They pack a powerful punch, don’t they? A sure way to silence a room.
It’s not surprising to hear, though, is it?
I think that it would be more surprising to know that the first time I remember being sexually assaulted was in the middle of my kindergarten art class. I sat at the back table, and I was wearing a skirt without shorts under it, so maybe I was asking for it?
I didn’t even know what to do as the little boy next to me stuck his hand up my skirt and grabbed at my underwear. I was shocked and slid nearly off the bench to get away from him.
A few days prior he had made comments tainted with innuendo that, at that age, I just didn’t understand, when I had accidentally reached into the crayon jar at the same time as him. So, perhaps I had been leading him on from the start.
I had hit a growth spurt as well. So, my skirt may have been a little shorter than I had intended, but I was so reluctant to let go of my favorite clothing when I out-grew it. The skirt was flashy with a vibrant animal print and ruffles. Perhaps I had called too much attention to myself with my clothing choice that day.
When he tried a second time, maybe he had misunderstood. I hadn’t verbally told him “no.”
“You know you want it,” he told me.
“No!” I said and pushed his hand away and slid as far away as I could.
The teacher told us to quiet down, and he retreated.
I thought that was the end of that.
I was wrong.
He tried again, more aggressively, and I remember pushing him back with all my might and yelling “Get your own and leave mine be!”
My teacher asked what was going on, but as I looked around the room with all eyes on me, I couldn’t find my tongue to speak. If this was fight or flight, the fight was taken out of me, and I wanted to run as far as I could. Instead I was placed on the opposite side of the table, where I ducked my head to avoid everyone’s glances and his constant taunts. You see, it was I that was moved from one side to the other, so surely I was the distraction.
Art was my favorite class, but I wouldn’t know that until the next year. Of the many times I had moved in my younger years, I had never been so happy. I never wore that skirt again. I think I buried it in the bottom of my closet. Then I buried the memory in that dark place we don’t like to go to or speak about.
I think it surprises me more when a woman I know hasn’t been sexually assaulted and even more when I know a man has come forward, because you’d think it would be easier for a man or a child. That they wouldn’t be blamed, but victim blaming is one of the few things in this world that seems to be without prejudice. It’s been my own personal experience that the victim goes above and beyond to blame themselves, so to say it out loud. To put pen to paper. To file a report… That’s just a way of reliving a traumatic event. I know that telling this story is the most PG version I could share with the world but to some people? It’s a terrifying idea.
If you think it’s crazy that a child would blame themselves for being attacked sexually, then I think it’s even crazier that one child would assault another in a sexual manner. I have no idea where that boy learned to behave like that. I don’t even remember his name. I don’t even know where it begins, and I don’t know how to make it end. I think most people would say at home.
Maybe we start by the idea that children don’t always have to share. That it’s okay to keep things to themselves. That they don’t have to hug or kiss someone on demand, simply because they are related or know them. Honestly, I have no idea how to fix society. I can only start with my own children and hope for a better future, but I wish it was one that I just taught them about consent and knew everyone else was learning the same lesson, but I also have to teach self-defense, because that’s the reality in which I live.
It takes courage to come forward, and the truth is, not everyone is strong enough to see or hear their story over and over again- myself included. Like I said before, this wasn’t the last and definitely not the worst, but it was the first time that I can recall, and after being together over a decade, reading these pages is the first time my husband has heard this story. Today will be the first time I tell my children, and this will be the first many of my family and friends will have heard of this.
It’s been my own personal goal this year to not stay silent, but I can understand that not everyone feels the same. I can’t take on the entire world and all it’s issues (it would break me down in an instant), but when I can step up, and I can say something, then I should, because I have another, younger generation looking to me to set the example.
If you take anything away from this post, let it be-
We shouldn’t be scared or shamed into silence. Not the first time. Not ever- but there are so many that still can’t speak out. It cost them them more than emotional pain. I can’t begin to imagine all those circumstance, but I understand it and on some level can empathize with it.
I just wanted someone out there to know that they’re not alone.
We’re not alone, because now that I have said it for everyone to see, in a way…I’m no longer alone either.
Sometimes I try so hard to be a survivor that I forget I was a victim.
So, the only words I can find to share with you are-
I’m sure a vast majority would never call me the poster child for feminism and would say I have little right other than my gender to speak on the topic, myself included. I grew up thinking that I shouldn’t be bossy. I was rarely one to take the lead, unless I felt overtly passionate about a subject. Even now as an adult, a wife, and a mother, I find myself quiet on topics that I find I can let go when looking at the bigger picture. I pick and choose my battles. I think that’s just part of growing up, and you just hope at the end of the day you’re not on the winning side, but the one that is right morally.
It took having not just a daughter but also a son to really bring me into feminism. I have tried to raise my kids with eyes wide open to prejudice and inequality not just for themselves but those around them, and I’ll be honest, there were bias that I hadn’t even realized I turned a blind eye to before having kids. Never for a moment would I let them believe it was okay to see someone as less or even greater than themselves based on prejudice, even if that prejudice is gender.
All that being said, I’m also a “kept woman.” (That’s the nicer of terms I’ve been labelled staying at home while my husband works.) What I see as a partnership that has spanned almost a decade with my husband that now allows me to be a stay-at-home mother to our two kids, many see as me being bought and paid for. I could sit and list the tasks I try to complete on a daily basis, but the list of things I don’t seem to have time for is nearly twice as long. (Honestly, I shouldn’t even be blogging, which is why, if you look, you will see this part of my life is sorely neglected.)
Most of the time I just feel worn out. I feel like I have given a piece of myself up to be a mother and spouse. So much so that I sometimes find myself forgetting my own name. I’m just “Mama” or “Addy Osmani’s Wife.”
I’m not complaining. Those are my favorite titles in the world, I’d have to say. I am so proud of my husband and children. I am their biggest fan. I sit in the front row. I take pictures, and I lug around all their crap from event to event. I cook, I clean, I garden, and I chauffeur. I sit through doctor and dentist appointments. I worry about them all constantly, and I love them more than reason. Even though sometimes I feel overworked and underpaid, the benefits are so great that I couldn’t imagine a career in anything else.
When I am around his colleagues a lot of times people will ask if I code, and when I say that I do not, they are curious how we met, because I am an anomaly in his world, as he is in mine. We laugh when people ask if I’m in the tech industry. Not to make fun of the person asking or even me, but the idea is very silly to us both, because I am the least tech savvy person you may meet next to your own grandmother. I once attempted to delete System Windows32, but in my defense it was in add/remove programs, it said it was rarely used and taking up a lot of room. (true story) I mean, I have my good qualities. I can make you a pie from scratch or paint you a picture. I break things, and I make things. It evens out.
So, I walked around the event in search of swag to send to a childhood friend that is a huge fan of my husband and also had hopes of finding something child appropriate for the kinder. I stayed away from the fray, because not everyone has the patience to talk to a n00b. That’s when I found a sticker I had been searching for ever since my tablet died, and it refused to be removed.
BINGO! I could have squeed. I may have. I stopped worrying that people were looking at me, knowing I was a total fraud and had no idea what they were talking about, although I listened to each pitch and brought home my husband a bag full of literature to go through.
I was so happy and excited that I forgot being insecure around all these tech gurus, and I asked if I could have not one but two. I know, I know. Greedy, but a girl can never be too careful. (Am I really the only one that has bought a second pair of my favorite shoes, that hide in the closet, waiting for the next blowout?)
When the young woman scanned my badge, she looked at the company listed and asked what I did there, and I made the bad joke of being married to an employee.
I explained the mistake-
My husband works there and to get my badge printed, he typed in his company name while my hands were full. (The badge had printed, and I knew my fate was sealed. That I would be trying to correct people all day, so I tried to explain through fancy networking ribbons.)
She asked where I did work.
I sheepishly said that I was a stay-at-home mom.
“They have those in the tech industry?” She laughed hysterically at my expense. “Don’t tell any women in tech that, because they’ll find it offensive.” She chuckled a little more.
Her words cut me like a knife, and while an older male colleague of hers started in about ageism in the industry, my ears started buzzing. It felt like a punch in the gut, because it brought up all those doubts I had about myself over the years to give up working every day or taking care of my family as a full time job.
My self worth diminished in that moment, I turned away and soon left. Ironically I was on my way to listen to keynote talks about diversity, inclusion, and community. I actually felt like an outsider looking in as they went on, and my recent interactions stewed inside of me until I was slightly shaky from anxiety, but those with unseen illnesses like anxiety and depression (although that’s a whole other blog post entirely) will empathize with me all too deeply when I say that I can plaster a smile on and act like I don’t have a care in the world. It’s an exhausting affair, but I grew up on the phrase “fix your face.”
I still couldn’t believe a woman in any industry would treat another woman like that, but especially a woman in a field that is already facing its own battle with sexism. My daughter aspires to work in mathematics or business, and I kept thinking, what if she had heard that? What if either of my kids had heard it?
Would they think less of me as a mother? Less of a feminist? A woman? Less of a person?
Would they grow up and think less of those that dedicate their lives to raising families and greater of those that have careers?
I learned to type twenty five years ago. I was the only 2nd grader in summer school keyboarding class. I took it by mistake. My mom told me I could learn to play the keyboard, but I’m pretty determined, so they got me a big phone book to sit on, and I was at 35 wpm before I knew it. They said I was adorable, and I’d make a great secretary one day. As luck would have it, I got an electronic typewriter before I ever had access to my own “family” computer. Today I can type faster than the great Addy Osmani, but that’s about as far as my typing skills have taken me.
Today my daughter can not just learn to type, but she can learn to code and take robotics in the 7th grade! That blows my mind and makes my Grinch heart swell three sizes. That people look at my daughter and see the same potential as my son is amazing to me, because I didn’t grow up in that society. I hope that one day they grow up in a world that is blind to race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, and gender.
At least that’s my dream. I think as a mom we all hope for a perfect world for our children.
I’m not naming this woman or the company she works for or even the event, because my goal is not to shame another woman. I feel there has been enough of that for one day, thank you. I merely want to point out to women in all industries and walks of life that we can stand together, or we can tear ourselves apart, but if we can’t treat each other with respect, how can we expect the rest of the world to respect us.
“I would tell her to walk a mile in my shoes.”
That’s the only response I could croak out to that young woman without crying like an idiot.
I feel so many women don’t even realize this country is more than 220 years old and women have been able to vote for less than 100 years, because we were seen as “less than.”
I implore any women reading this to just be kind to one another. Compliment each other. Inspire others. Support one another.
The world is tough enough on our gender without us being hard on each other.
P.S. Sorry for the insanely long post, but even though Twitter was little quiet on my tweet, but it lacked GIFs or hashtags of my usual tweets. When it posted to my facebook page , some people wanted an explanation beyond the 140 characters I was allowed on Twitter. So, for the TL;DR you can check out that tweet.
I know it’s not Father’s Day, but I’d been thinking about him lately, and even though he’s a pretty busy guy, I called my dad tonight and actually got to talk to him and not his voicemail. This rarely happens, and so he inspired me to write a little something.
A lot of people say I look like my mom. My Grams and I have a lot of similar characteristics. The fact that she is younger than your average grandma means I often get mistaken for her daughter. I’m not really sure what my dad looks like. I grew up without a father, but about twenty years ago I got a Dad. We might not look a like. Actually, it’s horrible that when we go out people often think he’s my husband. Talk about gross. I’m not sure anything is more embarrassing when you’re a teenager.
However, after two decades together, we do act alike. I find myself singing off-key tunes about my surroundings like I’m living in a broadway production, even though I used to roll my eyes at his musical numbers. I have no shame. This I get from him. I will dance in front of my kids’ school or in the middle of a crowded store. (After ten years, my kids are immune to this, but my friends’ kids are quick to act like they don’t know me and beg me to stop.) I will dance in the rain when other people run for cover. I am not too old to jump on trampoline or play hide and seek, and I don’t think I ever will be. My crazy antics and childlike ways are all from my dad.
The practical joker inside of me definitely didn’t come from my mom. We all have that one friend that is constantly jumping out shouting “BOO!” and trying to make us pee our pants. Well, I am that friend. I get it honest, though. Now my dad lives seven time zones away, so I have to settle for torturing my husband…with love.
Like the time we shared a Spotify account (this is probably how I ended up getting my own premium account), and I added this pop song that he absolutely LOATHES randomly to his over 100 playlists, if the playlist was really long, I’d add it twice. He spent over a year removing it, and I’m sure there’s still a couple hanging around. My dad used to throw random things in the grocery cart while my mom wasn’t looking, we’d have cart races, and play “football” in the aisles with a roll of paper towels. In hindsight, this is probably how he ended up never having to go with my mom to the grocery store.
I say the same smart aleck responses that my dad uses. The same annoyingly parental unit come backs.
Oh, Hi, Hungry. I’m Elle. Nice to meet you.
What’s for dinner?
What kind of food?
The kind you eat.
Believe me, I face-palm myself even thinking about it. I stop myself sometimes and go: How did this happen? I grew up groaning over these antics. I suppose eventually we all grow up to become our parents. The things that made your eyes want to roll back into your head while you sighed so hard you almost blew the house down? Yeah…one day you’ll do and say those things. I used to stop short and shake my head, but I’ve come to embrace them. Maybe one day my children will pass on the Starving Brain Sucker to my grandchildren.
Love and Cheese,
It’s me again. Long time, no write.
It’s been…awhile. I had forgotten what you even looked like to be honest.
Well, as you can see, I still look the same.
Two of my oldest and dearest friends have called me out on my writing…or lack thereof. (I like to call it Chronic Writer’s Block, and I’m still working on experimental treatments.) It’s funny how we all have those friends. The ones that have known you so long that even if years pass without saying a word, you can pick up right where you left off without missing a beat. These friends also have the tendency to accurately call you out on your BS.
So, here I am trying to fit a blog post into my crazy life at two o’clock in the morning. Never mind that I have to be up in five hours, still have to get ready for bed, and I have a dentist appointment tomorrow afternoon. Those are just the minor details that I like to call life. I started another blog, and abandoned it. (Big surprise, right?) I have so many things I want to do that often times so much gets overlooked, and the truth is that, sadly, my writing has been pushed to the back burner. Once upon a time, when I felt that I had no voice, I realized that on paper I could let myself finally be heard. I once even won a trip to Washington, D.C., all expenses paid, for a week just because of an essay I wrote at lunch and printed out as the bell was ringing. It used to come so easily. Now, I sit for hours staring at the cursor while it mocks me with its pulsating blink. Write it down on paper, you might say…oh, the paper wad mountain in the recycling bin is just as frustrating. Other times, I can manage to close myself off, get it all down, then I go back to the habit I have had since livejournal and myspace blogs…I highlight and delete, convinced that my voice doesn’t deserve to be heard.
I mean, look at all the blogs out there. Everyone and their mother has a blog. Some people have blogs with their mothers. I am hardly the first person to have an Autistic child, and I am certainly not the first wife and stay-at-home mom. I am not a trailblazer, because I moved from the Ozark Mountains to London. There is no novelty for most people in travel in a world of been there, done that, and I’m still a novice at it anyway. Sure, I bake gluten-free goodies that rock pretty hard. I bake a lot of things that are awesome, but what did I make that I didn’t already get from another blog or one of my many cookbooks? I can craft my little heart out, but when I’m covered in paint, mod podge, or just burned my finger with hot glue, I’m not exactly dying to take pictures every step of the way, and write a how-to manual. To those crafty blogs that I often read, y’all deserve gold stars.
With all the voices out there struggling to be heard, I’m pretty sure mind would get lost in the wind, or at least somewhere along the information highway. I always think to myself, ¨Is this original? Has it been done before? Done to death? Do I sound like an idiot?¨
I think now, it’s probably the sleep deprivation talking, and I promise not to delete this in the morning, but I think that it doesn’t matter if I’m not the first. I don’t have to be a trailblazer, and no matter how quiet my voice is, that maybe there are a few people willing to hear it. My life isn’t a Hollywood movie. It’s not even a made-for-TV or straight-to-DVD movie. It’s just life. It’s messy and complicated. It’s loud and most of the time, utterly exhausting, but it’s mine. I wouldn’t change that for the world. Would I change things about myself? Sure. Loads, probably. Not my life, though. I love where I am and those that I get to spend my days with.
Possibly… it might even be semi interesting enough to write about. I’m sure I can find a few things in the last few years to ramble on about, because currently the best I got is that it’s the kids’ last day of school tomorrow, and I’m having a crown. The one that involves a root canal, not the fun party or royal kind. I feel like I’d rather be chased by a serial killer clown than write about that, and I don’t want to imagine how painful it would be to read. Now, I should probably get to bed.
Tomorrow’s a brand new day.
Procrastination and Love,
I hope that reminds someone of Veggie Tales.
I know I have a Water Buffalo.
Right. So, this blog is dedicated to my seven year old daughter, Heaven Leigh, and I have called her Leigh Leigh for as long as I can remember. Heaven, she insists, is very much like her father. A little devious. “Mad Evil Genius,” he would say.
Her first devious after school act was committed curled up on a chair with a library journal with an evil little giggle. Anytime I came near her, she hid the notebook, and her end result… You know, when I saw it, I thought, it’s like a mini Adnan Osmani came up with that.
When I saw it, she laughed and laughed, but then again, so did I, laughed so hard I could hardly breathe.
Suddenly, she stops laughing and says, “Mama, you have to put this online, so you can get a million hits. You will be famous. Even more than Daddy!” I chuckle at her. Me? Famous. I don’t think so. My husband has two books and more than twenty thousand twitter followers. Me? I bounce between fifty eight and sixty two. She’s an optimist for sure. Over thirty thousand stalkers on his blog and I barely have a few hundred. Enough about who is more awesome than who (it’s me, clearly). I’m actually very proud of my husband, and who do you think pushes him all the time? Well, I wouldn’t say a push, sometimes all someone needs to succeed is a nudge- someone to believe in them when they don’t believe in themselves.
I wouldn’t even be writing a blog right now if Leigh Leigh didn’t ask me to. I’ve got to pack two children to move to London in what feels like virtually no time at all! To say I’ve been frazzled is an understatement. I can barely write my own name, let alone a blog, but I’m taking time out between laundry and other late night clean up activities to introduce to you, my seven year old, Heaven Leigh Osmani, the devious, yet adorable, Mad Evil Genius.
The part that made me laugh was her depiction of her father. Spitting image. For that I’ll get a face-palm, I’m sure.
There you have it, Leigh Leigh’s million hit Silly Blog. I love my kids so freakin’ much! I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
She really did put a lot of effort into it and used me as a spell check for some words (she, however, prides herself on knowing the difference between but and butt), colored her art work, and wrote an endearing little message. She deserves her own blog. Someday when she’s older.
Love and Growing Pains,
L & LL
This past long over-due winter break I went to Antwerp, Belgium with my husband, who was speaking at Devoxx and attending the jQuery summit online. No idea what I’m talking about? Don’t worry, in any other life, I probably wouldn’t either.
The point is Elle hit Europe, but were they ready?
We actually stayed in Ekeren, we went into the city for Devoxx, sightseeing and shopping. I decided to break the first part of this blog into Ekeren photos, because there are far too many pictures and things to blog about as it is.
Now some might judge them for how they spelled Chinese, but not me. Those girls spoke Chinese, French, Dutch, and English. Amazing. You go to a Chinese restaurant in Branson, and they act like they don’t speak Chinese or English. I love the tolerance of other people. They say that Europeans hate Americans. Maybe the Brits, I find that to be a tiny bit true. However, you have no idea how many Dutch conversations a sweet smile and a polite, “I’m sorry, I’m American” got me out of with a small chuckle an apology. It’s almost like when I get a flat, and I call roadside assistance. “I’m sorry, I’m a girl,” it works every time.
Sounds crazy, and I’m more than a little crazy, but this was one of my favorite finds of the trip. Just sitting on the shelf with all the other Barbie and Justin Bieber dolls, Knocked Up Belgian Barbie, and she even gives birth to a tiny baby. Totally creepy? Maybe, but highly hilarious. Two thumbs up.
Is this vulgar? Possibly, but it also had me rolling. It was probably the beers I’d had before that, but seeing this sign gave me a serious case of the LOLs. I found it on the side of a building in a seemingly sketch part of town.
In my neck of Ekeren, I didn’t find many actual sights per say, but I did find this lovely church and statue of Leopold II. Not the greatest guy if you lived in the Congo in the late 1800s, but the Belgians liked him well enough, I suppose.
That concludes my pictures of Markt Ekeren. I was only there a little over a week, so I didn’t do the greatest amount of exploring, and as my husband reminded me, it was a business semi vacation sort of trip. On the bright side, I finally got to finish 1984 by George Orwell, and it was just as brilliant as I imagined it to be. Not much more I could say about Ekeren. My husband would scold me for not mentioning Jump-Inn, his favorite restaurant, but as I said, it was his favorite, and this is my blog.
*insert silly winky face*
Until next time…
Love and Leopold,
It’s not for lack of topic that I can’t write…
Ever had life go so topsy-tuvy that your thoughts are jumbled, and you can’t help but question your existence?
One thing you’ll learn in life is that no one likes a Debbie Downer. So, Buck up, Chuck. I know that I hate when my emo friends constantly post things on facebook about how terrible life is (and semi clothed photos). I love them, and if you can’t say anything nice… I just know that if I wrote about half the things spinning around in my head, I wouldn’t want to read it (and I lived it!), let alone anyone else.
Marilyn Monroe (who is far more brilliant than history gives her credit for) once said, “I believe everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you can learn to appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so that you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” She was not just big, blonde, and beautiful (and of course brilliant)- she was also desperately sad and lonely- almost haunted.
-But is that how the world remembers her? No, we only remember her smile…
And smile I shall, because I have a million reasons to. This is just one.
I know it’s hard to capture every thought that’s racing through my over-worked brain and string them together in some semi-coherent line, but I do have a lot of good ones. Tales and Travels to come…and now, more Tornadoes.
Now, back to where I was going before, not sure if anyone noticed my blog being quite dodgy lately, but I consider it “Under Construction.” I am just committing to writing, even if ElleOhElle is all out of whack with not so many LOLs.
Another quote. This one Picasso. “Inspiration exists, but is has to find you working.”
So, I better get my shit together, eh? (I know, I know, don’t be vulgar…blergh)
I do miss writing. I want to write a short story, but it’s literally been at least seven years since I’ve written one. I wonder if I’ve just forgotten how. I guess I need a topic- any ideas?
Love and Muses,