Archive for September, 2007

The Power of Female Friendships

In the fall of my 18th year I made two life-changing decisions:  To marry my dysfunctional boyfriend and  join the Air Force.   I can’t even explain or rationalize my decision to get married to such an abusive, controlling person except to say I let myself be swept along with his wants.  The same with joining the military.  He thought it was a good idea for both of us to join, and I went along with it.   Looking back at my 18 year old self now, I hardly recognize her.  Who was this passive child-woman that allowed herself to be isolated from family and friends and controlled by an angry and suspicious boy who took out his anger on me with his fists? 

Relationship abuse was not openly or frequently discussed when I was in my teens.  There were no battered women’s shelters or hotlines to turn to, and admitting my ugly secret to anyone was out of the question.   By my junior year I’d abandoned my previous close relationships with my high school girlfriends in order to devote time and attention to my steady boyfriends and their needs.   At the end of my junior year, my parents sold our house and moved the family 50 miles away.  This meant that I was to leave the town I’d always lived in and the schools I’d always gone to, and start my senior year in a completely different school.  I don’t think my parents understood the impact this decision was to have on me – a normally shy person who didn’t make friends easily.   It also did not sit well with my boyfriend, who had not yet begun physically abusing me, but was exercising various forms of emotional control.   Shortly after the start of the school year, at my boyfriend’s urging, I ran away from home and went to live with him and his father.

To my parent’s credit, they didn’t force me to move back home and the restraint this took was not apparent to me until many years later.  My father, a firm believer in raising independent children, signed the emancipation papers so I could reenroll in my old school and finish my high school education.   In other words, my parents let me make my own mistakes, knowing that trying to prohibit me from leaving would be worse than trying to keep me home.  To this day, I have a great respect for my parents for the way they handled that situation.

So there I was, a teenage girl living with my boyfriend and finishing high school.  To say I had little in common with my girlfriends by then is an understatement, so when the physical abuse started I really had nowhere to turn.   When he blamed me for making him angry, I believed it.  When he insisted we get married, I agreed.  When he decided we should join the Air Force, I signed the papers.  

So in September of the year we graduated, we got married and he left for boot camp in San Antonio.  I followed 2 months later, and in those two months I noticed something different about myself.  I felt relaxed.  Even better, I began to feel the beginnings of happiness blooming inside of me. Being separated from my now-husband underscored the huge amount of control I’d been subjected to.  What on earth was I going to do now?

Boot camp was my first taste ever of female camaradarie.  Instead of hating basic training, I found it comforting and safe.   It was the first time I’d worked together as a team with other women, and I listened to them as they talked about their relationships with men – good men and bad men, understanding boyfriends and abusive bastards like my husband.  I realized for the first time that I didn’t have to settle for poor treatment.  That I deserved better.  I never admitted what I was going through, but I kept my ears open and learned. 

In the meantime, he had finished boot camp and was at training school in northern Texas.  But things were not going well for him – his anger and poor attitude were rearing their ugly heads again.   When my boot camp was over, I received orders to report directly to a base in Austin, just 70 miles up the road.  I moved into the female barracks (barracks were not coed back in 1975), and again found myself surrounded by women.  On weekends, my husband made the several-mile trip down to see me and we’d shack up in a motel.  Things had gone fairly smoothly between us for a few weeks, but it was not to last.  The inability to control my day to day life and the knowledge that I was making new friendships began to irritate, then enrage him.  During our final weekend together, he convinced himself I was sleeping with other men and proceeded to beat me until one of my eyes was blackened and my face was swollen.   The following day was Sunday.  I allowed him to apologize – standard procedure – and the apology was profuse.  I let him believe I still loved him – to do otherwise would only prolong his stay and I needed for him to leave so I could do what needed to be done.     He took me back to the barracks.  The next day I filed for a divorce. 

I’m telling this story because it emcompasses so many typical aspects of abuse.  But more importantly, it’s a story about camaradarie.  My first experience with the power of female friendships was literally life-changing and quite possibly lifesaving. The support and friendship I received from other women is what gave me the courage and the self-esteem to assert myself.  Without them, I would have been lost for a very long time. 

Over the years I’ve come to rely on my female friendships for many things – but most importantly for sanctuary.  Through the sharing of ourselves, we lift each other up.  When one of us cries, the others offer hugs and understanding.  When one of us rejoices we all celebrate with her.  The truly amazing thing is that this is true even in our blogging world, and I see it happen every day.   So thank you – my friends, my solace, my sisters.  I love you all!

Bloggers Unite: Stop the Abuse

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I’d like to thank Ruby for bringing today’s rememberance to my attention.   Those of you who know me well enough already know why I didn’t hesitate to post about this subject today.  This video is a short, but very powerful example of how domestic violence affects us all…

Moondance

My cold is on the wane and I feel almost myself again. Thanks, everyone, for your very sweet well-wishes – they were much appreciated!   Anyone who says the friends we make online aren’t real just don’t know what they’re talking about.  Poor things….    The War has been fascinating and since D-Day is tonight, today’s post will be short. But I was so inspired by our very full moon this morning, I felt an overwhelming need to write this post for him:

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Good morning”, the moon said today. His full, round face was a soft, welcoming lemony color.   “Would you like to dance?” he asked.

“But I’m late for work”, I explained, starting the car – preoccupied with adjusting radio and temperature dials, situating my bags and coffee cup.

“It’s alright.” he said, “We’ll dance while you drive.”

And we did. We faced each other and danced a graceful minuet during my short drive west. My hands on the wheel, as if on his shoulders, I swayed right as he swayed left. We came back again to center and repeated our step with the opposite side.   As my car dipped down a hill, my full-faced partner dipped with me until we briefly lost sight of each other, then met again on the ascent, his position slightly lower in the sky than just a little while before.

For a few short minutes we danced gracefully and beautifully until I reached my day’s destination.

Puttting the car into park and cutting the lights, I looked up to thank my partner.   His face, relfecting the not yet risen sun, had reddened slightly.  “Oh, mon amoureux de lune!” I exclaimed.

He was blushing.

A brief respite

The Observation Deck is going on medical leave for a few days.  The head cold that is making my nose feel like a bad case of poison ivy, is kicking my ass.  Couple that with the antihistamines and about all I’m capable of right now is curling up on the couch, sipping tea and watching The War on PBS. 

Those of you who’ve requested an interview have your questions.  The Doktor has already done a fabulous job and received a grade of 95% for his very fine efforts.  Make sure you check him out and give him shit for dissing Pan’s Labrynth.   (I see he’s already done a followup on that, by the way).  I’ll be checking back at The Nook, Jenn’s place, and WriterChick later in the week to take a gander at your efforts.  

In the meantime, here’s to soft, lotion infused Kleenex, a great PBS miniseries, and Tavist.

Q&A

I’ve been such a little meme slut lately!  Any kind of questionairre that comes along, I’m like “sign my ass up!”    So I let Red interview me the other day, and here are my snappy comebacks: 

 1. You have to choose to be one for the rest of your life: Celibate or Lesbian. Which is it?

This is a tough one.  On the one hand, celibacy just sucks.  On the other hand, women are hot but they tend to talk a lot.  Perhaps a mute lesbian would be best for me.  As a side note, I’ve noticed that when hetero women blog about their attraction to other women, tons of us come out of the woodwork yelling “me too!”  Yet I’ve rarely had this conversation with women in real life.  I wonder why that is.

2. What is your favorite holiday?  OK, I still say Halloween.  Why?  Because I can buy my favorite candy without feeling guilty.  Then I buy some candy I don’t like and give that stuff out while I watch Psycho for the millionth time and eat the good candy I really bought for myself.  

3. So I’ve gone through your archives a bit, wandering around and I’ve noticed a change in the way you write, from the beginning of OB to now. Why do you think it’s changed?  It has absolutely changed!  Thanks for noticing!  I’m still finding my writing voice and discovering what feels most comfortable for me.  Plus it helped when my host personality decided to let some of the rest of “us” write too.  It was hard getting the password out of her, but we got her drunk one night and the secrets just spilled out.    

4. Do you have super duuuper ninja powers?  I only wish to have super ninja powers in my next fabulous life when I will come back as Xiaoling, head of the Dominators Roller Derby team. 

5. Why don’t you  like birds?  They are nasty little creatures with their feathers and hollow bones and shap pointy beaks.  This seems like a combination for trouble to me.

So there you have it.  If you feel up to answering some randomly thought up, but completely revealing questions posed by myself,  let me know and I will email them to you.  But you HAVE to post the answers on your blog for the world to see! 

Music Video Thursday: Neko Case – Hold On Hold On

One of the answers on my All About Me(me) was which song I would take to a desert island, and this is it.  I never get tired of listening to this CD, but this song in particular.  Enjoy!

The most tender place in my heart is for strangers
I know it’s unkind but my own blood is much too dangerous
Hangin’ round the ceiling half the time
Hangin’ round the ceiling half the time

Compared to some I’ve been around
But I really tried so hard
That echo chorus lied to me with its
“Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on”

In the end I was the mean girl
Or somebody’s in-between girl
Now it’s the devil I love
And that’s as funny as real love

I leave the party at three a.m.
Alone, thank God
With a valium from the bride
It’s the devil I love
And that’s as funny as real love
And that’s as real as true love

That echo chorus lied to me with its
“Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on”

That echo chorus lied to me with its
“Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on”

All About Me(me)

Prada Pixie has bucked the establishment and made up her own meme and I say Good for her!  It’s a great one, so of course I stole it because I’m lazy and I think I’m coming down with the cold Ken had this weekend and I just spent $200 on my dog’s shots and allergy shot and heartworm pills and, shit – it’s Monday.

  1. What is your all time favourite book, from childhood, as an adult?  Little House on the Prairie/Pillars of the Earth.  I’ve read each numerous times and I even live close to a town that has a Laura Ingalls Wilder day once a year.  They don’t, however have an Observant Bystander day.  Yet.
  2. All time favourite movie as above?  The Wizard of Oz/The Philadelphia Story.  Again, numerous viewings and yes, I’ve done the WOZ/Dark Side of the Moon thing which totally rocks by the way.  A little known fact is that you can do the same thing with The Philadelphia Story and Frank Sinatra’s In the Wee Small Hours album. 
  3. Favourite type of chocolate, and how much of it do you eat a week?  I only eat Nestle’s chocolate chunks because, well, nothing says big hunk o’ chocolate like chocolate chunks. 
  4. Favourite drink, non alcoholic and alcoholic?  Iced tea with lemon.  Amaretto sour.  No joking around with the liquor, no sir.   
  5. Where is your all time best holiday destination?  For Halloween, I like to go a few blocks over to this big house that looks like a castle and has a blue tile roof (I shit you not, people), because they change the doorbell chime to sound all scary and stuff AND they give out full size Hershey bars. 
  6. Where is your dream holiday destination?  Oh shit, I just realized this was written by a Brit.  Which means I’m supposed to be answering these holiday questiont by substituting the word vacation.  Well, I’m not changing the answer to #5 because it’s truly the best Halloween destination.  As far as dream vacations go – I’d have to vote for a tour of famous cemetaries.   I tried to talk my dad into visiting Jim Morrison’s gravesite in Paris, but even after I explained who Jim Morrison was, he still wasn’t interested.  Oh, and Italy.  Yeah, I’d really like to go to Italy.
  7. Which is the best Beatles track of all time?  I Want You/She’s So Heavy from Abbey Road.  Nuff said.
  8. What are you most proud of having achieved (having children doesn’t count)  Making it out of my twenties alive. 
  9. What would you want for your last supper ever?(assuming it’s food you like now and not liquidized mush when you are 90!)  Cheeseburger, really salty fries, chocolate milkshake.
  10. How old were you when you had your first snog, name of snoggee if you dare?   Haha!  I know what snog means!   OK – 16 and no, I won’t say (cause a lady does NOT kiss and tell – did you hear that Monica Lewinsky???).  He had the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen in my life though.
  11. Do you have an unfulfilled ambition?  Yes!
  12. If so what is it?  Well, besides being a World Famous Blogger, I want to learn how to take pictures well.
  13. What yer gonna do about achieving it?  I’m shopping for a camera as we speak (thanks, Deb!)
  14. Describe the outfit that best describes you as you are.  Soft, wornout bellbottom jeans, gauzy shirt, chunky shoes.  The hippie girl never died.
  15. If you were on Desert Island Discs which one piece of music would you want to keep?  Wow I had to Wiki this one!  ONE PIECE OF MUSIC?  OK, but tomorrow I might now feel the same way – Hold on Hold on by Neko Case.  The words are perfect to me. 
  16.  And what would the luxury item be, as in no use at all, on a desert island?   An art deco still life painting I have.
  17.  Outside of your partner, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Beyonce Knowles, J-lo who do you fantasise about?  You mean I can’t choose George Clooney??   Billy Bob Thornton cause he’s sooooo nasty.
  18. Describe the contents of your purse/wallet, ie receipts/ bus tickets/ plastic you never use/ and if your lucky enough money.(English use of the word purse here)  Gum wrappers, lots of gum wrappers, hair ties and headbands, lotion, big fat red wallet, cell phone (somewhere in the bottom of the purse where I can never find it to answer it), cigarettes (always where I can find them), sunglasses, medications (old women have to carry their medications with them ya know), and various types of paperwork (currently camera research).
  19. Outside of the family what item would you save from the inferno?  Just to be clear here, my dog IS my family so he’s going regardless.  Other than that, my purse. 
  20. How much would you like me to stop now.?  But I LIKE talking about myself…