Uncategorized

19 years

On this day, we say we’ll never forget but when will it end? Every year I feel antsy. I feel like I can’t breathe and I’m going to throw up. I’m sad and upset and filled with irrational worry.  It didn’t even live in New York or Pennsylvania.  I didn’t know any of those who died. Yet, I can’t get past it.  I can’t look at this day now as just another day. Is that what “Never Forget” means?

It’s been 19 years. We say we stand united yet it feels like we are more separated than ever. Between politics, the pandemic, and life, we look at each other like they are the enemy.  You’re a Republican, you’re an asshole. You’re a Democrat, you’re an asshole. You’re a police officer, you’re an asshole. You’re black, you’re an asshole.  You’re white, you’re an asshole. Everyone hates everyone else. We are all so quick to point the finger and proclaim the other guy the problem. 

America, we need to get our shit together. Those crazy bastards that attacked us 19 years ago, they have nothing on the destruction we are currently waging on ourselves. 

It’s not hard, y’all.  You, reading this, you are not any more special than the next person. Start treating everyone with respect – like you would like to be treated. It doesn’t matter if they didn’t “earn” your respect. Be nice. If you can’t be nice then shut the hell up and walk away. Stop blaming others for your screwups or how life is so unfair. Find some bootstraps and lift your own self up. No one is responsible for your happiness/well being/success but you.  Work every day to make everything you touch to be a little bit better than the way you found it. If you’re having a hard time, ask for help. 

We can do this. We are Americans. 

 

 

 

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Uncategorized

Tales from the Road – Part 2

Last week I promised y’all a story of why my backside is probably floating around the dark web. So, without further ado, on with the story. 

The place where I had to go to get my fingerprints done was a law office on the town square of Podunk, TX.  Incidentally, the square was adorable. The courthouse was just like you’d picture in your head. The outside of the law office was equally picturesque.  I open the door and it looked exactly like a law office in a small town should – old tin tiled ceiling, rich paint job on the walls and lovely decor. The waiting room was separated by a door so you really couldn’t see what was in the back of the office but suffice it to say the place looked nice. Yeah, it looked really nice until I was called back.

I was welcomed back (20 minutes after my appointment) and was met with cheap 1970s fake wood paneling and forest green shag carpet.  The furniture looked like it had been picked up at The Goodwill Store and the most high tech thing I saw was the fingerprinting rig.  After the fingerprinting was over, I asked if I could use the bathroom. The lady said, “Sure, it’s the first door on the left.”

I walked down the hall and the first door on my left looked like an abandoned, very dirty break room/kitchen. The lights were off and I couldn’t see much but I did notice litter on the countertops. I thought maybe the lady had her left from her right mixed up so I went to the first door on my right. That was a boardroom with more shoddy furniture and clearly not a bathroom.  So, I went back to the weird kitchen area.  It had two doors inside that room. The first door was a janitorial closet with a water heater and such.  Again, clearly not a bathroom.  The other door had reflective mailbox stickers – you know the black and gold kind that come on a big sheet in the automotive section at Walmart – that spelled out the word “Private”.  I tried that door expecting to find God only knows what behind the door but instead found a toilet.  

Hooray! Success, I found it. My back teeth were floating so you know whatever – any port in a storm. I felt around for the light, flicked the switch and shut the door all in one motion. The light started trying to come on overhead. It was buzzing and crackling like I was in some sort of creepy gas station in a bad slasher film.  There were actual flies buzzing around the toilet and half the ceiling was falling in.  I could see thick yellow insulation and what appeared to be broken duct work hanging out of the old sorta white-ish drop tile ceiling.  I say sorta of because some sections had ceiling tiles while other sections were completely missing. The wall opposite the toilet had a hole in it. Like I said, my back teeth were floating so I relieved myself. The whole time I was sitting there peeing all I could think of is this is the kind of place where they stash hidden cameras and you end up on the dark web, or worse some peeper creeper is sitting there looking at you pee from some glory hole cut into the wall or worst of all this is how my organs are going to be harvested and I will wake up in a bathtub full of ice.  Thank God, I peed quick.

I finished up and was happy to find very good toilet paper not the single ply wood chip variety – were talking Charmin. I stood up and attempted to flush and wouldn’t you know it the damn thing won’t flush.  I tried again, this time holding down the handle. I’ve had my fair share of experience with  cranky old toilets. The second time was a success but that too was a near miss.  Incredibly, the sink had soap but no paper towels.  I shook my hands like Dash in Incredibles 2 and used a big wad of toilet paper to complete the job.  But, wouldn’t you know it, the trash can situation was a train wreck as well. The trash can was a standard plastic kitchen garbage can with the top ripped off and no trash bag liner. There was several wadded up pieces of toilet paper or white substance in the bottom so I just added mine to the collection and super fast walked out of that place.  When I got to my car, I doused my hands in Purell.  

So, if you happen to be noodling around on the dark web and you find a picture of a woman in red Flora Bama bar tshirt on the toilet that’s me.  Sorry my ass is so white and not tanned. You’re welcome. 

And, as if all of this wasn’t enough, sometime while I was driving home I got an email stating they didn’t get a good enough print on a few of my fingers and they have to re-do it! To say I’m pissed is an understatement. All that driving and the creepy bathroom for nothing. There is no way I’m going back to that crazy place to get my prints done. Now, I get to go have my prints done at another place. Let’s all pray it’s not at some run down law office Podunk, TX. 

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Uncategorized

A View from the Road

I had to go get fingerprinted for my new job. And since so many places to do this are closed or overrun with people I had to drive two hours away to a tiny East Texas town to accomplish this errand. I’m always amazed/intrigued/interested in the ordinary. The day to day life of others. Sometimes I think of blogging this stuff but it happens for few and far between I couldn’t replicated it on a consistent t basis but I digress. Without further ado here are the things that drew my attention today. 1. There is an inordinate amount of condom stores here on Texas. Any while we are on the topic why do we need condom stores. Those thing ra can be found literally everywhere. From gas stations to CVS to Walmart. There is no need for theses places other than to have an awkward conversation with your newly minted 7/8 year old reader when they ask you mommy what’s a condom. 2. Building on this I saw a billboard for a that stated don’t forget your protection. It showed a pair of rubber gloves, a mask and a condom. Seriously y’all? That just conjures images of nelkid people wearing all of these at the same time. That’s really not sexy. 3. And to build on this whole idea further i saw a place that sold all these items. They billed themselves as a place for all your PPE. I sure home they sell nomex fire retardant outfits and real respirators while they’re at it. 4. As I was in the wait room for my fingerprinting there was a small child. I’d say about 5 years old that was carrying on a very detailed conversation with her family. She was adorable and talked very adult like. Shortly after I arrived a police siren sounded and she said oh no the police are coming to get me and threw herself to the ground. Her mother told her the police were not coming to get her if she hadn’t done anything wrong. I found that so telling. That whole interaction. Where did she get that idea and why did she respond that way especially give. The fact that her mom seemed to be of the camp that the police are our friends. Very interesting.

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Uncategorized

Life Update

I got a new job! And, I still have my old job. They are both similar. The official title for my new job is Twos class assistant teacher. It’s a great schedule with some great kids – a few I already know from my other job.  

I have been in state mandated training all week including Covid-19 training. Y’all these state mandates are no joke. Anyway, I have nothing interesting to say except my posting schedule will be a bit crazy for a few weeks.  I have more training, lesson planning and such. I hope to either keep my normal posting day of Wednesday or establish a new one in the coming weeks.  

Most school system I know are back to school. If you are, I wish you peace and a bottle of wine.  

For those that may be impacted by the hurricane in the Gulf, please know I’m thinking of you. It wasn’t so long ago that I lived in a hurricane zone. It’s usually not so bad but when you are trying to make the hard decision to stay or flee, it sucks.  

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Motherhood/Parenting

School Days

people on a video call

Welcome to Metroburg ISD Middle School Orientation for Virtual Class Instruction. I am your host Jane Smith. We are just going to wait a few minutes for everyone to hop on our Webex and then we’ll begin.

Nearly 150 people are talking at once. Above the ruckus, the following is heard:

“Daaaaadddd, turn off your camera.”
Agitated female speaking a middle eastern language punctuated by shouts.
Several very loud small children and babies crying in the background.
“I have a question about my child’s AP class.”
“How can I access my child’s assignments?”
“When are we going to get schedules?”
“Mom, put your microphone on mute.”

Now, if everyone would please put your microphone on mute and your camera to off it will help the chat flow better. Additionally, if you would please type your questions in the chat on the sidebar my partner, Ted, will answer your questions while I give my presentation which I will be sharing on-screen with you.

No one, like not a single person, puts their mic on mute.

Ted, how can I mute everyone? There isn’t a button for me to mute everyone. No, Ted, it’s not highlighted. Ted, how do I share the screen with everyone? No, Ted, the share button isn’t highlighted either.  Jane is clearly distraught and looks like she doesn’t know if she should cry or cuss.  She definitely needs a drink.

Still, not a single person mutes their mic, and several people of Indian descent continue to pepper the host with questions about schedules, AP classes, and the gifted program.  Each voice becomes progressively louder so as to be heard over the other. The noise in my earbuds is deafening. I’m about to click “leave meeting” and just pray to God the slideshow is emailed later when out of nowhere above all the other voices:

“OHMYGOD, like I’m having really bad anxiety right now with all this noise is this a presentation or a Q and A?!” 

Poor Ted finally figures out how to help our host, Jane mute everyone and share her screen.  This online orientation is now roughly 8 minutes in. If this is any indication how any of the online classes are going to go we are well and truly screwed. 

Incidentally, I know these presentations were delivered by administrators, not teachers. I know there will be hiccups. Technology will not work. Webex invites won’t get sent. The internet will go out. At some juncture, the day will be totally fubar and everything will be a shit show. But, I know many of my teacher friends are working hard to make it right for the kids. 

I’ve told my kids to try their absolute best and stay flexible. That’s the best any of us can do.

Now, will someone tell Mr. Patel and Raja’s mom (no kidding actual people from my Webex) to calm their tits about the freaking AP class and mute their mics.

Photo Credit: Anna Shvets for Pexels.

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Musing, Uncategorized

Cotton

cotton flower

Several years ago, I was in Nashville seeing family for the holidays. I can’t remember the ends and outs of the conversation but at some juncture, my youngest half brother said something that has stuck with me ever since. He said and yes, I’m quoting here, “We should have picked our own cotton.”

At the time I thought that was the most racist thing I’d ever heard in my entire life. I’m pretty sure I even said as much because I’ve never been one to mince words. He countered with it would have solved a lot of problems. Again, at the time, I couldn’t see his statement was a little bit brilliant. I was too busy being outraged and offended. Hindsight is an amazing teacher.

So, what if we had picked our own cotton? What would that have looked like for our country? Slavery would still have been an issue. It was legal and worldwide for centuries. Hell, it still exists in some fashion with sex trafficking. Although, I doubt it would have been as big of a problem for our country as it has been. The south probably wouldn’t have been quite so geared toward the planter class. Sure there would have still been plantations but they probably wouldn’t have been as big. It would have taken a lot of money to pay all those people a wage instead of buying folks for a flat price and making them work. All of that money shelled out for wages would have kept the plantations smaller. It would be interesting to know if it would have accelerated the industrial revolution. After all, the north had most of the manufacturing while the south was mostly agrarian.

But, what of the subjugation of a whole race? That’s hardly a new concept and the United States doesn’t hold the patent on that behavior. The caste system was around long before the United States was even a dream. Its effects can still be seen worldwide. Forms of the caste system are still alive and well. While not the same as slavery, some can see parallels in the treatment of Chinese and Irish immigrants during the turn of the last century as well as the undocumented and newly arrived Hispanic people of today. The undocumented are often forced to work ridiculously hard, for a pittance and no security. Living in Texas I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard peers say things like “Just go get you an illegal to do that yard work or I have a girl who does my house for dirt cheap and I pay her in cash.” I always shake my head when I hear this. I fear we are setting ourselves up for another group to rise up against “the man”. Just last week we had some concrete work done at our house.  The guy that came out to bid the work and schedule the job was a white guy. The crew that came to do the work was 100% Hispanic. The only person on the whole job that could communicate with us was the lead guy and even that was broken English at best.

What are we supposed to do in these situations? I don’t want to contribute to the subjugation of a particular group of people yet I don’t want to be the asshole that calls up the company and complains.  I don’t know if these workmen are here legally or illegally. It would be wrong for me to assume either way. At the end of the day, I want these guys to get paid fairly for the work they are doing. I want them to have options. I don’t want a particular job or occupation to automatically be for one race or group only. Yet, I feel our society is kinda set up that way. Don’t most of us try to steer our kids away from manual labor type jobs? Let someone else’s kid do that menial/manual labor job; you’re going to college and making something of yourself. Sound familiar?

How can we be part of the solution instead of the problem? I’m not sure. I do a lot of do it yourself but clearly, that’s not enough. I don’t have the skills to do that concrete work.  I did hire a reputable company to do the work but what if they hire people for a pittance.  What if they employ undocumented folks and don’t pay them anything? I’d like to think they don’t but again, I don’t know.  In the meantime, I will mow the grass and clean the house and the hubs and I will continue to DIY projects as much as possible. I will do what I can to pick my own (metaphorical) cotton.

Photo credit: Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

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Musing

Dairy King

There’s an old phrase that says you can’t go home. I, for one, believe it. Being the sentimental fool that I am, I hate to see a change that I didn’t instigate. When one goes home you see how the world has marched on without you – growing and changing while you have stayed the same in relation to that place.  It’s a little bit heartbreaking – at least for me.

This last Friday another piece of my childhood died. No, it wasn’t a person. It was a place, The Dairy King Drive-In in Nashville, TN.  Its original location was walking distance from my house. It served cones, shakes and homemade fried pies along with burgers and fries. Sometime in the 1970s they started serving a meat and three plate lunch every Monday through Friday. I can still taste their cornbread cakes that came with every meal. They came out in these little wax paper sandwich baggies.  They didn’t even need butter as they were dripping with butter or maybe it was grease – but they were so delicious.

The place flooded more times than anyone could count but they rebuilt and kept dishing out great food. Over the years, they grew and expanded to include the original building and an air-conditioned eating space right next door.  When the whole city of Nashville endured a massive flood in 2010 everyone thought they were done for good. But, like a phoenix from the ashes, they rebuilt in a new place where they wouldn’t get flooded again but in the same neighborhood of Woodbine/South Nashville.

Even though I rarely return to Nashville, I still followed their page on Facebook.  Last week, when they announced this would be their last week of business it was all I could do not to jump in the car and drive 14 hours just for one of their plate lunches. It absolutely broke my heart. I have wonderful childhood memories of talking my mother or one of her siblings into taking me to get a cone at night after dinner. When my Granny was sick with cancer their plate lunches were about the only thing she’d eat. To think I will never again be able to get those cornbread cakes in a wax sandwich bag just hurts me down to my soul.

I understand why they are closing. They just can’t make ends meet with all the Covid-19 restaurant closures and the new mortgage from the “new” 2010 building.  As they said in their farewell Facebook post, they cannot cover 100% of their expenses on 50% of their income. I know countless other businesses are in the same boat. Covid isn’t only killing people, it’s destroying people’s lives and livelihoods.

I wish I could do something to help Dairy King re-open/stay afloat but since they have put the business up for sale, I’m pretty sure I can’t. Instead, I will get take out from my favorite mom and pop Chinese or Mexican place. It’s not the same but hopefully, it will make a slight difference to another small business.

Photo Note: I’d love to add a photo on this one but they are all someone else property.  If you want to see what the place looked like just google Dairy King Nashville.  Maybe a local Nashville artist will paint the building before it’s gone. I’d buy a copy of that.

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Musing

Time for a break

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As the kids say these days, we did a thing. We took the great American road to the Gulf Coast and it was glorious. We drove through 5 states and it took us two days although we could’ve done it in one. We passed giant RV buses, pull behind campers and mini-winnies. Nearly every car we passed had a clamshell on top or a trailer hitch shelf carrying a cooler or beach chairs.

I rediscovered things about this part of the country that I had forgotten – the way the marsh smells, cattails in ditches, adorable fruit stands on two lane roads that sell boiled peanuts, tomatoes the size of softballs and molases. I forgot the accents of Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.  I have a strong Southern accent. No one would ever mistake me for a New Yorker that’s for sure but there are tiny nuances in those states’ accents I had totally forgotten. Every store, and I do mean every store, carries beach goods, towels and sunscreen. Everyone is laid back and rarely in a hurry – from cashiers at the grocery store to the lady cleaning the pool area of the condo.  Servers are about the only people who hustle. What’s crazy is no one seems to mind the slow pace.  

As for the beach, the waves and sunshine were plentiful. Nearly every afternoon there was a 2 pm rain storm. And, there was seafood. So. Much. Seafood. I had forgotten how much I loved eating things that had been swimming in the ocean only a few hours ago.

We laid on the beach and drank beer. We boogie boarded and fished in the marshes and Intercoastal waterway with frozen bait shrimp. One night we played mini golf which jogged our memory. It seems on every beach vacation we’ve ever been on we’ve played mini golf. Go figure that would be our thing as we are not real golfers.

We all stayed up as long as we wanted and got up when we felt like it. The only day we used an alarm clock was on the day we had to check out. Since I’m a horrible sleeper, I usually got up and watched the sun rise over the water. I could easily spend the rest of my life waking up to the sound of the ocean. 

Before we left, I did something I always do every time I go to the beach. I stand there with my feet in at the edge of the water and I stare out into that vast blue horizon. I say a prayer of sorts.  I silently thank the ocean for a great time and for being there all beautiful and powerful. I promise to return even though I never know when that will be. Finally, I close my eyes and just listen for a few minutes while letting the water pull the sand and thus me into the ocean. After a few seconds, I am truly at peace. I have sand and salt water in my veins. I am sure of it. 

Photo Credit: Me

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Musing

Crying Jag

photo of woman covering her face

I cried today.  That’s nothing new. Every since this pandemic/quarantine started I cry about something every few days. I never know what will set me off.  Sometimes its the lack of something, sometimes it’s the feeling of being trapped, others its the feeling that nothing will ever feel normal or an injustice of some sort. Sometimes it’s sheer frustration over everything, all the million little things combined together that I can’t pick just one.  All I know is that I’m so done I can’t take another piece of bad or frustrating news no matter how big or small.

My latest crying jag comes compliments of a podcast by writer Sean Dietrich.  I was listening to his June 5th (yes I know a month late) entry entitled Essays from a Turbulent World.  The first story he tells just got to me. There I stood washing produce I’d just picked up at the store when big ole fat tears started rolling down my face. This guy is the writer I wish I was. He summed up all that I had been feeling in one little essay.

Here’s a link to the episode I spoke of but I invite you to download it on your platform of choice.
https://seanofthesouthshow.com/2020/06/05/essays-from-a-turbulent-world-sean-of-the-south/

Deitrich is on Facebook. He posts a daily essay there that has become my little ritual. Before I begin my day, I sit there on my couch with my coffee and read his essay before I look at my news app.  About a month ago, I discovered he did a podcast reading his essays among other things. He sounds like a Southern Garrison Keilor. His voice is both gruff and soothing and to me embodies a Southern gentleman.  He often speaks of music, fishing, his dogs, good food, manual labor, love, and family.  He pokes fun at things like Southern Baptists and how hell hath no fury like a woman who didn’t get her Tupperware back from a funeral wake.  In other words, he talks about all the things that make the world go round.  He’s worth a look or a listen.

Photo by Eternal Happiness free from Pexels.com.

 

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Rants

Granny

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I want to talk about my maternal grandmother. I called her Granny.  Today would have been her 95th birthday. Ninety five years – that seems like a long time and it is when you think about a person’s lifespan but when you think about time in general, it’s really not.

My Granny was a change of life baby. The last of 8 living children. In fact, the two oldest children had already left home when Granny was born.  To say she wasn’t welcomed would have been an understatement but then again she was because she was another helper in the fields.  You see my great grandparents were sharecroppers and they needed every pair of hands they had to tend to the fields.  Because my Granny’s older siblings were leaving the farm for city jobs and opportunities, my Granny dropped out of school after the 5th grade. She worked in the fields until she ran off to the nearest town and lied about her age to get a job in the lingerie factory where one of her older sisters worked. Granny laughed about making bras and underpants one minute and making parachutes for WWII the next.

One day a handsome full of himself soldier home from WWII whistled at my Granny walking on the other side of the street. She cussed him out for being “fresh”. They married soon after and had six children. Only four would live to adulthood.  My Granny and Granddaddy worked hard to support their family. My Granddaddy was a mechanic and my Granny a homemaker. When my Granddaddy got injured on the job and couldn’t work, she worked in a drug store that had a soda fountain until he could work again. Today we’d call them the working poor and they’d be eligible for public assistance. I was their first grandchild.  I was brought home from the hospital to their house and would live there until I was almost 7. By the time I came along Granny was pretty grumpy. She complained A LOT about a lot of things but she never really complained about her lot in life.  She was proud of how far she had come despite only having a 5th grade education. She had a house that was paid for and not a sharecropper house owned by some farmer.  She would never suffer the indignity her parents had of being put out of their home when they physically could no longer farm the land.  Her living children all went to elementary, junior high, and high school although not all of them would graduate at least they all went.  A few years later her first grandchild would graduate from high school and college – the first in my family on either side to do so.  When she died at 76 she left behind a pretty good legacy. She didn’t go down in the history books for doing great things but she was important to our family.

I told y’all about my Granny to say this – because of Granny and my other grandparents who share similar origin stories, I will never accept the premise of white privilege. When I hear phrases like “your people kept us down” and “your family owned my family” it makes my blood boil.  My family worked right alongside black families in the field working for the man.  My family scrimped, saved, and worked their asses off to get everything they got. Plenty of people tried to keep my family down but they kept trying to climb. One struggle is not equal to another struggle.

Do some people enjoy certain privileges due to social station, gender and/or race? Absolutely, but to lump everyone of a certain race together and make a blanket statement is completely and wholly false. Isn’t that one of the tenants of our current situation? Don’t make blanket statements? Don’t stereotype? Yet nowadays it’s almost a sin and a crime to be white. Newsflash y’all, no one gets to pick their race. No one gets to pick the social status one is born into. Racism has always been. One cannot change the hearts of people. People must change their own hearts. We must treat people – all people regardless of race, gender, or social station with kindness and respect. Until we all start doing our part nothing will change.

Photo Credit: Probably my mother.  This is a picture of my grandparents. I miss them every day.  That tiny head down at the bottom right is me. I was always looking up to them.  I still do.

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