My daily disclaimer:

I am new to this and will probably unintentionally say the wrong thing and offend or piss someone off, so I apologize in advance

Today’s issue:

Addressing racism (Covid-19, masks, immigration, LGBTQ, poverty, education, etc., etc., etc.) in a small community.

Since the world imploded, everyone has an opinion. And everyone seems to be airing those opinions publically. Then everyone else feels the need to comment/discuss/criticize, also publically. Anger flares. People are offended. Friendships ended.

“I am more community-minded than you.”

“I am less racist than you.”

“I’m more ‘woke’ than you.”

More.

Less.

Comparisons that divide rather than unite.

It’s all over social media. Everyone’s doing it. But it’s a whole different ball game when those comparisons and judgments are, at least in part, based on already-established biases based on previous personal interactions with the individuals who are speaking.

I know that I am guilty of it. I was in full force judgment mode last night.

A community member posted something recently that I happened to think was ridiculous, but she didn’t. As is her right.

The reactions were firey, critical, and personal.

I kept my mouth shut, mostly because it seemed like the rest of the community had enough to say without me adding my two cents.

If someone I didn’t know had created the post (which, by the way, I had seen before, so someone I don’t know did put it out there first) I would have scrolled right past, dismissing it as worthless, (which is what I did the first time I saw it.)

But, because I knew the post-er, I read the entire thing and each and every comment.

And I judged. I thought, “Really? You? Come on – I expected more.”

But still, trying to avoid adding to the shitstorm, I kept my mouth shut.

In a small town, there is no way to take a person at face value, to hear what they have to say on really, any issue, without incorporating what we already know or think we know about that person.

Well, you send your child to a different school than I do so I can’t agree with you on anything regarding education.

I’ve seen you be brutally selfish and self-serving so how can I believe that you are thinking about anyone’s best interests other than your own.

I saw you in the grocery store without a mask so don’t talk to me about being a caring community member.

Etc.

It can’t be avoided in a town this size.

We have opinions of each other, good or bad, right or wrong, that will color our perception of anything coming out of a person’s mouth to the point of detriment.

How can I listen to what someone has to say when I’m too busy thinking, “You are the most egotistical human being I’ve ever known so you can’t possibly care about this issue as much as I do, and therefore I won’t take seriously anything that you say”?

And suddenly some stupid shit on your wall is that much more laughable.

Or offensive.

And conversely, I like what you said at the School Board meeting last month so I am going to blindly agree with your recent post about Black Lives Matter.

I saw you at the hardware store without your mask so obviously, you’re a bigot.

It’s fucking mayhem out there.

These conversations quickly become chaotic. A discussion about whether or not the CDC has been upfront with the world about Covid-19, leaps from accusations of fascism into “White people should just listen to indigenous people.”

It’s all over the map. Everything is connected; race is, unfortunately, an underlying piece of every issue we address. The coronavirus overshadows all aspects of daily life. I get that it’s hard to keep things separated because it is all intertwined, but I also think that it is easier to mix it all up and make a conversation a muddled mess when we know each other.

We are talking about taking our biases out of The Conversation. The Conversation itself is about removing biases – biases about race or religion or sexual orientation – but that is really challenging when it’s your neighbor against (or with) whom you have a personal preconceived notion.

I know that I am more prone to jump on or off a bandwagon based on my prior interactions with the bandwagon driver.

I’m fired up about members of my community who I “used to respect.” There are certain people who I avoid at the post office or coffee shop because I can’t agree with their stance on masks.

In some ways maybe it’s a good thing – neighbors calling out neighbors on their bullshit.

But on the other hand, are we allowing issues to become more personal and more offensive, based on who is addressing those issues?

Is familiarity breeding contempt?

 

 

I am an ignorant white girl

I am white. I was raised in a very white, very comfortable, privileged world. I knew no people of color until I went to my elite private school – and even there, there were a limited few of my classmates who weren’t raised in the same white world as I.

My mother is from the South. My father’s mother told me not to sit “next to the darkies” on the bus in New York City.

At some point in my life I began to see the world outside of my insulated one, realizing that it is very bigoted and hateful. I became aware that I didn’t want to be part of the problem.

With all that is happening in our country with racism and cruelty and violence and hatred, I understand that I am still a part of the problem.

But my heart is in the right place.

I want to learn more, understand more, change my role in perpetuating this plague.

I don’t want to be shamed. Shaming others does not solve the problem(s).

I hesitate to write because while I don’t know much about being a person of color, I know enough to be aware that my words may offend someone.

Unintentionally.

My heart is in the right place.

So I am going to take a chance here and address something that I’m seeing that feels, to me, pretty fucking racist.

If I offend, piss off, or hurt someone with my words, if whatever I say reeks of entitlement, I apologize. I am a white gal trying to understand.

My heart is in the right place.

If I don’t bring this up, if I don’t try to understand, then I continue to be a part of the problem, so I will risk sounding like an idiot so that maybe next time, I don’t.

What is currently bothering me at the moment feels like an undercurrent of superiority, judgment, and white shaming…

by white people.

I want to learn. I want to be educated. I want to be a part of the solution.

I don’t want to be shamed.

I especially don’t want to be shamed by white folks doing something that I see as “reverse racism.”

Maybe I just coined a new term, but I doubt it.

There are people out there, white ones, being quite vocal on the issues of race; folks who, because they have a connection with a BIPoC, act superior, more “woke.”

Dumbest fucking word in today’s lexicon.

Maybe some are more loved, knowledgable and compassionate, but I am also seeing, feeling, hearing words and actions of superiority that bleed over into what I perceive as cultural appropriation.

If you are white, you are white. Period. And no matter where your heart is, you are not a person of color. No matter who your neighbors are, your partner is, your child’s best friend is, it doesn’t exchange your skin color.

Preaching, speaking out, damning, criticizing, judging…all of it…it often seems to communicate the mis-guided and wrong message of “I was white, but now I’m not anymore.”

Seems pretty damn racist.

And hypocritical.

We must speak out. We must act. We must do everything in our power to bring awareness to and then eradicate this hateful treatment of others.

Is there a way to do this without acting better than, more evolved? Without taking on another’s culture as our own? Without disdain for that white person who married another white person and maybe even gave birth to white kids; a person who fell in love with another’s soul, not their skin color?

Currently in my family – my children, their partners, their roommates – two white boys, a blond-haired blue eyed Mormon gal, an African-American girl, and three Mexicans, one of whom is a DACA kid.

Does this make me “not white”?

Certainly not – it actually makes me feel even more ignorant in understanding the ways in which these members of my family have experienced life.

I am thankful that my family is more diverse than the entire county in which I was raised. I am proud of my children for not letting race differences determine who they love.

The reality is, I love my family – each and every one of them.

But, I am not more evolved, less ignorant, or simply better than because we have a wide-ish range of skin color under my roof. And I am fully aware that I am not black, I am not an undocumented worker from south of the border, I am not a foster kid desperate to connect with his Mexican heritage.

Can you imagine if I tried to “get my Mexican on,” like my son does? I’d be ridiculous. Learning to make my own tamales does not change my upbringing. And having a brown child does not make me brown.

It makes me a white mother who really needs to educate herself.

I am rambling here. I am trying to speak in generalizations (somewhat) so as not to point fingers.

Not to shame.

But I see a level of self-righteousness that offends me because I feel that the idolization of one culture over another, even if it’s a historically oppressed culture, is the SAME FUCKING PROBLEM.

Especially when it has a hint (or more) of cultural appropriation because it’s coming from the WASP’s among us.

(WASP – White Anglo Saxon Protestant.)

It feels like a lack of honest humility and oozes self-importance.

Teach me. I want to learn.

Show me how to help.

Explain to me what I am doing to perpetuate the problem.

Share with me your experiences. I want to hear.

I want to see change.

In the era of systemic racism that has been going on in our country for generations, I am a relative newcomer to understanding the depth and danger of our system.

I have a long way to go.

But, my heart is in the right place.

I didn’t want to have to do this but…

You know what?

I am pissed.

And now I’m going to rant.

Two Facebook groups were started on the same day – in the early days of the virus – ostensibly to provide information and support for our community members during this time of sickness and fear and mixed messages coming down from the top.

In one group, seemingly comprised primarily of Christian Conservatives, a post about exercising our constitutional rights by not wearing masks prompted one group member to state that she felt safer sporting face covering and she wished that everyone would wear one.

She was verbally bludgeoned.

The group administrator got really ugly and several others followed suit.

It prompted me to leave the group, with a statement on the page about why. I said, “I am leaving because I wanted to be a part of a group that is helping our community.”

I followed with, “Getting ugly and judgmental isn’t helping anyone in our County.”

I was taunted, called names, and told “good riddance.”

I was holding out hope for the other group to be a little bit more open-minded and compassionate and NEUTRAL.

Well, that went right out the window this morning.

“Asshole”

“Troll”

“Dumbass. Moron. Idiot.”

“Go home to your shithole state.”

“Panty waist liberals have no place here”

what the fuck people?????????

I want one person, one, to tell me what good could possibly come out of any of the above comments. How is this possibly helping our old, our sick, our babies, our HEALTHCARE WORKERS?

Sure, I wear a mask to protect myself. I’m selfish that way.

But more importantly, I wear a mask for you.

My son is asthmatic. He has the potential to run into serious trouble if he catches this virus.

I wear a mask for him.

Another friend, who I like to visit, has cancer. I panic at the thought of infecting her unknowingly.

I wear a mask for her.

My mother is 81, lives alone, is freshly widowed and thanks to a bout with lung cancer has only half of one lung.

I hope that every single person in her town wears a fucking mask because I don’t want my mother to die. Alone. Due to someone else’s need to “not be controlled.”

I wear a mask for everyone’s mother.

TAM and I are quarantining together – we are exposing each other to everything that we encounter. He has children. It’s my responsibility to protect him.

I wear a mask for him. For his children.

I wear a mask for the gal at the market who goes home to a very compromised husband. She has to change her clothes in the garage before she can even enter her own home after a day at work.

I wear a mask for my co-workers who are doing their very best to safely provide food and support for so many who are dependent on this little grocery store. While I have been safely isolated, they are dealing with the public 7 days a week, so that you can eat.

I wear a mask for the pregnant woman who is already terrified of bringing her unborn baby into this upside-down toxic world.

You get the picture.

The picture of me with a mask on my face.

I know that no matter what I say, or anyone else says, that plenty of people give we “fearful and paranoid victims of fake news and conspiracies” the middle finger.

Sure, sometimes I wonder if it is all blown out of proportion. But then I think, “Who am I to say?”

Not a doctor. Not a scientist.

Not a constitutionalist either.

So I am clearly in no position to make this call.

99% of us are in no position to make this call.

Really, anyone who is questioning the veracity of the science, who is neither a scientist nor a medical doctor, is out of their fucking minds.

Seriously, think about it, all of us who barely passed Biology 101, are trying to out-science the scientists.

This is not about your constitutional rights. This is about the health and well being of not only your own community but…

The entire planet.

Can you grasp that?

The health of both the earth itself and every single human being alive is in your hands. Do you get that?

WE can make a difference in what happens to people just like us, mothers, fathers, children, grandparents, nurses, factory workers, teachers.

This is not about “being an American,” this is about being a global citizen.

One of the comments on this morning’s news feed asked about the “ethnicity” of those infected and dying?

The ETHNICITY?

Now we are making this a racism issue. So we don’t care about the Chinese (well they started this so why should we be concerned there?) or the Italians (pronounced eye-talian in this bigoted conversation). Does it matter what the brown people in Africa are experiencing?

And no question, in this border town right on the edge of the Navajo Nation, that a mention of ethnicity is pointed directly at our suffering neighbors who have been hit harder than anywhere else in our four corners.

I had someone tell me in the grocery store that she wishes “they” wouldn’t come here to shop – so that she can go mask-free.

Maybe we could have brown people hours and white people hours.

Makes me want to move to Shiprock.

I want to hurl. I am so angry.

And so disappointed in my community.

This is a community of people who pride themselves on being good neighbors and helping each other in times of need. Not wearing masks probably isn’t helping.

Chance are, wearing one is helping. At least there’s a chance of it being beneficial to self and others, while we know for certain that no face protection helps no one.

Sure, they’re uncomfortable. And annoying.

But if I choose to wear one, that’s my choice. Just like some folks are making the choice to not wear one (based on the constitution and personal preference, not on the scientific information that we all have access to.)

Don’t fucking ride my ass if I err on the side of caution

I want to walk away from this global pandemic knowing that I did everything I could to keep safe my children, my mother, my sick friends, someone else’s grandmother or husband or child. If I needlessly wear a mask for a while, so be it.

It’s none of your business. I am not hurting you. I am not violating your constitutional rights. I am not going to get you sick, that’s for sure.

The maskless can’t say the same thing about not affecting me.

So, if you are making the decision to put me, the compromised husband, a newborn baby, a nurse or grocery store employee, at risk, go ahead and do that.

If your conscience allows.

But do not give me shit about it.

It has taken everything in me to not respond to each and every cruel and immature comment that I have seen on Facebook (including some of those whose words are coming through layers of folded cloth and coffee filters.) But I refuse to get involved in debates with people behaving poorly in inappropriate forums.

I know that trying to convince anyone on either side of the debate is fruitless at this point. Not my purpose here, although it would be nice if my ranting gives at least one bare-faced community member pause for thought. I’m stating my opinion, but I am not holding out hope that I’m going to change anyone’s mind.

My point is this:

Shut. The Fuck. up.

Don’t be ugly.

Be kind.

If you want to be catty and condescending and critical and cruel, go ahead. But I certainly don’t want to hear it.

Do they make masks that cover the ears?

 

 

still in high school

Yep, that phone call kicked up a few things for me.

Fucking high school. Was there anyone who really felt like they fit in?

I went to the public school in my town until I was in 8th grade. Then I went to my all-girls high school in another town, which was a 45-minute train ride away.

My parents were friends with a whole different crowd, most of whom belonged to the same country club as we did. Those were the people with whom we hung on weekends, family gatherings, vacations.

There was some overlap between the groups, but not much – at all. My friends with whom I had grown up all went to school together. I no longer did.

The gals from high school…part of what added to the fish out of water feeling was the fact that I other friends, in other places. I wasn’t totally immersed in the friendships from school.

And my parents’ friends’ children? Most of them went to boarding school, so I didn’t quite fit in there either.

Between all of these groups of kids, I never felt like I totally belonged to one because I always had a foot in another.

Some might say that it was great that I had so many friends and such a diverse group at that, but that’s not how it felt.

What it felt like was that I was always scrambling to find my place, a place where I didn’t feel like a bit of an outsider. And I never quite got there.

Now, let’s add a bit of bullying.

There was a gal named Camilla who, in our younger years, wanted nothing to do with me because I went to public school.

No shit. She taunted me relentlessly during tennis lessons and wouldn’t hit the ball to me (unless it was AT me) claiming that I shouldn’t be there, that I should just go back to my public school friends.

In school in my town, 8th grade, there were a few girls who I thought were friends who turned on many of us behind our backs, producing one of these:

In our version, I was raked over the coals because I didn’t like wearing the color red. For real – that was the problem with me.

I still don’t wear red.

In high school, because of…

(I honestly have no idea…)

…Janet C. hated me and was determined to make my life miserable. We’d known each other a bit since we were little, (certainly not well enough for her to detest me like she did) but starting on day one, freshman year, she made it her mission to make me feel like shit.

Which I did.

She put old food in my locker. Put signs up on the windows of our classroom doors, ridiculing me, while I was trapped inside learning that a+b=c. She called me sluglips.

Even after she left our school and went elsewhere, she still pursued her prey. Then, we ended up in college together and she continued her bullshit.

And I continued to let it bother me.

I moved west. I still floundered my way through friendships and relationships.

Then I came to work at Outward Bound – prompted by one of the summertime, boarding school friends who I never imagined actually liked me. And now she wanted to work with me?

I remember sitting in a meeting with a bunch of other OB course directors – total misfits, totally weird people. I looked around at one point and thought, “I kind of belong here.”

It was a completely new and almost frightening feeling.

Now I live in this great little community and like I said yesterday, I feel like herein lies my tribe of rough and odd and funny and kind folks.

There was a great group of women with whom I raised my children – they are all still super connected – I distanced myself when I met MXB.

I was the girl who dropped her friends for a boy.

For a few years there, when I was with MXB, the much younger man, I hung out with a community of women – there were 6 of us – that felt like mine. In hindsight, just like in hindsight about every other friendship in my life, I realize that they too weren’t my tribe.

But I was SO excited to feel like I was “in.” That I actually had a group of friends to which I belonged. I got a little carried away, a bit over-enthused about being a posse. I was Lindsey Lohan with the Queen Bees.

And as soon as the breakup happened and I no longer had my link to this community, it fell apart around me and I was no longer one of them. I was, once again, on the outside looking in.

I need to stop here and say that there was one gal, one, who didn’t drop me like a hot potato. I will always be grateful for her.

I was so devastated during that period in my life – so crushed about the loss of community. But I realize now that it wasn’t as much about losing the individuals as it was about losing my (perceived) place in a group.

The loss of fitting in.

I felt like once again I had fooled myself into thinking that people liked me when in all actuality, they didn’t.

Fucking Brutal.

So every time I accused everyone of acting like they were in Middle School, I was the one who felt like I was still in Middle School, dealing with Camilla and Janet and the girls who wore red.

Crawling out of the black hole has forced me to re-examine every single relationship I have in my life. Friends, family, not-friends, long lost friends.

And people around here who I have always liked and admired,

and assumed that they too, didn’t necessarily want me around.

Well, I am learning that some people actually do like me. Some even want to hang out.

But more importantly, I am realizing that variety is the spice of life and that I am so very fortunate to have people from all different walks of life who are walking varied paths in my world. In my tribe.

I don’t have to be a part of a group. I don’t have to be a part of a “community” that is really just a clique.

Why would I want to limit myself like that?

 

 

 

Residual Pain

There are a few times in my life over which I still carry much grief.

Some events I’ve moved on from, and some, I can’t seem to shake completely.

Things that haunt me. Things that no longer make me feel like I’ve been punched in the gut but hit a tender spot for sure.

I look at the ones from which I can’t unstick and follow the common thread – thinking that if I can figure out why I can’t let go, then maybe I will be able to.

The ones that still won’t heal are the ones in which there was a loss of trust.

Betrayal. A lack of integrity. And misunderstanding of who I am as a person.

I still feel wronged by something I got in trouble for when I was 17.  I don’t even remember what the punishment was but I was innocent of the crime and I still want to say to my mom, “That was unjust. I didn’t deserve that.”

Unjust. That’s another piece of the pieces that I grieve.

Around these incidents, time periods, in each situation, I have felt as if I’m being treated unjustly.

As if my side of the story wasn’t heard, or that it even mattered.

And the result of a couple of these incidences involved loss of community.

And a lack of accountability.

I hate being the victim. It is a very unbecoming trait.

And yet, there are times when I do feel like I deserved better. Does admitting that make me a victim?

The loss of friends has been brutal. The loss of trust even more so.

There two of these pivotal moments in time that have been sort of in my face recently and I woke up this morning feeling sad. I wrote for a while, trying to sift through the layers down to what it is that I need to let go of, what I need to be able to do that, and what, ultimately, do I want as the end result.

I read this thing this morning about regret. Basically, it said that having true, honest regrets is a good thing, a healing thing, a way to move forward and basically, do things differently in your life.

I have regrets, for sure. Amongst other moments in time, I regret that I couldn’t manage to handle these situations better.

I wish that my emotions didn’t run amok when I feel misunderstood.

Being treated unkindly, disrespectfully, and not having a voice…those things cause me to raise my voice.

And those are the same damn things that still cause me to fester.

The biggest thing is that I really don’t know how to interact with certain folks.

There’s a desire to let bygones be bygones, to fall back into ease and comfort and laughter.

Move forward, put the past behind, hang out and just enjoy each other’s company like we used to.

But it’s not possible. You can’t go back to what was because it’s not what was anymore, it’s what is.

And what is feels all kinds of cattywampus.

In other words, I am missing the friendships that I thought we had before I understood what kinds of friendships they actually were.

They were fun, relationships, not bad ones, which is why I really miss them, but they weren’t what I thought, at least not at the level of what I desire in a true friendship.

I have forgiven. I think.

But forgiving doesn’t mean that there is no more sadness or pissiness. It doesn’t mean that all personal interaction from this point forward is jovial and warm.

And, according to Desmond Tutu, forgiving doesn’t mean that you have to have a relationship with the other person.

So forgiveness, yes.

Friendships?

I just don’t know.

It’s awkward.

 

 

 

 

Love

Love a place. Love a friend. Love a child. Love a woman. Love a man.

I love a man.

So very much.

Sometimes I stop and pause and just allow warm gushy feelings to wash over me. I feel it from my scalp all the way down to my pinky toenails.

He is wonderful: kind, caring, nurturing, witty, smartsmartsmart, playful, supportive, and oh so sexy.

Lucky me.

It has (and continues to be) so healing for my delicate wounded heart. I say wounded because my heart, though it has been broken into little bits and has felt delicate, isn’t fragile. My heart is strong, I have the heart of a warrior.

I love fiercely.

Because of the past pain, past experiences, I did not fall into this with reckless abandon. Apparently, he didn’t notice any hesitation on my part – probably because I jumped into bed with him on date #2 and still haven’t crawled out of said bed.

But oh how I did panic behind the scenes. My gals at work can tell you.

I freaked out. I liked this man and he said that he liked me too.

But I’d heard that before. And it didn’t mean all that much.

So when this man, who, one evening, was hanging from the rafters stretching his back, said the word “girlfriend” and looked over at me wondering what I thought, I said “yes,” but inside I thought, “Yeah, we’ll see where this goes – if anywhere.”

Now don’t get me wrong…my reservations, my skepticism had absolutely nothing to do with him – I want to make it clear that all of the turmoil and uncertainty was all in my head; it was due to my past, not anything that this man had done to cause question.

It was me that didn’t trust him because I couldn’t trust at all.

One friend said to me, “I wouldn’t fucking trust anyone after what you’ve been through.”

In the very beginning, if I didn’t hear from him one day, I would start the mental spin out and end up hyperventilating in my kitchen, pursuing the idea of breaking up with him.

I felt that I just couldn’t handle it. I’m not ready. I’m not strong enough.

I can’t possibly go through another heartbreak like the one from which I had just emerged – totally scathed.

So it seemed easier to run than risk that again.

My gals would talk me down, or up, off the floor, as the case often was.

And I would gather the courage for one more date. One more adventure with this glorious, generous, gregarious, all-around great guy. And it would be fun and I would feel so content and fall for him just a little more each time.

And then the freakouts at work, or sitting on my deck with my friends, would double in intensity.

But I didn’t want him to see my crazy because that would, for sure, scare him off and send him running for the hills.

And I knew enough to know that I didn’t want that to happen.

So, for this man, I played it as cool as I possibly could. I only periodically let on that I had “some concerns”. But I kept moving forward because I really liked him and wanted to believe that he was as good as he seemed to be.

And he is and I am so happy that I didn’t run away.

Even happier that he didn’t run away.

It hasn’t been an easy time. US, the two of us together, our relationship – that’s been easy. Our lives, the challenges put to our foundling relationship – overwhelming.

Bruised hearts, children, health issues, money, surgery, (which meant no sex for an extended period of time at that point in a relationship where we were supposed to be having sex ALL OF THE TIME), work, irrigating (which, if you are a farmer or rancher, you understand that irrigation season does not leave time for a relationship, or a life of any kind really.)

Our relationship has been put to the test multiple times – things that could have proven to be too much under any circumstances, much less a brand new romance.

And we pulled through – I think, with flying colors.

We just celebrated a year together – and then he left town for a tropical paradise with his children. I miss him terribly, but not in an angsty, what’s he doing without me, will he call me when he gets back, sort of way.

I miss him in an I can’t wait to hold him sort of way.

I miss him in an I’m a lucky girl sort of way.

And I am lucky.

And so grateful for the friends who scraped me off the floor and encouraged me to keep trusting that he is who he says he is.

I am grateful for him – his kindness, patience, love.

His integrity.

But most of all I am grateful for this strong and loving heart of mine that has been resilient enough to try this, to open up to one more possibility…

this heart that allows me to fiercely love this man in the way that we both deserve.

PS: and now, from this point forward, he will be referred to as TAM (this amazing man)