Stanford (graphic content, sexual abuse trigger warning)

I’ve done a lot of crying the past day or so.

Its been on and off since I read the closing statements from the Stanford case. I can’t stand that that asshole is getting off with 6 months in county. He ruined someones life but because his  body holds value, “justice” has favored him instead of his victim.

That’s not purely why I’m crying.

I don’t think I’m quite that selfless. I read each new development in this case, and so many other women’s stories, and the nasty comments perpetuating rape culture and I cry for women as a whole who are in this place where they are violated and then revictimized every time something like this happens. I also cry for myself.

I was attacked at the end of my high school year. By my boyfriend. He was in the 6’2-6’4 range, taller than me even in my highest heels, and on the track and field team. Star athlete. Maybe thats another reason Stanford is so triggering for me. He was massive, six pack abs, in the gym 6 hours a day minimum, biceps like pythons. He could wrap both of my wrists completely in one of his hands and have a secure hold.

Our relationship had very clear lines. I was a virgin and didn’t want to have sex before marriage. He knew this. We’d been over it in no uncertain terms but after prom he pulled over his truck at the end of my street to kiss me good night and kissing turned to groping and when it went too far and I told him to stop, that night, he didn’t. My wrists went in one hand and the other hand found its way down, hiking the skirt of my gown. I remember my elbows and shoulders protesting the awkward angles they were put in.

At what point he opened his pants, I still don’t know, though I’ve replayed the night thousands of times. I could feel him shoving himself at me. That sensation of only having a thin, thin, seamless layer of pale blue microfiber between him and my virginity.

I can hear my voice, like it belonged to someone else. “Stop it, what are you doing. Stop, stop, STOP STOPITPLEASESTOPYOURHURTINGME” getting more breathless and shrill and scared with each syllable. I had got my hands free, but then he had me by the upper arm, the hip, I would slip free, he would grab me again, and one hand was clumsily trying to drag my panties to the side.

Ignoring me.

He was just so big. All those muscles I’d thought were so pretty were just, muscles. Weapons of my destruction. I am not a small girl, though I was a swimmer. I was lean but athletic and I’m tall myself. I wasn’t used to feeling so delicate. At one point it occurred to me that he could actually hurt me, break bones, bloody me. That had never been a part of my reality before: physical powerlessness.

At some point he released my hands and started grabbing my legs and buttocks. Trying to pull me onto him.

I remember his one solid thrust and my panties were still half covering me, so they mostly stopped him, but it still hurt. A sharp warning burn between my legs and I let out a squeal like some sort of pathetic piglet. I just kind of flailed at him. One hand, the other, both, my knee grazed ribs or a hip. He stopped briefly.

I sucked him off.

I figured it would give him what he wanted sex-free. And I could go home and lock the door behind me. And everything would go back to normal.

But it didn’t. When my dad asked how things went when I came in from prom, I lied and pasted a smile I hoped just looked sleepy and not scared on my face and said things went great. When I woke up in the morning I couldn’t believe what happened had happened.

The more I thought about it the more upset I got. I felt betrayed by my boyfriend. I felt scared. I’d never been physically overpowered before and until it happens you always think “I’d just kick ’em in the nuts.” “I’d just thumb-drag their eyes.” I watch movies, I’ve read articles on self defense. I should be fine.

It’s not the same.

I knew what he did was wrong. Without consulting anyone, I knew it was wrong. But I was a big reader. I love Alice Sebold. I owned a dog-eared copy of Lucky and I know what victims of sex crimes go through even when they’re clearly the victim. Even when the rapist is a violent stranger.

As a teenager I knew about victim-blaming. How women are accused of asking for it. Liking it. Bringing it on themselves. I knew because he was my boyfriend, and because it was prom night, because I agreed to pull over for a kiss goodnight, and because I agreed to oral sex in lieu of penetration that he would never be found guilty. That it would be my fault and all I’d do by coming forward would be to make it public knowledge. Everyone would know I was a whore.

So I watched the bruises on my arms and buttocks and hips and thighs fade with the burns on my knees from his car seat. I didn’t report him.

I was in dance, though, and my friends saw the bruises when I was changing and asked.

I told a few of them.

That was one of the worst parts to this whole story.

A friend, MY friend, told me I might be mistaken. She asked me if I was sure. My boyfriend was best friends with her boyfriend, she’d set us up in the beginning and she encouraged me to give him a second chance. She said she was sure he didn’t mean it “like that.” He’d never hurt me. He’s a nice guy. Maybe he was just drinking. She knew what kind of crowd he hung out with. Maybe that was the case.

So I stopped talking to people about it early on. I hid it. And continued letting it hurt me.

Fortunately he didn’t go to our school so I didn’t have to see him every day. Avoiding him was easy.

I told him I didn’t want to see him. That I needed to think. He tried to tell me it wasn’t like what I said, that he’d never hurt me, he loves me.

He showed up at my last dance show with a dozen red roses. Like ugly red flowers could fix what he’d broken. My friend and her boyfriend were smiling next to him. She wanted me to come get dinner with them. A double date. And he’d come by himself, so the drive over would give us time alone to talk.

I said I’d check with my parents.

I called my mom and quickly and quietly said: M_____ is here, he wants me to go somewhere with him but I don’t want to. I will explain later but can you come get me and pretend you’re making me come home? Please, please come get me.

She sent my dad. I remember I was wearing intentionally mismatched Chuck Taylors, one purple, one black, because I stared at my shoes as I tried to find words to explain things to my father. “At prom he tried to get me to do things I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to be alone with him. I don’t want to see him. I have to break up with him.”

I told my mom about the same thing. I downplayed. They still don’t know what happened.

He harassed me for a while after that. Would show up at the house. Text and call. Get friends to text and call. He got a new girlfriend and for whatever reason she started calling and texting. Telling me I was trash.

Because HE attacked me.

I felt like trash for a long time. Because of how the events played out I wasn’t sure if I still counted as a virgin. Something I’d planned on giving as some sort of preserved gift to my soulmate someday was tarnished, if not stolen. I struggled with this for years.

Between the lack of clarity and the PTSD-like symptoms that would happen any time I was remotely intimate with anyone I spiralled as I began college. I hung out with people who were anti-relationship. One night, drinking at a friends dorm with a couple friends, a guy got me alone in a room. He kissed me and I fell backwards onto the bed. He climbed on top of me and started groping me. He was heavy and my leg was bent under me. I couldn’t get the leverage to sit up. My friend was off with some other guy. I panicked.

He unhooked my bra, tonguing my cheek instead of my mouth, since I’d turned my head away. He was drunk and fumbling and didn’t noticed I’d frozen in fear when I realized I couldn’t get up. He didn’t notice the silent tears streaming down my cheeks á la PTSD. He hadn’t even noticed when I’d stopped kissing him. I choked a bit on a sob and begged “let me up.”

He said “oh, you wanna be on top, huh?” Even when I sat up and started backing towards the door he didn’t realize there was anything wrong. I heard “where you going?” before I shut the door behind me.

I ran, literally. Grabbed my purse, jacket, and shoes from the common room and didn’t stop to put them on. I dashed into the hallway and when the ding of the elevator startled me I bolted to the stairwell before the doors could open. I ran down the stairs and sprinted across campus before stopping to put shoes on my bleeding feet at an intersection, waiting anxiously for a car to pass so I could run on.

I lived off campus in my sorority house and I sprinted all the way home. Not far, but far enough that I pulled muscles in my legs and could scarcely breathe by the time I was locked behind the door. I was crying in the shower by the time my friends realized I’d gone missing.

I avoided men for a while after that. Too scared.

I also developed a bit of a phobia about being without my undergarments or wearing anything that wasn’t 100% full coverage.

The couple times I tried to date I either had a panic attack in front of them and they never called again. Or when I tried to tell them I didn’t want to have sex before marriage, the ensuing questions led to uncomfortable questions I didn’t have the right answers for.

 

Finally I couldn’t stand it any more. I was no longer clearly pure but I’d never had sex on my terms. I wasn’t dirty but I had a fine layer of dust. Damaged goods. I thought I may as well do it once for me and be able to give a straight answer when asked. Not being a virgin was better than explaining I’d been assaulted and because of the gory details wasn’t sure myself.

I just wanted to forget the whole thing. I would have sex with my next boyfriend.

My next boyfriend was abusive.

My next boyfriend left me with actual scars on my body and a fractured rib that never healed properly.

My next boyfriend thought dragging me downstairs by the hair, beating me with objects from his bedroom,  and then raping me was fun. My next boyfriend forced me to have sex with his friend.

My next boyfriend knew I had an eating disorder and would use his genitals to make me puke and then say he was helping me keep my figure.

Because I consented to being his girlfriend, to normal consensual sex, to giving him what was left of my virginity, to a little slap and tickle experimentation early on in the relationship before it got abusive. Because I stayed with him. Because we broke up and I went BACK to him more than once.

There’s not a jury in the world that would convict him for anything he did to me.

Because I grew up in a society that believes women are asking for it, I had no hope of help when I needed it and over the years I grew so damaged that I am still recovering. If I had any hope of quick and just action when I was attacked the first time, I would not have put myself in situations that damaged me further.

Because I live in a society that thinks consenting to a relationship is consenting to anything a partner cares to do to your body, I lost hope that I could successfully escape my abuser.

Because I live in a time where there are rallies held to legalize rape, a time where judges that will suggest that because a rapist is young, and an athlete and a scholar and has not raped before, he is somehow exempt from just punishment for his crimes, a time where men will pull my hair, put their arms around me, and make lewd comments about me either to my face or behind my back in public places, I find myself unable to sleep soundly or feel safe going through my day to day life.

This and more is EXACTLY why I feel like it’s a mans world and women like me are just living in it. We’re trapped. 
There is NO WAY to be the change I want to see here because I am not a man. I am not the active party in these scenarios. All I can do is wait for someone else to act or cross a line and defend myself. 
I don’t want to mark escape routes in every situation. I don’t want to carry mace or other weapons. I hate that I’m in the market for a handgun. I don’t want to carry my keys in the shiv position when walking alone at night.
I will give all the support and solidarity I can to survivors who are victimized over and over again by our messed up society, but I am so tired of being forced to.
I will celebrate every win, but it shouldn’t BE such a big deal when a rapist is found guilty. Justice being served should not be the minority situation.
I want change. I want justice. I want to feel safe in familiar places. I want the law to be an actual deterrent. I want real equality for women.
But it is so very very hard to cling to hope for the future with things the way they are.
I wanted there to be a happy ending to this post, but for the time being there is not.
We NEED a change.
But I see no clear solution.
So to close, my beauty in negative spaces is this: I am not in the situations I was in before. I am lucky to have survived. I am lucky to be looking BACK at what has happened. I have also grown a lot. I have grown physically stronger to better defend myself. I can knock a heavybag over with two punches or a single kick. Elbows and knees are better for defense though. I have gained coping skills to manage panic, and push it down long enough to either defend myself physically or verbally depending on the situation. I’m learning to value myself like I hadn’t before. I am damaged, but I am not completely broken. I still have use. I can still be functional.
It is taking a really long time but I’m coming out of this.
Most importantly I am talking about my past. Its therapeutic for me, and it educates and empowers others depending on the situation. I’m taking away the power that those events had over me, I’m taking away the power that rape culture had over me. I am using my voice. I was silent when I should have leveled charges at the men who violated me. I can’t go back and change that.
But I will not maintain the silence. I will share the distasteful things that happened to me and say it is not my fault. I did not ask for those things. I know the truth. I am blameless. I said no. I asked for them to stop. Their actions were their own. They have nothing to do with me. I will not forgive myself because there is nothing to forgive. I will accept that I have been wounded, and focus on the things that let me heal.
I will build up those around me that they may avoid similar hurt. I will support and nurse those who have been wounded. And I will hope and strive for a better tomorrow.
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STOP IT! What not to do in an interview- Part 2

As I’ve said before: I work for a tutoring company. My main job is to interview and hire tutors from all over the country. I’ve conducted THOUSANDS of interviews at this point (not an exaggeration, I average about 220 a week) and there are some fairly common things I see/hear/experience on a daily basis that make me want to pull my hair out.

I put together a list like this a while back, and after a considerably LONG day at work, we’re back for round 2.  Seriously. Do NOT do these things in an interview.

Incessant talking: Interviews are made for talking. They’re just about the only place you can get away with shameless, all out bragging but even in this there is such a thing as moderation! If I ask you how you heard about us and the answer is “craigslist” you do not need to tell me you were looking for work, did a google search for the area, then went to craigslist, then found our ad, then did some research, by the way our yelp reviews are awesome, and then filled out the application and here you are. I know 90 percent of that. Be concise. I have 30 other questions for you. If I ask “are you working currently” the answer is yes or no, not a life story. If I ask for a travel radius in miles I do not need a 2 minute lecture on traffic in your area and a detailed description of your school’s parking lot layout. I need “15 miles” or whatever number applies to you.

We will get to teaching strategies and experience. I promise. But if you can’t be concise or answer the question I am asking you because you are trying to regurgitate the interview speech you practiced in the mirror this morning back at me as fast as you can intentionally leaving no pauses for me to cut in, we’re going to run out of time and I won’t have the answers to the questions I NEEDED to be ABLE to put you through to the next step. Think of interviews like a written exam: ADDRESS THE  PROMPT.

Sassing me: On a similar note. If you answer every basic question I ask you with “AS IT STATES ON MY RESUMÉ…” I will murder you or at least your chances at tutoring with us. Being condescending, snide, or downright rude, or insinuating that I have not done my due diligence is asking for a rejection. I have read your resumé I can see where it says “2008-Present” for your current position. I have seen that on thousands of CVs and on a good majority of them, the information was not accurate because the applicant had recently left their position and failed to update their dates of employment before sending us their documents. I have your info. I read your info. I now have to CONFIRM pertinent details.

And if you sass me over something YOU failed to read in a confirmation email for your interview, you will be put RIGHT back in your place before I move on. It’s appalling the number of times I call my second appointment in an hour at 15-after (or a later appointment, later) and as a courtesy ask if its still a good time for their scheduled interview and they passive aggressively allude that I’m LATE to their appointment but that they graciously can make things work for me. My voice turns the kind of sweet that bores holes in teeth when I inform them they were my 2nd/3rd/4th scheduled appointment that hour and that their confirmation email states they should expect a call between the hours of ___ and ___. A lot of people get mad when I say I have content questions for them and when we get going they can’t recall the slope intercept form, or whether pH2 is an acid or base because apparently it’s my fault they didn’t know they’d be tested and so they hadn’t reviewed ahead of time.

If you berate me because you weren’t prepared, I will direct your attention to the confirmation email we sent in regards to the scheduling of the call, pull up the stock email, and read verbatim the line about being prepared to answer content questions on the subjects you selected and the suggestion that you have a pen and scratch paper ready at the time of the call to work out math or science problems.

And I will not put you through.

 

Clothing, part 2: This SHOULD go without saying and yet it crops up WAY more than anyone likes. If you are not clothed, don’t touch your webcam. If you are naked, you should not be setting up your computer for an interview. If your tits or peen are out: DO NOT see what that “record” button does!

If you have an interview scheduled for 12 and it’s 12:01 you shouldn’t still be setting up your webcam anyway, but if it’s 12:01 and your webcam is not only not set up, but you don’t have your clothes on? You are not prepared for your interview AND you’ve now indecently exposed someone who may potentially be your supervisor in the future. There is no way I can POSSIBLY justify putting you through. ESPECIALLY if you were planning on teaching Elementary/Middle School subjects over our online platform.

And for the love of all that is holy, do not record your interview from a seat on the toilet, particularly if I can hear that you’re using it, while we talk. That is just NOT what I signed up for.

I have witnessed way too many bodily functions and accidental flashing in my time as a remote interviewer.

All these items seem like common sense. But apparently a large portion of grown men and women don’t see it that way. If you want to work, heed my advice. PLEASE.

And my company is shifting towards a more automated system with more recorded and less live interviews through a new program. Which probably means material for another one of these posts.

Good lord.

 

Body Positivity Week

I guess this week is body positivity week. My Facebook has been absolutely bombarded with plus size models and inspirational quotes. The “Try Guys” from Buzz Feed put out a video on photoshopped images. My friends are all reposting BPW media and I see so much positivity being put out there but (because with me there is always a but):

I have an eating disorder.

And because it’s body positivity week, it’s somehow appropriate for all these people to come out of the woodwork and haphazardly post about how they “had” an eating disorder because society, the media, photoshop, etc. but how through some radical self love and a little gumption they managed to “cure” themselves.

It’s killing me.

You don’t cure an eating disorder.

You go into remission.

And you don’t get an eating disorder from watching too many episodes of America’s Next Top Model.

You develop an eating disorder through a myriad of deep seated personal problems.

Because of this, it’s not as easy as just up and deciding to love yourself.

It’s not ABOUT loving yourself or being “positive.”

Personally, I’ve got so many issues I couldn’t tell you which one it was that started me off. None of my shrinks have pinpointed it either, and that’s not how therapy works anyway.

Big picture? My eating disorder, like my agoraphobia, and a couple other things we’ve never talked about here on the blog, stems from feeling a lack of control over myself, my situation, my life.

If we’re being honest, here, I have a very selfish reason behind this rant, but I think my reasons are making even more clear the problems with this week.

It just so happens that the Monday of Body Positivity week dawned on the Monday I woke up and realized I’m no longer in remission.

I had a stomach ache. The deep, painful kind you get when you’ve actually overdone it and hurt yourself. I vomited three separate times on Sunday. On purpose.

And  I recognized as I walked to the bathroom, knowing what I was about to do to myself, why I was doing it. I felt out of control. Making myself sick has a method to it. There are steps. Steps I won’t list here because reading other people recount their dealings with eating disorders is how I kept mine under wraps the seven years I went without professional treatment. But there ARE steps and going through them makes me feel like things are okay.

I’ve had a rough couple months.

I’ve had very little control at work, in my personal life, at home.

I thought I was managing, but clearly I have not been. I have just been making myself feel better by rigidly controlling what I eat and when that gets messed up, just “adjusting.”

My nails are brittle, the inside of my mouth is full of raw patches and peeling skin from acid exposure, and I woke up so dehydrated Monday morning that I felt hungover.

It’s a problem. I’ve been able to look at myself rationally, now, so I’ve be able to stop, I’m two days clean, and I’ll eventually get back to a good place.

However, this body positivity week, a movement that is supposed to be helpful to people like me is hurting me. I can look at inspirational quotes and put the most negative spin on them or wonder what is wrong with me that I can’t seem to think as positively as “You’re not fat, you HAVE fat”.

I can look at a plus sized model and either feel bad because she’s actually skinnier than me, or panic because she is my size and I DON’T WANT TO LOOK LIKE THAT, or worst of all, even if she’s bigger, I’ll feel like I don’t measure up, or I’ll reverse it and feel like I’ve gotten too bony. My collar bones are too prominent, my leg muscles are too hard and close to the surface.

I can’t win.

Besides that, this week is so superficial. Love your body! Love yourself!

This week somehow equates the self with the body, overturning this Cartesian duality that I count on to feel human.

I do love my body when I’m able to be rational. When I am centered, and not struggling to feel in control, I love my body. I am strong. I am proud of what my body can do and how far it has come. I adore being able to dance and exercise and stretch.

My body suffers at the hands of my mind, though.

I cannot love my mind because it so often betrays me.

It makes me hate my body.

It makes me want to get so small I disappear.

It tells me I have to lure a man in with my body first and that if I am attractive enough he will accept the flaws of my mind. An ass that defies gravity makes my social anxiety more acceptable. A small waist makes it easier to deal with someone who still has tics from being abused. Toned arms and legs makes bursting into tears for no apparent reason endearing instead of disconcerting.

Yeah, I know it’s all crap. Rationally.

It’s not the media making me do this. It’s me. Just me. So to equate my self with my body brings on a whole other level of confusion that serves to push me farther out of the controlled center I NEED to function.

That being said, nothing the media puts out is going to help me. I just have to pick up and sort myself out again.

It’s very isolating, to tell you the truth.

The conclusion I’ve come to, is that Body Positivity week is for people who are already positive about their body or who want everyone else to think they are.

Because those of us who aren’t body positive know better.

I hope to god no one else is having a BPW like mine.

And if you are, I’ve gone nearly 3 days without starving or purging. I will celebrate that. I know you can do the same. We’ll take it one day at a time.

We know we’ll fall into old habits.

But we also know we can pull out again in an endless tiring circle.

 

Just stay strong.

The Fear in Knowing

I was talking to the Viking the other night. I hadn’t seen him in about a month since I’d been gone one week and then he had a couple trips he’d gone on.

After a hug on the stairs that lifted my feet from the top landing of the stairway where they’d been planted  and felt like the most cinematic reunion ever he followed me into the Blues room and sat with me for a while.

I’d come alone because Kay bailed to watch Civil War with her church friends instead and I’d had a rough week with a lot of things happening outside of my control so I was already feeling rambly and vulnerable.

He teased me gently about being a wallflower and then laughed when he realized I was wearing the very floral dress that started a bit of an inside joke of referring to me as the wallflower, or sending me Wall Flowers songs through facebook.

I explained I’d just got there and was still feeling slightly overwhelmed and he smiled and at the same time I started to say that I enjoy people watching, he said it. I mentioned coming out is always less horrifying for me if I have a friend to hide behind or use as a buffer between me and people. He said something about hoping he didn’t overwhelm me, but in a soft way, like he knew he wasn’t. I told him he wasn’t. That I know him, kind of. He smiled and looked away and tripped over saying “as much as two  people who see each other on a-” he paused and finished with something along the lines of on a regular basis as if he’d only just noticed we see each other at least once a week.

I nodded. We don’t really KNOW each other. Not like I know someone like Kay: her family, all her stories, her tics. “But you’re… familiar.”

The Viking eventually asked me to dance and we did and I could barely follow because he’s so tall and warm and I’d missed him and after a literal month of thinking of him he was finally touching me again.  I don’t remember the song that that was playing and I’d been making a conscious effort to do so since “Ray of Sunlight” solidified the last dance we’d had so perfectly in my mind.

The song ended, because we’d started halfway through, and he asked if I’d like to dance a full song.

So my hand stayed tucked in his and we picked up the next song.

Out of nowhere, really, he got a peculiar look on his face and asked if it was scary for me “being known by someone.” He floors me, sometimes.

It was an oddly deep question and its been all I can think about, since.

I asked him whether he meant in general or- and he followed up by saying, like we were talking about getting to know people and how we kind of see each other regularly and then in relationships, is it scary to be KNOWN by someone.

What I wound up incoherently rambling at him was something along the lines of big-picture, end-goal, no it’s not scary, its something I want. It’s getting there that’s scary. Then he wanted to know why. I rambled some more as we finished up the dance.

I don’t specifically recall much of what I said after that, but I do remember he put my name into the last line of the song we were dancing to and sang it in my ear. He sang my name to me and I don’t remember the words surrounding my name, because I was already flustered, and he confuses me, and it was such a sweet moment that all I can remember is those two drawn out syllables resonating in my ear.

The question remains though: am I afraid to be known?

After days of agonizing over the question I’ve come to the conclusion that like so many other things with me, its not as simple as I am afraid or I am not afraid.

There are stages of knowing someone. I happen to have a LOT of stages. If knowing me came in levels, I’d be like the stairs of some ancient French Cathedral: steep, winding and seemingly endless.

On the outside, I’m “the girl with the outfits” (this is actually something more than one person has called me out dancing because I’m apparently always dressed to kill AND its never the same dress). Watch the outfits long enough and you’ll notice I play at acceptable fashion. I know how to put an outfit together, but I like an edgy sort of comfort in my clothes. Start looking at me to make sense of my outfits and  I have a sunny personality, I laugh easily and appreciate wit and peculiarity. Talk to me and you’ll catch me swearing or letting out a morbid or innuendo laced joke. My humor leans towards violence and self deprecation. I can’t take a compliment.

If you make it to a landing, higher up the staircase, you’ll know I suffer from Major Depressive Disorder but manage it with diet and exercise and meditation, journaling, art therapy: anything to not be on medication. I am also an agoraphobe using social dancing as my exposure therapy. I manage my anxiety and panic disorders with breathing exercises, tapping, grounding, and the occasional self medication with a nip or two from the bottle. I’ve had an eating disorder since I was about 14 that rears its ugly head when I feel like I need more control in my life.

I used to self mutilate but haven’t hurt myself in a while and won’t again because I can’t stand that the last group of scars hasn’t flattened out and turned white but remains raised and ugly and purple for the world to see and judge.

I’ve been abused, stalked, assaulted, threatened- more than once and its left me with an awful lot of triggers and trust issues.

The ugly parts of me are so closely tied to what you find out first about me. They come out early on because a lot of things are triggering for me and I often find I need to explain why I reacted the way I did to something seemingly innocuous.

I’m difficult. I try to be as functional as possible, but I’m under no illusions. The jagged edges of my person are tricky to get around.

Still, it’s not being known that scares me.

I am afraid of being known halfway. I’m afraid of someone starting to know me and stopping before they get to the good parts. I’m afraid of being known only to the point of being crazy, and sad, and angry, and afraid of everything.

I’m afraid of not being given the chance to be known in all the ways that matter. That I’m funny and enjoy taking care of people. That I’m a good cook and like feeding people. I’m a loyal friend but will tell people they’re being unjust or overly judgmental. Dogs, horses, and small children inherently trust me. That I am afraid of everything but that it’s never going to stop me because I can make myself work through anything.

I’ve been hurt in many ways but I love deeply and permanently.

People who see the whole picture, stay.

Its just a rare occasion that they take the time to get that far.

So is being known scary? No.

Playing the crapshoot of letting people get into the gnarly stuff necessary before the finish line and hoping they’ll make it?

Positively horrifying.

 

And of course, because I’m still caught up in this silly crush, I’m stuck thinking of those earnest blue eyes locked on mine and that warm voice singing my name.

If I had to pick someone to let know me, I’d want him.

Desperately.

But I’m afraid to let him get past the charming exterior.

I went on a date…

What the heck, right?

Unless you read the last ramble about how I’m inept in the romance department. In which case you knew about all this.

So now like some weird, less fashionable, less horse-faced Carrie Bradshaw let me tell you about my experience.

The son of my high school History teacher asked me out last week. As I mentioned before, we have a TON in common and have been aware of each other for years, just never really spent much time together or really talked until he started being all up on my social media starting about a month ago.

My problem is this: I feel NOTHING for him. Cognitively I know we like the same movies and tv shows, our upbringing and families are similar. I was good friends with his sister in high school. He goes to church but doesn’t seem super serious about it, so that matches up. He work out daily, as do I. He likes animals. We can nerd out and drool over food together. It’s great. On paper, we’re perfect.

We had a great date on Saturday. We started out going to the Arboretum at our old university campus but it was closed off for some reason so instead we trekked all over campus revisiting the old sculptures put out by the college of art. We talked, we laughed. We spontaneously went to a movie. Then he took me to dinner.

I had a really good day. I felt happy. We work well, together. I had a very low level of anxiety being around him. HOWEVER, it seems to stem from the fact that I don’t care. Which is a problem.

I talked to all of my friends leading up to this date. I actually started thinking that maybe I should call it off. I don’t want to lead him on. I’ve been led on. I don’t want to do that to someone else. Everybody seemed to be of the opinion that I should give him a chance. That I might like him if I’d take the time to think of someone outside of my massive Viking-related crush. So I did. I resisted the urge to cancel the date and I had a good time.

We came back to my apartment and finished the last couple episodes of Daredevil and then I subjected him to Archer. He kissed me.

That’s all that happened. There wasn’t even any attempted second base action, just kissing, and hand holding; it was very PG. He’s a good kisser, aside from the fact he rocks one of those stubble-goatees so I kept getting jabbed in the face. He’s also very attractive. He’s athletic, with strong arms and shoulders, a hard, flat stomach, and that V that cuts down his hips and into his jeans(I’ve seen pictures, no live action, it was PG!); he’s droolworthy, really.

I just don’t care.

I started making lists in my head while kissing him, thinking of other things, other people, other places. I just zoned out.

I don’t want him. I know we’d make a good team but I don’t want him, no matter how hard I try to make myself and I don’t feel like wasting time with some distraction. I also definitely don’t want to lead him on.

I also don’t want to shoot something potentially healthy and functional in the foot without giving it a chance, though. So I’m torn.

HE seems really into ME, though. I’m having trouble keeping him at arms length.

Besides that I keep comparing him to the Viking.

I CARE about the Viking. I find little things he does so perfectly adorable I can’t put it into words. I stare off into space dreamily when I think of him and my friends notice. I feel safe with the Viking.

He’s not cut like an athlete. He’s older, and softer. He doesn’t have that metrosexual snappy-dresser thing down like my date. He’s sweet and funny, not dashing and charismatic. On paper the Viking should be inferior.

But I want him.

So I’m stuck and confused and this would all be SO simple if I could just flat say all this to the men involved and get straight answers and understanding out of both of them, but that’s not the way the world works, so I guess I’ll just suffer.

Hooray.

TO NOT do in an Interview – Part 1

I almost murdered someone today.

I mean, I didn’t really, since he lives in Louisiana and I’m on the West Coast, but in my head, his skin was lampshade material and his teeth were halfway to a charmingly macabre necklace.

I work for a tutoring company.

I hire tutors.

I talk to a lot of people each day. Phone interviews are scheduled 4 to an hour and the idea is that 1 in 4 will miss their appointment, giving me time to complete three 15 minute screens with time left over to complete my notes and either schedule their second interview or justify and classify their rejection. I do about 3 face-to-face interviews a day (online of course, I work from home) and these should be about 40 minutes of screening, 15 minutes of walking them through next steps, and 5 minutes wrapping up notes, or preparing for my next appointment.

Now, I’m a pretty nice person. If I have time I will answer as many questions as possible. I will level with you on realistic expectations. I will allow moments for you to be human. I’ll encourage you and remind you that you can always add subjects you need to review back into your list at a later date. I genuinely enjoy most of the people that I interview on some level.

I used to be a tutor. They want to help kids learn which takes WAY more effort than flipping chemically separated patties. It awesome.

BUT some people just bend my last nerve, and once they hit that point, they are not going to be put through.

I may not turn them into lampshades, but I will denote every tiny grammar error in their application. I will give them no leeway on silly mistakes in their math problems. If they forget that a ball falling back to earth with have an acceleration of NEGATIVE 9.81m/s squared, I will list it as incorrect without hesitation or benefit of the doubt.

Now having conducted THOUSANDS (literally) of interviews and compared notes with my fellow recruiters, I consider myself something of an expert on the subject of interviews. To help anyone out there looking for work, I present the following list of things to never EVER, goddamn EVER (see where it says ever? EVER!) do in an interview:

Not showing up/showing up late with no excuse: This should go without saying and yet my company’s schedules are set up based on the fact that a solid 30% of people miss their interviews. We have 4 calls to make in an hour based on the idea that usually one of them doesn’t show. For phone interviews we call twice and leave a voicemail both times. For in person interviews we call twice, leave a voicemail, and resend your confirmation email.

My first reaction when someone misses an interview is always “In THIS economy??” My second is that it’s rude. We give people every opportunity to cancel or reschedule their appointments before the fact. They don’t even have to talk to us to do it. There are links built into your scheduling confirmations to do it over the internet. Its rude to us, and it takes up scheduling slots that could have gone to people who were serious about working with us. No shows get rejected, but we do consider rescheduling them if they call in. The bigger pet peeve here is people who show up late, or miss their first or even second call and call back in late and then DON’T EXPLAIN OR APOLOGIZE.

If you call in late and tell me you overslept, or your phone was on silent, or you forgot, okay, fine I will make a note and move on. It happens, you’re human, you may not be as reliable as I’d like, but we can move on. No explanation, to me, says you are unpunctual AND unrepentant about it. It says my time is not important. It says you’re unreliable and you’re not trying to do anything different. If you are not ON POINT in every other area of your interview, you’re not getting put through.

Clothing: I know, I know. I’m the last person who should be bashing people on what they wear given the towel with a cardigan episode. BUT. If I can manage to be professional from the waist up for ten hours a day, you can manage for 45 minutes for our interview. Speaking from experience, it does not take very much time or effort.

Being casual is one thing. If you’re overly casual it’s fine. Most people will be working with kids. You don’t need business casual to teach fractions at the local library. But if I see 50% or more of your boobs and you’re in spaghetti straps you had better be Florence freaking Nightingalesque with your science know-how. That goes for men, too. If you’re missing your sleeves or the ‘V’ in your tee shirt is so low I’m seeing nipple you are not getting put through. Gender equality, bitch!

If you are wear a hoodie and that hoodie is up, you are not getting through. This is not Freedom Writers, you are not Hilary Swank. I am not some hoodrat youth you are trying to convince of your street cred so they’ll learn from you. Get your act together.

And if you have something printed on your tee shirt that is not absolutely 100% G-rated I will not put you through. You would think this goes without saying but I have seen so many curse words and scantily clad (/not clad) women in interviews it is not even a joke anymore.

Involving your pets or children: It’s shocking how many times I have been made to greet small animals and children during my interview. Cats, chihuahuas, bunnies. One guy ran across his room to scoop up his cat before holding her up to the screen and demanding that I say hello and tell her she’s a pretty girl.

Similarly, I have had multiple applicants bring their children onscreen and have little Timmy or Susan beg me to give mommy or daddy the job. At which point I usually get to lie to small children and feel like an a$$hole for the rest of the day.

DONT DO IT. If you wouldn’t bring your pet into an office for an interview, don’t bring them onscreen. Same with children.

Cursing: I have a potty mouth. If you’ve read anything here, you know I curse like a landbound sailor and don’t feel too bad about it. But I worked with children for years as a nanny and as a tutor and I always managed to keep my swearing under wraps. I CERTAINLY never cursed in an interview. Yet, for some reason, people seem to think it’s acceptable to say everything from “oh sh-t” over not knowing an answer to “I’m pretty damn good at-” whatever subject we’re talking about.

In my line of work, the more casually the swear words slide off your tongue in front of me, the more horrified I become at the prospect of setting you up with a client. I used to do tutor matching. I have talked to irate customers whose tutor did or said something inappropriate. If you curse in front of me, I am going to assume you’ll slip up in front of them and that won’t be the MAIN reason I don’t put you through but the professionalism concern is going to lose you enough points that nothing else is going to save you.

Eating: Have you ever listened to someone eating something moist and chewy through iPhone earbuds while taking smacking pauses and then attempting to talk through and around whatever’s in their mouth? No? Lucky you. It’s part of my job on a daily basis.

And no matter how many times I find myself in a phone interview with an eater, I’ve never found myself not contemplating a murder.

It’s not even just the phone interviews, either. I’ve had people wrestle open a bag of Cheetos on screen and dig in. I see people drinking everything from water, to soda, to coffee, to beer and wine in the face to face interview. On what planet is that okay??

As a child I was taught not to eat in front of people. I was also taught to chew with my mouth closed and not talk with my mouth full. Most of the people who eat on their interviews with me do ALL THREE AT ONCE. Part of it peeves me because it’s annoying, another because it’s rude, and third because I cannot eat during interviews.

I will get in trouble if I’m caught eating or if my coffee cup is in frame on an interview. If a phone interview is recorded and I’m eating I would get written up so fast my head would spin. I’m literally trapped at my desk for most of the day unable to eat or drink outside of assigned break periods and these people can’t even suck it up for 15 minutes per phone screen or 50 minutes for an online interview. It bothers me to my core.

If you’re eating when you speak to me, unless you are God’s gift to tutoring from an Ivy League university with test prep experience and a teaching certificate your application is getting flagged as unprofessional and I will not put you through.

DON’T DO IT.

And we’re going to nip this one here and call it Part 1 because there are more things to not do in and interview, but we’re not even halfway through and I’m all agitated! So enjoy, don’t do this to your interviewers, and I’ll see you next time.

Begging for Thread

Stooped down and out  you’ve got me begging for thread to sew this hole up that you ripped in my head. -Banks

I’m in one of those rare low places where I can recognize that something is wrong, but I also have no way of getting myself out. I feel like I’m between several rocks and a hard place. I did not put myself here. I don’t like it. I’m about to lose my ish and all I’ve got is the reverberating refrain of “why?”

I realized this weekend that I haven’t been in a relationship in 3 years. The last official boyfriend I had was the abusive one and while I’ve dated and even got to the point where I seemed to be in a relationship it occurred to me that it never really got to that point and I’ve been single for over 3 years, now.

Which didn’t weird me out until I started talking to this guy who is crazy serious about being interested in me. He’s great. We like the same things, are from the same place, our families know each other… because his dad taught my history class in high school and I was on the swim team with his sister. We also were on opposite ends of a double date once in college. Suddenly he’s all over me and we have a date on Saturday because I like him and we’d work well together except for the whole thing is really weird and outside of rationally knowing we’d make a good couple, I feel nothing for him. So I’m worrying about being a terrible person for not outright shutting him down, but also worrying he might be the one for me, but also worrying that that’s settling because there’s a lot of things about him that make me say “nooooooo.” I’m also worrying because one of those things is that he looks like his dad and sister which is weird for me but feeling that way makes me feel shallow.

I am mentally climbing the walls with anxiety over all that already.

On the other hand I have this stupid crush on a man who  I see on a regular basis, who hugs me and tells me I look lovely and trips over his words as he flirts with me while turning the loveliest shade of pink in the cheeks. He also exasperates the crap out of me because one day his arm feels so right around my shoulders, and he makes me shiver singing in my ear and telling me I’m “trouble” in the dark of the Blues room and the next he’s using Kay as a barrier between us and won’t meet my eyes or even say hello to me.

Now besides that, he may have a long distance girlfriend which is game over as far as I’m concerned. I’ve been cheated on myself and had enough men swept out from under me that I would never do that to another woman. And of course there’s the everpresent ex girlfriend who attends all the same blues events as the Viking and me and follows him around like a lost puppy but doesn’t approach him.

That ex girlfriend has become the biggest rock about to crush me, anxiety wise, for several reasons.

First off, I knew it was going to be a problem because she runs in the same circles as the Viking. She’s everywhere. If anything happened with the Viking and myself it would be under her scrutiny as well as the scrutiny of the rest of the blues/swing scene. And for some reason being an inexperienced dancer makes me feel like I wouldn’t measure up to anyone’s expectations because they’re all great. And his ex was a good dancer, and his current-maybe-long-distance-gf teaches at a swing school, so she’s a good dancer too.  So there’s that.

Then there’s the fact that I thought the ex was walking around with a lost puppy look this whole time, and it’s been confirmed. A friend went on a blues-themed cruise and made her acquaintance and is just SO goddamned enthusiastic about her as a person that when she spilled the circumstances of her breakup with the Viking, I was told I should get out while I can.It was a normal breakup by all accounts. Not great, but definitely nothing that makes him a bad person.He said he wanted to work on himself and didn’t need to be in a relationship right now. Broke it off. Then started dating someone in Canada. She’s upset that he didn’t come right back to her (and on Friday I witnessed her flip off his car as it pulled away and say she was going to go off and stew) and is clearly not over the whole thing though it’s been over a year.

NOW. Here are the points that are eating me alive:

I have it confirmed. The ex is not over it and what’s worse, after this weekend it’s been demonstrated that she’s okay being really immature about not being over it in public. That spells out drama if anything went anywhere with the Viking.

In getting the story out of Brunhilda (what, it sounds like something you’d call a Viking ex, WHAT?) my friend spilled the beans that the Viking was flirting with one of HER friends and revealed that I have a crush on him as well. A SELECT amount of friends fall in the category of my friend’s friends and people the Viking spends excessive time with. If we were to draw a Venn Diagram it would something like this: Me, Kay, and a couple men who wouldn’t count because it was revealed that the crushing party was a “she” so THAT’S F___ING IT!!! Now Brunhilda doesn’t strike me as the sharpest tool in the shed, but she’s not completely daft and the MINUTE she puts things together it’s going to be ugly. This is now a ticking time bomb.

My friend likes Brunhilda. She cannot say enough good things about her. It’s making it really awkward to talk about him, now. So in my overly worried brain I feel replaced. I feel like MY friend has taken this partial stranger’s side over mine because they have a similar romantic history. That’s not how things are supposed to go. You’re supposed to be objective but supportive of your friend’s paramours. I feel like I can’t say anything about Brunhilda now, because she’s my friend’s friend. I can’t talk about the Viking because he dumped my friend’s friend.

To make matters worse, this weekend my friend pulled Brunhilda over to introduce her to each. Person. In. Our. Group. So now the clock on my time bomb has sped up AND I have to be cordial to someone I’ve been actively avoiding and could have continued avoiding had not formal introductions been made. NOW she comes over to our group to talk and each time she does my heart jumps out of its chest and I panic over whether I’m acting natural or not. I also feel really fake and terrible as a person when I’m trying to act normal around her. The thing I liked about the blues scene was that I didn’t have to fake my personality. Now I have to put on a face to deal with people. I have to be looking over my shoulder at all times making sure I’m not being too obvious with the Viking, or too talkative around the ex.  Worse, when Brunhilda’s around, the Viking avoids me/our group and outside of the fact that I have a crush on him, he’s funny and a good dancer and I enjoy talking and dancing with him. I wouldn’t have been friends with this girl otherwise, I was already his friend. Being friends with her is interfering with the friendship I was building. I feel like I had an absolute TON of choices made FOR me by other people and I don’t like it.

 

Outside of everything else my abusive ex is trying his hardest to get in contact with me and I want no part of it.

I also haven’t been seeing my family enough and feel like an awful daughter/sister.

I also haven’t been eating or sleeping well so my mood, skin, and weight are out of control.

 

All in all I feel like I’m losing what was left of my mind. I am completely out of control and I don’t know what to do. I wish the answer would just fall into my lap but that’s not how life works. So I’m writing, and playing music, and hoping I can muddle through all of this and come out okay.

THIS is how I’ve been single for 3 years.

No one stays for this.