It’s not about me…

And now, a slight break from my  typical posts:

OvidQuoteThere’s a movement on Facebook and Twitter right now for women to come forward using the hashtag #metoo if they have been sexually harassed or assaulted and the volume of posts is staggering– from all ages and walks of life. It’s heartbreaking. I stand in solidarity with all women and men who are harassed for their gender, sexual orientation, race, etc.  I am lucky enough to come from that tiny bit of the population who actually has never been sexually harassed or assaulted. Never. At least not in any way I can remember. So, while I am really not trying to make this “about me” it’s inevitable for me to think about that.  We all relate movements to our own lives and experiences. So here are some thoughts:

It’s not about me, but…every man that degrades women by valuing them for their looks also degrades those whom he does NOT explicitly speak to by implying they are not worthy of being paid attention to. How many jobs did I not even get an interview for because I didn’t look pretty enough? How many times did I feel dejected for not getting “special attention,” naively unaware the costs of that attention for those on the receiving end?

It’s not about me, but…when I see the hundreds of “me too”s, I have survivor’s guilt– no one deserves to be treated that way, and I am certainly no better a person for escaping it. This is just another way that I am privileged.

It’s not about me, but…would my experience be different if I weren’t overweight and a somewhat shabby dresser? I think that a lot. I’m not the kind of person people generally flirt with, let alone harass. I didn’t have my first real kiss until my senior year in college. And yet, I also know sexual predators frequently take advantage of young girls (and boys) with low self-esteem– people who are so happy to have attention they convince themselves negative attention is the only kind they are worthy of.

It’s not about me, but…could it have been? Could I have been harassed and not even noticed because I assumed they weren’t talking to me? Has our body-shaming and looks-based society come to the point that women practically harass themselves?

If you are one of the many “me too”s, I’m sorry. I promise to raise my two sons to respect all individuals and to avoid making judgements based on looks or sexuality. I will call out harassment and abuse when I see it.

And if you need a shoulder to cry on, I’m here.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled blog about words and writing. Because creating beauty is what makes the pain worth it.

 

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Goodbye, Roast & Crumb!

roast&crumb

Four years ago, I founded a monthly critique group for children’s writers and illustrators in the seacoast Maine/NH area. We met in the “Roast & Crumb,” a lovely coffee house just off I-95 and easily accessible to our members, some of whom traveled over an hour to attend. Although we’re a small group, I have always looked forward to setting aside two hours every month to focus on my writing and help guide other writers and artists. The coffee house was an important cornerstone to our group, providing a warm and inviting space to meet with friendly faces, especially our dear barista Albert (behind the counter with the hat!) At our meeting today, we learned that the Roast & Crumb will be closing as of November 17th. The owner had been there for 15 years and had been working in the business for 40.  It was time, he said. Thankfully, not due to any economic or health crisis. Just time.

I wish the owner and employees all the best, but it’s hard to say goodbye. I have a lot of great memories of that place– the enthusiastic greeting when you see friends walk writingtablethrough the door is the closest I’ve felt to “Cheers” (where everybody knows your name). Not to mention the joy with which I always looked forward to leaving the boys at home with my husband, grabbing a 10 dollar bill from the cookie jar (they only take cash), and indulging myself in a coffee and one of the best breakfast sandwiches I’ve ever had. Even on days like today, when I spent part of the morning by myself writing, I still felt surrounded by friends.

For now, we’re planning to move our meetings to the local public library. It’s a wonderful space, they have a meeting room right next to the children’s area,  we can bring coffee from a neighboring shop, and there’s wi-fi. We may even get new members. But it won’t be the same. Go patronize your local coffee shop this week and not just for a take away cup.  Sit there and soak in the atmosphere of a small local business. Starbucks is nice on occasion, but it just can’t beat the charm of a good neighborhood haunt.

We’ll miss you, Roast & Crumb.