Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Barbershop Chiste and Cuento

Over the years barbershops have provided a space for conversation. Where you can chat it up with your barber about local chisme or a place where at least the barbers know your name. I'm not the most conversant person, but whether here or in the Midwest I enjoyed sitting waiting my turn to get my haircut, while the barbers eithber joked with eachother or told stories to the customer they were giving a trasquilada to. Barbershops can be like the bar you frequent where the bartender remembers you whenever you come in, except they won't yell out "Norm!". I can't really complain about any of the barbers I've interacted with. Although I'm sure some might complain about their clients if they feel they didn't get a fair tip. 

I haven't had a steady barbershop in some time. Recently I started going to a local shop, and I was reminded that barbers have some great stories and jokes. When I first walked in to the shop, the barber, was working on an older man, just shooting the breeze. I sat down as the barber began to tell him a joke. The joke went along the the lines of, "There was this apartment building. And one day the devil is walking by and he decides he's going to set on fire. So he does. The building is burning up and there's people running out, and people dying in the fire. But there's one woman who is just sitting there. The devil looks and at her, like, 'What the hell.' So he walks up to this woman and he tells her, 'hey, can't you see the buidling is on fire? Aren't you afraid of being burned to death? Why don't you try to run out?' The woman looks at him, and says,'No I'm not afraid of burning to death. Do you want to know why?' The devil looks at her, and asks,'Why?' She replies, 'because I'm married to your brother.'"

Personally I had never heard that joke, so I thought it was great.

Not  long after, the barber had finished cutting the man's hair. It was my turn to sit in the chair. As I sat down another man walked in to get his haircut as well. He and the barber clearly knew eachother, and started chatting. Apparently the man, was currently on worker's comp due to an injury he had suffered at work. The injury was bad enough that the man is unable to do any of the physical work the man had done before, He is now talking with a lawyer, becuase he's afraid about being fired, since it sounded like he had mainly done hard labor most of his life. Anyhow the barber began to give his own account of an incident in which he suffered a workplace injury (before becoming a barber) and sought out compensation since he would no longer able to do the work he  had done for ~20 years. 

The barber talked about having to haggle with the company lawyer about a settlement. The company lawyer apparently offered him $5000.00 and said, "Five thousand dollars is a lot of money. With all that money you can go back to Mexico, buy yourself a taco stand and you can be set for life, because you'll have your own business." 

The barber, musta had the same perplexed look the devil had when the woman sat there as the building burned. 

The barber's response to the lawyer: "Sounds good. But I tell you what, I'll take the  deal only if you come with me to Mexico." 

The lawyer asked him why.

The barber told him, that if he thinks he can live off five thousand dollars, then he should be able to do the same if he thought it was such a great deal. The barber then told him he was a fucken asshole. Although as it turns out the barber is Salvadoran (alos possibly a U.S. citizen) and seemed a bit offended about being grouped as a certain type of Latino, just because he is brown. He said the lawyer was clearly upset about being called an asshole and kicked him out of the office. Things ended up working for the barber, he got a settlement and was able to get trained as a barber.

By this point the barber was finishing up my haircut. So I didn't get to hear any other stories or jokes. But a couple of things came to mind, like the oral tradition of passing down jokes, but even these things relating to racial or social issues. Encounters with the ignorant masses.

In my hometown my old barbers had seen military action in Vietnam and Korea. They recounted bits of this to me. Other times it was baudy jokes. Either way barbershops have been great places for cuentos and chistes.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Barrio Abides

Abelardo wrote an interesting essay about the barrio. I interpreted his essay as being about space. This is possibly because my background is mainly in literature, and we tend to read into texts and apply a whole bunch of "-isms." It's been some time since I read that essay, but it's in Here Lies Lalo.

But Abelardo's essay is just a way for me to segue into this post about the barrio and what an interesting and sad place it can be. Interesting in that it tends to right the wrongs committed against the people who live in it. Sad because sometimes those who live in it suffer unjust punishment, and they go without any comeuppance.

For example, in my hometown, the barrio rectified a situation. A young man associating himeself with a gang came into my barrio, running his mouth about a rival. The young man who was in my barrio running his mouth got shot. He survived and apparently told the police who shot him. The police arrest the suspect. The young man who surived the gunshot kept coming back into my neighborhood. You would think after running your mouth in rival territory you would think twice about coming back to run your mouth. Apparently the huevos on this young man were huge, or he just couldn't stay out of our neighborhood for whatever reason. I think he had family there which gave him another reason to keep coming back. Regardless, he made no bones about flaunting his gang affilitaion. One other time he came back and he was with a friend, looking at  some cars that were up for sale. These cars usually get parked at a corner, across the street from a local market. As he was there looking at the cars a few guys from the neighborhood and rival gang walked up on him, and assaulted him. As far as I know he managed to walk away from the assault. I'm not sure if the other young men were friends of the person he accused of having shot him or if they just saw a guy who they recall running his mouth and decided in typical gang fashion to rectify the situation. Anyhow, barrio karma caught up with him, and the end result was that he was assaulted. I don't know if he still comes to the neighborhood, but if he still does after that, it's no longer about huevos, it's about gran pendejismo.

Another example is of a cop driving through a neighborhood in Salinas. If you weren't in the know, last year a couple of cops killed a Mexicano with hedge clippers. According to the officers involved the man was being "erratic." When they told him to put down the hedge clippers he kept walking away from them, and they blew him away. They claimed self-defense. Gun versus hedge clippers. Why they didn't try to use a taser first, I don't know. Trigger happy? A working class Mexican life means nothing? I don't know. This has been endemic of Salinas PD and Monterey County Sheriffs for some time though. And they have gotten away with it for many years. Anyhow, this time around the people of Salinas didn't stand for it they protested and as usual the police department responded in riot gear, dogs, and shotguns, threatening to shoot people as they pushed them back. I have a friend whose mother still lives in neighbhorhood in Salinas. He recounted how an officer in a cop car was patrolling their street, when suddenly his cruiser started getting pelted with objects. The officer was scared as fuck according to my friend. The barrio was apparently still upset about the unjust killing of the man with hedge clippers, and a couple of others who had been gunned down, before him. The barrio didn't let this go. The cop survived the encounter with the barrio, but it came to show the barrio doesn't forget.

And the barrio is cruel to its own. As I heard about a man pushing a cart selling paletas, but was threatened by some adolesecents. The man ran away, and the young men took some of their spoils, by taking a bunch of the paletas for themselves. I don't know if a police report was ever filed or if the man got to keep his job as a paletero after the incident. Or if maybe he started protecting himself by carrying a weapon with him. What happened to him is fucked up, it shouldn't have happened and it just shouldn't happen.

I get nostalgic about the barrio. But then I shake my head at it for some of the mamadas that happen to it's own residents. It protects, it gives, but it also takes.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween Is Over

I've been having a difficult time of  late, when it comes to coming up with blog topics. Maybe it would be easier if this were a topical blog. Like about sports, maybe specifically football. Or ranting and raving specifically about politics. I dunno.

I think it's the everlooming things already on my mind and a multitude of others that have not permitted me to think about different things to write about. Or maybe it's that I've been becoming one of the binge watching masses. How many hours of a tv show does one need to watch in order to be considered a binge watcher?


But at least this gives me an excuse to go to a coffee shop, sip a hot caffeinated drink, and wade through my thoughts.

Halloween is over though. Unfortunately. I think I just realized that October  is my favorite time of the year. Maybe moreso when I was in the Midwest, as I have lamented the changing colors off the leaves, in the past. But it's also the horror films. It's the mood. Which will probably bring me back to something on religion and the day at some point. Or maybe now that I'm out in California, I'll say November or December are my favorite months of the year, depending on the amount of rain or how cold it gets. I used to dread California winters. People tend to underestimate the winter weather in California, believing that the entire state is in a consistent stage off sunniness.

Not in the town I grew up. We had a heater in our home. But my parents never turned it on, to save money. Those cold mornings were biting. Turn on the hose and the water wouldn't run, because it had frozen in the  pipes. Or it would take a while to come out the other end of the hose, but before it did, froze chards of water would shoot out first. The Midwest was cold. No doubt. Freezing, even, literally. But when my California hometown winters whipped you in the face, it would sting. In the Midwest I didn't feel winds like that.

I enjoyed the rain and the grey gloomy weather. Reading a book in that weather makes me nostalgic for being a teenager, being in my bedroom reading comic books on my bed. Sure if you had to to go to school and got drenched it sucked. But being indoors and just listening to the rain prattle away, as I followed the adverntures of four would-be Superman subsitutes, as the orginal had died about a year before, and this storyline would lead to the eventual return of the original, is something I miss. I've been accused of writing runo-on sentences often. That was one of them. Anyhow this was long before I drank coffee regularly, which would add to the coziness and comfort.

I could  maybe shift to writing about the freakshow that is current run for president. Especially on the Rebpublican side. The dicho my mom used, "Que haiga un loco y no dos," comes to mind.

Or I can write about another cop getting caught on video being abusive. None of my former cop friends have tried to engage me in a debate about any of this. Their brothers in blue are making my case for me. Go figure.

But anyway, Halloween is over.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

I Didn't Know This Would Be An Emoticon/Emoji Post Until I Started Writing

I've been at a loss for words since I've been back in California. I'm not sure what it was about being out in the Midwest that inspired me to write more often, other than my own zeal to explore my interest in free writting through blog format. Well that, an my laptop still has a line of static running through it. It must have to do with ever looming deadlines and feeling a level of stress that only comes with being a graduate student in academia. Our futures aren't really set. I've met some great professors I thought were tenured, but somehow only ended up stuck with full time contracts. Renewed every few years. One professor received recognition for being an outstanding educator, yet nowhere near the job security only afforded to the current few in academia. I guess this is where that whole you have to love teaching thing comes in.

Let me abrutly change topics. I've been told that lately I speak in emoji or emoticons. �� Which tends to be true. I had not really noticed until it was pointed out to me. As I tend to do, I began to think about why I did this. Overanalyzed. Well for starters, I became a first time smartphone owner over the summer. So there's that. Now I have more emoticons at my disposal as opposed to having to create them manually. You remember how to do those things right? Remember? -> :) (-_-) :(

Part of this is a fault of the smartphone. So many different symbols and images to express my thoughts and feelings. There's even a poop �� emoji and what I imagine to be a passing gas �� emoji! But as I soon found out, some of these emoticons might look different depending on the type of cellphone software (ios vs android). My cellphone is an android device. But as I type this, I'm using an ios device though. So maybe it's best to just keep typing out my emoticons manually. Let me do this to myself (-_-).

Anyhow just a short a short disorganized over (psycho)analysis of my use of emoticons/emojis. Probably because I didn't have much else to write about. There I go over analyzing again.

Mexican Emojis image from:

Sunday, October 18, 2015

You Know You're Mexican, Right?

I asked my nephew if he knew he was Mexican.

I was driving him to soccer practice. I had been wondering if my nephew and nieces knew or understood that they were Mexican@s. That is, if they knew that both of their parents were Mexicanos, therefore that they were also Mexican and that the Spanish spoken in their family, was because they were Mexicanos. Or that their family engaged in certain traditions, like say, a rosca during the holidays, or the celebration of Tres Reyes Magos. They were Mexcianos, and they simply growing up in the U.S. and speaking English didn't make them American in the eyes of others.  Not only this, but I wondered if they would lose their Mexican identity through assimilation.

I guess I was wondering this because I noticed that my nieces and nephew mainly spoke English. They understand Spanish when it's spoken to them, but they reply exclusively in English. Well, unless it's their grandfather, who only knows Spanish, so my two older nieces reply in Spanish (mostly), but my nephew will either respond in English or he'll shrug his shoulders or make some other gesture that shows he gets what his grandfather is saying (kinda sorta).

This is somewhat strange to me. Especially considering how me, my sisters, primi@s have all grown up speaking Spanish as our first language. We are all for the most part bilingual, and Spanish was the dominant in our homes. English was the for the school, the teachers and our friends. It's even more strange to me that they mostly speak English, because my nephew's father is a Mexicano, who came not speaking a word of English. He's a laborer. A roofer to be exact. I'm guessing over the years he might have picked up some English along the way being around his boss, an Anglo. Or maybe from being around his children who all mainly speak English. I hear him speak to his kids in English, and he does have an accent. Somewhat thick. But his English isn't very choppy. Unlike my own father who still does not speak a word of English and similar to my nephew has to gesture to show that he understands, but has difficulty communicating his own thoughts in English.

It's not just an issue of language though. To get into everything that it means to be a Mexican@ through language, culture and history would be burdernsome. And something that we all would not agree on. Mexicano from Mexico versus Mexicano from the United States, anybody?

But knowing the history, culture, and language  are simply surface-level things, we can't just understand that we are Mexicanos, or know names and dates learned through Chicano/a Studies courses, without thinking critically about larger social issues, historically and presently.

But I had to wonder if my nephew and nieces know and understand that they are Mexican@s. As it is my nephew's father has had to adjust his language to accomadate this childrens preference. Will my nieces and nephew assimilate at such an early age that they will never know what it means to be a Mexican@. Or maybe I should rephrase that. Will they ever know what it means to be Mexican@ to me? Will they ever be as introspective as I am about the things I noticed and associated with my parents as Mexican@s? Such as hardworking, labor activists, Spanish speakers, La Virgen de Guadalupe, Catolicos, etc.

Maybe it was also the Xicano in me that was hoping his nephew would understand that he was Mexicano. Hoping that he wasn't so fargone thanks to assimilation that he considered himself just an American. And yes, by all intents and purposes he could be just an American . . . well, you know if a certain sect of America is okay with a Mexicano born in the United States, calling himself an American. You know, because he's not Anglo.

Calling himself American would be fine, but not knowing that he is a Mexicano does bring me a sense of bewilderment. I hear him speaking in English to all his friends, chatting with fellow gamers in English, and watching the Cartoon Network/Nicktoons/DisneyXD. So the thought crossed my mind, "Will he grow up thinking he's simply American, and never understand that he is in reality a Mexicano? Is my family over the next few generations going to lose it's Mexican identity, through children and grandchildren that grow up in an English speaking counry and everything that entails its popular culture?"

Maybe that would never happen, because as I've seen over the years. Those who want to embrace everything that encompasses our Mexican identity (history, culture, language, etc.), will do so, because they will meet others who have alredy done this, or they will take a Mexican-American/Chican@ Studies class at the university, and learn about their culture and history, and possibly begin to remember and (re)embrace not only their Mexican identiy, but their familys as well.

So as I drove my nephew, I wondered, and evevntually asked, "You know you're Mexican, right?"

My nephew, looked at me, nodded his head and said, "Yeah."

I smiled.

That was all I needed to hear.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Genius Comic Book: The Only Medium In Which Cops Have Actually Been Portrayed as the Bad Guys

I've been wanting to post on my blog about more of the issues  involving cops this past year. I, like everyone else have an opinion about what has been happening. From Michael Brown's death, Freddie Gray, the Mckinney Pool Party Cop Incident, Walter Scott, and the convictions of cops who have actually gotten taken to jail or are being convicted of murder, and the many others who continue to get off and found not guilty, or involved in a justifiable killing of another man. Or even the New York police department literally turning their back on Deblasio as he gave a speech for two officers that were themselves murdered in the line of duty. But plenty has already been said about this.

As all these incidents were occurring, I found myself watching a film, I can't remember which film it was, but my mind started to wander and wonder, about cops in films. I started to wonder why there was never a film about bad cops. Yes, there are films about bad cops, they might usually be playing the villain to the hero good cop. And at times there's films about cops who walk the middle ground between good and bad, but do the bad to arrive at a the good. A great example of this would be in a show like The Shield. Or more recently on True Detective, where you see (in both seasons), at least one of the main characters assaulting someone in order to get information that will lead them to their next clue. You see similar things in comedy films or shows about cops, the way they threaten someone in order to get laughs, when in reality these things actually do happen to some people. It's not so funny if you watch Ken Burns documentary, The Central Park Five.

All of this is to say that you rarely if ever see a film in which cops are just bad, vile villainous people who violate our civil rights, and get away with murder in barrios. Even though as we have been seeing this past year, that there are many that behave that way. To my memory I have never watched a film where cops are being actually killed as part of the plot, because they are evil & horrible. There is a sense that only cops can kill other cops in films. In Street Kings, Keanu Reeves played a cop that walked that fine line, and at the end of the film is still a hero, because he killed other dirty cops in some kinda intricate plot that I forgot about. But we never see people that are having their rights violated or being assaulted, and having family members killed ever take up arms against the cops to dole out justice. It's interesting to see that nobody in Hollywood ever picked up on this. I think there's been such a serious belief that cops can't do any wrong, and that only other cops could ever bring other cops to justice, because our justice/judicial system works (?). And if that's how Hollywood portrays cops, then you better believed that's how the rest of the nation thinks about cops also. They can't do any wrong, maybe we did something wrong to get our rights violated, or you know, killed.

So, that long drawn out diatribe, is because I noticed this about films, but I did find a medium where you see people in the ghetto taking up arms against cops, it was in a comic book. The comic book is Genius, written by Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman, with art by Afua Richardson.

Here's a plot summary:
"What if the greatest military mind of our generation was born to a people who are already supremely conditioned to wage war, who know nothing but violence since birth, and must continually adapt to new predators in order to survive? What if the second coming of Alexander the Great, of Genghis Khan, of Napoleon, of Patton...what if it was a teenaged girl from South Central, L.A. named Destiny? And what if she decides to secede three blocks of the 'Hood from the Union? Who is going to take it back from her and her army of gangbangers? Who CAN?"

The only reason I read it, was due to the revolutionary undertones. I really hate being a critic. But there's that part of my brain that read this, and I was thinking okay this is good, but then there's these other things that aren't good about it. 

It is first and foremost unique in that it's what I mentioned, a neighborhood taking action for themselves against a police force that abuses it's power. No bones made about it in this book, it's a war between people in the ghetto and cops. 

I'm not sure if this was the first writing effort by the creative team, but the story overall was a bit off. I get that they were trying to make Destiny the main character, this great military mind, but even in that regard the story is a bit off. What I cared for more was this character that sees wrongs occurring in her neighborhood, she usurps power from the local gang leaders, then consolidates power, and turns the attention to a common enemy - the police. If that would have been the story, it would have worked on it's own. But I had sense that they were trying to make Destiny an exception in the neighborhood, as if she were born special, and that only she could bring her neighborhood to the point they had arrived. As if nobody else in the neighborhood could have gotten fed up and decided it was time to go to war against law enforcement. But it is possible, that because the book was written by a couple of white guys, they were only thinking in terms of, "hey you know what would be cool? How bout we make her the greatest military mind of her time, but heres the twist . . . BUT she was born in the GHETTO!." And from there the writers are imagining other stories that can come out of this, or the conclusion or climax (Spoiler Alert) and how she will be sought out by her own government or shady secret organization within her government in order to sponsor her and use her for their own interests. But at the end of the story, we never know if Destiny's actions will lead to change in the neighborhood or for reform of the police department not even a panel with some characters looking enlightened by the actions this character and others in her neighborhood partake in. Destiny does ask that the government to give the people in her neighborhood immunity if she turns herself in. There is that. But what about the police department? Will they be investigated?

On Twitter I asked the writers if there will be a followup to their mini series, and in response they said they are working on it. I'm genuinely interested to see what they do with Destiny's character. I'm actually wondering if they will return her to her neighborhood, or if it was simply a novelty that was supposed to lead to "bigger" things, like Destiny leading a battalion into middle east to secure U.S. oil interests. Maybe some of the loose threads will be tightened up in the second volume.

In the meantime here are some of the more interesting scenes in the series issues:

This is from the Genius Pilot Season issue published back in 2008 (Available on Comixology for free). Pilot Season was done by Image Comics imprint Top Cow comics to test books out in the market. A few books would be released, and fans would buy the issue(s), and then vote on which offering they believed deserved it's own ongoing series. Genius did not get picked up in 2008 for an ongoing, It would later be published as a mini series on August 6th, 2014, a few days before the death of Michael Brown (August 9, 2014). The opening page above is just incredible for me. Going into the series, I didn't know what to expect. That first page I was thinking okay, this is very different in comparison to other narratives about cops. And as is it turned out it wasn't because it was about cops, but about the community that the cops terrorized. 

Then the pages that followed, kept it coming, and we are introduced to Destiny, the military genius. Hence the title.
I found the above page interesting, due to the exchange between the character Chavonne and Destiny. Destiny is speaking formal English instead of slang. I don't know why, but this page kinda threw me for a loop. In later issues it is shown, that Destiny is well read, but I'm not sure what the writers were trying to do here. She can exist in more than one space due to her ability to keep it real with her language or be formal (which she later uses in a different space)? Theres that cynical part of me that digs a bit more, because the writers are Anglo, and I can't help but wonder. Overthinking it? 

The cops are very one dimensional. They're getting killed off without remorse, and of course it makes me think about how cops, possibly view some of us in ghettos or barrios, really most of us as minorities might be one dimensional and that might be why are quick and willing to shoot us in the back, and leave us laying out on the street for hours, without remorse. Or maybe I'm reading too much into it.

The end of the Pilot Season issue. Destiny making it very clear, that winning one battle against the cops was just that, they are just getting started waging war.

I really dig the image of a young Destiny with the gun, having already made the decision that she was going to wage war, and everything she did was simply training to prepare her for it. And it is apparent by the captions, that she decided to act a young age.

One of the better scenes in the book, acknowledging the reality of what going to war means. After a battle some of Destiny's men try to turn on her, but she uses her words to diffuse the situation. 

Another great image.

I mentioned earlier about Destiny shifting from one space to the next based on her language. Here's the other scene, now more formal in order to infiltrate the police department, which the writers acknowledge as social engineering. Great scenes like this where the writers seem to be thinking about some deeper issues are few and far between.

Showing the media getting involved, but also showing the other side of the story. That of the community, living in the ghetto and being terrorized by the police.

And probably my favorite page of the series. Destiny speaking to her audience and letting them know this could happen anywhere at any moment. And maybe this had more impact on me due to recent events. We have seen people getting fed up with police brutality and cops getting away with murder;  the people have begun to wage war against law enforcement, at times through peaceful protests and at times through violence.


Excuse the white background and the font on some of this, I don't know what I did, but couldn't fix it.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Case of Sexual Harassment in the Depths of a University in California

I have an ex, who remains a friend that recently gave me a call. I believe it was about a week ago that she called to get me caught up on a sexual harassment case she had going on at the university she works at. You see, about a year or so ago she and I had been in touch, and she had started to get me caught up on a situation that had occurred to her. Mainly that she had co-worker who was "all hands."   That is to say he had the tendency to rub his co-workers back. To my understanding mostly the females. She had given him the nickname of one of the members of the Addams Family, because his body type was reminiscent of this character. So I'll call him Mr. Addams.

Based on what my friend told, she had to deal with sexual harassment at a couple of other jobs she had before as well. Unfortunately what she would do, was just find herself a different job and move on. She wouldn't make a "fuzz," mainly because that wasn't in her persona. Even as we spoke she was already in the process of considering looking for employment elsewhere, because the discomfort was too great for her, and she felt it best to move on, even though she enjoyed her work, which consisted of working for a program that recruited students from marginalized communities and gave them financial assistance along with moral and academic support.

Let me work out a chronology so that this doesn't get too confusing.

-It begins over a year ago when she notices that her co-worker makes a habit out of rubbing her back when he's around her at work.

-My friend talks to her supervisor about the touching. Her supervisor against university policy, and to my knowledge sexual harassment policy in most work places, tells my friend to talk to him about it. HUGE mistake on the supervisor's part, who should have reported the complaint to Human Resources.

-Nonetheless my friend talks to Mr. Addams, and tells him, that she is uncomfortable with the touching. According to her, he just stares at her and says "Okay." No other response. He does not apologize, nor gives her his reassurance that he won't put his hands on her again since it makes her uncomfortable, you know the commonsensical thing to do.

-Eventually she gets too uncomfortable with the whole thing. Her supervisor's husband who also works at the university tells her about a position that is going to open in his department, and that she should consider applying. She decides that this is best for her, since she is uncomfortable with the situation in her department. Her supervisor finds out about this and starts to distance herself from my friend.

-She tries to keep things amicable with Mr. Addams since she has to stay in the same office. The touching doesn't stop. After a trip to a coffee shop, with another female co-worker, and Mr. Addams; as they walk out the door he places his hand on her back, but according to her he removes it almost immediately. She considers it a slip-up, where he maybe forgot what she had brought to his attention.

-On a recruiting trip to southern California, they end up sitting next to each other, and after a few drinks, he slides his hand down her lap. She switches seats with someone else. One of the most uncomfortable situations she has had to experience.

-Of course it doesn't stop, she mentions a couple of other instances where he tries to play footsie with her. My friend no longer really knows what to do. Feeling frustrated and isolated she stops attending unity building activities for the team of employees in the program. Some members on her team notice the distance and think she's being stuck up. What is really going on is that, the issue with Mr. Addams has not been resolved, and instead of risking being touched by him, and having to deal with further discomfort, she retreats into herself. She feels that her co-workers don't like her very much, not knowing the actual problem.

-Things don't get any better. Her supervisor is going to take leave of the office, because she's pregnant and is due soon. In the mean time, they want to place an interim supervisor, and one of the people interviewing is Mr. Addams. It is more than likely Mr. Addams is going to get the job. My friend is extremely uncomfortable with this, because this means he'll be in a position of power, and she has been trying to avoid as much communication with him as possible. Now, she'll have to report to him.

-She decides to talk with her supervisor again, about the whole situation. A supervisor who had been sending her e-mails about other jobs that she should apply for. My friend believes her boss is being vindictive, because she for some reason felt betrayed when my friend tried to apply for a different job (that the supervisor's very own husband suggested she should apply for). During the conversation, my friend expresses her discomfort once again. The supervisor's own words: "I don't understand what the problem is. He rubs my back too, and I'm married, but it doesn't bother me." If you just said "WOW" to yourself, then you know my own reaction.

-My friend is at a loss. At this point she gets some advice from someone who notices her distress. She encourages her to go straight to Human Resources.

-My friend goes to Human Resources and the process begins. As a result Mr. Addams isn't allowed to become interim supervisor. However he is not fired. They used to have cubicles right next to each other, but what HR does, is simply place another cubicle between them. And on certain days my friend is given access to a private office. This doesn't end the alienation she's feeling, as office whispers and gossips have painted Mr. Addams as a victim, because he's such a nice guy. Not to mention the fact that some of my friend's officemates already don't care much for her, because she distanced herself from them (again not really knowing the reason why).

-My friend has to gather as much documentation that she can get her hands on. Text messages and even give access to a professional psychiatrist she has been seeing. She approaches a friend in a different department who knows her ordeal, and asks him to write up a letter of what he knows about her situation, but he decides its best not to help nor get involved, because he doesn't want to deal with any conflict this might bring his way, since he at times has to interact with her supervisor.

-It's an uphill battle for the next few months as she struggles to write down as much as she can remember, everything that led up to the events when she decided to file. She's told that she might not have much of a case since she waited close to a year to finally report the incident(s).

-My friend continues to pursue the case as best as she can. Human Resources being a neutral party can't or won't do much about it. The man who runs the program, comes to talk to her and asks if it would be enough to get her and Mr. Addams to sit in the same room together, and have Mr. Addams apologize to her. In other words, the program wanted to sweep it under the rug. She reminds the boss, that she already gave Mr. Addams an opportunity to apologize when she approached him directly initially (as her supervisor had wrongly advised), and instead of an apology, she got a blank look, and she felt awkward, as if she had done something wrong.

-Everything is in limbo for some time. An outside organization that usually deals in these types of cases isn't able to do anything, due to the time that has elapsed and because they don't see that the supervisor has been retaliating and siding with Mr. Addams as a way to make things harder for my friend.

-That's how things remained for a couple of months or so. When the semester started anew, my friend found herself depressed and spending most of her weekends just sleeping in, and coping with the mental weight of the hostile work environment she had to deal with since her supervisor's return.

When she called me last week she sounded better. She told me that Mr. Addams had found himself employment somewhere else, possibly at the recommendation or even pressure of his supervisor and program boss. He'll actually be out of the office in the next couple of weeks if he isn't gone already. However she still has to contend with her supervisor who keeps going out of her way to sabotage or remove her from projects, by handing them over to another person. She finally had a confrontation with the supervisor that involved a Human Resources rep mediating. The supervisor played the "I forgot you were on the that project"-card. And my friend asked her, "You forgot four times?" I laughed my ass off at this and applauded her. My friend was also unsure about her position, since she had been given many different roles, and asked about whether this meant a pay increase or if her position was going to be fully defined finally? According to the supervisor her position was only a "pilot" position, therefore they decided to place her back as a recruiter. In other words, since she made a fuzz, they were going to demote her, at the behest of the supervisor, who had an axe to grind with her. In the face of all of this, my friend is looking for employment elsewhere. She is still seeking some type of compensation for her medical bills, which is a process all on its own.

But what is absolutely insane to me about this, is that after my friend came out, and filed her complaint, her bosses started keeping a closer eye on her. They started keeping track of her sick days, and really scrutinizing her as an employee. They didn't keep an eye on the sexual harasser, they kept an eye on the woman who had been wronged, the victim. She became guilty of what? I'm not sure.

I told my friend some time ago, the university does not care about you, or it's students. It's a business. We had a conversation about this, she believed that her campus was different because it had a reputation as being liberal and progressive. To which I responded, bullshit. The students might be liberal and progressive, but the university doesn't care about that or the well being of students, until students get hurt. When she started going through her sexual harassment case, I reminded her of this. As a business, the university wants to protect itself, and her bosses wanted to protect the image of the university. A sexual harassment case like hers would give this prestigious campus a black eye, especially after the ineptness and vindictiveness shown by her supervisor. As I said, the supervisor should have gone directly to human resources, if she's not uncomfortable with being touched, that's all good and great, but she shouldn't have expected my friend or any other employees for that matter to be comfortable with it. We all have different levels of comfort or discomfort when it comes to personal space. Something the supervisor didn't seem to understand. Most unfortunate, is that you would have thought, that as a woman, the supervisor would have been more sympathetic to her female employee. Now I have wonder what it would have been like if Mr. Addams were touching any of the female undergrad students he worked with? Would those students feel comfortable reporting this? Or would his role as "mentor" make them second guess their feelings of discomfort? Abuses of power come in many shapes and forms, and it is unfortunate that the program, and for that matter that this prestigious University in California has allowed this to occur, and that Mr. Addams has gotten away essentially scott-free.