Category: Survivors


Groped At The Movies

Yes, that’s right. Earlier today, I got felt up by a stranger at the movies. Now, admitedly, this not the first time that I’ve gotten groped at the movies and I’ll even admit that this is not the first time that I’ve been groped in a dark theater by someone I didn’t really know. The difference here is that, unlike those times in the past, I had no say in the matter.

I went to a dollar theater earlier today to see the movie Red. I went alone, which is unusual for me but I’m off work this week and I was bored so I decided to go see a cheap movie in the afternoon. The movie started at 2:30 so, as usual, I showed up at 2:10, bought my ticket, and got into the theater a good five minutes before the movie was scheduled to begin.

Well, even though I arrived early, the theater was packed with people. I was shocked to see how many people were packed into that theater and, as I’m a bit claustrophobic, I nearly turned around and left.

But then I spotted two empty seats at the very back of the theater, apparently the only two empty seats left. They weren’t a part of an aisle, instead they were just two separate seats that sat at the very back of the theater, one located next to the entrance and one agaisnt the wall. I settled into the seat against the wall and the lights slowly went down until the theater was dark.

As always happens, people continued to step into the theater even after the movie began. One of them grabbed the last empty seat. The rest would simply come in, stand at the back of theater, loudly discuss if there were any empty seats, and then debate what they were going to do. A few ended up standing in the back of the theater while the majority left.

And one dark shadow, spotting the previously empty seat next to the door, decided to search the dark for any more empty ones. Out of the corner of my eyes, I watched this shadow as it slowly approached my seat, vainly moving his hands behind him as he searched for seats that were not there.

(I say “he” just because the shadow was tall and heavy-set and it moved with a determinedly masculine gait.)

As the shadow grew closer, I whispered (because the movie had started), “I’m sorry, there aren’t any seats here.”

Yet the shadow continued his approach, still fumbling in the dark, and I thought to myself, Damn, he didn’t hear me. If I’m in a room full of people (especially a room full of strangers), I get shy and my voice get much softer. It takes more effort for me to form my words, largely because I’m scared I’ll slip up and my stammer will come out and then some stranger will delight in repeating my words back to me with an exagerrated stutter.

So, it’s probable he did not hear me the first time I spoke. And it’s just as likely that he didn’t hear me when, as I realized he was about to be standing directly in front of me, I repeated myself a second time.

As he reached me, I felt his searching hand brush against my shoulder. As I tried to shift over to the other side of my seat in order to avoid his touch, I started, “I’m sorry–”

I lost my words as his hand suddenly cupped my breast.

I wish I could say that this was a moment that I kicked ass. I wish I could say that, at this moment, I said something so witty and so clever and so brilliant that the man dissolved into a pathetic puddle of insecurity. I wish I could say that I screamed so loud that everyone else in the theater turned and stared before then jumping up and coming to my rescue. I wish I could say that my left leg immediately went up and, in a dazzling display of self-defence, I quickly turned this man into a eunuch.

But that’s not what happened.

Instead, like many before me, I said, “Excuse me, there’s somebody here.” because I wanted to believe that this was all just a misunderstanding, an accident. I said that because I wanted to believe that the man was just making a mistake, that he was still just searching for his seat, that he would be red-faced with shame when he heard my voice.

And he could have been. I don’t know. All I know is that, without a word, the shadow removed his hand and then left the theater.

And I watched the movie, feeling numb and unsure as to what had just happened. At first, I just silently cured the man for being such a dumbass and I thought to myself, He could have at least apologized. I was so happy that the situation was over that I decided to forget about it and enjoyed the movie.

About 90 minutes into the movie, I realized that, as much as I kept telling myself that I wasn’t thinking about it, it was actually the only thing on my mind. I kept telling myself that it was just something that happened. I’m a D-cup and whenever I’m in a crowded space, I know that there’s a chance that someone’s going to brush up against them accidentally. It’s something that I usually joke about. It’s a fact of life and I’ve always prided myself on the fact that I’m not one of those large-breasted women who tries to hide her boobs or who acts all offended whenever she catches someone looking at them.

C’mon, Lisa, I told myself, it was just an accident.

Except it didn’t feel like an accident. I sat there and tried to convince myself that his hand hadn’t grabbed my breast, that it had instead just accidentally fallen on it. But if that was the case, why did his hand seem to linger? Why didn’t he immediately pull away? Or had he pulled away? Was I just imagining things now, letting my paranoid mind get the better of me? And, I wondered, why hadn’t he apologized? Why did he respond by just silently walking out of the theater? At first, I thought it was because he was embarressed but the more I thought about it, the more I realized how silly and niave that was on my part. That was wishful thinking. I wanted him to be embarressed because if he was embarressed, then it would just be an accident. Or was I just being paranoid again? These are the questions that haunted me in that theater and they’re the questions that are still haunting me hours later.

And, as I replayed the incident in my mind over and over again, I kept telling myself, “Just because something happened in the past, that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen again. Just because some men are bad , that doesn’t make all men bad.” That’s something that, if you’re like me, you tell yourself and you try to believe but that doubt and fear will always be in the back of your mind. That doubt and fear is the price too many women pay for being survivors.

After the movie ended, I sat there in my seat until the entire theater was empty. I sunk down low into my seat, trying not to be seen and wondering if any of the strangers passing in front of me was that dark shadow that groped me in the dark. When I did leave the theater, I walked very quickly to my car, my eyes darting back and forth in a fruitless search for any dark shadows waiting for me in the parking lot.

And now, as I sit here, I wonder: am I being paranoid or should I have sceamed and kicked? The incident itself is not what continues to gnaw at me.

It’s the doubt that fires up and makes you search for hidden evils behind every accident.

So now, the question becomes: what are you going to do? Me, I’m going to keep on living my life and doing the things — like going to the movies on a whim — that make me happy.

Because, in the end, what else can you do?

These bruises have lasted

now 24 some years just

below the concealment of

skin like an infection so

near eruption they fester

with your words that still

ricochet in my head and

kill my soul

leaving memories

that are like your hands

always there

but never with love



I’ve given you too much blood

Year after year

You have taken pint after pint

Those pints taking all

my iron and protein

Today I can barely walk

White dizziness cloud my eyes

My lungs burn and suffer

Cold, scarred veins sucking

not pushing and my

muscles clench in anger

I scream

awake from a waking sleep

grabbing for something

to grab onto

Trying not to hit the ground

Bleeding away the terror in my legs

Hush little girl she’ll say

It was only a dream

Welcome to 2011!

Traditionally, January 1st is when we break all of our new year’s resolutions.  That’s why, this year, I decided not to make any resolutions until January 1st.  Hopefully, by doing this, I’ll be able keep some of them until the 2nd or maybe the 3rd.

I also know that tradition dictates that you only make two or three New Year’s Resolutions.  However, I am a lover of excess.  So, this year I made 20.

1) I will update this blog at least every other day, even if I have absolutely nothing to say.

2) I will dance everyday.

3) I will make more of an effort to control my natural tendency to act like a spoiled brat.

4) I’m going to make more of an effort to get on a regular, daily sleep cycle instead of just waiting to pass out after three or four days.

5) I will set up a definite, concrete timeline for getting my Master’s and I’ll stick with it.

6) I will never buy tampons at 7-11 again.  And you know what else?  I’m never going to apologize for talking out loud about my period again.

7) I’m going to continue to run and exercise every day.

8 ) I’m going to finish my novel-in-progress, Mizmoon.  I should warn you that this is a carry-over resolution from last year.

9) I will either find a prisoner to correspond with or I’ll stop signing up for prison pen pal programs.

10) I will discover a previously undiscovered species of cat.  It will have long red hair and mismatched green eyes and it’ll be named after me.  It probably won’t always land on its feet either so be careful if you get a Lisa cat.  Don’t let it climb trees.

11) I’m going to stop worrying about pleasing everyone because it can’t be done.

12) I will finally get around to answering all of those questions that have piled up over on my formspring account.  I’ve got about 256 questions left to answer so this one might take a while.

13) I will be more tolerant of people who disagree with me even though they will still be wrong.

14) I will no longer be ashamed about being a victim.  Instead, I will be proud of being a survivor.

15) I will think before I spend money.

16) I will have more confidence in myself.

17) I will stop obsessing about my big, Italian nose.  Or I might just get a nose job.

18) I promise that I will try to try to stop driving too fast.

19) I will start to forgive.

20) I will allow myself to love.

Happy 2011.  Let’s make it a good one because, in case you haven’t heard, the world is ending in 2012.

It’s Election Day and therefore, today seems like as good a day as any to share a few random facts and opinions about the history and role of women in U.S. politics.

(That clicking sound you hear is the sound of a handful of men all navigating away from this page at the same time.)

As I wrote on Women’s Equality Day, American women did not truly win the right to vote until 1920.  Before then, women could (and some were) put in jail simply for trying to exercise a right that we now all take  for granted.  Oddly enough, in most states, women could run for and hold public office.  They just couldn’t vote for themselves.

The first woman ever to be elected to any public office in the United States was Suzanna M. Salter who was elected mayor of Argonia, Kansas in 1887.  She was 27 years old at the time.  She served as mayor for one term before retiring at the age of 29.  She lived to be 101 years old and never sought ran in another election.

Nellie Taylor Ross also lived to be a 101 years old.  As well, she was the 1st women to be elected governor of a state.  She was elected governor of Wyoming in 1924, succeeding her late husband in office.  She was defeated for reelection two years later but remained a prominent figure in Democratic politics.

The first woman ever elected to the U.S. House was Republican Jeanette Rankin, who was first elected from Montana in 1916.  She’s famous for opposing (and voting against) American entry into both World War I and World War II.  In both instances, her pacifism led to her either being voted out of or voluntarily leaving office.  While it’s difficult for me to accept her vote against entering World War II, she was a woman who consistently stood by her beliefs even when they weren’t popular and even when she knew they would lead to the end of her career.  That’s a lesson that several of our current government leaders would do well to learn.

The first woman to serve as a state senate majority leader was also the first woman to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court — Sandra Day O’Connor.

The first female senator was Rebecca Felton of Georgia.  A Democrat, she was appointed to the Senate in 1922 and served a total of one day.  The first woman to actually be elected to the U.S. Senate was Hattie Carraway of Arkansas.  A Democrat, Carraway was first elected in a 1931 special election to fill the seat that had previously been held by her late husband.  She later shocked a lot of people for running for winning two terms on her own.

Since 1922, 38 women have served in the U.S. Senate.  17 currently serve in the U.S. Senate.  In today’s general election, a total of 16 women (including incumbents) will be running for a Senate seat.  According to current polling, there should be a record number of women in the U.S. Senate after today’s election.  That number will still probably only account for about 20 to 22% of the total membership. 

(Meanwhile, 51% of the citizens governed by this 80% male Senate are female.)

Women have been running for President even before they were legally allowed to vote.  However, the first woman to launch a serious campaign for the presidential nomination of either one of the two major political parties was Republican U.S. Sen. Margaret Chase Smith of Maine who ran in 1964.  Smith was followed by Shirley Chisholm and Patsy Mink (two Democrats who ran in 1972), Pat Schroeder (Democrat, 1988), Elizabeth Dole (Republican, 2000), Carol Mosely Braun (Democrat, 2004), and Hillary Rodham Clinton (Democrat, 2008). 

Clinton came the closest of that group to actually winning the nomination and, arguably, was the first woman to ever have a truly serious chance at doing so.  That said, it still wasn’t good enough to convince Barack Obama to offer her the vice presidency.  That role went to Joe Biden, a well-meaning, old school sexist if there ever was one. 

In fact, only two women have been nominated for Vice President by a major political party.  Geraldine Ferraro was nominated by the Democrats in 1984.  Sarah Palin was nominated by the Republicans in 2008.  In both cases, the nominations were dismissed as gimmicks and both Ferraro and Palin were subjected to criticism and scrutiny that had little to do with their qualifications (or lack thereof) and everything to do with the fact that they were women being judged by a male-dominated mainstream media.  Hence, Ferraro was attacked for marrying a charming guy who turned out to be a crook and Palin was attacked for the clothes she wore and her daughter’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that either Ferraro or Palin was a good choice for the Vice Presidency or the Presidency.  Obviously, there are many legitimate concerns about Sarah Palin.  While I’m only familiar with Ferraro from history books, it appears that the same could be said about her.  My only point here is that rather than focus on the legitimate issues about either one of these candidates, the media decided to focus on their gender and judged them less on the issues and more on preconceived assumptions of the “proper” role of a woman in politics.

(That role, by the way, is to be a sexless, opinionless, and humorless cardboard cut-out with absolutely no history beyond the day they were first elected to public history.)

Though no woman has ever been nominated for the presidency by a major political party, many women have run for President on third-party tickets.  The first to do so was my personal hero, Victoria Woodhull.  In 1872, 34 year-old spiritualist, journalist, and free love advocate Woodhull attempted to run for President as the candidate of the Equal Rights Party.  For her troubles, she spent election day in jail.  The election was won by Ulysses Grant who, it is generally agreed, was one of the worst Presidents in U.S. history.

Since Woodhull’s day behind bars, approximately 25 women have been nominated for the presidency by a third or independent party, everyone from the National Equal Rights Party’s Belva Ann Lockwood (the first female attorney to ever argue a case in front of the Supreme Court) in 1884 to the Green Party’s Cynthia McKinney in 2008.

The first woman to ever receive a vote in the electoral college was Theodora Nathan, the libertarian candidate for Vice President in 1972.  She received one vote from a California elector named Roger MacBride.

Both my Aunt Kate and my mom were fond of saying that if women were in charge of the world, there would be no more wars.  I don’t agree with that but then again, could Victoria Woodhull possibly have been a worse president than Ulysses S. Grant?

It’s something to consider.

I love my Aunt Kate and I know she loves me but often times, we have trouble showing it.  To a large extent, it’s a generational thing.  She’s a part of the generation of women who rebelled against a sexist society by burning bras, protesting outside of the halls of government, and never allowing any man to get away with casually referring to her as sweetheart, babe, doll, dear, or any other term that would have served to diminish her.  Because of the society she lived in, everything she did — from the clothes she wore to the jobs she took to the way she signed her name — had to be done in a way that rejected anything that would have allowed men to stereotype her.  My aunt is part of a generation of feminists that were and are often referred to as being “strident.”  But if Kate was strident, it was because she didn’t have much choice.  Anything less than stridency would have been surrender.

As for me, I’m a part of the generation that can afford not to be strident.  I’m a part of the generation that can be feminine because we want to and not because society is holding a gun to our head and demanding it.  I’m a part of the generation that takes for granted the freedoms that my aunt fought and suffered for.  While I tend to forget that my aunt grew up in a time when women had to fight, I think she sometimes doesn’t realize that just because I might spend a while getting my makeup just right, I’m doing that for me and not because it’s demanded of me by a patriarchal society.  As a result, me and Kate argue way too much and often times, I forget to thank her for making the world a better place for me. 

I’m happy to say, however, that Kate and I have found something that we totally agree on.  We both love Tim Gunn, the former fashion school dean who is best known for playing the role of mentor on 8 seasons of Project Runway and counting.  Apparently, Tim — yes, both me and Kate consider ourselves to be on a first name basis with Tim — was recently in Frisco, Texas on some sort of promotional tour.  My aunt was among the countless women who came to see and hear him.  Kate approached him afterward, told him how much she “respected” him, and she got a hug in return.  She said it was one of the nicest hugs she’d ever received and that doesn’t surprise me at all.  He’s Tim Gunn after all!

Why do we love Tim Gunn?

Tim Gunn knows fashion.  This goes without saying.  The thing that always impresses me about Tim on Project Runway is that he’s definitely a man of another generation yet he still respects the opinions and the fashions of my generation.  He’s that rare older man who doesn’t expect or demand that a woman in her 20s either dress like 1) our grandmother or 2) like we’re posing for the cover of Lolita.

Tim Gunn is gay.  Don’t doubt just how important this one little fact is.  As a woman, you are constantly aware that every guy you meet is, somewhere in the back of his mind, deciding whether or not you are — to put it crudely — fuckable.  Everything a guy says to you, you have to wonder: Is he telling me the truth or is he just trying to get in my pants?  And if he isn’t trying to get into my pants — why not?  Obviously, this can lead to a lot of confusion, stress, and hurt feelings.  But Tim, bless him, is not only gay but openly and obviously so.  We know he is only interested in looking at the clothes on our body as opposed to our body underneath our clothes.  Tim’s a man that we can actually trust and how often do you actually meet one of those?  At the same time, since Tim is a man, a woman doesn’t have to worry that he’s been busy hating her behind her back or that he’s been spreading lies and innuendo just because her ass looks better in skinny jeans than his does.  In short, Tim Gunn is the ideal platonic male friend.

Tim Gunn has been celibate since breaking up with his boyfriend.  They broke up 20 years ago.  In interviews, Tim has explained that he’s remained celibate because he’s still in love with his former partner.  Since I have tendency to go crazy if I’m celibate for 20 hours, it’s hard for me to imagine what 20 years of voluntary celibacy could possibly be like.  That’s not a life I would really wish on anyone but it’s hard for me not to read that and go “awww…” at the fact that Tim would apparently choose to simply be celibate as opposed to just doing it with someone who he doesn’t love.

Tim Gunn could spend hours in a fabric store.  How many men can you say that about?

Tim Gunn is always sophisticated but never a snob.  One of my favorite parts of Project Runway is when the show finally leaves either NYC or L.A. and Tim visits the finalists in their own hometowns.  For whatever reason, each season seems to feature quite a few designed who come from and live out in Deliverance country.  It’s hard to describe the delight I get from seeing Tim, in his perfectly tailored suits and not a hair out-of-place, discussing fashion while surrounded by sagging pants, beer bellies, manboobs, and rampaging cellulite.  In a world where belching has become an acceptable form of debate, there is something comforting in knowing that there’s at least one man out there who still makes the effort.  What’s even more appealing is that, unlike me, Tim Gunn would never (at least not in public) use the phrase “deliverance country” when talking about the people he’s just met.  There’s a lot of be said for a man who can be sophisticated without feeling the need to call attention to that fact.

Tim Gunn has one of the few hearts in reality television.  One thing about most reality TV regulars: they’re very quick to let you know what they think of each season’s group of contestants.  On Survivor, Jeff Probst always lets us know which tribe he considers to be the most pathetic.  Julie Chen often struggles to remember just who exactly is living in the Big Brother house.  Chris Harrison can’t wait for  the Bachelor to screw up his engagement.  Don’t even get me started on those two fascists that seem to be intent on giving everyone a heart attack on Biggest Loser.  However, Tim Gunn is always seems to be sincere when he sends the latest cut designer up to the workroom to clean his or her space.  With is warm hug and his apologetic tone, Tim has probably kept more than a few failed designers from committing suicide after having to listen to Heidi Klum tell them that “We’ve seen it before and, quite frankly, we’re bored…”

Tim Gunn speaks his mind.  Tim may be nice but he speaks his mind.  One of the best things about this current season of Project Runway has been watching Tim put judgmental, catty snobs like Gretchen and Ivy in their place.  Who didn’t cheer when Tim said he couldn’t understand why the other designers were meekly allowing themselves to be “bullied” by Gretchen or when he showed up at the workroom and told Ivy to stop accusing Michael Costello of “cheating?”  There are times when I wish I could have someone like Tim Gunn with me whenever I’m at work and I know I’m going to have to deal with the women who work in the office next to mine. 

Tim Gunn is willing to call the Kardashians “vulgar.”  Somebody had to say it.

Tim Gunn does the right thing.  One of the reasons why my aunt said she “respected” Tim Gunn is because of a recent  video Tim made in response to the recent suicides of several gay teenagers.  In that video, Tim talks about how he tried to take his own life when he was 17 and still coming to terms with his sexuality.  Here’s something else that me and Kate agree on — I respect Tim Gunn too.  It takes courage to talk publicly about something that painful.  While everyone always talks about how tragic suicide is, there’s still a stigma attached to actually admitting that you have ever been in that dark of a place.  That Tim Gunn — who certainly didn’t have to — chose to open up that part of his life says a lot about who he is and why he’s earned the respect of both me and my aunt.

Tim Gunn gave me and my Aunt common ground.  After me and my aunt had spent a little while talking about how much we both love Tim, we came to an agreement.  From now on, whenever she’s tempted to admonish me or I’m tempted to get an attitude with her, we are simply going to ask ourselves, “What would Tim Gunn do?”

1) I love musicals.  I was in the drama club all through high school.  When I was in college, I was active in community theater.  I’ve never allowed the fact that I’m tone-deaf to prevent me from breaking out into a song.  Taking all that into account, I really should love Glee.  And yet, I don’t.  In fact, I hate it.  Whether it’s Matthew Morrison’s creepy smile or the way Glee pretends to be more quirky than it actually is, the show just annoys the Hell out of me. 

2) When it comes to selecting a favorite color, I’ve always been torn between red or green.  I finally settled on one of them about two nights ago but, for the life of me, I can’t remember which one.

3) I am a German-Spanish-Irish-Italian mutt with a little French thrown in for good measure.  I probably identify most with my Irish heritage even though I’m definitely closest to the Spanish-Italian side of my family.  A part of me wishes that my background was 100% Cajun. 

4) I have a degree in Art History so, of course, I’m currently working as a receptionist.

5) Along with being asthmatic, I suffer from heterochromia, i.e. my left eye is a lighter shade of green than my right.  Unlike asthma, heterochromia is actually kinda cool. 

6) I tend to talk a lot.  I mean a lot.  My sister Megan once said, “Lisa can tell the longest stories about nothing…”  At the time, it actually hurt my feelings but in retrospect, she’s right.  What people often fail to understand, though, is that the main reason I won’t shut up is because I’m actually very shy.  Rambling is my way of avoiding the dreaded awkward silence.

7) For close to a year now, I’ve been writing — off-and-on — a novel called Mizmoon.  It’s been one of the most frustrating and rewarding experiences of my life.  My plan is to have a rough draft completed by the end of 2010. 

8 ) If I had a time machine, I’d go back 11 years and tell my younger self to “wait” and enjoy being innocent for a few more years.  What’s sad is that I know my younger self would probably respond by telling me that I don’t understand how she (I) feels and that it’s her (my) life anyway. 

9) Often times, when I’m having trouble finding any inspiration for a more substantial blog post, I’ll handle the situation by writing down a few very random facts about me.

10) I’m not anti-marriage.  I just have serious doubts as to whether or not I could ever be a part of a succesful marriage.  I’m a romantic at heart but, at the same time, I hate the thought of one day waking up and realizing that I’ve sacrificed my own identity just to be “so-and-so’s wife.”  A friend of mine recently told me that “a succesful relationship is built on trust.”  I don’t know if I’ll ever be capable of trusting anyone that much.

11) I’ve often been accused of engaging in a bit too much TMI for my own good (especially when it comes to my twitter account) but there are certain things in my life that I don’t talk about even though I want to.  But I don’t because I know that if I do, people will no longer think of me as Lisa Marie.  Instead, they’ll simply see me as an object of pity or as a victim.  As much as I sometimes need to express my pain, I don’t want it to define me.

12) At the same time, I do find that it is sometimes to helpful to vent (or sometimes even cry out) on a site like twitter because 1) you can block anyone who acts like an asshole about it, 2) others can block or ignore you if they don’t want to hear about it (which makes me feel less guilty about my occasional emo moments), and 3) sometimes, if you’re lucky, someone will actually offer up either some good advice or come up with a response so perfectly absurd that it’ll snap me out of my angst.

13) Yes, I have in the past occasionally posted a risqué picture or two on twitpic, tweetphoto, and plixi.  And yes, I have occasionally had to deal with the total stranger who has taken it upon him or herself to tell me that I need to have more “respect” for myself or use better judgment.  But you know what?  It’s my body and I’m not ashamed of it.  Why is it that society continues to insist that a woman cannot be independent, intelligent, and/or liberated unless she’s also some sort of humorless, sexless celibate?

If I want to show off my body, I will.  Even more importantly, though, if I don’t feel like showing off my body, I won’t.  No matter how many DMs, YMs, and e-mails I get asking me when I’m going to post another “thong shot.”  The minute anything starts to feel like an obligation is the minute that I start to lose interest.

Someone once asked me how I’d feel if, some day in the distant future, I discovered that my daughter was posting racy pictures of herself on the Internet.  I didn’t have an answer for him then and I really don’t have an answer now.  I know it would upset me but I would also hope that if my daughter was doing that, she would be doing it because she wanted to and not because she felt like she had to.

14) Yes, I do want to be a mom someday.  If I have a girl, I’m going to name her Gloria Elena after my mom.

15) When I first started this post, I thought it was going to be a lot shorter and a lot less serious.  🙂

16) I am an obsessive list maker.  Not only do I continually make lists of everything I need to during the day but I tend to hold on to the lists even after the day has passed because the list, if nothing else, will at least help me remember the day.  Yes, I know this is probably an indication of a tendency towards hoarding.  However, I am capable of throwing aways my old lists … just as long as I’m given one last chance to read them before I do so.

17) Continuing on the obsessive compulsive theme, it’s very important to me that any numbers in my life be even numbers.  I can never, for instance, feel secure if I’m in a building that has an address that ends in an odd number.  That’s also why I’m going to end up listing 20 random facts about myself in this post.  (It’s also why, for my Lisa Marie’s Favorite Exploitation and Grindhouse Trailers series over at Through the Shattered Lens, I always include 6 trailers per post instead of 5.)

18) I used to love that Chanel commercial where Nicole Kidman was the actress having the romance with the — well, I forget what he was supposed to be but he was hot and that’s all that really mattered.  Except, for some reason, I always thought that Kidman’s character was supposed to be terminally ill and dying in the commercial.

19) I love old school Italian horror films, the gorier and more sordid the better.  Yet, in real life, I can’t stand the sight of blood.

20) Okay, one last random fact.  Hmmm…alright, I get about two to three hours of sleep a night and I like it that way.  Life fascinates me and I can’t experience it if I’m asleep.

Insomnia

For as long as I can remember, there have been nights when I’ve been held prisoner by insomnia.

Tonight is one of those nights. 

Some of it has to do with the fact that I’m a naturally hyper person.  In my family, I’m notorious for being the one who can’t sit still, the one who can only be happy if she’s listening to the sound of her own voice.  My oldest sister once told me that I had the ability to tell the longest stories about absolutely nothing.  When I was growing up, my mom always used to say, “Slow down and breathe, Lisa Marie.  Slow down and breathe.”  It was good advice then and it’s good advice now.

Some of my insomnia has to do with the various meds I take.  When I first left home for college, I’d regularly pop seven or eight capsules of Dexedrine every morning and stay up for four or five days straight.  The third day was always the best.  That was when my mind was tired enough to be open to any idea yet still so energized that it could explore those ideas.  By the fourth or fifth day, I would lie often find myself simply lying in bed and staring up at the ceiling, fascinated and frightened by the shadows taking shape above me.  When sleep did come, it was  the most wonderful and precious sleep that I’d ever had.  It was almost worth staying up for those five days just to get to sleep for 5 wonderful hours.

Of course, there were drawbacks.  Nothing is ever perfect, is it?  I’ve always suffered from asthma and not sleeping for days at a time certainly did not help my breathing.  Sometimes, by the time I finally went to sleep, it felt as if my heart was literally about to explode from my chest.  As much as I loved the way Dexedrine focused my mind, my friends complained that I was now distant and defensive.  And why wouldn’t I be?  I knew how they’d react if they knew the real reason why I was behaving the way I was.  I knew they’d sit me down and tell me about all the dangers and it wasn’t something I wanted to hear.  It was easier to just force them away on my own terms as opposed to having them abandon me on their’s.

I can still remember once trying to drive five simple miles after having been awake for five days.  Sitting in the passenger’s seat was my roommate, Kim.  After the third time that I nearly crashed while trying to change lanes, Kim ordered me to pull over and let her drive.  For years afterwards, I was so very mad at her for that.  Its only recently that I realized she wasn’t trying to make me feel like a child.  She was simply trying to get across town without getting killed.

Dexedrine not only eliminated my need to sleep but it also eliminated my need to eat.  Now, to be honest, this seemed like a pretty good deal at first.  Sometimes, it still does.  However, by the end of my first spring semester, I was 5’5 and I barely weighed 100 pounds.  When I went home for the break before starting my summer classes, I spent my days feeling listless and weak.  My voice was hoarse from days of talking nonstop.  My mom asked me if I was sick and I said I was just tired.  It had been a long semester.  She never asked me if I was abusing my meds but there was something in the way she looked at me.  It may have been my own paranoia or maybe she had figured it all out.  At the time, all I knew was that I couldn’t continue doing what I was doing. 

It wasn’t just the Dexedrine, of course.  I’ve always had a tendency to be self-destructive and abusing my meds was just the latest manifestation.  All of my life, I’ve indulged in behaviors that, taken alone, posed no threat.  Only when combined did they become dangerous.  At that time, Dexedrine was just one of the bigger parts of that combination.

I still take Dexedrine for ADD.  I take 2 capsules a day and, for the most part, they do their job well.  However, depending on when I take them, they do sometimes still keep me up.  More often than not, I still have to remind myself to go to bed.  Some nights, that reminder is all it takes.

This is not one of those nights.

And then there’s the other things that keep me up.  These are the parts of my life that I still have trouble talking about.  I hint about them.  I write lots of poems about them.  But I still can’t bring myself to speak of them aloud.  I wish I could and someday, I know I’ll have to.  But that day is not today.  These are the things that still haunt me when I sleep.  These are things that I try to hide in the darkest parts of my mind.  I hide them there because I know if I reveal them, most people will no longer look at me and see Lisa.  Instead, they’ll just see another victim.  That’s probably my greatest fear, to be defined by the actions of others as opposed to being defined on the basis of who I am.

I am not a victim because, in the end, the day is mine.

And someday soon, the night will be too.

“Out of the ash I arise with my red hair.  And eat men like air.” — Sylvia Plath

“I see the dream and I see the nightmare, and I believe you can’t have the dream without the nightmare.” — Tori Amos

“Never let the hand you hold, hold you down.” — Author Unknown

“You don’t have to be anti-man to be pro-woman.” — Jane Galvan Lewis

“Hear us, O God, Our Saviour, as we honor St. Dymphna, patron of those afflicted with mental and emotional illness. Help us to be inspired by her example and comforted by her merciful help. Amen.” — Prayer to St. Dymphna

“Being a woman is a terribly difficult task since it consists mainly of dealing with men.” — Joseph Conrad

“We are tomorrow’s past.” — Mary Webb

“To tell a woman everything she may not do is to tell her what she can do.” — Spanish proverb

By not coming forward (about rape), you make yourself a victim forever.” — Kelly McGillis

“I can’t be a rose in any man’s lapel.” — Margaret Trudeau

Gloria Elena Marchi Bowman (1958–2008)

Gloria Elena Marchi was born in Benavides, Texas in 1958, the youngest of five children.  Her mother was originally from Spain while her father was a 1st generation Italian-American.  Gloria grew up in a household where not only was English not the first language, it was the third.  Looking back, I always remember that I could never understand why this intelligent, kind, and beautiful woman was always so painfully shy.  It’s only now, as I’ve grown up, that I realize that, in her mind, she would always be that outsider who struggled to say in English what she could have so easily articulated in Spanish.  Her entire life, she spoke with a unique accent, a lyrical combination of Spanish, Italian, and American southwest that, to the delight of her children, would always become so much stronger whenever she was safely among her family.  Perhaps because she was so insecure about her own English, she pushed all four of her daughters to read and write and to speak with the articulation that she incorrectly felt she would never possess.

Gloria was barely 21 years old when she married and before the marriage ended, she would have four daughters: Margaret Megan, Melissa Anne, Erin Nicole, and Lisa Marie.  The last 29 years of her life were dedicated to her family and looking back now, my greatest regret is that I never truly appreciated how much strength and courage it took.  As a single mother trying to raise four very strong-willed daughters, I am sure there were days when it had to be tempting for her to just give up, to just throw her hands in the air and say, “Go live your own lives, I’ve done all I can do.”  She wouldn’t have been wrong because, as a mother, Gloria did everything she could do and then she did even more.  Through all the stress and worry that comes with being a single mom, Gloria never gave up on herself or her daughters.

She spent the last nine years of her life battling cancer.  I can still remember praying to God night-after-night, demanding that he mystically snap his fingers and take her cancer away.  I would beg him not to take her away from me.  So many times, she was told that she had beaten the disease, that she was moving towards recovery, just to then have it come back.  Sometimes it waited a few months, the last time it waited for three years.  But it always came back no matter how much I cried.  No matter how many tears I shed, she never allowed me to see her shed one.  No matter how angry I got, she never once raised her voice.  She never wanted me or anyone else to know how much pain she was in.  No matter how ill she felt, she was always there to encourage me when I was down, to wipe away my tears if I cried, and to calm me when I was angry.  Everything that she should have demanded from me and others, she gave to us instead.

When she did pass, I was so angry at her for leaving me.  Only now do I understand that she didn’t leave me.  She’s still with me in my heart forever.

Gloria Elena Marchi Bowman was the strongest and bravest woman that I’ve ever known and ever will know.  She is also my mom.  This website is dedicated to her.

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