Best Day Ever

Remember when you were a little kid, and there was just no better day than your birthday?

Its really the best day ever.

Well, besides Christmas of course. With all its sparkle and excitement in the air that everyone seems to share…

But your birthday was just a little bit better, because it was all about you. Magical, wonderful you. Growing up. Everyone and everything was all about you and how special you are when you’re a little kid and its your birthday.

First, you’re excited to be 6 because you’ll be old enough for school.

Then you’re thrilled about those double digits.

Thirteen…A teenager! Gaaaah!!

16…come on, 16….I wanna DRIIIIVVVEEEE!!!

Then, mystical, magical, grown-up, nobody-can-tell-me-what-to-do EIGHTEEN! A real ADULT, DAMMIT! I can do what I want!

Of course, 21 is soon to follow. And oh, to be 21. You can go OUT to all the FUN places and DRINK all the ADULT THINGS…Yesssssss!

After that, its all bullshit.

Around then, you’ve realized the presents have dwindled. The attention has waned a bit. The “especially special” feeling begins to dissipate year after year.

You still want to do something…hang out with friends. Grasping at the magic of the birthday like the tail end of a balloon string

Somewhere in your mid 30’s, you start dreading that day a little. You don’t really realize when it happened. There was no Ah-Ha! moment when you told yourself it wasn’t fun anymore, this whole ‘getting-older’ thing.

After 40. Well, that just blows.

I haven’t truly looked forward to a birthday in a very, very long time. The idea of being one year older , when you’re young, practically sings with possibility of the future… and somewhere along the way, it becomes a day that speaks of all that’s happened in the past.

Where did it all go? The time? The years? The sweetness of the unknown?

I look in the mirror and I wonder where she went. That girl who dreamed all the time about the future. She disappeared, and I didn’t even notice.

On Wednesday, I’ll be 42. Clearly, I’m looking forward to it.

I want to look forward to it again. Just one more time. I think that’s my birthday wish – just to enjoy my birthday (also to spend it in a pool with some fruity, frozen drinky-drinks – that is a big wish that I have every day of my life, from April to November, but most especially in July). Deep down, I still wish for that sweetness. The magic. The best day ever.

Who knows?

Maybe it will be.

Hmm. I guess maybe she didn’t disappear completely.

 

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Fickle Mind

It’s funny what the mind remembers.

There are snippets of time we’d all like to erase from our memories. Words said in anger and words heard by our very souls that may or may not have been said. Fleeting emotions that we wish we could forget, always competing with ones to which we desperately want to cling.

We forget so much, don’t we? Memories are fickle things. Or, I suppose, the mind has an odd way of picking and choosing what stays with you and what gets tossed aside like a crumpled receipt found at the bottom of a handbag. Why does the world stop at the strangest times to leave an imprint on your conscience? Some of those memories are so clear for no particular reason. No argument. No tragedy. No outpouring of loving words you’ve been waiting to hear.

I remember standing on the sofa, looking over the pass-through into the kitchen on my third birthday. My mother was making a Mickey Mouse birthday cake, and I wasn’t supposed to be peeking. I remember the sound of my little hands, slowly tearing the wrapping paper on my Christmas presents later that year, and Mom getting impatient with me. I don’t remember being the least bit aware that she was in labor with my sister Holly, which is why she wanted me to hurry up – she needed to get to the hospital.

The sound of the empty gurney that crossed my parents’ Saltillo tile floor…and the sound of its wheels crossing back, heavy with my mother’s lifeless form, just hours after the cancer finally took her from us.

The moment I realized the man I loved was living a double life and had never intended a life with me, and my heart shattered, almost audibly. I can still hear the sound of the mirrored box I’d had engraved with our song for him, hitting the floor where I threw it, the glass breaking into what seemed like a million pieces.

I can easily recall the smell of the plastic on my new Barbie doll when I changed her into a swimsuit to take into the little blue pool on our back patio, and pretending she was a mermaid.

The feeling of the cream and gold painted wood finial on my canopy bed (with no canopy), as I held it in my hand and sang into it for my audience of dolls & stuffed animals along to the soundtrack of Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty”…Once Upon a Dream

When my nephew Samuel was around two years old, I was in Nashville visiting my sister and her family. They lived in a mobile home, and Sam’s room was down the hall, the doorway visible from the living room sofa. Holly told Sam to pick up the toys he’d dragged into the hall, just outside his door. She kept walking, leaving him standing in a circle of his toys. I was watching him from the sofa, and he looked at his toys on the floor around his chubby little feet, dropped down onto his diapered butt and said to no one in particular, “But…. I’m not happy“.

There are times when I cannot bring to my mind the sound of my mother’s voice. It takes me longer and longer to pull it from the deep corridors of stored memory, like a hard drive searching for a document filed in an unknown location, saved almost too long ago. I feel myself beginning to panic, and feel enormous guilt wash over me like a wave that almost takes me under.

To pull myself out of that panicked guilt, I close my eyes and remember her skin. She had the softest skin. I used to press my face into the inside of her forearm. Even into adulthood, I did this out of a habit formed when I was very small. As much as I’d love to find words to describe that scent, there are none. The skin there was soft and cool to the touch, and gave me comfort to my very bones.

It’s funny what the mind remembers…

 

 

Withdrawal

I’ve made it exactly one day without Facebook. It was surprisingly easy, until around 11pm. The book ended. There was nothing on television. The dogs were falling asleep. No one was answering calls or texts.

Thank goodness for Hulu. I found a movie to watch. Whew! I almost caved.

Almost.

Today, I delivered a disc of photos to a friend and stayed for a visit with their new baby. Then I went to see another friend who was widowed last year, and her two little girls. She gave me a small dresser that a neighbor had given her, so I could get creative and paint it.

PROJECT!!!!

As much as I prefer solitude much of the time (which is what made Facebook so attractive), it was refreshing to have conversations with people right in front of me.

I think I’ll do it again tomorrow, and maybe a couple more times this week.

Still gonna download a boatload of books, though.

Radio Silence

“Alcohol. The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.” – Homer Simpson

At least I think it was Homer Simpson. Whatever.

This quote came to mind today, after finishing my Kindle book and getting back onto Facebook. I got right back off (again), and turned on the television. Nope. Can’t do that either, right now. Facebook is as informative as it is addictive, if that’s your main source of keeping up with people in a world where we don’t call each other on the phone anymore.

But right now?

It’s all too much.

Facebook is a shield behind which many people can be righteously indignant and say all kinds of things that they wouldn’t ordinarily say to a crowd of people. I’m including myself, but to a lesser degree, because well, if you’ve met me… I’m without filter most of the time. Oh sure, I have my church voice (not cursing) – but my personality doesn’t change according to the atmosphere. I say what’s on my mind. Sometimes (a lot of times), that gets people riled up and pissed off and maybe even let down.

I am unapologetically bold. I don’t hint. I rarely sugarcoat. I generally know damned well that what I say isn’t going to go over well with everyone, all the time. I’m apparently hilarious to some people because of this. And I genuinely give no fudges (See? Church voice.). Honestly, it means nothing to me that speaking the truth will upset people. Good. Be upset. Maybe it’ll open your eyes to a new way of thinking. Or maybe you’ll just think I’m a bitch. Either way, I’m not going to hide who I am…or cower behind any worry that someone won’t like me anymore.

Girl, bye.

That being said, I also know when I’m too incensed to keep arguing. When I am passionate about something, or irate about a truth that I know so deep in my soul that I cannot and will not be shaken, there comes a point where I have to step back to avoid explosion.

Facebook has brought me to that point in the last couple of days. I just can’t anymore. I’ve been so upset and so angry that my head hurts from clenching my jaw, even in my fitful sleep. I’m scared to death for my black friends, and at the point of asking them all to stay home and don’t drive anywhere, and offering myself as a taxi service – because my skin won’t get me killed. And maybe you’ll be safer if my lily white ass is in the car with you.

But the filth I’m seeing on Facebook…ohmygod. The denial, the whines of how the media is to blame for how upset everyone is because racism isn’t that big a deal because it doesn’t really happen as much as the media says and all lives matter…. ohmygodstopit.

Black Lives Matter ideal isn’t, hasn’t been and was never meant to be exclusionary. Frankly, the comparison to cancer is pretty spot on. I’m not going to go screaming into a breast cancer awareness rally about how cholangiocarcinoma (the one that killed my mom) matters too, dammit. Nobody would ever say it didn’t. But they’re fighting for a cure for this one, because someone they love is suffering. It really is that simple.

And then the sniper shootings…Lord Jesus, help us! How desperately hurtful to the communities across this nation. Not only is it senseless and unjustified, it just takes more fathers and mothers from their babies, and the maniac(s) responsible have just completely defeated a cause that was worth a righteous anger, because NOW law enforcement has even more reason to be overly cautious to a point of making it all worse. Now, the questionable ones who needed to use restraint have even more reason in their hearts to be afraid of the black community.

Good going, asshole.

The denial and the vitriol, the arguing and the anger is making me physically ill. I’m at a point of desperate, depressing hurt for my black friends and desperately let down by people who share my skin tone. I’m riding a fence here, because ignorance isn’t always intentional. Experience, and lack thereof, will absolutely dictate how a person perceives the world. We are each the sum of our own experiences.

I used to think the way they think, until I spent more time with people who live in a different world than the one I grew up in. I spent time with them in public places and witnessed what they’d been saying for years that I had always dismissed as, at the very least, exaggerated. For a while, it was so, so subtle that I almost didn’t catch it. Then there was that moment…the one where I thought, “Wait. Did that just happen?”. I looked at my friend, and she didn’t bat an eye, so I thought maybe I was wrong. So I asked her later if my perception was off. “No,” she said, “but you just get used to it. Could be worse.”

So then I started paying attention.

It happened so much more. Things that could be blown off as coincidence before I’d started paying attention, no longer could be. I had to examine myself on such a gut-wrenching level…and then had to work to expose my own heart and my own misgivings and my own denials…and then forgive myself and vow to do and be better, and to speak up on behalf of those who are just used to it.

What made me even sadder still, was how many times my black friends asked me NOT to say anything, because it would only cause trouble.

But back to Facebook. My point here is that I have to forgive those who don’t have the same experiences as myself. Nothing can be done to change that, which means nothing can be done to change their minds. I can’t make anyone see what I’ve seen, or force anyone to look deeply enough into their own heart and subconscious to experience a paradigm shift. Its something that will hopefully come in time. God knows nothing’s going to change much anytime soon, so there’ll be plenty of opportunity. 

Until then, I want to like the people that I love. So until this dies down a bit, I’m taking a break from the pain of that fence riding that Facebook is forcing me into – it ain’t a nice feeling, y’all.

Facebook (the only social media I actually use with any regularity) is currently exposing many painful truths, while simultaneously bringing out the devil in us all.

Disillusioned

I woke up this morning to immediately see a news clip about the second shooting (Philando Castile). I then saw a Facebook post on it, and watched the video. I was on my phone reading a Kindle book, so was constantly updated and checking new stuff on there pretty often today. I’ve been just broken hearted and so exhausted with worry and prayer all day. I’m not exaggerating when I say I broke down at least 4 times today.
 
I’ve seen a ton of posts that popped up in my feed, in addition to responses to my own… and now this evening, I’m seeing many people who were silent all day suddenly posting about the snipers in Dallas.
And that brought a whole new set of observations that took me by surprise.
 
While I’m just as sickened by Dallas as I am by the other events in the last 48 hours (and obviously praying for them to catch the shooters before anyone else gets hurt), I’m even sadder to see the large number of people who’ve said nothing about the first two horrific shootings, not for two whole days….but are suddenly outraged about the snipers and posting support and prayers on their pages.
Facebook is all aflutter with support and talk and posts and comments and prayers for the Dallas police officers – from people who have said NOTHING for two days. Not just nothing…like, purposefully avoided any talk of the shootings of black men (one of which had no gun, and one of which was following officer’s instructions), the teenaged boy unable to contain is grief for his dad, or the toddler trying to comfort her mommy after a police officer shot his weapon into a car, INCHES from where she sat – probably sprayed with the blood of her mother’s boyfriend. Not one word.
Then the news hits that a white man in North Carolina is pointing a shotgun at passing cars, and when officers successfully unarm him (without incident), he pulls a pistol on them…and they unarm him a second time – without incident.
How? How is that possible?
Yet still nothing to contribute. No comment on how that obviously incredibly dangerous, two-weapon fiasco was handled so well that no one got even a scratch, but two black men ended up dead – with one gun not found and one (legal, permitted and made known to the officer) never drawn. Not one word.
 
But then the cops get shot at in Dallas…and these same people have so very much to say.
Its just an observation, but trust me when I tell you its noticeable and confirms how I feel about the fact that so many people are in denial about racism and its subtlety.
It shows when you say nothing.
It shows when you argue that it isn’t a big deal or that its imagined.
It shows when you’re sad and worried about the police being shot at, but not about the citizens being shot at.
It shows when your cries are not about the children who are now fatherless and have just learned to fear police, but instead to cry out “What about this white guy or that white guy”, as if there hasn’t been a problem for a couple of centuries and now everyone truly IS equal…?
It shows when you talk about how all lives matter in response to the plight of the black community, instead of every single time there’s an injustice.
It shows when your automatic response to public outrage at an obviously racially motivated crime is to immediately ask “What about black-on-black crime? Huh? Huh?”
It shows when you say you’re not racist because you have black friends, but its really one or two that you know from work or church and had lunch with once.
It shows when you say things like “for a black guy” to qualify an individual’s worth…as if he’s already got a strike against him.
 
Because guess what… He does. Your mindset. My mindset. We’re all guilty of preconceived notions about people who visually don’t match what we see in the mirror, or the God we worship, or the people we love. It doesn’t change the fact that we are ALL God’s children, created in HIS image, for HIS glory.
 
I saw a video today of a Jane Elliot experiment. If you don’t know who she is, look her up on YouTube and watch some stuff. Very enlightening. One of the participants, a teacher, spoke of a student in her class who’d gotten a severe cut on her face. She admitted that, as she bandaged the child’s face, she was surprised to see that the flesh beneath the broken skin was pink. Like her own. “I don’t know what I expected…black, maybe?”.
Yet she left the experiment STILL convinced that she completely understood racism and that her life was devoid of it.
I feel like that’s what I’ve witnessed in my multiple views of posts and comments today. White folks would love to think that racism died with the end of the Civil Rights movement. and really just want everyone to stop talking about it.
But can you at least ask yourself why you feel it necessary to defend everyone BUT black people? And just for one example – Can you just admit to yourself that, as much as you want the right to bear arms, that you fear a black man’s right to do the same?
Of COURSE all lives matter… But as I’ve quoted (and I think the quote can be attributed to Jane Elliot) several times today – Black Lives Matter wouldn’t be necessary if we hadn’t had 300 years of “Black Lives Don’t Matter” and “Black Lives Matter Less“.
Today was an eye-opener. I was already feeling pretty bad about what’s going on in the world, but Facebook today has made me see even clearer that there are some things I just don’t want to know about the people I know.
Like seeing a celebrity in real life. Image tainted. Can’t unsee it.
And now my guard is up, because I know something about you that you don’t even know about yourself…or at least won’t acknowledge.