The Quickie

 

This is going to be a quickie blog post before I head out overnight to a grad school meet and greet, interview, all of the above day.

I’ve learned a couple of things about myself this past week. One, I know nothing about musicians. I listen to music and really just never pay attention to anything else. I have the same amount of knowledge regarding celebrities – including actors – no knowledge of their personal life or resume. I also realized it’s because I literally don’t care. The more I find out, the less I wish I knew.

I’ve also learned that some people just cannot stay out of the news and I’m pretty sure that it’s a nightmare for them. Maybe they thought they wanted it – fame, celebrity, to be a household name, but I bet they’re pretty regretful at this point. I mean, nightmare. Mine, my nightmare, because I have to write a million stories about you and make them sound interesting, and for you because many of them aren’t flattering.

I learned I am a super-capable and competent adult human. Sometimes I forget that. I’ll look over and see I have a dog and think, ‘my God! How have I not lost you, forgot to feed you, how have I managed to shelter you for so long?’ It’s a legit question. And along those same lines, how on earth did I manage to buy a house? Who am I? It’s absurd. Which is why I probably still wake up from naps feeling disoriented and looking around expecting to see my parent’s couch and family room… do you ever do that? It’s spooky, right?

I learned I love being a Writer, but I don’t love all the things I write. Including personal projects, but more often, the work stuff that pays bills. It’s fine it’s just finding freedom in the restrictive guidelines of a job is really hard. But I’ve been a writer for a long time, and only recently have I really dove right into author groups and graduate level course work and considered professors and published authors as my peers… and I’ve never been happier or more aligned with anything or any people in my life. I have found an interesting, supportive, and amazing world of human beings that really go the distance for one another and for their readers. And it doesn’t matter who those readers are be-it you, or a client, or any audience. Writers just want their work to be good for the reader.

So, that all being said I invite you to partake in this awesome author Holiday Book give-away by a few great writers. It’s simple to enter and you could win up to 5-free books. I’ve entered 6-times and I’ve already read 3 of the books, hahaha! I’m always happy to help promote good work and I think it’s important that we all support each other and our indie, entrepreneurial, start-up endeavors. Enjoy the give-away and good luck! I’ll be back shortly!

Link to website hosting the Holiday Book Blog and Give-away:

https://www.chibeingchi.com/books-and-writing/2017/11/28/online-book-blog-party

Link to register for prizes:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ae36de0d1/?

This is my story. Me too.

It’s awkward, it’s difficult, and it is hard to talk about sexual assault even when you live a life of openness. Victim isn’t an adjective I like to use in any context when describing myself. I prefer quirky, funny, kind, sincere – you get the idea. And I imagine that of the women who have found the courage to speak out about misconduct and assault, feel the same way.

I remember early on in our relationship my husband and I were drinking a couple of beers and holding hands while we sat outside doing nothing. Remember that part of a relationship? When doing nothing was easy? If you’re still in that phase – cherish it. We sat there and after a beer I was feeling saucy and brave and I asked him that awkward question, how many partners have you had? He answered, unembarrassed even though I stared at him with wide-eyed shock. And I have pretty large, innocent looking eyes, so he was pretty brave. When he turned the table on me and asked for my number I started shaking, similar to the way my hands are trembling now as I type this.

It wasn’t because I didn’t know. It was because I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to count the person who had raped me.

Then I wasn’t sure if I should tell my new boyfriend I had been raped.

What would his reaction be?

Would he blame me?

Would he see me differently?

Would I be able to see this relationship until “I Do,” holding onto this secret?

Anxiety was building up inside me, as I awkwardly started ugly sweating. You know, my upper lip started dripping down my mouth, my armpits had a ring that would never wash out properly and I knew I was going to blurt it out. He would be the third person I’d told in the 3-years after it had happened. I told my therapist after 18-months of seeing her. I told a friend that grew up with me and knew my assaulter. And now I was about to tell the man I had just started dating.

“Do I count being raped as part of my number?”

“I think so?” he smiles awkwardly. “No… Wait…were you raped?”

“Yes, but I don’t think it counts. Right? You don’t actually think it counts, do you?”

“I think it counts, but not the way you’re asking.”

“I don’t want to talk about it, so don’t ask me any questions, I just wanted to know if you thought it counted.”

He laughed, nervously. Not because he thought it was funny, but because he was uncomfortable and didn’t know how to handle the information. He’s a good guy, I married him. No one had ever admitted to him before that they had been sexually assaulted. He was naïve.

I was assaulted as an adult woman, by someone I’d known since I was 14-years-old, he was a friend. I had been alone with him so many times before, we had been schoolmates. We had gone out to the movies and dinner never quite framing ourselves as dating – we were always just buds/pals/friends, over the decade plus of growing-up together.

When it happened he was engaged/about to be engaged/had a ring for his girlfriend, so there was no misunderstanding about his actions. And while there had been one regretful kiss, when he pinned my arms down and straddled me so I couldn’t kick or move, then yanked off my pants while I screamed “NO,” there was no way the situation could be misunderstood.

When he was done he cried. He told me he didn’t know what had come over him. He felt he had to prove himself to me.

I did not cry.

I flew home to L.A. and made a list of the things I had to do to prevent disease, infection, and pregnancy. I had to show up to work the next day after landing and pretend I was okay.

I had to pretend when he called several months later from an unknown number and greeted me with a giggle and an “are you feeling better?” that he had the wrong number and that no Jaime existed here. Then I changed my cellphone.

I had to pretend for 18-months I was okay, until a therapist told me it was okay to not be okay anymore.

We come from a smallish town where everybody knows everybody. I couldn’t let anyone know this happened. I would be deemed a slut, a whore, or worse a liar. That is what I had seen happen to other girls and women and I was just too afraid. I didn’t have support of family, and I didn’t know how to trust anyone.

I feel sorry for the man I dated after it happened. I was holding myself together by dental floss. He was a gentleman, and kind, and trustworthy, but I needed to be alone and I needed to straighten out the mess the assault left behind in me. I should have told him that. I was an imposter living a strange version of myself.

I had to deal with my fear, guilt, anxiety, and a biopsy on my cervix, because I was assaulted.

I hate going home and wondering if I’ll run into him, so I don’t go out when I visit. I don’t go to reunions. And I make sure he’s blocked from my peripheral.

This is my story. Me too.

 

I’ve Been Too Busy To Write, Because I’ve Been Busy Writing

Yeah, I know how it sounds, but it’s true. I can’t think of a better way to have been too busy for my blog… except for my two-year-old. He keeps me happily busy as well. Our daily conversations start a little like this:

Me: Jack, I love you so much I could eat you.

Jack: I love you too, mommy.

Who taught him grammar at two? Hopefully Jason and I, but maybe he’s just a gifted toddler, that’s what I’m supposed to say – I’m his mother.

I digress. I’ve had so many things to talk about and as I sit here to recount them, I am left mindlessly wondering, what was I going to say? I feel like that happens a lot. Probably to everyone, but I’m just not used to it.

I have a few writing gigs at the moment and one of them is a total stressor, but it shouldn’t be. I won’t tell you which one, because that’s not the point. What I will tell you is that it reminds me of my first day at McDonalds. I was 15-years-old and had been working since I was maybe ten or eleven. That’s right. I grew up in a large family and there wasn’t a lot of money to go around. If you wanted something you had to figure out how to get it. You also were expected to work. So my career life started early. Sure I babysat, became a junior camp counselor, I had an enormous paper route, I was a grocery store bagger, then cashier, and one summer I got a job at McDonalds, because my friend worked there. What was I thinking? I was thrown on the drive-thru my first day and I couldn’t understand a thing anyone was ordering. It felt like I was watching an old Charlie Brown movie, everyone sounded like quacking ducks. Not to mention I had no clue how to punch in the orders. All the keys were unnecessarily abbreviated on the register. How does 2X equal Big Mac? My brain just wasn’t equipped for it. After getting every order wrong for an hour, they put me on Bun Toasting duty where I immediately set-off the smoke alarms and burned my finger. After which, I was sent home for the day. They didn’t fire me. I wanted them to fire me so I wouldn’t have to keep going back every day and embarrassing myself at a job I couldn’t do. And let me be clear, I never got any better working there. They put me on the fryer, they put me at the front registers, they put me on the griddle, they put me on janitorial duty and I failed at everything. Lets not get into why I sucked at the job any further, but rather why didn’t I quit? It wasn’t an option. I would have had to beg my parents for permission to quit, and that gave me even more anxiety. Which is a bad lesson to learn.

Now I find myself in a similar situation in that I have a job I can’t quit, and I don’t think I’m any good at it, and it’s definitely stressing me out. I have anxiety just thinking about it. What’s the worse that will happen? I’ll be let go, I’ll quit, it’s not a big deal, but somehow I’ve turned it into a mountain of an issue. I found it hard to even relax while on a five-day vacation in Maui! That’s right. I was a mess the whole time. And I know I’m not alone in this. Why do we do this to ourselves?

And when do we get to an age where we can just relax a little. Let the 20-somethings stress, we’ve paid our dues, let us be calm before we get old.

I’ll survive the job, or I’ll leave on good terms, or they’ll let me go – no hard feelings. That’s the absolute worse that can happen. Until then I’m going to just breathe through it and keep plugging away at the rest of life. Living it, not letting any one thing consume me. I will keep working toward finding balance and I will promise to write more blog posts. Let’s see if I can manage to get one up this weekend, too!

Is Vacation, Vacation?

We’re going out of town next week. I wouldn’t call it a vacation, but traveling is always a treat, right? We’re headed back to our hometowns to visit family, sing Happy 70th Birthday to my Dad in Michigan, and celebrate the High Holiday – Rosh Hashanah in NYC. It will be a treat.

However, traveling is not as easy as it was before we decided to shack up together, get some dogs to pretend we were parenting, and then go ahead and open a 24/7 home business known as AirBnBeeber. Not to mention the whole traveling with a 2-year-old… talk about pretending to be parents.

Let me just start with the basics, to travel with or without your own car seat? That IS a question. If you rent a car in Michigan adding a car seat is like an extra $15 USDOLLARS a DAY! Are you kidding me? I could purchase a new one and then auction it off, donate it, return it?, and be better off financially. Why are you penalizing human beings for procreating? Do you actually want the human race to fail? Should we just not travelwith children?

If we left our baby at home with a sitter while we, Jason and I, travel that would be a couple thousand dollars and a lot of heartache, because what’s the point of visiting Grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins if the wee ones aren’t with you? Rhetorical. I can tell you with certainty that once we had a child no one, no one, but our friends care if we, Jason and I, visit – just as long as the baby makes the trip. And shocker, 2-year-olds are not allowed to travel solo… yet, but in all honesty, if they were, that’s like a whole lot cheaper and then parents everywhere could ship them off to family while staying back and enjoying a peaceful, clean, tantrum free home again – that’s what I would call a Stay-cation, but I digress.

Let’s jump back to those dogs, WTF dogs? Sure, there may be fancy dog hotels and kennels, but only a barbarian (or someone with money, not the Middle Class) would dump their pre-baby, babies off to the unknown while going away for a week or two. No, our furbabies must be treated as the children they are, we will have someone stay at the house full time. Nurture them, walk them, feed them, hug them – basically our dogs get the vacation I want. Meanwhile, I’m schlepping around two cities, taking multiple flights which keep me locked in stale-recirculated-air filled airports for too many hours, while carrying my 30lb toddler because he’s tired of walking and the new “light-weight” (HA!) umbrella stroller we bought for the purpose of travel (add another $60 bucks to the trip) is just not the same as mama carrying him. Not to mention the several carry-on bags that are filled with necessary distractions for said toddler and all our work files while we travel, because hey, we do have jobs and they do require our attention and no, we don’t get vacation days, but that one is probably on us, since we own our own business and all. And being a small business owner (and I’m not talking about AirBnBeeber) is a lot of work, it has its perks, but it’s also 7 days a week and a lot of hours, but again, I digress.

Then yeah, there’s the AirBnBeeber and the guests all the guests that book their trips months in advance. We aren’t going to cancel on them for our vacation. Nope, instead we’ve hired a friend to manage and care for our guests while we’re gone. It’s a nice gig if you can get it! I think we pay pretty well.

Okay, so just to get to my sister’s house in Michigan we’ve spent money on, flights, rental car, child car seat, travel stroller (this may be a splurge, but if you have kids you get it, if you don’t have kids trust those of us that do – this is necessary), dog sitter, AirBnBeeber manager, and car parking at the airport which is about the same as an Uber ride there and back, but comes with a Car Seat for the kid – that’s like SO MUCH MONEY and we’re not even on vacation yet.

I could go on, but I won’t because at the end of the day we’re getting away and while I will worry and fret about the costs, and the business, and my pups I think it will be worth it, right?

I’m laughing like I’ve lost my mind, because I think maybe I have. Please, laugh with me so I feel like I’m not alone. 

~Xo

Table For One

There I stood, by myself, at the hostess stand waiting to be seated. The sign indicated I was to wait, and as I looked up and down the single row of booths, 14 in total, in the little diner that I had been frequenting since I moved to town, I saw a happy bustle of people taking leisurely lunches on a Friday afternoon ahead of the three day weekend. There were two servers and a busboy on the floor; from the window behind the counter I could count three line cooks.

After putting my name down, Jaime – party of one, on the self sign-in sheet, I stood and waited for a good long 5 minutes until I decided to take a seat on the narrow, holding bench, just big enough to support two waiting patrons. The Diner was as put together as an Ikea showroom: small and uniform, filling every space with perfectly fit, custom engineered small pieces, bright, and happy. After another five minutes of waiting a party of three entered the door, just to the right of me, and one of the two waitresses bee-lined over to them and asked, “Have y’all been helped yet?” She had a soft, put-on, Old South accent.

With a quick, unanimous shake of their heads – No, the waitress grabbed a stack of menus and ushered them to one of the two booths that had just been cleared in her section. Surely the dismissal of me was an oversight and the waitress would be right over to seat me in the empty booth opposite the three-top she’d just taken a drink order from. I smiled at the waitress as our eyes connected, and I waited.

I waited another five minutes (it’s now been 15 minutes if you’re tracking). The waitress made no indication that she would be offering me the booth, so I stepped outside and contemplated leaving. If I say something it would likely ignite an argument, I thought, which gave my insides an electric current of anxiety. But what if I just go back in and wait another few minutes standing so there is no confusion whether or not I’m waiting to be seated? I opted for the latter, my curiosity was piqued – just how long would it take for someone to wait-on the SWF (Single White Female)?

I reentered the diner and planted myself directly between the front door and the hostess stand. It would be a tight squeeze for any new diners to be seated ahead of me, and I smiled with newly found confidence.

The minutes ticked by slowly and painfully. I shifted my weight back and forth from one leg to the other, my hips pushing themselves into a deep tea-kettle pose, as I rested one hand at my waist while raising the other hoping to catch the attention of both waitresses or the busboy. It may be cliché to write, but I was boiling, you could tip me over…yada yada yada…

I stared unapologetically as patrons were leaving and tables cleared, first from the section to my left and then from the section to my right. The bright orange vinyl booths held the shape of the wide backs that had previously resided in them, and then after a few minutes they slowly restored to their original plump shape, with a faint pop as air penetrated it’s way back in. There I was, loitering, or so it must have appeared, as no one spoke a word to me. My mind started to wander as I looked at the melting cheeses and toasted buns being served one plate at a time.

Then the bell on the door behind me announced another new arrival. I turned to see a couple smiling at each other dreamily as they prepared for their lovers lunch on this Friday afternoon. I was mesmerized by their affection, and while distracted, had not noticed the same carrion waitress swoop in to snatch the couple up and seat them at the available booth in her section.

It took everything in me not to scream. I felt angry and self-conscious and the fact that not one of the patrons cutting in front of me bothered to say, “I think she was here first,” pissed me off even more.

I stared at the waitress, this two-time offender. I stared with the weight of my anger and frustration until she took notice. She hesitantly walked toward me and asked if I had been helped.

“No, I’ve not been helped,” my mind was bitter and spewing the words, but my mouth was calm and collected.

“Are you waiting for someone?” she asked obtusely.

“I’m waiting to be seated,” I answered as neutrally as possible, while thinking, okay, you’re special, you are a special kind of asshole.

“Oh, I guess we didn’t see you over here in all the commotion,” she giggled as she lied. I frowned. “Follow me this way,” she directed.

She had led me to a booth in the other waitress’ section.

“Some one will be right with you, okay Hon?” As the pronoun rounded itself off her tongue in a slow southern drawl, I smiled neutrally, again, as I made a mental note to write a Yelp review commenting on the one time I didn’t have decent service at The Diner, and then I thought, no I won’t, I don’t like being negative, I prefer everyone to see me as happy and positive all the DAMN TIME!

I was seated, in a booth, menu in hand and mentally, actively choosing to change my attitude. I sat, my lunch decision made: the Mixed Green Salad, a Fresh Fruit Bowl, and a Decaf Coffee. I closed the menu, and I waited. I checked my phone, the first time since I’d arrived at the diner, and noted I had now been at the restaurant for half of an hour and had not even been asked how I was doing today. Not that it’s mandatory, but it is customary.

I watched as a second booth in my section was filled by two burly men and then a third booth was filled by two women. I watched as the waitress in my section made her way to both tables, and chitchatted. She asked them how their day was going, if they had plans for the holiday weekend. I watched her take both tables’ drink orders and then deliver the beverages. I just sat there, and I waited, smiling, and watching.

I watched as more couples entered the restaurant, sat in the opposite section of mine, and placed their orders. Finally I caught the attention of the busboy and I asked him for a glass of water and if I could order.

“I’ll tell your waitress you’re ready,” he replied.

I watched as he made his way to my waitress. I saw her glance over and felt hopeful. I watched as she hustled to my side of the diner, walk right past me and gossip with yet another table of twenty-somethings about the good old days when she was married to a “Psycho, but that was before you all were born, I’m old,” she joked, lightly.

Then I watched as she took the orders of the burly gentlemen and then the women. I watched with longing, because I had skipped breakfast and was now really hungry. I thought my choice to stay and watch how this played out was stupid, but I was too invested to leave.

As my stomach rumbled, the waitress put the orders in for the tables seated after me, and I swallowed dryly as their drinks were topped off. I flagged down the busboy once again and asked him, loudly, “Who is my server? I would like to at least get a water.”

And then, the energy shifted. I was louder then I had intended to be. In fact I had projected so loudly that the carrion waitress was upon me instantly.

“Hey Hon, what seems to be the matter?” her drawl even thicker and her smile less convincing this time.

“Well, I’d like a glass of water, and I’d like to place my order, but it seems that I don’t have a waitress,” I stated neutrally and still quite loudly.

“Oh,” her tone condescending, “well maybe she just thought you were waiting for someone, Hon. Why don’t I get your order started and I’ll let her know,” she was dripping with sweetness and insecurity, unsure of how she would be handled by me.

“Great,” I started calmly, “I’ll take the Mixed Salad, the Fresh Fruit, and a Decaf Coffee.”

“You got it, Sugar,” I wondered whether Sugar was a euphemism for Bitch or Cunt.

As she placed my order with the line cooks, I saw her gesture at me to the other waitress. A moment later, the other waitress wordlessly delivered me a decaf coffee. The mug, indelicately set before me, spilled with the hard landing. I sopped it up, also wordlessly, and I felt the deep animosity of this older waitress and thought, was it your ex that was Psycho or was it you?

 Exactly three minutes later, my salad and fruit were delivered with the same amount of physical enthusiasm and silence. I ate quickly and efficiently, trying my best to enjoy the fresh cut mango. I had one silent refill of coffee and then the check arrived. I paid, left the standard tip, and exited.

When I got home I wondered if this was a normal, everyday experience for any of my friends.

****

That evening Jason, Jack and I went to the supermarket. I grabbed bananas as Jack and Jason made their way to the sample station, as is customary during our Trader Joe’s runs. When I met them at the sample station, there, cooing at my son, was the carrion waitress with her Old South accent. I said nothing as I looked at her and then to my husband, and I kissed my child’s head to show a little power. This time there was no denying that she had noticed me.

Her face turned as scarlet as the red, eyelet shift dress she wore. I smiled at her confirming recognition, as we had only just parted ways 3 hours prior. The guilt written on her face was enough for me, I looked at the family and asked, “what are we sampling? I’m starving! Did I tell you about the fresh mango I had at lunch?”

I winked good-bye to the waitress and pushed the cart forward as Jason (my husband) popped a bit of mini quiche in my mouth from the sample tray.

****

What would you have done?

Do They Like Me?

Online relationships are hard.

Oy. You have to email, or messenger, or text with a total stranger that we desire to like us, even though we may not end up liking them.

IMG_7086First impressions are the easiest because everyone looks good in a profile picture the size of a thumbnail! I’m not telling you anything new, I know, we all know, YES, everyone knows. It’s the best size to sell oneself because it’s not big enough to even be a book cover, let alone judge one. We accept the person and their happy, white, toothy grin because teeth are the one thing that standout on a picture that requires a magnifying glass to look at.

After we take two seconds to review this micro-mini thumbnail, we dive into the portfolio pictures, maybe manipulated with an app or for the pros, Photoshop, and decide if we are in love – which can take a total of one awesome picture staged perfectly, or a few super cute composite shots procured with any number of free apps, again, that make the common phone user a photographer.

That first written correspondence is the next gatekeeper. Most of us can agree that Twitter is not the example for proper short hand in an email or text, right? I want to see if they’ve used commas, periods, or exclamation points too much, or just enough? Have they substituted an “a” for an “e” on commonly used words? I am hesitantly forgiving of the “auto-correct” dictionary on the phone, but “definitely” will never be auto-corrected to “definAtely.” And if there are multiple paragraphs in the correspondence I tend to gloss over a few punctuation errors, as I make them myself. I’m not an asshole. As long as there are periods at the end of a sentence, I can live.

*Sidenote – This whole piece will not be edited since my editor is not home and I tend to ramble and forget basic-comma-laws.

Okay, the potential match has made it past the first several rounds: Profile Picture, Picture Gallery, and Written Correspondence. They’ve sent a wonderfully crafted and engaging first email and we are all smitten. I’m smitten. I’m ready to engage. I write back, immediately, not wanting to lose them to the other potential match they’ve reached out to. My response is equally generous in length, plus I am witty and approachable.

Our online banter goes on for several hours and we are confirmed for the following day and several dates after that… I have a two-date minimum. You should too. It’s just not worth it to pull everything together for one night. Time is money, and I spend a lot of time getting ready to make the best impression. I put money into the right look, I make the bed, I clean the bathroom, I vacuum, after all I am investing in my future. Then there’s the childcare now and I’m giving up time I could be working on my books. I love all this and I have no regrets, but no one-nighters.

You text me, “Getting on the road, should be there in an hour.”

After an hour goes by I look out the window waiting for you to pull into the driveway. I’ve left a light on so you can easily find your way, but an hour comes and goes and I don’t see you or hear from you. I debate whether I should reach out or not. I decide against it. I will wait until the morning.

The next morning I still haven’t heard from you so I text, “Good morning! I just wanted to check in and confirm all is well?”

Nothing. No response. Not a peep.

After all the build up and the back and forth messaging, inside jokes had already formed and then they just stopped communicating with me. I wondered if I had said something wrong. I reread our messages to be sure; the last thing I would want to be is offensive or insensitive. Nothing.

Day 3 – Silence.

Day 4 – I just stopped worrying about it.

It has now been five days. Five days and I just now, now received a new message in my inbox!

“Hello, I apologize for the late response. I had a few things to take care of when I arrived and then returned home. I do want to thank you, however, for everything. I’ve stayed at a few Airbnb’s in L.A. and this has been the best stay by far! Thank you, thank you, thank you. I will definitely be referring you to others and I know they will enjoy their stay and your hospitality as much as I did.”

So, in summary, no news is good news. As a host and concierge I am hella awesome. And it’s not like I’m trying to date online – thank goodness – but if you are (trying to date online), I’m definitely on your side. If that ass doesn’t call, text, or has the nerve to stand you up – let me know. I’ll write them a well crafted, edited email or text letting them know they suck.

My Day In Court

By the time we arrived at the courthouse at 8:30 AM, I had already been up for four hours. And thanks to my new NO COFFEE diet, I was also tired as hell. I still managed to dress well, shower, comb my hair and apply some decent color to my face.

Now, based on my experience of binge-watching The People’s Court and the multiple times I’ve been called to Jury Duty, I know there are two kinds of people that go to court: Those Who Dress Professionally and Those Who Don’t. Today there were more people in the Those Who Don’t category… which, based on my aforementioned experience, seems to generally be the case.

Why was I at court? Well, it wasn’t for Jury Duty this time. No, on this occasion I was standing in line waiting to enter the metal detectors of the rectangular, boring-as-watching-cement-dry building as moral support for my friend during her custody case.

It is the first hearing for my friend in what has been a long and agonizing two years of single parenthood. She’s been working two full time jobs to survive and provide. She is educated, talented (gifted in the performing arts), and a really good person. She is smartly dressed for court in freshly pressed, khaki colored slacks and a bright blue button down that makes her skin glow softly and disguises the sleepiness under her eyes. Her hair is swept back into a neat bun and her lips are gently glossed. Her look is put together, smart, and approachable – the woman you would ask for assistance if you needed it, and she is an example to everyone on HOW TO DRESS FOR COURT.

Sure, I’m being a little funny regarding how we present ourselves because there is an abundant amount of truth that we are prone to making snap decisions based on appearances. I’m being 100% honest and I will tell you why:

 

My friend, I will call her Eve, is outwardly calm, but her insides are a mess. A mixture of anxiety, sadness, fear, and anger are twisted in so many knots that to distinguish one feeling from the other is nearly impossible, and so she has learned to push them down and smile with false calmness and a bit of self-deprecation to help her and me laugh at an otherwise appalling situation. As Eve would say, “I am thirty-something years old and smack dab in the middle of an episode of Sixteen and Pregnant.”

It’s funny, but the truth is even at an age when we have our shit together and we’re in a tenured relationship, we can end up with a father that, “wasn’t ready,” and “doesn’t love us anymore,” and feels that, “ever since the pregnancy you’ve been a Bitch,” and my personal favorite, “you made me cheat on you.”

I guess when I saw him, Eve’s Ex, show up to court in his new weekend casual sneakers (they were pretty great and I want a pair, but are too expensive and not court appropriate), his easy going polo, and his Los Angeles standard-issued-denim (jeans) I knew I, too, was smack dab in the middle of Sixteen and Pregnant. He definitely presented that he was indeed not ready to be a father, however, he did make sure to be escorted into court by a well-dressed attorney.

Well, if you’ve never been to court for a custody hearing, let me give you a brief run down on the flow. First, the Bailiff checks you in and every body else that’s showed up for a court hearing. And Family Court takes place in Civil Court, so you sit and wait and listen to all the folks wearing their F*ck Off graphic tanks and acid washed jeans rant about the “bullshit” restraining order against him/her. You listen when the young woman in her ill-fitting, years old Homecoming dress tells the Bailiff she’s innocent and shouldn’t be there. You eavesdrop on the planned lying between middle-aged sisters against a landlord. And you tear up and worry a little when you look over at your friend, Eve, and see that she’s praying for this to not be happening to her.

At the end of eight hours of mediation, no agreement was reached. Throughout the entire day Eve asked on three separate occasions for a continuance, which the mediator, an Accident and Injury Attorney in this case, denied. The Mediator sent Eve out to sit in the courtroom while he spoke alone to the Ex and his Attorney.

When the Mediator returned to Eve he looked her straight in the face and told her, “Either you give him what he wants or you’ll end up with the cops at your door. You wouldn’t want the police to show up to your home would you? Nobody likes the cops called on them.”

I know this is exactly what he said because I was sitting right beside Eve when he said it. This officer of the court, a court-appointed Mediator.

The Mediator threatened Eve with a call to the police because she asked for a continuance so that she could employ her own legal counsel. She had been blindsided by the appearance of her Ex’s attorney and she had been blindsided when her Ex, who has not seen his child in over a year – electively­, asked for sole custody so he could leave California and raise the child in Michigan.

Let me say this – all the under-dressed, unkempt, orally dysfunctional (did I make this word up? You get it), white people that filled the courtroom were treated with respect and never threatened with a call to the police, even though I’m pretty sure with the lies, multiple false allegations, and domestic abuse, there probably should have been some mention of police involvement, but no.

Eve is black. And no, it is not a coincidence.