Sunday, August 30, 2009

Understanding Rape

Everyone knows that rape is wrong. Not everyone understands that rape occurs every time a person's "no" isn't respected and one's personal boundary is violated.

For example, a male friend once asked for my advice because his girlfriend was suddenly distant and wouldn't talk to him about what was going on with her.

When he told me the details of the last time they were fine together, I was horrified.

"I didn't rape her!" the pig protested in response to my facial expression. "She wanted it. I know she did. I could tell!"

"She said, 'no,' yet you continued to undress her and had your way with her," I pointed out to the idiot.

He became despondent. "What do I do, now?"

"Hang it up because it's over and there's no way you can fix it. My guess is that she hasn't told you yet because you've been together for awhile and you saved her from her ex-husband. But, really, if a woman can't trust a man with her body, she can't trust him. Period."

A week later, he reported that she had broken up with him and a few months after that, he left the state.

What some people don't understand is that rape isn't limited to violent sexual assault. Any time a person's "no" isn't respected and the person is coerced into something only because someone else wants it, it is rape:

Rape of the soul and spirit.

I'm not talking about discussions and arguments that persuade you to do things that you eventually may or may not come to agree were good to do.

I mean verbal battering that forces you into doing or giving up what another person wants, the way that s/he wants, without consideration or compromise. The issue isn't what's best for you. The issue is the rapist having control and power over you.

The psychological rapist uses verbal assaults that may include such tactics as belittlement, emotional blackmail such as "you'd do it if you love me" or threats of ending the relationship, persistent phone calls, ignoring your need for sleep, and disrupting other typical activities in order to coerce submission that may include submitting to sex.

The rapist doesn't allow the option of not doing what the rapist insists upon.

The victim feels beat-up mentally and emotionally and, as with sexual rape, can never come to agree that it was good.

For a personal example, my fourth grade teacher once took it upon herself to make me eat salad. She never made any other child eat whatever portion of their lunch they left behind, but for some reason, I and the salad left untouched on my lunch tray whenever it was served stuck in her craw.

She seated herself on the other side of my desk and insisted that I eat my salad.

"Salad makes me sick," I objected.

"It's good for you," she said.

"My parents don't make me eat salad. It makes me sick," I tried again.

"I'll feed it to you like a baby if you won't eat it yourself."

I didn't and she did, forkful by forkful, humiliating me in front of my classmates until the salad was gone and my stomach was churning.

"There, that wasn't so bad, was it?" she gloated in triumph.

As if on cue, I vomited onto the lunch tray and the teacher left me in disgust. Cleaning up alone and shaking, I reassured myself that it wasn't my fault because I had warned her. Why didn't she believe me?

It doesn't matter. What matters is that she violated my personal boundary, humiliated me, caused me to be physically ill, destroyed my sense of well-being in the classroom, and shattered my trust in teachers as safe people by abusing her position of authority in the classroom.

If you're trying to make excuses for a psychological rapist, if you're wanting to salvage the relationship and thinking that s/he is basically a decent human being who simply doesn't understand what rape is and how it affects someone, explain it. If you're right, s/he will apologize for causing you anguish and will take care to never do it again.

If no apology is forthcoming, or if you get an apology but it happens again, walk away and stay away.

Nobody deserves to be treated as badly as that.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Yum! (Part 2)

Returning to the Red Lobster for more "Endless Shrimp" last night, I was puzzled by the menu:

Teriyaki Grilled Shrimp
Cajun Shrimp
Garlic Shrimp Scampi
Hand-breaded Shrimp
Coconut Shrimp Bites.

Where were the shrimp Alfredo and popcorn shrimp? Surely, the menu wasn't reprinted since Tuesday.

I asked Ashley, the same server as before. "I told you about them," she said.

"Oh, okay." I guess I hadn't looked at the menu very well.

After enjoying the teriyaki and the shrimp scampi, I asked what is the difference between the hand-breaded shrimp and the popcorn shrimp.

"The popcorn shrimp have the tails cut off. Other than that, they're pretty much the same. They both come with marinara sauce," Ashley explained.

Not a fan of marinara, I asked if I may have the Alfredo again and was soon indulging in its delectable richness followed by the coconut shrimp.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Your Life Story

About ten years ago, I encouraged a former co-worker to encourage her parents to write down their life stories as a heritage for her and her daughter because they lived through times and experienced events that we never will such as World War II.

Now, it's time for us to start doing the same because even ordinary life has details that future generations won't comprehend unless we leave a record of what it's like for us.

For example, what was air travel like before the TSA and 3-1-1 bags?

Do you remember where you were and what you felt when you learned about the assassination of JFK, the Oklahoma City bombing, or the events of 9-11?

How did you connect with your friends before email, cell phones, and text messaging?

What was it like listening to music before you got your first iPod or MP3 player?

How did you spend your time before Facebook, Twitter, "NCIS" reruns, and LOLcats?

Do you attend noodle rolling gatherings at church? What is noodle rolling?!

What were your favorite pet(s) and other memorable animals?

Did you meet and fall in love online or in real life?

What were the joys and pain, hopes and fears you experienced on the birth of each of your children?

And, how did you spend your summer vacations?!

For Christians, our life stories are testimonies of God's faithfulness.

This was confirmed last night when my friend brought it up during our dinner together. "That's interesting," I commented. "Just last week, I was thinking that I should encourage my blog readers to write their life stories."

"But, Gail, I'm not a writer," she said. "Will you help me?"

"Sure, in a limited way," I replied. While I won't do any of her writing for her, there are tips I didn't hesitate to share:

1. Don't worry about grammar. Write conversationally as though you are talking to your best friend or a close relative.

2. Read aloud what you wrote because hearing your story is the best way to catch awkward-sounding passages so you may improve them.

3. Don't worry about sequence. If you make each vignette a separate file using the format of Topic-MonthYear.doc for the filename, it'll be easy to organize them into chronological order or by topic after you're finished writing them and when you're ready to collate them to make the first draft of your book.

4. Back up, back up, BACK UP! because recreating something from scratch is agony. Trust me on this!!! If you don't already have an external hard drive, get a USB drive, burn your files to a rewriteable CD or DVD, upload them to a cloud storage site and/or email a copy to yourself, and print out a hardcopy of each file and store them in a 3-ring binder where it, not only will serve as a primitive backup, but will also be easier to review and redline when you want to change something.

5. Double-space when you type so that there's room to redline when you proofread and edit. Generous margins will also help. I recommend that you set the top and bottom margins at 1" and set the side margins at 1.5" which will also provide room for the holes needed by the binder rings.

6. Thoughts about what you should write about will flit in and out of your mind while you go about your daily business. Keep index cards or a steno notebook or anything similar at hand to jot down a reminder of these thoughts. Perhaps, a small hand-held tape recorder will be easier. Debbie Roome's article, "How to Write Your Life Story" has a list of topics you may want to address.

7. After everything's written and organized by chronology or topic, reread it with an eye for a recurring theme or something you may use to compose the opening and conclusion that may be either a summary or a look toward the future.

8. Set the first draft aside for 6-12 months so you may return to it with fresh eyes to polish it.

9. Rinse and repeat. That is, after your second draft, take a shorter, 3-6 months, break from it before returning to polish it into your third draft.

10. Finally, keep a journal because your life story is a continuing saga that won't end until the day you die. Add to your autobiography as your life unfolds using your journal as your rough draft for the new material until you feel you've conveyed all the lessons you've learned and described all the places to which you've traveled and the interesting people you've known.

Please share your dreams and goals, joys and disappointments, and let your descendants get to know you and the life you have instead of letting the evidence of your existence and the lessons you've learned disappear through time leaving only your genes and your name behind.

Write on!


A friend and I went to the Red Lobster for dinner last night. Unknown to us, it was the first night of the "Endless Shrimp" special which was a great surprise and blessing because shrimp is my friend's favorite seafood.

On the advice of the manager who verified that the gift certificates I received as a farewell gift when I left a company in January 2000 were still valid (I haven't been to a Red Lobster in nearly 10 years - how time flies!), we first ordered the Grilled Shrimp Teriyaki and the Cajun shrimp because they take the longest time to cook and enjoyed our salad and cheese rolls while waiting for our platters to arrive.

Delicious! The Cajun shrimp was spicy, but not overwhelmingly. The shrimp teriyaki was perfection itself.

Realizing that we wouldn't be able to complete all of the five different shrimp dishes available in the special, we next ordered the shrimp Alfredo as a single order with an extra clean plate so we could share. That was permitted because we were both having the same dinner. Smooth and creamy, it rivaled the teriyaki for perfection.

Feeling full, we bypassed the popcorn shrimp and split a single serving of the coconut shrimp that was served with a piƱa colada dipping sauce for the finish. Ahh... No room for dessert was necessary after that treat.

Yum! I want to go back and have more.

(Which I did in Part 2.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Road Trip Recipe: Using Knorr Sides


1 package of Knorr Rice Sides, Asian Sides, Cajun Sides, Sides Plus Veggies, or Pasta Sides; any flavor that appeals to you except the Pasta Sides that require milk.

1 can of meat, approximately 5 oz. for 1-2 people. I usually use chicken, Vienna sausages (sliced), kippered herrings, ham, or Spam (cubed). Not needed with the Cajun Sides Red Beans & Rice.

1 can of vegetables, approximately 8 oz. I usually use mixed veggies, peas, corn, string beans, or carrots. Not needed with Sides Plus Veggies.


Empty packet of Knorr Sides into a medium container with a close-fitting lid. I use a 32 oz. (1 L) Fairshare Mug by GSI Outdoors.

If the package directions specify 2 cups of water, boil 10 oz. of water. I use the Mini Ibis electric kettle by Bodum.

If the package directions specify 1-3/4 cups of water or if the packet is Pasta Sides, boil 9 oz. of water.

Pour the boiling hot water over the packet contents, stir, and cover for approximately double the length of time specified on the packet. For example, if the directions say to simmer for 7 minutes, let it sit covered for 14-15 minutes.

While waiting, open and drain the cans of vegetables and meat or fish, cutting up meat or breaking up fish when necessary.

Stir rice, then top with vegetables and meat or fish. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes, then stir. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes more or until rice is tender, liquid is absorbed, and vegetables and meat or fish are warm. Stir and serve.

For pasta, do the same as with rice in the paragraph above, but don't let it sit longer than 15 minutes or the pasta will become too soft. There will be a slight amount of sauce. See how you like it the first time, then use 1 oz. more water next time if you want more sauce. Please feel free to experiment with the sit time until the pasta is how you like it best.

Yields enough for one really hungry person or 2 moderately hungry people with the addition of bread, salad, and dessert.

If traveling solo, plan on being really hungry to avoid having leftovers because these leftovers don't taste good when cold (Your Mileage May Vary).

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Another Obamination

Standing in the grocery store's check out line on Friday, I was surprised to see the Globe's headline reporting that President Obama's birth certificate was forged.

"Good grief," I thought. "Talk about being behind the times. I read that on the Internet before the election and that the State of Hawai`i verified that his birth certificate is legit. Must be a slow news day."

Later that night, I read the ABC News article, "Fear for Obama's Safety Grows as Hate Groups Thrive on Racial Backlash" which has a line on the second page saying that the Secret Service "officials told ABC News that the President's daily threat matrix has yet to reflect a sharp increase in threats," making me wonder if ABC News was experiencing a slow news day, too.

While I didn't vote for Obama and think his stimulus and health care reform ideas are terrible, I get annoyed when he, who spent his formative years with a white mother and white grandmother and was educated at top-notch, private, predominantly white schools, two of which are Ivy League, is categorized as black only because the color of his skin is darker than the typical white person's.

Sure, he identifies himself as an African-American. However, it's only because "that's how I'm treated and that's how I'm viewed." He also calls himself a mutt.

(Technically, Obama is one of the few true African-Americans because his father was a Kenyan and his mother an American, but let's not get into splitting hairs since the term is universally accepted as meaning an American of African descent.)

Although treating people differently solely because of their race is deplorable, thinking of Obama as black is so wrong that it gives another definition to "Obamination," a made-up word I used in an earlier post. Yes, it would be odd to call him white and awkward to call him half-white or half-black. Why does he have to be either/or? Why hasn't Obama been categorized as biracial or Afro-Caucasian, Eurafrican, or mulatto? Are the members of the media purposely fueling the flame of racial hatred to decrease the number of slow news days?

Race shouldn't even be a consideration because it's morals, ethics, ideals, and goals and how they're achieved that matters. The only time race is necessary is for a physical description, as for a fugitive hiding from the police. Since we all learned what Obama looks like before he was elected President, references to his appearance should have ceased by Inauguration Day, but for some reason, people ignorantly perpetuate the racial card when it doesn't mean a thing.

Or maybe not so ignorantly.