Holding Out For A Hero

I have come to believe God stopped making men capable of confidence and decisive action some time in the late 70's. Twice in the last two weeks three men have watched another man act aggressively towards me and said and done nothing. 

Today when I arrived at the station to wait for my train there was a smelly and bedraggled young man with his pants and underwear halfway down his thighs. He was hunched over and drooling. Wanting to give my fellow man the benefit of the doubt, I at first assumed he was an itchy drug addict so out of it he wasn't aware of his surroundings. About 30 seconds later I realized he was in fact masturbating. I tried to ignore it, but I couldn't. I looked at the three men waiting with me for the train and they were staring at their phones. They glanced at the guy but each time they went back to their phones. So I loudly in my best angry mom voice said ,"Get your hands out of your goddamn pants! I don't care what you think you're doing. Stop or I'm calling the police." He kept doing it but moved behind the pillar. So I said even louder, "That's it! I gave you a choice. Calling the cops." At which point he did take his hands out of his pants, and pulled them up. He then glared at me and took two deliberate steps towards me. I took THREE steps towards him, slowly shaking my head. I intently said, "Don't. You have more to lose than I do." He paused for maybe three seconds and then sat down with his hands folded in his lap.

Now before you accuse me of being brave, in my right pocket I had my self-defense stabbing key chain and in my left I had my taser. And I assure you  I had both hands in my pockets. I was also wearing sneakers and fully prepared to run. But I read the situation correctly and didn't have to run. A few minutes later the train came. I found a seat and put in my headphones. My plan was to listen to music and shake the whole thing off. But then I felt some dude staring at me and trying to get my attention.

Man: So that was crazy. I was going to say something.

Me: Hmm. Couldn't tell. 

Man: Well I was.

Me: (sarcastically) I'm sure you were

Man: (angrily) What's your problem? He might have been armed

Me: Yeah. With the same weapon I assume is in your pants. But whatever dude. It's over. So...yeah. 

He didn't let it go and there was a bit more back and forth in which I accused him of watching too much TV. Drug addicts are usually pretty docile and content to only hurt themselves. And public masturbators aren't known for their violence. But at each turn I reiterated that I would like to have had the help, but it obviously wasn't required. Finally when I was done discussing it and just wanted to watch a funny youtube video on my phone I said, "Listen! If you want me to say it is cool you didn't do anything, you'll be waiting until the robot apocalypse. Not going to say it. But it also doesn't matter what I think. I don't know you. You shouldn't care what I think." And I put in my headphones and put up my hand in the STOP gesture when he tried to continue the conversation.

I was tired and annoyed and I don't tolerate public masturbation. If I die feel free to put it on my headstone "Here lies, D.C. Martin. Daughter, Sister, Friend, Advocate against jerking off in public"  If those dudes could put up with it...well...bully for them. I haven't expected a man to consistently and reliably have my back since my father died when I was 18. But just because I don't expect it, that doesn't mean that I don't want it. And I feel hideously old-fashioned.

We exaggerate the danger in this world to the point that people are afraid to act. Could that guy have had a gun or knife? Possibly. But it was really unlikely. And I can't live my life being disgusted four feet away from a man yanking it. I work hard. And I don't have an easy life. I deserve moments of peace. And I don't ask myself to endure unnecessary indignities. And everyone else at that stop deserves dignity and peace too. So why was I the only one who said anything? Why were those three men so afraid of being cursed out, punched, or in some way minimally harmed that they'd rather just sit there and be victims? What kind of person, not even man, but person, is too afraid  at the very least to call  the police for help. I had already stood up and said something, all the men had to do was stand next to me, or behind me. They could've even just sent a text to the "See something, Say something" number. But they did nothing. 

Something similar happened at my book club last week. A guy was bullying some women. I said something. The men sat silently, or nervously laughing. And later they said "I was going to say something..." But they didn't. Of course they didn't. And when I don't let them use feminism as an excuse to stand by and do nothing they get pissy. Feminism means we stand up to wrongs TOGETHER. It doesn't mean we cower and give up together. I have an illustrative example that I use to help men understand the difference between chauvinism and support. In her book Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, Gloria Steinem tells a story about arriving home after a long and stressful trip to find her boyfriend had sent a car to the airport to pick her up and drive her home. There is no doubt that Gloria was fully capable of getting herself home, she didn't need him to send that car. She wouldn't have just stood there like a kid not picked up from pre-school. But as she slid into that car and leaned her head back and closed her eyes exhaling she felt appreciated, supported, and loved. Her boyfriend wasn't oppressing her, or controlling her. He was being a partner and a friend. 

There is nothing in this world that I want or need, that I need a man to provide for me. But I'm exhausted.  A little help would be nice. I can protect myself from public masturbators and alpha male bullies. But any man who sees me in distress is welcome to help. And if he doesn't help, he can expect me to be disappointed and a bit too overworked to make him feel better about himself for being fearful and useless. 

I started this post by saying that this inaction and fear is something I'm noticing universally in men younger than myself. And that is because it seems to so far to be isolated to those men. Elderly men, middle-aged men, and the men I know my age have always either helped me out or backed me up without fail. People tease me about only dating old guys. But it isn't only that we share a love of whiskey, baseball, and books about war. It is about the moment when I'm angry or scared and I look to my man and he isn't staring at his phone. 

Here is my keychain. My taser is less photogenic.

Here is my keychain. My taser is less photogenic.

Arson Is For Wankers

When I was six my elementary school had a fire safety assembly and invited a young man who had been burned over 80% of his body. He had no fingers and since this was the 80’s and plastic surgery isn’t what it is now, looked like he’d been melted and then someone tried to shape him back into a person. He was very clever and charming and an amazing public speaker. It has been almost 35 years and I remember his words, they in fact haunt me. I have been terrified of fire ever since.

Mine is not a normal reasonable fear but something that I have lost sleep over. When I smoked I didn’t light cigarettes in my mouth. I looked like a crazy person but I wasn’t going to put an open flame three inches from my face. I also don’t go to bonfires, I rarely light candles, and any time I use a match I run it under water before I’m willing to dispose of it. I don’t just check the location of exits on planes. I do it everywhere I go. I used to do my own fire drills as a child. Which my parents probably didn’t question because they were just happy I was going outside.
I’ve been in two buildings that were on fire. This feels like an excessive amount, but I refuse to look at the statistics because I need to feel special and I’m afraid that might be  average. The first time was in college. When I was a junior, several rooms in my dorm on the floor beneath me caught fire. No one was injured but it was scary. The second time was Saturday night. And I barely registered fear for some reason. Possibly because a gypsy told me I would die on November 3, 2056 in a boating accident. I love boats. I don’t mind dying on a boat. As long as it isn’t a cruise ship. I refuse to die full of buffet shrimp after listening to Kathy Lee Gifford sing. 
Since it was September 30, 2017 and I wasn’t on a boat I stayed calm. I stayed calm even when the smoke was thick in the stairwell. I was choking on it as I went outside. My building has impressive protections that keep fires from really getting going. So I knew the fire would be out shortly. What lingers in my mind is the effort the arsonist put in. He and presumably a partner lit fires on three floors and in the elevator. The elevator thing is especially messed up because as it returned to the lobby it filled the corridors with smoke and when the doors opened it released enough smoke to briefly convince us that the fire may be in the lobby and we were trapped. It was like the perpetrator was trying to keep us in the building to burn.
As far as I can tell there is no reason to burn the building down. Witnesses who saw the guy with the can of accelerant gave statements to the police and I hope they find the guy. Thank God for the intrusive security cameras and patrols. And I appreciate the tenants that used fire extinguishers to get the fires under control before the Fire Department arrived. Two of the heroes are a gay couple I’ve been giving the stink-eye for months because their dog is poorly house trained and poops in the building. They clean it up too slowly in my opinion. Saving my earthly possessions earns them two weeks of goodwill and forgiveness. I have some takeaways:

1)      Whereas all I grabbed was my purse, a sweater, and my cellphone, others grabbed valuables. I don’t know if I have a healthy attitude towards the value of my life versus things, or I don’t own any valuables. I really hope it is the former. My neighbors stood in the fall air with televisions, guitars, a painting, and Spider Man collectibles. The TV is especially odd. We all have renter’s insurance. It is added onto your rent if you don’t have your own policy. So that TV would’ve been replaced if the building burned. Could it have enough sentimental value that when his life was on the line it was worth the two minutes it took to unplug it and carry it down five flights of stairs? Everything I grabbed was designed to make being out of a home less traumatizing. A phone so I could call people, my money and identification so I wouldn’t be helpless, and a sweater because it was cold out. All of these things were on my way to the door. I didn’t look at my television.

2)      My neighbors have ice water in their veins. I wasn’t particularly panicked when I heard the alarms. We have had a few false alarms when someone burned a casserole or sprayed something into a smoke detector. But when we reached the lower floors and the smoke was thick and dark I wanted to move about twice as fast as we were, while the people in front of me were transporting a cat in a special carrier and letting their toddlers walk at their own speed instead of picking them up. My mama didn’t raise me to trample children, old people, or cats so I moved languidly down the stairs. But I didn’t want to.

3)      I am a rare woman. Most studies show that women make better witnesses than men because we notice details. We take note of what people are wearing and estimate height and weight well. That is apparently not true for me. I saw the arsonist but took no note of him. If someone else hadn’t said I was with them in the elevator when he declined to get on while looking suspicious I wouldn’t even know I saw him. All men look suspicious to me at night because I  live alone and listen to podcasts about unsolved murders. I keep my head on a swivel but I don’t memorize faces until I get a gut feeling or a guy gets into my space. I will endeavor to be more nosy in the future.
I suspect my priorities are a bit askew. Someone kind of tried to murder me and approximately 300 other people and I was less upset about that than someone being bitchy to me at work. I guess they’re right. It really is the little things.


I Made Popsicles

For some reason people are incredulous that I manage to fill my time without a husband and kids. "What do you like, do all the time?"

  1. Full-time job. Ironically it is people who I work next to at said full-time job who are the most surprised that I am not just wandering around unwashed in my pajamas muttering to myself looking for purpose. I feel like they should know just how much working fills up a gals time.
  2. Reading. I read 106 books last year. You know how everyone says they wish they had time to read. *raises hand* I have time to read. 
  3. I am researching a book on women in baseball. I also watch more than 200 MLB games a season. I have a MLB.tv subscription and I watch every single San Francisco Giants game online and assorted other games played by other teams.
  4. My apartment is really clean. 
  5. I do all the things I pin on Pinterest. And this week I made popsicles . Blueberry Lemon popsicles. 

Getting out the popsicle molds and the food processor and making something as non-essential as a frozen treat, is not something my friends have time to do. And if I were a better person I would share my desserts with them. But if I'm going to be accused of being a selfish and broken person who refuses to have a baby, then I get to eat all six myself. All 96 calories of refreshing tart sweetness all for me. My empty womb and my empty bed demand it be thus. 

Making popsicles is one of those things that seems really complicated but it so easy that you can't shake the feeling that you're doing it wrong. My favorite ones are just coconut water and fruit chunks. In the summer I get hot and tired walking home from the train. I get thirsty but don't want to drink anything. So I have a popsicle while I sit under an air-conditioning vent.

These particular ones were not my own recipe. I found them on Pinterest. All I had to do was zest a lemon, and then puree the zest with the blueberries and then alternate the puree with vanilla yogurt in the molds. I put them in the fridge overnight. And voila, blueberry lemon popsicles. As the 20th century poet Ice Cube wrote, "I gotta say it was a good day."  


13 Reasons I Have a Mohawk

  1. Mohawks are cool
  2. I have a face like a homemade pie. While my face says, "Howdy. Tell me all about you", my soul cries out for silence and solitude. Anything that helps me to look even a little intimidating aids in my continuing battle against small talk.
  3. I don't like being noticed. And yes, I do see how antithetical a mohawk seems. But stay with me. I feel like shaving 2/3 of my head says, "I'm not really trying to be pretty, so don't feel like you need to pay attention to what I'm doing."
  4. I've wanted a mohawk since I was six. A name casts a shadow over my childhood...Mr T
  5. I really thought it would stop the catcalling. Nope. It didn't. Now I look daring and adventurous and potentially great in bed. 
  6. My hair has been the bane of my existence for as long as I can remember. The less of it the better. 
  7. Millie Bobbie Brown from Stranger Things. I was as obsessed with that show as everyone else. I read everything about it that I found online, including an interview with Millie Bobbie Brown, and a video of her shaving her head. Pretty Hurts by Beyonce was playing over the video and that song always makes me think of how easy it is to get fixated on appearances.
  8. Whenever I'm frustrated I scream, "Ugh! I'm just going to shave my head!" Finally I got up the nerve to do it. 
  9. I kept running into this really cool woman nearly everyday, at a different place each time, and she had recently shaved her head. And when I said that I would never have the guts she said in a very Yoda-like way, "It's just hair. It grows back."
  10. My buddy Thy kept egging me on. She shaved her head years ago and loved it. 
  11. My head feels groovy and I knew it would. It's a little stubbly but also kind of gummy like freshly shaved legs.
  12. I'm always hot. Less hair more surface area available to cooling winds.
  13. I turned 40 and I can't afford a sports car or young lover.




But I don't want to be brave

I can do nearly anything. You know that Nelson Mandela quote, "Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, it is that we are powerful beyond measure?" Well that is me. I promise I'm not being conceited. I have the appropriately low self-esteem of an overweight middle-aged woman. I just have to also acknowledge that I am a magnificent creature. These two states can coexist. And it freaks me out. Not having a husband means everything in my life that needs doing, I have to do myself. And it is usually something I never imagined I could do. And then I'm in such abundant awe of myself that I then become depressed that I'm such an underachiever. 

This website wasn't the hardest thing in the world to put together. But I would've loved to have just asked someone else to do it, or at the very least help me. It would've been nice to have casually said over dinner, "Honey, we need to work on my website later." Instead like 7 years ago I bought this domain name. And I had parked another blog on it. The blog was popular among my friends and mostly consisted of me complaining and sharing my misadventures, because my life is ridiculous. I basically just did the cyberspace version of "set it and forget it" with the whole thing. And then I started getting frantic emails from Google telling me I needed to update billing and registration information. All of which I blew off until the day before the deadline. I spent 4 hours tracking down old logins so I could get into the administrative account, but I succeeded in updating everything that I needed to.

That should've been the end of it. But then I got annoyed that I had spent time and money on something as blah as that blog. So I decided to put up something better that I could build on over time. And because every podcast I listen to advertises Squarespace I picked them to help me do it. And I get that it would be inside baseball to praise Squarespace when it is obvious that this website is "Powered by Squarespace" but I'm barely doing it. I actually found it really hard and confusing. And in order to transfer the domain name I had to manually go in and enter in different CNAME and @ codes and all kinds of stuff I don't understand how to do. But I did it. There is a tutorial for everything. If I was stranded on a deserted island but inexplicably had wi-fi I could take out my own spleen right now. I followed steps and copied and pasted things and failed painfully for hours but here we are. Mark Zuckerberg is sleeping comfortably tonight knowing I am not coming for him, but I took care of business.

Another incident is what I call the Nighttime Mouse Murder Mystery. I used to live in a charming apartment that was about a hundred years old. My roommates were ants, brown recluse spiders, and a weird smell. And for one stressful 72 hour period at least six mice. One night I got up at 2am to go to the bathroom and a mouse ran across the hall in front of me. I screamed and then groaned. I was tired, it was below zero out, and mice are disgusting. A married woman can send her husband to the store for traps and poison, or at the very least have him watch where the mouse ran and stand guard so he doesn't come back out while she goes. But I'm a spinster and I had to get dressed and trudge in the snow to buy the traps, then spend an hour online learning the most effective strategic placement. I was a proud independent woman. Until a few days later when I came home and found six bloody dead mouse bodies scattered around my apartment. They didn't look like they'd been poisoned and none were found near the traps. Their deaths looked violent. I didn't have a cat and the only friend who had a key to my apartment only used it for midday naps. And he wasn't a killer. We're both vegetarians. 

I hated those mice. In my mind they weren't common grey field mice guilty of nothing more sinister than eating a box of Special K cereal, pooping in a shoe, and chewing up an old power cord. No, to me they were plague rats, vile creatures who would cause my death. But regardless when I happened upon the unexplained carnage I wept for them. And then because there was no one else to do it, I had to scoop up the corpses and dispose of them. I was upset but also confident. I had faced down the Black Death and seen my enemies vanquished. To this day I have no idea how those mice died. There is no CSI:Rodent.

Any collection of anecdotes about me being awesome in defiance of my instinct to be a damsel in distress wouldn't be complete without my couch. I ordered a convertible sofa online from wayfair.com. And I didn't realize that it came in many pieces. I had to assemble it. First the frame, then the convertible mechanism, and lastly the actual back and seat cushions. ALONE. I didn't even have tools until that day. I sat on the box and cried for at least 10 minutes. And then I spent the next two hours putting it together. And the last seven months  bragging anytime someone so much as glances at it.

I have fixed my own garbage disposal, negotiated contracts, and fought off potential assailants not because I wanted to, but because I had to. I am all I have. Luckily I am a badass motherfucker. And if something doesn't involve athletic ability or carrying a tune, I can figure out how to do it. Even if I'm scared, even if I'm tired, even if I don't want to. I am powerful beyond measure...so far.