Friday, September 23, 2016

Breaking My Silence

I have been relatively quiet on social media regarding this whole topic, and the reason why is mainly because I see a lot of what appears to be both sides—because pretty much everyone seems very divided—talking at each other without anyone attempting to understand, and much of what I read is full of anger, stereotyping—of minorities, of cops, of white people— and very little reasoning.  And of course I think one “side” is more right than the other, because we all do to some extent, and those of us who try to see things from both perspectives maybe feel that chiming in is unproductive, or exhausting—I know when I scroll down my Facebook newsfeed after yet another incident, and its filled with posts full of hatred, blaming, and name-calling, I feel hopeless and heartbroken, and I try to distract myself (quite easily) with the business of life.

But here’s the thing: 

As the wife of a black man, as the mother of children of color, I feel I can no longer remain silent on this issue.  I feel it is my social responsibility to speak up.  As someone who largely believes in the vast goodness of law enforcement officers, and has utmost respect for our police and our military, I feel my duty is to try and speak to my fellow white friends, many of whom I think have the opinions that they do because someone they love is a police officer, and they are hurt when they see their husband’s, wife’s, brother’s, son’s, cousin’s, WHOEVER’s profession villainized.  Please believe me when I say, to most of you, I think I understand why you see things the way you do.  (Now I’m talking about those of my friends who see things differently than I do, but who are attempting to share their beliefs respectfully—not anyone who blatantly posts racist or hateful messages or comments online—if you are someone who is unable to engage in conversation about this matter without resulting to ignorant name calling and racism, then you are obviously one of the main parts of this problem, and I pray that God changes your heart).

But for the rest of you, many of you around my age:  We grew up, a lot of us, thinking that we had gotten past racism.  If you are white, like I am, you most likely never experienced direct racism yourself, and you might not have witnessed it happening around you—you read about it in a history book.  If you had parents who raised you decently, you treated people of all colors with respect.  You may have claimed that color didn’t matter to you, or you didn’t see race (although, I’m guessing most of your friends are white—but that’s probably not your fault.  We’re socialized into a world that teaches us to make friends and relationships based on cultural similarities, and reaching across racial lines to do this is sometimes challenging).  Often, behind closed doors, if your parents are around the age of my parents, and you grew up in a particular part of this country, some of the older members of your family may have aired different views about race—hopefully those comments bothered you, but you probably just shrugged it off as, well, that’s grandma.  Or Uncle Joe.  (S)he grew up believing such and such because of etc., and you didn’t let it change the way you felt about her/him, because you knew (s)he was basically a good person.

We elected a biracial president—I am proud that he identifies as black, I am also proud that he claims a biracial identity—what an example for my girls!  We, most of us white people, had no reason to think that racism was a major problem.  We’d come so far, right?  If the most powerful man in the world is not a white man, doesn’t that prove we’ve gotten past all this?

I think, deep down, most of you suspected the answer was no.  It might be in the jokes you hear sometimes, or the occasional news stories (I’m talking before the ones that have taken over the media now).  It may be in the views expressed from time to time by an acquaintance that bothered you just a little.  But I think the vast majority of us really thought, things are a lot better than they used to be.  They’ll continue to get better.  And even when we had those hints that things weren’t any better—maybe we didn’t want to think about it, because we knew we weren’t blatant racists, so why should we shoulder the guilt?  As a white male classmate of mine said once, “I don’t want to be looked at and seen as a symbol of oppression.”  And I get that.

And now, things are clearly coming to a head, and they’re anything but better.  They seem worse than they did, even five years ago.  I am, quite honestly, not sure how to talk to my girls about it.  This is not the kind of world I wanted them to grow up in.  I pray every day that we can effect social change before they get old enough to experience the kind of monstrous racism that is once again consuming our society.

It starts with the little things—I want those of you who’ve never had to think about this to consider something—a couple months ago, my husband, my girls, and I were pulled over. I had forgotten to renew my tags and it was a couple days past the expiration day for renewal.  The officer who stopped us was polite, professional, and very friendly.  He let us off with a warning.  Here’s the thing, though:  I was driving, and when we were pulled over?  My husband got asked for his ID also.
There is literally no other reason for that to happen than my husband’s skin color.  In a routine traffic stop, whenever I have been riding with a white girlfriend, my brothers, anyone else in the passenger seat—no ID required.  Driving While Black is a real thing.  So, apparently, is riding in the passenger seat.

This very friendly man who I believe has a good heart and became a cop to serve and protect—he automatically asked for my husband’s ID.  It’s probably been his experience that in pulling people over, a higher number of minorities in routine traffic stops get arrested for drug charges or outstanding warrants.  Maybe he’s even trained to do that, to ask for IDs of non-white passengers.  I surely hope not.

Now some of you may be thinking that’s not a big deal.  Maybe it’s not—my husband hadn’t done anything wrong, and he was polite and compliant, so the situation didn’t escalate.  But the underlying assumption that my husband could be doing something wrong, simply based on the fact that he is black, is also, I think, the problematic assumption shared by the many officers in these horrible videos that leads them to, perhaps, jump to conclusions in situations in which ultimately, unarmed black men are tragically gunned down.  I haven’t watched many of these videos—I don’t have the stomach for it.  I also believe the officers are innocent until proven guilty.

But what about the wives and children of those who, it seems, didn’t get a chance to be presumed innocent until proven guilty?  Have those of you who constantly jump to the defense of the accused officers in these videos really taken the time to think about that?  Have you ever lost a parent?  Or a child?  I’ve buried one of each, and it is the most horrible feeling on this planet.  The widows of these black men, those parents and children of the deceased, are victims of catastrophe, regardless of the outcome of the court case, and yet they deal with turning on the TV or opening up a browser and seeing thousands or maybe millions of people jumping to the defense of those who must (or at the very least, should) stand trial to answer for the horrible tragedy that has occurred. 
And then it happens again the next week.

And when peaceful protests and a Black Lives Matter movement or kneeling during the national anthem produces no change, just more angry responses and more attempts of justification for the accused and more blaming the victims—what do we expect to happen?  Seriously?
Violence doesn’t justify violence.  But Black Lives DO Matter!

Let me put it another way: 

My husband’s life matters.

His brothers’ lives matter.  His cousins’ lives matter.

My husband and I, our children’s lives matter!

And that doesn’t mean that your life doesn’t.  It doesn’t mean police lives don’t matter.  Let me say it again:  I have the utmost respect for law enforcement.  I have relied on and reached out to them multiple times throughout my life, as has my husband:  car accidents, medical emergencies, times when they stopped what they were doing just to be good citizens.  I know how essential our police are, and I hate to see the entire profession disrespected or cast as villains.

But justice needs to be served.  And those of us who have white privilege need not sound off and get in the way of that process.

Don’t think white privilege exists?

When was the last time you were asked for your ID in the passenger seat?

Can you leave a poor tip in a restaurant, or be loudly obnoxious with a group of friends in a public place, or come to a meeting late, and not worry about any of these things being chalked up to your racial background?

Some people argue that unarmed white citizens are shot by police also, and the media is trying to create a race war.  It’s true that there are unfortunate and accidental deaths of people of all colors by the hands of police—but the shooting of black men is disproportionate to those of other demographic groups.  Why can’t we all just recognize this, and try to do something about it?

We’d rather spend our time coming up with hashtags that indicate other lives matter, when the Black Lives Matter movement never tried to insinuate that our lives don’t.

We’d rather fly into outrage over the lack of respect of football players who won’t stand for the National Anthem.  Is that disrespectful?  Sure.  But do black people feel respected, or even safe, in their own country?  Don’t they have the right to feel that way?

I will always stand for the National Anthem.  I thought the protests on 9/11 were in poor taste.  My father was in the military and would have given his life if it was required.  My uncle—my mom’s only brother, my grandparents’ only son—died fighting in Vietnam.  His sacrifice was given for our freedoms.  So I will always stand for our flag.

But more important than that symbol, to me, is standing with our black brothers and sisters now.  And I respect their right to protest the flag.  That was one of the freedoms my uncle died for.  I love watching football with my husband, but I hope that if nothing comes of the kneeling, that they go on strike altogether.  Maybe if the NFL was shut down, white people would finally pay attention.  Does it have to inconvenience your life before you recognize that a problem does exist here?

Let me close with this.  When I told one of my family members about my now husband, then boyfriend, she began to cry.  Not because she didn’t like him, she didn’t even know him.  She looked at me, tears in her eyes, and explained that the world would see me differently.

I knew that then, and I know that now.

My response to her was that the love we shared was worth the cost of lowered opinions of me by those who had such shallow conceptions of what love should look like.  It was none of their business.  And what the hell should I care—if someone has such a backwards, hateful, close-minded view of humanity, I could care less what they think of me.

I realize in writing this post, I might lose some friends.  I’d like to say I hope not—I hope you are at least open to hearing what I am saying.  More than that, be brave enough to change your opinion.  To realize that you can respect law enforcement and this country and still want black people to be treated equally.  We need large scale social change.  The entire system is designed for minorities to fail—social reproductive theory posits that schools cater to white, middle class ways of knowing, and that from the very start, many students from other backgrounds must learn to survive in a school culture that is different from their home life—and not all of these home lives are bad, but many of them value behaviors and knowledge that aren’t recognized as important in academic life.  Thus, the cards are stacked against many of our poor black students from the beginning, since education is the viable way out of poverty.  Poor schools in heavily populated minority areas also suffer from fewer resources and less qualified teachers.  Systemic poverty riddles many communities of color, and intergenerational poverty leads to more children dropping out of school and turning to the streets—which reinforces police assumptions that any person of color is more likely than a white person to be guilty of something.

The system needs to change.

And I don’t know how to do that, but I know how to start:  Examine your own heart.

So many of my friends are Christians, and yet I’m shocked by how they continually pass judgment on victims—is that what Jesus would have done?

Love your neighbor—your black neighbors.  Your white neighbors.  Your military and police neighbors.

But please recognize—we are not talking isolated incidents.  There is a problem here.  Please, if you’re not trying to be part of the solution—well, I think you know what you’re part of.

My children deserve better than this. 

Our children deserve better than this.
                

Monday, August 10, 2015

24

My apologies for the long hiatus.  This thing called the doc program began, and since then, well, I've found my time for writing endeavors limited, to say the least.

And then this other thing, a full-time summer semester with a full-time job in restaurant management happened, and I found that not only did I have no time for writing, I had no time for anything.

But classes are over now, and I have a special reason for writing today.

Some of you may know that this current pregnancy is actually my third, not my second.  Eight years ago, Rashieme and I lost our middle daughter, Jasmine Celine, to stillbirth.

I was 24 weeks pregnant.

This week, I am 24 weeks pregnant with Shaylin Meadow McFadden.

Shaylin means gift, and she truly lives up to her namesake.  Every day she flips around, kicks me, and reminds me that she is growing and alive.  She only sits still when I am working (and sometimes, not even then!).  All other hours of the day, in moments when I find time to sit or lay down, she is practicing gymnastics, reassuring me that not only is she still thriving--but that she is going to be a PROBLEM when she makes her entrance!

We could not be more happy or excited.

A pregnancy after a loss is still a bittersweet time, though.  It's been years, and I've found myself reliving painful memories.  Jasmine rarely moved, at least not to the point where I could feel it.  Strangers ask is this my first, and I usually answer, no, my second, even though that's not true.

I remember the day they told me her heart stopped beating.  I remember being shocked, even though I'd been told how this was going to end.

I remember the only day I held her.  It was her birthday, Friday the 13th.  That's a day I'm not a fan of, but not for the silly superstitious reasons.  We wrapped her in a soft pink blanket, the only thing I ever bought for her, and we baptized her, and said our goodbyes.

That experience isn't one I talk about or even write about a lot, because it's awkward for other people.  They don't know how to respond.  I respect that, and also, there is no use living in the past.

But Jasmine is also an important part of who I am.  She has strengthened my faith, and shown me how precious life and motherhood are.  She's made me appreciate even the irritating inconveniences of pregnancy.

God is constantly showing me how He hasn't forgotten Jasmine.  We found out, on all days, that we were having another girl on Jasmine's birthday.  I went to her grave that morning and brought her flowers and sat and spent some time missing her and thinking about her and talking to her.  I'd felt Shaylin kick before, but that morning, while I sat next to Jasmine's grave, was the first time I was sure it was more than fluttering.  It was like she was talking to her sister, too.  That afternoon, Rashieme, Kaliah, and I went for the ultrasound and found that we are being blessed with another daughter.

Shaylin will never take the place of Jasmine.  There's no way to know how our lives would be different if Kaliah's eight year old sister were with us now.  I wonder if she would like video games and Pokemon like Kaliah, or if she would be into cheer and gymnastics like I was, or something all together different.  I wonder if they would get along, Kaliah and Jasmine, or if they'd constantly argue like my brothers and I did.  Kaliah is blessed to finally have a sister here with her, but a two year age difference and a ten year gap are not the same.

Everything happens for a reason though, and I don't say that as a trite, one size fits all, look at the glass half-full mentality.  I say it because I believe God is in charge, and that nothing that has happened to us has been outside His control.  I believe Jasmine is in heaven, and I know--know--that I will finally meet her and see her smile one day.

So as I reach the point in this pregnancy where my other one ended, I am nothing but thankful.  Thankful for the new life I have inside me; thankful for my new life in Jesus Christ, and thankful for the new life I will one day share with all my daughters, and, God willing, maybe a son, too.


Pregnant with Shaylin Meadow McFadden.  Picture taken at 22 weeks, on my husband and I's anniversary.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Santa Clause Clause...

So when you become a parent, there's no contract that you sign, at least, not if you're giving birth biologically.  It's just bam... nine months and a whole lot of pushing and pain later, and, yeah, you're a parent.  No paperwork required.  (Well, minimum paper work required).

But if there was some sort of contract or agreement that you had to sign off on, I wonder what the Santa Clause Clause would state.  What advice it would offer, or what guidelines it would give for handling the whole Santa Clause ordeal.  Our daughter is nine now... old enough that she is questioning the whole Santa thing.  But they don't tell you in childbirth or parenting classes what to do nine years down the road.  Out at dinner a few weeks back, our daughter asked us point blank whether or not Santa exists.  My husband and I exchanged looks, giving each other the non-verbal go ahead.  The time had I arrived.

"Kaliah," Rashieme began.  And he proceeded to explain to her that Santa Clause is a made-up tradition and not a reality. 

She had to have seen this coming.  A few years ago, stuck in the conundrum of what to do in light of the fact that my daughter had been very well behaved all year, and yet had asked for a ridiculous amount of expensive gifts that were definitely beyond my capabilities to provide, I took an innovative approach in trying to balance her belief in Santa with her trust in his judgment of her excellent behavior, and to resolve that with the fact that she would not be getting everything she requested on her wish list, even though she had definitely been good, and not naughty.  I told her that Santa leaves a bill.  The bill, which was paid by mom, was used to pay the elves, and the more on the Christmas list, the higher the bill.  Therefore, even if one was very good all year, one needed to be reasonable in requesting gifts, so that mom wouldn't get stuck with a  ridiculous bill.

Certainly this doesn't go with what all else she's learned about Santa in the movies and books and in school and what not.  But she took the information in in stride and never questioned me on it.

Also, all parents generally consider their kids pretty smart, and I'm not an exception.  But even admitting my bias, my daughter scores in the top of her class when it comes to reading and math, and she's often praised for thinking outside the box and reasoning well.  So, based on the fact that she's NINE, and had begun deliberating the possibilities of one man getting around the whole entire world in one night, in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer, going in and out of chimneys--and what about the people who don't have chimneys?--given her intellectual achievements, coupled by the compromised version of Santa's charging for his services that I've already given her, along with the fact that she's asking us how Santa is able to do all he does... I'm thinking that she's ready for the truth.

So imagine my surprise, when, as Rashieme concludes his lecture, she stares at us both, pausing momentarily, and then asks:

"So... does a fake Santa come in and leave all the toys?"

Rashieme stares at her, then at me.  He reaches for his drink, grins, and just says, "I'm not telling her again."

And that was basically it for a few weeks, though I'd been debating about what to do as far as gifts go this year.  Not worry about setting them all up on Christmas Eve?  Kaliah, did, after all, decide to buy her own candy to go in our stockings yesterday.

But then, just today, she says, "Mom, I think I need to write a letter to Santa."

Before I can question her, she rushes into, "I know that Fake Santa's going to come, and he doesn't know what I want."

So not only is she still believing in Santa, (albeit a fake one), she doesn't even want to show me the letter, because she doesn't want me to buy the same thing as Fake Santa.  I finally convinced her that I needed to proofread it for her, because Fake Santa might not honor her requests if there were spelling errors in this letter (that I desperately needed to read in order to make sure that I'd covered her wish list this year).

It's nice, in a way, to have a child who's not ready to let go.  Who is so wonderfully innocent and na├»ve.  Yes, I worry about the future.  About whether she'll get teased.  If she will share any of these unorthodox views at the playground.

But mostly, I'm just happy that I'm still a front row audience to the innocence of childhood, to the refusal to let go of a fantasy, even if it needs a bit of tweaking to still fit with her world view.  I'm happy to let my kid be a kid.

Merry Christmas everyone.  Best of luck playing Santa this year.  Or in my case, Fake Santa.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Identity Crisis

A couple times this month, in the heyday of doctoral studies, two jobs, mothering, being a wifey, and just generally being swept along in the insanity of life, I found a few minutes to just write.  Finally, thank God.  Moments I'd been waiting for, moments I missed so much it hurt.  It was just me and my laptop.  I'd found time to blog, or work on a new novel, or write a short story, or resurrect an old novel.  I'd found time to write, and just be me.

And then, I sat down to write, overwhelmingly thankful that I'd found the opportunity to do so...

And nothing happened.

I had nothing to write about.

This has happened to me before, but this time, it's been really bad.  (Not really bad, compared to, like, your tax bill.  Or breaking an arm.  Or accidentally trying a brussel sprout later in life, even though you're pretty sure you still hate them).  But for me, pretty bad.

I think I don't know what to write about because I don't know who I am as a writer.

I know that I am a writer.  It's strange, in any situation where writers are gathered (like at the NWP Annual Meeting, where I was given a few topics and surrounded by other writers), well, then I can write my butt off.  About anything. 

But I don't know what kind of writer I am, anymore, if I'm not given a topic and other people writing around me.  Sometimes even if you give me a topic (my husband has an ingenious idea for a novel that could definitely be a best seller, a movie, what have you, if it were done right)... I still don't know if I can do it.  Maybe it's because I've been rejected so much.  Or maybe it's because I'm still torn between humorous non-fiction and fiction, and in that fiction category, I'm all over the place, vaguely claiming to write "women's" fiction, or "commercial" fiction.  Maybe it's because that fiction is sort of Christian and sort of mainstream, and I'm wondering if it has a place anywhere.

Or maybe it's just because I have nothing good to say right now.

I could write about how happy I am.  Have you ever been so happy, that you just want to hold onto that moment so badly, because it feels like you must be dreaming?  That was me the other day, in this beautiful, every day moment, when my husband smiled at me, and simply said, "The tree looks nice."  And in that moment, hugging him in front of our Christmas tree, knowing how far we've come, how much I didn't expect to be married in this point in time, how blessed I am to have a brilliant daughter and an amazing husband, and to be so surrounded by love that it feels too fragile, too perfect to be real... Words can't describe how precious life is.

Or maybe it's because the world is still so messed up, and my happiness, or my fiction (happy or not) seems small and insignificant in comparison to Ferguson, to the protesting, to the anger and injustice and frustrations that have come bubbling back up in society.  It's a helpless feeling, to see so much hurt, so many voiceless, infuriated people, who have something to say and no one to listen.  Sometimes it feels like, why add another voice, when I don't have anything to say?

Or maybe it's just because I'm too tired to think of anything worth writing about.  And in that case, maybe I just need some coffee.

I logged on to this blog today and noticed that I updated it only once last month.  Never the less, there were 120 views.  120 clicks that cared about what I had to say.  It's humbling, that even though I wasn't saying much, people were still listening.

I hope I figure it out--what I want to say.  I've always wanted to be a writer.  And I am a writer.  But the industry beats you down.  You're left feeling uncertain after multiple rejections from agents.  The form letters that remind you that this is just a business.  The ones that hurt more are the ones that liked your work.  That compared you to someone else out there, someone who's fortunate enough to have made it.  Then they let you down anyway, saying that in spite of it's merit, your work is too this or not enough that.

And I get it.  It's just business.

But writing is so much more than that to me.

I just need to rediscover what I need to say.

Thanks for sticking with me, dear readers.



Friday, November 7, 2014

An Ode to Childhood Summers on the Delaware Coast

I know.  I haven't been writing.

I have nothing to say in my defense.

Except that I just found this story I wrote for my non-fiction class in college, and I kind of fell in love again.

I'm not sharing the whole thing, because I want to be selfish.  And maybe because my boss has inspired me to enter a short story contest (through which she herself got published this year!  Yay!), and the theme for next year's entries just happens to be The Beach.

I wrote what you're about to read in March of 2004.  It has three parts--the one I'm sharing is essentially an ode to childhood.  The second part considers the longing to return to said childhood.  The third shows an actual attempt to do just that.  And I'm thinking of adding a fourth section, because my whole view on childhood has really been enhanced by, um, having a child.

But for now, here's the first section.  I hope you enjoy.

I know I enjoyed writing it.


Waves

I.                    Crest—The portion of a wave displaced above the still water line; the highest point of the wave.

We used to call it “Washing Machine.”

Washing Machine—our very technical term for what happened when the angry gray waves tore our tiny bodies off our fluorescent purple and orange Moorey Boogie boards; slamming us beneath a crashing current, boards flailing about above us, snapping our skinny arms back by the sea-soaked black leashes, sand invading every possible crevice as we tumbled into human pretzel shapes tossed about by the immense power of exploding murky swells, and we came up sputtering and choking, blinking in the bright sun and staggering to our feet above the frothy white aftermath which fizzled around our ankles.

Washing Machine.

And we would gasp for air, and tilt our heads to the side, banging the fists not restrained by the body board leashes against our skulls, in an effort to pound the sand out of our ears.

“Did you see that?” I’d scream to my brothers and best friend Courtney, charging back into the waves.  The taste of salt was overpowering, and I loved it in a way I wouldn’t come to understand until much later in life.  I would gallantly battle to throw my small body past the roaring breaking point, fighting my way back to my fellow adventurers, still rubbing my eyes, or tugging at my bathing suit, or briefly examining and then dismissing the scarlet scraping above my things and knees inflicted by my contact with the furious ocean floor during the last Washing Machine.

Ah, to have millions of grains of sand coat the top of my scalp, clinging to my clumped wet hair, and to not care!  To have the sticky residue of salt water paint my entire sun-bronzed body, and to not want a shower!  To be thrown violently time and time again from the slippery beast that was my Moorey Boogie board, and worry not once about twisting an ankle, or breaking what would become, later in life, my waitressing wrist.

What a wonderful thing, to be young and in love with the ocean.

**After submitting this piece to my professor, Dr. Vince Puma's comments included the most inspiring compliment I've ever received from a teacher.  He wrote, "I expect to see your name in print someday."

It's taking me longer than I hoped, Dr. Puma...

But I am still trying.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Doc Life

So I happened to visit my brother a couple days ago, who asked me about my blog, as he'd met a blogger who has similar interests.

Which prompted me to think, oh, yeah.  I have a blog.

So today, I logged on and realized that I haven't updated my blog since late August.

And felt a bit guilty, not because I think anyone really misses the occasional humor, but because it's a mark of something that, once again, I didn't follow through on.

But then I decided that this time, I had a good excuse.

As a colleague put it, when I asked him how he was doing:

"Well, I entered the doctoral program, and then my life exploded."

Doc studies are, to me, so many things:  Challenging.  Invigorating.  Consuming.  Rewarding.  Painful.  Hopeful. 

Life changing.

Maybe I'm being overdramatic.  But maybe I'm not.  Nothing else that I've ever done in academia has pushed me like this, forced me to question the world around me, required such dedication or commitment.

The first few weeks, I was on autopilot, rushing from school to work to school to my other work to home to church to school to work to my other work to home... you get the idea.

I was so thrown off with my sense of scheduling.  As a school teacher, you work Monday to Friday.  Of course you grade and plan at night and on the weekends.  But you have a set regular schedule.  Since I've become a research assistant, I also have a base schedule... but between special opportunities and deadlines, often the base schedule becomes a mere suggestion... and even when it's not, I'm still trying to remember when I work at my second job (basically all closing shifts, so I'm getting home around two in the morning on those nights).  It's pretty amazing to me that so far, I've showed up at all the right times to all the right places.

But just to give you an idea as to how much I'm in the moment, as opposed to seeing the big picture, here's a true story.

The other day, I was driving past the elementary school to do some laundry, because our dryer, which has been fixed four times, broke once again.  As I passed Kaliah's school, I frowned to myself, because I noticed that there were cars lined up around the block all over the place.  And I thought to myself, how rude!  What on earth is going on at the school that they wouldn't even notify the parents?  Obviously, I'd like to know so that I could at least have the option of participating!  I was about to work myself into a full blown tizzy when I happened to glance at the clock and realize that it was a little after three.

The line of cars was there to pick up their children.

My very own daughter was IN the building.  While I'm having a momzilla moment going off about the lack of etiquette the school was displaying over not letting me know what kind of special event is going on...

It dawns on me that there was no special event.  Just my daughter going home from school.  Which happens every day, at this time, at this place.

And I am so clueless, I've forgotten my own kid is in this building.

(And no, my poor, overworked brain had no sense of where my kid actually was, if not at school.  So don't ask.)

I know, right?  Mother of the year, right here.

But in all seriousness, between my efforts to be a mom and wife and student and research assistant and manager (and late cook--that's a fun one.  My restaurant stops scheduling late night cooks this time of the year, so you'd be happy to know that my culinary skills are improving, because, um, they have to)--being a blogger has sort of fallen off the radar.  And while I still consider myself a writer (I always will), the writing I'm doing these days is primarily academic.

But it was a pleasant surprise to see, that when I found a few minutes today to check into the situation...

Apparently I had 163 views over the past month, even though I hadn't updated a single time.

So, wow.

And thanks.

And I'm going to try to do better.  No promises, because life is short.  And full.  And I know that I am no Super Woman.

But as always, I do appreciate your support.  And I'm quite taken aback by it this time.

So thanks for reading.  And please continue doing so.

And I'll do my best to continue writing.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How to Not Change Your Name (In 22 Easy Steps)

Hello, Blogging World!

I am back, after a beautiful, intimate wedding ceremony, a fantastic minimoon across the bridge to Annapolis, and several back-to-back shifts at the restaurant.  Though I will most likely remain J. Lynn Meister here and in other writing endeavors in an attempt to not have to rebuild a reputation/following, the truth is:

I am now Mrs. Jenny McFadden.

But not yet... legally, anyway.

Though we were married nearly two weeks ago, today was the day I wanted to get the name change accomplished.  It was a week day off in which we had to make a trip to Denton for a few other reasons, so it was the perfect time to pick up the certified copy of the wedding license from the Caroline County Circuit Court and then continue on to the Social Security branch to present the proof of our marriage and request my name change.

Sounds simple enough, right?

Wrong.  May I present...

How to Not Change Your Name (In 22 Easy Steps)

1.  Drive over an hour to Denton, Maryland, to request a certified copy of your marriage license.
2.  Pay for, wait patiently for, and then receive said copy of marriage license.
3.  Notice that beneath a section labeled "Minister Return Authorizing Marriage," the license says "No information about marriage given."
4.  Ask the clerk if this is a problem.
5.  Try not to have a mini heart attack when clerk agrees that that actually is a problem, and questions whether or not officiant sent required paperwork.
6.  Explain that officiant should have sent paperwork morning of Thursday, July 31.
7.  Breathe a sigh of relief when clerk locates unprocessed paperwork (in what looked to be like a fairly large pile of unprocessed paperwork).
8.  Wait patiently as clerk prints and stamps a new certified marriage license.
9.  Set off for the social security branch office nearest to your home in Georgetown, Delaware.
10.  Fifty minutes later, get lost looking for said social security branch office in Georgetown, Delaware.
11.  Venture into Georgetown Town Hall to ask where social security branch office is located.
12.  Find out that social security office has relocated from Georgetown, Delaware, to Lewes, Delaware.
13. Get back into car to head to Lewes, Delaware, accidentally taking the wrong exit in the circle and having to get back on it to exit correctly, only to find that upon re-entering the circle, a bumper-to-bumper line of traffic that was non-existent moments before has suddenly materialized.
14.  Drive to Lewes, Delaware.
15.  Pass the new social security branch office, which is hidden in what looks to be like a brand new apartment complex, obscured in part by ongoing construction which forces unusual traffic patterns and diverts one's attention from the location of the office.
16.  Realize that you must have passed the new office, and search for a suitable place to turn around and find the office.
17.  Notice the all-but-hidden sign visible only from the direction in which you are now approaching, and attempt to turn into the parking lot in which the office must surely be located.
18.  Drive aimlessly around the parking lot of what is most definitely a brand new apartment complex, wondering where Social Security office is located, and why it is located here.
19.  Accidentally find Social Security office.
20.  Park car, grab marriage license and purse, exit car to enter office.
21.  Realize that office closed twenty minutes ago.
22.  Proceed to work, bummed out by the realization that you must now attempt the second half of this process again tomorrow morning before the next shift you work.  Knock over a traffic cone when pulling out into the lane-shifted vehicular pattern as you attempt to turn into the correct lane against oncoming traffic.

But at least now I know where this God forsaken office is.  And perhaps their ploy to camouflage themselves within an apartment building will work to my advantage and I won't have to deal with long lines of irritated customers.

Only time will tell, so on that note, I'd better get to bed so that I might get as much shut eye as is required after closing a restaurant in order to wake up early and venture onward to brave the Super Secret Social Security office in the morning.

This is Jenny McFadden, signing off to say, good night world, and thanks, as always, for reading.


Mr. and Mrs. McFadden, just after being introduced to the congregation as man and wife.