I recently reconnected with an old friend of mine who I haven't seen in about 15 years. In the process of giving each other phone numbers and whatnot, I gave her this web address so that, if she wanted to, she could keep up with my goings on. Not that there's really much to keep up with, but you know...

Anyway, one of the times we were talking after that first time, she said she'd pulled up my blog and pointed out to me this post saying that from reading it she couldn't believe that I'd become one of "those women". Meaning a woman who incessantly complains about her problems and puts herself in the place of the victim time after time even though she should have learned her lessons long ago.

I just have this to say in my defense: I know that many of my posts on here are long and depressing and if a person doesn't know me (which is the case for nearly everyone who comes across this blog), they would probably think exactly what my friend did. I can say that I've changed a lot over the years. 15 years ago, I had a huge wall built around myself: a protective mechanism built from so many years of being hurt and abused as a child, teenager and adult. I've worked really hard to bring that wall down over the years because I felt like my heart was too hard and bitter. All the easier to break. It's the bitter ones that break the easiest in my experience.

Anyway, I am more vulnerable and open emotionally now, but I am also more able to love, which is so so important to me. What I have been thinking about since talking to my friend is that first I thought maybe I needed parts of that old wall to be rebuilt, because obviously I've been in a lot of pain and put myself in bad situations. In short, I've been a bit naive and too trusting. But now that I've been thinking more on this subject, I realize that I don't ever want that wall again, because once you start building it, it sort of keeps growing on its own until you've isolated yourself again. I don't want that again ever. What I'm more inclined to think now is that I need to improve my judgment skills of people and situations. I used to be so good at that. I lost it somewhere along the way. I don't know when and I don't know how. Maybe I just got lazy. Maybe I did play the victim. It's so much easier. If I'm the victim, then I don't have to take responsibility for what happens to me. It becomes everyone's fault but my own. I will say; however, that part of what was going on during and around the time of this post, was that I had not only been off one of my psychiatric medications for about six weeks, but also the dosage I was taking (before I ran out of it) was half of what I normally take. Now, I don't know if my Dr. changed the prescription dosage without telling me or if the pharmacy made a mistake. I kept the bottle, though, just in case anyone thought I was mental and couldn't read the directions on the bottle. Plus, there was the one-year anniversary of the death of my brother-in-Christ, David, whom I loved (love) so much even still. These three things converging with my month-long "thing" with "my friend" was just too much for me to take in. So, I nose-dived. I retreated back into what is familiar to me.

Now that I'm back on my medications (all of them), I'm feeling somewhat more levelized. Not so much of a paranoid psycho woman, although I do stand by what I said in the aforementioned post. I think he acted selfishly and hurtfully. Also though, I had no business sleeping with him considering my mental state. Even when I am myself, I freak out when the guy I want to be with doesn't want to be with just me. When he told me that he wasn't ready for a relationship, I should have just walked away, but like I said, I wasn't really in my right mind. (I did apologize for sending him a psycho-woman paranoid text message in the middle of the night.)

The one thing that was positive about that whole experience was that for the first time in my life, I had sex and enjoyed it. I can't explain it really, but that's a monumental step forward for me. Maybe after I think on it a bit I'll be able to explain the whole thing. Right now, though, it's more like an experience of "before this" and "after this".

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Gag Order

Nebraska judge bans the word rape from his courtroom.
By Dahlia Lithwick
Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2007, at 7:27 PM ET

Usually we leave it up to the linguists and philosophers to muse on the crazy relationship between words and their meanings. In the law, words—the important ones, at least—are defined narrowly, and judges, lawyers, and jurors are trusted to understand their meanings. It's precisely because language is so powerful in a courtroom that we treat it so reverently.

Yet a Nebraska district judge, Jeffre Cheuvront, suddenly finds himself in a war of words with attorneys on both sides of a sexual assault trial. More worrisome, he appears to be at war with language itself, and his paradoxical answer is to ban it: Last fall, Cheuvront granted a motion by defense attorneys barring the use of the words rape, sexual assault, victim, assailant, and sexual assault kit from the trial of Pamir Safi—accused of raping Tory Bowen in October 2004.

Safi's first trial resulted in a hung jury last November when jurors deadlocked 7-5. Responding to Cheuvront's initial language ban—which will be in force again when Safi is retried in July—prosecutors upped the ante last month by seeking to have words like sex and intercourse barred from the courtroom as well. The judge denied that motion, evidently on the theory that there would be no words left to describe the sex act at all. The result is that the defense and the prosecution are both left to use the same word—sex—to describe either forcible sexual assault, or benign consensual intercourse. As for the jurors, they'll just have to read the witnesses' eyebrows to sort out the difference.

Bowen met Safi at a Lincoln bar on Oct. 30, 2004. It is undisputed that they shared some drinks, and witnesses saw them leaving together. Bowen claims not to have left willingly and has no memory of the rest of that night. She claims to have woken up naked the next morning with Safi atop her, "having sexual intercourse with her." When she asked him to stop, he did.

Bowen testified for 13 hours at Safi's first trial last October, all without using the words rape or sexual assault. She claims, not unreasonably, that describing what happened to her as sex is almost an assault in itself. "This makes women sick, especially the women who have gone through this," Bowen told the Omaha World-Herald. "They know the difference between sex and rape."

Nebraska law offers judges broad discretion to ban evidence or language that present the danger of "unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues or misleading the jury." And it's not unheard-of for judges to keep certain words out of a courtroom. Words like victim have been increasingly kept out of trials, since they tend to imply that a crime was committed. And as Safi's lawyer, Clarence Mock, explains, the word rape is just as loaded. "It's a legal conclusion for a witness to say, 'I was raped' or 'sexually assaulted.' … That's for a jury to decide." His concern is that the word rape so inflames jurors that they decide a case emotionally and not rationally.

The real question for Judge Cheuvront, then, is whether embedded in the word sex is another "legal conclusion"—that the intercourse was consensual. And it's hard to conclude otherwise. Go ahead, use the word sex in a sentence. Asking a complaining witness to scrub the word rape or assault from her testimony is one thing. Asking that she imply that she agreed to what her alleged assailant was doing to her is something else entirely. To put it another way: If the complaining witness in a rape trial has to describe herself as having had "intercourse" with the defendant, should the complaining witness in a mugging be forced to testify that he was merely giving his attacker a loan?

The fact that judges are not rushing to ban similarly conclusory legal language from trial testimony—presumably one can still say murder or embezzlement on the stand—reflects not just the fraught nature of language but also the fraught nature of rape prosecutions. We as a society still somehow think rape is different—either because we assume the victims are especially fragile or because we assume they are particularly deceitful. Is the word rape truly more inflammatory to a jury than the word robbery? Yes, the question of the victim's consent surely makes a rape trial more complicated than some other kinds of criminal trials. But the fact that the evidence may be more equivocal hardly makes the underlying word more likely to incite blind juror outrage.

Wendy Murphy teaches at the New England School of Law and has spent years studying the relationship between language and the courts. She describes Judge Cheuvront's order as part of a growing trend on the part of the defense bar to scrub the language of trial courts, one that has "really blossomed after the Kobe Bryant trial." The big shifts she's noticing: Whereas defense attorneys once made motions to limit the use of the word victim in trials, there is an uptick in efforts to get rid of the word rape. Moreover, she points out, these strategies used to be directed toward prosecutors, but they are now being directed toward witnesses as well.

Do a Lexis search on the influence of inflammatory language on juror perceptions. Try to find some social science data on the effect of loaded courtroom words on conviction rates. Not much out there, notes Murphy. That's one of the things that makes the Nebraska case so maddening. If judges are going to take it upon themselves to issue blanket orders that would have witnesses testifying that black is white, one might hope that they are trying to remedy some well-documented evidentiary problem.

You needn't be a radical legal feminist to cringe at the idea of judges ordering rape complainants to obliterate from their testimony any language that signifies an assault. At worst, that judge is ordering her to lie. At best, he is asking her to play at being a human thesaurus: thinking up coded ways to describe to the jury what she believes to have happened. If Mock, Safi's attorney, is correct in stating that "trials are competing narratives of what happened," why should one side have a lock on the narrative language used? Can it really be that the cure for the problem of ambiguous courtroom language is to permit less of it?

And there's another problem underlying Cheuvront's order: Jurors will not be told of it. Not only is the "dangerous" language to be hidden from them, but the fact that it's been hidden will be concealed from them as well. They are not merely too emotional to hear the phrase rape kit. They are also evidently too emotional to know it's been hidden from them in the first place.

Professor Robert Weisberg teaches criminal law at Stanford Law School, and he acknowledges that judges in rape trials face a particularly complicated challenge when it comes to keeping prejudicial or conclusory language from a jury. He has no problem, for instance, with the fact that courts have gradually jettisoned the word victim for the less loaded complainant. The former proves too much. But he cautions that there is no value-neutral word for unwanted sex and that the word intercourse "understates what happens in a rape case." He warns that a blanket ban on the word rape may in fact be the worst solution. A jury instruction from the judge or gentle admonitions that witnesses watch their language throughout the trial is the better, more transparent fix. "That," says Weisberg, "is what judges get paid for."

If we've learned anything from the dreary wars over politically correct language in America, it's that purging ugly words from the lexicon hardly makes the ugly ideas they represent go away. Trials exist to ferret out facts, and papering over those ugly facts with pretty—or even "neutral"—words doesn't just do violence to abstractions like language and meaning. When it's done in a courtroom, the real victim—if I may still use that word—may well be the truth.

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Norman Rockwell Is Bleeding

This made me laugh so hard that I snorted!



Long Day~Long Life

I swear to God yesterday was the longest, shittiest day of my life. Of course, I may be overexaggerating, but it was freakin' long. I've been so anxious for the last week or so and I really can't figure out why. I don't want to go to work at all. Just the thought of it makes my heart speed up like I'm going to start panicking and what's really odd is that my job isn't really hard. It's just that I work 6 days a week and I think that's what's getting to me. I'm always having to find ways to get more hours so that my paychecks will be decent and when I do get enough hours, I'm dog ass tired. Too tired to do anything else like clean house, play with my cats... It feels like all I do is work and sleep.

Yesterday was the culmination of my not having some of my meds for about a month or so, not to mention my body picking this particular day to throw me some period cramps that felt like a knife twisting in my belly. The night before, I didn't sleep hardly at all, so by the time morning came I was so frustrated and anxious that I didn't know what to do with myself. I would cry, stop, cry some more, beat my pillows in frustration and cry some more. I wound up feeling very numb and alternately very melancholy. I had a dr. appt. at 4p. yesterday afternoon for medication management and I finally got my prescriptions renewed for another 3 months, but waiting for the damn appt. was fucking hell. Then, when I got to the dr's office, he was running like half an hour late. So, since I got to my appt. about 15 minutes early, I wound up waiting on him for 45 minutes. Talk about being irritated and after my appt. I still had to go get my scripts filled. Granted, I was so grateful to have them finally, but with all my anxiety going on and the fact that I had one doosey of a migraine after my dr. appt., it was really really hard to drive and what not. After that, I had to go to the store to get those supplies that most everyone is embarrassed to name: pads and tampons (t.m.i. ?). Walking around in Kroger with the flourescent lights was unbelievably hard and surreal. I had to deposit my paycheck from last week in my bank before I could get what I needed. Thank God the bank had a branch in Kroger. I don't think I could've gone anywhere else. I was so out of it that I had to have the teller walk me through filling out my checking deposit slip.

I told y'all it was a shitty day.

Today, I am having to call in to work so that I can go get my car looked at. It needs to be serviced and it's making these weird shuddering sounds. I had to call in yesterday too. The restaurant was closed yesterday, but there was an event that I told my manager that I would work. The day after (or maybe that same day) that I told her I would work it, I was regretting it. I realized suddenly that I would be working a 7 day week and that I wouldn't have a day off 'till next Monday. Shit.

At this point, today, I really really don't want to go back to work. I'm feeling very frustrated, very boxed in, and slightly suicidal. I hate feeling this way. Having these thoughts of suicide because it feels like a cop out to me. It's like every time things get hard, I think suicidal thoughts. I'm too scared to do it, though, so all I do is torture myself with anxiety, which I also hate. I'm all wrapped up in myself again with this anxiety, frustration and depression. Now, I'm selfish; again something that I hate.

I'm probably going to wind up losing my job or at the very least, getting balled out by one or both of my managers. Considering they are bf/gf and they live together, I will probably get it from both of them.