“She Was Just Walking Home”

On March 3rd, Sarah Everard, 33 of Clampham, south London, UK left the home of her friends to walk home. She never made it. Police confirmed that the remains found in a woodland area yesterday was hers.

“She was just walking home.”

I remember it was an early summer afternoon, a school day. I was on my way home from the public library; book bag slung over one shoulder, wearing dark jeans, sneakers, a white t-shirt under a red, white and blue plaid with tiny silver metallic threads shirt. I was standing at the curb, under the elevated train tracks, waiting for the traffic signal to change. I noted the car slowly creeping forward as some drivers do when impatiently waiting for a light to change. I was not in the way, I paid no attention to it when I heard a male voice.
“You so pretty, bet you’d be even prettier naked. You should let me see.”
This was from a man, not a peer – not some boy around my age being horrible, but a man. A grown man who in no way could have thought I was an adult. I had not developed boobs yet. There was something about him. Yes, it was broad daylight, but I was at the corner by myself. There nearest person was a half block away in the opposite direction. I remember worrying: Do I wait until he drives off? Is he going to follow me? Do I need to change directions? What if he gets out of that car?

It was the first time I felt danger from a man. I was twelve.

In my twenties I was married with two sons. I went to the laundry every Saturday morning. One Saturday a man entered and decided he wanted to chat. I decided I did not want to. He insisted in asking for my name. I insisted I was married and not interested, so knowing my name was not any of his – good-bye. He showed up again the following Saturday. Clearly this was my neighborhood. I was pissed-offed, but not entirely surprised he suddenly showed up in my local market. I informed my husband, but naturally my wannabe Lothario was no where about the next Saturday at the laundry. As it turned out within the following week, as I was heading toward my building, a friend spotted me and started yelling my name to get my attention. Naturally, I ignored him because I HATE that, worse – guess who I spotted within hearing distance? However, the damage was done as the friend had reached me and it was clear he was yelling for me. The only saving grace was that Bill was exiting the building as I was busy cursing-out the friend out for being an asshole and why. Bill came up from behind, putting his arms around me, and yelled at our friend
“Why the fuck are you screaming out my wife’s name in the middle of the street like that? Have you lost your damn mind?”
At that point Bill saw the guy. He looked me, he looked at guy, he looked at me and I tapped the arm that held me in our code we had for problems. He let go of me and headed in the guy’s direction. Suffice it to say the guy was already backing away at the confirmation that I had a husband and said husband was not an exactly a small guy. I never saw him again. While relieved, it pissed me off anew that the asshole did not accept my rejection. He had followed me. He had my address and because of my asshole friend, had my name. It took seeing my husband’s physical presence before he stopped. I had to wonder were I in fact a single woman how long before I may have been attacked. I wondered if he moved on to another woman who was not as fortunate.

When portable music players became a thing, CDs first, then MP3 players, I learned to keep headphones on my head when so I could pretend I did not hear the nonsense thrown at me when in the street. But I never, ever have music playing in case I needed to deal with someone more aggressive who would not take the hint of simply being ignored. But that does not always help.

In my thirties, I texted my husband to meet me at the train station late one evening after hanging out with friends because of the way a man kept staring at me on the train. I had never contacted my husband with such a request before in all the time we were married. The man had exited the train when I had. He was about to follow me down the stairs when Bill appeared at the foot of them and greeted me. I heard as the man turned and went back up the stairs. Neither of us saw him come down the other side, as far as we could tell, before the stairs were out of sight. But we knew, he was going to follow me.

Twice as a widow in my mid-forties I have gotten off the train and jumped in a cab to ride the four blocks to my home because of that feeling. I will say both times, when I explained the situation, both drivers refused to take my money. All in the name of safety.

Many girls learn from a young age to change their behavior in order to try to feel safe when walking alone, because there are going to be times we will be walking alone. That onus is not on boys as such. Personal safety is a constant self-awareness in our daily lives. One we modify constantly. All in the name of safety.

Do I wear a dress or slacks? Do I wear heels or flats? If I wear heels, do I need to switch to a bigger purse to carry my flats? Questions I must ask each time I go out, in case I have to run. All in the name of safety.

Now in my fifties I don’t go out alone if I think I won’t be home before midnight unless I have taxi money. That also curtails where I go because a late night taxi ride across the City can run me up to $70 on top of whatever expenditures incurred while hanging out. All in the name of safety.

Once, I was meeting my husband for dinner at a friend’s apartment after work. I exited the train and headed towards my destination when I heard whistling behind me. I ignored it and continued walking. It became clear that the whistling was directed at me, coming from someone in a car on the street. I refused to look, because that can be seen as an invitation. A car suddenly turned the corner in front of me and I realized it was my husband and he was pissed I had not responded to him.
“Why didn’t you answer me when I whistled?”
“Do you have ANY idea how often I am whistled at? I can’t afford to so much as look!”
That took him aback.
For even the men that love us, that care about us, that know us, just do not understand, because the constant harassment rarely happens in their presence.

Some men still do not realize we single women share our addresses – or the addresses of the bars/parks/date locations of where we’re going – with each other via text or WhatsApp, to keep ourselves safe. We set up calls with our friends. “If you haven’t heard from me by X time, call me. If I don’t answer, call the police.” It is every female’s right to not fear walking alone; it is not our reality. Being a woman is constant worry for our safety — walking with keys between our fingers, being on high alert always — it is fucking exhausting.

Photo of a female's hand with keys pointed out between fingers.
A tweet yesterday posed this question and response. Its UK based, but it is an question and response known by women globally.

When we hear/read of such attacks we each live with the susurrus that could have been me. So many women have lit up Twitter in the past few days on the many ways they have harassed and/or felt unsafe. And a constant theme throughout many of the tweets were the words “She was just walking home.”

“Not all men” attack but all women experience the fear of it. And we are so, SO DONE with being told we just need to avoid certain streets or areas, don’t be out certain at times or don’t dress a certain way. Sarah Everard was in bright colors, wearing clothes comfortable for walking the less than hour trek to her home. She was simply living her life. “She was just walking home.”

I’m sure Sarah Everard was aware #NotAllMen, also. She was on the phone talking to her boyfriend during part of her trek. She was not attacked by #NotAllMen. The only thing she did wrong was encounter #TheWrongMan. The one who could not respect one fact:

“She was just walking home.”

Time Keeps On Slippin’

08:35: Okay Raivenne, shower, make breakfast, change your sheets, do your slice, get finish the Project B you had wanted done by Thursday evening. but was a much larger mess than anticipated and it’s now Saturday morning. Then review, before you start Project C.

09: 47: Okay Raivenne, you’re showered, the sheets are changed. You’ve responded to the necessary emails. Eat breakfast, do your slice, finish B, review, slice and start C.

14:06: (Two phone calls, a visit from my bestie, and unexpected company – later). Idiot! You have a headache because you have yet to have breakfast and it’s now lunch. Stop and eat.

15:22: (Received all system go response on Project A after email delivery the completed Project B.) 2nd review of Project A. Uh, who approved that addition to Project A – that was not what was agreed upon. Check the SLA.

16:57: Research issue with Project A, intersects with information for Project C, needed but could have waited – fell down rabbit hole.

18:18: Project A satisfied on all parties? Excellent! Now I can do my sli… Wait… WTF! (phone calls and emails ensue)

21:29: (phone calls and more emails later) Come on people! How is Project C missing entire sections? Did someone from 1-800-junk came by and someone accidentally pointed at the files? Is there something a pixel divining rod to find it? FML

22:04: Oh gee, thanks. You lost the day, you’ll get it Wednesday – maybe.

23:28: Guess what is finally being done now? Hell, I didn’t even get to comment on Pi Day! Well, I have now.

It is Day 14 of the March Slice of Life Writing Challenge . Stop in and see how others are slicing it up!

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Et tu Taxes

According to Wiki: The Ides of March is a day on the Roman calendar that corresponds to the 15th of March. It was marked by several religious observances and was notable for the Romans as a deadline for settling debts.

Friends, Romans but specifically Americans know that, with some exceptions, April 15th is Tax Day in the U.S.  Tax Day is the date in which whether you owe Uncle Sam (the anthropomorphize avatar of the US government) or Uncle Sam owes money, you grin and bare/bear it and have to have your taxes filed.

I mostly remember the Ides these days because my mother was one of those people who though having received her W-2 at the end of January, would still wait until April 14th to mail in her taxes.

In elementary school most of us learn about Julius Caesar and his infamous last words when his supposed rod dog/main bro Brutus turned coat on him and just watched him get shanked on March 15th. <– Like my revisionist history? I once made a joke that Mach 15th was the 30 day warning bell. Mommy knew she had a month to get her taxes in order. My mother would have loved that Tax Day is on April 18th this year for it would have given her two more days of procrastination.

And why all of that? Because somehow a discussion on taxes came up while attending the repast of an erstwhile colleague.

Death and Taxes – get it? Get it?

Yeah, yeah, yeah – I know, bad Raivenne, bad! I’ll go bed now.

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Today is Day 15 – The Ides of March Slice Of Life Story Challenge. 
Come see how others are slicing it up today.
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Say What Now?

Rant Time:

I’m beyond sick and tired of reactionary memes and posts meant to shame how some people use their social media.

For example, seeing posts criticizing others for being upset over a celebrity’s death when there are wars going on and humanitarian crises all over the place that they should take precedence. Or a meme citing how one is annoyed with people talking about the Housewives of Wherever controversy as if in discussing what happened it somehow means they aren’t paying attention to the world around them and other far more important things going on.

Don’t like what they have to say? Scroll.

To hell with social media policing those only want to post about their family, their pets, their insignificant and significant others. Let them post cute puppies and cats and pandas and zombies and… Let them share their joys in peace. This mindset that one’s head is in the clouds if they aren’t posting relentlessly about every awful blessed thing going on in the world. That doesn’t mean they’re ignoring anything;  we do not know what exists in their lives beyond their FB page. Perhaps some only want to use their social media for more lighthearted fare because they are in fact having those heavy-as-shit conversations elsewhere, with loved ones, or through messenger, or out in the real world. Let them have their joys.

Don’t like what they have to say? Scroll on.

To hell with policing those who choose to post their their hurt, their rage. Maybe it’s self care; maybe they struggle with anxiety, and curating their social media to mitigate their rage is in fact a survival mechanism. A survival mechanism which keeps them from being the example for or against gun control that’s next trending the news feed.

Don’t like what they have to say? Scroll. The. Hell. On.

My Facebook, WP blog , Instagram and Twitter pages all represent one thing and one thing only: the views of  the owner of those pages – me.

So here’s a News flash: Those pages are not a democracy.

Sometimes friends/people post things that leave me scratching my head. If I don’t understand or don’t agree, I don’t spew on their page – ever. I may private message someone if I think I am the one misunderstanding something and meaningful dialog can come from it – otherwise I scroll, scroll on.

(Giving away my vintage here: I just sang those last three words in tune to The Floaters – “Float On“, but I digress…)

Seriously, Quid Pro scroll, bro.

Raivenne posts are a monarchy and I am its Empress. 

If my posts impress, excellent, but I know sometimes they will depress. I know sometimes they will inflame. When that happens – and it will – if you don’t like it, then please scroll away, scroll away, scroll away.

(Anyone Enya guess what song went through my head just then? But I digress – again…)

I will be just fine – trust me.

Don’t like…

  • when I deleted your comment on my post because I thought it was cruelly offensive?
  • if I choose to ignore your inflammatory Xsplainin’ comment on my X-subject post because I refuse to be drawn into yet another useless argument?
  • that I’m still upset over Chester Bennington’s suicide?
  • my sarcastic answer to those stupid FB question?

It’s my page, my posts. Think about it – that Send/Post/Publish button was not pressed by accident.

The land of Raivenne is a dictatorship and I am its ruling dick. 

(Yes, I made a dick joke – a dumb one at that. Don’t let the fact that I have a vagina, lead to the falsehood that my balls aren’t bigger.)

Don’t like it? Well, you know what to do….

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Today is Day 14 of the March Slice Of Life Story Challenge. 
Come see how others are slicing it up today.
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Winners Lose – Losers Win

in
dread
tears flow
bitterly
down already wet cheeks
for names and faces I know not
in the past’s horror and in the fear of tomorrow
I wonder if the end begins
with powers-that-be
watering
away
life
life
for
the men
the women
children and babies
their breaths snuffed in odorless death
less than one hundred days in, it is how things will wage
for those who will not pay the cost
it does not matter
who will win
when all
will
lose
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National Poetry Writing Month (NoPoWriMo) 2017
National Poetry Writing Month 2017Day 7 


A to Z Challenge - F logo
A to Z Challenge F is for Fibonacci Spiral

Today’s form adds up to the Fibonacci Spiral

The Fibonacci Poem, or Fib Poem for short, is a single stanza poem based on the first 7 numbers of the Fibonacci sequence 1,1,2,3,5,8,13. The first and second lines are one syllable, the third line two syllables, the fourth line three syllables and so forth following the Fibonacci sequence. It traditionally ends at seven lines (13 syllables), but some have taken it longer following the sequence.

The Fibonacci Spiral poem is a more structured poem with two stanzas.

The 1st stanza has 13 lines, the 2nd stanza has 12 lines. The last line of your first stanza is repeated to become the first line of your second stanza with no gap between stanzas. Repeat the syllable count to form the spiral for a total 25 lines altogether. If this confuses you just look below.

The syllable counts must be as follows:

stanza 1
1st line – 1 syllable
2nd line – 1 syllable
3rd line – 2 syllables
4th line -3 syllables
5th line -5 syllables
6th line -8 syllables
7th line -13 syllables
8th line -8 syllables
9th line -5 syllables
10th line – 3 syllables
11th line – 2 syllables
12th line – 1 syllable (word must be at least 4 letters)
13th line – 1 syllable (repeat of the word above)
stanza 2 (remember there is no space between the two stanza)
14th line -1 syllables
15th line -2 syllables
16th line -3 syllables
17th line -5 syllables
18th line -8 syllables
19th line -13 syllables
20th line -8 syllables
21st line -5 syllables
22nd line – 3 syllables
23rd line – 2 syllables
24th line – 1 syllable
25th line – 1 syllable

Though not required, the poem should be Centered for the spiral.

Discretion Is… 

Spoiled is walking into my local Starbucks and not having my name called out when my order is ready. I nod returning the baristas’ smiles in greeting as they acknowledge my presence upon entering. Once D and M, with my coffee and breakfast sandwich respectively, see my name on the label they each walk over to their side of the counter closest to where I stand and hand my order directly to me. I hoist my purchase in thanks to each as they laugh at my serious head-banging to the music my iPod. The final notes of The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” is clearly not the mellow tune regaling the customers over the store’s speakers at that moment.  Still, I overhear this cheeky college girl near me talking with a friend, “Check out She Who Shall Not Be Named.”

I slowly turn my head and smile, letting her know I heard. I think I smile charmingly,

Tom Hiddleston, normal smile

Tom Hiddleston, normal smile

but considering I have not had time to indulge in my coffee yet, it is very likely it came off as menacingly, for she blinks rapidly and takes an unconscious step back. I hear D behind me start to speak up “Girl, shut up.”

“Rai, don’t. Trust me, she’s not worthy of your wrath.” M chimes in at the same time. I turn to her fully, this time knowing my smile is all sorts of wrong.

Tom Hiddleston, evil grin

Tom Hiddleston, evil grin

With the opening whispers of Drowning Pool’s “Bodies” now in my ears, I choose to heed the discretion is route of M’s advice and leave.

Note: from my entrance to my exit, I had not uttered a single word.

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#SOL2017

#SOL2017

Let’s see how others are getting through this Hump Day:

10th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge! – DAY 29 Almost over!

Zort!

I am feeling rather indolent today. There really is no other word for it. Well, that’s not true – lackadaisical, torpid, languid, and lethargic also come to mind, but I digress.

“Where can I stick this?” Slipped from a colleague’s tongue. There was a slight pause as the speaker and two others in the conversation realized the verbal misstep and looked to me waiting for me to snark. On any other day I would have pounced on that spewing innuendo. I gave them all a whatever hand gesture – they are still waiting. I’m not angry, sad, tired or even bored, I simply can not be so bothered to be so bothered.

When not on autopilot, I’ve had no discerning thoughts, until I came here to post. For this creative mind that is constantly conjuring snark while running emotional apps, mental programs and existential subroutines, over speculative subroutines, under jokes, and in pure utter randomness, this complete lassitude of thought is unnerving to say the least.

It is just weird, really weird. I’ve shrugged, idly smiled, casually taught by rote all through this morning’s training session weird. Weird as in The Dude I just want to see what condition my condition is in, without being in any condition to condition really weird.

In the world of Pinky, are you pondering what I’m pondering? Pinky would be the Brain among the two of us right now. You’ll have to think about that, because clearly I’m not in the mood to.
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#SOL2017

#SOL2017

Let’s see how others are thinking it through their day:

10th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge! – DAY 23

Yaaaaaawn

 

My insomnia is catching up to me. I’ve maybe had eight hours of sleep since Sunday morning. After two days of straight out documentation, plus an all day training session today, with another double session to look forward to tomorrow. I’m so knackered I could cry, but that would likely keep me awake. Of course, just as my eyes are actually starting to feel the type of heavy that I may finally get a few good hours in one night, I remember I had yet to post.

So goodnight, sleep tight and pleasant dreams to you, and hopefully me – if I can get this damned Lawrence Welk earworm I just gave myself out of my head.

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#SOL2017

#SOL2017

Let’s see how others are slicing through what’s left of this wide awake Wednesday:

10th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge! – DAY 22

Is It Only Pretty In Pink?

WARNING: ADULT CONTENT AHEAD

A friend posted the following on her Facebook…

I was at work at the time and could not view it. I actually forgot about it and did not actually see the video until a day or so later.

At first I just rolled my eyes, but then I just saw red.

A different friend had the same initial reaction I had in thinking how men around the world are a huge reason for a lot of the fucked up shit we females go through when it comes to feminine beauty down to our vaginas. Over the years I have come across articles, advertisements, with commentary on what should be the labia color, labia size, to be or not to be hirsute, its vaginal canal width, depth, the proper moisture discharge and content and of course the natural scent of a woman. I suppose with so many cultures using complexion lighteners to attain the presumed ideal (read pink) beauty, I honestly cannot say that I am truly surprised by this. However, I am appalled and frankly disgusted at the depth of how -well- deep this desire, this need to achieve this presumed ideal for even our most intimate of places can go. Stop the madness.

This brought up some far from scientific, but highly interesting conversation twixt various friends of all genders over the next few days. In one such conversation I groused on how most CIS men seem to behave as though any vagina that does not look like a Georgia O’Keeffe painting is unworthy. Of course one of my idiot male friends sarcastically asked then, which artist I felt best represented mine. Me, being me, immediately replied “Rorsach”. When asked to elaborate I said “Each person sees something different in my lips.”

And calling spades what they are, the ones who are doing this are likely doing do to obtain some ideal to beings who should have no say in this very specific so of our bodies whatsoever, not that they should have it in any other, but really absolutely none right here  – and yes I mean men. Because as misandry filled as this is to say – no woman is likely going through labia bleaching, labiaplasty, vajazzling, and/or any other nonsense some women do to alter themselves from what nature intended, for another woman. It’s bad enough we have legal legislation, by mostly men, trying to rule on that what comes out of of our bodies.

Now we have to put up with social legislation on how it should look before going in?! Stop the madness.

I mean seriously, we women go through enough shit on the daily with regards to our bodies on the parts that every one can see. Are you effing kidding me that it has come literally down to that level?That some women have been made to feel so insecure about the appearance of their labia that they would subject themselves to that? Stop the madness!

Because it seems to me if you’ve been invited to see this woman that up close and personal that you can make comparisons you should praising your local deity for the honors and shut the fuck up! Preferably by putting your lips on mine since you’re down there I’m just saying…

And speaking of IJS – Stop that madness.

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Writing Our Lives #52essays2017 challenge – Week 11

52essays2017

A year-long weekly personal essay/memoir/creative nonfiction writing challenge. To learn more about this challenge or to participate, check out Vanessa Martir’s website and learn about it.

One World-Divisible 

On Star Trek: TNG there was an episode about a planet wanting to join the Federation, but could not because a small part of its population was against it. It had to be a united planet to be a member.

A united planet.

We who call ourselves citizens of the United States would be noted as liars to say we are united merely as a country these days. We have not been truly united since a few years or so after 9/11. Perhaps there was a momentary resurgence of patriotism when Osama Bin Laden was finally taken down, but bloom fell off that rose pretty quickly.

Locations of ongoing conflicts worldwide; updated March 2017. - Wikipedia

Locations of ongoing conflicts worldwide; updated March 2017. – Wikipedia

Since Cain first had his jealous streak and took out Able it has been man’s penchant to divide and hold his cause in favor.

It is one the oldest strategies in the book of power. And it works, because it plays directly in to human nature.  We classify ourselves as along political, social, religious, economic lines and so on. We used to agree to disagree and be, if not fine, at least tolerant of opposing views. These matters are central to human social existence and tend resist any attempts at resolution. As a result, each side views the position of the other as a threat to its very existence.  The more we lose sight of our commonalities; drifting away from each other and becoming less human. When we group ourselves away from and regard those outside of our group with fear, with hostility, even if, especially when they’ve done nothing – we forget that they are humans too and that makes us part of the problem.

These intractable conflicts are ones that have continued unresolved and seem stuck in their levels of intensity and destructiveness. People tend to strike out at what is different, what they fear, which is bad when what we fear is each other.
It’s worse when we give in to that fear, give in to that desire to inflict as much harm, physical and psychological, on each other as possible. For so many this constant sense of threat and hostility pervades everyday life and overrides our ability to recognize any shared concerns.

For a nation renowned on embracing the different, some in the US seem to have lost sight of this within our own walls. Where will her huddled masses go if Liberty’s torch grows dim?

Will it ever come to a point it blows out?

And the U.S. is but one nation of many nations trying to get its act together, as a people we seem to be doing more and more separating of ourselves from each other. Earth would never be admitted as a member of the UFP as we stand now.

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Writing Our Lives #52essays2017 challenge – Week 10

52essays2017

A year-long weekly personal essay/memoir/creative nonfiction writing challenge. To learn more about this challenge or to participate, check out Vanessa Martir’s website and learn about it.

 

#SOL2017

#SOL2017

Let’s see how other’s are serving up their slices:

10th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge! – DAY 7