Friday, October 30, 2009

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work

I'm currently taking a creative writing class at a local community college here, and this morning I received an e-mail updating students on a sexual battery incident that happened on the main campus yesterday.

Apparently, a male "grinded" himself on a female in the parking lot in the middle of the day before slapping her on her bum and then taking off.

First off all, what the hell?

Why would anyone do this to someone? Go rub yourself on a tree trunk, for crying out loud!

Second of all, why in the middle of the day at 2 p.m.?

It's just so frustrating that things like this happen. And don't even get me started on the whole gang rape incident that happened in Richmond, Calif. last week. Makes me sick.

The e-mail from my school asked if anyone had more details on the incident. Then it offered these safety tips:

--Stay alert to your surroundings and keep high value items out of sight.
--When possible, travel with another person. There is safety in numbers.
--If you must travel at night, walk and park in well-lit areas.
--Know where you are going. Walk quickly and confidently to your destination.
--Avoid carrying unecessary items. Hold purses, briefcases and packages tightly and close to your body.
--Have your keys out and ready before approaching your car.
--Check both the front and rear seats of your vehicle before entering. Lock the door immediately upon entering your vehicle.

These seem like pretty common sense safety tips, right? And of course I'm not opposed to taking precaution. But what do you notice about every single piece of advice they list? It's all focused on what you should do to stay safe.

So that got me thinking - we're always trying to "protect" women (and men, too) from being in unsafe situations, but why don't we go to the root of the problem and instead teach people NOT to commit these crimes? It all circles back to victim blaming when certain crimes occur: "Why were you walking by yourself?", "Why were you wearing that low-cut top out in public?" or "Why didn't you have your keys laced between your fingers on your way to your car because you know that Freddy Krueger look will scare off any attempted rapist?"

Here are some REAL safety tips that are guaranteed to work in preventing any sort of sexual assault. Please follow them accordingly:

1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.
2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!
3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!
4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.
5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!
6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.
7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.
8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.
9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!
10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.
11. And, ALWAYS REMEMBER: if you didn’t ask permission and then respect the answer the first time, you are commiting a crime- no matter how “into it” others appear to be.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sometimes It Sucks Being a Woman

No, this is not an entry about periods or childbirth.

I'm talking about the dreaded task of taking your car in for routine maintenance.

Yesterday I dedicated my morning to getting my car worked on. First stop - Les Schwab to get my tires rotated and my brakes checked.

I recognize that because this is a complimentary service, they might take a bit longer than on the cars by paying customers. But for pete's sake, I was there for an hour! And literally, there were about 2 people in the waiting room. I'm pretty sure the guy in line in front of me was getting the same service done, and he was in and out.

Mine took forever because there were 2 separate attempts of trying to sell me on things to get done on my car - something about tie rods and resurfacing my rotors.

UGH, I dread taking my car into places like this because I know it's going to be one sales pitch/fear mongering attempt after another. Like if I don't resurface my rotors that JUST got put in this past July, I might just swerve off the road and die in a ditch?

Maybe I'm reaching here, but I feel like men don't have to deal with this as much. It appears to me that because these car people assume other men know about their cars that it's pointless to try and sell them a $400 brake job. But little ignorant ol' me has no clue about cars, so let's swindle me for all I got!

I know the economy is tough, and everyone needs to make sales right now. But this has gone on in good times as well.

As I usually point out in my blogs, here's another example of Tracy doing something dumb (not that I always like to highlight how dumb I can be. I just think it shows I've learned many lessons thus far the hard way!). A couple years ago, I was having my oil changed at Jiffy Lube in Eugene, right after I graduated from Oregon. I made the mistake of telling the mechanic there that I was planning on driving 500 miles home the next day. And boy did he capitalize on that one.

"Well your radiator definitely needs to be flushed. There's a lot of sludge in there, and honestly, if you're driving that far tomorrow, you're going to overheat."

Again with the fear mongering.

So I obliged to the radiator flush and discovered it was $100!!! I instantly called my dad to ask if this was even necessary, and he promptly yelled at me that it was not needed and that I should tell the guy not to do it.

The mechanic, overhearing my conversation with my dad, told me he couldn't stop - the process had already begun. Then he tries to smooth it over. "I know how it is. I have 2 young daughters myself, so I'm not trying to sell you something you don't need. You needed this."

No, sir. I did NOT need it, our family mechanic told me later that summer. I had been taken advantage of, and it pissed me off!

So I've always had this fear of taking my car in to get work done.

My mom always tells me to just say no to everything they recommend and then say, "My dad/boyfriend is going to take care of that for me." Sorry, Mom, but no way! That just perpetuates the stereotype that only men know things about cars.

Back to yesterday. I survived Les Schwab unscathed, just annoyed that it took so long. I guess there was an issue with one of my tire studs - it broke off, so they fixed that for free (they'd better!).

Next stop - the dreaded oil change.

There was no way in hell I was going to Jiffy Lube again, so I went to a place where I had a coupon. I practiced in the car on the way there saying "No. No. No." Just say no to everything.

Everything went really smoothly, and they didn't try to push anything on me at all. Hallelujah! I'm definitely going back to that place. They seem female friendly! FYI - it's called SpeeDee Oil Change (I looked past the annoying misspelling of the place. Hey, I can deal with bad grammar if it means my Malibu can get me to work).

I do admit that I don't know much about cars, so of course I can be an easy target. Not to mention, I'm a people pleaser and hate saying no. So it's sales situations like this that are hard for me. I admit that after Les Schwab, I called my dad and asked if I'd done the right thing by saying no to the tie rods (I knew the resurfacing job was bogus). Of course my dad said I did the right thing. But then again, he always wants me to say no to boys in every aspect!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How An Apple Dumpling Can Be Dangerous

This last weekend my mom and sister visited. What a fabulous trip! We headed up to Apple Hill on Sunday, but started off our fun on Saturday night at Fat's Restaurant. Fat's has THE best Chinese food ever, not to mention their famous banana cream pie.

Anyway, the food was great, blah blah blah. But what was really interesting was our waiter, Alex. He seemed nice enough, asking us if we were man bashing tonight (how did he know?) and even sitting at our table with us for a bit.

I wasn't sure if he was just being nice because he wanted a good tip or something, but Mom and Robyn thought he was flirting with me. Riiiiight. As per usual, I was in my best garb - a purple flowery top, frizzy ass hair and no makeup. I think it's safe to say he was definitely fishing for the tip.

He joked with us at one point that he wanted to come to Apple Hill with us. Mom (one strong mai tai into the night) told him we (read: I) would bring him back an apple dumpling. He said, "Well if you do, I'll hook you up with a drink!" What a nice deal.

Anyway, Apple Hill was magical the next day. We picked apples, Robyn got a pumpkin and, of course, we loaded our car with so many tasty apple treats to bake at home, including apple dumplings. Mom and Robyn encouraged me to go bring Alex an apple dumpling. He was a nice waiter, after all. I wasn't planning on making it a flirty occasion - he looked like 32! But I figured it would be a nice gesture.

Upon arriving home from Apple Hill (with wine tasting and checking out the brewery wearing off), it seemed like an absolute stupid idea to go back to Fat's and give Alex a dumb dumpling. But what do I do? I do it! Hey, I always like good stories and blog fodder.

He was at the bar that night, so I walked up with my awkwardness and lame yellow bag that adorned an apple. He semi-remembered me ("Trish, is it?") and seemed very thankful for the dumpling. He offered to make me a peach lemon drop - yum! I obliged since it seemed like a nice treat.

Weird Occurrence #1: He told me right off the bat (in between flirty smiles and winks) to "be careful" or he "might fall for me." Oh, shit. It was just an apple dumpling! What the hell was I thinking? I was cursing Mom and Robyn at this point.

Weird Occurrence #2: He also asked right off the bat if I was single. Eff. Too late, I told the truth.

Weird Occurrence #3: We made some small talk, and when the subject of birthdays came up, he said his (June 9) was easy to remember *wink*. 6-9. Ewwwwwwwwww.

Weird Occurrence #4: He invited me to the movies after he got off work. It was 8:30 on a Sunday! And he suggested "Zombieland." Umm, no.

Oh, and P.S. When I asked for my check, he brought it to me - 8 freakin' dollars for my lemon drop! What about this free drink he had mentioned? You don't sexually harass a lady and then make her pay for her drink. This kid has some serious issues. But then again, who am I to talk? I was the one who brought him a dessert and was sitting here listening to him consistently try to spit some game at me.

This is where I should have made my exit, but anyone who knows me knows that I am the most passive person ever. I hate to hurt anyone's feelings or come off rude. And this is where it gets me. I inadvertantly agreed to meet him over at BJ's to chat for a bit before I headed home.

Weird Occurrence #5: When asking about where we should meet, he asked, "Do you like BJ's? Well, of course. Everybody likes BJ's." *smirk* *smile* *wink*


So we chatted at BJ's for a bit where I found out a few things: he's 29, was engaged at some point to some woman who was 9 years older than him, used to be a church leader (eeeeeck) and refused to offer details about himself for fear that I "would no longer like him because there was no more mystery." Dude, I don't need mystery to like you. Just chivalry and sanity, 2 things you seem to be lacking.

Weird Occurrence #6: He asked for a rain check on the movie, then promptly invited himself over to my apartment on Thursday to "watch 'The Office' and cuddle."

Wow. All of this because of some stupid apple dumpling! I guess a girl cannot make a nice gesture for fear that some creeper will take it as a marriage proposal.

Weird Occurrence #7: In the midst of my asking about his taste in music and TV shows, he interrupted with a question about what types of first kisses I like. WT-mother-F. This fool just didn't have a clue.

We walked out to our cars, and I made sure to keep my head completely away from his when he hugged me for fear he may try to further misread my signals and go in for the kill.

Yuck. I need to stop with this niceness. Being a bitch seems so much safer.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What a Tangled Web We Weave

Recently I told a blatant lie to someone, and my Catholic roots got the best of me. I felt guilty, wretched, horrible, worthless, you name it.

I don't even know why I lied. I could have told the truth, and it wouldn't have been a big deal. But somehow, I was caught on the spot and chose to flat out lie.

Honesty has always been huge with my family. My dad ingrained it in my sister and me, reminding us, "If you always tell the truth, you never have to remember what you said." Ahh, so wise, Dad.

My sister learned early on the negative effects of lying. When she was around 4 or 5, she lied to our dad and told him she'd eaten her whole dinner, when in fact, she had not. I think my dad was tipped off when he saw Robyn's empty plate and 2 huge chunks of hot dog on mine (well, you never know. I was quite the hefty 2 year old). She was swiftly punished and sent to the dungeon, I'm sure. (FYI - the "dungeon" was not actually a dungeon. It was code for our room. My dad was strict, but he wasn't medieval strict).

Robyn may have learned her lesson at 4, but that didn't stop us both from lying up the wazoo come high school. She lied about going to a party once, and I lied about going to work one time, when I'd actually called in sick and gone to my boyfriend's house. My dad caught us on both accounts. Hey, I worked at Denny's. Who wouldn't call in sick?

My biggest lesson in how destructive lying is came when I was a senior in high school. I basically two-timed my on-again-off-again boyfriend and a co-worker (I know, crazy right? I sound so pimp, but really it was too much work to be worth it). Oh, wow. There was a two-month period there where I became a lying master. I got away with it for awhile, but eventually both guys caught on. The ex came to my work and saw me with the other guy. Then the other guy randomly picked up this envelope of pictures at my house which had prom pictures of me and the ex. Yikes!

It was exhausting, to say the least. Even though I apologized and made it right with both of them later on, it still felt shitty lying all the time. I'd forget what I'd said I was doing. I feared someone contradicting my story. I looked over my shoulder out in public in case the other guy might see me with the other. I juggled both of them (for reasons beyond me), but in the end, it was too tiring for it to be worth all of that effort.

I haven't lied in a long time, so this most recent fib really made me disappointed in myself. Unfortunately I haven't confessed to this person, and I don't think I will. It's something that's going to pass anyway, and I'm making a promise here and now to never do this again. It made me feel so horrible that I actually considered going to my local church and confessing. Ha! Oh, the joys of being raised Catholic and honest.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tales of a Fourth Grade Flashback

I don't know if you can spot me in my 4th grade class photo above, but I'll give you a hint - I'm wearing highly unfashionable clothing with unruly hair. Oh, wait. That doesn't eliminate too many people. (I'm actually 2 people to the left of the teacher)

Last Saturday night was an awesome elementary school reunion. I went out for a girls' night with 4 of my closest friends from Thomas Edison - we hit up the Stoney Inn, which is a country/line dancing bar that also had another room where an 80s cover band played. It was soooo much fun!

Then unexpectedly, we ran into 2 guys who'd gone to our elementary school too! So all of us chatted for a bit and had a great time. The only downside - apparently I'm forgettable. Those 2 guys didn't have a clue who I was, even though I remembered them. Wonderful. I hate when that happens! But no matter. I still had a blast.

Although Marilyn did creep Serena and I out at the end of the night. She gave us a rundown of what happens in that new "Paranormal Activity" movie. It sent chills all over my body, and I was NOT looking forward to going home all by my lonesome!

I guess that's the downside to living alone - if you're scared, there's not too much you can do. I do have my cat Cammie, which helps, but I hate to admit - sometimes having a boyfriend would be nice (ugh, I can't believe I uttered the words).

Speaking of boyfriends (or exes, really), I got my first full-length story back from my professor in my fiction writing class. I got a frickin' "B"! WT-mother-F. Yeah, yeah. A "B" isn't that bad. But if you know me, you know that I am the biggest overachiever, and a "B" ain't gonna cut it. I blame the ex for this one - it was a story based on him! Granted, the ending was what the prof said he didn't like. And I admit - I didn't base that part on real life. I had the 2 main characters, who'd broken up, get back together. Maybe that's a sign that getting back together is unrealistic and "F" worthy, which I'm fully aware of already.

Oh, well. Our next full-length story is due next week, and I'll be sure to stray away from my little romantic attempts. Man-hating is so much more fun to read about anyway!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Not All Starbucks Are Created Equal

I'm not much of a coffee drinker, but occasionally I crave it and splurge.

I hate dropping the dough for Starbucks (a.k.a. FiveBucks), but today I felt like getting myself a little treat.

I was tired from going to bed pretty late, so I headed over to a Starbucks near the mall and brought my book with me to read outside with my drink. I picked up a Pumpkin Spiced Latte since I was feeling in the autumn mood, and as soon as I sat down to relax, read and drink outside, I was struck with the taste of a very bitter-tasting coffee drink. Doesn't each Starbucks have the same recipe book?

Now that I've recently done some pretty ballsy things for me, like going on rollercoasters and singing karaoke in front of strangers, I decided to ditch my usual doormat self, go inside and request a new drink.

I figured getting the same drink might lead to the same bitter taste, so I opted for a plain ol' coffee. The barista apologized for the bad-tasting latte, gave me my new drink and sent me on my way - without giving me my change back for getting a cheaper drink. The place was a bit crowded, so of course, Doormat Tracy didn't say anything. I got my cream and sugar, and returned outside for some relaxation.

Well, that didn't happen.

My original seat was taken (dammit), and then this new drink (a plain coffee) tasted even worse! What the hell was wrong with this Starbucks? I had just spent almost $4 on a regular coffee that tasted like ass.

So what does a determined girl do? I throw it out and go to another Starbucks down the street.

I decided it wouldn't be too bad if I just got a smaller size of the same coffee - it's only $1.50. So I ordered it. Then this new barista asked if I wanted a pastry. Dammit, I couldn't say no.

So now I've spent almost $8 on a microscopic-sized plain coffee (that did taste better, actually) and a lemon pound cake that probably has 3,000 calories in it.

I didn't get to read much because it was cold and windy outside, so I gave up and came home. Oh, and I barely finished my tall coffee. Why didn't I just rebel against the corporate monopoly of Starbucks and hit up a local place? Probably would have saved me time, money and lots o' calories. No wonder I'm not a coffee drinker!

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Much-Needed and Now Much-Missed Vacation

Isn't it great to be on vacation when the hardest decision you have to make is if you want a margarita before or after you go eat filet mignon and hit up the spa?

I am back from a week-long vacation in Southern California, and I don't think I have yet to adjust back to normal, boring, mundane life back home.

I headed to San Diego first on my travels and had lunch with my cousin Wendy at Seaport Village while we waited for Robyn's plane to get in.

Once we picked up Robyn, we decided to be the crazy partying 20-somethings that we are and hit up....the casino for some Bingo! Yes, my friends, I am a grandma.

Although, now that I've tried Bingo, I have a whole lotta respect for those seniors who are able to keep up with it. It is way more intense than just looking at one card and hoping to get all your dots in one straight line. You have like 10 cards in front of you, and you're looking for a different shape each round, like a crazy diamond or some kite shape.

It gave me a panic attack, I'll tell ya. Oh, and it didn't help that everyone else there had electronic game cards, and we were stuck with paper ones. Oh was a fun experience!

On Sunday, we headed up to Anaheim for our Disneyland extravaganza! First, we hit up Downtown Disney and ESPN Zone for dinner and drinks - had to have our vacay cosmos! Mine might have hit me hard (I don't drink often), because I started scarfing down my green beans in a very messy fashion. We all then went to bed - at about 9:30 p.m.! Ahh yes, Bingo and early bed times. We love to live it up.

The next 2 days were filled with Disneyland fun! And best of all - I exceeded my goal of going on a new ride! For those of you who know me, I am the biggest scaredy cat when it comes to rides. I hate even seeing people go on them and hearing them screaming and having a good time. Weird, I know. Well, I decided that the price of my 2-day pass to Disneyland/California Adventure Land was too expensive for me to pass up the big rides, so I took a leap of courage and went on....Thunder Mountain Railroad! OK, stop laughing. I've been on it before, but the thought of it still gave me rumble in the jungle.

I conquered that and later reached my goal - Matterhorn! I know these don't seem like big deals to most people, but to me, it was like I climbed Mount Everest or something. Then I got even ballsier and went on Space Mountain - twice! It was fab-u-lous! I had a ball. Oh, and it didn't stop there. At California Adventure Land, I rode that stupid Twilight Zone Hollywood Tower thingy that's like an elevator and drops you! I never thought I'd ride that damn thing, but Wendy persuaded us. Robyn and I about wet our knickers, it was so scary. Never again! OK, actually I would do it again. But maybe not anytime soon.

It really was the happiest place on Earth, and I wish I could go back right now :(

But moving on...after Anaheim, we hit the road for Palm Springs! Wendy's friend's aunt has a condo there that she let us stay in (for free!), and it was just gorgeous. I really felt like we were living the high life.

I had another first on the trip - on our spa day, we got massages, and mine was done by a MAN! Oh my, I was a little nervous, but this old man had great hands. He kept asking me periodically, "How are we feeling, m'lady?" Ahhh, it was bliss. Although he did massage a bit too close to the twins at one point, but there was no funny business. You know I would have acted fast on that one if there was!

I had the best time on the night we went out for drinks and karaoke. I sported my awesome Mickey Mouse shirt, my HUGE ass 'fro left over from being so close to the coast in Anaheim, and my hat - oh, and NO makeup! I got up and sang "Shoop" by Salt 'N Pepa and also "Bennie and the Jets." Not to toot my own horn, but I was a hit! All these people kept coming up to me, and somehow I got the nickname Curly Sue. The males were definitely taking notice, which is weird because I looked 12 that night. But of course, I was not there for any bar action. Just some good ol' karaoke with my ladies (notice me and my happy beer-drinking self below). And just a note: I was not drunk when I sang karaoke. Oh, no. I would do it 100% sober, folks. I love it that much.

Continuing our week of living the high life, our family (of about 20 people) rented a HUGE ranch house mansion for our family reunion. It was gorgeous! Apparently Paris Hilton had rented it the weekend before, and it's a big hit during Coachella. That was the word of the street.

It had 7 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, a gorgeous pool and bridge, as well as our own private lake! Just a few examples of its awesomeness:

We played games, rode on a Seadoo, swam, drank and, of course, held our annual Joke-a-thon. I was reigning champ, but I think I disappointed this year. I wasn't on my A-game. But I was sooo happy to see my cuz Laurie win - on her b-day! So I handed the trophy over to her.

There were some odd moments - my mom's cousin Rich (who might have had some alcohol) put his birthday pie in my face. Why? I do not know. It was bizarre...I almost cried, but I didn't want to be a bad sport in front of the whole family. I got him back though and put it back in his face. Here's the series of events:

Ahh, yes. A lovely, placid birthday celebration.

And I got pied like I was on a Nickelodeon show.

Had to put on a happy face like I enjoyed it. Fighting back tears.

Oh, well. Can't beat 'em? Join 'em.


I am more than depressed that I'm back to the real world. It's just so nice to not have to think about all this crap like paying bills and when I'm going to get my oil changed. I want to go back! But alas, I have to wait another year until my next vacay. This next one might be a cruise - oooh la la!