“Monogamish”

I have always been interested in people and why they do what they do, but recently I’ve become curious about marriage, monogamy and non-monogamy. Why do so many marriages end in divorce? Is it just a matter of choosing the “right one” or are we being set up for failure? Maybe it’s because I’ve been married now (happily, I might add) almost a quarter-century. I look at my role models–my parents were married just shy of 59 years when my mother passed away. How happy were they really, I wonder? What goes on between a husband and a wife behind closed doors is what I’m really curious about. And not just the sex they’re (probably not) having.

What I’ve come to believe is that our Western view of marriage is actually harmful to relationships. Seriously, how can one person be “everything” to another human being??? We expect the Disney “happily ever after” which is nothing more than a set-up of unrealistic expectations.

Even though we live in a time of blended families and legal gay marriage, the belief that there’s just “one” out there for us that will “complete” us sets couples up for disaster. And holding hands with this belief is that we will never be attracted to another person of the opposite sex ever again now that “the one” has been found.  This person, this “one”, will be your best friend, your confidante, your only sexual partner. The person who helps clean up after sick kids and sick you. Brings home the bacon and fries it in a pan. You’re a whore in the bedroom and Martha Stewart in the kitchen. You’ll never gain weight or let each other down because you’re “in love”. These are just some of the myths and expectations that lead couples to think they’ve failed at marriage and lead them to divorce. How many of these do YOU believe????

It’s a fact that modern marriage does not work for most people. In fact, recent statistics show gay marriages are just as likely to end in divorce as heterosexual marriages (http://brandongaille.com) . So what’s going on??? Why can’t people stay married?

Maybe that’s the wrong question to be asking.  Maybe we should be asking whether people should get married at all; if maybe marriage is an out-dated concept (it IS an “institution” after all, and I don’t know about you, but just thinking of it as an institution kinda makes it sound scary). Think of it as it truly is–marriage is a business contract first and foremost. You don’t need a contract (hippies of yesteryear proclaimed this an unnecessary “piece of paper”) to have a romantic relationship with someone.

First of all, too many women focus on their Disney wedding and not enough about the hypothetical “happily ever after”.  Our society reinforces it with bridal shows and event planning and finding the ‘perfect dress” and the “perfect venue” not to mention choosing all the food and the song list for the DJ. How many couples sit down and actually discuss what monogamy really means to them? I know we didn’t; monogamy is our society’s default setting and it’s just assumed we all know what that means. Couples today have challenges my parents’ generation didn’t have (and mine didn’t until a decade ago) thanks to technology. What IS cheating today? “Liking” another girl’s Instagram pic? Wishing your ex a happy birthday on Facebook? Having coffee with an attractive married co-worker? The lines have gotten blurry and couples need to have these conversations whether they’re just dating or considering marriage. It’s not as black and white as it may seem.

We have been brainwashed to believe that we are only capable of loving one person at a time, and that we are monogamous by nature. We are NOT, and that’s probably the biggest reason most marriages fail.  Did you watch the most recent “The Bachelor”? Did he not fall in love with two women???? And being that Disney produces the show (no big surprise there) he MUST choose only one. And all the scandal is about the damage he did in doing so–one woman’s soul crushing vs. the other woman’s joy at being “chosen”. I personally despise the show’s entire premise as completely unrealistic and ridiculous. However, I would give anything for it to end with all three of them getting engaged and living happily ever after. Not polygamy folks, polyamory. Quite different. I’m guessing Disney wouldn’t like that very much.

We try to fit into boxes that we can’t fit into and drive ourselves crazy trying to. Add the fact that we are terrified of telling one another we have the hots for the gardener or the hot new IT chick and you’ve got a simmering pot of shit waiting to boil over. “You must not love me anymore” we cry hearing this and run to the nearest divorce lawyer. This is why most people are “serial monogamists” and hurriedly seek a new relationship thinking they’ll find something different. Rinse and repeat.

I’ll never forget a friend of mine who’s husband punched another guy in a bar for “looking” at her, “his wife”. I was horrified. And this is what is reinforced in our society! Our spouses are our property–look at the verbiage we use! “Taken off the market”, “She’s mine”. It really doesn’t sound romantic to me at all to be referred to like a piece of livestock. We also think we have a right to know our spouses’ every thought. I know I did. We think we should have all their passwords and access to their phones. We don’t trust; we play detective instead. And don’t get me started on religions that punish those for “committing adultery in your mind.” Complete rubbish and completely disastrous to any marriage. Fantasy is healthy. Sharing fantasies is healthy and sexy.

Why get married at all? Do you believe that it’s necessary only if you plan on having children? Or do you believe that everyone “should” get married? Moreover, what does 4,5, 6 decades with the same person— “til death do us part”–really look like to you? And does that “piece of paper” really make a difference, other than cost you around $30,000??

I remember that feeling of having “joined the club” when we got married. Society sanctions marriage in financial and social rewards. “Just living together” belittles the emotional tie between two people in assuming that they’re not serious: “shacking up” as Dr. Laura would say, as if we’re still living in the 1950’s. Goldie Hawn and Ken Russell were the first celebrity couple to buck the system and lived together over two decades without the “benefit” of marriage. They did split up–but would having been Mr. and Mrs. instead have kept them together “forever”? Of course not.

It’s my hope that today’s young couples who’ve been raised with technology, who’ve had multiple sexual partners before deciding to “settle down” are able to have the kind of conversations my generation didn’t think to have until we had to have them. In this right-swiping world we live in, where there’s more choices and opportunities than ever, it’s my hope that couples will decide for themselves what kind of a relationship they want to have. We need to support more and judge less. Why does a relationship have to end in marriage to be legitimized?  Why do couples ask, “where is this relationship “going”???  Does every relationship have value, or only if it leads to “I Do”??

We’re in the 21st century now folks. It’s time for our relationships to be more flexible and less rigid and expansive to include all types of partnerships, not just the “man/wife” and “gay/gay” models the political agenda is force-feeding you.

******

P. S.  I urge every one of you to read a great new book out called “Stepping off the Relationship Escalator” by Amy Gahran.   https://offescalator.com

You can also follow Amy’s blog at https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/79349178

 

 

 

Enlightenment

It’s time to write something! LOL I’ve had the flu AND pneumonia for the last 2 weeks and my friend asked me, “oh!! So you’ve had lots of time to write in your blog!!” To which I responded, “I WISH!!! It’s kind of hard to write when you’re curled up in a fetal position with a fever between 103 and 104 for four days straight!!” I’m on my second round of antibiotics with a new ailment–a terrible sinus infection, and my pneumonia wasn’t gotten rid of with the first round of antibiotics.

I don’t know about you, but when I get sick, I get spiritual. And fortunately, I really don’t get sick often. Which means I really don’t get spiritual often. I don’t get colds. I get sinus infections seasonally, but I’ve been a pretty healthy person my whole life.

Laying on the couch shivering, crying for relief, seeing the daylight outside and realizing how much I’m missing out on. I missed seeing both my adult kids last week; we had to cancel a gig, and I am supposed to be in beautiful sunny Southern California right now visiting my father and family and friends. But I’m not. I’m here. On the couch. And I’m super annoyed being sick and immobile.

I go inward. I realize I couldn’t do cancer. It’s given me such an appreciation for those who’ve suffered through cancer or any other chronic illness. I’m too much of a wimp. Because I actually felt like I was dying that first trip to urgent care. I gave up. I was too sick to care. I just wanted it all to end. Of course I just wanted to feel better but the mind goes to scary places with such high fevers. I hallucinated all sorts of strange things and places I can’t really remember now, but as I’m finally feeling better, I feel like I’ve been on a spiritual journey.

I believe the mind and the body are connected, and we don’t just get sick from “germs”. The immune system becomes compromised, and something’s gotta give. In my case, I think I was not only just having too much fun (what can I say? It makes life worth living!!) but also, stuffing down some feelings I didn’t want to feel.

So my body said, “hahaha Lauren, I’m going to MAKE you feel and think the things you don’t want to think and feel. You will do nothing but feel and think for two weeks.”

And it did.

Suddenly, I found myself crying a LOT. It was almost like I was pregnant again! Crying over every little thing, and coffee smelled and tasted horrible. And this is someone who drinks coffee all day long. What the fuck was happening to me??? Everything felt more profound than it ever had.

What I realized was, I hadn’t grieved enough over becoming an empty nester. I had tears, sure, when both my kids moved out, but the daytime silence must’ve been getting to me more than I realized, as I made sure I was home less often. Busy, busy, busy is the way I like to be, and I’m never bored. I have a full life–I love my band–I have a great group of friends and family and I’m never at a loss for something fun to do or someone fun to do it with. Spontaneous trips out of town, dinner out, a hike, a bike ride or just an impromptu trip to the mall, I’m always up for something fun to do.

But having been a stay-at-home-mom for 22 years, I hadn’t realized that I was directionless, as happy as I claimed to be. And we had decided to sell our home and move to the big city in a cute little condo, and I hadn’t let myself feel how sad saying goodbye to our home was really going to be. So the Universe directed me where I needed to go, and that’s where I’ve been for almost 2 weeks now.

Prior to becoming sick, I started doing a lot of cleaning and un-cluttering. There’s so much that goes into preparing a house for sale, and without realizing it, a lot of feelings had welled up that I kept down like holding a beach ball under water. Certainly they were destined to pop up. I started to think about how much I missed the simple days when my kids were little and I didn’t even know how much money was in the bank because we didn’t need any. We had so much fun anyways. Walks with little kids is miraculous and can take hours as they stop to notice every bug and leaf on the way. I used to take them to Pet Smart and we’d be there for hours watching all the birds and guinea pigs and mice and fish. And it was free.

And in realizing they were never moving back home I believe was the precipitous moment that caused that first domino to fall.

I know in my head that I’m so lucky to have raised two kids who are ambitious, smart, and love their independence. And when I’d get sad for them I would tell myself, “Hey Lauren, you could still have them here, smoking pot and playing video games.” So yeah, I’m SO proud of both my kids and know they’re just like me–there’s no way they’d ever move back. I never did and I know they wouldn’t either. And that’s a good reflection on my parenting that I did something right.

But I still miss them.

And it’s funny, when you’re in the thick of raising little kids, people tell you to “treasure these times because they grow up so fast” but your head is spinning because you haven’t had enough sleep for years, you need to go to the bathroom but you can’t, and if you do you always have someone with you. You neglect yourself for so long it becomes a habit. I remember those years quite well. I loved every minute of it and don’t feel like I gave up anything. I got to be their mom, every single day. It was me that drove them to school and it was me that picked them up. When they got sick it was me that took care of them. My husband and I agreed before we started our family that we’d never put them in daycare. And we never did. And I know we made mistakes and looking back, daycare wouldn’t have killed them. I should’ve made time for myself and not martyred myself like I did, but I didn’t know any better.

So now I’ve got all this free time and this big house to myself, and it’s a double-edged sword. I love and value my independence and feel extremely lucky that I don’t “have” to work. I have the time now to work on my writing, which is what I’ve always wanted to do. But there’s this huge void in the silence as I accept that this chapter of mommying is over. I’m sure it’s not unlike retiring from a career you loved. Your identity is wrapped up in that job and when it ends, you have to redefine yourself.  Suddenly, a new purpose needs to fill that void.

So that’s what I needed to grieve, the loss of my 22 year career being somebody’s mommy. And I know that I’m still their mom, and they still need me, just not the way they did, and that’s the whole point. I raised them to NOT need me in their daily life anymore. They’re successful, independent people with their own lives now.  In the words of my daughter, we now get to be “best friends”. It’s wonderful. Seeing them so happy allows me to live my own life. I’m so grateful.

So I’ve sweated and sobbed and felt the pain of closing the happiest chapter of my life these last 2 weeks, and I’ve come out of it sober, caffeine-free, and seven pounds lighter. As the meds kick in, and the fevers have finally stopped, I am looking around me seeing the beauty of my life and the wonderful chance I have now to redefine myself and this next chapter.

Time to re-visit my bucket list–I’ve realized that I want to travel more. I want to go everywhere and do everything. I want to see animals and other cultures. I want to learn a new language and learn about Eastern religions. I want to live minimally and shed the things that no longer suit me.

We’ve decided to wait on selling the house. My husband admitted he had similar feelings of sadness cleaning his office. So many happy memories; were we really ready to let go? We will do the necessary repairs we’ve put off and enjoy a quiet home with nothing broken for the first time in decades, and when Christmas comes, there will be room for everyone. The condo will have to wait.

Thank you illness, for the spiritual path you led me on. I will pay closer attention to my feelings are try to feel them as they come up, however painful they may be.

 

#NeverAgain

How can anyone NOT be inspired by the #NeverAgain movement?? I literally get chills seeing and hearing these impassioned young people. It reminds me of the anti-Vietnam movement in the 60’s I’ve only heard about.  And already, they’ve made quite an impact.

I’m not going to bore you into giving statistics about gun violence and all. You already know them.  My problem is with those who are so extreme in their beliefs, SO closed-minded and can’t possibly fathom giving an inch to solve this problem such as those who think assault rifles should be accessible to anyone, any age. These NRA-loving gun zealots are black and white thinkers who just keep reiterating that they don’t want their “right to bear arms” infringed in any way.

Hmmm, so that means that there shall be NO laws made to protect children who sit in school from being hunted down and slaughtered?  Do you think “doing nothing” will stop the next school massacre? Because if “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” then we just need to accept that ‘these things will happen and there’s not a goddamn thing we can do to stop it”?? What could be more insulting and patronizing then metaphorically just patting these kids on their heads and saying, “thoughts and prayers’ till it happens again again??

Well, young people aren’t buying that crock of shit anymore. And good for them. Something must give. There’s nothing like watching your teenage friends shot down in cold blood to move you to action, and knowing it very well could’ve been you.

I implore for REASONABLENESS. Isn’t there a middle-ground at all? Can’t we agree that children shouldn’t be able to buy guns at all? Does anyone really think we should all be able to own weapons that only the military ought to have? Is there really a need for anyone to be able to buy assault rifles? Just because you “want to own a rifle” for hunting in my opinion doesn’t usurp our collective need to protect children in classrooms.

I get it–you gun-lovers believe your Second Amendment rights are being stomped on when we cry for a ban on assault weapons. I HEAR YOU. Now, do you hear US??? It really boils down to this–the most common weapons used for mass shootings are semi-automatic assault rifles. Does anyone truly believe that anyone should own them for self-defense? Of course not. It’s not about self-defense, although the gun lobbyists will attest to that. With rapid-fire capability that bump stocks give to an already deadly machine gun, it helps kill more people quicker than any gun our Founding Fathers could’ve conceived of. All they had back then were muskets.

It’s the unreasonableness of the NRA and it’s members that frighten and anger us. Any REASONABLE person can admit that there’s no need in our society for assault rifles. There just isn’t. And if they refuse to outlaw them, then make it harder for anyone to get one. How can any REASONABLE person have a problem with that??? Jesus Christ people! It’s harder to get a fucking abortion or a driver’s license than it is to get a fucking rifle. Why is that? Our nation is FUCKED UP.

I believe these young people ARE being heard, as our very own NRA-loving president had the courage and REASONABLENESS of mind to push for a ban on bump stocks. THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT. It’s no secret I didn’t vote for Trump, but tell you what, this impresses me big time. He’s also said he thinks teachers should be armed as well. I’m not sure I agree or disagree on that, but at least he’s listening and trying to come up with solutions that will protect our kids. It’s up to Congress now to pass it through. Will they do the right thing? What if they don’t?

No parent should have to lose a child while they’re sitting innocently in school. The gun lobbyists are content to just watch these children die time and time again and just say, “it’s not the gun that killed them, it’s the person.” How about it’s BOTH????!!!   If this disturbed individual had had only a knife, it’s a no-brainer that there would’ve been fewer funerals this week. Explain to me again how guns don’t kill people?? 

I agree there were major breakdowns in stopping this young man from gunning down his classmates. The FBI as well as many others knew he was violent and mentally disturbed yet did nothing. There’s that. And it’s reassuring seeing that a mother turned in her child and so did a grandmother when they had reason to believe they might be a danger. This is progress. But still the bottom line is, guns are too easy to get, too easy to buy, and the ones that do the most damage are readily available basically to anyone who wants one.

Any REASONABLE person would acknowledge this and agree that laws can be enacted (and enforced) that might just reduce the opportunity for a troubled teen to be able to go and shoot his classmates and teachers. More extensive background checks including what some other countries do in talking to co-workers, parents, friends, etc. In the meantime, I believe we should have armed guards in front of every school EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY as well as implementing metal detectors and/or security systems like we have at our jobs that allow us into our workplaces. Schools are targets because they’re vulnerable and unprotected.

And I KNOW the pro-gun rally is going to say, “If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have them.” We aren’t trying to outlaw all guns. BE REASONABLE. WE’RE TALKING ABOUT SEMI-AUTOMATIC RIFLES ONLY.

Aren’t our young people worth it??

To many of you, I guess not.

It wasn’t YOUR child after all.

#NeverAgain

The cure for bystander remorse…it’s never too late to do SOMETHING

I must’ve left my Spidey-Sense back in Wisconsin, because when I saw and heard an angry African-American man with a large front tooth missing yelling and scolding a group of us to “climb aboard this train”, I obeyed. After all, he was wearing a neon-green safety vest, and he was standing in the open doorway of the MARTA train. He must be the conductor we told ourselves. Being a typical confused tourist, we collectively entrusted him that yes, we did need this particular train to get to our destination, namely, our hotel.

“The Gold Line Goes to Buckhead and the Red Line goes to Noble Springs” or something like that he announced angrily and loudly for us to “get on here” as if we were unruly elementary school children. Being tourists there in Atlanta this last weekend, we appreciated the navigational help, even though he could’ve been a little nicer to us. We got on, and as soon as the train started moving, the joke was on us as this man was not a conductor at all, he was a street-smart panhandler whose M.O. was to round up a bunch of people who didn’t know any better into one train car with his “help” and then ask us all for a “donation”. I felt duped and stupid, and hoped that we indeed were even on the right train at all. (Fortunately we were). We chuckled at his chutzpah and gave him nothing as we saw a sign on the train that said “It is illegal to panhandle on this train.”

A few months ago, on a trip back to Southern California where my father still lives in the house I grew up in, I noticed that the panhandling there had also gotten more creative.  I’d just left the airport in my rental car, and I was sitting at a red light waiting to get onto the 405 freeway, glancing at my phone when something caught my eye. A wild-haired, thin young Caucasian man was walking in and out of the traffic lanes while strumming an acoustic guitar. It was quite a sight: he seemed oblivious that he could be hit and killed at any given moment, and snaked through the cars like a carefree snowboarder gliding down a mountainside. It was though he hadn’t a care in the world and was actually onstage performing for his fans.  The long light offered me the chance to marvel at his performance while I was terrified at the same time I’d be watching his sudden demise. Yes, we were all stopped, but I knew the light was going to change and I was scared for him because he didn’t appear to be paying attention!! He traipsed over to the median, never having made eye contact with any of the drivers, an open guitar case on the concrete with some coins and dollar bills visible. Wanting to hear his music but savvy enough to know better than to roll down my window, the light turned green finally and I drove off, deep in thought about this young man and who he was, how he got to the state he was in, and did he have any actual talent?

I then wondered, where were the window-washers? Oh how I hated them. You’d be stopped at a stoplight and suddenly seemingly out of nowhere someone would spring out in right in your driver’s side face with Windex and paper towels and they’d be cleaning your windshield. It’s frightening and an invasion of your personal space. You’re trapped in your car at traffic lights and being held hostage by someone who is now demanding money because they did something for you you didn’t ask them to do. The incessant panhandling is one reason I don’t miss living in California.

I will always be impressed though with Hispanics, because they’re too proud to stick out their hands and beg for money. They will always create something, usually of beauty, to sell instead.  You will never see a Hispanic person standing under a traffic light median with a sign begging for your money. They will set up a table by a well-trafficked walking path, with a tablecloth, and their wares. You will never see a cardboard sign.  I was in Mexico City once and the impoverished children I encountered peddled “chiclets”–chewing gum.  I’ve never seen a Hispanic of any age panhandle; they have too much pride and self-respect. It’s admirable and I will often buy a bouquet of flowers from a (usually older) Hispanic woman selling them.

Here in Milwaukee, you’ll see mostly young white men holding signs at traffic lights claiming they are veterans. I hate the feeling I get of being a smug, entitled bitch sitting there in my sports car waiting for the light to fucking hurry up and turn green. I had my years of handing money to beggars and have been lectured that most of them just go and buy drugs. I think, “get a job!” And don’t tell me you don’t think the same thing.

And then, about a half hour after the “non-Conductor experience”, I witnessed something I can’t unsee.

I’d never been to Atlanta, and we were there for a family celebration (my husband’s brother and his wife reside there). The beautiful downtown high-rises and fancy cars I kept seeing mask a dark underside I was soon to experience.

We were travelling via the “MARTA”–or Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority-a rail system that covers 48 miles and has 38 train stations. It serves approximately half a million people a DAY, and Wikipedia tells me that it’s the largest public transportation system in the United States not to receive state funding.

The one-hour ride was extremely unpleasant–the air smelled putrid with the stench of urine. I was immediately nauseated, and it didn’t help that we stood the entire trip, swaying as if we were on a slow roller coaster. I held onto the handrail with my arm because I was afraid to touch it with my bare hand.

The windows were fogging up due to the many souls breathing the confined space and the rainy conditions outside our cell. At every stop I gasped for the fresh air that would blow in as the doors blasted open and shut; people got out, and more came in. Seeing my desperateness to “hurry the fuck up and get there already”, my beloved husband, phone in hand, following the map on his MARTA app, would say, “fourteen more minutes! You can do this!” and counted down at every stop. I cursed him for wanting to save money by not Ubering instead.

At a stop with about a half-hour to go, an alcohol-infused, Beetlejuice looking older woman with bright, drug-store colored hair got on at the same time as a darling African-American little girl about eight years old with Minnie Mouse hair. She was just about the cutest thing I’d ever seen. She had a cute pink Barbie backpack, and I realized it wasn’t a school day. I smiled at her but she didn’t look at me.

She didn’t appear to be looking for a seat; instead, she opened up her empty backpack and to the encouragement of the foul-smelling woman behind me, she walked up and down the aisles begging for money, all the while the Beetlejuice drunk yelled at us, badgering us into feeling guilty enough about our own abundance into giving this darling little girl money.

“She’s just trying to make a living now, go on, a dollar ain’t gonna kill none of ya!”

“She’s doing God’s work!”

“C’mon now, open up your wallets now, a dollar ain’t gonna kill ya!”

“Greed is a sin!”

The crazy-hair drunk was relentless, and she made sure she got one last dig in for those of us who didn’t “reach into our wallets and give” as she exited the train. I was furious. Clearly it was a scam–they got off our car at the very next stop and I’m sure they got on another one in an attempt to use this little girl’s cuteness and innocence to get money for this drunk old witch.

Oh, how I wanted to turn around give that woman a hard shove! With every word she uttered, I fantasized about pushing her off the train at the next stop and grabbing that little girl and whisking her off somewhere far away from that evil witch. It took everything in me not to turn around and scream in her disgusting face,”Eight-year-old little girls shouldn’t be out “trying to earn a living” you drunk piece of shit! SHE’S A LITTLE GIRL! SHE SHOULD BE AT THE PARK ON THE SWINGS NOT BEGGING FOR MONEY FOR YOUR DUMBASS!” I felt my heart pounding in my chest as I searched for the courage to do SOMETHING.

It still upsets me to think about her. No child should ever be used to beg for money for an adult. This was child abuse plain and simple. I thought about how effortlessly this little girl moved about the train, holding her Barbie backpack open for strangers to put dollar bills in. It upsets me greatly knowing that she thinks this is normal behavior. I wonder, how long has this been going on? Since she was old enough to walk?? I’m horrified to know she might be being physically abused as well if she doesn’t collect enough to suit this horrendous woman (who, might I point out, had the nerve to call US “greedy” and “sinful”). I can’t stop thinking about her, and how many more little girls like her are being abused and used to panhandle because who can resist such an innocent little thing like her? This woman was nothing more than a fucking pimp.

But even without the obviousness of being played as a tag-team with that witch, I still wouldn’t have given the little girl any money, because I knew she wouldn’t have ever thought of doing that herself without having been made to by someone else. Even if the adult was out-of-sight, he/she would’ve been there at the end of the train ride, grabbing her backpack to see how much she collected. I was distraught at witnessing this, and feeling so helpless. I wanted to grab her away from that woman and take her to a police station. Why didn’t I? I was frozen. Frozen with shock and fear that this was happening, and of course, worried that if I said or did something, harm would come to me. So now I’m several thousand miles away left with nothing more than frustration and anger.

I want to tell Oprah. I want Oprah to come fix it. I have bystander remorse. Instead of asking myself, “What would Jesus do?” I ask myself, “what would Oprah have done?” Because I KNOW she would have done SOMETHING. But then again, she’s ‘Oprah”. If she’d interceded, she’d have been a hero. The drunk pimp witch would’ve thought she’d seen Jesus in Oprah’s form and repented.   I want Oprah can come to Atlanta and ride that fucking Horror Express and find that Beetlejuice woman and whisk that little girl away safe.

I also realized that this is a way of life for many, many mostly African-Americans who live and work in Atlanta. I realized that these working poor don’t have a choice to Uber instead like I do. And if this was how I had to get back and forth to work everyday (I saw a young girl with a McDonald’s cap and work uniform on) I’m both glad that there’s reliable public transportation that’s (hopefully) affordable, but on the other hand, reading that MARTA doesn’t receive state funding, maybe that’s where the solution begins. Cleaner trains and security guards making sure little girls aren’t being pimped. In other words, ACCOUNTABILITY.

With it’s warmer climate, Atlanta suffers like any other big city with its share of panhandlers.  I can handle white men pretending to be veterans and homeless hippy musicians begging for money, but not a child. That’s something that shouldn’t be tolerated.

I think I will write a letter to someone so they know this is going on. I may be a few thousand miles away, but I can still effect change.

You deserve so much better, little cute Minnie Mouse girl.

Too sexy for your shirt

Have you ever noticed how so many women begin to give up on themselves as they move from their forties to their fifties? For many women, it starts earlier. I’m going to make a huge generalization and say that the women who mostly tend to “let themselves go” are married women.

I don’t want to address how married men let themselves go to as they age. I’m a girl and I’m going to talk to you married girls about why you might be a bit timid to let your sexy self show after you’ve been married for a time and probably are up to your eyeballs in everything housewifey and children-y, and you find yourself living vicariously through your Pinterest page.

I was playing tennis yesterday (as I do four times a week: I’m obsessed) and suddenly, as I’m crouched, waiting for my opponent’s serve, I became aware of the fact that we four all had ponytails. And we all had brightly colored skirts and tops. On the court next to us, in contrast, were four women in their 70’s- (badass tennis players, I must add)–hair grey and chin-length, outfits grey or black.

I continued to observe them and us as we played, and I couldn’t help but make some interesting comparisons which of course spilled over as I went about my day after tennis. Everywhere I went–the grocery store, the mall—I began to check out married women and make little mental notes as I went along on how they presented themselves. Now don’t judge me harshly here–short hair is darling and grey can be too. I even saw a super hot woman who must’ve been pushing 70 at a wedding last October who had waist-length grey hair. It looked like spun silver and I wanted to touch it so badly. What I’m saying is, she’s the exception. Something starts to happen to (especially) married women in middle age.

It’s a cliche, isn’t it? How women say things like, “oh, I gave up heels years ago”. And it’s not because of illness or deformity. It’s a decision. I’m not sure when that line gets crossed, but suddenly, women are wearing “sensible” shoes ALL THE TIME. And “sensible shoes'” sister is “sensible bedtime.” I sing in a rock band, and I can’t tell you how many times when I’ve been asked what time our shows start (usually 10 pm) I’ve heard (married) women–some younger than me!–say, “Oh, that’s too late. I’m usually in bed by 10.” REALLY?? ON A SATURDAY NIGHT??? WHY??

It’s like we just give up. Dressing up and going out at 10:00 o’clock at night is too much work.  It’s easier to just stay home in our jammies on the couch. And don’t get me wrong–that’s just about MY favorite thing to do too–but if I didn’t get out of the house all dressed up at least once a week I would shrivel up and die. I know I would.

When and why do married women in their late 40’s and early 50’s begin to act like they’re headed for a nursing home? Girl, I beg you to take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror. Do you like what you see? Do you think, “this girl’s hot!”? If not, why not? I’ll be you’re hotter than you think you are. Who says you have to wear “sensible” anything? Who are you trying to please? I’m aware we live in a society that says a married woman must remain sensible at all times. I’m here to shake you up and say, “WELL FUCK THAT SHIT!”

I have a BFF who was married for 30 years. Very religious. She colluded with her husband to make sure she was a sensible woman at all times. And he cheated on her with his secretary. So cliche. And guess what??!! Now she’s a hot divorcee. She lost 25 pounds, dyed her hair blonde and got a boyfriend half her age. Alternatively, I have another BFF who wore leopard pumps right up until she gave birth to her and her husband’s fifth child. I give her major props for that balancing act. And the confidence to turn a blind eye to all the stinkeyes she got and continues to get. Why do (married) women think a mom has to wear flats to be a “good enough” parent? Where does this judgmental mindset come from???

To me, “sensible” means “invisible”. Women who dress sensible 24/7 are, in my opinion, trying very hard not to be noticed. And as someone who gets a lot of attention for the way I dress, I know what that feels like to be looked at all the time, and it’s not always positive attention. I get stinkeye from married women who cluck their tongues at me possibly because “who am I trying to impress”? Guess what? I’m not trying to impress anyone dear. I LIKE DRESSING THIS WAY FOR ME. I wear what I wear because I like to feel pretty and girly and what’s more fun than being a girl???!!

It’s a known-fact that many ill-thinking hair-dressers encourage middle-aged women to cut their hair to look more “sensible”. I remember an article I read on Facebook that went viral about a hair-stylist who said to her now ex-client, “Happy 40th birthday! Time to chop off your hair!”

And how many of us think we need to “grow old gracefully”? I don’t believe you get more points in heaven for not fixing ourselves up. What if I choose not to be graceful about aging? Does that make you better than me? Even my teenage daughter knows I’m going to be the “old woman who wears purple”, but it will be my hair, not a hat. Even if I have bad luck and get cancer and have to wear a prosthetic leg, trust me, it will have a 5-inch stiletto on it in the nursing home. Grey hair?? NEVER!! And my nails will always have glitter polish. That’s just who I am.

I don’t know why many married middle-aged women hate me for the way I dress. Why does it make them uncomfortable? Is it because their husbands secretly think, “damn, wish I could see my wife’s cleavage once in a while!”? I even got bullied once. Grown women laughed and made fun of me one night last summer at a trendy bar we go to often. I became aware of them and asked my husband, “is it my imagination or are those women laughing at me?” He responded, “it is not your imagination”, and proceeded to flash them a stinkeye of his own. I was literally shaken. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me.  I decided to confront them. I was going to walk over to them and say, “Hi there! I saw you starting at me so I decided to come over and introduce myself.” And just as I worked up the nerve to get off my barstool, they made a fast bee-line to the door.

I’m sure you’re curious what I was wearing that caused all that commotion. I’ll tell you. It was a turtleneck. Hahah just kidding it was a slinky spaghetti-strapped off-white cocktail dress. Oh, and no bra. Guess I was just too slutty for my age and they thought I should’ve been wearing something much more sensible. After all, who was I trying to impress? I already had a husband!! “SHE MUST BE A SLUT!” LOOK AT HER!” “JESUS CHRIST!” “WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS GOING OUT IN PUBLIC LIKE THAT!?” I honestly can’t believe I have that much power; that I “ruined” their meal or whatever the fuck. I didn’t even notice them until they were so obvious they were impossible to ignore. Grown-ass women! Bullying another human being! This wasn’t elementary school playground teasing. These were women who were probably grandmothers and should have known better! How rude and pathetic!

I just have to say for the record that I am sensible enough to wear running shoes when I’m in DC or going to the museum. I learned in junior high that my favorite white go-go boots were not meant to be worn at Disneyland, and I suffered greatly. I actually cringe when I see a hot woman in high heels on an airplane. Jesus girl, I know you wanna look good coming off the jet but change when you land before your bae sees you. Heck, stuff them in your carryon if you must. I’m sure the flight attendants are with me on this one. God forbid we need you to help in the event of a water evacuation!!

I ask myself, “why would any woman want to be invisible?” I get it though. It sure beats getting bullied and enduring stinkeyes. But the common denominator is, the perp is a married woman! Why would this be?? Why would I be such a target for someone who’s married? I’m married too by the way, and happily.

Since I’m not trying to steal your husbands, something else must be going on. I think I’m hitting a nerve.

I think I anger some women for “trying too hard”, because then it reflects on their “not trying hard enough”. I also think there’s something about an older woman being sexual that makes many married woman turn angry. Society reinforces that unmarried women can be sexual but from middle-age on, turn that shit off! EW!!!!! She must be a slut. Unless she’s trying to snag a man, then it’s okay. How unfair is that??

Why is it though that marriage turns hot women into frumps? And don’t tell me it’s lack of money. I shop at mostly consignment stores because that’s where I find the dresses I love. I will confess to splurging on my hair–touch-ups every five weeks. It was my teenage daughter though that showed me how to wear make-up appropriate for my age (read: “no black eyeliner Mom unless you’re onstage!”)

I am sincerely curious as to when this shift begins, and how it continues. I honestly think that since this is a predominantly married woman’s predicament, I have to conclude that when you’ve been with some for two decades, the shine has worn off, and the security of knowing this person finds you attractive no matter what you’re wearing becomes your autopilot. When you no longer “need” to dress up for your dinners out unless it’s accompanied by a trip to the theater, it’s easy to get into a rut of just not bothering to do much more. Older married women can be some of the most conservative women on the planet. And it doesn’t help that aging leaves many of lumpy in the process. Because to suddenly decide to dress “hot” or sexy, one must face the reflection in the mirror. And let’s face it–society is not gentle to the female gender. We have to be perfect in every way: body, skin, eyelashes, a Rachel Ray in the kitchen, Claire Dunphy mom and a Jenna Jameson in the bedroom. It’s all too much and for some of us, it’s easier to just throw in the proverbial towel. Where do you begin?! It’s daunting for sure.

Oftentimes, these married women become divorcees, and that’s when they often transform into Hot Divorcees. Isn’t that a cliche? If you’re a divorcee, you’re hot. Why aren’t married women thought of as “hot” too? It’s because everyone knows that a divorced woman has to “put herself out there” to “catch a man”. So the message is, unless you’re fishing for a husband, there’s really no reason to shop at Victoria’s Secret anymore.

Yes, this is the message society is shouting at us. Once you’ve been “taken off the market” why bother with the annoyance and expense of stilettos, thong undies and make-up from Urban Decay? You’ve snagged your guy and the chase is over. There’s no need to impress him anymore, he’s already yours. Why is it only okay to dress provocatively if you’re single? I really want to know.

I’m not saying you have to go around dressing like me, but I urge you to ask yourself why it might bother or upset you if I do. Or what stops you from showing a little side-boob? How many red lipsticks do you have compared to nude colors? Do your clothes hug your curves or hang on you like a potato sack? Is everything in your closet monotone? Why do you keep your hair short, because it’s more flattering on your or because you think you’re “too old” for long hair? Does feeling sexy make you uncomfortable?

For my BFF, she now realizes that her husband was afraid if she presented herself as sexy and attractive, she might leave HIM, which propelled him to cheat on her first. Many married women would prefer not to have their loyalty tested by “false advertising”. Do you not trust yourself if a man does come on to you? Are you hiding behind your turtleneck because you’re afraid you wouldn’t be able to handle a handsome man’s glance?

Am I hitting a nerve? God I hope so. I live to hit nerves.

We women deserve to feel good about our bodies and the skin we live in. If you’re dressing to be unnoticed 24/7, it’s likely you have body image issues and hiding that gorgeous bod of yours because you don’t feel good about yourself. This isn’t about snagging a man or being sexy for anyone but yourself. If you have to, get yourself to a therapist to uncover why you might be so critical of your physical body. It’s not about weight or height or breast or waist size. Beauty comes from within–it’s a confidence that says, ” I’m absolutely okay with the way I am and I embrace myself'”. It’s not a dress size. I’m no longer a size 2 and that’s okay.

Seeing my husband’s face when I dress up for our date nights is an added bonus. I love to see that spark and he likes the confidence he sees in me when I feel good about myself. And don’t forget, our Significant Others don’t love us conditionally folks. Only your mom and your pets love you conditionally. I want to feel like I’m someone I would go out with! To me, dressing up and taking care of myself is one part of being the best me I can be. When I feel comfortable in my own skin, I can be present for YOU.

It’s a freeing feeling never having to compare myself negatively to any other woman, nor feel diminished by her beauty. When you feel good about yourself, there’s no reason to put anyone else down for any reason. It’s sad those women weren’t nice to me instead–they missed out on us buying them a round of drinks and sharing some laughs. How hard is it for you to say (as I do quite often) to married or unmarried women, “You look gorgeous in the dress!”? Next time try it, especially if you’re feeling a wee bit jealous. If you’re looking at a woman and think, “damn, I wish I had a collarbone that sexy” tell her! Don’t keep it to yourself and turn it into a put-down of your own lack of a sexy collarbone. You’ll find you’ve made a new friend in the process, and trust me, she will thank you and probably compliment you in exchange. We women need to lift each other up at every opportunity.

Now go and be your sexiest self. And if some hot young guy gives you a wink, don’t be surprised. Smile and know that you still got it girl! You always had it baby. You just didn’t realize it. Now you do. GRRRRR!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Clown shoes not necessary

The week between the day after Christmas and New Year’s Eve seems to be a time of self-reflection for me. I’n not sure if it’s the post-Christmas blues, but I get this melancholy slump that leads to a feeling of hope.

It’s also the time to present my New Year’s resolution.

I think most of us can say that resolutions aren’t easy to accomplish, nor do they happen overnight. I don’t honestly set up to “find” a resolution; usually there will be something niggling at me that I suddenly can’t turn my back on, like a pan of pasta boiling over.

I have long ago ceased the tired “lose weight and exercise more”, since I’m pretty happy with my physical self.  The last few years I’ve been making resolutions that focus on my emotional self, and basically, how to be a better human being. My looking better doesn’t make the world a better place, and honestly, self-acceptance comes in many forms.

The last two resolutions I made were to answer my cell phone every time it rings and stop being late everywhere. As you can predict, I’m about 50% more successful than I used to be on both of those. My father won’t talk to me if I’m driving, so I don’t answer his calls, nor do I answer the ones whose numbers I don’t recognize. Otherwise, I DO try to answer them as they come in. My reason for this resolution was to save time and stress by not having to call people back. “Just answer the damn phone and get it over with!” became my mantra. If it’s a friend, well, that’s a no-brainer,  because of COURSE I want to talk to them. It’s the other 90% of phone calls that are confirming appointments or other related tedious calls that when I see them come in, I tend to roll my eyes and think, “I’ll call them back later”, which never comes.

My resolution to overcome my constant struggle to be on time is on-going, as my ADHD causes me all sorts of distractions and mental gymnastics to read a clock the same way everyone else does. I’ve learned to manage it better though using a football analogy—you know how in football fifteen minutes on the clock can turn out to be anywhere from 30-45 actual minutes??? In other words, fifteen minutes is NEVER fifteen minutes on a football field. So when I say I’ll be ready in fifteen minutes, my family and friends know that could be anywhere from 30-45, but honestly, nowhere near the actual fifteen minutes I claimed it would be. The problem is though, when I say it, I honestly think that’s how long it will take me, but it always stretches out to be 30-45 minutes.

I feel badly for the people closest to me. I’m sure I drive them crazy.

I’ll be you’re curious what emotional inadequacy  I’ll be addressing this New Year’s! LOL There are many things about me that need to be siphoned off and hosed down but what’s been bugging me the most about myself lately is how I really don’t have a great sense of humor.  I want to learn to “find the funny” in situations I now take too seriously, including myself.

It became apparent to me that I’m a pretty sensitive person, and I don’t think highly sensitive people can be highly humorous at the same time. Unless you’re a comic and then you’ve turned your defensiveness into a well-paying career. I realize that growing up the only girl with three brothers who teased me and made fun of me endlessly made me into someone who always feels like I have to defend my right to even breathe. When your very being is constant fodder for someone else’s entertainment, it takes a toll. I know now it’s something people refer to as “sibling rivalry”, and my brothers and I get along very well now and we’re very close, but being who I was, I took it all to heart.

It has always upset me that I don’t get jokes, and I don’t “get” the subtext of many conversations. I’m the person that things fly right over my head like the proverbial 747 jet. Days later it will come to me, and like a slap to the forehead, I’ll be incredulous: “Is THAT what he meant??? REALLY????!!!” and I’ll be as shocked and surprised as if I just landed on Mars. I’m not quick-witted and I take everything literally.

And I don’t believe I’ve been picked on for a couple of decades, so this realization of the origins of my lack of sense of humor has been quite troubling and insightful at the same time. What started as a coping mechanism has resulted in a personality trait that I’ve been told is unchangeable.

I believe that anything is possible. Like I said, first there has to be an awareness, like Dr. Phil says, “you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge”. As much as that bald man bugs me, and as much as I dislike him, he’s right about a few things and I believe that’s one of them.

“Milwaukee Comedy” has workshops for people who want to become funnier. I have already looked into it, and I am excited to give it a try. It’s not about telling jokes: it’s about “finding the funny” in ourselves and situations that I’m unable to recognize. I have always admired funny people. I adore them and who doesn’t enjoy being around people who make you laugh? I want to become one of them.

The threats are gone; I’m no longer someone’s kid sister to kick around, yet I carry my sword constantly just in case it’s needed to fend off someone’s arrows. It doesn’t mean I allow mistreatment; no one’s mistreating me anymore. I don’t need to walk around feeling defensive anymore. No one’s attacking me, yet if someone calls me on my lateness, my messy desk, or my inability to go anywhere without lipstick, the shield is up, and I realize I react as if the comments were daggers.

I know my family, I know my friends, yet I take these not as poking fun but as if they’re  putting me down in a mean-spirited way. And that’s proven because when I take offense, they’re left feeling badly as if they were disparaging me in some way. I don’t like being the person who “can’t take a joke”. It’s frustrating not knowing the difference between a superfluous comment on my sloppiness and being bullied by a stranger. I’ve had both, and they feel the same to me. Just writing that was a huge light-bulb moment for me. WOW. Can you even imagine how it feels to be me? Ugh all I can think about is how annoying it must be to be my spouse, or friend.

I have already taken the first steps towards accomplishing my resolution to take myself less seriously, and those are: 1. Acknowledging there’s a problem 2. Accepting that it’s affecting my life in a negative way 3. A belief that it is possible to change and 4. A willingness to be uncomfortable.

I asked my hubby to join me in taking the 6-week Saturday morning workshops starting in January, and he’s agreed it sounds fun.

I think for me, it will be the beginning of a transformation that will make me a happier person. And in turn, by being less defensive and more self-deprecating and self-accepting, I believe it will deepen my relationships.

If anything, I’ll hope to be a lot more fun to be around. That, in and of itself, will be worth the effort.

 

Yeah, but were you groped by a Munchkin?

It seems every day there’s an announcement of yet another high-profile celebrity being fired over accusations of sexual misconduct in the workplace. When the “MeToo” campaign swept Facebook, I had to stop and think, “have I been sexually harassed in the workplace?” I got to thinking about my own work-place experiences with men over my lifetime, and sadly, I too have been the victim of inappropriate sexual advances by several men in positions of power, mostly within the entertainment industry.

It’s curious  that I had to really think about it, because as a woman, I was raised to be a “good girl”, which means, ‘Don’t cause a scene” and “be nice”. I also took it to mean, “don’t call attention to yourself” and apparently, “Don’t fight back, it’s not “nice”. And I am grateful that nothing as egregious as being trapped in a hotel room with a Harvey Weinstein pulling out his wanky happened to me.

My final semester in college, I took an internship at CBS Studios in Hollywood, California, and worked for a brand-new soap opera called, “The Bold and the Beautiful.” That internship led to a job there as a Page, which was the most fun job I’ve ever had. There were about 30 of us, all making minimum wage, dressed in our polyester suits with the CBS logo on them. We were mostly all television and film students or recent graduates, and we all longed for a job in the industry. Getting a job as a Page gave you unlimited opportunities to see how a television show was put together, and see first-hand the creative input from supremely talented individuals. It also gave you a front-row seat to the darker side of what’s it’s really like to work in Hollywood. We all wanted to be stars, we all wanted to be “discovered”, and these predatory men in positions of power knew it.

The inappropriate sexual advances of a few men at CBS was insidious, and it upsets me greatly now. I had to ask myself, “should I too come forward and accuse my own abusers? What good would it do now? Are any of them even still alive?” It’s regrettable that as a woman, raised to be a “good girl”, I never did anything about the inappropriate sexual advances done to me, other than think, “he must like me a lot to do that”. Isn’t that pathetic? Rather, as a woman, I came to expect such behavior as typical of men in power, and as a woman, it was considered something along the line of “flattery” if they saw you as a sexual object. After all, didn’t we “ask” for it by being attractive?? I didn’t view the hand on my ass, the innuendos, the offers to accept gifts, car rides, dinners, weekend-trips, the creepy looks up and down at my body, the unwanted hugs, the overall general feeling of unsafetyness as anything other than the price of being a woman in a business that made stars overnight. And like most of my cohorts, we all dreamed of getting  that big break.

My co-workers and I talked often about the stuff we saw going on, and we’d joke about a certain producer or celebrity that was well-known for making advances on the female Pages. We’d joke whether or not any of us was left out; in other words, we knew we weren’t “special” but it was often a rite of passage for a new female Page to be “initiated” for example, by an invitation to the Magic Castle by a particular older male stagehand. As far as I know, most of my female co-workers declined his offers, but I know that I was tempted because this was Hollywood!! I wanted to experience bright lights and the big city!! He was more than twice my age, and although I was afraid to say no, I did so. Something about his invitation felt slimy. I seriously worried about my reputation having said “no” to this powerful man. He’d worked there for two decades and was on a first-name basis with everyone, and was very well-liked and respected. I actually worried I’d harmed my future by saying “no”.

We all had heard how legendary host of “The Price is Right” Bob Barker would go into a particular models’ dressing room before the show. “TPIR”, as we called it, was one of the most frequent shows we Pages worked on. It took a crew of about 15 of us for each show, and because it was clearly the biggest money-maker there at CBS, we all knew it was an honor to work it. We were in charge of the audience; bringing them in for the shows, checking all their ID’s, drawing the infamous price tag-name-tags, making sure the ones chosen to be selected stayed in their seats, even after the customary seven-plus hour wait. We taped two shows a day, Monday through Wednesday.

Bob was such an icon, and we all feared and admired him from afar as he was not known to fraternize with us lowly pages, but to think he was a sexual predator?? At the time, I was as naive as the cliched Dorothy from Kansas. Surely they had a relationship?? And as we all know now, the model was Dian Parkinson, who sued him and the show in 1994 as well as Holly Halstrom in 1995. Bob apparently took full advantage of his “Barker’s Beauties.” We were disgusted but we’d heard the rumors. Pretty much everyone else on the set treated the Pages with respect, as did most of the actors on the soaps (we also worked on the set of “The Young and the Restless”) and most of the stagehands and various employees of the other shows and stages.

But it wasn’t unusual to be confronted with a flirtatious well-known male actor and wonder, “if I go to dinner with him, will I get a part on the show?”` I saw more than one of my female co-workers suddenly be associate-producing without a fucking internship first. Was I just jealous or had they actually sold themselves to the devil?  The Hollywood “casting couch” was well-known back then. The thinking though was that girls who wanted to become stars went willingly. My fellow pages and I were well-aware that we who said “no” were going to have to work even harder and “pay our dues”, and we were okay with that. I knew I needed to be a person of integrity.

We’d talk about them behind their backs of course, because we knew they weren’t any smarter or talented than us, they just took the bait to get ahead. It was the same for a few of the actresses as well; we all heard about the ones who “slept” their way to the top. If you were someone working in Hollywood and planned to get anywhere in the business, you had to have a conversation with yourself about whether or not you were going to be one of them or not. How badly did you want stardom? What price were you willing to pay to get there? Oftentimes, this conversation in your head didn’t occur until you were being propositioned.

In 1989, MGM Studios had a lavish “Wizard of Oz 50th Anniversary” promotion at the studios. Everyone still alive that had been associated with the film was there. It was a big celebration. Who didn’t grow up watching “The Wizard of Oz”?? And I have a picture taken of me arm-in-arm with the last surviving Munchkin, Jerry Maren, who is still alive today at age 97. (see below). In the pic, you see his arm around my waist, but prior to the photo being snapped, he grabbed my ass and pinched it hard. The look on my face says it all. “What the fuck????” Once again, disbelief, and powerlessness. Let’s just say I wasn’t surprised to hear that Judy Garland’s ex-husband had a memoir posthumously published in February of this year that she was repeatedly groped on the set of the film by the Munchkins. Of course, Jerry denies any wrongdoing. I wish I’d had the chutzpah to slap him across the face, but no, I was a “good girl” and instead told myself I should be “flattered.” I wasn’t. I was mortified. And angry, mostly at myself for saying and doing nothing.

The whole Facebook and Twitter “MeToo” campaign has illuminated that nearly every single woman alive has had to endure some version of sexual harassment by men. And it’s not just in Hollywood; we’ve seen it in the White House and the newsroom as well as the boardroom. Twenty years of waiting tables, I’ve had my share of abuse by male customers who’ve called me everything from “hey baby” to “hey you” and a boss who told me once to “smile more” to get bigger tips rather than pay me a higher wage. It’s absolutely mind-boggling that sexual harassment is so pervasive. It sickens me now that I didn’t either have the courage or the tools to respond appropriately in those situations, but it does help now to know I’m not alone.

For those of us who’ve worked in the entertainment industry, it’s not surprising at all. I’m so thankful for all the brave women and men who’ve stepped forward, and that this will hopefully mark the end official end of the era of the “casting couch”.  Sure, maybe there were plenty of women who consciously chose to trade sex for a part or job, but it’s possible that they just didn’t know any better. The workplace that rewards a person for their own victimization is not a healthy, respectful climate.   But there will always be free will, and if a woman makes a conscious decision to use sex for gain, she should be allowed to do so. She just can’t take it back later if she doesn’t get what she wanted and call it “abuse”.

Munchkin
Me in 1989 with Wizard of Oz Munchkin Jerry Maren.
munchkin2
From The Wizard of Oz, Jerry Maren, member of the Lollipop Guild.