Posts Tagged ‘friends’

#metoo

https://twitter.com/search?src=typd&q=%23metoo

A reckoning. By definition, “a settling of accounts.”

Is that what best describes the #metoo movement? The sad truth: every woman and many girls have had such an experience and can post #metoo.

Sad.

My #metoo moment didn’t happen as an adult, but as a teen, and like so many others, it played a significant role in the course of my life, and shaped the woman I became.

August right before school started, a friend and I rode our bikes out to the high school. Anxious about starting our freshman year, we wanted to check things out and settle our nerves. A man came out of the gym and invited us in to try out for the volleyball team. A life-long baseball and softball lover, I had never considered volleyball. I made the team, and continued playing all the way through college. Volleyball remains a part of my life today as I coach and my daughter plays. I remain forever grateful for that invite into the gym and sport.

However, I am not grateful for the four years of unwelcome, demeaning and inappropriate advances from that same coach. The distance of almost 40 years has not diminished the sting of the things he said, and if allowed, would have done.

~ “Wendy, come sign this paperwork,” as he held a clipboard. As I took the pen, he pulled the clipboard against his stomach and said something like, “Anything to get you to come closer to me.” I dropped the pen with disgust and went back to practice without signing anything.

~ Heading into a gym for another game, that team’s coach had one of his players up against the bleachers as he leaned over her looking very much like her boyfriend. My coach said to me, “See! She lets him get close.” That coach, also a teacher, years later lost his license to teach and coach for sexual abuse with students and players.

~ Sitting on the bench doing the team stats, watching a female coach of an opposing team smack her players on the butt as she subbed them in and out. He turned to me and said, “Maybe if you let me hit you on the butt like her, I’d play you.”

Another guttural groan and eye roll…my only defense.

The constant attempts to touch me, get me to touch him, disgusted me. He held play time as the carrot, knowing how much I wanted to get on the court. I bristled and threw my nose up in the air; I retorted with rude and disrespectful comments that went completely against the grain of who I was. I had no other recourse. I never wavered. He was a bully and I hated bullies. I have no idea where that resolve came from. How I had the tenacity to stand up to him so boldly, I’ll never know. I did not have a strong fatherly figure in my life. My mother, not exactly a beacon of feminism, hadn’t drilled independence into me. But I stood against him at every point of my four years with him. Many of us did. His inappropriate, smarmy behavior was no secret. We all hated even more the rare occasion his wife and kids would show up at the gym and how he’d change. A complete 180 including his posture. His entire demeanor altered to Father/Husband/Coach of the Year. As she walked out, he’d turn with a disgusting grin and return to his usual, oily manner.

I’ve had many coaches in my life as an athlete. My favorite was my high school softball coach. A small, loud bearded man who limped, chewed tobacco, swore, screamed, and threw bats when we made too many errors. His mantra, “Play as tough as boys, act like ladies.” And he meant it. Far tougher than the boys’ baseball coach, he drilled us…hard. Repeated errors from the infielders brought on a spree of swearing along with bat throwing against the backstop, as well as screaming at me in the outfield to “TAKE A LAP!” As if the swearing, screaming, tobacco chewing, and throwing wasn’t enough, making her daughter run laps for errors she didn’t make put my mother over the edge. She would beg me to quit. She would compare this outrageous man to the fine, upstanding volleyball coach. She didn’t hear me. She couldn’t believe me. Perhaps I didn’t say it loud enough or serious enough.

How could that lovely man be worse than that bearded, foul-mouthed one?

The things she couldn’t see about my softball coach:

  • He never altered his behavior for any audience. His wife and kids attended practice often.
  • He protected me from an abusive and manipulative boyfriend, not letting him near the field.
  • He found out a doctor had told me to stop all sports due to two heart murmurs. I ignored the recommendation. During the three-whistle drill, he would always yell at me to stop sprinting. (So his making me do extra laps for other players didn’t bother me.)
  • He would tutor any of us before or after school if we needed it, making us always put our school work first.
  • He wouldn’t tolerate any drama or bad-mouthing of each other. We were to remain a team or we’d sit.

He prepared me for meeting with my college coaches. I had all my stats ready to report. I knew my RBIs, batting average, my Gold Glove award, my aces, kills, etc. While at the university, meeting with my new coaches, my mother and new volleyball coach left the room for some reason. I was left with the softball coach. He looked me up and down, said, “So what are your numbers?” I pulled out my stats, but this new coach cut me off and said, “No, not those.” He pointed at my body, moved his finger up and down, “Those,” he finished.

Again.

Not again.

18-years-old and I was tired.

Exhausted.

I never played for him. I walked away from softball…my first love. I cannot explain the heartbreak. An awkward jock (before it was “cool” to be a tomboy), I rarely fit in. A team of other girls helped me find my place in the world. I walked away from a sport and a connection that I adored, all because of yet another disgusting predator.

This college softball coach was also the head trainer for the university. He decided whose injury had cleared up and which players could return to the game. I played volleyball for a lovely, quirky (female) coach, resulting in a lower back injury. I chose each day for the 19-year-old college boys to work on my back, close to my butt, rather than that 50-year-old predator.

Not everyone had that luxury. The softball team made the final four. Our school hosted the tournament. One of my friends showed up at my apartment late one night in tears. A senior with a back injury, her desperation to play in the final four matched my heartache that I had opted out of this once in a lifetime opportunity. She needed clearance from her coach/head trainer to play. He wouldn’t give it … unless. Unless she performed oral sex on him.

She did.

And she sat in my arms sobbing.

She played. They won.

Did she?

Eventually, all the swearing, yelling, and throwing got my high school coach forced out. Parents complained, and while I admit you cannot behave like that, he remains my favorite coach. Never anything fake…what you saw was what you got, and he gave me his best.

My high school volleyball coach retired from coaching and teaching last year to a fanfare of celebrations. Facebook pages, parties, and tributes. I was invited. I respectfully declined.

BUT WHY???

Why do the women who suffer at the hands of these predators feel they have to show respectful and demure behavior? I admit that I worry that perhaps his wife or children may somehow find this and read it. Certainly some will say that they can’t possibly believe such things. Look at all the tributes!

Again, why am I the one who should worry?

Why not him?

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Should auld acquaintance be forgot

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2016 – a particularly pernicious year

It took so many beloved talents.

It made our hearts hurt,

It made our heads spin…

 

David Bowie and John Glenn, our Starmen waiting in the sky;

Prince, never just our weekend lover;

George Michael, you did belong to us;

Leonard Cohen, our baffled king composing Hallelujah;

Gene Wilder, gave us our pure imagination;

Garry Marshall, oh happy days;

Harper Lee, our mockingbird;

Glenn Frey, flying like an eagle;

Carrie Fisher, our star-born princess;

Debbie Reynolds, good morning, sun beams will soon smile through;

Alan Rickman…always.  How we always wanted you to be 80-years-old, sitting in your rocking chair, reading Harry Potter.

ALWAYS.

 

A cruel year, to take our beloved away so extensively.

Then, I realized…

We grew up in “their” time.

We discovered them as they blossomed and became the world’s.

We waited by the radio listening to Casey Kasem announce their rising number on the top 40 charts –

We went as children to the movies, jabbering in the halls between classes how awesome the latest movie was –

WE knew them, and they were OURS…before they became who our children loved and the generations to follow –

They were ours, and they will be…

ALWAYS.

 

Wendy Giglio Fiore

January 2017

 

 

“Against”

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” 

 – Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Against –

  1. in opposition to, opposed to, in opposition to, hostile to, averse to, antagonistic toward, inimical to, unsympathetic to, resistant to, at odds with, in disagreement with, dead set against;

OR

  1. in physical contact with (something), typically so as to be supported by or collide with it, , in contact with, up against, adjacent to

 

This world has always embraced “against” as opposition. Only option #1 exists.

 

From the beginning of time someone is “against” someone else:

invasions

battles

conquests

uprisings

revolts

rebellions

crusades…

wars.

 

Periods of lulls intermingled with these oppositions usually after the discovery of some huge new landmass. Large groups escaped (or were forced) to the new lands. However, what happened to the natives as the “important” peoples implanted themselves?

 

invasions

battles

conquests

uprisings

revolts

rebellions

crusades…

wars.

 

When will the world realize there is another…

a #2?

When will the world welcome the physical contact with everyone?

When will the world embrace the ability to be supported by others, or touching?

 

We do not have to always battle.

We do not have to cave to “Us vs. Them”

 

I will continue to love and support and touch and stay in contact with the world, everyone, individuals.

 

I will not battle. I will only love.

 

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” 

 – Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Wendy Giglio Fiore – June 15, 2016

Longing

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I saw a couple on the bike path, clearly enjoying their vacation on Sanibel. Picking up one of the free Sanibel papers that outlines everything from events to real-estate, all while talking to some loved one on the phone. No need to wait to fill them in on every fun fact of their vacation. Their beloved practically right there with them, sharing in the vacation.

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

I think about the letters written during the Civil War, the longing that radiated through the writing. With no way to see their dear ones, impossible to hear a sweet voice or speak to those far away, soldiers and families alike relied on maybe one faded photograph and memories. Parents sent children away during times of war, never knowing if they would see them again, all in the hopes they could save the lives of their precious babies.

Today we are so fortunate. We have FaceTime, Skype, and countless other means of immediate “connectedness,” even if someone’s in outer space. We are so blessed.

But lately, part of me wishes for the need of those letters, for that longing to come through in some way.

It’s what I’m feeling lately for all of my friends, family, and all my connections in New England. I’m longing to see them, to hear them, to visit with them and tell them every little fun fact, and hear each and every one of theirs…to be part of their lives once again.

Sullivan Ballou’s letter home to his beloved wife, Sarah

July the 14th, 1861

Washington DC

My very dear Sarah:

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days – perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.

Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure – and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine 0 God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing – perfectly willing – to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.

But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows – when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children – is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country?

I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer night, when two thousand men are sleeping around me, many of them enjoying the last, perhaps, before that of death — and I, suspicious that Death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart, am communing with God, my country, and thee.

I have sought most closely and diligently, and often in my breast, for a wrong motive in thus hazarding the happiness of those I loved and I could not find one. A pure love of my country and of the principles have often advocated before the people and “the name of honor that I love more than I fear death” have called upon me, and I have obeyed.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me – perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar — that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.

Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have oftentimes been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the garish day and in the darkest night — amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours – always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.

As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father’s love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers his and hers I call God’s blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.

Sullivan

W. Fiore 2014

Empty Neighbors

Daisy and I walked our morning route through our small circle.

A family moved out Saturday.

A family of lively, noisy boys.

Bikes, balls, bats, toys of all styles and sorts littered the driveway and yard daily.

Wheels screeching,

Voices squealing,

Giggles, fighting, laughing, yelling.

Army games whizzing through the bushes and surrounding yards.

We’d find them in our bushes hiding from the enemy.

All summer long

Day and night.

It now sits pristine…

And silent.

The neighborhood not quite the same.

Was this the hole felt by our neighbors when we left?

Did we take all our lively noise with us

Leaving nothing but empty silence…

Empty neighbors?

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Wendy Fiore 8/7/14