Open letter to the guys who crossed the street when you saw me

Dear guys who crossed the street when you saw me walking my two yippy dogs at 11 PM,

Thank you. No, honestly: thank you.

I don’t know why you decided to cross the empty street when you saw me standing there waiting for my two dogs to do their business. Maybe you didn’t want to deal with them. Maybe you decided there wasn’t enough space on the sidewalk for all three of us humans and two large-cat-sized dogs. You were towing a large bag on a bicycle, after all. Maybe you didn’t want to have to say hello or acknowledge me in any way.

I don’t know why you crossed the street, but thank you. It made me feel safer when you did.

You see, I have to be aware of every man who walks past me in public, especially at night, because unfortunately I cannot tell if you’re a good person just by looking at you. I have to be careful.

You both saw me almost a block away and decided—for whatever reason—to give me space. You nonchalantly crossed the street and continued on your way as if nothing had ever happened. As someone who has to worry about her interactions with men so that she doesn’t “give the wrong idea” or “send mixed signals” and as someone who often has to deal with and “accept” harassment based on my perceived gender, I appreciate men who go out of their way to make me feel safe, especially in public spaces.

You probably thought nothing of your actions. You never even got close enough to see me very well, though my shape and figure make it obvious to most people that I’m a woman, no matter what I’m wearing. Well, I want to let you know that it really meant something to me. It was a relief. It meant that I could breathe easier, even if it was for just a moment.

Thank you.

Would you rather?

01. get Fridays off or get Mondays off? Mondays
02. find true love or 10 million dollars? 10 million dollars, easily
03. lose half your hair or lose half your hearing? I already have poor hearing, so
04. be poor and work at a job you love or be rich and work at a job you hate? it’s a toss up
05. go without the internet or a car for a month? a car. definitely a car
06. have to sit all day or stand all day? depends on whether I have decent shoes on or not
07. dump someone else or be the person getting dumped? dump someone else
08. drink a cup of spoiled milk or pee your pants in public? really? really?
09. have your flight delayed by 8 hours or lose your luggage? have my flight delayed
10. be in your pajamas all day or in a suit all day? pajamas, hands down
11. have a missing finger or have an extra toe? hmm… missing finger
12. never use the internet again or never watch TV again? never watch TV again
13. be invisible or have super speed? uh, super speed, I guess?
14. have an extra hour every day or have $40 given to you free and clear every day? I’d probably be okay with either one
15. have a photographic memory or be able to forget anything you wanted? photographic memory
16. able to lie without being caught or always be able to tell when someone is lying? BOTH
17. be a clown that distracts the bull or the bull rider on the bull? bull rider on the bull
18. be known as a drug dealer or be known as a liar? hahahahahaha
19. eat only KFC for a month or eat only Taco Bell for a year? ugh. I guess… Taco Bell? I don’t know
20. be your favorite video game character or be your favorite movie character? movie character
21. run 26 miles or swim 5 miles? swim 5 miles
22. hold your pee all day or go pee every 5 minutes? ugh; neither
23. be a famous rapper or be a notorious mobster? notorious mobster
24. be eaten by a zombie or be burnt at the stake? burnt at the stake
25. never drink soda again or never eat pizza again? soda… I guess
26. see everything blurry or see everything in black and white? black and white
27. be stuck in a room with dead bodies or eat 5 spiders? dead bodies. definitely dead bodies
28. be deaf and have no legs or be blind with no arms? deaf with no legs

(via heckyeahtumblrchallenges)

Poetry 20, 2014

People ask me why I keep writing about the same event
over and over, why I seem to focus on something so tragic,
so distasteful, so unwieldy again and again.

On December third two-thousand six in the very early
morning, maybe two or three hours after midnight, you—
a man whom I had thought was a friend—pressed me down
into the cold tile with your full weight.
Along with my growing terror, the sharp pain that shot up
my hips and lower back and paralyzed me and surely made
your attack against me that much easier to complete.

When I’m able to say anything at all, I tell those people
that I keep writing about it because it keeps happening.
I’m still affected by it; this ‘tragic’, ‘unwieldy’ event
still closes my throat and stops my tongue. ‘Distasteful’
doesn’t even begin to describe it properly.

I told you “no”. I told you “get off”. I told you “stop”.
You unzipped my jeans and reached your hand inside my pants,
tearing my underwear in your delusion. I couldn’t move, and I
couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t stop you.
Literally, I could not physically stop you.

When I’m able to clear my throat enough to breathe
again, I tell those people that I keep writing about it
because they keep asking about it. I keep writing about it
exactly because they keep asking about it.

You took what you wanted from me, skin on skin, mingled sweat
drenching the hem of my shirt and the top of my jeans.
When I struggled, you said,
“I know you like it rough. Let’s just have some fun.”

I keep writing about it because people ask me,
“What did you do to provoke him?”
instead of
“Why didn’t anyone teach him not to rape?”

———
Prompt: Write a confessional poem. NaPoWriMo

Resolutions for the New Year

Without getting into the discussion about whether or not December 31 is really any different than January 1 (hint: it’s not), I’ve come up with three resolutions for the New Year. I’ve thought about it long and hard, and I want to have resolutions that (1) I can actually accomplish, (2) help me strive but don’t overwhelm, and (3) do not necessarily involve “getting rich quick” or “shedding a few pounds”… Because honestly, everyone wants to be richer and feel good when they look in the mirror. Those are basically standing societal goals, at least where I live, and I don’t need to contribute to that by falling for any pyramid schemes or jumping on the “join a gym today!” bandwagon.

When someone says something, believe them
Dear future self: You know that guy who tells some horrendous ‘joke’ (trigger warning: “I bought a rape whistle and it’s come in handy…really helps to mask the screams.”) and then, when you tell him that was completely not funny, he says, “Aww, don’t get bent out of shape about it! Lighten up! It was only a joke; you have no sense of humor”? That guy is not joking. Don’t worry about ‘being polite’ or ‘being nice’—that guy is not your friend. Don’t be afraid to tell off that guy; don’t be afraid to not laugh; don’t be afraid to ask him to explain the joke. You don’t have to be everyone’s friend; don’t be embarrassed, and don’t be afraid to embarrass him. When someone says something, they are feeling out how you’ll take it. Don’t be afraid to not take it. Stand up for yourself; don’t be afraid.

Get a job
Preferably in my field of study, and definitely higher-paying than what I have now… which wouldn’t be difficult, sadly. I actually don’t mind the work I do now; I dislike some aspects of it, of course, but I like my coworkers and the work isn’t terribly mentally taxing. And I would like to have higher pay. (Right now, I’m living below the poverty line.) In this vein, I’ll be applying for work every couple of days or so until I land something better than coffee shop work.

Submit my writing
Or, “Receive ten rejections.” If I’m not getting rejected, I’m not submitting enough work (or, I suppose, I’m just that awesome). This way, I will ‘win’ this goal either way: either I’ll succeed by having more of my work published, or I’ll succeed by having at least ten rejection letters by the end of the year.

My family and AAA

Yes, that AAA.

BACKSTORY
Okay, so when I was first in college, I learned that if I was a member of the American Automobile Association, I could get 10% discounts on train tickets, hotel expenses, and other travel-related stuff. Since I was attending school in Pennsylvania, where Amtrak actually has a decent railroad presence, it was a great deal for me to sign up even though I didn’t have a car or motorcycle or other vehicle. Then, a couple of years later, my dad mentioned that he thought he could use some of the discounts and car-towing services AAA offered, and I put him on my account for his birthday. I was an adult, and AAA only allows two adults per “family membership”, so I wouldn’t be able to add anyone else to my “family membership” after that since by that time, my younger siblings were both adults (18+ years of age), too.

That didn’t become a problem until my sister obviously needed car service that AAA provides a while later, and when we discovered that we couldn’t add her to my “family membership” as well, she went ahead and signed up alone.

Fast forward in time again. After falling and breaking her hip living on her own, my grandma came from Texas to live with us in California. My parents moved out of the master bedroom into the living room to provide her with a two-room apartment of sorts: a bedroom and a sitting room. (Do not even get me started on how ridiculous I think this whole thing is—it’s another story entirely.) She brought her car with her, which was still registered in Texas. After ignoring the mandatory registration timing, we finally got our shit together and headed down to the local AAA to register the car in California. That involved new plates, new registration stickers, and lots of official documents that had to be signed in multiple places.

Because my grandma is super old-fashioned and likes doing things in person and refuses to pay for anything that isn’t strictly, absolutely necessary, my dad (my grandma’s son) suggested she and I go down to the nearby AAA and register the car there instead of taking her to the DMV because uuuuugh DMV. So, we did.

Except that’s where another problem popped up. It wasn’t enough, according to the AAA staff person, that I, the car’s primary driver, was a member… the car’s owner had to be a member for them to process the car’s new plates and registration. Except we’d run into this problem before, and it wasn’t as simple as just adding her name to my “family membership” because there were already two adults on that account.

But no fear! My sister had a separate membership by herself! All we needed was her permission to add our grandmother to her “family membership” and then we could proceed as planned and have the car stuff done at AAA instead of the DMV. (If you knew my grandma, you would know why I wouldn’t volunteer myself to take her to the DMV if there was any way to avoid it.) So! We called up my sister while we were standing there at AAA and she gave her verbal assent to add our grandma to her account. We processed the car stuff—which is what we’d gone there for in the first place—and went home. Crisis over.

American Automobile Association 50th Anniversary 1902-1952 U.S. postage stamp 3¢STORY
Or so we thought. Time moved along like normal until tonight, when my sister noticed that she had an overdue AAA membership bill sitting in her pile of unread mail and asked my dad why Grandma needed a membership in the first place, especially since she doesn’t drive. She wanted to take Grandma off her account and add our mother, who drives further than any of us daily and goes to see sick friends in the hospital all the time and is generally on the road more than the rest of us most days.

I was reading and not paying attention to the growing tension around me, so when my sister called me into the living room (yes, the place that is now my parents’ bedroom) to talk to her and our dad, I didn’t know what a mess I was stepping into. Already frustrated by the apparent complications the rest of us were adding to what seemed to her like a simple problem with a simple solution, my sister verbally attacked me on the spot, immediately putting me on the defensive and not making the conversation any easier for any of us.

“Why does Grandma even need AAA?” she asked angrily. “She doesn’t even drive.”

“Because the staff people at AAA wouldn’t process her car stuff without her being a member, and I already had Dad on my account, and she wouldn’t pay for her own membership, and so we asked you if it was okay to add her to your account, which you agreed was fine, so that’s what we did, and I paid for it,” I started to say, but I didn’t get so far as “…process her car stuff—” before she cut me off.

“You and Dad have and account, and I had an open space; I know all that,” she said. I frowned, my defenses up. “Grandma doesn’t need a membership and Mom does.”

We bickered back a forth for a minute or two until my dad finally said, “I wanted you [me] to come in here so that I could ask you a question, which is”—he gave us both a look and we remained silent, waiting for him to finish—“if you were a member of AAA as a driver of the car, would they process the car stuff for Grandma on your behalf?”

“No,” I said. “We tried to do that the first time.” He nodded.

“And that time that the car died in the left turn lane on Foothill? Did you use your AAA card information, or Grandma’s?”

“Grandma’s.”

“All right,” he said, looking back toward my sister, “so Grandma does need a membership then.”

“No, she doesn’t,” my sister argued. “She doesn’t drive. What does she even use the membership for?”

“Were you not even listening just now?” I asked, slightly incredulous.

“I just don’t want to have to pay for something that Grandma doesn’t even use when we know Mom would use it.”

“Then don’t pay for it,” I said.

Not have AAA?” she asked, and it was her turn for incredulity. “Last year, I was the one who needed it the most!”

“No,” I said, irritated, “Don’t pay for Grandma’s part; I don’t care. If you do that, though, you get to take her to the DMV to reregister her car.”

“She could do it by mail, you know.”

“Then you get to help her with the paperwork,” I said, not even missing a beat. “We can do it your way, but your way means you also have to deal with Grandma and doing shit her way. Good luck getting her to register her car by mail when she knows there’s an in person option she could use, even one at the DMV.”

My sister narrowed her eyes at me—we both know that I’m the one who’s supposed to deal with Grandma and her car when it relates to her car—but I just looked right back at her.

“Do whatever you want,” I said. “I don’t care. I deal with Grandma and the car, but I’m not going to unnecessarily deal with the DMV.”

“I don’t think—” my sister started, and I held up a hand to stop her.

“Look, you called me in here to help you, presumably, and I came in here thinking I was going to be helpful, but all you’ve done since I’ve turned the corner has been to attack me. I’m not going to put up with that, so I’m done helping and will be going back into the other room to read.”

“Mom’s the one who drives the most around here,” she said. “She should have the membership, not Grandma.”

“And Mom’s also the only person who has a driver’s license in this house who’s also never gotten a ticket. Her little guardian angels don’t work overtime like yours have to… No offense.”

“That doesn’t sound like ‘no offense’,” my sister frowned, her eyes tearing up.

“Does Mom even want a AAA membership?”

“Well, when she comes back,” my sister said, “we can ask her.”

You can ask her. This has nothing to do with me. I wasn’t even part of the conversation before you called me in here.”

“It was Dad who wanted you in on the conversation, not me!” she cried.

“Here’s what I think,” my dad finally cut in again. “Katy needs her own membership. She has her own car; she needs her own membership.” My sister opened her mouth to say something and then closed it again when it was apparent our father wasn’t finished. He continued. “In a perfect world, you”—he nodded at me—“and Grandma would have a membership together because the deal with her and the car is with you, not Katy. And your mom and I would have our own membership.”

“Fine by me,” I said to him, “but I already paid for your and my ‘family membership’ for this year, so figure it out.”

My mom walked by behind us toward the kitchen and I said, “Whatever, people. Figure your shit out and I will do that.” I looked pointedly at my sister: “Remember what I said about the DMV, though.”

I left the room. My sister, in tears, fled upstairs. My mom, standing in the kitchen pouring herself a glass of water, asked, “Everything okay?”

I shrugged. “Drama.”

“Should I go in there?”

“You can if you want; we were talking about you.” She looked alarmed, and I shook my head. “It’s stupid; it’s about AAA.” She blinked, gave me an owl stare for half a second, and then burst out laughing.

And that, my friends, is my family and AAA. /dies

(Unrelated side note: I got as much of this as what I was expecting when I typed “AAA” into Google’s image search.)

Year in Review: 2013

It’s after Christmas; the coffee chop where I work is finally out of their seasonal blend coffee (no more upselling! until the next promotion. ugh); I got presents from family and friends; I gave presents to family and friends. My brother and his wife drove from the Houston, Texas, area to the Los Angeles area in two days after Christmas Day, and the following Saturday, we had Second Christmas with them.

I received several books, the second season of Sherlock (fuck yeah!), a tshirt from a Sara Bareilles concert, and two sheets of flowery forever stamps.

I worked on Christmas, and I worked again on New Years Day. It’s all right. I wasn’t excited about it, but I wasn’t depressed about it. I managed to get through the anniversary of the Thing that Happened to Me in early December 2006, and next May I will grow into a body he will never have touched.

January: tea with family at Rose Tree Cottage, dinner with maymay.
February: AMC’s Best Picture Showcase (second year in a row!).
March: Carpenteria State Beach and the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.
April: 30-day poetry challenge.
May: trip to Texas for my little brother’s college graduation.
June: root canal (yuck!), my 28th birthday.
July: Anime Expo 2013, The Postal Service concert in Santa Barbara.
August: Devil’s Punchbowl and car camping in South Fork (Angeles Crest mountains).
September: first work as Layout Editor for East Jasmine Review.
October: first year anniversary of private counseling with current therapist.
November: NaNoWriMo!
December: jury duty (but I didn’t serve on a jury and was dismissed).