Let’s Get Personal   5 comments

Okay, not THAT personal because this is a sort of anonymous blog and this is the Internet, so there is a whole list of personal experiences I can’t share with you because they would “out” me.

So I flip through the Lela files, ticking first one and then another off, trying to decide which is personal, but not so personal that everyone in Fairbanks would go “Oh, there she is!”

Have you checked out my fellow authors yet? They all have personal lives too.

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So, I decided to talk about the most embarrassing moment of my life. Well, not the MOST … but that one involves other people whose privacy I choose not to violate.

Let’s be clear here … I am not in favor of dancing naked under the midnight sun in the town square. I don’t post things from my personal life much … not on Lela’s blog and not on my personal Facebook page. You don’t need to know what I ate for lunch or that I had the dog waxed. And really intensely personal experiences are often subject to judgment. This is the Internet where the people you “meet” are often highly judgmental and not at all restrained by morality. So, in choosing a personal post, I went long-view, to something I made my peace with a long time ago and that doesn’t affect my family.

But then I hit PAUSE. I had the whole article written, but I knew there was something else I needed to say. It was too glossy, too innocent. And, then I saw Katie Mitkof at the street fair after the Golden Days Parade and knew I couldn’t wimp out.

Ironically, that innocent story of embarrassment happened about four months after the one I’m going to share today that is anything but innocent. Life … shadow and light … fields of clover hiding piles of feces.

The winter of 1973, Fairbanks, Alaska was under siege. It was the height of the TransAlaska Pipeline boom, our population had tripled in a year and most of those new residents were transient single males with a lot of easy money who had been crammed with other men in the Pipeline camps for months on end. They would hit Fairbanks to drink heavily, rub bellies with a prostitute or a dozen and generally tear up the rules of society. Fairbanks had a small police force as befitted a town with less than 10,000 residents, but with suddenly more than 30,000, the chief had hired every bar room brawler he could find and put them on the job with virtually no training. So it’s not surprising that they caused a three-bar riot that spilled out into the street and required every cop in the city to bring it under control. Human nature being human nature, it also not surprising that some folks decided to take advantage of the cops being tied up with a riot.

I’ve covered the events of that evening before. Three large drunk men in Alyeska’s distinctive orange parkas tried to force their way through our rickety back door and my mom, all 90-pounds of furious mama grizzly, chased them off with her 357 revolver. The cops never came. The 911 lady said they couldn’t and said, if they came back, Mom should shoot them.

They didn’t come back to our house. We weren’t low-hanging fruit. Mom showed them they could potentially die to get their rocks off at our house. Undeterred, they went down the street, forced their way into another house, beat the dad into submission and forced him to watch while they raped his daughter … a classmate of mine. They then set fire to the cabin and disappeared into the ice fog. Although I gave a pretty good description of the men to the cops when they showed up the next day, nobody ever found them, leaving the victims to live in the destruction.

*Disclaimer – I’ve changed the names to protect the privacy of the people involved

I didn’t live a particularly protected childhood. Life on a frontier is often rough and tumble and lacking in the white picket fence. I knew what those men wanted when they were pushing on that flimsy door with the great big single pane window. I was relieved when Mom showed up with a gun and they left. The consequences never occurred to either of us until the next day. When I got to school and the news began to filter to us that Katie Mitkof had been raped, I knew that those were the men who Mom had protected me from. We lived a couple of blocks away. In that moment, my mother became my hero. She had saved my future, my ability to love and be loved, and to enjoy sex. I’m a mom, a wife, a homeowner, a community member who works a professional job and is involved in charitable activities. I owe that all to Mom’s actions that night. By the way, Mom went to her grave feeling guilty that she followed the law and didn’t shoot the men on our porch, because she had the (albeit illegal) power to protect Katie Mitkof’s future too. She would have been a greater hero that night if she’d pulled the trigger on the clear leader of the three. She also would have spent the next several years in prison for manslaughter. She felt guilty that she had chosen  her own life over Katie’s. Of couse, she had no way of knowing that at the time, but it was one of her big life regrets.

I’ve run into Katie several times over the years. She has struggled. She’s had four children. Two were taken by social services, two were raised by her father, who was State-mandated to not allow her access to them. She wasn’t allowed to keep any of them because she’s a drunk and a drug addict. She’s never held a legitimate job in her life and she has a long, long rap sheet for petty crimes. She’s the kind of prostitute who sells her intimacy for a 6-pack of cheap beer.

Mr. Mitkof didn’t have a gun because he’d done time for a felony as a much younger man. According to my mom, it wasn’t for anything violent, and he’d straightened up, been a good father and a good worker around town. He owned a handyman service that did really good work. He’s still alive and has never been in trouble since. He’s lived a quiet life, raised five kids after his wife died and at least two grandchildren. He was probably never a risk to society, but the law was the law, so he had been officially disarmed and, being a law-abiding citizen who wanted to be around to raise his children (and later his grandchildren), he didn’t have a gun.

It might have been really useful when those men were pushing their way into his house. Having grown up in an Alaska village, Carl knew how to use a gun and just brandishing had been enough for my mother to completely change the course of my future. All Carl Mitkof had was a baseball bat and that wasn’t enough against three big men. Katie managed to call 911 while they were beating down her father, but the cops were all at that bar fight they caused.

You can’t make this crap up.

Katie and I had very different lives that are inextricably linked. Some of that is completely due to choices we made that differed, but I can’t help thinking that it’s been easier for me to make those choices because I wasn’t gang-raped at 13. I can love and accept love. I control my own sexuality, who I have sex with and whether to control my contraception. My trust issues are much more manageable. I have some things I’d like not to remember, but they are fodder for my writing, not the stuff of nightmares that can only be blotted out by heavy psychoactive substances. I think about Katie whenever I am given a blessing. She flitted through my mind when I graduated high school (she was in my class, but had dropped out in sophomore year). When my daughter was little, we ran into Katie during a very difficult time of our lives. She had just had her third child and the State had awarded custody to her father, who would only allow her supervised visits (in violation of the agreement he’d made with the State to not allow her any access). As she cried and admitted she’s not safe for her own baby, I thanked God to have my own dark night of the soul rather than Katie’s life. My life has not always been fun times, but at least it hasn’t been Katie’s life.

I’m no one special. God did not step into intervene for me that night and then choose to destroy Katie’s life. She didn’t deserve to be gang-raped anymore than I did. The decision of what happened to her and didn’t happen to me was not God’s decision, but the decision of government officials who had decided my mom was permitted to own a gun while Mr. Mitkof would be officially disarmed.

I guess the lives of former felons and their families don’t matter. That doesn’t really fit on a bumper sticker, but it is TRUE (and another topic entirely).

Years later, I was sharing this story. One of the men in the group was a former cop and he said “Isn’t it s**tty that our government decided those **** deserved to be protected so they could rape that little girl?” I count that as the day the government-school-installed scales started to come off my eyes. What this former cop had come to understand through his experience of being a cop (that it took me several more years to fully understand) is Mr. Mitkof wasn’t permitted to defend his daughter because a distant federal government, in its infinite totalitarian insanity, had determined that his owning a gun was too much of a risk to society so his daughter deserved to be raped. The rapists deserved protection from Mr. Mitkof, but Katie didn’t deserve any protection from the rapists.

Thus explains my deep and abiding resistence to gun control. Life is not easy and safe and the cops don’t show up when you need them the most. Constitutionally, according to the federal courts and the Supreme Court, they’re not required to do so. If you haven’t experienced reality at its most savage, you’ve been lucky not to have your illusions shattered. I actually pray you remain insulated from reality, but that doesn’t mean the world is safe. It just means your neighborhood is. My neighborhood is fairly safe now, but it hasn’t always been and I remember that. If you choose to be unarmed, that’s your choice … for YOURSELF. It shouldn’t be a choice you can impress upon me, because you don’t know my life and you don’t own the potential consequences of my being disarmed. You should not have the authority to impress YOUR personal choices upon me, just as I should not have the authority to push my personal choices on you.

There is a very convoluted belief in our society that if we just get rid of the guns, violence will be reduced, but it certainly wasn’t that night. Not having a gun didn’t protect Mr. Mitkof from violence and it certainly didn’t protect Katie. Gun control protected the bad guys at the Mitkof house while Mom’s gun prevented violence at our house. When you disarm ordinary people, you empower the bad guys. That I know on a deep and personal level because I have lived through that experience.

 

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5 responses to “Let’s Get Personal

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  1. WHAT YOU WANT TO KEEP PERSONAL IS YOUR OPTION, WE HAVE NO RIGHT TO ASK. WHATEVER YOU WANT TO SHARE IS UP TO YOU. EXPERIENCES IN LIFE ARE MORE TIMES THAN NOT COMPLICATED, WE NEVER KNOW HOW A DRAMA AND/OR EVENT IS GOING TO END. OUR LIVES NOW ARE ABOUT CONTROL, IN WAYS GENERATIONS BEFORE US, COULD NEVER COMPREHEND OR EVEN VISION. THE BEAST SYSTEM WANTS TO TURN US INTO CYBORGS, BEING A PART OF TRANSHUMANISM. WE HAVE CHALLENGES BEYOND ANY IMAGINATION OR ANYONE PRIOR TO US. CHILDREN ARE NOT EVEN CHILDREN WHEN THEY ARE BORN, THEY ARE THE PROPERTY OF THIS EVIL SYSTEM. WE SHOULD KNOW THAT THIS BEAST SYSTEM SHALL COME TO AN ETERNAL END, WHEN JESUS CHRIST RETURNS. WE SHOULD ALSO MAKE NOTE OF EVERY CONSPIRACY:

    http://newstarget.com/2016-07-22-darpa-spent-62-million-creating-microchips-for-humans.html

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  2. Wow, what a story. Your mum was a truly brave lady. Thanks for sharing this.

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  3. I wouldn’t blame the government, but our culture and objectification of women for what happened. If we raised our young men with more compassion toward women, not thinking they are entitled to do whatever they wish with them, those men would not have chosen that as ‘their fun’ that evening. As a survivor of sexual assault/abuse, I can tell you, no gun would have saved me because how it happens isn’t always violently. In your area, in that time, in that mode, it makes a lot of sense, and I am glad your mom was armed, to protect hers. My grandmother was just there in the kitchen, while her ‘boyfriend’ (for a lack of a better term) decided to explore my sleeping 3 year old body. Not a whisper. Not a sound to indicate anything. The details are fuzzy, because I was so sound asleep, I had no idea what was happening, and have gleaned the details from years of second hand allusions. I do remember, however, my uncle and father taking him outside to teach him a lesson, but that man lived into my 30s. Other things happened to me in my life with older boys, and even a bad relationship that took the cake for everything else. All of that was not due to the lack of a firearm on my hip. Come on, I was a kid. It was, however, due to the horrendous way we allow sex and women to be portrayed in our culture. We desperately need to address the problem from that source. But, when we continue to cut education, and men violently shut us down online (Gamer Gate), it’s a long bloody battle–again, no gun can fight for us.

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  4. I share your beliefs on gun control and have said so often. Getting rid of all guns from law abidding citizens is not going to stop criminals from owning them. They’ll buy them off the black market, steal them, or find ways to obtain them. Thank you for your story, there are many Katies in the world, and that’s just so sad. But we live among animals with no regard but for their own wants!

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  5. As in most things, I’m a moderate when it comes to gun control. I don’t believe in taking away the right to own and use guns for most US citizens, but I also believe that there are some people who shouldn’t have them.How to balance those two sides of the spectrum is a debate I can’t imagine will ever be settled.

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