Author Archives: Little Nesting Doll

Going Home

When we left D.C. to move to England, we did so with the full understanding that we’d be moving back home within two years or so.

The best laid plans…

We will be leaving England in the summer of 2018, a year longer than we originally intended to stay.  But we won’t be going to back to D.C.

We’re selling our house in Virginia (it’s on the market now – interested? EMAIL ME!).  It’s sad in so many ways — that is the house my babies know as “home”, where they learned to ride bikes and where they played with their friends, where they started preschool and trick-or-treated every year.  No matter how many years we live in England, I don’t know that it would never be home, even though we love it here. 

But it’s also really exciting.  Because when we do go back to the States, we’re moving to Massachusetts.  And THAT is home for me. 

When I moved from Boston to California at the age of 23, I did not imagine that I wouldn’t be back to live there for fifteen years.  But things happen, plans change, time passes.  We made a really great life in D.C. for over a decade, and we’re making our years in England as full of adventure and fun as possible.  I wouldn’t change one thing we’ve done or one decision we’ve made in the fifteen years since I moved away.

I know this move will be harder on Matt and the kids than it will be on me.  There are lots of sad things about this move — being further away from Matt’s family in MD and the friends we love and will miss seeing every day, our beloved swim seasons at the pool in our neighborhood, the  house that we made our home and the wonderful neighbors on our pipestem.  But I also know that there are so many things to look forward to, and that no matter where we live, we’ll be happy. 

I can’t wait to have summers where the beach is just a ten minute drive away and the weather is hot but not sweltering.  I can’t wait to have winters where snow is guaranteed and skiing — good skiing — is a two hour drive north.  I can’t wait to watch the Red Sox and the Patriots games on TV instead of the Nats and Redskins.  I can’t wait to be back in Boston, my city, and watch my kids get to know it as more than a place they visit once a year.  I can’t wait to be near my parents and my sisters and their kids for the first time since any of us became mothers.  I can’t wait to see my old friends and watch my children play with theirs. 

I can’t wait to go home.

Harassed

Matt and I went in to London last weekend to see a show in the West End.  When the play let out we walked through Leicester Square toward the underground station to get the train home, stopping at a shop so Matt could grab a coffee for the trip.

I waited outside because the shop was teeny-tiny, texting with Bridget to double check that everything was good at home and to let her know that we were heading to the train.

As I stood alone outside the shop, head down, focused on the phone in my hand, a man came up and got right in my space, directly in front of me, basically forcing me to look up.  I gave a small smile initially, because I don’t immediately assume people’s intentions are bad and maybe he needed directions or something.

He said hi and I said hi.  And then he just started talking at me.  It became obvious that he didn’t need help, he was just there to speak to me.  I was not interested, so I forced another tight-lipped smile and did my best to make it clear through my body language that I didn’t want to continue the conversation.  Multiple times I said “no thanks”, shook my head, indicated I was not interested in speaking to him. 

He stood right in front of me though, right in my personal space, talking at me.  He wasn’t drunk or unkempt.  He was well-dressed, coherent, aware of what he was doing. 

Then he took a clear plastic bottle out of his pocket and motioned toward me with it, and I immediately and clearly said, “I don’t know what that is, don’t put that on me or near me.”

I wasn’t loud but I wasn’t quiet.

“Oh,” he replied, laughing like we were in on a joke together, “this is just anti-bacterial stuff,” and he put it on his hands and rubbed it in and offered his hand to shake mine. 

“I don’t know what that is,” I repeated.  “Don’t touch me please.”

He laughed again.  I was not smiling.  “Do not touch me” I repeated when he stuck his hand out to shake again. 

He took the bottle back out of his pocket to show me that it was anti-bacterial gel.  “In case you’re dirty,” he said to me, a grin on his face.

I am not even sure what facial expression I made at that unbelievable statement.  In my head I was screaming “get the absolute fuck away from me”, but my face mustn’t have matched my thoughts, because he repeated himself, like it was cute and I was supposed to laugh and immediately want to then shake his hand.

“In case you’re dirty, for when we shake hands,” he said again.

“DO. NOT. TOUCH. ME.” I said again.  Still not loud, but loud enough and clear enough that my feelings were unmistakable.

Still, he stood in my face.  Right in my face, hand outstretched.

I flicked my eyes up over his shoulder to where Matt stood in the coffee shop and made eye contact with my husband.  The man turned around to follow my gaze and saw Matt and — boom, he was gone instantly.  Disappeared.

Matt raised his eyebrows at me and mouthed “Are you okay?”.

I nodded and grimaced and rolled my eyes.  I was fine.  I had never been scared or intimidated, I had just been annoyed and frustrated.  And now I was PISSED.

I had made it crystal clear through my body language and my words that I did not want that man to talk to me or touch me.  I was not quiet or shy or apologetic.  I was vocal and clear and adamant.  It’s taken me a long time to get to a point in my life where I am not apologetic or conciliatory in a situation like that.  But I’m there now, and I won’t feel badly about saying I want to be left alone.

But this guy did not care.  He was unfazed by the fact that I wasn’t interested and didn’t want to be engaged by him.  Not one thing I said mattered to him.  The word “no” did not matter to him.

My husband standing 15 feet away, though, without making a sound or a face or a move, was enough to make him leave.

I am still irate about it, nearly a week later.   Anger actually seems like my permanent emotion these days.  Why wasn’t it enough that I had said no?  What else could I have done to make him go away?

I know the answer to those questions already: that guy was going to keep trying to engage me until I gave in and went along.  I would have had to have made a scene, actually yelled or screamed at him or physically moved away in order to make him stop.

I don’t know what his ultimate intentions were, but it doesn’t matter.  My intention was to be left alone.  It pisses me off that my clear expressions that I wanted him to go away weren’t enough; that Matt’s presence, though, was a deterrent. 

My wishes didn’t matter, but my husband’s did.

I wasn’t assaulted.  I wasn’t abused.  Nothing truly bad happened to me.  It certainly was not the first or even the tenth or probably even the hundredth time in my life that something like that has happened.  It definitely wasn’t the worst.

But I am so goddamned tired of it.

There are very few men who have ever been in the position I was in, faced with a harasser who will not leave you alone despite your very clear statements that you want to be left alone, a harasser who is bigger and stronger than you, and who you cannot make stop on your own.  This is not a concern that exists within the consciousness of most men. 

And sadly, there’s probably not a woman alive who hasn’t been in that position at least once, probably more than that.  We have all learned to be on the lookout for inevitable harassment: we walk in groups, accompany each other to the ladies’ room, carry our keys between our clenched fingers, and we’re relieved when it’s just words and not physical actions that we have to deal with.

I am tired of feeling like I am crazy for my strong reactions when men say stuff like “not all men” or when they question what rights, exactly, women don’t have.  I didn’t even have the right to stand quietly alone outside a coffee shop texting my daughter without being molested by some creep who wouldn’t stop bothering me even when I told him to. 

I’m lucky to have a husband who knows why that pisses me off and who understands why, although I’m grateful his presence scared that asshole off, I am angry to my core that it was Matt who made him leave and not me. 

I’m grateful that Matt doesn’t say stupid stuff like “I’ll protect you” when something like this happens.  That he knows I don’t want to HAVE to be protected.  I just want to be treated with respect and not have to rely on someone else to have that happen.

I don’t have answers, just anger.  I don’t have a better response for next time this happens, except maybe to go right ahead and make a big scene instead of hoping that my words alone will be enough to stop someone. 

I just want things to be different.  I’m done being apologetic or conciliatory or allowing for excuses.  I won’t be quiet.  I won’t even be loud.  I will be deafening.

Things have to change.

I will no longer accept the things I cannot change, I will change the things I cannot accept.

–Angela Davis

Photo creds to my brilliant friend J. Hayhurst.  From the Boston Women’s March, January 2017.

 

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A Modest Proposal

Earlier this week, a bill calling for a total ban on abortions after twenty weeks passed in the House of Representatives.  Today, the Trump administration released a rule that allows employers to refuse to cover the cost of birth control for any reason whatsoever.  Women’s reproductive rights are under assault.

When access to birth control is limited, accidental pregnancies become more common.  When abortion rights are also curtailed, women have fewer options for dealing with unintended pregnancies. 

Since women already bear a disproportionate burden when it comes to preventing and dealing with unintended pregnancies, I have a solution — a modest proposal, if you will.

The government should simply mandate that all men have a vasectomy at about age 12, or at the onset of puberty.  

In order to prevent women from having to bear alone the full consequences of an accidental pregnancy while men face very few repercussions in that situation, this plan makes perfect sense.  After all, it’s much easier to take the bullets out of a gun than it is to wear a bulletproof vest all the time. 

And since government has long had no issue with involving itself in the reproductive systems of women, I’m sure all politicians will jump at the chance to curtail men’s reproductive rights as well!

It makes perfect sense and solves so many problems at once!

Women often go on birth control in their teens or early twenties when they become sexually active but do not yet want to become mothers.  The side effects of birth control are frequently difficult to deal with though — weight gain, acne, discomfort, bloating, mood swings — and the long-term effects of taking birth control or having a surgically implanted birth control device inside your body can be extremely detrimental to women’s health.  Now that insurers and employers no longer have to cover the cost of the medication or the procedure, it will be extremely costly for women as well.   

I am sure that most men have been searching for a way to take on more of the responsibility for the consequences of their sex lives.  We all know that it takes two to make a baby, and men have not had the opportunity to be equally involved in the PREVENTION side of the equation for too long. 

Let’s also state the truth: Abstinence only sex education doesn’t work — human nature and passion tend to win out over common sense in the heat of the moment.  But if every teenage boy were simply temporarily sterilized, teen pregnancy rates would plummet. 

And think — no unwanted pregnancies will also result in the lowering of abortion rates, which means that all true conservatives will agree with this plan! 

And fortunately, vasectomies are easily reversible, so men who want to bear children later in life can simply have another procedure then to enable them to become fathers.

Furthermore, if we simply legislate that the reversal of the vasectomy cannot be performed until AFTER the man gets married, we can also eliminate all instances of children being born out of wedlock. 

Win-win-win.

Women have borne the burden of birth control for most of human history, so it’s time for the men to step up and take one for the team.  I’m sure men will understand why it’s their turn and will gladly come forward to voluntarily undergo a vasectomy in order to alleviate the unnecessary weight that has been put on women for so long.

Stay In Your Lane

There are a lot of problems in U.S. politics right now.  To say the country is divided is an understatement.  I’ve lived in a haze of anger and disappointment since the election in November and I’ve made no attempt to hide my opinion of Trump, and honestly anyone who supported or supports him.  He is a bad person and a terrible president.

But the thing that makes me most angry right now are statements in the news or on social media telling people like Jimmy Kimmel to stay in his lane, stick to comedy, stay out of politics.  Or telling any NFL player kneeling during the national anthem to stick to sports and leave politics to the experts, the professionals.

NO.  STOP. 

The United States is a democracy — a system of government BY the people, FOR the people. 

We citizens vote for our elected representatives and they in turn are meant to pass laws and govern in such a way as to benefit those citizens. 

The power of a democracy lies with the people. 

It is, therefore, absolutely crucial that those people be informed, be engaged, and be involved.  

If you are a citizen in a democracy, politics ARE YOUR LANE. 

To imply otherwise is not only profoundly wrong, it is indicative of a fundamental lack of understanding of the very foundational principles upon which the United States was built.

Jimmy Kimmel, a parent whose child required life-saving heart surgery at birth, is absolutely in his lane when he talks about health care in the U.S.

Colin Kaepernick is absolutely in his lane when he exercises his first amendment rights and protests social injustice. 

I am in my lane when I discuss politics and government because I am a citizen of a democracy and it is my JOB to be involved.  It is my responsibility.

If you want to live in a free country and elect your own representatives, you must do your part.  You must learn about the issues, you must make decisions about them, and then you must use your power — whether that is your power to vote or to protest or to speak out against your government when you disagree with it.

Politics are your business and my business and the business of every other American regardless of their day job. 

That we have a voice and a say in our government, that we can protest injustice and speak truth to power, that we can demand change and expect respect as citizens is what defines us as a nation. 

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