Tuesday, October 17, 2017

It's a Man Thing

Now I want all the men on Facebook and Twitter who have ever sexually harassed or assaulted a woman to post that fact as their status. It could be something like “I’m one” or “I did it.”

The only thing is, the numbers would not add up.

It would not be because the millions of women posting “Me too” are lying. It would be because many men don’t even get why the things they do are wrong. I do not say this to dismiss the unwanted come-ons, the vague innuendo during business trips, the joking/not joking comments in the break room, the unwanted physical contact throughout the day, the un-asked-for confessions of attraction or love from a boss or co-worker. All of these things cross a line that should not be crossed.

Being a man, I can say with certainty that many men do not see these actions as a problem. They view their words and actions as a compliment to their female co-workers.

Clearly men like Harvey Weinstein, Bill Clinton, Bill Cosby, and Donald Trump are in a different league. They do what they do because they have all the power and taking what they want is something they have come to believe is their right. They are blinded by their own overblown sense of self into thinking “what woman wouldn’t want my penis in her mouth?”

These men will never be educated away from their actions. The only thing to do with them is to call them out loudly and publicly and press charges and hope they go to jail. Anyone they work for should fire them. Anyone who buys their products should find an alternative.

The obvious question now is “How do we make this stop?”

By “we” I mean “men.” This is not a woman problem. Women are not the ones sexually harassing and assaulting other women in the workplace. I KNOW there will be people who cite examples of female bosses behaving terribly in order to deflect blame from men, but I do not have time for the “women do it to” argument. It is a bullshit argument. This is a man problem, plain and simple.

I have a hard time imagining my Dad pinching a woman’s ass at the office. I cannot picture him touching someone’s leg during a business meeting. I certainly can’t see him demanding sexual favors before hiring or promoting a woman. (I may simply be naïve and he may have done all of these things…if he did, I would have to question everything I think I know about him.)

Most of the men I know do not harass or assault women. But clearly there are a LOT of men who do. If there weren’t, my Facebook feed would not contain a relentless list of “me too”s. For each man that harasses a co-worker there must a few men who witness it or suspect it and don’t say or do anything to stop it. Just remaining an innocent bystander is not enough. Men have to find the will to say “That is wrong. Don’t do that.”

Men need to speak up when they hear other men degrade or debase women, even if there are no women there to be offended----Especially if there are no women there to be offended.

Fathers, uncles, grandfathers, older brothers, and all men who care need to actively call other men out when they say and do harassing and belittling things about and to women. And we should NOT do this because we have a mother or a wife or a girlfriend or a daughter that we love. If the only reason we take a stand is because it affects someone we love, then that is weak. We should do this because it is wrong to harass anyone, and men who harass women need to hear that from other men.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

I'm a Ginger Person

Ginger is sick. And it’s not the kind of sick that gets better.

I can go through long stretches of my day not acknowledging this fact. But I know it is there, following me around. Patient. Just waiting to punch me in the gut again, like it does every day at some point.

Sometimes the punch comes early in the morning when I hear her get off of her dog mattress and walk to my side of the bed in the dark. She puts her face right up next to mine and waits for me to reach out and rub her ears. We start most days exactly like this.

Other days the punch comes when we are out for a morning walk at Cass Park. Ginger loves to be off-leash on a parcel of land that lies between the marina and the lakeshore. She runs like a puppy and her ears flop behind her in the wind and it is clear that she is as happy as any creature has ever been.

Once in a while, I’ll feel it when I am at work and I imagine that first time I’ll come home at the end of the day and she won’t be there…

Ginger is the first dog I have ever liked. People assume that because we have two dogs and because I love Ginger that I am a Dog Person. This is not true. I am a Ginger person. She is one of the kindest, sweetest, most patient and forbearing individuals I have ever met. Her eyes are deep and brown and soulful. When things are dark for me, sitting with Ginger helps me find calm and peace and even hope. I count her among my very best friends and I say that with all sincerity.

As Ginger’s illness has played out, there has been a long stretch of great days where nothing seems wrong at all. I am thankful for these days. Ginger seems very happy. And knowing that this won’t be the case much longer makes it easier for me to slow down, to clear my mind, and to give Ginger what she needs---which is usually just a liiiiiittle more loving.

Rather than waiting until Ginger is gone and writing a eulogy for her, I wanted to post this appreciation now, while she is still here and happy. She’ll never know the difference, but somehow it makes me feel a little better to write about my girl.


Monday, June 5, 2017

Leaves of three, don't wipe with me

The following is something I wrote six years ago. At the time, Erica forbade me from putting it on my blog. Due to recent events, she has now approved its publication.

You should see my wife’s ass.  No, really.  You should.  You’d be horrified.  It started back in May when we were doing a speed workout on the high school running track near our home.  She had to use the woods for some private business and there were no paper products available for clean-up.  So, she looked around and found some largish leaves she could use.  Being no fool, she first made sure the leaves were not from a poison ivy plant, because THAT would be a terrible mistake to make.

Butt, it turns out, not as terrible as the mistake she did end up making. 

This is from the Wikipedia entry titled “Poison Sumac”:

“In terms of its potential to cause urushiol-induced contact dermatitis, poison sumac is far more virulent than its relatives poison ivy and poison oak. According to some botanists, poison sumac is the most toxic plant species in the United States (Frankel, 1991). The poison shows itself in painful and long-continued swellings and eruptions.”

It was bad and forced her to the Urgent Care Clinic to get the pus-filled, oozing blisters on her ass checked out.  The medical staff at the clinic were impressed; they were also kind enough not to laugh in my wife’s face.  I have had a hard time not being a total wise-ass about the whole thing, but I do love her and don’t want her to feel bad about a split-second decision she made in the heat of the movement—er, moment.

Ass if that’s not bad enough, just two days ago there was another bum-related incident I feel compelled to include.  Erica has been running a lot and working hard to be in the best shape of her life.  In pursuit of this goal she has ordered an exercise program for the both of us.  It consists of 12 workouts on 12 discs, each focusing on a different muscle group or type of exercise.  Erica did the abdominal workout recently and ended up with AEBI—Another EmbarASSing Butt Injury.

We are staying in the basement guestroom of her Grandpa’s house and the carpet is a little rough.  Well, Erica put on her running gear and did the workout all-out, with crunches and sit-ups and twisting stretches and all sorts of ab-strengthening yet ass-frictioning exercises.  And, in the end, she rubbed a raw patch right at the top of what we affectionately refer to as her butt-cleavage.  It is ugly.  As we were leaving a family get-together yesterday I had to point out to her the ooze from her butt-blister had stained her skirt.

Yes, you should see my wife’s ass.  And then you should erase the image from your mind as fast as you can.

Monday, April 3, 2017

An Open Letter to Justice Anthony Kennedy

April 3, 2017

Dear Justice Kennedy,

This is the first time I have ever written to a sitting Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures and these times are certainly out of the ordinary.
As you well know, Justice Antonin Scalia died of a heart attack in Texas in mid-February of 2016. His death came almost nine months before November 2016’s Presidential election. Before Justice Scalia’s body even left the Lone Star State, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky went on record arguing President Obama should not nominate a new Justice to replace Antonin Scalia but should instead defer that responsibility to the next President.

Senator McConnell’s wish was entirely political. As you well know, there is no Constitutional basis for McConnell’s argument. To be sure, Democrats have played politics with judicial appointments as well. Both Senator Biden and Senator Schumer have made the same argument as Senator McConnell. A key difference is that Senators Biden and Schumer never followed through on their hypothetical arguments.

A month after Justice Scalia died, President Obama put forth the name of Merrick Garland as his nominee for the vacant seat on the Supreme Court. This was in keeping with the Constitutional prerogative of the President. Sadly, Senator McConnell followed through on his threat and did not allow any hearings or votes on the nomination. In fact, most Republican Senators refused Judge Garland the basic courtesy of a meeting.

Now it is 13 months after Judge Garland was initially nominated. Donald Trump is President and his nominee for the still-vacant seat on the Court, Neil Gorsuch, will surely be approved by the Senate this week. It’s possible Senator McConnell will need to resort to the nuclear option to make this approval come to pass. Nuclear option or not, Neil Gorsuch will be seated on the Supreme Court in the coming month or two.

I am writing to you specifically of all the Justices because you have shown yourself to be the Justice most willing to eschew judicial philosophical dogma and instead truly take each case on its merits, regardless of the political angles of the case. I am writing to ask you a favor. The favor is not for me, but for the country. Please, to the extent you are able, act as a counter-balance to the addition of Justice Gorsuch. To the extent you are able, please bring the voice of Judge Garland to Court deliberations.

In some ways, you are the last, best hope for a Supreme Judiciary that will not simply rubberstamp anything corporations or the Executive Branch decides to do. The four Justices to your ideological right (assuming Senate confirmation of Judge Gorsuch) can be described as Corporate Authoritarians. Please speak for the great masses of Americans who are in danger of being silenced by the double-barreled powers of money and authority.

A republic is a heavy weight to carry on one’s shoulders, but that is the position you will find yourself in shortly. My thoughts are with you. May your bear up well, knowing that in some very real ways the future of the country is in your hands.


Chris Dawson

Friday, March 3, 2017

25 Halfs

25 Halves

On November 8, 2009 I was standing outside of a high school in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, stretching my calves out before a half marathon. At that point I had run two or three halfs and I was excited to be doing another.  As I stretched, I started talking with an older woman who also stretching just a few feet away from me. As we talked she told me that if she finished the race that day, it would be the 50th state she had completed a half marathon in.

I did not see her after the race, but I assume she finished. After the race I drove back to New Haven and somewhere on I-95 near New London I decided that I, too, was going to run a half marathon in all 50 states.

(Erica made me this shirt for Christmas a few years ago. I wear it during each of my races and then mark the new state when I finish)

I was not a runner until 2002 when I was 36 years old. I had tried to like running several times before that, but it never stuck. It was always way more pain than pleasure. It wasn’t until the age of 36 that I realized that I could slow down if the running started to hurt. Slowing down made all the difference. Suddenly, I began to see what other people like about running. There were times when everything felt smooth and fluid and for entire miles it could feel good. I got hooked.

Between 2002 and 2009 is ran 5Ks and an occasional 10K. I was never a speed demon, but I stuck with it pretty devotedly. (Just to be clear here---“devotedly” for me means I would run 3 or 4 times a week. I have never been, and will never be, a person who runs every day.) Once a year I would stretch it out and do the New Haven Road Race 20K, which translates to just over 12 miles. That race opened the door to trying a half marathon.

I liked the first one I ran and decided to do a half marathon every year in November to celebrate my birthday. For two or three years this arrangement worked for me.

But then I met that woman in New Hampshire.

There is a history of both heart disease and cancer on both sides of my family tree. Some portion of that history is due to habits and behaviors, but some other portion is due to genetics. I cannot change my genes (CRISPR technology is still way too expensive for me to get the at-home gene editing kit), but I can adjust my habits and behaviors to lessen my risk of developing some cancers and heart disease.

Running is an easy way to do something good for my body.

It is also an easy way to do something good for my mind. It is a reliable way to get some time alone and just be in my body instead of in my head. Rather than say any more about this part of running, I am going to move on. There is little that is more tedious than reading other people’s writings about running.

In fact, I am shocked you have even made it this far. Thank you.
Anyway, It is now 2017 and I have run half marathons in 25 states. The most recent was Washington back in September. It has been a long 5 months of inconsistent training since Washington. Tomorrow I am heading to Arkansas, where I will run in the Little Rock Half Marathon on Sunday morning.  All goes well, it will be state #26.

To tell you the truth, I can sometimes have a hard time with follow through. I have good ideas and make big plans…and then let them fall away. I am fairly well shocked that I have actually stuck with this one. And now that I am halfway to my goal, it would be stupid to stop. I have Arkansas this weekend; Green Bay, Wisconsin at the end of May; Jackson Hole, Wyoming in June; and some as-yet-undetermined state in the late fall.

Funny how random life can be sometimes. If I had not walked over to a quiet part of the high school parking lot in Portsmouth to stretch a bit before that race in 2009, I would never have set this goal for myself.

Wish me luck!