Dodging Bullets

October 14th, 2013 by Karen

(Please note, I am so very blessed to have an amazing husband who this post is definitely not about. Love you honey!)

Everyone has that horror story from their dating past. The one that you recall with a smirk and a shake of the head, knowing full well that, while in the moment you felt devastated at the end of the relationship, time has proven just how incredibly lucky you were that you were able to walk away from the train wreck relatively unscathed.

Still, it sucks. It’s hard in the thick of it when you can’t help but feel helpless and unwanted. And it’s even worse when the other party throws mixed signals at you like confetti at a celebratory ticker tape parade.

Been there, done that. Hate seeing others have to learn it the hard way.

I know just how lucky I am. I have a very close knit family who supported me when I thought my world was unraveling (it wasn’t…and boy, that bullet that had my name on it was more like a rocket) and gave me solid ground to stand on. My #1 rule has always been “Don’t mess with my family.” (#2 is “Don’t mess with my friends” and #2 1/2 is “Don’t rearrange my kitchen.” but I digress…) In fact, if you look at my extended family tree, you can count the number of divorces on one hand. Note that I said extended…I have an enormous number of cousins, aunts, uncles, all with varying degrees of greats, and in that sea of people when we commit, we commit. We are practical farming stock. We expect honesty and trust and our word is as good as our bond. Hardship is our middle name and we wear it proudly in the dust on our boots and the callouses on our palms. We work hard, we love unconditionally, and we tolerate very little interference with either of these pursuits.

Perhaps it’s our pragmatic point of view or the early maturity that comes easily to our family that makes it hard when we date those that seem to share our values and maturity and things fall apart. The expectation of honesty is so baked into our core that when that trust is irrevocably broken with lies and deceit, it leaves us in a bit of a tailspin.

As family however, we close ranks around fallen members. The flip side of that congenial trustworthiness is not an easy-going forgiveness. It is a steely-eyed suspicion of motive and a rather impressive amount of discussion of every little comment and nuance. Regaining our respect is a very difficult thing. Not impossible, but the effort needed is great.

If you’re worthy of our family, show us.
If not, you’ll find the doors to our castle permanently barred.

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A Cake I Never Intended to Make

June 14th, 2013 by Karen

Next Sunday, June 23rd, I was supposed to make a cake.

It was to be a triumphant cake! Whimsical with a touch of sentiment and a splash of congratulations.

It was to be a retirement cake worthy of a woman who had taught for 45 years and to whom I owe a debt of gratitude. I can’t begin to express how stupidly excited I was to make this cake. I even made a pinterest board for inspiration.

This morning, I made a different cake entirely.

There is no whimsy to this cake…no hidden little decoration or detail to tantalize and delight. Instead it is simple and elegant. Just like Edna.

Through the years, I’ve found that whenever I make a cake, there’s always something that doesn’t turn out quite right. There’s a flaw in the fondant, a decoration is too large, or a part of the frosting is smudged. These are usually superficial issues and only I see them and they irritate me. To me, cakes are like art…except the more you fiddle with it, the worse it will turn out, so I’ve had to learn patience and when to leave well enough alone. These are good lessons for me. I recognize that I need them.

It is with a rather large amount of surprise however that I can say the following:

Today’s cake is flawless.

I baked the cakes last night and they turned out perfectly. There was no problem turning them out and the texture was wonderful…moist and just firm enough that it doesn’t smash. The crumb coat and frosting went on smoothly and in record time. I had just the right amount of ribbon in her favorite color of lavender. Finally, the fondant (which can often be the biggest pain) was literally the easiest thing I did this morning. It was absolutely effortless.

It is -never- effortless.

I was so stress free about the cake this morning that I was able to also make minor alterations to Maria’s dress, repair Alex’s tie, fix a bad ironed crease on Joel’s pants and still get myself ready to go long before we actually had to head out the door.

Set up was a breeze and the extra time to just sit in the pew silently in the church was so very nice. The service was lovely and unpretentious and it was filled with love, laughter and music. I loved watching Alex altar serve and worried for him when I saw his demeanor change as the whole of what he was doing crept up on him to the point where he had to leave the altar. This process has been supremely hard for him, despite Edna’s own efforts to cushion the blow, and it will take him some time to sort out all his feelings and grieve.

She was his rock this past year. He was lost and she found him.

What a blessing she was to us and how very much we will miss her.

Requiem Aeternam dona eis, Domine; et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Requiescant in pace. Amen.

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Tears, Blessings and Hope

May 25th, 2013 by Karen

To say this week was a bit of a rollercoaster at our house, would be a remarkably huge understatement.

My sweet aunt who is fighting a vicious brain cancer took a turn for the worse and so did Alex’s amazing teacher who is fighting a cancer of her own. I’ve been distracted and scattered and the kids of course know that things are wrong and they are still at the age where they believe that doctors and hospitals have super powers…you go in, you come out well and healthy.

Ah, the heartbreak to discover that this is a fallacy.

After a brief conversation with a friend and former teacher at the school last night, I made the decision to take the two little ones to see Mrs. R at the hospital. I fear that time grows short for this amazing angel of a woman who selflessly and successfully worked hard to rebuild Alex’s self esteem this year. She set high expectations for him and poked and prodded and corrected and pushed him to succeed. Under her gentle, old school style tutelage, he is doing far better both in school and at home and we are forever in her debt.

Sadly, I’ve done this type of hospital drill before and I knew what to expect, so we spent quite a bit of time talking on the drive over about what it was like to visit Granny Kay the last time two years ago and if they remembered the machines and such. We talked about how it was important to walk through quietly in case other people were sleeping and how not to push any buttons or fiddle with any knobs. We talked a little bit about cancer (and how it sucks) and that we might not get to see Mrs. R for very long or maybe not at all.

The kids were nothing short of fantastic. Our visit was brief since she was very tired and they had just given her some medicine, but it was good. The kids I think were both taken aback by how thin and frail she was, especially since she’s always been larger than life to both of them. She read both of the handmade cards the kids brought and smiled at the fuchsia the kids had picked out for her. Sophia of course had to explain the pictures in her card and check one last time to see if Mrs. R was -actually- retiring and if she couldn’t just come back to school until Sophia can be in her class. Alex talked to her about the upcoming end of year class party they’ll be having at the bowling alley…one of her favorite pastimes. She perked up at that and he told her that he hoped she could make it. She simply told him to she’d try and to think of her when he was bowling. He promised and she patted his cheek and told him that he was a very good boy, she was very proud of him and that she loved him. It was one of those moments where everything seems to slow briefly…I don’t thing he’ll ever forget that exchange.

After another round of hugs and my gentle prodding that we should go so she could rest, Alex remembered the earrings he had made for her and while explaining that he had made them himself and how, he unwrapped them and put them in her hand. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bigger smile from her and I know that even if she never wears them, it made him supremely joyful to make her smile.

I couldn’t have asked for more.

But sometimes, the man upstairs has just a little more to say.

We quietly slipped out after saying goodbye and telling her we would see her at her retirement party on June 23rd…a large hope on my part. We made it all the way back to the elevator before Alex started to cry. Oh, he tried so hard not to, but his little shoulders began to shake from the effort of holding it all in. It’s a small hospital, so we were outside in just a minute or two and I steered the three of us to a park bench in the shade and just held him as he sobbed. For a moment, I closed my own eyes and cried too and when I opened them, Sophia was no longer on the bench beside us.

She was kneeling beside it, her little head bowed over her folded hands. Praying.

This is my child who never stops, never misses a beat, knows everyone and makes instant friends with strangers. She never stops talking and even talks and sometimes sings in her sleep. She’s like a hummingbird on crack. Yet, she stayed right there praying silently, still as stone for almost five minutes while Alex sobbed into my shoulder. I have no idea what my little girl and the big man upstairs were discussing, but that’s the longest I’ve EVER seen her hold still except to sleep. Watching her was my own little private miracle…such a simple blessing.

Finally, we walked slowly to the car and talked about illness, why hospitals can’t save everyone, death and heaven. It was a heavy conversation, but a good one nonetheless and the kids never seemed to run out of questions. I know it may be a long shot, but I’m hopeful that the next time I see Mrs. R it will be over a cup of coffee. If that’s not the path laid out for us, then we are still all the richer for having her in our lives.

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Camp Pendola Serenade Book

April 23rd, 2013 by Karen

For all my lovely Camp Pendola friends, here is the list of songs from the Serenade Book from 1995. There of course were other songs played, but these are the ones in the actual booklet:

Heart of Gold
Free Fallin’
Blowin’ in the Wind
Mr. Bojangles
Cat’s in the Cradle
Grandma’s Feather Bed
Pass It On
Sinner Man
Let it Be
Annie’s Song
Get Together
Follow Me
Feelin’ Groovy
Jesus Loves Me
One Tin Soldier
The Rose
Moon Shadow
Peaceful Easy Feeling

I have a printed copy of it that contains the chords…if anyone wants a pdf, I can scan it and email it. Just let me know via a comment. 🙂

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On the closing of one of my favorite places…

April 23rd, 2013 by Karen

Personal opinions follow…you are warned…

I must admit that I am terribly sad about the closing of Camp Pendola. I always wanted to feel comfortable enough to send my children there, but with so many whispers in the wind about issues and the very un-Catholic goings on grumbled about on social media and behind closed doors, I just never felt like it was the right time. Am I overprotective? Probably…but they’re my children. It’s my job.

I’ll never forget the amazing times I had at Pendola…from the first time I laid eyes on it in 1992 at CLI, to what will likely be our final trip to the space later this summer. Without Pendola, I would not be married to Joel, I wouldn’t have our three beautiful children, I wouldn’t have the friends I do now. I loved all the campers, teaching arts and crafts (despite all the holes in the floor), the craziness that was living in First Aid with Kim, Liz, and Ro and all the shenanigans that entailed, the hikes, the campfires. I loved watching the kids try to find the kitchen staff as we played Wild Thing and I loved the delight the staff took each week in hiding. I loved pausing on the way to Camp at the G Spot in awe every time and the final turn on the road into Camp where the trees opened just enough for the upper lawn to peek through. I loved blackberry picking (and yes, that is actually all we -ever- did tyvm, though I did recently hear a variation on the story that had us as a star crossed couple who died in an accident with the blue truck. Crazy!), making bottle rockets, helping in requisitions, relaxing in the hot tub on Saturdays (before it was removed), sleeping under the stars at Slate, stops at the Nugget for choco-tacos, and days off in Nevada City. I loved returning the summer after Casey’s Grove was finished and sitting there alone to say goodbye to my gentle friend and co-counselor among the trees.

  • The first time I met Joel was at Pendola in 1992.
  • He kissed me for the first time on July 9, 1995 in lower staff, after asking my permission.
  • We laughingly discussed our favorite children’s names sitting on the big green couch, not knowing that years and years later we would use them.
  • Camp friends attended our wedding and helped with the Mass, doing readings and distributing Eucharist.
  • Miss Margaret and Mr. Matt Sanders are the godparents of our eldest daughter.
  • The very first person we told we were expecting our son was Cheryl Tholke.
  • Mr. Steve and Cheryl are his godparents.
  • I’ve taken great delight watching my children explore at Family Camp through the years and discovering the magic that is Pendola.

I’ve heard some of the reasons for the new space and frankly, they don’t move me. It’s just a space with buildings and it holds no meaning for me. To me, Pendola is so much more than just a place where kids come for a week in the summer. It’s the starting point for what would become my family and not just mine, but countless others as well. I feel it’s a shame that all the history and grace that is Pendola will be lost. And it will be. The space will belong to others who don’t know what it stood for, what it meant to the thousands who came there for years and years, who don’t know of the hard work and dedication of staff and volunteers through the years, who don’t understand the meaning behind the gift of the Pendola family or why that extra stage is inexplicably hidden back in the trees. That legacy will not exist except in the memories of old staff and campers who likely will not be involved much or at all at the new site. It’s a rather bleak end for a beloved spot.

I know others may take exception to my opinion on this and they are welcome to opinions of their own. Panta rhei…everything flows. Change is inevitable and nothing remains the same, and yet… I will still carry great sorrow with me when we drive away for the final time.

Up in the pines, there stands a camp,
a camp of honor and of faith,
the most wonderful camp in all the world,
and Camp Pendola is it’s name.

We see the sun set in the West,
the green hills where the campers trod.
We love our camp up in the pines,
and all our thanks we give to God.

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Lucky Thirteen

March 27th, 2013 by Karen

Thirteen years ago, my life was forever changed. For twenty three long years, I was Karen.

At 6:10 pm, on March 27th, 2000 my name became “Mom”.

It wasn’t the easiest thing I’d ever done…I’ve always told friends who have yet to have children that it’s like signing a contract without reading the small print. A thousand things you didn’t expect will irreversibly change. Sure, there’s the laundry list of the usual suspects like “You’ll never sleep in again” and “You’ll never go out”, but then there’s the weird little things like taking six years to be able to look at Mac and Cheese again without gagging because the mere smell would make me ill when I was pregnant, learning to sleep on two inches of bed because some little person had claimed the center of the bed (sideways, naturally) and don’t forget the fun things that happen when you sneeze.

For years after having kids, you’ll make bizarre choices that make sense to no one but other parents, like choosing which park to go to based solely on it’s bathroom or exhaustedly watching “Cinderella” for the 8th time in a row in as many days. Somehow though, we got through those long years of spills, Cheerios, crayons, finger paints, and tears over sharing incidents and today, my daughter turned thirteen.


Holy cow, I remember being 13…wandering around Carnegie Middle School, awkwardly not fitting in, my first “real” dance, learning to curl my hair without burning myself, learning the Fosbury Flop for track meets, going to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland as part of a field trip, being bullied and insulted by guys in my High Achiever classes who called me “Fat Cow” (I was a size 6. I still remember all their names. Jerks.) and crushing on boys in my class that I felt were out of my league. I had my first ‘real’ boyfriend at 13 (and broke up with him for stupid reasons, yet we are still friends). I met my best friend when I was 13 and she’s still my best friend. I saw my first PG-13 movie without my parents (it was a double date to see Ghost and the guy that took my BFF to the movie dropped his retainer on the theater floor. Ew.)

All this makes me both excited for my daughter as well as terrified. She’s on the cusp of so many amazing things as well as all those awful things that we want to protect our children from. Those deep yawning pits of problems and drama scare me…I know that I can’t protect her from them all, nor should I, since how we deal with adversity as adults directly correlates with how we learned to deal with such things as kids. But I can’t help but want to smooth the rough edges for her.

Thirteen is important. I know it’s important because of what’s coming next for her. It’s important to her because now she’s officially a teenager. No longer is she trapped in that no-man’s ‘tween’ land of crappy music and ill fitting clothing. She finally feels free to shed the butterflies and bubblegum pink glitter and select soulful blue hues and pick music outside of the mainstream. It’s a thrilling thing to watch.

I’m sure we’ll butt heads through the next couple years over clothes, dating, and curfews, but regardless of what’s over the horizon, I’m so proud of her and I know that she has the potential and the ability to do so many incredible things with her life. She’s sweet, funny, smart, helpful, and loving. She’s becoming a wonderful young woman.

What more could a mother ask for?

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February 9th, 2013 by Karen

Tonight as I was attempting a little self-distraction, a post by a friend on Facebook caught my eye. It was a cartoon about introverts and I found the comments incredibly interesting. The cartoon’s explanation of how introverts interact with others was apparently a revelation, not only to those friends in the comments, but also to a fair number of folks at the original source post. It had some excellent insights into how I feel a lot of the time.

Over the years, I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs personality tests on multiple occasions and my results have consistently been INFP:

Introversion – I tend to be quiet and reserved. Others have called me a ‘wallflower’ in the past and I don’t find it particularly incorrect, though sometimes they actually have meant it unkindly. I’m an observer, preferring to watch the interactions of others with unobtrusive curiosity.

Intuition – I also rely heavily on my intuition. While as a scientist, I love my numbers and cold hard concrete facts are easily defensible, I have learned that to ignore that intangible ‘rightness’ of my intuition is at my own peril. My biggest life mistakes have occurred when I didn’t listen to my own hunches.

Feeling – Hand in hand with that is ‘feeling’. Having been accused of being illogical in the past, I’ve struggled to explain to others that the Ockham’s razor approach (simplicity is preferable to complexity) isn’t always the best course of action in my opinion. For me, the best choice in any given situation is the one that makes the most people happy or satisfied. I’ve always had this overwhelming feeling of empathy for others and there have been times when others’ emotions and situations have been so distressing to me that I’ve had to withdraw as the emotional expense was simply too great to bear.

Perception – Finally, I am perceptive. I tend to reserve judgement in any given situation until the last possible moment, preferring to continue to collect and reflect on data until a decision must absolutely be made. This goes for -everything- in life and can sometimes be crippling as it also feeds into perfectionism. I can’t tell you the number of times I have doubted myself or gone back through past work with a critical eye to correct or polish something. It’s been nearly 14 years since I graduated college and just a few months ago, I found myself with one of my thesis (yes, I had two) in hand actually considering redoing my research and rewriting the entire thing. I’m still considering it.

I abhor conflict. I delight in the unique. I find deep pleasure in the company of my friends. I am far more expressive in my writing than I feel I can ever be in person. Symbolism and alliteration enchant me. I write copious amounts of soul-baring poetry and fanciful fiction. Crowds kinda freak me out, though this doesn’t mean I don’t crave touch and affection. I hate calling for pizza because I don’t know who will pick up the phone on the other end. I married an extrovert. I love singing and have spent hours on stage in the theater, but it’s a mask. It’s the same mask I wear at parties and conferences and parent meetings. Few know the person behind it.

For me, respite and renewal is found in my hobbies. My friend Lisa has often commented that she rarely sees me without some sort of yarn in hand or at least close by and crocheting is often my go-to stress relief and a quick way to find my center. The fact that I end up with something beautiful at the end is a bonus. It’s the same reason I spin (yes, I have a spinning wheel), volunteer to trim the roses at my children’s school, and devour books. I regain something of myself in each of these activities. To not do them is to spiral into despair and depression.

In college, I had the great pleasure of having several roommates that were exchange students from Japan. In the initial packet we received with cultural information was a simple statement that culturally, they do not feel the need to fill every moment with chatter. Silence is a comfortable thing. There were whole weeks that Megumi and I barely spoke aloud to one another…not out of anger or perceived slights, but simply because it wasn’t necessary. We kept each other company in our quiet ways, a collegiate version of monastic life perhaps, living out our day to day duties in the confines of a whitewashed room with minimal furniture and simple needs. This isn’t to say we didn’t have our moments of riotous joy…we had our fair share of giggling and jokes (usually involving pizza and tormenting another exchange student named Yo with aforementioned pizza), but it wasn’t an everyday occurrence. Perhaps that’s why I find such happiness in the memories as they stand out from the myriad of conversational exchanges I had with others in my life at that time.

As Thomas Carlyle once wrote, “Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together; that at length they may emerge, full-formed and majestic, into the daylight of Life, which they are thenceforth to rule.”

My silent introverted ways are simply thus…my way of processing and then reshaping the world into something more beautiful than I found it initially.

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The Key to Happiness

October 7th, 2012 by Karen

In the past 24 hours, I let someone get the better of me.

They made me so sad that I stayed up half the night in worry and tears. This morning wasn’t much better.

The reasons or circumstances don’t matter much, just this one statement.

In the past 24 hours, I let someone get the better of me.

It had nothing to do with my competence, my credibility, or my performance. It was merely the outcome of a minor argument that I’d all but forgotten nine months in the past about something that is now a complete moot point.

I put the key to my happiness in someone else’s pocket and trusted they would take care of it.

And yet…this isn’t their fault. I put it there. They didn’t wrestle it away from me. I simply handed it over.

There isn’t much I can do to salvage the situation, nor do I feel the particular energy to attempt it, but I have to remind myself. I AM NOT WHO PEOPLE SAY I AM.

I am me.
I am a wife.
I am a mother.
I am a hard worker.
I am passionate.
I care deeply about my friends.
I have helped raise over $40,000 for worthy causes in the last 3 years.
I need to prove my worth to no one but myself.

Tonight, I sang in a concert with our local Master Chorale. It is a lovely select group of singers and I consider myself fortunate to be among them. The last song of the night, ‘For Good’ from the musical Wicked, was dedicated to our dear, departed director Joaquina who passed away a few months ago. She always expected the best of us and called us her ‘darlings’. While the rest of the song was poignant in it’s own right, one phrase seemed to resonate for me tonight:

“And just to clear the air, I ask forgiveness for the things I’ve done you blame me for, but then, I guess we know there’s blame to share and none of it seems to matter anymore.

So I do ask forgiveness for my transgressions, however it takes two to tango and I’m taking back my key, and leaving this dance.

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Working for Free – A list for clients

August 2nd, 2012 by Karen

My services are not free. I have worth. I have been doing this for more than 13 years. I deserve to be compensated fairly for my time and knowledge.

My prices are fair, reasonable and competitive. They are not inflated, padded or dishonest.

I will work with you to the best of my ability to come to a middle ground on pricing and services. This does not mean that you will get everything in my proposal for 1/4th the price.

I enjoy doing work for charities and non-profits. Just because you have yet to generate a profit does not make you a non-profit. There is a very big difference. (In fact, as I was writing this, we received a personal thank you from the founder of charity we help. Because of the help we provide, they were able to assist a 7 year old girl with Chordoma which is a very rare cancer and her family. I live for these emails.)

I am a small business. My fees are my lifeblood. They go to feed my children, to put shoes on their ever growing feet and to cover their medical expenses out of pocket. Not to buy fancy cars or boats or trips. I don’t get a Christmas bonus from my boss.

If you can’t afford my services, then you can’t afford to hire me right now. There are lots of things that I have to go without too. Perhaps in time, we can talk again.

I will give you free advice to a point. If you choose to not take it, that is your decision. Advice is just that. Advice. It is not a mockup or an in-depth analysis.

If you tell me in one breath that you’re a Fortune 500 company and in the next that you don’t have an analytics package installed, oh and you want me to work on commission only, there is very little chance that we will be working together.

I will not work with you if you are dishonest to your customers or sell shabby products. Period.

My personal credo is to never do anything that I would be embarrassed to explain to my father.

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Of Conferences and Creepy People

May 24th, 2012 by Karen

Last week, I was pleased to be able to attend two wonderful conferences in the Austin area and for the most part, I had a great time. For the most part. Oh how one little prepositional phrase can change the entire meaning of a sentence. The conferences themselves were really wonderful. The speakers had a lot of great information (though I must admit, I was a speaker at one of them, so I might be a smidge biased), there was some great opportunities for networking as well as some really fun activities. That being said, there was this disturbing undercurrent present that a week later is still really bothering me.

Jerk #1
The first night of the first conference, there was a rooftop networking party hosted by several companies and when I arrived, the party was in full swing. This means that while I was completely sober, there were a lot of folks who were well into their cups due to the open bar. I found a knot of my close industry friends and was there only about 10 minutes when this incredibly drunk guy came up to me, told me I was pretty, told me his name and what kind of company he worked for, then unceremoniously gave me a terribly uncomfortable slithering hug and kissed the side of my neck. In retrospect, there’s a 1000 things the angry Xena in me would/should have done to the jerk, but I was too stunned to even react. All I could think was “Did that just ACTUALLY happen?”. Now of course I’m kicking myself for not at least dumping his drink on him or making him sing soprano for several days.

Jerk #2
The second disturbing thing that happened to me personally was later in the week at the second conference. Breaking from the traditional “stand around in a room” type of networking, we had a little networking R&R out on a lake. I’m a total water-baby (despite my fair skin, I spent more than 6 hours of that day in the water between the lake and the pool…thank you SPF 100 sunscreen!) and a lot of folks were swimming, so it wasn’t long before I was in the water. I was so there. One of the boats had a slide on it and after a bunch of my friends went down it, I was goaded into doing so as well. Now, I’m no longer the svelte lacrosse & hockey player I was in my 20s and I’m much curvier than I used to be, but as I came down the slide and into the lake, one of the childish guys in the water hollered up at me “Show us your boobs!”. What. The. Hell. I’m sorry, but last I had checked, my fabulous hubby was still home in California as our three amazing kids had a lot of activities going on and we both couldn’t get away and he’s the only one remotely even allowed to make such an request…and certainly not at an industry event! After I came up from my slide, this guy with a frat boy mentality and half full of beer starts treading water next to me and making suggestive comments. After a moment or two, I actually swam over near the conference organizer and some of his staff who were also swimming just to get away from the guy. Later that night in speaking with another friend, I came to find out that the exact same guy had made her a completely inappropriate proposition that same day.

I heard other stories while I was in Austin, but since those were third party, I’m not going to include them here. Suffice it to say however, this sort of misogynistic behavior (drunken or not) is wholly inappropriate AT ANY TIME and when they happen at a conference is it certainly a horrible reflection on the company those two guys represent. (And yes, I haven’t named names or companies, but I will certainly not being buying any ink or shoes online from either of them. And the shoe guy? I was a customer. Not any more.)

Folks, if you can’t handle your liquor, don’t drink at an industry event. Even if it’s free. Free booze does not give you free license to be a jerk or come on to every person with a XX chromosome in a 100 yard radius. Your lewd comments to ANYONE are unwelcome. Just because I’m traveling alone/a girl/kinda geeky/”insert your own adjectives here” doesn’t mean that I’m so lonely that I’m going to jump at the chance to run to your hotel room. Nor that I want you to follow me to mine. Quite the contrary.

This is a very serious issue and I’m still kind of pissed off at myself for not making a huge stink and throwing a fit about it right there and then. (I still haven’t really figured out why I didn’t. I didn’t want to embarrass them? I didn’t want to make a scene? All the reasons that come to mind are terrible.) According to RAINN, every 2 minutes someone in the US is sexually assaulted (this includes sexual harassment) and 1 out of every 6 American women and 1 out of every 33 American men have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. I’m not trying to be alarmist, but this is a significant portion of the population…just take a look at your list of friends on Facebook and do the math.

I can’t say what I’ll do the next time it happens to me (cynical note: there was no “if” in that statement), but I hope that I’ll have enough backbone to stand up for myself right when it happens. In the meantime, I will continue to surround myself with loving, good-hearted people that I know have my back and make sure that I’m never somewhere alone while I’m traveling.

And to the two gentlemen who took it upon themselves to insist on escorting me all the way back to my hotel room door at the resort on two subsequent nights simply because they were concerned for my safety, thank you.

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