A Monday Two Octobers Ago

I write a lot of stories involving scary things on here, and especially since it is October people are watching and reading scary stories. Two Octobers ago though, I met the subject of many nightmares I’d have for the two years since then.

In October of 2016, a man followed me into an elevator at my law school and assaulted me. Today, I felt like writing it all down. It was mid morning, sunny and in the middle of a school building- not exactly a time where I felt like I needed to put my keys through my knuckles like a weapon. The man was arrested, but only after a camera got a view of him assaulting another woman a block away a couple of hours later. I remain very thankful that the City of Charleston’s officers worked quickly and that he was arrested the same night of the incident.

When he was sentenced, I learned that Bob Drayton, Jr. was a schizophrenic, homeless man who had suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome. Every time I think of this happening, I try to remind myself of those facts about him so that I am slow to anger. I try instead to think about if he had not been born into the conditions he was clearly born in, that maybe he would have had a chance to turn out differently. It’s not an excuse for him, but rather an attempt at understanding how a human being could be formed into what I can only describe as hollow.

Without going through every movement and every detail of the assault itself, the best way I can describe this was that it was mind altering. I grew up in a small town where I knew everyone and everyone knew me. I was never in a situation that I was worried for my safety, and I never wondered if I would be harmed or overpowered by a man. I understand how rare that feeling is, and how lucky I am to have lived in that bubble for so long.

Physically, I was fine after this. I was shaken, but as far as physical injuries go, there weren’t any thankfully. Mentally though, since that day I have not been the same person. I am a skeptical person now. I do not see the best in people initially like I once did, and I frankly don’t like being around new people who I don’t know in settings without other people around. It makes me incredibly uncomfortable, and I feel like I constantly have to keep my guard up. He shattered my trusting nature that had always come so naturally to me.

I do not go on elevators with men I do not know anymore. If someone isn’t with me that I know, I will wait until the next elevator comes or I will take the stairs. I’m not sure that this is something I will ever stop doing at this point.

For a long time I was angry at myself that I did not hit him or kick him or do something to stop him, so that at least he wouldn’t have done it to the next girl. I always thought that if I was ever in a situation like that, I would fight hard and that I would be able to defend myself. In actuality I froze, and I was unable to protect myself. My first instinct was flight, and as soon as the elevator doors opened, I ran. He got away because of me, or at least that’s what I told myself in the months following it. You truly don’t know what you’ll do in a situation like that. After learning about all of his mental illnesses, I started to forgive myself slowly, realizing that had I attacked him it was not out of the question he could have had a knife or any other weapon on him that he could have pulled on me.

My anger shifted more into just being thankful that it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. The anger came back when he was sentenced. I wasn’t angry at the judge, or really even him- I was angry at the laws we have in place in South Carolina.

Ultimately, he was sentenced to three years in state prison, with credit for time served. When he was sentenced, he had been in custody for almost a year. When I spoke at his sentencing, where he plead guilty, I told the judge what happened and I asked that he be sentenced to the maximum amount he could be. The judge did sentence him to the maximum of three years, but first he expressed his annoyance that there was only a three-year maximum for this offense, when minor drug offenses carried much harsher minimum sentences. He implored me to try to make a change one day after I became a lawyer.

I have subsequently been pissed off since then at the lack of common sense sentencing guidelines. It is a slap in the face knowing that someone can steal your peace of mind and alter your view of the world you thought you lived in, and only have to serve two years of his three-year sentence. Our state needs to fix not only its mental health system, but many outdated laws and sentencing guidelines in our prison system.

I don’t know if I will ever be able to change the laws to make a physical/sexual assault worth more jail time. It seems like common sense to me, but quite frankly this isn’t an issue that men are prioritizing, because for them it doesn’t have to be a priority.

He is out roaming the streets of Charleston again now, because there is nothing to stop him from doing so. Since he had a record that was pages long before my incident, I assume there is no one helping him try to get his life in order by giving him the medicine he needs or keeping him out of trouble. He recently entered a store downtown that someone I know owns, and even though he isn’t allowed near the school again, I have no doubt that he frequents the bus stop right beside it. I also have no doubt that he will do this again to someone else.

Maybe one day I will get on an elevator again without immediately side-eyeing the person next to me, and maybe one day criminals in our state will at least serve their full sentence out, even if the sentence isn’t what it should be.

 

Audiobooks- a Love Affair

Hi, my name is Julie and I love audiobooks. I feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.

I am old school when it comes to reading. I refuse to get a Kindle, because it feels like I’m cheating on my books. Maybe one day I’ll break down and get one, but nothing will ever be able to replace the feel and smell of a real book.

One thing I have no problem welcoming into my life are audiobooks. They are the best thing to ever happen to driving. They allow me to “read” while I otherwise cannot, whether I’m driving or it’s dark in a car I’m riding in. They also give my eyes a rest, and after a day of staring at my computer and going through files, my eyes thank me for not reading a normal book. .

I’m currently “reading” (listening) to John Grisham’s The Whistler. Per usual, it’s an incredible book and he is everything I aspire to be in an author. It’s about judicial misconduct, murder, money, and a whole slew of other topics.

Audiobooks are easy to download and easy to listen to, but my favorite recent discovery is the app OverDrive. It has won me over even more for audiobooks, because it utilizes my library. You enter in your library card information and link your library, and you can check out ebooks and audiobooks onto your phone. I love this, because for me anything that keeps the county library relevant is a good idea in my book. (No pun intended).

What are you currently reading? I would love to hear from you!

My Book Title!

I am so excited, because I have come up with the title of the book I will be writing. I know many authors find the title as they are writing or at the end, but I have always found that when I come up with it at the beginning it gives my work direction.

So, unless something changes the book will be titled Best Interest of His Child. In family law, the standard judges look to is “Best Interest of the Child.” It is drilled into us in law school and while studying for the bar, so when I decided to write this book that centers around family law, I thought this title would be appropriate. Once I write a post explaining the plot, the title will make more sense.

I am excited to be making some headway though, even if it is not very much. Hopefully, I will have more updates for y’all soon!

Writer’s Block

It feels strange to call it writer’s block, because there are a lot of things I want to write about. Writing about not being able to figure out what to write about is obviously ironic. I feel like my mind is being pulled in many different places. I want to write murder mystery. I want to write about my trips to Disney. I want to write about every political thought that goes through my head. I want to write about this new Keto diet. I want to write about all of these different ideas, but I don’t know where to start and I don’t know whether anyone even wants to read them. I don’t want to be someone who just writes things for other people to read and then forget about. I have always wanted to write things that leave an impact and help other people.

I think the harshest critic any writer faces is himself. How do I make myself vulnerable enough to share parts of my brain with total strangers on the internet, when half of the time I don’t even like what I have in front of me?

Write what you know. Easy enough right? It’s not, because what I actually know and what I think I know are two completely separate things. I know my opinions and I know my perceptions. I think many people confuse knowing things and thinking they know things, and I strive not to be the person that shares things just because I think I know them as being correct. If law school taught me anything, it was to keep my mouth closed about things I only think I know. Just because it’s my opinion and just because it’s a strong one at that, does not mean that it’s right. Just because a bunch of other people on my Facebook all seem to coincidentally have the same views I do, does not mean it is the right view. It also does not mean it’s the wrong view.

I have been asked by several different people why I don’t talk politics as much anymore. Frankly, I’ve disengaged myself because I enjoy my friends and family not hating me. You cannot say anything in this particular political climate without making someone angry. I choose not to feed the beast. Every time I see a political debate on Facebook it makes me ill, because there are a bunch of people who know half-truths arguing like they are experts in the particular field, and if anyone has the audacity to express a different view they act like the person has committed a crime against humanity. To reiterate, just because you have a different opinion than someone else, does not make you right. There is very rarely a time in life when there is no middle ground on something. If you are unwilling to compromise in your views regarding politics, or anything in life, you will never grow as a person. Our government was not set up for one set of people to always be 100% right. We were set up to compromise and to find solutions.

So it’s tough to write what I know, because although I am not necessarily concerned that anyone reading it would be offended, I do have enough respect for other people to know that not everything I say on a topic will be right. Understand, I still have every strong opinion I have ever had on a subject in any field I have ever discussed before. I am just a little more selective in what I share and who I share it with now. I want to write things that people enjoy, and I am struggling to find my voice about what topic that needs to be in.

I will not set out to lecture anyone on any topic as a twenty-six year old. I do not have the life experience, nor do I have the desire; except maybe about Disney World, I’m pretty good at that.

 

 

Coffee Break in Charleston

One of my favorite things to do before I started working a regular 9-5 was visit coffee shops where I could study or just read a book. Charleston has a lot of coffee shops and by no means is this a list that includes all of them or even the “best” ones. I simply thought I’d share my favorite ones that I have tried and that I have visited regularly because of how good they are.

My favorite coffee shop in Charleston (and maybe anywhere) is Brown’s Court Bakery. I lived across from Brown’s Court for my first year of law school, and I developed a slight obsession. They have wonderful lattes and their baked goods are out of this world. It’s in an old Charleston two-story house and there is seating on the second floor, as well as on the porch. I spent many days studying there. Their bread is also featured at many of the restaurants around town. Brown’s Court is located at 199 Saint Phillip Street. http://brownscourt.com/

The second coffee shop on this list is not your typical “coffee shop”. I am including Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts for several reasons. When I was in law school, Glazed was the only place I could stop quickly and get a simple cup of coffee that didn’t cost $3-$4 on my way to one of my classes. They have good brewed coffee and they have specialty drinks as well if you’ve got time for one. It doesn’t hurt that they have some of the best doughnuts I have ever tasted. It’s tempting to go in and not get a doughnut also, but if it hadn’t been for Glazed I would have had to sit through some lectures without coffee(HORROR). Glazed is located at 481 King Street. http://glazedgourmet.com/

Kudu Coffee and Craft Beer is a beloved coffee shop for most Charlestonians. The baristas are great at designs in lattes (for those that love to take the cute pictures of their designs), and most importantly the coffee is good. It’s strong (necessary) and there is a lot to choose from. Most importantly, they also serve beer and have a great wine selection. As if they needed any more recognition that they are a great place, Jamie Lee Curtis has been spotted there several times while filming the newest “Halloween” movie. Kudu is located at 4 Vanderhorst Street right off of King Street. http://kuducoffeeandcraftbeer.com/

Black Tap Coffee is the last place on my list. I have only visited here one time with a friend a few months back. She recommended it, and I absolutely loved it. The atmosphere is great, and the latte is even better. They have their own coffee brand that they source from all over the world. The shop is located in Charleston’s historic Harleston Village neighborhood. http://www.blacktapcoffee.com/

I am positive that there are more great coffee shops in Charleston that I could make a list about, but I only felt comfortable commenting on the ones that I have been to. Please shoot me some suggestions of places I need to try!