three things: 1/22/17

FEED: I’ll be feeding for a week off the energy from the Women’s March. The organizers in Austin were expecting 22,000 people but there were between 50,000 and 60,000. I marched with my dear friend Deb and my wonderful daughter Katie, who was able to come after all thanks to her husband’s work schedule. We were near the front of the [alleged] starting point, but there were so many people already on Congress Avenue, in front of the capitol, that it was almost an hour before we started moving.

That’s the Texas state capitol (it’s a replica of the US capitol, but in pink granite). Deb and Katie and I were at the bottom of that paired row of trees on the front lawn, waiting to march down…..
Congress Avenue, the broad street that is the center of downtown, going from the capitol, over the river, into south Austin. It was extraordinary, no kidding.

People like to say that Austin is a big city, but it isn’t, really. Chicago, LA, NY, Boston, those are big cities. Austin is a large town with a WHOLE LOT of people in it. So this was amazing. People came in buses from all around the state, they drove in this morning, just to march here, in front of our regressive state government. It was peaceful. Beautiful. I wanted to hug every single person I saw.

Katie and I, waiting for the march to get started, about an hour before it was to begin. Marnie marched in Chicago, and Marc marched in NYC. Our family represented!

SEED: I’ll tell you this: trolls have zero sense of irony. Yesterday a nasty little troll who lives near Roswell, Georgia left an anonymous comment on my blog that said this:

why don’t you and your radical friends move to Russia!!!!! (subject line: “sick of your bs”)

HAHAHAHAHA! Gosh. Where even to begin. I think it’s a safe bet that this troll is a Trumpeter. Right? That she (for I have figured out who she is) voted for Putin’s puppet. What is it about people like this that always makes them tell us to move to Russia, anyway? Also: trolls love exclamation points. !!!!!

And these extra “patriotic” trolls have their little feelings hurt so badly when an American exercises her First Amendment rights. Choose-your-own-patriotism, I guess.

Also, if you are “sick of [my] bs” I have a simple little fix for you: don’t read it! No one is forcing you. Please, feel free to never read my blog again, I’m serious! Do me and yourself a favor, please. Because I’m not going to be silent so you can be comfortable (and especially not on my own damn blog! Sheesh!).

This is something I really do not understand. I know a couple of people who voted for Trump, and I never bring up politics with them. Never. (Similarly, I never comment on (or read) their political FB posts, ever, but they will slap a comment on mine, what??) Because there is no point, the abyss is too deep. I never bring up politics, and if a conversation by others starts drifting in that direction, I do my best to shift it into a safer zone. But they inevitably bring up politics with me, and you can tell that I have opinions, dammit. (And not only that, I’m super angry about this, which they also know from previous times they’ve brought up politics. What is that about?) So if they do, I don’t hold back. I say exactly what I think, and I’m not delicate about it. They brought up the conversation, and they know my position. I get very upset and shaky inside, because one friend especially I care about so much, I love her dearly, and I don’t want to unleash my anger at her, but I am angry. So it’s completely unpleasant for me, I don’t like it, I don’t wish to talk about it, but THEY BRING IT UP. Again and again. One has said things to me like, “Don’t you agree, liberals don’t think for themselves?” WITH FOX NEWS BLARING IN THE BACKGROUND.

Oh, I’m angry. I’m so angry. It’s not pleasant to have these intense feelings, and I am trying to figure out why my fury is this huge. I really hate unfairness, especially when people who have power wield it over those who don’t — that’s something that always makes me see red. So maybe it’s that, I don’t know, but I’d like to get a handle on it so I don’t stroke out, because I have a lot of political work to do.

Trolls? If you don’t like what I write here, on my own tiny little corner of the Internet, just leave me alone. Please.

READ: So I finished reading A Man Called Ove, which took me so long because I’ve been on a great run of sleeping. Here’s my GoodReads review, in case you’re interested in reading the book:

A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I was deciding whether to read this book, I noticed that the most common word in all the Amazon and GoodReads reviews was “charming.” And honestly, I couldn’t write a review without that word either! It’s not just that the man called Ove was curmudgeonly charming, it’s that the approach of the book was charming, too. From the funny chapter titles to the way the story is fed out, to the glorious characters, to Ove’s endless stumbling blocks to joining Sonja, every last bit was charming. The general plot was a bit predictable — exuberant new neighbor saves sad old curmudgeon who finds no use for life until she explodes into his life — but honestly? That didn’t matter. I didn’t care. I didn’t care that I spotted the plot arc the moment they met. I didn’t care that the various subplots were predictable. In large part that’s because of the good storytelling, the lovely writing, and the moments of big truth, and in the remaining part it’s because I really cared about Ove, a lot. Really good book, I enjoyed reading it a lot, and always regretted that my time to read is too brief. [View all my reviews]

Now I’m reading another Scandinavian book (Ove was Swedish, this one’s Norwegian) one called Land of Hidden Fires, which I am reading for NetGalley. More on that later. New book club in the house tonight, to discuss Underground Railroad oh heck yeah.

here we go.

And so it begins. I have not been able to say the three words one says on the first day of the year—the ones that begin with ‘happy.’ I do not see the possibility this year, even though of course I know I will have my own personal, private moments. Inevitably, they will involve my family, my friends, my pleasures in books and movies, good food, poetry, and travel. And they will exist in the context of our horrorshow government which, well, I can’t even find words. All the ones I can think of are too ordinary.

I ended 2016 with this poem, which I think also gives me a way into 2017:

In a dark place
in a dark time

start with black.
Stop. Soak up its energy.

Remember the circle
however bent and broken.

Prize balance. Seek Pleasure.
Allow surprise. Let music

guide your every impulse.
Support those who falter.

Steer by our fixed star:
No Justice, No Peace.

Jim Haba, 2016

Excerpt from “French Window at Collioure,” 1914, by Henri Matisse. Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris. (Image: Wikipedia)

I am certainly in a dark place, my own deep depression and my bone-clenching fear about the incoming government, and as my dear sister Peggy suggested in a long conversation about depression, one step is “Be OK with it.” As Haba echoed, “Start with black. Stop. Soak up its energy.” Only when we stop and give ourselves over to fully taking in this darkness can we begin to gauge its scope and scale, he said.

But then unfolds the rest, right? Prize balance — and so I need to find that, and I’ll find it on my yoga mat to start, and I’ll figure out how to balance activism and life. I’ll need to seek pleasure, which means allowing the cracks to let some light in, because right now I’m too flat to feel any of it. Anhedonia, donchaknow. That poem is a flashlight in the dark, the guiding star I needed (among the rest, including friends who reach out in all the ways thankyousomuch), and perhaps, if I’m lucky enough, it will deliver me to this beautiful place shared by my friend Jacqueline:

To dance so hard my heart will learn to float above water again. It doesn’t feel possible right now, but it’s a goal. I have a feeling this year is going to be characterized by all the extremes. I will be marching, and shouting, and protesting. I will be crying, and raging. I will not be nice. (That one will be good for me.) I will be angry. I am angry.

This year I don’t have a ‘word’ for the year. I don’t have resolutions (except one: RESIST). I don’t even really have goals beyond surviving it and fighting back. In January I’ll protest on inauguration day, and I will march next to my friends Cindy and Don Ray in the Women’s March the day after, wearing our pink hats. I’ll attend rallies and organizing meetings. And to help myself survive, I’ll see Katie and her kids, and (we hope) Marnie and Ilan, and I’ll spend time with friends. I’ll make myself good food, and listen to music and try to make my feet dance — and as my beautiful friend Judi dreamed, I’ll hugdance whenever possible.

I just choke on the words, so I won’t wish a happy…but I will wish a powerful year, a productive year, a committed year, a meaningful year, and if you aren’t in this country and having to fight, as we are, those wishes apply to whatever you’re facing or embracing.

Let’s get going.

(p.s. I love you.)

 

aftershocks

I can’t speak for everyone who did not want the orange monster to win our presidential election, but I can report about thousands of people. There are a number of huge groups that organized during the campaign, to provide a safe place for us to talk about our support for Hillary (or simply our fears about the orange monster) without fear of being attacked by the trolls. In honor of Hillary’s clothing choices on the campaign trail, the groups are called Pantsuit Nation. There is a national group, and state groups, and city groups. I belong to them all, and for both states and cities I live in. It’s a LOT. During the campaign, it was a haven, a wonderful place to share and support each other so we could get back out there and have the tougher skin to endure the nastiness and vicious threats.

But then. Then last Tuesday happened, and the groups became places to share our horror, our very real pain, the trauma that many of us are feeling. Those of us who have experienced sexual assaults, those of us who are women, those of us who are black or brown, or gay or trans, or who are (or even just “look”) Muslim, we’re all shaking. It’s not really getting better. We cycle through waves of numbness; days we can’t get out of bed; days we are afraid to leave the house because while we are white, our children are brown and we are scared for them; days of rage; days of feeling like we have to start fighting…but it’s everything, where do we start; days of feeling so hurt by the ‘winners’ who gloat and tell us to stop our whining; moments of real fear when the orange monster threatens people who protest. It’s really horrible. I personally know two people who have been attacked since the election — one very specifically in the name of the orange monster, but the other was clearly within the context.

Yesterday I attended a meeting of people from the Austin Pantsuit Nation, a huge crowd of people who are mobilizing to fight back, and to fight hard. We are mounting an opposition candidate to Ted Cruz in the next election. We are working on redistricting, and education (which is particularly terrible in Texas; as the biggest state in terms of textbook purchases, Texas has the most influence over what goes in our country’s textbooks and it’s creationism that goes in and evolution that goes out; it’s a rewriting of history to favor white people and denigrate black people and Mexicans); we are working on the various social justice concerns. We are organizing and it feels a little bit better than crying in my bed. And last night I marched in a protest through downtown Austin, thrilling to be in a crowd of people shouting and welcoming others to walk with us. It definitely feels better to act, but then I come home and wonder if the act was just a moment’s balm and nothing more.

But there have been some remarkable moments, too. Lots of friends on Facebook did not feel comfortable expressing their politics, for many reasons. But in this group, they can come out — the groups are secret, so whatever we share there does not show up anywhere else. I’ve learned that so many people I wondered about are actually as opposed to the orange monster as I am, so the circles around me are growing and I feel less alone. I’ve met so many people in those groups who really help me feel like no matter what the outcome, we are definitely going to be fighting loud and hard, and if we fail it won’t be because we didn’t try.

Mrs Worley
Mrs Worley

And then I was contacted by a woman with the last name of my third grade teacher, who I especially loved. In 1966, Mrs. Worley made me feel OK, and even special. Some of the kids were bullying me one day, and she put her arms around me and made the class apologize to me, one at a time, because those who weren’t bullying me had witnessed it and not stood up for me. She talked to the class a long time about it and I felt cared for, seen, and supported — and I’ve remembered her all these years. I also loved her classroom; she let me read whatever I wanted, and since I was so ahead of the class, she arranged for me to go to the principal’s office after school every day and read with him and talk about the things I was interested in. We didn’t have gifted programs back then, but she did what she could for me. I still remember talking to him about salamanders, for some reason. My life was pretty hellish, but going to school, seeing Mrs. Worley (who I thought was beautiful; I’ve since learned that she was a very well-regarded art teacher, winning art education awards again and again), and just getting to learn things from her was my beautiful escape. I asked the woman who contacted me if she had a relative who taught elementary school at Lucy B Read, and she said it was her mother, who died this past April. When I moved back to Austin in 2012, I actually looked for Mrs. Worley, but I didn’t remember her first name, so while I was sorry to hear that she’d died, it was so wonderful getting to tell her daughter what I would’ve told her — that a 58-year-old woman remembers her still, and has been grateful for her for 50 years.

And so things move the way they move. The world falls apart, we cling to each other, we find strength in each other, and in some ways that’s a lot and in others we don’t win despite all this. My own mood swings from despair and fear into quick glances of strength and action and then back again. I can’t turn the television on except to watch Netflix, for fear of having to see the monster’s face or hear his voice, but that’s OK.

Tomorrow I leave for NY, and a couple of days after that we’re off to Southeast Asia again. I hope I am able to relax, there, and enjoy being in the places I love so much. I hope I am able to recover my creative mind a bit. I hope we all survive.

I just like to share!

Through the terrible stress of this everlasting nightmare of our presidential election, I have relied on a number of ways of coping — some have been good, and some have NOT been so good. And I’ve been inconsistent in using the good ones, perhaps because the benefit isn’t immediate and my stress is begging for immediate relief (even though they help me more, and without causing trouble). Yoga, walking, cooking beautiful and healthy food, meditation, those have flickered in and out of use.

My less-good ways of coping have filled me with junk. Other stresses. And even though I know this, going in — as I eat another donut, or another BLOCK O’ CHEESE — I often feel completely unable to stop myself. In New York especially, since Marc keeps a fridge just about as opposite mine as possible, and since he makes things for me like gravlax, my stress eating is less good for me than when I’m in Austin. After I inhale a pound of cheese, let’s say, I feel very crappy (to say the least, and I’m trying to say the least, here).

Another way I’ve been dealing with this stress has been a constant consuming of social media. I am on Facebook non-stop, and while I am reading and responding to posts that present the same political position I share, and that help me feel less alone, it also keeps me stirred up. But it’s become a compulsion, an impossible-to-resist response to stress.

It’s also true that when I’m here in Austin, I sit alone in my house day in and day out. I will have a little social activity here or there, but I sit in silence all day and night, and without anyone else to interact with at all. And I like that! It’s not that I don’t like that. I really do, especially in the days after I’ve been in New York and feel overwhelmed by people and noise and non-stop interruptions. The silence and solitude are wonderful! AND again and again I’ll think about something, or read something, or see something, and turn to share it with…… ah, no one. There’s no one here. No one to say, “Hey, listen to this!” to. And so that’s another reason I hop onto Facebook. Wow, look at this. Hey, you won’t believe this! Ah, read this beautiful thing. Look. Listen. Read. Wow.

I’ve missed my blog. My absence from it has been due to a lot of reasons; I’m doing other writing, long-form writing, and trying to spend my time in that manuscript, and otherwise I’ve been kind of blanked-out with stress and fear. It occurred to me that I could help myself with two of these things in one fell swoop: Instead of machine gunning Facebook, I can collect the things I want to share with someone and put them in a post here. That will have the benefit of making them easier for me to find again, too. Aside from political stuff (which I will not share here because I just really need to avoid it all completely for my own sanity), the stuff I share will fall into the ordinary categories of things I share on Facebook: book recommendations, interesting articles, poetry, images, family stuff.

And so, here goes:

  • Do you know Hélène Cixous? I hadn’t heard of her until I read a quote about her by Lidia Yuknavitch, so I looked her up and now I must MUST read her. This quote seems especially relevant in the United States as we are teetering on the brink of living under a Christian Taliban: “But I am just a woman who thinks her duty is not to forget. And this duty, which I believe I must fulfill, is: “as a woman” living now I must repeat again and again “I am a woman,” because we exist in an epoch still so ancient and ignorant and slow that there is still always the danger of gynocide.” ― Hélène Cixous, The Book of Promethea
lidia
read Lidia.
  • The quote from Lidia Yuknavitch that sent me to Hélène Cixous was from The Chronology of Water, which I highly recommend: “With Hélène Cixous you must close your eyes and open your mouth. Wider. So open your throat opens. Your esophagus. Your lungs. Wider. So open your spine unclatters. Your hips swim loose. Your womb worlds itself. Wider. Open the well of your sex. Now speak your body from your other mouth. Yell corporeal prayer. This is writing.” WOW.
  • Have you ever read May Sarton? I’ve always wanted to and somehow never have, yet, but yesterday Sherlock sent Peggy and me this BrainPickings post about May Sarton and the use of anger in creativity. That’s a thing you hear, right? “Turn your anger towards your work.” Transform that energy into creation. I need to carefully read that piece and think about it, because I hope it has something for me. I am swamped by the experience of anger, overwhelmed by it, and often paralyzed by it. So when I feel it, I become scared that I’ll explode, that I’ll express it awfully, and often I do, and it’s just tough, and especially tough for women. I once asked members of my book club to write about a time they were angry (we were tentatively trying these writing sessions), and one member became absolutely enraged at my suggestion, saying she doesn’t get angry because it’s not useful. The time didn’t seem right to point out just how angry she was. 🙂 But I am in desperate need of learning how to manage anger! It’s my oldest lesson I have yet to learn, so I’m hoping the BrainPickings post and then reading some Sarton will help. Any words you might have on either Sarton or anger will be appreciated.
  • The idea of living in Australia or New Zealand has become kind of irresistible; a thread developed on a Facebook post by a friend who originally shared this video:

[embedplusvideo height=”450″ width=”640″ editlink=”http://bit.ly/2f42PPI” standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/9v97xH6Bof0?fs=1″ vars=”ytid=9v97xH6Bof0&width=640&height=450&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=0&chapters=&notes=” id=”ep7574″ /]

[First…I mean, RIGHT????] One friend responded to the video by asking me what it’s like to live here right now, and in the ensuing conversation, I got invitations to move to all the major cities of Australia, with explanations of their great aspects, and a bunch of bids for life in NZ, which is not just gorgeous but is also lacking in snakes. 🙂 They were just so adorable, every last one, and every time I woke up during the night, mid-Trump-panic, reading that thread made me grin so hard.

  • Today’s poem: Carpe Diem, by Jim Harrison:

Night and day
seize the day, also the night —
a handful of water to grasp.
The moon shines off the mountain
snow where grizzlies look for a place
for the winter’s sleep and birth.
I just ate the year’s last tomato
in the year’s fatal whirl.
This is mid-October, apple time.
I picked them for years.
One Mcintosh yielded sixty bushels.
It was the birth of love that year.
Sometimes we live without noticing it.
Overtrying makes it harder.
I fell down through the tree grabbing
branches to slow the fall, got the afternoon off.
We drove her aqua Ford convertible into the country
with a sack of red apples. It was a perfect
day with her sun-brown legs and we threw ourselves
into the future together seizing the day.
Fifty years later we hold each other looking
out the windows at birds, making dinner,
a life to live day after day, a life of
dogs and children and the far wide country
out by rivers, rumpled by mountains.
So far the days keep coming.
Seize the day gently as if you loved her.

Happy Saturday, y’all! It’s going to be a great one for me — birthday lunch with a friend, and the lit crawl tonight with poetry group friends. Also: It’s my BIRTHDAY EVE YO! xoxoxoxo

TODAY"S PHOTO: Marnie is in Seattle to exhibit her new book, and she sent me this picture, note the caption. :)
TODAY”S PHOTO: Marnie is in Seattle to exhibit her new book, and she sent me this picture, note the caption. 🙂

friendship

First, a Broadway interlude:

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If you ever need a pal, I’m your gal
If you ever feel so happy you land in jail, I’m your bail.

See, that’s it right there: Friends during trouble, and friends during happy. (OK, I see that it’s “so happy you land in jail” but still….) There’s a word for friends who are just there for the happy stuff — fair weather friends — but is there a word for friends who don’t like it when you’re happy? I guess a fair argument could be made that they’re not friends. Duh.

envyI no longer have one of these friends. After the last five months of hell I have lived through, she told me last week that she decided I am a bad influence on her because . . . well, as best I can tell because I have made friends, and because I am happy. I am a bad influence for her, but she said she decided to let it go. (But not until she told me all about it, I guess.) A year ago, more or less, she told me that she and a mutual friend deal with my happiness by reminding themselves of the times I’ve been miserable. I didn’t get that one, either, but somehow this most recent one was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I never knew anyone who had such trouble with someone else being happy, it’s the most mysterious thing to me.

And what the hell, yo? It’s not like my life is just a never-ending bliss fest and that happiness and joy rain down on me unfairly. It’s not like I win the lottery over and over and give someone else a chance, jeez. It’s not like I only go on and on about good things and keep the trouble secret, to give the illusion that my life is a dream. It’s not like any of those things. It’s more like I talk about the trouble when I’m having trouble, and try hard to find space for the happiness. It’s more like I talk about the happiness when I have it, and keep in mind the preciousness of it because it’s not permanent. It’s more like I want to share your happiness no matter what; when my life is down in the dark hole, it keeps me going knowing that good things are happening to people I care about. Because one of these days they’ll happen for me again, too. There is still good out there. And I love you and am glad when good things happen to you, I am so glad when you are happy and doing well. Because I love you.

I’m so far from being a perfect friend it isn’t even funny. I will not be calling you on the phone, period. I’m sorry, it’s just the way it is. I don’t like the phone, it makes me anxious and queasy, and it’s not just you but I will not be calling. I’m increasingly OK with talking on the phone, I’m pressing myself on that front, but I’m still impossibly bad about picking up the phone to call you. I just assume you’re busy. Also, I’m skittish and have a too-quick tendency to run (while simultaneously having a ridiculous tendency to endure crap long after I should leave, how does that work together). At irregular intervals, I’ll start to get really down in the dumps and I’ll go dark, I’ll pull back and kind of disappear into myself. I’ll be back, I definitely will, but that happens. See, such an imperfect friend I am.

I take no credit for it at all, it’s just part of the software that I came with, but I am not envious of my friends. I don’t feel jealous of them. I feel those things regularly, just not about my friends. I honestly don’t understand jealousy and envy of friends, though I understand it very well otherwise. But these are my people! I love them! I want good things for them, so when good things happen, doesn’t that make me glad? Shouldn’t it? It’s just kind of mysterious to me, I don’t get it. But this former friend is very very different from me in this regard, so while I shouldn’t continue to be surprised by it, somehow it still knocked me off my feet for a second. Really? Seriously? I’m a bad influence because I am happy? How does that work, yo?

One of my ongoing things to learn is how to say this, and no more. There’s the line right there, and it has been crossed. Instead, I just keep moving the line, ok then here. OK, here. All right, once more. Rats, OK, the line is here now. It’s always dangerous to say “but I finally got it” because all you need is to fail another trial, but I think this time, with this former friend at least, I got it. Finally, I got it.

For today, go be a really good friend to someone. Just because, tell a friend what she means to you. For no reason, check in and tell her she’s pretty damn great. If she’s struggling, surprise her in some way, even a tiny little touch. If she’s happy, tell her how glad you are that she’s happy. Be a good friend. I’m going to do that today, and just keep looking forward instead of back. Much better, yeah. And if you know anyone who resents your happiness, let them go. Life is too short and you should cling to and cherish every little bit of happiness you can find, and allow people into your life who want that for you too.

And here, courtesy of Marnie, is a little bit of fierce:

BOYS.

NOLately, I’ve asked every decent man I know, “What is it with boys??!” I’ll come back to an answer one gave me in a minute, after I explain my question.

So I am thoroughly heartbroken by the end of my marriage. I love my husband, still. I have less than no interest in men; as I’ve said elsewhere, I have so little interest in dating I somehow owe something to the “interest in dating” pot just to bring me up to neutral. No. Interest. Period. Not now, and not ever. (People always smile a little and shake their heads and say, you will, just give it time. Nope. I know things about myself that no one else does, obviously, and I know how much and why I mean this. You’ll just have to take my word for it.) But aside from my true lack of interest [period], I’m also still married, and will be until sometime early next year. The state of NY requires a formal separation period of one year before divorce can be initiated. So I am married, and it’s just shy of 4 months from that cataclysm. The cataclysm that still shakes my heart and can lay me low at times.

Because I’m new to town, and because I work alone, I joined some meetup groups to get myself out of my house, and to try to find a couple of female friends. Once I find a couple of friends, I will be entirely resigning from all the groups, because my goal wasn’t to become a professional meet-upper but just to find a couple of women friends. I belong to a bunch of women-only groups, primarily because I’m looking for female friends, but I also belong to a bunch of interest groups that are open to men and women. Because there are women there, that’s why I joined. I am explicit and clear with all men who talk to me: I am not here for dating. I am not interested in dating. I do not want to date. I am seeking friends only. I am not now and will not be looking for someone to date. I’ve even put that in my profile for the various groups. I just don’t know how to be more clear about this, except to perhaps wear a sandwich board sign. Maybe I’ll have to do that. When I first started going to the events I didn’t think I needed to say that until and unless it became an issue. I have learned it has to be the very first thing I say to them.

Despite being so clear — and despite the fact that one man in particular even repeated it back to me, oh, you’re really not wanting to date, I really understand and I’m not looking for that either, you just want to find friends, I get that — they push themselves on me in overtly sexual ways. One tried to kiss me (the one who repeated it back to me). One tried to hold my hand. And don’t get me started on their 13-year-old conversation; I don’t think there is anything you could say that they couldn’t and wouldn’t turn around into a sexual innuendo accompanied by a leer. The kitchen sink, they’d find a way. Fire ants, somehow they’d twist it around. And these are men in their 60s! Educated men, master’s at least. Men from all parts of the country, some from other countries, Europe mostly. It is appalling. I do not want to hate men, I do not want to have to walk away from all of them, I do not want to have to sequester myself in female-only communities, but they are making me seriously consider it.

So this morning I asked a very dear friend, a man in his 80s who considers himself my good Jewish father, what is it with boys. I told him about the man who tried to kiss me. He is very happily married, his grandchildren are young adults, he has a PhD, he’s a very serious person, and his answer to my question was, “well, you are so kissable.”

I’ve quit smiling at them. I’ve become cold and hard when they speak to me. I keep my arms crossed. I tend to every single bit of body language possible, in addition to saying so clearly that I am not interested. I know it’s possible to be friends with men; one of my dearest friends in New York was Craig, and we were close and the line was never even approached, much less crossed. And one of my oldest friends is Sherlock; I love him dearly and would do anything for him, and I know he’d do the same for me (hell, he already showed that). And we are friends, no line approaching worries — not least because I love his wife every bit as much — and it was true even before he married her. He is my friend. Craig is my friend. We are just friends. It is possible to be friends with a man, I know that. Maybe the issue here and now is that people are in meetups for a reason; most are single (though there are plenty of married couples). There are “looking for dating” meetups, but these are not that kind, I do not join those. Still, they’re mostly single people, probably 80%.

The thing that makes me so incredibly angry is their utter disrespect of me as a person. If I gave mixed signals, if I were flirtatious, if I simply didn’t state my intentions, OK, ok. I just don’t know what’s in their heads. I wonder if it’s, “oh, she doesn’t mean that, she just doesn’t know me.” It’s the same attitude that goes a little further to date rape. I am saying no. I am saying NO. NO. NO. I even made a scene once. I’m trying to be able to slap the next man who treats me like that, I just have to remember in time, react in time. They are helping me by making it predictable and common, so I’ll surely get experience preparing myself.

And thus endeth my vent, made partly in preparation for going to a St Pat’s party where I imagine this will come up at least once.