With only a few months left of living in Hong Kong, I was grabbed by a stranger who ran past me on the sidewalk near my house. I turned and watched him run away, my feet unable to move. I screamed obscenities at him. I texted my friends. I called the police. I went to the station and told many people my story. I went to court but didn’t have to testify because the culprit pleaded guilty.
I hesitate to call it sexual assault, but he did violate me and my personal space. After the incident, I was shaken and pissed that this man had taken a piece of my dignity. I hated that he made me feel unsafe and unsure in my seemingly very safe Hong Kong bubble.
Afterwards, I was more cautious about where I went and how I got there. But in the five years since, I’m still fairly nonchalant about my safety. I’ve never once carried pepper spray, I leave my second floor windows open all the time, and I take public transportation/walk home whenever I can.
Last Saturday, my mom sent me an article about a woman who was sexually assaulted not five minutes from my house. She was the twelfth victim in a month in the neighborhood directly south of mine. That night I went on a very bad “date” where as soon as the guy sat down, he told me that he “forgot his roofies”. When I schooled him on how NOT funny rape jokes are, he asked if “it” had “ever happened to me.” I told him no. “Has it happened to someone you know?” Again, I told him no. “Then why do you care so much?”
“Excuse me, you POS, just because I have never been raped or don’t have friends that have told me if they have been raped, it doesn’t mean that I can’t have a stance on rape or on rape jokes.”
Dear Lindy and Roxane,
Thank you for giving me the vehicle for finding out what a horrible man my date last night was. Before we even met in real life, let’s call him Rod, Rod made a “joke” about how he was going to bring “rufies” to our first date. I told him it was a terrible, terrible joke and that hopefully he was smacking himself on the forehead right at that moment. He couldn’t possibly have been serious, and certainly he was embarrassed by his lack of tact about a topic that IS. NOT. FUNNY. Of course, I knew this before I read both of your books (Lindy’s Shrill & Roxane’s Bad Feminist), but after having read both of your accounts about the absolutely not funny Daniel Tosh (watch this video to see more about the reference below), I felt empowered to have a conviction, that even if it’s a “joke”, rape isn’t funny, and pretending to bring a drug that allows you to rape someone isn’t funny.
One of my go-to podcasts is Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, a weekly show discussing the week’s news with three comedians. Paula Poundstone is one of the best comedians on the show; she’s goofy and always has hilarious, random comments. She started a new podcast, Live from the Poundstone Institute, where they talk about various studies, including inviting the researchers to explain the results and how the study was conducted. I listened to an episode while traveling in Costa Rica and one of the studies was about how when you talk to a stranger, it makes you happier. As a millennial (barely, like 5%) and yogi, I’m always on the pursuit for happiness, so I was instantly intrigued by this study. The researcher in charge explained that they had three groups:
they were told to do what they normally do on the train (which, in this day and age, is probably listen to podcasts and music with headphones in, and not talk to anyone) aka the control group
they were told explicitly not to talk to anyone
this group was told to strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to them on the train.
The conclusion of the study was that the group who talked with strangers was happier than the other people.
In the spring of 1950, Richard Christensen umpired baseball games for fun. At one such game, Swany Staurland sat in the stands watching her brother, Harold, play. She “looked pretty nice” according to Richard, so after some light digging, he found out her name and where she lived. See, back in the ‘50s you could do that sort of thing without it being strange. It was so normal, in fact, that when he showed up to her door unannounced, both she and her parents agreed that this date was a good idea.
Richard and Swany are my grandparents. The story of this first date and what happened in the 67 years after was shared with me recently.
I interviewed my grandparents on August 27, 2017 to learn more about how they met each other, the story of how they started dating, and how they decided they should get married. Below is the transcript of this interview.
Here is the audio of the interview, too (please excuse my ditzy moments)
My best friend is a wife and a mother of three beautiful children. She lives in a giant, beautiful, old home in the historic district of Oak Park. They have a full-time nanny, a backyard, and loads of friends who also have nannies and backyards.
I love her children as if they were my niece and nephews. We play trains together, put together puzzles, and read books. We discuss their school days and I show them on the map where I’m traveling next.
While being auntie is great and I enjoy being able to “give them back” when they’re crying, snotting, or have a dirty nappy, I want more than just being AA (their nickname for Aunt Ashley). I, too, want to be a wife, mother, and owner of a home with a backyard. And while I love being an auntie who can do whatever I want when I want, including multiple vacations a year, date nights by myself to the movies, and trying out new dance classes that start at obscenely late hours (8:30?!), I fear this isn’t going to be enough for the rest of my life.