I didn’t forget you on the 20th. I was busy learning a new skill!
My landlord – you know, my problem child, Rich – is a home renovator. He’s working on the property a friend has neglected damn near to death. It’s in Bear Lake, so I figured while I’m unemployed I’d learn some new skills and earn myself a free vacation.
I invited Galen, to mitigate the sexual harassment I could expect from Rich, with whom I drove up Thursday night, in order to get a head start bright and early Friday morning. Galen would join us Friday, and play on the lake all day. I planned to wile away the hot hours of the afternoons there, and work again ’til sundown.
California’s fires blew into the valley and, I’m telling you, you could hardly see the lake! Galen decided against the two hour drive. If he was going to paddle around in smoke, he might as well stay close to home.
Rich vacillated between begging, whining, groping, pouting, and the aggression we know so well, when I repeatedly said no.
He’s a full-grown raging man with the mentality of a 5 year old. He’s the biggest victim I’ve met in all my life. Besides incredulous, I’m beyond feeling. Well, irritation. This again? It’s such a hassle. It’s more work than painting an entire trailer!
I hate baby boomers. I didn’t understand that it’s pervasive. I knew only my father, a good Mormon, and Marko, an extraordinary exception who simply never saw anyone as anything other than equal.
I made a dangerous assumption that Marko’s friends were like him. I really did not understand that these men do not understand festival ethos and culture, and don’t care to learn. The open-hearted exchange of energy that builds there is not an invitation to bodies. For grizzled voyeurs, however, it’s precisely that: a panoply of scantily-clad bodies on display like a pastry counter, theirs for the choosing to tickle and niggle and grind and grab. These perverts cannot be made to understand that women’s bodies are not theirs to manhandle. No means no, not keep badgering me. Coercion is not consent. Women are not coin slots you put alcohol in and tits-n-ass come out.
Someone said, “The loss of privilege can feel like oppression. It isn’t.” These rapey, infantile men just scream. I hate them.
In fairness to Rich, he didn’t block the exit of a 14 year old girl and “talk her into” having sex with him. I have no doubt Zafod’s been doing so for decades. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. His rape charge was reduced to sexual misconduct with a minor, with a kidnapping enhancement. I know exactly why he chose a child. Grown women make noise or make an escape. Barely, in my case. In 2011, he got caught. Poor young girl. Probably affected her so deeply, she couldn’t hide it. Makes me so sad and angry.
(Incidentally, this week would have been Burning Man. As you know, I give myself a year off of my traumas. It resolved relatively on its own, a while ago. We’ve done a little work on it in therapy, but generally I’m interested in healing the deeper traumas that have led to the inability to trust my gut, build boundaries, or value myself. Not being raped and abused is not asking too much. How ’bout that?
It’s a matter of learning to listen again to my intuition and believe it, without guilt. It’s hard for victims of childhood abuse to trust their instincts. It’s too complicated to understand how your caregiver can attack you while claiming to love you, so a child turns off the ability to protect herself. The message is I’m not worth my safety.
EMDR has done a lot to heal my brain. I recover faster. Also, I had that satisfying experience last year of using my words and finding exactly the right ones. I owned that room! He couldn’t leave, and I didn’t require him to stay. I didn’t even raise my voice. My tone alone stopped him, dead calm and in charge. He didn’t say a word. I accused him face-to-face of lying, entrapment, and sexual assault. His shoulders slumped with a sigh and he nodded. And still, he remained seated. I excused him! It was so empowering.)
So Rich threw fits when I asked for instruction and feedback.
“I’ll just drop what I’m doing inside then and do this!”
“I’m not asking you to do it. I’m asking for guidance. I’ve never painted before.”
“You paint all the time!”
“Art. Years ago. I’ve never painted a house.”
When I got the instruction I needed and got rid of him, I enjoyed great music and being outside. We only went to the lake once, for an hour. I told him I wanted to hit the water once a day. He wholeheartedly agreed. Not surprisingly, he lied.
I did not enjoy painting the minutiae. For three days, Rich had me on window sills and edge trim. I saw the trailer in its original state, when I went to Bear Lake in July with Zack. I made Rich promise not to paint the exterior without me. I really wanted to experience that exciting reveal. I had told Rich that I wanted to finish the entire exterior that weekend. Did he think that was possible with just the two of us? He said yes.
In other words, he knew darn well what I was volunteering for. It was on the drive that he informed me we’d paint only the deck side exterior wall. The rest would be back[neck]-breaking tedium. I expressed my concern, that that would take skills I simply didn’t have. Anyone can get the basics of painting a flat-ish surface and be trusted not to ruin it entirely. I am not a construction worker. I’m a volunteer. I needed guidance to do the job he roped me into, and I wanted the high of that WOW transformation.
I was anxious that I was making all kinds of mistakes. I don’t have a frame of reference for what “right” looks like, or even good enough. And it isn’t mine to experiment on! Mistakes are costly and time-consuming. I don’t know what I’m doing, so I continued to ask for reasonable progress checks.
“You’re doing fine!” he barked, angry.
“I think so, but I’d like you to double check.”
Annoyed as possible, he hardly glanced at my work. “It’s fine!” he shot back. “I can’t hold your hand!”
“I’m not asking you to. I want corrections. It’s not mine to ruin.”
I got punished for checking my work, so I didn’t. He can’t say I didn’t try.
I did the best I could, and unknowingly dripped all over the underside of the innumerable angles I painted. You have no idea how many! Oh my god, these tedious boards took THREE days to paint, and fix, and paint again. Do you know how much labor and time goes into sanding latex off of a long, fine edge? He’s such an idiot!
Finally, on the last day, I got the satisfying reveal I longed for! I’m so proud! I have to say… TOTALLY WORTH IT! I learned the hard stuff the hard way on someone else’s project, and have no doubt that I will be involved in the learning and labor of crafting my own someday home.
Next weekend, I will drive up with Galen so as not to get trapped with that old, angry, sexist, presumptuous manbaby. I will work in the cool hours of the day and play in the afternoons. I will paint the exterior, as promised, and assist where and when I’m able, if I desire it. I don’t care what he says. I told him all along I considered this a working holiday. We didn’t holiday at all. We hardly ate. (I didn’t lose a pound!)
I told Rich what I was available for. He tricked me. As for sexual harassment, I hold myself responsible for putting myself in any kind of situation with him. I know what to expect. He took advantage of me. It’s what he does. I can’t hope for anything else.
Free labor, for the love! Be gracious. In what way can you make yourself a victim in this? That’s entitlement for you. Stuck in permanent mindset of mine, mine, mine.
I adjusted. I made it an opportunity to confront fear of the unknown, flex new muscles, and gain new knowledge. We’d been unable to build a temple for Element 11 this year, since burn events worldwide were cancelled. I saw right away what this weekend was going to be, in spite of what I’d communicated and Rich agreed to, and saw an opportunity to gain confidence for the build crew next year. Maybe even come in stronger! It had been very intimidating to volunteer last year, when I had no skills.
And look what I did! IN ONE DAY! In the end, I’m glad I only painted one side. The juxtaposition with the janky remainder makes it all the more satisfying. Weeee!
I love painting houses! I want to play with a paint spray thingy!