Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Once Upon A Time There Was a Girl with No Fear

When I was in college, I lived in an area of town called Five Points. At the time, there was a serial rapist in the area known as the Five Points rapist. Five Points was his territory and girls lived in fear. He'd hide while girls were taking out their trash, slip in their apartment while they were at the dumpster, and then rape them when they came back inside. He beat one girl so badly that she lost sight in one eye.

One weekend, I returned from an out of town trip with my best friend to a completely dark apartment. Dark save for the little light blinking on my answering machine. Beep. Hi Leandra, this is Don Landlord. Can you please give me a call when you return. It's important.

As it turns out, my next door neighbor had almost been attacked. She was home alone and was cleaning her apartment, all her windows open, music blaring. Her cat, which had been sitting in the window, got spooked by something and ran under her bed. Well that spooked her so she went to close the window. As soon as she did, a hand busted through the window. Needless to say, she ran out the front door and jumped into her car and went to a friend's house to call the police (this was pre-cell phone days. I know, right? It was practically the Dark Ages). The police came, checked it out, filed a report and told her she could probably go back home. No way the guy would come back. She was scared to death and there was no way she was going back that night. Turns out it was a good thing -- when she went back the next morning, the guy had come back and had dumped all her clothing out of all her dresser drawers.

Um, yeah. I get this message as I'm standing in my pitch black apartment, front window standing wide open. It felt like one of those moments when the babysitter gets the phone call "I know you're in the house!" Commence freak out. I immediately called my mom (almost always my first instinct!) and she came and spent the night with me.

My neighbor moved out the next week, but that really wasn't an option for me. For one thing, I loved living alone and I didn't want to move. Also, it just wasn't financially feasible. So for the next several months, I slept with a hammer in my bed, usually clutched in my hand, just under my pillow. And if you want to know the real truth, I had a gun in my apartment, too. I didn't sleep with it because that just freaked me right out -- I'm really not that big a fan of guns even though I know how to use one -- but I did take it with me if I went out at night. I was scared, sure, but I just became more careful. More watchful.

So why am I telling you all this? Because I feel like I used to be kind of a bad ass and now I'm thinking that I'm not. I'm okay when Mr. Daddy is home, but when he goes out of town I turn into a big ol' wuss. And not just about rapists, etc., but about other things, too. Storms, for example. Yesterday we had storms roll through all day. At one point during the day the tornado sirens went off and we had to go to the center of our building. Even though I wouldn't have normally been with Mr. Daddy during this time of day, I found myself wishing he were in town. And last night the thunder and lightning started in and I got out the weather radio. I'm a smart woman. I know what to do in a tornado. But there I sat, wishing Mr. Daddy were here. Just in case.

And the grill. I'm kind of afraid to use the grill. I mean, I KNOW how it works. I know what needs to be done to get it going, but I'm kind of intimidated by it. Why? How did this happen to me? This is the same person who drove all the way to Vermont and back BY HERSELF. I feared nothing. I could do anything.

So I'm determined to get my badassedness back (That is totally a word, by the way). I'm going to try to start facing some of my fears and reminding myself of the things that I CAN do. Don't worry, I'm not going to go running off willy nilly into tornadoes or anything, but I'm not going to let myself get intimidated by a grill for pete's sake.

Has there ever been a time in your life when you thought you were a badass? Are you still one? Or have you lost a little of your mojo, like me? Tell me, O Internets.


Manager Mom said...

I used to fancy myself a badass, back in my early twenties, when I was a hard-drinkin' DJ working in clubs in chicago.

Unfortunately, the distance of time has made me realize that I was actually more "jack" than "bad" back then. But either way, I wouldn't mind reclaiming the ass I had back in those days.

for a different kind of girl said...


I am sitting here in my house, it's 11:37 p.m., and I am alone!!!! (save for the kids asleep upstairs), and I am sitting RIGHT IN FRONT OF OPEN WINDOWS!!!! WHICH I NEVER DO WHEN I AM HOME ALONE (save for the kids)!!!!!! But it's warm in here!

I will say this. I just had to skim your first few paragraphs, because I hope to go to bed soon, and I don't need those words flashing in my head. Heck, I almost saved this post to read tomorrow. In the light. When it doesn't bother me to have the house wide open (even though I should be more aware).

But, ok, deep breath. It's so funny you cap this post with that bit about your grill because, and I KID YOU NOT, today, I was standing in the kitchen, thinking I should grill something for dinner. Then I was all, "Oh, no. No. I can't do that. Tool Man isn't home to start it and watch it and make sure it's safe, and I'm afraid of my face catching on fire."

So we had sandwiches.

Sandwiches are safe. They are absolutely not bad ass, and neither, apparently, am I!

AndreAnna said...

I think we squeeze our badassedness out right after the placenta.

That way, it's attached to our children and though we'd kill someone with our bare hands for them, we're totally and utterly useless on our own.

I was unloading the dishwasher and looked up to see a man in my gated backyard. I just stood there with a steak knife in my head, frozen, contemplating what I should do with my 10 month old.

After about 30 seconds, I realized he was the electric guy to read the meter. Good thing I was too pussy to stab him.

Jonny's Mommy said...

I've lost my mojo.

I mean, sure I wrote my co-worker that nasty e-mail, but it took me three days to do it and now I just wrote her another one saying..."uh...sorry 'bout all that, K?"

So, no, I'm not a badass and I don't think I ever was. I could have almost written this post -- other than the rapist stuff.

Hubby doesn't come home until late and I lay there some nights clutching a flashlight, the cellphone and the baby until he opens the door downstairs. Then I go to sleep. I think one reason the baby has slept in my room for so long is that I'm afraid something might happen and I won't be able to get to him in the other room.

Anyhow, yeah...I'm a big, big, big baby.....big time wimpo!

ImpostorMom said...

storms scare the shit out of me and I hate it. I blame it on the tree that fell in our yard in 2003 and took down some high-powered power lines which set our yard and the woods on fire. just a wee, tad bit traumatic I suppose.

And I used to sleep with the phone in my hand when my husband worked at night and we lived in a not-so-safe neighborhood.

Oh and our doors are always locked. So I guess I'm a big wuss too. I think it's something that comes with age. I was much more fearless when I was younger. I like to think I'm more conscious of my safety now. Or maybe I'm just a wuss.

Live.Love.Eat said...

Ok, that was a scary story there. How awful, I could picture the window closing then the hand coming through. That's a movie scene right there!!! I am a petite girl but the extent of my badassness was when we were younger and went to clubs. I would always be the one to want to defend anyone in my group if there were girls with attitudes. I do get a little scared at night when I start thinking about what i would actually do if someone came charging through the house. I am more scared of where I would hide my son while I dealt with it. Other then that, the grill is my friend. A lovely friend with gas though.I don't do charcoal.

Leslie said...

Yep, before I married B. I lived alone in a first floor apartment with a glass front door, no air-conditioning, and nothing but window screens between me and the rest of the world. I slept with all of the windows open in the summer and thought nothing about it, even after the night someone's drunken ex-boyfriend mistakenly banged on my door(tried to get in)instead of hers.

Now I live in a house with a security system that I religiously use when B. isn't home at night. I don't know what's changed exactly. Life? Experience? Having kids?

Esme said...

I've always been more wiseass than badass... Now, though, I'm going for just wise, if at all possible.

I used to do things all the time that had people around me saying, "I don't know how you do it!" When I was young and brash, I'd smile and bask a little, feeling like a superhero. Now, though? I know that I didn't know how I did it, either. Some of it got done because not doing it wasn't an option. Some of it got done because I simply didn't know that people didn't think it could.

You're still badass. You've just gotten more cautious because there are other butts to consider now, besides your own...

Anonymous said...

The thought of standing outside a dark apartment with an open window actually makes my ears start to ring. I can just picture it. I still have a hard time walking into a dark room.

I never had mojo. Always been a chicken.

Tranny Head said...

OMG! That's horrific.

You know ... I was a badass once. Oh wait, I still am. I refuse to be afraid fo anything or anybody, damnit.

drawer queen said...

If you want to see badass, just f**k with my children. I realized that I had gone from scaredy ass to bad ass when I had to escort my daughter to and from ballet class in a rough part of town. My 5'2" stature was suddenly exactly what I needed to go from needing escort to ignoring the catcalls, the requests for money (and other stuff) and march my girl to her class and back again after.

I have those times when I am a total pussy, like when I was in high school and read my first Stephen King book while home alone at night (in the country, no less) and absolutely can work myself into a real state in the middle of the night, but I dream of spending just one day as a 250 LB 6 ft tall man, solid muscle, shaved head and walking around just daring anyone to cross me.

I can't believe you could sleep with a hammer under your pillow. If I had been your Mom I would have been sleeping on your front porch... but more importantly, go light that grill. Do things you don't think you can, because there is nothing that compares to feeling capable and in charge. When a plumber came to give me an estimate on a faucet repair and then proceeded to tell me how I could get a cheaper bid but it might be from some unlicensed stranger, who would have access to my home and family and who knows what might happen, it pissed me off so much I paid his service call, sent him out, went to Home Depot and put in a new faucet myself. Of course, the fact that I am still so proud of myself is a testimony to my incredibly pathetic life.

Colleen said...

Could you put a warning or disclaimer on a post like that next time? I'm also home alone this week and find myself getting all OCD on the locks and windows, especially since two of my neighboring houses are completely empty so I feel like there are less people around to scare off would-be snoopers/burglers/attackers. I used to be a baddass, too, even after getting married and such (though when I'd see all my pets' head swivel around to some noise I didn't hear, I'd freak). After I had my kids, forget it. I won't even answer the door for the pizza guy if I can get hubby to do it. I'm thinking the baddassness was transferred over the placental barrier into my kids because those knuckleheads are FEARLESS! And according to Dave Barry, boys don't develop their Fear Lobe until they have their own children. I think women are the same. :)

p.s. and what is it with dang tornados coming when the menfolk are out of town? that happened to me when Justin was in Alaska...argh!

Susie said...

I used to drive everywhere, all the time. Now, I avoid anything that involves too much driving. I am too scared to drive. And storms - wig me out completely - especially the ones that come with tornado warnings like they did the other day.

Susan said...

I guess living on my own the last 5 years has taught me to get over some fears. That said, I had singed my hair in my 20's while trying to manually light my parent's you can imagine my fear when MY grill's auto lighter went out and I had to strike that match.

Good news: I learned my lesson and didn't stick my head over the grill to see if it had lit :)

I do agree with adreanna it has something to do with age, motherhood and perhaps thinking a little too much.

ekbetsy said...

I go back and forth. Sometimes I feel like a badass, and sometimes I feel like a wuss.