Our justice system is f*ed up for victims of sexual violence (triggers)

Just did another stint with jury duty.  Third time being called since September.  This time it was for ongoing sexual abuse of a child.

I didn’t get selected.  Because I said I was biased because forget getting to the indictment stage, just coming forward about sexual abuse is so rare that even getting to the kid actually telling someone means it’s pretty likely that it actually happened.  The defense stopped asking me questions at that point, just skipped over me.

I hate the jury selection procedures.  The prosecution and the defense throw out enough “hypotheticals” that by the end of it you know not only what the (alleged) crime is, but you know how the two sides are going to proceed.

In this case, the prosecution was going to allege that this dude repeatedly assaulted a young girl in his family, and that she didn’t come forward right away because she was scared to tell anyone.

The defense is going to paint said child as a malicious liar who is being manipulated by an older sibling into making a false accusation.

This is just so @#$@#ed up.  No wonder nobody ever comes forward when being abused.  No wonder nobody is willing to go through the trial.  No wonder false accusations are such a small statistically unlikely occurrence.

And of course the other prospective jurors just ate it up, especially the former teachers.  Kids lie all the time.  They’re malicious awful creatures.

Hell, the defense attorney wasn’t any better.  When asking us a hypothetical about the punishment, he made a comment about girls who were 13 going on 30, and if a 13 year old who looked like an adult was dating and having sex with a 17 year old for a six month period, then surely that would be not that big a deal (the defendant was obviously a middle-aged man).  WTF?  A 13 year old is still a child even if she has breasts.  Especially if she has breasts.   Seventeen year olds should be damn careful that they’re not having sex with middle-schoolers.  And if they are, that is in no way the 13 year old’s fault.

I don’t know what would be a better system.  I’d like to imagine that having these cases be decided judicially would be better for the victims, but judges are probably no better than normal people for being influenced by the patriarchy.  Just look at the supreme court.

In memorium

We got two amazing cats when we finally moved into an apartment that allowed them.  Little Kitty and Big Kitty.  We’d initially gone to get Little Kitty and decided she needed a companion.  Big Kitty was in her room at the shelter.  A big soft short-hair calico, mostly white with small black and ginger patches.  When we came in the room, she was sociable, gave us some love and pettings and then after a while went back to her little house area.  After checking out the other cats, we decided she was just right… loving and sociable but not too clingy.

Her sheet said she’d come from a house with too many cats and that she loved dogs and children.

The women at the animal shelter said she had a heart condition and they didn’t expect her to be adopted.  They hadn’t even listed her.  We’ll take her anyway, we said.

We gave her heart medication each day.  DH picked up her prescription refill today.

She was a beautifully behaved cat.  She didn’t go on counters (except when she thought we weren’t looking and then would jump down if seen), and never understood why we let Little Kitty jump on them.  She mainly just tolerated Little Kitty, but she also taught semi-feral Little Kitty how to do important cat things, like how to meow.

Big Kitty always wanted to be alpha cat, even though Little Kitty doesn’t understand social hierarchies.  Sometimes Little Kitty would accidentally become alpha, which was always funny because Little Kitty was about half the size of Big Kitty and really had no idea what was going on with the dominance games.

Big Kitty liked hard catfood a lot, and deferred to Little Kitty over who got first dibs on the soft food because that’s the one thing Little Kitty would defend, and it’s easier to keep your alpha status if you don’t have to fight for it.

Big Kitty’s short hair turned out to have a longer undercoat in the winter.  She was the softest kitty imaginable.  We had to make sure she had special catfood because she’d throw up most kinds of high quality food, but Little Kitty needed something high quality to keep her fur from getting dry.  We won’t have to buy Purina One Sensitive Systems anymore.  We also had to ration her food because otherwise she’d throw it up (and she’d get overweight).  After many experiments with water pistols and so on to try to keep her from waking us up wailing for food, we set up a catfood timer.  We’ll have to reset that for one cat, or just get rid of it since Little Kitty never overate anyway.  Or maybe Garage Cat will start sharing with Little Kitty now that Big Kitty is no longer keeping him in the guest bedroom.  I suppose we could move his stuff now.  These words seem so cold but my heart is breaking so hard every time I think about how things are going to change.

DH was her favorite.  Occasionally she’d try to take my side of the bed so she could be with him.  But she’d give it up grudgingly.

She was super cuddly with me when I got pregnant both times.  After DC1 was born and before we started cosleeping, we’d close the door because Big Kitty loved the Pack N Play and you don’t want to accidentally smother a baby.  Big Kitty would wail outside the door to be let in.  It was so much easier to sleep when we gave that up.

As advertised, she was great with children.  Wonderful with both babies.  She started swiping a bit at tail pulls and so on when DC1 got old enough to know better, but with DC2 she didn’t even mind those, especially since we’d give her hairball treats after each new indignity.

She was great at finding missing kittens when we misplaced them.  She’d guard and hiss, but was never actually mean to the four stray cats.  She used every one of the extra litter boxes.

She had her favorite spots in the house.  DC1’s bed, both on top and under.  The corner of my closet.  The armrest on the overstuffed chair.  She won’t be there anymore, even if traces of her soft white fur still remain.

At 4 something pm when DH was home, she started panting and meowing and her back legs didn’t work.  While I got the kids, DH called the vet and then another bigger vet and got her in the carrying case and took her to the hospital.  She’d had a stroke and was in a lot of pain.  A heparin shot would loosen that and she might survive, but given her heart condition, it was unlikely she would make it after her blood started flowing again and even if she did, she’d continue to have strokes.  DH had to make a decision and he couldn’t contact me because my phone was dead, so he called his mom.  Big Kitty was in pain and didn’t know what was going on and he petted her and said goodbye.  When I finally got home and called him I couldn’t understand what he was saying because he was crying so hard.

The vet has said many times that Big Kitty has lasted longer than any other cat she’s seen with this heart condition.  She wasn’t an old kitty, but she was middle aged.  Still spry, but not quite as much as she used to be.  Without the heart condition, she probably would have had many more years, but with the heart condition, we’re lucky we’ve had her this long.  They asked DH to donate her body to the state vet school because of it and DH decided to do that.  They’ll send us a cast of her paw in return.

It’s so hard to believe she won’t be around anymore.  She’s gone suddenly with only an hour or so of pain; she didn’t waste away.   If we didn’t have to change anything I could just pretend that she’s in a different hiding spot than where I’m looking.  I wouldn’t have to know that she’s gone.  She’s lived a good life and was a wonderful kitty.  We will miss her so much.

Good-bye, Big Kitty.  We will always love you.

Big Kitty's last photo

Big Kitty’s last photo

Pregnancy after a loss

I’m afraid to schedule this post.  I’ll update it if I miscarry before Tuesday… it won’t have to be changed much.

As of now I am in the very early stages of a pregnancy.

The first time I got pregnant it was after more than a year and a half of fertility treatment.  I had a monitored clomid cycle (my eggs popped out later than normal) and an IUI.  I got a negative 14 days after ovulation, but a positive a bit after that.  Rising betas, and suddenly I miscarried at 7 weeks.  I’d eaten white bread at a conference the night before.  My reproductive endocrinologist (RE) only believed in Metformin at 500ml, even though the literature has found 1500ml to be effective in getting the early miscarriage rate of women with PCOS to match that of normal women.  Maybe it was just a chromosome abnormality.  I take comfort in the fact that I will never know, but only because I have proof now that I can bring a baby to term; at the time I did not.

Miscarriage is the worst thing that has ever happened to me.  Loss of a wanted pregnancy is a horrible wrenching pain.  I lost a child.

I bled and stopped, I bled again and stopped again.  My betas went down like they were supposed to.  I upped my metformin to 1500 just in case, behind the doctor’s back.  I had a horrific time on a trip when I needed my last beta checked out of town… I had a breakdown because even though we’d set everything up in advance, and were supposed to get the ok with everything someone messed up somewhere and we spent 20 or 30 min trying to deal with the insurance lady when finally we realized if we just gave them $80 in cash they would stop asking me questions.  So we did.  I almost divorced my perfect husband that day.

The RE office wanted us to take a month off from trying (use protection!), then a provera challenge, and then another clomid cycle.  We weren’t sure if we wanted to keep trying.  But since I didn’t cycle by myself I figured I might as well start the provera challenge and then decide given some time.  So I took one of my remaining 40-odd mail order pregnancy tests because you’re supposed to check just in case before taking provera.  There may have been an evaporation line but it was hard to tell so I delayed provera… I wasn’t in a hurry to make the decision so any excuse to delay was fine with me.  The next day it looked less like an evaporation line and more like a faint line.  By that Monday the line was a real line and I called the RE office.  Despite having told us not to try, our tech was excited for me.

I wasn’t ready.  I was in shock.  I didn’t believe it.  I had just bought $600 of professional work clothing literally two days before.  I still hadn’t gone through the stages of grief with my first baby.  I had anger, guilt, and most of all, fear.  I did not want to lose this one.

I took pregnancy test (HPT) after pregnancy test until they drove me crazy with their increases and decreases in darkness.  Turns out my second morning urine is actually the best… has something to do with acidity in some women’s urine.  The ovulation prediction kits (OPK) were much more comforting since they only got darker.  Eventually DH suggested I get rid of the lot so I would stop freaking out so much and I sent them to a friend who was also trying to conceive (along with DH’s leftover Fertility Blend for Men).

I went in and got the blood tests… at 7 weeks I saw the heartbeat… and our child was eventually born.  It was a few months after ze was born before I believed ze wouldn’t just suddenly die.

There was a weird sort of cognitive dissonance for me.  Initially, I was so very afraid of loss, I was afraid to bond with the baby.  But the winning emotion was the thought that each week was another week longer that I got to spend with my precious baby.

Pregnancy after a loss can be frightening.  I didn’t buy any baby items until two and a half weeks before my due date, and even then sent out my mom and husband with a credit card.  We never did get around to buying a crib– we got a pack in play and were going to get a crib when ze hit 3 months but ended up cosleeping instead.

It’s hard to enjoy pregnancy when you think it might be taken from you.  Terrible side effects are a huge comfort because they indicate that the baby is probably still there.  Whenever ze would get still in the calmer second trimester, I would have to drink some orange juice just to make sure ze will still alive and could kick.

I’m worried now.  I’ll be less worried when I see a heartbeat (or maybe just hear it… I’m not sure how the u/s technology is in our small town), and less worried when the baby is born, and probably less worried still when ze is mobile.  And in kindergarten.  And I’m scared… not of the life changes or the increased expenses or time for our oldest… those worries are too far down the line to even dream of.  Almost every moment of the day is spent wondering and wishing and hoping and praying.  I’m afraid to plan too much ahead, afraid to complain, afraid to take anything for granted.  This time around I don’t have a box of OPK or HPT… just the occasional overpriced plastic thing from the drugstore.  (Hint:  ept sucks, go with first response instead.  Pink dye is easier to read than blue.)  Will I have another baby?  I still don’t know.  I hope so.

Here is a list of things not to say to someone who has had a miscarriage.  #2 *always* said the right thing.

How important is lifelong passion for a career?: A sad story

You know the stereotype of the, “ze’s always wanted to be X ever since ze was a little child.”  You know it and you’ve always been envious of it.  Wouldn’t it be a dream to know WHAT you’ve always wanted to do, to pursue it, and to have a job that feeds your daily passion?  Every moment at work a joy!

We knew one person in high school who was like that.  She had a specific all-consuming passion that she’d had since she was three years old.  It drove her.  She got a fancy high school degree, a solid undergraduate degree, and got into graduate school at the best program in the world for her field for her area of interest.

But within her larger passion, she didn’t end up doing her dissertation on her passion subset.  Apparently everybody shares her passion subset.  Like getting an English degree on Shakespeare or Jane Austen or something.  Instead she did her dissertation on obscure author X, related to the obscure author area of her thesis adviser.

She married a man that we, frankly, disapprove of.  He has made her cry on multiple inappropriate occasions and snipes at her in public.  He’s a jerk.  We also heard him say once that he had no intention of moving cities for her job.  He’d moved for graduate school and that was enough, thankyouverymuch.  His bachelor’s degree is pretty portable, so it’s not like he’d be making impossible sacrifices.

We lost touch… but after working as a post-doc/lecturer at fancy graduate school for a couple of years, and having a passel of babies… she did a stint as a high school teacher… and now is trying to get freelance editing work.

None of this has anything to do with her passion.  Did graduate school kill her passion?  Did her husband manage to kill her self-esteem?  Did she decide babies were more important than career?  We don’t know.  She might be happy, but given what an emotionally abusive jerk her husband was the last time we saw them together, we kind of doubt it.

We hope that someday she gets to do something involving her passion again.  Maybe not being a professor traveling from archive to archive… but maybe as a communicator sharing her joy with young three year olds as intense as she once was.  Writing children’s books… working for an archive or museum… something.  Maybe after the kids are in school…

I know of one other person with an all consuming passion… movies.  He’s in pharmaceutical sales now and keeps movies as a hobby.  Even though he lives in Southern California.

And yet, many of our friends who had no driving all-consuming passion growing up are doing amazing things that they just sort of fell into.  Several are now independently wealthy.  Many are entrepreneurs.  Some have degrees in things they discovered in college.  Some enjoy high salaries and flexible work weeks.  Some work for game design companies combining multiple interests… maybe not writing the great American novel, but coming up with plots and dialogue for children’s video games.  Things they’d never thought about at the age of three.

Maybe passions are better left for hobbies, and it’s ok for work to be interesting and stimulating, but not all-consuming.

Do you know anybody with an all-consuming passion where it worked out?

Diana Wynne Jones 1934-2011

This post is bumping what was originally scheduled in order to pay tribute to one of the finest fantasy authors in all of creation.

Diana Wynne Jones died far too young, at the age of 76, of cancer.  A brilliant writer, my favorite of her books are what I call “mind-flip” books.  The ones that make you think, that expand your horizons.  She didn’t write formulaic pablum (except in The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, in which she lampoons it.  There is also lampooning in Dark Lord of Derkholm).  She introduced physics and unexpected plot twists and delicious prose and magic and all sorts of wonderfulness. Things are often not what they seem in these books, yet everything always comes together stunningly in the end.  Her books invite rereading.

What follows are our favorites, with brief descriptions. If you haven’t read Diana Wynne Jones’ books and stories, you have a world of happiness and delight ahead of you.  We only wish she’d been able to stay around another 10 or 20 years or more to delight us with more of her work. Look for two more books forthcoming posthumously, a short novel and a collection of odds and ends.

Here is a sweet remembrance from Neil Gaiman (to whom she dedicated a book, much to his delight). He talks about her death and her life.

The Chrestomanci series.

Every single one of these is an amazing mind-blowing delight.  (Click on book covers for first of each series)

The Dark Lord of Derkholm duet.  (#2 likes the second one better actually)

A Tale of Time City.  Straight science fiction and brilliant.

Fire and Hemlock (this was great!)

I love the stories in Unexpected Magic, and so did my MIL!

Howl’s Moving Castle series (excellent)  The movie was awesome too, but I missed some of the sub-plots.  The book, as always, is better!

Aunt Maria.  Dark.  Feminist.  Subversive.

Her sexier adult fiction: Deep SecretSudden Wild Magic. (Ok, not all that sexy, but very good!)

There are many more besides these books.  We will enjoy them for years to come.

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: , . 8 Comments »
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 238 other followers