A Tribute to Special People in My Life

24 01 2017

Today is the anniversary of the death of someone I cared about deeply. I had intended to write this last year, but then my life went into crazy mode. As time moved on, it seemed weird to write a post that wasn’t connected to a significant date. In December, his wife passed away, joining her husband in heaven. I wanted to write the post then, but it was the holidays and life was in crazy mode. Today was the day. I wanted to honor Wayne and Garnith and what they and their family have meant to me. In doing this, however, I am going to have to share some deeply personal things.

Some know the story and some do not. I was born in Brooklyn, but after 5 years, my family moved to Hillside, New Jersey. My parents divorced a few years later. My mother got pregnant and then married a second man. When she discovered he was a polygamist, she had him arrested and but was only able to convince one of the wives to come testify. He was found guilty of bigamy. As he was being carted off to prison from the courtroom he said that he was going to kill us. I don’t know why my mother decided that Omaha was the safest place to hide; it would be the first place he would have looked because her sister and her family lived there. But we pulled up stakes and moved to Omaha.

Sometime in my 5th grade year (the entry grade level in Omaha), I met someone new to our class. Her name was Kelly. She lived in the townhome complex we did. She was very quiet and shy (boy was that just a cover!) She had an older sister (one grade level up) named Kitchel.

Fifth grade class; Kelly is standing in the first row, 2nd from the left in the dark shirt.

Fifth grade class; Kelly is standing in the first row, 2nd from the left in the dark shirt.

Once friends, I got to meet Kelly’s parents, Wayne and Garnith. I remember my first impressions were they were so YOUNG and hip and cool. Garnith had gotten pregnant with Kitchel when she was 16. Wayne and Garnith got married then. Can you imagine getting married at 16 years of age? One would say the marriage was doomed…but it wasn’t. They listened to the music I like; I hated the music my mother liked.

Garnith

Garnith

I found myself staying over there more and more. Sometimes I would hang out with Kelly more, but then if Kitchel was doing something I was interested in, I might hang out with her more. There wasn’t much age difference between the two and it wasn’t ever because I was upset with one.

Their home became a refuge to escape the abuse going on in my home. They weren’t perfect. They lost their temper on occasion. Sometimes Kitchel or Kelly got grounded. They became a role model for me of people who loved their children, witnessing it up close and personal how that dynamic worked.

I was introduced to new things there. Butter — glorious butter — and that it didn’t need refrigeration (we were eating margarine at home). Refried beans. I didn’t even know what that was until I met them. I loved being able to stay over and eat dinner with them because the food was so much better. Likely I invited myself on many occasions. Garnith was the one who pierced my ears. She worked in a medical clinic. She numbed my ear lobe with ice cubes and then inserted an IV needle in my ear lobes. She was there to brush my tears away when my mother lost control at home. She listened to things that came my heart. She gave me advice when I asked for it. She became like a mother to me. More and more I wanted to stay at their house and not mine.

My father was pretty absent in my life. He was an alcoholic and child abuser. Once we moved to Omaha he couldn’t even sit down and write a letter to me. Wayne became my fatherly role model. He was a quiet one (his wife the complete opposite). He was funny. He loved football. He gave me advice as well. He became like a father to me.

Wayne

Wayne

One year they asked me if I wanted to come with them on a family road trip to Wichita. I was shocked my mother said yes. I got to experience what that was like. I met their extended family. I wanted to be adopted by them. I had hoped maybe with my absence it would make my mother’s heart grow fonder, but that never happened.

Dancing in Blue Springs, MO

Dancing in Blue Springs, MO

When they moved from the townhomes into a house (but still in the same school district) it became a bit more difficult to see them.

Meanwhile at home a storm was brewing. My sister and my mother got into a fight. She told my sister to leave. I stuck up for my sister. My mother was lying saying my sister said one thing when I had been a witness and that was not what she said. My mother told me I could go with her. At age 14, I boarded, along with my sister, a bus bound for New York (a very scary trip). My sister moved in with her friend’s family Toms River (having known them from Hillside). I went to my aunt’s house (and that is another story). My mother apologized and told me for the first time in at least a decade that she loved me. I decided to go home and give it another try.

Kelly & Kitchel in Houston

Kelly & Kitchel

Things just got worse. By July, she told me she was buying me a one-way ticket to my father (a father who was living under a bridge). She never wanted to see me again and I would never see my brother again. She told me I could only take the things with me that I had bought for myself with babysitting money. I called a friend and they picked me up. I was able to stay with them until my flight left.

My sister had me stay in the Bronx with her and the family of her college friend (where she was staying). It was for several weeks. We went up to see my father’s side of the family and my Aunt Pat and Uncle Paul said I could live with them, but I didn’t know them then. I wanted to go live with the Williams’ family. They told me if I ever needed anything to call when they moved to Missouri the same week of the first episode of being thrown out. She told me they would have a family meeting and let me know. They took a few days. The answer was yes.

The Williams extended family

The Williams extended family

What I learned later was that my father promised to send them money to help with the expense of raising me. I was having a lot of illnesses, bronchitis, and what not and I wasn’t eligible really to be on their insurance. In retrospect I am not really sure how they even got me registered to get into school because they weren’t my guardians and my father did not have the legal right to give them that. There was also a lot of fighting going on between Kelly and myself (and really I don’t even remember what that was about). Finally Garnith brought me in to her bedroom and said that they really couldn’t do this anymore. That she loved me so much. My sister was going to file child abandonment charges against my mother and she was getting me a ticket to New York so I could be placed in a foster home close to SUNY Stony Brook where my sister was a student. My heart was so sad but at least there was a plan.

In the meantime, I wrote my grandmother. I guess somehow my mother saw it, knew where I was and called their house. I will never forget when Garnith sat there and told my mother off. Someone for the first time in their life stuck up for me. Not even the teachers at my school stuck up for me when I shared with them about the abuse going on at home. It was a different time and my mother was a masterful liar.  I told Garnith how much I loved her for doing that, but I needed to be gone tomorrow. I knew my mother. My mother was going to send the police and she would technically be “harboring a runaway” (even though I wasn’t a runaway–this is the way my mother twisted things). Just to be safe, even though the plane I was going to be flying on was going to just stopover in Chicago and go on to New York, we decided to have me switch airlines and then continue on to New York. Remember I was 14 and I was going to do this alone.

I had a nice talk with Kitchel before I left (see picture below). That was the last picture I took before I left them. Wayne drove me to the airport and I enjoyed the time we spent together talking about things. Later I found out at that very moment, the police showed up on their door. Kitchel was home and invited them in and said, “She’s not here.”

Last picture I took before leaving

Last picture I took before leaving

I got stuck in Chicago because of a blizzard and I had zero money on me. I was so hungry. The flight was cancelled. My sister, who was meeting me at the other end, went home to her friend’s house. Around midnight though, they let the plane go to New York. The stewardess was more than happy to give me a second dinner when I explained my situation.

When I arrived in New York, no one was there to greet me because they all thought my flight was cancelled until the next day. Without the benefit of cell phones and having no money to make a phone call, I tried to reach my sisters. Eventually we did connect and I was informed about the visit by the police to the Williams’ home.  My sister added that the police may be looking for me and keep low. Here I was — 14 years of age — its about 3 o’clock in the morning–and I’m wanted by the police!  It wasn’t like there were any crowds to blend in.  I sat in the baggage claim area and just waited with confidence like there was nothing wrong.

I kept in touch with the Williams family through letters and phone calls. As adults, Kitchel wound up in Houston and we spent a lot of time together. I believe (I could be wrong) that they moved away, but then were moving back. Kitchel got to stay with us at the house we now own for I think it was a month until she could find the right house. She stayed in what is now Patrick’s room. I felt privileged to be able to help her as her family helped me.

Comparing pregnancy bellies at I think 16 weeks (in The Woodlands).

Comparing pregnancy bellies at I think 16 weeks (in The Woodlands).

Having her here in Houston afforded many benefits as her family would come to visit. They also had family in a town about 2 hours from me. When Garnith would introduce me, she would tell people I was her “other daughter.” Kitchel and I had children within 3 weeks of each other. Her daughter and Patrick got to be around each other for several years before they decided they wanted to go home to Missouri. That day was a sad day because I felt my sister was leaving and I did not know when I would see her again.

Kitchel and me with our husbands and babies.

Kitchel and me with our husbands and babies.

I know they knew how much they meant to me. The pain of their deaths I felt bitterly. They saved my life. They provided normalcy in a life that was so upside-down it wasn’t funny. I am certain that they helped me have a different life as an adult and not repeat the mistakes and patterns of my mother and father. Garnith’s laughter rings in my ears daily.

The picture was snapped and we knew that it likely wasn't a good picture (days before digital cameras existed).

The picture was snapped and we knew that it likely wasn’t a good picture (days before digital cameras existed).

So Garnith suggested they all do a photo where everyone was laughing.

So Garnith suggested they all do a photo where everyone was laughing.

This family risked a lot to help someone they saw desperately needed it. They made a difference. They are loved and they are missed. They are my heroes.

Forever in my heart.

Forever in my heart.





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5 12 2016

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Movie: Children Should Not Be Taken to “Hacksaw Ridge”

5 11 2016

Dear “Idiot Parents” whose family occupied seats in Row D, seats 15, 14, 13, and 12 of the Showbiz Cinema in Kingwood, Texas on Friday, November 4, 2016 at the 7:10 p.m. showing:

You know who you are. Several times during the movie we made direct eye contact as I glared at you for a few minutes then looked at your son, then looked at you and glared some more. He looked to be about 7 or 8 years of age. I would like to think that maybe you brought him into a movie where you didn’t realize what was going to be shown on screen. I would like to give you the benefit of the doubt. Once you saw the graphic violence, you should have taken your son out of the theater. I would have.

This is not a “Call of Duty” video game. Director Mel Gibson stated he wanted to make it feel real; he didn’t want to shelter the audience from the horror of war because it only made the story of Desmond Doss more compelling that this man of faith enlisted after feeling called to help stop the evil after Pearl Harbor. Desmond Doss took the 10 Commandments very seriously when God said “Thou shalt not kill.” Desmond was real and the story is real. The Bible was Desmond’s weapon of choice versus a gun. Maybe you thought it was more a story about a Christian being able to serve their country as the first conscientious objector to go on to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Maybe you thought it was a story about a man with a Bible having survived one of the most bloody battles in the Pacific campaign on the Maeda Escarpment (which came to be known as Hacksaw Ridge) in Okinawa. Once you saw it wasn’t, you should have taken that child out of this theater.

The online trailer of the movie does not really adequately gauge or prepare you for what you will experience on the big screen: The sounds made your body startle including bullets hitting a helmet or the knife or bullets going into a body. Entrails, brains, limbs, and blood all went flying. Heads were cut off. There was blood-curdling “I’m dying in agony” screaming. Rats were eating bodies. Flamethrowers were burning people alive. There were massive screams of agony. Many of these were in close-up shots. Mel Gibson was effective in getting you to feel like what it would be like to be in war without having the injuries. I would say that is was even more graphic than “Saving Private Ryan.” I left the theater in tears and they didn’t stop for quite some time. I was also crying for your son. I imagine tonight your son will have nightmares.

I have become a great observer of behavior with my nonverbal son with severe autism. I watched your son a lot tonight because frankly I couldn’t watch what was happening on the screen and my head was turned in the direction of my husband who happened to also be in the direction of your son. I was deeply concerned by his body language. But you wouldn’t have seen that because you and your daughter were inappropriately laughing during some of these scenes; your husband never looked away from the movie. I had my head turned away from the screen and put my jacket up to my forehead to shield me from the graphic depiction of war. Your son turned his head in my direction and we made eye contact. I was wiping away tears from my eyes; he gave me a sad expression that said, “Yeah, I agree with you.” I gave him a look like I was so sorry he was being forced to stay there. He returned looking forward, but his eyes were not on the screen. They were looking down and around. He was biting his fingernails a lot (he wasn’t at other points in the movie). He shifted a few times so that his body wasn’t directly facing forward. His lips were pursed at times. In other words, he was stressed.

A child that young should not be in a movie that attempts to make war as real as possible. This movie is for adults. There have been several reports of adults walking out not because it was a bad movie but because it was too realistic for THEM to handle. The “R” rating says children under 17 cannot be admitted without being accompanied by an adult; it assumes the adult will have the good judgment. Even better would be for an adult to pre-screen a movie to discover if it is appropriate or not for viewing of their child. In all honesty, this movie should have gotten an NC-17 rating. I never thought I would see that moment where a child goes from living in a world of innocence to a world he is too young to see. At the end of the movie, I not only clapped for the movie and had tears streaming down my face for this man whose story I never knew, but also for a world that exposes children to adult subject matters too soon in their lives.

May God be with that child as he tries to work through all he saw tonight on the screen. May God give him peace in his slumber. I will be praying for you.

By all means, SEE THIS MOVIE. It should be best picture next year at the award ceremonies. But leave the kids at home.





The Event and the Aftermath: My assault story

15 10 2016

This week rocked my emotional core.  Donald Trump bragged about assaulting women.  Then on Monday, women started speaking up.  I haven’t done this much crying for an entire week for a very long time. 

I promise I was not sexually assaulted by Trump but I admire these brave women coming forth to accuse a very powerful man.  They aren’t seeking to be paid.  They aren’t seeking to file a lawsuit against the man.  They do, however, want to be sure their story is heard especially when they sat and listened to Trump say directly to Anderson Cooper that “no” he had not ever done such a thing on the night of the second Presidential Debate.  have done a lot of crying this week.  I cried at Michelle Obama’s speech.  I cried last night when I heard Mindy McGillivray was having to leave the country for her and her family’s safety after speaking out. 

Whatever is happening within the political campaigns, there is some good that may come from this.  People are finally talking about sexual assault and harassment.  RAINN says that every 109 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted.  Every 8 minutes, that victim is a child. Meanwhile, only 6 out of every 1,000 perpetrators will end up in prison.  I wondered what those statistics would be if all the women who had been assaulted but never reported it finally were included. 

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When doing research so I could get the exact terminology correct, per the RAINN website, “Sexual assault is a crime of power and control. The term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim. Some forms of sexual assault include:  Penetration of the victim’s body, also known as rape; attempted rape; forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body, fondling or unwanted sexual touching.  Rape is a form of sexual assault, but not all sexual assault is rape. The term rape is often used as a legal definition to specifically include sexual penetration without consent. For its Uniform Crime Reports, the FBI defines rape as “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

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For more than 30 years I considered myself a victim of sexual assault as there was no penetration of his penis.  But there were his hands in what they said above in the description.  Today, after 30 years, I now found out I was a rape victim.  And I cried some more.     

All these reports coming out about Trump has sickened me because I know they are true.  The Trump campaign said that if these things truly happened that the women would have come forward sooner.  Their feeling is that they are too suspicious this close to the election.  What these people do not understand, because they have not been through it, is when a woman does not report it, they try to put it out of their minds and move on with their life.  If these allegations are true for any of them, whenever they see Donald Trump in the news or on TV, they might turn off the news, they might become nauseated, they might experience PTSD symptoms.  But when Anderson Cooper pressed Donald Trump on the matter to get a definitive yes or no answer at the second Presidential Debate, he gave an emphatic “no.”  That was all these women needed.  His “no” was their last straw. 

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Not many people know my story.  I decided to make my story public.  Maybe if I share and make it public, some of my PTSD symptoms will abate.  Maybe it will give someone else the courage to speak up.  There is strength in numbers. 

In 1990 (or was it 1989?), my friend came to visit.  We went out to a club on Richmond Avenue (the name of which I cannot remember).  I do not drink as I am allergic to alcohol so I make the perfect designated driver.  My friend is model-level beautiful and all these men were coming up asking her to dance.  One man came over and I just assumed he was interested in her.  He made it clear he was interested in having a conversation with me.  While my friend was enjoying dancing, I talked with this man.  He seemed nice but was very intoxicated. 

I was ready to go but my friend wanted to stay a bit.  The man was talking about leaving, too.  I said, “You are planning to drive home?”  And he said, “Yes.”  Ironically I just gave her the lecture about being safe, especially since she was from out of town.  If she decided to go home with someone, she needed to call me and give me the address where she was, the name of the person, the phone number.  I told her this guy lived at Westheimer which on my way to my apartment.  I had sized him up as harmless and invoking the “Good Samaritan” rule, I didn’t want him on the roads driving drunk and killing someone.  If I read that something like that happened in the news the next day I would have felt I contributed to that by not providing a ride to this individual. 

He was so intoxicated he could not stand up and needed help even getting to his apartment.  When we got to his apartment and got inside, he collapsed into a chair and to the best of my knowledge at the time was completely passed out.  I used the restroom. When I opened the door and stepped out, my 2-3 hours of terror began. 

He charged at me and knocked me to the bed (it was a studio apartment so his bed was in his living room across from the bathroom.  He landed in such a way that he had me pinned down totally.  His weight was completely on top of me and his hands were around my throat.  I was being choked.  I can’t describe it.  It seemed like such a long period of time but I said, “Oh my God, this is how I end.  I’m about to become a statistic.”  I tried my best to look around to the extent of my peripheral vision allowed without turning my head to try to remember all the things I could just in case I got out of there so I could tell the police.  When I looked to my left, I saw a knife.  I felt myself slipping away and feeling like I was floating.  Then I said to myself, “He’s going to stab me; please let me be unconscious when that happens.”  I had already surrendered myself to the fact I was going to die. 

His weight shifted.  Tears were running down my face and the compression on my throat lessened.  I managed to whisper, “I can’t breathe.”  And he said, “Oh” and moved off me.  I didn’t understand what was happening but I got myself upright immediately.  I said, “Hey, well, I really need to get home.”  He went insane.  He grabbed me and slammed me up against the wall.  I tried to say things to see what words would get him to stop and calm down.  It was a trial-and-error approach and when I thought certain phrases calmed him down, if I continued down that same line with additional comments I thought would continue to soothe him, I blundered and faced his ire.  During this period of trial and error, he was viciously groping me and there was penetration by his hands.  I assumed until today that because his penis did not touch my vagina or mouth, I wasn’t raped, just assaulted.

I was terrorized like this for the next two or so hours.  And I just kept repeating whatever he needed to hear to get me the hell out of there.  “It’s not you; it’s me.  I just thought I was bringing you home.  I have to get up very early for work in the morning and I can’t lose my job.  I’ll give you my number and you can call me and we’ll go out on a proper date.”  Or other such things.  Of course I had no intention of giving him my phone number.  But it was an inch-by-inch journey down to my car.

My first goal was getting out of the apartment.  The apartment complex he lived in wasn’t like the apartment I was in.  It was a building that had rooms in it much like a hotel would.  We walked through a lot of stuff to get to his apartment and I wasn’t at all confident that I could find my way back.  This was in a day I did not own a cell phone.  It was 1-2 o’clock in the morning and I really didn’t know where I would run.  The goal was having him escort me to the car and I realized that was going to be excruciating at the pace we were going. 

Inch by inch.  We were now in the hallway. 

Two people were in the hallway and I was tempted to yell to them to help, but at that point he silenced me with his mouth and he still had control of my body.  He was strong and I didn’t think I could push him or fend him off or even run away from him.  If I tried that, I felt I certainly would be dead.   

Inch by inch.  “You can do this,” I told myself.  “Once you get to the car, you’ll be home free.” 

Do you see how I am already talking?  I’m blaming myself for not being able to fend him off or to break free. 

Unfortunately the repeated slamming of my body up against the wall and then the concrete was taking its toll on me. 

Inch by inch.  Just keep moving towards the car. 

Eventually, we got to the car and I thought it would be a quick “get in the car and leave” type of thing but it wasn’t.  By now, I’m surprised I hadn’t vomited into his disgusting mouth.  Finally I got in the car and I said, “Here, see, here is my number and call me tomorrow.”  Finally I got away.  I shook all the way home.  I got home, took a shower, crawled into bed and cried.  I had bruising on my neck and I saw bruising on my back.  My arms and hands were also bruised.  My soul, however, was crushed.   

I had forgotten about my friend.  But upon arriving home, my friend had left a message on my answering machine to let me know where she was and I called her back.  I was terrified for her.  She asked me where I had been and I told her I would tell her when she got back to my place.  When she did, I spilled with all the details.  I’m sure back then I had more details.  Time has lessened some of those memories of inconsequential details. 

Next came the decision of whether to contact the police.  I weighed the pros and cons.  The list of “why you shouldn’t” was strong.  I voluntarily took a stranger home.  I should have known better.  After taking him home, I actually went up to his apartment.  I should have known better.  If I filed a report, he was arrested and put on trial, my character would be up for debate and I would basically be made out to look like a slut who picked up a guy at a bar and when the sex (well we didn’t actually get that far) got too rough, I left but not before saying all these things to this man (and I am NOT going to share all the horrible, vulgar things that had to come out of my mouth to save myself).   The list of reasons why I should:  If I don’t report it he may actually rape and kill someone and that will be on me.  I reasoned that he didn’t have my phone number, he didn’t know my name, he didn’t know where I lived, I don’t go to bars typically so I will never see this man again.  When blood showed up in my urine, I did have to see a physician.  I lied and said that I had fallen off a bike.  He told me he thought I had a bruised kidney and if the blood didn’t clear out within a certain amount of time I should see a nephrologist.  But the physical bruises healed; my emotional scars would not.   

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After having some time to think about it, I decided I would file a police report.  Suddenly I couldn’t remember important details like his apartment or exactly what he looked like.  I drove to his apartment complex and to the spot I thought I remembered I parked and tried to remember which building we were in and I could not.  I stopped short of walking the halls trying to find the exact apartment; I was afraid I may run into him.  At that point I decided I obviously couldn’t file a report without those details and I would just have to put it behind me.  Maybe my mind was trying to protect me by forgetting so I couldn’t file the report because deep down I didn’t really want to. 

The scars still are there.  Nightmares.  People making sudden movements towards me.  I could no longer wear clothes that covered my throat.  Dental procedures as simple as teeth cleaning became an event.  I avoided dentists until I finally couldn’t.  I asked the personnel in Patrick’s pediatric dentist’s office if they knew of a dentist who was really good with “wimps” and as luck would have it, his wife, a dentist for adults, was the perfect choice. 

After explaining what happened, she was so compassionate.  She gave me Valium for my procedures and they went very slowly.  I cried during the whole exam.  I didn’t mean to but I couldn’t keep it in.  They did as gentle of x-rays as they could with pediatric-sized things in my mouth.  Whenever my gag reflex got too much, we took a break.  The Valium continued for several appointments after that.  But as my body and mind realized this was not a threat, the Valium was discontinued.  But then I had to see another dentist in her practice and that worried me.  But things went fine.  However about two years ago I saw another dentist in her practice and as she was injecting me, it was hurting me and I said, “Please stop.”  And she didn’t.  I was more forceful and yelled, “STOP!”  And when she ignored me, I went to grab her and push her away when her assistant grabbed me and held me down.  That was a bad move.  Dr. B knew my history.  I still was not numb.  She had my whole face number except the area she needed to work.  But my dentist was going to be gone for another month or so and I told her to finish it because I wasn’t coming back.  I had nightmares about my assault…excuse me–rape….for two weeks after that, memories I thought were done haunting me. 

When I went to make my next cleaning appointment, I told them I wanted my dentist.  I explained when I came in that the dentist did not mean for that to happen but what did happen and I couldn’t tell her if I could even do x-rays.   They made me sign a waiver placing the blame on me if something bad turned up and I said “whatever.”  I made another appointment.  I was told they would put on my chart I wanted to see Dr. A only so I assumed they gave me a date she was in the office. 

I came back and made it through the cleaning.  When she told me Dr. B was coming in to check my fillings and do the oral exam part, I became belligerent.  I said, “Wait, I thought Dr. A would be here.”  She informed me that Dr. A had to leave town to take her kids to college.  I was crying.  I reminded the dental hygienist what had happened and I told them why I could never see that person again.  I said, “I’m sure she is a very nice person but she triggered memories of my assault and I’m not going to have 2 weeks of nightmares again.”  She came in and I let her do the gum check.  But she wanted to “talk” to me.  I couldn’t.  I had this anger swelling up in my throat that blocked any sound from coming out.  I managed to say, “No means no.”  I don’t care what she thought.  I think she thought I said “no” on a part of the exam and she saw me as this irrational woman.  I said it because of the last encounter I had when I said “stop” and she didn’t.  Because that reminded me of my assault…excuse me–rape. 

Then there are procedures where they want to put an oxygen mask on me.  That is the hardest.  I have to warn every doctor and anesthesiologist about it—if they put an oxygen mask on me I will punch them or worse.  I could become combative.  I don’t know why every single anesthesiologist needs to hear the entire story.  It should be enough that I say, “I was assaulted.  He tried to choke me to death.  The mask makes me feel like I’m being suffocated and I will act out in ways I cannot control.”  I don’t know why that is.  I will tell the story to one and then another will come in and want the details.  I remember one time saying, “Why do you all seem to need to know the minute little details of what happened to me and make me relive this every single time I have to undergo surgery?  It should be in the chart by now and I don’t care to talk about it again.” 

There are other echoes in my life that are just too personal to share. 

But I have developed this creep-o-meter that I trust with every fiber of my being.  My creep-o-meter has been pointing in the “DANGER WILL ROBINSON” zone with Trump ever since Ivana’s divorce deposition described the time he pulled out her hair and then violated her (and to friends she said rape).  That feeling has never gone away.  And now my creep-o-meter was accurate.  

 This morning I sat watching a very intelligent woman named Sandy who has her master’s degree in science who is a former Democrat who was for Jeb Bush but now switched to Donald; however, if it was Ted Cruz she would have flipped back to Hillary even though she says Hillary is a crook.  She was a Clinton supporter in the distant past.  She vocalizes the myth, “Did they complain about it at the time.”  And because they didn’t, that makes this false.  And she says if one story is false (speaking of the airplane “fact”), then they are all false.  She also cited the reason she didn’t believe the airplane incident is “because the seat arms in first class did not go up.”  The reporter says to her, “You think the women are lying.”  She says, “Yeah.”   This woman is part of our problem.  But I was this woman in my early 20’s.  I couldn’t imagine having this done to you and not speaking out and not pressing charges until it happened and I didn’t. 

Fact checking that about the arm rests proves that she is incorrect about that.  “A 1979 flight attendant manual furnished by the Braniff Airways Foundation stated “the arm rests in first class are removable by pulling up.”  See below.  So if that fact is now true, does that make them all true?  I would have liked for someone to have fact-checked this woman while the interview was going on and ask her what her opinion was based on the new irrefutable evidence that the seat arms in first class on that plane did go up.  Now there is also a friend of Trump’s from Great Britain saying Donald was, in fact, on that flight. 

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Trump’s narcissistic sociopathy is being fed by all these people who think he is a God and can do no wrong.  I encourage then to watch PBS’ “The Choice” which profiled both candidates and you can see the early roots into both of them and how they behaved.  You can see that Trump is not the business man he presents to you as.  It is not a partisan representation for either side.  It is a truth-based documentary on how they grew up and how things in their lives influence the people they have become.  It even shows you the psychological component of Roy Cohn’s influence on him of never admitting defeat so if Donald Trump loses the election, it will not be “his” fault.  It will be the fault of some other reason, like a rigged election. 

I said to Jeff last night that I’m glad that our family line will end with Patrick (because my son with autism is not competent to be a father).  I have never been as pessimistic about the future of mankind as I am today. 

I used to be the one who would complain when rape victims didn’t come forward to report the crime.  UNTIL YOU ARE IN THE SITUATION, YOU CANNOT SPEAK FOR THESE WOMEN.  I would like to apologize to all women I spoke about back in my early 20’s when I was ignorant to understand why some do not report such things.  With Donald Trump, the stakes are even higher because if the allegation was made, Donald Trump had the power that would discredit them to the point where they might lose their livelihood at the very least, and they worked too hard.  Or perhaps they wouldn’t be believed as I felt was in my case.  Trump has the powerful lawyers; these women did not.  Unfortunately the consequence to that is that it embolden Trump to believe that he is allowed to do these things because no one would ever say anything because of his power. 

To all the women Trump has assaulted, the ones coming forward and the ones remaining silent, I understand now.  I stand in support of you. 





American Idol S15 The End…Or Not?

9 04 2016

And the winner is…….

I’m just kidding. There are 2+ hours of filler before we find out who wins the very last spot as an American Idol.

President Obama made a speech at the beginning in a pitch to get people to vote and exercise their rights as citizens to vote in elections.

The opening number included Idol contestants from previous seasons. My mind instantly went to one Idol who will there be in spirit, Michael Johns. His death was so sad. The song started with the top 3 of this season and then moved out of to the broader focus that included all the contestants from this season. Then more contestants. I recognized Nick Fradiani, Diana DeGarmo, Katharine McPhee, Jessica Sanchez, Colton Dixon, (was that David Archuletta, too, next to him), Taylor Hicks, Chris Daughtry, Allison Iraheta, Kellie Pickler, Jordin Sparks, Ace Young, James Durbin, Carly Smithson, Jasmine Trias (from season 3 who wore a flower in her hair), Bo Bice, Scotty McCreery, and Caleb Johnson. I am sure there are others I will see and be shocked at how much they’ve changed (like Bo Bice).   Tonight I believe more often than not we will be saying to ourselves, “Oh yeah, whatever happened to” fill in the blank.

Brian Dunkleman, the co-host of season 1, joined as a surprise guest, a nice book-end to the beginning of Idol history. But the jokes he continued making got old and they didn’t get many laughs in the audience. Awkward.

Trent and La’Porsha teamed up to sing “It Takes Two” by Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston with pictures of their journey this season playing behind them.

Season 10 and 11 judge Steven Tyler began a series of retrospectives of their participation in Idol. Later Nicki Minaj shared her wishes. Notably absent was diva Mariah CareyEllen DeGeneres sent a video.

Former seasons 8 and 9 judge Kara DioGuardi performed and I wished she hadn’t. She is a better songwriter than singer.   Also among the people in this medley segment were Colton Dixon from season 11; a duet with season 1’s Justin Guarini and season 6’s Jordin Sparks; season 2’s Kimberley Locke; Tamyra Gray (season 1); Allison Iraheta (season 8); Larry Platt from season 9 (“Pants on the Ground” song fame but was never a contestant); finally ending with Pia Toscano (season 10). Sanjaya was spotted in the audience in a “Where’s Sanjaya” segment.  Glad he didn’t sing.

When Kelly Clarkson was visiting a few weeks back as a mentor, since she was pregnant and it was unlikely she could attend the show, she pre-recorded a montage of all her most popular hits. It showcased why we love her and the show that served as a gateway to all the music she brought to our lives. The medley ended with the song that started it all, “A Moment Like This.

Male Idol rockers did a medley of songs. The members included Bo Bice from season 4 (the biggest physical appearance change I have seen yet this evening); Caleb Johnson from season 13; Constantine Maroulis (season 4); James Durbin (season 10); and Chris Daughtry (season 5).

Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood (season 4) joined forces to sing “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” originally by Stevie Nicks featuring Tom Petty (Tom Petty actually wrote the song). I wish Carrie would have had a crossover rock career. When Carrie sang rock songs on Idol season 4, they were my favorite and had me looking at her like a winner.

Next was a country medley of songs starting off with Diana DeGarmo (season 3); Skylar Laine (season 11) who wasn’t sounding so great; Kree Harrison (season 12) who I loved during her season also sounded not so great either (you were pitchy dawg). They were then joined by the boys are of country Bucky Covington (season 5); Ace Young of season 5 (who is married to Diana DeGarmo); and confusingly Constantine Maroulis (season 4). Constantine filled in for Josh Gracin who declined their invitation because he didn’t want to sing a medley of covers with other contestants (per his report on tasteofcountry.com). Then Lauren Alaina (season 10) and Kellie Pickler (season 5) came on stage. Lastly Scotty McCreery (season 10) came out.

Harry Connick Jr presented a very emotional segment along with his friend, Marley Fletcher, from The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music in the heart of the 9th Ward in New Orleans to sing “What a Wonderful World.”

He then introduced some of the best singers Idol has had on center stage.   Katharine McPhee (season 5) and Casey James (be still my heart from season 9) singing a duet; Carly Smithson (season 7) doing a solo; Clay Aiken (season 2) doing a solo; Ruben Studdard (season 2) and Amber Holcomb (season 12) doing a duet; and finishing up with Jessica Sanchez (season 11) in a solo of ‘The Prayer” where the others joined at the end.

Jennifer Lopez sizzled up the stage with her new song “Ain’t Your Mama.”   I would have loved to see that in person. That was stellar. And she ended with “Let’s Get Loud” to get Idol pumped up, the perfect halftime song. This whole thing left me breathless.

Season 3 ladies Latoya London, Fantasia, and Jennifer Hudson performed a trio “Bridge Over Troubled Water. Jennifer Hudson sang a solo of her song from Empire “Remember the Music.Brandon Rogers (season 6), Clark Beckham (season 14), George Huff (season 3), Danny Gokey (season 8), and Elliott Yamin (season 5) banded together to sing a medley of Motown hits.

Fantasia came back to do some of her song, “Ugly.” Latoya London (season 3) came back on stage with Taylor Hicks (season 5) “Knew You Were Waiting for Me” by Aretha Franklin and George Michael. Season 11 Joshua Ledet took the stage; wow he looks fantastic. He sang “It’s a Man’s World” by James Brown. He rocked that stage!   And more Idol joined in. Candice Glover (season 12) and Melinda Doolittle (season 6) along with a variety of other Idols including many of the season 15 contestants to sing “Joy to the World.” Even Harry Connick Jr was up dancing.

A tribute to David Bowie was done featuring Idol winners Phillip Phillips (season 11), Lee DeWyze (season 9), Nick Fradiani (season 14), David Cook (season 7) and Kris Allen (season 8) which included Bowie’s hits “Starman” from 1972, “Rebel Rebel” from 1974, and “The Jean Genie” from 1972.

Next was a playback of the worst or funniest auditions or moments during the early years with Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, and Ryan Seacrest including that awful Simon and Paula kiss. Randy and Paula came on stage and of course you were just waiting for Simon to make a “surprise” appearance. Paula and Randy gifted Ryan with the American Idol sign that Ryan will put it on his nightstand. Simon didn’t have a black T-shirt on. He dressed up for the occasion. Fatherhood looks good on him. And just when you thought the surprises were over out pops the non-surprise, William Hung who performed “She Bangs.” He ultimately released an album which sold 200,000 copies and made it to number one on Billboard’s Top Independent Album chart. He now works for the LA Sheriff’s Department as a technical crime analyst. Ryan Seacrest did a little dancing with him on stage.

Contestants throughout the 15 years shared how much they loved doing the Ford video segments. Trent and La’Porsha received keys to their cars for this year.

Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood sang her song “Something in the Water.”   She got tearful when talking to Ryan Seacrest.

Now it is time to learn who is the winner is of the very last American Idol. The winner is TRENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am just as shocked as he was. With everyone chanting La’Porsha’s name in the audience the night before I felt certain the win was hers. He deserves it just as much as she did but I thought it was hers. I thought Trent was going to pass out. Jennifer pointed to Keith as if she was saying, “you called it.” Jennifer looked shocked and Harry looked shocked too and mouthed “wow” to Jennifer. Trent was sweet when he said that La’Porsha pushed him during the competition.

Ryan Seacrest then signs off the show by saying, “We say to you from Hollywood, goodnight America.” The room goes dark and you hear him say “for now.”   For now? What the hell does that mean? Do they think in 10 years from now, they’ll bring back like X-Files for a limited event? Let American Idol die in peace and go out on a high. They weren’t going out on tour for that very reason so what makes them think bring the show back is “going out on a high?”

I heard later on during the Twitterfest that the producers were going to shop the show to another network. If this is true, it is a mistake. American Idol is forever associated with Fox Broadcasting and to try to resurrect it as the same show or anything that has the name American Idol even if it is in a different format, is just a mistake. American Idol had a great run but like all things, they come to an end, and so should this.

Thank you American Idol for the many years of entertainment; you will live on in television legend.  Guess I will need to get back to blogging about other things, too.





American Idol S15 The Final Final 2 Perform

7 04 2016

I can’t believe this is the last performance show ever for American Idol. The top three took the stage to sing “At Least We Stole the Show” by Kygo (or at least a bit of it). I wish I could be there. I enjoyed the season 10 finale which I was so fortunate to attend thanks to Fox Broadcasting via the Fox VIP program.

Winner’s Single

Trent was up first singing “Falling” by Trent Harmon. I guess Keith Urban already knows the words to the song because he was lip syncing the words as Trent was singing. I like this song so much better than both song choices last year. This is just crazy awesome. At this point in the competition unless the contestants have just major issues, they are all going to be great. The judges do not comment during this round.

The song for Dalton Rapattoni is “Strike a Match.” He found his fire again. I could hear this on the radio tomorrow. It was fabulous. He said he couldn’t feel his feet. I bet!

La’Porsha Renae’s song is “Battles.” This could be her anthem song. Anthem songs do really well for sales.

They all did really well with their individual songs, but based on what I liked lyrical wise, I would have to say La’Porsha’s song, then Dalton’s, then Trent’s. Performance wise I would have to say La’Porsha, Trent, and then Dalton.

Top 2 Revealed

They all came from the Little Rock auditions. But who makes it through? The first person through is La’Porsha (as if there was any doubt). Trent gets the final spot. I think Dalton already knew. But someone will sign Dalton quickly. He has a lot of pop appeal. If someone doesn’t sign him, they are just plain stupid. The winner is….from Mississippi! And I think both people will win because they are crazy good and labels would be stupid not to give the runner-up a contract.

Simon Fuller’s Picks

Trent sang “If You Don’t Know By Now” by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes. He messed up the lyrics “that we’ve been through” turned out “that we’ve been do.” I chalk that up to nerves. This is a good song for him. It has a lot of soul and I see him in an R&B/country fusion of some kind. Keith said it is extraordinary to see how far he has come in the competition. He thinks it will be the closest race in Idol history. Jennifer said it was amazing. Harry said he is happy that Trent is here.

La’Porsha answered with “A House is Not a Home” by Dionne Warwick. It was so fantastic. Goosebumps!! Jennifer said it is one of her top 5 songs of all time. Now we have the La’Porsha version; it was so beautiful. Harry thought it was the most complex piece of music she has ever done this entire season and told him a lot. It moved him. Keith said he doesn’t even smoke and he felt like he needed a cigarette. It was beautiful and smoldering. It was the perfect song choice.

Ryan asked Jennifer which one if she had to choose, for this round, who would it be. Jennifer thought La’Porsha edged out Trent during this round.

Contestants’ Choice

Trent Harmon chose “Chandelier” by Sia to sing again and it sounded just as wonderful as the first time. He became very emotional knowing this is the final song on which he would be judged. Harry thought it was really, really strong. If he was going to do anything to make it the hardest decision on Idol, this song was the choice. Keith added that for some people, he might have made it a really easy decision. His vocal transition from chest to voice to falsetto is so gorgeous. Jennifer said that from the very beginning she saw something very special in him and he would be in the last two. He deserves it. Trent showed them a book he kept of everything each one of them had ever told him and wrote it down.

La’Porsha Renae picked “Diamonds” by Rihanna. Insane goosebumps. The crowd started chanting her name and she was overcome with emotion. Keith thought it was amazing, a beautiful job. Jennifer said watching her up there sing that song–she has handled every performance effortlessly. She can’t wait to go to a show of hers and see her let loose. She is going to be there. And Harry said Jennifer can ride with him. He had nothing to say; it was incredible.

So the last critique ever from an Idol judge (Harry) was “I have nothing to say about that performance; it was incredible.”





American Idol S15 Top 3 Revealed

6 04 2016

Hometown Dedications

MacKenzie Bourg travelled to Layfette, Louisiana. The song he chose was “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. I thought it was beautiful but it didn’t give me goosebumps at all as some who sang this song in the past have done. Keith said it was such a great song for him. It was superb. Jennifer said it was a really strong performance. Classic MacKenzie. Harry agrees. It was a singular and powerful performance that shows how he has really grown.

Dalton Rapattoni returned to Dallas, Texas. First a stop at his grandmother’s salon, and then to Rockwell where he works at School of Rock. He reminds me so much of the Adam Lambert star quality. Adam didn’t win, and look how far he has gone. Dalton needs to remember that in case he doesn’t get to the final 2. He might. He certainly has the fan base. But Trent and La’Porsha are hard vocalists to beat. He chose “Calling You” by Blue October. I really enjoyed it. It was really unique. I wasn’t familiar with the song, but I really liked it. Jennifer said watching his hometown visit it finally sank in. She felt like there was a change in his performance because he realized he could possibly win. She felt a freedom in this song. Harry said he liked the arrangement that he picked. He likes the way he thinks about the words and he thinks about the whole performance. Keith said he is so in his zone and the best Daltonization he could have done with that song.

The next hometown visit was Trent Harmon to Amory, Mississippi. He had everyone sit so he could be their server in their family’s restaurant. Then on to his high school and the auditorium where he did a lot of musical theater. That was followed by a tractor ride down Main Street.   There were a lot of people who showed up.   The song he is dedicating to his hometown is “Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton. I definitely got goosebumps with this song. Trent has such an amazing instrument and knows how to manipulate it. Just a reminder, I don’t like country music, and this gave me goosebumps. So there you go. Harry said what he is best at is arcing the performances. He thought it was a fantastic performance. Keith said it was a bulls-eye. Jennifer said he is getting his stride right now at the right time.

La’Porsha Renae went back to McComb, Mississippi. I just love that the final four are from Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. She went to her church and the kids singing touched her heart. She next went to Wings Domestic Violence Center where she touched these women’s hearts and lift them up. And finally to her mom’s home to see her family and her child. Then the parade where her daughter was on her lap and waving at the crowd. Her daughter is a star in the making like her mama. The song dedicated to her hometown is “Glory” by Common & John Legend. I know she is going to slay it. MAJOR goosebumps. Keith was on his feet. Keith said it was so strong and pure. He had tears in his eyes. Jennifer said she is picking great songs. It was a great performance. Harry said many of her performances are in the critique-proof categories. He said there is an incredible elegance and grace which is important to see in a young woman like herself.

Final 3 Revealed

Trent Harmon is the first name to be called. The second is Dalton Rapattoni. Which leaves MacKenzie and La’Porsha. At that point, MacKenzie already concedes and La’Porsha tells him to stop it. But MacKenzie is right. Daughtry came in fourth, MacKenzie. Work as hard as he did, and you’ll go far. Thank you for your music and I have always loved your original song.

Scott Borchetta’s Choices

For Dalton, Scott chose “Dancing in the Dark” by Bruce Springsteen because Dalton’s strengths have a rock edge. He started the song slow and then it turned into some kind of alternate rock high-octane thing. I think I would have liked for him to pull someone up to dance with him just as a kind of nod to Bruce’s video. Keith mentioned Courtney Cox thing. Jennifer said his gift is taking lyrics and really making them feel them. It sounded fresh and new to her all over again. Harry said it sounded like some English new wave. It was an interesting arrangement. Harry loved it. His ability to take a lyric and make it his own trumps any lack of vocal ability he may have. Keith agrees. He did really good tonight.

Scott picked “Stay With Me” by Lorraine Ellison for La’Porsha. This song is kind of ironic for her. I don’t ever see her begging a man to stay with her after all she has been through. She blew it out of the water, but there was an emotional wall there. I don’t think I’m imagining it either.   Harry said she slowed down her vibrato again. Harry asked her why she didn’t like the song when Scott recommended it. And I was right. She told Harry she wasn’t going to sing a song where a woman was begging a man to stay. Harry said it was the first time he saw a slight veneer over it. Keith said the vocal killed it. Jennifer said she could see why they recommended it because she sang the heck out of it.

Justin Timberlake for the first time in Idol history gave permission to use one of his songs and Scott chose “Drink You Away” for Trent. It was FABULOUS!!!! Jennifer was on her feet for that one. Keith said “what was the guitar for” because he didn’t need it. Jennifer said that was singing to win. Harry said when the background singers start standing up and clapping, that says something.

Judge Performance

Keith Urban performed his new song “Wasted Time.”   This man can make me a country music fan.   I enjoyed that.

Judges’ Picks

For Dalton, the judges chose Tears for Fears “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.”   He started out in the audience and that created a lot of happy smiles from the audience. It was decent. I have a hard time listening to this song done by anyone but the original artists. Jennifer asked if he went lower on the key because at times she felt it was too low and it lost some of the brightness in that rendition of it. Harry liked how he reharmonized the tune. He had two strong performances tonight and he could go into why this one wasn’t, but he won’t.   Keith feels the same. Keith said he would have taken up the key a little bit more just because there is a buzz thing that happens when it is in the key it was meant to be in. When you take it down, and people who don’t know anything about music know that something is wrong but all they know is that the energy has dropped somehow. He felt he could have kept it in the key it was in.

La’Porsha was given a huge challenge to see what she could do with “Hello” by Adele to make it different. I had goosebumps. I worried at the beginning when it sounded like it might be a little too low for her, but it was just a temporary place and she sang it. Harry said he can imagine what a great performance that was but he was so distracted by the beautiful baby in his arms (her daughter). He said it was beautiful. Jennifer said it stretched her range a bit but it is nice to hear her kind of reach a bit. Keith said it was beautiful.

Trent closed out the show with “Waiting Game” by Parson James. Yep goosebumps. He has an amazing falsetto. I loved it. Keith said it was tailor made for him. Jennifer got goosies. He killed it. Harry said nice job. He isn’t sure if this is the last critique on American Idol – he thinks so – and if so it is an honor to critique a guy like him who is an extraordinary talent. He thought it was a beautiful performance. He added that it was an extraordinary night for everyone and he has to remind everyone that if they love one of these four [I think he means three] vote because they are not going to make it if they do. Jennifer said they were three very strong performances tonight. And Harry corrected himself about three not four.

Ryan congratulated everyone who has worked on the show the past 15 years.  Next week is a show retrospective, the final 2 artists perform and then Thursday is the final American Idol winner with lots of surprises.