This time, I will take a stand.

 Photo courtesy Pixabay. Photo courtesy Pixabay.

Over 30 years ago, when I worked in Washington, D.C., I took the Metro to work. It’s always crowded on a subway during rush hour, and you get used to being jostled by people, bodies crammed together. But one morning on the platform, I thought a man purposefully touched my butt with his hand. I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t sure. But then I watched the nicely dressed middle-aged man as he walked through the crowd, hands at his sides. As he passed several women, he distinctly turned his hand out to brush their back sides.

I wanted to run after him, yelling and making a scene. But I didn’t. I don’t make scenes. I don’t cause a fuss. I don’t take a stand.

About 20 years ago, I was in a small public library, standing in front of the reference desk, speaking to the librarian in my best library voice. A man materialized behind the woman, facing me. From my peripheral vision, I suddenly realized he had his penis out of his pants, in his hands, right there behind the librarian’s back just a few feet away.

My face flushed but I didn’t look up or otherwise react. So deeply ingrained is my reticence for making waves that it essentially overrode my fight-or-flight instinct.

I quickly ended my conversation and hurried back to the table where I had been working, sitting with my back to the reference desk. I sat there for a few minutes in panic, thinking only, “Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God.” I was irrationally afraid. If I confronted him, would he find out where I worked, right next door? Would he find out where I lived, not far away? Would he come after me?

Then I packed up my things and scurried out, keeping my eyes to the ground. I never made a scene. I never made a fuss.

When I think about those incidents now, I re-envision them in my head:

I am running after the guy in the subway, yelling at the top of my voice to keep his hands to himself, warning women, calling out to security.

I am looking up at the guy in the library, staring him down, yelling in a non-library voice to “put that thing back in your pants RIGHT NOW.” 

I almost dare these incidents to repeat themselves so I can take a stand.

But two weeks ago, I did it again – I failed to take a stand.

My blog that week was a nice story about our mixed-up order in a restaurant and the waitress’ authentic apology and how it helped me to feel connected. I had it finished several days ahead of time. When I opened it the morning of my scheduled “post day,” I hated it. It was missing something.

In a personal blog, it’s not enough just to relate a story. There has to be a reason for sharing it. There’s always a life lesson or an “ah-ha” moment or an opportunity for personal growth in the story and it’s my job as the writer to find it and share it.

As I write, I always ask myself, What is this really about? What’s the point? What am I trying to say? Why am I telling this?”

When I looked at my draft that morning, I couldn’t answer those questions. For the next five hours, I frantically wrote and rewrote. Then, around 4 pm, an hour before I’m scheduled to post, it clicked.

There was a much bigger lesson there about saying I’m sorry related to what was going on in our world. It had been trying to speak to me, calling to me as I banged away on my laptop, but I didn’t listen. The words were fighting to organize, but I didn’t let them.

I didn’t hear the message in my own story because I was afraid to take a stand.

And once I heard the message, I couldn’t wrap my brain completely around it in an hour, so finally I had to let go and hit “publish.”

Now I’ve had some time to get my thoughts together:

My I’m sorry blog posted about a week after the incidents in Charlottesville. All the Jimmy Kimmels and Jimmy Fallons of the airwaves were taking a stand. My 100 + subscribers and maybe 2,000 followers on various platforms isn’t much of a audience, so I didn’t see how it could make a difference for me to take a stand. Why bother?

The answer to that question, which I figured out too late, is this: because people who are hurting or scared need to know that those of us who are not hurting or scared in the same way will stand up for them, whether one or a million people are listening.

I know how I feel in my heart, but if I don’t speak up, how will anyone know I will stand with them?

So whatever the color of your skin, your sexual preference or orientation, religion or lack thereof, nationality, or political persuasion, I am an ally. I won’t let my fear, whether it’s real or irrational, make me look away, walk away, sit down or shut up when you need me. I will make a scene, make a fuss, speak out.

If you stand for hate, I will pray for your heart and soul, but I won’t stand by if you take it out on another human being. And I will hate what you stand for and hate your actions, but I refuse to hate you, even if you hate me. We already have too much hate in the world and I won’t add to it.

I’m sorry it took me so long to take a stand. I’m sorry it took Charlottesville to wake me up.

That’s my authentic apology and I hope it helps us all, small in number though we are, to feel connected.

Glazing out the window.

When we bought our second old house 11 years ago, it needed some serious TLC. The least of our problems was the broken window glass in the basement stairwell door, which I “temporarily” fixed with blue painters tape. Last week, I decided to do the job right.

I’d done a lot of old-house renovations over 30+ years. Replacing a window would be no biggie, I thought.

Hah!

Here’s how it went:

Day 1

Hour 1: I start to remove the old glaze. How hard could it be? Answer: Like chipping away concrete with a toothpick.

Hour 2: I watch some DIY Youtube videos. Lacking the special products and tools shown, I continue to chip away the concrete.

Day 2

Hours 3-5: Chip, chip.

Day 3

Hour 6: The glaze is gone, as is my enthusiasm. Later that evening, I say to my husband, Michael, “I wish I had never started this project.”  He replies: “I wish you never did, either.”

Day 4

Hour 7: I watch Youtube on removing broken window glass. How hard could it be?  Answer: Never ask that question.

I put on goggles and work gloves, and begin to wiggle the broken fragment out of the bottom corner. I realize that if the rest of the glass falls out, it will drop on my bare arm. I stop, look at my arm affectionately and go get a heavy old winter coat.

The broken piece comes out easily. Hah! How hard can the rest of it be? Answer: When will you learn?

I follow a Youtube suggestion to cover the remaining glass with duct tape. Then I tap the glass with a hammer to break it into small, easily removable pieces, just like the first piece. I tap harder. I stand at arms length and bang. Bang again and again.

It occurs to me that the duct tape is doing its job of preventing breakage. So I pull my coat over my glove, turn away, scrunch up my eyes, and THWACK!  The glass gives way, crashing into the space between the interior and exterior doors.

Oops.

Hour 8: After cleaning up the mess, I measure the window opening to within a 16th of an inch. Michael would be so proud. I head to the hardware store for new glass, and a young guy puts it in my car. At home, I put on my winter coat to carry it inside.

Hour 9: I set out some glazing points (metal slivers you push into the wood frame to secure the glass) and gingerly lift the arm-amputator into the opening.

It’s too small. Shit. But only barely, so I proceed.

Holding the glass in place with one gloved hand, I reach for the points and drop them on the floor. I’m afraid to bend over, putting my head in guillotine position, but I’m more afraid to remove the glass. I have visions of Michael coming home from work to find me standing in a puddle of pee, hand pressed against the window. I choose to stretch down for the points and rise triumphant, head intact.

When I finish setting the points, it’s clear the glass is indeed too small. That night, I reluctantly tell Michael I screwed up the measurement, but he’s got a trick to make it work. And it does.

Day 5

Hour 10: I watch Youtube on applying glaze. How hard… oh, never mind. Locating two containers of glaze in the basement, I open them to find they’re hard as my hammer. Shit.

Back at the hardware store, an associate hands me a can of window glaze. “Good luck with that,” he says with a slight smirk. His expression suggests he’ll have a chuckle later, thinking of me glazing a window.

Hah! You don’t know me, I think as I walk out.

Hour 11: I attempt to apply the glaze. Check You tube. Try glazing again. Go back to Youtube. I must have missed some details. Try again. Admit defeat. Shit.

Hour 12: That night Michael shows me how to apply the glaze and I finish the job.

Hah!

Day 6

I hang ivory-colored blinds on the inside of the door. The stairwell glows, as do I. When I finish any house project, I spend some time sitting with it, taking it in, appreciating my handiwork. Perched on the steps, I reflect on the simple adventures of my well nested life.

Glazing out the window, I realize it’s not so hard after all.

(Michael wants me to add that this adventure of mine has redeemed him from a former post.  I told him he’s still not getting out of a trip to the fabric store some day.)

How many selfies does it take?

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Photo by Stokpic on Pexels.com

A while ago, I blogged about my dislike for listicles and their prevalence on the internet. I wanted to include a photo of the face that I’m pretty sure I make when my news and social media feeds are overrun with listicle click-bait.

The face is a kind of WTF look.

I set out to capture that exact expression. In my mind’s eye, I could picture it. My facial muscle- memory could recreate it. I practiced in front of a mirror to be sure I had it right. Yup. Nailed it.

Then I got my cell phone and snapped away.

Well, about 50 selfies later, in at least a dozen different poses in two different rooms, I still wasn’t convinced that I completely replicated my WTF look.

Later, looking at my phone, face after face, I was laughing so hard I thought I would pee my pants. So I finally took some of the best shots and put them together in a short montage.

Enjoy!

That’s it for my blog this week.  As you are reading this, I’m probably recovering from surgery that I’ve been waiting to get for several years.  Believe it or not, I had to get better before I could get “fixed.”  (Not “fixed” like a dog. Puh-leese.) And I did get better, so yay surgery!  I think.

I’ll be waiting for the universe to send me positive vibes from all your laughter.  And … I know this is a cheap shot, but … if I came back to my page and saw lots and lots of likes and shares, well, that would be the best medicine.

If you don’t hear from me next week, know that I’ll be wisely taking care of myself, on the couch binge-watching recordings of my favorite junk shows on TLC, wading through the six library books I stocked up on, napping, and cautiously avoiding listicles.

If I think of it, I’ll take a few selfies.