NOT GOOD NEWS

I received a letter in the mail today from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.  Inside in big, fat, black letters it said —-

NOTICE OF RELEASE – CONFIDENTIAL

This notice is provided at your request.  The inmate is scheduled for release.

The inmate will be:

Released to parole under CDCR supervision.

The inmate is required to register pursuant to:

Penal Code Section 290 – Sex

 

It also has other information about his name, prison number, scheduled release date and which county he will be released into.  What the letter does not tell me is how long his parole lasts.  Let’s just say I am happy I am not longer in the same county.  And it is not so much that I am afraid of him or that I think he’ll come after me.  No, it’s more I simply do not like the idea of him being anywhere near me.  Do I think he has been rehabilitated?  That would be a resounding NO.  Given the violence of my attack, his lack of remorse at the sentencing and the fact that he will have spent almost 62 months in prison, I seriously doubt he will be anything but angry.

I do pray for him and truly hope that no one else ever has to experience what I did on  September 24, 2011.

 

CHANGE IS HARD

I knew there were lots of changes on the way.  That is, after all, why I chose change for my word this year.  What has become extremely clear to me in the last month and a half since we left Coronado, is change is flipping hard.  I mean really difficult.  It’s not like I haven’t had lots of changes in life before now.  I have, and some of them were excruciatingly hard to come to terms with.  This is different though.  We actually chose to move to Ventura.  We came 5 or 6 times, starting last December, and we thought we liked it here.  It seemed like a nice community, the beach is right there and, most importantly, it is affordable.  By affordable, I mean that for a coastal town in Southern California, the housing prices are not so bad.  It’s all relative, of course.  It is still stinking expensive if compared to other parts of the country.

We arrived to our furnished rental house on 12 May.  We had been sort of ‘homeless’ since 30 March when the movers came and took all our belongings to my brother-in-law’s house for storage.  We stayed next door at our neighbor’s back guest house for 3 nights, went to Ventura for one day/night to meet with the homeowners of the house we are renting for 5 months and also buy a king mattress to be delivered on 12 May, then to Las Vegas for 4 nights (3 in a hotel, 1 at my sister’s,) back to San Diego for 2 nights at my cousin’s in Rancho Bernardo and finally ended at the Crown Inn on Coronado for the last 3 nights of our having-no-place-to-call-our-own time.  It wasn’t really that bad, but once we finally got to ‘our’ new house, we were so happy we would be staying put for a while. It’s the moving around every few days that got to me/us.

What has also become clear to me since getting to Ventura is we accidentally rented a Hobbit house!  I am not kidding.  The house itself is about 900 square feet, which is only about 100 square feet smaller than the house on Coronado.  The problem is the layout of the rooms.  Again, not horrible, it just takes time to get used to it.  (For me, apparently, a lot of time.)  No, what makes it a Hobbit house is that everything is so small.  For instance, we do have a washer and dryer in the basement.  For those of you who do not live in California, basements are not common.  This house is on a hill, which allows for a basement.  Of sorts.

That pretty blue door is the door to the basement.  It’s also where we keep our bicycles, and you can be sure, lifting the bikes up and over the wall is a total pain.  One of the first days here I almost gave myself a concussion because I did not duck enough to get through the doorway.  The height of the ceiling once in the door is about six feet!  And the crossbeam even has a padded wrap and the homeowner was kind enough to write BAM! on it, just as a reminder.  While I am able to stand up straight on either side of that beam, my husband being 6’4″ cannot.  Needless to say, it is my job to do the laundry.

Everything is just on a much smaller scale in the house.  The bathtub is teeny, not that I fit in most tubs anyway at 5’10”.  Even the door jambs are quite small, and I seem to regularly bang my shoulders when I walk through.  We sometimes wonder how we missed these things when we originally looked at the house back in February.  I think at that point we were just happy to have found a short-term rental house.

And now we are not really liking Ventura.  It is hard to figure out why.  It is so different from Coronado, and we (especially me, having been there for 15 years) are really spoiled from living there.  I could walk everywhere on the island; here, not so much.  Sure, I can go for walks, but I want to be able to walk to the grocery store, and here it just isn’t a possibility.  It is so much busier, too.  Island life truly was more relaxed and laid-back.  It could be that it will just take time to get used to my new surroundings.  Or I may never feel comfortable here.  Only time will tell.

A FINE LINE BETWEEN PURSUIT AND HARASSMENT

The following is my husband’s take, his view on what happened to me the other morning:

 

There’s a fine line between pursuit and harassment, a lesson every young man needs to learn.

My wife came home in tears today. She was out of breath, sweating, and very angry. During her routine morning walk, a man had followed her and would not leave her alone.

It all began with a simple “good morning”. That’s where it began and should have ended. A polite, impersonal greeting between two strangers. But to this particular man it was an invitation. Never mind that she never said another word to him. Never mind that she completely ignored him, shut him down cold. Never mind that he was scaring her. He followed her anyway, talking all the time, flapping his gums. Perhaps he was trying to impress her. It doesn’t matter. She wanted nothing to do with him, didn’t even hear what he was saying because she was listening to music on her iPhone.

However, she was very aware of his presence. Deciding not to say anything, knowing that if she told him to go away or get lost, it might only encourage him, she simply walked away from him. And he followed. Finally, after some time had passed, she darted around a corner, ran down a side street, cut up another street and lost him.

At last she felt safe to come home; she did not want him to know where she lived. And then she told me what happened in a voice shaking with anger, fear and outrage.

What makes it worse, of course, is that she has been sexually assaulted before. And to a lesser degree, we had recently moved to a new city. Now she was afraid to walk along the beach, because he might be there. And she was angry that her freedom was being taken away from her by some clueless man.

Before I was married, before I became a father to my daughter, before I came to know and understand women, I was one of those clueless young men. If a pretty woman smiled at me or said hello, I assumed it meant she also liked me. Sometimes I tried to talk to her, sometimes I watched her from across the room or bar. And one time I followed her, because I wanted to be near her. Because I thought she was leading me somewhere. She wasn’t of course, and now I realize I frightened her on that day some 30 years ago.

Just as my wife was frightened today.

If I could give young men some advice, it would be this. Just because she says hello, it doesn’t mean she wants to talk. Just because she says hello, it doesn’t mean she likes you. Just because she says hello, it doesn’t mean she wants to sleep with you. That is all fantasy on your part. The reality is this. Hello means hello, nothing more or less. So don’t pursue her, don’t follow her, because it’s the wrong thing to do. Because you’re invading her privacy. And because there’s a fine line between pursuit and harassment.

NOT AT ALL RIGHT

Yes, it has been a long time, over 5 months since my last post.  With all the changes taking place in my life, I simply did not take the time to write.  More on that later.  Right now, though, I need to vent about an incident that just occurred.

As many of you already know, my husband and I have moved away from Coronado, up the California coast to Ventura.  We are still in the process of doing our best to settle in.  That is also a story for another time.  This morning, though, I was taking my walk.  It was not even early because it was so cold last night, I had to wait until it warmed up a bit before leaving the house.  Not that the house is warm!  Anyway, I was walking one of my longer routes that takes me down Main Street and out to the bike path along the Ventura River Estuary and to the path along the ocean.  As has always been my habit, when I see someone passing me from the opposite direction I say, “Good morning.”  I think it is simply a polite thing to do.  I am not looking to engage you in conversation.  I am only acknowledging that I see you and that it is morning.  After I made the turn onto the beach path, I said ‘good morning’ to a guy on a bicycle.  He then proceeded to start yakking at me.  I did not slow down or respond to him and I have no idea what he even said, nor did I care.  Little did I know that he followed me.  Didn’t know it until I went to cross the street to go up and over the 101.  I wasn’t scared, but I was pissed.

He then continued to follow me at a distance.  I did not turn around because I didn’t want him to know that I knew he was back there.  After a few blocks I was able to look back when I crossed another street.  My main concern was that he not know where I live, so I started zig zagging on blocks.  I ran when he was unable to see me to put even more space between us.  I eventually wound my way around to my house and, again, made sure he was not able to see where I live before crossing the street and going up the driveway.

I came in the house and told my husband what had happened.  And now I’m telling all of you.  My questions are:  Which part of I-am-completely-ignoring-you-and-anything-you- have-to-say-to-me do you not understand?  Why do you think it is okay to follow someone who has clearly NOT engaged with you in any way other than to be polite and say good morning?  What gives men (I know this is a huge generalization here, but my experience has been it is men and not women) the ‘right’ to harass someone who is clearly not interested?  Do I have to be a bitch in order to get my intent across?  Now, given my history, this is an even bigger deal than it might otherwise be.

Part of the reason we left Coronado was that I continue to not feel completely safe.  I do understand that it wasn’t Coronado who attacked me, and I was able to go back to loving living there again.  And yet, there is still a part of me that was hoping a new place might, just might, allow me to feel safe like I did pre-sexual assault.

I am not saying that the guy this morning was anything other than a normal person, BUT I wanted nothing to do with him and he was ignoring this.  Is it kinder to tell someone to ‘fuck off and leave me alone?’  Okay, maybe not in those words, but why should I have to specifically spell it out?  I have been accused of being a stuck-up snob because I don’t speak to people, and yet when I do, I am followed.  I have also been told that I seem to have a shield around me and a look on my face when I am walking that says, ‘don’t fuck with me.’  Most of the time this works at keeping unwanted attention away, not always though.

So, is my only recourse to not speak to anyone ever when I am out walking?  Is it okay to say good morning to women but not men?  I seem ‘damned if I do, damned if I don’t’ in this situation.

BIG CHANGES ARE A COMING

Change is a part of life.  Sometimes, though, it seems that changes happen so fast and furious that it’s hard to maintain any kind of balance.  It feels, at times, like the world is even spinning faster than ever.  We want everything right now.  We ask or pray for something in our lives and do not understand why it doesn’t instantly manifest.  Some changes are welcome, some not so much.

My life has been changing in huge ways for the last several years.  Since there seems no way around this, I’ve decided to embrace it.  So my word for 2017 is CHANGE and my phrase is EMBRACE CHANGE.  I think my biggest change I encountered last year was getting married, which was/is a wonderful thing.  I am happy to say that I am finally in the perfect (perfect for me) relationship and married to the right person for me.  Still, going from single, living alone to married and suddenly having someone around all the time is an adjustment.  Not a bad thing, just different.  Luckily, even though my husband and I both work at home and we live in a pretty small house, this has not been an issue.

One change I’ve been wanting to make for a while now is figuring out a way to combine both of my blogs since I find trying to write two completely different ones impossible. I never wanted to have A Little of This That and the Other (www.alittleofthisthatandtheother.blogspot.com) be anything but a happy place to share my work and that of my friends.  At Long Last Heard, this site, was about my sexual assault and to a larger degree,  my past life and how I got to where I am now.  The two sites are extremely different.  After my wedding I came up with a new domain name and a ‘plan’ to have only one blog/website.

I still have not figured out when I want to launch it, though I will tell you the new name:  Exactly the Same but Different.  This is a phrase I have used for many years and in talking with a very good friend, it was obvious that this was the new name.  Because my life now is exactly the same as it always was, but different.

Another HUGE change that is coming in the next few months is we will be moving.  Egad, just writing the word here gives me the willys.  I have lived for almost 15 years on Coronado and the idea of leaving all that is so familiar to me is a bit scary.  Truly, I know that leaving will be a good thing and Jim and I need a house/space that is ours and not just mine that he moved into.  It is good and it is frightening at the same time.  We are even contemplating leaving San Diego altogether, which also adds to my anxiety.  Again, I know this is a good thing, it just doesn’t always feel like it is.

Hence, my desire to EMBRACE CHANGE this year.  Change is good, right?  I am going to keep saying this to myself until I believe it.

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An Open Letter To Donald Trump From Some Angry Women.

Couldn’t have said it better myself…

Drifting Through

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Dear Mr. Trump… can I call you Mr. Trump? Is that ok? I want you to be happy, that’s very important to me.

Before I get started, let me say this letter isn’t from all women. The Trumpettes surely won’t approve of this message. But this is from most women.

We see right through you. We have all known you at some point. Your ways are not unfamiliar to us. We see through you because we’ve been dealing with you our whole lives.

We heard you call women pigs. And disgusting. And stupid. And bimbos.

We watched as you called a former Ms. Universe “Ms. Piggy” and then spent four days continuing to insult her.

We see your weakness. Your lust for attention at any cost, your need to denigrate women. We see all of it. And we’re mad.

Yes. We’re mad. And fired up. And here’s the thing about us……

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VERY MIXED FEELINGS TODAY

Five years ago, on Saturday the 24th of September, my life changed in ways I could never have predicted.  And though my life now, 5 years later, is amazing, the road to where I am now has been challenging.  Understatement of the year.  All in all, for the majority of the time, I am happy, healthy, newly married (in May) and ‘completely’ healed from my attack.  I have to put completely in quotation marks because I am not sure I will ever be completely over what happened.  That has been very apparent this last week.  Physically I have been a bit of a wreck.  My body seems to understand what my mind is incapable of grasping:  my attack is still stored in my cells, in the muscle memory of my physical self.  Well, crap.

On Monday I decided I needed to know exactly when DCD was being released from prison.  According to my calculations it should’ve been right around now.  He received a 6 year sentence and has to serve 85% of it, less time served at sentencing, which was 317 days.  When I put his name in the ‘who’s in jail’ web site, I got nothing.  I remembered he had used another name, looked through my files to find it, put that name in, and got the same result…not in the system.  I thought I had signed up to be notified when that happened, but, it turned out, I had not.  Crap, again.  So I called the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to find out his status.  The officer I spoke with asked for his prisoner number, which I did not have.  He asked if I was the victim.  I told him I was.  He gave me the number I was lacking and told me where he is now housed and that he would not be getting out any time soon.  He also suggested I call the Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services to find out more information about his release date.  I did this and that’s when I found out I neglected to actually sign up to be notified when he would be released.  It’s not that I am afraid he will come after me once he is released.  I simply want to know when he is out.

Life does go on, and as much as I’d love to never have had this happen, it did.  The following quote pretty much sums up how I feel about it now:

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We all get to choose how we react to what happens to us.  I choose to see it as a blessing, and to share my ongoing, ever-changing story.  My hope is that I am making a “difference by being the difference.”