From Tracie

Monday, October 10, 2016

What Is Sexual Assault?

What is sexual assault? What is the actual definition of sexual assault? 

This term seems to be super confusing for people this week, primarily Donald Trump supporters, many of whom are scrambling to defend him since the release of the 2005 Access Hollywood tape

There is a lot to be said about what you see and hear on that tape, all of which is bad, but today I'm only going to focus on this section:
Donald Trump: "I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” 
*Billy Bush: "Whatever you want.” 
Donald Trump: "Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
There are a lot of defenses going around as people try to fix these unfixable words, most of them center on focusing on the date the tape was made or comparing Trump to other people (as if their moms never taught them "two wrongs don't make a right").

Senator Jeff Sessions took his defense a step further, after the second presidential debate, when he was interviewed by The Weekly Standard:
Jeff Sessions: This was very improper language, and he's acknowledged that. 
TWS: But beyond the language, would you characterize the behavior described in that [video] as sexual assault if that behavior actually took place? 
Jeff Sessions: I don't characterize that as sexual assault. I think that's a stretch. I don't know what he meant— 
TWS: So if you grab a woman by the genitals, that's not sexual assault? 
Jeff Sessions: I don't know. It's not clear that he—how that would occur.
According to Jeff Sessions, he doesn't know if grabbing a woman by the genitals is sexual assault. You would think a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama would understand the definition of sexual assault, but maybe it never came up in his law classes.

What is sexual assault?

The Justice Department defines sexual assault like this (emphasis mine):
Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.
That is a pretty heavy list of things that fall under the definition of sexual assault. Let's break this down further.

You may not know (although I would hope that former U.S. Attorney-turned-Senator Jeff Sessions does) that different states have different laws around sexual assault. RAINN has a great resource for viewing the sexual assault laws for each state, including information on statutes of limitations. I won't walk you through all of them here, but let's take a look at the sexual assault laws in the State of New York, where Donald Trump lives.
Forcible Touching - Misdemeanor 
Intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly touching the sexual or other intimate parts of another person for the purpose of degrading or abusing such person; or for the purpose of gratifying the actor's sexual desire. (N.Y. Penal Law § 130.52)
This crime is considered a misdemeanor in the state of New York, and the possible punishment is a maximum of 1 year in prison.

Now let's take a look at the sexual assault laws in the state of Alabama, where Jeff Sessions lives, and used to be a U.S. Attorney:
Sexual Abuse In The First Degree
An actor commits sexual abuse in the first degree if he:
1. subjects another person to sexual contact by forcible compulsion; or
2. subjects another person to sexual contact who is incapable of consent by reason of being physically helpless or mentally incapacitated. (
Ala. Code § 13A-6-66)
Alabama takes a tough view of this crime, they consider it a Class C Felony and the possible punishment is imprisonment of not more than 10 years or less than 1 year and 1 day as well as a fine not exceeding $15,000.

As to Senator Sessions comment about not being clear how grabbing a woman by the pussy would occur, I would invite him to spend some time reading the responses Kelly Oxford received on Twitter after she asked women to share the stories of the first time they were sexually assaulted.
That was sexual assault.

Any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient is sexual assault.

But it's more than that.

The words sexual assault seem so big, so damning, so grave to those who are trying to dance around them right now. How can you possibly use something that serious to describe this bus conversation? But to those of us who have experienced sexual assault, the words feel almost sterile. Small. Not enough. It's impossible to take two words, and fit into them all of the feelings, the violation, the trauma, of being the victim of sexual assault.

I was four years old the first time my uncle touched me. That was not the last time it happened. Every time was an act of sexual assault.

The definition of sexual assault isn't hard, unless you are trying to excuse it.

It's actually quite clear. And it's always wrong.

*This is the same Billy Bush who once told Mackenzie Phillips that incest should be a "private thing" and didn't want to talk about it on tv.


If you have been the victim of sexual assault and need help, or you want to help a loved one, you can contact RAINN or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.

If you suspect that a child is being abused, or if you are a child or teen who is being abused, you can contact Child Help or call the National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Luke's Diner Popped Up In Arizona, And It Was Amazing

To help celebrate the Netflix revival of Gilmore Girls (it's dropping on November 25th, so cancel your Black Friday plans — there will be 4 new episodes of Gilmore Girls to watch), Netflix set up pop-up Luke's Diners in coffee shops all across the country this morning.

Luke's Diner Coffee Cup

You know my Gilmore Girls-loving family had to visit Luke's Diner in Arizona. We woke up to the crisp feel of fall in the air, which was perfect for our trip to Stars Hollow, otherwise known as the Octane Cafe. The line was already forming when we arrived, so it was a good thing we got there early.

Luke's Diner Sign Octane Cafe Mesa Arizona
Katarina wore her classic Luke's Diner t-shirt. I wore plaid in honor of Luke along with a denim jacket and hat Lorelai would love.

Octane Cafe and the baristas were decked out in Luke's Diner accessories.
Luke's Diner Octane Cafe
Octane Cafe Mesa Arizona

We used cell phones to take these pictures (don't tell Luke!), and then we ordered cups of coffee and orange cranberry muffins, both of which were delicious.

Netflix Luke's Diner Sign

It was the perfect start to a beautiful, fall morning.

Tracie and Katarina at Octane Cafe for the Netflix Luke's Diner Pop Up

Underneath the Luke's sleeve was a quote from Gilmore Girls.

The other side had a snapchat code for a fun filter.
(I'm snappy: @fromtracie)

gilmore girls snapchat filter netflix

I drank coffee out of my Luke's Diner cup all day. It accompanied me to all of the video conference calls I had at work, too. Everything is more fun with a cup of coffee from Luke's.

luke's coffee and twitter scheduling

Li'l Sebastian P. Merrywinkle agrees. He quite enjoyed snuggling up with a good book and my Luke's Diner coffee cup this afternoon.

If you live in my area, check out the Octane Cafe in Mesa, AZ. The coffee is super awesome. And no matter where you live, check out the Town of Stars Hollow website. You won't be disappointed.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Heart Tattoos

Yesterday one of my friends got a super cute tattoo, and posted pictures on Facebook this morning. I added it to my mental list of tattoos. (I could probably hashtag that list #TattooGoals.) I love tattoos. I love it when people share their tattoo pictures, and even more when they share the stories behind them.

This one spoke to me because it was about knitting. I am a knitter.

I mean, I can knit. I taught myself how to knit. I really loved it. Then I hit a knitting wall, both in ability and financially (yarn is expensive, y'all, if you want to buy the good stuff). But I still think of myself as a knitter. I still believe that one day I will pull out those needles and create beautiful things. When I'm in the craft store, I stare at yarn and needles with hungry eyes. Here's the thing, though, I'm not a knitter right now. And I certainly wouldn't get a ball of yarn tattooed on myself right now. The timing doesn't make sense.

This story perfectly sums up why I don't have a tattoo. I think too far in the future. I put every tattoo idea to the "do I want this on my skin FOREVER?" test. It's not a bad test, really. There are a lot of people out there who have tattoos they don't love anymore. But my test is administered in such a way that nothing will ever pass.

I thought about this as I was looking at that super cute yarn tattoo today, and the caption that said something about this being tattoo #5 and now it was time to start thinking about #6. And I finally entertained the thought that maybe it doesn't matter if a tattoo is the perfect fit for every day of the rest of your life.

What if a tattoo was just a snapshot of your life right then — in that moment — the life for which you aren't promised a tomorrow? The life for which forever isn't a reality, anyway. A reminder outside of my head of who I was exactly in a moment in time. A scar, as it were, that illustrated something perfectly. Something that changed me inside, changing me on the outside, too.

These are the tattoos that exist on my heart, even if they never made it to my skin...(starting with the first time I remember thinking about a tattoo)...

When I was 11, I would have gotten a butterfly tattooed on my hand, on the back of my left hand, right by my thumb. I see it sometimes, now, when I stare at my hand really hard.

When I was 12, I was obsessed with always. Always. It was doodled on every school folder and book cover. (I used to write this word on the upper palm of my left hand — sometimes artsy, sometimes longingly, sometimes desperately — and at 12 I really did think I would make it a permanent mark when I was old enough.)

When I was 14, my friends and I spent months writing "BORN AGAIN" on our inner arms with permanent markers. Thick, dark lines. BORN on my right arm. AGAIN on my left. We would refresh them as they faded. It was the closest thing to permanent in a year where nothing was the same.

That summer, I would have tattooed green stars. Dainty, but strong. And a pair of converse with an orange ribbon.

When I was 15, I would have tattooed fire. Consuming fire and Hebrew words.

When I was 16, it would have been all about snippets. Bible verses. Song lyrics. Quotes from books. I was buttoned up and covered up. No one would have seen these words, but they were beautiful and written in green, a small purple triangle surrounding every mention of God.

I also would have added the word "Beloved" to the upper palm of my right hand.

When I was 17, it would have been a fake tribal tattoo, and I fear it would have happened on my lower back. What can I say, I'm being honest with you. It was the end of the 90's, every girl was doing it, and by this time I would have thrown the careful "do I want this forever" test right out of the window.

When I was 19, I would have tattooed a wedding ring. Beautiful, scrolly, and adorned with a heart and a cross.

When I was 20, I earned a c-section scar. If that isn't a heart tattoo forcing its way out onto the skin, I don't know what is. But it wouldn't have hurt to engrave a date right over my heart to go with it.

When I was 21, I would have tattooed Survivor on my left foot. This is the path I walk. This is something that will be truly true for the rest of my life.

When I was 26, I would have gotten a knitting tattoo that would have inspired anyone who saw it to pick up a pair of needles and start purling. Okay, it might not have been THAT awesome. But it would have been pretty awesome. I am a knitter, after all.

When I was 27, I would have tattooed an entire picture around my upper left arm. A VW bus parked under a tree heavy with yellow flowers. The bus would have had the words "Yellow Joy Machine" painted on the side.

I also would have added "Love" to one of my wrists. The right one, on the top of my arm. Like a bracelet. With a small star at the end. *To Write Love On Her Arms

When I was 28, I would have tattooed "Choose Joy" written in Sarah's handwriting. It would have fit perfectly on my right foot.

When I was 29, I would have tattooed a classic cassette tape. The handwritten title would have read simply "Misty."

I also would have added the word "Hope" to my right shoulder.

When I was 30, I would have made an update to my Always tattoo. This is the year I read Harry Potter for the first time. When I reached the moment where Snape said, "Always" I held the book close to my heart, and thought, "That's my word." It was a big moment for me. I pay extra close attention to every Snape-inspired Always tattoo.

I would have also added a semicolon to the outside of my right hand, matching up with the butterfly on my left. *Project Semicolon

When I was 33 (that's this year), I would tattoo another picture, this time around my upper right arm. A periwinkle car parked in the dessert by a prickly pear cactus. The cactus pads are turning purple. Three blooms would be visible, reaching up towards the sun setting behind mountains in the background.


It's been a while since I've written here. A combination of a busy work life, a huge change in my personal life, and the darkness and light that both hold back words in different ways. 

My family moved to Arizona in April, after living in Orlando for nine years. It's a move that took a long time (much longer than anticipated — we had headed down to Orlando in a black SUV for a two week trip and visit to Disney World on the way to Arizona, and got stuck). It's a move that was an answer to many thousands of prayers. The desert has welcomed me back home. 

Arizona Desert

Also, we have a hedgehog now. 

His name is Li'l Sebastian P. Merrywinkle. Sometimes, he wears a hat. 

hedgehog wearing hat

Have you looked at hedgehog tattoos? 
They are almost as cute as the real thing. Especially the bookish ones.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Kiesling Siren

It blinks at me.

Like a warning.

Like a soundless siren.

Bink. Blink. Blink.

Taunting me.

Screaming at me.

I dream about it at night.

The endless blinking, calling out to me.

This thin little line.

Blink. Blink. Blink.

Like an I without the serifs.

Like an I who wants to write - who wants me to write - but can not without my help.

This I is me.

I want words. I want to put words together in beautiful lines.

We are in this together - I and the blinking I.

Maybe it is Kiesling's voice that calls out to me in the night?

"Hello. The blinking line is your friend. Why have you not written today?"

Make it move. Give it words. Allow it to work and help you.

The faster you type, the less it blinks.

Don't give it that chance unless you must.

Type your words.

Type without thinking.

Without backing down.

Without editing.

Hit publish before it can blink again.

Only then can you conquer Kiesling's line.

Only then can you turn off the siren and quiet your mind.

Only then can you write again.

*Thank you Charles A Kiesling, for inventing the blinking cursor. 
It is both friend and foe to writers everywhere.  

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Chicken Bacon Flatbread

Football is great. I'll be watching the big game next week for sure, but I have to admit there is one part of game day I love more than than the game — the food. I'm all about game day food. Sliders, nachos, pizza, potato skins, chicken wings, chips and dips. I love it ALL. So the big question in my house is, what are we eating for the big game? And the answer is, Chicken Bacon Flatbread. Yes!

This post has been sponsored by Naturally Fresh®.

Chicken Bacon Flatbread | With great fresh ingredients, spicy sriracha and classic ranch, this flatbread is a perfect dinner recipe.

Chicken Bacon Flatbread

This recipe is combines everything I need in my life: the flavors are great, the preparation is simple, and it's actually better-for-you than most of the food I eat. Look at these great, fresh ingredients.

Chicken Bacon Flatbread Ingredients

Chicken Bacon Flatbread Ingredients:
  • 2 pieces of flatbread or naan
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1⁄2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 1⁄4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1⁄2 cup roasted red pepper strips
  • 1⁄2 red onion, sliced
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1⁄2 avocado, diced
  • 1⁄4 cup sriracha
  • 1⁄2 cup Naturally Fresh® Classic Ranch
Chicken Bacon Flatbread | With great fresh ingredients, spicy sriracha and classic ranch, this flatbread is a perfect dinner recipe.

Let’s Make It

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Cook and then dice your chicken into small chunks.

Brush flatbread pieces lightly with olive oil.

Spread 1⁄4 cup ranch onto flatbreads.

Top with 1⁄4 cup mozzarella cheese.

Add chicken, red pepper strips, and onion. Top with remaining cheese.

Bake in your oven for 10­-15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and melted. Remove flatbreads from oven and add cilantro and avocado. Top with sriracha to taste and add the remaining ranch.

Chicken Bacon Flatbread | With great fresh ingredients, spicy sriracha and classic ranch, this flatbread is a perfect dinner recipe.

Thomas discovered sriracha a few months ago, and since then, it's been appearing everywhere! Sriracha is yummy, but even though I like the taste, the spice is a bit much for me.

The secret to making this flatbread recipe something we can both love is using creamy Classic Ranch made with Naturally Fresh’s® own buttermilk. You'll find it in the refrigerated section of your grocery store, because it doesn't have any artificial flavors or preservatives. Thomas adds extra sriracha to his flatbread, and I add extra Classic Ranch. It's a beautiful thing.

Chicken Bacon Flatbread | With great fresh ingredients, spicy sriracha and classic ranch, this flatbread is a perfect dinner recipe.

There you have it. The perfect food for game day (or any day, really). If you are having people over for the game, you can have everyone make their own flatbread so they get exactly what they like. So fun. I think we are going to try the Naturally Fresh® Bleu Cheese next time we make this. It has chunks of aged bleu cheese mixed in with the buttermilk, and that sounds amazing.

To take your game day snacking to the next level, check out the Naturally Fresh® Facebook page and website where they share lots of yummy recipes.

What will you be eating while you watch the big game?

*This post has been sponsored by Naturally Fresh®, but all opinions (and deep love of game day food) are my own.