Thursday, July 23, 2015

"Oh My God"

July 22, 2015

Trying to describe what god is to me is like
Trying to remember a dream the moment I awaken
The harder I try, the more it fades
Until I find the balance between conscious and not
Just read the emotions and the glimpses
Without active thought
Then some comes back to me
Enough to understand the message

Or it's like
When a smell brings on a memory
It's never one thing specifically
It's the concept of it, the feelings it contained
I smell and remember the summer of 1992
Grandma's kitchen in Warren
My Dad on a Sunday
My Mom's house at Christmas
I just have to let it wash over me
It's instant and all-consuming
It doesn't run slow like a movie
And it's only mine

That's how god feels to me
It's that glimpse, that memory
So deeply profound and personal
From the innermost folds of my mind
And I can't begin to convey its worth

God isn't an individual or an entity for me
It's an experience, too big to explain, impossible to contain
Like that memory, but further and deeper
And I can feel it
When I look at a sunset or a storm
When I read a book
See a tree or a mountain
A waterfall or the ocean's waves
When I hear a song
Or see someone's art
Attend a wedding or a funeral
Find a new friend
Use my pen

For this tiniest of moments I understand it all
Feel it all
Because it's mine and it was written for me
By me
To me
Through every thing
No gaps, no time, just a flash
Infinite connections spanning lifetimes
I lost it again

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

What Marriage Has Reminded Me About Myself

Josh and I met because we were destined to meet.  We were laughing the other day about our circumstances beforehand.  What clueless kids we were!  I was pissed off for being assigned to Spanish. I was better than that, capable of far greater challenges, completely devastated by this silly little existence.  Josh was re-classed from SERE school (AF special forces) into munitions and he was pissed off for being undervalued and having his talents wasted, devastated by this silly little existence.  We thought we were so damned amazing.  Of course we had to be together.  We had to teach each other lessons about how we fail miserably and how we can succeed.  I already knew all these things about myself, but I never recognized their power to destroy or maintain a relationship.  Your personality is like a toolbox... if you use the tools correctly you get the job done, but if you try to saw wood with a screwdriver you're in for a lot of pain and frustration.

1. I am impatient
We only dated for 6 weeks.  We got married in jeans in front of a judge with no witnesses on one random Tuesday when we both happened to have work off.  We ate at a Denny's and didn't have a honeymoon.  Every assignment we had, we strove to change before it was officially over.  The only one we completely rode out was Spain, but not for lack of trying.  Josh fought hard to leave early and he lost.  Being impatient is a product of future-mindedness.  On one hand it's great because you're the ones who want to help change the world.  On the other hand you have to constantly remind yourself to spend time in the present so you can find gratitude.  Our biggest teacher for this lesson was the 38 month separation we were forced to endure.  Focusing on the future kept us sane, but focusing on one day at a time was vital as well.  It was an interesting mix and we had plenty of practice.  You can do anything for at least one day.  Suddenly it has been over 1,000 days and you're still going.  We knew it would eventually have an end if we just kept taking that one step at a time.  It's staying in the present while focusing ahead on that one point.  Our impatience makes us this amazing team with a focus on the future, but can also get us into financial trouble by spending the future in the present lol.

2. I am stubborn & competitive
I've been married to my husband for 12 years.  Most of them have not been good.  Did we divorce?  Nope... but, not because we're just that amazing.  We're stubborn as hell and neither one of us wanted to be the one who "gave up" or quit.  Our fights were explosive and accusatory... you find a fault? oh yeah well SO DO I!  You're the one that has to change, not me.  We got nowhere because we never listened, just debated.  Stubborn means you don't give up.  The one I was most competitive with was myself, and I refused to "fail".  I wanted to figure out the perfect solution to this problem, this relationship.  Both of us secretly tried to find answers, but rarely came together to find answers.  What we finally realized is that when two competitive, stubborn asses work together they figure that shit out... because we refuse not to... and it's deeply rewarding, but also frustrating and difficult.  It's a delicate dance at first, but when we stopped blaming each other and just started helping each other it served our egos in the best way.  I find exquisite joy in being his confidant, holding and protecting his secrets.  I won and so did he.  We're in so deep and I'm so far ahead that no one could ever beat me at this race with this man.  He is my prize and he's the most amazing person I've ever met... and I know him better than anyone else (winner again).  We are each others' biggest fans.  Making each other our #1 killed the competition we had going against each other, and also killed the idea of anyone else entering the competition.  We're a true team now.  Only took us about a decade lol.

3. I am afraid of criticism.  I'd rather give in than fight
This was very similar to the stubbornness and competition, but adds another aspect to the holes we were throwing each other into.  Sensitivity to criticism.  I fear criticism like the plague.  Every time I write something, no matter how innocuous it may seem (well, except for poetry, which is why I love it so much).  As soon as I hit that publish button I walk away and can't come back all day.  I can't see the comments right away because I'm terrified of what they will say.  When you're so afraid of not being accepted, you stop being honest.  When someone loves you and knows how sensitive you are to criticism, they stop being honest too.  After long silences and little "plays" on reality followed by intense blow-out fights, we finally figured out we're both sensitive to criticism, but our biggest critic is ourselves.  Now we speak a different language.  We don't talk about each other, we talk about what we say to ourselves and we are never another critic.  We discuss what we want to change, are ridiculously open about the process, and we only do it for ourselves, never for someone else.  Yeah we both benefit from transformation, but we don't pressure each other to do it.  We support.  We finally realized the attacks were based on fear so we took the fear out of our relationship.  I never fear talking to him because I know I'm the critic, and he's my fan.  Same goes for him.  It's so much easier to see what someone else does to themselves than it is to see what you're doing... we're mirrors for each other and we deeply respect our own personal journeys and the time it takes to make them.

4. I am idealistic
As much as I claim to hate romanticism, I'm still a woman with estrogen and progesterone who grew up on fairy tales, and I love our story.  I even love the dramatic parts where we almost split up.  I live in a fairy tale.  This can create a lot of tension because of unrealistic expectations.  I felt the pull of society, telling me that having high expectations is cruel.  Then Josh told me he felt the opposite, having no expectations of him means I have no faith in his abilities.  Once we started living our story instead of the one we thought was status quo we were a lot happier.  I expressed my expectations, and guess who happily rose to the occasion... yeah, he's my knight in shining armor.  I am married to someone who loves to face challenges so my idealism isn't idealistic and fantastic with him, it is entirely possible.  He proves me right all the time.  I have never met another person so successful and driven.  I admire him and he's teaching me how to be more self-confident.  My idealism could be detrimental to someone else, but to him it's like fuel.  It's another point to aim towards, fire at, and destroy.  He gets an immense sense of satisfaction from hitting all these high points and says he couldn't do it without me.  Ok, I'll take that :)  When you're both idealistic you find points to agree upon and paths to take together.  I love it so much.  It feels like we exist for a higher purpose and we're just conduits of energy when we sync up like that.  I feel incredibly supported because his idealistic image of me is one that I appreciate and head towards however I can at the moment; walk, crawl, sprint, trudge, just stare at in defeat.  He sees my true potential.  He's at my finish line cheering for me, but I'm running my own race.  I do the same for him.

5. I have issues with trust & vulnerability
I am independent.  I have always been rebellious, especially when it comes to anything having to do with men & women.  I hate gender norms and I love breaking them.  I always needed to prove I'm stronger than the boys.  I get pleasure from breaking female gender stereotypes like physical strength (yeah, I can do more pull-ups than you), food consumption (screw you all for thinking I just want a salad), fear (I ain't afraid of that spider).  I suppose this ties in with my competitive side.  I never want to need anyone or anything, but especially a man.  I am a self-control worshiper.  I can control my damn biology if I really want to (hahaha, silly girl)!  I can give up anything at any time and defeat its hold on me because I am strong and independent.  Needing to be in control made me very emotionally guarded.  Vulnerability is another word for weakness.  Trusting someone gives them power over you.  This is all true, but it's not bad if the person is trust-worthy.  Josh and I both pride ourselves on our independence and strength.  He's a knight and I'm a queen.  Whatever vulnerabilities we have aren't apparent or easily shared lest someone use them to destroy us.  We were always on guard and ready for betrayal.  I remember trying so hard to get him to open up to me, to trust me to help him.  Meanwhile, I was doing this from up high on a wall in a tower screaming down to him from a protected distance.  Once the mutual trust finally happened (little by little over time) and we proved ourselves to each other, we're pretty dang intertwined.  A queen needs a knight and a knight needs a queen.  We take this symbiosis seriously and treat it with care.  It's precious and precarious and was hard to come by.  Having one person I trust that I'm also vulnerable to helps me feel a little better about trusting others to not destroy me at the first opportunity.

There are so many other lessons I have learned by being married to my Joshua.  This was the kind of relationship we were supposed to have because our personalities, our biology, dictated it as such.  Monogamy and intense dedication to each other.  Other people in other relationships are completely different.  The best thing anyone in a relationship can do to get the most from their interaction, is be yourselves and try hard not to let others tell you what that should look like.  Who cares what that looks like to anyone else.  Of course it won't make sense to them, they aren't you!  I don't judge other relationships because... why the hell would I?!  Not only does it not affect me, but it isn't supposed to and it never will unless I am destined to learn something from them.  I have faith those people are interacting how they are because they're supposed to and I am not going to get in the way of that.  No one could have stopped Josh and I.  A lot of what we did didn't make sense to anyone else.  Why would it?  I remember that when dealing with others.  Just because I wouldn't do it, doesn't mean it isn't right for them or it isn't something they need.  I do not know better than whatever cosmic force brought them together.  Anyway.  The point I was on... Focus on each other because that's all the relationship is about.  Not necessarily forever, but at least until you know you've learned what you're supposed to.  They say relationships are mirrors that show you what you need to see.  I believe that.  I know there's more to learn with Josh and I welcome it.

A Day in the Life: Mommy

:: found this in my drafts folder, always thought it was too boring to post it, but I read it and I guess it's been long enough for me to think it's funny lol... life with toddlers is tough!! goes with these little gems ::

September, 2010

I was talking with Josh and mentioned my Day in the Life posts. I said there really was no point of doing a day in MY life when it's pretty obvious from the others what I do all day. It would be boring... "you might think it's boring, but the way you write makes it sound exciting"... I love him :) He's so nice lol. Now, normally our days aren't so routined and monotonous, but since we lack transportation we've become little robot hermits here. It's been 5 months since I had a vehicle at home. Most days I go a little crazy with the boredom and lack of spontaneity or adult conversation. Thankfully I have a good friend out here so we hang out a lot or at least talk on the phone almost daily. Thank you, Jessica!! ;) So, anyway... here's my normal day.

I usually wake up to crying or fighting, which is fine because alarms never register in my brain. I'll hear them, but they become some bizarre part of a dream like... the police are coming after me or there's an imminent nuclear attack. I've tried music, but all that achieves is a "Glee-like" dream... so why would I wake up haha. This is a big problem! My solution? I put an alarm clock in the playroom and gave Noah strict instructions to wake Mommy up when it goes off. Problem solved (unless by some miracle the kids sleep past 7). I roll my tired butt out of the nice warm blankets and jump into some jeans, glance at my black eyes in the mirror, grunt disapprovingly at my morning scowl, and head downstairs to start coffee. This is how the kitchen usually looks on a Monday morning. It's not this bad other days, but Josh cooks on the weekend and loves to use every single pot in the house to fix us his tasty masterpieces. I deal with the morning questions from Tristan and Noah while I nuke some oatmeal:
"Can we have apple cinnamon oatmeal, Mommy?"
Yes, I'm making some right now.
"What time is it?"
It's 7:10
"Can I have a cookie?"
No, you need to have breakfast.
"What day is it?"
It's Monday.
"Monday I have P.E."
"Can I have a cookie?"
No, no cookies for breakfast.
"Did you check the weather?"
It's going to be cold. You need to wear jeans and a long-sleeve shirt.
"Can I have a cookie, Mommy?"
No! You can't eat cookies for breakfast!
"But I want tooooo!!!"
I know. You can have one after lunch.
"But I want toooooooooooooo!!!"
I said no! I'm making you oatmeal.
"But I don't want oatmeal. I want a cookie!"
"Can I have a cookie in my lunch?"
No, Tristan! Yes, Noah I'll put a cookie in there.
::Tristan's crying and whining and will continue until oatmeal is in front of him::
"Did you put milk in it?"
Yes. I put milk in both of them.
"Can you cool mine off?"
I am, Tristan.
"I can stir my own."
I know. I didn't stir yours, Noah. Here you go, boys.
"Can we have some milk?"
I'm getting you milk right now.
"I don't want oatmeal!"
Ok then go play.
"But, I want oatmeal!"
Then eat your oatmeal!
"But, I don't want to!"
Tristan!!!... I have to go get your brother.

Brennan is standing in his crib, talking to the door and smiles when I walk in. Well hello there, sunshine!! I carry him downstairs and give him something to snack on while I make Noah's lunch. Noah goes upstairs to get dressed. Tristan stays behind since he's not quite finished after all the time he wasted crying about cookies. Brennan successfully gets out spoons, tupperware, pots, cans, and tinfoil in the 8 minutes it takes me to pack a lunch. Backpack ready to go. It's now 7:30. Time for shoes and coats. I run upstairs to get socks for Tris and Bren and get them ready to go. We have to be out the door by 7:37 or we'll miss the bus!!

I carry Brennan the whole way there while holding Tristan's hand. If at any point I need to break the hand-hold Tristan will cry. Brennan is heavy so I have to switch sides at least once on the way. Noah's off to school, we head back home. Coffee!!! I put on AFN (Armed Forces Network) in the living room so the boys can watch Sesame Street. I drink my coffee and start the dishes so I can make another mess. Tristan is once again begging for food and Brennan hasn't eaten yet so I make some breakfast for us. The living room is destroyed from the weekend. Yay for me!

In order to vacuum with our American machine I have to unplug the entire entertainment system from the converter box and plug it in there, up by the TV. Which means no cartoons. They don't mind. Tris and Bren love running away from the vacuum. They also love to yell as loudly as they can... I assume our sonorous vacuum makes them feel compelled to be equally loud. This doesn't bother me at all. They're not fighting and I am able to work so I'm happy. Dusting is a bit harder since Brennan likes to grab the spray or run his finger in it and then taste it. I work fast. Vacuumed, dusted, cartoons back on, back to the kitchen to finish my (now cold) coffee. Preschool time. Lunch time.

I love to cook. I especially love to cook colorful, healthy meals to feed my family. I get a sense of accomplishment when I know I am feeding them a good meal. I love fresh produce. I always have tons of fruits and veggies on hand. I make some type of salad with every lunch and dinner. I know, I know... stop all this excitement!! Sorry. So, it's finally nap time. More coffee... and I get to enjoy it this time while I check my internets for pertinent news and info (aka browse facebook). Sometimes I can't seem to pull myself away to do anything with the house. If I get on the computer at nap time, chances are I will stay on it until they wake up. I need to update all my worthless games on there!! DUH!! Seriously, what's the point of sweeping the floors or cleaning the bathrooms in a house full of boys. There isn't one. It's a vicious cycle of cleaning and re-cleaning that is very difficult to perpetuate on a daily basis. Sometimes I'll work on a scrapbook, read a book, or watch a movie. My "me time" is pretty uneventful and a little disappointing. I wish I could say I work on my thesis or go to a cafe for coffee and a torrija, but I don't. I play frontierville and mahjongg or "escape the room" games... because I'm not motivated.

Kids get up. I sit down with them in the living room and watch Spongebob Squarepants, trying not to fall asleep before getting Noah. I am not allowed to move because Tristan can't sit on my lap and he will throw a fit. Brennan gets jealous if he can't fit on my lap too. My coffee's worn off. The kids are quiet and warm. The silence and stillness makes me sleepy... very very sleepy... sigh... crap! Ok, it's only 3:30... one more hour. Tristan eventually perks up so we can go outside for a bit before getting Noah. Off we go.

We hang out outside until Josh gets home. Most days I have a 5 o'clock coffee all ready to go for him. I needs my mid-day cold coffee. I am so bored typing this I can't even finish... seriously... it's Saturday, but I feel like I am reliving Monday... ugh... I'll finish it on Monday during nap time!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

United Victims of America

Yesterday I was reminded of something I noticed about our society quite some time ago.  George Takei had posted an article of comics depicting sexism that's thrust upon boys.  I agree.  I have 3 boys and I see how they are pressured to fit into this macho mold.  That's not what I want to talk about though... that moment closed the circle for me.

We started bringing light to how society belittles, stereotypes, bullies, misunderstands, mistreats, and undervalues people a long time ago.  It really kicked in with the civil rights movement and feminism in the 60's.  Our downtrodden members fought for the understanding and compassion they deserved by sharing their stories, with the intent to draw out our empathy.  It worked beautifully, but I feel it created a dangerous side-effect.  We became a nation obsessed with victim-hood.  Suffering became the barometer by which we measured the value of a person's opinion or worth.  If you haven't suffered, we're not listening to you... if you haven't suffered enough, we're not listening to you.  You see evidence for it when we tell someone "you don't understand you never had --- happen"... and while that may be true, humans are capable of empathy.  I felt it in the military community among those left behind and those coming back.  Wives competed for who had the worst stories (most kids, worst assignment, longest time), who won the prize for enduring the most suffering.  Guys coming back, sharing where they were and for how long to see whose war was the worst.  It's a game we all play, comparing suffering, and if you think about that it's really messed up to want to be the one to win that competition.

Victim worship is creating a very dangerous environment for our children.  Victims are becoming the bullies now.  Empathy and compassion have to be won through suffering.  Value is measured in hardship.  If we keep telling our kids that we only listen to victims, they're going to become victims.  The majority of school shooters are middle-class white males, the ones our society has deemed to "have it all"... obviously they're missing something.  You don't choose your race or your parents' income.  We also show our kids through the news media that only crime and despair deserve recognition.  My facebook newsfeed is packed with "understand me" articles that point out how everything we say is taken as an insult by some group or another.  A blog I used to love started this "domestic enemies" series to help inform, but it became a competition over who has it worse.  We need to prove we suffer more because that's our societal worth, and it has gotten to the point that we overreact to everything so we can become victims.  We want to be victims!  Subtle and constant, these messages effect us.

I wrote "Wounded" about myself, but this is an epidemic.  People join groups dedicated to their pain and suffering and it defines who they are: rape victim, alcoholic, pain victim, death of a family member, PTSD sufferer, overeater.  I think the support and love of these groups is important, but some are missing the point.  It's supposed to be a place you go for guidance on how to heal, not where you go to stay sick.  I used to feel guilty for not being made to suffer more.  I used to want to break my arm so I could have a cast (and the attention of others).  That's so messed up!  But, that's our message.  We haven't created an environment that encourages health yet.  We are still diagnosing the problems.  I get it.  I see it, and I understand it.  So, now that I've seen the complaints of the men getting bullied, which was the original "audience" to begin with, maybe we're going to start valuing health instead of wounds.  The underlying message the victims are shouting is that no one person is like another.  We shouldn't be grouped with another just because you sense a pattern.  We should stop assuming knowledge about people based on appearance or class (sociology is not helping us)... that's the message.  Message received?  We have now established that EVERYONE is a victim at times.  Everybody suffers.

We can heal or keep picking our scabs off to reopen the wounds.  It's up to us.  Remember: we don't ask a therapist to tell us all about their lives to prove they're worthy of helping us through their own personal suffering.  Insight doesn't only come from pain.  How do we encourage a society full of victims to start healing themselves?  Turn the conversation inward to self-love and forgiveness, not outward towards anger and blame.  Take ownership of the present, regardless of who made the mess, and make the decision to clean it up.  It's already happening!  Let's keep it going.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Illusion of Control

I spend an inordinate amount of time out in nature and, like Einstein so aptly suggested, it helps me "understand everything better".  Lately the lesson I have been shown over and over again is how arrogant we are as humans.  For no real reason that I can think of other than our desire to be in control, we write off most of our behaviors to choice.  Why?

It makes no sense to think nothing we do (other than suckling) is pre-programmed into our DNA like every other animal and living thing on the planet.  Some of the most bizarre and amazing behaviors exist in other living things... like the bowerbird that constructs beautiful works of art to attract a mate (without ever being taught).  The poisonous frogs that live in the rainforest that dutifully carry their tadpoles one by one to a specific  kind of plant and feeds them until they grow legs.  The octopus that starves herself to death for 6 months to protect her eggs.  You can watch these and more on Netflix, a great little series called "Life".  The more mundane and well-known behaviors of walking, swimming, finding food or a mate, hiding, flying, playing, fighting... all behaviors that are never taught.

It's easy for us to look at these behaviors in other animals and chalk them up to "nature", something that is programmed from the beginning.  But, I wonder what we do that's programmed?  Testing our boundaries and the world around us is vital, and we do it as infants and toddlers, but why?  And why do we adopt the behaviors of our social group?  Think of the kids raised by animals who adopted animal behaviors to survive... that pull to fit in made us who we are, the ultimate mimics.  What does that mean in the context of our society?  Do we really have our own minds or is the concept of Sigmund Freud's "group mind" a reality?  Advertisers already know the answer to that one ;)  Most likely it's a combination of both.  I would love for us to stop looking at ourselves as separate from nature and really study us the same way we view the rest of the living world, unbiased and with a glut of excitement to observe and report.  I think we're taking great strides towards this in recent years.  It's going to take a lot of humility from the human population to carry it even further.  Admitting we have less control can seem like we're writing people a permission slip to be immoral... I disagree as long as it's with a testable science and not sociology, which is not a real science in my book.  Sociology is the science of deception and persuasion, which uses our innate behaviors against us.  Not that it's evil, but it does prey on the group consciousness.

I do think we're unique and special, but not in all the ways we seem to celebrate.  We are a collection of innate behaviors that lead us to become some of the most fascinating animals on this planet.  The ability to feel awe and gratitude when looking at a sunset, for one... appreciation of beauty, expressing emotion through various means, creating music and art to convey emotion.  We are awesome, and finding out why isn't going to change that.  We can really understand ourselves if we understand what we're working with.  On a side note, I believe that the word "nature" applies to everything that exists.  Everything.  If it wasn't natural, it wouldn't be here.  There's no such thing as "unnatural" because simply existing is a natural phenomenon.  Normal and natural are not interchangeable.  In understanding the laws of nature, we understand ourselves and our link to everything else.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Pick it Up

Taking credit for my art
Would be like claiming control over my height
I just have it, so I do it
You see
The positive aspects, I brush aside
Give them over to chance, god, circumstance
The negative ones, though, they're all mine
I clutch onto them like an addict
My drugs
Obsessing over the parts of me I despise
Imagining control over their creation and demise

I cannot see my value today
I struggle to un-focus my eyes
To see me as a whole
Not just the parts that are broken
As I try to run from them

If I would just pick them up
Accept them as they are
I could find a way to carry them on
To keep moving
To allow their added weight 
     to strengthen me
God help me



I used to relish my pain
Displayed it like a prize
Framed it, laminated it
Showed it to everyone
Told its story
Like it was my child
It defined me
It excused me
It kept me hidden
And blameless
I was proud of it
Like it made me special
Thought it was conquered
Through experiencing it
This is never the case
So it made me sick
Eventually I saw
I took it down from my walls
And am healing... but...
Sometimes I miss... it's just
It's hard to quit

Friday, July 10, 2015

Words Words Words

I want to write words that can sing
Carry you off in their meaning
Or ones that sit in your gut like gravel
Grinding at your core until you can finally

I want words that can paint the perfect picture
Draw metaphors that transport you into another's shoes
The geese, the path less taken, the caged bird

I want to pull you in close like we're sharing a secret

just you and me





That one perfect thing that awakens you

The flame
The seed
That's what I want my words to be.

I want to find words that attach to your heart
And make it pound
     and ache
       and skip

I want to write words that can finally fill
That empty space
You hadn't known was there in the first place

I want to confuse you with
Me an in G
Send you h----u....n-t---ing
M-a-k-e y-o-u slow down and t-h-i-n-k
About what you're avoiding.

I want words that have exceptional power
Grand, rushing, tidal waves
That can melt stone
Or topple mountains
Destroy entire planets
Just so you can start over again

I want words you can wallow in
Marinate in, bathe in, get drunk on
Ones you desperately want to soak up
Words you need to ingest
Devour, inhale, snatch, absorb

I want words that ignite your passions
I want to give them to you
Because they aren't mine
They were given to me too



It's not just a haircut
It's a promise to myself
It's a release
It's me allowing ME
To show myself

It's adopting the attitude
Of the confident, the proud
The artists
The lesbians
The black women
The feminists
The punk rockers
All the defiant women
Who say "we know you don't accept us
But, we accept us
And that's all that matters".
I've admired them for 19 years
I am these women

It's more than a haircut
It's a promise to myself
To stop being a victim
Stop hiding within myself
To unapologetically
And openly
And honestly
Live MY life
Without limits placed by others
Without pressures enforced by others

It's about me letting ME speak
And live
And be
And it scares the shit out of me
But, I'm ready
I can't wait to be free
Be the badass I want to be
I can do it
It's always been in me.

Lost and Found


I missed the feel of it
I missed the look of my own handwriting
Creeping over the page
Unplanned and in pen
A permanent record of
Given the importance of being written

Thursday, June 25, 2015

What Slavery Did and What We Still Do

Yes, that slavery.  I know... I can feel the collective chest tightening as you get a little scared for me, a white girl, trying to talk about this topic.  She's going to put her foot in her mouth!  What's going to happen!  What makes me qualified to talk about this?  I live in the USA and I have access to our history.  Mostly, though... I WANT to.  I'm tired of feeling like we're separate.  I am done being quiet.  We need some honesty and some introspection.  I am so so so tired of this racism and silence and I realize I'm part of the problem if I keep my views to myself.  "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter" - MLK

Disclaimer :: I KNOW this won't apply to all people.  I'm talking about the general separation that we keep between us, black and white. Where did it come from?  Why is it so regional? I speak from my own personal experience.  If you don't have this experience I am honestly very happy for you! 

I am approaching this from a more science based factual evidence type standpoint.  This is what happened and it lead to this and this.  These are my observations.

OK so let's do some math.  You can read for yourselves here.  First of all we have the white colonists who fled their homelands and came to the new world for a better life.  Slavs (eastern Europeans) were indentured servants who eventually worked off their debt and then were given their own piece of land.  The first African slaves landed in Virginia in 1619 and were much cheaper than the indentured servants from eastern Europe so they kept them coming until the slave trade was outlawed in 1808, but it went on within the USA regardless because we needed the labor force for farming in the south.  Between 1774-1804 all the northern states had abolished slavery.  The North didn't have an economic need for slavery and they felt a little hypocritical since they fought for freedom from British rule.  The official "freeing" of slaves didn't happen until 1865 when we adopted the 13th amendment.  That's about 250 years or 10 generations of slave culture in the south, about 200 years in the north.  It wasn't until another 100 years or 4 generations later that we had the civil rights movement in 1965.  That is a total 346 years of African people in America being considered less than by law while the overwhelming majority of white people allowed it to happen or perpetrated the crimes.  Societal change happens in generations, not in individuals, but it's our job as individuals to be the drops of water that make up the sea... we sculpt the rules of our generation that will be passed down.  There it is again: small parts that make up big parts.  So far we've been "recovering" from slavery for 150 years.  Maybe it will take another full 150 years to completely undo the damage of slave culture... which would be 2165... it's not as long as you think, just 6 generations.

I'm from Ohio, which was a free state.  So why the racial divide in the bigger northern cities even though they were free states?  I think it's because of the combination of the Underground Railroad and Fugitive Slave Acts.  The Underground Railroad had safe havens in these larger northern cities, but once these Acts were passed in 1793 it set the stage for some serious mistrust between blacks and whites, even in the free states.  If a slave from the south made it north and was not captured and returned, everyone involved would be severely punished.  They also passed laws limiting their freedoms so it was basically just a change of scenery.

It wasn't until 1864 (2 generations later) that those laws were repealed, which didn't mean the abuses stopped.  By then the damage had been done and a culture had been formed.  Blacks didn't trust whites, especially law enforcement, and whites ignored the plight of blacks out of fear or were the cause of their suffering.  And don't forget the 100 more years of forced segregation all over the country.  No wonder.  NO WONDER!

Freeing slaves wasn't as great a favor as it sounds.  Where were they supposed to go?  What were they supposed to do?  Very few bothered helping them integrate into what was considered "American society".  Few slaves were provided an education.  Basically, they were turned out on their ears and then hunted down by disgruntled confederates.  Freedom indeed!  They were not allowed in hospitals or schools.  They were still segregated from the white population and that's how things went on for 100 years.  ONE HUNDRED YEARS we were divided by laws.  Once integration bills were signed we were no longer required to remain separated, but by that time we had all been raised that way.  Generations had to die off, others had to adapt, some didn't.  This is why we're still coming out of this.  We have separation ingrained in our divided cultures.  We haven't been with each other for such a long time that it has become our natural behavior and if we truly want to stop racism, we need to recognize our roles in it and do what we can to get over it.

I don't think anyone needs to specifically target one incident or another to justify their belief that there is a problem in this country between black and white people.  We have been segregated for so long that we don't really know each other.  The only cure is to reach out and integrate our lives.  It should not be a black community and white community anymore.  We young people are going to be the ones that pass our ideals on to the next generation.  Our kids see it in our actions.  They see us not make eye contact or not greet each other.  They notice.  They see who comes to our houses for dinner.  They see who we spend time with.  They see us not sit next to each other in classrooms, on buses, in subways, on park benches.  We need to step out of our comfort zones to start healing these wounds that have been left open for centuries.  It's going to take little steps.  It's going to take ACTIONS and words.  It's going to take discomfort in our communities and our individual lives to start going against our current cultural norms.  It's going to take all of us embracing each other and allowing us to share and make mistakes.  We have to learn to be together together.  You can't interact if you're not with each other.  All this takes time and effort.

I see every attitude and action as a culmination of history and learned behaviors that we shall overcome some day... I do take responsibility for them, but I am not ashamed because I am trying and I'm open.  I hope you take time to examine your own views and actions and do your own research.  Be honest with yourselves and look with unbiased eyes at this history.  It's really that simple (and difficult).  This isn't about blame, it's about finding the source so we can move forward.  Most of the "most dangerous cities" everyone likes to tout as a justification for racism had very strict laws against blacks, especially black men, from working in skilled jobs or voting or even going to church or school, assuring they would not become productive members of society.  White people were taught that black people are small minded, violent, uncivilized, aggressive, dirty, even less evolved.  Let's own our history.  Let's learn it.  Let's not be afraid it will separate us even more.  It is our shared history and our kids will understand it was the past.  It's the only way to truly understand our present.

Why do we really do what we do?  What motivates our actions: love or fear?  We can't rewrite history, but we own the present and we're responsible for the future.  It's our job as a nation to help pull these people out of this gigantic pit we dug for them and forced them into.  It wasn't our generation that was responsible, but it's our generations that suffer.  We have to take these people in and care for them without all this disdain and anger... heal this wound.  Let's do something.  Let's start with love.  Let's start with compassion.  Let's start with honesty.  The majority of what goes on in our country is positive.  Keep it up.  Share those moments and make some for yourself.  Stand up for what's right, even when you're only with "your own kind".  This is where we are, but where do we want to be?  Let's figure that out and make sure our actions reflect the changes we plan to accomplish.

I personally would like to see one gigantic cross-cultural party on June 19th next year and every year following to celebrate the end of slavery.  It is something to celebrate.  It's something to acknowledge.  It's a party just dying to happen!  This issue needs to be infused with positivity and love... the only cure for hate.