  7. 28 :: 48
  8. Summitt :: Submit
  9. Tuxedo :: Kitty
  10. Winner :: Weeeeeeeeeee are the champions, my friends. And we'll keep on fighting 'till the end!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday Fictioneers - Why Won't Practice Make Perfect?

Friday Fictioneers and this one's inspired by the struggle surrounding learning disabilities. Being dyslexic myself, I know firsthand how frustrating it can be.

Thanks, as always, go out to Rochell Wisoff-Fields for hosting.

Prompt used with permission for this purpose only. Credit - Jan Wayne Fields

Genre: Fiction
Word Count: 99

Why Won't Practice Make Perfect?

Something throbbed just behind her left temple. It probably had to do with the paper sitting in front of her, covered with messy scrawls intended to be letters. She wanted to be a proper lady, but no matter how long she practiced, her writing refused to improve.

“Sweetheart,” her mother’s voice sprang from behind her. Slender hands descending on her shoulders did nothing to still the startled teenager’s jump. “Are you finished?”

The girl couldn’t bring herself to look into those disappointed brown eyes. Instead, she stared at the ink tin on the writing desk and shook her head.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fetch, kitty, fetch!

It took a while, but I've finally come to peace with the fact I'm a crazy cat lady, who lives with a crazy cat gentleman.

Or something. I don't know. What's the male equivalent of crazy cat lady?

Anyway, we have three cats. Our tuxedo cat, who we adopted as a kitten from the Humane Society around three years ago has quite the personality.

About a year ago, I noticed that he would fish left over nuggets of cat food from the other two cats' dish once they were finished. He would then "hide" under our kitchen table, stalk the piece of food lying so sinisterly on the floor before pouncing on it and batting it around the room.

It's the funniest thing to watch.

One day, I decided to see if he'd chase the food if I threw it for him. Sure enough, he went for it. He still does it today. (Pardon the cluttered coffee table. I was too lazy to clean it up before filming.)

I've never had a cat who did that before. I'm glad we found each other.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Guessing Game Time!

Which of these items are most likely to have come in the pictured box?


If you guessed the two ounce bottle of essential oil, you are correct!

Wow, Amazon. Wow.

At least I don't have to worry about it breaking, but...doesn't that seem a tad bit wasteful?

Guess I'll just have to reuse the box, hm?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Monday Unconscious Mutterings - Engine Still Doesn't Want to Rev

Unforeseen difficulties with eye strain are making my life difficult. A nice neck/back massage would be welcome right about now.

Ah well, in lieu of those, I turn to my Monday ritual of Unconscious Mutterings courtesy of Luna Niña.

  1. Supervisor :: Yep, it sure is a Super Visor. It's what Superman wears when accounting. Or playing poker.
  2. Facebook :: friends
  3. Almond :: parakeets! Specifically the one in the video below.
  4. Southern :: Wales. Or whales. Maybe southern whales in Southern Wales. Wait, no...that's South Wales, right? Something with Wales and whales.
  5. Hangnail :: Rhymes with whale!
  6. Runner :: annoyed with asthma and allergies. (Body has not been cooperating with my running efforts.)
  7. Authentic :: You.
  8. Curls :: Annie. (Saw that preview before the TMNT movie this weekend. I never cared for the story, but the girl who plays the newest version of the character is adorable.)
  9. Skirt :: Bad old-time gangster dialogue.
  10. Detective :: BATMAN.
The pretty bird who makes an appearance around 16:20 shows how well he can break into almonds still in their shells.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday Fictioneers - Hunted

I've been doing a lot of writing, and I think my brain is a little on the broken side. Methinks this weekend will be a good opportunity to recharge.

I have lavender oil being delivered today. Maybe I'll indulge in a rare bath tonight.

That said, this may not be the best Friday Fictioneers, but hey. I tried. The picture below screamed haunted house at me, so I decided to go with that.

Thanks, as always, to Rochelle Wistoff-Fields for hosting.

Used with permission for this post. Copyright-Björn Rudberg
Genre: Paranormal
Word Count: 98


“Mama! Mama! Where are you?”

Tania was usually alone in her house in the cliff, but tonight, men set odd devices up in each room and ran slender wires throughout her home. Now, two of them entered her room, and she silenced her cries.

Though she couldn’t understand his words, one man sounded gentle, and she drifted towards him. He had a box with colored bulbs arrayed along the top. The lost little girl hadn’t expected the bulbs to light up when she drew near.

Backed into the corner of her lonely room, she whispered, “Leave me alone.”

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Stalking, Harassment and Control

Recently, my experiences with being stalked and harassed have been on my mind. I've been making progress in reading The Three Musketeers, which I'll be reviewing whenever I finally finish it, and the way Dumas handles male/female relationships is rather frightening in places.

He follows the idea of men falling passionately in love with their mistresses, and going to great lengths to gain their affections. Of course, not all of the women in the book are fainting beauties, but the men all seem to be downright obsessive.

In one scene, d'Artagnan "overhears" a conversation between his landlord and the woman of his desire, the landlord's wife. As soon as the landlord leaves, he knocks on the window and enters when greeted. He does a lot of "overhearing" in the book.

It reminded me of jealous people stalking their exes and trying to force control over them again in the name of love. That sort of thing isn't romantic in the least. It's all about control.

The song above, "Every Breath You Take", by The Police talks about that from the stalker's point of view. It has a lovely melody and everything, but the lyrics are extremely creepy. It was still one of the most popular "romantic" songs for a while, though.

I haven't dated much, and those I did take a romantic interest in were never of the stalker variety. My husband gives me the room I need, just as I give him his room. We trust each other enough not to need to know where the other is every minute of the day, and respect each other enough to let the other know if something will keep us too late.

Before our neighborhood changed, there were three men who had an unhealthy interest in me. One used to follow me home, another waited on our front steps to talk to me when I left the house before 6 in the morning for work and another would try touching me inappropriately or hit on me every time we saw each other. Needless to say, I didn't feel safe leaving the house. All three eventually left, thankfully. I still get a low level sense of dread when I see someone new in the neighborhood, though.

Before that, a woman with whom I used to work decided she didn't like it when I asked her to come in to cover for me. I'd been covering everyone else's shift, plus I had just picked up a second job. Since she never came in for her shifts, she lost the job, and she blamed it on me.

She then proceeded to call my home at all hours, called my second job, posed as a cop to say someone was coming after me and generally made my life a living hell. All the while, she pretended that I was the one stalking her, and went so far as to get a restraining order on me. I went to represent myself when the court date came along, she didn't show, and I was able to defend myself against the accusations. The judge and court recorder both gave me suggestions on how to take legal action against her.

Turns out, this woman had something against younger women and had pulled the same stunt on others. After talking to another coworker, she stopped contacting me. We actually ran into each other in the transit station not long after that, and she attempted to pretend nothing had happened. I told her to leave me alone and proceeded to ignore her. I may or may not have pointed at one of the security cameras filming the platform to let her know SHE was being watched in case she decided to try anything.

Never saw her again, and as they say, good riddance to bad rubbish.

I can't deny the impact Henry Ford had on the
way the world works today, but he had some
real control issues in his time.
By Hartsook, photographer. [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
Thinking back on those incidences, and others, in conjunction with how the classic book I've been reading handles relationships makes me wonder how this mess of interpersonal control got started. It's all over our media, especially when it comes to romance, but it bleeds into other aspects of our personal lives, too. It seems to be yet another deeply held cultural issue.

Bullying is all about control, as is internet trolling, politics, street harassment and all sorts of other social exchanges.

I mean, anyone who's studied Henry Ford much knows that he used to enforce rules on how to live on his employees. He went so far as to send representatives from the company to his emlpoyees' homes to judge how clean they were, the way their wives acted and how well the children were disciplined. If the families didn't live up to his standards after being notified of needed changes, the employees would lose their jobs. How is that acceptable in any shape or form?

Are so many people that insecure in their own lives that they feel they must control others while they're at it? Or are they just so afraid of the lack of control they have over their own emotions and thoughts that they must exert it over someone else?

I don't know. It's an uncomfortable question, but it's still one worth asking.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Book Review - Undoing Winter

I was thrilled when I heard about my friend, Shannon, was going to have a book of her poetry published. Naturally, I preordered the book and waited with the utmost patience for it to arrive. Despite having little affection for poetry in general, I was excited when this little book showed up in my mailbox.

It was a couple of days before I could actually sit down to read it. Summers are busy, after all, and it's somehow fitting this book should arrive in July. I finally had the chance when tendinitis in my hands forced a break from housework. (I'm feeling better now, thanks.)

Anyway, her poetry is full of stunning imagery, and every time I reread one of the pieces, I noticed deeper layers, alternate interpretations and connections to events she's shared over our years of acquaintance. For me, that's what good poetry should be. Intimate, striking and memorable.

But hey, that's just my rather unscholarly opinion.

Like with all books, I enjoyed some parts more than others. My three favorite poems are Space, because the emotion surrounding the coming of a child closely mirrored what I felt during my husband's recovery years ago, Moon Song, because I've had nights where the dead have come home with me, and Weaver, because spiders are cool AND I've had similar thoughts about my creative endeavors.

Shannon's work is just as much a reflection of her spirit as it is what the reader makes of it. I'd recommend this little book to any lover of poetry, but also to those who enjoy writing with depth and emotion.

You can order it online from Finishing Line Press.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Monday Unconcious Mutterings - Behind on Comments

Last week was full of familial goodness, this weekend full of other stuff and today I'm trying to get enough writing done before moving on to domestic...something or other.

So, it's with deepest regret that I must put off replying to the kind comments on Friday's entry and lose myself in the work of other Fictioneers until later.

Obviously, my brain still isn't making the right connections, so once again, I'm turning to Luna Niña for help via word association. (Yay! I found the alt code for the ñ! ALT+0241. 'Tis written down.)

  1. I think I love :: you, so what am I so afraid of? (...oh, no. I don't want that song stuck in my head.)
  2. Obsessed :: with cheese.
  3. Dancers :: kick high.
  4. Guitar :: solo
  5. Hurry up! :: and wait.
  6. Thump :: the chest. (And now I want to watch Disney's Tarzan.)
  7. Conquest:: of the heart.
  8. Lights :: Lewis Latimer! (He invented the carbon light bulb filament. Or at least invented a better process. He's credited with the filament, at least. I wrote about him and how I memorized who he is here.)
  9. Rose :: Tyler. (Ok, now I also want to do a Doctor Who marathon.)
  10. Birthday :: Getting a brother-in-law for mine.
Alrighty then. Now I'm unstuck enough to get going with the next item on ye olde to-do list.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Friday Fictioneers - Silent Flight

It's that time, once again. The time for Friday Fictioneers! Thanks, as always go out to Rochelle Wistoff-Fields for hosting.

Used with Permission. Copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields
Genre: Fiction
Word Count: 99

Silent Flight

From below, the beasts of metal and thunder flashed like silverfish fleeing into their dark homes. His grandfather feared the airplanes. Granpa didn’t understand how they stayed up, why his grandson was so fascinated with them, or why people couldn’t be content with the ground.

Michael didn’t understand his grandfather’s hatred. He wasn’t allowed to read books outside the narrow realms of history or religion, but he could lie on the grassy hill and watch the shining birds leave trails in the sky. If he stayed quiet about it, he could even dream of navigating one through the clouds.