Thursday, August 27, 2009

While you were off having triplets, Aunty Christ had an idea

I am thinking that I will call off the job search and instead ask that employers line up to spit in my face. The effect would be, roughly speaking, the same thing.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cancer? That’s hilarious! But Aunty Christ’s sad.

Rape victims? That’s so last week. I’m totally over rape victims now.

You’ll be psyched to hear that Aunty Christ does not have cancer. At least not that anyone’s detected yet. Whoopie! Take that public health option and stick it in your ear, Dems. Until the next time I think I might be ill. At which point I will promptly ask you to retrieve it from your ear and wipe it off with a moist towel and hand it to me. Oh, American Public. When will you ever learn?

Yesterday I took a test, and now the unemployment office is clear on my abilities to add two fractions together, given the assistance of a calculator, and do simple algebra and at least guess at what the volume of a sphere might be. I was lauded for being a very bright un(der)employed person, and that is all.

It seems like I should be able to tie these two themes together and make a blog post out of them. Something about how I currently find myself in a position where I would like the government to give me stuff, but it keeps not quite happening—either at all, or in the way that I would like.

Or about how easy it is to relax into the idea that the government owes you stuff. Just six months ago I was pretty unhappy with the concept of not receiving my very own paycheck that I had earned with the sweat and hard labor of my own two red-blooded American hands! Now I’m okay with it, as long as I don’t have to make any sacrifices or anything. The moment my cable TV gets cut off, I will have a big problem, but as long as the govmint’s paying my bills, I’m kind of uncomfortably okay with it.

I’m turning Old in two weeks. Old! I never thought I’d reach this age! It is half wonderful. On the one hand, I am no longer obsessed with looking exactly like [whichever teen starlet who, everyone agrees, anyone who isn’t her is repulsive]. Which is nice. I remember in high school thinking that I had it made because all of these popular girls were going to go crazy at some point because they had lost their looks, whereas I was never particularly good-looking, and thus wouldn’t suddenly become not-good-looking upon turning elderly or 30 or whatever. Nonetheless, that didn’t stop me from always wanting to be hot.

Not like that wish is entirely gone now. But I’ve come to terms with who I am, a little bit. I’m at least more all right with it than I used to be, and that makes me a little bit less unhappy all the fucking time.

On the other hand, there is in age this diminishment in choices that’s strangely unexpected to me. Not that long ago, I felt pretty okay with the idea that I could always do that later—“that” being whatever it was that I wasn’t 100% sure that I wanted to do right now. Popular culture loves these stories. Grandma Moses didn’t start painting until she was in her 70s! Giuseppi Tomasi di Lampedusa didn’t finish writing The Leopard until he was 60! There was this lady, right? And she graduated from college when she was, like, 80 or something! So all sorts of possibilities are open to the old, leaving the young with the freedom to piss away any number of years shacked up in the mountains working in careers that they don’t particularly enjoy, talking to people they don’t really know about topics that they find uninteresting.

At one time, it struck me that I was too old to start a modeling career, become a ballerina or a gymnast, or date someone who wasn’t old enough to go to bars. And none of that bothered me because, fuck. I wasn’t going to do that anyway.

But now I come to the realization that I’m too old to go to law school, and that one kind of hurts. Mind you, I never wanted to go to law school when I was 25. It’s only now that the opportunity’s gone that I kind of miss it.

All this to one side, however, what I’m thinking about lately is that trying to find a new job while on the brink of turning Old kind of sucks. I commented this earlier on another blog, but I think it may require further discussion: Women are always too young to be taken seriously, until they are too old to be taken seriously. I don’t think I was ever discriminated against, per se, for being too young, but I also don’t think I was ever seen as anyone who was ever actually going to do anything important, wield any sort of power, hold even the tiniest mote of authority over any of my officemates. If I’ve ever achieved any sort of supervisory role in a job, it’s been an accident: No one else wanted it, or I was the only one who had any idea what was going on.

Now, of course, I worry that potential employers look at me and see, along with the few grays and crap skin and weird thighs, someone who doesn’t have a lot more to give, and who expects a lot in return. It’s like when 40-year-old dudes only want to date 20-year-olds: They want someone who can still make a baby, someday (not right now, though), and won’t ask too many questions when they’re treated kind of shabbily. And also, I’m not exactly the eye candy some muckety muck wants at his front desk.

All of the above, however, kind of sounds like an excuse to me. Even though I also think it’s true. It’s like that guy who complains that he can’t get a girlfriend because girls don’t like nice guys. His problem is that he’s too nice! Not that he’s kind of creepy and doesn’t know how to talk to women without being kind of insulting and staring at their boobs all the time! (I love this subject of conversation, but it’s apparently been nigh on exhausted by this point.) Anyway, yes. Saying I’m too old for anyone to want to hire me is maybe keeping me from addressing my real faults. Like how I’m too smart for anyone to want to hire me.

Kidding! Oh say, this all reminds me of my favorite comic square.

Always having someone to blame your misery on.

OMG. Babies!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Aunty Christ and the unhealed present

In case you were wondering, I am painfully aware that this blog has suddenly turned into the electronic equivalent of an Applebee’s appetizer: the quality is bad, but at least there’s a lot of it. I apologize for that. I’m sure that very soon I’ll be feeling less traumatized about my new volunteer position, and I can shut up about it and retreat into golden, blissful silence again.

Aunty is feeling better about her second call, though, given the space of a day. The thing is—and I’m sorry that I’ll have to be vague here—that my volunteer job is kind of like Dinner: Impossible meets Law and Order: SVU. I’m trying to make Christmas dinner here, and my producer chopped off my fucking hands, and all I’ve got’s a whisk, a bag of rubber bands, and a turnip. I know part of the problem is that I’m now not only part of a system, with all the problems that entails—I’m part of The System. And that’s not good. Ask anyone. The System sucks.

So, I go into the call expecting to make a turkey dinner for the entire family, and instead I only have time to microwave a hotdog. And the hotdog was made of cat poop. And also, I ate half of it.

Figuratively, I mean.

After each of my calls, I end up feeling awful, like I said in my last post, because I wanted to do a good job, and I’ve failed. Which is bad not only because I always want to do a good job, and I always feel awful when I fail, but because part of the reason I’m volunteering is as part of an admittedly futile effort to perfect my own rape experience.

I was a dumb 19-year-old when I was raped. The spring before, I had created a shame-based Ecstasy drama in my life, in which I dropped all my classes, ran away to the East Coast for the weekend, and checked myself into the mental ward of my school’s hospital. After that, I hid from all my old friends, and the guy who became my new best friend was someone I had recently met and who was a great deal older than I was. Over 21, in any case, and a full-fledged adult, with an apartment and a job. We talked endlessly on the phone over that summer, and I drove up to the city to see him when I could. I knew he liked me. He told me as much. But I didn’t feel the same way, and I told him as much, and it was cool.

One Friday not long after my second year of classes started, my friend invited me to his cousin’s hotel room for a party. It was a party to celebrate the last day of the CPA test, and the cousin had rented the hotel room in order to study for the CPA test. Lots of CPA-wannabes had rented rooms in this hotel, my friend explained, and they’d all be ready to party. When I got to the hotel room, my friend and his cousin were the only ones there. But it was early. We started drinking and quickly drained the bottle of vodka. Then we went to the hotel bar and bought another bottle to take back to the room. We switched from mixers to shots. “I’ll drink after you, Aunty,” my friend said, and at some point everything went blurry. Which was, coincidentally, around the same time that the porn channel was turned on. I tried to put myself down on the folding couch in the front room of the suite, but my friend started unfolding the couch, as his cousin held me upright. Which I mistook for kindness, until my friend started undressing me, as his cousin held me down, and I started crying. No, no, no.

So, there’s a good deal wrong with this story, if you’re looking for a sympathetic victim. I had drunk myself into a stupor. I had put myself, willingly, in a hotel room with two men—one of whom I didn’t even know very well. I didn’t leave immediately afterward. (I passed out until morning.) I didn’t fight back, beyond the crying and the saying no. (Too drunk.) I even called the guy one last time, afterwards, just to see if he would apologize.

That was na├»ve of me. He didn’t even acknowledge what had happened.

What I did have going for me was: (1) there were two of them, and (2) they were black*. Number one there was what made the crisis line employee decide that I had been raped adequately enough for her to listen to me. Number two caused me no end of racial guilt and complicated feelings about race and race relations. And it was, ultimately, what tipped the balance in favor of not filing a police report. Given all my failings as a victim, I decided (rightly or wrongly) that the only reason my assailants could be convicted was because of their race and mine. And then, once I started thinking about it, wouldn’t it be wrong of me to try to prosecute two successful black men? I mean, wouldn’t it? Kind of?

I don’t even really know what I was thinking, to be honest with you. Race shouldn’t have been a factor, should it? Of course, when I got angry, my anger was parceled out along racial lines as well. Again, it makes no sense now, and I’m sorry.

The day after, I took a cab to campus and showered. I called the crisis line and was told that what I had just experienced did not sound like rape. I called my former roommate, and she (I’ll always love her for this) walked with me to the emergency room. I saw the uniformed officer, a hard-looking woman stationed at the hospital just to deal with people like me. I left. I went back to the hospital a few weeks later, and asked to be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea and get a prescription for Valium. When the Valium ran out, I smoked a lot of pot.

And … life went on like that. Life does that, I guess, when you keep not dying. But what I keep coming back to is that night, and the next day. I want to be the person I wished had been there for me.

But I’m not. I’m still me.

*Not that anyone will read this old post at this late date, but just for my own peace of mind, I should explain why I wrote (2) and why I wrote it the way I wrote it. What I was trying to say here was that I realized, or thought I realized, anyway, that some people would be inclined to look at the situation and see that here was a white girl accusing black men of rape, and immediately, without any other evidence, believe me. Now, whether that was actually the case, or whether I was relying merely on To Kill a Mockingbird and other popular literature to come to such conclusion, I do not know. I would like to believe that people (juries, in particular) wouldn't be any more inclined to believe a white victim than a black one, or to suspect that a black perp is guilty any more than a white perp tried with the same evidence. And maybe they wouldn't.

At the time, however, I thought that race could be an issue that would weigh in my favor, without merit, and that bothered me.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Aunty Christ has miles to go

Two calls, five patients. And I’m exhausted.

It’s funny—so far a pattern has emerged. I get the call. I am in action. I will go! I will help!

I drive to the hospital. I tear up. How can I help? What will be asked of me? What if I can’t handle it?

I think of me, at the hospital, waiting for my kit, and then seeing the lady-cop sitting in her chair by the rape table, and changing my mind and leaving. I think of me, calling the crisis line and being told dismissively that what I was describing was not rape.

At a certain point in my story, though, the evidence was gauged to have piled up to the correct height, and the crisis-line lady allowed that perhaps I had been raped. I didn’t know which reaction was worse, frankly: her disbelief, or her reluctant admission that I had finally met her standard of what rape is.

Once I’m at the hospital, all of that fades away. I am no longer important. I have a patient (or many patients) to help. That’s the important thing.

And then, driving home: Guilt that I didn’t do more. Anger that I didn’t do more. Confusion, because I wanted to do more, but—what happened? I am sad about the rapes I heard about. I am sad that the patients went home alone. I am even sad, sometimes, that I don’t 100% believe these patients. I am sad that these cases will not go to trial. I am sad that there isn’t a better process for these patients—one with someone who is here who actually knows what she’s doing, who doesn’t offend the doctor, or become shy (still!) when saying “pelvic exam.”

I’ve been reading blogs about rape lately. I think it helps. Helps what, I don’t know. Maybe it helps me think of things to say to my patients. That everyone gets through their experience differently, but they will get through it. That they are brave. That it may feel that no one understands or cares, but people do. Some people, anyway.

I have to write about this later, once I’ve had a few minutes to process. And sleep. I’m exhausted.