race with me

I wanted to title this one "shades of gray." But heaven knows what sort of traffic I'd get, so I didn't.

I never heard the "n" word growing up, at least not from the mouths of actual human beings that I knew. I think that I figured out what it meant when I was watching the "North and South" miniseries starring Patrick Swayze. If it wasn't there, than I really don't know how I ever heard it. I knew that the word existed, but didn't think people really used it when referring to black people.

Then, in 7th grade, I moved to a small town. Where there was one black person in my entire school. The first time I heard classmates using this word in an obviously derogatory tone, I had that horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. (Like I was being caught red-handed doing something bad.) I felt sick and uncomfortable, but being 13 years old and having no experience in these matters, I didn't say anything and felt bad about it for years. (Although in all honesty, I was way more worried about myself.... I had just gotten both braces on my teeth and a back brace for scoliosis, so I think I felt like I had enough on my plate.)

It didn't come up very often until I got to high school. There was a senior girl who was dating a guy from a rival small town. She was a cheerleader, an athlete, beautiful, fun, all of those things that "matter" in a small town. And the guy she was dating was black. Again, I was too self-involved to really care one way or another. Until the time that I realized some people are just ignorant, mean idiots. Our school was playing their school. And all of the "popular" guys decided to make a statement. The exact details are fuzzy to me now, but I know that they painted their chests black and each wrote one letter of his name. They would pull up their shirts like you see at a college football game... But this wasn't to show school spirit, it was to show hatred and send him a message. ie - we are better than you. Basically, they wanted to make him feel like the word they used to describe him.

Thinking about it (and my lack of action) still disgusts me. It was so cruel and unnecessary. I think that girl - Courtney - still lives in that small town. She goes to games in that same gym. I wonder if she ever thinks about that day.

I remember being so bothered by it that I actually asked my mom what she would do if I ever dated a black guy. Granted, I didn't really know any at the time, but I was tempted to go find somebody just to spite those hateful boys. The topic of inter-racial dating had never really come up for us, probably because there was never really ANY conversation that had anything to do with race in our house. There are good people and there are bad people. You want to surround yourself with good people.  Based on every message I'd ever heard from my parents and their total acceptance of basically anyone and everyone we'd ever come across, I think I was probably sure that she was going to say that race didn't matter.

But when I asked my mom what her thoughts were, when I said, "Mom, what would you think if I dated a black guy?" she said, "Well, I think it would be pretty hard on you." I don't remember what else she said, probably something about how she and dad cared more about me being treated well and being happy, etc. but I clearly remember her saying it would be hard. Maybe she had seen the same sorts of things or heard the same sorts of conversations happening around town, I don't know. But that stuck with me. Not because I thought that SHE really cared whether or not I dated a black guy, but because it made me realize that the are a lot of people that would. I guess it was one of those moments when I realized that I wore rose-colored glasses. It was the first time I realized that just because *I* didn't care what color other people were, it didn't mean everyone else feels the same way.

I just finished the book "Calling me Home" by Julie Kibler, which is what made me think about all of this. It made me wonder if the reason Courtney's kids are blonde haired and blue eyed is because she got tired of fighting, got tired of being ridiculed, got tired of it being too hard.

Deep thoughts for my blog, I know. A good book will do that to you.



Larry loves the stock market.  (well, it is a love/hate, but it is his job so he spends a lot of time with it.)

Last week, the guys on one of the shows started talking about Zulily.  (ticker:  ZU)  They were all pretty excited about it and I guess it had a good week.  At one point or another, it got compared to Amazon.  (ticker:  AMZN.)

I told Larry, "Um, no.  Not even close.  They are both online stores but that is pretty much where the similarities end."

I explained that on Amazon, I could order anything I want at any moment in time... jelly beans, underwear, make-up, shampoo, music, electronics, basically anything I could want.  I order it, get free shipping and 2 days later it arrives to my doorstep.  (thanks to Prime.) People use Amazon as a resource to try and find the best prices and a bigger selection. 

Zulily is where you go to window shop when you're bored.  Occasionally you'll see a good deal and make an impulse buy.  It caters to moms with kids.  You never know what you're going to find.  You can't go there and be like "I need a new plastic plug for my patio table so that the umbrella doesn't wiggle around."  (the last item I used Amazon for.)  Zulily shipping is expensive - and frankly ridiculous, because it takes so long.  For example, I placed an order for these 3 items on Feb. 10:


 (I bought the candles as gifts.  We'll see if I ever send them because I'm really irritated.  Keep reading.)

Order was placed on February 10, 2014.  It finally shipped on February 25.  I just got the items yesterday, March 6, 2014:

Now I know it is not exactly fair to bash them on their shipping times, as they do clearly state their process:

However, I could not find anywhere on their website where they indicated that it would take a full month to ship, that they don't package things very nicely, and that if you order candles - well, keep reading.

AMZN boxes have a smile on them.  They include more than enough packing materials and are not skimpy with those giant plastic air bubbles.  ZU shipped a breakable candle like this:


Not very impressive.  You realize this is made out of glass, right?  But thanks for the Tom's toothpaste sample.

Imagine my surprise when I take the candle out of the box and see that a sloppy piece of packing tape is holding the lid to the base:

Y'all.  This is regularly a $35 candle.  That is supposed to be a gift and now looks super tacky.  But wait - it gets better.  I slice open the packing tape and find this beauty:

There is wax all around the top edge and the outside is all greasy.  These candles are soy, so I imagine that it probably melted a little bit. WHICH IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN IT TAKES A MONTH TO SHIP SOMETHING.

To cap things off, the second candle came in a separate box. (???)  It was in even worse shape (but at least didn't have any packing tape on the candle packaging):

This one was even slimier on the outside.  The only upside is that the fragrance is nice, so at least when I wiped the residue off my hands they smelled good.

I'm not trying to be a hater.  But SERIOUSLY?

(And yes - I see the irony in the fact that I ordered a candle that says "be blessed" and am griping about first world problems such as these.  I never said I was perfect.)

So... take note.  If you play the stock market, I say it is time to sell ZU and buy AMZN.  I'm pretty much a professional online shopper (just ask my mailman) and I know a rat when I see one.

(And blogger.com, while I'm at it, you're on notice.   Does it REALLY need to be this difficult to format a blog post?)


more honey for my honey

I've always been critical.  Not sure why.  When I was younger, it made me kind of mean. I was bossy and quick to point out anything that somebody else was doing wrong.  Now that I'm older, I'm able to foster it into a more healthy behavior... it serves me well in my educational career.  I need to be able to point out areas in which my new teachers can improve and grow.  But in my personal life - well, hold that thought.

On the same hand, I've also always been quick to give others the benefit of the doubt.  I try to assume the best - if someone cuts me off in traffic, it must be because they are late for work.  The waiter who rang my ticket up wrong is new.  The person who sent a nasty email is having a really hard time at home.  I truly believe you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

Unfortunately, I've noticed that one of the people I love most in this world, the magical white guy, gets more than a healthy dose of vinegar from me. 

I've noticed that lately I've been really quick to defend everyone ELSE first.... I give everyone else the benefit of the doubt and all that is left for him is the nagging, griping, unpleasant, grumpy you-know-what. I don't like that version of myself, so I imagine that he doesn't either. 

He is patient with me - and gives me the grace that I'm so quick to give everyone but him - but I can do better.  That is why I'm airing my dirty laundry on this public forum. 

I figure Lent is a good time to examine my inadequacies.  Fortunately for me, this flaw (among others) doesn't take a whole lot of reflection to figure out.  Is it pathetic that I am going to make a conscious effort for 40 days to dole out more honey in my own home?  Probably.  But I've decided my scripture to help guide me towards this particular atonement will be Proverbs 16:24:

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. 

So - if you catch me nagging, I give you permission to set me straight!