50 Shades of Sexual Harassment?

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50 Shades of Sexual Harassment?

After the surprising accusations regarding Senator Franken yesterday, I started thinking about the varying differences in what is considered sexual harassment. NONE of it is appropriate under any circumstances, but I am realizing that there are certainly varying degrees of harassment, and a huge difference between a sexual predator, a pedophile, and an inappropriate comedian.

If suddenly we hear more revelations against Senator Franken, then certainly this post will be updated, but for now, I realize that if we look for sexual innuendos on both sides of Congress, we are going to find them everywhere and probably occurring daily.  So, unless Americans want to kick out every man in Congress and replace them all with women, (Sounds like a good idea to me), then we pretty much have to look at each and every person independently and determine what was heinous or habitual behavior, and what was perceived as harmless, but incredibly poor and insensitive taste.

I do hope all these women coming forward will finally enlighten the vast amount of men on the planet who still haven’t gotten the memo, and allow them to understand that ALL sexual innuendos, unwarranted touching, and groping is WRONG! But, we also have to be realistic. In our society polite flirting and casual innuendos sadly, have been a way of life in this country as far back as I can remember. And evidently it continues to this day. We women have to clearly and precisely define to those males who are still behaving badly, just exactly what is NOT acceptable behavior towards women. Because apparently they haven’t been able to figure it out on their own. So I am suggesting we give them a step-by-step manual!!

This is not a Democrat or Republican issue. This is a sexual harassment issue. If nothing is said and people are not held accountable then this good old boy mentality will continue on til the end of time. And by the way, teaching respectful behavior needs to start at the very top of our chain of command! (YES! I mean the grabber in chief.) And sexual misconduct should be made aware to both men and women so that neither gender behaves inappropriately. As a matter of fact, I questioned myself today on what exactly determines sexual harassment when women are in power?

Here is a scenerio: I moved into a 55 and older community after my second husband passed away a few years back and most of the residents here are widows of varying ages. And let me tell you, when the UPS and FEDEX guys come to deliver their medication or a package they ordered, they are all peeking out their windows giggling or running outside onto the catwalk to wave at them. Actually, it’s rather cute to see Granny smiling at Mr. Hunky UPS or FEDEX driver. I mean you know she’s NOT going to cast aside her walker and stick her tongue down his throat. (Like members of Congress have been known to do.) But, you see, society has forgotten that women over 50 are still sexual beings with brains and beauty, and some of these women rarely get to see a man under 70, so they do take notice when these muscular men drive up in their delivery trucks. Is that considered sexual harassment? I am not sure.

Perhaps these ladies are just trying to remember that once upon a time they were young, pretty, and desirable. To the world, or at least in the USA, women of a certain age become invisible. So maybe these ladies just want to take a peek so they can remember what a handsome man looks like. And I have to admit; there are even some days I’ve taken a quick glimpse at the drivers too. (Yes, I confess I have glanced their way. It is difficult NOT to notice them when everyone else in your community is 55 or older!

I will admit that I do have a tiny crush on my UPS guy. He’s a nice looking 40 something Hispanic man who is always friendly and pleasant. AND, because I live in Florida, he wears a uniform that consists of a short-sleeved shirt and shorts. (Like the uniform the guy in “Legally Blonde” wore). I don’t personally ogle, but when his truck shows up almost every woman in the complex runs outside to get a good look.

However, I can assure you that none of the ladies in my building, who probably represent the ages of most of Congress, have ever grabbed the behinds of a mail carrier, a UPS or FEDEX man when they turn and leave. That doesn’t mean they don’t check them out in their uniforms and then go have a cup of coffee together and giggle about what it was like to be young and in love. But there is definitely NO GROPING going on!

I think that’s probably the difference in how women behave as opposed to some men. However, now I am wondering… do these deliverymen think they are being harassed? Could that be possible?  I think harassment occurs when one person feels uncomfortable or threatened. And I highly doubt these mature widows threaten the UPS or FEDEX men. Then again, I’ve never asked them. So, I don’t really know.

For a year after I moved into my condo, rumors abounded that I was having an affair with the UPS man because I had so many packages delivered to my condo. The truth was that I was still teaching at the time and would stay late at work to write educational grants. So I ordered my coffee on line, used amazon for everything, including my shampoo, did holiday shopping online at Toys R Us for my grandkids, and my list goes on. I am always clicking away rather than dealing with going to a brick and mortar store. It is just easier.  That gave the ladies in my building the perfect opportunity to create fake news and fake gossip!  They all thought I was getting frisky with Mr. UPS man. Sadly, it wasn’t true and I only saw him in my dreams! Uh…wait a minute… Is it harassment if you wake up and realize that the UPS guy was in your dreams??? Hmmmm….

Seriously though, and THIS IS a very serious topic because there is nothing funny about sexual harassment or being physically assaulted by someone who forces himself on you. I know first hand the horrible consequences of being an assault victim, so humor helps me deal with this serious topic and allows me to be able to write this blog. But, I truly have been thinking about the differences between men and women and how we view sexual harassment.

I am sure there are some women of power who may use their sexuality, but I personally believe they use their power in different ways. I don’t see power for women as being predominantly sexual. They may show condiscention or leadership in strength by expecting perfection, or trying to prove they are in control at all times etc. but it isn’t about sex. With many men, it frequently seems to combine sex and power.

So I thought… was there ever a time in my life that I sexually harassed a man or used my own sexuality as a tool? I remembered being in middle and high school in the 1960’s and back then we had separate PE classes. Which actually was a good thing since the girls had to wear these shapeless bloomers that made us all look like potato sacks. However, since I have a name that can be male or female (Lesley), every single year I would be accidently scheduled to have PE with the boys. I dreaded having to go up to the boy’s PE instructor and get him to sign my schedule stating that I was indeed a female and didn’t have to attend his class. I received snickers and everyone pointed at me the first few weeks of school and I was humiliated at the beginning of every school year in junior high. By high school I really didn’t care any more. But, in those early years it was mortifying.

I DO remember one time, however, when I may have used my sexuality. It was in 1967 right before my 18th birthday. I got a draft card. I had to go down to the draft board and prove that I was a girl and didn’t need to be drafted. I called the draft board office and they said I had to show up in person with the appropriate ID. I asked my Dad to go with me since I did not want to be alone in a room filled with army officials. BUT, the rebel in me decided to have some fun with this. It was 1967 and I was already in an all girls’ rock band and fighting for equal rights, so I took this time to play a little trick because of the government’s mistake. I teased my hair, wore an iconic 60’s flip, used Twiggy style eye make-up and light pink lipstick, put on my best mini skirt and go go boots, and slid into the front seat of my Father’s car with my draft papers in hand as my Dad drove me to the local draft office. When I walked in every army officer about knocked each other out of the way trying to help me. I played dumb and batted my fake eyelashes. (Hoping they wouldn’t fall off since I wasn’t used to wearing them. I just wanted to look like all the female icons of the day.) I certainly did get their attention. Yes, THAT day I suppose I used my sexuality.

I innocently explained that I had received a draft card by mistake and since I was a girl would they please straighten out this mess and excuse me from being drafted into the United States Army. Well, they all thought it was adorable and the funniest thing they had ever heard. All these men in uniform, young soldiers, and even the older gentlemen responded with comments like these:

“Of course you are a girl, honey.”

“Now sweetheart, don’t think any more about this, we’ll fix it right away.”

“Well, aren’t you just the cutest little thing. A draft card? Doesn’t that beat all?”

“I can’t imagine a sweet little angel like you fighting in Viet Nam.”

The comments about how darling I was and how sweet little old me wouldn’t have to worry because all those big strong men would help me out of my dilemma went on for quite a while.

I knew enough to bring my father but I glanced over at my dad who was rolling his eyes and totally knew I was milking the situation. Now keep in mind, my father was Military. He was a decorated WWII Lieutenant with a drawer filled with medals including a purple heart. So he thought the men were acting like idiots fawning over me, especially since he knew his daughter well. He knew I could throw a football, play basketball and shoot hoops, run faster than a speeding bullet, swim under water in a flash, and do just about anything I set my mind to do. (Including playing guitar in an all girls’ rock band.) But, he let me do my thing and just let me handle it without saying a word. When we got back in the car to go home, we both cracked up laughing.

My father said something like, “Lesley, the ONLY reason you couldn’t go to war is because you’d hate the dress code and having to make your bed every day. NOT because you couldn’t fight. That being said, I am really glad my children don’t have to go into combat.  War is a heck of thing. A heck of a thing for anybody…” My father never swore into front me or any of his family, so he wouldn’t even say the word Hell. And My Dad never talked about his war experiences. It wasn’t until a few years before he passed away, and only because my youngest son interviewed him for a Veteran’s Day report that I heard him discuss some of what happened during those WWII years. My mom had already died and I was making him a lasagna and I held back tears as I listened.  I was really proud of him. He was a hero. He never bragged about it.  But he was.

My Dad is one reason it is hard to look at these old fools who are predators running for office when my role model was a man of integrity. He was always a gentleman. A real hero who respected human life, fought against fascism, and respected women. If he were alive today he’d probably go up to Trump and Roy Moore and punch them right in the nose for de-valuing everything he fought for. Both my parents would be shocked at what is happening today.

I think about this issue seriously and I hope that all these women will be believed, that men will reconsider their groping hands and their frivolous comments, and that more women will become leaders and stand up to the men who are still trying to keep them from speaking out and succeeding in this society of ours.

My humor in this blog was all true, but I used it to make it easier for me to discuss this topic. I had several uncomfortable harassment episodes when I entered the work force in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. And that still bothers me to this day. Most all of my female friends also had similar experiences. And as a young divorced mother in the late 1970’s, I had my apartment broken into and was stabbed and assaulted, so I understand how difficult it was in the past to be believed when something happened to a woman. I will never forget calling 911 after an attack and due to my shock; I didn’t notice that I was bleeding from a stab wound in my shoulder or that my neck was already turning colors from being choked. I often wonder if I hadn’t shown physical evidence would I have even been believed. I don’t know. But, what bothers me the most is that my incident happened over 40 years ago, and this disregard for women is still happening today and that enrages me. So, I put a little humor into my blog so that I would have the courage to talk about this important issue. It is time we women stood together to end this harassment. It is time! It is time!!!!!

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Crimson Widow: Prologue

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I have been working on a paranormal mystery/romance novel that is almost finished.  Here is the prologue.

Crimson Widow                                                       Lesley Kluchin

                                                  Prologue  

The Dream…

Elizabeth Kain abruptly awakened from a hauntingly real nightmare. Her face beaded with perspiration, her hair drenched in sweat as a cool palm wiped away the moisture dripping from her brow. She lay motionless, reliving the lingering memories of a recurring vision that had plagued her for decades. Images flashed before her of a dashingly handsome gentleman whose face remained hidden in the shadows. His silken hair blew savagely around an angular profile, permitting a hint of his strong muscular physique to peek through a tightly pressed shirt. Crisp white linen lay beneath a lengthy midnight blue duster that whipped about violently from the force of the evening wind.

Tonight the dream had gone further, allowing her to observe more; unveiling just a hint beyond the mystery that she couldn’t quite grasp, plummeting her down into yet another layer of the black hole that was her subconscious.

On other nights when she had the dream, she could glimpse a portion of the cliff where the man stood. This evening, she saw that the grass beneath his worn leather boots had turned brown and was growing sparse in patches.

Slowly, Liz inched her way up onto her elbows to keep the room from spinning while flashes of the dream continued to invade her consciousness. It occurred to her that while asleep, she had observed the mystery man almost as an outsider, looking down at him from above and studying every single detail below; every blade of grass, every crumpled leaf on the ground, the muted colors and smooth texture of the fabric he wore on clothing that appeared to be from another time. In her reverie, the region was visibly familiar, and yet she still couldn’t place the location. It gnawed and tugged at her brain but was just an echo of a memory that had vanished. Some nights, the images were clearer, but this night, she noticed the foliage around her was in full bloom, glistening as it swayed in the breeze; revealing that it must have been early fall. The cool crisp weather, the leaves on the nearby trees had started to change yet most were still intact. And HE was staring at her with a gaze somewhere between anger and anguish.

Her breathing began to intensify and she closed her eyes tightly wishing she could descend back into the dream again, if only to catch another glimpse of him. But, even with the hopes of going back, there was also the fear that if she did fall asleep again, the painful agony and hurt upon leaving him would engulf her completely, and this time she would be too far-gone to recover. Somehow, she knew that this man, the beautiful creature on the hill, was saying goodbye to her, and was never returning, and that notion was utterly unbearable. She forced back a stifled cry of despair remembering her last glimpse at the perplexing specimen on the hill.

An eerie sensation deep within her suddenly made her vividly cognizant of all her newly awakened senses, and they sang from every pore of her being. She sensed that in the dream the lovers had been intimate for the very last time, and her body ached to run to him and cling tightly so that he might hold her in his arms once more. Yet, she also knew that in the vision she was walking further and further away from the cliff and away from the man. Tonight she saw herself turn back and take one last glimpse at his image and she felt her heart crumble.

Her response was always the same, her chest tightened to where she couldn’t breathe, her heart pounded so rapidly that the beating sound blasted up into her ears like a thousands drums, and right before she yelled a gut-wrenching scream, she would fully awaken. Always startled, always knowing, yet not understanding. Still feeling his touch, still hurting from their separation, and filled with a vapid empty void that bored at the very core of her soul.

Elizabeth Kain sat up in bed, ran a shaking hand through drenched hair and let out a sob.

In the distance…. on the rooftop across the canal, stood the shaded figure of a man, He intently scrutinized Liz’s feminine form, which he clearly observed through the darkness and distance. As he surveyed every inch of her body, drinking in the delicate movements of the woman he had secretly watched over for the last 25 years, his stone-like features softened. She moved with the ethereal ease he had come to know so well. His face was fixed in a tormented grimace that came exceedingly close to exposing his suffering. Would he ever be able to stop loving her? Would this agony never end? He let out a sardonic laugh and realized at once that nothing ever ended for him, especially not the pain of losing her.

And so it was, on this night, like so many other nights over the last two and half decades, that Marco Trubiano looked up to the sky and let out a moaning howl before turning abruptly, and effortlessly gliding down the rooftop, landing with perfect proficiency onto the gravel below. Disappearing instantly out of sight as the dawn approached.

And The Beat Goes On…

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And The Beat Goes On…  (A spoken word poem.)

Today I was inspired….I heard an interview with an author I greatly admire,

And when she was asked why she was drawn to the unusual, to the paranormal…

She explained with honesty and simplicity,

That vampires, ghosts, and werewolves were nothing more than a metaphor for those of us who walk on the sidelines.  Those of us who feel like we are on the outside of society looking in.

And I had an epiphany for my entire creative existence.  My whole life I have felt like I was on the outside. Different.

That everyone else was walking in a straight line, a set path, while I veered and swayed to the left of it and danced my way through life fighting past the looks of concern, scorn, or sheer misunderstanding.

Always searching for those rare moments when I felt the warmth and acceptance from a select few who understood my dance.

I recall being but a young child and proudly getting up in front of the class bursting with anticipation and determination.

Excited about learning, and burning inside to share my research with my peers, who were waiting patiently with their tiny hands folded upon their wooden desks in neat little rows.

It was the 1950’s and a time of great speculation and fascination with outer space. An exciting decade in which to live. But an equally cruel and unforgiving era as well.

I tried my best to follow all assignment rules, but could not stop there. I always had more to contribute, or so I thought…. Too much energy to contain, so much desire with every task presented.

I had a need to exhibit my child-like visions in drawings and drama and proceeded to show my artful masterpiece as I stood before the class with great trepidation.

But to my dismay, my schoolmates’ eyes were focused on my teacher’s scrunched up angry red face and not on the report and drawings I held with pride.  Miss Rich stood stern and tall and pointed to the corner of the room with condemnation, rather than the adulation, which I had craved and thought was well deserved.

My fearless leader saw none of the creative imagination in my renderings I had added to my assignment.  She had no understanding of my youthful enthusiasm. Instead, she proceeded to punish me for veering off the path of rules.

I was sent into the CORNER OF SHAME. (Or that is what she thought.)

But little did she know, that the “punishment corner” had become my own special place of retreat. I had come to know it well to work off my outbursts of enthusiasm and innovative ideas that she never approved of…

And as I stared at the cracks in the wall that I had begun to embrace, I saw people, places, and wondrous things, which swirled and danced in my head. I wrote stories and poems in that corner instead of atoning for the sin of thinking out of the box.

It was the 1950’s after all, and no one was supposed to veer off the learning path to the left.   And yet I did.

In art class, my elephant was purple not gray, and I was yelled at and punished for not following the rules!  And still I refused to change my picture because I wanted my elephant to be purple! (Just like the stuffed animal my father brought home to me and who sat on my bed at night to comfort me when my dreams took me to scary places.)

I twitched and turned and could not sit still which annoyed just about every teacher I came to know. All because I heard the beautiful beat of a drummer in my head… pounding out a rhythm that made me want to jump and dance as it beat louder and louder… reverberating up into my brain with words and images that had to be written down or drawn.

It didn’t matter if no one else could hear the beat of my music. Because I could hear it.  Yes, Vampires, ghosts, werewolves, and ME!  We all heard the music. We all were on the outside looking in….and NEEDED to whirl around to the beat. It forced us to move and feel…

So sometimes, even when I was supposed to stay seated, when the music was especially loud and wonderful, I HAD no choice, but to get up and dance.   Even when I wasn’t supposed to.  Because you see, it was a happy, bright place filled with fantasy just on the outside of the line where I stood.

If only other people would join me there.  Then maybe their distain would disappear if they would just take one step on my side of the straight and narrow line…. Maybe then they would see that the world was much more colorful over here.  The music was louder and all the instruments played non stop ALL the time.

Sometimes out of tune, but that never mattered.

And so the Instruments continued to play in my head. They blared on; drums, violins, harps, trumpets…. each one entertaining me with a symphony of notes, sometimes in words, often in colors, and it was always beautiful!!!!!!

And then one day, a very kind English teacher applauded after I shared a poem that I had written, and he pulled me aside after class.  He took me by surprised when he stated. “You don’t belong in this class. You need to be in with the advanced students. Why on earth has no one addressed this before?”

I sheepishly told him I thought it was because I talked too much, and got too excited about learning. That teachers always said I was WAY too much trouble!  I explained that I usually wrote my poems while I was in the corner and nobody ever heard them but me.

He smiled and let me know that he would fix things. He told me from now on I would feel at home in school and that it would be okay, because there were others who would now appreciate my writing.  And so that very day in 7th grade, when Mr. Wilson, a frail thin man with a smile as warm as freshly baked cookies, heard the rhythm of my music, it was then I began to realize that sometimes others could feel what I felt, see what I saw…

But, in reality, it didn’t happen very often.

I thought that as I started to grow up things would change and the sound of my music would disappear… But no, I still heard the beat.

And when I transitioned further on in middle and high school, where the world was a very confusing place…. I watched as our beloved President Kennedy died and Martin Luther was envisioning his precious dream and trying to enlighten the world.

And I wrote it all down in words and turned them into songs and tears.

As the music continued to beat louder in my head,  my very close friends and I wrote what was in our hearts, and formed a band to tell the world how things should be if only people would listen.  My classmates thought we were crazy because girls weren’t supposed to perform like boys. Girls didn’t play guitars. It just wasn’t done. Not in 1966… But we did it anyway…

As the beat blared thunderously in our heads, it was now vampires, ghosts, werewolves and rocker chicks…. who wanted the world to change and let equality reign in our songs.

And then in college as I sat with a sea of people tightly blending together and holding hands… a rainbow of colors heard my song.  I understood then that there were other vampires, ghosts, and werewolves out there trying to change the world too. Apparently more then I had ever imagined. And I felt empowered and basked in the strength of numbers convinced that we could indeed change the universe together as long as everyone heard the beat.

A special literature professor named Mrs. Keenan took me under her wing and approached me with tears in her eyes one afternoon at the end of class. She confided that she looked forward to reading my essays and that whatever I wrote, always spoke to her heart. It made her want to sing and dance, and feel young again. She begged me to never stop writing.  She told me that when she was submersed in my words, she felt like she was Juliet, Elizabeth Bennett, Rosaline all rolled into one.

This dynamic, beautiful lady played a monumental role in why I became a teacher. Her supreme joy in teaching affected every pore of my being and I lived and breathed literature when in her class. Her love of the written word glowed from her very spirit and washed over her students like a spring rain…. and inspiration thrived in one tiny room on campus, and danced in my head when she defined the works of Tolstoy, and Chekov. Life was divine and everyone felt like an insider within the confines of her classroom.

But, life is filled with twists and turns and as I grew older and settled down, I strained harder to hear the music.  There was marriage, motherhood, work, divorce and putting food upon the table.  At the end of the day, my weary senses were somewhat dulled and the music quieted down.   I had to rely on the sparkle in my son’s eyes for the songs to find me again.

They were always there you see…just hiding in the darkness when life’s pain and struggles overshadowed the joy. But right behind the laughter of a child the melody continuously plays…

The hardest times were during my early teaching years when I was told to stop being so creative and to follow and just conform to the rules.  To only use text books and throw away my innovative thoughts and ideas.  To tear down my 3- D bulletin boards because it made the other teachers look too ordinary….And I didn’t understand…  Nor could I stop.

Because with each child’s face the music became louder and louder again.  A symphony sprang up from every student … And when I gazed upon their smiles, my own beat emerged louder than ever before.

And so when I closed those doors behind me and faced the wave of children crammed into their tiny desks, I understood.  I finally knew why I had been given the gift of being able to hear the music.

Why I was able to dance to my own beat. It was to let the children before me hear the music too and to give them the opportunity to create their own dance, their own rhythm.

I knew that no other child should have to be stashed away in a corner to hide their creativity or pretend not to see the whirling cracks in the wall. And that my purpose was to inspire my students and let them create all the purple elephants they wanted.

I had to let freedom and creative thinking inside the walls of my classroom.

And so I did… And 36 years later when my superiors asked me how I was so successful, why my students in particular always did so well….I smiled.  I told them it was because I allowed children to think for themselves! To write down their ideas and hear the thoughts that were inside their heads and to trust themselves. To understand that their own personal voice was always something they needed to listen to.  And most of all, that in my room…they would always be safe and could dance to whatever beat they heard.

Yes, they could hear their music, or dance their dance when they walked through my door. They could write and say all the things they weren’t supposed to do traditionally.

Because inspiration creates knowledge, and perfection happens when students are inspired.  How ironic that at the end of my long career, I finally received recognition for being unique.

Suddenly, I was considered a wonderful educator. And yet, my methods had not changed, just the data that recorded the scores. It wasn’t until technology put a number on smiles and happiness and equated them with percentiles, did administrators take notice of my gifts.  Ironic, because had they listened, they could have heard the music the moment they opened the door to my room.

And still…. deep inside I felt that I was among the vampires, ghosts, and werewolves not being understood.

Oh, the children understood, let me be clear…children always understand.  Just like vampires, ghosts, and werewolves,  who ALWAYS  dance to the beat of their own drummer… Living on the outskirts of society.

I realized today as I write this poem, that those who are the visionaries, the innovative souls who may look a bit different, sound slightly off kilter, laugh at things others might not hear or see, Listen to music that is not apparent to everyone’s ears…

Those are the souls who can change the world for the better.  Those are the individuals who see what others avoid.

So, bless the vampires, ghosts, and werewolves and the teachers, for they are my inspiration.

They keep me hearing my own music and the pounding beat of my own drum.

And for as long as I hear my own beat, I will keep on dancing…

MARLA AND LOLLY 1966

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The Wild West of America!

 

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This morning I was drinking a cup of coffee and watching the news still reeling from yesterday’s heartbreaking mass shooting that took place in a church and killed 25 people (Thus far).

So… A man with domestic battery on his record, who was discharged from the military, let go after a few months working as an unarmed security guard, was able to buy an assault weapon. But hey, we don’t need stricter gun laws?
The reporter said a local store sold him an assault rifle , even though he shouldn’t have been able to buy one. How could this have happened? Oh right, our gun laws don’t identify restricted people nationwide. What a concept! I mean, time after time some lunatic purchased a machine gun legally even though they shouldn’t have been able to. Until we ban deadly assault weapons these mass shootings will continue, and continue, and continue…

This country has turned into a modern version of Tombstone. We now live in the “Wild West of America”. A country with no regard for human life, but rather, a bromance with assault rifles. A nation where the GOP’s family values consist of worshiping NOT G-d, but the NRA. (And for clarification I’m NOT against the 2nd amendment. I just want safer common sense gun laws.)

Our President said this is a mental health issue. I agree. The mental health of our Republican Congress is indeed distorted and sick. Our representatives care more for the All powerful NRA than the citizens who elected them to protect and serve. Our Commander in chief appears devoid of compassion and prays to the all mighty dollar, while Congress refuses to help communities and individuals. Is it because they have easy lives with paid healthcare benefits? They rarely show up at work, and when they do they seem to care only about themselves and their party or crushing the other party even at the expense of our citizens. They have forgotten their responsibilities, how to compromise, and what being an American representative is all about.

As far as I’m concerned, They can all go to hell. I’ve often expressed my anger and frustration at this new inflexible and selfish GOP, but I’ve never wished ill will towards any of them (or any human being for that matter) before in my life.  Even 45, who I don’t care for.  However, I’ve finally had enough of their opportunistic, egotistical, cruel behavior!  Too many children and innocents have died at the hands of home grown terrorists with assault weapons that nobody but our military should have.

So, this time I’m condemning the members of Congress who won’t make safer gun laws to rot in Hell for the countless murders they have committed!  Until we ban these assault weapons and make safer gun laws they are ALL murderers! So murderer McConnell and Killer Ryan and all the rest of the cowards who bow down to DT and the NRA can dance with the Devil, since it’s obvious they’ve already sold their souls… and anyone who continues to vote for these heartless, cruel monsters can join them in the flames for eternity.

Yes, I’m mad. Enough is enough! Our President AND the GOP Congress are as much to blame had they put their hands on the trigger! Murderers every one of them!

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Housekeeping in the 1950’s

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I don’t know about any of you, but I really hate washing clothes.  In fact, I hate housekeeping in general.  I much prefer doing something more creative with my day, but let’s face it; we all have to deal with the fact that once or twice a week, it must be done. Sigh. We need clean clothes and an environment that is habitable.

I often wish that I were more like my mother, because she took on the task of  washday and made it one of the highlights of her week. She figured out a way to actually make it fun. (At least for her!) To Gert Kluchin, washing clothes was like solving a mystery. She turned every piece of clothing into a challenge and a creative way to remove stubborn stains from all three of her children’s outfits.

Now, you must keep in mind that I grew up in the 1950’s and children played outside. We ran and jumped and rolled around in the dirt. We played tag, Red Rover, red light, green light, baseball, and basketball, we swirled round and round using hula-hoops… and we roller-skated and rode our bikes everywhere. Therefore, we fell and scraped a lot of knees, came inside with massive grass stains, ripped pants, torn shirts and sweaters, because we truly lived and played in our clothing.

AND when we were done with those clothes, IF they could be salvaged, we passed them down to our younger siblings. So they HAD to be mended.  I suppose THAT is where the excitement began for my Mother. She  dabbled in a variety of ways to fix torn, worn out pants, invented experimental methods to make invisible patches, and concocted her own solutions to clean the impenetrable stains. And 99.9 percent of the time her remedies worked!!!! Remember, those were the days before supermarkets carried sprays or pens that doubled as spot removers. So, she loved Wash Day. And I admire her for that.

And she was great at it. She found a way to make something boring, exciting and creative. I recall her calling me (or my sister) over to show us her miraculous fixes. (Oh, yes, she darned our socks too and they had to be perfect so we couldn’t feel them in our shoes!!!) She was like Mr. Wizard in her Laundry room.

My sister must have found all this pretty extraordinary because she possesses this gene too!!! She can spot remove and fix torn clothing really, really well. Even my sons quietly (Yes, behind my back) have been known to ask her to mend their jeans (after my mother died) and like a good Auntie she always accommodated them. Smart boys, I have. They knew I would have either thrown them out, or cut them up and used the denim to make unique patches. Then I would have put them on my jeans and created a cool pattern that looked very hippie chic. OR, I would have created an interesting denim patchwork pillow or purse.  But no, I would NOT have mended their jeans.

And,  never – ever, have I enjoyed washing clothes. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that year after year as a teacher we did science fair projects and there were always a few children who elected to do a project on which brand- of clothes detergent cleaned better. For all you inquiring minds out there…pretty much it was always a tie with a few brands doing slightly better. (Yawn). Yeah, they are ALL basically the same. Some just have fragrance and some do not. Some are better for the environment than others, but they all clean the same when you use data and chart the results!!!!

Even when I did a class science project I stayed as far away from clothes washing as I possibly could. In fact, I remember when I sent away to Harvard University for a kit on a study (for gifted children) on ESP, (which actually developed math/science skills) using probability and deductive reasoning. The children always found it cool to think ESP was involved. (BTW, I never found a student in 36 years who really had ESP. I did, however, have a parent one year who thought ESP was the work of the devil, and didn’t understand that it was just a probability lesson, which is math.  (But, as teachers you always run into a few odd balls.) And guess what?  BOTH the girls and the boys were equally able to predict outcomes. No surprise there.

Another fun science fair project that didn’t involve washing clothes was to see what kind of music would make plants grow better.  I can tell you right now that Mozart and Beethoven are enjoyed much more by plant/green life than heavy metal rock groups. (Yes, ALL the heavy metal bands actually KILLED the plants.) The Beatles, however did pretty well except for songs like “Helter Skelter” and “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road.” So the lesson? Our environment is sensitive to the vibrations around us…  I could go on, but I digress….

So, while I love to solve a mystery and do research on just about anything, I DO NOT like doing housework or laundry.

And, in a moment I will have take out my delicates and hang them up and then put in a load of jeans. The only exciting thing about that is my next load is filled with very cool embroidered jeans, so I will have to hang them up rather carefully instead of putting them in the dryer. (Yawn) Still not very exciting.

My point in all of this? I guess I was just thinking that I really admired my mother for finding a creative way to make housekeeping and washing clothing in the 1950’s enjoyable.  I’m 68 and I still haven’t figured out how to do that. But SHE DID!  She never seemed unhappy  doing the wash or housework, and made it seem like she was the Indiana Jones of Laundry. And that is really rather special.  I didn’t appreciate her creativity back when I was little, but I certainly do now.

And when her day was done and the three kids were in bed, sometimes I would creep into the hallway and peek in to see what my mom was doing at her desk while she waited for my dad to come home.  I’d sit and smile and watch her. She’d be typing away in her journal letting her imagination run wild as she relived the events of her day. I’d hear the indistinguishable sound as her fingers flew across the keys and she wrote down her thoughts about politics and other issues happening all around the world.  Journal entries that I did not read until after she passed away.  Gosh, I really miss her.  I think if she were alive today, I might even pay better attention to how she took out those difficult grass stains….

UGH! There goes the buzzer. Time for another load of laundry ….

housewife

Time To Join Hands!

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Today I had lunch with a dear friend who I have known since the mid 1970’s. Over the years we rarely (if ever) discussed politics. She knew I was a Democrat and I was aware that she was a Republican. It never affected our friendship or any other aspect of our lives, at least not until Donald Trump ran for President. There were even times over the years when we didn’t vote strictly down party lines but voted for who we thought was best for the country, or best for our state. Mostly we kept pretty quiet about our personal political viewpoints. Perhaps because we were teachers and as educators we knew that personal views on religion or politics were subjects that weren’t appropriate for the classroom or open for discussion in school. Students, teachers, and parents never knew our individual political viewpoints. And it didn’t matter because we were consummate professionals.

But, this last election was different. We both have been retired for a few years now and when things got heated during the election we chose not to discuss the candidates simply because we didn’t want politics to ruin our friendship.

However, today she blurted out a comment that shocked me to the core and made me wonder if that’s how a majority of Republicans feel. Or perhaps how people in general think.
She told me she thought that I worried way too much about everyone and everything and that all she really cared about was what affected her personally. That stunned me! I explained that I felt today, more than ever, we HAD to care about our fellow man if democracy was going to survive. I let her know that while she might not be suffering or discriminated against today, tomorrow it might be her without healthcare or she could be the one excluded from living in certain places due to age discrimination or religious exclusion. I tried to share how wrong bigotry of any kind was, but I still could not get through to her.

I wonder if that’s what has happened to Congress and to many of our citizens in general. That they only care about themselves and what affects them. Not about anybody else. Not even their constituents. and that thought hurts me to the core.

Those are NOT the principles our founding fathers wrote about when they referred to us as “WE THE PEOPLE”. This is not the United States of Lesley or Susie or Teddy. It’s the United States of America and ALL of us matter. We HAVE to care about one another. If we don’t, we not only lose our freedom, we lose our humanity.

I remember seeing a photo taken during WWII where a group of women were stripped naked and they were in a long line waiting to be shot. Their babies clung tightly to their mothers’ chests as they tried to find comfort. Naked, they all stood together. The rich Indistinguishable from the poor. Their only link being that they were Jewish Women.
If WE all stood together naked, hand in hand, what would we see? Nothing but a group of human beings together. Neither rich nor poor, just people. Americans! There would be no major differences between us. We are all human. Some taller, some shorter, some smarter, some prettier, some more athletic, others more talented, but all human beings. We Americans need to unite not fight. In the end we are no better than the next person. We cannot let 45 divide us. That is what dictators do.  “WE THE PEOPLE” have no choice but to join hands and unite if we intend to hold on to our precious inalienable rights!

Closeup of business colleagues laughing and standing