Tag Archives: love

Boxing Shadows

Tonight, I attended the first of a three-part, once-a-week self defense class for women. We learned the hammer fist, the alligator roll, and how to center our weight when kicking at someone’s knees. We learned the grab-smash-twist, a defensive action involving genitals. A man’s genitals, obviously. We learned how to shout No! and Stay back! and how to ask someone to stop touching us assertively.

“There’s no obligation to say please or thank you,” the instructor reminded us. “I know as women, we’re trained to be polite. But you don’t have to.”

It makes sense that a class like this would be for women alone. The implied perpetrator is men, and having men in class would likely be unnerving to some of the attendees, all of whom need all their nerve to square their shoulders, look another person in the eye, and say, “I don’t like your hand on me. Remove your hand. Don’t touch me.” The bashful, cherub-faced teenage girl I was paired with certainly did.

It makes sense that the imaginary perpetrator would be male, too. 90% of adult rape victims are female; females ages 16-19 are four times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault; women ages 18-24 who are college students arethree times more likely than women in general to experience sexual violence. ¹ Women are much more likely to be victims of intimate partner violence with 85 percent of domestic abuse victims being women and 15 percent men.² The statistics are staggering and easily Google-able. And in most of the circumstances, the perpetrator of these crimes is a man.

But still, as I was mule-kicking an imaginary attacker and screaming No! Stop! at him, I suddenly remembered:

Cut to a mom and her adult-sized son walking along a neighborhood street lined with local businesses on an overcast but dry January day. Picture the boy – a long, lean fifteen-year-old white boy in a baggy sweater and a newsboy hat he just got for Christmas. He towers over his 5′ 5″ mom, who is admiring him quietly, marveling at her baby son all grown up, but like a great Dane puppy who doesn’t quite realize he’s big now.

As the boy and his mom cross a busy intersection, an attractive young woman, maybe in her 20s, drives by and honks at the boy, waving. The mom notices the interaction and notices, too, as the young woman suddenly realizes that the boy isn’t who she thought he was. Mistaken identity. The mom laughs.

“That woman thought you were one of her friends,” she says to the boy.

The boy blushes and laughs a little.

“She thought you were a grown up man!”

“I don’t really want people to think I’m a grown up man,” the boy says to his mom, casually.

“Why not?” she asks.

“Because then someone’s going to make me fight them,” he tells her, emotionless. Just a fact that he means earnestly. A foregone conclusion.

The mom loses her breath for a second. Is this what becoming a man means?

Is this imaginary man who is going to make this boy-who-looks-like-a-man fight him the same imaginary man who I’m learning to shout down or smash the nose of?

He is not my son. But maybe he looks like him. He’s a man in the shadows, just out of view, who looks like any man.

 


¹https://www.rainn.org/statistics/victims-sexual-violence

²https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/23/domestic-violence-statistics_n_5959776.html

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Filed under Snippets and Soundbites

An Open Letter of Thanks to the People in My Life

On October 11th, I was standing in the Denver airport, having just spent four exhausting but incredible days writing my guts out on my memoir, Hell is for Children, in Estes Park. I’d done some intense trauma work with two other beautiful women in this process and was emotionally drained, but satisfied with the path I was on that will end in a completed manuscript.

I’d also seen a bunch of elk, which was very cool.

 

elk1

The first thing I saw when I opened the curtains in my bedroom one morning

 

That day, I’d driven around Denver and caught up with my dear friend Matt, who left Portland four years ago.

 

Matt Bauer

 

And  I finally met Megan Nico DiLullo in person after having first met on The Nervous Breakdown 7 years ago. As per the custom of our people, we had to get a photograph with fake mustaches attached to our face perineums (which is what we chose to call the divot between the nose and the upper lip).

 

mustache

 

By the time I arrived at the airport, I was spent. Ready to process the last five days of my life, but uneager to return to Real Life. After passing through security, I was watching the sky outside the windows of the airport turn dark with the approaching storm, and feeling very much like I didn’t want to return to the Pacific Northwest. I don’t mean to my children, cat, job, friends – but to the dark skies and constant drizzle. The desert is where my heart is.

 

denver sky

 

But then, as the announcement that my flight was boarding came, my phone rang. It was my son, Indigo, one of my two nearly-15-year-old twin boys. He was at Dad’s house for the week, but happened by my house to grab a warmer jacket. “Hey, mom. I just came by your house to grab something,” he said. “The backdoor is standing wide open. Do you know why?” Continue reading

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Filed under Memoir

I Know We’ve Come a Long Way

Indigo came home from school sick yesterday. Technically, it was his dad’s day, but I live closer to the school and he wasn’t feeling well enough to bus across the southeast to Jim’s house. So, as luck would have it, he was here. Also as luck would have it, Portland experienced its greatest wind storm in 33 years yesterday.

Around 3PM, while at work, I got a call from Indigo. I was in the middle of three critical deadlines, and about to meet with the COO, but I answered my phone anyway. This is my rule: there’s nothing at work more important than a call from my children. I even answered a phone call from them during my interview for the job. “Sorry,” I said when I sat down. “My kids are going to get home from school midway through this interview, and they’re going to call me nonstop until they get me on the phone to let me know they’re home. I’ll answer really quickly, acknowledge them, then get right off. I hope that’s okay.”

So, Indigo calls me yesterday when I was in the middle of all the things, and he says, “Mom! The neighbor’s tree just fell onto our house! It shook the whole foundation and everything!”

“What?” I asked. “Holy shit – Indigo, are you okay?”

“Yes, I’m fine,” he said. “Can I have some chips?” Continue reading

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Filed under Memoir