I Miss My Racist Friend

Is that weird? He drove me nuts in the first place, even if you take away what he said to fully break up the friendship. Let me begin at the beginning.

We’ll call him Frank (after the wrong name another friend calls him). He’s my neighbor and I met him after he took in a chihuahua that had been terrorizing the neighborhood. I noticed that shortly after that, he took in another dog, a female. (I don’t poke my nose into other people’s business, EXCEPT when it pertains to animals since I do dog rescue.) I immediately thought, “Oh hell no, no babies…those dogs need to be fixed.” So I introduced myself and got to know him and the dogs, and asked if he wanted to get them fixed since I had contacts that could help do it at a lower fee.

After some time, I realized that he didn’t have electricity or water, and was living in his house (which he owns) that really ought to be condemned like a squatter. But, since he owns it and doesn’t cause any problems the city overlooks it, I guess. The rescue community raised funds to buy a propane heater that used my grill’s tank; he filled jugs of water from my hose; we got food together for him and the dogs; I gave him my camp stove to use so he would no longer have to eat cold food.

Over time, we became friendly and he’d come over to watch TV. I finally got him to apply for food stamps and go back to the VA for his health care. When he qualified for Social Security, we used my laptop to apply. I trusted him enough to have him as my dog sitter — he stayed in my home while I was away — what could he do? If anything went missing, I knew where he lived.

And while his views sometimes grated on me, it was mostly because he was ignorant — just an old Alabama redneck with little education. But he listened to me more often than not. He supported me (and watched my dogs) when I went to the Women’s March on Washington after Trump’s election. We didn’t always agree but it was a respectful disagreement and he’d listen to me even though I was an educated Yankee — one of “those people”. One of those “elites”. HAHAHAHAHA. Elites. Yes, I’m a college graduate and a Yankee but elite? I live in a low-income area of Alabama (he’s my neighbor, remember), am on disability so live under the poverty line. This hasn’t always been my life, but I’ve always been struggling financially even when I was working. I’m a liberal — more moderate than most — and he’s not as conservative as many down here on the Deep RED South. We were able to have discussions, and sometimes he’d even listen to my point of view and learn from me. I’d listen to his and …. well, I’d listen and learn how people can think the way they do.

See, living down here has been an education in and of itself. When you are a white latina, you pass. When you’re of Jewish ancestry (I’m ethnically Jewish, semi-culturally Jewish but definitely not raised religiously Jewish), you pass. When you’re pagan…you pass. When you’re LGBTQ and cis, you pass. And that passing means I wasn’t the recipient of a lot of racism, but got to hear a lot of it because I passed. I was “safe”. Yeah…. no. No, I’m not.

That white latina thing got you hung up, didn’t it? Allow me to explain. I’m Brasilian. Look at Giselle B√ľndchen, Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio (supermodels), Morena Baccarin: White. Sofia and Alice Braga, Rodrigo Santoro? Definitely more Latinx. Pele, Ronaldinho, Lazaro Ramos (actor): black. Brasilians are just like Americans — we’re a mix. Brasil is the largest country in S. America, was colonised just like the US was, with slaves imported and the native population either decimmated or assimilated. The colonizers were first Portuguese, but later waves were other Europeans — many being Germans (my family), some escaping World Wars I and II. I’m not going into the Nazis that ran to S. America to hide — that’s not my niche. I’m just explaining how so many South American Latinx can be as white as snow and still identify as Latinx. Especially those of us born to people from countries with higher populations of those European immigrants like Argentina, Brasil and….Uruguay. Chile falls in there as well. My point is, a lot of people don’t realize that I am a child of a Brasilian mother who was VERY MUCH a Latina, who raised me the same way and I identify as such. Brasilians, like Americans are mutts.

Frank started to help his family out by watching their dog when his sister’s husband fell ill and was in and out of the hospital. I’m not sure why he was so involved when his family didn’t lift a finger to help him. They left him in that crumbling house, hungry and cold…but I don’t know their side of the story only his and I’ve since come to realize that Frank tells stories. Anyway, for a few months, Frank hasn’t really come around since he’s been busy with his family. I’d see him from time to time and we’d chat but he definitely wasn’t hanging out as often as he used to. He wasn’t even around during the death of my beloved chihuahua Pix, a dog he also adored. I *kind of* missed him, mostly just realized the quiet? But my dogs missed their “Uncle Frank”. And I think hanging around his family changed Frank. That, and one of the other neighbors allowed him to tap into the electricity in the unused house next door, so he had TV. He had an industrial cable running next door to power a lamp, one of my ACs, a TV and a small fridge.

Frank had TV and was also hanging at his sister’s house with cable, therefore he was watching a lot of Fox News. So one day, I was walking my newly adopted senior chihuahua and saw Frank speaking to our other neighbor Ron. Pix used to love to visit Ron, my special little hospice chihuahua going over to sit with senior citizen Ron, who also had bad eyesight and a stroke and she’d snuggle into him. Ron wasn’t a great guy but Pix loved everyone. So I decided to bring Cocoa over and let her meet him, even though Cocoa is most definitely not the same type of dog. Just meet the neighbors, you know?

We go over, and Cocoa is sniffing around and Frank first calls her “cuckoo”. OK, no, you know her name. Cocoa is easy to remember. “Why are you being rude? Her name is Cocoa, like the chocolate.” “Hey cuckoo, c’mere cuckoo…” So, I realize Frank is in a mood. Forget him. I turn my attention to Ron. (This is right when the first wave of the “migrant caravan” was headed to the border in Mexico.) Frank tells me that his food stamps were cut by a large amount. I say, “We expected that, didn’t we? When you got your social security, we knew it they’d be cut.” He says, “Yeah but not as much as they did. It was Trump’s farm bill. The caravan, it’s the caravan.”

I did a double take from my dog to him and back again.

“The caravan? What does the caravan have to do with the farm bill and your food stamps?” I ask.
“You’re a Hillary person, and I’m a Trump person so you’re not going to get it,” he waves at me.
“I don’t understand, what has Hillary to do with anything?”
“The caravan is coming to take our stuff, all of it. They’re going to invade our neighborhoods and take our jobs. And the farm bill is going to pay for them to be able to live here. YOU want to live with all of THEM here?

*blinkblink* “First off Frank. Look around. Most of our neighbors are already from Guatemala, Honduras or Mexico.” (This is true. The dog that caused us to meet? Escaped from his Honduran next door neighbors that I have to keep rescuing neglected and abused animals from.) “Secondly, take WHAT from YOU? Your should-be condemned house? The nothing you have that came from ME? Your LATINA neighbor? Oh…that’s right. You forgot that, didn’t you? Because I’m white. I’m a first generation American and daughter to an IMMIGRANT dammit.”

He continues in the same vein and I just decide that I’ve had it. I take my dog, who he’s also insulted by refusing to call her by the right name and leave. I’m FURIOUS. I go back to my little duplex apartment across the street and try to decide what I’m going to do. I’ve gone out of my way for this man for three years. He wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for me, and now he’s just insulted ME, my mother, and everything I believe in — probably because he’s in a bad mood for some reason and has been taking in too much Fox News at his sister’s house. But he showed his true colors and I won’t let that in my home. I’ve dropped all the Trump believers and supporters from my life, and he’s insulted me TO MY FACE and also insulted my Family. Not to mention all the people that live next door and around him.

I take a few hours to cool off and speak to my duplex neighbor, a black woman. I’d needed to mess with my WiFi router anyway, and she uses my WiFi (we have an agreement, she parasites off my cable internet/I use her garbage can) so I told her what happened. She was just as mad, or maybe mad FOR me. So I tell her I’m going to change the WiFi password and NOT tell Frank (yep, he also used it with his free government phone). Racists don’t need to use my internet. I’ve done enough. I’ve HAD ENOUGH.

The next day, a text: “Is the internet fixed yet?” Then a phone call. Frank wants his Candy Crush or whatever. Then that evening, he knocks on the door. I go outside to talk to him. He asks if I fixed the internet yet. Yes, I tell him, I had. “I have my long sleeves on, can I come in and see the doggies and talk to you and get the password?”

“No. You can’t.”
“So I can’t use your internet anymore?”
“I’d rather you didn’t since I had to fix my router problems from all the viruses you keep getting (a lie to soften the blow that’s coming because dammit I just can’t stop being nice).”
“Oh. I’ll stop using those sites.”
“Look, Frank. Here’s the deal. You insulted me. You insulted my mother with your racist rant about the caravan, which was completely wrong, by the way. You really hurt me .” He backs off my porch. “I didn’t mean to insult you.” and scurries off across the street.

I haven’t seen him since. I mean, I’ve SEEN him — sitting on his porch with his dogs. Talking with Ron. Getting in and out of cars from family or other friends that take him to the store or an appointment. Doing the things for him that I used to do. (Which, to tell the truth, I don’t miss. I hope they’re letting him shower because I DO NOT MISS him sitting in my house unshowered, stinking of cigarettes. I offered my shower every time he was here.)

But my dogs miss their Uncle Frank. His dogs miss their Auntie Jax and tell me so every time they see me, because they are tied out front (not for long, they’re not outside dogs.) I kinda miss my friend, although…was he my friend or was he just some guy that took advantage of my kindness and compassion? He watched my dogs for me when I went out of town, gratis. Sure, he ate me out of house and home while he was here and got to watch my TV and Netflix and stuff and didn’t rob me blind. I trusted him to help me when I needed it. He had a key to my home. And then he showed me his true self and it hurt.

And yesterday, I took my little foster dog for a walk and saw him. He came out of his home when his sister drove up. She didn’t come out of her truck until I was well away from his house and he didn’t come down the walk. What, am I something to be afraid of? I even waved. Every other neighborhood “friend-feud” he’s had has resolved itself in days. It’s been since before Halloween. He missed Thanksgiving with me and now Christmas (I’ve always fed him, at least he got leftovers and a special birthday meal.)

I feel so odd. I miss my racist neighbor-friend. And when Game of Thrones comes back on in April, I’ll miss having him over to watch it, especially since he got so into it that he binged the entire series in the two weeks I was gone and he watched my dogs for me. And he borrowed an entire Drizzt DO’urden series of books and learned to love the Forgotten Realms, and started to love Valdemar as well. I’m willing to forgive if he’s willing to learn from his mistake but it seems that he’s not. And that makes me really sad, especially now that I hear Bandit barking outside. ūüė¶

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You’re absolutely correct. None of this is normal.

 

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He’s Gonna Blow Us All Up

Inspired by this blog post: https://infinite-coincidence.com/2017/01/22/donald-trump-is-going-to-snap-very-soon-and-here-is-how-i-know/

 

I’ve said before — and I know it’s not the most popular thought or opinion but … it’s entirely possible that the best thing for THE PLANET is for the human race to extinguish itself. We’ve had millions of years to get it right, and we keep screwing up. Look at what’s happening here. We thought we’d moved past so much of this.

The planet, Earth, will survive even a nuclear disaster. The most intense periods of growth come after devastating fires. It’ll take years, more time than any of us can outlive in the best bunkers. And another species may be the ones that become the dominant species on Earth. Maybe cetaceans (dolphins and whales). They have the largest mammalian brains and DO NOT WAR with other species or even within their own species. They have language, and culture within pods. Or the cockroaches are waiting, biding their time….

The EARTH will survive us.

And if that scenario is too doom-and-gloom — my ideal society is the one shown in Star Trek, where humanity is risen above petty wars over religion and race and doesn’t even use money anymore. No, we reach for the stars and explore the universe. But remember what it took to get there? A NUCLEAR CATACLYSMIC WAR. The survivors built a warp-capable ship from the remnants of a nuclear missile and got the attention of Vulcan’s passing by the rock full of barely-literate monkeys. (I know it’s science fiction but we have iPads now. Star Trek had ’em first. Roddenberry was truly before his time and that society is utter utopia, truly, for people that think science AND art AND religion AND humanities can all coexist without killing each other.)

Doesn’t mean I’m going to sit back and let it happen but the simple truth of the matter is: we’ve been given our chance, over and over and over for millennia and the goddamned neanderdouches keep dragging us back into the caves.

Image result for star trek roddenberry

To “Beckywiththepinkhat” from another Becky with a pink hat

There are many viral posts making the rounds from WOC (women of color) or indigenous women that were at the Women’s March on Washington or other cities this past weekend. These posts are admonishments to the white women that have just now decided to rise up and fight for rights that WOC (I am going to use WOC in this post to include all races EXCEPT white for reasons of expediency) have been fighting for generations. Two of these posts I will link here as examples:

https://twitter.com/sydnerain/status/823378710833270786

 

As a white woman, albeit a Latina (Brasilian) of Jewish descent, it’s hard to read those words. My first reaction is, “Hey!¬†I didn’t do that to you! I am intersectional with my feminism.¬†I¬†am a first generation American.¬†MY¬†ancestors didn’t oppress anyone – they were the ones oppressed as German/Russian Jews!” etc. And yes…I have been activist in some form or another for most of my life but not quite as activist as I SHOULD have been especially in light of what has been happening in this country. I was focused on other things, what I deemed important to me at the time (in my case, pit bull advocacy and animal welfare. Still important but the human animal is deserving of compassion too — and…I almost went off on a tangent. Nope. Stay focused Jax.)

Lakeshia and Hokte, and others saying the same — I want you to know that I AM LISTENING. WE ARE LISTENING.

Some of us white women are tardy to the party … but we are here now. Educate us.

I know you are frustrated with us; that it took us SO LONG to get here. But please, welcome us now that we’re here. Many of us are trying, please realize that. We’re going to flounder and flub and make stupid mistakes because for many, ¬†it’s our first time as activists. ¬†Educate us. Treat us like the newbies we are — be gentle. We are not used to being trod upon. I know…special little snowflakes are we, we white women of privilege. But that’s the thing here — so many of us (not me specifically) ARE coming from a place of privilege and have JUST NOW realized that it’s all being threatened and we are TERRIFIED and don’t know what to do. We don’t know how to act. I’m willing to bet that many of the women that marched on Washington had never marched before, had never traveled out of their own state or interacted with people outside their own demographic. It may not seem like a lot to you — ¬†WOC who are activists and experienced in fighting for their rights but for some of the women I traveled with from Alabama — it was a GIANT leap of courage to leave their tiny ¬†towns and interact with folks so far from their usual perspective. Acknowledge that.

I know you’ve been angry and oppressed and repressed for most of your lives and look upon so many suburban housewives with their silly pink hats with disdain and think, “what took you so damned long?” I don’t blame you for wanting to call us out. But at the same time, we ARE here NOW. So after admonishing us for being clueless or rude or just plain ignorant — maybe take a moment to also thank us for making the attempt to cross a cultural bridge that has stood for so long and that for many has been more of a wall than a bridge. Many “Beckys” DON’T understand. But they will now. Or maybe it’ll take another week or a month or a year but the fact that so many “Beckys” showed up is a step in the right direction. Acknowledge that.

If you, and we, want to work together then your admonishments need to be followed up with education on HOW we can be better as women. Just women. Not WOC or indigenous or white women or Jewish women or Muslim women or Christian women or how about we include the men of all kinds that joined us in the marches.

We were late. We were ignorant and rude and faltered and didn’t act correctly. But we’re here now and WE ARE LISTENING. We are trying. Help us help ourselves, together.

This is me: My name is Jackie (not Becky). I am a white latina jewish pagan buddhist LGBTQ disabled woman. And I wore a pink pussyhat. And I was there in DC. And I’m pretty sure I wasn’t rude to anyone and if I was: I’m sorry. But it had nothing to do with your skin color or culture, it had to do with the pain I was in and my body breaking down. At that point, you could have been Rutger Hauer *swoon* and I’d have barked at you to get out of my way.

Image may contain: 1 person, eyeglasses and closeup

 

 

PSYCH!

JUST when you thought 2017 was going to try and make up for the shitstain that 2016 was….the last coupla days happened. Some teenagers in Chicago tortured a disabled person chanting ethnic slurs and “Fuck Trump” (I’m leaving their color out of it – it doesn’t matter – it’s a hate crime no matter what color THEIR skin is). A mass shooting in a Florida airport today. It’s supposed to snow/sleet/ice/RAGNAROK in Alabama so the whole state is in a frenzy, the schools and banks and everything closed and I walked outside to….nothing.¬†
The PEOTUS (which is so close to piteous it really should be spelled that way) is Twitterbating ¬†about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ratings on TV rather than taking intelligence briefings. The GOP congress has made its first attempt to repeal the ACA without a replacement. Oh, and defunding Planned Parenthood is next. They only scrapped their plan to gut the independent ethics committee after a bajillion constituents made a lot of noise about not — not the Twit-in-charge as he’d like you to believe. And the US is still thisclose to being annexed by Russia.
Yeah. Ain’t it a great day to be alive. Actually, yes it is. You’re here. You’re breathing. You’re feeling the feelings you’re feeling. You mad? You should be. You sad? You should be. You think the whole world’s gone crazy? You’re right. This is all a fucking dungheap of insane douchebaggery, I can’t even come up with any more words to try and explain it anymore. It’s like the Universe took a sharp left turn at Albuquerque and went to some alternate dimension filled with negative images of ¬†decent people where our leaders should be.
So what do we that are still sane, rational (we think), compassionate, caring and hopeful (we hope) do?
Hell if I know. I’m asking the questions here, don’t look to me for answers. All I know is that I’m going to continue breathing, working through my feelings and trying to turn those destructive forces into productive actions. I’m angry at what is happening — but whining about it isn’t going to do anything. Writing to my congresscritters won’t either since they’re all GOP and eating the cilia in Trump’s large intestine right now. (I’ve tried. The response was regurgitated Trumpshit. That’s how I know they live in his bowels.) So I’ll have to find other ways to make my voice heard or at least be thorn in the side of the “Make American Terrible” crowd.

You Kept Me Here For This?

Two years ago, I attempted suicide. Failed, spectacularly (unless this is all a dream upon my death bed, which would explain A LOT and if so, I’m truly sorry to all that are experiencing the horrors of my subconscious) and the entire saga of my hospitalization and subsequent recovery is available publicly on my Facebook starting here:¬†https://www.facebook.com/notes/jackie-beltaine/anatomy-of-a-nervous-breakdown/10153338627833098 because I believe that mental illness is not something to hide and if my story helps one person, then it’s worth any potential embarassment.

Part of why I did it is because I didn’t want to live the way I’m living now: in poverty, struggling to survive on SS disability; with a chronic pain condition that keeps me from enjoying what little I *can* do and now with our current political climate it seems as if things are only going to get worse for people like me.

I posted this earlier to my Facebook, along with the link to the New York Times article referencing Trump’s EPA pick.

capture

I’ve kind of gotten to the “Acceptance” stage of grief, if grieving is what I am doing. I guess I am. I’m grieving the end of life as I’ve known it, the end of my country, potentially the end of the world since Trumpelthinskin has gone against all diplomatic advice and practices in his interactions with heads of state of other countries. It’s just…baffling. I’m no longer surprised, just resigned that each new day will bring some new ridiculous tweet or appointment.

And I have to wonder…why did the Universe spit me back out when I tried to end things on my terms? For this? Had I not suffered enough? Did I¬†have to TRULY suffer first?

I tell you what — should it come to an actual war, I shall sit outside and watch the bombs fall. I’m too old, tired and in pain to bother with my old “I’ll never give up, fight to survive” bullshit. I’ll hug my dogs close, shut my eyes and let the blast take us.

SMH. And here I keep fighting off the cockroaches. I should let them have my house. They’re gonna end up inheriting the entire world anyway.

I’m So Tired

I was chatting with a friend, and she asked how I was. “Meh”, was my reply. “What’s ‘meh’?”

Meh. Meh is – I’m tired. So tired of fighting for peace (it’s not an oxymoron), and freedom, and the same rights that others have, and now I’ll have to fight just to survive. I’m tired. For over 20 years, I was on the front lines of bringing American paganism to the public eye. Taking it “out of the broom closet” and helping to educate the general public; showing that we’re not scary, evil, devil-worshipping freaks; that we’re just your neighbors with a different religious view. Some of that time was spent dispelling the views that all Witches are Wicca, that Wicca stands for all Pagans, and trying to live my life as a mother and wife and just plain human being while still working to stay safe from the very people I was trying to educate because crazies exist and I had a young child to protect.

Meh. Meh is – I’m terrified. The incoming administration is specifically tailoring itself to dismantle everything our country once stood for. Everything we’ve worked for, everything we thought we’d outgrown or moved past – tossed out like a quick Tweet from the fat fingers of the Orange One himself at 3 am. I don’t need to go into everything Trump is doing – many others have covered it better than I – but it’s utterly horrifying to wake up each day and see another way in which the United States of America is being dismantled before he’s even taken office. And what’s worse is that even should the Electoral College prove faithless and decide to elect Hillary Clinton: the damage is done. Trump’s candidacy has riled up a base of support so vile, loud and obviously willing to harm their fellow citizenry that a civil war is sure to break out. Pence? A Pence Presidency is sure to be as bad if not worse, as he actually BELIEVES everything he says. Trump is ignorant and insane but Pence isn’t. Pence is, to borrow a line from “Serenity”:¬†“Because he’s a believer. He’s intelligent, methodical and devout in his belief that {…}¬†is the right thing to do.”

Either way, our entire way of life is over. The new “normal” is waking up and seeing what disgusting thing ThePutz has tried to put over on the American people. Watching as fascism creeps into our democracy and some¬†of the country cheer, some cry and yell and declare “never again” and some don’t seem to care either way. Hate crimes have risen since the election, and it’s not going to get better. It’s going to get worse. I’d like to say that it’s all going to be OK — but it’s not. No matter what happens, it’s not going to be OK, not for a long long time. Scholars will analyze this election and it’s ramifications for years to come; it’s going to rank up there with the rise to power of all those other awful people we learned about in school. And we’re going to be the ones LIVING with the fallout.

Meh. Meh is that fallout. Meh is the memory of a dream I had way back when I was 15 or so. A vision I thought was just due to all the nuclear bomb drills we had to do because it was the 1980’s and we were still in the the throes of the Cold War with the then-USSR and there was a very real fear of an actual nuclear war and we had to know how to survive it and live after the radiation burned out. We had movies and bomb shelters and I thought this dream was just my subconscious working out the fear of all that. But now I wonder if it’s another of those prophetic dreams of mine that come true (as far too many have. I hate that. I hate more that I have no knowledge of WHEN). But at this point – I’m too old, broken and tired to do anything more than stand outside and watch as the rockets come overhead if that’s what is to come.

Every single moment of every day is a chance to say: THIS IS NOT OK. THIS IS NOT NORMAL. THIS IS NOT HOW IT WORKS. Jailing people or revoking citizenship for burning the US Flag is a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Jailing women for a miscarriage is a violation of human rights. A Tweet storm by the President Elect decrying his win was rigged is NOT SANE. Wanting to hire the General that was fired for selling state secrets as Secretary of State is NOT NORMAL.

This is not OK. Not one bit.

It’s all so very “Meh”.

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