Saturday, May 28, 2016

Summer Kick Off!

"Hey, Hannah! I have been looking all over for you. A group of us are going to get together Monday for a BBQ. Did you want to join us?"

"Oh, thanks, Josh, but I've already got plans with my Dad for Monday."

"Oh, that's cool. I don't do a lot with my folks anymore. I should probably give them a call soon."

Hannah smiled, "Yeah you probably should. Have fun though. I'll see you all on Tuesday."

Hannah went back to her desk and checked her "To Do" list. She needed to stop by the farm stand over the weekend and pick up strawberries for the strawberry short cake and wanted to look at what flowers they had ready for planting. That's how they would spend most of the day. Baking grandma's shortcake recipe, then gardening, then eating. It didn't seem like a lot but tradition made it much bigger.

She remembered the first time she got to help make the strawberry shortcake. She was started on mixing dry ingredients with the promise that when she got older she would be allowed to hull and slice the strawberries. She had so looked forward to the year she was given the paring knife and set to work on the berries. It was a pretty good trick, she didn't even realize until a few years in to the hulling and slicing that it was actually the worst part of the job. Dad always handled the whipped cream, he would whisk it by hand in to soft perfect peaks. When she did it, it was with the mixer. He would just shake his head, "How can you tell it's exactly right if you can't feel it?"

She glanced at the clock, one more hour until the long weekend started. Almost time.

Monday morning Hannah was up before her alarm would have gone off on a work day. Wasn't that always the way? It was fine, she had a busy day ahead and might as well get started on it. She had picked up the berries at the farm stand and some marigolds. Her dad liked marigolds. They were colorful and helped keep away bugs. He was very practical that way.  She would have probably gone with morning glories, those were her favorites, but they took a lot more work to keep tidy. Practicality wins the day.

After showering and tidying up the house a little Hannah watched the clock. They'd get started on the dessert around 10. That would give the shortcakes time to bake before the day warmed up. Then everything could cool while they did a little gardening and a little lemonade drinking in the shade. Maybe more lemonade than gardening, but that was tradition as well. Though this year she had a bit of a surprise to add. She hoped he would like it.

One fifteen. Sun high in the sky, gardening in full swing. There had been some weeds to pull and one of the flowers they had planted last time hadn't made it through the winter so she had pulled it out. Then the new marigolds were planted adding their own sunshiny faces to the day. Not bad at all. Hannah poured two glasses of lemonade out of her thermos and then opened the small Tupperware container she had stashed in the cooler as well. There were macerated strawberries and lime in this one and she stirred a tablespoon of the mixture in to each glass.  She sat back under the shade of the oak tree and took a sip. "What do you think? Nice add right? Yeah, I know, you'd like it better with a shot of bourbon." Hannah laughed.


"Josh, is Hannah going to make it? You invited her right?"

"Yeah, I did, but she said she was busy with her dad today."

"Her dad? Are you sure she said her dad?"

"Yeah, why?"

"Her dad died in Afghanistan like 6 years ago."

"Oh shit, I had no idea..."


Hannah reached in to the cooler and took out a covered bowl of strawberry shortcake. Placing it on the gravestone next to the glass of lemonade. "I miss you, Dad. Happy Memorial Day."

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Ghosts in the machine...

I posted a story today and a friend "liked" it. Not really an odd thing to happen but this was an online friend I haven't heard from in years. I quickly posted on the link tagged her by name telling her how happy it made me to see her name and then snap...the "like" was gone. Which tells me there was a mistake made. Either she hadn't intended to "like" the article (it happens to all of us when we are scrolling quickly) or I shouldn't have drawn attention to it. Either way I hope she saw my post and I hope it made her smile.

She is one of those people you meet online that becomes really important to you. I am lucky enough that I have a few of those people in my life. People that you never would have ever gotten to know if it weren't for the internet. And then you wonder how in the world life could have ever gone by without you knowing them. They are so much a part of who you are that the thought that it was just a random thing that you became friends? Inconceivable.

She is also part of an even smaller group of those friends that I have had the chance to meet in person. And she was even better live than online. Most of the people I have met have been. With just a few exceptions and one doesn't really count as an exception because I wasn't terribly fond of them online and meeting them in person just firmed that opinion up...

ANYWAY...she was great in person as well. She is one of those people that is strictly no bullshit. When she wasn't using her picture as an avatar people assumed she was a young man. She was that blunt. I loved it. Smart, sarcastic, funny, she was my kind of people. And she is also extremely loving and caring. A great friend. In fact when my dad died I had this thought when I got home from the funeral that all I really wanted to do was go see her. That somehow she would be able to make me feel better. Or maybe prevent me from wallowing. Tough love. I just wanted her. Online had to do. But she was still there for me.

Until she wasn't there anymore.

See the reason I haven't heard from her in years is because...


It's obviously...

I have no idea. Her reasons were her own and she didn't share them with me. On confident days I assume that she just pulled back from everyone and decided to retreat to the "real world" as people often do. On self hating days I am positive that I said or did something that was insensitive or idiotic (as is my way) and she just couldn't even with me anymore.

But I don't know. And I don't get to know. That's the way life goes sometimes.

But now I do know that leaving her on my friend list was the right call because now I know that she is still around. Still reading things. Still seeing what she chooses to look at. And I am hopeful that what she saw today was an old friend who still loves her dearly. And I know she is still out there. Like a ghost in the machine...

Doing the mental math...

I added another layer to my workouts last week. The mental component.

 Here was Monday's inner dialog:

"Since my shoulder is hurt I will not be in the free weight section just the machines and I will be upstairs after that on the cardio machines. So I should be fine working out at my normal time and normal gym."


"Drop Brent off at the airport and have my workout done by 6:30, should be in and out before there would be an issue."


"I can either go in late morning or early afternoon. Or I can skip it and just dance while I clean house since I'm still not going to be able to lift."

Why all of this adjustment in my head? Because there is a guy at the gym who has crossed in to my "possible creep" zone from the "friendly person" zone. Now he's probably still just a friendly person who has some personal space issues. But I don't know for sure. All I know is that my years of training have put me on edge when he is around.

What years of training you ask?

Well some of you ask. The rest of you know. My years of training of being a woman navigating the world.

See we all do it all the time. We watch where we park. We watch where we walk. We pay attention to how people talk to us. Where they look as well as what they say. We learn early to pay attention to that voice in the back of our heads that helps decide if we get in the elevator with you or we don't. If we can leave our drink with you when we go to the bathroom or if we don't. These are things we do. 

This guy? He is probably fine. Maybe. But maybe not.

I work out 5 days a week. A lot of people do the same. You become what I call nodding acquaintances with the people at the gym and then some people want to socialize as well. I don't encourage that. I am not ever going to enjoy going to the gym. I'm just not. I do it because of health reasons. I do it because if I am always going to be this size and always going to weigh the same I might as well have cool muscles while I do it. I do it because I love cake like a.... well like a Denise loves cake. (There is no other comparison that works, except maybe like a Denise loves cookies) I am never going to be one of those people that thinks of food as nothing but fuel. I love good food. It makes me happy. Like hum a little song and do a little chair dance happy. The gym is work so I can enjoy that. So I don't want to socialize at the gym. I want to do my work and get the heck out of there. 

But some people like to socialize. And as I was raised not to be rude I am polite to them. 

So when a guy who works out at the same time I do said "Hey we match!" I smiled and said, "On Monday's we wear purple." Not many guys are going to get this joke but still it needed to be made. And I didn't think much of it. Much. It was odd enough that I told Brent about it and he said, "He's totally flirting with you." Which I said was nonsense. One it's a lame way to flirt and two I look a hot mess at the gym so not really flirt ready. 

Then a week or so later on a Friday as I was struggling through my last set he walked by as he was putting his weights away. We chatted briefly about being glad it was Friday and how everyone seemed to be struggling that day and ready to stop working out. 

The next week he introduced himself. Okay fine.

Later that week as he walked past me and I didn't see him he reached out and squeezed my shoulder.


Okay, so I'm a very touchy feely person. Everyone who knows me knows I will pat your arm, touch your leg, rub your shoulder, but this is still a stranger I've said maybe 25 words to. And he squeezed my shoulder instead of just saying hi.

Then the last alarm. I was sitting in my car finishing my coffee when someone knocked on my windshield. I startled, looked up and there he was waving at me. 

So now he knows what car I drive.

This is the mental math women make. Is he just a super friendly guy? Or is he a potential issue? I know how much weight he can lift and it's more than I can so I know he's stronger than me, I know he knows what kind of car that I drive, I know he knows my name, I know he knows what time I usually work out. What I don't know is if he is okay or not okay.

So I will adjust my life for awhile to make sure I avoid him. Because though he might be perfectly fine. He might not. And I don't know. But my creep meter has been pinged and I would be stupid not to listen to that alarm bell.

And now the segue....

So this is why I shake my head when people want to talk about poor defenseless women in the bathroom with these creepy men. (Remember they want you to understand it's not about transgender people, it's about the creeps who will PRETEND to be transgender because they were somehow worried about breaking some sort of bathroom taboo on their way to break an actual law but now they are free to molest or rape at will) Women have been on guard in public restrooms for as long as they have been aware of the world. We are on guard in all small spaces. Or large ones. Or medium size ones. We walk to our cars with eyes scanning constantly. It used to be with keys clutched like Wolverine claws but now nobody has keys so we walk a little faster.  It's the reason why you have gun advocates saying women should walk through parking garages with their hand in their purse on their concealed carry weapon. Being a woman means we are on guard. It means we pay attention to things men don't. Who is parked next to us? Is that guy following us or just walking in the same direction? Was that an accidental bump on the Max or did that dude just touch my ass on purpose? We learn where to hit you so the strength disadvantage is nullified. We learn to listen to that inner voice.

You want to make the world a safer place? Great. Get on it. But it's a much bigger problem than the make believe one you are focusing on right now. 

Until that point women will continue to listen to their inner voices, watch for potential warning signals, park under street lamps, watch who is walking near us, go over the soft areas (arch of the foot, side of the knee, balls, throat, eyes, backwards head butt) and you continue to think of us as helpless and child like (yeah, don't get me started on the number of times my relationship to my child has been compared to Brent's relationship with me during this whole bathroom debate). Women have to be aware of potential dangers because for some reason unless it's wearing a dress the world isn't taking much notice.