What Language Might Heal Our Family Feud?

By Bear Gebhardt

Let’s pretend that I have an Uncle Waldo and a Cousin Fritz and a Sister Kate, all of whom were part of the minority who voted for the current Minority President. (How could they!) What am I supposed to say to them? How do I say it?

Bear Gebhardt is a writer who lives in Fort Collins, Colo. Learn more about him…

I also need to come up with a strategy to talk with those folks on my very block—that construction guy and his wife and that young kid with the motorboat—who actually put up his signs in their front yards.  How do I talk with them?  These folks are, after all, my family, my neighbors.

Do I just not talk to them ever again? Is the gulf between us now so deep, so vast and unbridgeable that further communication will forever be impossible? When I get together with them do I just not mention that huge, snorting (GOP) elephant in the room? How would my grandma and grandpa feel about such a chasm of “non-talk,” here in the family? Or, God forbid, might grandpa and grandma been part of that minority who voted for him (egads!). How do I get out of this family?

Alas, I can’t. We can’t.

We can’t resign from our families. And I doubt we could find a new neighborhood where no one voted for him.

Talk about it: One strategy, of course—a strategy many of us have been forced to adopt here in the early months of this new administration run by the minority 1 percent—is simply not talking about it. But this seems a rather inelegant, inartistic, maybe even cowardly approach to the problem. But simply to keep the peace, it’s a strategy many of us generously, regularly employ.

But, when the time and place are right, I sincerely do want to talk with Uncle Waldo and Cousin Fritz and Sister Kate, in a way that honors grandma and grandpa, about this bully elephant here trampling through the family gardens. The damage being done is simply too great not to talk about it.  It might, at first, be just a quick talk, a casual aside, but something needs to be done—said—to repair the communication breakdown here in the American family. The rift that has opened in our family in these times is as deep now as it was during the American Revolution, and the Civil War. We must begin to heal this communication breakdown before it becomes irreparable.

But how do we even begin?

The U.S.-Mexican border is not the only place where a wall exists. Americans find that communication walls about Trump and other political issues severely divide their own friends and family members.

George Lakoff, a retired Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, suggests “The first thing that …should be, taught about political language is not to repeat the language of the other side or negate their framing of the issue, In general, negating a frame just activates the frame and makes it stronger.”

Please take a moment to fill out the short poll at the end of this article.

Lakoff goes on to observe that, The Clinton campaign consistently violated the lesson [not to repeat the language of the other side or negate their framing. The Clinton Campaign] kept running ads showing Trump forcefully expressing views that liberals found outrageous. Trump supporters liked him for forcefully saying things that liberals found outrageous. They were ads paid for by the Clinton campaign that raised Trump’s profile with his potential supporters!

Don’t empower: It seems like we, the majority, who did not vote for this one-percenter President, all too often fall into the same damned trap. We repeat his exact words and outlandish frames and the words and frames of his millionaire/billionaire buddies he put into positions of power. We repeat them because to us the words and frames sound so obviously outlandish and off the rails. But such repetition just reinforces and empowers those outlandish viewpoints, and keep his base actively supporting him.

Here are a few of the lessons we need to learn to begin to repair the communication “bridge out”:

  • Personal attacks on Trump give energy and credence to Trump.
  • Calling him names gives credence to his own name calling.
  • Making fun of his supporters makes them support him more strongly.

So, how do we begin to talk again with our neighbors and Uncle Waldo, Cousin Fritz and Sister Kate?

Here’s the challenge: We must deeply listen to the real issues behind the fiery words, and then think deeper, feel deeper.

We must look behind the words they give us, beyond the frames they draw.

Erase fears: And then we need to change the language. We need to listen to them, to what they are worried about, what issues they are afraid of. And then think deeper. And offer new frames, new language, to ease their fears. (Wide ranging fear—on both sides—is the dark force that has caused the “bridge out” communication chasm now present. To repair the bridge, we need to lessen the fear.)

Again, it’s worth repeating, as Lakoff observes: The first thing that should be, taught about political language is not to repeat the language of the other side or negate their framing of the issue.

So when Uncle Waldo suggests we should “Build a Wall,” we might first commiserate and agree that current efforts to keep out illegal immigrants just isn’t working. And then taking baby steps we change the frame, if only slightly, “As we all know, we already have 700 miles worth of fences, and concrete barriers and barbed wire, along much of the U.S. border, and how well is that working?”

Offer alternative views: And then we might laugh, remind Uncle Waldo what a great country we (already) have, and that the reason they sneak into the country is because of how much money they can make compared to their own country. If I could make $5,000.00 in a month washing dishes in a restaurant in Canada, I would probably sneak across that border if I couldn’t get a visa. Our own American farmers have been telling us we could go a long way to fix the undocumented worker problem simply by issuing more H2A  visas, get the farmers the help they need, legally. And in the same way we need to issue more J-1, H-3, H2B, L1 visas—help American businesses get the manual labor they need, but legally.  If we granted more visas, offered more work documents, we wouldn’t have so many undocumented workers!

I suspect Uncle Waldo would have to agree, at least a smudge. Again, let’s think deeper, wider, using the facts.

When Cousin Fritz demands, “America First,” we might ask him who should be second? And then ask him if he drinks coffee or eats bananas, and where do we get these wonderful things?

When Sister Kate suggests we “block refugees,” we might suggest the first step might be to stop bombing, stop creating more homeless people.

Instead of talking about “sanctuary cities,” we might talk about “world friendly cities.” Instead of using the words “Fake News,” we can agree that we desperately need “fact-based stories,” that can be verified. We DON’T repeat the Minority Man’s words.

And that’s the point: We must learn not to repeat their words, not to challenge their frames. As Cesar Chavez said, “Our language is the reflection of ourselves. A language is an exact reflection of the character and growth of its speakers.”

Let’s think deeper, think wider, about the issues behind their fearful words and frames. Let’s bravely, openly and lovingly speak our own language, and thus take steps toward healing this painful family rift.

 

 

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Don’t speak no English? ‘merica don’t wantcha

By Gary Kimsey

With my eyes rolled upward to demonstrate the stupidity of it all, I let out a disgusting snort when the news media recently reported Donald Trump eagerly supports legislation that favors immigrants who speak English.

Gary Kimsey is a writer and marketing specialist. Learn more about him…

Gosh, there you have it. Such legislation would keep out Klingons and me—that is, if I weren’t already here, mind you.

You see, I’m a mumbler. My wife often asks: “What did you say?” My friends: “Huh?” People I’ve just met gaze quizzically at me as if I’m speaking, well, Klingon.

Chances are extremely excellent that I’d be nixed at the immigration office when asked what language I speak. “Engblurmumblelish,” I’d mumble.

A Klingon would reply, “qaStaH nuq jay’?” Which in English is the equivalent of barking out, “What the *$@expletive delete%* is going on?” Well, that’s if the Klingon is stubbornly contrary and refuses to reply in anything but his own native language. In actuality, Klingons speak perfect English.

Not familiar with Klingons? Click here to learn about them. Click here to find out about their language.

Introduced by conservative Republican U.S. senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, the legislation would cut immigration in half by changing the system for legal residency, or green cards. The new focus in this legislation, named the RAISE Act, would be on applicants who can financially support themselves and their families, have skills that contribute to our economy, and speak English.

The president and authors of the legislation have failed—either on purpose or through lack of vision—to take into account an important point: Humans have the ability to do great things. We can go to the moon and beyond. We visit ocean depths. We invented rapid global communication. And a measure of no less greatness: People who adopt a new motherland can actually learn her language.

Who would you vote for–a Klingon or Donald Trump? Take the short poll at the end of this blog.

I have to wonder if Mr. Trump himself would be let into the U.S. under the proposed legislation. Don’t believe me? Read his convoluted tweets. Are they really English? And, as far as his speaking English? Listen to the president’s spoken words, his inability to complete a sentence, his contrived words with no meaning, his verbal wanderings, misuse of verbs and subjects, nonsensical messages…well, the list goes on.

To be fair, however, I have to admit that Mr. Trump’s mangling of our verbal and written language is more representative of what’s happening in our society than one might like. In short, grammatically correct English is on the way out. How often do we hear people make such statements as “Me and Joe went to the movies” and “He don’t know nothing”? (Uh, just in case, please note that it should be “Joe and I…” and “He doesn’t know anything….”)

Do Klingons speak English better than Donald Trump? Take the short poll below.

And the written language? Oh, ye gads. Let me give a small example of what I’ve witnessed. I taught a magazine writing class for college seniors and graduate students for a couple of years. Each semester I had to give remedial grammar lessons. A plural verb goes with a plural subject…a singular noun takes a singular pronoun…and so on and so forth. Many of these supposedly highly educated students had no idea how to craft a grammatically correct sentence.

Anyway, at this very spot, I would like to make a graceful transition to a related topic by writing, “Well, now, all kidding aside….” Unfortunately, I wasn’t kidding about the above observations.

The proposed legislation smacks not only of racism but also of economic ignorance. The U.S. is beset by an aging population and low fertility rates—two trends that economists say severely limit our society’s innovation and economic growth.  By restricting immigration, we dull our economic edge.

The legislation also would close the spigot on a stream of workers—both in the high-tech and lower-skilled areas—that America needs to fill big gaps in our labor force.  Ask yourself how many vegetables, really, will end up in our grocery stores if we impose an English-only rule on the folks doing the backbreaking harvesting.

Thanks to immigration, businesses are created and improvements are made, leading to more jobs in our country. Boosting economic growth is an issue that should be supported by all of the congress—Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. With this thought in mind, I encourage you to contact your congressional representatives to voice opposition to the legislation.

If that doesn’t work, tell them, “wo’ batlhvaD.” After all, as this Klingon saying goes, we’re on the same team, aren’t we?

 

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Pop quiz: The Twitter-in-Chief’s tweets – Nasty or Meaningful?

By John Gascoyne

Pop quiz: Who is the biggest loser – the present occupier of the White who issues the mindless, mean-spirited tweets, or the audience – media and the public alike – who are suckered into reading and discussing them ad nauseum?

John Gascoyne is a writer and lawyer living in Fort Collins, Colo. Learn more about him…

My vote would go to the people – us and the media – as the biggest losers. Donald is trolling us and we fall into his web, needlessly, just about every day.

Mika, Joe, Chelsea, and Hillary have all been attacked by tRump recently. That nastiness, while hateful and spiteful, has no meaningful or valuable place in the national dialogue. These are all tough public figures who can look out for themselves. It just can’t matter how Mika and Joe respond or that Chelsea or her mom may have scored a zinger of a reply back to the Tweeter in Chief.

Don’t forget to take the short pop quiz at the end of this article.

Trump and his Twitterfingers have replaced baseball as the national addiction: we wake up to news agencies – TV and press – talking about the latest back-alley issuance as being worthy of dissemination and discussion. We get suckered into following the back-and-forth as if there must be some greater meaning.

There isn’t.

We are being played, badly, by a careless and uncaring person who substitutes pointless and nasty attacks for meaningful commentary.

There are ways to deal with this:

  • The media can all refrain from disseminating attack trash from the White House. They can, of course, cover legitimate political issuances, should there happen to be any.
  • We, the people, can urge media to begin acting like responsible news organizations rather than unwitting puppets.
  • As individuals, we can just ignore the silliness – following it, repeating it, or offering it any credence whatsoever.

One way to deal with this is to create a Bull-O-Meter Rating System. If a particular tweet is 25 percent, or less, pure Bull, and has national relevance, sure, go ahead and disseminate it. Contrariwise, if the tweet exceeds that amount of pure Bull, don’t do the Tweeter-in-Chief’s nasty business for him – don’t promulgate hate-filled, pointless speech.

—–

Twitter is Trump’s direct link to Americans to attack people, distribute lies

The results of an ABC/Washington Post poll released July 17 showed 67 percent of Americans disapprove of Donald Trump’s tweet. The poll also found that 68 percent said the tweets were inappropriate; 65 percent said they were insulting, and 52 percent said his tweets were dangerous. Read the USA Today article about the poll.

More than any other president, CEO or movie star, Trump has learned to use Twitter to his personal advantage, often with disregard for truth and dignity.

According to TwitterCounter.com, he averages eight tweets a day. As of July 13, @realDonaldTrump had 33,697,688 followers, ranking his account 31 for number of followers among all Twitter users. He has sent out 35,277 tweets since joining Twitter in 2009.

An extraordinarily high number of his tweets contain personal attacks on anyone who speaks critically of his politics, business tactics or morals. He also relies on Twitter to distribute lies and fake news: the size of the inaugural crowd, voter fraud was in the millions, to name just two examples. Here’s a look at his recent tweets.

 

Read a previous Writers With No Borders article about Trump’s tweets: Why Trump’s bait-and-switch tweets confuse Americans by Gary Kimsey.

 

Take the following pop quiz, please. We will report the results in the right narrow column of the next article posted by Writers With No Borders. 

Escaping the Trump Tower Prison

By Bear Jack Gebhardt

Isn’t it funny how often we dream in metaphors? And, when we pay attention, our dreams can help us to better understand and more artfully deal with the challenges of our waking life.

For example, I recently had a dream in which I was arrested for murder, and held in prison in the Trump Tower. The charge against me was so serious that I knew I would never be released from the Trump Tower jail.

Bear Jack Gebhardt has written for many national magazines and published books on various topics. Learn more about him…

The dream went deeper:

Donald Trump himself singled me out personally for perverse psychological experiments. He would have me removed from the cell, take me into the glitzy lobby of the Tower, and tell me falsehoods to see if I would believe them. He obviously didn’t care whether I believed him or not. He even let me walk around the block, there in New York City, as if I were a free man, enjoying the sunshine and the ordinary movement of daily life, all the while knowing I was still his prisoner, with no chance of escape unless I wanted to live a life on the run.

Curiously, waking from this dream, I found I could breathe easier, psychologically and emotionally speaking—easier than I had in months. Through my dream, I had been presented with an accurate scenario—outplaying—of my inner life. With such a glimpse, I felt more empowered to deal with real-life outer circumstances.

“Hope is a mark of spiritual wholeness.”

The contemporary Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast, observed, “Hope is a mark of spiritual wholeness.” My dream pointed out how I had inadvertently fallen into a mood–an attitude, a worldview–of hopelessness, which, in Brother David’s view, would be a condition of spiritual fragmentation.  (If you are arrested and charged with murder, there’s little hope for escape.)

The reasons behind my mood, this attitude, were likewise plainly presented in my dream. Our current political upheaval had obviously captured my mood and emotions in a way that feels life-threatening, without hope. In my dream, many others were likewise held in the Trump Tower prison, though for some reason—probably just because it was my dream—I had been personally selected for Donald’s psychological experiments.

Don’t forget to take a short survey about your dream world at the end of this article.

My daughter, Annalee Moyers, is a lucid dreamer, and over many decades we have learned together to work with our dreams—play with our dreams—in a way that most often makes our day-life flow more smoothly. One of our dream practices is to go back, after waking, and “fix” our troubling dreams, sometimes on paper, sometimes by talking them out together. Playing with the exact images our subconscious has offered up allows our mental and emotional and sometimes even physical infrastructure to be repaired.

So, for example, I can go back into my dream, here as I write this essay, and have a fair-minded judge deliver papers to the Tower prison ordering the charges against me be dropped, because they were all based on insufficient and possibly even fraudulently fabricated evidence. While I’m at it,  I’ll have further papers delivered charging the Trump organization with false arrest, false imprisonment, not only for my case (my dream) but for all those who have been likewise imprisoned in the Trump Tower’s jail.

Since it’s our dream, and we can do what we want, we may as well send in blue-helmeted United Nations’ soldiers to open all the prison cell doors, release all of the prisoners, and haul all the Trump guards and prison administrators into waiting paddy wagons.

There. Doesn’t that feel better?

We do need to guard against being imprisoned in the Trump Tower. More specifically, and more importantly, we need to guard against the rising sense of hopelessness, this tweet-induced mental and emotional fragmentation.

Here in our day life, we are whole beings—beings who are nourished by the arts, all of them, and Meals on Wheels, and offering a helping hand to the poor; our compassion as non-fragmented beings leads us to help the refugees, and all those who have been made homeless by our own military and economic actions.

Let us not lose hope. We can wake from this nightmare. We all must work to stay healthy, mentally, emotionally and physically, in both waking and sleeping, in order to artfully meet the challenges we now face. Sharing our dreams, both daytime and nighttime, is an essential part of our healthy healing process.

Click here to take a short survey about your dream world

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Why Trump’s Bait-and-Switch Tweets Confuse Americans

By Gary Kimsey

In his use of Twitter, is President Trump performing a classic bait-and-switch scam to confuse Americans?

Well, yes, of course.

Gary Kimsey is a writer and retired marketing specialist. Learn more about him…

“Bait and switch” is a dishonest marketing tactic where consumers (we Americans in this case) are encouraged to believe something about a product (here, the product is Trump). The terrible truth is that the product is vastly different and of significantly less quality than what was promised. It’s often easy to identify a bait-and-switch maneuver. Thus, be wary when someone says, “Believe me”—a favored Trump expression.

I couldn’t help but think about bait-and-switch while watching the March 20 congressional hearing by the House Intelligence Committee. The hearing focused on hacking, Putin, cabinet members’ ties to Russia, and, of course, Trump’s crazy Twitter tweets claiming President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. (I took the liberty of adding the word “crazy,” by the way, for his accusatory tweets were just that.

I found it interesting that Trump conducted a tweet storm as the hearing was underway. He used the official Twitter account of the President of the United States. More than 1.6 million Americans received the tweets.

These tweets contained partial truths, at best, as well as grossly misinterpreted accounts of what was said in the hearings. Predictably, this was the same fantasy pattern that many of his tweets have followed since the inauguration.

Click here for a fact-check on Trump’s tweets during the congressional hearing.

As a person who spent the last half of his 50-year professional career in marketing, I am well-aware that Trump—the quintessential marketer—fully operates on a certain assumption. Americans, especially those who voted for him, will unquestioningly believe information from such a traditionally respected source as a U.S. president.

Think back to your history and civics classes. Many of us were indoctrinated in high school and college classes to believe certain positions in America are above lying. The presidency is supposedly one of the sacred positions. For my generation of Baby Boomers, this myth of total truthfulness was shattered by Nixon.

Don’t forget to take the short survey at the end of this article.

The problem now is that many Americans don’t peer beyond tweets and eye-catching headlines. As a society, we are victims of 140 characters and information overload. Fake News is a stake aimed at our intellectual heart. We fear Fake News so much that many of us will believe, without questioning, a president who tweets “Fake News” whenever someone disagrees with him, whether it’s individuals, the media or intelligence agencies.

Trump knows our fears and plays upon them by telling us in his tweets—without presenting any evidence—that information from such reliable sources as the FBI is wrong. He also keeps the tweets coming as a way to divert the thoughts of Americans away from other issues—his denial of global warming, defunding Meals on Wheels and Planned Parenthood, appointing to his cabinet inept and incapable billionaire friends rather than experts, and the likely loss of health care for 24 million Americans, to name just a few issues. Rather than draining the swamp, Trump is filling it with moccasins and alligators.

The impacts of bait-and-switch in tweets? Many Americans have learned they are unable to trust the person sitting in the Oval Office. Strife is perpetuated in society and politics, continuing to divide the nation. The Office of the President of the United States—the world’s most powerful position—is belittled in the eyes of Americans, as well as people and governments around the world. Important issues are overshadowed. Democracy is undermined. Confusion reigns.

How do we avoid the bait-and-switch of Trump’s tweets? We must cast our vision beyond what we read in his tweets. Seek out at reliable sources. Fact-check information.

Here are reliable fact-checking sites:

Also look at The 10 Best Fact-checking Sites.

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Click here to take the survey…

“I want to stab him in the testicles a million times”

By Mary Roberts 

“What do you think we are? Cattle?”

I’m caught in a tight scree of human flesh, all pretending we aren’t pressed up against each other’s bodies — fleshy, rib thin, and somewhere in-between. Boston’s old subway cars weren’t meant to hold this many people. The cattle remark is in my head. I can’t say it. I’m afraid I’ll stutter or people would laugh at me.

That’s when it happens.

Before the 2016 presidential election, Mary Roberts wrote about real estate, her Irish Catholic childhood in Boston and the 13 dogs that have defined the chapters of her life. Now, she writes to say, “Wake up, people!” Learn more about Mary.

Someone reaches from behind me and slides his hand down the front on my pants. Both of my hands are gripping the overhead strap and my legs are parted to steady myself from the stops and starts of the jolting train.

“Hey!” I let go of the strap with my left arm and squeeze it between two of my neighbors but the hand is gone before I can grab it. It is 1970. I am 19. I burn in shame.

I had returned home after one year of college in New York. Home was Needham, a small town 10 miles west of Boston. Long island, N.Y., was not where I wanted to be. I didn’t know where I wanted to be. I had no plan or ambition, except to star in Broadway musicals but I was afraid to speak and couldn’t sing. I had also broken my kneecap twice in high school. My one year as a drama major ended in disaster when I couldn’t manage the role as Marat Sade’s mother. And she was a stutterer.

Mom’s friend got me a job in Medical Records at Children’s Hospital and I went to night school at Boston College. From the hospital, I took the Green Line to the BC stop. Three hours later, I’d head home to the Newton Highlands stop where I would take a bus to Needham Square. I didn’t drive and we didn’t have a car anyway, so the MBTA was my constant companion, riding its street cars and buses four times a day.

“I won’t do this anymore.”

I hated the way men looked at me when I’d make my way through the construction sites that littered the streets and sidewalks along the way. I’d veer out to the road followed by the whistles and calls for blow jobs from the guys with hard hats. I wore glasses, no makeup and baggy turtlenecks with the mandatory skirts but it didn’t matter. I was young.

After the subway incident, I went in to the manager’s office and told her I was done. “I can’t do this anymore,” I told her, “I won’t do this anymore.”

Two weeks later, on New Year’s Eve, 1970, I was on an airplane with my sister who was headed back to Colorado State University after Christmas break. She and I were never the best friends we should have been, only 18 months apart, but it was better than spending the rest of my life terrified of crowds and the subway. I was already unable to drive after a traumatizing car accident. A good sturdy bike would get me where I needed to go in Colorado.

“A bloated, orange-tinted mass of pulpy flesh”

Forty plus years later and Donald Trump is caught saying ‘grab them by the pussy’ and I am outraged. More than outraged.

I am indignant, incensed, I am horrified. In my dreams, I want to stab him in the heart and testicles a million times then write my name — and the names of all women who have been assaulted, grabbed, diminished, denigrated — in his blood as it slowly leaves his body, leaving a bloated, orange-tinted mass off pulpy flesh and pockmarked bone. Again, fantasies in my dream land, not for advocating violence against a president or anyone.

Does such a dream make me a terrorist? Did I break the law by entertaining fantasies of hurting the president?

I don’t harbor those fantasies because I disagree with his policies (which I do) or think that he is a disgrace as a president and a human being (which I do). I harbor those fantasies because he is a predator and a sexual bully. Every woman knows what that is and the women who voted for him have neatly compartmentalized that fact somewhere in their emotional body where it will fester and eventually destroy them.

“Was I that fragile?”

At 65 years of age, I now understand that I left Boston because someone grabbed me by the pussy. I left behind the love of my life, the ocean, my mother, the home I was raised in and the New England I still yearn for—just because an asshole grabbed me and I felt powerless and ashamed and scared that it would happen again.

Was I that fragile? Was I that sorry-ass wimp of a girl? Without the backbone to give the construction guys the finger and yell ‘fuck you’ back at them? Without the courage to call out ‘help’ in the subway car? Yes, I was.

Years later, I hug my dogs tight when I hear the President’s voice over the radio. I’m already considering a replacement for the third dog I just lost to a painful disease. Two is good but three — three is impenetrable.

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“I want to stab him in the testicles a million times”

By Mary Roberts 

“What do you think we are? Cattle?”

I’m caught in a tight scree of human flesh, all pretending we aren’t pressed up against each other’s bodies — fleshy, rib thin, and somewhere in-between. Boston’s old subway cars weren’t meant to hold this many people. The cattle remark is in my head. I can’t say it. I’m afraid I’ll stutter or people would laugh at me.

That’s when it happens.

Before the 2016 presidential election, Mary Roberts wrote about real estate, her Irish Catholic childhood in Boston and the 13 dogs that have defined the chapters of her life. Now, she writes to say, “Wake up, people!” Learn more about Mary.

Someone reaches from behind me and slides his hand down the front on my pants. Both of my hands are gripping the overhead strap and my legs are parted to steady myself from the stops and starts of the jolting train.

“Hey!” I let go of the strap with my left arm and squeeze it between two of my neighbors but the hand is gone before I can grab it. It is 1970. I am 19. I burn in shame.

I had returned home after one year of college in New York. Home was Needham, a small town 10 miles west of Boston. Long island, N.Y., was not where I wanted to be. I didn’t know where I wanted to be. I had no plan or ambition, except to star in Broadway musicals but I was afraid to speak and couldn’t sing. I had also broken my kneecap twice in high school. My one year as a drama major ended in disaster when I couldn’t manage the role as Marat Sade’s mother. And she was a stutterer.

Mom’s friend got me a job in Medical Records at Children’s Hospital and I went to night school at Boston College. From the hospital, I took the Green Line to the BC stop. Three hours later, I’d head home to the Newton Highlands stop where I would take a bus to Needham Square. I didn’t drive and we didn’t have a car anyway, so the MBTA was my constant companion, riding its street cars and buses four times a day.

“I won’t do this anymore.”

I hated the way men looked at me when I’d make my way through the construction sites that littered the streets and sidewalks along the way. I’d veer out to the road followed by the whistles and calls for blow jobs from the guys with hard hats. I wore glasses, no makeup and baggy turtlenecks with the mandatory skirts but it didn’t matter. I was young.

After the subway incident, I went in to the manager’s office and told her I was done. “I can’t do this anymore,” I told her, “I won’t do this anymore.”

Two weeks later, on New Year’s Eve, 1970, I was on an airplane with my sister who was headed back to Colorado State University after Christmas break. She and I were never the best friends we should have been, only 18 months apart, but it was better than spending the rest of my life terrified of crowds and the subway. I was already unable to drive after a traumatizing car accident. A good sturdy bike would get me where I needed to go in Colorado.

“A bloated, orange-tinted mass of pulpy flesh”

Forty plus years later and Donald Trump is caught saying ‘grab them by the pussy’ and I am outraged. More than outraged.

I am indignant, incensed, I am horrified. In my dreams, I want to stab him in the heart and testicles a million times then write my name — and the names of all women who have been assaulted, grabbed, diminished, denigrated — in his blood as it slowly leaves his body, leaving a bloated, orange-tinted mass off pulpy flesh and pockmarked bone. Again, fantasies in my dream land, not for advocating violence against a president or anyone.

Does such a dream make me a terrorist? Did I break the law by entertaining fantasies of hurting the president?

I don’t harbor those fantasies because I disagree with his policies (which I do) or think that he is a disgrace as a president and a human being (which I do). I harbor those fantasies because he is a predator and a sexual bully. Every woman knows what that is and the women who voted for him have neatly compartmentalized that fact somewhere in their emotional body where it will fester and eventually destroy them.

“Was I that fragile?”

At 65 years of age, I now understand that I left Boston because someone grabbed me by the pussy. I left behind the love of my life, the ocean, my mother, the home I was raised in and the New England I still yearn for—just because an asshole grabbed me and I felt powerless and ashamed and scared that it would happen again.

Was I that fragile? Was I that sorry-ass wimp of a girl? Without the backbone to give the construction guys the finger and yell ‘fuck you’ back at them? Without the courage to call out ‘help’ in the subway car? Yes, I was.

Years later, I hug my dogs tight when I hear the President’s voice over the radio. I’m already considering a replacement for the third dog I just lost to a painful disease. Two is good but three — three is impenetrable.

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