It’s been awhile

It’s been awhile since I talked about myself on here. I know some of you don’t like it when I do, but some of you do, and the others can skip this entry if they like.

I’m up for jury duty this week. They’re selecting a jury for a criminal trial and I’m in the pool; selection starts tomorrow. This will be the first time I’ve ever been considered for jury duty. Until it’s over for me, I’m staying at my mom’s, which cuts my courthouse commute time to 20 minutes, down from like 50 minutes if I was with Michael. I’m writing this on my cell phone. While I’m at my mom’s there is of course no Orville and therefore there will be no Charley Project updates, alas.

Michael has a new job that he likes so far. He’s working long hours but making more money. We hope to be able to return to Poland, perhaps as soon as next summer, or maybe the summer after that.

I was rereading some of my old blog entries and the comments, from the time when I was raped. It’s striking to me how many if not most people would rather never speak to someone again than apologize to them.

The very first person to accuse me of making up the story of my attack was someone whom I thought of as a friend. We’d emailed each other many times and she was a regular blog commenter. Just two or three days after I blogged about the rape she wrote me to say she knew I was lying. I was extremely upset. I offered to show her a copy of the police report (weeks before I made the same offer to any interested parties on my blog). In fact I was unwilling to wait for a copy of the report to be mailed to me and paid something like $60 to take a taxi across town to pick one up on-site before I left Virginia. She refused to look at it. Then she accused me openly on my blog, telling me she respected my Charley Project work but I should be ashamed of myself for making up the story.

In the eight years since, there’s a good chance this woman has come to realize that I wasn’t lying. I think the strongest evidence in my favor is the article I found about Rollo’s arrest for raping another woman four months after me, a crime that corresponded to my own in almost every particular: he was homeless, he was black and a foreign national, met her on the bus (dunno if it was the same bus as me but it stopped at the same park-and-ride), offered to walk with her through that same patch of woods, and jumped her just like he’d jumped me. All of this was reported in the article about his arrest, months after I shared the details about my own victimization on my blog.

The only real difference between the two attacks was the choice of victim. I was a stranger. But in the October attack, he was stupid enough to go after someone he knew slightly, and so he was identified immediately and arrested. Thank goodness.

Yet my former friend — and for that matter all of my other accusers — never apologized for misjudging me and asked for forgiveness. It’s kind of sad because I had liked being friends with her. I don’t know why a person would decide it’s better to just avoid me for the rest of our lives than admit they made a mistake.

Although I think about Rollo every day still, the attack doesn’t usually affect me emotionally anymore. Sometimes it does — seeing the movie The Accused (an excellent film btw, I highly recommend it) had me sobbing and hyperventilating — but only rarely. I used to have intense violent fantasies about what I wanted to do to Rollo. Now I’m no longer even angry with him; in fact I basically don’t feel any more emotion towards him than I would towards a rapist whom I read about in the news, who had nothing to do with me. Is that forgiveness? I don’t know.

It used to be that every June, for pretty much the entire month, my head would be filled with blood-soaked thoughts, those aforementioned violent fantasies. It bothered me intensely. But those thoughts are no more. This past June 16, the eighth anniversary of the rape, I nearly forgot entirely. It wasn’t until like 8:30 p.m. that I had a sudden moment: “Hey, today’s the anniversary. I was with him right now, this very moment, eight years ago. Huh.” Then I just went back to what I was doing.

For me, that’s recovery.

In other news: the article they interviewed me for in June is still stuck in editorial limbo. Nothing to do but wait. I am sure the two reporters are just as anxious as I am for it to come out, cause I think they’re freelancers and won’t get paid till then.

I’m glad they interviewed me in June and not July. By July I had gained 15 pounds very quickly, for no. hecking. reason. The shirt I wore on the day I was filmed no longer fits; in fact half or more of my wardrobe no longer fits. I can’t figure out what happened; I’m neither eating more nor exercising less than before. Most of it is in my stomach and Michael’s dad momentarily suspected I was pregnant. (I know I am not.) I’m not fat, I’m not overweight or even close, but now I weigh more than I ever have in my life.

There’s another reason I’m glad the interview happened in June: in late July, two tiny scratches, one on my cheek and one on my chin, got infected with horrendous results. This was even after I had put Betadine on them — the very first time Betadine has failed me!

The chin scratch turned into a crater an inch across, weeping pus, and the cheek one became a rock-hard abscess the size of an egg. Like an idiot I broke open the abscess myself to try to drain it, and at first nothing came out at all, but a few hours later yellowish goop started leaking out of the hole I made and the non-abscess part of my cheek swelled up.

I called my doctor’s office and explained the situation and the receptionist was like, “She can see you August 9.” Which was like twelve or thirteen days out.

“Um, this is a really bad infection,” I said. “I can’t wait that long. I really need to see her sooner.”

“Well, do you want the August 9 appointment or not?”

“No.”

I called a dermatologist and, by some miracle, got a next-morning appointment. I think there must have been a cancellation or something. He looked at my face, winced, had the nurse take a sample with Q-tips and diagnosed a probable staph infection.

I walked away with antibiotic pills, an antibiotic gel, and advice to not mess with breaks in the skin anymore, particularly if they’re infected. Oh, and a bill for $70. My insurance doesn’t cover dermatologist visits.

Fortunately everything healed up just fine and without even any scars, but for like a week and a half I didn’t want to go out cause I looked so gross.

Speaking of my skin, I’m trying a new cream for my melasma now. It’s called Meladerm. You apply it twice a day, preferably in conjunction with an exfoliating lotion and a strong sunscreen. Meladerm is cheap ($50; many melasma treatments cost hundreds) and very highly rated. It is supposed to start making a difference within weeks, with full results within a few months.

It also comes with a money-back guarantee if you don’t see any difference within 30 days of purchase, but I can’t take advantage of that. I bought the Meladerm just before the nightmare skin infection, see, and I couldn’t start to use it till the sores had fully healed. I started the treatment I think 13 days ago. It makes my face feel a little numb right after I put it on but that’s the only side effect.

Thank goodness for modern medicine. Without those antibiotics that infection might have eaten my face away or something. Or at least left highly visible scarring.

Can’t think of much else to say here. I’m reading a book called The Day Will Pass Away: The Diary of a Gulag Prison Guard: 1935-1936. The introduction says it’s a very important historical document, as there’s basically nothing else like it that has survived. We don’t even know how this diary survived; the author, one Ivan Chistyakov, was killed while serving in the Red Army in 1941, after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, and the only info we have on his life comes from the diary itself. It was anonymously donated to a Moscow historical archive in the eighties.

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Sorry guys, I promise I’ll update today

Yeah, I meant to start updating Charley again on Sunday and that didn’t happen. I was a lot more tired from that trip than I thought, and it kind of flipped my sleep schedule around as well. I don’t use my computer much if at all after about nine o’clock p.m. because Michael gets home from work then.

Was going to update yesterday after going to my therapy appointment. I would have gotten home at five p.m., but due to unforeseen circumstances I didn’t make it back home till seven, then Michael arrived home an hour early from work.

Anyway, the missing person of the week is Arturo Flores Vasquez, who disappeared from the border town of San Ysidro, California in 1998, the day before his birthday. (I ought to do a list of people who disappeared on or very close to their birthdays. Sofia Juarez is another that comes to mind.)

And I had another Executed Today entry that ran yesterday: Edward Hogsden, hanged in 1831. Another child abuse case, although it was sexual abuse in this case. It’s a terrible story, almost as bad as the last one.

Back, and I’ve got an ET entry

Although it was a very very very long drive there and back — about thirty hours altogether — I am very glad I went to Massachusetts. It was a lovely memorial and the Cormier family was honored and delighted by my presence. I think I’ve made some new friends. They are very good people.

I arrived home in at 5:30 a.m. Saturday. Hopefully later today I can resume my work. In the meantime I’ve got an Executed Today entry for you: the 1909 hanging of Richard Justin. This story is a troubling one, morally speaking, because although I don’t believe Richard Justin was guilty of the crime he was accused of, I have a hard time calling this a miscarriage of justice. He may not have been a murderer but he was an evil man and frankly he deserved what he got in my opinion.

I would hope that if this happened in modern society Richard Justin could have been charged with the myriad of crimes he was actually guilty of and gotten a long sentence.

Thoughts on this case, anyone?

 

Yeah, so I’m going to a funeral

I'm feeling quite a bit better compared to last week and just in time too: on Monday my dearly beloved favorite author and mentor Robert Cormier's widow, Connie, passed away at the age of 90. I never got to go to his funeral so I am going to go to hers, to honor them both.

I met Connie in 2008 (only a month or so before I started this blog actually) and she invited me to their house and gave me a tour and showed me his office, which she'd kept pretty much how he'd left it since his death eight years earlier. Of course her husband had told her about me. We sat on her couch and talked for a few hours. She gave me homemade brownies; I gave her a potted plant. She was very kind to me and later told her daughter she'd enjoyed meeting me.

The viewing is Thursday afternoon/evening and the funeral is Friday. I hope to attend both. I will be leaving tomorrow to drive out to Massachusetts. There was a friend I thought I could stay with but that fell through so I've put my name in for an Airbnb reservation, a private bedroom in a house owned by a couple who sound like lovely people and have high ratings.

MP of the week (a day late, sorry): Lavorn Frye

This week’s featured missing person is Lavorn Frye, a twenty-year-old man who disappeared from Blytheville, Arkansas on September 30, 1991. Unfortunately, I don’t have anything more to report on his case.

I have another Executed Today entry that ran today: Sheyna Gram and the Jews of Preiļi. Preiļi being a small Latvian town whose Jewish population was almost entirely wiped out on this day in 1941. Sheyna Gram was a sixteen-year-old girl who kept a diary from the day of the German invasion of the Soviet Union until her death.

Unfortunately I’m really not doing very well at the moment. The last week or so has kicked my butt and I’m barely functioning. I’m sorry.