Displaced Stay At Home Californian in rural N. Carolina

The Many Faces of Joy

The Many Faces of Joy

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I was talking to a friend the other day who told me that some of her friends were concerned about sending their children to the schools in the Silicon Valley area due to their children being in the minority as Caucasians. She went on to say that they had concerns enough to consider moving their families to a state like Colorado where their kids would be in schools where the majority of the kids would look like their kids.

As a child it never occurred to me to be concerned that I was considered a minority or to wonder which ethnic group I fit into. As a child of a interracial marriage I could not pass as Caucasian but I also could not pass for Asian. It did not become an issue until we moved to Jamaica when I was 10 years old and it became impossible for me to ignore that I was in the minority. Was it because I was older and more aware of the color of peoples skin? Or was it because we had just moved to a country where 98% of the population was darker than I was?

I was watching a show late last night on PBS about retracing the history of African American families in this country and how slavery and discrimination has wiped out entire family histories and how entire generations have swallowed who they are to avoid censure, it was narrated by Henry Louis Gates Jr and very thought provoking.

As I was watching this show I was reminded of an interaction I had with a nice boy from my church and school shortly after moving to Jamaica. His name was Harold Campbell and he was an adorable 12 year old boy who approached me one day and asked me if I wanted to be his girlfriend. I was only 11 and had never had a boyfriend but I looked at him incredulously and said, "I can't be your girlfriend, you are black".

Even though I went on to have a Jamaican boyfriend (at the much older age of 13) I cringe when I think about what I said to Harold. Understandably Harold never spoke to me again in the next 4 years and I spent the next 4 years trying to get him to forgive me. I wanted to explain to him that I was raised by 2 white women. I wanted to explain to him that I had changed my mind. I wanted him to know that I was too young to have a boyfriend, I wanted to explain to him that I was changing my mind but in that one comment I had sealed my fate with Harold and he never gave me a chance again.

I'd like to think that I am raising my children differently and that by sending them to schools that are integrated and diverse they are becoming color blind and accepting their friends and classmates by their virtues instead of what they look like. I have to let my girlfriend know that the word Colorado means "colored" in Spanish - I am not sure her friends are in the know.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Yummy Yucky

I was in the car today taking my child to preschool when I stopped at a light next to this really nice brand spanking new Subaru Outback. I looked at the woman driving and was surprised to see her really digging in her nose with her pinky finger, obviously cleaning her nose. I was a little surprised and I am pretty sure I made a face but after she pulled her finger out of her nose, she proceeded to put it directly in her mouth and clean her nail off.

Let me stop this fascinating story and tell you that this woman looked to be about my age. She also was driving a brand new car. And she had a nice ring on her finger which means she was married to someone. I can't imagine she likes the taste of what comes out of her nose which prompted me to do some research to see what the World Wide Web says about nose picking and bugger eating.

It turns out that there is a medical condition called rhinotillexomania, it is habitual nose picking. This condition is seen primarily in people with OCD and I am hoping although not altogether sure that it can be treated by some kind of therapy or medication. But back to the lady in the car next to me, after she cleans her nail off in her mouth, she sticks the same finger back in the other nostril and starts rooting around. At this point she looks left and sees me staring at her and I'm sure my mouth was open. I'm not really sure what I am doing at this point, maybe my mouth was open, maybe I am about to scream, maybe I am close to tears, I am staring transfixed, and she shrugs and keeps on picking. Lucky for the both of us, the light turned green and I turned left and left her with her treats.

At preschool the other day a little girl headed around the corner to hide with what looked like a small piece of food or candy and I followed her to see what she was going to do with it. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be chalk, although she didn't seem as alarmed as I was and she was the one eating it. I told her not to eat chalk - that it wasn't good to eat but she continued to chew the piece and swallow most of it. I checked the packaging and it said it was ok to eat and the little girl was back at preschool today so I know it didn't harm her in any way.

I look after a little 2 year old sometimes and today she was on the floor next to Sally, our 9 and a half year old German Shepherd and she was licking things off the floor along with him. At one point they were both heading toward the same cat nibble and I had to pick her up because I was worried that she might make it first. She was having a fabulous time and she seemed to be enjoying the floor treats as much as she enjoyed the bowl of cereal I had just fed her earlier. She was laughing and giggling and screaming in happiness.

I guess the important thing is that it tastes good to you.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


I was stopped at an intersection the other day and I looked left and saw a woman sucking long and hard on a cigarette. She was most likely in her 50's but she looked like she was in her 70's, I'm not judging her, remember that is one of the nasty things that smoking will help accelerate. I stared at her longer than I should have, long enough for her to look at me and stare back. She looked like she had been smoking a long time.

I was a smoker for a good number of years but now I forget that I used to be a smoker sometimes and when I see a smoker I wonder what the hell they are doing? Are they stupid? Are they uneducated as to the harms of smoking? Are they out to lunch? Have they not seen that ad with the lady with the hole in her neck trying to talk? Or the ones where they are always comparing cigarette companies to Chernobyl?

It was a tough habit to kick. I tried cold turkey, I tried the patch, I tried the gum, I tried the step down method, I tried Wellbutrin, I tried 12 steps, I tried smoking until I was sick of smoking and the only thing that worked was waking up one day and telling myself I was through and I was. At first it was hard, I would watch movies where people were smoking and feel like I would die if I didn't get my hands on a cigarette right that second. I avoided places that smelled like smoke. I avoided people who smoked. I avoided places that sold cigarettes. I felt like I was powerless so I had to create a world where cigarettes did not exist to be able to stay strong and not smoke.

The other day I said to my husband as a smoker walked past and flicked their butt on the ground and then breathed that lungful of filth on me, "ugh, that is so disgusting, that makes me sick" and my husband stopped short. He said, "wow, I can't believe you said that!" and now to think of it, I can't believe I did either.

I guess that means I am no longer a smoker.

Monday, October 10, 2011


I had the opportunity to spend the day yesterday with my Aunt who has cancer. She has lung cancer but it has metastasized to her brain. I don't know what it feels like for her but she looked like she was not feeling so good. She ate a decent sized meal, went for a walk with my brother and I enjoyed a wonderful conversation with her at several different times but she has slowed down quite a bit. She has definitely slowed down and for a woman who was something of a spitfire in her day, it was hard for me to see the signs of destruction that this disease has done to her body.

When I was 26 years old I moved back home to care for my grandmother who was dying of Parkinson's Disease. At the time I moved in, I didn't think of her as dying exactly, but that was indeed what she was doing. She even asked me once if I was going to care for her until she died and I didn't know how to answer her. The job of keeping her alive and well cared for was what occupied my every moment so to think of her dying was beyond my abilities.

One day I was sitting and feeding her lunch, this was when she could still communicate verbally, and she asked me if I ever thought as a child that one day I would be changing her diapers after all the diapers she changed for me. I had to excuse myself and go to the kitchen and I couldn't avoid the tears that were streaming down my face. It took me several minutes in the kitchen before I could return to the table and continue feeding her.

As my grandmother continued to go down hill I was consumed by anger. I was angry at the way people treated her, staring at her in her wheel chair and talking loudly to her as if she was deaf. I was angry at her church community who never came to visit and especially her pastor, who showed up the day after she died to prepare funeral notes when he never came to visit her when she was alive. I was angry at my mother who was so involved in her work and her new marriage and her new home that carrying for her own mother seemed like a never ending burden. I was bitter and angry at my siblings for placing this burden on my shoulders and leaving the care of my grandmother to me, on days when the tedium of being cooped up with an 82 year old who didn't talk or interact with me seemed endless.

I didn't talk about my anger or my feelings to anyone. I didn't open up about the blame I placed on people for her eventual death from a terribly debilitating disease. I bottled it up and saved it for a nice therapist that got all that baggage as well as a whole lot of other stuff I'd saved up over the years. I will say that now that time has gone by I can look back at my experience with my grandmother and appreciate those last days I spend with her. I feel like I made her last 2 years more comfortable and more tender. I think that I learned many things from the experience including patience and compassion for the elderly and sick and dying. I feel like I can honor the circle of life from birth to death.

I hope someday I get to see my Grandmother again.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


I've been trying to start my own business. I've been wanting to find something to do with all my free time. (insert hysterical laughter here) Seriously, I know that someday very soon I will have all my cubs out of the cave and this mama bear will need to do something with her free time that is profitable and that contributes and I also know that I cannot be a stay at home genius forever.

I sat and thought about what I did before I had children and I was no longer passionate about management. I thought about managing adults and what it involved and I realized that after raising children, the thought of managing adults would probably make me crazy. I mean no disrespect to those of you that used to work for me but telling adults when to return to work, how to follow a schedule, coaching them on professionalism, corrective action, performance reviews etc, would be so irritating to me that I am willing to hang up my management hat and try on other hats. I also have to admit that after having worked with children and seeing what goes into raising children, I cannot work in an environment where adults act like children and as a person who worked for many years in management, there is a group of employees that display some very childish behavior. You know who you are.

So my sister makes this beautiful beaded jewelry. And she has sent me a considerable amount of this jewelry hoping I can do something with it. I didn't want to be the Mom at the park with a coat full of necklaces or the Mom asked to leave a playgroup for turning it into one of those parties where you are told you won't have to buy anything but then the pressure is so great that you end up buying a candle for $65 dollars because you didn't know how to say no. I have been sitting on this jewelry for a while now and it has been using up valuable real estate in my bedroom.

So here is what I've done over the last 3 weeks:

Made business cards
Found a shop in San Mateo that will let me rent out a space to display and sell these baubles
Bought display items
Priced the items
Photographed all the items
Inventoried all the trinkets
Purchased packaging for when they sell
Written and a bio and had it framed along with a picture of my sister to sit next to the items

Finally I am ready to launch my little venture this week. I still have a few things left to take care of, for example I need to register a website and get working on creating some kind of online presence but the exciting news is that I have an appointment to go and write up a contract with the shop owner and put out my sister's trinkets and sit back and see if someone loves them and buys them. If you get a chance, check out the store and buy a trinket. If you can't, soon you will be able to visit the website and see what I've done. And finally, wish me luck, whether this grows to something bigger or not, it is exciting to know that I'm in business!