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.