Friday, March 2, 2018

What I Wish I Had Said

(I suspect no one will read this post.  But I'll know it's here.)

Over the years I have from time to time idly wondered whether I should shutter this blog for good.  I haven't written in so long, and while I loved blogging and this community, it truly feels like its time is past.  Then I get an email out of the blue from another woman who was affected by this man - a woman who found me via this blog - and I know I can't close it down.  We are a sisterhood, and leaving space for us to find one another is the least I can do.  

I received one such email in January and it was a gut-punch.  It took me several days to understand why it was hitting me so hard, but I got there eventually.  The one piece of this experience that is unresolved for me is my guilt at having not reported Gerald Klever when I could have - and wanted to.  Each email I receive forces me to face how many other women were victimized over the years because I said nothing.

So in January I mourned again, and accepted again that I have not been able to forgive myself.  I bitched a little at the Universe for bringing this up for me - again.  And I carried on.

And this week I learned what the Universe was up to.  The January email was a reminder to pay attention.  To be present and conscious and ready.  Because this week, while at a play in Philadelphia, I gradually became aware that the man sitting opposite me in the theater was Gerald Klever.

(I had seen him in court in 2008, of course.  But not face to face.  And not unexpectedly.  And prior to that, not since roughly 1983.)

If I hadn't been looking at his mug shot a month ago, I might have missed it.  As it was, I was only 90% sure that it was him.  It felt like such an invasion, that he would be in the same space as me and not be aware, and I had to know for sure.  So I followed him out into the lobby.

- Excuse me.  I think we know each other.  Are you Gerry Klever?


 -I'm Ruth Fischer.  (No sign of recognition.)  From Swarthmore.

And his face fell.  And he said --

- I'm sorry.

And I turned and walked away.

And what I wish I had said is, your apology is not accepted.  Your apology will never be accepted.  I'm standing on my two damn feet and I will never accept your apology for what you did to me, for what you did to my classmates, to your family, to countless, countless other girls.  For what you did to the women who email me, decades later, to share their stories -- women I have never met and will never meet who are still processing their pain -- for all of them, on their behalf, I do not accept your apology.

In the names of all of the women, men, girls and boys of #metoo: your apology is not accepted.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

To Zen, Or Not To Zen

Yesterday I was trying to make an appointment with my new acupuncturist for after work, and he asked me what was the earliest I could make it without hurrying.  And I realized, I am never not hurrying.  Hurry is my default mode.  I'm either hurrying or I'm asleep (or trying to get to sleep).

My first reaction to this realization was, holy crap, I'm always hurrying, I really ought to do something about that.  Find more zen in my life.  But then I thought, hold it, do I really have to be more zen?  Hurrying seems to work for me.  Maybe the healthier thing to do would be to embrace that truth and not feel bad that I'm not more zen?  When did zen become the default goal we should all strive for?

I do wonder.

Monday, November 25, 2013


Here's what I don't understand.  I don't understand why our national discussion around guns and gun owners' rights and gun safety don't acknowledge the simple truth that the easy availability of guns in our culture leads to more deaths.  Isn't it really just that simple?  The solution to that is FAR from simple, but cannot we all agree that the presence of guns = more deaths?

My life has been touched by gun violence three times in the last 18 months.  In one instance, the family member of a dear friend died at the end of a gun following a domestic dispute.  In another, a relative of mine defended himself against a perceived threat and unintentionally killed one of his peers.  And in another, the child of another dear friend was killed in a mass shooting by a very disturbed individual.

In each of these cases, the guns were legally obtained and easily available.  In each of these cases, death was the direct result of the easy accessibility of the guns in question.  Why aren't we asking, as a nation, how outcomes would be different if guns were not so easily accessible?  What might have been different if, in the heat of the moment, the person who ended up pulling the trigger did not have access to such an efficient killing tool?

Here's a frightening thought: over 40% of guns purchases in the US last year are not subjected to background checks.  They are purchased through loopholes, at gun shows and over the internet.

Here's another chilling fact: gun manufacturers gave over $50,000,000 to the NRA lobby last year.  (Just in case you were wondering how legislation supported by 90% of the voters was defeated in the Senate earlier this year.)

Yale University spent this gorgeous fall day in lock down while FBI and SWAT teams conducted a building-to-building search for a reported armed gunman.  How is this okay?  How are we not discussing how to limit access to guns?

There are a lot of issues at play in the US when it comes to gun violence, none of which have easy solutions.  But surely we can agree that there is no sense requiring background checks for some gun purchases, but not all.  Surely we can agree that more resources are needed to treat mental health issues.  Surely we can agree that there is too much money from gun interests polluting our political system. 

Surely we can agree that the more guns there are, the more deaths there will be.

We need to start somewhere.  We must keep this conversation going.  We must make our voices heard in Washington, and in our state capitols.  The cost of doing nothing is too great.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Bah Humbug

I've been a little slow to get into the holiday spirit this year, so the other night when I was browsing Netflix for a few hours' diversion, "Love Actually" seemed like a good choice -- something light and heart-warming and holiday-themed.  I remembered the movie as being essentially good-hearted and reasonably entertaining.

I must be getting cynical (or old, or both), because upon repeat viewing, it has left me incredibly crabby.  The two "successful" romantic relationships at the end of the movie are ones that began with the women in servile positions to the men (the Hugh Grant/whatshername and Colin Firth/otherwhatshername relationships) and the two independent, fully-realized adult female characters are left either in limbo or in sad solitude (Emma Thompson and Laura Linney). 

Is this the message we really want to be internalizing?  That in order to have a happy ending with an successful man who adores you, a woman must bring him lots of cups of tea, anticipate his desire for chocolate biscuits, and jump in a freezing cold lake to retrieve the pages of his manuscript that he was stupid enough to be working on outside on a windy day?  Whereas if you are a woman who is good at her job or a dedicated mother, you will either loose your husband's attention to the first young tart (arg, such a cliche) that bats her eyes at him or you will live out your life as the lonely, sad, slightly frumpy caretaker of your mentally ill brother. 

Don't even get me started on the male fantasy-fulfillment nonsense of the guy who travels to America to get laid and finds himself immediately in a threesome.

I dunno, folks.  Is it me, or is the message of this movie actually quite depressing?