HGTV makes it all look so pretty…

Even their contractors.

My building needs a new roof. Contractor says he’s building a scaffold this afternoon. I make a tenant move her car, and block off the space for him. He never comes back. He told me they’re starting at 5 am. then it changes to 9 when I call to ask why they’re not back building the scaffolding.
At 9:30 am, I call the contractor. Because he IS NOT HERE. I hadn’t had enough coffee too call my contractor. I hadn’t had any. Bad idea.
They’re not here because there’s a delay with the supplies.
Could ya call & let me know?
Me:
Please keep me in the loop. I need to inform my tenants about how this project affects the parking, and it affects their sleep schedule as well, because we have some night shift people. Please, Juaquin. Its important. Even if its just a text, I need to know if you’re not going to be here when you say you will, or if the time frame changes by a whole day.”
When he mentioned the weather, I about had a fit, because I’m looking up at a clear, cloudless sky. And I know there’s a chance of rain. A small chance.
But this is Texas.
If you call off something huge because of a small chance of rain – how do any roofers make any money, ever, in this state?
We have this conversation about how I need to BE TOLD WHAT IS UP, every mo*(&#$^fu(*&#^%ing time there’s a new project.
 A month ago:
“Hey, since you’re removing my entire bathroom and I’ll need a place to stay and a place for my dogs, time to clean my house and pack, etc., will you PLEASE give me a few day’s notice on when you’re getting started?”
He promises he will.
What do I get instead?
Roughly 18 hour’s notice.
Then, I get about 10 days of “Almost done”.
And here we go with a roof. Again.
Yes, its the same guys that did the other roof. The one that took 3 weeks.
He promises he’ll let me know by 1pm today what the scoop is.
I’m gonna go ahead and hold my breath.

Roots & Feels

For the last two weeks, I’ve been staying with a friend during a construction/reno project in my apartment that left me with no bathroom. My friend Rachel is the type of friend everyone should have. She’s so nurturing and welcoming – and her house smells so good that even the dirty laundry I brought home smells like it could go another round.

While staying with Miss Rachel, and her fiancé, Craig, I was able to watch the new version of “Roots” that aired on cable channels that I don’t have at home. Now, mind you, I was already a little stressed because of being displaced, which always makes me a little (or a lot) emotional, but this show…

Y’all. This show.

I never saw the first one. I was only 3 years old when it aired, and have never had the opportunity to see it as an adult, on the rare occasion it was showing on television. So this is the first time seeing this story at all. Before I tell you how I feel about it, I will tell you that I STILL haven’t been able to watch more than 30 minutes of the recently released movie “Twelve Years a Slave”. I’ve read the book, but the movie is an entirely different experience. I’m going to. I just haven’t seen it available again yet.

I will also tell you that when I do watch any movie or documentary that centers around Slavery, The Civil Rights Movement, or The Holocaust, I make it a point to do so when I have no other demands on my attention or emotions…because frankly, it takes every ounce of my strength not to lose my ever-loving mind over the atrocities of the human race.

So, Roots.

Well, shite. I don’t even know where to start.

It hurt. God, it hurts.

The story, written in the 70’s by Alex Haley, was admittedly plagiarized for the most part,  built on stories passed down, and on probably a lot of conjecture. Arguments online have sprung up all over again about this…but it doesn’t matter. The whole thing could be a novel of fiction, and it wouldn’t matter.

Look. There was no Jack and Rose on the Titanic, but the tragedy still happened in frighteningly close detail to what we saw onscreen in that James Cameron movie.

So it is with Roots.

Brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, teenagers, adolescents, toddlers, babies…stolen – not just from their homes, their country…but from each other. Over and over and over again. Chained. Beaten. Exposed to illnesses. Murdered.

And that’s all before they even arrived to this country.

Beaten into submission daily, hourly, by strange-looking people who didn’t speak their language. Murdered if they resisted in any way. Wives torn from husbands, sold to someone in another state. Brutally raped repeatedly, because it was the “master’s” right to do so, according to the law.

When they birthed the children of these monsters, or of their own husbands or lovers, their babies were often sold away, like livestock, the moment they reached an age where they could work….never to be seen or heard from again.

These monsters brutalized, raped, tore apart, mutilated and used any means necessary to break the will of the human being standing before them, in an effort to drill into them constantly, without ceasing, that they were not human, but property. Like cattle.

There is a famous scene in both renditions of this movie, where Kunta Kinte (the main character) has been told his new name by the plantation owner’s wife, and is beaten until he admits that “Toby” is his name (he is tied to a post and whipped, tearing his skin to shreds…reminding me of the scenes of Jesus on his way to the Crucifixion).

He refuses to give in.

The overseer tells him he’ll stop if he just says his name. He won’t do it. He repeats his given name, Kunta Kinte. The other slaves are made to watch this, and told that if they look away, they will be next. This includes small children. Every time the whip cracks, the brutish overseer screams, “SAY YOUR NAME!”…and he will not. He will not submit and give up the only thing he has left of himself – the name his mother gave him.

If you’re not crying at this scene, you’re a monster, by the way. It is truly awful. I kept yelling at the television. Yelling “Don’t say it!”…and then, “Say it!”…”Don’t say it!”….”Oh, Jesus, make him say it!”…

Aaaaaugh…!!! You want him to hold on. To stand his ground. Never submit to the monster who had NO RIGHT to steal him from his family and chain him up and JUST NO!!! DON’T DO IT!!! And yet…if he doesn’t, his skin will continue to be torn from his body. So you want him to say it, just to make the horrible man stop.

And the thing that gets you the most? The horrible man was the norm. Oh, sure, maybe not everyone had the stomach to perform the pesky brutality. But it had to be done by someone if those normal, everyday people wanted their slaves to continue to work. So whether they did it themselves, or hired someone to do it, or simply knew it was being done and did nothing to stop it – and why would they? It was THE LAW.

If you immerse yourself into this train of thought, you realize the impossible truth – that they didn’t think they were doing anything wrong. They really, truly, did not see these people as people at all. You’d think most of humankind wouldn’t treat even a feral animal with such vile cruelty, right?

But they did. Every day. Because it was their lawful right to do so. That means that enough people thought it was okay that it was just a given. Do you ever think about the magnitude of that? We’re not talking about like 20 or 30 or even 100 dudes were mean enough to do this and had like a club. No. They made laws and had a war about it. It was NORMAL.

That will never, ever NOT blow my mind.

Not all the scenes are so graphic as this one, but it does make you realize the reality of how often this happened. It made me think of the mothers whose children were sold and taken from their arms…under threat of murdering the child if the mother didn’t stop making a scene. Can you just imagine? It brings to my mind the image of the baby whom Solomon threatened to cut in half. The mother readily gave up her rights to save her child…but what if she were faced with giving up that child, knowing even then that the new “owner” would absolutely beat, and could likely rape and/or murder her child – on a whim?

I’ve seen/heard arguments (by white people) that not all slave “owners” were bad. That some were nice. To that, I say: STFU and are you kidding me with this? “Owning” a human isn’t “nice”, stupid. It’s atrocious. And it still happens today, all over the world. Even here. But I’m not going to get into that, because I’m in my feelings about this movie.

Years ago, I did a family history search on Ancestry.com. I traced my father’s family back to Sweden, and took great pleasure and relief at knowing that his father’s family came to America so late in the game, they didn’t really “own” a damned thing, much less a person. But I didn’t look at the whole picture, admittedly. His mother’s side was traceable pretty far back, too…like, to Celtic surname that had no vowels…and I think I sort of glossed over the time frame of the Civil War. Totes on purpose, guys, but not consciously.

Captain William Meredith apparently was on the Confederate side, hailing from Kentucky. And while there’s no documentation I have yet found that he, or anyone in his family, “owned” any slaves (please understand that I feel I must use quotations with that word, as I can’t bring myself to think in terms of ACTUAL “ownership” of a human being), it is still apparent that he fought on the side of the South, in support of slavery.

That hurts. It stings my pride in my family from those generations. It shames my heart to know that anyone of my bloodline refused to acknowledge another human being as a human being.

A couple years ago, I was talking with a friend of mine who is…not white…and he was very frank about his own family history. His perspective made me think about how Ancestry.com is awesome. For white people.

For black people, it only gets you so far. I hadn’t really thought much about that, until my friend pointed it out. I mean, I knew that many of the surnames of black families in the United States can be traced back to their ancestor’s “owners”, which is bad enough…

But if you really think about it. I mean, for real, take a hot minute and just imagine for a moment how many children were taken from their parents. How many families were torn apart, sometimes sold to many different people. And since they weren’t considered humans at all, their names weren’t recorded anywhere. Anywhere. AND, if the story of Roots has it right in that aspect, the slave “owners” changed their first names, too.

No identity.

Because they weren’t thought to be human.

Remember Hurricane Katrina? Remember how there was this massive search for family members all over the freaking country, because everything was so chaotic in getting people to shelters? Put that on a nationwide scale, and factor in that no one was documented as a human, much less with a name, then add a couple hundred years of that being the norm.

I don’t know, guys. I realize I’m all over the map here.

Its just that when the whole Confederate flag issue came up a few months ago, I was taken aback by how many people – including a few black people – who didn’t see the big deal. Who see it as a source of pride in their own heritage (Lord, HAMMERCY, that word was thrown around a LOT). Excuse me while I vomit.

And here I am, a white, Southern woman…offended to my core at any Southern “values” that were/are rooted in slave “ownership” – ever. How offended am I allowed to be, without coming across as trite? Because I will never, ever know the plight of anyone of color living today. I will never know what it’s like to be silently, automatically judged and thought of as “less than” because of my skin.

My weight? Sure. Every day. But I still have a fat leg up.

And that isn’t fair.

I said ‘silent’, because of the many, many, many people who don’t think they’re racist because they don’t actually SAY things. They may not even think outright evil things.

But its there. Because none of us look at another person the way a small child does. Babies aren’t racist at all, because they haven’t been exposed to even subtle tones of it. It is a learned behavior. Its why:

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”.

  — Matthew 18:1

Here’s something else to think about:

I saw a few people on a favorite blogger’s post about the movie, saying they wished people would stop talking about it (slavery), because it’s in the past. That bothers me almost as much as the scene I described above. We can’t stop talking about it. We can’t push it into the past, as if it doesn’t still have ripples affecting our modern society. It does.

You’ve got to be blind, deaf and mute not to know that.

I’ve been in the car when a friend was pulled over for ‘driving while black’.

I’ve witnessed a restaurant host speak only to me, and never once to my black, male counterpart. Even when my friend answered the questions directed at me. Never was there the courtesy of asking the man, or even making eye contact with him when he spoke.

I’ve been subjected to anger at me from white men, for dating black men.

I’ve heard a friend use the “n” word when a waitress made her mad…justifying it because of the “type” of person she was, not her skin color (yet she was black, and I never heard that friend use the term for anyone that was not black).

Yeah, we need to keep talking about it. Our culture is quick to say “Never Forget” in the wake of a great tragedy like 9/11, and we have no qualms about remembering and honoring those who perished in the Holocaust, but we want to sweep under the rug the cruel behavior of our own blood ancestors, and refuse to acknowledge that it is still affecting the generation we live amongst?

What Santayana wrote in The Life of Reason, 1905 was: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

And Winston Churchill wrote this on repeating history:

“When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure. There is nothing new in the story. It is as old as the sibylline books. It falls into that long, dismal catalogue of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind. Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong–these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.”

—House of Commons, 2 May 1935

 

It must be told. Over and over and over and over and over. As much as those recreated scenes (painstakingly and beautifully portrayed by brave actors, producers and directors) make us flinch and emotionally gut us, it must be told. Seeing it in gory detail is what we NEED, to keep the memory alive of those who came before us. Those who shaped this nation – the innocent and the evil – can’t be forgotten, shushed, downplayed…not ever. It hurts like a sonofabitch, but you and I need to feel every inch of it – because we’re still reaping the benefits of those hostage souls, whether you want to admit it or not.

While my hands may not be stained with blood, my heart and mind must never forget those who lived in torture, and died lost in a world where they were never free.

A final thought: In the movie, “A Time To Kill”, Jake Brigance, a white man who is representing the black father of a 9 year old girl who was brutally raped by a couple of rednecks, because he killed the perpetrators and is on trial for their murder. There is an all white jury, and Jake knows that in Mississippi, his client isn’t going to get a fair trial. His closing argument was to ask the jury to close their eyes and picture a little girl, walking home from the store…and describes in vivid, horrible detail, what the two redneck boys did to her. “Can you see her?” he asks. “Can you see her? Her raped, beaten, broken body soaked in their urine, soaked in their semen, soaked in her blood, left to die. Can you see her? I want you to picture that little girl. Now imagine she’s white.”

That. Right. There. Is how you need to think about this. Picture it all the opposite from how it happened. That whites were the ones in slavery. Your babies sold as goods, with a damned receipt and everything. Would you want your grandchildren, your great grandchildren, or their children, to forget?

Apparently, the scene in the original is said to be harsher. I’m going to watch it anyway, because I need to. I implore you to watch at least one of them.

Dear Mom,

momma4

Hey, Momma.

It’s been a while since you left us. This year will mark 13 years…so hard to believe. That’s over a quarter of my life without you.

Mother’s Day is tomorrow, and I’m getting inundated with ads about what to do for you, gifts to buy you, reminders to call you and tell you how much you mean to me. Well, those things aren’t options for me, so this will have to do.

A lot has happened since the cancer stole you from us. You have nine more grandchildren than before. NINE. Can you believe it? Oh, they’re so precious, Mom. I miss you so much for selfish reasons, but man, I wish they knew you. Their lives would be infinitely richer and full of even more love, if you were here to watch them grow. I miss you for them, as much as for myself.

I think we all are turning out okay. Each of us has different parts of your personality, but I think Rose is the most like you…just more outspoken. Meredith has your sense of humor. Holly has your determination. I have your coffee addiction. I’m even an early riser, now. Go figure.

Many people put those who’ve passed away on a pedestal. Its only natural. I did it for a while, too…But over the years, I’ve had to be honest with myself about who you were – and who you were not. Let’s face it, Mom. You didn’t always stand up for yourself or speak your mind in situations that really called for it. I feel like that was something you should’ve done. There were times when it would’ve made a huge difference if you hadn’t stayed silent. I resented that for a while…

The silver lining in that revelation is that I learned to do it because you didn’t. It was a lesson I needed to learn, and I know now that not all of your lessons were through your actions. Some of them were through your inactions. Thank you for that. Truly.

Aug-1975-b3
Learning to walk…Allowing me to fall.

 

I have to confess that on the day we buried you, the girls and I went through your dresser drawers. The ones we weren’t allowed to open, ever. Hey, you knew we would. Listen, we were so broken and so tired and so heavy with sadness, that we had to lighten the mood we were drowning in. So, we were all sitting on your bed and simultaneously decided it was time to see what you’d been hiding.

I could almost hear you in that moment…”JESSICA LYNN! YOU CLOSE THAT DRAWER RIGHT NOW. THOSE ARE MINE. MINE. MINE. I DON’T GET ANYTHING PRIVATE AROUND HERE, AND YOU STAY OUT OF MY DRESSER. ITS THE ONE THING I HAVE ALL TO MYSELF!”

Sorry, Mom.

We found the booze.

And then we all laughed so hard that we couldn’t breathe…

Then Dad was standing in the doorway, doing his silent Dad-laugh, shaking his head at us.

So, I guess I’m not really sorry.

We needed that.

280078_2217539398802_6095128_o
Never in tune, but owning it like a boss.

 

Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is that we never stopped getting to know you. From the day we laid you to rest and found out you liked cinnamon schnapps, to this very moment. We find you in each other, and in your grandchildren. I see you in their eyes and smiles. Their funny anecdotes, their silliness, and so many other little quirks that I just know would’ve had you on the floor with laughter.

I’m still realizing how much you taught me and my siblings, because I’m seeing it retaught by them to their children. I see it in my friends. I wish I could describe the impact you had on them, and you didn’t even know it. It surprises me…and yet it doesn’t.

There is a cardinal that perches on a tree outside my new place. There’s been one in every place I have lived since you went away. The girls have noticed them, too. Just a single one. It may be just a coincidence, but I prefer to believe it isn’t. Every time I see it, I say “Hi, Mom”. I wonder if you can hear me…

Let’s see, what else? I guess maybe you know I never got married or had any kids. Turns out that wasn’t in the cards for me. I guess I’m fine with that, most of the time. I can’t imagine having kids without you being around anyway. And as it happens, I don’t have much patience for the day-to-day stuff with little ones. I don’t know how you did it. Rose does, though…haha!

I guess this is the sappy part, now. Are you ready?

Although every moment of my day isn’t any longer wrought with sadness about your being gone, I still miss you every day. That’s why Mother’s Day just pretty much stinks. My siblings have kids, so at least they can celebrate being moms through the missing you. I don’t have that, so I usually just shun the whole thing and pretend it doesn’t exist, because it hurts too much for words sometimes.

Its hard for me to understand anyone who doesn’t get along with or speak to their mom. Then again, I don’t know anyone who has a mom quite like you. You were a mother to so many more than your own children. You set examples for people that you didn’t even realize were watching.

mom in june
Last photo.

 

I’d give anything to talk to you. To hear your voice…your laugh… your sighs, and even your off-key singing. I’d give my right arm for a morning coffee at 6 am with you. And I’d give my life up in trade if it meant you could be here with those grandbabies of yours.

This will turn into a novel if I don’t stop, so I’ll leave you with this:

I love you. I appreciate you every day of my life. I miss you. I wish you were here.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

Love, Jessica

268555_2217538758786_7662400_n

 

Celeb Safety Patrol

Not cool, man. 2016, you’re doing us wrong.
Prince? Really?
All these icons of my formative years, just dropping like flies…I can’t like it.
I was a little sad when MJ died, and of course Whitney – but let’s be honest, we all kind of had that feeling immediately afterwards of being surprised she hadn’t a few years sooner.
~ But Prince?
I always assumed he’d be around forever, I guess. That tiny little man with more talent in his pinky finger than most of us could ever even dream about. What a tragic loss.
I just want to know one thing. Has anybody checked on Billy Joel lately?
He doing alright? ‘Cause he needs to be wearing a helmet when he’s on those motorcycles. I know ya love ’em, Billy, but PLEASE be careful! Like, extra, super careful. Give us at least another 20 years of your brilliant musical mind.
I feel like we need to band together, and have a fan club/safety patrol that just keeps track of certain celeb’s health. There’ll OF COURSE be a committee to decide which stars we guard, because … well… I’ll just say it. Some of them might not be such a tragic loss.
We can divide it into camps or districts or whatever. A team in place for each musical icon, and then a team member or two in charge of each aspect of their lives – because I feel like their own staff(s) are seriously dropping the ball.
Someone to watch what they’re eating. Someone’s keeping an eye on safety gear and precautions when they’re in the car. Someone doing a drug & alcohol check of their homes and vehicles.
Like stalkers, for health & safety purposes.
“Stevie Wonder hasn’t been eating his veggies, y’all. Somebody get on this! I don’t care WHAT you have to do, blend it up and put it in his cheeseburger. Just blend it somewhere else so he don’t know you’re there, man.”
“What’s that? Madonna went skiing? Who’s on the safety gear patrol? Sharon? You got this? I don’t want to hear about a sprain later today. You get down that mountain and blow up one of those emergency landing bouncy things – NOW! Mike – go cut down all the friggin’ trees, or find a way to wrap those bouncy things around them! GO!”
“Hey, y’all, Cher is hitting the bottle a little too often. I need someone from district 5 to get on over there and water her sh*t down – STAT. No, just water it by a third. We’ll run to half next week. Gotta wean her off slow.”
Let’s do this. Who’s in?

Target, You Missed The Point.

Lots of buzz today about Target’s big decision to make sure everyone feels included by allowing anyone who identifies with their opposite gender to go into said restroom and dressing room. This is to make sure transgender folks don’t feel left out. The rule also means that they don’t have to dress as the opposite sex. Just identify inside…

They did this INSTEAD of creating a unisex bathroom and dressing room in their stores.

Okay, look. I get that “inclusive” desire. I do. And I’m seeing soooooo many angry posts from both sides of this fence. The one side is upset because of the perverts who now have access, and the other side is upset because if you have that fear, you must be a hateful bigot against transgenders.

But here’s the deal. I think a lot of the folks who are screaming about hateful bigots are missing a very real point that should have been considered by the powers that be.

No one (that I have seen) has called real transgenders “perverts”.

We’re not afraid of transgenders. Well, I’m not. I’ve met a few. They’re living a very hard life. Can you just imagine? I personally don’t believe that any person who has dealt with life-long emotional torment and has (or is currently) going through really scary hormonal therapy and surgeries to whatever degree, are the people to be scared of…and I have yet to see anyone arguing against these new policies that is afraid of them, either.

We’re afraid of the actual sexual predators. We’re finally at a place in our society that makes us aware that the predator isn’t always the creepy looking guy in the white van (but seriously, stay away from the white vans, y’all). They’re completely normal-looking people.

We’re afraid of the guy who walks into a women’s restroom and sticks his cell phone under the stall he’s been in for a while, next to your child who is expressing her independence to go potty all by herself like a big girl.

We’re afraid of the guy who walks right into the locker room while we’re changing clothes or getting out of the shower, where it used to be just girls and we didn’t worry that someone was staring at our boobs, and snapping a photo discreetly, or even just standing there, or maybe changing clothes himself and decided to rub one off because he’s in a room full of half-naked, sweaty women.

Now, those guys can get away with it. The alarm that goes off in your head when your child goes to the bathroom in the restaurant, and a man walks in right after her – no one will listen anymore. No one will call the cops. No one will force him to leave.

Why?

Because all he has to do is LIE, and SAY he “feels” like a girl inside.

Oh, looky there. He just made it okay for him to be a pervert, and no one will question him or even ask if he took any photos while he was in there. Even if they did ask, can they confiscate his phone to check, if he (surprise!) LIES about that too? NOPE.

Nobody’s really all that worried about the actual transgenders, dimwit.

We should ALL be worried about predators.

Predators, by and large, are a different group of people altogether. And if YOU aren’t worried about that, enough to agree that another solution should be reached, you’re incredibly naïve.

Am I full of hate? Absolutely. I HATE sexual predators. I have been sexually assaulted, and I know others close to me who have as well – adults AND children. You’re damned right I hate those bastards. None of them were transgenders. Just your average, run-of-the-mill rapists and child molesters…and here’s a newsflash for you: THEY LIE.

Do you think its beyond the scope of possibility that a pervert would also be a liar? Really?

THESE are the people everyone’s upset about, y’all.

So quit name-calling and getting your feathers all ruffled. I don’t know anyone who HATES transgender people. Lots of people don’t understand them? Sure. That’s a reasonable assumption.

But why isn’t it reasonable to ask for a unisex bathroom and locker room, so that the goal truly is reached and we ALL feel comfortable while at our most vulnerable?

I hope, for your child’s sake, that you aren’t so open-minded that you have traded wisdom and reason for blind faith that everyone tells the truth and that no one would ever take advantage of policies like this one.

They (the perverts, rapists and child molesters) have gone into bathrooms to actively assault others for years, you know.

Now, they have a license to do so.

 

…For A Big Girl

You’ve either said it or, if you’re me, heard it a dozen times in your life. The ultimate back-handed compliment. The flattery that insinuates a need for justification. You probably don’t even realize you’re doing it, but I’m here to tell you once and for all, kiddos – THIS is what we really hear:

“You have such a pretty face” (If you were thinner, the rest of you would be, too)

“You’re always so well-put-together” (I just assumed you were a slob, because fat people don’t care how they look)

“Where do you get your clothes?” (Do you have to get them specially made, because you’re so fat?)

“You’re so beautiful, for a big girl” (In spite of the fact that you are, by definition, repulsive, I find you to be less so, because your face is attractive)

“I mean, you don’t EAT like an overweight person” (All fat people eat garbage non-stop)

“You don’t seem to have any trouble getting around” (Aren’t all fat people immobile, like Jabba the Hutt?)

“That outfit is really slimming on you” (You’re more acceptable when something makes you look thinner)

“You get hit on more than I do” (I am stunned that men find you attractive)

That last one’s my favorite.

I’ve talked about this very thing in reference to racism that you’re in denial about. The old “He’s cute, for a black guy” endorsement I’d get from friends on a new love interest in my life. Wait, what? FOR A BLACK GUY? What does that even MEAN?

I’m sorry, I’m pretty sure you just said “Even though this person is LESS than the rest of us, I SUPPOSE he’s okay, out of a WHOLE RACE of people who are inherently UNattractive”.

No? That’s not what you meant? OH. MY BAD. Except, yeah, its exactly what you meant.

You say something like that, and you’re letting your secret bigotry cat out of the bag. This is pretty much the same type of insult when you’re complimenting a fat person.

You only THOUGHT you were saying something nice. The thing is, if you have to rationalize the approval, it loses its value to the recipient. We, the fat/black/gay/short/whatever-you’re-trying-to-help-us-get-past(-but-thanks-we-don’t-need-your-help) hear the insult louder than the applause. In fact, we know its coming. We’ve heard it all of our lives.

How sad is that? We know its coming. Be the change, y’all. Stop with the compliment. Do I look pretty? Good. I don’t need exclamations of how amazing it is that I could possibly look pretty under these terrible circumstances of being disgusting.

To sum up our lesson for today, boys & girls:

If someone looks nice, tell them. And leave it at that. Don’t appear to be amazed by it. Don’t ask questions like you’re a child at an old-timey freak show. It IS possible to say a nice thing and just shut your mouth. Do that.

 

 

 

Let it be.

The breakup is/was coming. I think I just did it myself. We’ll see if he calls to confirm. He’s already hinted at it. We hadn’t even really gotten started, but it still smarts. I admit, I pulled a preemptive strike and gave him an ‘out’ via email, before he makes the call that I know will make me snivel like a little girl.

And before you give me crap about doing it via email, he’s at work and said we’d talk when he got off, but I had stuff to say that couldn’t wait. So, sue me. You can’t say you wonder if you need to take a step back, followed with “we can talk about it after I get off work”, and expect me to sit around and wait. Wrong girl. Can’t want to.

I won’t go into detail, but there was a misunderstanding. Some innocuous thing that means nothing in the grand scheme of life, but it can derail potential very quickly. I’d rather avoid the awkwardness and just be done. Am I giving up too easily?

Maybe.

But the truth of the matter is that I’ve been just absolutely drawn and quartered emotionally so many times that I honestly prefer to just rip off the Band-Aid, tiny hairs and all. Life is too short to spend it wallowing in turmoil over what might happen or not happen.

I saw an internet meme not long ago that said “Dating after 30: We gonna do this or not? ‘Cause I got shit to do.” True dat. I like saying the phrase “I ain’t got time”. Honestly, I’m 41. I got all the time in the world, honey, because my expectations stopped being romance-novel-level years ago, and I have a “fake” job now that doesn’t require much actual work. Also, I currently have no vehicle, and since I live at my job, well, Netflix gets a lot of time from me. I got all kinds of time.

I still ain’t got time. No time for drawing things out. No time for dancing around words that hurt or heal. No time for playing games. No time for lies. No time for pretending to be or think or feel something other than the truth of who I am. I’ve been through far too much devastation to spend even one second pretending.

That tends to get me into trouble with other people’s feelings at times. My dad used to say “Tell the truth, but don’t always be tellin’ the truth”. He’s right about that. I’m still learning when to keep my mouth shut.

Anyhoo… My point is that I’m so direct and honest (sometimes brutally so) that I can appear callous. Only those who know me well can attest to the gooey, sensitive, girly, ridiculous softness that lies within. I think that’s why dating a new person usually ends pretty early. There’s no in-between – they either see the tough shield or the soft center, and both parts of me are so deeply, no-holds-barred real that it’s far too much for most folks to stomach for long.

And that’s okay. It hurts, but I get it.

Scraping gum to blow bubbles.

Life takes you through some crazy twists and turns, doesn’t it? If you’d asked me once every five years of my life where I’d be in five years, none of my answers would match up to the real story. I never, ever thought I’d lose my mom so young. I just assumed I’d be married before the age of twenty and have lots of babies (names chosen carefully by the tender age of twelve, of course). Later, when I imagined a career, I thought I’d be an interior decorator or a famous crooner that was all reclusive and mysterious between studio work and the occasional sell-out concert to an adoring planet Earth.

Or a ballerina, a gymnast, an actress, the trophy wife of my favorite boy band/sitcom crush, an artist of some kind…although I never could draw well, much less paint. I never anticipated photography – and most certainly not wedding photography, and where I am now would not have even crossed my mind. Not even this area of town.

There have been times where I’ve kicked and screamed and dragged my feet in total denial and vehement opposition of where I was headed. There have been times when it was an easy transition and I was excited about a new opportunity (those are less frequent). Finally, there have been transitions that were met with a quiet, sad acceptance.

For me, change is very scary. The idea of the unknown isn’t one I approach with cheerfulness, for the most part. I like to have a plan. When my plans don’t happen, I feel a sensation of spinning out of control – so badly that it gives me emotional vertigo. It feels like everything’s gone all to hell in a handbasket, dragging me into the fire.

We all have different reactions to various types of life changes. What is a mountain for one person to climb could be hardly a blip on the radar for someone else. I’m terrified of the future, because I have learned that whatever your plans are, they can be swept away in an instant, subtly altered by a tiny thing, violently stolen from you…You just don’t know.

I think maybe where I’m going with this is that I am working really hard on remembering that its okay for me to freak out. I tend to feel guilty for being so upset over my own stuff, because I don’t have a right to – because someone, friend or stranger, is definitely going through something worse. I think it’s that whole “Clean your plate, because children in Africa are starving” mentality.

Am I allowed to be upset that things turned out this way?

I know this person who had a worse car accident than mine, and this person dealing with cancer, and that one over there grieving the loss of a loved one, and this person who can’t walk…and so on.

But that brings us back to how different we all are, and how change (good and bad) affects us and our plans – as well as how tightly we hold onto those plans.

You won’t ever know how strong you can be until it is forced upon you. We cannot fathom our own bravery until we have to stare our worst nightmare right in its gnarly face. The thing to remember is that the nightmare for one person isn’t the nightmare for another.

We are the sum of our own experiences.

I’ve looked cancer in its hideous face. I screamed, cried, prayed with my face in the carpet, destroyed things in anger over it, drank myself silly over it and begged it not to win….It looked right back at us all and laughed as it took her.

I’ve been conned out of 5 digits of income, earned by wedding photography, by someone with whom I trusted my life – all so he could pay for his wedding to someone else, unbeknownst to me. And then he sent me pictures of that wedding.

I was raped in 1997, in Nashville, Tennessee. It was not the first time. It was not the last.

Many, many other things – very bad things – have happened to me.

So now, when a stupid car accident makes every day things painful (like fastening a bra or even holding my coffee cup some days), while I had been feeling guilty for feeling angry about it, I feel like its really okay for me to be mad and sad and whatever else. My injury is nothing compared to someone who loses a limb, an organ, a life… That happens every day, to people in all walks of life. I know that.

But they’re not me. I’ve had my share of some really shitty things happen, and I kind of think its okay for me to bitch about these changes from time to time. I want to do better about adapting, but in the meantime, I’ve earned a break.

I know good things are coming. We all know that pain is usually met with joy – though sometimes you have to look carefully for it. We’d all do well to remember that taking time to smell the roses can mean that you’re standing in a pile of fertilizer and you REALLY need to smell those roses….like, shove them up your nose & stuff.

 

 

random.

I don’t really have much to talk about today, so this is going to be totally random.

I’m super pissed about CBS not participating in any streaming television or on-demand stuff. I just got into Blue Bloods and have been obsessively binge-watching it on Netflix, with the intention of catching up with the current season on Hulu. Five seasons, y’all. I watched FIVE seasons of a show, and developed an after-New Kids crush on Donnie Wahlberg (Jordan was my guy during the late 80’s/early 90’s). But no, the commie bastards at CBS won’t allow it. I feel like I’ve read five books of a six book series and just found out the sixth book won’t come out for like a year.

DO YOU KNOW HOW THAT FEELS?

It feels crappy. I’m depressed about this. First World problems, I know. But I NEED my Donnie Wahlberg fix, dammit. And I can’t even watch Donnie Loves Jenny because I don’t have cable anymore.

UGH.

What else…Hmm…

Oh, okay, so what’s with the “I’m the kind of girlfriend” memes that make you look atrocious? I see these on Facebook all the time lately. Girls posting memes about how lonely they are, right behind a meme that says “Me as a girlfriend” with a follow-up statement about being so jealous you’re snooping through a guy’s phone or burning all his stuff if he doesn’t act right.

Keep posting that stuff on a public forum, honey. Make sure ALL men can see that you’re a psycho. I’m sure that’ll make them come running to date you.

Really?

I think that’s all I got. As you can see, I have absolutely no life whatsoever. My job is to live here and collect rent on the first of the month, and I don’t have a car. I think I may have forgotten what it’s like to enjoy social activity out in the world. It’s weird to resent technology and still have it as your only social outlet. Love/Hate.

Meh. I was never a big fan of people, anyway. I am thoroughly entertained by those people who are really super friendly to everyone – you know, those never-met-a-stranger types? I’m fascinated by them. They must have the patience of Job. I’m so perfectly content in my own little world, as long as I have control over when & where I venture out.

If I could afford grocery & supply delivery, I would never leave. This hermit thing would reach a whole new level, guys.

I wonder if I should worry about that.

Nah.

 

Got Dang Ponies

My niece Maya spent the night with me Friday. She’s five.

Did you know that you can watch 97 hours of My Little Pony in just 24 hours? Because you can. I tried to persuade her that there were, in fact, other shows. Better shows. Movies. A new Barbie movie on Amazon Prime. We could watch Frozen…?

NOPE.

Ponies.

Okay, cool. That’s fine.

I was able to distract her with sticks of chalk out in the parking lot for a little while. Hey, don’t judge me. I don’t have kids. You work with what you’ve got. That worked for a while, but she went through half a box of chalk and covered my entire porch and two parking blocks, and we were back to ponies.

We even did a photo shoot…

FBJ-0235.jpg

This one was her favorite. Well, to be fair, it was one of like four that she actually looked at, because she needed to get back to the ponies. Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy and Applejack needed her attention. Which they got. For 97 hours.

In an attempt to redirect her focus, I asked how she liked school (she’s in kindergarten). “Fine.” Ponies. Do you have friends there? “Yes.” Ponies. Do you have a boyfriend? “No.” Ponies. Are there any cute boys that you like? (I start to ask myself if I should be encouraging her to like boys…prolly not).

“The only boys I like are in my family.”

Smart girl.

As the evening wears on and I contemplate the chin stubble on the construction site ponies….No, Maya. You’ve eaten almost an entire box of Hot Tamales in the last 24 hours. I feel like we should chill out on the Hot Tamales.

Just as we approached the 98th hour of My Little Pony, my sister shows up and lets me off the hook. Maya has behaved like a perfect child. Sweet, polite, quiet. Really likes ponies. Yes, I’ve helped her gather all her things (which is why my living room no longer looks like it puked rainbows and Pepto Bismol).

Go out to the car & kiss the boys (her brothers). Say goodnight, and go back in to turn off the got dang ponies and return to the Blue Bloods episode I was watching before she arrived 97 pony hours earlier….

12495241_10208373858244853_2579483829778923369_n

Got dang ponies.