Being A Girl: Litany of Harassment

I think all of us women have a litany of harassment by men. I’ve got a long list of small things that fit right into rape culture and the culture of letting men do as they please: catcalls, touching, etc. I’ve nothing new to add to that well known list.

However, I’ve never written about the abuse my father, mother and brother have doled out in my life. I’ve bitched about June (mother) plenty, but I’ve not written about my father’s or brother’s misbehaviour over the years. Why is that? Because we are trained to gloss over the shit that men do and therefore don’t talk about it.

As a child, the harassment was very subtle. When I picked up my Yankee teacher’s accent in first grade, my father berated and shamed me in public for it. When I proved to be very smart and beyond my school grade, I was never moved forward, because that would hurt my brother’s feelings. Can’t have that. My father would brag about how smart I was to anyone who’d listen, but berate me for it constantly at home.

My father was very abusive to me in my teens. While my brother had his girlfriend practically move in DURING HIGH SCHOOL, and bought condoms by the gross, if I so much as took a boy to my room to listen to music, I was a whore. He once came to my boyfriend’s house drunk, brandishing a gun, because he knew we were having sex. I was 18-19 years old and did not need his permission to have sex! Rick threatened to shoot my boyfriend, then he threatened to shoot ME. It was horrifying and although I never talk about it, I damn sure remember it. Clearly.

When I decided to move to Atlanta to go to the Art Institute for a Music Business AA, my father really got an attitude. He berated me for going to school, saying I was being a smart ass. My parents had already kept me from attending University of Tennessee, so my continued attempts to get an education were very alarming to them. I’d always thought it was June who didn’t want to help me with expenses during this time, but my brother let slip that it was actually Rick who didn’t want to help me get through school. Fortunately, my grandmother did most of the helping. After the AA, I immediately enrolled at Georgia State to get a BA. This pissed my father off immensely. He regularly called me a smart ass and accused me of trying to “act smart”. He would also bitch at me if I used more than basic vocabulary; any word with 3 or more syllables was just too much. My mother has always called me stupid because I learned how to use computers and therefore “never use my brain.” These are the very same people who used to tell me I was SO SMART. Right. In my family, you can be smart as long as you never EVER let on that you are. They are militantly ignorant. If they don’t know it, they don’t need to know it. I am the enemy, because I question everything and am a fount of information. That shit is unacceptable to them.

Once, when my mother was in hospital for one of her many bouts of autoimmune disease, my father attacked me. I believe this was soon after I moved to Atlanta, so I’d have been 22 or so. We got into an argument about something mundane, like the dishwasher or something. He lost his shit. He threw me down on the floor and called me every name you can think of: whore, bitch, cunt, etc. I fought back and actually got him off me. This was one of the times I literally saw red (June caused the other). If there had been a gun or knife at hand, I truly believe I would have killed my father. Fortunately for him, there was nothing handy, so I hit back and scratched the shit out of his face. After I got away, I grabbed all my stuff and my cat, threw them in the car and drove to my grandmother’s house. I told her what happened and she was very upset. She called one of my father’s friends to have him call and talk to my father. I was concerned that my brother NOT go home for fear my father would attack him, too. Although now, looking back, that was never an issue. I was attacked because I am a girl and I am to be controlled by any means. I went to my friend Sonya’s house to spend the night and had to tell my mother about it the next day, as she lay in hospital. It was fucked up. I didn’t go back home for almost a year after that.

I’ve mentioned the many times I’ve been berated and abused by my mother. I’ve always written it off to her simply repeating how she had been treated growing up. Which is true, she was marginalised and treated like chattel by her mother. But that gives her no right to do that to me.

I’ve always given my father a pass because he was abused as a child by his father and his crazy mother. My father’s siblings were also abused (quite badly). But that doesn’t give him the right to abuse me.

I have always been told by my parents, “You’re SO SMART!”, but when I used my intelligence, I was berated. All my life I’ve heard “You’re SO smart! You can do anything! But why don’t you get an office job? Why aren’t you married?” They tell me how stupid I am at every opportunity – especially if my opinion differs from theirs. Another fave of my parents is “We are so WORRIED about you!” As if I am too stupid to manage to live my life without some sort of supervision. They were ecstatic when Nick and I got married. Presumably, because I would now have a caretaker and they could stop worrying. Or something.

My brother is also abusive to me. He has been handed everything his whole life, yet somehow, I am to blame for his problems. He calls me a horrible daughter/sister because I won’t move back home to help and tells me I’m too stupid to understand what he goes through. He accuses me of abandoning the family. I did no such thing, I SAVED MYSELF. I tried to save him, but he’d have none of it. So now he sits in that house, never having had a life, taking care of two miserable people who are waiting to die, his ungrateful daughter, her baby and her babydaddy. He takes every opportunity he can to try to pass the blame for his miserable life to me. He made his choices, I made mine.

The lesson I’ve learned is that no matter what happened to these people, that does NOT give them the right to pass that abuse on to me.

So, I’ve disconnected from them. They think I’m a horrible person. Whatever. I did what I had to do to preserve my sanity. I’ve no regrets.

That’s my litany; parts of it, anyway. The article that led to this post is called “Being A Girl: A Brief Personal History of Violence” by Anne Theriault.

On the Radio

I am a child of the 70s. I went to first grade in 1972 and graduated in 1984. Those were the heydays of radio and changing ways to listen to music. I’ve seen AM radio go to FM, 8 track tapes go to cassettes and vinyl go to CDs (and BACK again!!). I’ve also been a part of the digital age, but that’s not within the scope of this post. I want to tell you about my history with music – radio in particular.

The first song I remember hearing on the radio was “Angie” by the Rolling Stones. It’s my name, of course, so I thought it was pretty cool to have a song about me. It was playing on Bus 93 that I took to and from school every day in first grade – perhaps longer, I am not certain. We had music on school buses back then, imagine!

I had two tiny AM radios that I’d set up in my room, on either end of my dresser to listen to the radio. I was creating stereo sound! I loved the American Top 40 show with Casey Kasem and listened every week.

We also had radios for our bikes from Radio Shack. They were sort of like this one, but not exactly:
bikeradio

I remember hearing “Take it to the Limit” by the Eagles on that radio, as we rode up and down the hill from my Granny’s house to our own. I REALLY wish I kept that radio!!

In the mid 70s, family groups were all the rage: The Osmond Family, The Jackson 5, The DiFranco Family. I remember Donny Osmond singing “Puppy Love” and “Want You Back” by the Jacksons and “Heartbeat, it’s a Lovebeat” by the DiFrancos. I had the Osmonds and DiFrancos on 8 tracks.

Also in the early to mid 70s, the variety show was at an all time high. I watched Sonny and Cher religiously. I LOVED Cher! Her long hair and those crazy outfits. I’ve got some Cher vinyl that is probably collectable. This was also the time of KTel records. These were like mix tapes on vinyl. I only liked the ones with the real artists, not the cover band ones. Of these, I had a KTel with “Beth” by KISS that I loved.

Things go fuzzy as far as what songs I remember from the mid 70s until the late 70s when disco hit. There was a local program on TV that was broadcast from a disco in Knoxville and I remember watching it to try and learn the various dances. I remember doing the Bus Stop. We had sock hops in middle school and I remember disco and the beginnings of New Wave. I clearly remember dancing to “Pop Muzik” by M.

Then the 80s hit, in all its glory and I was awash in SO MUCH MUSIC. I used to listen to King Biscuit Flower Hour and one of my clearest memories of that was when Pat Benatar was on. It was the best thing I’d ever heard! I never got to see Pat in concert in the 80s because I lived in buttfuck Knoxville TN, which didn’t get tons of shows. While I was researching KBFH, I came across something that will make ANY music buff SQUEE: the KBFH Concert Vault. This is a comprehensive list of all the performers that ever did a show or spot or interview on King Biscuit AND you can listen on the site (IF you subscribe!) or download some things for $5. SO, I can now download that Benatar show I heard in 81!! OMG is that not INCREDIBLE??!!

ALL HAIL THE INTERNET!

All my high school friends thought I was going into music for sure…and I did, kind of. I went off to Atlanta to get an Associate of Arts in Music Business from the Art Institute with the intention of going into music promotion. I realised quickly that I really did not fit into the sexist jackassery that was the radio/music business. My parents – who never supported any education I got – were making bets about how long I’d last before I dropped out. So I completed the program to spite them. The Art Institute was (and might still be) a rip off and that whole thing cost me about $10k. Since I realised that the AA in Music Business was useless to me, I immediately enrolled at Georgia State University to get my BA in something. Since I was naturally good at languages, I chose to get my BA in French and Spanish.

The weird thing is that when I moved back to Knoxville after I graduated Georgia State, I ended up selling radio! Crazy! I worked for U102/Star94 for a short time. Sadly, the industry was still sexist and pretty shitty and I DETEST outside sales. I made some money, but I didn’t like the job.

I’ve already written about my stint in rock n roll in another post (Sold My Soul To Rock n Roll), so this is where I’ll end my reminiscing about RADIO and songs On The Radio. Another song that I loved back in the day! :)

Things You Probably Don’t Know About Me

There might be some Peeves in here – I do have a herd of them after all – but I’ll try to keep the list to my oddities rather than Peeves. I bitch about my peeves PLENTY! LOL Ok, here goes, no particular order:

– I was reading at almost high school levels when I was six.
– New Math (of the early 70s variety) messed with my ability to learn math, although I am quite good at the basics and can figure percentage in my head.
– As a kid, I had trouble learning to tie my shoes and ride a bike. I’m still quite clumsy.
– For you youngsters: back in the olden days (1970s) we ALL got chicken pox and mumps and we all had our tonsils out. It was just normal procedure. Now there are vax for the pox/mumps and no one gets their tonsils out. Which skeeves me out, man. Tonsils and adenoids are the most disgusting things EVAR. Look it up. I don’t want those in ME. EWWWW!
– I had a show horse in my early teens. The trainers my parents chose wouldn’t let me ride it. Then they stole it. REALLY.
– I’ve had a checking account since I was 14.
– I had 3 horses (not the show one) and a goat in my teens. We also had tons of cats but only one dog.
– Speaking of dogs, my parents had a female German Shepherd before we kids came along. That dog was old when we were small and it bit me once. It was a minor bite, but my parents did not console me and I had nightmares about dog attacks for years. I don’t dislike dogs, but you’ll never see me have one or be very friendly with one. I don’t trust them AT ALL.
– I have a very good memory in general. However, it’s fading as I age. I’ve never remembered names well, tho. But you can bet that I’ll remember if you are nice or mean to me.
– I am a human GPS. I regularly drive across the country without maps or GPS. I rarely have to use a map even in new places. Once I take a look at the road layout online or in an atlas, I’m good. I’ve given directions to people in towns I don’t even live in. Once I’ve been somewhere, I will remember it. I can give you directions for anything in Tucson, AZ, for instance.
– I can find four-, five-, six- leaf clovers easily.
– I am an avid birdwatcher. I can identify numerous birds by sight and/or song.
– I am not a germaphobe, but the thought of putting on someone else’s worn clothing without washing first makes me absolutely FREAK OUT. I am also freaky about towels; particularly hand towels. I won’t use one in someone else’s house.
– Speaking of someone else’s house, I strongly dislike sleeping over. I’m always a greasy headed mess in the mornings and I guess I’m just too vain. ? It doesn’t feel like vanity as much as the fact that I HATE showering, etc. at someone else’s house. I’m fine at a hotel.
– I don’t mind at all having people stay at MY house. We used to have wild parties with sleepovers quite often. Now that we’re older and the partying is minimal, we don’t have guests as often, but I don’t mind it.
– Although I have tattoos, I will pass out at any sort of needle. It’s worse for medical needles than a tattoo machine, but the end result is the same. The sound of a tatt machine excites me and I don’t find it horribly painful, but I’ll feel woozy and have to have a break to fight the fainting. Once I’ve done that, I’m fine.
– I am terrified of the dentist. Thank the gods I have good teeth. My parents took us to an Army dentist when we were kids and he would drill our teeth w/out novocaine. CHILDREN. My brother also has dental anxiety. Thanks Mom & Dad. >:(
– I cannot STAND an open toilet. Can. Not. Stand. It. To me, there is nothing more offensive. Close that fucker up and put a fuzzy cover on it for chrissakes! What is wrong with people?
– I have trouble driving automatic vehicles. I’ve always (and WILL ALWAYS) had manuals and my feet get confused when there’s nothing to do. I also forget to put it in P when I park. I always want to use the parking brake, too, since that’s proper procedure for all manual vehicles. Put it in First and pull the brake. Bam.

That’s all for now. I’m a weird girl. Here’s your proof! LOL

2014 Wrap Up

As we near the end of another trek around the sun, I always feel the need to make a post of highlights (or lowlights) of the year. A semi-list in no particular order:

– We started 2014 at a party at someone’s house in Dacula. It became a Hillbilly Hoedown, complete with screaming, fist fights and drunk driving. NOT an auspicious beginning for sure. Out of that came our current rule of NEVER staying at anyone’s house overnight unless absolutely necessary. Why risk it?

– We lost DJ in April. He was old and sickly. He waited for me to get back from my trip and he died two days later. He had a seizure right in front of us on a Saturday. It sucked.

– We finally walked away from the Maplehurst house in June. It was hard to let it go, but we had to. Despite Wells Fargo’s insistence that it was not discharged three years ago in the bankruptcy, it WAS and we were NOT obligated to pay for it. It will be auctioned next month and become rental once again. Nick left notes in the closets to whomever lives in it next.

– On the heels of the move, I get the call that my brother’s best friend died suddenly. He was doing some electrical work at an office and was electrocuted. It was horrible. It rocked me to my roots, I can tell you. The thought that one day a husband says goodbye to his wife and goes to work, never to return. It could happen to ME. It was very upsetting. On top of that, now my brother has no one. He’s all alone with elderly, sick parents and a woman-child with a new baby. I feel SO BAD for him and for Aron’s widow. Ugh. I cry just thinking about it.

– The move to the ‘burbs was relatively painless thanks to a great moving company that sent us TWO crews for the price of one. (Big League Movers if you need a referral.) We are now in a lovely ranch w/ full basement that is crammed full of our stuff. We have a lot of stuff. Other people’s stuff is shit, but our shit is stuff. (George Carlin. Kids, ask your parents.) Anyhow, I’m not a fan of the ‘burbs – too many white people and nothing to do. And white people are NOISY fuckers! Every single day I hear leaf blowers/yard equipment. EVERY. DAY. One day, the asshole neighbors behind us had TWO going from 8am-noon. Continuously. WTF, white people? OTOH, no gunfire, even on holidays and Nick is 10 minutes from work. Tradeoffs.

– We are in full swing of getting the pub concept off the ground. We’ve got about $55k available of our own money. No banks. The trick is finding space that has most of the equipment and a landlord who will work with us. So far, the owners of the place we want refuse to talk to us because we don’t have $100k. They seem to think that is a magical number that ensures success. We’ll see if they still feel that way after paying the fucking $500k note on that property for a few months. NO ONE is looking at it other than us, according to our broker. I’ve been working tirelessly on this. I want to put our names out there and meet as many people as I can. I feel that if we put enough energy out there, something will happen.

– Although I get ridiculed by my friends, I’m sticking to my No New Pets rule. Once Missy goes, I’m not getting any more cats. I’ve got a damn good reason: if we get this pub going, I’ll never be home. Why have pets if you’re not home to enjoy them? If the pub doesn’t happen, we may move. We’ve been talking about it and we’d rather take our money and move with it than sit here and piss it away on rent. It could be a BIG move. Like to Europe big. We don’t want to be in the US when we grow old. Healthcare here sucks. We’re getting passports, but that’s as far as that plan goes right now. We are keeping our options open. When Nick’s job ends, we have to make decisions. Until then, we save money and try to open a pub.

2014 has lived up to its 7 number. 7 is my life path number and I’ve certainly been working on THAT this year. 2015 is an 8 year. 8 is a karmic number; a bringer of change. That seems to be tracking with what we’ve got going on. I look forward to the challenges of an 8 year. I’m curious about what I’ll say on Dec 31 next year. I’ll be 50 this time next year. What a concept. Eh, I’ve always been a late bloomer. Some things never change. :)

Happy New Year, y’all.

What it’s like to be GenXer in 2014

This post was spurred by this Salon article from 2013.

GenX article @Salon

It’s Salon, which means it’s not reliable as a news source, but this article feels pretty spot on to me:

“The Xer in midlife is facing the opposite midlife than the Silent Generation,” Howe says. “The Silent experienced claustrophobia. Xers experience agoraphobia — everything is possible.” – Neil Howe quoted in Salon article “Generation X gets really old: How do slackers have a midlife crisis?”

I do not feel like the dude in Falling Down. I do feel agoraphobic. I feel like I’ve been let down by the “American Dream” touted by my parents. They would tell me “you can do anything you want!” then ridicule my college degree and advise me to get an office job when I kept changing “careers” to try to make the best of what I had. I feel resentment at them for still spouting that bullshit at me, EVEN AS THEY GO INTO THEIR LAST YEARS BROKE AS FUCK from refusing to change. They were in the building business and they got crushed. My brother now has a shitty county job that pays less than $30k/yr and he supports ALL of them. He sat around for 4 years spending their savings before he got a clue that he might have to find a new career. My parents fought him all the way. This is my brother all right:

“Studies reveal that a disproportionate number of us are sandwiched between dependent children and aging parents – fending off economic stressers while juggling a heavy load of family responsibilities.”

My brother supports his clueless 17 year old pregnant daughter and two sickly parents. He’ll be supporting his grandkid, too. He feels trapped and he is. But it’s his own fault for allowing our overbearing mother to run his life. I really wonder what will happen when she’s not around to tell him what to do. My brother will be 47 in January and he’s never had an independent life. I couldn’t save him, though I tried very hard. They all resent me because I saw the trap and I fled. None of them were smart enough to do that, so naturally I’m the bad guy.

My parents tell me that it’s MY FAULT that my $100k home became worth $40k. THEY ARE FULL OF SHIT. And out of touch. My father actually said, “There wasn’t a housing bust! I don’t know what you’re talking about! You’re lying! Houses are selling great in Knoxville!” Uh, right Dad, I made the whole thing up and Knoxville fucking TN is immune to the ills of the WHOLE GODDAM COUNTRY and you lost all your retirement money to invisible gnomes. Right. He probably thinks this because he has lived his whole life in a 10 mile radius. They all have. Small towns, small minds. It’s amazing how real their fantasy world is to them. They must work really hard to ignore the news that is on their TVs that are on 24/7. This is why I call them militantly ignorant. It’s hard work to ignore reality like they do.

I have had to start over in my life. And over. And over. I’ve been fucked by the Boomer’s “American Dream”. I went to college. I settled down and bought a house (Nick did this, too). What did we get? BANKRUPTCY. We bankrupted and started fresh three years ago – but we paid off our fucking student loans, at least. It was the best thing we’ve ever done – despite my fucking family telling us we’re losers for not sticking with a failed investment that was killing us with stress. Despite my father (who has always been an entrepreneur) telling me I’m crazy to start up a business and I’m doomed to failure (arcade pub for those new to this blog), that is precisely what I’m going to do. I’ll succeed to spite him.  The last paragraph of the Salon article really does sum it up:

“If we’re going to make the country a better place, more suited to our values, we need to do it ourselves. Middle age is, if nothing else, time to shift out of second gear. If we can’t take a break from the urban farms, put down the knitting and home brewing equipment, and step into politics, business and other kinds of leadership, we’ll deserve our reputation as the generation that never quite showed up. Rather than the sound of silence, we should be hearing our voices – and they should be loud and angry.”

The Boomers are clueless about who we Xers are and the constant stream of CRAP that we’ve dealt with. But I think we can become the leaders we need to be on our own terms. I think if more of us would take chances, we could get something done. There’s no one left to take chances but US. The Millennials are certainly not ready. We’ve got to stop playing it safe and get out there. It’s hard to do, I can attest to that. The fear of failure is real. But when it comes down to it, we have no choice. It’s start over again or live in a box under the interstate. Nick’s Boomer era job is ending. We must reinvent. If there’s anything that Xers are good at, it’s THAT.