Me, too.

There are rocks inside me.  Everyone has them. Stones from the past, most grown smooth with the passing of time; small, like marbles.  I carry those with me like little reminders of the battles I fought and the wounds those stones caused. The scars are small; with time, they heal and turn into silvery threads on my skin.  And then there are the big rocks. They weigh me down, burdensome with their size and  their jagged edges. They sit farther back in my psyche, lining the walls of my mind, actually becoming the walls themselves. I have subconsciously built many large and tall, impenetrable walls throughout my life. Some have come down with the help of warriors who chose to go in there and knock them down (the husband, for one, he with his armor of strength and patience to work with in order to relentlessly, slowly take down walls, stone by stone, brick by brick); some have fallen with the passing of time, leaving open pathways for feelings I was never too keen about feeling to creep through like a midnight mist in a cemetery.

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Today, a wall comes down. I am knocking it down myself, with a heavy battle ax and then when that breaks, with a sledgehammer. If the sledgehammer breaks, I’ll pull down those jagged rocks with my own two hands, and perhaps come away, bloody and torn. Am I afraid of getting hurt? Sure. But I am more afraid of holding this inside me another day. By holding it inside, I am complicit; an accessory to a crime that has overtaken this country, this world. Men in power. Sick men gripped by an illness that is vile and horrifying. Men taking what they want from those weaker than them. Men using that strength they have to overcome with fear and ripping from their victims so many precious birthrights: dignity, self-respect, safety, innocence.

This is my “me too” story. It is long, but it is necessary. It needs to be puked out onto this page, purged from my soul.

I was 14 when he began to groom me. I didn’t know what grooming was back then, but if any girl was ever ripe for the picking, it was me. I was both intelligent and naĂŻve, having thus far grown up without a father figure or any man to really show me what it is like to have that kind of influence in their life. I had attempted suicide at 13 and had just finished therapy. My mother and I were at odds all the time, and she had recently gotten my grandmother to enter a nursing home after many battles. She was figuring out her own life, free of caring for an invalid , and I was a young teenager without any kind of anchor. She began a pattern of leaving me home with The Male Sibling Unit while she went to bars and hung out with new friends, wearing new clothing she defiantly announced to me that she “deserved” after years of not caring about how she looked. She and I fought, constantly, and all I ever wanted to do was escape. Music had become my life; I lost myself in rock and roll, spending every penny I made babysitting on records, 45s, and cassettes. The Walkman had yet to hit the market, but when it did, I would buy one I could afford and be lost in the stereo sounds of my headphones every moment that I wasn’t in school, watching tv, or asleep. Music is how he lured me in.

He was a teacher at the high school who had been sent to our junior high to teach a class there half-days. He was also a part-time deejay, doing school dances and working at the local radio station. In those days, there were a bunch of teachers who worked part-time at our radio station. It was a good side job, I guess. He was nothing special to look at; I thought he looked a little bit like a pudgy walrus. He was certainly old; I would find out that he was about 37. He was somewhat of a celebrity to those of us at the junior high level, because he was friendly and engaged us in discussions about our favorite music.  He used our slang; he was one of us. He borrowed our albums to make copies for his deejay jobs and offered to make us cassettes of different music; all we had to do was give him lists. It was all innocent enough, but there were certain ones who he seemed to pay the most attention to – all girls, now that I remember clearly – and I was his favorite. We would spend time talking, and he began to delve deeper into who I was, and what made me tick. I was flattered; no adult had ever been that interested in me, a homely, nerdy, closed-off girl with baby fat just beginning to melt off my body. I was awkward around boys and certainly around men; I had no frame of reference. You can see where this was going, can’t you? I never had a dad. He found that out, and that’s what he used to engage and reel me in. He was the perfect “father figure”.

By that summer, when I was graduating from 9th grade and getting ready to enter the high school, he extended a special invitation: I could come out to the radio station when he worked and see how things were done. I only lived a short bike ride away and as he lured me with the promise of all the different kinds of music that I could listen to out there, I was all in. After the first invitation, others followed. He taught me how to work the machines and to make mixed tapes of my own. It was amazing and wonderful there, because even though our radio station didn’t play 99% of the music they received as part of their programming, they seemed to have everything! The British New Wave movement was ramping up and I was lost in the sounds of Duran Duran, The Fixx, The Clash, and so many others. I was listening to rock and roll that just blew my mind; I was in a musical heaven out there. All the fights my mom and I were having; I had a haven to retreat to, and an adult to talk to who didn’t tell me that I needed to mind my mother. He even took my side sometimes! Oh, man…..it was soooooooo easy for him. He must have rubbed his hands together like some villain in an old movie, just exultant with the possibilities he had with a rube such as me. One afternoon, he kissed me on the cheek as I was leaving and said, “Congratulations on graduating from 9th grade.” I felt special. I felt like a dad would have done that. Not a single alert went off in my head. Not one.

As fate would have it, he had another “in” with me. His mother  and my mother had a mutual friend, and his mother was visiting that summer. The three women got together and my mother became friendly with her, too. They even had dinner at his house with his wife and kids. Oh yeah…..he had a wife and 2 kids. After that, I was asked to babysit for them, and I remember doing that once. The relationship was pretty solid by then, and he had gained the trust of my mother. He still took my side whenever there was a fight, though. Of course he did.

I will never forget the first time. It was a Saturday, and Mom and I had just had another knock-down, drag-out fight. She was threatening to send me to my aunt’s again for a week, and I was just NOT going. I sped away on my bicycle and found myself at the radio station. In between his broadcasts, he let me vent. I cried. I raged. He calmed me down. I remember it clearly: the music on the radio was Huey Lewis and the News. And then he kissed me. On the lips. I had been kissed just a couple of times by then, by a boy I was sort of dating. I didn’t even really know what a kiss was. I froze for a moment, not sure what was going on, confused and in pain and then desperately hopeful that this was some sort of mistake, just a reaction to my teenaged angst and his way of just trying to make me feel better. I drew away from him, and he apologized and said it wasn’t what he’d meant to do. I shrugged it off, a little scared, a LOT confused, and a little dazzled. This tiny part of me, deep inside, was blossoming a little. I realized that I was a girl, becoming a woman, and this man saw that, somehow. At that time, I didn’t say to myself, “This is sick, this is wrong.” I had no real frame of reference for that. I had been warned, as a young child, that there were “bad men” who would “touch young girls” but this guy was a teacher. Was my friend. Was friendly with my family. There was no way he was a bad man. It was just impossible. I decided to let it go. It was a one-off. He’d apologized. 

School started, and as the early days passed, we 10th graders began to get the lay of the land at the high school. Older kids who befriended us would teach us the things we needed to know in order to navigate the huge, mysterious and deep waters we were swimming in now. We began to hear whispering about him. He was no longer teaching part-time at the junior high now; that task had been given to the next teacher in line for that job. I would see him every day, and early on, when one of my classes were changed and I needed a study hall, I was assigned to his room. That’s when the older kids really began their talk. “Don’t be alone with him,” they would say, “He’s a perv.” When pressed for details, we were told that he had actually been “suspended” for a year because he “touched a girl;”. The stories were lurid and endless. I was able to verify that he had been “on a sabbatical” and yes, the stories linked hands with that one occasion in my mind and I began to feel a little uneasy. Could I have been wrong? Was I that gullible? My friends and I would talk about it constantly, and in the end, we decided that if he had really done something bad, the school would have never let him come back. In those days, it was more like which teacher didn’t act like a perv than did. In the following years, we would all come to realize just how true that statement was. And so life went on.

One Friday night, he was working at the radio station and he called my mother. “Why don’t you and the kids come out and I will order us some pizza and we’ll just hang out? I am so bored tonight. There’s a game broadcasting.” My mother had nothing going on that evening, which was rare, and so the three of us went out. We sat and talked for a while and then he handed her some money and asked her to go get the pizza. This was in the days before delivery. She took The Male Sibling Unit because there was always a chance of him talking while the mic was open. It was growing dark; I remember standing in the big, glass doorway, watching for them to come back as he did some top-of-the-hour news. I never heard him come up behind me. He wrapped his arms around me, touching my breasts and groaning. “You don’t know how badly I have wanted to do this,” he moaned in my ear.

Fight or flight instinct. It ran through my mind at lightning speed. If I fought, I would have to explain. If I flew, where would I go out in that dark, isolated night? I did the other “f” instead: I froze. His mouth was on my neck and he was turning me around and pulling me back away from the door and I was defenseless, scared, confused. I remember thinking, “What the hell is wrong with him?” As he tried to kiss me, I suddenly regained some fight and pushed him away. “Stop!” I cried. “Don’t do that!” He looked confused and hurt and God help me, that made me feel terrible. He said, “Please, don’t worry, okay? You can’t get pregnant. I had a vasectomy.” It was as if I was up in the air, a thousand feet high, and suddenly came crashing down to earth. I backed away, suddenly angry, and shouted, “Pregnant? Are you crazy? This is so WRONG!” I ran for the bathroom and locked myself in. He waited a few minutes, then came to the door, again with the apologies, again with the insistence that he didn’t know what had come over him. Then he played his last card: if I told my mom, it would all get really ugly and we didn’t want that to happen over a stupid mistake. I knew what he was talking about; the year before, there had been a “incident” with another teacher and a student and that student had been run right out of the school. That teacher had the school district on his side, and the support and devotion of other students. If I said anything, I would be ostracized just like her. Silently, I came out of the bathroom. I stood at the door, waiting for my mom and brother to come back. When they did, we ate pizza, me just kind of playing with a piece and then complaining that my stomach hurt; could we please go home? When we got home, I went straight to my room and put my headphones on, wishing for nothing more than to lose myself in the music.

That whole weekend, I was troubled. When Monday came, I was still feeling confused and puzzled. What was going on? I just didn’t understand. Were the stories really true? I began to watch him, how he looked at girls, how he spoke. He was very different with me, very open and casual. Part of me felt betrayed, but this other part of me, the part he groomed? I cared for him. I wanted his support and friendship. I know now that it wasn’t like being in love with him; in no way did it ever resemble that. It was an infatuation, but not with he, himself. It was with the idea that another human being, a man who was successful and had power in some ways, found me interesting. And that, right there? That was the abuse. He abused me, plain and simple, and it was going to get worse before it got better.

Two weeks later, he sexually assaulted me with his fingers. He stood, with his back to me, held me up against a wall, and put his hand down my jeans, into my underwear.  This was punishment for not helping him, the night before, at a dance he was deejaying. He had told my mother that he would bring me home after; this was the only way she was letting me go – if I had a ride home. Somehow, I felt that he intended to be alone with me, despite the fact that another girl was also getting a ride home from him. It just didn’t feel right, and I was still  so unsure of him. I bowed out and walked home, lying to my mother that he had brought me. The next day, I knew I had to make things right with him or he would tell her, and so I rode my bike out to the station to explain. I told him I had not been feeling well, and that I was sorry, but that if he told her that I had walked home, she would ground me. Shit, you’re thinking. I played right into his hands, didn’t I? I would be screaming that at my 15 year-old self now, but back then, I thought I had some sort of control. It was as if all pretense flew out the window at that very moment. He knew he had me. I knew he did, too, but not in time. And so, he told me he needed something, just a very small thing, because I had really let him down. Right then I knew that the stories had been true; that he wasn’t sorry for the things he had done to me before, and that this was the only way I was getting out of there. I had to let him. He pulled my hand around in front and ground his erection against it while his other hand reached behind and penetrated me; I did not know what to do. I struggled, I cried a little bit; mostly, I stood outside of myself and let him finish. I knew that if I pretended that it was okay, I could get out of there faster. When it was done, it was as if a mask had come off his face and I saw him. I saw him. I left, and I was never alone with him again.

For about a year, well into 11th grade, he basically stalked me. He would call my house and talk to my mom, finding out where I was if I wasn’t home. She didn’t know better and would give him the telephone numbers to the places where I babysat. He would call me, and I would tell him to stop. He would drive by our apartment building, by the places I babysat. At Christmas after the assault, I tearfully tried to tell my mother what he had done. She was wrapped up in a relationship with a very toxic man who scared me, and I was trying to talk to her about it, and she sarcastically told me I could “go complain to________” about how I didn’t like her boyfriend. I lost it, tried to explain to her about what happened. In those days, I didn’t have the words, and couldn’t articulate exactly what had happened, to her. It just wasn’t something I could say to her. She got the gist, though, and blew me off. There was no way “such a good, kind man” who was “like a father to me” could ever do anything like that. I had misunderstood, she said. I was being dramatic. He was “a religious man” who didn’t see me that way.

I was completely and utterly alone. During that time, I had a couple of boyfriends who I told, although not with any detail. One was quite large and towered over him, and he confronted him in the hallway outside his room one afternoon, threatening to wring his neck if he ever came near me again. After that, the stalking, the phone calls, mostly ceased. There was an uneasy truce, with me steering clear and him not crossing any lines. 11th grade almost felt normal. Until it didn’t.

It was a Sunday night, and I was doing homework at the kitchen table. The phone rang. I answered. It was him. He was working. I don’t know why I talked to him, but maybe there was just some part of me trying to make things feel normal again. He asked what I was doing, and I explained my homework to him in a little bit of detail. I was having a problem with one aspect of it, and, like a dad, or at least like a guiding adult, he helped me to find the answer. I thanked him. Then he said, “How about coming out here and making my night exciting?” I hung up on him, my face red, my heart racing. I was angry, disappointed, and not at him. At myself, for falling for it, for being so gullible that I let him make me feel that low again, that powerless. The next day, I avoided going down the hallway where his classroom was, and ducked into other rooms if I saw him. I was in my last period class when he appeared at the door and beckoned me over. Acutely aware that my teacher was at his desk and that other kids had seen him ask me to come to the door, I had no out. I walked outside the room and stood there. “What do you want?” I asked tersely. “Why’d you hang up on me last night?” he demanded quietly. I looked him dead in the eyes. I was done. I was beyond willing to let him do this to me anymore. “I hung up on you because you cannot talk to me like that, you fucking perv!” I said, low enough to hopefully not be heard by anyone inside the room, but angrily enough to get my point across. He stepped back a little, visibly affected by my anger. “You can’t talk like that to me.” he said. “Oh, really?” I asked, sarcasm dripping from my voice. “What are you going to do? Give me detention? I bet you would just LOVE to get me alone in your room, wouldn’t you?”  His eyes grew wide. “Leave. Me. ALONE.” I said, and walked back into the room,. feeling both triumphant and terrified.

“Lori? Come see me a sec.” It was my teacher. He was sitting at his desk, intent on some papers in front of him. I was absolutely petrified. He had heard us. The jig was up. My life was over. I walked over to the desk. Without looking up at me, he asked quietly, “That guy bothering you?” His meaning was clear; the stories had not only been true, but he knew. “He-he was,” I stammered, “but I don’t think he will now.” Still not looking up at me, still writing on a piece of paper, he said, “Good. But if he does, you come to me. I will deal with him.” 

I was never harassed again. The phone calls stopped. The fear never totally went away, and of course, what happened to me affected how I saw men from the moment it happened. I think they’re all a little bit bad. I think they’re all capable of disgusting things. But not all are pedophiles, like him. Because that is exactly what he was, and what he is. The stories would emerge as the years passed; I would find out that he had been at this sort of thing when he was in his early 20s and had assaulted the daughter of his mother’s friend. There were other girls during and after me. One of them had a very angry dad who took matters into his own hands and avenged his assault on his daughter by beating the crap out of him. I wish I’d had a dad.

In the next five years after I graduated, there was an investigation into teachers being inappropriate with students in our school district. They were legion, these men, and it had been going on for years, and the school district had systematically covered it up. I had confided in another teacher, and she had given my name to the investigator. He drove to Oil City, where I was living with my fiancĂ©, expecting my first child. He took my deposition and then told me about the others. To say that we, the students, were surrounded by predators, is an apt description, and that’s all I have to say about that. The girls, the boys. We were all at risk. At one point, there was talk of charges being pressed against my teacher, and an attorney called to speak to my mother, who now knew that she had made a terrible mistake in not believing me. My fiancĂ© called that attorney and told him that no, I would not be testifying, that they had my deposition, and that I needed closure. I had a baby, and we had a family. He would not allow me to go through the nightmare all over again. There were threats of a subpoena, but in the end, he lost his job but left town with his pension intact.

Throughout the years, I have kept tabs on him. Why, you ask? Why not just heal? Forget the terrible things? Put him out of your mind? I would have, and could have, I guess, had it not been relayed to me that he was teaching again, in another state, at an all-girls Christian academy. To say that this distressed me was an understatement. I regretted not pointing my finger at him in court. Because he was most certainly still at it. I knew he was. He’d left, his wife at his side, to begin another cycle of sexual predatory acts upon young girls. I was wracked with guilt. When I found out he had lost that job and was back in our state, on the other side, no longer teaching, I tried to rest my mind. He wasn’t teaching. He didn’t have easy access to girls. At least there was that, right? But in this age of social media, no one is ever completely gone, and through a mutual friend, I found him again. He’s old, and time has taken its toll, but he is a beloved, Christian, upstanding figure in the community in which he resides now; a grandfather, and a pastor. Yes, he is a pastor at a church and with that, the access to youth is there again. I know him, you see. I know him. And he is most certainly thinking things, if not actually doing them. And no one is going to suspect that this grandfatherly, religious, totally cool guy is thinking about fucking their troubled 14 year-old daughter, are they? The pastor will know what to do. The pastor will help her find her way.

So this is my story. The wall is down. It explains a lot about me; my anger, my fears. Why I hate men, all men, just a tiny, suspicious, little bit. Why I have trust issues with everyone, for a dozen or more reasons.  Why, if my child ever came to me and said someone did something to her/him, I would utterly, completely, and totally believe them. Why it is an absolute miracle that I can have a healthy relationship with my husband. Why I feel guilty for not knowing that there was power in addressing my attacker years ago, before he could hurt others. I fear that many others came after me, not in this town, but in the other towns he escaped to. I fear that he is at it even now, even though he is old. Because there are a lot of girls just like my younger self; they exist in every town, in every corner of the world, just ripe for the picking by a piece of shit like him. The Harvey Weinsteins and Kevin Spaceys of the world exploit boys and girls like me but the lid is thrown open and the cockroaches have been exposed to the light and it is up to us to have the power to squash them underneath our boots, as we take back our dignity, our self-respect, and lose the veil of shame that has covered us for so long.

I was innocent. He stole that from me, like a thief in the night. And he does not get to keep it. I don’t need it back, but motherfucker, you don’t get to keep it. By taking it back, I regain my power. I am no longer ashamed. I am no longer a victim. I am free.

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I’ve Seen Some Things.

I try to walk every single day. Yes, it’s good for me, gets me out of the house, and gives me at least the occasional dose of natural vitamin D. As a person who now works from home, it’s important to try and force myself to interact with other humans, lest I turn into Smeagol, the nasty little hobbit-turned-Gollum in The Lord of the Rings. I can see me, peering suspiciously out of my cracked-open front door, muttering angrily, “Peoples. We don’t likes them, do we, Precious?” It could get that bad if I allow it. No matter how badly I would like to take a flame thrower to the human race on my worst days, I nevertheless gingerly immerse myself in their presence just to remind myself that I am still “one of them” and that maybe some are bearable.

When I walk, though, I am reminded that people? Well, they just ain’t right. I encounter strange objects thrown, abandoned, carelessly cast aside, everywhere I go. Let me prove this to you, because I take photos. At first, I thought this could make a really strange, interesting coffee table book, these photos; and then I just thought nah. You’ll see why.

Yes, those are men’s skivvies. I encountered them in front of a church, which led me to post them on Facebook with what I considered to be pretty good possibilities for them being there.

When you’re walking past a church and you see that a man has apparently lost his underdrawers. Could this be a new religious movement?

“Get Naked For The Lord!”

“Moon If You Love Jesus!”

“Mother Mary Says ‘Never leave home without clean underwear!’ ”

“Shake Your Willie For the Holy Trinity!”

“Nude Christian Men For God ”

“Commando For Christ!”

I’m here all week. 😁😁😁😉

Yep…..Commando For Christ won, hands-down.

Upon closer inspection, I discovered that this was, or at least had been, a plush sort of jacket. I think it may have been purple at one time, but the elements really did a number on it. Why it was just laying, discarded, on a sidewalk? I have no idea. The date I took this was September 11. Guess what? It’s still there. Way to go, City Street Department!

By now, you might be noticing a couple of trends. People in this town don’t like their underwear. They don’t like their gray underwear. They don’t like gray (looking) things in general. What’s the most natural thing to do when you don’t like something? You throw said undesirable item away!

You do not throw them out in front of a church, or in the case of this sad pair of cast-off womens’ panties, in a drugstore parking lot. There was a gray flip flop, too, but I neglected to photograph it. One. Gray. Flip flop.

I don’t know if this is better or worse. Apparently there was some sort of bondage-gone-horribly-wrong scenario with these two bungee cords. Maybe not, you say? Maybe it was just a furniture moving mishap? You’re ruining all my fun. There are scantily-clad, underwearless people running amok in this town, so obviously there must be some sick, sex slave bondage going on. Look, we just elected the first Orangutan President, so sex slave bondage with underwearless churchgoers who do their dirty stuff in the CVS parking lot is not beyond the scope, okay? And by the way? The bungee cords were ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE CHURCH. The church where the mens’ skivvies were. Conspiracy? Collusion? My mom always told me those Baptists were crazy as hell and highly suspect. Of course, we were Catholic and we all know the Catholics have nothing to brag about either, but bungee cords and discarded underwear? What do those priests wear underneath their cassocks, anyway?

This tale does have a redeeming, miraculous discovery made on one walk. This handsome man accosted me in front of the DMV, where he had been unsuccessfully lobbying for either his driver’s license, or, I suspect, a meal and a cuddle. He gratefully accepted a ride home in my arms, where he ate and drank voraciously and promptly fell asleep. I advertised him, hoping that such a beautiful boy could not have just been discarded, like those dirty, gray underwear. After two days of no response to my feelers, he told me his name (they all do; you just have to listen hard and be able to hear them) and Viscount Angus Martin became a cherished, spoiled member of our family. He IS our royalty, as befitting his name.

Walks. You see the unexpected, the dirty underbelly of the world sometimes. You see bad behavior and things that defy explanation. Usually, you return home, grateful for the ability to shut the insanity out.

And some times you encounter exactly what the Universe needs you to see.

The f***ing struggle is real.

I’m reinventing myself yet again.

No, I’m not changing the very core being that exists within. I’ve worked long and hard at perfecting her, and while she may never be everyone’s cup of tea, she is genuine and honest and capable and strong. She kicks ass and takes no prisoners when she gets involved in something. She’s street-smart, book-smart, and life-smart. She’s one awesome bitch. She’s an ever-evolving work in progress, and she will never, ever be “finished” until she is cold and dead and laying on a slab in a morgue, awaiting the flames of the crematorium oven. Even then, she will flicker and flare in the afterburner of electricity that some call ghosts and that I call after-energy. Nah, I am not reinventing her. I’ve grown to like her a little bit.

This time, I am reinventing what it is that I do for a living. Since the medical issues are still prescient, I have to adjust and modify. I’m fluent in more than a few vocations, but a master of none of them. This time, I am taking those that I know are marketable and that I possess some talent for and I am throwing them all together. I have taken on a job as an independent contractor for a Remote Call Center company. You bring the equipment and the skills and they place you with a client who needs you. You make your own hours and deduct your own taxes. You follow the company’s guidelines and rules and you get to operate from your home. It’s freelance work, if you will. I am being paid pretty well, and the best thing about it is that I don’t even have to leave my house. I can “show up” in my pajamas if I want, and my looks don’t matter at all. For a tatted, pierced, crazy-ass hairstyle person with a penchant for black, gothic clothing and band t-shirts and who also deplores most of the human race and craves solitude, this is a fucking dream job. It actually takes a lot of self-discipline to commit to something like this. The tendency to procrastinate and lay in one’s bed, bemoaning the unfairness of having to get up? You can’t do that if you’ve contracted yourself to show up and log in from your home office to provide services for callers. Not if you want to make a paycheck. So, you can be a slug, but only a partial slug. A slugling, if you will.

 

female-telemarketer-headsets-25305878This is a stock photo of me if I were 20 years younger and more professional-looking.

 

Now, I can follow rules pretty well. I don’t tend to go rogue unless it’s really justified and necessary. We don’t have to follow a script; we are simply expected to speak in a professional manner and to handle ourselves in the way in which our company can be proud. I can do this, but there’s one aspect that worries me. It worries me whenever I work, actually. It worries me whenever I am in an unfamiliar or “proper” setting or circumstance.

It’s my fucking potty mouth. It’s as bright as the entire color spectrum. It’s a plumage of decorous and audacious feathers of every brilliantly-decked bird on the planet, including the extinct ones. It’s outrageous as an 80s-inspired Halloween costume. It is brash, bold, sarcastic, murderous, and rancorous in a way that I don’t think I ever envisioned it becoming when I was but a 5 year-old child being taught Pig Latin curse words by the big kids in my neighborhood.

Me: Mommy, what’s uckfay ouyay mean?

My Mom: I don’t know. Where did you hear that?

Me: Just the kids at the playground.

My Mom: Hmmm, well, we live in an Italian neighborhood. Maybe it’s Italian. I’ll call your Aunt Rose. Her parents are “off the boat” from Italy. (Picks up the phone and dials) Hi Rose. Your goddaughter has learned some new words and I think they’re Italian. Here, Lori. Tell them to Aunt Rose.

Me: Hi Aunt Rose. What’s Uckfay ouyay mean?

Aunt Rose: Well…..I don’t know what that is, but it’s not Italian. Maybe it’s German? Or Swedish? There’s lots of Swedes around here.

I swear like a trucker who’s been to prison and made someone his bitch. I swear like a sailor who’s been out to sea for 14 long months. I swear like a pirate who’s out to pillage and plunder and who drinks all the rum and then bemoans its absence. I swear so much that I think it probably sounds bizarre to hear me put on my professional voice and actually manage a customer or another human being with that Polly Purebread personality. I don’t apologize for it, never have, and never will. My mouth is legendary and lascivious and blunt, and I am well-known to have come up with a few curse words that no one else has ever heard of.  I will likely swear on my deathbed, driving out the Padre who comes to administer the last rites. (Note to my children: Nix the Last Rites. I will not fucking need them where I’m going, which is Nowhere. And if I’m wrong and it isn’t Nowhere, don’t worry. I’ll go where I belong. I’ve earned it.)

Usually, after I become used to a workplace, I learn when I can curse, where, and who I can curse around. Swearing isn’t as verboten as it used to be. I had a coworker who refused to use the F word (but everything else was fair game) because she claimed it showed “a lack of intelligence on the part of the the person using it”. I call bullshit. Moreover, I call fucking bullshit. What other word is more descriptive, more elegant, more colorful, than the word FUCK? It’s a noun. It’s a verb. It’s an adjective. It’s simply fucking brilliant, fuck is, and it cannot be fucking denied. There is no fucking substitute for fuck. It just fucking rules. Anyway, I am pretty good at getting the lay of the land and being professional.

This job, though, is another kettle of fish. Since I am in my home, the rules are somewhat lax, shall we say? Hell, if my cats could talk, they’d be the sweariest cats you ever met. I’m amazed their meows don’t sound like fuck, shit, and damn (and every other word George Carlin said you can’t say on TV. He would be both gratified and upset with the colorful language you get to hear on TV nowadays. He’d have to redo that list and change his bit.) at mealtime. My coworkers and I connect to each other via Skype and some other inner-office chats. We also have email. There are quite a few who run neck-and-neck with me in the cursing department, but the thing is, I have to take them at their word. Because we are prohibited from cursing in our chats and personal emails between each other. We can say “frick” and all the other white bread words, like crap, darn, flippin’, freaking, and whatnot. Outright swearing, though? It’s off the table.

fuck

In short, I’m in uncharted fucking territory here. I have to tightly wind my shit together and be professional even when on Skype, so it’s going to be a whole lot of reigning myself in, especially when I get the inevitable douchebag tool customer who uses up my last fucking nerve. Where do I go to piss and moan? My cats? They’ve heard it all, trust me.

I think I can pull this off. It’s going to be hard. I’ve often joked with the husband about installing a speed bag in the house so that I can take out my aggression on it. I’m thinking that I will ask for one for Christmas this year. He can install it in my office, and I will not only refine my ability to act and speak in a more professional manner, but I will develop some serious fucking guns in the process.

speed

Wish me luck.

A Momorial, or let’s not do this sad stuff, okay?

My mother died five years ago. This is the anniversary date. You know, I don’t think we should group death into the anniversary category. There should be a separate category, like “endiversary” or “passing day” or “A Fucking Sad Event Occurred Day”.

I’m going to go with endiversary, because I made it up and I like it.

A few days before the endiversary, I start to feel things. Little twinges of emotion, shortness of temper, and the desire to hide myself away. Now, I suppose those in my immediate realm will exclaim, “Wait! You’re like that ALL THE TIME!” but they’re just being assholes so ignore them. Things are somehow magnified in their intensity, and I am not as up to to coping with things as I normally am. Truth be told, I am so caught up in the effort to be stoic that I am likely to crumble under the weight of such a feat.

In the five years that have followed since her death, I have gone through every conceivable stage of grief that could be possible. Hell, I think I may have discovered some new ones. I really think that I cried so many tears in just the week after that this is why I have no tears now. I simply used up my available bank of leaky, salty, eye waters and when the well went dry, I was SOL.

After the tears came the love, profound and crushing in its reality. During that phase, no one could have loved their mother more than I did. I saw only the good, the loving ways, the things she did that were phenomenal, and, in doing so, I crafted a halo to perch atop her head. It was made of silver and emeralds because those were her favorite precious metals and jewels and it was a beacon to all in Heaven that I was honoring my mother. I was beatifying her.

Of course, the halo came crashing down to earth when the next phase of grief hit me. It fell and it hit the ground and it shattered into a million little pieces, and it was not at all repairable. Her post-mortem fuck-you came in the form of an estate utterly lacking in preparedness or the funds to see things to their conclusion. In the end, she took the phrase, “You can’t take it with you” so seriously that she decided that it really meant “You can’t take it with you and you should also leave the bill for someone else to pay because what the fuck do you care? You’re dead.” I was so angry at her for many months following this discovery. Just as her admission, shortly before she died, that I had never been able to please her and that it wasn’t entirely fair….this seemed to be another piece of proof that she really had regretted having me all those years ago.

What do you call a stage like that? To this day, I still don’t know.

Eventually, I struck a sort of happy medium. It was a peaceful cohabitation of love and hate, which I suppose characterized our relationship from beginning to end. I had to give up the ghost, so to speak, and quit providing safe harbor to the demons that terrorized and taunted me, their teeth gnashing as they delighted in tearing me apart from within the confines of my troubled mind. I suppose she had her own demons to fight, too. I suppose she took them with her, silencing them forever. I suppose that she finally found her own peace. But I find that time has a way of wearing down the anger into just a slight twinge. Now, there is really only love.

It has been five years, and so much has happened that she missed. Four new great-grandchildren have been born. The thing about my mom? She adored her grandchildren. She delighted in them and then delighted in their children. We did see eye to eye about the fact that my kids are blessings.

The Male Sibling Unit has really matured and blossomed in ways that would make her proud.

And her granddaughter married the best guy in the world. I do not tell my daughter this, but I see the best parts of my mom in her. Her creativeness, her earnestness about everything she does, the gentle way she has with children. Sometimes, her eyes will light up and she will pop off, make a smart comment; and it’s my mom, as I remember her when I was a little girl. I see the mother who made me something out of nothing; a cardboard box was designed and drawn on and parts were cut and pasted and my 3 year-old self had a play car to sit in and “drive”. Play-dough was made from scratch. Paper dolls were drawn and cut out for me to dress. Every holiday was an event and every day, she found ways to engage me in learning, creating, and being myself. She might not recognize these qualities in her granddaughter as being reflections of her, but I do.

I wore a skirt with a green flower print to the wedding. I had planned on wearing a gorgeous dress I bought months ago, but I the end, I decided that my mother needed to be present in some way. She would have been so immensely proud and that she missed it makes me so genuinely sad that it makes the dull ache of missing her pale by comparison. So I wore green – her favorite color – and I imagined her sitting on the bench next to me, clutching a wad of tissues and smiling beatifically as she watched her youngest grandchild become a wife. If I believed in God, I could wax poetic about how she was “smiling down” from Heaven, but I don’t believe that. Instead, I believe her presence was felt in the whisper of winds amongst the trees and the way the sun was shining upon a bride so beautiful, it took our breath away. She was there.

She was there.

Five years is a long time to be a motherless child. I think about her in some way every single day. Her voice is still fresh in my memory. I don’t feel the need to please her anymore, nor do I have the added stress of a religious faith that indoctrinates Heaven and Hell and cows us into believing “they can see us” after death. I felt her for a long time after she died, and I think that takes time to fade away, like fog in the morning on a warm, sunny, Autumn day. She’s here, yes.

In the whispering of winds in the trees.

Things don’t go as planned for a reason, and it’s not because of God.

Crossroads: they’re part of life.

We all experience them at different points in time. They are the stuff of coming-of-age, meeting our destinies, and in many instances, confronting truths. I suppose that I could make an argument for life itself being one big crossroad event, but I’m not feeling that philosophical today.

Crossroads can be a brutal, bucket of suck. I have reached one such crossroad, and let me tell you this: any crossroad that involves being brutally honest with yourself about who you are is never going to be a fun-filled retrospective of memories. When you have to face certain realities and confront a less than optimistic truth, it is easy to bog yourself down in self-pity and sadness. You want to wallow. You should wallow. But not for long. No one wants to hear that, see that, accept that; not from themselves, and certainly not from others. We are an increasingly insensitive, isolated, narcissistic species and loads of us absolutely abhor the feeling of responsibility for someone else’s sadness. By responsibility, I don’t mean that we created it, but that we feel the need to “fix” it. We tell ourselves we’re just too busy, we have too many of our own concerns. We may even be so inclined as to actually be concerned and sad for them. We will attempt to quickly divert them with phrases and pithy responses. We pay lip service to their misery; “Cheer up! It’ll be fine.” With that in mind, you must choose your method of wallowing carefully, so as not to offend any of the dozens of easily-offended people in your immediate realm.

While my initial reaction to those who seem personally affronted by my wallowing is to say “Fuck all y’all” I know better than to do that. It is better to choose which direction you take without the bitter resentment at others’ indifference to your personal pain. Irrationality can color a situation in an unrealistic way. In my stubborn way, I am always tempted to insist, “I can do this on my own.” The truth, though? I shouldn’t.

I am a writer. Always have been, always will be. It doesn’t pay the bills, though, and hasn’t been a possibility due to other life events taking up my brain and my time. I began my adulthood working toward a career in writing but was quickly sidetracked. I faced a crossroads: continue with my education or drop out to follow a man and raise his children. I can never, ever say that I chose wrong.

Throughout that journey down that road, I often pondered returning to that life of study, if only part-time. I wanted to be something, someone. I was convinced, though, that writing wasn’t going to put food on the table and help our situation. My biggest influence in that life was my husband, and he treated my desire to write as if it was just a childish indulgence. Better to focus on something else I had always been interested in: nursing. I would get catalogs from the local university and plot my course. Invariably, though, something in life would force me to focus elsewhere. A few job losses (his), a natural disaster (flood), and the reality of raising 5 kids becoming more and more expensive. There will be time later, I would silently tell myself. You’re still young.

Later, when the children were getting older and the next crossroads loomed ahead, I made another choice: to love someone else. Thoughts of nursing school would surface, bobbing quietly in my stream of consciousness, and then eventually disappear. Life was so busy. Life demanded that I put out fires constantly. I began to write again, blogs, poetry, little story ideas. I was good. I knew it. Friends, strangers, family told me so. This was still possible.

The nursing thing, though? It was always there. I have always taken care of others in some way, from childhood to now. It’s been not so much a calling as it is a part of who I am at my core. I’m a nurturer, an empath, and apparently amongst the 1% of personality types classified as an

INFJ

INFJs are gentle, caring, complex and highly intuitive individuals. Artistic and creative, they live in a world of hidden meanings and possibilities. Only one percent of the population has an INFJ Personality Type, making it the most rare of all the types.

How wonderful for me, right? It’s actually a pain in the ass to be this way and to be depressed. It’s probably why.

Be that as it may, nurture is what I do. Putting out fires is what I do. Combine the two, and you get a nurse. And it pays well, too.

The idea was this: go into nursing. Write in my spare time. Certain events coincided in such a way that it suddenly became possible. At 50, I was going to work in a subordinate nursing position and go to school. I was overjoyed. This, I told myself, was finally The Right Time.

Until it wasn’t.

No pity party here. I am 50. I have tried to be healthy, but my body has always had other ideas. The neck birth defect, the spleen compromise at 16, my heart deciding that it wanted to be a rock star and beat to its own, eventually dangerous rhythmn. The depression. The fucking depression!!!!

And now, this eye condition. We don’t know what it really is or how it began or if it will eventually be cured. We don’t know anything, really, except that I don’t have tears. None. I have tried everything, even watching The Notebook. On the one occasion that I cried because I had no tears, I ended up crying harder because I had no tears. (Cue Alanis.) My corneas are damaged. I can’t even get new glasses because my eyesight has degraded to a point where a new prescription is not possible. I am in pain. Discomfort. And I need to put drops into my eyes at an hourly rate. Sometimes more, if the sun and moving air get to them. I exist most days in the dimness of subdued lighting, venturing out only to do what is essential. My opthamologist has been less than helpful, and quite unavailable most of the time. We fired him. Next at bat is my PCP, and I admit, I have way more faith in her. She at least shows up for our appointments.

The point is, I can’t work in a healthcare setting without eyesight, and certainly not while being a slave to a bottle of drops. It’s not sterile, hygienic, or wise. If it corrects itself eventually, yay for me! I’m pragmatic, though, because have you met me? Nothing is ever simple. If I won the lottery, it would most likely coincide with the fucktard-in-chief deciding to raid all 50 states of their lottery coffers to pay for his goddamned Wall. I’d end up with an engraved brick somewhere along the Texas state line.

The neck has spoken, too. Because it can’t just be one, simple, mysterious eye affliction, can it? At 50, the neck has decided that Fuck this shit. It may tolerate some more shots before going kaput, but behaving as if I am not in pain when I am not, in fact, in pain is apparently baaaaad because when the pain eventually returns, it is worse. My left side is significantly weaker than my right. That means being careful. And that limits how much physical activity I can safely get away with. Bottom line? No joining Cirque De Soleil. No Wayne’s World, Bohemian Rhapsody-esque headbanging. And no nursing.

Crossroads: they suck sometimes. And the thing about dreams is that that’s all they really are. You can work hard and do everything right and sometimes, they just don’t happen. And so you wallow, and then you put drops in your eyes and it may take you three days of pecking away at this blog but you do it because guess what? You still have this.

I am a writer. No one can take THAT dream away from me. None of the roadblocks, and all of the five-gallon buckets of suck that life has dumped on me, can take this gift that I have away. If my eyes are fubared? I have a voice. There’s Braille.

Whatever it takes! Maybe all the crossroads I have found myself at were necessary to get me to this one. To the true path. I have options along the way, too.

So let’s get going, shall we? Bring a pillow for your ass – because riding with me is bumpy. Bring your sense of humor – because it will save your life. And bring pizza. And nachos. And wine. Because why fucking not?

Reality IS a thing.

Let’s try a new thing. I’m not one who enjoys change, but at this stage of my life, I’m making an uneasy peace with it.

Let me give you an accounting of a life lesson that has been taught to me. Call it fucknuggets of wisdom or the sounding of the douchetrumpets – whatever.

When I was a kid, I was bullied a lot. I was, short, dumpy, uncertain, clumsy, and had an oddly-shaped head (a friend of mine back then – kids have no tact or guile – said her dad referred to me as “moon-face” and I didn’t know what it meant, but instinctively knew he wasn’t being nice; he was a big, loud, angry fuck knuckle of a botard and he died in late middle age and I was glad) and poor, so I was easy prey.

There were these “rich kids” who lived in the neighborhood. In retrospect, they might not have been rich but their father had a good job, they had a big, nice house, and everything anyone could ask for. Their mom was a stay-at-home who was always in everyone’s business and who came from a huge, Italian family in the neighborhood, which was code for “We belong and you don’t” in this particular ward. They sent their kids to Catholic school and wrinkled their noses at anyone who A) wasn’t Italian, and B) didn’t have the same or better social status. These kids were spoiled, entitled, and mean. There can be no other word. They flaunted their clothes, their posessions, and acted as if they were royalty. Other kids treated them as such, so how were they ever going to know that they weren’t, right? They were both older than me; the boy was 2 years older and the girl, 6. He was a nasty little prick who once cornered me and threatened to punch me in the stomach just because I was walking past his house. He teased and taunted me. In later years, we actually got along but mostly because he was hired, through our contractor, to replace the kitchen cupboards in a remodel my first husband and I did of our house. I let it slide, because I was young, and still not the loudmouthed truth-telling bitch that I am now. Were this scenario to happen now, I’d have had my verbose way with him.

The girl? She was a cunt. Seriously. I don’t use that word unless I mean it. A bit on the chunky side, loud, snobby, and stupid. FUCK! Was she ever. I knew it, even then, but she was so mean to me that it took my breath away. When she deigned to pay attention to me, it was to ridicule and insult. I avoided her whenever possible, but she was so present, so in-your-face, and I was so much younger…..it was difficult to escape her. The memory of her is one of those shudder-inducing recollections that everyone has. Since she was so much older, I was able to avoid altercations with her in my teenaged tears. That was a fortunate thing for me, because that decade was fraught with so much turmoil and sadness and assorted fuckery that adding her to the mix might have tipped the suicide scales much farther than they leaned.

Apparently, life was not a bed of roses for this family. The dad had an affair. The parents got a divorce. The kids were taken out of private school and sent to public. The mother, a gay divorcee in her 40s, started dating a guy and then got *GASP!* pregnant and “had” to get married. How the mighty fell in the 80s. This was a big, fat, dramatic scandal! I lost track of the older girl over the years, not really giving even one fuck about what happened to her. She was a cunt, remember?

Fast-forward to last year. I encountered her mother, who has been through a series of life-humbling events. We spoke, and she informed me that her daughter had died the year before. She’d had some sort of cancer and it killed her quite suddenly. I offered my condolences, because really? Telling her that her daughter was a loud cunt who had made my childhood even more hellish than it already was seemed unnecessarily cruel at that moment. Her treatment of me no longer mattered. I felt sorry for this grieving mom. I’m a mom too, and I wouldn’t ever wish that kind of pain on another parent.

A little more fast-forwarding, to the other day. Facebook has the ability to bring people together and put them in your peripheral vision even accidentally. I stumbled across a family member of these childhood nightmare kids and curiosity took over and I had a bit of a creep. We all fall victim to this temptation; don’t lie to me and say you never have!

The cunt of my past had a Facebook page. You know, the thing about Facebook is that it’s like schizophrenia, or herpes: it never goes away. She died, but her profile lives on. People still post things on her page, too. Her friends, family, kids, husband. Post after post, I read about how good she was, kind, loving, funny. Everyone seemed to miss her terribly. I thought to myself, maybe she changed. Maybe life taught her a lesson or three, and she became less of a cunt and more of a humble, caring person. Just as I became less of a victim and a doormat and more of a blunt, honest, kick-you-in-the-crotch warrior….maybe she became redeemable. Maybe she acquired some wisdom. I was actually feeling a little bad about my radical, extreme labeling of her.

Then I saw a post from early November of 2016. One of her family members had posted to let her know (because in the Afterlife the dead still get their news from Facebook. Duh!) that Donald Trump had won the election and was going to be President. Apparently, she loved him. She thought he was the greatest person ever. She admired his goodness. She had felt that he was going to save this country from the terrible path it was on. The family member wanted to let her know that her “hard work up there in Heaven” had succeeded! Her savior had won.

What a stupid cunt.

My life lesson, kids, is that people don’t fundamentally change who they really are. Just as I was a warrior deep down inside, this girl was the same vapid twit even at the end of her life. Anyone who condones, admires, and espouses the characteristics of the morally-bankrupt turd who currently sits in the Oval Office – and thinks his values are what this country needs – derserves to retain my early, first impression of her; even in death. First impressions can be misleading, but not if they keep on giving the same results over and over. Trust the gut. It never lies.

Class dismissed!

This is all true, I promise.

One of the hardest things to do, when trying to write, is to not revisit themes you’ve been to before. When you write a blog with specific ideas and parameters in mind, that can be hard. Sometimes, you need to abandon those specifics entirely and just write what you know. My intent, namely putting a real face on depression and calling it out for the nasty, lying bastard that it is, can be just that – depressing. One of the best ways to escape the daily drudgery is to do things to combat it. So for today, fuck depression. I have other things in my bag of tricks and experiences. I can write about other things that I know.

And, here is what I know: my life has been a series of “What the fuck is this?” moments. Some of it, you cannot make up. A lot of it, you can. But only in an Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland While on Drugs with a Good Half-Dozen Shots of Tequila sort of way.

Let’s recap last week, and not in a Breaking News fashion, because with what’s happening in this country alone, this could be the blog that never ends. I’ll hit on that this way:

The President is a stagnant dribble of douche-waste, a discarded baby diaper that has been left in a parking lot and run over by cars for a week. John McCain is an American hero.

There. That is the best I can do today, because I am exhausted by the minute-by-minute cacophony of political pundits, tweets, and “He did what?” exclamations that rise into the air in a muddled symphony of exasperation. Today, let’s be all about the love, the silliness, and the profane. I threw in profane because you all know how much I enjoy a perfectly-placed expletive.

I bought a bicycle last week. Not being able to drive because of my eye condition has been pretty confining, and definitely contributes to the tendency I have to burrow down into myself. I walk every day, but I thought that putting some serious exercise into that routine and being able to go farther in a shorter period of time would be grand. The local bus lines don’t get you everywhere, and not always at the times when you need to be places. Let’s set aside the fact that the last time I regularly biked, I was 19. I tried to revisit the activity one time in my late 20s but I weighed about 75 lbs more than I do now and that ended rather quickly. (Me, wilting in the summer sun on a bike trail at State park, tearfully crying to my ex-husband that this was a baaaaad idea and then walking the bike the rest of the way.) I wasn’t physically ready. Now, I am.

I picked out a sweet black bike with white and pink striping at my most favorite Hell Store in the world (the husband still works there, and a 10% discount is still a 10% discount, yo) and the husband took it back to the automotive department to have the tires inflated. He also adjusted the brakes. We headed for the check out and were ringing out when suddenly, a ear-shattering BANG! sounded. Bomb? Gunshot? The whole place went silent. Hesitant voices rose in unison: “What was that????” People emerged from crouched positions and hiding places. I should point out that we had an active shooter situation in our store last Autumn. You do not forget that shit and it kinda makes you expect it again. Especially there.

The husband said, very loudly, “IT WAS THE INNER TUBE IN THE BIKE TIRE EXPLODING.” He said this loudly because he was balancing the bike and his right ear had just taken on a deafening, concussive sound. Casualties that day included various pairs of underwear, his eardrum, my esophagus stretching to accommodate my heart, and let’s not leave out the possibility of cardiac arrests that could have occurred when various out-of-shape employees came huffing and puffing to the scene of the bang. Apparently whoever filled those tires is not very educated about tire pressure, which is frightening given that the department is Tire and Lube Express. Reason #676 not to shop there, kids.

Anyway, a replacement bike was procured and then I made the husband ride it home while I took the bus because I was scared. Yep. That is what I did, and he did it because he loves me, and we got home at the same time, which was interesting. I rode it that evening, just a couple of turns up and down the street. I didn’t wreck. I figured out the gears, which are on the hand grips now and not in the center of the yoke like they were back when Hector was a pup and I had a gorgeous turquoise ten-speed with the curled handlebars.

Sidebar: who is Hector? Is/was he an actual puppy or was he referred to as a pup because he was young? What did he do to gain such fame as to have a “saying” coined about him? Did anyone ever actually meet Hector or is he an urban legend?

Anyway, the bike revealed the fact that I will need wind-canceling goggles to wear over my glasses because that’s one bad aspect of having severe dry eye syndrome. This means that I will either look like a complete moron or a serious poseur when I ride depending the style of eye coverage I buy. Or can afford, more importantly. The bottom line is that there can be no vicarious bicycling until I do, which is probably good, because you just know that there will be a crash in my future. Let’s put that off for a while, shall we?

On Friday, I was walking as usual, and passed one of the 4 churches I usually lower my head and look away from so as not to catch any Christianity cooties. This is what I encountered on the sidewalk in front:

A man had apparently dropped his undershorts. In front of the church.This happened to be a Baptist Church, and you know those Baptists are passionate about their worship. I speculated with my friends that perhaps this was a new religious movement, or maybe it’s like Vacation Bible School, where a bunch of guys stand in the community hall bare-assed and speak in tongues. Then they have cookies and Hawaiian Punch and color a picture to take home and put on the fridge. I came up with some titles for the program:

Get Naked For The Lord

Moon If You Love Jesus!

Geeking Out For God

Mother Mary Says ‘Never leave home without clean underwear!’

Shake Your Willie For the Holy Trinity!

Nude Christian Men For God

Commando For Christ

Commando For Christ was the clear winner. On Saturday, the skivvies were still there but on Sunday, they were suspiciously absent. It can only be one of three things:

1. A bad advertising angle

2. The group was secret, like a cult, and didn’t want to risk being found out

3. My suspicions were wrong and someone just dropped their laundry and a conscientous church member considerately retrieved them and deposited them in the Lost and Found

My money’s on #2.

At any rate, it is Monday again. This means there are all-new and interesting “What the fuck?” moments to come. Stay tuned, because I guarantee you that I attract them like flies to shit.