I don't fuck around --- not in my writing --- and not in my life. I'm a powerful woman who has finally found herself. I hope you find me too. I'm a Bitch who simultaneously wants to make everyone's life better, every day. I hate everyone until I breathe. It's good that I breathe, like, all the time so far in my life.
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As the sound got closer the further Michael moved from the register, he turned around and heard, “I’m so sorry, Dude. I totally couldn’t help it this time. You know how it is,” Trey said breathlessly to Michael as he scrambled through the automatic doors. “Let me just change into my uniform and I got you,” Trey concluded.
“Yeah, just hurry up, man, this is becoming way too comfortable a habit with you,” Michael replied, truly wanting to punch Trey in his stupid face. Not only was he always late, but he was lazy, never doing anything right. On the shifts Michael worked with him, he did nothing. On the shifts Michael had after him, nothing would be done, leaving Michael to pick up the slack. Nevertheless, Michael never once complained to Barb, the “sort of” Manager of the store, or to Benny. Barb worked in the office and dealt with certain problems but only part time and according to no real schedule accessible to the staff, anyway. Benny was there occasionally, but Michael hated it when he was.
Michael dialed Brooke back and let her know he was ordering his Lyft home because Trey finally got his lazy ass to the store.
“I can help you over here,” Michael said to the customer in the store. “Only one banana? They’re two for $1 if you’re interested. Seventy-nine cents for one just seems unfair.”
“Sure, why not?” the customer replied.
Michael was always working on upselling, and he was good at it. Benny didn’t know how lucky he was to have Michael. At least that’s what Brooke was always telling him. “You’re so good at that, even with deals on vapes and more expensive items. I don’t know why you do it since it’s not like you work on commission, but you’re really good at it, babes,” she’d tell him, adding, “I’m so proud of you.”
Brooke was always telling Michael how proud of her he was. It would be annoying if it didn’t mean so much to him. Brooke nurtured Michael in a way he never had while he was growing up. His mother left him alone with his stepfather when he was six years old and never looked back, only resurfacing once he was in prison. And his stepfather, who gratuitously adopted Michael was mentally and psychologically abusive; hence, where most of Michael’s bad habits came from. He ran away at fifteen and started his life, doing well for himself until the incident that put him away. Yes, Michael was very grateful for Brooke indeed.
Benny was the kind of Owner you didn’t want around during your shift. He was constantly telling you to check the stock of anything he saw in a customer’s hands, and he always put too much damned change in Michael’s drawer. Michael must have promised Benny that he would get more change from the safe if he needed it a thousand times, begging him to trust him to know how much change he needed because he had been working there for so many months now, but it fell on deaf ears, causing Michael’s cash-out to take three times as long as when Benny wasn’t around. And there were always so many God damned nickles. No one needed infinite nickles. He was a micro and macro manager and it drove Michael insane.
Trey was finally on the register, and Michael’s Lyft was finally here.
“I’ll call you when I get home, okay, baby? We’ll play Madden?” Michael asked.
“Hell yes! Get ready for me to have my ass handed to me! Love you,” Brooke joked.
Michael hopped into the Lyft and put on the playlist he and Brooke continued to collaborate on making together, drifting off to his happy place, unaware that in four days a dead body would be found, and someone would be working on trying to frame him as the killer.
“Trey is always late, every single shift, and I want to go home. This is bullshit!” Michael says to his girlfriend on the other end of his blackberry earpiece, raising his voice with the length of his speech.
It’s 10:23 and Michael’s shift ended twenty-three minutes ago. He is waiting on Trey because he is the only one in the store, and despite his feelings toward Benny, leaving him with the responsibility of the place most of the time, he was too responsible to leave it unmanned.
“Hey, how’s it going?” Michael asked the next customer who entered the store. He watched him browse, continuing now just to his girlfriend, who lived over a thousand miles away, “every time someone leaves someone else comes in so I can’t even take a cigarette break.”
“I know, honey, but I’m sure Trey will be there soon. You know he’s always late. I’m just sick of Benny taking advantage of how hard you work. He knows you’re not just going to leave, and not just because it’s a felony,” Brooke said trying to calm Michael down.
Benny is the owner of the 7-Eleven branch where Michael works. Benny had encouraged Michael to jump through the hoops it took to get to the title of “Shift Leader” shortly after Michael started working there, seeing his potential immediately. Michael complied without any sort of hesitation despite the pathetic wage bump, because he didn’t enjoy being told what to do, and he knew he’d be mostly in charge of himself if he did what Benny asked.
Michael’s work ethic was remarkable. He took everything he did in life seriously and believed that if you wanted something done right then you better do it yourself. He also had a remarkably explosive temper, which Brooke was used to, and sometimes scared her, though the thousand plus miles in between them of distance helped with the fear.
“So, you have the booze, and the cigarettes, want to go for all three and get some lottery tickets?” Michael jokingly said to the customer now at the counter. Brooke had overheard him say this many times and not only found it not funny, but also a little rude, but explaining to Michael why the first time he used the line was fruitless, and it became a favorite of his instead.
Brooke heard the customer laugh through the phone and ask when the Powerball was. Michael told her and she bought one of those. Brooke was always astonished at how many people gambled, not in a judgmental way, just in an “I had no idea,” way. When she asked Michael if it was a Florida thing he said he highly doubted it, but lots of old people liked to gamble and there were plenty in his location.
When the customer had left, Brooke asked, “How come you only use that line with the female customers Michael? You don’t feel like making men laugh too?”
“Oh stop, she was like 60 years old, you get so jealous it’s incredible,” Michael replied.
“That’s not an answer,” Brooke replied.
“Hey, how’s it going?” Michael said to the next person to enter the store, letting Brooke know she wasn’t going to get an answer better than that.
“As soon as this customer leaves, I’m going to try calling Trey again, and then if he doesn’t answer I’ll call Barb. If Barb doesn’t answer, then I’m going to call Benny,” Michael sighs to Brooke. “Then I’ll call you right back, babe, okay?”
“Whatever you need, babes. I hate that you’re there when your shift ended so long ago and you have to be back so soon tomorrow. You need your sleep. It’s 10:32 now.”
“Don’t worry sweetheart, I’ll be fine. I’ll talk to you in a couple minutes. I love you!” Michael concluded waiting for the traditional, “I love you!” reply before disconnecting.
Seriously though, where the fuck was Trey? Michael flipped through his Android phone to find stupid Trey’s stupid number and pressed the “call” button. As soon as he did he heard it ring, surprising Michael, because no matter how many times it’s happened, we never expect to hear the sound of the phone we are calling.
It turns out this driver is a writer who has given up on his writing. We talk for a long time about that. I tell him I haven’t written anything in months even though I consider myself a full-time author now, having lost my other career to illness.
“So, what did you used to write and why did you stop?” I ask him. His name is Juan.
“Well, I used to write fantasy action fiction, kind of like the ‘John Wick’ movies, and I always wanted to write a book of poems for my wife, but life gets in the way you know? I have to work, and I have kids and I don’t have time.”
“Would you say it’s your passion? Like the number one thing you would do if you didn’t have to worry about financially supporting your family?”
Juan thinks about this for a moment. He lands on, “yes.”
“Then you have to write,” I tell him, “Otherwise you’re hurting more than yourself. You never know how you could affect someone with your words. It’s so important. Please tell me that you’ll think about it. I have about 50 journals in my house. When we arrive, I’ll get you one, and then you can at least write those poems for your wife, okay?”
“Not so fast. What about you?”
“What about me?”
“If you’re going to insist that I use my words then I’m going to insist that you start writing yours. I can tell you have a lot to say. You’ve been kind to me this entire ride, talking to me about my family and what I like to do and sharing stories we might have in common. You are someone who likes to open peoples’ eyes. With that in mind, you’re really the one doing the disservice by not writing anymore. You said you have a blog?” Juan asks.
“Well, when is the last time you wrote in it?”
“It’s been a minute.”
“Autumn. How can you plead with me about passions when you’re clearly meant to be practicing what you preach. Maybe just start there.”
I am so drunk. I have been drinking the whole ride home, and I have gone back into a state of Blackout. I know I will now only remember flashes of what happens next.
There is one very important thing that I do remember.
On this ride home we make each other promises. I will give Juan one of my empty journals. He promises he will write in it, but only if I start to write again.
It is a done deal.
As I drop off a journal before he leaves, we exchange numbers in case we want to reach out to prod each other to pursue our common passion, but I know we’ll never speak again. Blacked out nights like this leave me too embarrassed about what I might have said or done to even pretend I had any kind of normal interaction with the person I was with. Best not to risk it.
But we promise each other that we will write.
I don’t always take promises seriously. I find I use them to get people off my back more than anything else. But some promises are valuable, if I can remember them after I’m back from a Blackout.
I know I’ll be sore tomorrow, but just like a drunk driver might not get hurt in a car accident, I think my lack of sobriety keeps the fall from breaking anything.
“Ow,” is what first came to mind, and then, out loud, toward the ginger quickly approaching me with a concerned look on his face I yell, “what a dick!”
“Maybe I should stop meeting random strangers that don’t live on the first floor,” I joke to myself, knowing just how unfunny the situation has become.
I’ve officially put myself in a dangerous place, and I do not have all of my faculties to even handle the scene.
All I can think is, “get down the last flight as soon as you can right now, Autumn. Fucking do it, get up go down the stairs, open the door, please, let there be an Uber. Otherwise, after all of his hollering he was the one keeping unsuspecting me in his house just to do this and God knows what else. Only 3 more steps. Grab the handle and push, you fucking moron.”
Running down the stairs toward me, before I can escape, the ginger panics, “Oh my God, oh my God, I’m so sorry. Are you okay? That was an accident. I swear to God I didn’t mean to push you down the stairs. Is anything broken? Holy fuck, I didn’t mean to, I promise.”
The fact is, he definitely pushed me. He literally pushed me out the door. With a staircase on the other side. But it could have been so much worse. It is a wake-up fall. I want to be better.
In terror of what he is capable of, as he approaches me, I tell him, “Don’t you ever fucking touch me again you piece of shit. I was leaving. You didn’t need to fucking push me.”
“I’m so sorry, I really didn’t mean for that to happen, are you okay?”
He keeps saying things like this as I move swiftly away from him, out the door into the cool night, and finally into the Uber that would take me home to my paradise of cats and a Mom who loves me, despite all the crazy dangerous shit I do. God, I must be stressful.
“Fuck you,” was the last thing I said to him as I entered the new Supreme Uber.
“Bad night?” the driver asked.
“You have no idea,” I answer. “I’m Autumn.”
On the ride home I make my second new best friend within 24 hours.
I hate that he’s making me feel like a villain right now. I want to pretend this ginger didn’t sneak up on me in the shower, fuck me while I couldn’t see him, and came inside of me without a condom. And he’s the one acting like my behavior is unacceptable. He’s an animal.
Is it his Sponsee or the ginger who needs help? I never knew anyone who was so close to Relapse themselves who served as a Sponsor.
But that is just my experience.
Who knows how systems are formed?
And I certainly don’t want to accuse or hurt another Addict.
“AA” isn’t my thing though. I went as required when I was voluntarily in Rehab, but all it ever did was make me want to drink when I got home. It was not for me. There are like 3 women to 40 men, and for someone who doesn’t want to be around groups of men, “AA” triggered me in all kinds of ways. Still, I am not going to criticize anyone who works the program as the program works for them.
Also, though, it’s not my burden.
As I sit judging, though not criticizing, him for his involvement in “AA,” I peruse the ginger’s room some more. Again, I’m suddenly consumed by the number of watches he has. All I can think about is how many watches a person needs. If they are collector’s items, well, that’s just weird as fuck. I look over them carefully and decide to take one, and he can suck a dick about it if he even notices. I pick one up, thinking, “I dare you to notice let alone come at me later accusing me of taking it, you coward.”
Because non-cowards steal shit secretly.
The irony is not lost on me.
Still, I feel vindicated in the smallest of ways.
He took something he wanted when I wasn’t looking. Now it is my turn.
After checking to make sure it isn’t engraved, I choose one I’d like to see a future boyfriend wear.
Drunk Autumn is not proud of stealing. She’s also far enough gone that she isn’t sure she even takes anything. If there’s evidence in the morning, it certainly isn’t recovered by Autumn,
I go back into the living room where I had last seen the ginger and ask him if the Uber is ever going to arrive. He tells me it is on its way. Thank God. “God, please get me safely out of here.”
I wanted to be home.
I wanted my Mom.
I wanted her to tell me that good men don’t do things like what this ginger did to me and that our Alcoholism was just a random coincidence we have in common.
I wanted anyone to remind me that there are infinitely more Alcoholics out there than are willing or able to admit it, and I know it’s with good reason. We’re always judged. For all I know, this ginger’s anger stemmed from embarrassment more than anything else. I wish I could tell him I was also an Alcoholic and understand how hard sobriety is, but in my drunken state that feels cheap and hypocritical.
“He’s here,” the ginger tells me jolting me from my thoughts of lament.
I fly to the exit.
He escorts me out of the door to the top of the staircase, says, “have a good one,” which distracts and confuses me, and he pushes me forward.
I begin to change back into my street clothes and put my pajamas and the other things back into my overnight bag as quickly as possible, sipping my addiction as I do. I don’t really want to be around the ginger. There is something weird about what’s happening.
Now ready to leave, I approach the ginger who is on the phone, and loudly ask if the Uber is here. He ignores me. I guess the urgency of my departure is changing from moment to moment. Once he hangs up, I feel the wrath of someone who doesn’t know me and doesn’t have the right to speak to me the way he is, cruel and vicious.
“I cannot believe that you would come in here and waste so much of my time while I’m in crisis. There’s no way that it takes anyone that long to pee! Something is wrong with you.”
“Something is wrong with me?” I counter, loudly. “You implied I triggered you!” I yell, feeling guilty, “that’s a really heavy thing to drop on a stranger who you just snuck up on in the shower and fucked without explicit consent.”
“Whatever. You’re not my problem. And you need to get the fuck out of my place.”
“What do you think I am trying to do, you crazy psycho?!,” I reply, holding my bag and my purse out in front of me, praying that an Uber to take me home is truly going to arrive and he’s not going to cut me up into little pieces, or something.
“Your Uber isn’t here yet.”
Of course it’s not.
“Great! Then I’m going back into the other room to give you privacy. Kindly let me know when I can get out of this hell hole.” I walk to his bedroom, not waiting for his approval.
Had I triggered him? How? Is this on me? The guilt of being an Alcoholic who arrived drunk at the apartment of someone in Recovery suddenly hits me hard. I wonder if he smelled alcohol from my “water” bottle. I wonder if it lingered on my breath even though I take great pains to suck on mints after every sip. I wonder what I might have done to make this ginger feel like he wanted to drink, and it weighs heavily on me. Not only am I upset that I could have caused this, but I am also angry it’s happening at all. I didn’t know he was in Recovery, so anything I inadvertently did to trigger him is his own fault, I convince myself. As if I say to everyone I’m about to fuck, “Just FYI, I’m an Alcoholic.” I know I’m wrong about his lack of disclosure, but my guilt overshadows my desire to care.
Yet I’m not surprised that I show up completely wasted to the home of a guy in Recovery, both of us Alcoholics, but only one of us using. There are more Alcoholics and Addicts out there than most people realize. I’ve met many of them through Tinder. This ginger is about my 14th “date” from the website. Most of them drink. All of the have offered me marijuana. I talk to up to fifty men a day through the site, text messaging, or on the phone. I’ve learned that a lot of these guys just want someone to talk to, even before sex. In fact, that is one of the benefits of my sleeping around now. I feel so estranged from normal relationships because I’m still not over being assaulted in my home. It is almost like an exchange of goods when I meet up with these guys. I fuck them. They spend hours talking to me and wanting to get to know me while wanting me to get to know them. Then, they usually want to hold me while we sleep.
And I feel safe.
I know my behavior is being judged by those who don’t know about nor understand the importance of the “after providing sex” part. But it’s not their life, and they’re not me. They don’t know what it is like to be trapped in this mental merry-go-round of coveting safety and closeness after being abused sexually while having been drinking.
The weapon has become the cure.
I didn’t know it when I started drinking, but I’m certain now that I am an Alcoholic. And I am not ready to even try to stop. Besides, having sex with a variety of men is not a bad trade-off as long as I have my alcohol to get through that part. After the usually, not bad sex, I’m moving forward, feeling comfort within my reach again. Intimacy is an interesting thing.
But, at the moment, I’m sitting in this ginger’s bedroom, and I notice he has about 24 watches. Who needs more than 2 watches at most? I am suddenly filled with the rage of his accusations. Not only did he accuse me of stalling when I couldn’t physically urinate, but he was now potentially blaming a Relapse on me. And he’s rude. His behavior drives me insane with fury. If there is one thing I never do it’s blame someone else for my drinking. It’s a disease. Yes. But I also decide when I yield to the disease. And here he is, implying I am a trigger.
Is he, though?
He just said he had been triggered, he never said it was because of me.
But I blame myself unilaterally.
Maybe he was on the verge of Relapse before I even arrived.
The whole encounter happens within a couple of minutes. I guess it’s been awhile for the ginger. He leaves the shower just as fast as he came inside after quickly finishing. Why is it only occurring to me now how something might be wrong with a guy who is willing to pay for an out of state stranger to get to his place by promising they’ll get them home too? I’m suddenly a little more aware of my surroundings but as my mind just plays over and over what just happened, I oddly continue to shower. I condition my hair and I wash my body thoroughly from neck to toe with ginger’s bodywash.
I am getting cold. I am less drunk.
I am aware my number of partners and encounters is ever-expanding.
“What the fuck is going to happen now?” I think as I exit the shower and dry myself off. I go to the ginger’s room and put on a see-through wife-beater and tight women’s pajama shorts.
“What are you doing?” the ginger asks me as he approaches me. I take a couple of swigs from my “water” bottle, making sure not to react to the burn of the cheap alcohol I’m swallowing. It’s not difficult. I’m still extremely numb, but now I’m desperate to stay that way.
“Nothing. Waiting for you.” I reply, patting myself on the back for being straight-faced.
“The kid I Sponsor is having a crisis, you’re going to have to leave.”
Fuck. This isn’t happening.
“Sponsor in what way?” I manage to say with an even voice even though I have a strong suspicion he doesn’t mean Sponsor as in the “Big Brother” program. I already know what he’s going to say, if he’s willing to admit he’s an Addict himself.
“As in ‘AA.’ Get your stuff together, you have to go.”
Fuck my life.
“Are you serious right now? Can’t you help him while I’m in another room?” I ask, grappling with my hidden but present drunkenness juxtaposed to this ginger’s apparent sobriety.
“Yes, I’m serious. No, you can’t stay. I have no way of knowing what he’ll need. Hurry up and I’ll request an Uber,” the ginger says, leaving me to consider the situation I’m in.
“I just have to use the restroom!” I yell in his direction, which is true. I am on a medication that makes it difficult for me to relieve myself even when it’s pressing. I found this out from an Army Veteran taking the same medication. He told me this after trying for an exceptionally long time to cum while on top of and inside me that the medication we already knew we shared can have this side effect. When I’d been taking an eternity to pee after sex, he told me it had that side effect as well. Made sense. My inability to urinate quickly had been an ever-increasing problem for me, because even drunk off her ass Autumn knows not to get a UTI. I am having so much sex now that I must be responsible. And I am a responsible Blackout Alcoholic.
I sit on the toilet and wait. I had used the restroom prior to my shower so I don’t have as much to release as I did after the ride here, despite the gulps I’ve been sneaking whenever I get the chance. I sit and I wait. And wait. And frustratingly wait.
“Okay. You’re stalling. You need to get out,” I hear the ginger say from outside the door.
How dare he?!
“I am not stalling! I want to be out of here more than you want me out of here! There is nothing about you that could keep me here. I’ll be ready to go as soon as I’m done urinating, a necessity for me so you don’t end up giving me a UTI, asshole! Educate yourself.”
“You’ve been in there forever. I don’t know why you’re trying to stay, but now, I feel triggered, and I have to get in touch with my Sponsor.”
“Then go fucking call your Sponsor! I’ll be out sooner if you’re not hovering over me,” I yell at the ginger. Unbelievable. Like I want to stay in this creepy mistake for one minute longer.
I wait. I am not able to accomplish my task for what feels like a lifetime. While I am “stalling,” the ginger is getting increasingly upset. I don’t know if it is me that he’s mad at or if he can’t reach his Sponsor or what his issue is.
“What’s your game? You come to someone’s place and you hover in their bathrooms hoping they’ll keep you?” the ginger shouts.
This deeply offends me. This guy invited me over under pretty false pretenses of a good time, took advantage of me when I was in a compromising position, and now thinks I want to stay with him? Psychopath. “You should call your Sponsor again, because you’re unhinged!”
I fall into a routine of landing at the place of whatever guy de jour I am banging that night and start chugging vodka in my car once I’m safely landed, so I’m ready to get down immediately, which, almost all of them want. The revolving door would swing around at approximately 5:00 A.M. most mornings, with me on my way back home before my Mom, and brother, who is also living at home, even woke up.
“See Mom?” I tell myself, “No need to be concerned. It’s like I never even fucked a stranger while totally drunk at all.”
But just like my days centered around making sure I had enough hard alcohol around, they also began to co-revolve around finding someone to keep me out of my own bed at night, thus Tinder, and now this ginger.
My affair with alcohol is now connected to sex. I was now full-on day drinking and needed to get messed up with alcohol in order to sleep with all these strangers I didn’t know.
As I realize I’m getting sloppier on the Supreme Uber ride or whatever it is, I am becoming best friends with the driver.
We’re talking about life and I agree with everything he’s saying, enthusiastically. I wonder if he sees that the longer I’m in the car, the more excited I get. Am I slurring my words right now? Does he notice? He’s a very wise religious family man of a different faith than me but with the same tenants and values. Ironically, I am not able to understand that I am absolutely violating my own values at this very moment. I am too far gone. I am in the part of a Blackout during which I can only remember flashes of points in time; I can no longer recall what I am saying from minute to minute. Am I even making sense?
Unfortunately, my driver is stuck driving drunken me from central New Jersey to bumblefuck Pennsylvania on a Sunday evening. I wish he could be with his family instead of me.
Before I know it I’m at the ginger’s place and I grab my overnight bag and my purse and my “water” bottle and thank the driver.
I greet the ginger with bubbles in my voice. I find it always makes the first moments of what is clearly a one-night stand, minus my repeat customers of course, the least awkward. He parrots my cheery demeanor and leads me inside. He lives on the third floor of a very clutch apartment building. He gives me my unnecessary tour, which is never something I need on these “dates,” yet most people do it anyway. We both know that I’m only here to have sex with him.
He shows me the bedroom last, and I put my bags down. I tell him I’m going to take a shower because the drive was so long, and he nods. He gets me a towel and shows me how to work the silver nobs for hot and cold water. I thank him, adjust the temperature and after taking off my clothes step in. I check out his layout of shampoos, conditioners, and soap to see what I can work with. Grabbing a bottle, I open it and smell it, approve of the scent, and lather up.
As I am just beginning to rinse the shampoo out of my hair, I hear something but don’t turn, not wanting to get soap in my eyes. I find out immediately anyway as the ginger touches my ass, having entered the shower from its back end.
“Are you joining me?” I ask playfully.
“Nope,” is all he says, as this very sizeable man shoves himself inside me while I’m still facing the shower water.
“Oh,” is all I say. I wasn’t expecting this. I don’t like this. But the only thing I can seem to focus on, I mean really focus on, is how uncomfortable the soap feels burning my eyes. I’m so disassociated from what is happening that I try to continue my shower while the ginger is thrusting in and out of me. Really wanting the rest of the shampoo off me, I wish the ginger would hurry up and finish already.
My behavior may seem bizarre considering everything, and I wouldn’t disagree with anyone who categorized it that way. But I am so numb. My mind is numb from the alcohol, my emotions are not my normal emotions because of the alcohol, and my body isn’t really my body because of the alcohol. So, what is happening to me at this moment, isn’t really happening to me, it’s happening to the drunk person who has taken over my body.
Sober Autumn would never let a stranger fuck her without a condom. Sober Autumn is responsible enough to take a prophylactic prescribed by her RN half an hour before sex to help prevent getting a UTI. Sober Autumn would say something to someone who is doing something that is hurting her. Sober Autumn wouldn’t have ridden in another stranger’s car, no, not even an Uber, just to get literally taken from behind within ten minutes of arriving at someone’s apartment. Sober Autumn would never even give this stranger her address. Sober Autumn is not nearly that desperate for sex. Sober Autumn might even have slapped him. Sober Autumn would not be bent over like the number 7 with red eyes and a ginger halfway attached to her. But I haven’t been sober Autumn all day, and I most certainly wasn’t sober Autumn at that moment.
I want sex. Because I’m drunk. And when I drink a lot, I become intensely sexual with anyone appropriate within my reach.
I am skinny. I am sexy. I am not eating anything. I survive off orange juice and vodka and I’m getting by. My body barely functions but that’s normal for someone on my diet.
I originally started finding people to hook up with on a lighter dating site but switched to Tinder to utilize hookups more quickly. Tinder is full of guys who want to fuck me just based on my pictures.
I start texting the multitude of men who are in my phone as potential fuck boys. It is a Sunday afternoon. Someone is bound to want to get it in. I wait to see who takes the bait. Within ten minutes I have 3 official offers and I try to narrow my selections down.
The poly husband. He needs permission from his wife. I am not waiting.
The separated husband. I don’t even know if this guy is separated from his wife, and I don’t care. But he’s only eh looking and he’s stupid so I can’t talk to him; pass.
The hot ginger guy in bumblefuck Pennsylvania. We have a winner with a setback; he lives in bumblefuck Pennsylvania.
I’d love to have this ginger inside me but I have no way to get to bumblefuck Pennsylvania. I’m drunk, so I cannot drive there. I tell him I refuse to drive, and he offers to pay for a Supreme Uber to and from his place.
I don’t know this guy.
But I want in.
This is a very irresponsible decision and I know it, but I don’t care, because I am currently drowning myself in the liquid courage named vodka because I feel guilty 24/7, 365, about drinking vodka. “Alcoholic!” I think, “this is what we do.”
He offers to have me stay the night and I reluctantly agree because I am putting a lot of trust into this stranger that he’s going to get me both to him and back to my home again safely. He promises he is even springing for a Supreme Uber or something which is supposed to be the most luxurious of rides. I pack a bag and fill three separate 16.9 ounce water bottles with vodka. The ride is about 1 hour and 40 minutes so that will give me a chance to drink a bottle and a half on the way there and a bottle and a half will be available as needed throughout the night.
My Mom is worried. I tell her it’s fine. I give her the address of where I am going and the phone number of the man I am supposedly riding to meet. I feel guilty that I am doing this, but I keep having trouble sleeping.
Ever since I moved out of the apartment I shared with my now ex-boyfriend and back home, I have been having a really difficult time. I can’t sleep in that bed because I was raped in that bed. There are no other beds.
For a while when I had gotten back home my drinking appeared to be at an all-time low. It was painful for me at first, but I wanted to show everyone that I could be “good.” What this translated to was me hiding it from them mostly, but not really slowing down. Just like when I used to wait for my parents to go to sleep before I drank so they didn’t have to see me like that, now things were somewhat out of control again. That was back when I was still meeting up with guys for actual dates to attempt a new relationship. Not like my “dates” now.
“My name is Autumn. I have been sober for 0 days. My drug of choice is Alcohol/Benzodiazepines (“Benzos”). I have had thoughtsandurges about my drug of choice today. And today I feel — sarcastic.” Is “sarcastic” even a feeling? I keep getting told so many contrasting ideas in this place it seems unimportant now to make such a declaration about the word.
If you sign up voluntarily to a Rehab Center similar to the one where I gave myself away, you’ll get used to that daily mantra. At Alcoholics Anonymous (“AA”), those who attend don’t really have to commit to their drug of choice —- not too much variety in the AA Program, particularly since Narcotics Anonymous arrived (“NA”) on the scene to weed out any straggler Addicts who don’t happen to use alcohol to numb their pain like me and all the other Alcoholics.
While in Rehab — the Rehab Center Counselors (“Counselors”) expect that number of “sober days” to climb. They also expect relapses and that number to go back to 1 day because relapses are expected at best and hoped for by all parties involved at the Rehab Center at worst — (except the patients — whose opinion matters least in the end it seems anyway). And, at the Rehab Center I went to, after 4 years battling Addiction (a relatively low number of years to be considered Addicted compared to others in my Program — our ages ranged from mid-twenties to early sixties) — I believed that this Rehab Center could, in fact, help me become — and stay — sober. I was so ready to stop being “sick and tired of being sick and tired,” as they say.
I am hyper observant by nature. I think I got that from both of my parents.
My Mom is great at learning things quickly and listening to people to gather information. She is the perfect Librarian and a wonderful person — but I would never say that to her face. That’s a quote from something I think; but I don’t know what because I cannot think of what kind of asshole would say such a thing except for me. Anyway, she is an incredible and passive listener and I am a much more in your face type of observer. While she allows people to go about their conversations uninterrupted — I am aggressive and like to interfere whenever possible. Blame it on my being a middle child or don’t — I don’t care as long as you’re still paying attention.
I think I am a psychopath. I tell my Mom this often. She doesn’t react when I say the words to her. I think she knows I am not a “destructive to other people on purpose” type of psychopath — but there’s still time to achieve many things in my life. I know that my Mom understands why I would call myself a psychopath. It IS one reason that my most recent ex-boyfriend, and I got along so well — we both had a propensity toward destruction. I miss that guy.
I do not make “appropriate” jokes and have been told I have a sick sense of humor. I’ve always felt that comments like that — ones that should probably be perceived as insults — the ones directed toward me in an effort to make me feel bad — say so much more about the person saying them than they do about me. For lack of a better pun, the joke is on them anyway, because if you’re not outraged by the information I’m sharing with you then you’re just not paying attention. And that’s just rude.
My Dad was a different type of observer. He somehow saw people beyond what most people intentionally showed the world of themselves. I like to think that I get my intuition from him. He had this way about him that drew people in, often confiding in him, even if they had just met. My Dad was the type of person who listened to these people, with an open heart and mind. He really cared about knowing anyone who was willing to let him. People tell me I am just like him in this way. I tend to think I’m [at the very least] a little more selfish. He served in the Air Force, and although he told me that he was quite a trouble maker, but I am convinced that after his time in the Service, he calmed down, and as I got older I became more of a Hellraiser.
Both of my parents have always been clever, but I’m pretty sure I am as pranky as I am because of my Dad. I have pulled some pranks that I am incredibly proud of completing, and I’m not planning on giving that part of myself up anytime soon. The pranks are all basically harmless.
However, it should be noted — when I prank institutions — I do it because I have a message I think they should pay attention to — and I think they are lucky to have had me shove such important information in the faces of those people who need it the most. Honestly? I deserve a damn plaque on the wall of that place for the cans of worms I jerked open.
When I am pranking — it is with the goal of either teaching someone a lesson — or just to make the person(s) I have pranked laugh as hard as possible. The seriousness that I originally arrived at Rehab with was not immune to my pranking ways once I realized I was living in a joke.
The next day, Sheila ran the beginning group session (and then the second group session — the one which I had expressed my thoughts so angrily the day before — and soon the one where she would find out just how much an Addict can accomplish). Fucking Sheila.
The first hour of group was the check in when we had to go around and say the things we have to say. It goes like this: “My name is Autumn. I have been sober for 3 days. My drug of choice is Alcohol/Benzodiazepines (“Benzos”). I have had thoughts and urges about my drug of choice today. And today I feel — sarcastic.”
And before the session began I was talking to my friend Stash and he was saying to me, “Damn, Autumn, you really gave us a smackdown yesterday. What a mind-fuck.”
“Trust me, Stash, this is about Sheila, and she’s about to look stupid, and that is a promise.”
“Okay everyone, let’s start with Stash (but she used his real name) today.”
“My name is Stash. I have been sober for 7 days. My drug of choice is Alcohol. I have definitely had thoughts annnnnnd yeah — and urges about my drug of choice today. And today I feel — happy.”
And so it went. Around the room one by one until I was the last person was left, me, who proudly announced that I had thoughts once again.
Overnight, like magic, everyone started having thoughts and some urges about their drugs of choice. I had made a difference, and I pulled a prank doing it, so double win for me.
Sheila looked up from marking down our progress in her notebook. She looked down at it again and ran her finger over something on the page then looked up again.
I reminded myself to give myself a high five later because the next words I heard will ring like Heaven in my ears for the rest of my life.
“Guys! Why is everyone suddenly having thoughts?!”
Our second hour of group therapy for the night is starting. There is an unspoken rule in group sessions. Essentially, everyone knows that if you don’t look at the Counselor or you try NOT to be picked for sharing — you are the MOST likely to be picked for sharing. It is just like elementary school.
I could not stop thinking about how Sheila was so stupid in the last hour telling me I cannot possibly garden and not drink because I am an Alcoholic and we always drink when we’re doing our favorite things which makes them worse, and us bad at enjoying them, she said. She believes all Addicts lie and that it is impossible for an Alcoholic to do something they love without being drunk. She clearly doesn’t take the time to really see us. I know she doesn’t. That doesn’t sit well with me because we’re here to get help; so, if the Counselors don’t even believe in us — or believe in things we tell them — then how are we supposed to grow and get better?
Sheila accused me of lying about drinking while gardening. And I hated her for it
“Autumn, you’re never going to get better if you can’t admit that you couldn’t even do one of your favorite things without alcohol.”
“I told you,” I replied in front of everyone in the group, “I drank at night alone in my bedroom. Not while I gardening during the day.”
“Just keep denying the truth that you’re out of control, Autumn.”
“Those two things are not mutually exclusive, Sheila.” I retorted. What an asshole she is.
I knew I needed to do something to stir things up. I am a troublemaker by nature — I just can’t help myself. I never do things to hurt people — at least not intentionally. But sometimes I make trouble to get a certain desired result for the greater good. It became clear to me in a matter of seconds what I could do to stir things up — and what was better is that I knew it would benefit everyone single one of my companions here, many who I had already talked to about this specific problem.
I positioned my chair in the corner, and sat with my legs crisscrossed in my lap, and tried to look as un-wanting-to-be-picked and pissed off as possible so that I would be called on.
And Jess did not disappoint. I could have almost set my watch to it after she started, “so does anyone feel like sharing anything tonight?” Once in a Harvest Moon someone had something they wanted to share, but almost every single night no one wanted to share — or — if they did — they certainly did not want to go first. But I really really really did want to share so so so badly, I just needed the Counselor to be the one to figure that out — in the only way one could — and my “don’t pick me don’t pick me don’t pick me” body language? Nailed it.
“Autumn, you are looking particularly unsettled tonight. Why don’t you share with us what is upsetting you?”
I intentionally take an uncomfortably long beat, then slowly sit up, lean forward, elbows on my knees which are now firmly planted above my ankles which have moved to the floor. I shake my head.
“I am really upset!” I begin, being, in fact, upset. “I’m fucking pissed off because every single Addict in this room is lying. And they are doing it every day. And it is driving me crazy!”
“Whoa, Autumn, that’s a very serious accusation,” my Counselor chimes in as the roomful of Addicts start to get restless themselves. “You know you’re not supposed to judge other people’s stories or truths.”
“May I finish?” I continue very rudely.
“Go on, but keep in mind what I said because I will stop you if you don’t abide by the rules.”
“Fine,” I comply — and start to look around the room at my fellow Addicts with a stare that meant to convey — “this is a Mutiny, so stick with it guys, you all know I have love for you.” “Basically, what I mean is that every single day in our first session we move around the room person to person and we have to go through our list of how many days clean we are and what our drug of choice is and how we are feeling that day and if we have had thoughts about our drug and if we have had urges about our drug, and every single day I am the only person in this room telling the truth, because I’m the only person who says that I have thoughts about Alcohol — my drug of choice.
“It’s like a tradition for everyone to just glaze over that part of the narrative. All I hear is, ‘no thoughts, no urges, and today I feel [whatever stupid emotion we are supposed to pick off that laminated chart that belongs in a preschool classroom] fill in the blank.’”
Now I have everyone’s attention. Literally everyone including the Counselor is staring at me like, “go on—” and the room is an uneasy quiet as my fellow Addicts start to wake up — almost like a “maybe if we try to give this shit a chance it will help us instead of just going through the motions.” I felt great about what I was doing.
I was going to change Rehab.
“My point is that there is no way that you are not having thoughts about your drug of choice. There’s just no way. This is a short-term program; depending on your insurance, you are here for two months at best, and likely less time than that. That means we don’t even get to have the 90 day chip before they kick our asses out of here. And what’s more: I know you’re thinking about your drug of choice because alcohol is what I’m thinking about all day long. I cannot stop the physiological cravings — and people talk about how they need a drink around my law office all day long as a fucking joke — and on the way to work and then on my way here and then on my way home I pass about 14 different liquor stores or bars. Alcohol is constantly in my face, and I miss it so fucking badly every moment of every day that I have SO many thoughts about it — it is a miracle I get anything done at all.
“Now some of you have been taking oxy or heroin or snorting coke or maybe you’re an Alcoholic Addict like me. And you’re just getting clean. I know there are people here who have been taking oxy for 11 years and they’ve been here, like, 11 days. Sorry to call you out — bot come on man, there is no way you’re not having thoughts about that drug.”
“Well Autumn. That was a thought-out comment. Would anyone like to react?”
I always carried another 16.9 ouncer with me “just in case.” “Just in case” meant for me to sip on as soon as I arrived until it was gone.
Men have made me dinner that I literally fell asleep in because I was so out of it.
The men were often confused. If they hadn’t offered me a drink themselves (it was Heaven when they did), they couldn’t understand why I was so into sex and then eventually sloppy afterward. It wasn’t from orgasms I can tell you that.
I remember that time I wore nothing but my hoodie and stilettos for one of my regulars, and waiting to surprise him when he opened the door. He picked me up immediately upon seeing me and I said, “you’re showing your entire apartment complex my ass right now.” When he realized what I was wearing he was so turned on he carried me up the stairs and I painfully remember now that he hadn’t used a condom.
But, the worst Blackout I had was when I was with this couple. We drank after I had already drunk and we kept drinking for over an hour getting to know each other. I remember so little of that night it is incredible that I woke up. By then I was used to some sort of shitty feeling in the morning, but I actually had a hangover after that night.
Hangovers are lame things that make it very difficult for you to function as yourself the next day. But anyone who has had one can relate to that.
In the beginning, I was having them every day.
Around the time my Father died, I had just gotten a new job and I would Blackout every night and have to be a high functioning Attorney during the day. I still don’t know how I pulled that off so well.
By the time I was meeting up with people from Tinder and FetLife I was used to 2 16.9 ounce bottles of vodka a night. No hangover.
Sitting here I don’t know how I am okay with men I’ve never met calling me “a dirty fucking slut,” “a filthy whore,” “my good girl,” and “a slutty cunt,” while inside me. But, I do know if I were sober I would never allow anyone to talk to me or anyone else I cared about like that.
Dan was first. It was surprisingly easy with Dan. I drove to his place, and he showed me around and we eventually landed in his bedroom. It was so hot. I was relieved to start taking my clothes off, and it came as a shock to me how easily he started to make love to me, gently, kindly, without any aggression, and asking for consent throughout. It was exactly what I was looking for, and exactly what I needed.
And I was grateful.
I didn’t feel pain.
I wasn’t sad.
I didn’t feel used.
I wasn’t upset.
And I was happy.
I could have sex without being drunk, and it could feel good, and there were men in the world who were willing to provide me with this experience, it turned out, over and over.
I know it sounds like I was advertising free sex.
And maybe I kind of sort of was.
But it was what I needed to heal.
And Dan was the first to heal me.
Then came Vinny.
Then sex and alcohol re-entered my life and I started making less than responsible decisions.
I kept my second rule of explaining what type of sex we would be having.
I was messaging men and meeting up with them on the same night I “met” them just to fuck and stay over in a bed that wasn’t my own.
The fourth rule was out the window because I was fucking someone new every night.
I hated my bed.
I couldn’t get over that I had been raped by a family friend and potential husband in that bed.
How could he do that with my Mom in the room that shared a wall with her’s?
All I remember of that incredibly bad Blackout is that I made sure he had a condom on.
I could not be in that fucking bed.
I tried to keep my sixth rule about safe sex, but ultimately, I failed.
Because I am sitting in the parking lot of my OBGYN. And I just got tested for the 3rd time for STDs. Way to be responsible, Autumn.
At least I haven’t gotten any UTIs.
What am I doing?
I am making dangerous choices.
I’m living on vodka and orange juice.
I’m tired of being fucked while drunk.
I’m hurting and numbing the pain with dangerous tools.
I got so many reactions from so many men so quickly. I obviously had to weed through the bad ones.
Then I came across a profile that seemed genuine and sincere and most importantly, non-threatening. His name is Dan. I met up with him eventually for coffee.
On our date we awkwardly sat inside a Starbucks getting to know each other. I was nervous. He was quiet. It was weird. After about 45 minutes my date asked if I wanted to go outside. It was summertime, and hot that day. I was glad I had an iced drink. We went outside and walked for another 15 minutes or so, talking about random things everyone talks about on a first date.
Suddenly he asked if I wanted to sit in his car. It was much more like an SUV type of truck than a car. I said sure. We sat in the back. The windows were dark. There were so many people around.
Dan took out his penis. I hadn’t seen a cock in quite awhile but his was quite large and I considered whether or not I would even be able to have sex with Dan. But right then all he wanted was a hand-job. I can’t remember exactly how it went down but I ended up giving Dan two hand-jobs over the course of an hour or two and he fully came twice. It made me feel good to have been able to accomplish that for him. I wasn’t ready to be touched and Dan either sensed that or didn’t care at the time. Either way, I had my first sexual encounter since my crying days with Gary, and it was exciting and pleasant.
After Dan came a second time, we agreed that it was getting late and we’d talk again soon. I honestly didn’t think I’d hear from Dan again, despite the fact that he was extremely happy with my ability to pleasure him. But I was wrong. He contacted me later that night and said he was looking forward to seeing me again soon.
Surprised, I was excited to see if he would become my first sexual partner since sex had been traumatic for me. I decided I would try with Dan and he would be my first good experience, as long as I could ensure that happened.
I made rules for myself. First, I would always drive to the place of the person I was seeing so I wouldn’t drink. I never drink and drive. Ever. There would be no mixing sex and alcohol during these sessions. I thought that was the most important rule for myself. Second, I would explain to any prospective partner my background and that I was looking for sex that would make me feel safe, and I would explain this in annoyingly explicit detail. Third, I made a pact with the person I was seeing that we would only sleep with each other for the duration of time we were sleeping together. Fourth, either one of us could decide to terminate the arrangement at any time for any reason and there would be no hard feelings. After all, I was basically using men for their penises. Fifth, I would always use my prophylactic given to my by my family physician to prevent UTIs. Finally, we had to have safe sex. I wanted my partners tested before they slept with me. Spoiler alert, all of them complied, until I started bending that rule anyway. I was on birth control and the men would use condoms anyway, just to be safe.
With these rules in place, I was ready for some kind and gentle sex with whoever met the qualifications I laid out both in my profile and then in my rules.
I started off the right way with this whole experiment. I had a goal. I had a plan to accomplish that goal. I accomplished that goal. And then I backtracked directly into the exact destructive behavior that I was trying to fix. I did not pass “Go.” I did not collect $200.00. I went directly back to the jail of sex and Blackouts.
Post break-up with my ex, I never thought I would be able to go on. It was a “my stomach was in knots for weeks” type of in love with him when he left. And by then, we hadn’t had sex in so long. I think we had sex one time in the last year and a half of our relationship. That is not a lot of sex.
I had found that alcohol and sex were so intertwined for me by the time my ex left that it was almost a given that I would be drinking and consensually non-consenting to sex if I were going to have sex with him at all. Basically, I’d drink until Blackout, then he would begin by entering me from behind. I was initially a willing if not eager participant, but while he thrusted inside me, I would always start to cry. I would freeze up, tears streaming down my face, no doubt thinking of my past trauma of being raped. My ex would always ask if I wanted him to stop. I always said no. He would finish. I would sit in the bathtub under the shower for an hour crying afterward while my ex slept peacefully in our bed. That is what sex between us looked like. It’s no wonder we stopped doing that to each other.
Now, my consensual non-consent was translating to other interactions with a multitude of men. Yes, I was seeing some of the same men more than once, but I was continuing to broaden my horizons with other men as I did.
This is how I got here. In my car. After my 3rd STD test in 3 months.
I created an OKCupid profile. I filled it out honestly and posted current pictures of myself. I wrote in the most prominent section that I was looking for someone to make me feel safe again with a man after having been sexually assaulted more than once. I made it clear that only men who wanted to date and to help me ought to reach out to me. It was vaguely implied that I was looking for a sexual partner to make me feel safe during sex again.
I sit in my car after leaving my 3rd OBGYN appointment in as many months. I feel like shit.
“Autumn, your insurance isn’t going to keep paying for these tests. Every month for the past 3 months you have come in asking for STD testing because you’re having unprotected sex. But. Autumn,” she had said, giving me “the look” that says exactly what she was about to, “you’re smarter than this. What’s going on with you?” my OBGYN asked.
I told her the truth. “I don’t know.”
“Well, I want you to take some time and think about how many partners you have and how much unprotected and even protected sex you are having. I don’t think it’s healthy for you, and not just because you could get an STD very easily after just one encounter. Are you all right?”
I had sat there for a few moments and looked at her, tears welling up in my eyes that I was going to fight off if it was the last thing I did and shrugged.
I heard and saw her genuine concern. I have been going to her for years now and she has always given me straight facts. She’s hard on me, but in a good way. I appreciate that she does not sugarcoat things, because so many people do and I’m tired of hearing bullshit. My OBGYN is tough, but she is caring. I like that about her too.
“What am I doing?” I think. I don’t turn on the car and leave just yet. I need to sit here and think for a little bit.
Each day I collect prospects for the upcoming night. The only question I asked myself because it was the only one I cared about was “Whose place can I stay over at so I can drink while we fuck, and so I won’t have to be in my bed?”
Technically, I was drinking before I fucked anyone.
I would drive to the place of whoever the wheel of fortune landed on that night and park. I’d text the guys I was outside. They almost always came to meet me when it was the first time we’d met. Then, I chugged my 16.9 ounce water bottle full of vodka as fast as I possibly could.
That behavior, drinking so much vodka so quickly was dangerous for several reasons in and of themselves and I was very aware of them. I knew that if something went wrong and I had to leave I’d have to sleep in my car because I wouldn’t drive under the influence. I knew my judgment would be severely impaired any second and that I would probably do more than I was typically comfortable with in the bedroom because I wasn’t really there.
That is another thing about Blackouts. You’re present. But you’re not there. There’s a tornado that is wrapping you up tight as you fall further and further down it’s cone. Actually, that part of the tornado is called the “death zone” because oxygen levels and low temperatures make it hard for one to breathe. These interactions parallel the “death zone.” I don’t know where I am, who I am really fucking or sucking the dick of, and it’s often hard to breathe in those little moments of my Blackout when I am present and see the movie before me playing out. It’s like I know I’m the lead but I have no autonomy.
I’m back! To finish the horribleness I experienced with the Officers and my neighbor. You know, the one with the fence that looks stupid.
Luckily for my neighbor, his relentless pounding on my front door at 7:00 A.M. last Good Friday did not wake my Mother.
When she did wake up I told her what happened and we talked for a long time about the nerve of him and how he wasn’t getting on our property today and we decided that I would compose a Hold Harmless agreement for my neighbor and his workers to sign when they would inevitably come back to call on the fence request.
After all that he’d certainly come back, and when he did I wanted to be ready.
So I drafted the document, revised it 17-77 times and finally printed copies of it the Tuesday after Easter.
I wanted to be ready.
I know exactly where that document is right now in my legal drawer.
But he never came back again.
When I had to call the police.
Because he had workers trespassing in our back yard again.
I loathe the phrase, “it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission.” (And I’m pretty sure that’s my neighbor’s motto in life. Just like it’s the motto of a lot of other men I’ve come across like him in my life.) Why do you think I hate it so much?
Time out. You know, my being drugged and raped by a boyfriend aside.
Time in. I have entitlement issues for sure. But I have some excellent reasons for my irritation surrounding entitlement. (The memoir I’m writing is full of examples of how I was harassed by entitlement.)
Back to Wednesday, I already mentioned what happened but let me be clearer about the chain of events.
Around 8:45 A.M. I was with my Mom in the kitchen before she left for work and I saw a man in my backyard shoving wooden braces into my lawn in an attempt to prop up my neighbor’s fence. I pointed it out to my Mother and went outside to confront the situation.
“Excuse me, Sir,” I yelled as loudly as possible. At first he did nothing, but then he turned around. “You don’t have our permission to do that and you have to stop immediately,” I told him. He replied that he didn’t speak English very well and as I mentioned in my last post shoved a phone in my face. I told the woman on the phone, whoever she was, that he had to leave and they (because a second man entered my property as I was speaking with her) couldn’t be there under any circumstances. She rudely snapped, “I heard you! God!” The man took the phone back and they left my property, but they also left the wooden braces propping up the fence behind. And I knew they would be back because of that.
And I was right.
They entered my property two more times that I am aware of after I had been told I was understood by that nasty person on the phone.
The first time I heard them come back because I had cracked open my back door to snoop for the crunching of leaves.
They returned not only to take the wedged pieces but they also started stealing, yes, stealing good strong wood on my property along the fence line. Theft on top of trespassing. This was around approximately 9:30 A.M. — so — my Mom was at work by then.
I hate not having witnesses.
And I hate to say this even more: I hate not having male witnesses.
If only the Officers hadn’t buddied up with my neighbor so quickly, maybe they would have heard me.
But it’s so difficult to be heard sometimes. Even though you’re very logically and reasonably explaining your safety concerns and how this has happened before and how all your neighbor had to do was sign a paper I spent hours revising just for him. Even though.
Because if I’m a man then me and other men (the Officers) speak the same language of understanding — that stealing, and trespassing, and my concern for liability are all legit.
But because I’m a woman — I’m just hysterical and can’t possibly understand the simple thing that my neighbor is “just doing.”
But I was assaulted. And I mean that literally.
Privacy is a funny thing. I have to assume that everything I’m about to share was intended for me to share since I took the pictures on my property and through a hole in their beast fence.
🚔 🚔 Two cars and two male white Officers would eventually show up at my house, take down my driver’s license information, and become degrading sexist friends with my neighbor who they spoke to for mere seconds, which was all that was needed to dismiss everything I was saying, and, whose license they didn’t need even though he drove to my house, and even though I was just standing in my driveway.
My asshole neighbor can’t even pretend he wasn’t on my property or that he didn’t tell them to do what they did.
All day I endured the sound of their work, watching. If my neighbor had just come over to me he could have signed this Hold Harmless agreement I wrote and this wouldn’t even be a post.
But he either wasn’t home or just didn’t care.
So the last time they would come over I asked them to leave and they ignored me, at my neighbor’s direction. This was after 4:00 P.M.
I was done.
I called my town’s non-emergency police number and began to file my complaint.
I was asked to describe how the trespassers — who were now being called back over now that my neighbor has heard me yell that last time, “get out or I’m calling the police!” — looked — as in what they were wearing, their skin color, hair color, height, etc. — which took an immense amount of time. As the dispatcher struggled to find my address — the call took approximately 10 minutes and by then the neighbor was trying to call me over to him from behind his fence. I paid him no attention whatsoever, except to look a bit in his exact direction to let him know I was going to do what I was doing no matter what he wanted, the entitled prick.
Besides, the operator told me not to interact with anyone I mentioned, including the neighbor, whatsoever.
Once the operator got my address down correctly (FINALLY), two police vehicles showed up in front of my house where I was waiting for them.
So one Officer began to get my statement. He listened to me for a few seconds before the second Officer beckoned him to the end of my driveway where my neighbor had driven over to be even more entitled than he had already been that day.
Since this is exactly what went down next, I’ll repeat: And after this same neighbor motioned them to him — to which they really complied — he spoke no more than 20 words to them — causing the Officers to react orally like this: “Yeah, I got you man, I’ll explain it to her,” and, “We’ll tell her.”
I literally rolled my eyes because I knew how this story was going to end and I was right.
It ended with the Officers attempting to explain property lines and fences to me.
And when I tried to speak up for myself, I was talked over and interrupted. As I refused to concede that nothing wrong had been done that day, the Officers just contributed to change topics and ignored what I had to say about the stealing, the trespassing, how this wasn’t even the first time he’s done this (last Good Friday), and that I am a trained lawyer in real estate and have legitimate concerns about liability.
Their final dismissal was, “well [your neighbor] said they don’t speak English very well so I don’t think they were understanding when you asked them to leave.”
“Then why was I on the phone with a woman who was going to take care of it?!” I wanted to scream. But I could tell with the workers done with the work (say least they better be) and the neighbor now best friends with the Officers, it would be pointless to continue to try plead my case.
They were not listening.
As I said they asked to see my driver’s license, and annoyingly they took down my name and phone number, as if they weren’t going to throw what they’d written on it out.
The Officers said, “well drive over there and we’ll talk to him.” But I have no idea if they actually did, or what would have been said, or why I even bothered calling for help since I couldn’t get any or see any results.
If there is one thing that’s clear: a fence definitely exists.
Yesterday I had to call the police on my neighbor.
I’m not some crazy chick who doesn’t understand the law.
I’m a retired Attorney.
I deserve respect.
We all do.
But, instead, you might have guessed it, I was mansplained at — by the Officers.
Last year, on Good Friday, a holy holiday my Mom and I observe, at 7:00 in the morning, I hear this pounding on my front door. I was already awake but unless I’m expecting someone I don’t typically open my front door to anyone. I thought, they’ll pound once, then leave us alone. Wrong.
This entity kept pounding and pounding and pounding. He was a relentless pounder, and I became a very angry recipient of that not fun pounding on my door.
Time out. I’ve mentioned I have Fibromyalgia, but I don’t remember if I told y’all what mornings look like for me. It’s agonizing to get moving, if my body will let me at all. Think about a play-dough doll that is scrunched up but not yet hard that you really need to return to its original look, and that’s kind of what I look like. My feet and hands are the worst. To get my feet going is problematic at best. Yes. Every single morning.
Time in. So with my feet fighting me I get them into shoes and go downstairs to see what the emergency is. Because it better be a GD emergency for someone to be relentlessly pounding on our door at 7:00 A.M. on Good Friday.
When I open the door I’m not pleasant, and I don’t regret that at all. Being obnoxious earns and warrants a tough attitude in reply.
There are two men standing there. My neighbor dressed in a jumpsuit, and a worker he had clearly hired to do what he thought he could do on this day, which was trespass.
Oh, and don’t forget that COVID was still very much a problem around that time last year. And I was about to encounter an agressive man and a gentle one, neither of which gave me the coutesy of wearing masks. Like, however you feel about the mask thing, if you’re going to be obnoxious and ask something of your neighbor at 7:00 A.M. on a holiday they might observe, maybe err on the side of — maybe the people you’re about to bother would prefer you — a stranger — in a mask.
Y’all have to understand. Once you get through law school and you learn about torts and real estate law, you can’t unlearn or unknow it. It’s there on your mind forever. And I was already riled up for other reasons on top of what was about to be my legal interface.
“Hi!” my neighbor greeted me cheerfully.
“What’s the emergency?” I reply. “Because there must be something incredibly dire going on for you to disturb my family at 7:00 in the morning on a very religious holy holiday which we happen to observe, by the way. And, my Mom — the best hardest working woman in the world — has a rare day off — which means she gets a little extra sleep — and what you just did is absolutely one of the rudest things you could do. I swear to God if you woke up my Mother — I just can’t imagine what you need at this time of the morning so desperately. Enlighten me.”
“Well — right. That’s exactly why I’m here today. I know it’s a holiday which is why I’m trying to get this done today. You know the fence between our yards?”
It’s impossible not to know the fence between our yards.
I say nothing.
He continues, “well since I have the day off I thought it would be the perfect time to fix it since it’s leaning. Have you noticed the leaning?”
It’s impossible not to notice the leaning.
I say nothing.
“So he’s here to just go in your back yard and see what he needs to do on your side of the fence so it doesn’t lean anymore, and I’m going to have it fixed today since it’s a holiday,” he concluded, motioning toward the worker who looked embarrassed about what was happening.
“No,” I say. “That will not be happening. And not just because I’m absolutely disgusted by how early you interrupted my home. First, as I already told you, this is a very holy holiday that we observe, so fence nosies and working with wood and whatever else would not be appropriate on a day when we pray because our Christ was nailed to a wooden cross and died. And second, the owner of this home would have to give her consent. The owner being my Mother. And I’m telling you right now — I’m not waking her up to ask — but I can guarantee her answer. It would be ‘NO.’ And third, I’d tell her to say ‘no’ to you because of the liability issue. So no. Not without me writing up a legal document indemnifing us of any liability, accident, problem, injury, whatever you can think of really — that you and your workers will have to sign before coming onto our property again. Technically you’re trespassing right now — and I do not give you a license to be here.” (License means something like “permission to be on my land” in the way I meant it, not like a driver’s license).
“Okay, so I’m just going to have him take a look back there to see what needs to be done. And can you ask your Mom to let me know if we can proceed?” this man says to me.
“It’s not happening. And no he can’t go look. You do not have permission to be on our property.” I reply, as calmly as I can.
What’s with people?! And I’m sorry to point fingers, but it’s usually men who talk to me like they didn’t hear what I just said, or they did, but they think they can — like — trick me into changing my mind — or even just do what they want despite what I’m saying because that’s what they want.
I’m overwhelmingly dismissed in situations like this — with men.
I want to be really really REALLY clear that I’m not saying this pertains to all men. I’m saying that when a dispute arises between me and a man like the one I’m describing now — I’m overwhelmingly looked over as a totally irrelevant component to what is going on.
My neighbor tried to do it to me that day — and the Officers did it to me yesterday.
And the Officers did it yesterday after this same neighbor had the nerve to drive to the front of my house, park behind the Officers’ vehicles — motion them to him — to which they complied — and spoke no more than 20 words to them — causing the Officers to react orally like this: “Yeah, I got you man, I’ll explain it to her,” and, “We’ll tell her.”
So back to last Good Friday.
“He just needs to take a look to see what he needs. It’ll be really quick,” my neighbor unbelievably says to me.
“Are you not hearing me? I can come closer, though I’d rather not. It’s not a matter of the amount of time he’ll be there,” I say, super uncomfortably speaking about a man who is present in front of me, “no means no. You do not have the owner’s permission, and it’s not happening.” I retort, beyond livid at this point.
“Okay, well I really want to get it done today. So can you ask your Mom when she wakes up? Perhaps no later than noon?” my neighbor asks.
“Look, I’ll take your phone number, and if she wants to call you, she will. No promises. And noon is when we begin silent prayer for three hours. So don’t expect to be doing work until after 3:00 P.M. if at all.” After this reply, I go inside get a pen and notepad of paper, bring it outside, and as I look at him indicating it was time for him to give me his name and phone number, he grabs the pen and notepad and writes it down himself.
I later threw the pen out and sprayed the notepad with Lysol, you know, because COVID.
My neighbor hands me back the items and I notice that during the course of the exchange between us, the worker who my neighbor had — full of certain hope — brought along had been backing away from my neighbor bit by bit. I liked this man. He had even smiled when I explained about the wooden cross.
“Okay. I’ll tell my Mother everything,” I say.
“Great. Just make sure she calls me as soon as she wakes up,” my neighbor says.
“This is not a good time to knock on anyone’s door unless they’re expecting you, for future notice. Please do not do it again,” I emphasize the “do not.”
“Sorry,” he says, not at all concerned about what I just said.
“Okay, please leave now.”
“As soon as he just quickly checks out the fence.”
“Do not dare go further onto this property right now. I was so incredibly clear that he cannot do that, you cannot do that, and it’s time to leave.”
Later, I would even created a Hold Harmless agreement for when we anticipated he’d come back — but more on that and my Mom’s reaction later.
My neighbor says nothing, and finally walks away. I watch him and his companion get into his car, and I close the door, beyond irate with this privilege this asshole believes he has.
Not 2 minutes later, as I’m scrubbing my hands, do I see the worker checking out the fence in my yard.
I ran outside to find my neighbor the furthest down the driveway he could get — not wanting to risk dirtying his shoes on what could be mud I’m betting.
“Excuse me!” I yell. “Seriously, get off our property right now! I told you no! Are you kidding me right now?!”
“Okay, okay, we were just looking” my neighbor says to me as if he hadn’t done a thing wrong.
I look at him with the wrath of 10,000 suns colliding into him. He beckons the worker, and they slowly walk to his car. I follow them the whole way. Because this time, in utter disbelief at the nerve of this asshole, I make sure he drives the fuck away before going inside.
So, yesterday morning when I noticed a different man on our property, I went outside and told him he couldn’t be there. He said he couldn’t speak English well and shoved a phone toward my face. I told the person on the phone that he could not be on my property under any circumstance. I told her that no one was permitted to be on our land at all and he needed to leave. She rudely told me she understood.
But I knew it wasn’t over. So I went to my computer, opened the door so I could listen for the suspicious crunching of leaves, and went to work. So when the crunching came, I was not surprised.
And yesterday, while the mansplaining Officers tried to explain how fences work because I guess they thought that was the issue I needed educating about target than listening to why I called them in the first place — (I was a Real Estate Sorry for 6 years — and I bet everything I have that I know more about fences than them) — I wasn’t listened to my trying to explain to them my concerns regarding trespassing and liability. I’m so disgusted by what happened.
I passed the NY and NJ Bar Exams on my first attempt. I obtained a job as an Attorney. I received regular considerable raises, and I would have liked to work in this practice for the rest of my life. I was on the firm’s letterhead.
My PTSD, trauma, anxiety, and depression progressed during the four years I worked for the same office. Eventually I would get panic attacks every day, calling my boyfriend during my breaks crying.
During this period, my psychiatrist tried several different medications in an attempt to regulate my increased anxiety, PTSD, trauma, and depression. We adjusted my medication no less than four times before we found a combination that made it possible for me to work approximately twelve hour days.
Nevertheless, I was still having panic attacks and when I was yelled at by people in the office, clients, or vendors, my anxiety, trauma, and PTSD were triggered.
I was diagnosed with “c-diff” after getting tests back from my Gastroenterologist. I was then confined to my home because of the dangerous contagiousness of the disease.
I did not leave my apartment for 5 months. Look it up. It IS that contagious.
I started coloring and sending my coloring to friends.
I took pictures of everything.
I worked incredibly hard for ten years to get to the place I wanted to be, only to be met with illnesses that would keep me from doing what I put so much time, money, and effort into. Becoming an Attorney was not an easy thing to accomplish, and I believed it would be my final career, which would have been a significant part of my life.
My Daddy died 9 years ago today. It was so far the worst day of my life.
My Daddy was my best friend.
We used to go to this one diner on Sunday afternoons together after Church.
He was my rock. Helping me through all of my silly problems.
I was his sponge. I absorbed all of the knowledge he had to give.
So when my Father died, I can say that I truly knew him. And that brings me so much peace. And I know not everyone can say that about their parents. So I also know how lucky I am to have REALLY gotten to know my Daddy.
You can see in the above picture that my Dad is wearing a TCNJ hat. That’s where my sister played. (I’m wearing a shirt I made that is a replica of my sister’s Jersey back then.) But you can also see that my Dad is wearing the Scarlet Knight on his sweater, which he had my Mom sew on, so he would always be showing support for both of us.
He was the best.
Of course I miss him all the time.
But every time I see a red fox, 🦊, or an acorn, 🌰, or a flower, 🌷, I know it’s my Dad saying “what’s up?!”
I wear acorns on my necklace every day, just like I wear a tri-colored cross to match my Mom’s wedding ring colors on the same chain.
Family is so important.
I can’t wait to expand mine.
I know my Daddy’s up in Heaven with everyone else who was taken too soon and he’s making them laugh like crazy. He’s still my hero.
I’ve had the craziest couple of days. Accomplishing so much that I’ve been putting off it is actually amazing — well — to me at least.
And I couldn’t have done it without my supportive super thoughtful boyfriend.
Long story short, my Mom and I went to 3 stores yesterday and my spoons were running on empty toward the end of the day. But it was so much worse for my poor Mom.
I ended up doing everything associated with checking out 2 full carts of groceries, hoping I had enough bags since we have to bring our own now, worried about my Mom who I brought to the car, so I’m unloading and then bagging and then navigating 2 carts to the car and then unpacking all the bags and then we get home and priority number one was obviously my Mom, but to make sure she could rest I had to put 3 stores of groceries away. And I did. Alone. And when I was done I realized I forgot to get the one thing that I eat as a snack: string cheese.
And I was on Google meet with my boyfriend when I had this realization out loud.
So, I am doing my yoga today, literally about to fall asleep from exhaustion from the past two days, and he video chats me and says go to your front porch there’s something that’s been dropped off.
So I happily pause my yoga since I was seriously about to fall asleep (narcolepsy and all) — I go to the front door and open it and see I had no idea what on the porch so I picked up these bags and from Florida, my amazing boyfriend has 4 bags of string cheese delivered to my door.
I was seriously about to cry it was so sweet and I am so tired and he’s just the most thoughtful awesome man.
I’m so in love with him it’s not even funny.
And just as I told him, even if he never did anything like that for me, I’d love him just as much.
He’s a keeper.
I think I’m going to keep him forever and ever.
And that’s that.
I wanted to share a sweet happy moment in my life with y’all because I feel like I don’t get to do that very much.
So this meant a lot.
And he means the world to me.
And I’m so grateful to have such a devoted man in my life right now.
I don’t ever want to find out what I’d do without him. I want to love him forever and ever.