I really should have gone into law. Or at least become a legal assistant. I got my first taste of the bug in high school.
I was playing slapjack or some silly game with a deck of cards in between classes with a student in the seat in front of me. The bell for class to begin rang and so I scooped up my cards to put them away. The teacher saw this and confiscated my cards, then took them over to a heavy duty paper cutter that we used for projects and made some lame joke about “cutting the deck” and cut it in half before handing it back to me. I got ticked off that he ruined my cards, furthermore that he was retaliating against me for something I was doing in between the bells, which was *my* time, not class time. So, in anger, I yelled at him calling him a “jerk.”
Well, hell yeah I got written up and assigned in-school suspension.
However, as probably the only student in the school who ever read the student handbook I knew there was a note about teacher’s “respecting a student’s property.” Armed with this knowledge, I went to the principal’s office to present my case. I told her while I’m sure what I was doing wasn’t allowed in class, what I was doing was taking place before the bell rang. Furthermore, I pointed out to her the rule in the student handbook and complained that he had destroyed my property.
Based on that, she ruled in my favor, the in-school suspension was dismissed and I just had to apologize to the teacher for calling him a “jerk.” BOOM. LAWYERED.
And it’s not just that. Any time there’s some wrong-doing going on, like when my slumlord of a landlord is trying to pull one over on my roommates or not fulfilling his landlordy duties, I start pulling information from the local landlord-tenant’s laws and putting the screws to him. I’m taking arms against a local bully by getting law enforcement involved in hopefully getting them off the streets.
I am Wonder Woman with the golden lasso of truth. And I’m totally not living up to my potential working as a mere secretary. But at least I can feed that beast when it’s needed and know when and where to research when my or someone’s rights are being violated.
I was witness to an assault this morning. Exiting my building, I heard shouting a few hundred feet up the block. A girl and a boy were following another girl, and the first girl was screaming at the second girl (what she was saying was unintelligible). Then I see the first girl strike the second girl. I hollered at them several times to stop as I walked up towards them. The first girl continued screaming, then walks into traffic, causing a black suburban to have to stop as she weaved in and out of the lane, all the while continuing to scream at the second girl before crossing the road, then the boy continued after her and they disappeared around the corner.
I stopped to check on the girl that was hit to see if she was okay. She was upset, naturally, about what just happened, crying, spitting up on the street. Another man came up and was saying how the two people that left were always causing trouble on this block. The girl nodded and said that’s why she doesn’t come up this way. I encouraged her to call the police. She said she didn’t want to because she was afraid that she had a warrant and didn’t want to get arrested (and for another reason I won’t say here).
I didn’t have a means to call the cops until I got to my office and I didn’t see an officer in the area to flag down. When I was able to call the Albany Police to report that I was a witness to an assault I was told that they can’t really do anything to find the perpetrators, even after giving my descriptions of them, because “there’s no victim.” The victim has to make the report.
What furthered bothered me is that I was getting the impression that the officer I spoke with didn’t seem interested in anything beyond saying “we can’t do anything” and getting me off the phone. I had to insist that he take my information, in case the girl does call. After pressing him, he did say he would “talk to the midnight shift” about having the morning officers patrol the area around the time that the crime happened. Whether he does that or not I’ll never know (unless I start to see an increased police presence in the mornings). I really hope he follows through with that.
THIS IS IMPORTANT: If you are the victim of a crime, that doesn’t preclude you from reporting it regardless of your criminal record. You still have rights and the people that perpetrated the crime against you need not go unpunished. However, you do have to take responsibility for whatever warrants you may have and being proactive about that will curry favor with the judge. The crime you’re reporting is a separate matter and they’re not going to judge you for what you did before when you report it. You’re still a victim and have the same rights as any law abiding citizen. You do not have to suffer the abuse of others, regardless of your criminal history.
I spoke to a representative at the Albany Crime Victim’s Board (phone 518-447-7100) and this was her advice:
If you are the victim of a crime and think you may have warrant, it’s easier if you turn yourself in. Go to the police station and say “I’m here for two reasons. One, think I may have a warrant; Two, I want to report a crime against me.” They’ll look you up in the system. If you don’t have a warrant, then you don’t have to deal with answering to one.
If you do have a warrant, make sure beforehand you have a couple hundred bucks on you and go to the police department early in the morning, when there’s likely to be a judge to see you. Knowing that times are tough, it’s still easier if you have a couple hundred bucks to post bail than 20 bucks. That’s just how it is. The judge is going to ask you how much money you have on you and likely post bail for that amount. Maybe convey to him that you’re having a hardship and can pay what you have. That’s really up to the judge.
Judges tend to show more leniency on you if you turn yourself in and will allow you to post bail and give you another chance to answer whatever court appearance you need to make at a later date.
With regards to reporting the crime, make sure the police take your statement. If they don’t, you have a right to complain. Ask to speak to the sergeant. Make sure you are given the opportunity to report the crime against you.
And if I see that girl again, I’ll tell her exactly that and hope she does whatever she needs to do to help herself.
I’m gonna take a moment to talk about my bad side. Very rarely do people get on it, and it really takes a lot because I’m a people-pleaser and give people the benefit of the doubt more often than some deserve; but when they do get on my bad side, it’s for a good damn reason. Usually it’s because of willful ignorance or mumpsimus, sometimes coupled with a lack of humility and/or concession.
To these people who have lost my personal respect, I can still be civil and professionally respectful in mixed company, social situations, or at work. Often they’ll try to play the subversive dominance game by presenting a situation where I’m forced to choose whether or not to respond to them by saying “Good morning” or “hello”. Most times I’ll answer with a head nod or polite smile. If I choose not to respond verbally, I’m then accused of being disrespectful or bitchy. That’s where they’re wrong.
People often confuse disappointment over an expected reaction as “disrespect”. I don’t feel that’s the case at all. One of the things I learned in dog training was that when a mutt is exhibiting negative behavior in an attempt to get attention from the master, you ignore it until it exhibits the behavior you want it to, only then praising it with attention.
If a person has lost my personal respect as a result of their actions, I will ignore them until they exhibit some kind of remorse or contrition for the actions that facilitated my disrespect. And if I feel their interactions are insincere, I will continue to ignore greetings of “hello” and “good morning” because I’m not interested in their passive attempts to coerce submission or response from me.
Yes, it’s petulant and stubborn. And I will do it for as long as it takes until the behavior is corrected.
I freely give respect to everyone, but when you lose my respect, it’s a long, hard road to earn it back. You cannot force people to respect you. You have to earn it by giving it. And you have to give it sincerely, or it doesn’t count.
Got to work on time but not after a harrowing escape.
I was dreaming that this alarm was going off but even after taking the battery out and smashing it to bits it didn’t stop the noise. Then I was at some family function where my mother and the sister I dislike were there. She (sis) was making some obnoxious scene drawing attention to herself (which is where that annoyance comes from. She was the baby for 9 years before I was born and we’ve had a contentious relationship ever since) in a red dress like the lady in Sixth Sense and (dunno where it came from but it appeared in my hand) I took a beach towel and popped it like a whip right near her eye just to scare her. And then she says that line from Pretty in Pink “You missed my eye by an inch!” and I respond with Annie Potts’s line “half an inch.” She starts chasing after me but chairs and other people are holding her back. Meanwhile, in the dream the noise continues. So I run home and am packing up stuff to leave (like running away except I’m a grown up so it’s just moving out) when I call my friend to complain about the whole scene, and how I can’t get this noise to stop. So he tells me to come help him out at a music festival and they’re standing sentry, making sure that people that aren’t supposed to come in (people without passes) aren’t coming in. And the noise is still on-going. My friend decides to go investigate.
And that’s when I wake up at 8:01 with the alarm blaring because I’ve overslept it by an hour and have to throw on clothes and forget deodorant or brushing my teeth, hailing a cab to work (damn damn damn) to make it on time spending two days’ worth of allocated bus money because my tardy privileges are suspended for a month* (sorry for all the run-on sentences but I’m artistically showing how I couldn’t even stop for a period I was in such a rush). This would have been the perfect day to need them. I just could NOT wake up! And it’s not for lack of my dream trying to, I mean I dreamed that an alarm was going off that I couldn’t stop.
And on top of the taxi fare I have to get a day pass anyway because I’ve got a doctor’s appointment this afternoon. So that’s another 4 bucks when it should have just been four bucks in the first place had I not been so exhausted. Stupid tennis and up and down the stairs with loads of laundry and ARGH. And today I start my official training with my friend for the 5K runs in September and October.
What a start to this day. This week. Here’s hoping the rest of it is less fraught with anxious running about. And more deodorant. I’m just so glad that taxi came along when it did. Also, I watch too many films. I haven’t watched Pretty in Pink in forever so it’s not like it was recent recall of the film. (Side note: this is why I’m so good at team trivia)
*that’s another story in an of itself. But for later.
When I heard of Dr. Maya Angelou’s passing I was greatly saddened. I know we all have to go sometime but the loss cuts deep. She lived an amazing existence stemming from great struggle to great renown. An autodidact (like myself) she sought out knowledge, learning many languages, ate life, loved well, fought hard, and was an undeniable inspiration to many.
Growing up in a repressive, and sometimes mentally and physically abusive, household I could relate to her caged bird metaphor. It was the title of the book that spoke to me and drew me in, reading her early life’s story. While I could in no way compare my circumstances to hers, I still felt a kinship in understanding and empathy. I gained strength from her story. If this splendid and accomplished woman can endure this much strife and heartache, surely I can find strength within myself to rise up and endure my situation until such time that I could be free from it.
I never understood my mother’s need to control to the point of repression and abuse. I never understood her selective racism and hatred of people she didn’t even know (and those she might have liked had she given them a chance). I just know the environment she created was a cage. Were it not for other kind souls in my life encouraging me to find happiness, like her Mrs. Flowers, where I could and find solace in music and books I don’t think I would turned out like I did. And though I tried to have a healthy relationship with my mother, trying to encourage her to become a more open-hearted and logical person, I ended up freeing myself from that relationship because some people just will not change. It doesn’t stop me from trying with others, and I’ve gotten better about learning when to walk away from unhealthy situations.
Other quotes and works of hers have moved my spirit as well. Growing up all I ever heard was “if you would lose a few pounds the boys would like you.” “If you’d lose weight, maybe you could find a husband.” But Doctor Angelou’s poem Phenomenal Woman was highly influential in helping me to love myself, where I didn’t get that reinforcement at home. It lifted me, and continues to do so, and I refuse to allow my mother’s derisive comments to define me.
Dr. Angelou still manages to reach me, even now. Last night I was reading about all the lives she touched and I stopped on her interview with Dave Chappelle. She said something to him in response to his question of how she does not stay angry over all the assassinations and injustices that occurred in the sixties where many of her friends’ lives were taken from them. He said he would have a hard time letting go of that. She responded to him, “If you are not angry, you are either a stone or you are too sick to be angry. You should be angry. Now mind you, there’s a difference. You must not be bitter. Let me show you why. Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. It doesn’t do anything to the object of its displeasure. So you use anger, yes. You write it, you paint it, you dance it, you march it, you vote it, you do everything about it. You talk it. Never stop talking it.”
We all have so many lessons to learn in our lives. I worry sometimes of the future and how vapid and lacking in character the people are that today’s youth hold in such high esteem. People my age grew up, and even in the generation before us, during a time where education and free thinking meant something. People had class and honor. People relished in the written word, found wisdom in it, and carried it not only with them but passed it on to others. Dr. Angelou speaks of how we stand on the shoulders of our ancestors and the subsequent generation will stand on ours. I just hope they can appreciate the wonderful history of the accomplished and venerable people who came before us and carry on their legacy.
If you’ve seen Inside the Actor’s Studio, you know that Mr. Lipton asks 10 Questions based on the Proust Questionnaire. Here’s mine; Like and repost your own, I’m curious.
1. What is your favorite word? libidinous
2. What is your least favorite word? the n-word
3. What turns you on? SCIENCE
4. What turns you off? racism
5. What sound or noise do you love? The sound of a needle catching the groove on a record before the first song starts
6. What sound or noise do you hate? those ANH ANH ANH alarm clocks
7. What is your favorite curse word? The entire phrase “Oh! Fuck wank bugger shitting arse head and hole!” (thank you, Bill Nighy)
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Honestly, I’d love to be a Math Teacher.
9. What profession would you not like to do? Garbage person. God bless you folks.
10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? Not so much “like” but I EXPECT him to say, “Oh Jesus. St. Peter, cancel all my appointments for today. This soul is gonna take forever to review…”
I had a dream last night I was visiting a friend’s house. My friend’s mother was there saying “don’t lose these cats. If they get lost we can’t take any more in because if they come back then we’ll have too many.” There were three cats roaming around: a calico, a skinny black kitten, and Mickey, much to my surprise. He was skulking around like he does when he’s in a new place.
"Hey! I haven’t seen you in a while!" I said to him, like he hadn’t been dead but like I’d been on a trip and was coming back to visit. I picked him up to cuddle him like I used to. I held him like a baby with his head tucked under my chin like we’d do every day for our daily hug. He was fat and happy like he’d been before he started getting sick and losing weight. It was very vivid. I could feel his weight and the feel of his fur in my arms. Then he hopped down to go explore some more.
I started to enter that hypnopompic state between dreaming and being awake and I didn’t want to let go. I miss him.