With Looking Glass Eyes

Physical therapy has become my new lifestyle. I dress to stretch. I think about what my abs are doing. Believe me: abs do not always have your back. Sometimes, your abs are too busy – with what, celebrity gossip? – to do their dumb little job, which is right in the middle of everything else. If your abs are slacking off, everyone else gets snippy.

Behold: the secondhand elliptical. We scoured classifieds for months and finally found one nearby and at a very, very reasonable price. Then we zipped around trying to find a way to transport the thing a mile and a half. Things looked bad; things looked worse. Renting a truck seemed stupid when we had wrenches. Then we carried the elliptical in pieces up to the attic, where it sits next to the stationary bike and the rowing machine, both of which we totally use. Tomorrow morning, at a stupid hour when it’s still dark out, I’ll give it a go. Yippee! My hip is totally creaky. My abs will forget about Jessica Simpson.

Except the Pope Maybe In Rome

This made me so angry my heart raced for hours.

How to Tolerate the TSA As a Sex Crime Victim

Let’s call this what it is:

Shut Up And Take It, Bitch

Strap yourself in. We’re taking this ride.

In our modern society, certain security features have been implemented to make passengers feel safer in airplanes. One of these features in the United States is the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), best known for conducting searches in US airports.

Unfortunately, these searches have become more and more invasive in attempts to catch persons who attempt to bypass the security protocols. The search methods used can be very difficult to endure for people who have experienced traumatic incidents in their lives, particularly where those incidents were of a sexual nature. Enduring TSA screening methods in order to fly must be balanced with the need to protect your sensitivity to the search methods, and this article aims to help you tolerate the procedure better.

Let’s start from the beginning here: who’s doing the fucking talking? Seriously, who talks like this? Who excuses the inexcusable? Who insists on humoring the brownshirts? You know the answer: the fucking brownshirts. This was either written by TSA sock puppets or people who don’t know where they end and their Evil Overlords begin.

Avoid these motherfuckers. See that author list? Avoid them.

Twelve steps. Shit!

Step 1.

Determine if flight is actually necessary. If the thought of a complete stranger seeing you naked or touching your body makes you uncomfortable, seek other methods of transportation. If you have found that air travel is currently your only viable means, begin preparing yourself for TSA screening.

Did I fucking read that? The condition of air travel is that strangers WILL SEE and/or WILL TOUCH my naked body? Did you read that? Read it again. Your mother. Your father. Your sister. Your brother. Your daughter. Your son. You. The TSA WILL SEE and/or WILL TOUCH everyone. Not maybe. WILL.

Step 2.

Prepare yourself for the security check. Be aware that most security checks involve X-raying all of your baggage (including any shoes, jackets, and contents of your pockets after they have been removed) and taking a walk through a metal detector. Occasionally, people are randomly selected for a more thorough check. This will usually involve a full-body scan, strip search, handwanding, or using an advanced chemical analysis system that can detect traces of explosives.

Let’s just stop right here. The vast, vast majority of people who want to get on airplanes want to go somewhere and get the hell off the plane, preferably in one piece, and the vast majority of people are going to do that. A small percentage of people are going to smuggle shit they shouldn’t – everything from drugs to guns to endangered parrots -onto airplanes. Will someone catch them? Maybe. Maybe not. A microscopic percentage of people getting on airplanes will try to do something stupid and destructive and some of them will succeed. You know what? Life is a crap shoot and there’s no such thing as safety. Full-body scans, strip searches, handwanding and chemical analysis have yet to prevent even a single incident.

Step 3

Assume a submissive demeanor. Understand that people who have been placed in a position of power over other individuals hate to have that power questioned. Many who find their own power under scrutiny will escalate the situation to prove their authority. To keep the TSA agents happy, it is best to remain non-confrontational.

Are you listening? NO. NOT AT ALL. NO WAY, JOSE. NO.

Step 4.

Recognize that searches are going to happen. When you go into the search, be aware that a strip-search is possible. Instead of panicking, use your strength of mind to make preparations for all of the possible searches. TSA staff are human, just like you. While many of them take their jobs seriously, there are some who abuse their power. Ostensibly, TSA agents just want to ensure that you aren’t carrying anything dangerous onto the plane. Most likely, you will be forgotten as soon as you’re through the security checkpoint, but it is best to prepare for both good and bad possibilities. However, be aware that a strip search is unlikely.

“Use your strength of mind.” Who fucking writes like this? “There are some who abuse their power.” “Ostensibly, TSA agents just want to ensure that you aren’t carrying anything dangerous.” “You will be forgotten as soon as you’re through.” “However, be aware that a strip search is unlikely.”

You were asking for it by buying a plane ticket. What were you doing in an airport anyway? Why were you dressed like that? Don’t you know men can’t control themselves? You make them think terrible thoughts. You made him do that to you. What are you upset about? You liked it, you whore.

Step 5.

Prepare everything you will need to get through security. Look up the TSA’s guides for what you can and cannot carry through a security checkpoint.[1] Be sure to comply with this, as failure to do so could get you selected for additional screening. Have your identification material[2] and boarding pass ready. This will help make your processing through the security station easier.

Feel free to look up those footnotes. They’re all TSA pamphlets and the writers are motherfucking stooges.

Step 6.

Pass through the initial security screening. Be polite , courteous, and non-confrontational. Be Patient, as this process can be the most time-consuming thing you will do at the airport. Maintain your best manners and be very cooperative, even if you are pulled aside for additional screening. This will show that you are trying to be courteous and helpful, and will likely win back a similar attitude from the TSA staff. It will also prevent the screener(s) from labeling you as a troublemaker and subjecting you to further screening and delay.

Lie back and take it, bitch. It’s your own fault he has to do this to you. Don’t scream or else.

Step 7.

Familiarize yourself with your options. If you are selected to pass through the millimeter wave scanner[3] or the backscatter machine[4], you may opt out of those in favor of an enhanced pat-down [5]. If receiving a pat-down, you have the rights to a same-gender screener, a private screening room, and a witness of your choice.

That sounds delightful. This does not.

Step 8.

Fear not to explain your situation. If you are pulled aside for additional screening, do not be afraid to explain your situation to the TSA official; the officials have no way of knowing unless you speak up.[6] Just be sure to do so in a courteous manner. They may be able to arrange for an alternative screening process that will help you feel more at ease. If they cannot do so, be prepared for the extra screening. Know that the TSA official has a job to do. The screening procedures were implemented to make sure that you feel safe.

  • Before the beginning of a pat-down you can request a private area for a personal search at any time during the screening process.[7] In the unlikely event of a strip search, you will be offered a disposable paper drape for additional privacy.
  • You can have a companion, assistant, or family member accompany you and assist you during a private or public screening. After providing this assistance, the companion, assistant, or family member will need to be rescreened.[8]
  • “Fear not to explain”?

    Yes, searches happen. To your mother. To your father. To your sister. To your brother. To your daughter. To your son. To you. Searches WILL happen to everyone. In public. For no good reason. To prevent nothing. Searches will happen so you know that you have no rights, and you will accept your powerlessness. This has nothing whatsoever to do with safety.

    Step 9.

    Understand that many people go through this process every day. People are often worried that a full body scanner will take a picture that might get out. The TSA’s official position is that full body scanners do not show the image for more than a few seconds, and there is no way to save it (this is a lie). While extremely unlikely, leaked images may be a real risk, as there are many examples of leaked scanner images.[9] You can take comfort in the fact that a strip-search or frisking is not designed to injure you in any way, psychologically or physically. Try to keep repeating this, as it will help you understand that when you face the security checkpoint.

    About the bolded text: that’s copied directly from How To. The motherfucking writers don’t even believe what they’re saying.

    About the italicized: nothing is less persuasive than telling an injured person that you didn’t mean to hurt her. You did. You know it. She knows it. You’re going to do it again. These are the words and this is the pattern of an abuser, who is there to tell you that whatever happens is your own fault. Don’t anger the TSA agent!

    Step 10.

    Be prepared for physical contact. During some searches the TSA staff will give you a pat-down to ensure you do not have anything harmful. Be prepared for this, and once again, recognize that it is not a harmful act. This is done because the TSA staff cares about your safety. Do not look at it as a threat, but as a way of taking care of you.

  • You have the right to ask a security officer to change her or his gloves during the physical inspection of your accessible property, before performing a physical search (pat-down,) or any time a security officer handles your footwear.[10]
  • This threat is not a threat: the TSA agent is only punishing you for your own good.

    Step 11.

    Do something pleasant afterward. Go and have a favorite drink with those traveling with you, buy a treat or something read, and spend some time just breathing deeply and keeping yourself calm. It may have felt intrusive and even upsetting but carrying the sense of disturbance with you will increase your upset and it is better to center yourself and find some calm.

    There’s no need to add anything to this paragraph to demonstrate how abusive and fucked up this whole process and apologia are. Read that again. I am still having trouble believing anyone was stupid enough to put “Buy yourself something nice, sweetheart. You know I only beat you because I love you” into a post describing harmless public strip searches.

    Step 12.

    Remember that no one else can tell you what you feel. Despite their best efforts to fire all TSA agents who act inappropriately in their positions [11] [12], the TSA may still have some disgruntled or disturbed agents. If you feel that you have been treated or handled inappropriately, contact the TSA [13] and your representatives [14] to try to prevent it from happening again.

    Yes. I’m sure the TSA, which is full-body scanning, strip searching, handwanding and chemically analyzing members of the public, cares about members of the public. I don’t believe that for a minute. Neither should you. This is all about obedience and subjugation, water-carrying and self-abnegation. Only a sadist would inflict this survivors of sexual trauma and tell them it’s for their own good.

    Get No Kick In A Plane

    Horoscopically speaking, chaos reigns today. Perhaps that explains why my cats appear to be stalking the stove. Of course, they’re not actually stalking the stove, but chaos will surely reign in my house if mice have taken up residence in my kitchen. Oh the beauty of Nature! Oh the ugliness of sweeping up the mangled corpses of tiny interlopers. That story is sure to end well!

    Pete’s had a cold all week. My tax refund arrived so I paid bills and this week, I’ll buy savings bonds for all the kids in my family. Years ago, when my sisters and brother started adding children to the fold at the same time I was forgetting things like my own name I gave up on buying gifts and skipped straight to two savings bonds apiece for each kid every year: for a birthday and Christmas. Sure, I look like a fuddyduddy in the here and now. Can’t be helped! Someday, though, I’m going to like a righteous old broad who knew college kids gotta eat.

    You heard me: in my crystal ball, I see my blood relatives tipping the pizza guy. He probably hasn’t been born yet.

    Anyway, in March and early April, I pay the bills I couldn’t afford if they came during a different season. Insurances. AAA. Costco membership. It’s not glamorous like a big vacation or stupid like blowing it in Atlantic City, but this annual ritual allows me to live a relatively stable life on a tiny state job paycheck. Chaos happens. Stability takes some work.

    You’re Such A Silly Woman

    This may be the brightest idea I’ve heard in ages.

    …Trade School encourages students to “barter for instruction.” Basically you take a free class, and in exchange, you teach the teacher something they want to learn about! Classes range from making balloon animals to making soup, from learning dance forms to public advocacy, and even a How to Teach A Class class.

    This past weekend I took a 1.5 hour class with Brooklyn’s locavore and foraging specialist Leda Meredith. The class was Food Preservation for cans and jars, and was attended by a dozen students. In exchange, sometime in the future, I’ll teach Leda on how to use File Transfer Protocal (FTP) to connect to her own websites and servers! A real deal for me, because whereas I make my own kombucha, kim chi, and sauerkraut, I was unaware of the simple science behind hermetically sealing jars for pickling food — whereas I can teach about FTP while I sleep!

    I do all my best thinking while I’m exercising. Last night, we had all of the weathers, so this morning I aerobicized before chiseling open the door to my frozen car. That sounds athletic, right? I can think of a pile of things I’d love to learn, but in an exchange situation, what do I know well enough anymore to teach?

    Eeeeeeeeeeeeons ago, I taught gymnastics, dance, creative writing generally and poetry specifically, but since my brain spazzed, I don’t do those things anymore. What do I do? Well, I sleep poorly, stutter a lot and buy savings bonds for children. I can’t follow a recipe, bicycle on sidewalks, knit cat blankets, write postcards to Grandpa, ignore phones, scoop cat boxes, wear comfortable shoes and grow arugula.

    My sister Daria can’t fold fitted sheets. It’s easy.

    Come to think of it, Daria hasn’t eaten a stuffed artichoke since our grandmother Edith died 19 years ago.

    I can pick a bold paint color, give cats medicine, say what everyone’s thinking, decorate with shiny objects, live thrifty, bake healthy cookies, wear silly clothes and polish nails. I can bake fruit breads, forget secrets, think two boxes outside of the regular box, stretch muscles, hunt for bargains and pack large volumes of stuff into small spaces. Does anyone need to learn these things? I dunno. These are not necessarily useful social social skills that’ll make you popular at parties. But maybe! I suggested my sister Anya start this same kind of exchange in town. She has doubts.

    Anya: I like it. We could totally do this. What could I teach? How to argue with husband. How to clean the house without help. How to skirt cat puke until husband comes home. How to sit on my ass and watch the Daily Show. How to avoid paying bills until your phone company makes threatening calls. Why, I’m a jack of all trades!

    I suppose a master class in sarcasm is out, but maybe not. What could you teach? What would you want to learn? Could this work where you live?

    Me Do My Stuff

    The jarring season approaches. We won’t see fresh local fruit for some time, but I want to be ready. Last year, I was motivated to get something into jars every weekend and did, but doing so was complicated by constant grocery shopping. Time spent searching for agave syrup, kosher salt and capers over and over was time I could have spent much better. I mean, I ran out of capers halfway through a batch of caponata. That’s too stupid to do twice. Today, we started stocking the food preservation pantry with white vinegar, olives, capers, lemon juice, brown sugar, turbinado sugar. Can’t wait to set up buckets of ingredients and label them with Italian words: sale, farina, and zucchero. Next: we find a restaurant supply store that will let me leave with a case of sea salt without taking a hostage.

    Yesterday's clothesline drama; in the background, debris you might remember from the house fire next door.

    Blame It On the Train But

    Last year's spinach variety turned out to be perennial. Is that normal?

    WordPress is a dog. Sometimes text is invisible; sometimes it’s visible only with certain browsers. I’m sorry: that’s bad code. Look, how am I supposed to be a storyteller when someone’s screwing with my words? The caption for the photo to the left here is “Last year’s spinach variety turned out to be perennial. Is that normal?” The picture is key but the question is crucial. What the fuck, why did last year’s Asian variety of spinach, the name of which eludes me, volunteer? Isn’t spinach an annual?

    Pete spruces up the concrete foundation for the clothesline after setting up the rain barrel.

    Pete set up the rain barrel to capture runoff from the top of the garage. This represents progress. We would like to pick up at least three more rain barrels this year and more after that. Four rain barrels in the front of the house would go along way toward cutting down summer water use. As for the clothesline: the other day, I looked out the window and the thing was nearly perpendicular to itself, so this morning, Pete mixed up some concrete and poured a larger anchor. This is really good news, as we remain committed to using the clothesline whenever weather permits. We used it a few times over the winter, but it was shaky. In few days: not so much.

    There’s a lot of work ahead of us, but we feel like we’ve got a good start.

    No Anchovies, Please

    Pete’s decided to make bagels from scratch, I kid you not. There’s dough resting in the fridge for some sort of crazy boiling and baking ritual tomorrow that he assures me will result in actual bagels. Until he announced that he would do this, I would have thought making your own bagels from scratch would have been just about as possible as my flying to the moon. So we’ll see what happens.

    This afternoon, the extended family got together to spring a surprise birthday party for my sister Corinne at Corinne’s mother’s house two towns over. Pete and I drove over after we closed the family stores at 6 and found the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party-themed soire in full madness. The kids ran in every direction. The adults streamed from room to room for reasons unknown to me. At one point, half my family and a bunch of strangers piled into the basement. Pete and I sat on a couch in the dining room, perplexed, but from our perspective, it was a nice gesture, them leaving us alone with the colorful and enchanting dessert buffet. I should send them a card or something.

    After an hour or so, we had to leave. The supermoon was rising, helicopters circled overhead and News12 New Jersey was mum about the cause. The fourth pass by the helicopter signaled an end to my socializing. I stepped between Pete and one of my nieces and pushed him out the front door, yelping something like, “The thing about leaving is that the going requires you actually go.”

    Topaz is curled up on my left, one paw over her nose. Sweetpea snores and twitches on my right hip. Pete’s sitting in a chair, head back, eyes closed. I’m almost ready for sleep. Drusy alone hunts in the kitchen, eyes bright. She knows something. We may find out what in the morning.