They Went On Dating Him After He’d Raped Them

Jody was new to town and after being introduced to Jeff, agreed to hang out. Over her glass of beer, she wondered, “Now, how am I going to tell him I’m a lesbian?” He said he was cool with it. She made it clear this wasn’t a date. At one point in the drinking marathon, she spotted white granules at the bottom of her shot before everything went dark. The taxi driver reported seeing Jeff half-drag Jody up to his condo. She woke up with her clothes rearranged, knowing she’d had sex. She did a few things the scores of other women had not. Jody went straight to the hospital, procured a rape kit, and spoke with the police. And she didn’t stay Jeff’s friend.

He said he was a surgeon, astronaut, and CIA agent. His Match.com profile showed him in scrubs as well as an astronaut’s suit, and he flashed a badge on dates. In reality Jeff Marsalis was a nursing school drop-out, now known as the “worst date rapist in the nation’s history.” He went on to earn an impressive string of rape accusations, twenty-one in the Philadelphia area over incidents that occurred between 2001 and 2005. Two weeks before the second trial that would acquit him in that city, Jody pursued her case in Idaho.

Like her, the other women found him a gentleman in the morning when they came to. A few vaguely recalled the terror and panic, feeling him on them. But he seemed very caring, sent flowers to some in the coming week. Jeff convinced them through the confusion that everything was fine. Many of them told ABC News that “they wanted to convince themselves of that” and continued seeing him. I didn’t “want to be traumatized by this,” said one, “…thinking oh, he’s a doctor…trying to rationalize this.”

Help me out here.

I don’t quite think we can cast a blanket judgment that these women were stupid. Not only was Marsalis a skillful con artist but the women were intelligent working professionals. Curiously, the fact that they didn’t come across as bimbos made the jury question their testimonies in the first two trials. They were calm, didn’t cry. They had to be lying. And as sensitive as we women are, we know when something’s not right – especially with our body. The sheer number of victims also raises the interesting question on the psychology of guilt. An obligation is often a weight of guilt and in answering it, we allow someone else’s desire to overrule ours. Keep it up and your load ends up even heavier with resentment as your own prerogatives lose ground. Why are men less susceptible to the surrender of their boundaries and self-reproach in the face of their own inclinations? I’m not speaking in iron categories, saying all men are immune to people-pleasing. My guess is how we women tend to define ourselves by and draw our sense of worth from relationships more than men do. Because I don’t feel I quite fit the mold in this regard, I am confounded by the behavior of these women who swallowed the fear, suspicion, indignation, and shame, choosing instead to believe a fairy tale that the sweet-talking, smart, handsome doctor really liked or loved them and they would somehow ride into the happily ever after with him. Yes, the human condition tempts us to believe what we want to believe. We fear the truth. But why are women, over against our sixth sense, more likely to doubt our own perception and mistrust our ability to assess situations? Why more likely to blame ourself, as several of the victims later shared they did?

The defense attorney suggested that Jody was so drunk she didn’t remember wanting to have sex. But she wasn’t even conscious. “The defendant is accused of having sexual intercourse with a female who was unconscious due to an intoxicating substance,” the Idaho prosecutor said in court. “That is not consensual sex, it’s rape.” Not to mention that Jody would not have consented because she was gay.

After three-and-a-half long years, Jody and all the other victims could recover a measure of peace. Marsalis was sentenced to life, finally found guilty of rape.

I May Be a Man, Part 2

I know why the Serpent went to Eve first. She had thought God was speaking her language. “Don’t do it.” We’ll talk some more. If Adam had stayed single the poor, simple man would’ve just listened to His Maker. The Serpent knew he could bring the world crashing down on its head if he could tickle Eve to analyze what God’s word had really meant and why He had said it.

I’m just glad God is a man.

Speaking of guilt, our new miniseries is right around the corner.

I May Be a Man

What is UP with the drama? Look, I don’t need any. See me way over here sitting quietly on the end of the girly, feminine spectrum by the zero mark? My gravatar is a pathetic attempt to cheer myself up, comfort the ragged face in the mirror. I don’t wear make-up, hate shopping, clip my bare nails the moment they’re long enough to go. If you want to torture me, force me to endure a bridal or baby shower and make me play the games – your idea of fun. I have nothing to add to inane talks about your favorite TV shows because I’m a bore who doesn’t watch TV or movies. I’d rather be writing a book on the meaning of life. Are you getting this? My head’s in the sand, I’m not a busybody, I don’t know pop culture, I don’t gossip. And I still attract drama.

Because I am a woman.

Ugh! The sad part is it doesn’t matter that I am confident and secure. Problem is the insecure mamas don’t like that. Whether it’s watching how I take care of my son or seeing I would cook for them! I mean, who in the world would slam you because you sent them a surprise dinner made with love? Only women. Can you imagine men being so convoluted? They’re not multilingual. They don’t count facial expressions, pauses, intonation each as a language so the first minute of chatting with a friend, guys haven’t just broken out in four languages. Oh, to be a man! When life is as simple as the pork juice on your chin and the beer bite on your tongue. To be able to say yes and no and know your buddy is not saying no and no. To enjoy the peace of mind that a few minutes of exchange will never spin into a saga. Why in the world did I spend those months investigating the sport of fighting, wondering why men punched one another and then hugged? I so wish I could use my martial arts on a woman who pisses me off, shake hands, know she’s good, I’m good, all is well with the world and then have some honest fun with her in a mean game of bball on the court the next week. Only with women could a BFFship of years dissolve in one hard acid day.

And how do you men take your nice, strong arm and sweep the clutter of To Dos off your mental table? It’s a gift – the amazing ability to check in with yourself, tend to your needs in the moment. Why did I ever complain of your one-track mind? Food, sex, game that’s on, sleep. You just roll over, close those eyes, and…”Honey? Honey? I was saying –” You’re gone. Way off in a deep sea of sweet nothingness. I’m jealous. I’m stupid. I mean, why wouldn’t I want sex or sleep? Ah, but I have the million-dollar answer. Hostage to hormones. People say that time of the month like it’s one day. It can run a week, people. And that’s all just the fun prelude to the bloody show. Did you know many of us also feel discomfort and can get emotional when we ovulate? How many clear and free days does that leave us in the month? I’m pleased not to be one of those women who’re able to call up tears at will. But catch me on the right days and I’m a bawling mess. Weeks like this, I’m not sure which is worse. To be a woman or have to live with one.

bereft: poetry reborn

rockMIST

i trace the exquisite lines of my grief, run my
fingers over the contours of the rock that is
my gut like the tender potter over his clay
kneading, kneading to soften the lump

and lift my head to find the
world hadn’t ground
to a halt in honor
of my loss.

squeals puncture the playground air
with a drumroll of sneakers that sound carefree but
for the worry of Tag. nothing matters more to the
flustered It than not being It anymore.
the park, a carol of delight
in the moment

it is a holiday.

a daughter is given away,
the sun breaks on the threshold of her hopes,
her horizon wide outside the windows of the church

i walk into an office, took the long way
through hell. after the unsure “i’m sorry”

the girl behind the counter continues on her business.
epiphany: the sky that had fallen on me
had shielded her head. her day intact, she consults
the clock that agrees she ought to pick up her
son from school. she doesn’t see

her beautiful ordinary.

brazen world.

a baby is born in the moment of my
stunned helplessness. such long arms:
the hour holds my emptiness in one hand

the fullness of the mother in the other.

but i bow my head again
my sorrow, a pain that refracts the sun.
why must anyone orbit my heartache?
i free the world to its joys
and mourn with those who mourn.

to every thing there is a season and
a time to every purpose under heaven
my time to weep, someone’s right to laugh.
i loosen the hold on the rock that is
my gut, slippery with tears. my offering
before the opulence of living.

~ for all who have grieved

This was my first fresh poem a year ago, my return to poetry years after letting it go.

The Measure of a Woman

I don’t remember my mother ever having the cold or flu. She must’ve had her share, especially in the sharp New York winter. She remains healthy in my memory because she never took a day off, never took a nap, never complained. Not even when the needle flew off the Singer and disappeared into her finger. Between the waitressing years in New York, Mom sewed for the giant garment industry that Latino and Asian immigrants pinned their hopes on in the 70s and 80s. The heaps of cut fabric she brought home in the metal shopping cart, they literally called homework. It enabled her to raise her kids and stay involved in my early schooling. Mom did everything fast. She would feed polyester rectangles through the machine and recruit me and my little brother to flip them. At two cents a piece, time was the enemy. She ate a lot of dust.

The older I grow, the smaller I feel in the shadow of my mother’s sacrificial silence. I grew up exasperated with Mom for the most part, but her threshold of patience in marriage and motherhood was a lot higher than mine. I am not only a verbal woman, I am a vocal wife. Thanks in part to the freedom of speech this beloved Land of the Free so fiercely protects, the culture of rights I am privileged to claim citizenship in. Thanks in part to a man who works to give me all I need and ask for. And most absolutely in part to my nature which still begs tempering. I don’t take crap from husband or son. And sometimes I should. My counselor helped me trace my emotional defensive offense to the years of living under a sense that my needs could not be met. I had to take care of a lot of things in the home, which at times included my parents. My anger is really fear. As helpful as this insight has been, it’s no ticket out of jail. I need to be humble. Need to love. I worship a God who exchanged his rights for a cross.

MomKitchenI don’t have the patience and gentleness for my son that Mom had for me. How dare I draw myself up to her small frame in these comfortable shoes that cost more than what she ever spent on her own tired feet? It wasn’t just waitressing that her legs ached from. She stood hours in the kitchen, the traditional side dishes that every meal called for time-consuming. Korean food is misogynistic. When I dug up the picture of Mom, I was surprised at the poor quality of the photo. It had stuck in my head as a beautiful shot, one of my favorite of hers, because it shows her radiant slaving away in a hole with no ventilation in a tiny apartment. And then my grandmothers had it even harder. No appliances to keep up with the laundry for a family of eight or nine. My mother’s father passed away when Mom was three, leaving Grandma to flee on foot with six children when the communist North invaded Seoul three years later. My mother became the youngest in the family when her brother, three years old, died en route from the pneumonia they could not treat in the winter flight. They buried him on the road and this and the rest my Grandma endured with silent heartache and grace. If unassuming, unreserved sacrifice is the measure of greatness, does greatness diminish with each generation? Or is it just me? I am probably the weakest link in my line. Of course I don’t believe all women before me were noble, and I know of many among Mom’s generation who even abandoned their own. I’m talking of the times and culture. Even though I have my hearty share of struggles, my days aren’t heavy with the desperation I sensed in Mom as a child. The small matter of war aside, she and the women before her had to make their way through resistance just to procure the basics. Korea was poorer then, immigrant life tougher than the country that shut no door on me as I grew up. Living seemed to have required more fortitude. There are things I do better than Mom did. Like many of us, I determined to be a different parent. But my savvy turns out to be simply a matter of knowledge and opportunity. From the education my mother paid for with her self. I had set out to do better but I now see every success of mine is the dream she chased.

the leaves of my poem

i chew the leaves of my poem
they fan green and spirited
in the height of their hour
veins visible like these 
that inscribe my hand, run
with the life of dreams 
that have nowhere to go but 
back  down   to the 
branch to the root
you don't see

look:
        their asymmetry of being

red oak stained with rain pollen
much like the blemishes on my face
t o r n  by time and caterpillars 
that become f u l l   and
bloom into butterflies

the leaves testify to all the seasons

green ash have weathered the wild 
waltz of wind and rain
hungry for the sun 
they drink from the clouds

i feel the laugh lines on the maple
and swallow their history -
    this one, curled copper
    like rusted edges but it's
just the candor of time 

grain and weave of memories 
cru n ch between my teeth
composition on my tongue
i chew the leaves of my poem


Poem Leaf

How to Succeed as a Blogger – Lighting Dynamite, Part 2

Socializing
I just finished saying in Part One that before you connect with others, you have to know and be yourself. Moving on, we see that a purpose-driven blog won’t stand alone. Because it’s a blog, not a book. If you are putting in the time to draft posts that are four, six, eight paragraphs long and are counting on one or two hands the number of likes and comments coming in or haven’t seen a rise in readership, it’s probably a good idea to step out and socialize more with other bloggers. You can write, sing, preach, journal, cry, paint your heart out but if you’re not investing in other blogs, you’re not as likely to draw investors for yours. In the world of business, you need to offer a product that is unique and consumable, something people need and want to come back for. But even generic goods will earn sales if you put in the time. It’s a simple correlation between exposure and growth potential.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Connecting
More than the quantitative aspect of blogging, though, I would like to look at the qualitative. Your zeal will ring out, only to fall flat, if it doesn’t offer relevance or resonance. I repeat something I was impatient to throw out in Part 1. Ask yourself why anyone should read, let alone follow, you. I shouldn’t have to declare I’m a writer on this blog. You should be able to see and feel it. But let’s go a step further. So what if you do? Do I seriously imagine that thousands of people week in, week out will be as involved in my struggles, questions, poetry as I am? You ought to see something of your own story here – your past, your hopes, your convictions which grow sharper in your assent and dissent. Isn’t the finest literature or visual art a mirror of human experience? Why is this so? I borrow from the wisdom of a professor who said years back: we listen autobiographically. This gem of a truth is a whole other post but keeping to this discussion, it’s good to bear in mind that people are reading and processing what you offer from the reference point of their own story. Rather, this is what they want to do. Here’s a powerful example. I assumed it was the thought of divine sacrifice that brought Casey to tears over the sculpture of Mary holding her dead Son after the crucifixion in this post. Casey clarified that she was, in fact, “very moved by the poignant imagery of being held by a loving mother” because her own childhood experiences had left her beggared in this regard. We approach a relationship, whether with a friend or work of art, through the screen of our own story. This describes the wife, reader, consumer in me. But as an artist I blog by seeking to tap a part of life that we all participate in so you can relate to me in the most fundamental sense of the word relationship. In your own blogging, you can target a topic relevant in your niche. Or more broadly, keep up the writing, dance, artwork that touches the universal longing for knowledge or intrigue in what is fantastic, beautiful, and possible. You will find more on resonance in this post Why We Read. It is not a strict dictum of blogging to give viewers something they want or can identify with but it’s understandably the ideal. Something neat can also happen along the way. Once you establish a loyal readership that comes to trust you will deliver the goods (or at least die trying), it almost won’t matter what you offer. This, from my observation of dynamic bloggers who have charmed their crowd. It is the faith of relationships, the magic when your readers want you.

Discovery
When we’re moved to action or wonder we don’t stay self-absorbed. Or silent. We express how we were affected, tell how we found a forgotten part of our heart or the door of a mental paradigm opening. It’s the relating back, our need to deepen connections. I went ahead with this miniseries largely to acknowledge the remarkable support that has made this holistic journey as transformative as it has been for me. It gets electric here sometimes. I told Casey, a new reader, that it felt like we were lighting dynamite in the conversation. We agreed it was kaboom! My generous supporters wow me with their profound, eloquent insights. Fourteen hundred followers with and without the verbal response will be two different blogs. I’d be willing to lose a piece of my stats if that were the only way to keep the extraordinary comments – no way on earth am I parting with them. My grandchildren will know me more richly and deeply for them. In sharing how my writing affected their spirit, beliefs, decisions, my readers have in turn pulled parts of me out of the shadows. I’ve discovered more of myself in the connecting. It was a blogger I thanked here who folded the poetry back into my hands and told me not to give it up. And though it’s comprised only 15% of my posts, poetry has made up the majority of my Top 10. Which means that if I want to grow faster, I should put out more poems (or shorter posts). It is unthinkable that I almost closed shop in the early days. I was torn between the helpless writing and the uncertainty of blogging. “Who the hec wants to hear another mom blogger?” I grumbled at my husband. Little did I know that my readers would show me I am more than Mother, especially through the feedback on the poems I had yet to write. That yes, I can stake a place among 74 million WordPressers.

Conscious Blogging
Listen to your supporters. Just as you have to move in tune with your dance partner, cue in on their response. Observe your most popular posts. They might shape your blogging. Seeing the Black Santa garner the greatest number of comments among all my posts (until the posts on blogging came out) confirmed I was on track with a big project that’s in the works. I also discovered that I thoroughly enjoy playing Barbara Walters – to gain access to motivations and history, encourage people to spill their guts. Turns out, my readers got a kick out of the role play and the results as much as I did. So it seems my alter ego should be let out again someday.

Community
As each blogger is unique, so will each community be. This reader left a wonderful reply on Part 1. Like energies will find like energies. And this is why I feel compelled to read and comment here. It’s the reason others are compelled to read and write where they read and write. There is an energy that is often more than the sum of the parts. But it all starts with the craft, the need to expel and breathe out something that nudges us to move from us. Just the other day I visited a blog with an energy very different from the one here. The personality, the language of the blogger drew company I probably won’t. It was an active site and the group was having fun. I think two bloggers can also put out a similar post and get a different type and level of response. Your community will be its own.

There’s nothing complicated about blogging at core. To succeed, you need both the interaction and the content others want to interact with. Many of you have made me feel like the richest woman this side of heaven. But the point of this post is to serve my fellow bloggers, to help pave your road of gold. I did not touch on the technical part of blogging because I would end up plugging your path with potholes if I did. I leave this essential task to One Cool Site, one of the best resources on the infrastructure and mechanics of blogging for new and veteran bloggers alike. The wealth of knowledge there would have spared me some silly and costly mistakes last year.

Let me know what was most helpful. I appreciate the interest in this miniseries. I enjoy writing every post but am ready to move on, talk less of myself.

The Writing Process II, Part 3: From the Grammar Mafia

Godfather2Those who might have thought the Wayfarer congenial up until now must know The Godmother from New York has taken over this leg of the trip (see Uncle?) and California Girl’s backseat, engrossed in a book.

Last I checked, blogosphere was a beautiful democracy. If you are offended by what follows, remember you are free as the wind to check out or unfollow this blog . My point today is simple: learn the basics. Please.

I’m not speaking about the blue-moon typo missed in integrity. This proof of human fallibility is why we’re thankful for the saving grace of the edit. I’m not speaking to those whose native tongue is a language other than English. I’m talking to people who publish anything, blissfully careless in the basics. You who faithfully streak your blog with words missing apostrophes or a whole letter your vs you’re, unabashed at the moments you regress to the achievements of a second grader. Before we get to the grammar, I’m talking about the mechanics that school drilled into you every darn year, third grade to middle. Do you know how to turn on the headlights so you’re visible to oncoming traffic? How’s the rear view? It’s the preliminary stuff the driving instructor wants to see you know before you pull away.

What have you to say of your intellectual laziness? Why would you give yourself license to be sloppy, to reduce your art, vandalize your presentation? If you were to take offense that I came over and markered your work, it would be curious irony because that’s what you’ve done yourself. You owe it to yourself not to look less intelligent than you are. You owe it to your readers to be clean on paper and screen. Pave their way, shovel off the stones and debris so it’s that much easier for them. Why do you not show up to the office in slippers and the shirt you slept in – even if everyday were the Casual Friday it is in the Sunny State? An inkling of social protocol, respect for the boss. A hassle to learn once for all, you say? Honestly, it is doable. If fourth graders can get it, so can you. The mechanics are just a hairsbreadth up a notch from the alphabet. I’m not talking about complex constructions, style, voice.

Many of you have published. Tell me, would Doubleday or Bantam put out your final copy with the strings of indifferent technical blotches in your story? Okay then, would you self-publish that way? Then why in — name do you blog as you do? So you never claimed to be a writer. You’re here to share your hobbies and talk about your cat. Or showcase the stunning artwork. If you’re going to put out more than two sentences and want anyone besides Nana and your best friend to see them, retain a measure of self-respect and file and sand, please. Ah, but you mean only to encourage others in their faith. Well, Scripture enjoins us to pursue excellence in all we do, and rewards the endeavor. “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings.” Proverbs 22.29. God-fearing Mafia, you must know. You’re not wired for the screws and ratchet of language; you’re a genius Right-Brain who’s busy being creative. It’s the (professing) artist who believes there is no harm in exchanging blue for purple. What musician would shrug a B for C? They might be only a note apart, bedfellows on the scale, but one note changes the chord – Bach lives on to say through the precision of his arpeggios. Please don’t insult me. It is hard to consider your work quality when it visually confesses otherwise. Would you be as satisfied as the guy who wasn’t so worried about the details to the foundation of your house? But he was preoccupied with the layout and paint. The rigorous Left Brains get this. You might be easy about donating a penny to the Ronald McDonald House but see how happy you’ll stay with the accountant who doesn’t believe numbers must be accurate. Don’t gyp your readers.

The blitzkrieg of analogies isn’t to browbeat the point as it is to bring home the simple reminder that the fundamentals remain nonnegotiable in every area of life. If you’re going to take up the dignified name of writer or poet and need some work with the simple Dos and Don’ts, do retrain yourself once for all. I begin with the epidemic glitches which happen to be the most elementary and move up to high school for those who care:

THE APOSTROPHE
1) Before you keep it, make sure it’s a possession (Sarah’s bag) or contraction (it’s = it is) you want to express. That apostrophe stands for something.

You’re book
Your book

2) On this one matter of words ending in s, I dare to disagree with the Writers’ Bible The Elements of Style by Strunk Jr. and White: The authors favor the possessive with the additional ‘s (Charles’s friend) and go on to differentiate the times you tack on the apostrophe by itself (Moses’ staff), but the distinctions are too much. Stick to the smokers’ room. The book has been out fifty years. Language favors elision over time, likes the path of least resistance. If it can drop something, it will.

3) The pronouns its, yours, hers, theirs take on no apostrophe because they already indicate possession.

its own ethic
song of yours
they took hers
that lodge of theirs

OBJECT PRONOUN
The preposition between takes objects, not subjects.

between he and I
between him and I
between her and I

between him and me
between her and me

ALL RIGHT
The law of elision, i.e. the law of human laziness, will eventually canonize alright. But all right stand as two words.

A LOT
alot
Also two words.

REFLEXIVE PRONOUN
Use the simple subject pronoun.

Cary and myself arrived at the lake.
Cary and I arrived at the lake.

The reflexive pronouns like myself, himself, yourself need a pronoun in the sentence to reflect back to.

I congratulated me.
There’s the I, the referent.

I congratulated myself.

I’m fine.  And yourself?
There is no you the yourself can echo.

I’m fine.  And you?

SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT
The numbers must match.
1) Each, either, everyone, everybody, neither, nobody, someone call for a singular verb.

Everybody thinks they are cool. (Here, they refer to the subject everybody.)
Everybody thinks he is cool.

2) When none means not one or no one, it takes a singular verb.

None of them are going.
None of them is going.

3) Either and neither take a singular verb.

Neither of you are coming.
Neither of you is coming.
Do you know if either of these is used?

4) It’s one number.

A number of cases have revealed that
A number of cases has revealed that

MISPLACED MODIFIER
You can only think when writing.
You can think only when writing.

In the first instance, the only thing you’re doing is thinking because the only modifies whatever act follows. What you meant was to qualify the circumstance that allows you to write.

SUBJECT OF A PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE
the point of what us writers are about

The underlined phrase modifies of and behaves as one noun. Try “the point of the story.” When uncertain between the object and subject form of a pronoun, cover the distraction and you’ll hear it:

what us [writers] are about

Now you know the phrase needs the subject.

the point of what we writers are about

=======================================

If you’re still here, feeling positive that I wrote this just for you, I assure you it is not personal. How I would love the luxury of time to be able to keep track of who violated which writing law when. Maybe if I drew up a hit list of bloggers…

If you’re gun-shy at this point, you may breathe: I’m giving it back over to the Wayfarer. Decided on the hate mail? Send it to me. She’s a sweetie. I wish she were tougher. The girl refuses to police grammar in readers’ comments. Oh, homeschooling calls: Holistic Godmother goes off to teach her boy the ways of the Grammar Mafia.

Until next time.

A Curtain Hung Between Us

Do you ever feel it when he gets hurt?

As an identical twin, it’s a question I’ve entertained more than a few times over the years.  “Uh, ‘course I do,” I’d usually say. It’s a whimsical thought, isn’t it? Well, I can settle it once and for all: twins can’t share pain. I know, because I’ve tried.

My brother had only asked that I do one thing: get cleared. In a time when nothing seemed to make sense, he simply wanted the assurance that we shared only our DNA – not his fate.

A paper thin curtain hung around me, the material likely cut from the same spool as Victor’s scrubs. He was the nurse who had pulled me from the waiting room.

I pictured my brother in the same type of room where almost everything in it was on wheels. I climbed onto the bed and braced myself for the results. Not that they would change anything. I stretched my legs out and fought the familiar feeling of loss. It was more than that, though. It was helplessness. I searched between the moisture that pooled in the corner of my eyes and found that most of all it was guilt. I could pound my chest and swear I’d leap in front of a bus to save him, but with cancer there wasn’t anything to jump in front of.

Victor came back. He poked, prodded, and left through the curtain. The IV cemented me there and between shivers I closed my eyes and asked, Why my brother and not me?

To my left, Victor prepped a sweet old lady. Perhaps she didn’t belong here, either.  He asked her the same questions he’d asked me, except she answered yes to just about every single one: she had a hearing aid. What? Yes, in both ears.

Victor finally rolled me into the screening room. It wasn’t fair, I thought as the anesthesia began to bury me into the bed. It’s going to be okay; he’ll be fine. We’ll be fine.

A cold draft crept up from the linoleum; my hands warm were under my legs and my mind still drunk with anesthesia. I collected myself and my belongings. The doctor patted my leg the way doctors do, with a gentle nudge and a slightly concerned smile. He told me that everything was fine.

But what I heard instead was what my brother’s doctor had told him: that they found something that shouldn’t have been there and there was nothing I could do about it, least of all take it for him, because the tumor wasn’t in me, it was in him, and everyone knows that twins cannot, as much as they may try, feel it when their twin hurts.

Victor walked me out through a long hallway of closed doors. He nodded toward the exit and said good-bye like we might see each other again soon. Of course, we wouldn’t. I was clear, guilt the only thing growing in me. I’d stand by, a healthy spectator, as my twin endured round after round of chemotherapy.

Before I exited, I thought about the sweet old lady. I strained to find her voice in the halls, but heard nothing.

Dominic at eternalDomnation

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The Other Side of the Speculum: A Male Doctor’s Point of View

Holistic Wayfarer:

This is for both men and women. On how some male doctors can’t keep their maleness outside the exam room when they’re with a female patient.

Originally posted on forwomenseyesonly:

  • Hang on to your knickers and read what a Doctor has to say on the subject of pap smears and pelvic exams.  What follows is a comment from Blogcritics.org written by a Doctor that uncovers an honest and all-male point of view (Warning: may be disturbing to some readers):
    Apr 07, 2010 at 4:08 am

    Hello,

    I’ve read several of the posts here, and just wanted to get a few things off my chest . . .

    I am a doctor myself, in a smallish town in the midwest. I’m in a specialty where we do not do pelvic exams, but of course I was trained in how to do them while in medical school. It has always bothered me, for a couple of reasons, but the male/female thing has been the main thing originally. I always got a small, secret thrill out of doing a pelvic exam (or a…

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The Perfect Woman

I told my three-year-old the goldfish had died because she kept putting her hand in the water and made it dirty. She turned to the remaining fish: “Oh yeah, I’m really sorry about that fishy. I killed your brother.”

My little fish killer apologized, yet not a morsel of guilt was to be found in her heart. She has her own little brother. The two of them bite, hit, kick, scream, and apologize by force alone.

Guilt?

The word does not even register in their vocabulary. They know once they see through the apology and the hug, the world is set to right once again.

“Catholics have guilt and Jews have guilt, fine. But mothers can trump them all.” ~Diane Lane

I have struggled with guilt all my life, but motherhood has brought this sickening emotion to the highest of heights. How many mistakes I have made, how many times I have failed. My carelessness has placed them in grave danger. I thought I had connected their bike carrier to the back of my own bike securely the other day. Instead, I suddenly turn to the sound of honking horns, find my loves heading straight into the busy road! Every time I think of it I tremble, lose sleep for the condemnation eating me inside. I look their way. They are busy, happy, “Come play with us, Mom!” they shout among squeals of delight. There is no anger in their hearts, no resentment towards me.

I yell at my daughter, the sweetest little face ever to breathe. I break her dear form to tears with my selfish anger. I am the worst of the living – who yells at an innocent creature this way? I apologize, and she immediately wraps her sweet arms around me. She smiles once more, loving me without limit.

“Guilt is the source of sorrows, the avenging fiend that follows us behind with whips and stings.” ~Nicholas Rowe 

As the parent, I thought I was the one who was supposed to instruct my children. This time, it is they who are playing the teacher. To face guilt like a child seems to be the only true way to happiness, peace. Freedom.

They are guiding me: I was not made to function in guilt. I mess up, I fall short, I fail utterly and ugly. I must get back up. I must move on. It is the only way I will survive.

I will never be the perfect woman, but I can try to be a great one, even if today I miss the mark.

Sasha at MomLife Now

Preacher Wife

My husband wondered the other day what kind of style I’d sport as a preacher. I shot up an eyebrow when without thinking it through, he cast his vote for fire-and-brimstone prophet. He had forgotten how much I’ve changed over the years – at least those few days out of the month between cycles. I reminded him how shockingly diplomatic I’ve become with those who test me. And he quickly ran through my writing in his head and realized I am generally very nice on this blog and will pose no threat to dissenting perspectives. Ah yes, he could see his wife the congenial, cerebral teacher and preacher delicately offering what may be unpalatable in a chalice honeyed with reason.

Holistic Husband jumped and burst out, “A stinking lie!!”

It was unfair that I’d get away with it when he doesn’t get away with much at home.