Boys of My Youth

The baby kicked me hard in the stomach as Trump said to the Proud Boys “Stand back, stand by.” Last night Trump acted the way no parent would ever want to see their child behave. Not only did Trump clearly show he is a white supremacist himself, he also showed what wealthy white men can get away with.       

I have no words to describe how angry I currently am with Trump and his supporters. Clearly, they do not see and feel the damage done by systematic injustice, the murder of black bodies, the rape of those who define themselves as female or queer, nor do they see the on going damage their lies cause.

I wrote this essay back in February, 2020. As the United States election heats up, I grow even more annoyed by the letters I received from editors of why they can’t publish this piece. The main reason is they don’t want to touch the hot topic of sexism in the world of Trump and his supporters. While I can’t touch on every reason, I could never support Trump this essay explains one of the big reasons: sexism.  

I hope my child will be born into a world that Trump is no longer a figurehead. No matter what I will teach my child that monsters like Trump are in fact real, and we must fight them. Whether it be through peaceful protest, writing essays, standing up to bullies, or stating creditable facts, we must fight the monsters.

Boys of My Youth

As I sit here writing it is February 7th, 2020 days ago Trump gave what my husband called a “bananas” state of the union address. I didn’t watch it, the speech was clearly designed to be reality T.V. designed by a puppet who clearly only has his rich, white, sexist, friends in mind. One Trump lover, a hate spewing human, was awarded the Medal of Honor. I was shocked that Nancy Pelosi didn’t just rip up the speech, I’m sure if she had a lighter, she would have torched the sucker. She reminded me what it meant to live with shameless little conservative white boys, like the ones I went to school with.

“You’d be a lot cooler if you didn’t talk,” said a chubby boy who sat in front of me during 7th grade English. It wasn’t the first time a boy tried to silence me, or tell me I wasn’t pretty, or even say that boys were always better at things than girls. These were the 1990s when my home was nowhere and two places at once. Living mainly in suburban Minnesota where children with money flaunted it, the rest of us got by. Otherwise I was left to my own devices most of the time in Upstate New York.

Boys in Minnesota shaped me. As a twelve-year-old, my crush was a boy named Corey, like me he played hockey and had a strong unibrow. He never spoke to me, even though I admired him from far away in classes. My boy-crazy friend Leah told me to ask him out. Leah giggled next to me, playing with her short blond hair; she was the only girl in the 7th grade to have boobs. A fact that boys noticed. I was still flat chested with a distain for bras. Leah dialed the number as I held the receiver playing with the curled cord.

“Hello,” his mom answered with a midwestern sound to her ‘O’.

“Can I talk to Corey?” Came out as a whisper.

“Yes, hon,” she said, along with shuffling sounds and Leah’s giggle we could heard, “Some little girl wants to talk to you.”

Leah took over as I felt my face flush with blood, the room seemed to spin.

“Hi, Corey?” Leah was braver than me, she spoke clearly. “It’s Leah, will you go out with Evelyn?”

“No,” was the only word that came out of his mouth. It seemed like he tried to lower his voice an octave. Then the distinct sound of a dial tone took over the connection.

The next school day boys seemed to look in my direction and laugh. Some of them would cover their little mouths and pretend to cough while saying things like “slut” or “whore.” I didn’t fully understand why. That day in gym class, we had to run a mile, which meant running around the school fields twice, a stupid activity that only the athletes liked. Although athletic, I preferred to sit out of gym class and hang out with Leah. Today was different though. I wanted to run, I wanted to beat the boys who were being so horrible. As we lined up to start the run, Tony, a bucked-tooth blond boy with a bowl cut said to me, “Why are your legs so pale? Do you even go outside?” His family went on cruises during vacations, in years to come his skin would turn cancerous from time in the sun. I said nothing and started running.

My goal was to beat Corey, who had his socks pulled up high and gym shorts long, only a slice of his skinny tween legs showed. Most of the run I was even with him, I kept my distance as the boys grouped together as they bounced along. At the end of the mile, I was tied with Corey to finish at the same time. Then from a scratchy little boy voice came the word “Slut!” distracting me as Corey finished before me.

Most of my school years, I faced those same boys, those jocks, who never talked to me, yet bullied me for no reason at all…other than being female. I found myself wondering what had become of such children; boys who always got what they wanted; spoiled “boys will be boys;” simple boys; such as the ones coining the term “Basic Bitch” since they see all women as the same; boys that wear their high school rings into their thirties since they could not hack it in college; boys who believe they hold power because what hangs between their legs; boys who still believe bitches can’t be smarter than them; boys who want to control women.

I sat in my living room on a sunny day, watching water trickle through my indoor fountain. The sparkling light bounced of my lush green plants as vanilla incense burned sweetness into the air. Zen vibrations may have been in the home, but they weren’t in the research I was doing.

Exploring digital trails left over the years by these simple boys I found my answers. Between prolife pictures posted on Facebook pages of them drinking cheap beer were either bragging posts or political support for Donald Trump. “What shitheads,” I said loud enough to make my slumbering cat stir. I found mugshots and court records for some of crimes such as rape, sexual assault, drug charges, fraud, and drunken driving. Mixed in were vintage hockey pictures curated by Minnesota State. A few wedding pictures were sprinkled into what I found; wives with dimples and crooked teeth under the arms of midwestern boys. The ones I grew up with.

The boys of my youth became intolerant men of today.

Making a Daily Ritual

In my last corporate role, my morning ritual was to be an office fairy. I’d get in early clean and fill the coffee carafe, start my essential oil diffuser, and play peaceful meditation music over my headphones. Only a few people (those who really mattered to me) said it helped them. However, most never noticed.

The truth is I didn’t do it just for them. I did it to help lighten a toxic atmosphere and help my mental wellbeing. Once I went solo on my career as a writer/editor/yoga instructor I found myself creating a new morning ritual at home. This one is very simple. On days warm enough I’ll sit on our three-season front porch and open the door to welcome the day. The cat, Harvey, runs to the door and looks out. I take time to breathe in the air, welcome whatever noise may occur, and greet the day. In cooler temperatures I take time to open the living room window curtains, start a diffuser, and hold Harvey as we look out into the world.

Daily rituals don’t have to be long and drawn out. They can be as simple as saying a mantra each morning before starting work. Rituals can even be as simple as saying a prayer, a gentle stretching routine while getting out of bed, or kissing your loved one first thing when you wake up.

Make your own ritual.

  1. Find the best time when you start your day. If you work nights this maybe in the evening. There are no true rules behind when you should practice your daily ritual, but I’ve found it is best to start the day off right.
  2. Think about what resonates with you. Such as a mantra to chant quietly or mentally, or a physical practice that helps you clear your mind. For me it is opening a door or curtains leaving the night behind me. For you it might be making a cup of tea or your morning shower.
  3. Make it easy. If you are like me you don’t have time for a lengthy morning ritual, no one needs to get stressed out over wellness. If the ritual takes more than a minute, it is too long.
  4. Practice your ritual every dang day…Even if you feel like you can’t.