Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Ugly Truth about "Life's Not Fair"



Yesterday I got a knock on my office door. A young man from one of my classes stopped by for some help with a paper, so, as is my personality, I tried to break the ice by asking about his weekend.

“Oh, it was O.K.,” he said with a slight grin. “One part was a little hard, but the rest of it was good.”

I pursued the “hard” comment; I’m pushy that way. “What happened? What was hard about your weekend?”

“Well, ma’am,” (he always calls me ma’am), “I was out late one night walking with a friend of mine, and we got stopped by the police.”

“Really?” I asked. “Were you out past curfew? I know they really come down hard on that around here.”

“No, ma’am. It was around midnight, and we were just walking down Main Street. The policeman stopped us, but when we showed him our IDs he kept asking us questions. He even questioned my friend about the color of her eyes.”

“That’s weird,” I said.

“Yes,” he continued. “And they kept questioning me about my address because it didn’t match the one on my driver’s license.”

“Did you show them your school ID?” I asked. “Did you tell him you were a college student here?”

“Yes, ma’am. But he didn’t seem to care. He just kept asking us questions.”

And then it hit me. My student, a very tall, very dark, African American male, walking with a girl down the main street of our town, had been harassed by someone on our police force.

Frankly, I was stunned. I didn’t even know what to say to my student because I couldn’t believe that something like that would happen here.

I’m pushy, but I’m also na├»ve.

Finally, after listening to his story—one told with not a trace of bitterness or anger—I simply said, “I am so sorry that happened to you.”

“Oh, it’s O.K.” He shrugged his shoulders.

Was it resignation? Was he used to this? I didn’t know.

And then he smiled his huge, beautiful smile and laughed his joyful, belly laugh and said, “The rest of my weekend was good, though.”

*****

Later, I recounted his experience to my husband.

“I get that the police stopped him. It was midnight. We’re close to the train. He was with a girl. I get all that. But once he showed the cops his school ID that should have been enough. End of story. But it wasn’t. They continued to question him like he was a criminal. It just makes me so mad.”

And then I started to cry because, for the first time, the plight of a young, black man hit home to me. It wasn’t fair that my student should suffer that kind of questioning, that kind of humiliation. It wasn’t fair that he should be singled out to be questioned when there might have been others out walking late at night. He wasn’t doing anything wrong, and yet he was stopped.

It wasn’t fair.

I cried for myself, who had never and who probably will never have to face that kind of situation. I don’t have to fear the police. It’s not fair that my student will have to think twice when he walks on our city streets late at night.

And I cried a tear or two of thankfulness for his quiet, forgiving attitude. “The rest of my weekend was good,” he told me. He had already moved on. He had already forgiven. He wasn’t going to let this situation drag him down.

*****

I tell my kids that “life’s not fair,” and I mean that. But I think it’s unfair when I get too much ice in my drive-thru sweet tea or when I don’t get the best seat at a concert because everyone else pushes in ahead of me.

But this? This puts everything into perspective.

For some, life is more unfair than it is for others.

Last night I shed tears over injustice, maybe for the first time in my life, I’m ashamed to say.

Oh, I’ve prayed for those who suffer. I’ve “felt badly” for those who don’t have the same opportunities as me. But if I’m perfectly honest, injustice isn’t something I think about on a daily basis. It’s just not something I’ve had to deal with much, being a white woman from a wealthy suburb.

Yesterday, though, nearly broke my heart.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Seven Things I've Been Doing Lately

You guys.

I didn't mean to go radio silent on you all, I really didn't.

But sometimes life gets in the way, doesn't it? You all know what I mean.

And sometimes the world just feels so heavy and you have All The Thoughts about it, but just can't seem to find a way to put those thoughts down on paper or computer screen or whatever you call it these days. The Thoughts are what's important anyway.

And sometimes you just have so much going on, some of which seems a little trite compared to all the big things in the world, and you feel like writing about your own little corner of the world just doesn't really matter any more.

These are the thoughts that have been rambling around in my brain lately. And I just didn't know where to start again.

But I miss you, those of you who care enough to click over here and check every now and then.

And I miss writing. I really miss writing.

So, in an effort to jump start what I had going on here a while ago, I thought I'd just tell you not All The Thoughts about the world and life and parenthood that I have right now, but instead I thought I'd just tell you where I've been and what I've been up to over the past couple of months.

I just downloaded the pictures from my phone, and I'll share a few in an effort to tell a story. About my life. So you can keep up, or I can.

Whatever.

1. Probably the most significant thing that has given me pause lately has been moving this girl . . .


. . . into her first apartment. In the city.

Which means that she doesn't live here anymore. (*wah!!!!*)

She bought her very first piece of furniture: this very fine, retro velvet sofa.


Isn't it the coolest? And the best part is that I found it at a local resale shop for $44.

It is, without a doubt, the heaviest piece of furniture I've ever moved.

We also bought furnace filters.


A girl's gotta have furnace filters, you know?

2. Back in August, I picked up Kate at work one day so we could check out her new apartment together, but before we got to the apartment we decided we were hungry and a restaurant we've been dying to try just happened to be on our way.

So I got to cross a big item off my bucket list.


Girl and the Goat was every bit as amazing as everyone says it is. Make your 2015 reservations NOW.

We ate the most interesting food.

Soft shelled crab. Oh my!


The most amazing green beans I've ever eaten.


And something called the "pig face" which, literally, IS that. (Don't read the Girl and the Goat website if you don't want to know what's in it.)


You know what? This was melt-in-your-mouth amazing. The combination of textures between the crispy hash browns, the oh-so-tender meat, and the soft egg is something I'll never forget.

3. Another thing we've done a lot of this summer has been attending weddings. We got invited to six weddings (sadly, we had to miss one of them), all of which were very special and lots of fun.

Here are my three beauties at the last wedding we attended for Kate's dear friend, Mary. Obviously, Kate was in the wedding.


Such a special evening for a very special friend.

(Ginny, Kate, and Mary--best friends since Day 1 at school.)

This weekend marks Wedding Number Six for us, and the close of Wedding Season 2014.

But this weekend also marks the wedding I've been most excited about as my first niece is getting married on Friday. The family will be gathering in Texas later on this week to celebrate Kira and Jon, and we couldn't be happier.

(Check Instagram for photos that are sure to amaze!)

4. What else?

Well, school started again. Here's my "first day of school" picture.


And teaching again forces me to do lots of this:


5. But I do manage to have fun on my days off. Like this day when my friend, Kathy, and I snuck into the city for some exploring and lunch.

This place was so cute and absolutely delicious.


6. I've been trying to walk outside as much as I can because I know that one of these days the weather will force me back inside.

Here's the path where I walk a lot of times:


Ahhhhhhh. Pure relaxational bliss.

7. Since Kate moved out and Caroline headed back to school, we've been moving things around. Julia moved into Kate's old room, leaving her room to eventually become a dedicated guest room. (Until the next time someone needs a place to stay.)

So a couple of Saturdays ago Julia and I painted her "new" room.

Before . . . . . . . . and . . . . . . . . After

Julia's going for the muted, more grown-up look. I like it. What do you think?

Anyway, after a Saturday of painting, I was pretty much wiped out. 

Until the following Saturday (last Saturday) when I gave cooking lessons to a group of college girls, including my own!, which was so much fun we all decided to do it again sometime. 

I love college girls!

But now I'm tired. And I can't seem to shake the tiredness from my bones. It never leaves me. But don't tell me to take vitamins (I am!) or see a doctor (that's another thing I've been doing all summer--I've just had random checkups for random things, and I couldn't be healthier.).

I guess I'm just in a tired season that's going to be that way for a while.

Probably because I've had just a few things going on for the past couple of months.

What about you? What have you been up to? I'd really like to know, so leave me a comment!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

What 9.11 Took from our Children--One Mom's Reflection


I didn't know anyone. Not one single person who died on 9.11.01.

Todd Beamer was a friend of several people I know, but I had never met him. I don't think I even know anyone who lost a loved one on 9.11.

I've written about 9.11 before; I probably write about it every year. It is one day that really gets to me in a very personal way.

Today I keep wondering why I feel such strong emotions every year on this date. Why, if I didn't know a single person who lost their life, do I feel shaky when I watch the scenes from that day replayed on the news? Why do I remember almost every vivid detail from the hour or two after I got the phone call from my husband saying, "Turn on the news." Why do I remember ringing my best friend's doorbell and falling apart crying the minute I saw her?

Why is this such a big deal to me? Me, who wasn't even directly affected?

You know, I think that's the answer. I was directly affected. We all were. I am an American, and even though I didn't personally know anyone who died that day, I think a part of who we all are as Americans was taken from us. Our culture. Our identity. Part of that died that day, and as I wrote to my girls that evening, I knew that nothing would ever be the same again.

I also knew that the world my children would grow up in would not be the carefree, naive world I knew as a child.

My children will know carefree days, yes, but always with the backdrop of another 9.11 and the knowledge that this could happen again at any time.

They will never know meeting their family at the airline gate with hugs and kisses after a long trip. They will never know the freedom of entering a building, particularly a government building, without some sense of suspicion--x-ray machines and all that. They will never know a world in which we don't look at each other just a little more closely because of the way we look or the way we are dressed.

They will never know.

What they will know is heightened security, fear, and threats to our limited way of life. And this makes me sad.

It's the new normal, I get that. I'm not naive enough to think things could ever go back. But what I thought about today as I wondered why this day affects me so much is the reality of life as my children will see it.

They've been robbed of so much.

And it affects me deeply.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day Meme

I can't let this Labor Day pass by without a throwback to the good old days of blogging.  My friend, Jo-Lynne, ran a post this week that she published way back in 2008--the year I started blogging (I can't even believe that as I type it). Back in 2008 we bloggers spent a lot of time actually reading each others blogs and, even better, we COMMENTED on each others blogs.

Imagine!

And back in 2008 we participated in all sorts of blog parties and memes.

Like this one.

So, in honor of Labor Day, I thought I'd share my own Labor Day meme. (Thanks, Jo-Lynne, for the idea!). Feel free to answer these questions for yourself in the COMMENTS section. (There really is such a thing. It's down below, and I'd love it if you'd use it!)

How long were your labors?

K - about 12 hours.

C - 4 hours from start to finish.

J - 30 hours. We're all thankful that we both survived the ordeal.

How did you know you were in labor?

K - my water broke in the middle of the night.

C - the doctor stripped my membranes in his office, telling me at the time that there were no guarantees that this would start labor. By the time I got home, I was in hard labor. I called B at work and we were off to the races. Literally.

J - Labor pains. Sort of. And then petocin. Ugh.

Where did you deliver?

All three were born at the same hospital, which is less than 10 minutes from our home. And get this--they were all born on a Tuesday. Weird, huh?

Drugs?

Absolutely!

C-section?

Nope.

Who delivered?

K - The "cute young doctor" in the practice whom I had put off seeing because what are the chances that he'll do my delivery? I was scheduled to see him the next week, but Kate decided she'd like to enter this world three weeks early. And guess who was on call! (I'll never forget his beautiful blue eyes looking up at me over the sheet.)

C - "Cute young doctor"'s father. Really.

J - Our dear family practice doc. By this time I had switched practices and had our family doc deliver. I'm so glad he did because he saved her life.

So now it's your turn. I'd love to know how YOU'D answer these questions. You can do so in the COMMENTS. Please?