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It took me a while but in March of this year I officially kicked off my Year of Yes. Since then I have said yes to things that normally I’d have hesitated to do. I had the time of my life getting coated with Faygo soda at an Insane Clown Posse show; I’ve gotten a stupid amount of ink in the past year (I just got tattoo number nine — eight of which have been done in the past 10 months); I got hooked on PokemonGo; I went back to school; I spent a weekend volunteering; I dressed up as a Pot Brownie for Halloween; and last night, I willingly sat in an audience and got sprayed with red gore (unsweetened kool-aid, I think) while watching Evil Dead: The Musical.
One of the key threads in there is something most people wouldn’t think about but is a big shift for me: The ICP show, playing PokemonGo in (almost) all weather, and the Evil Dead show all feature me getting sprayed/wet/soaked. Up until very recently, that was a hard NO for me. I stayed away from waterparks, squirt guns, and heavy rain (unless I was well-prepared and dressed appropriately). A lot of it goes back to my 19th birthday when, while on the phone to my Mom from my job in the UK, one of my coworkers upended a bucket of water over my head. That incident left lingering anger and mistrust for a long time.
However in the last year, one of my biggest achievements has been unlearning a bunch of toxic emotions and knee-jerk reactions. When it comes to getting splashed or sprayed I was quick to outrage and overreact. My ex could tell plenty of tales of outings that were curtailed or ruined because of my out-of-proportion reaction. Summer BBQs and beach visits were always a minefield as I tried to avoid any kids playing with super-soakers; any activity that meant extended time in the rain was suspect.
Really though? Humans are water resistant (I mean, we can’t be submerged in water for any length of time…) and clothes can be cleaned and dried. For both ICP and Evil Dead I wore clothes that, if destroyed, I would not weep over their loss. For PokemonGo I will run out in the pouring rain for a chance at certain rare Pokemon, knowing I can dry out again (and taking care to keep my phone relatively dry). So while I still wouldn’t enjoy having a bucket of water dumped on my head while on an important call, I can react more appropriately to other events where I might get wet — purposely or accidentally — and prepare for those where it’s a given.
The other big Year of Yes change has been in letting go of being worried about who I hang out with. As a kid I was acutely aware of the hierarchy in the classroom and playground because while I was near the top academically, I was subsequently near the bottom socially. This only got worse as I moved up through the grades and everything from fashion to food choice seemed to put me in an ever smaller box of people I could hang out with. In the past there were many times it was made clear that I could not spend time with certain people so I lost touch with some and others, well, I made the call to stay in touch a little more clandestinely. Not ideal. Even without that influence, I still had preconceptions of who I should or should not be seen with that lingered from high school — what would people think?
Now I’ve discarded all of that and I hang out with whomever I please, and I am more likely to go to gatherings where I know only one person or even no-one. Sometimes I look like I belong, and sometimes I don’t (there’s a great photo of me at a BBQ with about 20 other people where everyone is dressed in black except me, in my orange hoodie) but I am getting better at finding common ground no matter what group I am with and feeling comfortable with who I am in relation to who I’m with. In all, it is part of my commitment to being authentic, transparent, and honest. I think it’s working.
So. Year of Yes is well in hand, and in May I wrote about milestones and doodled a bit of a bucket list. It seems that list is ridiculously fluid though because some of the things on there are less important to me even 6 months later. There are also a few things on a separate bucket list that won’t ever show up on this blog. Still, it’s somewhere to start.
In discussions of consent we look for not just yes but an “enthusiastic yes” — and I am ready to yell “HELL, YES!” to more experiences and shenanigans — so what kind of trouble shall I get into and who would like to help me?
When I bought the Minty Beast, my ’86 Tercel in January, I expected it would last me 6 to 12 months. I got nine. Toward the end of October, the brake light started going on without the brakes being engaged. Turned out the brake lines were a mess — so had those fixed. While doing that, my mechanic had a look over the rest of the car and came back with an estimate for work that far eclipsed the value of the car. It was time for me to suck it up and buy something better (newer/safer/more efficient).
I still wanted something flexible — anything but a sedan, basically, but also wanted something that wouldn’t bleed me dry with its gas use. I gave myself a month and started looking.
I found what I wanted on a car lot in View Royal. I puttered out there on Friday and had a look, and kinda fell in love with it. After a test drive, I was done, I took a deep breath and wrote a big cheque, left them the Tercel and came home with a 2006 Yaris who I have named Lola, a showgirl I intend to drive until the feathers in her hair are very faded.
Lola has been a Victoria-area car its whole life and the dealership had what appeared to be all the maintenance records — bonus! Big points to note, front brakes fully replaced and rear brake pads replaced in 2016; new water pump in 2015; minor collision claim (only $1500 — so not big damage) in 2010. There are a few wee scratches that I’ll keep an eye on, and it is missing the little hatchback privacy flap in the back (which I can replace for about $100), but overall it looks pretty damned new.
One of the reasons that Lola had lingered on the lot is that it has 5 speed manual transmission and a lot of people either cannot or will not drive standards. Now, it’s been a few years since I last drove a standard (about 6? I cannot remember when my Mom sold her car but that was the last standard I drove.), so I was a little nervous getting behind the wheel. While doing the test drive I did fine right up to the last manoeuver of getting back to the lot (stalled, ground a gear, stalled again… sigh.). On my way home from View Royal, I stalled it twice. Yesterday running errands, you guessed it, lots of stalls (and one tire-spin on a wet hill). I am still getting used to Lola’s particular clutch/accelerator balance but I’ll get there soon enough.
I appreciate that Lola lacks a couple of the things that break down — no power windows, no AC (though as Lola is a black car, that’s going to make summer a bit challenging, but I will manage), no keyless entry. The stereo is what came with the car, and it’s adequate. The only other odd thing to get used to is that there is a glovebox in front of the steering wheel and the instrument panel is in the centre of the dash. Two days of driving and I am pretty much good with it though. The last big bonus? Fewer people will borrow my car LOL but I can also now teach kiddo how to drive standard, too.
Well, not too close but the floor tickets to Alice Cooper let me get about thirty feet from the stage. Could have pushed in closer but I was pretty comfortable and had a great view where I was. I started to complain about standing for two hours then remembered who was on stage. Alice Cooper is the same age as my mom.
I’m not a superfan, but 2016 seems to be taking a lot of celebrities off the touring list so I figured I would take the leap and see him, since I wasn’t sure I’d ever get another chance. I was not disappointed! The show was fun, very theatrical, and pretty much exactly as I expected. The playlist was a solid series of greatest hits plus a nice set late in the show where he paid tribute to Keith Moon, David Bowie, and Lemmy Kilmister with performances of Pinball Wizard, Suffragette City, and Ace of Spades.
They closed with School’s Out — filling the air with bubbles and feathers (which were actually tissue paper) — and I did wonder whether he gets bored of singing that song. They did one encore, Elect Me, complete with fighting presidential candidates.
I’m glad I went and saw the show. The audience was mostly courteous and well behaved and it felt like everything was right in the world to have Alice Cooper wish everyone a Happy Halloween on his way off stage.
This weekend is Thanksgiving here in Canada and I have the ingredients for a mostly traditional turkey dinner with pumpkin cheesecake awaiting me in the kitchen as I enjoy my morning coffee. I’ve done laundry and spent time reading about the state of the world today, and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on my life.
I am thankful that kiddo is with me today (she’ll go to her Dad’s for a thanksgiving meal tomorrow) and that aside from seasonal sniffles we are both healthy. I’m thankful for my extended chosen family of friends and that I could spend a little time with some of them last night and will see others tomorrow. Thankful too for those who reached out to me after yesterday’s emotional post.
I’m thankful that I have a home I can afford in this housing and rental market that seems to be strangling many people, and that I have food on my table and in my cupboards enough to last some time. Thankful that I could spend last weekend volunteering to help others in need and that I have enough energy and money to continue to give where I can.
Thanks to you, too, for reading.
WARNING: this is not light reading; if you do not wish to read about sexual assault, please click away. This is personal and in places graphic, but it is important; I need to add my voice.
Before going further, I recommend reading this post by Allison writes in which she challenges us to
… take a good long look at the women around you.
They’ve been grabbed by the pussy.
It’s happened to at least one of them, if not most. They’ve been touched in a non-consensual way and talked themselves out of the word assault.
Because the guy who did it was a friend, was a co-worker, was kidding, was flirting, etc.
It’s true. We have. I have.
This has to stop.
I’ve been at parties where people have squeezed my boobs. I’ve had my ass grabbed. I’ve been drunkenly kissed against my will. But those were small potatoes.
There is one person from my past, someone I once considered my best friend, who assaulted me in this insidious way that made me believe it was my fault. Not that I’d asked for it but that I’d suggested I wanted it or be down for it in some way.
He was driving me home after a night out with others but it was just him and me in his car, when he pulled over on a quiet street and before I could ask what was up, I looked over and saw that his dick was out, erect and not entirely welcome — an in-person dick pic before the era of smartphones.
I looked from his dick to his face, not sure whether to be frightened or to laugh. Then I saw his expression. He was dead serious.
“Come on. Suck me. Suck it,” he demanded.
We’d never, ever had any sexual interaction before and I was confused by his commands and his exposure. Add to this that I had been drinking a lot and so I wasn’t completely sure if I was just imagining it. In fact that’s what I told myself later.
Except I didn’t imagine it. I didn’t imagine him yelling, calling me a tease and a bitch, insisting that I suck him, and eventually grabbing my hair and pulling me into his crotch. I didn’t imagine the noises he made as he basically used me to jerk off. I didn’t imagine the bitter taste he left in my mouth.
We were nineteen or twenty years old. I felt that the friendship was valuable enough to salvage (it wasn’t — because clearly he did not respect me) and so I did what I could to hold it together. I still went to parties at his house and with our mutual friends, I celebrated birthdays and new jobs, we broke bread and shared meals often. Gradually I just somehow put that event, that night behind me. I convinced myself I had imagined it, or that somehow in my drunken state I had consented to this act (I didn’t). After I got married, and he moved away, we talked less often and eventually I found other reasons to just not talk to him at all. But among the handful of memories of him that still exist, that night is among the clearest. I still see that look in his eyes and hear the echoes of his demands.
I have only ever told a handful of people before and even though this is clearly sexual assault, I still excused his behavior because I was drunk, or maybe I had been teasing him, or maybe I really did want this (I mean, I didn’t try to open the car door. I didn’t just laugh in his face and say “put that away,” and I sure didn’t tell him afterward that I didn’t enjoy being used that way).
The thing is, this is what rape culture does: it normalizes sexual assault. It makes it seem like there is a grey area where none exists legally or morally. And now it has gotten so bad that one of the people with the best chance at landing the job of President of the United States of America is on record saying he can get away with stuff like this because he is famous and people are laughing it off as locker room talk.
No more. This is not OK. This is not acceptable behavior, not for anyone, celebrity, politician, or average Joe. We have to stop acting like it is.