Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Well, the holidays are over and I survived. I have to say this has probably been my least happiest and most hectic holiday since 2001/2002. All in all it was not awful, but it was hectic and crazy and from Thanksgiving on and I never once felt excited about the holidays, I only felt stressed and hectic about it. It used to be that Christmas was my favorite holiday of the year. I just loved everything about it-the decorations, the shopping, the lights, the songs. Of course, as an adult that has not been as true-as so much more is expected of an adult during the holidays than is expected of a kid. Yet, this year I just plain felt ba-hum-bug about the whole darn thing. But, it is over and the nicest thing I can say about it is ......it is over. I did not have a bad year. I was not too broke to buy what I needed and wanted to buy. I have a job with a future, my family is all alive and in good health and I had the good fortune to see them over the holidays. I am not sure what made this year so much more stressful and less hopeful than usual for me. Maybe it was the early cold and snow.
Either way, I have been asked at least 1000 times since yesterday how my holidays were and each time I have said "fine", but inside felt like saying OVER!!!!! is how my holidays are, finally done, already. Then on the way home this evening I was talking to my friend T and she was telling me about a friend of hers who was diagnosed the Monday before Christmas with Ovarian Cancer Stage 3-which has about a 10% survival rate. Suddenly, my holidays are whole lot better. I think I often discount the everyday things that make life excellent. I am older true, but I have my health and my mind. I do not make as much I would like- but I make enough to pay all of my bills and have most of the extras. I have friends who care about me and family that loves me. No one close to me is seriously much less terminally ill. I have heat and electricity and cable. My life is truly good and full.
I already hear folks talking about New Years Resolutions, what we want to see happen in the upcoming year. What I would really like for myself is to live and appreciate each moment as it happens, as it exists solely for what it is in that moment. Then, this time next year I will not be feeling like I can barely believe another year has passed and is gone and I STILL have not lost weight or remarried or gone back to college or bought a house or taken a cruise, etc, etc, etc. I spend so much time worrying about what has happened and what will happen that I forgot that I forgot about what is happening. Truly, this moment *is* my life.
~~~~Where ever you go, There you are!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Ah Yule morning with her hugging Care Bear Posted by Picasa
J with her stocking stuff on Yule morning. Posted by Picasa
B Yule morning with her new Samsung 950 cell phone Posted by Picasa
Ah helping me cook on Yule afternoon with her soft Barbie. Posted by Picasa
Ah on Yule morning with her talking/hugging Care Bear and soft Barbie Doll Posted by Picasa
A on Yule morning holding up her new GamBoy Advance Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 19, 2005

There is an interesting discussion on one of my online groups about racism and interracial dating. I think the general idea most people have is that anyone who would date outside of their own ethnic group could not be prejudiced, much less racist. In reality, nothing could be farther from the truth. Just because you love someone of a difference ethnicity does not necessarily mean that you can not be prejudiced or racist. My parents are different ethnicities and I would definitely say they are both biased and prejudiced. My mom definitely feels superior to the average black person and often refers to my black step-father as "ignorant". Which he is in many ways. I think she was attracted to my father-her first black husband partially because he is black. My mom grew up in a very small all-white yuppie community. Her mother-my maternal grandmother-was a "boater" from Norway and extremely snobby. She felt that farmers were beneath her, I can only begin to imagine how she felt about blacks. My mom and grandmother often knocked-heads and ideas. My grandmother was fairly openminded and liberal for her time and area. She rejected traditional Christianity with its fire and brimstone policy and instead focused more on meditation and Jesus' true message of love and acceptance. She gave money to the Black Panthers out of Chicago when they came to her door collecting long before my mother met my black father. In her own way I think she very much supported the Civil Rights Movement. I think she just had no real interest in it involving her family. My mother, who went to college even though she did not have the grades for it; who worked 12 hour-a-day shifts at the local truck stop diner while going to community college until she had raised her grades enough to qualify for the university and until she could save enough money to go and until she could get someone to sign for her to get student loans-my grandmother had refused to help her. She wanted my mom to marry and settle down with a family. My mom defied her mother and put herself through college. Their relationship was never easy and as both a daughter and the mother of a daughter I can understand how that happens. My mom saved $1,000.00 dollars and my uncle-her older brother-signed for her to get college loans after he returned from the Vietnam War. My mom still had mediocre grades and her first choice for university-Western Michigan-rejected her telling her she was just not college material. She persisted and eventually Central Michigan accepted her and she enrolled to finish her bachelors degree. There she met my father. My grandmother used to say that there were only 50 black students on the entire campus and of course my mother would find one to marry. My mother has a more romantic view of it. She says my father was on the football team and somewhat glamorous and she sang with the school choir and they started dating. He asked her out because he said she looked like some semi-famous folk singer-the name escapes my memory right now. He walked her home and rather than making out with her infront of the dorms like all of the other couples, he pulled her behind a tree for privacy and out of respect for her reputation. My father is a couple of years younger than my mom and I think in the beginning he loved her more than she loved him. She told me once that after they had been dating for awhile he asked her to marry him everyday for a whole year. She says she always said no because he was from the city-Detroit-and she was from the country and she did not think that would ever work. She also told me that when she took him to meet her family she had never told them he was black-she claims she forgot that, she just saw him as a person and never as black. I believed her for many years. However, as I grew older and saw my mom more realistically and lived in this country I began to see how untrue that was. I also saw how typical it was of my mom-who is the Queen of deNile-to never acknowledge anything she does not wish to see. I can only begin to imagine what that must have been like for my father. Here it was the 60's the height of the Civil Rights Movement-he was a native son of Detroit but his parents were children of the south and so I know he knew what it meant to be black in an all white area. He goes to meet my mothers family and they think he is lost and looking for directions. It was bad. Niether of them have ever gone into a whole lot of detail, but I have gathered that my aunt M-the middle sister and my uncle, both were quite rude and racist to him. I highly doubt my grandmother was any nicer. I am sure my mom tried to smooth it over by largely ignoring the difficulties-choosing not see them as only my mom can. She told me that my grandmother begged her not to marry him and asked her to come home and think about it first. She did come home, for a whole year after she had finished college while my father finished. At end of that year, in January after my father graduated from college, she married him in the chapel on campus. She told me that many of her white friends dated black men, though she was the only one of two couples that actually married black men. She thought by the time I was born and grew up the whole country would be mixed and I would be the rule rather than the exception. She also told me that when she was pregnant with me her mother convinced her that I would be born with mostly white skin with dark patches. Like that skin disease that some blacks have where they have no pigmentation in their skin in certain places. She said that although she knew in her heart that was not the case she still worried about it a lot. She said my uncle-her big brother-who has always been somewhat of a hero for her showed her pictures and studies where that was not true at all. Well, I was born, pretty darn white and I think my mom was relieved in her secret heart of hearts. Eventually she and my father divorced and my mom dated men mostly white for a while. Once I was an adult she confided in me that many white men liked her but were uncomfortable with her having been married to a black man and having a black child. She even told me about an Italian man she dated who teased her about black men being so good in the sack and how she had not had good sex until she had sex with an Italian. However, apparently he was so nervous about how he would measure in comparison to a black man that he was unable to perform. My uncle also was not very nice to her about being a 30 year divorcee' with a black ex-husband and child. Even going so far as to say no white man would have her. That was not true at all, but my mom chose to stay in the city where I could be near my father and other black people. I have to give my mom credit for that as it could not have been easy for her. She told me once that shortly after she and my father divorced an opening with the state near her mom and her home town became available and she seriously considering applying for it and moving home. She did not and I am always grateful for it. I shudder to think what my life would have been like being raised in an all white community like that. Either way she re-married another black man and had my middle sister who has darker skin than me but has white hair like my mom's. Neither of us look like her-we both are the spitting image of our respective fathers-and she was often confused for my social worker. She says that when I was in grade school I even lied and told other kids I had a black mother-I have no memory of this at all. I wonder what that must have felt like for her to be so completely absorbed into black culture. I know she often caught flack from her black female co-workers, many of whom were unmarried and very angry about white women "stealing" their men. She weathered it all and I think it was healthier for my self-esteem. My close friend who is also biracial with a black father and white mother was raised in small all white areas and was ostracized for it. She has never seriously dated a black man and all of her children have white fathers and she considers them to be white. She has told me some of what it was like-never having a boyfriend, never being considered attractive, actually over hearing conversations of boys talking about how they would NEVER date a black girl-yuck. For many she years she did not associate with black people and I think to this day she considers herself as white as I consider myself black. Surely there is a healthy middle ground but it is difficult to find in this country where issues of race are more than myth and it seems like every issue has clearly defined side-no shades of gray or I guess in this case tan. For my fathers part he never said much about his experiences married to a white woman. He did tell me once that he was afraid when my mom was pregnant with me that I would be one of the mixed kids with red hair and freckles and he finds that very unattractive. He need not have worried. I am simply a lighter female version of himself. He never said what his family thought about it. To my knowledge neither of his two brothers nor his younger sister ever dated anything other than black people. He once told me that he would never date another white woman and when I dated a white man seriously for a few years he told me it would not be what I thought it was and that I would not like it. He was right. It was not what I thought it would be and I found myself more worn out by issues of race than I would have believed possible. Yet I still date based on personality and not color.
I have my own prejudices and I have dated men of about every ethnic group. I think people can see the person they are dating as an exception to the rule. Or see them and love them inspite of their ethnicity. I am not sure that is such a good thing. I have many co-workers at work tell me I am not really black. I am "really black" I just do not fit their stereotype of black and instead of seeing their stereotypes as faulty they see me as different. This has also been the case with different men I have dated. I have dated white men who thought it was sexy or erotic to be dating a "sister". I even had one guy tell me he was kind of turned by the fact that I was black and asked if him being white turned me on. Needless to say that was a one date wonder as the idea of him being white most definitely did NOT turn me on. I have dated black men who have informed me they ONLY date "light skinned" women with "good hair". I tend to date neither of these types once I hear that as I find both sentiments equally distasteful. The problem is I am socialized to be black and that is my comfort level and preference. I was raised in Detroit and my preferences are black in many ways. Yet, I am different as a pagan and Buddhist and witch and sci fi/fantasy nerd and more recently as a vegetarian than the average black woman. I still ultimately define myself as black yet most black men who would be interested in a woman like me are already dating white woman and so it is seems likely I will end up with a non-black man, in all honesty, probably a white man. Interesting how life develops.
~~~~Where ever you go, There you are!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

I finished reading Brokeback Mountain. I am planning on seeing the movie tommorrow at the Main Art theatre. I saw a preview for the movie when my mom and I went to see North Country. I had never heard of it and did not realize it was even based on a story until I looked it up online. In fact it is based on a short story by Annie Proulx. I have been on the waiting list at the library for almost a month and received a call yesterday letting me know it was available for me to pick up. I was interested in Brokeback Mountain from watching the trailer. At surface it appeared to be a kind of gay cowboy love story. That interested me. I was happy to see homosexuality explored in a real life, non-exploitive or sensational way as well as a non-AIDS related storyline. The trailer shows the men hugging and one of them saying it could be like this always. A scene where people in the small town they live in question how they find ways to keep busy on that mountain. The absolute most touching scene for me was the scene where one of the men is holding and smelling the others shirt. A small thing, but a real thing. I have smelled the shirt of a man I missed, his smell haunting me. I was also interested to see decent well-known actors in a story about gay yet masculine men. I like both Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. Anyway, I looked it up online and saw that the movie was based on a story and the story was positively reviewed as a heart-wrenching love story. I have been really looking forward to reading it and was somewhat disappointed to see it was only 55 pages long-with large print no less! The story is deep and it has been some hours since I read it and I have to say I am still haunted by it. The story starts with two late teen boys who take work one summer as sheep ranchers/herders-whatever the actual term is. One of them stays at the base camp Jack-cooks, looks after the horses and the other, Ennis-stays with the sheep-even sleeping with them. Now I knew going in these boys were going to end up in love and I have read books about gay male relationships before. Um, let me just say this was not like them at all. If I was not familiar with the plot I would never have finished the story-the beginning was just that uninteresting to me. The boys spend time around the fire pissing into the flames and talking about ranching and rodeoing-nothing I am really interested in at all. The sex scene almost snuck up on me. Yet, it was crude and rude and silent-something like what I would guess sex between men of this caliber to be like. I know the story was written by a woman-but I found it a very believable portrayal of the relationship between two men. The never talk about the sex, never discuss it-they just "let it happen". Of course, they both announce to each other that they are not gay or queer or fags, not them, no way. They part at the end of the summer. Jack seems to want more, but Ennis is engaged to Alma and he is not gay and seems ok with the parting. Yet, not a mile down the road he has to pull over because he is so upset he thinks he will be physically ill. He marries Alma and they have 2 daughters, he seems mostly content with his life in an unambitious satisfied sort of way. Four years later, out of the blue he gets a mere paragraph letter from Jack saying he will be out that way on the 24th and wants to see Ennis if Ennis wants to see him. Ennis sends back a two word reply along the lines of you bet. This is where the story really starts to suck me in. Ennis sees Jack pull up in his truck and can not help himself for running towards him, they are slapping each other on the back and calling each other sons of bitches when they just start kissing right on the front porch. Ennis' wife is in the doorway. They do not discuss it and Ennis quickly heads off to a local motel with Jack. It becomes clear at this point that Jack did and does want more than good sex with Ennis. He wants a life with him. Jack is married with a son to woman of means who's father has offered to pay him to disappear and he wants Ennis to come with him. They can take the money and open a ranching operation of their own. Ennis lets him know right away that can never be. He will not leave his wife and girls but more than that he deeply believes that men who live like that end up dead. His father took him and his older brother when he was just a young boy to see the lynched body of a homosexual man-his penis torn from his body, his nose worn away as his body was dragged face down through the gravel. Obviously it effected Ennis deeply and he is never able to move past that. More importantly he is never able to accept himself as a homosexual nor his love for Jack. What follows is about 15 years of hunting and fishing trips 3 or 4 times a year for a week or more at a time. Ennis and his wife stop having sex and eventually she leaves him and remarries. Still he does not make a life with Jack. Ennis still sleeps with the occasional woman and to the end of the short story never sleeps with any man other than Jack. It is implied that is not the case with Jack, though Jack still clearly loves Ennis and years later tries again to get him to move away with him. Ennis is still not able to let go and be who he really is. The final paragraph of the story describes Ennis's attitude about his sexuality and his relationship with Jack best. "There was some open space between what he knew and what he tried to believe, but nothing could be done about it, and if you can't fix it you've got to stand it." The sadness of it about broke my heart. To be alive for many years yet to never really live because you are afraid of who and what you are. This is a true heart-wrenching love story and I am deeply moved by it.
Above is the official website for the movie. On the left of the page is a link called "Share Your Story". I clicked on it and read some of the experiences posted there. Absoluetly heart wrenching. Sad, happy, true. Some of the people who wrote in were currently living this story-with wives and weekends away fishing with their lovers. Others had stories of teen, pre-teen and armed services romances. One man told his story of being in the armed services over seas in the early 80's and his friendship that grew into more. They both completed their tour, returned to the States, left that part of thier lives behind them, married and 22 years later he wrote that this movie had the power to make him sob and wonder.
The power of fear and social repercussions. It made me think of the recent backlash of feeling about the importance of being politically correct in our current society. Sometimes I too feel like maybe we have taken this too far. Then I read this story and I know we have not taken it far enough. What is it about humans that breeds intolerance? Why is it that we tend to all pretend that there is only a few acceptable ways to live your life and that any who fall out of that pattern are a danger to the rest of us? Why do men feel so extremely threatened by homosexual men? Women are disgusted by it, but not violently so. Men seem to need to hit, harm, kill homosexual men. Why? What is so scary or frightening about it? The power of fear. The power we give fear. Fear and guilt I think cause so much unhappiness and stem so much of the power and strength and joy that can be life. That is why it is so important to not tolerate public intolerance. This America and you have the absolute Constitution given right to be as small minded, petty, racist, homophobic, fundamentalist as you like. I support that right full heartedly 100%. Yet in public you have to be polite to everyone and be conscious of others feelings and view points. It is no easy small thing to be different than others, to walk to the beat of your own drummer. I respect those that have the incredible courage it takes to live in a way that is true to who they are.
~~~~Where ever you go, There you are!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Another one of me on my 31st birthday Posted by Picasa
Me on my 31st birthday Posted by Picasa
1. I see your point, but I still think you're full of crap.
2. I don't know what your problem is, but I'll bet it's hard to pronounce.
3. How about never? Is never good for you?
4. I see you've set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public.
5. I'm really easy to get along with once you people learn to see it my way.
6. I'll try being nicer if you'll try being smarter.
7. I'm out of my mind, but feel free to leave a message..
8. I don't work here. I'm a consultant.
9. It sounds like English, but I can't understand a word you're saying.
10. Ahhh...I see the screw-up fairy has visited us again...
11. I like you. You remind me of when I was young and stupid.
12. You are validating my inherent mistrust of strangers.
13. I have plenty of talent and vision. I just don't care.
14. I'm already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth.
15. I will always cherish the initial misconceptions I had about you.
16. Thank you. We're all refreshed and challenged by your unique pointof view.
17. The fact that no one understands you doesn't mean you're anartist.
18. Any connection between your reality and mine is purelycoincidental.
19. What am I? Flypaper for freaks!?
20. I'm not being rude. You're just insignificant.
21. It's a thankless job, but I've got a lot of Karma to burn off.
22. Yes, I am an agent of Satan, but my duties are largely ceremonial.
23. And your cry-baby whiny-butt opinion would be...?
24. Do I look like a people person?
25. This isn't an office. It's Hell with fluorescent lighting.
26. I started out with nothing & still have most of it left.
27. Sarcasm is just one more service we offer.
28. If I throw a stick, will you leave?
29. Errors have been made. Others will be blamed.
30. Whatever kind of look you were going for, you missed.
31. I'm trying to imagine you with a personality.
32. A cubicle is just a padded cell without a door.
33. Can I trade this job for what's behind door #1?
34. Too many freaks, not enough circuses.
35. Nice perfume. Must you marinate in it?
36. Chaos, panic, & disorder - my work here is done.
37. How do I set a laser printer to stun?
38. I thought I wanted a career, turns out I just wanted pay checks
~~~~Where ever you go, There you are!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

These are the parenting moments I live for.....

I have been struggling with how to handle A's changes and growth. Struggling with balancing being fair and honest with her with being consistant and strict. Sometimes I feel I am doing a rotten job and at others I feel like all of the struggle must surley be worth it. I have really been trying to balance freedom for A with trust in her judgement. A is not very mature for her age in many ways-she still sleeps with a night light, but in many ways she is extremely mature for her age-she can get herself up and out of the door for school and even cook her own breakfast. I expect alot of her, more than is sometimes fair for her age. I try to balance that with giving her as much as I can both materially and emotionally. She is a good kid, a great kid and I am truly blessed. Even when she makes mistakes and does things wrong, she is usually easy to discipline. She has become kind of a jerk these last two years and at times I am frustrated and worried. Then, she will do something truly sweet and I remember what I felt like at 12 and know everything is going to be just as it should. A has been hiding her grades and lying to me-about B's and C's. I recently found a progress report that she forged my name to for math, her grade is B- but she is missing 5 assignments. I found it in her coat pocket, so I put it on the dining room table to see if she would fess up. I worked late that night, but the next morning I noticed it was gone.So when she got home from school I had a good talk with her and explained that I need to know what is going on with her. She is still punished but I can not trust her to go to friends or shopping or the movies or whatever if she lying and hiding and forging my name on B and C grades. If I can not trust her with that, I can never trust her with the temptations of friends. I was very discouraged then I realized that she has not been taking her ADD meds for most of this summer and school year and I wonder if that is not affecting her. So, I talked to her this morning about taking her meds everyday and lets see if that helped. I also told her to write an essay for me about what she did, why she did it and how she feels about her actions and the consequences. It touched me deeply:)
~~~~Where ever you go, There you are!

December 3, 2005

I thought about my behavior for awhile last night while I was upstairs in my room, and I was starting to think it was because of my medicine too, but I decided not to come down and tell you about it for a-couple of reasons:

  • I thought you might have more than enough of me for one day.

  • I didn’t think you would’ve let me come tell you anyways.

  • You were on the phone.

  • You were probably tiered from working all day.

  • You probably would’ve said that I was just lying to get out of trouble and just making it up.

  • And I didn’t tell you this morning because I thought I would make you mad, and you had already thought of it so it is kind of pointless.

For the record you probably still don’t believe me, but I don’t blame you, if I were you I wouldn’t believe me either. But that’s not my point I’m just trying to let you know that I was thinking the same thing, even if you don’t believe me.

But anyways I hid my report-card from you because I thought I would be in deep, deep trouble for getting two C’s on my report-card. But when I found out I was grounded for lying instead of for getting two C’s on my report-card, I should’ve told you about forging your name on my math paper. But to tell you the complete truth I’m not positively sure why I did that, I guess it’s just because I knew I lost and didn’t do four of my assignments. But the fifth one I do remember that I did forget about it over the weekend. I’ll do my best today to get in what I didn’t do, I will do them and try to finish them and turn them in on Monday, but I did turn in one or two of them.

That is the only way I can think of to possibly try to make my grade go up. I will also organize my binder and back-pack so that I know where everything is and I will also take some time to clean out my locker on Monday, before homeroom instead of walking around the school doing absolutely nothing with my friends.(We just walk around the school so that we don’t have to sit around in homeroom for twenty to twenty-five minutes)

I do think that you are being very fair to me though, even if I don’t like it very much. But I do think that since I can’t go anywhere, or with anyone to go Yule-shopping for you (although I do have one thing for you- a little help from B) you should take back almost all of my presents and leave me like one or two presents for me, and get yourself something nice for your birthday or for a special Yule for yourself. And I know you think, if I was so sorry I wouldn’t have done it, but I am sorry and if could I would go back and just do all of my homework because this is really not worth all of this, at all in anyway possible.

And even though we had to go through all of this, just for you to know, I do feel kind of better, even though I’m grounded for a really, really long time, it’s better that I don’t have to walk around everyday knowing that I forged your signature. And I can assure you that I’m really very sorry. You may not believe me still but I am sorry, and I’m pretty sure that I won’t do it again. But I know that doesn’t excuse what I did and so, I’ve decided that I’m going to have a good attitude about everything since I do deserve it.