When Flirtation Becomes Harassment

I have a good friend who is a great coach. I’ve known him for almost 20 years,  but with going to college, moving out of state, getting married, etc, our relationship kind of ebbed and flowed. We would reconnect randomly at a 5k or call each other out of the blue and chat for a few hours. Sometimes we wouldn’t even Email for months. Thanks to Facebook, we’ve “friended” again and have been in fairly regular contact for the past couple of years. The thing I have found with messangers and texts is that you can pretty mucb keep the same conversation going indefinitely.  When you speak with someone on the phone or face to face there is a definite beginning/greeting and end/closing to any conversations.  Sure, they may be picked up again the next time,  but the ritual of greeting and closing is always there. Because my friend (let’s call him A.D.) and I chat through Facebook Messanger (which I hate, loathe, and despise, but that is a different topic), we have an on going, day to day, open ended conversation. This is cool because he’s been virtually coaching me for an upcoming half marathon that I’d really like to do well in.

Even though it is through a series of texts, the conversation meanders a bit and often, and easily gets off the topic of running. We’ve talked about his marriage problems and how to deal with demanding women, and why I thought it was a REALLY SUPER STUPID BAD IDEA to leave an argument and spend the night in a hotel. We’ve talked about his desire to get back into modeling and whether he could pull it off at his age or not. And we’ve talked about sex. Or rather, he has. He’s asked me to see him naked (for modeling purposes, of course) as a trade for coaching. He’s made lots of immature jokes about his own penis and my prudishness. I told him I wasn’t interested and I just didn’t find it funny since I wasn’t 14 anymore. I figured that because he’d been around high schoolers for the past 20 some odd years, he’d become one of them. I’m sure he’s surrounded by immature phallic comments all day long and after awhile they just stick. Whatever.

But then A.D. kept at it. Every couple of days I’d get a message and my heart would sink a little. I began dreading that little ding of the messanger on my tablet. No matter what we talked about or how strongly I would try to stear the conversation,  it would almost always end up talking about sex or his sexual organ. Then I would get a curt comment along the lines of “I’m bothering you because you don’t like that kind of talk, haha”. Usually I would claim I had some motherly duties to attend to and end it before it got too out of hand. It bothered me, a lot, that guys could remain so dumb and immature. I didn’t text him for several days.

A few days ago he started with a hello.  I didn’t want to talk, but I did have some coaching questions. First, my new shoes suck…what can I do about it? Second, I have terrible calf pain, do I need a foam roller? I had heard about them in running forums but knew nothing about them and Amazon had so many options. I just didn’t know what I needed, if I even really needed one. Did I need the thicker roller or the thinner massage stick? And away he ran with penis jokes. And no, he never answered my question.  I tried to pull the conversation back a few times to no avail.  I simply ignored the jokes. He made the comment that clearly he was bothering him and that was up setting him. (Right, the fact that *I* didn’t care for his sexual advances bothered him.) Then he said “so, good luck with the running.” And we haven’t spoken since.

Ugg. I spent the whole rest of that day pissed off. Why was this immature jerk going to get all upset and give ME the cold shoulder just because I didn’t “LOL” at some stupid penis joke. Because hes5an immature jerk, that’s why. Whatever.

That night my husband wanted to get frisky, but his come-ons were lame and juvenile.  Suddenly A.D.’s conversation hit me. Ew. I did NOT want to have sex with my husband because he was being just as lame! And then I got mad again. I realised that this guy’s actions were affecting my relationship with my husband, and that just wasn’t right. Oddly, it didn’t even occure to me until then that he had been sexually harassing me.

I tried to explain it away. “But he’s your friend,” I tried to tell myself. “I’m sure he didn’t mean it like THAT, it was just flirtation” and “It couldn’t be sexual harassment; that would hurt his marriage. He could get fired!”

No.

A.D. is NOT my friend. He knew that the comments and jokes were bothersome and unwanted, but he said them anyway. A real friend would never intentionally make me feel uncomfortable.
Yes. Yes, he DID mean it like that. Why ask to exchange naked pictures for coaching tips? Why ask to meet up? Why mention staying at a hotel? Why talk incessantly about your penis if you aren’t thinking about sex? Why continue to have a conversation about sex with someone who is clearly not interested?
Yes. All of it WAS sexual harassment. I was being too nice about it and giving him too many excuses for it.
Yes. He is now blocked on Facebook.

I used to always wonder how people were perpetually harassed, especially among friends. Why didn’t they shut it down, or say something, or block them? But you know what. Now I get it. There is a very grey area between flirtation and sexual harassment, especially when it comes to friends. I know I don’t want to hurt a friendship,  so I was hesitant to put a label on something and call someone out for bad behavior.  I was already embarrassed by it, so why make a bigger stink if there was a possibility that it could in fact be a non-issue? For months I just hoped that I was wrong.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it is only flirtatious, joking, or complementary if both people are having fun and are ok with it. As soon as one person is uncomfortable or unreceptive of the attention then the flirt, joke, or complement are no longer innocent fun. And yes, even among friends.

Ladies and gentlemen; I know you hear this all the time, but you need to stand up against harassment. It should never be tolerated, even between friends, especially between friends. If you have made it known to the other person that they are making you uncomfortable,  then it should stop right then and there. If it does not, WALK AWAY. That person was never a friend anyway.

Honest Valentines Won’t Make You Popular

Mean_Valentine
Raise your hand if you enjoy a good popularity contest.

Really?  That’s what I thought.

No one likes to admit that they actually like popularity contests, yet we participate in them all the time!  Who gets the most thumbs-up, Yearbook superlatives, Prom King & Queen, Bachelor shows, etc, etc, etc.  There are contests like this all the time and in all sorts of forms.  Most of the time we shrug them off as entertainment or harmless.  And maybe they are.  I think it truly is part of human nature to strive to BE popular and to LIKE the popular person.  I am okay with popularity competitions, as long as the winner is the one competing.  What I hate, loathe, and despise are parent centered popularity contests.

I have a cousin who’s daughter often participates in beauty pageants.  Once she pleaded with everyone for DAYS on Facebook to go and “like” her daughter’s picture.  The child with the most “likes” would win the “Most Photogenic” category.  My cousin was hell-bent on her daughter winning.  And she did.  However, my cousin had to badger her large collection of Facebook “friends” several times a day to do it.  Persistence won that category.  But really, was her daughter the most photogenic, or was it really just a popularity contest?  It had everything to do with the popularity of the parent and how many friends they had that could be swayed to go and click on something–not how photogenic her kid was, nor even how popular the kid was!

I’ve noticed this trend at my kids’ school as well.  The kids who’s parents bring in the best cupcakes for birthday parties are the well liked kids.  The kids with the parents throwing the more lavish parties, supplying more activities in the classroom, and sending in the fanciest Valentines are the more popular kids.  Popularity via Mom & Dad’s time and money.  Shameful.  Mostly because these kids are in Kindergarten!

Now, I have to admit that I do spend a great deal of time worrying about my own kids’ popularity.  I feel silly when I do, but I don’t want them to be lonely.  As they get older, I am aware of all the crazy stuff they are going to have to go through and experience, and they are going to need shoulders other than mine to rejoice with and cry on.  And I certainly don’t want them to be bullied.  However, they are going to have to seek out their popularity on their own merit and not through fancy Mommy-made cupcakes.  Or Valentines.  I don’t believe in giving candy to five-year olds and I am not about to buy a box of bland puns on expensive cardboard so my son can attempt to win a class worth of affection.  My kids are going to make their own heart-felt sentiments.  My kids will prove their worth and gain their popularity through creativity, hard work, and honesty.

Honesty.  It turns out that that means a lot to a five-year old.  And it was honesty and creativity that kind of backfired on me.  My son made some very cute cards for all of his classmates and wrote something unique for each individual, then stuffed them in his backpack.  Thankfully I had the wherewithal to take a peek before I sent him off to school.  Sometimes honesty can be so mean!

We ended up (trying) to have a long discussion about hurting people’s feelings with words; if you don’t have something nice to say-don’t say anything at all; white lies; being a good friend and including everyone.  My son only got out of the conversation that he did something wrong and would have to re-do half of his Valentine work.  He was not pleased.  But he also didn’t understand why he had to make Valentines for students he was not friends with, for kids he flat out didn’t like.  He didn’t understand why he couldn’t just tell them the God’s honest truth.  A good person wouldn’t lie.  A real friend wouldn’t lie.  He couldn’t equate honesty with malice or hurt feelings.  In the end, he chose to color in a few hearts, paste a few stickers, and write nothing.

And you know what?  It kills me a little inside.  I think my five-year old was on the right track with his honest, albeit hurtful, Valentines.  At least I think so in theory.  He shouldn’t have to lie to anyone to be liked.  He shouldn’t have to include the kids he doesn’t get along with.  And he shouldn’t have to strive for popularity.  The time and money put into anything shouldn’t equate to friendships down the road and “likes” on Facebook should be worthless.  It’s about the few kids that he does like that should matter.  It’s about the nice things that automatically come to his mind when thinking about friends, not being stumped on coming up with something “good” to say about someone else.  My kid is right; Popularity is stupid.  I can relax.  He won’t be lonely since he already knows it’s about the quality of his friendships, not the quantity, and I’m sure it will be those quality friendships that will get him through anything.
Lollipops

So, on that note, I want to wish everyone an honestly happy Valentine’s Day.  Don’t feel compelled to pass out admiration or friendship to people who aren’t enhancing your life.  Be truly thankful to those friends that really matter to you, because that’s what Valentine’s Day is all about.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY

 

Daddy duty: More men choosing to put kids ahead of careers – Videos – CBS News

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/daddy-duty-more-men-choosing-to-put-kids-ahead-of-careers/
This piece by Dean Reynolds was on the Channel 3 News yesterday morning.  It peeked my interest because I am a huge fan of diversity, Progress, and blurred gender roles. However, this clip proved to be a downer filled with stereotypical gender role nonsense.

I found even the title a little jarring: “More men choosing to put kids ahead of careers.”  Perhaps I’m wrong, but I think very few parents, men included, actually put their careers AHEAD of their kids.  Careers and jobs are just something that we have to do and some folks are simply unable to make all the T-ball games AND stay employed.  The fact that a parent has to work, has to take an important phone call, or has to stay late doesn’t automatically mean that work is the top priority. I think getting food into that kid’s belly is top priority and working gets that done.  Yet, when we notice a man interacting with his kid we get all warm and fuzzy inside, because, you know, it isn’t very manly.

I know the segment was meant to shed light on the growing numbers of stay at home dads and trying to normalize it, but the tone and phrasing did anything but that.  At one point the reporter states about a specific family, “she’s the bread-winner, but that’s fine.”  As if there were another option?  Would it really, ever not be fine?  What the article doesn’t focus on, which is what makes this whole “unconventional” stay at home dad thing so great, is that the numbers are rising due to the fall of sexism.  The fact that 16% of stay at home parents are fathers is absolutely wonderful because it means that there are better options for WOMEN.  Women are being paid a fairer wage now, so much so that they are now able to out-earn their husbands.  More careers have opened up to women, and more women are advancing in careers that have traditionally been male dominated.  This is great news because even just a few generations ago this wouldn’t have been possible for families, no matter how much the father may have wanted to stay home.

But they didn’t talk about that.  Instead they talked about how great it was that dads were willing to make a “commitment to parenting”, be unconventional and put their kids ahead of their careers (or themselves) and stay home with babies to do laundry, cooking, cleaning, and car pooling.  Don’t these dads just deserve a pat on the back–after all, these things are very womanly! The reporter wraps up his interview by asking the wife/mom (who works full time at a kick ass job) “Now, do you pinch yourself and think about what a great deal you’ve got here?”  And I would have to say, “Would you ask a man that?”  Has anyone ever asked a man that about his wife who stays home with his children? Or his wife who works but still finds the time and energy to take care of the house and kids?  Does this woman have a “great deal” because her children get to be cared for by a loving parent instead of being shipped off to daycare and after school programs? Does this woman have a “great deal” because the misogyny and sexism have begun to calm down so that she is no longer underpaid for the same damn job a man would do?  Or does this woman have a “great deal” because she is married to a man who is willing to be so unconventional as to take on the role and duties of a woman?

Let’s Have a F-AB-ulous February!

wpid-wp-1423149681986.jpegThat’s what it looks like outside my house right now. I am literally up to my eyeballs in snow! My picket fence is almost gone and you can’t even find my driveway.  There is no way to get to my shed that houses my Bowflex, weights, and treadmill. The path in the woods is waste deep and the shoulders on the roads are almost nonexistent.  What’s a girl to do?!

Out of safety,  I have given up on my running goals for the time being.  I’m not afraid of negative degree temps and I’m not afraid of slush.  But I am afraid of snow plows.  So, I need to find another way to keep myself in shape until I can hit the pavement again in the Spring.

Santa gave me a new bands set, and thankfully my lazy self never got them to the gym shed before the snow crashed down on us.  I also still have my trusty yoga mat in the closet, as well as some lovely videos and inspiration from the Internet.  There are a lot of options to stay healthy and get fit, even when you are under 3 feet of snow.

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My mom belly needs a bit of assistance, so the abs and core will be my target area for the month of February…or as I’m going to call it, FABruary!

I’ll be using this lovely calendar from the DailyHiit Blog:
FABulous February Daily HiitI will be following my crunches with the 21 Day Bands Workout from Perfect Online using these puppies: wpid-wp-1423149702663.jpegAND, I will be ending my day with a video from the Ripped Page on Facebook.  She posts a new awesome workout video almost every day, so there is something new all the time.  And they are easy to modify and do in your own living room!  Plus, she is gorgeous and I wouldn’t mind have her ripped abs – they are FABulous! wpid-wp-1423150390769.jpeg

So, if all of that doesn’t make my tummy a little tighter and burn a few calories, then I don’t know what will!  It may not be a 15 mile run, but I’m sure it will be fun and satisfying nonetheless.  And we’ll be bringing out the crop tops in March!

Procrastination is an Evil Monster

I am a writer. Or, so I’d like to think about myself,  and how my husband introduces me. But the thing is, I haven’t actually written anything aside from a few great outlines and lots of notes.  Sure, I had come close to completing my first novel years ago before my hard drive was maliciously ripped from my computer.  Since then I have found every excuse to not sit down and write.

At first I thought it was the children. I blammed them because they were noisy so I couldn’t focus. They were little and needed attention with toilet training, reading, fixing toys, food, etc.  I kept saying, well,when they are older and a bit more independent I’ll start and just take notes for now.  But I have to admit, it really isn’t them. I mean, two of them are at school giving me three full hours and my third spends most of the time quietly playing or drawing on her own.  I know I could write around her (and I often am productive).

Then I started blaming it on the house and chores.  So easily I would get distracted by the “need” to dust, vacuum,  or fold yet another load of laundry.  Dinners would need to be planned and prepared.  Toys picked up, items arranged, windows washed, walls scrubbed, and so forth.  Even as I sat down to write this afternoon I left a blank white page to scoop up abandoned Legos.  Was I really irked by the Legos or by the lack of words on my page?

Other things are the culprit as well.  I’m always distracted by the need to go brush my teeth, or grab a glass of water, or put more food out for the cat, or check for mail, or email, or Facebook, or read just one more paragraph, or or or…

Now I’m pointing a finger my my hardware.   I have a transformer Asus tablet with keyboard, but it is old and slow, and doesn’t charge up well, and the keyboard doesn’t really work anymore.  I have a newer Samsung Galaxy Tab tablet without a keyboard (what I’m using to write this) and apparently no USB ports to add one.  I also have an Asus notebook loaded with Umbuntu.  It is ok, kinda slow in booting.  A strange layout and operating system, but maybe only because I don’t have the password and am always logged in as Guest.  Writing without an actual keyboard drives me bonkers.  It also makes my shoulder hurt (rotator cuff injury,  probably some kind of tendonitis), as well as my hands (carpel tunnel as well as arthritis).  I end up sitting hunched over, wreaking havoc on my posture, causing an array of other issues.  What I have just isn’t up to snuff.

Riiiight.  Suck it up Mazy and write already!  I decided to make an attempt by writing for 25 minutes at a time.  I figured, I could ignore all other chores, my daughter will not have a monsterous toilet attack, and I could focus for a mere 25 minutes, then go back to regular household and mom duties.  Once I got good with 25 minute blocks, I could lengthen the time or add more later.  So I downloaded a fun little tracking app with a timer and set it to go.  Theni started booting up my Asus notebook.  After 5 minutes and running bios twice,  I got to the home screen and Office opened.  Then the breaker for the living room flipped.  Space heater, lamp, and laptop instantly went out.  After trugginng to the basement to flip the breakers back and restore power, my timer was now telling me I had used up over 8 minutes of my time.  The laptop refused to reboot.  13 minutes gone.  Fired up the old Asus tablet.  No go.  Stuck on the home screen with a fun swirly emblem. “Mommy! I need to go potty!!” 22 minutes gone.  Decided to just deal with it and opened Polaris Office on the Samsung tablet,  keyboard or no keyboard,  I was going to make use of my remaining three minutes!

Nope.

Despite my resolve, I got nothing accomplished.  And now it is too late because it is 2:37pm and I need to be at the school by 3 to pick up the boys.  And then I need to go over homework, and prepare dinner, and beg for them to clean up, take showers, brush teeth, wash the dishes, mop the dining room, and set out lunch for tomorrow.  I know I could write after everyone is in bed, but we all know that’s not going to happen.

A New Mind Set for a New Year

Happy New Year!
2014 was not the best year for our family, though not the worst. I would say it was rather stagnant,  unproductive,  and fraught with stress.  That is why Hubs and I have decided to actively seek a better life for ourselves and our kids.

We have resolved to make serious changes to our financial situation.  While it won’t be fun, we are prepared to give up all the frills and cut back on as much as we can get away with to apply large chuncks to our debts and to re-build the kids’ college fund.  That means paying off two vehical loans, reducing student loans by almost a third, and settinng aside $500 for college.  It will be tough, but with planning and drive we can do it.

We have also resolved to clean up our mess! We have a lot of stuff, a lot of clutter, and yet we seem to always be wanting.  Wanting more space, wanting more furniture, wanting more storage, wanting more time.  Hubs spent a lot of the holiday break by cleaning, sorting, and arranging the basement and today we went through the living/play room.  A bookshelf was repaired (instead of replaced), storage bins were put together to contain board books and puzzels, and broken toys were discarded.  We plan to go through one room a week to honestly review each and every item we own.  Our goal is to reduce our stuff by about half.  It might not really be attainable,  however, I think that giving ourselves a whole year to do it will give us the time to make decisions and to truly evaluate what we really need and want in life.  We are also adopting an item-in-item-out policy, especially with the toys and clothes.

I personally am resolving to let go of some of my stress, bitterness, nervousness,  and general angst.  My resolution is to embrace the happy and productive person inside me.  One of the tools I’ll be using is a gift from my brother.  I was given a copy of Wreck This Journal. I think this will help me let out tension, creativity, and redefine some rules I’ve set for myself that aren’t necessarily the healthiest. I’ve also taken up keeping a daily diary once again which helps to keep me organized and grounded (bills, chores, appointments, etc), and allows me to reflect on the ordinary and mundane things in life. The last two weeks alone of writing have given me a renewed sense of purpose and worth, so it is certainly something I will continue.

Other things I’d like to get out of 2015:
Read more classic literature (at least one a month)
Run a few more road races
Maintain a garden
Paint the bedrooms

Here’s to a healthy, prosperous, and relaxing new year!

1000 Miles for 2014: December

I DID IT! Today I completed my 1000 mile challenge and with 15 days to spare. It was an exciting and sometimes challenging  task, but I am so glad that I stuck with it and got all those miles in. You’ll see me listed in the #4 spot.

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I ran a total of 1001 miles to date in a total time of 132 hours, 1 minute, and 45 seconds. That’s an average of 7:55 per mile for the entire year! Whoo hoo!
While it would be fun to up the mileage for next year’s challenge,  I will hold off until New Year’s Eve to make that decision.
Happy Running!