Sunday, October 11, 2015

And Justice for All*

The first time I entered a court room I was in my 20's, had been practicing as a psychotherapist for under a year, and had been summoned to testify as a witness.

A convicted pedophile was requesting permission to coach a children's baseball team. He had served his time, been released, and had had good behavior.

I consulted with the director of my agency, who in the course of his long career working with both child victims of sexual abuse and perpetrators of sexual abuse, had been called to testify in numerous trials, countless times.

He normalized my nervousness, stated that I'd simply be answering questions, and predicted that as soon as this part started, I'd feel at ease.

It turned out to be entirely accurate.

I was asked questions about a child I was seeing in therapy. The child had been molested and raped by the man who sought permission to coach. The man was not some dangerous stranger. As is often the case, he was a relative and trusted member of the family. The abuse went on for two years until it was finally disclosed. The child was so confused, felt guilty, and also, eventually, feared for her life. The trajectory was not an uncommon one: her innocence was the perpetrator's tool in ensuring her silence. As the pain of abuse became increasingly unbearable, she became less compliant and he threatened to hurt her and her family if she told.
(She was 6, then 7, then 8.)
Eventually the truth was disclosed and the miracle was this: her family believed her.
(How many families do not believe, or do nothing when a child is brave enough to speak. It is heart-shattering.  The shame of sexual abuse is so high that many families nothing. )

I answered questions about the wellness of the child.
The child, knowing the perpetrator had been released from jail, had been having recurrent nightmares. He was coming for her, he was going to get her, he was picking her up in his car. She dreamt over and over again of finding herself alone with him, her mouth sewn shut, her throat constricted, a scream that could not emerge.
As he moved toward her, she'd scream herself awake. 
Her aunt would be there by her bed, to say over and over:
"You're okay.  He's not going to get you.  You are safe."

The judge denied the offender's request. The hearing ended.

I reported back that day the director. I was aglow with thankfulness for how well our legal system worked. Things that happen to the vulnerable should never happen. But here, I'd been able to see a place where the vulnerable were represented, and protected.

"This time," my director said. "It worked this time." And he smiled a weary smile. He was glad it worked this time.

He had testified so many times and he had witnessed so many outcomes.

"You got lucky," he said.

Though I'd taken an oath and reported truthfully, it wasn't the strength of my testimony.

It wasn't our well oiled and finely tuned legal system.

It was roll the dice, see who the judge is, see who the attorneys are, see what the weather is, and see what happens.

Every time you enter a courtroom, he said, roll the dice.
See if you encounter an attorney who will win at any cost, who see children as collateral. 
See how fast ethical conduct is given wings so that it might fly out the window.
See how it goes.

He was glad my first time had been positive.
He was too experienced to believe what I believed at that moment, which was, "It works!"

I've been in the courtroom since then and have come to understand what the seasoned director of the agency was saying.

You enter a courtroom and you roll the dice.

Sometimes you leave a courtroom glad to know that children, who are always vulnerable, are protected.

Other times, you might as well be handed a puddin' pop.

*mostly in the movies  

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Please Take This Idea And Run With It

Inspired by this text conversation with a Loved One, who has three children under the age of 5.

Begins with details about a fishing pole:

Me:  They're called Shakespearean poles.  Hope you're feeling better and your fever is gone. 

LO:  Turns out I have pneumonia. 

Me:  Omg pneumonia??

LO: Yeah and George has bronchitis

LO:  We've covered all the respiratory diseases.

Me:  LOL   :(

Me:  Do you need anything?  Juice....broth.....less liquid in your lungs....a nanny

LO:  All of the above

Me:    What about a business that services SAHM/D with kids ages 0-5.  When the parent is sick, they go here;  there is an amazing child care center on one side, and then hotel-like suites on the other and the sick parent goes to the suite and stays from 8 - 5 each day.  And it is covered by insurance. 

LO:  You would make bank


LO:  It'd probably just spread diseases faster

Me:  No because the sick person is Quarantined!!!!

LO:  Hmmm.  We should do this

Me:  Ah know.  (pause to realize I don't actually want to run/own/operate such a business, I simply want it to exist)

As I am writing this, my phone starts pinging repeatedly.  LO is contemplating "logistical red flags." 

Me: Like what?

LO:  Well you'd need a vaccination list for kids ahead of time, then there's allergies, special needs equipment (can't discriminate), transportation if the mom is too sick to drive, then what if the mom gets sicker and needs help


LO: Plus I'm sure we'd need insurance and people would have to sign waivers upon arrival


LO: What if the child is a 5 year old serial killer?


LO:  Stuff like that. 

Well.  Do what you can with it.  I have a few name suggestions if you happen to get such a facility licensed in the near future. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Changing of the Guard

"Something told him that something was coming to an end.  Not the world, exactly.  Just the summer.  There would be other summers, but there would never be one like this.  Ever again."

---Neil Gaiman

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Studies Show

An evidence-based ditty by Honor Finnegan

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Gertrude's Secret

If a rose by any other name would not smell as sweet, would Victoria's Secret still be as sexy if it went by another name?

Five years ago I called to have my name removed from the Victoria's Secret mailing list.  I was told my name was removed and yet the mail still kept coming.  I just chucked it in the bin and went along with life and then one day a postcard arrived from Gertrude's Secret and it was a coupon for free underwear.  No strings attached.  You just show up with your postcard and pick up some pantaloons.

But they're called panties.    

I go through phases where I save coupons for random things, stick them in a drawer, and then later clean the drawer and have to throw out a bunch of expired coupons.  Because they are never for useful things, like dark chocolate, but for a Free Custard at Rita's, or buy two sheet pizzas and get the third free, or Free Pantaloons at Gertrude's Secret.  Not that those don't add to the value of a day, but peripherally so, not integral. 

Anywho, I had a day where I cleaned that drawer and everything was going to expire in a week.  And I became determined to use every coupon before they expired. 

Have you ever redeemed a free pantloon postcard at VS? 

Let me give you a peek:  nothing is free.

I entered the store and asked a sales rep which of the pantaloons qualified.  She asked if I'd also like to look at some amazing new bras they had in, as well as beautiful sleep wear.  I said no thank you.  She asked if I would like to look at their lotions and potions.  No thanks, just here for the pantaloons.  Of course, she said.  She took me on a long and winding tour through the store, pointing out several new items and another set of bras that would change my life.  She'd slow at each item and I just waited thinking, Those are not the free pantaloons. 

At last, we arrived at a table strewn with underwear.  Free pantaloons.  I selected a pair and got in line. 

Once at the register the spiel began again.  I handed over the drawers and the postcard.  The cashier asked if I found everything I was looking for.  I said yes.  Had I heard of the new hand lotion with sea kelp?  No, but I just wanted the

or the newly patented bras that would change my life

nope just here for the

or the super soft and comfy pajama

free panties

And then there was a silence.  And a pause.

It was a standoff. 

Would I walk out with the free panties?

Or would I also be purchasing a sea kelp bra that would change my skin tone?

Free panties.  Thank you.

My item was put in a bag and stuffed with excessive pink tissue paper. 

I came.  I saw.  I got the free panties. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Margaret Fuller

“Nature,” she says, “seems to delight in varying the arrangements, as if to show that she will be fettered by no rule; and we must admit the same varieties that she admits.”

--Margaret Fuller
from Judith Thurman's An Unfinished Woman

There are 217 Margarets in my family, and not one of them goes by Margaret. This is the only name I know that is given, along with but thou shall be called Clementine

Of the Margarets I know, the variations of non-Margaret thou shall be called names are all unique. 
No two non-Margaret names the same.

This is probably due to something that Liz Lemon touched upon, in her despising of St. Paddy's Day, as she wears orange and pranks the parade revelers. 

There can never be too many Margarets.

This particular Margaret, I had never heard of until listening to Cheever's biography of Louisa May Alcott.

This Margaret went by Margaret. 

Cheever, in her biography of Alcott, writes about The Conversations.  The Conversations were a thing  (official title that) back in the 1800's that were held by folks who had a lot of ideas and energy but couldn't hold a teaching job and were too antsy to write very much for very long.  Louisa May Alcott's father became king of these: The Conversations.   Because he was kicked out of every school he opened.  And because Emerson eventually stopped financially supporting him. 

To hold a Conversation was to hold a chat about something on which you had a lot of thoughts/ideas/opinions.

It was The Internet, in 1840.

The Conversations spurred other conversations.  (aka The Comments section).

Some folks who held Conversations were paid to do this for a living. 
(Like banner advertising and sponsored posts)

(This post is brought to you by Barry's Tea, though they are not paying me to write about them.  I should look into this.)

Back to Margaret, aka Margaret. 

She is next up on my reading list. 

Here are some Fuller quotes:

Nature provides exceptions to every rule.

The especial genius of women I believe to be electrical in movement, intuitive in function, spiritual in tendency.

If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.

I now know all the people worth knowing in America, and I find no intellect comparable to my own.

Beware of over-great pleasure in being popular or even beloved.

Very early, I knew that the only object in life was to grow.

Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.

It is astonishing what force, purity, and wisdom it requires for a human being to keep clear of falsehoods.

Essays, entitled critical, are epistles addressed to the public, through which the mind of the recluse relieves itself of its impressions.
Two persons love in one another the future good which they aid one another to unfold.

Her selfie  (hand drawn due to limiting circumstances.):
Image result for margaret fuller Quotes

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Teenage Dream: What We Learn From Each Other

The more time I spend with teenagers, the more I'm blown away. 

This letter is a an example of what's in there. 

To the Teenage Girls Swimming at the Pool by Christine Organ

And then one of you looked me right in the eye and, with a firm gentleness, said, “You will regret it if you leave here today and do not do jump. You will regret it.”
“I know,” I whispered. “You’re right.”