From Tracie

Monday, May 18, 2015

I Am... {Old School Blogging}

I am transitioning.
I wonder what the next step is.
I hear Bearcat. Every day.
I see words. Beautiful words. Everywhere.
I want more.


I am alive.
I pretend all the time.
I feel deeply.
I touch the keyboard all day long.
I worry way too much.
I cry when I'm frustrated, when I'm happy, when it's Tuesday afternoon.

white flowers

I am growing.
I understand everything. I understand nothing. I'm sure I fall somewhere in the middle.
I say "I love you." (Even though the autocorrect on my phone ALWAYS tries to change it to "I lube you.")
I dream lucid dreams at night.
I try my best.
I hope for good things to come my way and yours.
I am not alone.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Louis C.K.'s SNL Monologue Compares Child Molestation To Eating Candy Bars

I know something big happened on tv when I wake up to 58 emails that have Saturday Night Live and child molestation in the subject line. Louis C.K. hosted SNL last night, kicking the show off with a controversial monologue.

Louis C.K.'s monologue started with the observation that he grew up in the 1970's and that theme carried through each topic on which he touched. He continued with observations of how he has mild racism, progressed into comparing the Middle East to his fighting children, and ended with comments about child molesters and candy bars.....
"In the 70's there was a child molester who lived in my home town. And it wasn't a big deal, it wasn't like, 'We caught a child molester!' It was just like, 'Yeah, that's the house where the child molester lives. Hey kids, don't be stupid, or you will get molested. Just stay away from the child molester house. I know because he did something to me when I was your age, so just stay away from the child molester house.
We really did. We had a town child molester. His name was Jean Baptist. This is a true story. He liked teenaged boys. That was when you would find out, because, I was a teenaged boy. He didn't like me. I felt a little bad.
He would drive up next to teenaged boys and say, 'Hello would you like to go to McDonalds?'.....I had one friend who used to get in the car. He would be like, 'Sure, I'll go,' and he would get in the car. He would go to McDonalds and eat a burger, and then he'd say, 'See ya!' and just take off. And Jean Baptist was like 'Doh. I did not get to have sex with that child. Foiled again!' but he would always try. 'Maybe this time!'
Because child molesters are very tenacious people. They love molesting childs. It's like their favorite thing. I mean, it's so crazy, because when you consider the risk in being a child molester (speaking not of even the damage you are doing, but the risk), there is no worse life available to a human than being a caught child molester. And yet they still do it! Which from, you can only really surmise, that it must be really good. I mean, from their point of view. From their, not ours, but from their point of view. It must be amazing for them to risk so much. (How do you think I feel, this is my last show probably.) 
Because, look I can't key into it, because I love Mounds bars. I love Mounds bars, it's my favorite thing, right? But there's a limit. I mean, I can't even eat a Mounds bar and do something else at the same time. That's how much I love them. Like, if I'm eating a Mounds bar, I can't even read the paper. I just have to sit there with it in my mouth and go, 'Why is this so good? I love this so much,' because they are delicious. 
And yet, if someone said to me, 'If you eat another Mounds bar you will go to jail and everyone will hate you,' I would stop eating them. Because they do taste delicious, but they don't taste as good as a young boy does, and shouldn't, to a child molester. Not to me. Not to us, because we're all awesome."
There were some loud groans (prompting that aside about this probably being his last show), but many more loud laughs in response to this monologue. You can see the monologue in it's entirely here.

Louis C.K.'s monologue on SNL compared child molestation to eating candy bars.

Child Molestation Is NOT Funny

First, and most importantly, let me tell you this: Child molestation is not funny, just like rape is not funny. To remind you of how serious child molestation is, I encourage you to always replace the words "child molestation" with "sexual assault of a child" when you hear or read them. Do not let the less shocking term "molestation" lull you. There are no forms of sexual assault about which you should be making jokes.

What did Louis C.K. Say About Child Sexual Assault On SNL?

Now let's look closely at what exactly Louis C.K. said last night on SNL.
"Yeah, that's the house where the child molester lives. Hey kids, don't be stupid, or you will get molested."
If this was a representation of how things have changed since the 70's, well, they haven't. Not that much. I don't disagree that this victim blaming was rampant then - placing the onus on the child to stay away from the child molester, to not be "stupid" and get sexually assaulted. Not much has changed in 2015. And while we might make a bigger deal about people who sexually assault children now, while there may be stronger sentencing (not strong enough), restrictions on how close a child molester can live to a school, and registry lists, these things have not stopped 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys from being sexually assaulted before the age of 18.
"Just stay away from the child molester house."
If only it was this easy. The registry lists we have today provide many people with a false sense of security, creating much the same situation as Louis C.K. describes in his childhood. We can all easily look on the computer, and find exactly which houses contain a convicted child molester. And it is absolutely a parent's responsibility to keep their children away from those houses. But what we can't find on the registry list are the houses that contain a child molester who has not been convicted. And these houses, they are dangerous. They are prevalent. And they are visited by children every day.

This advice to stay away from "the child molester house" is great - unless that is your home. Your grandparents home. The home where your parents take you for family gatherings. The home of your babysitter. The home of your mom's best friend. The home of your scout leader. The home of the respected neighborhood doctor or lawyer. Not all child molesters are creepy guys riding around in a car trying to lure kids to McDonalds. In fact, that is the profile of very few child molesters in the 1970's or in 2015. Most people who sexually assault children are in a place of trust or power in a child's life. They are, at the least, usually someone the child knows. They very well could be neighbors, but often are the neighbors from whom no adults suspect nefarious behavior.

Kids aren't stupid. They do not want to be sexually assaulted. And in the real world, when it isn't a joke line designed to show how "even the child molester didn't find poor Louis sexually attractive when he was a teenager - poor teen Louis just couldn't catch a break, would he EVER get laid?" there are no children who are hoping someone will sexually asault them. There are children whose reality is being sexually assaulted every day, often by the very people who should be protecting them.

As for the kid who foiled the child molester, time and time again? That story just serves to further the mindset that children are responsible for the behavior of predators. Louis' friend was able to get all those free Big Macs without being molested. He probably even got a side of fries and a milkshake. Those other kids just weren't as smart at playing the game. Stupid molested kids. They were basically asking for it.

Molesting A Child Isn't Comparable To Eating A Candy Bar

Let's move on to the Mounds bar comparison. I've listened to the monologue several times, and I still don't have a clear understanding of what I am supposed to take away from this section. Should I feel sorry for these child molesters who are so very addicted to young boys that they just can't stop sexually assaulting them? Should I now understand a child molester's drive to continue sexually assaulting children? Should I step back and wonder how something that just feels so good could really be wrong? 

If Louis C.K. wants to approach child sexual assault as an addition, he will get no amens from me. While, yes, addiction can have far reaching consequences, and other people may be hurt by the addict and his actions, sexual assault is a crime that always hurts another human being. Period. There is no true comparison that can be made between addicts and child molesters.

I have no minutes of my life that are worth wasting on wondering how amazing the experience of raping a child must be, so I can finally understand why child molesters commit their crimes.

The same is true for rapists who sexually assault adults. Or serial killers who take great joy in not only murdering their victims, but also enjoy keeping their bodies close, or even eating them. Maybe dead humans taste really great like a Mounds bar. Hey, Louis C.K., shall we have a conversation about the taste of dead human flesh? Maybe we can help everyone understand it a little better, so we can further normalize murder and cannibalism the way society and the prevalent rape culture continually strive to normalize rape and child sexual assault and abuse?

Child Molesters Are Tenacious And Manipulative

Louis C.K. was right about one thing: child molesters are tenacious. Most child molesters groom their victims, often working slowly over a period of months or even years to set up the situation perfectly. They thrive on making children feel like it is their fault, and teaching the child that the child will be in trouble if anyone finds out what happened. When a child believes the molestation, the abuse, the sexual assault, is their fault, they will not tell anyone it is happening. 

THIS is why it matters that his monologue played up the idea that only stupid children get molested with the narrative children should just stay away from the child molester house unless they are smart enough to beat him at this own game and get a free burger.

The only thing he accomplished with this monologue is spreading the same, tired, rape apology, and reminding child sexual assault survivors that they deserved the abuse and rape because they were just too stupid to avoid it.

One last thing. Louis C.K. said,
"they [Mounds Bars] don't taste as good as a young boy does, and shouldn't, to a child molester. Not to me. Not to us, because we're all awesome."
Are we all awesome? The entire SNL audience? No. We are not, Louis C.K.

When you make jokes, rationalizations, and otherwise irresponsible comments about child molestation, or any form of sexual assault, you are not speaking to audiences who are all awesome. There are child molesters and rapists listening to your words. And even as you say young boys shouldn't taste good, you are being dismissive about what child molestation really is. Being a child molester is much worse than just not being awesome.

In this monologue, Louis C.K. set aside the very real damage to the victims and survivors of sexual assault. When you normalize child sexual assault and the predators who commit these crimes, you reinforce the believes of rapists that there is normalcy in their actions. Nothing about this monologue challenged rapists, child molesters, or rape culture. It was not a smart commentary on a difficult subject. It was just another joke about rape that wasn't funny.

Remember that this monologue was prepared in advance. Louis C.K. had time to think about what he was going to say, and most likely said it in front of other people during rehearsals. Since he specifically spoke about the rape of young boys in this SNL monologue, we can set aside the (incorrect) common belief that rape is just a women's issue. Unlike what Louis C.K. said in the wake of the Daniel Tosh rape joke situation, calling out inappropriate jokes about sexual assault (about the rape of an adult or a child) is not just women saying "This is how I feel and my feelings should be everyone's primary concern." And the conversation we have about his monologue does not have to place men and women on different sides, because jokes about sexual assault are everyone's concern. They send a seriously dangerous message out to the world, harming both women and men, boys and girls.

Rape is not funny. The end.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

This Is Why I Should Do All My Shopping Online

I've had issues with escalators ever since I was six years old and saw a little boy get stuck on one. It zoomed up up up as he screamed. I know escalators don't actually zoom, but they seem much faster when a three year old is caught and heading towards the top where it will suck him in.

The manager was finally able to turn it off just as his sleeve was turning the curve at the top of the second floor. He barely escaped being sucked in. Those are the kind of screams you never forget.

So. Escalators. They make me really nervous. I carefully avoided telling that story in front of Katarina when she was little, and I made myself ride on them so she wouldn't pick up my fear, but my feelings about escalators never really lessened.

I still feel nervous every time I step on one.


We went to the mall to look for a dress for Katarina to wear to a wedding. My mom and Lee had both sent links to cute dresses online, but I was determined to go to a store so she could try on dresses. How do you buy clothes without trying them on first?

At JC Penney, the escalator was broken. It's been broken the last few times we've been there, with yellow tape and construction signs all around. Seeing the inside of the escalator doesn't make me any less nervous about it.

I didn't really mind walking to the far off corner to use the elevator. Up and back down we went. They didn't have the right dress.

Next stop was Sears. Their escalator appeared to be broken. It wasn't moving, and everyone was just walking up it like normal stairs. I didn't love that idea, but at least it wasn't going to suck me in if it wasn't moving, right? Katarina skipped right up to the first step. Apparently it is an adventure to walk up an escalator.

We walked up, and then back down. The perfect dress was not to be found.

We made our way toward the Old Navy. Our Old Navy has a very steep escalator right in the middle of the store, and, of course, the kids section is upstairs. As we approached the escalator, I noticed two employees standing by the entrance talking.

"Excuse me," I said, preparing to squeeze by so I could get to the escalator, and then I realized it wasn't moving. Another broken escalator, I thought, taking a deep breath and preparing to step on the first step.

"Oh, you don't want to use the escalator. That's why we are standing here. See that guy up there? He's working on it - it could start moving at any second, and you could get hurt."

I looked up and saw a man pulling a panel off, and making adjustments.

"You can use the elevator. It's in the back."

I breathed a sigh of relief as we headed to the dark corner in the back of the store.

It only took a second after we pushed the button for the oversized doors to open. We stepped into the elevator. I ignored the grinding sound the elevator had made, and Katarina pressed the number 2.

As soon as the door closed, a voice spoke over the elevator speaker. "All clear? Is the elevator clear?"

"No!" I called out, looking wildly around to figure out where the speaker was to see if I needed to push a button so the voice would hear me, "It isn't clear! We are riding in it right now! There are people in this elevator!"

"Damn. Let me know when you reach the second floor, and then get out immediately when the doors open."

I've never left an elevator so fast in my life.

We looked at dresses. Used the water fountain. Looked at cute baby clothes. Walked around upstairs much longer than necessary. Stopped by the water fountain a second time. Finally I had to face it. There was nothing more to do in the Old Navy. Unless I was planning on camping out, we would need to go back down to the first floor.

I wasn't stepping foot back in that elevator, and neither was Katarina, so we headed toward the escalator. She assured me that the down escalator had been working earlier.

I stared at my foe. It was moving. Then I heard the workman call down the escalator on the up side, asking one of the employees standing below if they would like to test it out. Neither of them seemed very excited.

"Come on, Mom, we still need to find a dress." Katarina said, taking my had and leading me closer to the escalator. I looked at the short glass wall surrounding the escalator opening, and quickly calculated just how dangerous it would be to tie a bunch of baby clothes together to make a rope and climb down to the ground floor. My chances of surviving seemed dubious - but not much more so than my chances with the escalator.

I took a deep breath and put my foot onto that moving, rubber step.

We made it to the bottom, and left the mall.

We went straight home. Sitting safely on the ground floor, without any bloodthirsty escalators or scary disembodied elevator voices to stop us, we bought a dress online.

It arrived three days later, and the mail carrier didn't even try to kill me when he handed me the package.

I'll be doing all of my shopping online from now on. Leaving the house is overrated.

Friday, May 01, 2015

This Is Not The End Of Me - Ten Years Of Blogging

Today marks a milestone. I have officially blogged for 10 years.

I've been blogging for ten years. See why I started, and why I continue writing about my life online.

That is a lot of blog posts. A lot of personal stories out there for the world to read, and a lot of silliness, too. A lot of growing and changing. A lot of late nights and early mornings spent writing in dark rooms.

It seems as though many people have stepped away from blogging this year. That is true every year, every day, really, but this seems bigger because the bloggers are of a higher profile, and they are posting official goodbyes and explanations. Most bloggers just slowly fade away as life changes and their words stop flowing out to the world. Some of them move on to other things. Others stick with sharing family pictures on Facebook and an occasional status update aimed at old blogging friends to reminisce over the days of writing prompts, comment groups, and NaBloPoMo's. Some former bloggers are writing novels and memoirs, and choosing not to write for free, even in spaces they own. There is validity in all of these choices, and I understand each one. Blogging has changed a lot in the last decade.

A friend asked me what I had planned for my blogging anniversary. It seems like there should be a seriously big marker for ten years, but I didn't have an answer for her. I didn't have a plan. That is often the story of my life, for better or worse.

When I started writing online, I didn't have a plan, either. It was long before the days of monetized blogging. I was looking for a space to say out loud that I had survived childhood sexual abuse while sitting safely behind the veil of anonymity. I didn't know where those words would lead. I didn't even know that I would love writing or that one day blogging would pay the rent and buy groceries - I just knew that I needed to learn how to say the truth and work through the pain if I was ever going to become a whole person.

Eventually I dropped the veil of anonymity. I shared my full name on this site and sent the link to everyone I knew. I even made it Facebook official by linking my blog page to my personal profile. My writing developed, and I shared more and more of my life with the world, while setting serious boundaries for what I would not share. I let go of so much anger and received much healing.

Over the last ten years I have written for other sites, met bloggers in person, learned about SEO, received thousands of emails and messages from readers, been interviewed on tv, embraced social media, worked with a non-profit, agonized over no's and celebrated yes's, stayed up late reading blog posts, learned not to double space after a period, shared pictures of yellow things, worked full time for a blogging network, met people who will always hold pieces of my heart, and grown in more ways than I ever could have imagined when I published my first blog post on May 1, 2005.

Writing has saved my life. I don't know how to explain it any better than that. I would not be who, or where, I am today without this space and the blogging community who took me in. I am here today because of each of you.

Writing saved my life.

So on this day, my 10th anniversary of blogging, I only want to say thank you. Thank you for reading my words. For laughing and crying with me. For having my back and holding my hand.

I found my voice because of blogging. It was amplified because you have read and shared my writing. From the serious posts to the silly, you've given minutes and hours of your life to read my words, and that is a precious gift.

Thank you from every corner of my heart.

Here's to 10 more years and more shared stories.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Lose The Cape

I've never really felt like Supermom.

SuperHarriedMom? Yes.

SuperTiredMom? For sure.

SuperOverwhelmedMom? Much too often, yes.

I want to say that I'm a "do the best you can and most things will work out" kind of mom, all laid back and relaxed.....but I'm totally staying up late at night with anxious thoughts about all the things that didn't get checked off of my list that day.

So a book called Lose The Cape: Realities from Busy Modern Moms and Strategies to Survive was something I couldn't pass up reading. Even if I never felt like I had a Supermom cape to begin with. Plus it was written by two amazing bloggers, Alexa Bigwarfe and Kerry Rivera, and I love it when bloggers get published!

Lose The Cape book cover

Lose The Cape

So here's the lowdown. Cape or not, even if you are too busy to figure out if Supermom should be written as one word or two (Supermom? Super Mom? SuperMom?), if you are a mom, or are thinking about becoming a mom one day, you need to read Lose The Cape.

It is like sitting down with two supportive friends who are willing to give you all of their nonjudgemental advice and encouragement. Every chapter is full of real and actionable tips to help you get organized, develop a system, make (reasonable) plans, and generally rock this motherhood thing YOUR way. Because that is a big theme of this book - realizing that every tip and every idea will not work for every mom. Once you accept that, it becomes easy to focus on the tips that ARE a good fit and actually do something with them.

You can order Lose The Cape from Amazon now. And don't forget to check out the Lose The Cape blog and podcast, too. It is a great place to find other moms and see how other moms are making life work (or submit your own stories - they love guest posts).

In the spirit of Lose The Cape, share one of your best parenting or life tips in the comments!

*Disclosure: I was provided with a free copy of Lose The Cape. I was not required to say nice things about the book, stalk the writer's blogs, or stay up way too late reading and making notes about tackling household chores.