Sunday, April 05, 2009

It never quite goes away. It's always there.

Years ago, decades ago, when I was in high school, one of my relatives -- a pillar of his church, a respected family patriarch -- molested me. He has never apologized for what he did because he's not sorry. In fact, he revels in it. As recently as the last time we were together for any length of time (a little over a decade ago), he behaved inappropriately, whispering questions about my rate of intercourse and whether I masturbate. The occasion that brought us together was my mom's 60th birthday, and he enjoyed watching me squirm as I tried to maintain the "one big happy family" facade even as felt his breath on my skin. I was so upset that afterward I announced to my mother and sisters that I was never, ever going to be in the same room with him again. I can't bear it. And, as an adult, I have the power to make that decision, and to protect myself from humiliation and hurt.

It isn't that my mother and kid sister don't believe what happened to me back in the 1970s. It's more that they wish I could just "get past it" for the sake of peace in the family. He has since remarried and his new wife must wonder why I am so distant. (I wonder which of her daughters he played "funny uncle" with, because sex offenses are serial behavior, but you can imagine how well that went over.) The cousins in Michigan and Florida adore him and would be shattered if they knew what he did. I have stood my ground, though. I refused to attend my niece's baptism because he was invited (I couldn't bear dealing with that at a church function). I left a family visitation through the side door when he came in the front.

I know that it isn't very Christian of me, but I can't stand that this 80+ year old pervert is still alive, throwing wrenches in the works. My life would be so much easier if he were dead. (There, I said it.) What happens if my mom needs help when she gets out of the hospital? If I'm staying at her house, I may have to play hostess to the creep when he comes to call. He'll do it because it's expected of him, my mom being so sick so close to Easter and all, and it will burnish his reputation with the relatives that don't know any better. I'll do it because it will be what my mother will want me to do, and her needs supersede mine at this point. Protecting his skinny old ass and his pious reputation are paramount.

Oh well, she's not even out of the hospital yet. It could be that her condition will be so improved by tomorrow or Tuesday that she won't need me to live in. I could be worrying about a situation that will never come to pass.

I long to quit protecting him. HE, after all, is at fault. If his reputation were tarnished, it would be no less than he deserves. After all, some people get arrested for what he did in that upstairs bedroom way back when. But I realize that in order to keep the family facade as smooth as glass, I'll have to keep preserving his "good name" for as long as he lives.

It means a lot to my mother. I wish it didn't, but it does, so I'll have to suck it up, even if it means hurt and humiliation.

Feeling inspired

I joined a health club here in my neighborhood and did 35 minutes of cardio, 16 reps on one of the arm machines and some leg lifts. The club is new-ish (about two years old) and has far more equipment than the Bally's club I go to downtown. It's also open almost 24 hours a day, so it gives me fewer excuses for blowing off my workouts.

Spending days being buffed and scrubbed and massaged and exfoliated made me think a bit differently about my body. I used to be in shape. I used to feel better and was proud of my endurance. Now I'm a fatty who is out of breath racing to the el platform. The only one between me and a little self improvement is me. I won't look as good as I did at 25, but I can look and feel better. I just need to focus.

Look who represents us!

I'm watching the "week in review" coverage of the President's European trip and his speech in Prague today, and I'm so proud. And relieved.

My job looks OK through the summer, but that's as far into the future as it goes. And that's just the regular baseball season. (Of course, as a Cub fan, I'm dreaming of a post-season ... as an employee, I'd like one, too.) It's not like I'm comfortable enough to develop a 1-year personal financial plan, much less a 5-year plan.

The world is a scarier place than I can fathom. Pakistan and Afghanistan are a mess. Israel has brought back Netanyahu, never exactly open to playing well with others. Look! Up in the sky! Is that a ballistic missile sent up by Korea?

It's the nation and the world George W. Bush helped in no small way to shape. I'm just glad he's not out there making it all worse, either by his his arrogance or neglect.

Instead we're represented by a man who relishes diversity and espouses hope and change at a time when the world seems thirsty for it. And, of course, Michelle. Jackie for a new generation.

I realize that this trip may have been a triumph of style over substance. But that's OK. For the "wanted, dead or alive" cowboy image we had abroad was toxic. The crowds in Prague to hear the President speak about a safer future warmed my heart.

53¢ and a flag of New Zealand

My 16-year-old niece is a slob. Even more than me, and that's saying something. Her parents decided her room was sliding from "messy" into "fire hazard," and decreed that she must clean it up (or is it "out"?) this weekend.

She recruited her 9-year-old brother to help. He was thrilled because he is seldom even allowed in her sanctuary, much less invited into it. They worked together for hours and reportedly came up with bags of things to be discarded. When I spoke to him last night, he breathlessly told me how he had been paid: he could rescue any one thing he wanted from her castoffs, he could keep any money he found on the floor, and he could have 30 minutes of her evening Internet time.

"I got 53¢ and a flag of New Zealand!" he exclaimed. His joy was infectious.