Saturday, June 29, 2019

A Glimpse of White Privilege


Good Morning, friends.  Because I've been so busy writing for work, my blog has been neglected.  I figured it was time to dust off the cobwebs and give it some tender loving care.  And how better than to take on the very politically and emotionally charged topic of white privilege? You know me, always ready to delve into the deep waters.

The truth is that I have stayed clear of politics on this blog, quite purposely. This blog is about Skiffdom and my thoughts while living in our chaos.  That fact has not changed; this is not a political blog.  This very Skiff experience led me to a deep understanding of what white privilege is and how my family benefits from it.

I have to be honest. I used to scoff at the idea of white privilege. It wasn't that I was purposely racist. I just looked at my life and couldn't understand how anyone would consider it privileged. I was raised in poverty, where we didn't always know where our next meal would come from. My Dad worked harder than anyone I have ever met, but with a family of ten, there just wasn't enough to go around. Our pastor would often show up at our house with groceries because he knew we needed them, even if we didn't talk about it.

 Our clothes were second-hand hand-me-downs, shoes were worn-out,  and the furniture was given to us. This is not a complaint. Our house was always full of people, yet my parents somehow managed to turn a widow's mite into enough to feed whoever was there. They gave to others even out of our need. But I would not ever apply the word privileged to my childhood.

I was bullied in school because I was always different from those around me.  My mom once said I was born old. I just came into the world older than my years. My friends were in their late twenties and thirties when I was still a teenager.  I was the girl that stayed after class to pick up all the spitballs the rest of the class had spat at me while the teacher was in the hallway, the girl who matured physically too young, the one who spent her time reading a book instead of playing with the other kids. 

 I definitely wasn't privileged.  My whiteness didn't stop the bullies, keep food on the table, or stop me from being abused by others. It didn't keep me safe or warm or make me feel secure. How is that privilege, I wondered?

Once married, my whiteness didn't protect me from having kids with autism, it didn't make my marriage a good one, and it didn't keep the mental illnesses from wreaking havoc in my children's and my husband's brains. It didn't keep food on our table, a roof over our heads, our house heated, or any number of other things that we lost or went without. In fact, my experience was much more like that of many of my black friends than that of my white friends.  So, where was my privilege?

My friends, I apologize from the depths of my soul. I was so blind to the privilege until an experience in December tore the blinders from my eyes in a most dramatic and heart-wrenching fashion. Is there any other way in Skiffdom? LOL

It was a typical day in Skiffdom.  I was picking the twins up from one of their last high school days before Christmas break when my phone began to blow up. I couldn't answer one call before another number was beeping in. When I finally could pick up without my phone disconnecting, it was a police officer. He told me there had been an incident with my youngest son at the bank two blocks from our house. My son was fine. How long would it take me to get there?  I was at the high school less than a mile from my house and had been gone less than 15 minutes. When I left, everything was fine. What could have happened in that short amount of time? Why was my son at the bank? He didn't answer my questions. He just told me to get there as quickly as possible.

 I got the story from the police and my older son later on. It seems in the 15 minutes I was gone, he and his oldest brother had gotten into an argument about who had to bring out the dog. My youngest, who was closing in on a manic episode, just snapped. He ran out of the house barefoot in a total meltdown and into the bank a block from our house, ranting and waving his pocket knife around (why I don't know, he has no memory of doing any of this, so I can't get answers from him).

After the relief that he was safe, I ran over to my son and hugged him; while hugging him, my first thought was, "Thank God he isn't black, or someone would have shot him for sure." At that instant, my blinders fell away, and I completely understood white privilege. White privilege isn't that my life has been easy. It isn't that I have money or even opportunity. White privilege is the fact that my mentally ill, autistic son went into a bank, with a small pocket knife, in a meltdown and came out alive. White privilege is that underneath all my excuses and reasoning, in a moment when my soul was stripped bare, I knew that the only reason he was sitting on that curb and not in an ambulance or a body bag was that he had white skin.

This is Texas. I can guarantee you any number of people in that bank were armed, besides the bank security and the police. And I could hug my son and get him the mental help he needed.  I knew my good friend, who has two autistic boys who are more severe than my son, would almost certainly have been unable to do the same had it been one of her boys in the same situation. The difference would only have been the color of their skin. That breaks me in ways I can't even begin to put into words.

This is how broken our society is. This is white privilege. Now that I see it, I will do everything in my power to make sure it changes.  To my friends of color, I can only beg your forgiveness for my years of blind ignorance. I am so sorry.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

A Glimpse of Vanilla


Hello, my friends.  I'm back!! A lot has happened over the past year (thus sporadic posting). I've written and released a novel and a children's book. I'm writing a second novel and have another children's book in the final stages of illustration and editing. There have also been a lot of personal mountains to climb, which I will address in future posts. But in my first post back, I have something slightly more scandalous on my mind.  Here is your warning; things are about to get hilariously hot and spicy. So if you are easily embarrassed or don't want to laugh out loud in the office, stop reading now!

 I like peppermint ice cream. I love peppermint ice cream smothered in hot fudge, with whipped cream and a cherry on top. And hell yes, I want sprinkles too!! The more whipped cream, hot fudge, cherries, and sprinkles, the better. I'll sit down and devour every sinful bite, savoring each lick of the spoon. Yes, I love a good sundae.

But there are days when I only want a good, old-fashioned vanilla cone, just one scoop of vanilla on a plain Jane sugar cone. No, I don't want a waffle cone. No, I don't want to mess with sprinkles. No, I don't want a second scoop of your hand-made horchata cinnamon flavor. Yes, I do know that there are 3.5 million flavor combinations available. But damn it, I just want a simple, no fuss, no muss, vanilla ice cream cone.

I'm like this with a lot of things. Some days I just want a plain sugar cookie or a good old-fashioned McDonald's cheeseburger. Sometimes I want to wear my old comfortable tennis shoes with my most comfortable pair of worn-out jeans. And sometimes I like plain, vanilla, no-frills sex! There I said it. Yes, I know toys are fun. Swinging from the ceiling in chains and leather is exciting. But some days, I don't want the hassle. Some days I'm tired, and I want comfort above adventure. And hell, some days I just want to close my eyes, think of the Queen and get it over with (and I'm not even British).

I feel like, as a culture, we have decided that everything in life needs to be a unique and exciting experience. We even want our coffee to be a unicorn (looking at you, Starbucks Unicorn Frap). Every day has to be a holiday and every holiday has to be an over-the-top celebration.

When I was a kid, we wore green on St Patrick's day and ate corned beef. That's it. There were no leprechaun traps, green milk-covered Lucky Charms, or piles of golden chocolate coins to be found at the end of a glitter-dusted rainbow. You wore green so that you didn't get pinched and maybe, if lucky, colored a four-leaf clover color-by-number worksheet at school. Then you went home—The End. Mom was not up until four in the morning, hanging rainbows, setting leprechaun traps, or coloring your milk green. And that was okay because you enjoyed not getting pinched and color-by-number worksheets. But I digress.

I am blessed to run an online group for women where we talk about sex and all kinds of scandalous things. The group was started by a dear friend, Emily Dixon, after she wrote a revolutionary book, Scandalous: Things Good Christian Girls Don't Talk About -But Probably Should (you can find the book 
here). If you are a woman and want an incredible, supportive group of hundreds of women, you should check us out on Facebook (sorry, guys, this is a women-only group). However, the group can get pretty Scandalous at times. So be forewarned.

 I bring this up because I am fortunate enough to interact with hundreds of women daily. And I have noticed that plain Jane vanilla sex is no longer considered okay. Every sexual encounter should be a combination of the Kama Sutra and a porn movie.

I was lucky enough to be the mother of young children before this was a thing. I mean, sure, my husband and I had some exciting sex. But we didn't have a fully outfitted BDSM dungeon in our basement.  I didn't have to worry about my anal beads and our babies' amber teething beads getting mixed up (full disclosure: my kids didn't have teething beads either. Nope, it was good, old-fashioned, BPA-loaded plastic teething rings for them). I wasn't rushing to take down the sex swing to hang the Johnny Jumper.

More than swinging from the ceiling, I remember falling into bed dead, exhausted from a day of keeping those tiny humans alive and bathed.  We had sex (obviously, we have five kids), and we even had some excellent, hot and heavy, toys-included sex. But we also enjoyed a lot of plain vanilla sex because that was all we had the energy for. Because sometimes it's about the comfort, not the thrill.  Sometimes you are just in the mood to have a quick vanilla ice cream cone. And that is okay! It's normal. It's even healthy. Not every day is Christmas; that's what makes Christmas special.
Also, if you need help keeping those anal beads and the teething beads organized, this could be for you:

I'm here to help.  Much love, Kristine

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