For the first time ever, I didn’t want to go. But, for some reason, I felt that it was important that I come to this conference and exhibit. I mean, if I really want to do this app thing, I have to actually “do” it and this conference will allow me to do it.

This time, though, I didn’t want to go. And this is new for me. When my kids were little, I admit I would look for reasons to leave. Conferences and time alone in a hotel room were gifts dropped from the heavens. I couldn’t wait to leave. I didn’t think about home when I was gone. It was a total respite; I rolled in the aloneness like a dog scratching his back on grass. I loved the “me-ness” of getting away.

And unlike you (or the you I think I know), I didn’t cry because I missed them. I cried when it was time to return.

It wasn’t that I didn’t love them; it wasn’t that I wasn’t happy. It was that those early years were overwhelming for me, especially without the benefits of medication to manage my OCD and anxiety.

But now, I feel settled. I feel in control. I don’t need to run away anymore to get that feeling of gaining control. My little people are not so little anymore and life it just…better.

Part of it I know is that during those early years, I wasn’t kind to myself. I rarely put my needs first—or second, or tenth. I was a martyr and it took going away for me to reconnect with myself. Not anymore. Now, I feel most like myself when I am connected to that little family unit I love so much. Each person in our crew of five plays a roll and when we are together, it all feels right.

I still love time alone. But now I make sure I get it more often and now I don’t have to run away to find it.

I had a tennis match last night at 8:00 P.M.—as in, eight o’clock in the evening. Eight is about an hour or so before I am normally heading to bed. It was rough. I was tired and it was late.

We lost, but as always, I had a great time playing. I really just love to play—even if I don’t win. I am so grateful that I am playing again after a three-year hiatus forced me to take a break. We played a fun team and it was a great match. After the match, my partner and approach the net to shake hands with our opponent.

We stood there for a bit, chatting, and as we did, I rubbed my nose. I swear to you something fell out. Nothing snotty, but something crusty. You know, one of those annoying boogers that sometimes flaps in the wind. But, I wasn’t 100% sure. So, I rubbed my nose again. I was left even more uncertain after the rub than I was before.

And, I rub again. Is there something there? I can’t tell. Now I think maybe it’s on the end of my nose. I smear my hand across my nose again, hoping to catch whatever I think I feel. Then, I notice my partner rubbing her nose. She’s giving me a singal, I think. She’s telling me it’s there—and to get it off. I rub my nose in response. She rubs her nose again. Then, I notice our opponents rubbing their noses. Are they all trying to tell me I have a bat in the cave? Or, do they think I am trying to tell them they have a nugget in the mine? They don’t. But do I? Who is telling who what?

I was so confused.

I dropped my hands to my side to see if they continued. Then, I thought I felt it on my lip. Oh, I panicked and all I could think was this little dry booger fell out of my nose and on to my lip and it’s just sitting there—stuck in my thick layer of Aquaphor. I use my hands to rub my lips, hoping to scrap it off. But, nothing. Then, they touch their lips. Dammit. What is the message? Are they signaling me or do they think I am signaling them? Is there something there I should be getting?

Finally, I had to end the conversation because it was almost 9:30PM and I couldn’t expend any more energy on trying to figure out who had the booger and where.

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I am sure you have heard bits and pieces—if not more—of the discussion currently going on about sexual assault on college campuses.

Sexual assault is real and is wrong. There is never any reason that could possibly justify a sexual attack. Period. But it happens. And it happens on college campuses—often. The conditions are perfect: young people with poor judgment (young men and young women), alcohol, drugs, freedom to make choices (good and bad), the desire to “experience” and the need to explore.

A report prepared by the National Institute of Justice found that one in five women are victims of attempted or completed sexual assault during their time in college.

But, many women are not victims of sexual assault during their time in college. And, some women claim to be, but actually are not. Now, here is where I FULLY acknowledge the vast majority of women are telling the truth. False accusations are found to be rare and are estimated to represent just two to eight percent of all accusations.

But, false accusations happen. And what I think my boys need to know is when accused of sexual assault, the world will assume you are guilty. Period.

Why is this an important thing to tell my boys? Because what I want to teach them—first and foremost—is to avoid situations that could give them the appearance of being guilty. And, what I am teaching them is what those situations are, how to behave, and when presented with a choice, which way to choose.

Now, I know what you are thinking here: but what about the victim? I get it. And I hear you. And, I feel for the victims…and there are victims. This is not a debate as to whether sexual assault actually happens on campus or not. It does—we know that. I know that.

I was sexually assaulted at a fraternity party at the University of Pennsylvania my freshman year of college. Like many women, I didn’t really realize at the time that it was assault. I blamed myself for ending up in that situation. But, a little later in my life, as I remembered that night, I realized it was an assault.

I had gotten myself in to a sticky situation and then, I decided I wanted out. I am not sure what happened, but I remember all of the sudden feeling very strange. His behavior changed and I felt like I was being watched. I wanted to go, but he made it clear I wasn’t going anywhere. First by the locked door with no visible way to unlock it and second when he grabbed my wrists and prevented me from moving with his body weight.

I know sexual assault is real. And I know some men do indeed commit these assaults . But, some are falsely accused and my point is, the system is not set up to flush out the facts and determine who is on which team. While these false accusations are rare, what’s important to know is that everyone accused is equally flagged as guilty.

There is no standard in these cases that requires evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In a policy move frequently referred to as the “Dear Colleague Letter,” in 2011, the Department of Education advised colleges to act on a much lower standard of proof.

Colleges were advised to act on simply a “preponderance of evidence” and the letter goes on to say that, “Police investigations may be useful for fact-gathering; but because the standards for criminal investigation are different, police investigations or reports are not determinative of whether sexual harassment or violence violates Title IX.”

Essentially, if your son is accused of sexual assault, I think it’s important you should know—they should know—they are probably screwed.

The Department of Education doesn’t even recommend or require a student files a complaint with law enforcement. Instead, it says, “A school should notify a complainant of the right to file a criminal complaint.

In a story that appeared in the Washington Post in August 2014 entitled “Men punished in sexual misconduct cases on college campuses are fighting back,” the writer (Nick Anderson) tells the tale of Joshua Strange of Spartansburg, S.C. Strange was expelled in 2012 from Auburn University immediately following an accusation by an ex-girlfriend of sexual misconduct, even though an Alabaman grand jury found the case lacked enough evidence to prosecute him for the crime.

Anderson goes on to tell the story of a similar student at Brandeis University, who stated,” I wasn’t given a fair trial or anything. In the real world, rape and sexual assault are crimes punishable by going to jail—and rightfully so.” This student was never charged with a crime but was expelled from Brandeis.

Tovia Smith reported during an NPR story in September 2014 one male student accused of sexual assault who turned it around on the universities saying that the current process itself is a violation of Title IX as it is inherently biased against men. This, after the university expelled him following a hearing board where he was found “guilty” refused to allow him representation by an attorney.

An estimated 85 schools are currently under investigation for “over correcting” on the issue of sexual assault by being quick to react and withholding due process or failing to provide a fair hearing. That’s important to know.

So here’s what I have been talking to my kids about—mostly just my oldest as he gets ready to go to high school (which will soon lead to college), but sometimes the younger ones might here bits and pieces of the conversations too.

Most importantly: No means no. Sexual assault is a crime.

Next, I have been talking to him about situations to avoid, helping him to start to consider how choices can have devastating outcomes (like getting accused of sexual assault and expelled).

Pay attention to your surroundings. Don’t be alone with a girl in a room. Don’t let your friends be alone in a room with a girl. Don’t be in a room with a group of boys and one girl. Essentially, avoid “he said/she said” situations where the only two people who know the truth have the potential to become defendant and plaintiff.

Control your drinking. I know they will drink, but we have certainly discussed how alcohol can lead to very poor choices and more negative outcomes—that are often difficult to undo.

Be careful who you are intimate with—for many reasons! This is but one reason why having sex or being intimate with strangers or acquaintances is a bad idea. I want them to know that it should only happen with people they trust. Sometimes even people we trust can betray us, but we really cannot control or predict when that will happen. Making smart choices about who you trust is something you can control.

The system is not set up for you—the accused. The current system clearly favors the accuser. And, while we know false reporting is relatively rare (at least across criminally investigated rapes), it happens. If accused, a boy will most likely not have the opportunity to prove his innocence.

I think my boys need to arm themselves with this information. Not to create paranoia, but to instill in them that the system is not set up to protect them—at all and therefore, they are responsible for making good choices. While they cannot control what others do, they can control what they do—and where they do it, with who.

My oldest recently went on the 8th grade right of passage—the trip to Washington D.C. Before he left, I reminded him that even if others were doing it, do not sneak in to a girl’s room, do not be alone with a girl in a room. Not because I don’t trust him, but because I don’t trust the system.

I had a dream about a woman. She was taller than me and thin, but fit—capable of feats of strength beyond those expected from her stature alone. She was older than I am, old enough to have experienced and survived many of life’s challenges that lay ahead of me. She had short salt and pepper hair and glasses that she used only to read or when we had a serious discussion that merited her full concentration.

She was around when I needed her, but away enough to give me space and make me feel like I still had a place in my house—in my world.

In my dream, I was working in my office an she peaked her head in to say, “I noticed some of those little white crumbs from the yogurt container in the refrigerator so I went ahead and cleaned the entire thing out, wiped all the shelves. Oh, I also tossed anything expired and added those items to the grocery list so you can replace them.”

She left love notes for me like, “I hand washed your bras. They are dry and tucked back in your drawer.” Or, “I changed all the sheets in the house. And, while I was at it, I noticed someone put some sheets in the closet in the wrong place (yes, I have labels on the shelves) so I organized the linen closet. I threw out an old sheet with a stain from a bloody nose and wrote down the size you need to replace on a list for you.”  And the real kicker, “I saw your to-do list and went ahead and vacuumed under all the beds and hand cleaned all the blinds in the house.”

She was sewing buttons back on and mending hems that had come loose. She was fluffing pillows and stocking my refrigerator with freshly washed fruits and chopped vegetables. She was there to pick up a kid after school when I had some work to finish and she was here to meet the pest control guy when I needed to go to a meeting. She ironed.

I paid her, sure, but not much. It was about more than the money for both of us. For her, it was about investing herself in a family again—about mattering to someone other than herself. For me, it was about gaining time—feeling like there really were more hours in the day to do other things, things that really mattered while the mundane still got done (and done by someone who had passion for those things).

I hope one day—soon—we find each other. Her, a family to call hers again; and me, someone who ‘gets’ all of those obsessive things that can derail my free time. In the meantime, I have to go…the kids’ drawers need to be cleaned out and sorted and the hall closet needs to be organized.

I had such a lovely 43rd birthday.

First, it was beautiful outside—just like I remember from all my birthdays as a kid. Finally, we enjoyed a spring day.

It started with coffee and reading (I am just finishing Girl on the Train and wow…what a great book!) the kiddos slept in a bit until it was time to head out to cheer Jeff on at the Mini Marathon. We first ducked in to Long’s donuts so the boys could get a treat to enjoy while we watched for Jeff and heckled and supported other runners (some we knew…some we didn’t).

Unlike cyclo-cross, heckling doesn’t seem to be as welcomed when people are in mile 11 of 13.1. I mean, we didn’t say anything mean, but I would sort of tease some people that they were not even trying, or sweating, or whatever. Some found it funny, smiled and picked up the pace. Others simply ignored me. I think I need to work harder to successfully integrate the heckling ways of cyclo-cross into marathons. It sure does make it a lot more fun to watch.

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Once we got home, I enjoyed a lovely 4 mile run myself on a beautiful spring day. It was blue sky and birds singing all the way. I ran a kiddo to soccer and just missed my BFF dropping off these lovely flowers. They completely matched the joy I was feeling on that special day.

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Then, more reading only instead of with a cup of coffee on the couch, it was under the blossoming crab apple tree while the kids kept busy playing outside.

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We took a nice trip to the bookstore where Andy desperately wanted to pick out a book for me. He randomly selected something from the shelf and when I read the inside flap, I had to gently break it to him that it wasn’t going to be one I would read. I picked up a few books and we headed to dinner as a family. We even got to sit outside because it was my BIRTHDAY! My husband does not like to eat outside—ever, so this was a wonderful treat.

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Finally, home for a huge slice of Dairy Queen cake. I love the fluffy icing (whatever it is) so I requested a cake that had lots of extra icing. My husband found the perfect one! He asked if they could write “Happy Birthday” on it like they usually do; the answer was a flat out no. He settled for this:

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And, two of my kids made me these cards.

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The above card from Andy (those are speakers…not boobs, he was sure to tell me) with me celebrating to my birthday anthem (Katy Perry’s Birthday). the below one from Sam, since he knows how much I love cats.

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Honestly, every year it is kind of fun to celebrate the one thing it’s easiest to overlook: YOU! Thanks to all of those that helped make it wonderful, including all of my text messages, voicemails, cards and Facebook messages! A perfect birthday.

Dear Dog People,

I like dogs. I love cats, but I like dogs—really, I do.

But…not as much as you do. And honestly, I just don’t always get it.

I have become increasingly annoyed with the insistence that I like dogs as much as you do. It’s not helping your case. It’s okay if I am not a dog person. I am starting to think you have all just about lost your minds and are simultaneously taking over the world.

It’s a dog. We are people.

Just watch yourselves. Running around town with dogs in places they don’t belong like Lowes or the grocery store. Walking your dog with no leash, letting it jump on strangers or smell them in private places. It has really gotten out of control. Dogs eating fancy food (that must be kept in a refrigerator at the grocerIMG_2866y store) and wearing designer clothes. I am not amused. By now, I am sure you are comparing me to that crabby old person in line at the grocery that won’t engage with your cute toddler. That’s not me. I like engaging with people, but I don’t always like engaging with your dog.

I get it that you love them and that they are part of your family, blah blah blah blah. I get it. I promise. But, just do me a favor and take a moment to reflect.

I have a child that is terrified of dogs. Most of the time, he warms up but it has to be on his terms. On a recent trip to Hilton Head, he could barely relax on the beach because the number of dogs running wild with no leash. And, when we would ask the people to either a) get their dog away from us, or b) put their dog on a leash, they were offended or annoyed.

I want to throw a rock at the next one of you that says, “Is he afraid of dogs?” why simultaneously pointing and humiliating my adolescent child.

Yes dumbshit, he is. And I want to punch the next one of you that believes you can cure him of this fear by gently introducing him to your dog. It’s not about your dog. It’s about dogs; dogs that come running at him, dogs that jump on him and dogs that bark at him. To cure him of this fear, just keep your dog on a leash and by your side.

Those of you who ride the elevator in my mother’s apartment building with your little dog not on a leash and think everyone wants to pet it—we don’t. Put it on a leash. To those of you who bring your dog to the park where we are riding bikes and think it’s a good place to let your dog off the leash—it’s not. Go to the dog park. To those of you who insist on treating dogs like humans—they’re not. People should come first.

Again, I like dogs. I like animals. I want them to be well cared for in good homes, free of abuse. I think they deserve love and become part of your family. But I am asking for you to consider maybe not everyone loves them as much as you do and give people the freedom to feel that way without judgment (judgement which is usually written all over your face). It’s OKAY that we don’t have a dog, want a dog or want your dog all up on our shit.

It’s like Kanye West. You know how he continues to use the “N” word in his songs? This really complicates things for discussions with my kids. Same thing with you dog people. I mean, not the use of the “N” word, but I keep telling my son, “It’s okay…the dog’s on a leash and won’t come over here.” And then some ass-hat dog owner doesn’t have their dog on a leash or lets the leash all the way out so then the dog comes sprinting toward him and he takes off screaming, seeking shelter as fast as he can (even from your little yappy ‘toy’ whatever).

Please talk to your people. Remind them that it’s okay if we don’t like dogs and remind them that there still are people who are afraid of dogs—and that’s OKAY too! I like dogs, I promise I do. I am allergic though and can’t/won’t pet your dog (otherwise I would need to go wash my hands). But I am okay with your dog. I don’t love your dog and I don’t want your dog’s wet nose on me or your dog to jump on me. So, just be okay with that…please.

And be okay with the fact that my kid is currently still afraid of dogs. Let it go, people. You are not going to cure him of this fear. Only time will.

Thanks for listening. I bet you have to go now…and pick up big piles of poo in your backyard (or in my front yard, I am sure…especially after you read this) .

Sincerely,

Kris

It’s the unbookclub book club.2015-04-09 05.43.14

It’s really not a book club; it’s a book exchange.

Bring books you have read that you loved, leave with books you want to read.

No book assigned to the group, no discussion, no cleaning your house or cooking dinner for people on a weeknight—just a quick book swap. No need to stay the full hour, just drop in and see what books people have to share!

Date: Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Location: George’s Neighborhood Grill (6935 Lake Plaza Drive, Indianapolis, IN)

Time: 6:30-7:30PM

Make sure to label your books with your name and email address.

Is there a book you are looking for, hoping it shows up at the exchange? Post it in the comments section and hopefully someone has it to share!

It’s the unbookclub book club.

It’s really not a book club; it’s a book exchange.

Bring books you have read that you loved, leave with books you want to read.

No book assigned to the group, no discussion, no cleaning your house or cooking dinner for people on a weeknight—just a quick book swap.

Date: Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Location: George’s Neighborhood Grill (6935 Lake Plaza Drive, Indianapolis, IN)

Time: 6:30-7:30PM

Make sure to label your books with your name and email address.

Is there a book you are looking for, hoping it shows up at the exchange? Post it in the comments section and hopefully someone has it to share!

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I love this guy.

On our 18th anniversary, he was at work and I was doing laundry.

I washed all the towels in our bathroom and you know when you forget you did that and you hop in the shower only to get out and have no towel?

Well, in an effort to help him avoid that, I said, “Fair warning: I washed all of our towels.”

He said okay and acknowledged he would need to grab one in the morning before getting in the shower for work.

“Fair warning,” he says, “I washed the shower curtain.”

“Why does that require a warning?”

“Because,” he says, “just in case.”

It was clear that he was saying that just so I took note of the fact he did something to contribute.

“Dude, there is no warning required. I told you about the towels so you could get one. Not because I wanted you to say ‘wow, she washed the towels’” I said.

“Yeah, I know. Me too,” he said and moved on.

Wha???