Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Toys for Tots Fundraiser #5, Final Post.

I have done this fundraiser in 2009, 2010, 20112012 and again last year in 2013 making it the 5th year in a row. I almost didn't do the fundraiser last year because I didn't have a computer at the time and was working so much I rarely had any free time at all. Then I decided pretty last minute that I didn't want to skip doing it. That even if I only managed to raise $50, it would be something to add to what I was going to buy on my own anyway. So I threw a post up on the blog using my phone (which is quite a bit more tricky than it sounds since the blogger app for my android was a giant pain in the ass many updates ago) and decided to see what I could get. 

In just two weeks, I raised a total of $720 to go shopping with. This of course included my own donation and a very awesome $100 gift card to buy toys off Amazon from a very wonderful lady overseas. I was a bit overwhelmed because given the lack of notice, I didn't expect much but you wonderful people as well as a couple coworkers and some of my amazing friends and family members came through spectacularly, as always.

If you want to see final results of the fundraiser from years passed, you can check all of those out here:

The final results from 2009: Here
The final results from 2010: Here
The final results from 2011: Here 
The final results from 2012: Here

Now, on to some pictures from 2013. As I said, I didn't have a computer to use in December and haven't had one until this month when my boyfriend finally got ours fixed and running again. So I do apologize for the delay in getting this post done. Although I did e-mail pictures to those who request I do so as well as posted a few to Twitter and to my blog's facebook page so there aren't many people that donated that haven't seen the pictures yet but still, posting this is necessary. Right? Right.












If you want to see the full album (22 pictures) then just click here to take a look at the Toys for Tots 2013 Flickr page to view the rest of them. 

I want to say thank you to those of you who donated. Whether it was $2, $10, $25, $50 or more; it doesn't matter. I appreciate it and I know the families that benefit from Toys for Tots doing what they do appreciate it, too. I have so much fun being able to do this. I've donated to Toys for Tots since I was a little kid and my mom let us each buy a couple toys of our choosing to give to them and kept doing so for as long as I can remember.  So blame her for getting me started into this one. ;) Doing it on such a large scale the last few years has been so awesome. I couldn't do it without all of your help so thank you. I also want to say thank you to everyone who posted on their blogs, tweeted links and otherwise badgered told their friends and readers alike about what I had going on in hopes of getting more donations. To everyone who donated or helped in some way... thanks so much! You're wonderful and I heart you. :) Until next time! 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Rambling and ranting...

I learned to do laundry at 13. No matter how long I've done it and no matter many times I've done it, once in a while, I'm going to forget to put in the detergent or the fabric softener. Although, I never forget both. It's either one or the other. Which doesn't make sense because you'd think doing one would just have me doing the other out of habit but nope, not always.

I finally started getting the toys for tots post together from December. Not having a computer up until a week ago made getting it done pretty difficult. Though most who donated have seen all the pictures via email or Facebook already but I still want to get the post up on Monday. I learned from attempting to do that via my phone in January that blogging from a smartphone is okay if you're not typing a lot and not trying to add links and images. Doing that makes it a pain in the ass. Which is one of the biggest reasons I haven't gotten that post up and haven't blogged much lately. Having a desktop again has been great. It's an adjustment getting used to a screen that isn't the size of a playing card, though.

A co-worker a few days ago commented on how tan my legs were and went on a small rant about how she just can't get tan. She asked where I go to tan and I replied, "outside." She got really confused and asked, "is there was an outdoor tanning place or...... I.... what?" I actually had to explain I've gotten a little bronzed up from all the time I've spent at my apartment complex's pool and from going to the driving range for a few hours a couple Saturday afternoons. I don't try to get tan, I just love golf and swimming and do a lot of both when the weather's nice. She was pretty disappointed I didn't have some magic salon I was going to.

I'm a big tea drinker. I've been taking honey ginseng white tea to work lately and yesterday I had a coworker ask me if I was drinking rose water. Do people really drink that with lunch? I've never tasted it but just the smell of roses makes me queasy so I avoid anything to do with roses like the plague.

On the local news this week, there were two stories that irked me because sexism against anyone grinds my gears (Thanks, Family Guy.) One story was, "kitchen recipes men can't mess up!" and the other "kitchen gadgets so easy even a man can figure them out!" The notion that cooking and kitchen stuff is feminine and only something that women should do is dated and asinine. Some of the best cooks I know happen to be male. In fact, one of my guy friends happens to be the only person I will eat a pork tenderloin from and I couldn't tell you what it is about his that I like but I can tell you I dislike every other one I've ever had in comparison. I don't even really like pork as a general rule but dude has mad kitchen skills. Another one of my male friends makes the best homemade pasta I've ever had. I would pay him all the money in my wallet (which ranges from 75 cents to about $20) for his beautiful noodles if he weren't so happy and willing to cook for the joy of doing so and enjoying good company. So, acting like men who cook are less masculine or acting as if men are all ignorant and incompetent in the kitchen? Knock that bullshit off, you look stupid.

My previous blog post about harassment gained a lot of response from it. Both on Twitter, in comments and in emails. Some of them have been maddeningly ignorant and some downright enraging. Lost in that are three guys, one from Twitter and two others that reached out via email, who thanked me for posting it because they appreciated the perspective.

To quote one of them, "I've never realized before that my approaches could be seen or felt as threatening, scary, inappropriate or upsetting. It's just the way I saw things happening in my culture around me and I thought that there was no harm in any of it. I was taught that as long as you don't lay hands, don't yell and don't berate you're not doing anything wrong. We're also taught that sometimes women are playing hard to get which means we need to try harder. I really appreciate reading your perspective here and the way you explained it, I realize now that I'm doing it wrong and that I've unintentionally probably made a lot of women uncomfortable without trying or even knowing I was doing so. That's upsetting because I'd never want to make anyone feel bad or unsafe. I will work to do better from now on." 

The other two echoed those sentiments in a very similar fashion and I can't tell you how happy them reaching out and telling me those things in the midst of all the negativity and ignorance made me. You guys rock and I sincerely hope you all meant it when you said you'd be striving to do better. :)

I should be finishing up other things right now instead of rambling on here. I have to be at work shortly and I'm still in need of running a brush through my hair and putting on some eyeliner. Oh and putting together the delicious orange chicken I'm taking for lunch. If anyone steals my lunch today (rarely happens but when it does....) they'll be getting cut. Or cookie dough thrown at their face. Or handing me over cash or going to buy me food from somewhere. Either way, unpleasantness will fall upon them in some way or another.

Happy Pre-Friday!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Let's talk about harassment.

Something that drives me up the wall is seeing and hearing people blame a person that is a victim or harassment for being harassed. The most common thing I see is blame being placed on the harassed for what they're wearing. Or people saying that clothing is obviously the biggest draw for a harasser. Let's do a little stroll down memory lane with me. Buckle up, this is going to be a long one.

(I go in to specific details on three instances of public harassment that might be triggering to some.)

One lovely Saturday I was at an outdoor mall. You know the type, not outlet stores but a bunch of stores, specialty shops and restaurants grouped together in the same style that outdoor outlet malls tend to use. I was by myself, as I usually tend to be. I was walking along wearing black flip flops, flare jeans and a black Dallas Stars tshirt. I walked passed two guys in their mid-twenties and one of them called out to me. I ignored his cat call and kept walking toward the store I was heading toward. Ignoring it didn't do the trick because he yelled at me again and threw something at me. I stopped, turned and said as politely as I could that I wasn't interested and asked that he leave me alone, please. He didn't like that much, called me a bitch and told me to "bring my white ass back [over there] and talk to [him] right fucking now." I started walking again at that and him and his friend began following me, continuing to yell things at me. I quickly ducked into a Barnes & Noble and ran right into a security guard that was on his way back out of the store to presume his patrol outdoors. I stopped him and explained the situation and pointed to the two guys who were now standing around just outside the doors of the bookstore. He asked if they had laid hands on me and I said they hadn't because I had ducked into the store as quickly as I could once they started following me. He said he would go out and talk to them and tell them to move it along. I went deeper into the store to the magazine shelves so I could still see out on the sidewalk through the windows. I saw him talking to them and watched them look through the windows a few more times before they walked off. The security guard came back in and alerted the store manager to the two guys and then went back on his way. I was afraid to leave the store immediately. I wasn't parked close to the store and didn't want to run into them again. My boyfriend was at work in a city 50 miles from where I was at the time. I was in the city I lived in at the time but I had no friends who lived there. The boyfriend had friends that lived there as it was the city he grew up in. I thought of calling one of them to come up there but felt silly doing that because at that point, I just wanted to get to my car and go home. I decided to hang out in the store for a little while since it's a store I love anyway. After about half an hour, I had found two books I wanted to buy but decided to go over by the magazine shelves and see if those two guys were anywhere in sight. I told myself I was being ridiculous and paranoid. Except I wasn't because they were back to hanging out in front of the store. I decided to call the police. They took off quickly once the police SUV pulled up outside the store. I was asked if I had initiated any of the dialog with them and was questioned about if I had led them on or given them any cause to think I had been interested in them. I hadn't and resented them trying to place fault with me for two guys acting like dicks. I was told they couldn't do anything because the guys hadn't harmed me in any way and asked why I felt it necessary to call the police when it hadn't escalated to them "really doing anything." I was livid because I shouldn't have to wait for violence to occur to take action. The fact that they followed me into a store and came back after a security guard had sent them on their way was threatening enough.  The security guard that had originally dealt with them offered to walk me back to my car. I drove home and once I shut the front door, I started freaking out causing an anxiety attack. I'm not sure why it happened then instead of in the store but then again I often don't understand why they strike when they do. I digress.

Based on societal views, I obviously did something to provoke them. I ignored them, politely asked them to leave me alone when ignoring them only caused persistence, was at an outdoor shopping mall in the middle of the day on a weekend afternoon completely sober and was dressed in loose fitting clothes that covered everything but my forearms, hands and everything from the neck up. I guess it was my fault for having the audacity to not humor a random guy on the street that wanted my attention.

Another instance: I was in a club with my boyfriend and a guy friend. The club wasn't busy and was very laid back in atmosphere. I needed to use the restroom. The restroom was on the other side of the club from where we were sitting at a table and it was upstairs. I walked over to the elevator since that was the only way up to the second floor for the restroom. While waiting on the elevator, a man at a table close by began trying to get my attention. I at first assumed he thought I was a waitress and said, "I'm sorry I don't work here." He replied, "bitch I didn't ask you if you worked here, I said get over here." I replied that I wasn't interested and just needed to use the restroom. He replied that he didn't care and to get over there before he got up and got me himself. He didn't wait for me to respond and got up as the elevator was opening up. Instead of going upstairs, I turned around quickly and went back to my table. I explained what had happened and my boyfriend got up and accompanied me to the restroom. As soon as I got back over there, the same man got up and started to say something to me again, until my boyfriend who is 6'8" and 300 lbs stepped up beside me. The guy looked at him, looked at me and immediately sat back down and averted his attention elsewhere. A little while later, I went to the back patio with my boyfriend since he smoked at the time and I wanted fresh air. The guy who had harassed and threatened me earlier but hadn't been thrown out because "he didn't really do anything" followed us out there. I was afraid he had gotten a few drinks in him and wanted a confrontation. Instead, he came bearing an apology, stating, to my boyfriend and not to me, "I didn't meant to scare her, sorry, I was just trying to talk to her." "That's not how you talk to a woman, ever. And apologize to her, not to me." To which the guy mumbled some garbage and went back inside. We left shortly after that.

 That night, I had on black 2" heels, black pants and a blouse that showed no cleavage, wasn't the least bit see through and the sleeves ended at my elbows. I made no eye contact with anyone but the elevator when I first walked up by myself. I guess being a woman in a club and not originally assuming I'd need my boyfriend to escort me to the fucking restroom was where I fucked up this time. Silly me, assuming I could go to the restroom in peace without some asshole harassing me.

Another instance: I was walking down a street on Sunday afternoon. I don't remember where I was going but I remember it was a beautiful day and I was walking downtown and enjoying the weather and sunshine after so many days of rain. I remember I was wearing jeans, flip flops and a t-shirt, as I quite often do. I remember a car with 4 guys not much older than me pulling up and driving slowly along side me so the passenger could attempt to flirt with me from his car. I moved further away from the street and again, expressed my disinterest and told the guys to leave me alone. He tried a few more lines but I wasn't interested and said as much. This  resulted in the guy harassing me and the one in the backseat passenger side to both throw their sodas at me and call me a skank, slut, bitch, tease and a few other names I don't recall before the driver sped away.

I guess it was my fault for daring to go OUT IN PUBLIC on a nice afternoon by myself and expect no one to bother me. I guess I need to make a lot more friends so I can have someone with me every time I go somewhere. Not that having a person with you always stops someone. Maybe I should hire a bodyguard because I'm obviously asking for harassment by gallivanting around outside by myself, right?

I don't have to give attention to someone just because they want me to give it to them. I'm allowed to decide I don't want to be bothered by a person without having to face verbal or/and physical harassment from them. I should be able to go places, by myself, in the middle of the day, without having to worry about if the person who just said hello is just being polite or if they're going to attempt to take it further and if they're going to react poorly or not. I shouldn't be blamed when a person does react poorly to rejection or being asked to leave me alone.

I'm not saying no person ever decided to single someone out of a group or a crowd because of the way  they were dressed, I'm sure that happens. I'm also sure that if that's a person's motivator, it has everything to do with them and nothing to do with the person they're about to harass. The dialog that surrounds this topic is disturbing because people spend more time pointing fingers at the harassed, trying to tell them what they did wrong and how they have partial blame because of what they're wearing rather than focusing on the person doing the harassing. I'm not at fault for their actions. They make the decision and put forth the effort to act the way they do. Them. Not me. Accountability is a real thing and unfortunately, often times, people would rather tell a person who has been harassed or assaulted what they should do differently to avoid it next time. It's the same kind of bullshit you find in rape culture. "Don't do this, don't wear that, don't say this and it probably won't happen."

"Don't wear that because someone might harass you or worse" is bullshit and incredibly inaccurate because it doesn't often have to do with what a person is wearing. That needs to stop being such a heavy focus point and the focus needs to shift to the fact that people aren't objects and people aren't entitled to demand attention from someone else and react with verbal or physical abuse when they're denied and people that do these things should have repercussions to face when they do react this way.

You wouldn't tell someone who was a victim in an armed robbery that they had it coming because they work in a store with a cash register. 

You wouldn't tell an athlete that had broken their leg that they maybe kind of sort of had it coming to them because they play a contact sport so they should have been more careful.

You wouldn't tell a person who had their home broken into that they deserved it because, duh, homes sometimes get broken in to and look at you over there living in one!
You wouldn't tell someone who got hit in a car accident by another driver that it was their fault because they should have been looking out for what every other driver was doing on the road.

So why do people want to place blame on a person who was harassed instead of the person they should be placing the blame and focus on? By doing this, you're only making it harder to change this. The more you blame people who aren't at fault, the less people will speak out about it because they don't want to be told they're at fault because it's hard to fight a battle when you're starting on the losing end from the get go. Or worse, they listen and believe they really shouldn't have worn those tight jeans to the mall and believe that the guy who copped a feel on the escalator was valid in that because he only did so because he was provoked by them, placing blame on themselves instead of where it really belongs. 

The belief that the way a person dresses is what causes them to be a victim or harassment or an attack is problematic, it's stupid, it's inaccurate and it's not helping anyone. 

Another problem with this assumption is that it gets people thinking if they don't dress a certain way, they don't have to worry about people bothering them. I am harassed far more often when I'm mostly covered and not wearing anything tight or revealing and I'm far from the only person who could truthfully back that statement up. The belief that you'll be safe from harassment as long as you don't wear this and don't do XYZ is harmful and dangerous. Based on societal standards and the usual victim blaming bullshit so many people spout, the amount of times I've been harassed should be significantly smaller.The belief that a person is even somewhat at fault for harassment because of their clothing is enraging. 

A short dress, a tight pair of pants, a low cut blouse, a bikini; none of these things are an open invitation to say lewd things, badger someone for their attention, verbally assault, physically assault or harass them in any way. A short dress is just that, a short dress. It's an article of clothing and doesn't entitle anyone, male or female, to harass another person. Ever.