Thursday, November 10, 2016

Wrapping my brain around the unbelievable

I know that no one reads my blog anymore. That's on me. I haven't written in a long time, but that's okay. This blog has always just been for me anyway. But I don't know where else to put down all my feelings about what has just happened in our country. And I have a lot of feelings. I've been spending a lot of hours just sitting on the ocean's edge and trying to find some peace in this whole muddled election mess.

So Trump won. That happened. I called that the moment he announced his candidacy. I saw the writing on the wall but I really hoped I was wrong. I spend enough time with little humans who repeat word for word what they hear their parents say about Trump and Clinton that I knew I was in the minority. Well, actually the majority, but not in my state. Over and over I heard that their parents were voting for Trump because they refused to vote for Hilary. The kids kept saying things like "SCOTUS is really important." I would ask them if they knew what SCOTUS was and they gave me blank stares. Hell, my own in-laws voted for Trump because they just couldn't vote for Hilary. They have always maintained that they are tried and true Christians but they voted for the man who wants to keep out refugees. They live in a state that would be in financial ruin if all the illegal immigrants were deported. They spread the hate on their FB page with as much ease as any Non-Christian. I'm a little angry at them, can you tell?

See, to me, this isn't about Hilary or Trump. It's about the Pandora's box that is America. People claim they voted for Trump because they didn't want more of the same. But the past 8 years haven't been the same. Put aside the GOP holding SCOTUS hostage and refusing to pass bills through the House and Senate, things HAVE changed. How do I know this? I am a college educated white woman with a BA who is married to a white man with a Master's degree. I am a teacher and he is a minister. On paper we should have lots of money. But we don't. Hubby went to seminary during the Bush years and the recession hit us very hard. He's considered self-employed, like a lot of the people who voted for Trump, and self-employed people pay a higher percentage of income tax. But, on the 1st of November, we paid off a very large bill that has been looming over us for years (caused by not being able to pay our extremely high income taxes) and have moved squarely into Middle Class. Change has happened. Our country now has marriage equality. We have insurance available to everyone. Yes, I know, it's not perfect and some people have suffered under it, but that's because some states opted out of it. It needed a broader base. But it happened. People who live their lives outside of the societal accepted norms were finally gaining a toehold in becoming part of the conversation.

I don't agree with 75% percent of the things Trump has set out in his Hundred Day Plan. I think he's dangerous. But he's not the first president I have disagreed with. I can live with my fear of his environmental and foreign policies. But today in my daughter's school (85% Trump), a young Clinton supporting girl was accosted by a Trump supporting boy. He threatened her physically with his body. When she told him to back up, he said, "What are you going to do about it, Bitch?" THAT IS WHAT TRUMP HAS DONE! He has given a voice to the people who would suppress other's rights and safety. He has whipped a segment of our population (both Democrat and Republican) into a frenzy and given them the right to intimidate and harass. And yes, I hear you right now saying that these people are just a small percentage of his supporters and they were like that to begin with. I get it... I'm trying to wrap my head around it, to understand it and to forgive the Trump supporters (like my in-laws) who would never physically harm anyone or say anything negative to their face.

But here's the thing, and it's a pretty big thing, those people who Hilary called Deplorables, let's say only 5% of Trump's supporters are like that. The other 95% are God-fearing Christians whose lives have been hard, or who don't believe in abortion, or who just wanted to see the old government regime burn. Am I being fair in my percentage split? I think so. Those 5% are attacking black people, gay people, GIRLS IN SCHOOLS, women, immigrants, refugees and anyone they don't think should be in America. Those people are instilling a high level of fear in a large part of the population. They are dangerous. They are changing the tide of conversation from anti-bullying to bullying as a right.

I have seen so many people say that they know Trump isn't going to do half of what he said during the campaign. It doesn't matter, the damage has been done. For me, it all boils down to this one question: When you see someone being unfairly intimidated, what are you going to do? Are you just going to FB post about it? All of you who have voted for Trump and are taking offense at the backlash, just tell me that you are going to walk up to the immigrant who is sitting in a group of thugs yelling "Build the Wall" and put yourself at risk to protect that person. Tell me that when you see a transgender man being attacked in a bathroom you're not going to just stand there and look away. When my daughter puts her body in front of the girl who is being accosted by the boy to protect her (because that's who she is), are you going to go to their aid, or are you going back away and not take responsibility in your part of this mess that has now become America? When you voted for Trump, you said you were okay with his way of speaking. You said you accepted the loss of other's civil rights for your comfort...not safety...COMFORT. If you are a Trump supporter who says to me I will stand with you when you protect the disadvantaged, you and I are good. I know I sound like I am being sarcastic and judgmental right now, but please believe me, I am not. I NEED to know that you are not one of the 5% and that you will rise up when this all goes so bad. I need to know that as a teacher I am not raising little humans who believe kindness is weakness.

I'm not being a sore loser. I am a scared loser. I am the daughter of an immigrant who was taught never to sit if the flag was passing by in a parade. I don't want to live in any other country. I just don't know who this country is anymore.










Sunday, September 13, 2015

You've got to rise up....

I met with the Board. The meeting started as an all-out attack on me. They don't think anything I stated is discrimination or disparate treatment. It was pretty painful. They didn't deny any of the things I said, they just said that my boss is a jerk to everyone, not just me, so I wasn't being targeted.

It took me about 15 minutes of being attacked to gather my courage and find my voice. Those of you who have been reading since CountryTime know I struggle with fighting back. Sucking it up, turning the other cheek, allowing the abuse, all of those things I am good at; but standing up for myself? Not so much.

This whole year of my life seems to be about teaching me to stand up. The day my dad had a stroke, I had to stand up to my mom and my dad's doctors to get him appropriate medical treatment. The day the pit bull attacked me, I had to stand up to the dog's owner who insisted her dog was not vicious. Then I had to go to dog court to prove it again. Drunken Neighbor tries to look in my daughter's window at all hours and I push back so hard I scare the police officer dealing with my case. My boss decides to treat me like crap and I take it and take it until I just can't anymore and I finally say something. But when I say something, I'm "wrong." But even still, I stood up.

Ever since my dad's stroke, we have had a rule that he is not allowed to drive E alone in his car. She may ride in the back seat while he drives if I am in the front seat, but never alone. They have a restaurant they both like to go to on Grandfather/ Granddaughter dates. For a long time he was just thankful that he was allowed to be alone with her because I would drop them off.

About a month ago, my dad caused an accident. He rear-ended another car so hard he caused a 4 car collision. His car came $200 from being considered totaled. My mom was in the car but claimed she was looking the other way and didn't see anything. In essence, my dad and mom said it was not stroke related. It was just a freak accident that could have happened to anyone. I was willing to believe that, but I was not willing to change the ruling on him driving E.

Over the past month, my dad's mental state has been declining. He has always been difficult and combative. He picks on people and always has to correct any slight error one might make. To be in his presence is to be constantly walking on eggshells and managing his temper. It is exhausting. He denies that there is a problem, which magnifies it.

Yesterday my parents came to my house to go to lunch. My dad wanted to take E to the restaurant and started to insist he would drive her. He seemed to honestly forget that we had the rule. Things became heated and my dad's true nature came out. He said I was punishing him for having a stroke, that he was fine, that everyone has accidents and I had three myself. I pointed out that not one of my accidents had ever been caused by me AND the worst accident I ever had involved a woman who had had a stroke just a few weeks before. That woman almost killed me. My dad, true to form, shut down and refused to speak to me.

Hubby came home about that time and my dad talked to him. We ended up dropping him and E off at the restaurant and taking my mom somewhere else. It was at that time my mother finally admitted she was screaming at my dad to stop when he caused the accident. It was as if he didn't even know she was there. He had just zoned out when he hit the car.

So in the short space of 5 days I have been attacked by the Board and my father and pushed outside my comfort zone to hold the line at what I know is right. I have cried so hard this week and struggled against myself so much. The thing is, and this is a big thing, I know that I am teaching E a life lesson right now that was never taught to me. I was taught to just shut up and put up. I was taught that I didn't have a right to stand up for myself. But I am changing that pattern for E. I am teaching her that it may be hard, and it may be mentally exhausting, but there are some things in life you can not bend on and still have respect for yourself.

The Board and I agreed to disagree. They are okay with my boss being a jerk because apparently he is really good at some things they need him to be good at. They don't believe he is targeting me but they guaranteed I have job security no matter what he says. I agreed to keep working there as long as they changed my status from being the sole non-exempt time-sheeted employee with no sick days to making me just like everyone else. When I walked out of the meeting I didn't second guess myself once on anything I said. I had said my peace and defended myself.

When my parents left yesterday, I knew it may be have been the very last time I speak to my dad for a while since he will hold a grudge for months, but I had protected my daughter and taught her that she is a very valued person in my world.

I hate when the Universe decides to teach lessons. I am hurting right now, both physically and mentally from stress. Nothing about this year has been easy. But this I know, 4 years ago I would not, could not, have defended myself. If I had even tried to defend myself, I would have punished myself and cocooned in a dark bedroom and snuck food at all hours. I will admit I have gained back 7 pounds this year, but I have never stopped working out and trying to walk 10,000 steps a day. And 7 pounds is not the 20 I usually gain.

But Dear, Dear Universe, can we just call it even and can I be done with this life lesson? I think I truly get it now.



Sunday, August 30, 2015

Just an update

My boss pushed me too far and blatantly discriminated against me in an illegal way. I have the papers to prove the illegality of it. I made a formal complaint with the Board and am now awaiting the decision. The last two people who filed complaints were fired. The Board doesn't know I have a newspaper reporter who followed my boss several years ago and has tons of interviews about how badly he bullied some teachers at his old school before he was forced to resign.

I haven't been posting because my anxiety/depression has become overwhelming and I am struggling to keep one foot in front of the other. Hopefully I will be back to blogging soon.

Send me good thoughts, please.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Living the Word of God

When I was 22 my brother committed suicide. My brother and I were not close, he had been out of the house for a while and even when we had lived together in the same house, his mental illness prevented me from being in a true brotherly/sisterly relationship. All that being said, I still cared about him. I still loved him. When he died, I went into a sort of free fall. I didn't know how to grieve because I am such a tightly closed off person. I didn't even know if I was grieving because I couldn't see the trees for the forest.

I have never been the type of person to have a lot of friends. If I have 4 in my circle at any given time, I am doing well. People don't like me. I am not saying that in a "woe is me" kind of way. It's just the truth.

“She had a talent for looking at a person with no expression - you filled in whatever you felt guiltiest about.”
― Louise Erdrich, The Plague of Doves


I think Louise Erdrich knows me personally because this is my talent, or curse. You have to be a very strong person to want to call me a friend. So when my brother died, I had friends, I had acquaintances, but my inner circle, my tribe, just happened to be all gay people.

About a month after my brother's death I sat in my car next to a bridge on River Road in Columbus. The bridge was somewhere close to the O'Shaughnessy Dam. It was October and a gray, dreary kind of day. Rush hour was over but the sun hadn't completely set and I was alone with my thoughts. I am not now nor have I ever been suicidal, but at that one moment, as I thought about my brother, I wondered what it was like. How does it feel to just let go? And I seriously started contemplating just driving my car right off the embankment. It took me months to understand that this too was a form of grief. Many people who have family members who commit suicide also attempt suicide, even if they were not suicidal before.

Truly, and I say this with all my heart and honesty I possess, the only reason I did not die that day is that I was supposed to meet a gay friend that night and I knew she would be pissed if I not only didn't show up, but I didn't have enough respect for her to wait until after we spent time together to commit suicide. I could feel her love for me pulling me back from the water's edge. She was there for me every single day as I fought through this hard to define grief.

I also had two gay male friends who lived together who made sure one of them spent the evening with me every night until I started to come back to my self. I spent many nights sleeping in their apartment because I couldn't go home to my parent's pain-filled eyes. When people would question my weird behavior, they just drew me in closer and offered me unconditional love. We walked and walked every night, everywhere, as I spoke the same words over and over, trying to understand what my brother had done, and they just listened and comforted me, never judging.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

Maybe I am taking liberties with this verse, but these 3 people, these 3 "sinners" offered me more love and compassion than I had ever experienced before or would ever experience again. I learned more about God and faith from them than I have from any of our churches.

When Hubby was at his first church and E was 10 months old, Hubby developed pneumonia. Antibiotics cured him, but a month later, in the middle of the night, he started experiencing heart attack symptoms. We called the ambulance and they agreed something was going on and advised me to find someone to watch E so I could go with him to the hospital. I had to call three church members before I could find ONE to watch her. They all turned me down.

That same church had members who refused to shake my hand during the passing of the peace because I worked for a Montessori school that prided itself in diversity. When Hubby and I were talking about adopting, they insisted we not adopt because we didn't know what "blood" we would get.

I won't rehash CountryTime stories, but you know just how horrible and bigoted they are if you have read the previous posts. I struggle every day as a pastor's wife to understand the Christian faith and to understand how people can be so angry about homosexuality. I walk this fine line between honoring my friends who showed me true examples of God (even if one was pagan), and honoring the church members who provide me with a pretty comfortable life and nice home, even though many of them have damaged my faith in humanity.

Looking at my Facebook page makes me sick to my stomach. To see both sides just attacking each other and throwing hateful comments back and forth upsets me. I can feel the anger in people when I go out into the real world. There is so much hate right now. I just want to scream. I want the LGBTQ community to know that there are Christians in this country who are trying to make a difference for them. There are pastors willing to take a stand to help them be treated, not as sinners, but equals and righteous in the eyes of God. Don't give up on us. We are here.

Hubby is a pastor who believes in marriage equality. Our church is a Welcoming church. Our church even has a ministry devoted to helping bring gay people back into the fold. But even at our church there are hateful zealots who Hubby must minister to. He must, because he believes in the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself.

Just know, we are here.






Thursday, May 14, 2015

That Moment When You Get It

On warm, breezy nights, Hubby and I walk down to the beach to decompress from our day. Last night, before we even made it to the main drag, we heard a kerfuffle going on. We heard sirens, and then a police officer's voice coming over a loud speaker telling a man that the building was surrounded and he should get down on the ground. Before my husband and I could turn the corner to see the man on the ground, the officer started screaming at another man to come out with his hands up.

We rushed to get a good view of this local Law and Order unfolding in our tiny beach town. We walked to the balcony of a second floor restaurant that was still closed for the season and had ring side seats for (what we later learned was) a heroin dealer getting his come-uppance. I hate gang members and drug dealers. I have a history with them that will forever make me hate them and I think they all need to rot in jail. So watching this arrest started out exciting. There were 10 or 12 cops surrounding a hotel. Two looked to be SWAT and had their weapons drawn and focused on a 2nd floor hotel room door. The immediate area had been blocked off and the officer on the loud speaker was still calling for this man to come out with his hands up.

The man, dressed in boxers and a white wife-beater, very slowly appeared from the front door, with his hands raised as high in the air as he could get them. Every person watching was eying this man, wondering what he had done, waiting to see what the police would do. Everyone was just a little breathless with excitement. But as I watched this man, I began observing his body language. This man was terrified. More than terrified, this man was sure his life was about to end if he made even the slightest wrong move.

This black man was living out a scenario that happens every day in America and he couldn't say for certain that he would make it down those steps even if he did everything right. I could actually feel the terror emanating from him. This big, tattooed, tough black man was shaking in fear. It took him a good 5 minutes to come down a stair case consisting of about 15 steps, not because he was being lazy or belligerent, but because he didn't want to do anything that would give the cops a reason to pull that trigger.

I have to admit, I am the kind of person who feels like if you play with fire, then you should expect to get burned. I don't have sympathy for people who get arrested and claim the cuffs are too tight, or the officers were too rough. And this man is more than likely guilty. But some people had their cell phones out, recording the events. I am sure some were hoping a gun would go off and they would be able to sell their story. Others, more than likely, were trying to protect this man by recording things. Trying to make the officers pause before they made a rash decision.

The man made it down the steps and into police custody. He wasn't beaten up, yelled at or hurt. The conclusion was actually tame compared to the walk down the stairs. But I can't shake the primal fear this man was exuding. This wasn't a looter on tv, a rioter looking for sympathy. Nothing about him in that moment appeared violent or aggressive. This was a man with a deep-ingrained fear that he was more likely to be shot just because of his skin color.

I didn't get it before. I am pro-cop and support them all the way. But just like you have doctors and lawyers who make mistakes, you have rogue cops or cops with their own ingrained beliefs that they may not even know they have. This man thought he was going to die. He could not have held his arms up higher or walked more slowly or followed directions more precisely if he was a grunt in the army.

This man was black and thought he was going to be shot.

I get it now.

I really do.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Stuck in the middle again....

I live in a little town where the streets are laid out on a grid pattern. They're old-fashioned city blocks. Everyday I walk my dog. For the longest time I have not been able to walk my dog to the left because that would mean engaging Drunken Neighbor who lives on the corner and sits outside all day drinking. It only makes sense that I would stick to the right.

Tuesday, as I was walking my dog, we were 3 houses down from my home when I saw an arm opening the door of a second story apartment building. A large, black and white pit bull charged down the steps and was upon my dog as I was still screaming, "Wait, I'm out here with my dog!" The pit grabbed my dog's neck as I screamed and jerked the Raptor's body out from under him. This left his belly exposed. The pit started to reach for his belly and I guess my dog got in one good bite because the pit's owner told us there was a wound on the pit's neck and the dog never made contact with his stomach. My dog wears a harness when he walks so I started lifting him up by his harness, trying to get him away from the pit. The pit took my dog's entire lower leg in his mouth and started pulling away from me as hard as he could. I was screaming for help all this time and I had to tear my dog's leg to get him out of the pit's mouth. There is a small park right next to where I live and there were contract workers in the park listening to all this and not one of them came to my aid.

I have never in my life had a flight response. I am all fight. For the first time in my life I truly did not know what to do. I was completely alone fighting off this 100 pound dog who was taller than me when it lunged up. No one was coming from my screaming and I couldn't use my hands to call on my phone because I was fighting for my dog's life. I was completely helpless and I was losing the fight but I couldn't run away and leave my dog to die, either.

Suddenly a man in a small pickup truck pulled up and opened his car door. I think he actually hit the pit's face which made it back up. He told me to throw my dog in the bed of the truck. By this time another neighbor finally came out and dragged the pit bull back upstairs. The man drove me the 2 houses to my car. The woman who had returned the dog said the owner wasn't home and the boys in the apartment "didn't know how the dog got out." I very clearly remember yelling, "I WATCHED THEM LET IT OUT AND I AM CALLING 911!"

The Raptor had to have emergency surgery. His paw had 4 large gashes to the bone and punctured pad. I sat in the Animal Hospital shaking uncontrollably at what I had just been through. Surely I wasn't right that those boys had purposely let the dog out. Why didn't the park workers at least call 911? What in the world had just happened?

Hubby talked to the dog's owner who had agreed to pay all of our dog's medical bills and she threw the boys out of her apartment, admitting they were bad seeds and she wouldn't put letting the dog out purposely past them. To say I am traumatized is an understatement. My lead teacher was out sick all week so I had to continue to go to work and function as normally as I could, but I am a mess. I am afraid to walk my dog. I am afraid of strangers in the park next to our house in case they are the kids who got kicked out. I am afraid for the next bad thing to happen since I have so much crap being heaped on me.

How can people be so cruel?

The Raptor is healing. He wouldn't let me near him for two days since I had been the one who hurt him and I was screaming the entire time. He is going to be okay but I think, in all honesty, it is back to therapy for me. I just can't wrap my head around this and with Drunken Neighbor to the left of me and the pit bull to the right, I am just stuck in the middle again.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Just in Case Stick

Hubby has been doing some volunteer work for our local police station. It has taken a while but he is slowly breaking through the solid blue wall and getting the officers comfortable with him. The police chief is a church member, so after all of the struggles we had with Drunken Neighbor, we finally asked for a favor. A file has been started on this man and the hope is to get him sent away to jail (he is also a drug dealer).

Several weeks ago Drunken Neighbor was caught by the police just a few feet from E's window (inside our fenced yard). 4 officers responded to my 911 call. 2 stayed with the DN and 2 were sent to talk to me. It was 11 o'clock at night and Hubby was not home. It was 35 degrees out and I was standing in my bathrobe on my front porch with my teeth chattering.

One of the officers sent to talk to me was a 15 year veteran of the force who has lived on the island all his life. He was a stereotypical Italian cop. His partner was a rookie, only on the force for a few months. As I was standing outside talking to the cops, the rookie slowly kept backing away from me. I wasn't yelling, I wasn't threatening anyone, I was just telling my side of the story. I kept seeing him take one step, then another away from me and I really couldn't figure out why.

When the cops left, E and I went back inside and she said, "Mom, you went all Mother Bear out there!" I asked her what that meant and she said, "You were really scary!"

"But I was totally calm. I was perfectly polite. I wasn't scary," I told her. She agreed that I was quiet, but she said when I had that intense quiet was when I was my scariest of all.

A week later I was talking to the police chief about the events that night and he told me the officers had a new found respect for my husband. Anyone who could face my wrath and live to tell the tale was all right in his book. Apparently the Italian cop went back and told the chief he doesn't know why anyone would want to make me mad. He figured if he left me alone in the room with DN I would take care of the problem myself. I had intimidated a lifetime cop.

I quickly pointed out to the chief that I had very specifically stayed on an even keel that night. I would never, ever take the law in my own hands outside of my home, but we do have a PVC pipe under our bed just in case this man tries to enter our house. If he does, he and his kneecaps will be parting ways and the officers will learn just how scary I can be.