Saturday, October 15, 2016

Women, Worth, and the Supreme Court

The other day, I had an interesting conversation with my husband before he went to work -- which I would like to try to relay without throwing him under the bus. He'd been listening to NPR the day before, and the show had had a woman on as a guest -- who I will guess skews a bit into the realm of what I call militant feminism. She'd been talking about an experience she'd had, walking to the subway, where a man had been following her (whether that was because he was or just because he needed to go to the subway too) and the way that put her on edge.

Or at least that's my less-militant analysis of what she'd said...  My sense was that she'd used a lot more threatening language to describe the situation, and I could tell that my husband was skeptical of her experience.

But, while I wouldn't have used to same terminology that she did, I also understood her and we had an interesting conversation about what it can be like to be a woman in our culture.

That you ARE hyper-aware of your surroundings and if a man is following you -- not because you think all men are animals, but because you know that some are. And because you can't know which is which just by looking at them, you have to be a little on edge.

That I'm thinking about it as I walk to my car at night.
That I'm thinking about it if I'm running in the dark or somewhere not-well-populated.
That I'm calculating how much energy I need to save for if an extra burst of speed is necessary.
That if I pass a man going the other way, I check over my shoulder a few times to make sure he's still gone.

After he went on his way to work, I was left with my own thoughts. I began thinking of all the times I've experienced something that was unsavory but that I just accepted as an unfortunate cost of being a woman in our world.

Like the time I went to a country music concert and, in between sets, got into a seemingly friendly-but-innocent conversation with a guy about the stadium's sound quality. He asked me out... I told him I was married and kindly turned him down.  And after I'd moved my seat to somewhere in the stadium that had better sound quality, he took that conversation as carte-blanche to slap me on the ass every time he came down the stadium stairs. And how, even though it made me angry, I made myself laugh it off.  Because... I don't know...  Because it's what happens?

I began to understand in that moment why I have been so angry.

Because I have been angry. Uncharacteristically angry.

I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus. I believe in His love and, over time, I came to believe the value He places on ... well, on each and every one of us.

It was with mild annoyance that I viewed the Christian leaders initially come forward to push for Donald Trump's presidency. I've never been much for revering those in national Christian leadership -- I find it can be a fine line between respect and idolatry- so what they do or say doesn't often bother or thrill me either way. But I understand that they are often the face of how other people see who I say that I am.

It wasn't until the Access Hollywood tape and the ensuing/ongoing sexual harassment brouhaha that I started to get angry. I couldn't tell you how much of all that is or isn't true. Is it possible that Trump is telling the truth and every single one of those women is making it up?  Yeah. Do I believe that EVERY single one is making it up?  No... but I can admit that I could be wrong.

But what I do believe is that the attitude and beliefs he displayed in that AH video are real. And I don't think that they were in the past. I think that they are still very very much a part of his psyche and who he is.

So when, in the aftermath, I saw the same Christian leaders all giving the same general statement.... "Of course we don't condone the words he said, but Supreme Court."

But Supreme Court.
But Supreme Court
But Supreme Court.

It made me angry.  Really angry and disappointed and infuriated.

And it wasn't until I'd thought through everything after that conversation with my husband that I began to understand why.

We're worth more than a seat on the Supreme Court. I am worth more. And every woman I know is worth more. And it infuriates me that upstanding men who I should be able to trust to have my back are willing to sell me for a seat on the Bench.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

TT: The Night We Killed One

"Seven billion people in the world and you're overreacting because we killed one?"

"But --!"

"Seven. Billion. People. Quit complaining and drink your smoothie.  Geez."

Dad had always said to do whatever my brother told me. Ben knew best. Ben always knew best. I mean, didn't he?  So I closed my eyes and stepped over the corpse.

I couldn't call it a man anymore. Somehow, it made what had happened easier to accept. Stepping over a corpse was easier if you stopped thinking of it as a person.

Killing one was easier, too.

Ben stuck his hands in his pockets and whistled as he sauntered down the street. When I was younger, it would have been flooded with the yellow light of the streetlights. But, I wasn't younger and the streetlights were long gone - picked off for steel or glass or whatever anyone was buying that year. All we had was moonlight anymore.

I thought I liked it better.

Tossing my cup into a trashbin no one bothered with anymore, I ran to catch up with him. "Ben --!"

"I told you, I don't want to hear your snivelling." He'd already stopped thinking about it.

"But, Ben-- you forgot your knife."

Ben glanced at me, but his eyes were cold. "No, I didn't. You did. Go back and get it."

Do what your brother says. Do what your brother says.

There was no use in refusing. There never was.  I walked slowly back.

The man -- I shook my head -- The corpse --  still sat crumpled by the car. Of course it did. Where was it going to go? My feet felt heavier the closer I came until they felt like I could barely lift them anymore.

It wore a green jacket... the kind of green that the military used to wear.. and his hair flopped over one eye. If I let myself think of him as man, I could imagine him constantly running his hand through his hair to push it out of the way. But... he wasn't a man. He was a corpse.

He was a corpse. Because of us.

I squatted beside him and wrapped my hand around the hilt of the knife.  It was slimy with his blood, so I used two hands to pull it free. I imagined it sounded like it did when they pulled my tooth as a kid.

"Ah, sweet Jesus." I jumped. The corpse.  It -- he -- winked at me. He winked at me? "Thanks, kid." I looked back toward my brother in panic, but the corpse - man -- put his hand on my shoulder.

"It's best he doesn't know."

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Opening a Closed Door

I think that sometimes it's good to really know.

I found out how I really felt recently. I had a relationship that had petered out and I felt a lot of different ways about it... a lot of conflicting ways.

I had been sad.
I had been mad.
I had been indignant.
I had taken responsibility.
I had felt regrets.
And sometimes confusion.

Mostly, I was able to chalk it up to a relationship that I had gotten to have -- but that was now in the past.  Most of the time, I was okay with that. I had healed. I was at peace.

But sometimes I wasn't... sometimes I was still confused and angry and hurt.

In a whimsical moment of nostalgia, I wrote to them. It wasn't a big thing... It was a "Hi, how are you?" sort of email. It opened a door if they wanted to answer it.

After I sent it, as soon as I sent it, I thought, "Was that really a door you wanted to knock on? Was that a door that you want to walk through or is it better if it stays closed?"

I sort of hoped that they wouldn't answer the email -- so that I wouldn't have to answer the question. If they didn't answer, it wasn't on me. I would be absolved of the choice.

But, they did.  So I had to really think about it. Is this what I wanted?

I thought. I talked to someone. But I realized that I really didn't need advice - at least not from someone else. What I needed was to listen to myself.  I needed to listen to my heart and decide if walking back through that door was where I wanted my path to go.

And, in the end... it wasn't. It was a relationship that I valued deeply while I was in it. But I had changed, and there were parts of it that I just didn't want back. I didn't want to feel the same way.

So, I closed the door. Politely, nicely, kindly. But, this time, I closed it with the knowledge that it wasn't meant to be part of my future... and I was deciding with my eyes open that I didn't want it to be.

And knowing that makes it possible for me to move on and leave behind the sad and the mad and the indignation and the regrets. I can finally let those go, and I can move into what the future holds without looking back and wishing.

I can move into the future with a head held high and be confident -- because now I know.

Belfast and a Castle

Well, I realized I never finished the Ireland trip here....  so the last day! (As I can remember it!)

SATURDAY - Belfast and Cabra Castle

So, on Saturday, we woke up and enjoyed our last breakfast in Ballycastle, and then got in the car and drove down to Belfast. I hadn't originally planned on going to Belfast, to be honest. I'd never quite felt pulled to it (for what reason, I don't know), so I'd left it out of my trip planning.

But, after reading the Rebels of Ireland shortly before our trip, I wondered if maybe we could drop it into the itinerary. A friend of mine encouraged us to go and just soak it up a little -- but I wanted to be in Kingscourt by the early afternoon -- so I decided to go, but we only had a few hours.

So... mostly, the plan was to walk around and see what struck our fancy.

Honestly, I really liked Belfast -- way more than I liked Derry, and if I could do that over again, I'd spend a lot less time in Derry and a lot more in Belfast. We went to St Georges Market and walked around a bit -- sort of an indoors Pike Place. There was a guy in the middle playing music and it made me laugh because I knew EVERY SINGLE SONG from Celtic Thunder et al.

After the market, we just sort of wandered toward the middle of town. I thought maybe we might take a Black Cab tour (which we never did) so we headed in the general direction of where I knew we could pick one up.  We walked by a little bakery that had the most delicious-looking treats in the window, so we stopped in for chocolate eclairs and coffee, and took them into the park.

Where we watched the Olympics on a giant TV.

It's probably a good thing I didn't get a chocolate eclair until our last day.  Because it was the bomb and, if I'd known they were that good, I probably would have had one every single day of the trip!

After that, we wandered a bit... stopped into Avoca to do some shopping. Well, I did some shopping.  Joel.... waited patiently.  I hemmed and hawed over this pretty delicate knit scarf from an artist in Wexford.  It was sort of expensive. I didn't really NEED another scarf. But, I remembered what my friend Diana had said to me about souvenirs, and gave myself permission to buy it.  :)

I wanted to give ourselves plenty of time at Cabra Castle (and it was starting to rain) so we said Goodbye to Belfast and headed back to our car.

A couple hours on the freeway (which was an actual freeway!!), and we arrived at our final night's lodging. A night at a castle! Happy me!

This was totally different from anywhere else we stayed.... and I thought it was definitely fun! I'm pretty sure they reserve most of the rooms in the ACTUAL castle for honeymooners and their wedding parties, (plus I'd snagged a reservation pretty late notice), so we were actually in the courtyard -- in what I think used to be the stable quarters.  But it was lovely and comfy and I was happy.

I talked Joel into going on a walk with me through the woods on the grounds...

Joel's never going to go for a walk with me in Ireland ever again. Once we got halfway into the woods, it started to pour... and I do mean pour.  We were totally soaked by the time we got back, and had to sprint across the golf course and parking areas to get back to our room.

We spent our final evening in the hotel pub... We drank at the bar for awhile (took awhile to snag a table) and then had a leisurely dinner. Pizza and lots of Guinness!

And then that was it!

Sunday, we got up early and drove to the Dublin airport.... and home we went. :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Derry and the Northern Coast


We woke up this morning and went downstairs to the basement at our B&B in the Moy and had breakfast. Watching my husband try to drink coffee out of teacups with teeny-tiny handles is one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

And then we made our way out of town toward the Northern coast. We drove up through Dungannon (which I've been pronouncing wrong for nine years, btw), and stopped at Dungiven Priory. I enjoyed this little stop.  You had to walk a ways from parking your car to get to the ruins...  Unlike the ruins in the Republic, this one's graveyard was only old gravestones, and they purposely didn't keep them cleaned up, and it made the place seem more authentically ruined. lol I don't know if that makes sense.  

At the back, there was a path that you could climb down to an "environmental park." I'm not sure what this means... as it mostly led down to either, on one side, someone's farm. Or, on the other, an abandoned hydroelectric facility that appeared to be mostly used for teenage drinking parties (judging by the trash inside one of the buildings).  Behind the building, however, you could meander down to the little creek and I rather liked sitting on a rock and watching the water trickle by.

We continued on our way into Derry. I really enjoyed driving through Co Tyrone... I thought it was lovely. I think Joel enjoyed it because the roads were better.  Thanks, United Kingdom!  Derry was interesting... I think Joel liked it more than I did. For some reason, I found it a little suffocating - I don't really know why.

Derry is a walled city -- you can climb the stairs to the top of the wall and walk the entire perimeter -- which we did, stopping to read all the informational signs along the way.  It took me almost the entire perimeter to figure out what seemed weird about it... and I finally realized that, after a week in Ireland, it was that the English weren't depicted as the Bad Guys.

After walking the walls, we dropped down and walked through the Tower Museum -- Joel was really interested in the Siege of 16-something.  But they had creepy mannequins!  I'm always afraid those things are going to come to life. (I know. I have issues.)  After the museum, we found our way across the Peace Bridge and went to lunch at the Walled City Brewery, which was really good!!

By the time we made it back to our car, it was getting later in the day than I had anticipated -- so we dropped the rest of our plan and just drove to Ballycastle to check into our B&B. I liked our room there -- though I couldn't figure out the shower!  We walked into town and had dinner at the Diamond Lounge.  By this point, I was starting to wear out a little -- so we called it a somewhat-early night and went to bed!

FRIDAY - Northern Coast

We had to cut short some of our plan the day before, so this morning began with me sitting on the bed with the two days' outlines and pulling out a new plan for the day that would make sense. So after breakfast, we headed out on the  Glenshesk Scenic Drive.  This takes you out of Ballycastle into the surrounding farmland and eventually makes its way to Armoy.

From there, it's a hop and a jump to the Dark Hedges. This little road has been featured in the Game of Thrones series (which I have no interest in), and can get pretty busy -- but we were there fairly early in the morning, so it wasn't completely overrun yet. It's apparently ranked in the Top 5 of the World's Tree Tunnels -- which I did not realize was a thing -- but yay? It was pretty though... we walked a bit further along the road (which, in Ireland, is always a bit death-inducing) and came across a tree tunnel that we liked just as much (but nobody else cared about).  And then walked a bit on the grounds of an imposing old house that was now a golf course.

Well, the house wasn't a golf course. 

After making our way back up toward Ballycastle on another twisty road through farmland (Joel may not let me plan the driving routes anymore!), we headed out onto the Torr Road -- which is supposed to be a lovely (if narrow and turn-y) drive along the northern headland -- with gorgeous views of the coastline.

I'm sure it's lovely.

Unfortunately, it was rainy and foggy and we couldn't even see the edge of the cliff, much less the ocean.  Which I thought was funny.  Best laid plans...  At one point, Joel pulled over so he could drink his coffee before it got too cold. But, there was a gate into someone's sheep pasture across the way -- so I decided I was just going to go explore!  I left Joel in the car and trudged my way down the hill to get a better view of the coastline -- and the fog cleared just enough that I could make it out - and I found a little collection of old stone cottages along the way.  My shoes and clothes took hours to dry out, but I thought it was totally fun and worth it!

After that, we headed back west a bit to pick up a couple of the things we'd missed the day before. First, we went to Bushmills and took a tour of the Old Bushmills Distillery - which I thought was kind of interesting.  And you got whiskey at the end -- Too strong for my cup of tea, so I had a hot toddy instead. I just got comfortable with beer!!  We walked further into town for a bit of lunch at a cafe, which was a cute little place on the center square.

The sun was finally starting to clear by that point and it was getting later into the afternoon, so next was a stop at the Giants Causeway. Our B&B host had told us that we could save a bit of money by parking at the 6-pound train station, instead of the Causeway parking lot.  There ended up being no one at the train station to pay, so we just left our car there for free.

After a rainy morning, it really turned out to be quite a lovely day -- so after making our way to a perch on the Causeway, we just sat there for a good long while, enjoying the sun and the breeze and the water. It was quite beautiful!

When we'd had our fill, we made our way back to Ballycastle and walked into town for dinner and our last night at a town pub.  Neither of us were really starving and it was proving a bit difficult to find a place to eat anyway (nobody serves food there after 9)... so we just stopped into a chip shop for a bit of fish n chips.

The sign on the wall made the fish look about the size of a KFC chicken strip -- so that seemed perfect for the amount of hunger I was feeling. However.... it was actually the size of an entire fish. I always thought it was just Americans that served super-huge amounts of food at restaurants. But no. Everywhere we went in Ireland, I almost never was able to eat it all!  A few drinks at a pub, and then we made our way back to our bed. :)

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