Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Scariest moment of my life: The barefoot man crouching in my doorway.

Artwork by Dell Linney.
Soon after my husband left the house to walk the dog one evening, someone came to the door. When I opened it, I met a man who scared me more than any other human being has in five decades.
 
I can't explain now why I even opened the door, because everything about that doorbell ring was wrong: 
The dog wasn’t there to warn me that someone was near the house. 
I usually look through the window before opening the door, but I didn’t.
I usually put on a sweatshirt first, but I didn’t.
And while the man who rang the bell seemed to know exactly what was on the other side of the door, I sure didn't.

So I opened my door, which luckily has a screen in front that is always locked, but then slammed it shut as soon as I saw the man's eyes crawling down my shirt. 
 
I don’t want to think about what would have happened if I didn’t have that screen door. I  don't want to think about why he was crouched off to the side right near the knob on the screen door... ready to pounce in case I opened that, too?
 
When I calmed down enough to look out the window, I saw the man walking barefoot across the street and climb into the creek next my house. In the past 12 years I've seen all kinds of people living there, so I don't scare easy anymore. But with that particular man so close I would never never feel safe again, so I called the police.

Within minutes an officer responded and I asked him to please tell that man to leave, not only because I was scared, but because I didn't want my husband to confront him. When the officer found the man in the creek, he claimed to just want money. But I’ve had men come to my door who wanted money, and they didn’t behave like him. Nothing about our interaction told me he wanted money.
 
While the officer was still talking to the man my husband came home, and of course still marched across the street to confront him. The officer calmly kept my husband at a distance until he finished with the other man, then explained that while he certainly understood that the man had scared me, he had not committed a crime.
 
But I wasn’t expecting the man to be arrested. I just didn’t want him to be near my house anymore. And I haven’t seen him since the officer talked to him.

That was cool.
Graffiti that appeared near our patio afterward.

Because when you’d felt like prey for nearly 40 years, you appreciate any help you can get keeping the predators away.

Like when a friend coming to pick me up one evening caught a man peering through my blinds.
Or when I caught a man trying to follow me into the restroom at a highway rest stop in Oregon, and later learned my husband had been watching him, ready to intervene if needed.

And those are just two examples of why I am always on alert in public, constantly scanning the environment for threats. Most women understand why, but when I told a male co-worker once how I never stop watching the people walking toward me, judging how risky they look and whether I need to cross the street, he was aghast.
“I can't imagine living like that,” he said.
“Yeah, well,” I thought. “You’re a man.”

And that co-worker would have been even more upset to know that I didn’t really trust him either, because I’m never completely comfortable being alone with most men. With family members I’m always counting drinks and avoiding dark corners to keep my ass from getting slapped again, and with acquaintances I’m always asking, "Am I really safe?"

If that all sounds exhausting, it is. So last month when I could call the police and have someone other than my husband shew the predators away, it was damn nice.
Especially since the first time I called the police when a man scared me, I did not feel safer afterward. In fact, I felt more alone. 
 
After moving to a new city for my first job out of college, I began getting crank calls every day for weeks. And when the man finally left a message on my answering machine, I called the police. But their version of help was just to tell me, “guys like this usually aren’t violent.”
 
I didn’t want to be told that the man probably wouldn’t hurt me, I wanted him to be told to leave me alone. So I changed my phone number. And when I found a Barbie doll stuffed in my mailbox, I moved.

I know there are many people who never feel safer after any interaction with a police officer; for them, officers are the predators, not the protectors. And for that I am truly sorry, because I can't imagine not being able to call the police department for help when I found a man crouching outside my door. If an officer hadn’t responded I wouldn’t have felt safe since. And my husband would never be able to leave me alone in the house again.
 
Unfortunate Update: It's nearly two years later and that man is back in the creek after serving time in prison for an unrelated felony. In the past week he has been cited twice for polluting state waterways by camping in the creek and violating his parole, but across the street he remains.
 
The last time he was arrested I heard him yell at the officer, "You can't fucking tell me what to do, I'm God!"
 
And yes, that is most certainly NOT cool.
 
 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

My Grandmother's Journals: July, 1995


Every day my grandmother wrote down what time she woke up, where she ate breakfast, what movie she went to see, what mail and phone calls she received, then what she read and watched on TV before going to sleep.
At Lake Tahoe in July of 1956, age 40.

In 1995, she was 79 years old and living alone in a mobile home park in Santa Cruz, Calif., but I wouldn't describe her as lonely; she was an extremely independent and persnickety woman whom I never knew to live with another person or even a pet.

In her late 70s she was still traveling alone, corresponding with people  she met on those trips, and always keeping up with current events. (I wrote more about her life in an earlier post.)  

Close to her home was the famous surfing spot called Pleasure Point, and she loved walking to the ocean and watching the surfers. When she died at 97 in 2013, I took her ashes to those waves with a friend of hers and we each dropped some at the sand. A moment after I dropped mine, a surfer emerged from the water where I stood.

That was cool.

In July of 1995, she was watching tennis and baseball, drove down to visit me at Cal Poly when I moved to a new apartment, and I drove up to stay with her when I walked in the Wharf to Wharf from Santa Cruz to Capitola, one of the most beautiful races anywhere.

Saturday, July 1, 1995
Up 8:30. Breakfast Baker's Square. Forgot tennis.
Home, checked bank and credit union.
To library, got three books. Seems I got another cold?
To Drug Emporium, home 3 p.m.
Rested, caught up with papers.
Some TV, Discovery, Amelia Earhart. Not great pilot, no navigation know-how.
Bed early.

Sunday, July 2, 1995
Up 7:45. Breakfast McDonald's. To Albertsons, got strawberries.
Tennis at 9 a.m. TV on most of the day. Mary came by.
Hemmed rose (?) blouse, washed blue slacks. Taped "Nuts," watched Masterpiece Theater.
Foned Toyota.

Monday, July 3, 1995
Up 7:20. Slept good. Breakfast McDonald's.
Muffler at 9 a.m.
Tennis, lunch at Live Oak, BBQ chicken.
Home 5 p.m., walked 41st Avenue to cliffs, looked at waves.
Two Asian girls with boards exited "Otter's Lair." Hawaiian?

Tuesday, July 4, 1995
Up 8:30. Breakfast McDonald's. Watched women's tennis.
Ironed two blue pants and top.
To Longs, Xerox broken, got vitamins.
Ran tape of "Nuts," watched Frasier/Larroquette/NYPD Blue.
Bed, up 12-2-4.

Wednesday, July 5, 1995
Up 7:40 a.m. Bran Muffin and Postum here.
Took Mary to doctor at 9 a.m. Missed Agassi, saw Sampras.
To corner for donut! Cloudy.
Hemmed "Santa Cruz" t-shirt, some O.J.
To bank, got $100, three checks not cashed.
Put weed/feed on lawn, watched Star Wars. Harrison Ford so young!
Bed, some baseball.

Thursday, July 6, 1995
Up 7:30 a.m. Breakfast McDonald's. Laundromat, home.
Mary called. Doctor wants blood, hers lost?
Tennis, Steffi Graf lost one set, first time in years.
To McDonald's, got chicken sandwich.
Watched Star Trek, took walk.

Friday, July 7, 1995
Up 7:30. Breakfast at Burger King.
Checked VCRs at Kmart, Radio Shack and Sears.  Sale $179, called Justine regarding VCR.
Her car in shop, water pump and gaskets.
Got VCR at Sears, demo model $175.25
To show, Pocahontas.

Saturday, July 8, 1995
Up 7:40. Cereal here. To McDonald's.
Graf (beat) Arantxa Sanchez Vicario. Excellent match.
To Trader Joe's, Drug Emporium. Got iron pills and cookies.
Justine called twice.
Read, didn't sleep much. Packed car {she was coming down to see me}.
Put things down, earthquake preventative.

Sunday, July 9, 1995
Left home 7 a.m., stopped in Soledad and rest area.
Arrived Justine's at 11 a.m., hooked TV and VCR up.
Went shopping, to motel at 3 p.m.
Rested, then showered. Ate Fresh Choice.
To show, Farinelli. Back to motel at 9:30 p.m.
Read, "Fried Green Tomatoes" on. Didn't watch.

Monday, July 10, 1995
Up 7, met Justine for breakfast at Margie's Diner. Lots of potatoes.
10:30 back to her place, called her mechanic. Car needs two tubes, leaking into water pump.
Drove to Pismo Beach. Saw John M., he bought us yogurt, he had coffee.
Justine went to work at MontaƱa de Oro State Park, I back to hotel until 6 p.m.
Picked up Justine at work, ate at "Pete's." Hotel 10 p.m., read.

Tuesday, July 11, 1995
Awake 7, breakfast at Pappy's 8 a.m. Poached eggs and biscuits. $3.97. 
Biscuits not as fluffy as Margie's, but clients better dressed! Business, some tourists?
To Vons, got Maxwell Cappuccino Coffee for John, $2.49. Stopped at Justine's.
Rested at Roberts area and McDonald's, to Santa Cruz at 7 p.m.
168 miles there, same back. Drove 308 miles in area, 644 miles total.
Watched Frasier, John Larroquette.

Wednesday, July 12, 1995
Up 7, awake 6. Took Mary to doctor for blood test. Ate McDonald's, she paid.
Back out to Drop Inn Motel, Liquor Store, Longs and Albertsons.
{I have no idea why her errands included stops at a motel and liquor store!}
Talked to Larry about grass cutters, he had gas cutter last time.
Watered and dug up weeds, ankle hurt in night.

Thursday, July 13, 1995
Up 9. Breakfast McDonald's.
Laundromat, lunch home.
Took Mary Adams to appointment, home 4 p.m.
Rested, watched Star Trek, Q needs help! Never saw this? Corbin Bernsen Q2.
Bed early but read.

Friday, July 14, 1995
Awake 6:15, hot today, Breakfast 8:30. McDonald's.
Walked in mall, library. Got description for ranger.
Home 12:30, M.M. poster fell, took half hour to fix.
Mail, Master card bill. Hot: 90 in shade.
Got two cacti. Justine called at 6 p.m.
To Drug Emporium, bed.

Saturday, July 15, 1995
Plumber between 8 and 8:30. $50. Breakfast at donut shop.
Walked 3/4 hour. To Penney's, looked at luggage. $80, good.
Home 12 p.m., called Justine 2x.
Read, lunch at Burger King. (Milkshake).
Swept patio. Talked to Larry, tub faucet still leaks.
Watched "Double Edge," Robert Ulrich dies! A FBI agent.
Some papers, bed early. Finished, "Beware Young Lovers."
Watered lawn.

Sunday, July 16, 1995
Up 9:46! Breakfast Carl's Jr. 10:30 Lily stopped by.
To Penney's, got white (off) sweater on sale $14 not $19!
Lunch tuna, dinner cereal, peach, banana, cookies.
Typed letters for Justine.
Some TV, napped, read, bed.

Monday, July 17, 1995
Slept heavy, up 7:30. Breakfast McDonald's.
Evidence on car of rain? Home, then to Longs for stamps.
Got gas, car wash at Shell. Dryer turned off? Dried car here.
Then had "accident" from food yesterday?
Larry watered. Rained about 1/2 hour.
To Thrifty, got tissues; to Orchard Supply Hardware, got Lime-A-Way.
To Kmart, had pie a la mode, got candy and paper towels.

Tuesday, July 18, 1995
Up 9:30, breakfast Burger King. Longs, got TV Guide, cookies and sponges.
Changed coolant, called Hazardous Waste, no appointment necessary.
Some yard work, clipped edges and swept carport -- antifreeze in it.
Watched "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," read papers.
Justine called, will be up earlier Saturday.

Wednesday, July 19, 1995
Up 8:30. Breakfast McDonald's. Trader Joe's, bank, got $100.
Home, yard. Cut some jasmine, part of bush that hangs over fence.
To show, "Nine Months." Hugh Grant mugging too much, Tom Arnold hyper! Robin Williams, good. All in all, some good, some bad!
Took 1/2 gallon of anti-freeze to recycle, man said, "They come get it."
Walked, many sailboats. To McDonald's, got cone. Tired, bed.

Thursday, July 20, 1995
Awake 3:30, read til 4:30. Up 9 a.m. Breakfast Carl's Jr.
Mall, checked shoes. Got $10 pair at J.C. Penneys. Checked on luggage again.
To Paper Vision, got "Nixon envelopes" {for use with Nixon postage stamps}.
Home, lunch 1:30 to 2:20. To Mary Cooper, got her papers. Talked til 4 p.m.
Watched Star Trek Voyager, news and Ted Koppel, rehash of Geraldo Rivera regarding O.J.
Pot missing from front. Wonder if for yard sale?

Friday, July 21, 1995
Up 8:30. Breakfast McDonald's.
To Capitola Theater, Don Juan DeMarco and Muriel's Wedding.
Sorted more papers, gave to Grey Bears.
41st Avenue being paved, called Justine to advise.
Shower/hair after Lime-A-Way, tub slippery. Went to OSH for tub mat.
Met Mary at 3 p.m., to Boston Market, had salad.
Atlanta vs. San Diego, 6-3, Giants over Astros. Deion Sanders to Giants.

Saturday, July 22, 1995
Up 8, coffee at donut shop. Justine called at 10:30 a.m.
To Zachary's, coffee and fruit. {But I'm sure I had a Mike's Mess!}
Home, talked, rested. To Show, "Postman." Good, long, beautiful sea.
Dinner, Fresh Choice, long.
To cliffs 8 p.m., dark, sea calm mostly.
Home, looked at art books.

Sunday, July 23, 1995
Wharf to Wharf. To meet at 7:30! Up 6:30, muffins from Fresh Choice.
Watered lawn after Justine to race. Made beds, rested eyes.
To corner for donut and coffee. Rested, read, had chicken soup.
Town with Justine, she had pizza at "Heart."
Home, rested, to show: Don Juan DeMarco and Muriel's Wedding.

Monday, July 24, 1995
Up 7, Justine to dentist, me to McDonald's.
Cut some of jasmine, roses.
Justine back at 9:30, packed and left. Teeth cleaned, in good shape.
Hot, stayed in. Watched baseball, taped Star Trek Voyager.
Walked to beach, read.

Wednesday, July 26, 1995
Up 9, breakfast at Bakers Square. Library, looked up: Wasp, Diss, Rad, Def Jam, DINK, Rap, Hip-Hop, WYSIWYG, Bonk, Bonked out, "Too much sex beats Boris" {A headline about Boris Becker} - Yo -No, in your face.
To show, "Smoke." Nice.
Watched Star Trek, news, Atlanta - Dodgers. D, 1-0. Piazza.
Carol at market, goes to SFO Aug. 7. I said I'd drive her up.
Watched last Northern Exposure.

Thursday, July 27, 1995
Up 8:30. To San Jose, gas at Arco. Hot!
Donut at Winchell's, paid bill at Nordstrom's.
To Emporium, got pants, white: Alfred Dunhill, $16. (Were $40.)
Duane Garrett fell or jumped from Golden Gate Bridge! Called suicide.
Home 2:30 p.m., ate chicken at Wendy's.

Friday, July 28, 1995
Up 8:15. Breakfast McDonald's. Walked Capitola.
Checked with Mary, manager there, got used car! Talked about lawn, needs fertilizing.
To show, "Operation Dumbo Drop." Good, many kids there but not noisy.

Saturday, July 29, 1995
Up 9ish. ProCuts. Richard does yoga, Tai Chi.
Home 11 a.m., called Mina and Sy. (He curt. What's wrong?)
To "Water World." Long. Crowded, women next to me laughing at violence!
Costner had gills, webbed feet, rambling.
Nob Hill, got Mocha Mix and bananas.
Tennis, Seles won. Monica has "spare tire." Put on 10 lbs?
Finished Cat Backwards, watched Star Trek.

Sunday, July 30, 1995
Up 8. (Fell in night, hit head.)
Breakfast Kmart, shopped; bought 2 pots and fertilizer.
Walked 10 minutes, home, tennis. Agassi and Sampras, Canadian Open.
To mall, got Blizzard. To Gottschalk's, got two blouses, long-sleeved.
Watered lawn, fertilized it. Taped Michael Rockefeller.

Monday, July 31, 1995
Up 8 a.m., breakfast Carl's Jr. First fertilized roses with iron and fish.
Hot today, called Justine regarding driving up north. She going camping at Point Reyes. I mentioned putting batteries in fridge.
To Twilight Manor for Marye birthday, born in 1898. Talked to cook "Maria," had coffee cake.
To Post Office, mailed package to Justine, book and tape. 
Watched Voyager, Rockefeller, some O.J.