Fucking Middle School

Yesterday morning, right before Jackson walked out the door for school, he looked back at me and asked, “Will you take me for a haircut after school?” I was a little surprised because I’m usually forcing him into a haircut, even so far as pulling a “surprise haircut” on him, by rolling up to Great Clips when he least expects it. He loathes haircuts. I don’t know why, but he does. So I dumbly shook my head yes, then sat silent over my morning tea and wondered what was up. Then I remembered: Today he is going on a field trip to the middle school. Today he, along with all the 70 or so fifth graders at his school, will be marched around a much larger, much nicer, much more complicated building in front of “really big kids” and well, I think he’s a little nervous. And he should be.

I immediately thought back to my middle school tour. I was terrified. And I remember very specific portions of it. Like how we were all ushered into a room when a fifth grade class from another school, there the same day as us, was ushered down the hall. I remember looking out at the faces of the “other” school, knowing that in a few short months we’d all be classmates. Some of those kids would come to be some of my best friends in middle school, but I didn’t know that on that day. I only knew they were unfamiliar, and scary, and I didn’t like them. Why would I? Why should I? They weren’t from Anthony Elementary School.

My middle school was old. It was old and it was crowded and it lacked the sort of funding that Jackson’s cool, techy middle school will have. But like my middle school, many elementary schools are funneled into one middle school. There will be opportunity for more than new classes, or new clubs, but opportunity to meet new friends, develop new crushes, and start the journey to really figuring out where he belongs in the hierarchy. There will be some bumps. Some bruises. Some stuff that never leaves him, both good and bad. But in the end the stuff that doesn’t really matter, won’t, and the stuff that does, will. I know that. That I learned in middle school, and high school, and in my 38 rotations, but he doesn’t know that yet.

I asked him while we were waiting for his haircut if he was nervous about today. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Nah. I’m excited to see the STEM classrooms!” He’s only concerned with how many 3D printers they have. He’s a different breed, my kid. Then his name was called and he walked over alone, asked the woman to do a “Two on the sides, and scissor the top” and I sat and listened to him talk.

When she brought him back to me she told me what a lot of people tell me about my son. She said he was kind, and smart, and that he was very well spoken for his age. She said she hoped her three-year-old would be like my kid, because as it sits she was nervous. I shook my head and thanked her. Assured her that her toddler would be alight, told her that the “threenager” stage doesn’t last much longer, and smiled. I looked at my son, who was running his fingers through his hair, and suddenly he nudged me and said, “There’s this, uhh, hair stuff she used…” She told me it she’d put some in his hair and he liked it. “I think I want some,” he said, shyly. “For you know, style.” I told him sure, to go grab some because yes, he’s gonna need it for style.

M.

Life or Death

Both Jerimiah and I have been called to jury duty. Both times it was in the State of Missouri, and both times neither of us had to serve. It wasn’t that we didn’t want to. We understand the value of this particular civic duty, and would normally welcome the chance. It was just that, umm, well yeah, it was that we didn’t want to. For two very different reasons.

I was asked to serve first. On August 9th, 2011 I was served with a Federal Court summons to appear for jury duty for the State of Missouri. It was exactly five days after I found out that my daughter, the one I was carrying inside of me, had a chromosomal disorder called Trisomy 18. When I pulled the jury notice from my mailbox that evening, I had just came home from spending the afternoon crying in my doctor’s office while she explained that what I was about to go through was considered a “late-term abortion,” but insisting that she supported my decision. Until this point, it was the worst day of my life and I thought it couldn’t get any worse, then I opened the mailbox. I walked into the house, slammed my jury summons onto the counter and yelled to no one in particular, “Are you fucking kidding me?!”

It felt like the world was conspiring against me. Later that night while Jerimiah and I sat on the couch, a two-year-old Jackson taking his evening nap between us, we laughed for the first time in weeks. We laughed at how absurd it was that in this middle of this shit storm that we found ourselves in, that I was served with a jury summons. I don’t remember who started laughing first, but I know it felt really good.

The next day I called the State of Missouri and a curt woman on the phone informed me that it was a grand jury trial that I had been summoned to, and that I needed to be in Jeff City for the pre-trial hearings. That was the state capital, over two hours away. I asked the date, and the woman said the exact date I was expected to be in the hospital delivering my baby, who was the size of an avocado. I laughed. The State of Missouri did not. Rather, she told me that short of a “life or death situation” I was expected to be there. I told her that I was having a late-term abortion that day, did that count as life or death? Then the State of Missouri and I sat silently on the phone for several moments until she said, “A doctor’s note will do.”

Jerimiah’s summons came from Taney County, Missouri several months later, a coincidence we’ve always wondered about. Taney County was the place we had lived for nearly five years. The place our son was born. Where our daughter had died. The place, up until those last few months, that we thought we would always call home. He didn’t try to get out of it, couldn’t even if he wanted to. He didn’t have a “Get Out of Jury Duty Free” Card. He wasn’t an only parent. His job allowed him to be away. He wasn’t having a late-term abortion. So Jerimiah had to show up to for the jury selection, but he didn’t mind because he was actually a little intrigued by the whole process.

The day he had to show up for jury selection, we met that evening at the local McDonalds (the really clean one with the awesome playground) because Jackson had a playdate with his best buddy in the ball pit. While my friend and I discussed what our toddlers had been up to that week (they had both simultaneously, unbeknownst to each other, tried to eat dog poop the day before) we watched Jerimiah saunter into the play place, and I immediately knew something was wrong.

He sat down in the seat next to me and I asked what happened. I was afraid he’d been picked to serve and that he really didn’t want to. Too much going on at work, our new-ish desire to relocate, the very fresh loss of our daughter, there were a millions reasons why his mind or his heart probably wasn’t in a felony burglary trial or whatever it was.

Thats’ when he told us that he had been relieved of jury duty upon the defendant’s attorney telling the judge that Jerimiah, potential juror #8, had “made a face” when the account was read aloud. What kind of face did you make? I pressed, laughing a little, because he does show his emotions, even when he tries hard not to.

“I guess it was shock, or disgust, or…” he trailed off. He didn’t know what the face was, but at some point he was taken into the courtroom with 11 other people, placed in the jury box and told details of the case with the judge, the prosecuting attorney, and the defending attorney present. What was the case, my friend and I wanted to know. Jerimiah explained that the case was over an accusation that a 12-year-old girl made. I sucked in my breath. The girl was accusing her stepfather of repeatedly raping her over numerous years. And there it was, the face back on him. It was shock, and disgust, and well, it was anger. He had already made his mind up about the case. He was going to sentence the step-father to prison. To death, if possible.

We all sighed a long sigh. I put my hand on his arm in a comforting way, and he tried to smile, but hearing about that little girl, well that stung. It stayed with him for some time too, and obviously it has stayed with me, because here I am sharing it with you nine years later. The sadness. The cruelty. The insanity in this world. Sometimes it all feels like too much, even for the strongest of us.

Jerimiah and I were never called for jury duty in Missouri again. Likewise we were not called in North Carolina, and have yet to be called in Georgia, but I’m sure our time is coming again. And when it does we will answer our civic call. Until then, we will reflect on the other two times, and do our best to stay positive in a world that just makes it so damn hard sometimes.

M.

It's Atlanta, After All

It’s been one of those days. It’s raining. I’m late for everything, people have been rude. I’ve soaked in all the abuse I can take, and I’m behind in getting Jackson from school. I’m coasting through yellow lights, and taking questionable routes to make up time. I get over to the right lane too soon and bam, I’m stuck behind a bus. Now I’m still. Completely still, and surrounded by busy people trying to get where they’re going. I’m looking in front and behind for a way out, while the MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) slowly releases its brake pressure from the underside holding tank. My toes move up and down quickly in my shoes, my fingers start to tap the steering wheel, I check the clock. I’m three minutes give or take, from Jackson’s school. The bell has just rung. The traffic is building up behind me, and to the left of me. Contorted faces in the rearview mirror. Hand gestures. Exasperation. Yet the bus just continues to sit. From my vantage point I can see its door open, but no one is getting on or off. I inch up. Wonder what the hell is happening. Then I see her.

She’s probably eighty years old. She’s at least eighty years old. She’s in a long rain coat, one that’s seen better days. She’s wrestling an umbrella too big for her, and one of those wheeled carts, the kind that fold up, store neatly in a closet, or a pantry, or slide under a bed. It’s packed full of groceries in transparent plastic bags. I notice we were just at the same grocery store, but I didn’t see her. I eye the bags as she shuffles past my car. Coffee, milk, peanut butter, is that a cake mix? She’s shuffling, as fast as she can toward the bus stop. The bus driver has spotted her. I watch black shoes hop down to the curb, blue cargo pants.

The woman holds her hands out, as if to say stop, stop look at me, I’m coming as fast as I can. The driver touches her hands, puts them down in a comforting way, says something to her. I can’t hear what he says, because my windows are rolled up. In the warm, calm of my car I relax into my heated, leather seats. Subconsciously I lay a hand on my cage-free, brown eggs on the passenger seat. The driver puts one hand on her cart, the other he uses to steady her at her small, fragile elbow. My wipers swipe.

The cars behind me start to honk. Because it’s Atlanta, after all. I throw my hands up, to tell them they are out of line, but I don’t curse them. Because it’s Atlanta. The driver and the woman slowly make their way to the bus. I watch as her small blue shoes make their way up the steps. Then I see a space, watch the black shoes lean in, he’s putting her cart inside the bus. Then I see the black shoes step up the two steps. The door closes.

The bus inhales. Lifts a couple inches off the ground, and crawls forward a bit. I’ve already missed the light. We all have.

M.

Human Trafficking Awareness Month

I was so caught up in the Super Bowl win on Monday, that I forgot that it was National Missing Persons Day on February 3rd and that February is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. And it makes sense, if you think about it, since the Super Bowl itself helps spike the sex traffickers numbers. It isn’t the really the biggest sex trafficking magnet in the US, that’s sort of an idea that got out of hand, and I read this really interesting article about how that came to be at Reuters. But, sex trafficking is still a thing, a big, bad, uncontrollable thing that warrants more talking about, and scares the bejesus out of me.

The thing to remember is that sex traffickers work every, single, day, and they go where the demand is highest. So when a bunch of old, white men with loads of money show up at the Super Bowl, then there is the demand to have sex with children, sex traffic victims, and sex workers. Not saying it’s only old, white, men who perpetrate this system, but who else can afford $10,000 Super Bowl tickets, airfare, and lodging? I’ve heard bad things about large sporting events in general, and about old, rich, white men, in general.

But what we have to consider here is also the people who are taking the victims. Sure, it’s simple supply and demand, and we know who is demanding, so who is supplying? Well, that’s not an easy answer. The predators can be men or women, but they are likely family members, friends, or adults in the community who have access to the victims. Again, I found something on the internet you might want to read from The Joint-Efforts Project called Human Trafficking for Dummies. It’s a convienant PDF with quick facts. In it, they claim that women are usually the predators in the human trafficking world.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline breaks it down a bit more. The predators have access to the kind of people who are the most vulnerable. Think men and women who own fake massage businesses. Crew leaders on farms, who have first hand knowledge of the people who are easily exploited. People in the transportation business. Humans are an easy “good” to sell and transport, if you know what you are doing. The information below is straight from the National Human Trafficking Hotline website.

It’s not just sexual human trafficking either, it’s also exploited labor.

And worst yet, there are some of us who think that it isn’t happening where we live. I mean, sure I live in Atlanta, and we host several large events, and I know that like most big cities with large international airports, we are a hot spot for human trafficking, but what about someone who lives in Nebraska or Iowa? Well, check out this map from the National Human Trafficking Hotline:

Yeah, this is happening everywhere. So it’s something we all need to be aware of, especially if you have children, know children, work with children, care about children. And of course it isn’t just children. It’s also young adults, males and females, and many times it is runaways or foreigners who came here looking for better job opportunities.

It’s important to note that there is so much unknown about human trafficking, because it’s such an easily guarded, secret organization. Victims are often unable to escape, or too afraid to go to the police. They don’t have a way to contact their loved ones. They don’t speak English. There are so many reasons and ways that people do not get the help they need.

It’s also important to note that not all missing persons are missing because of human trafficking. Some missing persons could be victims of domestic violence, which is a whole other post. Kidnapping by parents or other estranged family members. That sort of thing is why we even have a National Missing Persons Day, but human trafficking accounts for the large portion of missing people. I’m adding some links below of sites you can find more information at, if you are so inclined. And I think we could all stand to be a little more inclined.

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

National Missing and Unidentified Persons System–Here you can search for people who might be missing in your area.

Klaas Kids–Website to learn more about Megan’s Law (see below) and protecting your children online and off.

I’m not sure why, but I felt called to share all this with you today. Maybe one of two of you had no idea, or will click a couple of the links. Maybe my mom friends will benefit from Klaas Kids, or maybe you have a family member who is lost. And if you know more sites, or have more info to share, please share it in the comments. I’m always up for learning more, finding better places to research, and for helping people. Always helping people.

I know I am “tender hearted” that’s what my mom always called it, but as an adult I can call it empathetic. And I used to be very sensitive about this. I used to force myself not to cry, not to look upset when I saw a child who needed help, or a woman standing alone in the rain at the bus stop. But something has changed in me over the last few years. Maybe because I am a mom now. Maybe because I have watched too much happen to the more vulnerable in our community. But we have to take stands when we see that a stand needs taken now. We have to help those who can’t help themselves. And I think it starts with admitting what is happening, seeing the world through a different, more informed set of eyes, and being willing to talk about how to help. Even if the help is out of your reach, you can still share and discuss, make people aware of the problems. Maybe it will reach to someone who can help in a different way.

Until then, as the kids say, “Stay Woke, y’all” or is it “Get woke!” Or “Be woke AF.” I don’t know, but you get what I’m slinging.

M.

Do You Smell Toast?

Yesterday I was walking around trying to figure out why I smelled burning plastic, thinking that I was probably having a stroke, when I happened by the dishwasher and realized that no, it was actually burning plastic that I was smelling because someone loaded a plastic container at the bottom of the dishwasher and it was burning. So no stroke, that’s the point here, no stroke. Then I was telling my husband and he was all, “It’s toast. They say you smell burnt toast when you’re having a stroke.” And I was all, “Bitch, you don’t know everything!” Then I huffed upstairs and Googled, “What do people smell when they are having a stroke?” and the answer is a resounding, “Toast.” But it doesn’t matter for two reasons. One, the toast thing is a myth and two, none of this has anything to do with this post.

This post is about how stressed-the-fuck-out I am, and how I have no real reason to be. So maybe there is a connection because stress causes heart problems and if I’m going out, listen, I’m probably going out that way. Just based off the amount of stored fat around my heart, and an extensive family history of heart disease. Still, what is up with all this stress? Things are actually going okay. Wasn’t it just three weeks ago where I was all, “How lucky am I to have this life?!” And now I’m all, “What the hell is wrong with my life?!”

I’ve narrowed it down to three things:

  1. The world is a dumpster fire, upside-down, pile of steaming dog shit right now. If you ask me, it has been since 2016.
  2. People are rude as shit to each other.
  3. I’ve cut back on my carb intake.

That’s it. That’s all I can come up with. The problem is the first two things I can’t control, and if you’re like Patsy, my awesome therapist, then right now you’re saying to yourself, “Missy, you can’t change people.” And you’re right, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to, or desperately wanting to. I’ve read “Adult Children of Alcoholics” I know my strengths are my weaknesses. Shit, Patsy.

And honestly that’s really what I want. I want people to be nicer to people. Kids to be nicer to kids. I want all kids to be as nice as my kid, is that too much to ask?! I suppose so, my kid’s pretty fucking nice. I want all people to look at strangers and think, “Hmm, how can I connect with this person on a spiritual or human level?” Not, “I bet he’s a Republican.” Or, “I bet he doesn’t have a job.” But it seems that most people, MOST people not ALL people, are incapable of that nowadays. We’ve taken up our side of the fence post and we are not budging. But that’s not the part I’m struggling with. I’m good with my side. I know my side is the “right side of history” side and I know that I am squarely in the “Humane Middle” part.

What I’m so fucking tired of is walking this tightrope of trying to figure out which side of the fence someone else is on. Like will this person like me if I say I don’t go to church and I’m married to an Atheist? Or will this person think I’m a loser if I say, “I’m voting for anyone who isn’t Trump in 2020.” Will this person invite me to coffee if I say that I don’t work, because my husband makes enough money for me to stay at home and work on my writing? Will that person not want my kid to play with theirs if I tell them that we live far away from our families, and it’s on purpose? What if I tell people I am just meeting that I think every child should have an opportunity to experience preschool for free? Or if I leave a room when someone brings up abortion because I just so tired of having that discussion with people? I literally just want to say read my story about abortion, and shut the hell up. I’m out of steam, y’all.

So now what?

Yes, you’re right, I can control number three. So I’m going to go to Sam’s Club today, order an entire sheet cake that says, “People Mostly Suck” and I’m going to eat it alone in my car in the parking lot of Planet Fitness. Good plan.

I’m just complaining. I’ll feel better soon. Probably.

Be nice to people today, just for me.

M.

My First Internet Troll

Okay, let me start this one off with a little backstory. Y’all know how I get sad and listen to Adele? When I’m sad, and listening to Adele, that’s usually the time I partake in internet comment sections. What do I mean by internet comment sections? You know when USA Today, or WaPo, or The NY Times shares a story and then people comment on said story, usually without reading the actual story, they are just knee-jerk reacting to the headline, well I knee-jerk react to the comments people make. Listen, it’s not wise, there are a lot of assholes in the world, but when I’m “Adele sad” I want to make others miserable with me. Hey, I’m only human. So rather than making people I know and love take the brunt of my wrath, I do it to strangers. Although, even as I myself troll on these days, I keep it nice and I keep it civil, in hopes, always, that I am educating or helping someone see with a bit more clarity. I’m not, for example, getting on the comment section and calling people a slew of names or calling them “snowflakes,” or “Whiny babies,” or “The racist, sacrilegious, extreme right” even though that’s what most of them are, and I myself am usually called names like, “Snowflake,” or “Socialist,” or my personal favorite, “Libtard.” Eww, y’all.

So there I am one day, sad and alone at home, Adele blasting out of my HomePod and I come across an article. I can’t recall where it was, but it is about the boys in the MAGA hats who tormented the Native American veteran last year in Washington DC. It is specifically about the boy who wore the brunt of it because he seemed to be the instigator of it. If I remember correctly there was a lot at play that day. Several groups protesting several things, and the MAGA hat boys surrounded the Native American Veteran who I believe had been trying to deescalate a confrontation between the MAGA hat boys and a group of Black protestors who were protesting against Donald Trump. The Native American Veteran saw an opportunity to help and he stepped in. Which worked, because the Black men walked away. But then the MAGA hat boys surrounded the Native American Veteran and started yelling slurs at him and being general juvenile assholes. This part of the story has been pretty well re-told by all those involved.

The story I commented on was not about that. It was about how the one boy’s parents, this boy,

He just looks like a ball of fun, doesn’t he?

sued CNN for defamation or something, and they won some money. But I mean look at these kids. They were obviously disrespecting this man, who was trying to help them not get their asses whopped by much bigger dudes. I remember when it happened, and I remember thinking what pieces of shit raised these pieces of shit. I also remember thinking that the Black protestors needed to slow their role, I mean who gets into a conflict with kids? Then I remembered the world we live in and yeah, I want to punch this kid in the face, so there’s that.

Okay, back to the story. So there I am sitting at my desk listening to Adele tell me about her lost loves, and I’m sad, and I come across the article that says he won money and I know this comment section is gonna be lit, so I take the bait.

First thing I see is a woman calling for THE WHOLE USA to apologize to this poor boy. Le sigh. I scroll. I scroll. I start liking comments of level-headed people who are making sense. Someone says, for instance, “I hope these boys learned a lesson. I hope they treat veterans better.” I like it. I see, “I hope this young man’s family uses some of that money to help others in need, veterans, the homeless, I hope they spread goodness from now on.” I loved that one. You see what I do now.

So then I start reading the really nasty ones. The ones that make no sense and have nothing to do with the article. The ones blaming Hillary Clinton, what? The ones saying that “TRUMP IS ALL OUR PRESIDENT!” Like, no shit dude. We know this. The ones who are literally just there to troll. Now, this was during the standoff with Iran a couple weeks ago, when “Military Draft” was the number one thing Googled that week, so a few people were talking about this Native American guy being a Veteran, and saying this is what a real Veteran looks like. Tempers were high, y’all. I don’t remember exactly what I commented, but on one of the “This is a fine example of a Veteran” posts, I said something like, “I hope these young men, who obviously want to show their love or country, join the military.” Or something like that. Essentially I suggested that young men, ones who are this pumped about our country (I remember when this all happened, some of their parents came out and called their young sons “Patriots” for standing up for the President) that they would join our troops in supporting this country for all of us who cannot. That was it, that’s what I commented: “I hope these young men, who obviously want to show their love of country, join the military.” End scene.

But, oh no. The trolls were on me like me on a bag of Cheetos. First someone told me the draft didn’t exist. Which made me confused. I said, “I’m aware. I’m suggesting they join willingly. Our military needs good, strong, young men at this time.” Then someone told me I should join. In which I said, “I’m both over the ‘weight regulations’ and ‘age regulations.'” Besides, I never felt “called” to fight for our county in that way. Though I have many friends and family members in the military, and I love and appreciate that they did feel called, and I feel safe because of them.” Then I left it at that.

That’s when people starting chiming in on my weight. This was my profile pic at the time:

Obviously I’m super fat. And obviously I’m a commie-libtard. I have a fucking poodle for Christ’s sake.

Most of it was “She can’t join the military, she’s too fat.” Which I had already addressed, but you know, people. So as you can see, the conversation was going great places. Lots of learning was happening, blah, blah, blah. So I decided I’d do what I usually do, I’d mute the conversation and go on about my day. I’d made my point, even though they didn’t “get it” and I felt better having supported some people who were fighting the good fight with knowledge and love. So I bowed out, as I usually do. I said something like: “This has been an enlightening conversation. May I think you all for your relatively smart dialogue and remind you, in this time of great divisiveness, that we all have the power to change our neighborhoods, our communities, and the world.” I have a schtick, I say basically the same thing every time. Then I add, “I’ll be muting this conversation now, try to keep an open mind with others.” Then I muted the conversation and went on with my life.

Then two days ago I was sitting at a Starbucks writing, and I remembered that I wanted to send a friend a DM to ask a question, so I logged onto my Messenger App. I rarely do this, but there are some people who I only converse with through this app. So I logged in and I had two messages that were marked as unread. Turns out that if you aren’t friends with a person on Facebook, they can send you a message, but you won’t get notifications about it, and you can’t open a dialogue with them unless you accept it. I clicked to see who the messages were from. There was a woman whose name looked oddly familiar, and a man who I didn’t know at all. I read the woman’s first. It was a woman from one of the poodle sites I frequent. I had joined the site when I lived in Charlotte and it still showed Charlotte as my home. She became aware of a poodle that needed rehomed in Charlotte so she remembered me and reached out. I thanked her, because that was very nice, then explained that we didn’t want another dog at this time, but to continue to consider me in the future. We had a lovely chat about poodles and said our goodbyes. Then I logged into the other message and saw this:

I went back and forth about whether or not to use his real name and picture on my public/private blog, but the thing is, I didn’t do anything wrong, he did. He’s an internet troll who took the trolling one step further. I don’t even remember him from the thread. But apparently when I refused to respond anymore to the comment section he sought me out, clicked on my page, and sent me a message. And he did it in the most Trump-Supporter way I’ve ever seen. I mean never mind the fact that this white man thought that he had the authority to seek me out and “put me in my place” but you guys, this spin doctor could work for Fox News! He’s been programmed to take a comment: “I hope these young men, who obviously want to show their love or country, join the military.” And turn it into “You’re quite something for wishing death on a bunch of kids for wearing hats supporting the guy who won the presidency.” Now, let’s do what all my English professors would be proud of me for doing, let’s break this sentence down.

“You’re quite something,” okay well he obviously is already angry. And we all know that anger stems from fear, so what is fearful of? Could it be that a woman could be as smart as he thinks he is? Maybe he’s afraid that I’m right. Maybe he’s afraid that we are in fact going to war, and he isn’t joining the military and he really wanted to and couldn’t. Or he was too scared to even try, so this all hits too close to home. Too close to his man-ego.

“Wishing death on a bunch of kids…” This is a great tactic the GOP has been using for years. You take a comment, and you strip it down to the bare bones, then you think about how you could make it sound absurd, thereby making the speaker sound absurd, and you spew the new comment that you made into your head, at the speaker like they said it, hoping they will believe that is what they really said. It’s been highly effective for the Republican Party and you can see it any day you turn on Fox News.

“…who won the presidency…” This part shows his insecurity once again. Two reasons: 1. I never talked about Trump in my comment, just about the the kids and the military, he brought Trump in, and in a sense, Hillary Clinton, which they LOVE to do. Then they accuse us of “not being over the election.” Hmpf. He knows, like we all do, that Hillary won the popular vote. More people in our country wanted Hillary to be the president than they wanted Trump to be the president. In fact, she won by millions, y’all. But I don’t talk about that anymore, cause it doesn’t’ matter. But these Trump supporters live and die by this idea that we all sit around and commiserate about how sad we are that Trump won. Nope. We don’t, just so you know. But when you bring it up to us, we do make fun of you because you are projecting.

“…you’re so full of hate…” Projecting. I mean, this man came to my page, clicked to message me, just to tell me this last line which I assume he thinks was the real kick to the gut, so, umm, me thinks he’s the angry one. I’m just sad, remember? Adele? The shithole upside down world we live in that has men like this in it? I’m sad, y’all.

The kick to the gut: “maybe you’d be happier if you lost some weight.”

Real quick: Fat jokes lose their steam in middle school, y’all. We are adults.

So, my first instinct was to delete and block. In fact, I blocked him for about thirty seconds. Then I thought, if I don’t reply I will be angry about this. I will stew. I will sit and think about all the things I could have said and it will make me sad and I will listen to more Adele, thus perpetuating the cycle. So I unblocked him and I wrote this:

Then as you can see, I blocked him. Then I alerted Facebook to him being a “Harasser” and now I’m sharing it with you all. Mainly because I gave you a brief on FB and y’all wanted me to blog about it, so you are welcome. And thanks for your support. For reading my blog. For loving a good story. And more importantly, thank you to my friends and family who, while we may not agree on everything in this world, can still be openminded, and kind, and who will always go to bat for me, because you know I will always go to bat for you. In fact, please let me know if you ever have an internet troll. I would love to take care of them for you!

So what is today’s lesson, y’all? Don’t be Brad. Also, don’t go searching for him on Facebook. Don’t send him messages or be a crazy person like he is. Instead remember that there are people like Brad in this world. They are perpetuating meanness. They are led by fear, insecurity, a hatred for women, first and foremost, then usually people who don’t look like them, pray like them, or vote like them. They are the extreme, y’all. Most of us are in that humane middle. But the guys like Brad up there, give all Republicans a bad name, and if you are a Republican it’s your job to silence the Brad’s of the world. And it goes both ways. We can’t let crazy leftists stand up for all Democrats, we can’t give them a platform. Only then can we eliminate this sort of hate and bigotry.

Be kind, y’all.

M.

An Afternoon at Starbucks

I’m sitting in a Starbucks. I just had coffee with a friend who had to run at noon to grab her daughter from preschool. I decided to sit for a spell and write on my laptop, order another drink, people watch. And the Starbuck’s Goddess has smiled upon me. There are three woman, all 60 plus, sitting in the corner next to me. They are huddled around two things: A book titled Still Life by Louise Penny, and a white folder with a homemade title on the side that says simply, Women’s Retreat. They are simultaneously talking about the book, and planning what sounds to be a church-related women’s retreat for April. They are also mercilessly making fun of some of the women going on the retreat with them, and occasionally poking fun at the woman sitting in an overstuffed chair, asleep, with a rolling suitcase at her feet. It’s disgusting. It’s not Jesus like. I can’t stop listening.

The book is a mystery novel. A 3.5 out of 5.0 on Goodreads. There’s a Chief Inspector named Gamache. One of the women is addicted to the mystery novel.

The sleeping woman with the suitcase is unmoving. I keep checking to see if her leg or arm moves. Checking to ensure she is alive. It’s cold in here. The temperature outside is a balmy 36 degrees. Winter in Atlanta has come.

One of the women refused a trip to Hawaii with her daughter and her family because they aren’t going to “the big island,” and because her son-in-law likes to decide last minute to stay extra days, and she can’t do that because her neighbor would have her dog, and what would happen if they stayed an extra day because the kids were having fun and her dog ran out of his medication, and the neighbor lost her code to her garage.

“What a disaster that would be,” says Still Life woman.

There’s a woman, Deborah, who is texting Women’s Retreat folder woman. Deborah wants to know if there is a way to join the retreat. “Is there a way?” the Women’s Retreat folder woman laughs, “Oh, I worry about Deborah sometimes.”

“She’s not techy,” Still Life woman says, “She needs help.”

“Just put her down,” Third woman says.

“No,” Women’s Retreat says, “I’ll send her the link again and she can have someone help her figure it out.”

“Maybe she won’t come,” Still Life says.

Hopefully she won’t,” mumbles one of the Christian women.

The drive-thru line crawls along. Men and women in heavy coats, beanies, earmuffs, looking like they are about to climb Mt. Everest. Jesus, it’s only 36 degrees.

“We don’t need more testimony,” Still Life says, thumbing through a stack of papers Women’s Retreat took out of the folder.

“Her testimony doesn’t even reflect others, no one will get her,” Third woman slides a paper that looks like a schedule back toward the folder and eyes the sleeping woman.

Sleeping woman wakes with a start. Pulls a red envelope from her coat pocket, quickly, as if to make sure it is still there. She examines it and sticks it in the tote bag next to her, pulls a cracker from the meat and cheese tray she bought with a gift card when she first came in, pops it in her mouth, then lays her head forward on her breasts, her long greying hard falls down over her face. She closes her eyes and munches on the cracker.

“Do you think she lives in the hotel over there?” Women’s Retreat asks, nodding her head toward the awake sleeping woman, in the maroon sweatpants, matching coat, and slippers. Her large suitcase still at her feet.

“I can’t believe Starbucks just let’s her sit here,” Still Life shakes her head.

Willie Nelson plays, “…now my hair has turned to silver/all my life I’ve loved in vain/I can see her star in heaven/blue eyes crying in the rain.”