Casey In The Snow

This morning I woke up at 4:30 am and looked outside. Heavy snow, still falling. Life perfect and quiet and beautiful, no humans awake. Even my dog was asleep.

And as I looked at our perfect world, our beautiful Universe, I realized I could write and write and write and still never have the words to describe Casey.

My friend Casey died night before last in her home in Northern California. Her sister-in-law messaged me that she hadn’t been feeling well (Casey was my age but suffered from diabetes and an autoimmune disease). Her husband hooked up her IV. When he went to check on her she had stopped breathing. He couldn’t revive her; neither could the paramedics he called.

The grief I went through yesterday was a deep one. In the middle of canceling my debit card because someone in Colombia was watching Smash Mouth on my dime, I got a message which read in part:

Casey died in her sleep…

I couldn’t understand.

I met Casey Toney in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. We were both volunteers for the Red Cross. She was the nurse for our shelter, and five others in the area. We were in an area called the 6th Ward. Klan country. Our shelter was about a 50/50 mix of black and white clients; it was lost on us at the time how miraculous it was that everyone got along so well.

During our time together in this disaster response, I am not at all sure Casey ever slept. She seemed always to have been up for 24 hours. There were about 70 clients in our shelter, some of whom arrived soaking wet with absolutely nothing, including their medications. We had one man in renal failure who wasn’t quite near death enough to be taken seriously by paramedics. There was a woman with an open wound the size of a quarter on her leg. She’d been bitten by a brown recluse spider. It grew in size daily.

There was no pharmacy that was open. There were no doctors available. As she was a Nurse Practitioner and could write scripts, Casey was it. She was assisted by another nurse, Joe. One day he got very ill and the next day I did as well; she told me later she was worried it was an outbreak of typhus and was very relieved when we snapped out of it. At one of the shelters in her charge, there were two newborns under two weeks old. Then there was the time one of the National Guardsman got what we thought were chicken pox. The CDC drove up in a car the next day to possibly quarantine us. Miraculously and correctly, Casey determined that he had shingles, thus saving us two more weeks of time in a shelter.

Now this is the thing about Casey. She was one of those rare humans who understood what the problem was, and she knew how to fix it. There was just nothing to fix it with.

It’s hard to imagine an area in America like this, but there we were. There was nothing available that you and I are taking for granted right this instant. There was no IV tubing, there were no antibiotics, and there were definitely no pain meds. There was no insulin, and we kept getting readings of people that were over 300. Thankfully that turned out to be a piece of faulty equipment; but no one knew the importance of insulin more than Casey, who had childhood diabetes.

Casey took the time to speak to each of our clients to find out how they were. She had a remarkable capacity for listening. She listened actively, head bent, shock of brown hair on top of her pretty face without a trace of make-up. I remember there was a sheriff’s deputy, a woman, who was ill with some kind of rare disease, and often I’d see her talking to Casey.

When I think of Casey from that time, she is always listening to someone. Not talking. Her heart was as big as a barn door, and she had the capacity to take in another’s pain. What a nurse.

I think the first time I saw her she said something snarky to me, which was completely uncharacteristic. She apologized, telling me she hadn’t been asleep in several days. I remember her trying to sort out exactly which medications she needed to get. And then I remember her coming up to me with a handful of paper prescriptions.

She asked me if I would be willing to go to a pharmacy about a half hour away that had opened. I certainly was. Then she told me it would be dangerous. It was actually dangerous to have access to medication. You could be knocked over the head for it. Well, I love an adventure, and she knew that about me, so off I was, with my own National Guard driver. We went and got everything she needed. On the way, the nice young Guardsman told me he’d done two tours of Iraq, and the situation here was definitely worse than Iraq.

I was the last manager and the next to the last person to leave. We’d gotten Casey in a shipment of Red Cross workers from California. Casey, Joe, and Michael, the computer guy. There were two in that bunch, a couple, who had to be dismissed. They thought their skill set was above the basic tasks we’d asked them to do. It was easy to let them go, because I have to tell you, the least attractive quality in a disaster responder is I’m smarter than the work you’ve given me.

Before Casey left, she asked me a favor, without exactly asking.

There was a group of people, that were not at the shelter, nearby. They weren’t eligible for some money that everyone else was eligible for, but it was on a technicality. One of the endless, stupid technicalities that plagued so many residents affected by the storm.

For example, people could get $2000 immediate relief from FEMA. All they had to do was apply online.

It never occurred to FEMA, I guess, that the innumerable number of people still without power may need that money as well-with no way to get it. There’s no going online without electricity.

Anyway, so Casey presented another situation, and let it sit there.

Ohhh, I said.

I had the means to help them, but only if I broke the law.

There were a whole lot of laws that needed breaking down there. I was happy to make an attempt on their behalves, and I did. It worked. As soon as I pulled it off I let her know. She was delighted.

I’m not trying to be cute about it. I just don’t want to implicate anyone else.

The thing is, if it weren’t for Casey, that none-too-small detail would have gone right over my head. Those people were too proud and too honest to have asked any such thing of me. Casey and I both knew, also, that lives had been lost during Katrina because of red tape. She wasn’t having it. And although too obtuse to notice initially, neither was I.

I cannot stand that she won’t be here to go over what I have written about Katrina, to clear up mysteries and help with details. There was more than one secret that she and I shared there. I am left with a few of them and I have no idea whether or not they should ever see the light of day. In a way, we were each other’s conscience.

We were messaging each other a lot during the Camp Fire in California. She lived in Redding. She had to evacuate twice. She, her husband, her mother, who was in her nineties and had Alzheimer’s, and her dog; all of them in one RV for the endless days that followed their first evacuation. She told me they were safe, and parked in a lot of a drugstore. They returned home once to have the Sheriff knock on their door and tell them they had to leave again. She was never separated from her sense of humor. I got this message from her one day:

We got some higher quality air masks for particulate matter. We did have to modify Granny’s, though. After making a small incision into it, she is able to fit her non-filtered cigs into it just fine.

During the fires, I kept asking her if she needed anything. It seemed so awful; the woman who helped everyone now in this dire situation. She always demurred. When a friend of hers, though, or the child of a friend needed something, she would send me their name and ask if I could help, or as she put it:

Please prayerfully consider if you can help.

Our last message exchange was on Valentine’s Day. She sent me a recipe for Cannabis Prosecco Popsicles.

I’m frustrated because I have been writing for the last 24 hours since I found out Casey died and I can’t write well enough to describe her. I am not that talented.

Writing about Casey shouldn’t be hard. The writing would be simple and elegant and it would resonate with the power of a human at her best. Seeing all the beauty and all the foibles of mankind. Admiring a friend who took life as it came, and took the people who came with it as well. Total acceptance of our situation. Grace. That’s what the writing should be like. That’s how she should be described.

Casey was the snow falling this morning at 4:30, whispering to me that her death didn’t mean life wasn’t still beautiful.

The State Of The Left Hemisphere

My Fellow Americans,

Words. I’m going to say some words now. Big, beautiful words.

Words. Here are, some more words. I didn’t write these words. These words are lame. Lame words. I’m going to say some words of mine. My words…are big words. They are. They really, really are words. Thank you. Yes. You know it’s true. You know it. Hi.

Words and words words words. Words! My words, got the biggest, brightest, most beautiful words…ever. Everrrrr. Because they’re words. They’re words in the United States of America. They’re words.

Duct tape coyote barbed wire not concrete beautiful steel wall unity. That’s right. That’s right. And ICE. ICCCCCCE. I like that word so much I’ll say it again. ICCCCCCCCCCCE. Here’s another word no wait. Not yet. No. Never forget. We’ll never forget words. And ICE.

Words First Lady. There she is. There she is. First Lady words. First Lady words. You know it’s true. Beautiful ICE Lady Coyote Words.

Coyote. Kiiiiyeeeohteeee. What a beautiful word coyote is. I know what it means now. I’ll say it some more. Coyote words.

Unity. Unity unity unity. Witch hunt. Division. No. My words. My words.

Job words. North Korea. I saved the words, Ladies and gentlemen. It was all me. I saved the words.

WORDS! Thank you. Thank you. Duct tape duct tape more duct tape words. Yeah. Oh yeah. Duct tape wuuuurrrrds.

Do you know. Do you? Do you know words? I know words. I know words better than anyone. You know it’s true that I know these words. I know these words. I do I know them. These. Words.

What. Words are….some…maybe my words. Maybe mine. My. Words.

Job words. Cheap drug words. But no drug words wall words illegal drugs legal drugs illegal immigrants legal immigrants good words. Words are fun. Isn’t she great.

Can-sirrr. Can-sir. Cancer words and vets and hospital words. Good. Those words work. Those words work. Okkk…

So here we are words. Greatest great greatest great words. Greatest words ever. I’m wonderful words.

Words. God words. Unity words. Rip babies democratic murderer governor racist murdering governor execute baby words. Unity.

It’s all good words. I’m perfect words. I’m a blessing words. Bless bless god blessed you with me words. You know he did. Yes. Words today. Words tomorrow. Just words, that’s it. That’s all words and beautiful words.

Democrats don’t have words. They just don’t have words. They don’t.

Good night.

My Deer Mother’s Daughter

That’s not a spelling error.

I live about two miles north of New York City. The town I live in is adjacent to the Bronx. I live in a house that is adjacent to a state park.

Because of this, my yard is like wild kingdom. Seriously. I have seen more wildlife in this yard (and occasionally inside my house) than I did as a kid growing up in what was then rural Virginia. Snakes, possums, skunks, squirrels (one that was blonde!), bats, a flying squirrel, coyotes, and deer.

I have tons of stories about these animals. Once the squirrels got in our attic, which drove my husband quite crazy; even after we had them removed, bits of pink insulation would sometimes flutter from their dreys into our driveway, upsetting him all over again.

But nothing, nothing, has aggravated us more than the deer.

These deer do not give a shit that we are humans with a house. It’s their property. We have herds living here. I counted seven once. They drop fawns. They drop antlers. They use the evergreens as shelter in the snow.

And they eat everything my husband plants. Thousands of dollars of flowers, vegetables, shrubbery, have gone in their deer bellies. We came home at two a.m. one morning and they were on our small front terrace right next to the front door, helping themselves to the greenery.

Get the fuck out of here, you stupid deer! my husband yelled from the car.

They just looked at us, chewing.

I am from Virginia. There, they shoot deer and then eat them. You cannot shoot deer here. It’s against the law. Plus, our lunatic neighbors think they are cute and feed them corn. It’s funny, yes, ha ha, but…my husband hasn’t planted a garden in two years. He says he refuses to make deer salad.

I enjoy looking at them. I do. But I also miss home grown vegetables.

My husband grew up in the area, and apparently, the deer were not pervasive in the seventies. It’s the same story everywhere. We raze the forests and replace with McMansions. The deer have nowhere else to go.

Some mornings I’ll walk out onto our upper deck and the natural world is so beautiful. I once saw two bucks sparring, rattling right below me, and managed to get it on video.

This morning I looked in the yard and there, in the back, was a large, dead deer.

Wake up, I yell, fruitlessly. Hey! I knew the deer was dead as soon as I saw it. But I put on my boots to check it out. Yep. It was dead. It had no visible sign of trauma. It was a young, two-point buck. I wondered what had happened to it.

I call the local precinct, figuring they’d tell me who to contact for pick-up. About a month ago there was a dead deer up the street, and the city picked it up very quickly. Yay public works!

The cop said, It’s on your property? Uh, we can’t do anything about that. If it were on the street we could send someone.

I ask who else I could call.

Call the city hotline.

Excellent, I think. I call. The last four digits of that number spell HELP. I find this becomes ironic.

Is it on your property? the lady asks. We can’t do anything about that. No. Nope. Uh-uh. No. I don’t know. Nope. Good-bye. Yes. Good-bye.

Perhaps change the number to No Help?

I call my friend Chuck. He’s a retired sanitation worker. He has to know someone.

Chuck, however, is on the way to a funeral.

You gotta get it out of there, Chuck says. If you don’t you’ll have coyotes in your yard. If I can get anyone I’ll call you.

Don’t worry about it, I tell him. I don’t want to be a pain in the ass on the day he’s burying a friend.

I start calling professional wildlife removal services.

Yeah, we do that. It’s $385.

What? I ask, stunned. Everything, everything is a racket in New York.

I’ll pay cash, I say, in what I hope is a helpful tone.

I could do it for $350 cash, he says, not helpfully.

I call another number. Out of service. I call another.

Yeah, we do that, says the guy. It’s $500.

I want to say GTFOOH but end up sputtering REALLY? Really.

Yeah, he says, because we have to have the deer cremated. We can’t just throw him somewhere.

Thank you, I say. I hang up the phone. Sometimes I think New York is another planet, not state.

Now I am pissed. I mean pissed. I am from Virginia. This would not happen in Virginia. In Virginia I would call a friend with a pickup.

I call my husband.

Don’t worry about it, he says, I’ll take care of it. I’ll just ________________________________. (Redacted for legal reasons).

The thing is, we have to get the deer somewhere where he’ll be picked up by the city. Or eaten by the coyotes. The deer is a looooong ways away from the street.

But my husband is a very competent man. Today isn’t the best day for deer disposal, though, as he is leaving for a trip later. I decide I’ll try a guy I know who is an ex-junkie and always seems to need money, still. Junkies can get things done.

But before I leave, I call the mayor’s office because I am so outraged.

I pay $——- in property taxes and because a deer dies on the wrong side of my fence you won’t pick it up? This is not my pet deer!

She’s very nice and understanding, the lady at the mayor’s office. She takes my number and will call me back. She lied. She never calls back.

I go out.

While I am out, I run into a neighbor who tells me the same thing happened to he and his wife. A deer died on their property. I asked what they did, and had to listen to a monologue about how sad it was because they were animal lovers.

You have got to be joking, I think, remembering how I once saw three wrecks on the Garden State Parkway caused by different deer, in a period of twenty-five minutes. I love animals, but come on.

The neighbor bagged the deer for the garbage men. The thing is, the garbage men took our garbage about a half hour before I discovered the deer. If only. I certainly can’t wait till Tuesday.

When I return home, I am informed by the junkie and his friend that the deer is way too heavy for them to get in the trunk of his car.

I thought you were using a friend’s pick-up, I say.

Well, he’s afraid. He’s afraid we’ll get caught…(Caught?, I think. CAUGHT???)…But it’s ok. If I can do it myself I don’t have to split the money.

I give him $100 bucks for his trouble and tell him if he can figure out how to get rid of it I’ll give him another.

The thing about my husband is that he is taking 12 boys to Gettysburg on a scouting trip, and they leave at 5 pm. If I can get rid of the deer before he gets home, he won’t have to worry about it.

About 4:00 pm, it starts to rain.

The ex-junkie calls.

My wife wants to go out to dinner. Did you get the deer taken care of?

I tell him no; I thank him for his time. I tell him my husband should be home any minute. We hang up.

I start to wonder if I should call my stepson to help my husband. I have to drop him off at the Scout Bus by 5:00.

Then he walks in. It’s really raining now.

Hi honey, I say. Do you want me to call —– to help with the deer?

No, he replies. I’m not going to do it now. I’ll do it when I get back Monday. The trains were late and I have to do the Scout thing.

What. Did. I. Just. Hear?

The rage starts in my gut. I may have to dispose of two bodies. His and the deer’s. All of a sudden, I realize why $350 is the best price I can get on carcass removal. If I call them NOW it means I will end up spending $450. Almost enough for a deer cremation.

We can’t wait till Monday, I say calmly. (I silently congratulate myself on my calm demeanor.) The deer will not be possible to remove by yourself after it has decomposed for four days.

Why not? he asks.

Oh sweet baby Jesus give me strength.

It will bloat, I say. It will decompose. It will have an unbearable smell. Not to mention the coyote convention it will invite, I think. I won’t be able to go outside without a shotgun. All the neighborhood cats will disappear.

Well, he says, I can’t do it now. The trains were late because of the rain. Don’t worry. I’ll get it Monday. Aren’t you going out of town anyway?

I remain perfectly still. Then I go get my jacket. I go get a pair of long rubber gloves under the sink.

Do we have a plastic tarp, I ask, starting for the stairs.

No, he says. Can I have a kiss?

Not right now, I say. He gets out of my way.

I realized, before I made the decision to handle this myself, that he has never seen an animal that has decomposed before, because he grew up in the city. With great benevolence I decide I won’t hold it against him.

We may not have a tarp, but we have an extra shower curtain, and I know where it is.

I get the shower curtain and keys to the shed. I put my hood on. I didn’t take the time to put on my boots, because I have approximately twenty minutes of daylight left.

I look for a shovel in the shed and see a dolly. Hmm. I leave the shovel for the time being and take the dolly.

The deer is five feet long, nose to tail. I had wrongly estimated it to weigh about 100 pounds. It’s not 100 pounds. The average weight of a white tailed buck is 300 pounds. I understand, suddenly, why the two guys couldn’t get it in the car.

But. It has antlers. And legs. I am able to get the shower curtain underneath it in about two minutes. I tie the shower curtain around the neck of the deer to steady it.

When I see the other side of the deer, it’s obvious it was hit by a car. It came home to die. Thanks, motherfecker.

I look around to make sure no one is watching. I am soaking wet, wearing a red jacket and hood, purple latex dishwashing gloves, and am handling a 300-pound deer that is now dressed in what looks like a hot pink cape. I really do not wish to be discovered like this. I think about all the dressing the deer jokes this could create.

I start dragging the deer. I can get it about six inches every minute or two. But it’s hard to manage. I have to stop every minute and pant for air. I am near a fence. The hooves get caught in the wire. The antlers get stuck in the gate.

I quit twice, the first time walking away. I go back.

I have it almost where I want it when the shower curtain comes off. FUCK.

And then my husband appears. He says he can assist. He follows my directions.

He helps me get it to a location two feet away where it is no longer our problem and won’t scare the neighbors.

I thank him. I really mean it. I tell him I don’t want him to be late.

I thought you were giving me a ride! he says.

Oh, sure.

I return the dolly, lock the shed, and go back inside. It is 4:57. I set the alarm, unlock the car, and drive him to the bus. I tell him where I’ll be staying in Atlantic City the next day, as I am working Saturday. He tells me what they’ll do in Gettysburg. The Eisenhower Presidential Library is there as well. I tell him to make sure and tell the boys he read 72 books last year, all checked out from the library. He laughs.

Then…I’m sorry, he says, I didn’t mean to give you so much stress.

It’s ok, I tell him. I realize you didn’t know how hard it would be to move a decomposing deer.

I thought it might be lighter, he said.

Well, I replied, thing is, that far in, you start to move it, and it would…

I’ll save the gory details.

Anyway, as I drove home, I felt more exhilarated than I had in ages.

I loved moving that deer carcass. I loved that I could do it.

And I realized how much I am my mother’s daughter.

When describing my mother to people who don’t know her, I tell them that she’s a cross between The Dowager Countess from Downton Abbey and Che Guevara.

She is 89 now. It’s hard for her to move around as much as she used to. I go down to Virginia once a month to help her. I cook for her. She loves being pampered.

But she lives alone. She runs a house with six apartments that she rents. She raised my brother and me without a dime of child support. She knows how to economize. She knows how to get things done. She once removed potentially toxic material from a building she owned herself, because the quote she’d gotten for its removal was $40,000.00. She wore gear and took it to the toxic dump in Richmond. She was in her late sixties when she did that.

After dumping my clothes in the washing machine and getting in a hot bath, I call her.

Do I have a story for you, I say.

She howls laughing as I recall the day. I tell her I knew what to do because I was her child. She said she was proud of me.

Then she asks, not realizing I had removed the shower curtain, and afraid the deer would be traced back to me,

The shower curtain, darling…was it monogrammed?!

No, mama, I say, smiling.

Details. Women think of everything.

Letter to Dr. Blasey Ford

Well, it’s 3:25 am on September 27th, 2018. I have woken up twice tonight, once so drenched in sweat my pillowcase was wet and I had to change shirts.

I went outside to have a cigarette, one of the last two ways I continue to hurt myself. I came back inside and did some tidying up in the hope that I would go to sleep. This summer has been so wet I can barely shut the front door of this old, wooden house. All the doors and windows are swollen from humidity. I suspect there is a metaphor in there somewhere but am not going to search for it. I’ve got other things on my mind.

Dr. Blasey Ford, I know why I can’t sleep. I am wondering if you are awake yet. I am wondering how many others like you and I are awake as well. I bet the West Coast is having a time of it. At least I got a few hour’s rest.

I am a someone that did tell the authorities. I thought, and I absolutely wince at my innocence, that it was my responsibility as a woman and citizen to report what happened to me to the police.

I’m not getting into it too much. I have written about it before. But I’ll say this: he was a white male in college. I told the prosecutor that personally, I would be willing to have the charges dropped if he would admit what he did and see a psychologist. The prosecutor reached out to his attorney. He would not admit to even touching me. So, we plodded along with the trial. His attorney, figuring out that the I didn’t touch her! defense wouldn’t play, decided to cast me as the rapist’s lover of the moment, and the jury fined him $100, because you know, how would a rape conviction impact his future? Poor rapist.

You were in Maryland. I was in Virginia, not far away, where fornication was still a crime, hence the fine. This was 1983, very close in time to when you (and here I have to write the word allege) allege that Brett Kavanaugh attacked you.

I’d like to note that right before I typed Kavanaugh’s name I almost wrote Brock Turner’s. They all blend together for me.

Every single time, and there have been entirely too many times, I have heard some Son of Satan ask “Why didn’t Dr. Ford report it?” I want to raise my hand and give the answer.

I’m glad, for your sake, you didn’t report it then. I am beyond relieved you didn’t have to live through a trial at the age of fifteen. I was seventeen. It would take me a lifetime to describe the prison in which I found myself afterward. My brain could not process what had happened to me. All I know is that I started to live my life from the point of view of the witness stand. I lived for decades in a state of defense. I was constantly watched, examined, interrogated, questioned, accused. Everything I did went before a jury that wasn’t even imaginary. It was the jury that sat to my left in that courtroom. They deemed me defective, a liar, a fake, irresponsible, all the while telling me I should have stayed quiet.

I realize it’s controversial to say I’m glad you didn’t report it at that time. I don’t care. I refuse to pretend that victims of sexual assault are treated well in court.

What I am hoping for you, is that in six hours, when your trial starts-and make no mistake: you are going to be on trial today no matter what they tell you or you tell yourself. Why do you think they flew a female prosecutor out to question you? I am hoping though, that your education in the field of psychology, your age, and the overwhelming support and love that I and so many other survivors feel for you today, will help you get through it without irreparable damage to your psyche.

I’m also wondering how much longer women are going to be putting up with this absolutely sadistic treatment of victims of sexual assault. Until we stop putting the survivors on trial, we are a nation that practices torture on its own citizens.

I am exhausted from this week. I have felt every virtual punch they’ve thrown at you. I know I’m not alone. I can go online at any time of day or night and read about how what you are experiencing is affecting women who have gone through it. It is brutal.

I am a cynical person. I do, however, have hope for what will happen today as a result of your courage. I think we might both live long enough to realize that what you are doing today changed the way women are treated in our nation. The last time the Senate put a woman, Anita Hill, on trial for reporting sexual harassment, the results were a wave of women running for office. Today I believe they will see the dire need for still more of us.

Allow me to list a possible reason why we have had to go through what we have experienced.

Our nation was founded by Puritans. They brought their diseases and their white supremacy with them. You’d be hard pressed to find a greater crime than wiping out an entire race of indigenous people and sentencing their descendants to reservations. However, in addition to those atrocities, they brought their mores. They brought their repressive, judgmental attitudes about sex, the body, and a women’s place in the world.

As a nation, we have continued the Puritanical tradition. You and I have encountered their male descendants; our daughters and nieces are meeting them now. Those men attend good private schools and Ivy League universities. And these young men join fraternities and drink too much, or they are the star of the swim team, and their entitlement quite often extends to the women with whom they study. I know some of these men grow up thinking they are entitled to women’s bodies. If they couldn’t have us sober, they could have us passed out from drugs or drink.

They think they can have sex with us when they want, on their terms, and we better shut up and like it. They don’t want to wear a condom. If we get pregnant as a result, we are stupid sluts. They might suggest we have an abortion. They can’t have a kid interfere with their career, or plans.

However, they grow up into men who want to make abortion illegal, so their base, the Christian right, descendants of those pesky Puritans, will continue to enable how these men think about women. We are property. It’s not just the right to choose at issue. It’s the right men believe they have to have sex without consequence before and after they marry someone they think is a nice girl. That girl is to be the mother of their children. Their daughters aren’t sluts. They are perfect, pristine, because they are their own and they are their owners.

If you are like me, Dr. Blasey Ford: I have had it.

I think I can say most women in this nation have had it.

If you are a man, and you do not believe that women are autonomous beings whose self-determination of body and mind is ours alone; if you do not believe that sexual predators deserve to be put behind bars no matter their station; if you do not believe that survivors of sexual assault should only be questioned in court only under guidelines written by other survivors, get the hell out of our way.

My message for the privileged white male who thinks he owns us:

If you abuse privileges, they are taken away. We learn this as children, from our mothers. The way you have treated Dr. Blasey Ford will not happen to any woman in our nation again. Your privilege has come to an end.

Dr. Blasey Ford, may you survive today intact, whole, and full of the pride that I and the other survivors of our country have for you. As cynical as I am, I believe you are about to change the world for us.

Always in gratitude.

Elizabeth Grey

Wellness: Yonkers Style

Some people call that awful, internal voice that never ceases to remind you that you should be anywhere other than where you are, doing anything other than what you do, their inner critic.

The voice in my head is more destructive than a critic. I call it my inner troll. A lot of people I know have one. I know a lot of artists, and it seems to me sometimes that you aren’t handed talent without also getting the internal troll. Not that you can’t be a janitor or teacher or deep-sea fisherman and have one. I’m sure the inner troll is an equal opportunity taunter.

I’m in a class with other artists, and one day, while talking about our critic/trolls, my teacher told me I should draw mine; so I did. I gave him a cell phone and wrote down all the text messages he sends me. The usual troll charm: you are fat worthless stupid something is wrong with you. The drawing I did turned out looking kind of like Dobby from Harry Potter, only meaner.

My teacher loved him and encouraged me to do a series of drawings. She thought they would make a great book. I could see her point; a kid’s book for grown-ups.

But something bothered me about my drawing. When I did the initial sketch, I didn’t really draw who I see in my mind’s eye. To me, my drawing looked like sort of a generic looking little fiend. I started to think of what my internal voice looked like. And suddenly it came to me.

Gwyneth Paltrow.

That’s the face I see, that cool, perfect beauty to whom I could never measure up. That’s who is telling me I’m no good. She brings out the absolute worst in me. It’s not simply an inner troll that’s my problem. I have a Paltroll.

Ever since I read the excellent piece on Goop written by Taffy Brodesser-Aknerin the July 25th edition of the New York Times , I have been haunted by the most irritating woman in the world, Ms. Gwyneth Paltrow. This embarrasses me.

I don’t want to criticize her. I want to support women in business. I want women to unabashedly make millions and run their own companies. I cannot stand it when people criticize or shame women who make money. Paltrow is younger than I, but we are from the same generation. It is hard work to undo the programming fed into your head about shut up and look pretty. I like to support any woman who is going full steam ahead to make her mark on this world and to earn her living the way in which she wants. I support women going half steam. I support women who are just going with no steam at all.

Of course, speaking of steam and Gwyneth Paltrow in the same sentence creates for me, and I suspect others, a rather unsavory and totally unnecessary image.

Look, I don’t have to write down all the ways in which both Goop and, heavens save us, GP are insufferable. We’ve been beating that dead horse since way before the (TMI!) review of her vaginal steaming.

The problem with Paltrow, I think, is that if you took every photo of her and drew her hand giving us the middle finger, there isn’t a single one I’ve seen in which flipping the bird wouldn’t fit. She flaunts her superiority. She’s made a business of it and she calls it an aspirational lifestyle. I find myself wondering if, while she was living in England, she got her idea for Goop from the Royal Family’s divine right spiel.

Here we have it explained to Claire Foy by Eileen Atkins in The Crown. Watch this and tell me you can’t envision GP saying the same words to a new hire at Goop:

She has taken if you got it, flaunt it, to sights unseen; she is certain everyone would prefer to be her. It wouldn’t be so awful if she weren’t such a talented actress. But she is. She’s no Kardashian. She’s got talent. Which, apparently, she doesn’t need anymore.

don’t need no stinking Academy Award-winning acting career, she says to me, glowing with health and no make-up (but very artfully done “natural’ hair). No, not I. I am so damn special I don’t need an acting career at all. I can take it or leave it.

I’ll make a wellness company, she says, selling crap (I substitute crap for her ‘beautiful things’) to women who are special like me. Of course, they’ll never be as special; no one could ever be, and that is what gives me this secret, winsome smile.

Fine, I think. She’s figured out how to get money from Stepford Wives and Stepford Girlfriends and Stepford I’m Fine Aloners. Who cares?

It’s that awful word I cannot abide. Wellness. Hearing it turns me into a raging banshee.

Have you ever, once, heard a poor person say wellness? Let me answer for you. No. You have not.

When rich, white Americans are prattling on about wellness, I find myself reaching an unreasonable state of seething rage. Wellness seems some sort of voodoo created to protect oneself from worrying about the rest of the people on the planet. Whenever I hear someone in $150 yoga pants say, I’m practicing mindfulness, like they expect me to compliment them or give them a gold star, I want to throw their filtered water in their face and say How about being mindful of others? Huh?

So please, imagine my irritation when I dreamt of GP after reading the piece. I can almost hear her laughing in her Goop offices with the Goopers that are reverently looking at her as she reads this out loud to them.

Way to go, team. We are infiltrating their dreams.

I carried my grumpiness to the track that morning, talking to myself in the car. What do I care that she’s figured out a way to make money off of neurotic people that already have more than 99% of the rest of the people in the world? But again, that awful word floated up to me. Wellness.

 That’s the crux of the matter. Goop devotees, like their blonde guru, aren’t unwell. They just have too much time on their hands.

In 1970, the founder of Kaiser Permanente, Dr. Sidney Garfield, coined a delicious phrase, the worried well. To me, the Worried Well is a perfect name for the devotees of Goop, who, having everything the masses could possibly desire, gaze into their navels reverently, hoping to glean information internally about how they can feel better.

I don’t understand how these people could have found information on jade eggs for their nether regions and somehow missed the vast amount of data that states volunteering and helping others is a good way to make oneself feel better. Maybe they don’t like all the negative vibes from poor people. It must upset them, all the ugliness in the world.

Goop has become the collective navel of the Worried Well. Paltrow is smart. She could have kept her newsletter free for her rich friends; instead she found a market for those women who think happiness is just within reach of a $300 face cream.

What she is doing is not wellness. It’s acute narcissism, and GP is the captain of Sloop Goop. She is a pirate of unnecessary worry. All that worry from people who don’t have concerns about things like bills and their kid’s educations and handling Medicare for their parents and whether or not to eat or get their medications.

But I am not here to just bitch some more about GP and her cynical shakedown of the Worried Well’s pocketbooks. I will not succumb. I am offering an alternative to the Goop brand of wellness.

It’s wellness, Yonkers style, and it takes place at the Gorton High School track, which is open to the public. I went to this track most mornings this summer. Starting at just before daybreak, (that’s 5:30 am for the rest of you) the track of Gorton High School, home of the Wolfpack, is utilized by the long maligned residents of the City of Yonkers; which includes me.

Here, on the track, are the people with whom I worked out before my knee went out again. I don’t know any of their names and they don’t know mine. No one has an assistant. No one has a gym membership. We get our exercise the old-fashioned way: we go outside, in public, with our innumerable flaws for the whole world (or at least the sanitation workers on their morning routes) to see. No one working out on the track at Gorton is thinking about aspiring to have the life of Gwyneth Paltrow. We have bigger fish to fry.

We are obese; we are living in shelters; we have steady jobs that require our presence at 9 am after we’ve fed and clothed and taken to school our three kids. We are retired. We value the 20-40 minutes we get on a shared track because for a lot of us, it is the only time we get alone. We have no assistants to take our calls or our children or our parents with dementia. Some of us have headphones, some of us do not. No one minds if we play music without them.

I have grown, over time, to love Yonkers and its citizens. While walking on the track the other day, making notes into my iPhone mic, I thought about what a diverse bunch we were, all here with a singleness of purpose. No fighting, minding our own business; staying in our own hula hoops, respecting each other’s space. It’s kind of like how America was supposed to work.

There’s the lady who comes in a housedress, a real, old-fashioned house dress, paired with dayglow pink and lavender sneakers. Sometimes she brings her surly husband in the golf shirt. They usually only go around a couple of times. I have a theory she makes him walk because the doctor told him to, and he insists on the shortest amount possible. He probably has a heart condition. But there he is, getting well, with his wife keeping him company.

There’s the beautiful girl with dreadlocks who looks too curvy to be a runner, but does very fast sprints on the north side of the track. I love her. She’s an inspiration to me, as I drag around my battered skeletal system, given courtesy of a school bus that failed to give me right of way the summer of 2013.

Four surgeries later here I am, on the track, not a joint in my long, scarred legs that’s quite right. I am a mass of walking scar tissue and muscle turned to fat. But I do my half hour of track at Gorton, getting well with each step.

There’s the nervous looking Italian guy with dark circles under his eyes. He could be forty or he could be seventy. He walks, and listens to a tape that I believe is from Narcotics Anonymous speaker meetings. I catch snippets of it as I pass him. I’d like to welcome all the newcomers…Good for you, man, I think to myself. Looks like you’ve got a plan and are sticking to it. Well done.

There’s a tall, skinny Irish guy who for some reason finds the need to wear sunglasses at 6 am. Sometimes I walk the opposite direction of everyone else so I can see their faces and say hi. He’s the only one who won’t speak to me. I think he takes issue with my habit of being the only salmon in a row of orderly trout. He glares at me and always looks like he’s on the verge of telling me off. I love him too. We both show up. We don’t scare the other off.

There’s the lady with the most beautiful, ebony skin I have ever seen. Her clothes are ill-fitting and she looks anxious. She doesn’t stay on the track long, but she does use the bleachers to stretch. I secretly believe that she has a terrible distrust of being in the world, especially in public. I’m thinking she makes herself get up and go to the track, even if she can’t stay long. She doesn’t have an iPhone or headphones to distract her from the pain of working out, or the pain of life. But she shows up and I like to think her mind and spirit are growing well, along with her body.

Then there are the bros. They run together, mid-thirties. Good God. Every time I see them I’m in danger of having my day ruined by their misogynistic conversations. I hope they recover from belittling women and get well soon.

There are the two Spanish girls who talk and laugh as they do their laps; the man with the most gigantic potbelly I have ever seen. There’s another man with a runner up in the potbelly size contest. There’s the incredibly fit woman in her mid-sixties. I make up stories about all of them; imagine their lives at home.

I have grown incredibly fond of my early morning companions. I am most fond of what could be called their flaws. They seem unashamed of them, although I cannot, of course, know if they have an inner troll. They know exercise is about feeling good, not looking almost impossibly perfect. They are wellness incarnate to me. GP may have cornered the market and cornered my mind. It’s okay. I have nameless neighbors to remind me I’m alright; that it’s fine to be a long, long way from perfect. We can enjoy the day anyway.

Take that, Paltroll.

The Speech Trump is Writing Right Now

Let me tell you, folks. It’s a sad day when a court overturns the will of the people. And we’re not going to let that happen. I have the best lawyers, & they told me when I write an executive order, it’s law. It’s that simple. I am the law. You elected me and I did what I told you I was going to do. I said we’re having extreme vetting and that’s what we’re going to do. 

It’s activist judges. These activist judges…you’ve heard of them before. 

These activist judges said it’s unconstitutional. They’re wrong. I wrote the order & the Constitution says I can. To tell you the truth, I can do anything. I can write any order. Our Constitution says so. There’s nothing I can’t do. I have shown great restraint. 

So I’m not going to let them stop me. My people are writing an executive order that says none of my executive orders can be overturned. That’s it. That’s the end of it. They think they’re smart. They’re not so smart. Because as soon as it’s signed my other executive order will be the law again. 

And another thing. If the ACLU tries & fights this law, I’m having their lawyers thrown in jail for obstruction of justice. We’re writing another executive order as I speak that says that anyone, or any group, that tries & fights what I’ve written into law will be arrested. Because I’m going to make America great again any way I can. And if it means locking up lawyers and judges then we’ll lock ’em up. 

That’s it for tonight. I’m disgusted. 

I Have Seen The Donald’s Tax Returns. Believe Me.

An ‘extremely credible source has called my office and told me that they wanted to show me The Donald’s returns. I know a lot of you will want to know the source. I’ll answer that question at the right time. I just don’t want to answer it yet.

I immediately got in contact with @RealOmarSherriffJoeSchmo with his successful Clown Car Posse investigation to determine if they were a fake.

I was worried the tax returns “cannot survive judicial scrutiny” because of “phantom numbers”.

But they’re real. Believe me.

I have people who have been studying his returns and they can’t believe what they’re finding. He spent $2 million in legal fees trying to get away from this issue, and if it weren’t an issue, why wouldn’t he just solve it? I wish he would because if he doesn’t it’s one of the greatest scams in the history of politics and in the history, period.

And it’s not just me-many people are saying he should have released his returns himself. Via @Breitbarf–why doesn’t The Donald release his returns?

Furthermore I’ve decided not to apologize for on the so-called “tax-return issue” and–take the offensive! As I’ve said, many, many times…I really wanted him to show his returns. I knew there was something on those returns that he doesn’t like.

Even though The Donald is petrified of the tax return issue, and continues to go on the offensive himself, he started it by not releasing the long form of his taxes. Don’t blame me.

And not for nothing- amidst all the HRC health hoopla the media has gone silent on his tax returns. Double standard!

I know The Donald is going to HIT BACK AT MY TAX RETURN RANT and point out that I USED TO BE A LOT MORE INTELLIGENT. It’s a real problem.

People should be proud of the fact that I got a hold of his returns, which I miraculously found. It should surprise no one they were hidden in a book.

Anyway…although I would like to give you a closer look at his returns, I can’t because he has more lawyers than I.

Always remember, I was the one who got to see The Donald’s tax returns, or whatever they were! I feel I’ve accomplished something really, really important, and I’m honored by it. You have to ask the Presidential Candidate, why didn’t he do it a long time ago?…It is rather amazing that it all of a sudden materializes.

But now I’m off that subject. Period. I finished it. You know what I mean. You know what I mean.




I’m over The Donald. 

This election year is truly awful. I have to keep reminding myself that due to the magic of the InterWeb, we not only have more information, we have more misinformation. (I don’t know why my brother bothered with all those years of med school. Apparently all you need to know about medicine can be found on Google.) And it’s a funny thing-I’m not so sure having more information is helpful to electing Presidents. I keep wondering if Reagan would have been elected in the age of Twitter. 

It may not be that the candidates are the worst ever. It may just be that we know more about the candidates than we ever have before. 

Having said that, I have wasted an extraordinary amount of time puzzling over how The Donald got the GOP nomination, and once he did, what we were going to do about it. IT DISTURBS ME. I’m someone who likes to come up with solutions to problems, and the candidacy of Donald Trump is a problem. Which I certainly can’t solve. 

I have come to two conclusions after months of mumbling to myself, writing, fretting, and insomnia over his campaign. 

1) He got the nomination because he figured out the way to win was to appeal to our collective reptilian brain. The Donald resides in the right hemisphere of our amygdala. That is all. 

2) I am done, over, kaput, fini with pretending in any way that his candidacy for President should be taken seriously. It’s just ridiculous. If you’re voting for him, my response to you is…come on. Get the eff out of here. If you are a thinking person, who has access to other news channels than Fox, there’s no way you can do it. You may PRETEND to vote for him. I understand. You’re a loyal Republican. But once you step in that voting booth there is no way in hell you’re going to vote for that ridiculous man. 

Like a toddler having a tantrum, I think we must cease giving him any attention. It only makes the screaming worse, gives him more fuel. It’s time to give this ass-hat who’s too stupid to realize how dangerous he has become the cold shoulder. 

We need to ask ourselves why we are giving this big brat our ear. He is truly not worthy of our attention. Here’s a few reasons why:

1) He’s not a serious person. We need a serious person to be President. 

2) He takes himself seriously. He lacks self-deprecation. This, given his life choices, is quite alarming. 

3) He is ostentatious and has poor taste. Taste counts. 

4) He’s a con. It’s common knowledge in the New York real estate world what a bullshit artist he is. (I have an impeccable source on this). 

5) He is a truly terrible businessman. It takes a real genius to lose money owning a casino. 

6) He has never held office. A city councilman has more experience governing than he.

7) He’s running on the principle that his experience in business will be enough to run the country. I shouldn’t have to say that running a business and governing a country are two different matters. There isn’t a CEO in the world who has to deal with the House and Senate. 

8) He doesn’t grasp how our government works. 

9) This deportation business. Look. We have precedent for this. Just ask what happened when Georgia and Alabama tried it. We need these workers. They account for about a third of our agricultural work force. 

10) He doesn’t like to read. Which means he is driven by hearsay. 

11) His vocabulary is appalling. 

12) His foundation which bears his name has not received any funds from him since 2009. He paid a campaign contribution of $25,000.00 to a candidate in Florida who was going to bring a lawsuit against him. Out of his charitable foundation. No. 

13) Trump University 

14) Trump Steaks 

15) The Miss Universe pageant. 


17) Three marriages are not a sign of good decision making. Ask anyone who’s been married three times. They’ll tell ya. 

18) The “my wife is hotter than your wife” crap he pulled with Ted Cruz is reflective of the temperament of a 12-year old. 

19) He won’t release his tax returns. Honestly. Please remember that this is the man who said he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose any supporters. I guess he considers his tax returns a bigger liability than a murder charge. 

20) He is petty. He sweats all the small stuff. Who has time for a crisis in the Gulf if you’re smarting over a personal insult?

I’m getting tired now. This list is endless and I feel I’m just getting started.

So I’m going to stop. I’m just over it. I’m over him. He’s not worth my consideration or yours. Don’t worry about him. Just worry about supporting the Democratic ticket, from the Presidency to the House. Put your energy into making sure people turn out to vote. This will take care of the stone in our shoe. 

The only way to make America great again is to wait out this clown, so he will disappear from our political landscape. Truly, we cannot be a self-respecting nation by pretending he’s a real player.  #ignore

Retraction: Michael Moore’s Deleted Tweet (was not Michael Moore’s)

I wrote the post below last night and am leaving it as is because it’s important I am as accountable as I wanted Michael Moore to be. 

First of all, I made a mistake and owe Michael Moore an apology. I’m thankful I wrote it late last night and then was awake so early that so far less than 40 people have viewed it. 

 I suppose it’s important to let you know how I got here. 

There was a tweet, alright, on MM’s feed, that criticized the HRC pneumonia story as being “unbelievable”. I was shocked MM would write such a thing. Then the tweet disappeared, which spurred me on to start asking questions and writing this blog. 

I did ask other people about it who had also responded to the tweet, reaching out to them via Twitter. I asked three people and two got back to me. Both of them seemed to have remembered it as I did. One told me they thought he was back pedaling due to our criticism of him. Also, I reached out to someone who knows Twitter well, and was told that he probably edited it. 

I was further confused because as I CERTAINLY thought I was responding to MM as the author, I had called him “Surgeon General Moore” in my response. It got over 90 likes and 15 retweets, and I thought all of those people were as irritated at his criticism of her as I. 

But the thing that kept me up last night is that I don’t believe Twitter allows editing, and couldn’t understand how a response I made to it was now under a different tweet. So around 4:30 this morning, I started looking at screenshots of my response again. Then I compared them to other responses. Then, I got a terrible sinking feeling in my gut. 

Here’s what I think may have happened:

When I look at the screenshot, my response has two different handles to whom I’m responding…@—- and @MMFlint. “@—-” was someone involved in the Twitter Storm around this tweet who took offense to my response…namely, that people shouldn’t use Google to make a health diagnoses. 

“@—-” blocked me at some point. As I’ve said, I’m new to Twitter, but the thing about being blocked is you can no longer see their tweets. 

So what I think happened is this guy wrote the tweet. I responded to a tweet on MM’s feed that was written by someone else. I really had a hard time believing this, because I remember seeing MM’s handle and picture on it. But memory isn’t perfect, obviously. 

The old adage about waiting a day to send an email should really be applied to publishing a blog. 

What I most regret is accusing MM of manipulating his account. Now. It could be that MM deleted the tweet himself, but who cares, it’s his right. Either way, the only way this makes sense to me is that he did not author the tweet. 

The other irony here is I made some extremely snarky comments about other user’s reading comprehension, when it’s clear I’m the one who needs better reading comprehension.

So, again, I apologize to Michael Moore. Although my husband told me I should know with 100% certainty I was wrong before writing a retraction, I think it’s more important that I’m pretty sure I was wrong and get this updated before 7 am. 

To say that I feel like a jackass, who has become everything she can’t stand about everyone she criticizes, is a gross understatement.

I really wish I had examined the handles at the beginning of my response from the very start, but it  just didn’t occur to me until too late. This is a perfect example of examining evidence exactly the wrong way, and risking damaging someone’s reputation as a result.  

Below, the original example of my self-righteousness.


Michael Moore manipulated his Twitter account and I am on a rampage.

First of all, Michael Moore and I are both in the same camp, politically. So it’s not my favorite thing to call bullshit on someone for whom I have respect. I’m sure there are those who will say, he deleted a tweet, so what, it’s his account. But if I am demanding the truth from the GOP, I have to insist upon some truthiness from the Dems.

It’s a convoluted story. Bear with me.

Last night a tweet from Moore came up on my feed. I did not take a screenshot of it. It never occurred to me I needed one. I don’t remember exactly how it was worded. I do know he called the HRC pneumonia story unbelievable, and I think he mentioned something (about her health) had been going on for months.

My response to this tweet was:

“Oh COME ON! Her doctor declares she has pneumonia and you say it’s unbelievable? Thanks, Surgeon General Moore. WTF?”

Although Michael Moore never got back to me, I found myself in my first minor Twitterstorm. I got a lot of likes and retweets, but was also inundated with comments from a lot of people who seem to have impaired reading comprehension. If you want to see the whole shitstorm, my Twitter handle is @LizardGrey, and his is @MMFlint.

Then, I noticed that MM’s original tweet was gone. This was confusing, as people were still replying to my response. So I asked MM where the original tweet went.

No response.

Also, my response was now attached to a tweet which was NOT the one to which I had responded. Now my reply, and several others who responded to original tweet, is listed under this, which I believe was his first tweet about the subject:

“Well, pneumonia. That’s serious. Campaign kept it hidden Fri/Sat/Sun. No wonder the crazies get traction. Dems are pros at losing elections.”

Now how did that happen? I’m new to Twitter, but didn’t think tweets could be edited.

Furthermore, I went to his page and saw several lovey-dovey tweets in support of HRC and condemnation of those condemning her. Yet no mention of his deleted, critical tweet.

Now wait just one minute here. I find myself receiving tweets from KKK members and Bernie or Busters screaming their heads off at me, but the tweet that started this firestorm in the first place is gone. And I’m not the only one. There were several people involved in this response to his original tweet who also took issue with it.

The last straw was when I saw this headline on Raw Story late this afternoon.

“Michael Moore blasts hateful people chasing Hilary Clinton about her health in brilliant smack down”

Well, well. Yes he did. After I, and several other members of Twitter, ripped him a new one. Of course his original tweet was not included.

So I emailed Sarah K. Burris, who reported the story, and sent her screenshots of our responses to his missing tweet, and told her the story. That was at 4:23 pm today. She hasn’t gotten back to me. It’s 9:13 pm.

Several times I asked MM on Twitter where his missing tweet went. He doesn’t follow me, so maybe he didn’t see my query.

But this is what I wish had happened, and honestly, what I expect of someone who is a journalist.

I wish he had tweeted something like: “I wrote a stupid tweet about HRC’s health which I now truly regret.” That’s all.

But by manipulating his account to look like he did no such thing, he may not be misrepresenting himself…he changed his mind, ok…but he misrepresents ME. My reply was not to the tweet he has now posted. And I don’t like being misrepresented.

Come on, Michael. I know you are better than this.

Also…In my phone I have screenshots of the responses to his original tweet. I am unclear about whether I can post them legally. So I’m not. But as of right now they are on Twitter, on his and my account.

This whole thing…I could have ignored it, and not criticized someone who supports the same candidate that I do. But it’s just not in my nature. Also, I know there are going to be people who run with this and say ridiculous things about HRC’s health. However if I have learned anything from my short time on Twitter, it’s that people see what they want, have their own agendas, and respond accordingly. I do wish that kind of nonsense would stop.

Although I’m not sorry I’m writing this, I’m very sorry there’s a need for me to do so.






Don’t leave home without a good left hook…

My niece is going to college today. She is a freshman at Virginia Tech. I remember the day she was born. She is fantastic…smart, fabulous, fun. And I want her to stay that way.  I had an interesting chat with my friend Andrea Erard, an attorney who practices in the area of child protection in Richmond, Virginia, whose own daughter is also going away to school. Andrea had a couple of suggestions, and I thought of some of my own, and sent them to my niece. I’ve decided to share them with everyone else as well, in the hope that they will help keep our young women as safe as possible.

The woman who was sexually assaulted by Brock Turner wrote in her statement that she was the “wounded antelope in the herd.” This list is designed to help keep everyone in the herd healthy. There will always be predators. All we can do is make it more difficult for them to succeed.

Below is my note, with very little editing. Missing from it, as I had already discussed it with her mother, is Andrea’s first suggestion: TAKE A SELF-DEFENSE CLASS. Of all the things I have done to take care of myself, that was the most empowering. If only I had taken it when I was seventeen.

Hey you…

I want to mention a few things to you regarding your safety in college. You might already know these things, but they are important.

Everyone usually has a night when they drink too much when they go away to school. So. It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT that you have at least one friend with you when you go out, and that you have an iron-clad, non-negotiable agreement to never leave the other alone at a party. It may be as inconvenient as all hell to be around someone for two hours longer than you want, especially if they get drunk and stupid. But it could save their life.  And vice versa.

Also I’m sure you know this but never ever leave your drink, even going to the bathroom, unattended. Unattended means your eyes, no one else’s, on it at all times. Always get a new drink if you lose sight of it. Sadly there are predators in this world and some of these predators come armed to parties with the intention of knocking you out. It takes a split second to drug your drink.

Also. TRUST YOUR GUT. The second you get a bad vibe anywhere, and I mean anywhere, remove yourself from the situation. One of the most important things about having a friend with you at all times at parties is you never have to rely on someone you don’t know for help.

And, before you leave for a party, text a friend a photo of what you are wearing. Let them know where you will be.

Never, ever, be afraid of hurting someone who is about to hurt you. Aim for the throat or crotch.

Also, don’t ever worry about hurting a guy’s feelings or being called a bitch. The most important thing is your safety, always. Women historically have been taught that they have to be nice no matter what the cost. This is misogynistic bullshit.

Tech is a big school. There will be some crazies there. Simple math.

From personal experience…just don’t do shots. The best outcome you’ll have from doing shots is a crippling hangover and vomit all over your shoes.

I love you dearly. xo