Bee stings and love

I got stung by a bee today on my foot.  It wasn’t the bee’s fault – it just got caught up in my flip flop. I felt awful for the bee. I should have had boots on but maybe I would have squished it anyway but I would have avoided the sting. 

As I was jumping around freaking out about the sting – and calling to my sons and husband  for some help – I began to cry.  

I was scared. I’ve alway been afraid of bee stings. I have a fear that I will get allergy to the sting. I don’t have one I’m just afraid I will become allergic. 

I was so afraid of bees as a kid I would put myself in perilous situations just to flee from them. Once I nearly made our bus driver crash as I ran up the aisle of the bus screaming BC a bee was buzzing somewhere in the back. The driver slammed on the brakes of the bus and I went down flying head first into the seat. She was steamed at me. She didn’t care that I hit my head. She just yelled at me to sit down. So I did trying to hide my tears and my shame.

 I remember getting out of the bus and holding a little terrarium that I had made in art. We used layers of colored sand and placed a little succulent inside and put a top on. I was so excited about that terrarium and when I got off the bus I was finally able to compose  myself BC I was away from the bee and the embarrassment. I began to take inventory of the damage to myself and my belongings. My head throbbed but I was ok. I held up the terrarium and all the insides lay in ruin. The layers of sand were mostly blended together and the little succulent was unrooted from the sand. 

The tears began again. I cried a lot when I was a kid. I think some people became immune to my tears. But not my mom.  I took myself and my broken artwork into the house and tried to explain in choked words to my mother what happened. I can’t recall exactly what she did but I know she cured the tears that fell and the terrarium was fixed enough so the little plant was rerooted. I remember that terrarium sitting with all its imperfection in our kitchen.  My mother hated to see me sad. 

These days I’m not so scared of bees that I run from them. I even will catch them if they get into the house so I can free them into the wild.  If I find a bee in the house it’s their lucky day. 

We did have some of those bees that burrow into the siding of the house and somehow they began making their way inside. They didn’t meet as kind an end. They were nasty and they came in by the dozens. It took an exterminator and my husband a number of attempts to get rid of them.  We still have blobs of spray foam  bulging from holes in the siding of the house. We haven’t had a swarm in two years. I hope they don’t return- they deliver a nasty sting.  I don’t know what the purpose of those bees are but I know they aren’t good like honeybees. 

Speaking of stings – the one I got yesterday hurt! I began crying out of fear and pain and as I sat wimpering on my porch waiting for my kids to grab some ice and baking soda I wondered if today was the day I’d be allergic to bees and have to be rushed away to the hospital. It would be bad timing BC my husband had to take one son to an encampment that was over an hour away. If I had to go to the hospital I would ruin that. 

It turns out that my sting didn’t even swell much. Maybe she didn’t get much venom in as I pulled my foot up fast when I felt the bite. I saw her in the grass and felt badly for  her.  My fear of bees has grown into a respect of nature ( unless nature is living in the walls if my home). 

But I wonder where those tears come from. Well the tears I think I get. They are from frustration and fear. The frustration BC I haven’t been able to catch a break lately. I am dealing with chronic nerve pain from the cancer surgery and though it’s been two and a half years since surgery I am still dealing with this issue. It’s been worse in the cancer aftermath than the actual treatments were. My life quality of late has been less than subpar and I know those tears wait on the edge to come. All it takes is a little bee sting and a dose of frustration and fear and the dam breaks. 

It’s funny or odd how an old fear can take hold of us and wash over us in an instant. I knew in my brain I was most likely not allergic to bees but the fear was seperate from the rational thought. I just had to let it wash over me. It would pass in time. 

I was a fearful kid – every week I had a new fear. Fear of germs , fear of touching boys ( my parents must have loved that -but it definitely was gone by the time I hit puberty), fear of ticks. So many fears. 

Some of the fear followed me into adulthood and I developed a pretty major anxiety disorder in my 30s that I try hard to stomp on as best as I can. Some new fears arose that I learned had a fancy name called phobias. The phobias that remain aren’t life altering. I don’t eat shellfish BC I’m scarred of allergic reactions. Though I ate shellfish to the gills (pun intended) when I lived in Boston. But one day somewhere back in my 30s -maybe- I just cut off the shellfish eating out of fear. It’s not a big deal and I actually don’t miss not eating it except once in a while I’ll see my hubby eating shrimp or a crab cake and want a bite. Hubby always is willing to share and I am sure often wonders why I have this fear. But he loves me warts and all. 

I am warty. But we all are aren’t we? Or is that a delusion I convince myself of?  It’s taken years for me to love myself for the whole person that I am. And some days I fail at that. 

As I sat on that porch with my husband who was trying to comfort me as my mom did so many years ago – he made me feel safe. I knew I was being a little silly but I found the tears cleansing and maybe I just needed that cry. For an instant the child in me took over- the one who had so many fears. She may have been fearful but she was a good girl and had a loving  heart. She still does. 

After a bit I told my husband he could get back to the million things that he was working on. I picked  myself up and went inside to wash my face off and put on some socks and boots. 

I saw my kids who had seen me crying and had tended to me as I sat  on the porch and I wondered had I been comforting enough to them when they got stung? I probably tried not to show my fear to them when they were the ones hurt. I never wanted my kids to be fearful the way I was. I knew that the fear can hold you back and can stigmatize a kid. But was I too stoic with them? Did I make them feel safe? I hope I have. 

Even now as teens they act like they don’t need me but they do. I’m the tough one – the strong one. I get stuff done. But over the last couple years they’ve seen me at my worst – on my knees asking for Gods mercy. Do they think less of me? 

I hope not. I hope they see a human. One that stands tall for them but one that can fail and one that can cry in the face of fear. We are all a combination of feelings. We have to let them out and embrace each one because that is the essence of who we are and we need to love ourselves. 

As I saw each teen in the aftermath of the bee incident I said “I just get scared that I’m allergic to bees for some reason.  I know it’s silly”.  Each one in there own way said they knew and it was ok. Each one said they hated bee stings too.  Each one asked me if I was ok. Some sweetness from often seemingly uncaring teens. It’s in there. 

I went back to the chicken area to finish what I was doing before I got stung. The sting was still a bit painful but I had myself fairly convinced that I would be ok. I turned to see my husband looking at me. 

“What’s up?”

” I’m just making sure you are ok.” 

“I’m ok I think. I just hope I’m not allergic. ”

” If you were allergic you’d know by now” 

“I know it’s silly to be scared like that.” 

“It’s how you feel and that’s ok.”  

He gets me and he loves me. My kids try to get me but they love me as only a teen can love. That’s comfort, love,and safety all rolled up into the messy thing called family. 

And I’m ok. I’ll wear boots next time. Sorry bees. 

Staying Silent is Easier

This week I have been following the story about Brock Turner who was convicted on three counts of rape in a jury trial. I am sure many have seen at least something about it on the news or on the internet. Brock is a student at Stanford. He is an Olympic hopeful in swimming. And he is a rapist. But he only is going to jail for three months if he is on good behavior or he might serve his full sentence six months if he is not. Six months? It seems not enough. (update: I missed the fact that Stanford expelled Brock and US Swim banned him. – so some natural consequences are happening – thanks Rachel C for giving me these facts that I missed.)

The judge in the case – Aaron Persky- is also getting huge backlash- he has been recently reappointed to his seat on the bench as he ran unopposed – but there are petitions to have him removed. I don’t know why he felt that six months was enough other than he said “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him. I think he will not be a danger to others,”

Really? Severe impact- we don’t want that for Brock.

Here is a quote from the New York Times (full article here)

The judge, identified by The Guardian as a Stanford alumnus, handed Mr. Turner, a champion swimmer, far less than the maximum 14 years after he was convicted, pointing out that he had no “significant” prior offenses, he had been affected by the intense media coverage, and “there is less moral culpability attached to the defendant, who is … intoxicated,” The Guardian said.

The victim said Mr. Turner had admitted drinking, but still had not acknowledged any fault in the attack, insisting the episode had been consensual. She said the court privileged his well-being over her own, and in the end declined to punish him severely because the authorities considered the disruption to his studies and athletic career at a prestigious university when determining his sentence.

Seriously? – Oh My God – am I really reading this?

Have we forgotten about the victim? Didn’t she suffer a severe impact? Isn’t her life already severely changed?  Doesn’t she matter? (The answer is Yes She Does by the way). You can read what she had to say for yourself here – she wrote a 12 page letter and read it to the court. This young woman admits to getting drunk as happens to many people on occasion  – and often on college campuses- she was at a frat party -and she blacked out – she was very drunk -in fact she was unconscious when the two men on bikes (the Swedes) came across Brock and the victim as he was on top of her behind a dumpster dry humping away. Thank God for them. One of the Swedes was so upset by what he saw that he was crying when police got there. There are good men out there.

What she knows is that she did not knowingly consent to his touching her. Sadly the defense got to fill in the blanks because she doesn’t have a memory of the event. Brock says she consented to being fingered (sorry for the crassness) – but even if that is true – even if she said ok in her drunken state -is that really a manly thing to take advantage of a woman when she is that inebriated? Someone who can’t put sentences together? and to attack her behind a dumpster? (My mom brain cannot understand how Brock’s mom -who has a daughter- can even look at her son without wanting to hurl. Or at least want him to take responsibility.)I think there are many men who would have helped her home – not rip her clothing over her breasts and above her waist and then violate her.

So because of these young men – The Swedes- who did not turn the other way -but went to the victims aid – and chased Brock and caught him when he ran away – Brock was arrested and his family apparently chose a jury trial. So the victim over the course of a year had to relive this nightmare daily. She was made to look like a slut and a drunk in court. The defense tried to make it seem like she deserved it. Is this progress in woman’s rights? Nobody deserves it! But she endured the trial hoping justice would prevail. And it did. Brock was convicted of rape. But when prosecutors asked for a 6 year jail term (he could have been given up to 14 years) the judge ordered him to 6 months in jail of which he may have to serve only 3. It doesn’t seem right- it seems a slap on the wrist to me.

Brock’s father penned a note to the court asking the judge to make his sons sentence more lenient. The ordeal had taken a toll on Brock already – Brock wasn’t eating well. Brock seemed down. Brock might get to go to the olympics. He lost a scholarship. Don’t let this “twenty minutes of action” as stated by Brock’s father Dan, alter his life. His mother said he was trying to fit in with the other swimmers. Really? What planet is this family from? Now I see where the problem lies. And they have a daughter!

Read Dan Turner’s full statement here – if you can stomach the lack of culpability.

(If you want to read a great response to this situation from a man on Facebook read here. And another letter written to Brock’s father – Dan from an angry parent)

I often wonder what Brock thought during this trial.  Did he really believe his story? Did he really not think he was guilty of anything else but getting drunk? Or was his dad at the helm of this trial and his son along for the ride in the selfish hope that somehow all his hopes and dreams wouldn’t be squashed. Did he ever think about his victim? Did he care how she may have been effected, if she was eating, how her parents were feeling?  I would like to think somewhere inside he might feel these things and that he is only behaving in a puppet way so his lawyers will save him from losing out on life. But then I think someone who is really capable of treating a woman that way has some real issues.

I am a parent of two teen boys and a teen daughter. I hope I never to face this circumstance with any of my children. If it were one my sons I would like to think that I would want them to admit to their obvious wrong-doing- I certainly hope that I wouldn’t try to make them seem like the victim in all of it. Thats it not the type of parent I want to be. It would be gut-wrenching to watch my child’s ship sink but life has consequences. Imagine the victims family – imagine the victim- it is worse for them.  I have a daughter and I cannot imagine being that family and how they must have felt.

I keep thinking of the victim. I hate that word but I don’t know her name. In my mind her name is Brave. I have wondered if the scenario had been much different- if she had woken up in the wee hours of the morning in Brock’s dorm room- thinking- “Oh crap where the hell am I”- realizing she may have been violated and had no memory of it would she have reported it? Or would she just get herself dressed and quietly slip out of that dorm room – head hung – walk of shame – would she have just gone home and never told anyone?

Or what if she woke up behind that dumpster – hair full of pine cone needles..skirt up over her waist – exposed. No Swedes to find her. Would she have reported it? I don’t know – and she didn’t get that chance to find out. She had to face her violator in court – she wasn’t able to move on she had to face it every day. She was torn up in court. The only hope is that justice is done. And yes there was the guilty verdict but then there was the sentence which says we have to do something but we don’t want to ruin his life. No justice at all. And perhaps a long sentence would have felt hollow to her as well. She said she hoped maybe he would have admitted to something – apologize- just give her something to allow her to forgive. But he didn’t – he said his only crime was getting drunk- and thankfully the jury saw different. She wrote in her dialogue that she can’t forgive him and I so get that but I hope she does. Because even though he doesn’t deserve forgiveness the act of forgiving him will free her from being a victim for life. He cannot have the power to steal her life – he gets his back in 3-6 months- so she should get hers.

This brings me to my point (other than just being pissed about it) of why I write this. Had there had been no Swedes and she went home after she woke up behind a dumpster and cleaned herself up and went on with life could you blame her? It happens all the time – women are violated but don’t report it because of fear or guilt that it could be their fault. ” I was flirting”. “I was drunk” I wore my skirt too short” And then you have the court system that is supposed to supply justice and punishment and we know that the victim has to go through a lot of hell at trial and then the outcome may be a slap on the wrist for the perpetrator. What woman wants to drag herself through that?

This has been an issue for years. You would think that with all the advances woman have made over the years we would have some equality when it came to instances like this. Why are woman always made out to be at fault in a case like this? “She was so sexy I had to jump her and rape her – its her fault”. “She was so drunk and she was all over me – she wanted it.” “Well she is the campus Ho – so she was asking for it.” Sounds so dumb right? Yes but this is how it goes down in court and the court of public opinion even if it is more subtle than that.

Honestly, I cannot believe we still have this barbaric thinking. It was the same when I was young. I know because I was a victim (and I hate that word) of an act (was it a crime?) I never could wrap my head around that. I tried to make it nothing- and I made it my fault. But a hand over my mouth and a threat and me giving in to avoid certain consequences seems like a crime now. But then I wasn’t about to tell anyone a thing. I did tell my then boyfriend who was going to kill the guy- bc we knew him- he was my ex- boyfriend. But we both knew I would never tell anyone of authority.

Staying silent was easier.

I don’t want that for woman in 2016. But we have done nothing to encourage woman who have been harmed to stand up and come out and fight. It is too hard and to what end? A slap on the wrist of the criminal? Sometimes no conviction even – sometimes just pure humiliation on the victims part.

We need to do better than this. We need to teach our boys better, we need better justice. We need woman to matter more. Oh people say we matter but when you look all over this world you see the injustices done to them – the harm the humiliation. Cant we do better in this country?

We need to because as far as I can see right now silence is the road most travelled.

We must do better.



The Greatest. 

To me Muhammad Ali was the greatest.  Not really because of the fighting. I find fighting barbaric really. But when I was a young girl I watched him fight and I watched him talk. I came to love him for his talking and his banter with the late Howard Cosell. I see the genius and the genuine love in that relationship now.

When I was a kid our home revolved around sports. My dad ruled the tv and we got to watch our shows when he wasn’t watching either news or sports or the occasional sitcom – he didn’t like too many of those.

If you wanted to watch tv you watched what dad was watching. So I watched a lot of sports and because of that I continue to watch sports. I get comfort from it. I sort of find it funny that coming from a sometimes very chaotic home that I took sports as a thing of comfort with me into the future. I think it’s BC it was a time of bonding with my dad. A time when there wasn’t arguing or me feeling like I didn’t fit in.

As a girl I was sort of foreign to my dad BC I was a girl.  As a wimpy cry baby girl I was even more alien to him -he didn’t know what to do with all that. I had a younger brother who was much less alien and more relatable to my dad than I was. Perhaps my love of watching sports ( I played some sports but honestly they were just for fun) comes from the fact that sports watching was a time that my being alien wasn’t an issue. We all sat and watched together and rooted together.  I can’t count how many Redskins games I watched with my dad and how many we attended together. Even now if we get together we inevitably will watch a sports game. It’s become a common bond in a way.

So I remember Mohammed Ali so well. We would watch his interviews with Cosell and laugh at his chants a rhymes. We would mimic his famous phrase “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee….” We would watch his fights or if I couldn’t stay up for a fight I would hear my dad cheering  in the family room.  There are many hours of me hearing sports from the confines of my room. Me laying in bed under my pink sheets in my pink room with pink paisley border-door open because I was afraid to close it at night- listening to my dad watching sports. It’s when he seemed most happy I think. Sports brings him joy in a way that other things might not.

I am finding myself very saddened by the loss of Ali. I think for me his death represents the fast passing of time. The little girl who wanted so much to be part of her fathers life is now grown and still feels the same. Where did those years go? I wonder if Ali felt the same.

That little girl that revered this black fighter and laughed at his rants  and rhymes didn’t realize he was a one of the first gorilla marketers before that was even a thing. She didn’t really know what he stood for in the world of black people and in the history of fighting. She just knew her dad loved watching him so she loved him. And that young girl -now woman – feels the passing deeply. She will never forget the cheers from that family room -someone else’s room now. She will never forget the laughs this fighter brought to her life and she will never forget her dads joy.