Riding the Bike with One Pedal.

Category: advice (Page 2 of 3)

Handy Life Advice

You know how they say you shouldn’t go to the grocery store hungry? Well, take it from me, you shouldn’t go when you’re tired, either.

Last night, at about 10:55 pm, I realized that almost all the things on my list were from the big four-day “10-for$10” sale that was ending in an hour and five minutes, and I had a choice: skip shopping altogether, or suck it up and go right away. I decided to suck it up, threw on my coat (no, not over my pajamas, I was fully dressed!) and headed out.

When you grocery-shop-tired, you don’t impulse-buy salty snacks and ding-dongs. In fact, you stick to your list like a crazy, obedient zombie. The store is almost desolate, except for all the shelf-stockers. (Note to those who ignore my advice and do this at some point: make sure you have your list, as all the signs for the sale items are down well before midnight!)  My big goal, the ground turkey, was still well-stocked, and I loaded up my cart, pleased with all my savings. I even bought a bottle of honey bourbon, wondering if it was possible to buy liquor that late on a Sunday. (It is. It’s Missouri!)

When you’re tired, you make choices about what you might leave in the car in the garage. Potato chips, for instance. Minimize the number of bags that have to go in. And I can guaran-damn-tee you that of all the bags you grab, the one you won’t have a good grip on? Will be that fucking bottle of bourbon, and as it falls, your brain wonders if it’s the bag with the can of pineapple juice, or is it the bag with the dish soap and then your ears tell your brain the sound was glass, and your nose tells your brain that the garage now smells like a saloon. And you’ll see all those savings from the ground turkey smashed on the cement floor, spreading under the car and it’s 11:30 at night and all you want to do is go to bed. So you’ll try to get all the glass, and put down a bunch of paper towels and grumpily put yourself to bed, knowing what awaits in the morning.

Cleanup, aisle 10!

How To Merge

This would ordinarily count as a public service announcement, however, I may wind up cursing so much, the lesson will only remain appropriate for truckers, sailors, and Marines.

First, a message to the old man leaving Price Chopper on 103rd in your little white truck: FUCK. You. Thank you for not understanding the general concept of merging, so I was forced to hit my brakes and send my leftovers flying off my passenger seat, to leak and smear on all the papers in my bag. Fuckyouverymuch. Punching it to get out of the parking lot? I get it. Getting into the middle lane and pulling into my lane while there was still room? That’s awesome. Except you didn’t do that, did you. You went below the speed limit and made like you were coming over, then went back into the middle lane, then came back over again, as I was wildly gesturing and screaming at you by that point and sending all my belongings on to the floor of my car.  I got to play the “Is he coming over? Is he waiting? He isn’t going a consistent speed? I am? But now I’m not, as I don’t want to wreck my car?” game.  And, for the record, I was going below the speed limit. I got to come home and scrub things, after calling you numerous, colorful terms that would have made even George Carlin pause and look at me in admiration. Have a splendid evening, douchecanoe.

Merging. I have witnessed this problematic element of driving quite often of late. Let me break it down for you. The whole fucking point of merging, especially when getting onto the highway, is to be TRAVELING AT THE SPEED OF TRAFFIC. This is why those goddamned red lights on the entrance ramps are the bane of my existence, even though I get the reasons behind them. This isn’t a putt-putt-putt along lane, slow way down maybe stop if it doesn’t feel right. We are not doing the goddamned double-dutch jump rope and you get to pick and choose when your feet are going in.  Get your ass going. And to all the rest of you sailing along in the right-hand lane? Get the fuck OVER. Y’all don’t seem to understand how badly I wanted a driver’s license as a child and it was denied to me. I studied the inserts Shell Oil used to run in Woman’s Day and Family Circle, using Goofy to show how to properly accelerate (imagine an egg between the pedal and the floor! Press down slowly!) I ate up every bit of information on what to do in accidents, when to use flares, how to stay safe on the road. So to say that I studied the Iowa Motor Vehicle License book would be an understatement. I absorbed it. I can still see the line drawing for merging onto the highway.

Here’s the one from the Missouri booklet, it’s quite similar:


This is not that hard, people. Driving isn’t a right, it’s a privilege. Let people in as they’re merging, and if you’re a merger, speed the fuck up so you’re not creating a potential 20-car fender bender and sixteen more high-blood pressure cases.

So. In case you’d like the full-blown directive from the same book, here you go:

Entrance ramps are short, one-way ramps used to get on the highway. At the end of most entrance ramps is an acceleration lane. Use the ramp and acceleration lane to increase your speed to match the speed of the vehicles on the highway.

As you are speeding up, watch for an opening in the highway traffic. Switch on your turn signal, and pull smoothly into the traffic. DO NOT stop at the end of an acceleration lane unless traffic is very heavy and you have to stop.

Drivers already on the highway should give you room to enter, but if they don’t, DO NOT force your way onto the highway. You must yield the right-of-way to them, even if that means stopping at the end of an acceleration lane.

Namaste, motherfuckers.

Just Breathe

So, fair warning. Yes, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted, and yes, I’ve written about 30 different blog posts in my head. So many things I’m thinking about, so many things I’d like to say, some of which I shouldn’t, some of which I won’t. I had been thinking, OK, let’s get back in the swing of it, put the thoughts to keyboard, and had planned on writing something today.
Just not about this.
Fair warning again. It’s so gross.
I got some things done this morning, met a rep for lunch, and went to the grocery store. Got my car washed, filled up Mimi with gas, and headed home. I’ve got a lot of work to do this weekend, but I’m also looking forward to my evening out with knitting peeps and having some laughs. I decide to leave Mimi in the drive, as that will make it easier to get the groceries in, and after all, I’m heading back out later.

None of this is interesting, or of note, or even that different. I push open the door, the alarm warning goes off, the dogs greet me, and I walk through the breezeway and into the dining room. I am carrying as much as I can, and it’s funny how your brain multi-tasks: Make sure dogs don’t go out into the garage (as they could get out of the house or, more likely, attempt to eat all the dog food out of its bin.) Have a very short amount of time to get to the alarm, which we don’t have right by the door on purpose, so don’t dilly dally. Note that answering machine is blinking. And through all of this, Olfactory Gnome wakes up and starts sending up red flags. Alert! Alert! Something smells…… and something smells …… BAD.
Then I see it. Because now I’m across the dining room and about to enter the kitchen, only it is a mine field of dog diarrhea. One main source, but there was some travelling and then some tracking to boot. The smell is overwhelming and the alarm is still going. I think, “Do I tell the alarm company when they call that I just couldn’t cross a river of dog shit to turn it off? Would they accept that?” I think, no, I have to turn this off and so I do my own version of a Highland jig through our kitchen, screaming “BACK! BACK!” because Tripper is now eagerly following behind me and I all can think is we’re both expanding the cleaning area exponentially. I get the alarm turned off, the dog has retreated, and I repeat my jig back across the tile, breathing through my mouth.

Somewhere, in the recesses of my mind, Philosophical Gnome asks the question, “Which would you rather clean up? Dog vomit, or shit?” Well, duh, the answer is neither, but I’m going with vomit. Unless it’s just hardened overnight poop, which is unpleasant but nothing compared to the chore ahead of me. I get the rest of the groceries in the house, shut the garage door, and strip down to skivvies to handle the worst of it. (After all, nobody needs their clothing dragging through it to boot.) Paper towels everywhere, and copious amounts of plastic grocery bags. Yes, they may be evil but lord help me, this is why they’re on earth. I get out two trash bags. The Swiffer Wet Jet, a huge stack of mop pads, and I tackle it.

Partway through, I realized I sounded like Darth Vader trying to say the word “Halal.” (Hey, we don’t know if Darth needs his meats butchered according to Muslim law.) For to just breathe through one’s mouth is not enough – the stench was so horrific. I was trying to block my sinus passages with my tongue, which leads to very raspy, labored-sounding breathing. hhhhhhhaaaaaaaa….lllllaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllhhhhhhhhh. The anal-retentive chef from SNL has nothing on me. Everything is multiple-bagged, and then I mopped. And then everything went into another trash bag, while I still hhhhhhhhaaaaaaalllllaallllllllhhhh’ed around and took the trash to the garage. I’m dripping with sweat, I shoo the dogs outside while holding back dry heaves, and get the rest of the groceries put away. My phone’s ringing, I’m having a Silkwood Shower in the sink, I get a candle lit to put on the stove, and finally sit down in front of the fan to cool off.
Only to hear a huge clap of thunder roll overhead.
Dogs are hurried back into the house, and I throw my top back on, because remember? Freshly washed car sitting in the driveway. At this point? I can’t be bothered with pants. Yep. I did a SWAT-team-esque run to my car (only potentially being in-sight of someone driving by for all of 3 seconds) to get it put back into the garage before the heavens opened up.

Which, fifteen minutes later, they have yet to do. I didn’t need to crouchingly shuffle to my car half-dressed, but I did. And I didn’t really care if someone happened to drive by at that exact moment.

Basically? This is my life. I have a lot of good things in my life, and I’ve reflected a lot on the past year, over these past few weeks. Losing my job, almost a year ago, was really shitty. It was also really good. I haven’t done all the things I thought I’d do in that time, but I also haven’t gotten sick, had stupid office politics/turmoil with people clawing to climb over you or tear you down. Did you notice that first one? I haven’t gotten sick. No cold. No bronchitis. No walking pneumonia, for the first time in many, many years. I miss a couple of my clients, and I miss not worrying about money as much, but there’s really very little to miss about my former job except a couple of friends. The limbo, sometimes, gets to me. But I’m not all that different from most of the people out there. I noticed there’s a Facebook group making the rounds, “Be kinder than necessary, because everyone you meet is fighting some sort of battle.” and it’s really true. These aren’t easy times. When stressed and/or depressed, it’s even easier to feel overwhelmed and hopeless. And alone. But we’re not. So many people are riding this same current, and so it’s those moments of connection, we need to make them and find them and enjoy them. Because when I was at the grocery store, the checker asked me to put the big sign on the end of her checkout stand, that said “THIS LANE CLOSED”. I did, making sure I put it right on the spot where the belt wouldn’t grab it. Helping someone out. So imagine my surprise, as I’m finishing up paying, I see this very old lady in my peripheral vision, standing next to me. I look down, and she’s got items on the belt. I actually did a double-take, like, WHa? I swear I put that sign there, nobody’s supposed to be behind me, and I look at the checker, who’s looking at me and has seen my whole WTF reaction. I raise one eyebrow at her. She starts giggling. My eyes shift over towards granny, then back to her. Oh yes, the sign was there. Granny just decided to say “Fuck it” to the sign and what was anyone going to do? I don’t have to say a word, my face says it all. The checker is shaking her head, she gets it too, and is shaking with laughter. I’m chuckling, still with an eyebrow hitting my hairline, and we went on from that moment. That moment, those are the moments I seek in life. When we can look at each other and just laugh because there’s no point in getting mad, there’s no issue of race, or religion, or age, or income, or anything, it’s just fucking funny.

And when the shit gets too high, just take off your pants, light a candle and breathe: Hhhhhhhaaaaaaaa….lllllaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllhhhhhhhhh.

It’s Painful, But So Is Inequality: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

You may or may not have heard about Target’s latest kerfuffle; basically they’ve donated $150k to a local PAC group that is promoting the election of an individual who doesn’t support equal rights/gay marriage.

I don’t like this. Not one bit.

I heard the report on NPR yesterday and was pissed at the lack of logic in their CEO’s statement (we support teh Gayz! we also support teh Crazy who doesn’t!). And, as much as it pains me, I’m not shopping there until they fix this. The beauty of the internet is that the more people who voice their anger and concerns, along with their boycott, the faster it can be resolved. There’s a Facebook group, and you can sign a pre-written petition at Change.org. I chose to write my own letter, because I love Target and I don’t want to have to shop somewhere else.  I hope that if enough people do this, Target can undo the damage they’ve done to their brand.

Email to Mark Schindele (Senior Vice President), Denise May (CEO Assistant) and Gregg Steinhafel (Chairman, President and CEO):

I have shopped at Target my entire adult life. It has always been my store of preference. I have a Target Visa. I purchase household items, makeup, food, entertainment and Target has always been my number-one destination to purchase those items. I lived in Minneapolis after college for over 5 years, and still carry with me the desire to read the sale flyer before all other things on Sunday. My loyalty to your brand, your store and your products has always been unwavering.
So it is with great regret that I must suspend shopping at Target until your position on the current support for Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Emmer is reversed. Your logic is flawed, and I quote from your statement on Monday: “Let me be very clear, Target’s support of the GLBT community is unwavering, and inclusiveness remains a core value of our company.” Mr. Steinhafel, when you support a candidate who does not support equal rights for the gay community, you do not support the GLBT community. Your money is working in direct opposition of that community.  You may be comfortable with that inconsistency, but I am not. Therefore, my money is not going to your company until you issue a retraction of your support for this candidate, and donate an equal sum ($150,000) to a local or national organization that seeks to further the fight for equality and civil rights for my gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered peers.




I’m going to try to write a blog post today in the vein and spirit of an ad colleague I admire greatly – Mr. Sam Meers. He writes great observations on business practices, pulling from ordinary life experiences. I hope I do justice to his style today.

One of the things that has bugged my husband to no end over the years is when we’ll drive by an office building in the evening, and the automatic sprinklers are bursting out water…..in the rain. Or the day following a rain. He’s right, of course. It’s incredibly wasteful. My problem-solving brain ponders this every so often.  I’ve wondered why these automatic sprinkler systems don’t seem to have some sort of moisture-content trigger, rather than a timer. Or at least an employee designated to switch them over to “manual” during periods of heavy rain (like we’ve had the past two weeks – 12+ inches!)

Today, I glanced out my window and saw that the shady side of my building was a congregation area for all the young punk geese who are unicolor and fluffy and awkwardly gaggling about while their parents keep watch and let them feed. I decided to get a closer look, and walked around my desk to stand right up against the floor-to-ceiling windows. I needed to see over the row of hedges, and indeed, there were a whole bunch of birds, some chilling out, some nibbling.
And then I felt it.
A burst of hot air.
From the baseboard heater that runs along the length of the windows.

It’s in the 90’s here. Fahrenheit.

Mind you, I have a thermostat in my office, and it’s set at the lowest setting possible, because I’ve noticed it just never seems to cool down. Gee. No wonder. So we have a call in to maintenance, and soon I’ll stop wondering if I’m going through early menopause every afternoon.

It made me think, though, how much money is wasted by such simple, common-sense practices. You don’t run a space heater at home while you crank down the a/c, do you? Because not only does it cost money, it’s silly. We’re grateful for the rain (in moderation), because it means less watering. This building has been paying for more electricity, because they don’t come through and turn the heaters off when the seasons change. The a/c works twice as hard, less effectively. Boy, I’ve had jobs like that. Doing something the same way as always, because a boss doesn’t want to question the client or the process or suggest a different way of doing things.

Contraindication is used mostly in medical terms, but it certainly applies to situations like I’ve described. It could also apply to a certain oil company who is under the microscope right now, and needs to portray an image of dedication to undoing the worst ecological disaster, ever. Such a visible leader/representative of the company might want to take a break, say, to watch his yacht race, but that would be contraindicated, because it sends the message, hey, I’m going to spend some time on a sport most of you cannot relate to AND I’m not spending time on the disaster that happened on my watch. Tony Hayward, I get it. I bet your life sucks really, really badly right now. You want your old life back. Guess what, it’s not going to happen for a long time. As long as there are tar balls and people wondering when their car’s going to get repossessed because their livelihood was taken away from them, you have to maintain at least the appearance of diligence. No fun for you until your chores are done, that’s how I was raised.

And as for businesses who cut staff and make the ‘survivors’ work harder, and tell them they’re expendable, while keeping spouses on payrolls? One place you might find some extra money is in your landscaping budget. Or your own pocket. Berating and punishing contraindicates a productive work environment. People are your greatest asset, and how you treat them during the bad times, when they want to hang on to their jobs, will serve you when the tide turns. Will you see mass exodus? Or devoted loyalty? The tides are turning in the job market, slowly but surely, and I’ll have my own schadenfreude moments when I see trapped friends finally able to burst free and go someplace new.

Me, I’m in a good spot, thankfully. Life is pretty darned good. Apart from the extra heat.

UPDATE: Since I started/finished this post, Tony Hayward got sacked from being the point person on this oil spill. Hope the new dude learns from his predecessor. I am available for common-sense consulting, should you need it.

Hope Floats

Sorrow drips into your heart through a pinhole
Just like a faucet that leaks and there is comfort in the sound
But while you debate half empty or half full
It slowly rises, your love is gonna drown

– from the song “Marching Bands of Manhattan” by Death Cab for Cutie

Last Thursday, June 10th, I hit the four-year mark. I anticipated it, I eyeballed the date for days leading up to it. I felt the fluttering fingers of dread rise up in my stomach. Four years since I watched my father take his last breaths, four years that have seen changes and sorrow and laughter and joy and struggles and anger. Oh the mighty anger. In the beginning of those four years, it felt like being in a blender. Nothing would ever return to how it was, the very essence of who I was had been forever changed, and even intellectually you grasp that, of course not, there is a dividing line between Before and After. But you want Before like never before. And you fear After and that it will erase Before and you also find out who your true friends are. People will tell you you’ve changed (and not for the better) and they won’t understand that the faucet of grief doesn’t shut off in three months. That priorities shift and change. In fact, it seems to just be getting started, the grief, because everyone else has moved on and you are rooted in the new reality, confused. And you feel your love and your life will all drown. Your head goes under. Sometimes you think about staying under, too. Nights in the bathroom, on the back steps, crying. Sobbing in the shower, weeping in the car, how can so much sorrow live and thrive in one human’s space?
I miss my dad. Now, though, when I dream about him, it is a comfort. A friendly visit, even if the dream is crazy. His face, his voice, his laugh and the memory of his hugs are etched into my soul. That, I must say, is the thing for which I am most grateful. As I’ve aged, details and names and memories get muddied, blurred, fall away. I feared so badly my father’s memory would follow suit. My grief was my hair shirt, one coping mechanism of keeping him alive, assuaging any guilt I felt about having a laugh or a moment that resembled normal. Eventually I realized my grief became less paralyzing. And in the middle of the afternoon on June 10, last week, I was busy working, as I had been all day. I looked at my calendar on my desktop and frowned. I said the date out loud and then it hit me. It was June 10th. Here and Now. That Day. I felt an instant stab of guilt that I had spent half my day without realizing That Day Was Here Again. Then I thought, wow. All of you people who have walked this road before me were right.
It really does get better.

Mulling Definitions

Friends are mightily important in my life. There are people I know I’d like to give more of myself to, but time/space/energy/location preclude it. But I don’t take friendships lightly, and when I have issues in a friendship, they weigh heavily on my mind. Recently, I had the small realization that just because someone SAYS we’re friends and says all the right things doesn’t necessarily equate to action-based friendship, which to me, is where the rubber meets the road. Then, there are other people who strive to be friends with the people they perceive to be “the cool kids”, so that through association, they are also cool. Does any of this feel like high school yet?

Thanks to the internet, there are a whole bunch of people out there I do call my friends. You are my online friends. You comment, we exchange emails now and then, we’re even friends on Facebook. Thanks to the internet, I found my best friend in the universe. But the internet is also a deceptive shimmery piece of film, where it is easier to ‘be’ friends than to do it in real life. And it doesn’t even have to be the internet – friends in real life, but in a different setting? One of the friends became invisible. This kind of shit really makes me weary. It’s a reason I haven’t posted in a while, because I usually blog about what’s sitting right at the top of my brain, and yes, there have been a lot of great things happen over the past couple of weeks, and a couple not-so-great, but I knew as soon as I sat down to type, this whole friendship thing would start bubbling onto the keyboard. I’m irritated. It makes me want to cull and cut and slice and dice and withhold myself from the online universe.  Yet I’m wrestling with another situation, and I want to turn to some of those people for their advice, their perspective, because I still think most people are good, and care, and want to be needed, even if it’s through the interwebs.

So I dunno. The internet brings us all closer, makes the global village a little smaller, brings us shiny fun videos to share, things we can “like” and things we can have in common. Yet it brings a false sense of closeness, too, and I hate when it slaps me in the face. I want to share my life and I don’t.  Some things can’t/shouldn’t be shared, and those are the things I muddle through with best friends. I’m a problem-solver and it sucks to not be able to find the answers readily.  Maybe that’s the point – not everything has an answer. Some sentences, some problems, and some friendships – are just left hanging.

And it’d be even funnier on a t-shirt….

A few weeks ago, the Wo and I did a little BBQ judging. Up until this point, we’ve only ever judged the weekend at the American Royal. Which is the mac-daddy of them all, granted, but we thought it would be fun to get out and try a smaller venue.

We got there early, and as is customary for me, I had my knitting with me. I found a seat, and focused on knitting away the couple of hours before the actual judging was going to begin. At one point, I got up and walked around, and a woman came up to me, telling me she was also a knitter, and to come look at her project. Sure! She was working on some Patons wool slippers, and had her little project booklet and yarn all in a nice container (important when you’re going to have BBQ flying about!) I note to myself that she’s probably buying her supplies at a big box retailer, and give her mental kudos for picking out wool.

Then, she leans in a little closer, and says, “Now. If you ever go on the internet.”

I inhale. And put on my poker face. Because that statement alone, to me, is hilarious. Oh? the internet? Yes, I’ve heard something about that. Hear-tell you can get all sorts of things there, including husbands. I simply nod.

She slows down a bit, and continues:”You need to go to this website.” Big pause.  “Knit. Picks.” She pauses between the words for emphasis. Now I can’t completely contain my face or self, and I release a chuckle, and say, “Ooooh yes, yes, I’m familiar with them…..” and she continues in a rush to tell me about all their yarns and the big sale they’re having right now. I just smile.

When I was relating this story to Carmen, who had both eyebrows raised at this point, she gestured in a hurry-up manner and said, “Didja tell her? Didja tell her, ‘Uh, I’m kind of a big deal…’? Didja?”

No, of course I didn’t. I’m not a big deal in the knitting world, or the internet world, really, I’m just … a big gal, but the notion of saying something like that cracked me up, that somehow I’d even try to pull a fame-hollywood card at a BBQ competition. And then, imagining it on a t-shirt cracked me up even more, because of the double entendre. Mostly the whole situation was hilarious because a well-intentioned lady wanted to enlighten me to the world of Knit Picks and buying yarn on the internet. If there was a degree to be had in online shopping – yarn or otherwise – I would qualify as a tenured post-doctorate professor who doesn’t even have to teach at this point. Bless her heart for trying, though.

In re-telling the story at knit night, it managed to get Bidenized into “a big fucking deal” and I picked THE most inopportune moment to ask everyone WHY did they have to bring fucking into it, and of course it happened to be right when the entire restaurant hit a lull in the chaotic noise of chatter and dishes clinking. Excellent. Big fucking deal, indeed.

Many Methods of Measurement…

When I lived in Minneapolis, I worked for a small ad agency that eventually tumbled and crumbled and closed up shop. While I was there, I made some friends, worked on some interesting business, and got some good funny stories (always important.) One of those was sort of snarky, if only because it was brought on by the target of our snark. One of our co-workers (public relations) always behaved as though she was working ‘just to keep busy’, as though she existed on this ethereal plane above us, even when she walked among us. She loved to recount her days spent in New York City, and her favorite line was uttered with dripping nostalgia: “Life was measured in Hermes scarves….” I had to ask my compadre in snark what in the hell that even meant. “Oh you know, Jennifer. They just scrimped and saved and skipped meals so they could afford to buy a Hermes scarf. They’re like, $500 apiece.” Safe to say that was a different life, and definitely a different plane from mine. But my co-worker did a spot-on imitation of her, complete with the wafting of her hand and fluttering of her fingertips, and I could almost see the brightly-colored silk streaming in the breeze.

Since my unemployment started, I’ve measured time differently. It’s odd, and strangely emotional, as I tried to explain it tonight at knit night. Each day that I wear makeup, I take it off in the evening with one of those makeup-remover wipes, the kind in a plastic bag with a seal, to keep the moisture in. When I first lost my job, I wondered if I could continue to afford to buy them. (They’re like, $5 for a package of 30.) After the terror of financial ruin faded, I did continue to buy them, and as I removed one each night, I wondered where my life would be the next time I needed to replace them. Unlike the previous 10+ years, I don’t have the illusion that when the calendar page turns, and the makeup-wipe wrapper is tossed in the trash, life will be the same as it is today. In some ways, certainly, I don’t want it to be the same. But we are creatures of habit. For the most part, we have routines. For 90% or so, that routine includes getting up and going to work roughly 5 days a week. Now I work part-time and cobble up freelance as I can, and wait. And wipe. And wonder. Where will my head, my heart, my creativity be when I wheel my cart down the beauty products aisle at Target, and toss another Boots 4-in-1 Makeup Remover wipes into the cart? Not knowing, in some ways, is good. It stretches you. It pushes you into new perspectives, new paths, as you restructure your New World Order and check your budget and reflect on what you enjoy doing and what you’re rid of, too. In some ways, though, my heart aches to the point of tears for the comfort of knowing. Let me clarify. The illusion of knowing, because none of us really, truly KNOW. We assume. We hope. We wish. We trust. That things will remain relatively the same, because they are comfortable and they provide and they are The Way, where work or goods are exchanged for money or services. So when people say things like, “Let’s plan to do X, I think it’s the third week of April,” my mental calendar is a mystery. I used to know immediately if I could participate or not, what was on my schedule and what the future purportedly held. Now I assume very little and just wonder… where will I be?

That said, I can pretty much guarantee that I won’t be buying one of those silly scarves.

Avoiding Profiling While Trying to Stop A Rapist

Is it possible to do? I dunno.
I’ve had numerous conversations in the past 36 hours, on the phone, in person, over email, with women who are horrified and terrified. One person told me that this suspect has been ‘known’ to the police for some time – that his history of assaults started on the East side of Hwy 71, against black women. Now that he’s crossed into a more dominantly white neighborhood, the police have stepped up their game. I pray that that is just a rumor, because rape is rape, no matter what your skin color is, where you live, or how much money you make.

I heard that a man matching the police sketch was spotted walking down Gregory – and someone phoned the police to check it out. It made me think how much it must suck to be a BMW these days – Black Man Walking – or driving, and it caused me to examine where the line inside my brain and heart lies, between social right-ness and a desire for justice. Do you start pulling over any black men who are driving in Waldo after dark? What about just the ones in the car model people have been reporting they’ve seen? What if that results in catching the guy and stopping the list of victims? It’s the definition of profiling, and the ends don’t justify the means…. Intellectually, I know this. Viscerally, my gut wants to cut this guy’s dick off. Part of me thinks, hell, ok, if some serial fat white chick was terrorizing South KC (targeting restaurants and snack shops), I guess I’d put up with being pulled over and checked out. I would, however, like to get some sort of “Cleared by the KCPD” pass that I could produce for future stops, do those exist?

I imagine that anyone even in the ballpark of resembling this guy is drawing longer looks, closer scrutiny, at the grocery store, the QuikTrip, the local bar. (A tweep of mine said they haven’t been to a bar in Waldo in months b/c even though he doesn’t resemble the sketch, he doesn’t want the hassle.) That’s rough. It’s also rough feeling like you can’t be safe in your own home, no matter what side of 71 you live on.
In the email conversations, different types of self-defense came up. Mace, tasers, guns. I am not here to say they don’t work. I am telling you, though, should you head down that road, to think long and hard about it. Self-defense items like mace and tasers require you have calm control and the ability to not only use them properly, but not have them taken from you and used against you. Handguns require the ability to be a damned good shot. This is why I have a shotgun: I can take your ass out from a comfortable distance, and if you’re still coming when you hear me rack it, I’m prepared to kill you. That reads really scary, typed out? But it’s the truth. And I know how to use it. That is crucial. James had a family friend who lost her life because she didn’t know how to use the shotgun, but got it out anyway, was overpowered and it was used against her.

But if I were surprised, in close quarters? I’d rip that motherfucker’s face off, right after I collapsed his windpipe and broke his nose. (Actually, at that point, I’d be creating distance between us, but it’s a vengeful fantasy to think I could cause him just a fraction of the pain he’s dumped on these survivors.)  I have taken a couple of self-defense courses, and I have already coached myself, in my head, as to what I would do. Feeling vulnerable and scared is no way to live. Because I think it’s always good to refresh – I’ve registered for a T.A.K.E. Defense course that’s being held in Lenexa the evening of March 9th. Suggested donation is $12; this is put on by the Ali Kemp Foundation. My friends have registered as well – I encourage any woman who is feeling fearful to do the same. I can tell you, firsthand, these things give you great information and a sense of control. I averted who-knows-what when I lived in Minneapolis and was being followed, late at night, and I credit the self-defense class 100%.

See you there. Let’s hope he’s been caught by then.

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