Sexual harassment in the work place

Before I get into the grit of this post, I must say I have been blessed to work with some of the most talented, kind and generous men in the TV business. Those who were not threatened by a woman in what had usually been a man's business. To the men I worked with, who taught me things about the work and allowed me to grow as an artist, I say thank you. 

There is a dark side to TV business. I was never seriously harassed. Probably because I either walked away from it, or fought back. When I worked on Cosby, I had one experience that at the time I found funny. In the light of today, I wonder. We were rehearsing a scene that Mr. Cosby was not in.  I was looking in my viewfinder when someone smacked me on the butt. Now, my reaction is to turn and slug whoever did that. I turned with fist raised and saw Mr. Cosby. I paused and he laughed and walked away. I pondered. When time came for a crew break, I walked to the exit where Mr. Cosby was standing talking to someone. As I passed him, I smacked him on the butt. He turned and looked at me and laughed. He never bothered me again and in fact was very nice to me for the next five years. 

For me, it was not so much harassment I dealt with, but a sexually charged workplace in some cases.   Now, I can be as bawdy as the next person. There is a time and place for such shenanigans. On headsets at a sporting event is not the place. I remember listening to the men on headsets at one baseball game. The language was so foul, the shooting of women in the stands was so crude, and the requests for it to stop were ignored or joked about. I ended up taking my headset off during commercial breaks, but the talk went on during the show. By the end of the game, instead of returning to the remote truck, which was our policy at the time, I retreated to a ladies room in the stadium. I sat in a stall and cried. I was there for maybe 15-20 minutes. The stadium emptied and I walked out to my car. There in the parking lot was the director waiting for me. He was pretty sheepish and apologized for all the bad behavior. I told him it had to stop. Did it? No. Most days I just turned  down my headsets, sometimes missing direction because of it. I didn't care. What I will say to all the ladies who read this, if you go to a sporting event, know that cameras are roaming the crowd looking for a sexually charged shot. If you wear low cut blouses and the camera is over your head, they will shoot down your blouse. If you wear a skirt and the camera is below you, they will shoot up your skirt. The most innocent of movement can be made to look sexual on the playback machines by either speeding it up or slowing it down. And guess what? Playback operators keep their own private tapes of all these clips to share with other venues. It's absurd. There is much more to this, but since I am in the process of writing a book, I will save those stories. Just be aware, that I used to keep a note pad at my camera and wrote down  many of the comments made by males on the headsets. 

 For all the charges made recently against men for sexual harassment I say, you go girls. Enough of the locker room mentality. Enough of those in power, or in larger numbers making women feel like dirt. We have a job to do and it has nothing to do with providing you sexual pleasure.  And once again, to all the talented, kind, gentle men I have worked with, thank you. Thank you for not being a boar. Thank you for looking at talent and not a body to abuse. 

 

Ghosts, spirits and the unknown

Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever seen one? Have you ever felt the presence of one, even though you couldn't see anything?

Tonight as I was on my deck watching my dogs play I saw what looked like white smoke twirling near my bedroom window. It went round in circles, drifting upwards and then disappeared. I'd say it was about 3 foot in height. A few moments later I saw a smaller white puff and watched it dissipate. I wasn't scared. In fact, I kept looking for them to reappear, but they didn't.

So, I sat on my deck with a cup of tea thinking of all the unexplained phenomena I have experienced. The first was when I was a kid and thought I saw a face in our picture window in the living room. I had heard all the stories of other family members seeing my departed dad looking in the windows of the house he built, but never got to live in. My sister, being either crazy or brave, grabbed one of the bowling pins we had on a shelf (trophies from my Mom's bowling team) and went out the front door to presumably attack whoever was out there. Of course, no one was there. 

I don't recall any other incidents until many years later. I was living in Hampstead, MD. It was early  morning and I awoke to hear voices on my back deck. That scared me. I couldn't understand what they were saying, but there were voices. I grabbed the baseball bat that I kept next to my bed and went out to the kitchen to look out the back door. Nothing. Needless to say, I didn't go back to sleep.

The next incident was in a dream. I was sleeping in my waterbed and I heard the phone ring that was next to the bed. I picked it up and the voice was very familiar to me. It was my friend Woody. Now Woody passed away a few years prior due to cancer. I had been friends with him and his wife Lynn for many, many years. His voice was calm as he said, "Tell Lynn I'm OK. Everything here is OK." And at that, I woke up. It was a very real experience.

Then there is the death of my first Siberian Husky, Xenya. She passed in the middle of winter and I wanted to bury her, but the ground was frozen. We put her body in the shed and waited a couple days for friends to come with picks and shovels to dig her grave. When they were ready, I carried her body from the shed down the hill to the site. I had left the door to the shed open. Just as I got down the hill I heard the most forlorn howl. It was Xenya's daughter, Misty, who had gone into the shed and must have smelled her mother. It was so sad. As we buried Xenya, I ran up to the house to get some flowers friends had sent me. As I came back down the hill, the clouds that had covered the sky all day parted and the sun came through in rays. I placed the flowers on Xenya's grave and just stood for a moment. A ray of sunlight hit the flowers and lit up the area with an unreal glow. I actually went and got my camera and took a photo. I really felt at peace at that moment.

There are two other similar moments. One, after the death John Denver, of whom I was a huge fan. I took my dogs for our daily walk around Prettyboy reservoir. It was a grey and misty morning and I was thinking how sad it was that John had died. I had just seen him in concert three weeks earlier and gotten to talk to him afterward because of a silent auction guitar I won. As we walked our looped trail, the clouds started to rise and the sun peeked through. At that moment I heard an eagle cry. Now, I walked that path almost everyday for 18 years and I had never seen an eagle there. The season had been exceptionally dry, so the water level was so low you could walk on the floor of the reservoir. I took the deer path down to the floor and there was the eagle. Walking on the floor next to the stream that was still running through the valley. I remember saying, "Hello, John" at which the eagle took off, circled around and flew to the east. I never saw him again.

And the last one I will tell you about was at the time of my step-father's passing. He was in the hospital and we knew the end was coming. He had asked a couple days earlier to have his bed moved to the window. We had been sitting with him a few hours when my Mom decided we needed to go home to miss rush hour traffic. I told her we could stay till after, but she wanted to go. I'm not sure Woody even knew we were there. We said our goodbyes with hugs and tears. I couldn't understand why we were leaving. We knew he wasn't going to live much longer. As we walked out the door, I turned to look at him one more time. He was bathed in sunlight and was literally glowing. I don't think anyone else saw it, but I did and am sure he was at peace. He passed later that night.

I've had my share of feeling something brush against my leg or my arm. I usually look down and say hello to whatever pet I was just thinking about. It always makes me smile. If in fact, there is a rainbow bridge, I look forward to seeing all my critters again.

A few weird things happened in my house in Alaska and my neighbor told me about occurrences in her house too. None of them scared me, but they happened.

Sorry, no profound statement here. Just some observations and thoughts I wanted to write down before I forget them.