I’m surrounded by dog farts and peacocks. To be clear, they aren’t actual peacocks (I’m not a fan) but rather representational peacocks. To be crystal clear, the dogs farts are real, not representational and quite abundant. I’m reading Flannery O’Conner (yes, again, or rather, still) with a highlighter, in bed, under my blanket that mysteriously matches “A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories” (A Harvest Book edition). So mysterious. And my poodle is on the end of the bed farting because, and I think this is the correct answer, he hates me.
It’s midnight on a Saturday, or maybe it’s Sunday and this is my life now, and I wish it were a folly, a joke, a side-splitter, but it’s real life and as we know real life can, at times, be just as ridiculous as art.
Jerimiah sent me an article yesterday: “Apropos your paper,” he said. It was from the New Yorker, it was titled: “How Racist was Flannery O’Conner?” Great, I sighed toward him, sitting across the room from me. Thanks for this. He smiled. Seemed appropriate. He’s not wrong. I’ve been assigned Mary Flannery O’Conner for my presentation next month in my Southern Fiction class, and I’ve decided to use “A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories” as my in, as I also have to do a scholarship review of her work, and a semester-long paper on her as well. I’d been debating, as late as this morning, whether I’d hit the road for Andalusia this week.
Andalusia is O’Conner’s estate in Milledgville, Georgia, a two-hour drive from my house. I’ve decided, as I approach my 39th birthday and await the test results for this autoimmune disease I’m battling—likely Lupus (O’Conner died at 39 from Lupus), that I should make the pilgrimage. But I’ve been dragging my feet, for reasons above, and now this.
I’ve always been a fan of O’Conner. Always stood up for her, always sidestepped any unseemly information, but this time I can’t. What I can’t decide, and what the articles ask us to consider, is whether O’Conner was just a product of her raising. Or if something more sinister went on there, between her writing about racism, and plucking along among the peacocks.
I read the article. I looked at the stack of scholarly reviews I have sitting on my desk. I tapped my fingers on my chin. I cursed my husband. Misdirected anger.
I’ll go to Andalusia because I want to see for myself. Because I’m just curious enough to want to turn the knob on the old farmhouse door, just naive enough to believe an old cotton plantation in central Georgia will fill me in on the past.
Besides, it appears I have a deadline now. And it’s coming up fast.
It’s Labor Day and I’m thinking about peaches. We have a peach tree in our yard. Maybe because they bring wildlife, probably because we live in Georgia. We’ve been here two seasons and have been unable to eat a peach off the tree. The squirrels beat us to them every year. No figs off the fig tree either, only roses from the bush and the occasional bud from a crape myrtle.
The garden they don’t bother. My husband has a tomato plant that is thriving, we have lettuce, and peppers, and plenty of baby cucumbers, but no peaches.
We add peaches to our Kroger order every week. We eat them standing at the kitchen counter, looking out over our fruit trees. We sigh. Wildlife. Nature. Georgia peaches. Some days it’s all so much.
Hope you had a safe and relaxing weekend. Hope you had some fruit.
Middle school starts today. My head is mush. I’m happy, nervous, excited, disappointed, scared, and that’s just me, I’m not even the one going to middle school! I guess wish us luck, this is going to be an interesting year!
And to all our friends with kids going back virtually or traditionally, we wish you luck and happiness all year long!
Jackson starts sixth grade tomorrow. Sixth fucking grade, y’all. I don’t even know what to say. I’m at a loss for words. Oh, nope, they’re back. I’m scared, y’all. Scared, and sad, and excited, and nervous. It’s literally like kindergarten all over again, and even though he was at FOUR elementary schools, this isn’t like changing schools, this is way bigger. I can’t really explain it, but my other middle school parents get it. I’m relying on y’all to get it, and to get me through the next few weeks.
Luckily I’ve already had some moms come through. I have this one friend with a seventh grader at the same middle school. Oh bless her! She’s also the PTA president so she’s in the know, and she’s been keeping me in the know and it has helped tremendously! Moms watching out for moms, does it get any better?!
I’ve been passing along my new-found knowledge from her to other moms. It’s been this middle school mom telephone tree and it’s been amazing. But tomorrow the actual school year starts and well, I’m feeling like I’m back to square one. It’s like, I’ve already survived middle school, why am I so nervous?!
Jackson is cool as a cucumber. Now part of his coolness is obliviousness. Again, I’ve been through middle school, I know how shitty it can be. Add virtual learning to the mix and daaaaamn. We currently, one day before school starts, are not able to log into any of his accounts. Infinite Campus is not working for us. Microsoft Teams is not working for us. We are not even sure who to contact to get the issues resolved, so yeah, it’s been interesting to say the least.
Meanwhile, last night we got a call from Jackson’s homeroom teacher. He was polite and nice. He explained what next week will look like, and got us some information we were supposed to have already received. It made us feel better. To actually talk to a person. A person who seemed to care, have it together, and be willing to find us answers. But he’s got hundreds of kids to do that for. Man, teachers deserve more money.
So here we are, on the brink of sixth grade. A new school. Seven new teachers. A Chromebook, a trapper keeper, and a little bit of faith, mixed in with a lot of patience. We think it’s all gonna work out fine.
Happy Back to School, parents and teachers. May your days be bright and your drinks be strong.
A weird thing happened last weekend. Well, a couple of weird things happened. On Friday I had to take a Covid-19 test because I woke up with body aches, chills, and a fever. No doctor would see me, so I had to do a Telehealth visit with Atlanta Urgent Care at Emory, then visit a drive-thru testing site. The doctor treated me with antibiotics and steroids starting Friday, because I am susceptible to sinus infections, which I also had symptoms of, and the steroids were because they have found that starting Prednisone at the first symptoms of Covid-19 helps you stay out of the hospital, so it was a preventative measure. After my drive-thru testing on Friday afternoon, I was instructed to self-isolate until my test came back in three to six days. So I did, except for Saturday afternoon.
I was still feeling achy on Saturday so I suggested the hot tub to see if it would help. It did! But while we were out there Jerimiah drank a pitcher of margaritas. Which would be fine, if we didn’t have a Kroger order to pick up that evening. I mean, one of us had to drive to pick up the birthday cake I had planned on getting the day before, but ended up sick in bed instead. The best laid plans, or something like that… So I said no big deal, I’d just drive us both up there. It’s a simple process. You just open your trunk, they stick the bags inside, then it closes. It’s a contact-less pick-up so I felt okay about being in the car, with my mask on, even though I was self-isolating. And it would have been fine, had we not witnessed a hit-and-walk-away accident on the way.
Ten minutes later we were at the busy intersection of Lavista and I-285, which is the perimeter that runs around Atlanta. We live about a mile from The Perimeter and were headed into Atlanta, which is where our Kroger store is, when we were stopped at the stoplight while the traffic coming from the interstate was merging onto Lavista. A sudden noise caught our attention and we looked over to see an SUV smoking, its fender barely hanging on, the driver sort of sitting, while the cars bottlenecked behind him. There was some honking, everyone was kind of wondering what was happening. Then just as our light turned green and we started to go, the SUV also went (he had a red light). He realized his error, I suppose, but instead of stopping he turned into oncoming traffic. Everyone stopped their cars and watched the next few moments unfold.
The SUV was headed straight toward the oncoming traffic, while on the overpass above the interstate. The northbound traffic had no idea he was there, as they were now merging onto Lavista from the interstate, so he quickly tried to get back onto the correct side of the road, where he slammed into another SUV who was merging from the interstate as well. It was a mess. By this time we had slowly but surely made our way up through the next light and were the second car behind the accident, so we saw everything. Jerimiah immediately called the police, which several other people were doing. I instinctively jumped out of the car and ran to check the woman who had been hit. As I approached she gave me a thumbs up. She was already on her phone, presumably to the police or her partner. While I was walking up I noticed that the man who was driving the SUV got out of his car, he seemed fine, and started to walk to the woman he had hit, then stopped for a moment, and turned and walked the other way. Like, he just walked away from the scene.
Fortunately several other people were out of their cars at this point, and someone who was on the phone with the police actually followed the man as he walked away. He never ran, he never even hastened his footsteps. It was a bizarre thing to see.
At this point I heard yelling and a man was crossing the highway running toward me (I was directing traffic at this point) telling me to chase the guy. The man approached me quickly and I didn’t have to time to respond or ask him to back up. He was very close to my face. Too close. I could smell the tequila on his breath. Ironic, as I could smell Jerimiah’s too. This man, however, wasn’t talking quite right and he was making wild gestures with his hands. I caught a glimpse of his teardrop tattoo below his eye and I asked where he came from. “The Interstate,” he said. I didn’t know what to make of that, but he seemed like he was trying to be helpful, at first. Then a few minutes of following me around while I was pointing at cars, and informing people of what was happening, the man with the tear drop tattoo started talking about, “The Black man” who was “getting away…” and how he was tired of “Black men getting away.” Luckily Jerimiah came up to us at that point and the “Interstate Man” walked away.
The police were there rather quickly, I had time to move our car, and make my way back to see Jerimiah giving a statement along with the woman who was in the car in front of us. Everyone else had left. The woman in the car was okay, I took pictures of the accident for her. Her car would not turn on so the window would not roll down so she could talk to me, but we talked through the window. It was all very odd, a little scary, and unexpected for many reasons. When Jerimiah was giving his statement he learned the car was stolen, and that the police were able to find and apprehend the suspect, as he had just continued to walk coolly, calmly, down the highway. Drugs, they assumed. Drugs, I had assumed.
It’s day four of antibiotics and steroids. I keep waiting to wake up and feel like a million bucks, but the bucks aren’t coming. Still self-isolating while I wait for my Covid-19 test results. Jackson and Jerimiah aren’t exhibiting any symptoms which is good, but I’m still worried. We hoped for results today, but that was being optimistic of us. Jerimiah said he had a “white man moment” assuming that we’d get the results back at the earliest point mentioned. He’s funny, and overthinks sometimes like I do, but honestly it’s all probably just backlogged here. Meanwhile, my symptoms haven’t slowed, and I’ve developed some new ones. I’m playing this game of trying to think up reasons for the symptoms, like maybe my muscles ache because I slept wrong, or maybe I couldn’t taste my food because my nose is stuffy. Things like that.
I have two modes in most crisis situations: I either overreact immediately or, because I know that is a possibility, I under-react (is that a word?) as a means to combat the craziness that tries to sneak in. I felt myself wanting to overreact on Friday when no doctor would see me in person, so I’ve been mitigating that with this fun game of, “Chill, girl. You’re good. This is all just a funny, little mix up.” Ugh. It’s stressful. Stress! Maybe that’s what is causing the constant headache and joint pain!
So there you go. Day four of symptoms that I don’t usually have, that align pretty closely to the symptoms of a global pandemic I’ve spent the last four months actively striving to keep away from, in the middle of my husband’s birthday week. I slept alone in our bed last night, we decided Jerimiah should move to the couch. He’s not all the way down in the guest wing in the basement, not yet. I won’t let him. That’s too final. For now, just the couch. Tomorrow, who knows.
Hope you’re all staying safe, and wearing your GD masks!
This is absolutely a rant about iced tea. I can’t help you at any point after this, I have warned you. I know what you are thinking, Missy this certainly can’t be a whole blog post wherein you rant about iced tea. But you’d be wrong. Very wrong. Or maybe you are right. Because this first part isn’t about tea, it’s about how wrong you are about thinking that I am not able to rant about tea. But in the wisdom of T.I. least I remind you, “Public violations justify public demonstrations,” and what I witnessed today on the Kroger website was nothing short of a public violation.
I like Kroger. I do. I shop there because they are friendly and efficient. They generally have everything I need, they are usually the lowest price around (unless you count Walmart, but I do not), and most importantly they offer free pick-up, which we’ve been relying on since the start of the pandemic. But today, oooohhhh, today I got my feathers all in a tizzy when I tried to order a gallon of unsweetened iced tea.
It seems, on the surface, like a no-brainer. I love iced tea, but I do not enjoy the calories that come in sweet iced tea. Nor can my body tolerate the amount of sugar that one finds in “Southern Sweet Tea.” It’s too much, y’all. I can’t do it. Call me a “Yankee” all you want, I cannot sip on iced sugar with a smattering of tea on the top. I enjoy the flavor of a good store-brand, unsweetened, iced tea. Some things to know: I have a home iced tea brewing machine, however I have not found a tea that I like the taste of when I brew it at home. I also do not like most brands of iced tea. I do not like Lipton or Turkey Hill. I do not like Milo or Pure Leaf. I despise Arizona Tea. I like Red Diamond, but they do not sell it around these here parts. So I usually get a store-brand iced tea because they seem to all taste the same, but I have narrowed my flavor choices down to Publix iced tea and Kroger iced tea. Those are my two favorites if I cannot have Red Diamond. End of story. Periodt.
So, today while I was making my shopping order from Kroger I remembered that I needed a gallon of iced tea. Unsweetened, caffeinated, iced tea. Now you’re like, Missy come on, all tea if caffeinated, that’s nuts. You’re wrong again. Not all tea is caffeinated, and according to Kroger people who want unsweetened tea also want it to be caffeine-free. D’what? You read that correctly: The only kind of unsweetened iced tea that I could order from Kroger, made by Kroger, was also caffeine-free.
(Deep, long sigh).
When I want to sit on my sunporch and enjoy a crisp glass of iced tea with a lemon wedge, I also want to get a little jittery from the amount of caffeine in my glass. I want to find some motivation at the bottom of that glass, ya dig? I only drink two glasses of iced coffee a day, then I drink a can of seltzer water, then I want a damn glass of iced tea in the afternoon for a pick-me-up and WHY CAN I NOT HAVE THAT KROGER?!
(Deep breathing exercises along with some Kegels for good measure).
I don’t want to use the word “persecuted” here, but I feel like, as a person who does not want sweet tea, I am being made to “pay for it.” Am I overreacting? Yes, certainly. But to be honest I haven’t had my afternoon tea, and well, it seems I won’t anytime soon so this is just the new me I guess. I’m sorry, but this is all Kroger’s fault and now I will go write them a strongly-worded email to feel better.
I hope you have a wonderful day. Like really, really good. Like sipping on Kroger, unsweetened, caffeinated, iced tea on your back porch good.
I’m sitting in my sun porch in Central Georgia, on a humid summer day, drinking a glass of iced tea, re-reading Eudora Welty’s “The Ponder Heart” in preparation for my entrance into Mississippi University for Women’s MFA program in about three weeks, and I can’t help but wonder how a Kansas girl, Midwest born and bred, ended up here, in the Deep South, with a penchant for Mississippi history, iced tea with lemon, hot, pan-fried chicken, and monogrammed towels. When did this happen? How did this happen?
I don’t feel Southern. At least not in the ways that one thinks a “Southerner” should feel, yet I’ve lived in The South for 16 years now. I’m fast approaching that point in my life where I’ve actually lived in The South longer than I was in the Midwest. Kansas is the Midwest, though sometimes it’s just west. It is not part of The South, that we can be sure of, never was. Considered itself a Northern state. Kansas, the Free State, a refuge for the Southern enslaved people. It was just unorganized prairie during the 1850 Compromise. Didn’t even have a name or a state line. Wasn’t born yet. Wild. Scattered. Unexplored. Out West. But it is still really, really close to The South, and by association sometimes lumped in with it.
My son, on the other hand, is the only true Southerner in our family. He was born in Southern Missouri, has lived in both North Carolina and Georgia, and is starting to develop a bit of a drawl, depending on the word and the company. He’s spent his whole life south of the Mason Dixon, but you wouldn’t actually be able to tell, if you didn’t know. He’s all Northern in manner and way of thinking. If we are still prescribing to the ways people in the North and South think. For me it depends, some days I see the differences, some days I don’t.
The biggest lessons for me since living in The South has been the debunking of some long held beliefs I had:
Southern hospitality thrives here
All Southerners are dumb
Racism left with Jim Crow
These are all inaccurate and based on harsh stereotypes, and even harsher realities. I only share them now to let you have a glimpse into what is said about The South from people who have never been here. Those are three popular things.
Not everyone in The South is hospitable. And it’s usually the people you would think would be, that in fact, are not.
Not everyone in The South is a dumb, uneducated, hillbilly. To be fair, there are far more of them here than anywhere else, but they are not the majority. It is true, however, that the further from civilization you go, the more frequently they surface.
Racism is alive and well here. Just like it is everywhere. It never left. You can look it straight in the eye at your neighborhood Winn Dixie, your local YMCA, your kid’s elementary school, your husband’s office. In Atlanta. In Biloxi. In Memphis, and in Orlando. Racism is everywhere, and everyone knows it, but most people just sweep it under the rug.
Which leads me to the biggest lesson of them all: The sweeping.
That’s a truly Southern thing. Sweeping things under the rug. Uncomfortable things you don’t want to deal with. Unsightly things you don’t want to see. Sweep. Sweep. Sweep. We don’t have racism here because we sweep. We don’t have a drug problem here because we sweep. Human trafficking, crimes against children, gangs, and addiction? Not here. Sweep. Sweep. Sweep. Sweep. Here we just have a rowdy history, or “heritage” as the true Southerner has been programmed to call it. I remind my son quite a bit that the history of his home is riddled with hate, addiction, racism, uneducated bullies making a mockery of our country. I want him to know the truth. The harsh, unbridled truth. I want him to learn it, see it, and then grow from it. I don’t want him to get comfortable with the sweeping.
So I guess here I am. Sitting in my sun porch, on a humid Central Georgia day, thinking about how I have navigated the last 16 years. What I have learned, how I have grown. And wondering how to keep learning and growing, in a place that sometimes makes learning and growing hard to do. I’ll do my best. You do the same.
I’ve been trying to write this post for a couple of weeks now, but every time I sit down to write it I get upset and I can’t find the words. The thing is, we are not new to protesting. We are not new to marching for what we think is right, for having counter-protesters scream horrible things at us, but for some reason this time it was harder than before and I couldn’t pinpoint what made it so difficult to stomach.
Last month Jerimiah, Jackson, and I took part in socially-distanced, peaceful protests in our suburban Atlanta town with our friends Kelley and Bella, and it was exactly what we needed to be doing. We met Kelley and Bella through school (Jackson and Bella were in the same class) and immediately felt connected to them. They are cool, too cool for us. They are kind. They are smart, and funny, and socially conscious. We feel so proud to call them friends, which is why the day we drove by (after getting ice cream) and saw them standing on the corner of Lavista and Main Streets with signs supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement, along with about 20 other people, we were like SIGN US UP! That sparked three days in a row of us standing on the same corner with our friends holding homemade signs (that we hastily made from material from The Dollar Tree), as well as taking part in a much larger protest on Saturday, June 6th with about 300 people. It was an amazing learning experience for the kids, for both good reasons and not so good ones.
Of course protests, especially ones in small towns like ours, are sure to bring out the counter-protesters, or simply the mean people who are mad at your very existence. They see protestors as “unsightly,” and of course they feel guilty when they see you out with your “Silence is violence” signs. But I honestly didn’t expect it on that first night we were out there with our signs, and if it weren’t for seeing it with my own eyes I would have not believed how horrible people could be. How filled with hate people are. How angry and afraid full-grown men are, that they feel called to lash out at people, even women and children. I’m not going to talk about them here, because it detracts from what we accomplished, but just know that grown men and women flipped us off, screamed things back at us, and even walked up and down along with us trying to push white supremacy agendas. It was sad and gross, and yes, we let the children watch them, because they need to know that there are people like this in the world.
Meanwhile our kids, our smart, strong, funny, rising 6th graders, smiled at everyone, held their fists up in solidarity, took a knee, not once but twice, for 8 minutes and 46 seconds on hot, crowded streets to show their solidarity with George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter Movement, and people who are like them, and not like them. We were so incredibly proud. They even made up their own chants, and taught them to the other kids. Then they separated themselves in front of what will one day be their high school and chanted IN THE RAIN. For real. Look.
But this was on the second night of protests, the first night was very hot, and a little more crowded, and somewhat chaotic.
The first night of protests (for us) we met with the Mayor who, although I am not a fan, was very polite. He thanked us for what we were doing, and gave the kids a token of appreciation to remember the occasion. It was a coin with out town’s logo on it, and Jackson thought it was pretty cool.
The second night we were rained on a bit, but didn’t mind, it felt nice after the heat. We had police escorts at all protests, thank you DeKalb County Police, and we had city council members, and supporters who honked, honked, honked all night at us in solidarity. Some screamed “Black Lives Matter” out the window, some threw their fists in the air, some just smiled and waved.
At one point Kelley and I saw an older man walking his dog in front of the high school. We were a little worried at first, he looked like a lot of the people who were flipping us off, but he walked up behind us smiling and meandered toward us sort of unsure. Kelley, being the outgoing and friendly person she is, said hi to him and told him that his dog was so cute. He smiled and walked a bit closer. He introduced himself as Joe and said that he loved that we were out there. Then he told us to look straight down Main Street. He asked if we knew that yellow building, the one that was a Halal restaurant. “Sure,” we said, “it is called Bombay.” It’s an old building that sits on the corner or Main and Lawrenceville Highway, about half a block from our kids new middle school.
“Well,” said Joe, “did you know that used to be the office of the Grand Wizard of the KKK?” Kelley and I were stunned. No, we didn’t know that. We didn’t realize how close we were to KKK territory. He said this sight, our children protesting on this corner, was just, well, perfect. He told us to keep on keeping on, then Joe and his old doggy walked back home.
The next day Kelley confirmed the story. She had researched it when she went home and found that along with our town once being an epicenter for the KKK, Stone Mountain, yes that Stone Mountain, was also. I mean it makes sense if you’ve ever visited Stone Mountain, but it was new to us since we are still fairly new to this area. If you’d like to read more, check out this article about Stone Mountain, our town is about ten minutes from the mountain.
We protested on this street corner for a few more nights, then we met up on a Saturday for the bigger protest. For a couple of city blocks, people were standing six-feet apart, masked up, with signs, chanting and raising fists. Ten minutes before we left we took a knee. Three hundred or so people taking a knee on the city streets as cars whizzed by honking and waving and yelling, “Thank you!” That was my favorite.
After the protest I asked Jackson what he learned. What new information he gathered from his days of protesting. “Not much,” he said. “I already knew that most people are good, and some people aren’t, and those people will probably never change.” Man, he’s right. I told him so. Then I added that those people aren’t worth your energy to try to change. I reminded him to start with the people who want to listen and work your way out. I told him to always vote. Always speak goodness into existence. Always, always do what is right and true. He shook his head and said, “That’s what we did.” We sure did. I told him more that day, but I think he learned more from my actions than my words.
Thanks, Kelley, and Bella, and Jackson, and Jerimiah. Thanks to those of you all over the world who are striving to do what is true and what is right. We have your back. Always.
Things are a hot mess in Atlanta right now. We had a deadly Fourth of July weekend, several children have been shot in the last week, and Covid-19 never really left. But yesterday morning our governor decided to be a real governor and say something about the violence. I mean, God forbid he take action to help save us from the global pandemic that is sweeping our state, or listen to what the people in Atlanta (the largest municipality and the capital of the state) are angry about, but “extra” violence in Atlanta, that warrants a stern talking to. Matter of fact he said, “While we stand ready to assist local leaders in restoring peace and maintaining order, we won’t hesitate to take action without them.” Well, hold up, let me rephrase, he Tweeted that. So he didn’t actually address the problem on a public stage, he didn’t actually do anything, he just sat at his desk and Tweeted his ideas. Sound like anyone else we know?
The problem isn’t so much the fact that he threatened the city, it’s that once again he didn’t do shit about a problem until a domestic spotlight was shone upon us, then he threatened. Remember how we have talked about leadership coming from the top down? Atlanta, like all other large municipalities, has a very particular set of problems, and because of it’s shear size, it makes it difficult to fix many of these problems, especially when you want to just fix them overnight. Listen, I’ve only been here a little over a year, but I can already see that the way things have been going, are not helping. This is an instance where, “But it’s always been done that way,” isn’t working and things need to be changed, and I know I sound like a broken record here, but it starts with voting. Then it moves out from there. Volunteering. Donating. Sharing knowledge you gain. Educating people.
When we moved to Atlanta a year ago we were nervous. We had heard horrible things about the city we have come to love. The horrible things were mainly racist bullshit that out-of-towners don’t feel comfortable talking about. That was our first lesson. Because when you really strip Atlanta down, down to its roots, it isn’t pretty, but it’s important. Vital, even. Like did you know Atlanta and the Black vote was the single biggest game-changer in getting John F. Kennedy elected back in 1960? I didn’t either, until I came here and had a history lesson.
Say what you will about Atlanta, but until you are here, living in it, taking the Marta to historical places, reading about the culture and society (which by the way some people who have lived here for 20 years don’t even do or know about) then I won’t listen to you anymore. I can’t. I won’t listen to our racist, hypocritical governor either. I can’t. Too many people are dying here. Too many people need help. And I’ve been waxing for a year now about how I can help. Saying I can’t, or I shouldn’t, it isn’t my place. But the fact is, this is my place. This is my home. I don’t know how long it will be, but it is now and that is all that matters. I’m a Georgian now. I live in a suburban town just steps outside the perimeter and I have two choices: I can tell people I live in Tucker, where the schools are sweet and the people are all wonderful, and the houses are big and there is opportunity for growth, or I can say I live in the Atlanta Metro and we need help. A lot of fucking help.
When I was little and I needed to make a decision about one thing or another, about what my actions needed to be, and I was stuck and so very afraid my mom would say, “Welp Missy, it’s shit or get off the pot time,” and I’m finally feeling that here in Atlanta. It’s time to either dig in and help, put in the time, and the effort, and the heart, or it’s time to leave. Stay my happy-ass in the comfortable parts of life. I’ll give you one guess what I’m about to do…
It’s time to shit or get off the pot, y’all. What are you gonna do?
We’re heading home today. I’d normally say we are heading back to reality at this point in a vacation, but this time reality never really left us. Or maybe it didn’t leave me. I was keenly aware, all day, everyday, of the realities of life. That masks were necessary, and that even in outdoor events, social distancing is key. It wasn’t part of the original plan to leave so soon, but plans change. You get new information, you make educated decisions. Our new information came like this: 1. Jerimiah was suddenly thrust into a large corporate deal (think a bidding contract worth millions) that he needs to be “present” for. “Present” here doesn’t mean in actual person, as of now anyway, but there’s a chance. He does need high-speed internet though, an issue we’ve been battling out here in the country, and he needs a shirt with a tie, and some semblance of an office (he’s currently working with a large, blow-up dartboard behind him). 2. This global pandemic isn’t going anywhere. Not sure if you’ve seen, but uhh, it’s here to stay awhile, and things are changing daily. A week ago, the state we live in (Georgia) was “steady” and the state we are currently in (Missouri) was on the decline. Now, two weeks later, things have changed drastically. Covid-19 is running rampant again, in both states, and the truth of the matter is I need to be at home, socially distancing from others, in the safety of our bubble, with my immune-compromised husband and my asthmatic kid. It’s the only way. The way of life here is too lackadaisical, and that’s okay for some people, but not for us. The risk, in this case, is not worth it.
So goodbye Table Rock Lake. Goodbye family! Thanks to those of you who were able to visit with us. Thanks for self-isolating for a couple of weeks, thanks for taking our safety concerns seriously. Thanks for the late-night talks, the boat rides, the floating and laughing and singing. Thanks for the best version of a summer vacation we could ask for this year, hopefully we will see you all soon, but if not that’s okay. Your safety, our safety, the collective safety is the most important, and besides, one day life might be back to normal, isn’t that neat? Something to look forward to!
Hi, hello, how are you? Wonderful I hope. I hope you took some time over the last week to be quiet, to reflect, to amplify Black voices, to unlearn some of the things you have been taught in this life, if you are white person anyway. That’s what I did. I also protested, donated money and time to the Black Lives Matter movement, and I followed many new people on social media in an effort to better understand the movement, the revolution that is happening, and how I can learn to be a better person. And while I was doing all of this, I made some mistakes. Some big ones. I want to address some of them now and I want to tell you one of the things I learned from listening this week. The rest will come in little bits here and there because y’all know I process at a slow rate.
First, I need to apologize to the Instagram and Facebook spheres for giving you wrong information. I listened to the creators of #AmplifyMelanatedVoices do a wrap up yesterday (you can read more about it on my previous post) and I realized I didn’t do exactly what they wanted. I got my information second-hand from other white women and certainly the “telephone tree” missed some important points. The point of the challenge created by @blackandembodied and @jessicawilson.msrd was to mute white activists and let the Black activists have the floor. It was not to mute ourselves. We should have been sharing Black activists work/art/words/stories as well as taking the time to check other white people. I did that in my Stories, but I did not do it on my page and for that I apologize. I am committed to working on that and making it part of my normal life now. I apologize to anyone who was following my lead.
I am more conscious of my place in social media, especially places like Instagram where I share my space with so many Black women who are working hard to create open dialogue. I need to let them do the talking, especially when it comes to race. This is my space here, and while I will be sharing more that elevates both the conversation on structural racism, white supremacy, and how white people can unlearn what they know, I will also be sharing my lessons, thoughts, and stories like always. The point here is that life is not “back to normal” around here. It can’t be. It never will be again. The Goodnight House has turned a very important corner, and there is no looking back.
In the midst of my mistakes I did receive grace from a few people. In fact I read often, especially from Black women, that mistakes will be made. They will be made in the early days and in the later days. We are learning and they do not expect us to be perfect. They do, however, expect us to be present and continue to be present. To hold other white people accountable, to teach other white people as we learn, and to continue to support the movement. And just so we are clear, for those of us who can, supporting the movement is not just making our picture profile say, “Black Lives Matter,” it means to donate. And I don’t mean time here, I strictly mean money. Cold, hard, cash. Again, I’m talking to those of us who can. Donate money to the cause, donate it to the movement, donate it to the activists. Subscribe to their Patreon pages. Buy their books, their art, their time. Learning isn’t free, so put your money where your mouth is. You know I love y’all, but we have to do better.
So there it is, mistakes will happen. But we need to learn from them. “Know better, do better” said Maya Angelou. Every, damn day.
Speaking of donating (I think you brought it up), I’m leaving you with a photo of some postcards we made and passed out at one of the protests we attended over the weekend. We protested for four days straight, but more on that later. These postcards have organizations you can send money to right now. If you can’t donate money, think about sharing the names of these organizations, or making your own postcards to pass out. Because now it is time for action.
At the protest Jackson and I walked up and down the line of people and passed them out. He explained that they could donate, then they could send the postcard to someone else who could donate as well. We passed out a total of 40 of these, because we didn’t get the idea in time to do more! There were nearly 300 people at the protest and people wanted them when they saw them, so please know that people will DONATE if given the opportunity and they will SHARE the message. It was a small gesture on our part, just the cost of postcards and stamps, that resonated with people so much that they were finding us afterward to thank us, tell us what a great idea it was, and that they would donate and make their own postcards! We were happy with the outcome.
Please note that these are all Georgia organizations, mostly Atlanta-based, but a simple Google of similar organizations in your area can be done if you want to support local as well.
Remember, we are all learning here. We, as white people, can hold each other accountable, and we can help teach each other. Please do not bother your Black friends, and certainly not Black strangers, with your questions. I’m here as a resource, and so is Google. Today, reflect on your mistakes, take action, and donate. Tomorrow we will work our way through another way to help.
I’m a shower shaver. Always have been. I remember learning to shave my legs in a tub of luke-warm water, after years of being tormented about my long, black leg hair by my sister, while my mother refused to let me near a razor. I was in fifth grade when I eventually stole my mom’s razor, sat in a tub for much longer than I should have and contemplated it. Then I just did it. My mom got mad. My sister laughed. I was bleeding from knee to ankle, but I was proud, so proud of my smooth legs. Now I wish I had never picked up a razor.
Shaving my legs, tweezing my eyebrows, waxing my mustache, Jesus, I’m so over all of it. I wish I was so body positive that I could stand proudly and say, Fuck you, World! While I flip the world the bird, and my mustache blows in the wind like Tom Selleck’s. But alas, I succumb to societal beauty standards, well some of them, like waxing, shaving, plucking, and zapping unwanted hair. Bleh.
The day we signed the papers on our current home my vision was clouded by the master bathroom. It’s beautiful. Small, but mighty. There’s only one small vanity and a toilet, but there is this wonderful shower! It is all glass, with stone floors (the bathroom itself has heated floors), and artful tile work throughout. It is floor to ceiling and has all the fancy accouterments that a shower should have. And it’s huge! It easily fits Jerimiah and me. Or Duke and Jackson and me, when we are in swimsuits trying to scrub mud from Duke’s legs while he attempts to run through the small opening that we leave in the door to let the smell of wet dog escape. It’s perfect.
But the first time I took a shower in it I realized there was nowhere for this shower-shaver to stick her legs when I shaved. It needed a bench. So I did what anyone would do, I hopped out of the shower, threw clothes on, ran to Homegoods, and bought a bamboo shower bench. Perfect. Except, well, today was the first time since I owned the bamboo bench the I actually sat on it to shave my legs.
Listen, I’m a creature of habit. Years and years of awkwardly standing in the tub, with my leg perched on the edge has made me think this is the only way. So the first time I shaved my legs with my bamboo bench in place, I just stuck my leg up on the bench and shaved standing up like usual. Then I kept doing it.
Don’t get me wrong, I use the bench. I sit on it regularly while the hot water from my raindrop faucet drips onto my head and I think about the world. I cry on my bamboo bench. A lot. Y’all know I’m a shower cryer, I don’t have time to defend that. I cried on that bamboo shower bench the first week we lived here because I missed Charlotte and I didn’t want to live in Georgia. I cried that summer when my son was sad that we didn’t have any friends yet. I cried when my friend called with bad news about her parents. I sat on the bamboo bench and cried when that student opened fire on the UNC Charlotte campus. When they couldn’t find that little boy with autism for days. I cried on that bamboo bench when I thought we were going to be transferred to New Orleans. I cried when my son cried when a friend was being bullied at school and he realized he needed to stick up for her. I cried when the spring tornadoes sprang up the Midwest, when we had to cancel our trip home because Covid-19 was here. I cried for Ahmaud Arbery, for my state, for our country, for this world.
But today, for the first time in a year, I sat on that bamboo bench and I shaved my legs. I let the water fall on me. I didn’t cry. I just sat and shaved. I wondered about all the times I should have done this before. All the times I let my own stubbornness stop me from doing things. My own stubbornness, my own ignorance, my own self-doubt. I thought about shower-shavers. I thought about women who wish they had clean water. I thought about women who refuse to shave their legs and under arms. I thought about little girls with no mother to teach her how to do it. I thought about the good I have learned by others, but society, by my environment, and my world. And then I thought about the bad. But I didn’t cry, I just shaved my legs.