A dog lover by day..and semi racist by night

So I have this dog. Ok, well, I have two dogs. One is an eleven year old Cavalier King Charles, named Scrappy (as in Scrappy Doo). He is a tri color, just so you know. Then, in November, I got suckered into rescuing a Rottweiler mix. Her name is Harley (as in Harley Quinn, from Batman). She is about a year old, cute as hell, and obnoxious as all get out. I’m trying to train her. Wish me luck. She keeps escaping out of our yard, into the neighbor’s yard, to romp with their dog, a little fluff ball of a mutt…and when I go over to retrieve her, Harley laughs at me. She streaks past me, fire shooting out from her paws, daring me to try and catch her..she will stop..look at me, laughing, and then, just as I go to grab her collar, lurch out of my grasp and run in circles around me. Much cursing is heard, as my sailor vocabulary comes out, as well, I’m in the neighbor’s yard, and I’m pretty sure they aren’t too happy with the fact that my dog is tearing up their yard and chewing on their dog’s toys. And don’t even go into any bathroom issues. I’m gonna have to send over a clean up crew later. Sigh.

Suffice it to say that Invisible Fence is getting a STAT CALL later. And I want our fence put on MAXIMUM STUN. Hey, don’t hate me. I don’t want my dog hit by a car or terrorizing any neighbors. DON’T JUDGE ME PEOPLE.

Anyway. Today some men were in my yard, doing some spring clean up stuff for the neighbor behind me..they had to point their leaf blowers thru my fence. Miss Harley was out, but I was smart enough to put her out on a lead, so she wouldn’t be four miles away, at the local brewhouse, the minute I put her out. The guy in my backyard came up to play with her…and in an effort to make her less afraid of him, took off his leaf blower gear and laid down on the ground. Harley began sniffing him, then licking him a bit, and they wrestled a bit. Wow, I thought, that’s sort of cool…what  nice guy.

He explained that he had Bull Mastiff’s and that they were good to him but not to strangers..and we talked about our dogs..a nice conversation…and then he said it.

He said, “You know, I live in a neighborhood with lots of blacks in it, so I need my dogs. You just never know.” I was speechless. Me, the wordsmith, the person whose big mouth get’s her into trouble all the damn time–at a loss for words.

He said some more shit about how great his dogs were and then moved on with his yard gear and I went back into my house. Stunned.

If you don’t think we live in a racist nation, you’re kidding yourselves. I’m sure he doesn’t consider himself a racist. He was a nice guy. That’s the problem with racism…how hidden, how insidious it is.

I wanted to say…I wanted to say, how would your dogs react to my African children? I wanted to ask “Why does a neighborhood with lots of blacks in it, make it a bad neighborhood??” I wanted to ask “Why do we assume that a black person is bad but a white person is good?”  I knew that all of this would be denied…explained away…I’ve heard it before from my “non racist” racist white friends (no–I have black friends! I’m not a racist!)

This post may not win me any friends. Maybe it will.

All I know is that we need to have a real conversation about race in this country. And our reactions to it. And I could go on here but I won’t.

Right now I’m too busy spending time with my crazy dogs. And my children.

Three Second Rule (or Parasites and Paradise)

I just want to share another vacation story…before I move on to everyday life again. There is this restaurant on Tybee Island called The Crab Shack and it purports to be the “best seafood on the island.” Well it being the week of Passover, and with us strictly observing the rules of the holiday..we promptly jumped into the Mighty Explorer (the proper name of my truck) and drove there for dinner one night.

This place is an event. It is a mini compound, comprised of several buildings. There is an area where the children can buy some sort of bait (I didn’t want to know what it was…) and feed the “pet” alligators with bamboo fishing poles. Because what could go wrong with that???? In fairness…these gators were on the smallish side, only about 3 or 4 feet long..There was another room with caged birds…I started laughing at the parrot cage and asked out loud if the bird was sleeping…alas, none of my children knew what I was laughing about…guess I will have to introduce them to Monty Python in the near future…

We were finally seated, outside, under a giant tree. Under our table was a trash can, and there was a hole cut in the top of the table so we could fling our garbage in there at will. Stray cats meandered in and out, between tables and legs…eating any stray seafood that wound up on the floor. The waitress arrived and we ordered up a ton of crab and shrimp, in keeping with the Passover holiday. (HEY–WHAT HAPPENS ON VACATION STAYS ON VACATION–DON’T JUDGE ME!!!! )

My sons were transfixed by all the animals..Noah especially so…he wanted one of the cats as a pet…he wanted all the birds…As we were eating dinner, my youngest son noticed a raccoon in the tree. I said oh, that’s just Rocky Raccoon…and we watched as the creature climbed down the tree, closer and closer. Other people took notice and began to get a bit nervous. The kids started to get excited..I said that there wasn’t much to worry about unless he was rabid…but I was almost certain Rocky wasn’t…he was probably just hungry for crab legs…still..I kept my eye on him as well..He finally jumped down to the ground and headed over to the boat that was pulled up on shore, as decoration, complete with skeleton pirates on it, for effect…making me wonder if Rocky had decided to run off and look for Jack Sparrow..

Meanwhile, my son Noah was eating away…again, we were outside, and the place was a bit…well, rustic? Somehow Noah dropped some food on the ground, and well this ground was so freaking filthy…you could almost see the filth waves emanating up..And well, being Noah, he just reached right down and grabbed his food up and popped it back into his mouth. I shrieked No!! but too late, and the guy at the next table, who witnessed the entire thing, convulsed into laughter. Noah apologized, I apologized for shrieking, but told he mustn’t ever do that again–especially in a place like that. Meanwhile, inside my head, a conversation took off and it went something like this: HOLY CRAP MY SON JUST ATE FOOD OFF THIS DISGUSTING FLOOR!!! HE IS GOING TO GET SOME HORRIBLE PARASITE AND GET TERRIBLY SICK AND END UP IN THE HOSPITAL!! PLEASE ANGELS DON’T LET HIM GET SICK!! STOP IT YOU STUPID IMAGINATION!! PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD LIVE WITHOUT SOAP AND ANTI BACTERIAL AGENTS AND LIVE! STOP FREAKING YOURSELF OUT! (and finally) IF THAT GUY DOESN’T STOP LAUGHING….

Noah did not get sick, just for the record. And we decided that Sting Ray’s has better seafood on Tybee, and offers a far less chance of becoming ill after eating there, plus there are no potentially rabid creatures stalking you whilst you eat. A much better scene.

Another plus this vacation–no public vomiting by any family members. Awesome.

Gonna miss you Tybee–your palm trees, your beach, your warm sun–even Rocky.

Until next time.

Roadtrip 2015 (or why I may fly next time…)

I am back home from a week’s vacation with all four of my children. And it involved a road trip. Ten hours of driving the first day alone…four hours more the second. I’m still feeling a bit dizzy from the drive home this weekend. I managed to locate some of those car bingo cards we used to play with when I was a child and gave them to my son and daughter for the trip. And I watched them turn into competitive savages. I told them they had to fill in the entire board to win. And then I proceeded to drive and listen to them turn on each other in an attempt to win a game with no prize at the end. It was really kind of fun.

We made it to our rental house on Tybee Island, Georgia. Tybee is a very laid back kind of place..lots of colorful houses, palm trees, the ocean…so wonderful after our brutally cold Michigan winter. The flowers were blooming, and the pollen was so thick in the air, my white Explorer looked yellow. The kids went swimming in the ocean, reminiscing about their first trip to the ocean..back in Africa..when we went there to bring them home. They recalled how scared they had been (I remembered that they weren’t even aware that they lived near the ocean..) and we all remembered the long journey to the beach in Sierra Leone and the adventure we had that beach day. How far we have come since then.

Noah tried to catch a seagull, so he could “take it back with us for a pet.” Then he tried to find some buried pirate treasure on the beach, and finally sat on the bench swing, just relaxing. Swinging is one of his favorite things to do.

On Monday we drove four hours in to Atlanta, so Noah could go to the zoo and see all his favorite animals, and then went to the aquarium. The kids loved both places and we left the aquarium after the Disneyesque dolphin show ended–around 7 pm. We drove just outside of Atlanta and stopped for dinner..which was took some time, for some reason still unknown…and then, around 9 pm…just as the basketball game was about to begin, the television sets all lost cable. I made the comment that they must have satellite and it must be raining, and glanced outside. Sure enough, it was pouring and I thought, crap, we are going to get soaked running to the car. Famous. Last. Words.

I paid the bill and grabbed the kids and tried to run out to the Explorer. Except that Noah doesn’t run so quickly…I was pulling him…he was resisting…we were completely soaked in seconds. We jumped into the car and I quickly realized that being wet was the least of my worries.

I pulled out onto the freeway…a bit anxious, but wanting to get home. We still had a good 4 hours to drive..I got onto the freeway and the heavens opened. I mean, they freaking opened. This was Biblical proportions rain. This was hurricane, typhoon, wall of water, mother of god rain. I could not see a thing. There have only been a few times I have been this frightened driving in the rain. The last time was when I was 21 years old. I remember exactly where I was–that’s how scared I was.

I tried to not let the children see that I was terrified. In my mind I was thinking: HOLY SHIT HOW IN THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO DRIVE IN THIS SHIT?? DEAR HEAVENLY FATHER!! GUARDIAN ANGELS HELP ME SURVIVE!!! I HAVEN’T WRITTEN MY BOOK YET!! SAVE MY KIDS!! THEY DESERVE TO LIVE!!!

What I said instead was, Oh, I wonder if I should pull off? This seems a bit heavy. My oldest daughter said that there was no place to pull over, as it sort of looked like we were in a construction zone..so we just tried to zero in on the tail lights in front of us. Meanwhile, as we could not really determine where the lanes were, semi’s were passing us, missing us by mere inches.

We drove like that, on and off for about an hour…and I think it took about 3 days for my hands to unclench and my jaw to relax. After the Biblical rains stopped..I noticed that we had about 70 miles left on the gas gauge. I remarked that we would have to stop for gas..and we began scanning for exits with gas stations.

We began pulling off at exits, and lo and behold! the gas stations were closed. WTF??? How is this even possible??? This is a freeway people!!!! So we drove on, stopping–still closed. Let me fast forward–it is now freaking midnight, and I now have 2 miles to empty. My GPS and my phone cannot locate a gas station…I pulled off the freeway at the next exit. It was extremely dark out, and I pulled into this abandoned road side store. I called Ford Roadside Assistance and was trying to explain exactly where we were when a semi pulled up.

The driver got out and talked with my oldest daughter. She reported to me that she thought we were all going to be murdered right then and there. Sigh. Roadside Assistance sent somebody right out to help us and put two gallons into our gas tank. The semi driver had his girlfriend/wife? with him and they got out and talked with me and waited with us until the gasoline arrived. They were very nice people and not at all murderers. At least, as far as I could tell.

We made it to the next 24 hour gas station (let me just interject here and explain that apparently, along this particular stretch of highway in Georgia, the gas stations close at 10 pm, and the 24 hour stations are about 50 or so miles apart. Good to know now, and THANKS GARMIN GPS FOR TELLING ME THAT. And that was sarcasm, just so you know).  We finally rolled into Tybee around 230 am…making Monday officially a week long day. Officially.

We ate lots of seafood, and spent much time just hanging out. It was a glorious week. But alas, it ended and I had to begin the long drive home. Now, fourteen hours in a car with children is a lot for any parent. But fourteen hours in the car with my children?? Somebody needs to call Ellen Degeneres for me.

Let me explain a little bit what this is like. My kids don’t sleep in the car. Noah, my sweet autistic Noah, well…he likes to ask questions. Over and over and over. So it goes something like this : Mom. Mom. Mom. I want to be the Joker for Halloween. I want green hair and a red mouth. And the next Halloween I want to be Harley Quinn. And the next Halloween I want to be the Riddler and the next Halloween I want to be Scarecrow and the next Halloween I want to be Sandman and the next Halloween I want to be Penguin MOM WHO DO I WANT TO BE FOR HALLOWEEN???? except that I didn’t list out all 4o of the villains he really lists out and I am expected to remember. And then he switches to a different loop : Mom. Mom. Mom. I want to have polar bears as my pets. And meerkats. And golden barn owls and giant pandas and red pandas and lemurs and lions and tigers and (insert 300 other exotic animals here). MOM WHAT ANIMALS DO I WANT FOR MY PETS???  and then I have to repeat them back. And this goes on. And on. And on. And on. Without stopping. For hours. Sigh.

So just imagine that you’re a bit tired, and trying to navigate thru the hills of West Virginia, in the dark, and trying to answer all of that at exactly the same time.

Which is why I think I need a vacation to recover from my vacation. I’m exhausted.

Sigh.

Marietta, Ohio

I just want to say that, as I write this, I am at the end of a week’s vacation with my children. Which may sound like fun to the uninitiated…and, believe me, I had fun…but…well, I will let the next blog tell you about the actual road trip. This post is about my stop in Marietta, Ohio.

I stopped there, on my way back north to Michigan. I was trying, desperately to make the trek from Tybee Island, GA, to Michigan in one fell swoop…but traffic and fatigue intervened and I finally caved and pulled into a hotel for the night (Marriott, just for the record). I took my three children into our room, tucked them in, and proceeded to pass out. Well, once the drunk dudes trying to get into our room at midnight left–that was some kind of fun–good thing I had the safety latch on the door–and the ability to swear like a sailor, even while semi awake and in mid stride to the door, to protect my children–anyway, I digress.

This is what I want to talk about. The next morning I took my children down to the breakfast area. I got my son Noah, a biscuit and some juice and helped him to sit down at a table. I noticed a woman looking at me. That’s pretty normal–let’s face it–I have an autistic son that is six foot, one inch tall and two African children…I get looks. I made sure the other two were settled in at the table with Noah and I made for the coffee.

The woman was there, pumping furiously away. I said “Oh god please tell me there is coffee!” Maybe it was the slight hysteria in my voice or the blood shot look to my eyes, but she replied that there was, just not decaf, but by the look of me, I needed stronger than that. I looked at her and said yeah, well, with all of those kids,  I needed some strong stuff..and really, where the hell did all those children come from and why do they keep calling me mom??

She froze for a minute and asked me if I were kidding– I said of course. She asked how many do you have? I said four, and I am not even sure how that happened. She asked well, how did it? I said well, I gave birth to the first two and said that’s enough of that, and then adopted the second set, straight from Africa. She said and how is that going? I said well..it’s a bit interesting,  I can tell you that. And I laughed out loud.  She asked how I dealt with all of this…and I said that I drank heavily and exercised frequently–just not at the same time.

And then this magical conversation happened. She talked to me about her childhood a bit, and I disclosed a bit of mine…It’s interesting to me how survivors seem to have this radar for each other…We laughed for a few minutes, but I could tell that if given more time we would have been weeping…

I hope she finds my blog. I told her about it. I want her to know that meeting her let me feel good about making friends again…the blow I was dealt in the friend department recently was really a sucker punch to my soul…this chance meeting…was just what I needed.

We ended our encounter with her hugging me and giving me a kiss….Thank you so, so much for that kiss…I needed that hug, that kiss..I was afraid to hug back as I felt as though I would shatter into a million pieces….so I just laughed and smiled….

We survivors….as she and I discussed…it doesn’t matter how old we are…the legacy we carry…it is always with us. But, as I told her, what we choose to do with it…this…this is where we draw our power, our strength. I said I use my unique background for writing and comedy…It’s so much better to laugh than to cry.

So, if you read this, and you are the woman I met at the hotel….drop me a line…and…to anybody else…any survivors out there…know you’re not alone…anybody can coast thru life. It takes somebody strong as hell to survive and thrive. Let’s thrive. Starting now.

Karma, baby

I guess the question of the day is : Do you believe in karma?? Here is the reason why. Well, without divulging too much. Recently, I had a friend betray me, which caused a whole series of events to unfold, including the loss of my job. I guess the argument could be made that this person was never a friend, or they would never have betrayed me. I suppose that’s true. And this is something that I am trying to wrap my head around. Especially since I already have trust issues–this isn’t going to help that any.

But karma. Here is my question. Does it exist? If so…am I being paid back for some cosmic injustice? Or, is the person that did the betrayal going to experience the karma?

I mean, some of the stuff I have had to go thru…well, it’s made me wonder if I wasn’t some sort of serial killer in a former life, and I’m making up for it in this one.

Anyway. Sigh. I’m trying to forgive the person/former friend that caused me such pain. I don’t know why this person did this. I don’t think I shall ever know.

I guess I will let karma sort it out.