Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Whatever Happened to Twiggy Greenleaf?

When I was in kindergarten or first grade, I made a new friend. We had the greatest time together and I grew to love her like a sister. I'd go home every afternoon chattering about what a great time I'd had with my best friend in the whole wide world, Twiggy Greenleaf. I think I remember my mother saying, "What kind of name is Twiggy?" I remember feeling confused by her question.

I have some PTSD induced memory loss from my childhood that I still haven't fully recovered. Moved around so much. I've forgotten most of my childhood friend's names, but somehow, out of the fog, her name comes through intact and shining.

I remember her sweet face, the braids in her hair held by colorful plastic barrettes of bows and flowers. I can see one red and one yellow. I remember her clear, friendly eyes shining from her beautiful, caramel colored skin. And I can see her laughing. My heart is still full of love for her and the pain of her loss. I think she was my first true friend. And she was taken from me.

Somehow my family found out that she was black, and like I said, the memory is hazy, but I think my mother had me moved out of the class with her. I'm struggling to remember the details because, while so much is lost in the ether for me, this memory of love surrounded by pain comes back again and again, and I find myself wondering more and more, Whatever happened to Twiggy Greenleaf? The memory is steeped in confusion. There are feelings of shame, like that I'd somehow done something wrong. But then I also remember feelings of shame for my family. That they did this to us. That they took our beautiful, innocent childhood friendship and turned it into this scar.  Probably for both of us. I vaguely remember seeing her again and she wouldn't, maybe couldn't, talk to me. Or maybe I couldn't talk to her. I remember my parents telling me that she would never have been a true friend. That black and white people can't truly be friends. And I remember for the first time thinking there was something wrong with my family. That this whole thing was wrong.

To this day, deep within my subconscious, I'm still pining away for my friend. The little girl inside of me is still struggling to understand why we couldn't play together anymore. It had been a consolation that that was then and this is now. that the world, as Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, and countless other great minds throughout history have believed, that we are moving to a place of wholeness where humanity will eventually shed these ugly, petty tendencies, where we will break free of that which divides us and that which threatens our future.

But today, I read an article about the number of hate crimes spiking since November 8th, about how those who have nurtured these poisons in their hearts are feeling emboldened, feeling validated. The guy sitting at the table next to mine just said something interesting though. He said, "You know it's shaken the world up, Trump getting elected president. But maybe in a good way, too, cause now it's like, Hey, anything is possible. Trump is going to be the president?? Anything is really possible." So there's that. Maybe this is the final push for humanity. Those who need-must can go right ahead and gargle on that poison and maybe get it out of their system. The rest of us can just keep getting stronger.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Straight Up Christmas Rant

So I woke up with quite the I-don't-give-a-fuck and I'm not putting up with any sh** temperment today. It started with my daughter calling "a relative" this morning and passing the phone off to me so "Relative" could tell me that she'd sent a box of presents that she didn't have a chance to wrap to our house. Again. Actually, 8th frigging Christmas in a row. I gave the benefit of the doubt the first few years. I know how things can get out of hand around the holidays. Then I complained to my husband, hoping he'd use those amazing people skills of his to hint this really wasn't appropriate behavior, but nothing ever changed. Every Christmas things would arrive that needed to be wrapped. While he's been exemplary at standing beside me through every situation, I'm not sure if he ever mentioned, that hey, on the planet that Donna is from, in her culture, annually sending gifts that she has to wrap herself is a great insult.

Because I tend to have a very honest, direct style of communication, which, oddly enough was heralded in the business world but apparently was verboten in my new family's culture, I'd hoped Darren would communicate this little transgression that was yearly growing in it's ability to, well, to piss me off. "I don't have time to wrap your stuff either!" Someone pointed out that they were coming from online orders to which I answer, Nope, most from their home. And what online establishment doesn't offer a pretty cheap wrapping option anyway? My time's worth 5 freaking bucks. But it's not online orders. And, again, once in a blue moon, okay, I can help you out. But every freaking year for nearly a decade???

Two years ago, I told Darren that when the box arrived, unless the presents were his, that he would need to wrap them. And I told "relative" when she chortled that once again, she'd sent presents that needed wrapping, that I would be handing that duty right over to Darren. And I did this for a couple of years, hoping that what I said, gave the hint. This year she did the same thing and when Nila handed me the phone. I responded that I'd be handing those unwrapped gifts right off to Darren. Then quickly got off the phone before I said something I regretted, because hearing those words, again, for the 8th frickin' year in a row, just set me off.

A few minutes later, she sent me a text asking a question. I responded back to her question, then thought, you know what, I'm just going to say something about this and I'll say it with the answer to this question. Perhaps the informality will be less abrupt than my style of direct confrontation has been received in the past...and in these situations, I kind of like having a paper trail as my words have been twisted all out of context in these situations before. So I answered her text thusly: "Okay. So, could you not send presents here that need to be wrapped? We're kind of crunched for time these days. Thanks!"

Now to me, I was thinking, 'Okay, that was well done, I think. Casual, polite, yet getting my point across that this behavior is not okay.' But everyone I've talked to has been like, "I'd wait to send that if I were you." Well, too late. I've kind of got a trigger finger. And what exactly would I be waiting for? Waiting to see if I cool down and decide, huh, you know, maybe that doesn't really bother me after all. Maybe I don't really mind being treated as if my time is less valuable than hers. Yea, I don't really see that happening as on most days, I don't even have time to do everything I need to do in a day. So what would I be waiting for? And haven't I waited long enough? And isn't this part of why so many people hate being with family around the holiday?

They've got all these years of pent up frustrations and they basically know that they will be spending another holiday biting their tongues and waiting for when they can go off and finally relax again.

What if. What if we all just calmly communicated, "Hey, you know when you pick your teeth at the table and part of the gunk between your teeth flies out and lands in my wine...I really don't like that. Could you stop?" What would the world be like if we stopped all this pussyfooting? What if we could actually tell each other these things instead of pretending it's okay with us when it so very much isn't? We could do it with Love, and Honesty instead of bitterness and resentment because we wouldn't be storing it up for years.  Then there might actually be some possibility of real friendships with our relatives because they're based on honesty, not a constant need to look away from what we consider obvious insults and bad manners. We'd all look forward to going to gatherings full of people that we could be ourselves with, right? That's all I want to do is be able to say, "Hey, could you not send more work for me to do. I'm swamped and any extra time I do have, I'd rather use reading more than 5 pages of a book at bedtime or getting all of my own stuff done.  I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings. I just want them to consider mine. Whew.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Giving it Away

This morning I received a message from a friend who bought the kindle edition of my book a few weeks ago. They were taken aback that they paid money for the book to support me and now I was giving the book away. 
Don't misunderstand, their concern was that they felt I shouldn't give my hard work away, they weren't mad that they paid for it and now it was free. I wanted to take a minute to address this in case anyone else feels similarly. Yes, writing is my job and Lord, yes, I need the money. But here's two reasons I agreed to this weekend's campaign: I want to share my book with others, and not just my friends and family. I'm self-published and I don't know a lot about how to market my book. This is one way to broaden my reach. Two: I not only want to share my book, I feel like I should share it. If you've read it you might have noticed it's not just about me. It's also about the fabulousness of human nature and, being a true story, I think right now we need more stories like this. So if you paid for my book, I am extremely grateful. If you got it but it's not in your budget right now. No worries, I want you to have it. Just please pay it forward. Which means, do some kindness in the world.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


        There are so many political science lessons in this one little video.
Seven days after the election and there are still way too many of us wasting our precious energy in despair or struggling with a rage that seems to be fed more flame every time we watch the news or log on Facebook. It's taken some effort to snap out of it. I think I'm probably still working my way out. As an environmentalist, as a woman, well, no need to state what's already been screamed ad nauseum.

     After a week of churning, I finally had a couple of positive thoughts about all this. Real ones. Not ones I'm trying to tell myself in the hopes that I one day believe them:  Maybe this is how we get "there." And maybe there's no way we can get "there" unless we go through "here." Maybe all of this has to happen for us to learn enough to transcend our negative human traits and truly move forward. Maybe this is where we learn to do away with that which does not truly serve the world and maybe the only way we can really get passed it is as a whole, and the only way we can move together as a whole is if the masks and the lies get yanked away for everyone. And we're almost there. A large reason Trump (goofy dance-I'll explain later) got elected is because people are tired of being lied to. They're tired of the B.S. of D.C.. We all are, whether we voted for Trump (Goofy Dance) or not. I think this actually shows progress. In Humanistic psychology, the tendency for human beings is towards self-actualization, wholeness...towards health.
     Right now the planet suffers from many ills, but in order to come to place where we can move forward, we have to come to a place where we are so utterly through with the past, we're willing to stretch out of our comfort zones for the future. I don't know what that looks like, but I kind of hope it's like Star Trek, where humanity sets its goal for the good of all and the goal changes from keeping an economic engine running, to seeking knowledge for knowledge's sake with respect for all life forms. Hey, it could happen. Either way, The Trump (goofy dance) years I think will definitely be learning experiences.
     What I've heard so far, I actually find encouraging. I've heard people talk about how this makes them realize how little they have contributed to shaping their communities, how little involved with shaping our world or our government, and how much they are inspired to get involved, not just in government but in many other ways that help our societies, through volunteering, donating time or money, staying better informed. If we can break these activities into our daily routines and if this happens on a national level, well, the discomfort we may go through over the next few years, may be worth it in the long run. And I fully expect some discomfort. When Trump (goofy dance) made an announcement recently asking people to please calm down, to not be afraid...did that remind anyone else of the martians in Mars Attacks shouting, "Don't run, we come in peace!" as they shot at people?
     Goofy Dance or Clearing the Kriyas
     So here's something else that's come to my attention: We're giving all of this too much energy, Him, it, them. Whatever. We need to diffuse it for our own sake and, in the event that you believe it's possible to give something energy, for gosh sake's let's stop giving him energy. or at least take the negative power out of it. I kind of picture him like that monster on Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest, the one that grows stronger from poison. I think he's slurping it up. I've also heard people calling him 'He who cannot be named.' But I think that doesn't really help either. No, what we need here is some laughter and light heartedness. So this is what I'm doing and if you'd like to join me, well, hell, let's make it a movement. Every time someone says the 'T' word follow it up with either a goofy dance, funny face or a couple of push ups. I'm not saying don't say his name, I'm just saying to wash that energy away by doing something goofy. By all means, say it. Trump. Trump. Trump! And the give yourself an irreverent little goofy dance. Got no hold on me!
To Recap: Calm down. Get involved, Play. Love to All.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Oil & Gas: Time to Clean Up

I was reading about the infamous "methane blob" hovering high in the skies over my beloved town of Durango and decided I had to do something about it. My temperment leans more towards Edward Abbey than Bernie Sanders, but a degree in Political Science and four years of working with an environmental protection group has taught me that the keyboard is far more effective than the monkey wrench in the long run. So I went looking for who was involved in trying to suck that gas out of the sky and discovered the website for San Juan Citizens Alliance. They have a short, informative section on the blob, where it is, where it came from and what NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has to say about it, and what you and I, as concerned citizens of the planet earth can do about it. You can take a look at this for yourself here: https://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/51166/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=9406&okay=true

The four corners may seem a long way away but the methane is not just in the four corners. Methane is a green house gas and it's currently eating away at our atmosphere, all for want of the oil & gas industry keeping their equipment maintained and up to date. Unfortunately, they don't want to bother with it, because, they're crazy and greedy, so we have to persuade them. By creating federal and state laws. But first, we have to persuade the government to persuade them. What to do? The easiest and most effective thing you can do is use the form letter right there on the San Juan Citizens Alliance site, slightly adapted to not only voice your own concerns in your own voice, but also to distinguish your submission so it carries more weight than the typical form letter, though even a form letter with your signature is better than no signature at all. Do what you want, but, golly, sure would be nice if you could do something, right? Reminder: Go to the website above for the easy peazy form letter.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Durango Rant

It's time for the annual Durango versus Boulder debate. The debate takes place within the hearts of everyone in my immediate family, including, now that she's reached the age of reason and all, my 8 year-old daughter. 

A few weeks ago, I went down and had a banner weekend. I saw all kinds of people I love, and they all expressed great love for me. Everywhere I went there was warmth and beauty. I wanted to go home. I wanted to go home so badly I envisioned my family happily tip toeing around a thousand foot shack just for the joy of breathing in that clean mountain air and snuggling in that odd little community. Especially after I returned to Erie, Colorado where the number of social invitations, not counting trunk parties, can practically be counted on one hand...in three years. Either the people in Erie are really busy, or they just don't know what to do with me. I've had parties and when I have them, almost everybody comes, so I'm not completely unlikable, but still...going back to a town where I've established zero real roots, coming back from a town where everyone seemed to love me seemed like a big flag. I asked Darren to call his old employer and see if the door was still open. It is. Urgently.
But then something happened over the last month or so. I became okay with the loneliness because of all the cool things living between the cities has to offer. Denver and Boulder vibrate, and I don't mean that in a vortex-y kind of way. There are constantly interesting things happening and I suddenly didn't mind doing them alone. I actually embraced it. A bluebelt in Taekwondo, the mental strength of surviving and thriving in embryonic waters where most people drown and the physical strength gained from having hobbies that are physically demanding have given me the confidence to go almost anywhere at any time without fear. And after trying to cultivate friendships for three years and having my efforts go unmet, I had to wrestle with the ole is it me or is it them and I've concluded it's them. There's nothing wrong with them. I don't mean that. We're just different kinds of people with different kinds of interests. When outlining the list of dinner party guests, it might be difficult to figure out where to put me. Good or bad, I've never really had a very good social censor. I'll say damn near anything that comes to mind. You just never know what that might be, and if I'm in a bad mood, well, those two characteristics just don't mesh well. I think you have to be a little bit odd yourself to really feel comfortable around me. In that regard, it's probably my loss, missing out on some pretty sweet people. I've tried to tamp it down a bit but when I do, I just feel so inauthentic. So fake. And for some reason, that's worse to me than loneliness. In Durango, no offense me dearies, but their all pretty much oddballs so I don't really stand out. Durango has a bunch of Peter Pan, Never-Wanna-Grow-Ups. And I love them for it. 

And what does Erie have? Well, it's the place between the two vibrating cities. I have a house that I absolutely adore with really cool neighbors in an awesome neighborhood, just a few blocks from an award winning school full of people my daughter loves. New neighbors have moved in and not only is the whole neighborhood gaga for these kind folks but they have three of the sweetest children and my daughter loves them. She finally has friends down the street she can run and giggle with. Any night of the week, I can find something cool to do, although I usually end up doing whatever it is alone. It's a great place to launch my writing career, with plenty of bookstores and cultural events. My husband has a great job with a great company working for good people, though the workload is a bit much and he can't make it to many of Nila's special events, but they are a far better company than a lot of other firms and treat their people pretty well. We can ALWAYS find something new and cool to do as a family and we have a couple of parent night out events we can use when Darren and I want a date. Durango has zero. We'd have to find a baby sitter. That's scary and scarce. We're becoming less daunted by long drives to the places we love but sometimes the traffic to get out of here is unbelievable. I'd like to have a place where i can have chickens and bees and that might be difficult of score around Boulder. I thought this semi-public (if anyone actually read it) rant might help me clarify where my heart truly lies...but damn't. Still going back and forth and it's time for me to wrap this up. If anyone reads this, please feel free to throw in your two cents. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

10.6.2016 Writing Workout from Pinker's Sense of Style

Crisis conditions are escalating between the United States of America and Russia, or so one Facebook friend tells me. I'd like to dismiss it as a knee-jerk alarmist flinging out a hyperlink to a ratings-hungry "news" site who's source may have no more basis than imagination and extrapolation, except that the source is near unimpeachable. He's quirky, but, dammit, he's also smart. Really smart. Like more than most of the people on the planet. Except me, of course ;).

 And he's an accuracy stickler. He's corrected me more than once when I've had my own outraged, knee-jerk, link-flinging-without-fact-checking moments of weakness. So, unfortunately, where I could just scan right passed most alarmist's posts from biased sources such as military.com or occupydemocrats.com, I knew I had to read passed the headline.

What I read, made me wonder about every moment of my days that squander precious time and energy on reading ingredient labels (except for wheat--no need to suffer immediately), comparing sales prices, saving every penny possible for a future that I might not need to worry too much about. Then again I might.

 The Cold War, the war that was a mental anguish of wondering when, oh when, would the Russians strike and char our bones or the bones of someone we loved, was not so long ago, But one of its lessons may still prevail: The war of mental anguish were years that kept adults and children alike fretfully awake and chronically frightened. And then, through no efforts of our own as individual citizens, but doubtlessly at enormous effort by some frazzled diplomat, the gossamer monster just slowly faded away to be replaced with the next fear that could capture the national attention.

I don't remember what that was,

But now, here we are in 2016 and the malevolent specter of nuclear attack from Russia rises up to frighten a new generation of Americans. For those of us who lived during the Cold War, even if only the tail end, the fright is probably not as powerful. We've heard this all before. We fretted, we cried, we prayed, and nothing ever happened, but we wasted a good many nights lying awake, terrified. Jumping at storm sirens.

But what of the new generation of youngsters who've reached the 'age of reason' but might not have covered The Cold War in their history classes (which, sadly, is more likely than it should be)? They've got to be scared to death. I'm scared enough myself to put at least one end-of-the-world pebble in my store of decision scale pebbles. The world seems mad. But here's the thing. It always has. And right this moment the world is the absolute best it's ever been. There is more freedom, more equality, and less war and crime than there ever has been in recorded history. If we can face down this latest fear-mongering, be it a legitimate cause or not, with a few more tweaks, we may be on the verge of a really cool future.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Stream of Conscious Saturday Ramble

I thought the title would be a good way to warn you off if you were expecting to read anything cohesive. This probably won't be. This blog is sort of like my sweaty, smelly workout room with scuffed up walls and strewn with random pieces of exercise paraphenalia that probably needs wiping down, but won't be. I like it messy in here. I like the high risk that someone might actually see this or one of the other posts and discover my many imperfections. Why? I'm not really sure. It could be the adolescent in me that never grew past her need to rebel against something or someone. perhaps a part of me that wants to flaunt my imperfections to the world and dare you to call me on it...or to love me in spite of them. Or the semi-public space (I have no idea if anyone ever actually reads this) is stimulating in a way a writer needs to be occasionally stimulated. There's a lot of alone time as a writer. Maybe I'm trying to connect to the world. I'm as baffled by me as anybody.

This morning I woke up with my very first thought being, "I did it." One of my childhood dreams was to grow up and write books. That's not the end of the dream, there's more. But this morning I woke up and said to myself, "I did it. I actually wrote a book. And it's a good one." When looking forward to this day over the years, half of them wondering if I could ever really do it, I thought that when and if I accomplished this monumental goal I'd be ecstatic. Not necessarily in the vein of "I'll be happy when...." but you know, at least feel like jumping up and down, popping open a bottle of champagne happy. But that's not how I feel. I feel very calm. Weirdly calm. Part of me wonders if I've truly integrated this new event or if it just hasn't hit me yet. Another part wonders if, with everything I've been through in my life, with over a dozen near death experiences, if in this momentous occasion excitement isn't the emotion, that for this, maybe there's a reaction longer lasting, ultimately more fulfilling, but as a lifelong adrenaline junkie, I'm having trouble feeling it. I'm pleased, it's not that I feel nothing, but for a lifelong achievement? My reaction is sort of bizarre, don't you think? Maybe I just realize my work isn't over yet. The other part of that childhood dream was to write books that helped people, especially people with similar backgrounds to me and, of course, to one day see one of my books on the best seller list. Maybe that's what I'm saving up for. Okay. It's waffle time.