Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Why are some men so creepy? #MeToo

The #MeToo campaign has become a big deal, and I think that's a good thing. Some men seem to find it appalling that it has become about women vs men. Truth is, most men I know are very nice and would never dream of harassing a woman. They're not the problem. 

I personally end up talking about women and men because I am a woman and I have only been harassed by men. I have no experience with any other situation; that doesn't mean other situations don't exist.

I must have been twelve the first time I encountered The Problem. I was going to the bus stop to get to school and a man appeared in front of me. He wanted to tell me I was pretty, asked about my job, and tried to make me follow him home.

When I was 15 and started an after-school job, a middle-aged man came in every day, flirting with me as I manned the register. He waited for me outside most evenings, trying to follow me home. It became really creepy one night when I'd been to a school dance and he waited outside at one in the morning. He trailed after me all the way home and tried to get in. I threatened him with my dad, managed to unlock the front door, and slammed it shut in his face.

When I was 19 or maybe 20. I had my first real job and lived alone in my first apartment. My employer's main office was in the city where I lived, and there were satellite offices all over the region. We had some form of event where all the consultants came to the main office, and all of us went away for dinner. The man working in Sälen decided he was God's gift to women and I wanted him.

Right...

I kept my distance during the evening, went home, and went to bed. In the middle of the night someone banged on the door. I had a peep-hole and saw him outside, ringing the bell, shouting at me to open and let him in. He kept banging a fist on the door and probably woke everyone in the building.

Maria today would have told him to get his drunk ass the @&%# away and called the police.

Maria back then was scared to death.

I pretended I wasn't at home and hoped he'd go away.

He didn't. He kept it up for a long time, and when I eventually stepped out to go to work the next morning, he slept in the staircase outside my door.

The next day, he pretended as if nothing happened. No one believed me - he was an "upstanding citizen," good at his job, married, and at least 35 years older than I.

Maria today would have stood her ground and filed an official complaint. Maria back then hid every time he came to the main office and made sure never to be alone with him.

A couple of years later, I had a stalker who figured out my address through my job and watched my apartment every night.

It has gone on like that through life. When I was younger, I assumed The Problem would go away when I grew older.

Wrong.

Today, I'm 45, chubby, and have silver streaks in my hair. Makes no difference whatsoever. In a way it's worse nowadays. When I was young, creepy men had to wait for a woman to walk past them, but nowadays, they can do their thing 24/7 through the Internet. There are still cat callers and real life creeps, but in today's world it's even more difficult to get away from it.

I recently had a man I didn't know tell me - repeatedly - how long it had been since he had sex. What's that's supposed to accomplish? Am I supposed to drop my pants and let him stick it in out of pity?

Makes me wonder, would he say the same things to man? Probably not.

If you're a man who feels the need to blurt out things like that when encountering women, you should read this post. I didn't write it, just stumbled over it. It's funny, I promise!

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Earth is pretty big, right?

Not really. Sure, the Earth is gigantic compared to me, and even with modern technology it seems to take forever to get anywhere. Compared to other things in the galaxy, it isn't even a pinhead.

So, what about the sun? Isn't that big?

It is, compared to the Earth.

Seen with cosmic proportions, our planet is a tiny, blue and green jewel slowly rotating around a small star.

I found the following size comparison online. It boggles my mind, fascinates me, and leaves me feeling humbled.








Thursday, October 12, 2017

Yesterday was national coming out day

No, this isn't a post to tell you I'm not a straight female - I'm fairly sure I am. Many times through life I've thought it would be easier to be attracted to women, because men can be difficult, but it never happened.

It is a post to urge people to live and let live.

One can't generalize about a people as a whole, because we're all individuals, but I think the average Swede is better at putting things in a mental, "none-of-my-business" box than Americans are. I've met so many people in the USA trying to convert everyone else to their religion, condemning the way of life of the people next door, or even shunning their own children because they're different.

Not cool.

Over here, we're more likely to make up our minds, legislate, and move on.

Again, I'm not saying there aren't Americans who mind their own business, or Swedes who meddle - this is a gross generalization.

We decided on abortion being legal in 1938. No, I didn't switch the numbers around. 1938.

We decided that transgender persons should be able to change their legal gender in 1972, and legislated about legal protection for persons in a same-sex partnership in 1995. Gay people are welcome to get married in church.

When I say, "I'm Swedish, I don't care" I mean, "I'm Swedish, I don't care."

I know two dogs - Border Collies - who got married in a church. Pretty sure many Americans would throw a fit over that one. We think it's cute.

By the way, did you know American anti-abortion organizations are trying to mess with our abortion friendly laws? Talk about being bad at sticking to your own business - Sweden is on another continent, and they still feel the urge to meddle.

I digress. I was going to talk about national coming out day.

The day made me think of the bathroom debate where Christian groups wanted to patrol public restrooms at Target to make sure everyone uses the right one. That in turn made me think of transgender people. I'm sure it's difficult enough in my culture where everyone uses the same bathroom, can't even imagine the struggle of living in a nation where people try to regulate where you pee.

Yes, I know bathrooms aren't the real issue, but they make a good example.

I was born a woman. I have lady parts and I identify with being a woman. Sweden is more equal than America, but there is still a gender gap. Imagine if the only way to catch up with male privilege was to change you gender.

Imagine if someone were to say, "We could surgically remove your breasts, and make you look like a man down there. Hormon treatments can make you grow facial hair and deepen your voice. That way, you can get the same salary as a man, have the same opportunities as a man, and be treated as fairly as a man. What do you mean you'd be uncomfortable? You just have to pretend. Be normal, as a man."

That would be pretty upsetting.

It may be a bad example, but it's exactly what society does to transgender people. You feel like a woman, but you were born in a man's body. Too bad, be normal and pretend to be a guy. Or, you feel like a man but you were born in a woman's body. Shouldn't that be fun? You have your own boobs to play with.

Some people are comfortable in their body, others are not. There's a wide spectrum of gender identities and sexualities. What's "normal" will depend on the person defining the word.

Can't we all just leave other people alone, and let them live their lives in a way that makes them happy?

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Conversion

Happy Sunday! Do you like lazy Sundays, or do you have activities planned? Me, I try to get a little of both. In case you need something to do, here's the beginning of my novella Conversion


Rhodesia’s heart thumped in her chest.
People could probably hear it in the next city.
She forced a breath into aching lungs and kept a hand over her mouth to stifle the sound of an explosive exhalation. Hiding behind a tree was hardly sufficient, even if the trunk was wide enough to cover a two-person hovercraft, but she had to catch her breath.
Were they still on her tail?
Probably. And they wouldn’t be tired.
Maybe she should just give up and submit to the conversion. No place was safe, she had nowhere to run, and perishing alone in the forest might be worse than turning into one of them.
A beautiful sound drifted down from the branches above her head. One of the indigenous birds sang. Happy, joyful, and defiant.
Through her adolescence teachers talked about the old world and life on a planet called Earth. She never understood why it was important, not until now when her own life was in shambles. Remembering the past might be more valuable than she ever realized.
Birds on Earth were allegedly different than here, but it was hard to believe such a preposterous statement. Flying animals should look the same everywhere.
She remembered a photo of a feathered creature with an extraordinary beak. It hadn’t even been a hologram; the picture was two dimensional, and so old the color had faded. Pelican. It had been called a Pelican.
How such a being could fly boggled the mind.
The birds of Lucretia looked more like the drawings of dragons she’d seen in an ancient book for children. Sleek, with long bodies that shone with an inner light. The one above her sounded like it would be yellow and orange. Their song varied with their color.
She wanted to look, but it would be hidden in the leaves and she couldn’t afford to divert her attention.
Earth dragons breathed fire and probably weren’t real. The birds of Lucretia had no fire, but were still radiant.
The bird cut its song off and the forest around her became too quiet too quickly. That could only mean one thing: they were near.
They were faster and stronger than her. She’d only gotten this far because of a head start.
It didn’t matter.
She needed to run. The bird had reminded her of the value of freedom and slavery was not an option.
She peeked out behind the trunk, but couldn’t see any pursuers. That didn’t mean they weren’t there.
Her feet were heavy and did not want to run anymore, but she made them. She was too tired to be quiet and almost stumbled a couple of times, but regained her balance at the last moment.
I’m going to die.
It might not be true, not even if she stopped running and submitted, but it felt true.
Her great escape stopped just minutes later. She threw herself down on her stomach and took in glimpses of a large road. The pavement looked golden in the sun, and it stretched out with no interruptions as far as she could see. Days earlier it would have been crowded with traffic both on wheels and in the air. Now it lay deserted.
Walking on the road would be easier than trekking through the forest. It would also make her an easy target.
It led to New London. She had been there a few times and it was a nice city. Crowded, but pleasant. People were polite.
Cities had clean clothes, water, and food.
It was just an illusion. New London would be in no better shape than New Tampa, and getting out of there almost killed her. Mankind was overrun by its own creations, and any city would be a deathtrap.
Maybe she should cross the road and resume her trek through the terrain on the other side?
It was just an excuse to feel the pavement under her feet, and once she stepped onto it the call of civilization might be too strong. She might not be willing to step off. She’d keep walking, comforted by any remains of her lost world, and it would lead straight to her death.
On the other hand, did she stand a chance alone in the woods? She could hold out for a few days, but what were the odds of someone solving the world’s problem before she succumbed to starvation and fatigue?
What if I’m the only human left on the planet?
She would need a ride off-world. The elders had placed the planet in quarantine and there were surely beacons transmitting gloomy messages of death and destruction, but there might still be ships able to fly. She had never left the planet, but how hard could it be?
The spaceport couldn’t be far, and to get to it she’d have to cross the road.
She climbed the short but slippery bank on all fours, determined to get to the other side before she changed her mind again. Minds were such fickle things.
The deserted road was eerie, much more so when standing on it than when seeing it from a distance. Alone in the forest she had been able to pretend the world still functioned, but roads were never empty.
She reached down to press her palm against the smooth surface. It was cool and smooth. At least buildings and roads were still reliable. For now.
“We accomplished this. We built this.”
Her words were too loud. Now would be a good time to run, stay out of sight, and hopefully be forgotten.
Get off the road.
As much as she told herself to hurry, she dragged her feet. New London had a thick wall and it looked safe. Tempting.
“Doesn’t matter when the danger comes from within.”
Her voice sounded spooky in the thick silence, but talking to herself helped her move forward.
Getting up on the road hadn’t been difficult, but seen from above the bank of gravel slanting down to the forest looked steep. She crouched and squinted, attempting to make out a safe way down. Falling would be bad.
Was that movement?
No. Imagination.
Or, maybe an animal.
She kept her eyes on the spot, just in case the leaves would separate and show a human face. This was the end of the world and her instincts might be reliable.
At first nothing moved, but then the greenery parted and a man looked out. He stared at her and held out a hand.
“Come with us. You will be safe.”
Right. Sure I will.
She got to her feet, slowly. He might still be human, but odds were against it. Even if he were human, he might also be a crazy, cannibal rapist.
“You will be safe.”
The slow repeating of words and the lack of expression on his face convinced her.
Not human.
Where there was one, there could be more.
Had he come from the city?
She nodded, pretending to consider the offer, and glanced to the side. A group of five advanced in an eerie, synchronized manner.
The man said, “You will be safe” one more time, and the others repeated the words. An eerie choir of human voices void of emotion.
The only way clear led to the city.
“You know, I’m gonna have to take a rain check on that.”
Her voice came out strong and clear. At a time like this, small victories mattered.
The words didn’t slow their approach, and she spun around and ran.
She didn’t expect to get far. Her escape earlier in the day had been dumb luck; she wasn’t that good at running. She expected the pursuers to approach like the wind, but they weren’t good at running either.
Maybe human bodies were complicated to control and they only managed a slow shuffle without falling over?
If this was the case they would adjust. She should take advantage of their weakness while she could.
I need to get off this damned road.
Good idea, but no telling what she would run into in the forest. She only had rudimentary memories of the area, but there had been smaller settlements outside the wall. If all those people had turned and filled the woods, she wouldn’t stand a chance.
She dared a glance back. The pursuers weren’t breathing down her neck, but they were moving faster.
Her lungs burned and her legs ached. It had been a long day with no rest, and she wouldn’t be able to go much further.
Something moved up ahead by the city gate. Had she waited too long and trapped herself between groups of enemies?
No. Only humans could move that erratically.
Shouting voices drifted over on the wind. She couldn’t make out the words, but only humans would shout.
Safety might be an illusion, but she’d hardly be worse off with them than alone.
She forced her legs to move faster and ran like she never had before, to the New London city guard. One man caught her when she collapsed at their feet, and she heard a voice bark orders.

“Get her inside. It’s time to clear out the woods.” 

Friday, October 6, 2017

It has been a long road...

...but I have been reestablishing relations with the imaginary people living in my head. Also known as characters.

Turns out, they're not happy with me. One of the main characters in the Embarkment 2577 series has been stuck in an alien spaceship for around two years while I've been in real life. He's pretty upset - and refuses to tell me how he gets out of the snag. I may have to poke him, haha.

Another character is grumpy, because I left him in the 16th century for a year and a half. He claims to miss clean water and electronics. Not to worry, he'll be back in the 21st century any day now. Maybe...

Yes, having conversations with imaginary people is normal for me. It's okay, I'm a writer. 😉

Now I just have to pick which work in process should be worked on. Here is the beginning of one of them:


Anette passed a long row of beat-up cars and stepped into a dark repair shop.

Three vehicles were on lifts, and the men working on them looked like they could get wheel nuts off using only their fingers.

"Excuse me..."

The closest giant nodded to the side, and now when her eyes adapted from the bright sunshine outside, she made out a counter. The woman manning it didn't look too interested, but she was probably still Anette's best chance.

“I’m here to check on my car. It’s an o-two Impala. Gold. Had problems with the tranny.”

She held out the ticket, but the woman didn’t even look. She blew a bubble and popped it before answering in a broad Russian accent. “I don’t know. I haven’t seen anything about an Impala. Do you see it?”

“I do not. Maybe you could check some of your papers? Or your computer? Compare the number on here with your system?”

It sounded snarkier than she intended, but she needed the car and this person wasn’t even trying to help. How had her precious vehicle ended up in this dump?

That’s what she got for asking an ex for help. Like he would actually help her.

Idiot.

The receptionist, if that’s what she was, might not know how to use a computer. She was probably hired more on looks and to compete with the vulgar calendars on the wall.

She didn’t sit on the hood of a car or have a motorcycle between her legs, but she wore a bright red miniskirt, a flowered top that left little to the imagination, and high-heeled shoes that would make Anette fall and break at least a couple of bones. She was also thin enough to fly away on the smallest whiff of wind.

I can still see your roots. Bleaching hair that dark peroxide blonde can make it fall off. If you don’t find my car, I hope it falls off.

All this anger was bad for her karma, but at the moment, she didn’t care.

The woman leaned over the counter and hollered, “Valentin!”

What is this? A bad gangster movie?

The man who sauntered over was tall with shoulder-length brown hair that needed a wash and about two days’ worth of stubble. He wore black jeans, a leather vest with nothing under it, several long necklaces, and tattoos that didn’t fit together. When he came close enough for her to smell him, she could barely contain an urge to wave a hand in front of her nose. Had he bathed in alcohol?

It wasn't possible to get drunk from someone’s breath, right?

Cleaned up and sober he’d look good, especially with those muscles. Right there and then, towering over her, he was about the scariest thing she’d seen.

“What’s the problem?”

He too had a thick Russian accent. Of course he did.

“I’m looking for my car. You were supposed to replace the transmission.”

He made an innocent gesture. “I don’t know. What car? We fix cars. Maybe it’s stolen, it happens.”

“What do you mean stolen? You guys were supposed to replace the transmission, not lose it.”

Valentin gazed into her eyes, clearly trying to make himself irresistible. She crossed her arms over her chest and glared. Playing nice would probably get her further than being angry, but she was barely able to keep her voice in check.

“I need it. Please try to find it.”

He stared at her a moment longer and shrugged.

“Mikhail! Have you seen this lady’s car?”

A man if possible even more in need of a bath came out from behind a minivan, drying his oily hands on a rag. Valentin was tall, but this man must be part giant.

“I don’t know. What kind of car.”

“It’s an…” He waved his hand towards her.

“It’s an Impala.”

The giant said, “No.”

Anette drew a deep breath and forced herself to relax her shoulders.

“You will find my car, and you will fix my car, or I will return with a friendly police officer who will investigate what happened to my car.”

Valentin said, “No.”

She said, “Yes.”

He frowned and glanced over his shoulder. “Mikhail, find her car.”

She shook her head and headed towards the outside. Outside held sunshine and a real world populated by real people. “I’ll be back tomorrow.”

She didn’t expect the Russian drunk to follow her. Thank goodness she’d asked the taxi to wait for her, or she might have been stuck with this chop-shop caricature.

He opened the car door for her and held it open. “I like your spirit. You come work for me.”

“No.”

“Yes. I can get you new car, good pay, other… job.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, but it’s still no.”

He shook his head a little. “Shame. Well, think about it.”

She tugged at the door and he let it go, allowing her to slam it shut. “Please drive. Get us out of here.”

The taxi driver said, “Not a place I would choose personally. Don’t mess too much with those guys.”

“I didn’t choose it. My ex dropped it off here, probably as punishment.”


"Someone's always listening" - I don't know about that, lol

If you're on Facebook, you may have seen posts circulate with people saying their door is always open, there's food in the fridge, their kitchen table is a safe spot, they're just a phone call away, someone's always listening...

It sounds like a great idea. Humanitarian. Help each other out. I almost shared it.

Luckily, I sat down and thought about it before I shared it.

My door is always locked, because Topper (dog) has figured out how to open it. I avoid letting people in the house, because I don't want Boo Bear (dog) to bite someone. He likes nine people. I can name them, lol! There are piles of pet hair everywhere, because I'm more likely to be writing on something than cleaning.

The fridge usually has an echo, because unless I'm out of pet food or coffee, going to the store is less interesting than whatever project caught my attention. Phone? I don't use it for that... I answer if my mom calls - which happens about once a year - and if I call someone, it's an emergency and I need a veterinarian.

My kitchen table is a spot for Koda (cat) to nap on a pile of mail I didn't get around to throwing out.

It's kind of like the time everyone were supposed to wear safety pins. I was good at that for one day. Then the safety pin went into the laundry with the shirt and I haven't seen it since, lol!

Who are these people who are organized enough to offer a permanent listening ear, an available refuge, and know where they have their safety pins? Not me, that's for sure. 😂


Thursday, October 5, 2017

It's new to me :-)

I traded my dear old Audi today. It wasn't an easy decision - I was fond of it - but I think it was the right decision. In Sweden, you have to take your car to a special authority once a year. They go through the vehicle and check everything from emissions to brakes. (I love that you don't have to do that in Florida, lol!)

To pass, she would have needed a lot of work done on the brakes, a new O2 sensor (I replaced one this summer, but there are more), and some other little fixes. Plus, winter is coming and I only had one set of wheels, so I would have needed rims and tires.

After doing the math, it became cheaper to trade her. I felt guilty for leaving her at the dealership and driving away in another car, but I am no longer the right owner for her.

Now I have a slightly newer Ford, and I think it will work out really well. Smaller engine - might not be a bad thing with my heavy right foot - still large enough to fit all the pets if need be, summer and winter wheels, and newly serviced. A little rusty, but less than the Audi, lol. It's a 2004 so far from new, but it's new to me.


I will miss the Audi's seductive whisper. It remained constant no matter how fast I drove. "I have a big engine, a really big engine, it would be easy to go faster." It's probably a miracle I still have a driver's license, haha!

The guy selling the Ford asked why I set my sights on the cheapest car in the lot instead of getting a new car, free from problems. I almost fell over laughing and told him about my adventures with the Honda Fit. The tranny that broke shortly after the warranty expired, and mysteriously wasn't included in the drivetrain warranty. The alternator that allegedly broke because I had a broken tail light.

I fell into that trap once. Hopefully I'll be smart enough to at least stay away from it for a few years.

The funny thing - that has nothing to do with the car - is, when I started looking earlier in the week I contacted quite a few people and many of the replies made me go, "Hell no!"

I suspect people have moved here and not yet mastered the language, so they're using automatic translations. Or, have learned the basics, and try to use Swedish the same way as other languages they know.

Thing is, there are phrases like "dear" that don't have an equivalent in Swedish, and when people try anyway, they sound like super-scary psychopaths.

Most of them try to translate dear with "kära" - a word that means a lot of things. None of them is "dear."

Depending on intonation and context, it can mean calling someone an idiot, an expression of utter disbelief, or a description of two people desperately in love.

"Nejmen kära nån" very likely expresses surprise.

"Men kära du" probably means you did or said something really stupid.

"De är så kära" means two people are heads-over-heels in love.

Thus, the texts that end up in the mailbox sound along the lines of, "Yes my love, I still have the car for sale, you beautiful moron. Come here my sexy princess and I will take good care of you, sweet love puppet."

Yeah, I don't think so.

The car I finally picked was at a dealership in Norrköping, it's a road trip of a couple of hours, but totally worth it. This guy sounded considerate, reliable, and professional in his messages. The next time I need a car, I'll go there again.

Besides, he kind of looked like Gerard Butler. There might be a story in here...

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Things to do while you're introverting

I stumbled over this on Google and just love it. I like to combine these though. Read while eating snacks. Create while hiding from the doorbell and eating snacks...


Dreams coming to fruition

Everyone has dreams, visions, and fantasies, but they differ wildly between us. The question is - which are worth turning into goals? What d...