Saturday, October 10, 2015

He's got gonorrhea

You know how you can see things clearly with other people but you can't see it for yourself? It's funny how much of a sense of protection I had over other girls from a very young age, even when I should have been protecting myself but was not always able to. Still, at the time of this memory that came up recently, I figure I couldn't have been more than 16 when this incident happened. Most of the kids I hung around with at Rocky Horror Picture Show were older than me and pretty protective of me. One of the guys used to give me a ride home from Denny's every weekend and he never laid a finger on me or had the slightest interest in doing so. He wasn't even gay. He just didn't want to see me hurt. I was 13 when I started hanging around up there and I guess he was about 18 and the age difference seemed huge. He was mouthy and disrespectful but he always made sure I got home safely. Still, there were those other guys. By the time I was sixteen, I thought I was totally savvy about men. There were some guys who hung around at Rocky that were in their early 20's and basically looked for young girls to prey upon on a regular basis. You have to understand, we were a weird group of kids. Anyone was allowed to come up to the theater and hang around. No one was allowed to kick anyone out or ban them except management and basically we tolerated just about anyone. If someone was too awful, we could make it miserable enough that that person would leave but we knew we were weirdos and we didn't want to shut people out like we were shut out in our regular lives. At least, that's how I felt and many of my friends, too. So we put up with a lot. Now, the girls who had been there a while knew the predatory guys who hung around the fringes. They had already tried to get with us and failed, so these guys chased the new girls. The ones who had never even been out of the house at midnight before and were flush with new sexual freedom. Most of the time, we girls were busy protecting ourselves but we did get in groups to protect others. This one night I watched a known predator guy who was about 23 (I'll call him Terry) chasing these new girls. They were about 15 at most and I don't know what snapped in me that night but I had just had it. These girls looked like they had just fallen off the country milk truck. They could not have been more naive and innocent and they were lapping up every word Terry was saying. He was walking around bragging to his buddies about how he was totally getting laid tonight. I couldn't take it any more. I finally pulled one girl aside. "Hey, are you thinking about going home with Terry?" She giggled a little and started talking about how cute he was and how much she liked him. I knew I had to think fast. "You look like a nice girl, and I hate to have anything bad happen to you." I said. "Terry slept with a friend of mine last week and gave her the clap. I don't think he's even been to the doctor yet." The look on her face was really serious and suddenly she hugged me. I almost felt bad for lying to her. "Thank you so much for telling me." And that was the end of that. Terry was completely mystified as to why that girl avoided him the rest of the night. I told him to lay off the young ones but I doubt he bothered much to care about what I said or thought. There was some small satisfaction in saving that one girl from him. What's funny is how clearly I could see and tell the creepy predator guys and how much I could encourage the other girls to stand up to them and not fall for their lines. But I was victim to another predator anyway. No matter how smart we think we are, how savvy we think we have become, sometimes we need another person to help us out, to talk some sense into one another and there are the times we just don't listen. But I'm not sorry I helped that girl out that night.

Friday, September 25, 2015

broken bones

last week, i broke my left arm. it's a radial fracture in my elbow. my feet got tangled up on the stairs and i missed the handrail and went careening to the ground, landing on my hands- hard. the force of the hit in my wrists broke my elbow. i'm wearing a splint, no cast and i have a sling. when you are hurt in some way, it's interesting how everyone wants to know what happened to you- like total strangers in the store. it feels kind of invasive at times but other times it is conversational and okay. like "yes, i broke my arm falling down the stairs." and other times "no, i'm not in an abusive relationship." a long time ago, when i had a black eye, the stranger questions were even worse. the truth was, i got mugged. but i started lying to people in grocery stores and telling them i got hit with a baseball in a game because a crapload of judgment came my way from strangers when i told the truth. 'what were you doing out at night in a bad neighborhood? you shouldn't go walking by yourself.' the whole victim blaming thing is just out of control. it was easier to tell a white lie to strangers than to deal with their feelings about the matter. it didn't matter that i had not told the stranger what neighborhood i was in or whether i was by myself. it's funny when strangers feel entitled enough to make those leaps. i told my friends the truth and some of my friends joked that my boyfriend must be beating me up, which was false and also quite hurtful. because at the time of that black eye, i was long away from any abusive relationship and it was already far in my past. when i was in an abusive relationship, many, many years ago, i mostly got hit where it wouldn't show and no one ever noticed that i was walking wounded. so, guys, no, my husband is not hurting me. i truly fell down the stairs in the parking garage and it happened in the day time, so you don't need to be concerned about me walking alone- not that i would care at all if someone told me not to walk alone, cause i will do it anyway- i am stubborn like that. but just thinking out loud, wondering what someone would have done had i ever confessed to the abusive relationships? mostly people did nothing that knew about it- felt they could not-- or actually were unable to- or said that they did not think it was that bad. but the most common reaction was- no one noticed. here is the thing. when someone is in an abusive relationship, the first thing you notice is not going to be a black eye. that is just movie of the week hysteria nonsense. the real story is that look in her eye. she is the walking wounded, she will flinch at a loud noise. she will react out of proportion to a perceived threat. she will walk around with a look in her eyes that only those of us who have suffered will recognize. look for the finger marks on the arm where she was held too tight. she will be protecting some area of her body that is sore. that happens a lot. people are funny. nosey when they shouldn't be and stay out of it when they should get involved. this is not to say there are not a whole ton of wonderful, compassionate and cool people in this world. because there are. unfortunately, they don't make a good story in blog. it's the rudes i am writing about, the looky loos in the grocery store. but just for the record, thanks to my awesome friends and all the kind people out there who wished me well. hugs and kisses.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Journey to a feature film

When I was seventeen years old, I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted to be a writer and an actress. I was going to throw all my stuff into a junky car the day I turned 18 and drive to Los Angeles and make my fortune. That is what I was going to do. It was my sworn destiny. I was going to work my butt off until I was a working writer and actress and no matter what happened, I was not going to get jaded. Because it was about the work. And I loved the work. In January of the year I was going to turn eighteen, I got pregnant. Everyone told me to get an abortion. Everyone. But I didn't. I'm the kind of person who is going to do the thing everyone tells you that you cannot do. And I was going to have that baby. At 17, I thought, what if this is the only baby I get to have? You laugh. A great cosmic joke that I had five babies. I vividly remember my 18th birthday. I sat outside in the beautiful sunshine on the front porch of the crappy apartment I shared with my boyfriend and let that dream die. That year was high school graduation. I attended while pregnant. No one knew. I was watching everyone go off to their bright futures and my dream of running off to LA was dying as the baby inside me grew. I considered adoption for a long, long time. I thought about it deeply. Ultimately, I made the most selfish and unselfish decision, I kept him. I knew I was in it by myself and I just mustered the strength to do it alone and left my abusive boyfriend and moved back in with my parents. I wrote stories all summer. I thought my dream was over. Everyone told me it was. Everyone. And I smiled and nodded when they said it was over. That I had screwed myself with my own passionate mistakes. That it was time to grow up and do something sensible. And I put that dream in a box with a bow on it and kept it safe. I would take it out every now and then and look at it and sigh and cry a little for that little girl who wanted too much. The fall after I had the baby, I enrolled at Webster University and began a new dream. Going to college was the best decision I ever made. I didn't know I wanted to be a director. I didn't know I could be a director. I discovered what I didn't even know I had in me. Then, I found theater again. I found little magazines that published my stories. I found ways to be a mom and pursue dreams. Smaller dreams. Smaller goals. Just do one project at a time. At my parents house is a gas stove that has a pilot light in the middle. It's always burning. This was my dream. It stayed alive, burning quietly in the middle until something arrived to make it grow. That was my dream waiting to ignite glorious burners in creation. I was waiting to catch fire. And I climbed my way into a short film and then another and finally, finally I was ready to start my feature. This is what I have been practicing for my whole life. If I had not made those mistakes and trashed my dream and re-invented it, I don't know that I would be here today. But the story is not over. I'm crowdfunding to raise the post production funds I need to finish my film. It's going to be a big roller coaster ride, I can already tell. Look what was waiting for me right here all along. I've been so lucky that so many people believe in me. And most of all that I did not quit. This is the year it's happening. My seventeen year old self is not sure how I pulled it off so far. She can't really believe it. That girl wanted so much, had so many stars in her eyes. If I could, I would have told her to be patient. It's the work that matters and the work will come. Miracles will happen. Ready to catch fire.