Toast! to the Characters Who Never Leave- “Rootbeer Barrels”

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When you’re a storyteller, your head, soul and heart can fill with the songs, mumblings, cries and laughter of your characters. Some are faint, hanging out in corners, or moving in a slow dance towards the light when they will reveal themselves. Others come charging at you, demanding to be heard. Now, Damnit!

And some…they come on in and pull a chair and keep spinning yarns so you tell bits and pieces of them in different clothing, in different towns, at different eras.

On such character is Stella.   I discovered her years ago when I wrote a play called Shipside. She would be that older, (age-not-determined due to that “Black don’t crack” thing), wise, sassy yet have more heart than she can handle, more heart to give away and get stomped, but feeling her survival was for a reason, she’s a mainstay in the world. She certainly became one in my life.

At one point I gave her space to tell a story about herself. About her childhood and this is what she told me. About Rootbeer Barrels.

I knew this man. Well, hell, I knew a lot of men.

This one.I met when I was nearly seven.

Seven just like heaven, he’d say.

He lived up the street from us. You know the house. Peeling white paint. Like picked at scabs. Fitting. Except I didn’t know that then.

We thought it was kinda cool how he didn’t mind that us kids would scratch off, peel off big ole chunks of paint. We’d take chipped cups from our own kitchens and put those flecks in them, mix them with water from his hose and call it tea. We’d have parties on his porch.

This ole man was thick sweaters in July Straight press pleats down the front of his pants. And Pockets filled with candy.

Now, not just any candy. But root beer barrels. Each in its own crinkling plastic,A little hard nub of sweetness.That’s what he’d call them.

We’d play in his yard and eventually he’d come out on his porch and give us that. Little pieces of candy. Nubs of sweetness

One afternoon, I was playing around back near his garage. I was checking on the rhubarb. Seeing if stocks were ripe for picking. And he came out. Pleated pants. Long sleeve sweater.

Bulging pockets.

He took a piece of candy, had it in his palm and he told me,

Standing this close,

“do you know that one day when you’re all grown up and you become a woman, your nipples could look like this?”

I think I nodded no. Or maybe I said I knew that.

See. Sweat ran up my spine. My stomach squeezed and turned itself around inside of me. My bladder, I didn’t know that was what it was called then, I always pictured a baggie filled with pee. It swelled, and then squeezed itself, too. It hurt so much, hurt my legs and my thighs…

They got…hot

I tightened my muscles and watched the sun beat down on his nearly bald head. The beads of sweat. Were big like mulberries, fat and wet.

He unwrapped the root beer barrel while I watched his hands.

They were large and worn with cracks like old gnarly leather.

He took that piece of candy and handed it to me. I reached for it and he said

“uh uh. Open your mouth, Stella.”

He had never called me by my name. I didn’t know he knew it. So I did what he said.

“Wider, child”

So I did.

He stuck that candy in, pushing it with his thumb.

I saw myself biting down. Cleanly. Smoothly. Biting through that bone. At the edge of his finger nail. His skin tasted salty, even though, it was slick with sweet sweat

He said, “Don’t do it. Stella.”

I froze, feeling that barrel up against my teeth. In the back of my mouth.

He said “You bite me, girl, I’m gonna take all your front teeth out when I pull my hand out. And then in that hole, I’m gonna stick my dick in.”

That’s when I noticed his other hand was down his pants.

I released. He backed up.Stuck his thumb in his own mouth.

I turned and walked away, Sucking so hard on that piece of candy, I tore a hole in it

Then cut my tongue but I didn’t spit.

I let it bleed.

– Stella, over a bourbon, fanning her face

Stella is hanging out more those days because she’s Sweets in Shipside, she’s the many great grand daughter of a beautiful Nigerian Queen who has never lost her royal blood. She just needs writers like me to stop crying for her and tell the story.

Peace.

Toast to AVON39 and committing to the fight against breast cancer.

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Summer of 2013, I got really scared.

I had received a form letter with my mammogram results saying that I had very dense tissue in my breasts and therefore a mammogram was not the best screening avenue I should take. The letter suggested a scan or MRI to get a clearer picture of my breast tissue.  This was not a new discovery, it was a mandated notice from the State of California. Something someone thought I should know.

So I contacted my doctor, got a referral and went in for my first breast scan at a lovely, welcoming clinic downtown Los Angeles. I admit, I was nervous, Very. I kept thinking, since I didn’t know that I’ve always had dense tissue, what could be there that I had no idea about? What lurks?

During the breast scan, the technician zeroed in on one spot under my arm. I felt what she was taking more scans of. I FELT the teeny tiny bump. Swollen. Waiting. Hiding out.

She left the room, leaving me lying there with a tiny towel for my chest, the paper yet stylish vest crackling under my every move. When she came back in a few minutes later, she brought a doctor with her. He hit the lights and asked me to sit up.

I held that towel over me, feeling exposed and vulnerable, there was a shift in the room. Something had changed from when I arrived there to that moment when the doctor told me they found something in my lymph nodes under my arm. As he began to talk, I quickly conjured up all the spirits of grandmothers (I usually travel with them, anyway… so they were close by) They came and stood shoulder to shoulder around me. My grandma laying her hand on my arm, aged and warm, I heard her in the hum the fluorescent lights made, she whispered softly like a hum, “it’s okay, Lynne” .  I didn’t cry. I put on my professional face and answered his questions.

“Have you been sick? Any infections? Other ailments?”  I said, “No. No. None.” He said it was probably nothing and that I could wait six months to see if it grew or if it was going to bother me I could get a biopsy. He told me to have a good day and left.

The technician waited until the door shut and turned to me. She said “you’re getting a biopsy, aren’t you?”   Of course. I couldn’t wait six months. How could he suggest that? Didn’t he understand that I felt like I had just went head-on into a brick wall?

Four weeks later, after a course of antibiotics that didn’t do anything but make my upset stomach worse, after that same doctor returned from his vacation, after I fell apart, fear stomping all over me, after I kicked myself for being so vain for not wanting to give up my tiny imperfect breasts if I had Stage 1, for worrying how I’d live without my hair, after admitting that I LOVED my hair, after many therapy sessions and crying jags, after reaching out to heal old wounded friendships and apologizing for what I had done to others, after nearly destroying my marriage because my husband doesn’t have the same relationship to my body as I do, after all this, I calmed down and discovered my power base. I wrote to my girlfriends and asked them for strength. I asked them for prayer and they brought it. They brought it HARD.

I believe that they helped calm what was growing inside of me. I do.

I had the biopsy done, with a recovery that was longer and harder than I thought it would be. But by comparison of what I was preparing to go through, it was fine. I spoke with my mother about breast cancer clinics and she told me without hesitation that if I needed treatment, she was moving me back to Minnesota not just because the U of MN has one of the best centers in the nation but because she wanted me home. She wanted me home.  I was loved and felt that others wanted me to go on living.

The biopsy results took longer than they said it would. There was extra examination of the lymph node until finally I was told it was nothing. It was just enlarged. Perhaps at some point I was sick and the swelling hadn’t gone back down yet. I was okay. Every six months I have to go back in and have them scan again, to be sure but I was okay. And tomorrow I set the next appointment to do the scan again. It’s time.

Now, I know my story is nothing AT ALL compared to the amazing fierce women who have fought breast cancer and survived. It is nothing to those who fought and then passed on. What my community did for me is no different than many others. What my family did is no different either. I’m not special. I’m a woman who like so many others have only one body and sometimes disease shows up, and sets up camp.

What I do have have now is an opportunity to help. I’m committed to Avon39, the walk-a-thon to help raise funds to END BREAST CANCER!  Life is so precious and we’re fighting for it. Fight.

And I need your help. Please donate to the cause. Help me make my $1800 commitment.

This is my personal AVON39 page, so you can follow me, make your donation. You can find me on Facebook at Stacey Parshall Jensen. You can see on FB and on my page my progress. Please come laugh with me, celebrate with me, be here with me. http://bit.ly/1L8miY3  I’ll be blogging all over the place!!

So, the Toast today is for all the women who fight, for the families and the communities that gather their prayers and strengths to rally together in the fight. It’s a Toast to AVON39 and ENDING Breast Cancer.

Thank you.

Peace

Stacey

Peace.

Toast! to 10 Things Art Does For My Soul

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I’ve been stating to people lately “I”m so grateful I’m an artist.” Which is comes much later than that first statement, “I am an artist.” – which I had to give a lot of thought and contemplation years ago when I did that mid-30’s change of life thing and started writing. But once I embraced that and began to build a life around honoring my writing, I still didn’t feel the gratitude of having this calling. Even when I attended school, working towards my MFA’s, which I know statistically for a COC of a certain age (Chick of Color at 40-something…hee hee) puts me a  small percentage of all people in this country earning degrees at that level, I still didn’t really fully feel the gratitude.

It’s now been 14 years since I started writing. Playwriting, prose, and now screenplays, I’m a storyteller and this is just a short list of what Art Does For My Soul:

1. Art feeds my imagination. Like a child playing make-believe, I get to imagine worlds, people, scenarios, winning wars and creating joy.
2. Art helps me figure shit out. I can give my characters my flaws, my insecurities, my anger, my hurt and let them figure it out on their journey so I can live a life in reality in peace.
3. Art gives me a vital purpose. This is a calling. It is. Just as we all need doctors who love to heal, lawyers who believe justly in the law, teachers who love a student’s mind, I’ve been really blessed to hear this calling, I love writing and knowing what I”m suppose to contribute to this world.
4. Art teaches me about who I want to be. The layers of my complex characters show me what I want to change in myself and what needs nurturing.
5. Art has created a community. For as much as writing is an individual act, in my head, at the page, for the amount of time I spend in my robe with tea by my window in the mornings, I also have an incredible community of writers, filmmakers, poets, novelists, journalists, painters, designers, musicians…the list is long of the creative minds in my life.
6. Art simmers down the prickly past. When old wounds burst open, or an old fear grips onto my heart, hijacking my day, art gives me a way to work it out. I write letters, draw, paint, fill journal pages with stickers and swirls of crayon marks. I write stories of badass women who kick the shit out of the bad guys while they heal their own pains.
7. Art lets me be selfish, in a healthy way. I’m a caregiver. Loyal to a fault and that hasn’t been a healthy trait. Extreme caregiving was about seeking approval and intense need. My art makes me explore what’s happening in my head, what’s making my heart ache, what’s bringing me joy. And helps me balance what’s self-care and what’s for everyone else.
8. Art means daydreaming’s cool! I never got in big trouble in school as a little girl for daydreaming in class. I was a pretty good student. But I do remember times being told to pay attention. I remember being asked where my head was and the shame of that. I never told anyone what I dream of- about my mom, about my family not being so damn poor, about being someone special and important. One of the hardest thing for me when I was a little girl was admitting I even had dreams. How dare I, right?
9. Art sustains my family. Art brought my husband into my life. We met as members of the same theatre company and our friendship grew out of working together with kids, telling stories over beer. And years later, when my daughter chose art school for her education and SFAI chose her, we couldn’t have been prouder. Art is woven into the foundation that holds my family together. And that same art has made us all better for our extended families. And now art, making films, has created Through the Wilderness, LLC, our film company.
10. ART IS PLAY! In this photo the lamp illuminates the little girl spirit who hangs out on my desk in the mornings, waiting for me to show up and play.

I am so grateful for being an artist. So today’s Toast! is to Art And What It Does To My Soul.

What does art do for yours?

Peace

Toast! to Inspiration!

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted about what I’ve Toasted, so sitting down to share with you, Inspiration is the what I’ve been thinking about and here’s why.

This spring as Peter and I have been gearing up for our first Through the Wilderness, LLC production- a short action film about a Native American cop who is forced to deal with her feelings around miscarriage, motherhood, and justice when a dying hooker leaves her baby in her garage (btw, I LOVE this story but that’s a different posting) – I find myself attempting to develop a business mind while watching for the obstacle to my creative work that I fear this business mind will create.

I get that might not happen and perhaps this is just the work of my critic taking advantage of the change in my life to whisper more shit in my ear. I get that.  Yet, the reality is, the time I spend researching to understand…franchise taxes, accounting practices and deal memos and marketing strategies, is all time that I’m not writing.  And let’s be clear, before all this other business in my life, getting to the page to just write was hard enough to begin with. Sometimes.

But before I can go to the page, I need to be inspired, so what is that and where is it?

I’m at my messy desk, in my robe, blanket wrapped around my feet- yes, this is the glamourous life, and I ask myself where is that inspiration.  I look to books next to me. The Quran, Jon Kabat-Zinn Full Catastrophe Living, Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko, my bills to be paid, my bowl of nail polishes, crayons and greeting cards, The Ten Indian Commandments on my wall, my empty bowl that held oatmeal and berries, my now cold cup of green tea. Then I hear the birds outside. The hummingbird that flutters to my window and peeks in at me in the mornings has arrived. Outside my window beyond the bush, I see the new bistro size patio table and chairs, the big bright yellow and white umbrella, the expansion of my office. Then my mind travels outside our gate and down the street. The sky soft blue (yes, under the LA smoggy haze but stay with me here…smog is an inspiration, too, different post, different story), the palm trees create a landscape so different than home in MN, which I now see in my mind, the big oaks, the flat farmland alongside the highway to my mom’s, the tall cedars along the North Shore,  all so different than…awww…there it is- the places I’ve traveled this year, the people I’ve seen, the voices and languages, songs and food. O yes, the food. But there’s more that inspires me.

The last couple months have been filled with great joys and opportunities. Celebrations, one after another rolled through my life.  In May my daughter, Bird, graduated from college in San Francisco. Family met us in Santa Cruz for beach time, for little girl laughter and salt water taffy on the boardwalk. And in San Francisco, a beautiful city filled with rolling hills and tall skinny houses hugging at the shoulders, I had early morning moments on bagel runs for the family packed into the hotel suites. And in those mornings, with the sun on my face, feeling grateful for love and support, I felt inspiration, too. I did.

I listened to speakers at SFAI send the graduates out into the world with advice. Some was good. Most was daunting, but I saw fresh and slightly frightened young faces eager to run out and show us their world. And at the gallery, I saw my amazing Bird beaming in front of her painting, revealing to us, her family, what she learned about herself at school. And I was inspired by the depth of her creativity, by the young woman she’s become.

For her graduation gift, we took her to Tokyo. Yes- we are able to travel like that. A blessing beyond our wildest dreams.  While there, oh, the sounds and smells. I was often overwhelmed but yet, I had moments of sheer joy, moments of  being deeply awe-struck by beauty, like in Kamakura, the tiny beach village where the huge statute of Buddha lives.

While there, we walked to the shore. And standing on the “other side of the Pacific” while Peter waded into the water, I looked to my daughter and nearly fell over with love and admiration. The three of us inspires me. Our family in MN and across the country inspires me. Our journey that got us from the the tiny, poor little places we lived in while Bird was a baby, to that moment on the Japanese beach, inspires me. Yes. the memories will keep inspiring me, will keep my creativity alive.

So, the Toast! is to Inspiration whether it’s from the photos on the desk, a song on Spotify, the wee bird at the window, or a breeze that invokes a memory, inspiration is all around me.  And my wish for you is to be inspired by what’s in your life, what’s in your heart, what’s in your memories.

Peace.

 

Toast! to Art That Heals- Blessed the film

This is my desk on some mornings. Many mornings. Most mornings.

I discovered a long time ago that what I write is good for me, for my heart, for taking on the emotions that sometimes seep into the morning from the nightmare that wrecked havoc with my soul.

I appreciate that about writing. I am so grateful I discovered this for myself. I know that when I create a story about a woman who’s fighting for her family, I’m dealing with what it means to be a mom and what I’d fight for. How I’d fight. I also know that when I create a story about loss and grief, that I’m trying to heal my own wounds.

Right now, I’m in pre-production for a short film called Blessed. It’s a story about a cop who is trying to make herself believe she doesn’t want a baby and what happens when her wall she creates to hide behind comes tumbling down… in the most incredible way. She is forced to deal with her pain, her loss…her understanding of her faith and who she is.

It’s a tall order for a short film. It’s powerful and deeply connected to me.

See- my character, Kiona, has suffered her third miscarriage. She’s asking all those questions about why and what has she done to deserve this. Her mother, however, straight up believes that Kiona will be blessed when she’s ready.

Of the many beautiful characteristics of these women, the main one for me is that they’re Native American. So to have Mary Beth state so matter-of-factly that she believes the Great Spirit will bless Kiona when she deserves only deepens Kiona’s exasperation of dealing with her loss. Why doesn’t she deserve?

Grief is grief- that’s what my shrink said when I told her about making this film and how exposed I am. See- I suffer…struggle with secondary infertility. I just found that term and a bunch of amazing women, mothers, who suffer this, too. It may not be the same miscarriage as others but none of us are the same, except grieving the loss of a child who will never be.

I know the incredible joy of creating a child, and carrying her inside me only to give her life…I know how I felt when it dawned on me that God must see that I’m worthy of something grand in this world to give me a child.

Now- I truly believe that is true for any parent, no matter how that child comes into their life. When you are chosen to be a parent, through whatever means, that’s what God is doing. Blessing you. And I know Peter and I will blessed with more children.

For me, right now, though, the wound lies deep inside me. In that place of creation that is no longer capable of creating any life. I went through an early menopause at 43. And have never felt so alone. Because so many women my age are just cool with not having more children. Or at least that’s what they say. Their lives are filled with college-bound teenagers and elementary school-agers…and they don’t seem to ache as much I do.

I had my daughter, Bird, by myself. I was a single parent from pretty much minutes after conception. Seriously. And it was hard at times…and it was lovely. And warm. And I love her in ways I can’t even find the words for. I love her with all that I am, with all my essence. Becoming her mom gave me purpose. Gave me direction. Bird saved my life. She did. (that’s another film – to tell the story of the life I was living before her)

But now, I have a husband who is the most incredible dad. His love for Bird is unmeasurable and I wanted to create a baby with him. When we first met and became friends, he told me that what struck him the most was the kind of mom I am. On one of our first dates a couple years later, he told me this and that he wanted me to be the mother of his children. But I can’t have babies. His babies. I can’t.

The pain is so deep. I’ve lost friends who couldn’t stick around to help me. I’ve lost friends who weren’t capable of showing up. I’ve suffered through newborn happenings and baby showers and birth stories and struggled with balancing my pure love and joy for all these incredible mamas in my life while tending to my wounds. My grief. It was private and personal. Intimate aches.

So last year when I pushed to finish a draft of Blessed I didn’t recognize what I was doing, actually. I didn’t see the healing I was committing. I found a brilliant director who not only dug the story of Kiona, she also appreciates the beauty of Kiona being a cop who believes in laws, justice and strength. My director also is committed to the action and suspense in this story, which apparently doesn’t happen that often – female leads in action films about a more feminine theme. She’s bringing me extremely talented people who are joining us to make this film and they get it, too. And I’m so grateful.

I’m meeting actors who take my breath away. Fierce and strong, and yet so wounded, they are giving this story life so that I can heal. I get to keep healing.

Along with my therapy, my daily writings, my Brene Brown work, my watercolors, my collages, tea, toast and dark chocolate, Blessed, the film, is healing me.

So today’s Toast! is to Art That Heals.

And here’s wishing you all some healing love and magic today.

PEACE

Toast! to not knowing what to Toast so toasting…this moment…

Wow.  I’m sounding sorta vague. “sorta vague”  Redundant, I know.  That’s where I’ve been lately, I think.  In this hazy vagueness…Due to having alot on my plate, many balls in the air, juggling with both hands and feet, running in circles, breathing too fast and too shallow, feeling angst that’s keeping me stuck and wow…how many other ways can I describe what’s up with me? 

See- we have been blessed with good fortune. Good health. Many friends. Family support. Love. Laughter. Confidence in our work. Peace. 

And yet, my mind battles the fear that’s it’s all some cruelass joke, it will crumble and I’ll get hurt. YET….here it comes…YET there is nothing to indicate any of my fears are true. Or will BE true.  Reality is good.  My inability to accept that–is the mind game that is keeping me awake at night.  And it’s exhausting worrying all the time. 

I’m a dramatist. Notice I didn’t write ‘drama queen’??  A dramatist. I create story. A storyteller. And I LOVE A GOOD STORY! But for it to be good the stakes have to be high, like…make your heart hurt, skin ripped at the knuckles from crawling to save your soul kinda stakes. However they’re defined, they have to run deep. They have to be big. They’re the shit good movies are made of.  It’s my job to be able to create these stakes, so in my life, at times like this, my urge is to find these stakes. Not create them. I don’t crazymake any more. I can proudly say that destruction doesn’t happen in my life any more.  I tend to ‘search’ for the stakes now. When I sit, that’s what my  mind is doing. When I’m in spin class, that’s what my mind is doing. When my husband laughs and hugs me, that’s what my mind is doing. I’m searching for what’s going to go wrong if and when something does.  

And now I’m tired of it.

I have multiple story and film projects with a host of characters that are in various states of angst that I can give this energy to. I have the support to create the time to let the characters do this, for them to work out their own shit on their own journeys. I have amazing friends that let me ramble to work things out. I have the gym. If I wasn’t so scared of deep breathing, I’d have yoga (that’s coming…I know…) I have my husband. My family. My shrink. Brene Brown. Elephant Journal. Rebelle Society. Funny girlfriends. Loving girlfriends. Deep philosophical girlfriends. Music. Hummingbirds outside my freakin window! and…AND The Great Spirit.  

Any of these things I can focus on and say “here’s my Toast! to….”  But my feeling. Feelings… My emotions are sorta kinda spread out…not firing off in any one direction. I’ve got some hurt going on because ‘searching’ for stakes mean I peruse my memories for what’s hurt me in the past and COULD blow up now, but isn’t….like…friends who ditched me. Betrayed me. Old grief.  I have no desire to engage them, to pick at those wounds….because… in the midst of all this, I have learned to find my feet. To ground. To come back to here. To now. 

This moment. 

So…as I take up this blog again, pushing to expel what’s holding onto me, creating obstacles to my joy, to making me question my worth and what I deserve… I guess I start here. Now.  

This morning’s Toast! is to Toasting this moment. 

 

Peace. 

 

Toast! to Facebook friends when you’re called the N-word…

Yeah.  That’s what happened. And I posted the incident to FB as soon as I could. In the parking lot of the post office, ignoring the tingling of fear I felt, wondering about this young man who threw his hatred for me at me. 

I was in line (because there’s always a line at the post office) and was being assisted by this lovely older Black woman in line behind me. I was looking for labels for priority mail. She told me where to look, which stands to check out, so I left the line to go see, with her holding my space. When I came back there were four more people behind her but I stepped into my space, continuing my conversation with her about express mail labels and not finding priority mail labels.  A young man and his girlfriend walked up and stepped right in front of me.  He was white, I think.  I’m going to show my ignorance right now- he had dark skin and was darker completion, not as dark as me, but he may have been Armenian, part Latino, or had some ethnicity somewhere in his lineage, or was white guy with dark hair.  

The woman that was helping me told him that the line was behind the people behind her. He turned, glared and said “you were standing back there so I stepped in here” or something like that. So I said, “oh, no, the line is back there.” I think I started to explain where I was, or something…kindly. He couldn’t have been more than 20 so I’m sure my “mama-ness” kicked in. My girl is 21. But then to my surprise he snapped at me, “then you should stay in line.”  I didn’t respond because I surprised by  his tone. Really? I was being scolded?  

But before I could even fully process that question, he walked to the proper place in line saying “of course you get to go first because you niggers–”  Eruption from the woman and I think somebody else, there were multiple voices objecting to this. The woman said “hey, hey. we’re not going to go there!” And I said, looking at him, “Look, we all have to stand in line and nobody likes that–” but he cut me off by mumbling something about “Black–” And somebody said “hey!” I was shocked. I stared at this kid while he glared at me…with such hatred. Pure hatred.  All I could I say was “wow!” 

I turned away and that thing happened- uncomfortable strangers tried to connect. We got chatty. The woman and I talked loudly about the labels, she showed me her package being sent to her sisters. The man in front of me told me he runs a t-shirt business and mails priority boxes all the time. He lives close to post office. Then we lamented on the length of line- it just takes time, and even though there’s a post office near the woman’s daughter’s school, this one was still more convenient.   At one point I looked at the white guy in line behind the Black woman and he looked…embarrassed. Sad. He lowered his eyes.  But I was extra nice. Extra friendly. I was over the top kind because…I was nervous. And embarrassed and surprised. Shocked.  

It has been a long time since I was called that word. It had been a long time since some bigot showed their true colors to me. I was prepared. 

And yes, we get prepared. I have to. But this was in my neighborhood. Echo Park in Los Angeles. Predominantly brown folk. Latinos. Filipinos. Black -(not alot of Blacks), White…hipsters. Liberals. Funky artists. Nobody looks at me here. Nobody stares at me and my multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, shades of tan family.  Nobody. And yet this kid did this. 

He was in a different line at a different package pick-up window when I left. He glared at me as I walked by. His tiny beautiful girlfriend kept her head down. I didn’t call him an asshole until I got outside the building. 

So, attempting to process this I posted it on FB. Right away. And then as I drove away, I took a deep breath and got emotional. I cried. I called Peter and ranted, quickly processing what happened.  

It saddens me that this kid can wear his hatred so proudly, he could be so bold to hurl it at us like that.  Yes, I was angry. I still am. What the f?? Right??  But I’m more hurt not just because of being called a word that cuts so deeply, but because in this world,  in our world today, hatred flows freely and his privilege dictates his actions- it was okay to him to use that word and step in front of me. 

Now- I’m not taking this heart like this was my fault. I’m not being self-critical. I know I was kind and civil in my tone. That comes naturally. I didn’t have to think of how to address him when he budged. And after he called me the N-word, I was on auto-pilot  and… didn’t want things to escalate? I was so shocked I didn’t think my next step through…? I tried to commiserate with him, about the line, about how nobody likes to wait in line, but we’re in this together.  

But what was intentional, was me posting to FB this incident because my friends rushed to me, bringing me comfort and support. Their outrage, their empathy, their love for me and our community was what is healing from this experience.  I got cyber hugs and rants and wishes of peace. I got confirmation that I not only handled this situation well, but that in no way is this about me. It’s not. Racism, acts of racism, are about the person who fears my difference so deeply, they’ll lash out violently to protect what they think is theirs.  It’s twisted and hurtful. But it’s not my shit.  

Last night, the posts were still coming on my wall, so I drew great comfort reading them before I turned out my bedside light. But I wondered about this kid- did he find pride in his actions? Did he boast to anyone? Did he retell the story so he was the victor? Did he have to make me mean, or uppity to deserve to be called the nigger? Who has been pushing him around? Who taught him that this behavior was okay? And what’s going to happen to him when he exerts his privilege to the wrong person and shit goes down hard on him, because it will.  It will. But that’s not my burden to carry.  I can feel sorry for his pain. I will feel sorry for his pain, when I get there to that point in my processing. If I see him just a kid with his limited capabilities, then I can feel sympathy for his pain and send him peace.  Awww…this is a lesson I’m learning overall in life. As I deal with betrayals, with hurts from people I care about, I keep coming back to this notion about capabilities and how we all function from what we know. It’s simple. And people can’t do more than that so perhaps this is all this kid knows. 

I am going to stand in the space held by my friends and family that is filled with love and support, with the same daily wish for peace and harmony. 

So today, I Toast! my Facebook friends who came to my aid when I was called the N-word. I am grateful for you all!

Thank you. 

Peace

#healing #racism #community #Blackfolk #harmony #outrageatbigotry #loveheals #theawfulN-word