mad as hell #3 (blog updated after each modern day lynching) 

Blog originally posted August 2016.

12/6/16 UPDATE:


#WalterScott 

After a routine traffic stop Walter Scott, fearing for his life, fled and the monster (policeman Michael Slager) shoots the unarmed man five times in the back. In the back. All caught on tape by a random passerby. 

Even with the video as evidence, the 11 white women and men and one black male declared a mistrial. 

History repeats itself. How many lynchers were charged for senselessly, callously hanging black people?

9/20/16 UPDATE:

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Quoting the fearless Pastor John Faison, Sr. “They might as well use ropes.”

There is no need to go through the painstaking process of creating a new post about our nation’s love affair with murdering black men.

I’ll just add Terence Crutcher and Tyre King to this existing post.

Terence’s murder comes complete with video. I’m told the video shows a female cop shooting the unarmed man in cold blood and after nearly two minutes CPR is administered to no avail.

Tyre was 13 years old.  The end.

Another add: I refuse to watch any of the video’s. I refuse to become desensitized. Every murder needs to shock our systems, interrupt our sleep, and compromise our appetites.


I started this post a few days after the murders of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling. Since then police have been murdered in Dallas and Louisiana and the Nashville School Board elections are off the rails. I’ve spent some time unpacking my mental pairing of the murders and the education discussion in this city.  What’s the connection?  I once believed education was the great equalizer and recent events have not only challenged me but changed me.  But I digress…


If you don’t go to sleep and wake up with your heart in your throat realizing that your place in this society is becoming more and more opaque with a fade to nothingness – congratu-freaking-lations. I’m not kidding, be glad to be free from such sadness.

I’m not alone in this weird place.  This psychological beat down into submission, hopelessness.  For me, it started more than a week ago when I awoke early one Saturday morning to accusations on Twitter that led to a tweet-a-tweet with the designated education Twitterazzi in Nashville.  I was so troubled by the exchange that it took me back nearly twenty years ago when I was working for the Nashville Chamber of Commerce when an African American gentleman from up north was visiting for a conference and unabashedly called out his Southern brethren.  I will never forget his observation of African Americans in Nashville. “You guys are so scared!  You’re scared to talk and even the way you walk says you’re submissive.”

The gentleman’s harsh observation played over and over in my head as I read the commentary to my tweet. My crime was a comment on a picture of Memphis parents dressed in orange t-shirts at a meeting in what looked like a gymnasium. “I. Love. It.” caused a firestorm of tweets accusing me of supporting bad policy for children.  I respond that the picture was “a beautiful thing” which, in turn, set in motion a series of “helpful” advice.  In a sincere effort to usher me to see the error of my ways, the nice people explained that some of us need help forming opinions – like helping a child, they said.   I accused them of being “paternalistic” and, true to form, it was suggested that I didn’t mean to use that word; that maybe I meant something else. Though I am still angry, I am not interested in calling them out, but rather illuminate their social and political entitlement and the clear disparaging of, well, me.  I dared to celebrate an image they fear and are fighting like hell to keep out of their precious city.

As Nashville has become more gentrified and education choices are vilified, the man from up north’s diagnosis rings true still and promises to worsen.  I believe we are expected to act a certain way and, dutifully, fall in line. How many African Americans in Nashville do you see speaking out on divisive issues such as charter schools? Thousands of parents have chosen to send their children these schools yet Nashville’s political elite is hostile to such choices, creating guilt and fear in parents. So we keep quiet for fear of being bullied and further maligned (see Vesia). We are forced to choose a side and then blasted if a even a spot of charter acceptance is detected. Most of us are simply ill-equipped for the fight – so we remain politically and socially SHACKLED. The use of fear and distrust as instruments of control is as old as, well, see Willie Lynch.

Speaking of shackles. Nothing says institutionalized shackles better than being charged with your own murder. Alton Sterling wouldn’t be dead if… Philando Castile shouldn’t have… Sandra Bland probably… Tamir Rice was only 12, but… Trayvon … Freddie…

Fading to nothingness.

 

Hello? Can You Hear Me?

Adele, Imma need you to come from the other side and say hi right to my face.  Otherwise, sista, I won’t be able to hear ya.

That’s what I saw my audiologist say.

Oh yeah, apparently I’ve been half-hearing with my ears and the other half with my eyes. Funny that my blog’s title is Volume and Light.  I’m one big Shakespearean tragedy.

 

The ways of the ear are miraculous.  

When scheduling the hearing test, they requested that I bring someone whose voice is familiar, so it was either Linwood or Jax. Hubs, like many before him, believed my listeners were discriminatory – “I think you hear what you wanna hear.” Such a load of earwax.  I learned him.  But I digress.

We made it to the audiologist on a Friday morning during a thunderstorm.  The first test put the incredulous Linwood in one corner and me in the opposite corner about 12 feet apart. He was instructed to read a list of words and I was instructed to repeat, with eyes closed. Nervous and a little miffed, I sat straight in my chair ready to repeat every word from the voice I’d been hearing for more than 25 years.  “Wipe” wait, what?  White? “Fat” uh, Jax? No shit, it was that bad. “Ms. Hawkins, people tend to miss 2 or 3, you missed 10 and an additional 7 you guessed and got correct.”  I hate you, ear man.  Yo mama must be so disappointed in you.

It’s amazing how soundwaves vibrate the “little hair” in the ear canal making its way to the brain in the time it takes one to snap her fingers.  When the little hair is damaged, the hearing of varying frequencies become compromised.  That’s me.  Damaged little hair. Frequency challenged.

ear-diagram

 

Why Test?

My hearing has been crap for several years, but when you’re not working full-time and your nest is semi-empty, you’re forced to pay attention to yourself.  The years of hearing “mama, you don’t hear that?” and “Vesia, I know you heard me” didn’t really motivate me.  However, my crazy, beautiful best friend did.

My bestie, Pam,  recently had surgery and I couldn’t make to Atlanta to see her so I had to rely on our phone conversations.  For years I have been secretly decoding our phone events.  I spend roughly 50% of my input asking her to repeat herself and other times to keep her from getting tired (or pissed) I would just pretend to understand.  Nearly every phone call she says “I thought I told you..” or “Don’t you remember me telling you?” I either pretend to remember or concede to forgetting. Something about her voice’s frequency translates into a garbled mess through the phone –and, oh yeah, I can’t utilize my eyes.  The one person whose voice I’ve listened to for more than 35 years has eluded me.  So I broke the news that our phone calls have been one big, fat lie. For the remainder of the call she spoke slowly and lowly. I cussed her good.

 

What Now?

The audiologist with the disappointed mama explained that years of non-use atrophies the part of the brain that controls sound.  So stupid.  So even with hearing aids I will only take in about 90% of sound.  Of course, I’m going to fight for that 90%. I assured the ear man (and I’m sure my belly hanging over my pants confirmed) that there are no issues with vanity here.  I just want to hear – be part of the conversation instead of “compensating” by pretending to look at my phone or take pictures.

In all seriousness, I can’t help but wonder what I’ve missed.  What have I misunderstood? I’ve conducted hundreds of business and personal transactions and, surely, I’ve missed something.  So, my friends, if you have said something that warranted a response and I just looked and smiled, my apologies.  I didn’t hear a word you said.  Charge it to my ears.

“Hello from the other side

I must of called a thousand times

To tell you I’m sorry for everything that I’ve done

But when I call you never seem to be home

Hello from the outside

At least I can say that I tried…” – Adele

 

Victory in Silence and Darkness

DISCLAIMER: As I write, I’m suffering from the flu.  There’s an 80% percent chance I won’t remember this post.

The purpose of this blog is to shine light on the awesome and provide a mic for quiet greatness- and to just be silly – my greatest character trait. Since my last post two months ago, I’ve experienced a string of crappy crap,  all while deploying a pretty intense job search. I’ve fought the self-bashing, why me-ing, and comparing; at 44 years old with adult children I’m better equipped for the battle.

But at 44 years old I realize I’m looking for a job at 44 years old.  Yikes! The people who have known me longest will say “I knew she shouldn’t have joined that campaign.” To you, I say, you are not a friend.  Knowing what I know now, I’d make the same decision. The silence and darkness has taught me some things:

  • I’m not the same person I was a year ago.
  • as a notorious people-pleaser, I realize how harmful I’ve been to myself.
  • I will no longer apologize for my feelings, beliefs, decisions, and interests.
  • I am a reformed avoider of conflict. (see people-pleaser)

This is not a woe-is-me party. It’s me taking responsibility for my losses, mistakes, decisions, and choices. The silence spoke to me solidly and clearly.  The darkness provided a sheath of protection allowing me to feel without consequences.  How could I have known that in darkness I’d see my true self?  That silence would amplify my truth?

I’ve been on the battlefield, but I’m sure – no, I know- I will win.  Volume and Light will resume with silliness because beauty and wonder never go on holiday.

To my friends: you have kept me going.  Advice you’ve given over time, calls, texts, emails, connections made, lunches (a bazillion lunches), crafting lessons, well wishes, and more prominently, the prayers.  Even in darkness I could see the blessings and the silence, in rare form, perfectly delivered the proper messages.

Until next time…

Silent Nights and Bits o’Joy

For those who could use a brief diversion from holiday-enhanced sadness – yep, this one’s for you.

I love to laugh, but sadly, I’ve not felt much like doing it as of late.  My heart hurts and what’s worse too many others I love are hurting, too. Then there’s Christmas.  This wonderful holiday season will take a plain ol’ standard hurt and make it 100 times worse.  You can’t escape the songs, snowmen, and Santas!

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Despite the deafening silent nights and days pregnant with darkness, I’ve fought like hell to hear the music and interrupt the dark.

Honestly, I don’t want to escape Christmas.  I want to participate, but on my own terms.  So, here’s my list titled “Do it Anyway” for when you feel like nuked feces.

  1.  Hallmark Christmas Movies – When you feel like you’re in hell there is nothing else that will take you as far away from there than a Hallmark movie.  Say Cheeeeeeeese!  Every movie is about hope and love.  I don’t know about you, but a little hope and a lotta love works for me. (For Kicks: Vesia’s Christmas Movie List Coming Soon)
  2. Work It! – Knit/Crochet, dance, cook, paint, color, walk, choreograph, write, install, dream, love. JUST DO SOMETHING! Follow my favorite blogs for a little motivation: Judy’s Chickens for great recipes and Mason Dixon Knitting for a laugh while getting an Ivy League education in knitting.  Oh, and if you haven’t discovered Pinterest, go. Now.
  3. Saaang! – Sing a song, sing out loud, sing out STRONG!  I sang Adele’s “Hello” so loud and with such intensity that my daughter reflexively cleared her throat — in an effort to help me. Ahem.   Check out this little vid of me and my girl saaanging last Christmas. You’re welcome.

  4. YouTube – You can find ANYTHING on YouTube – old movies, videos, concerts, silly people or maybe even a funeral or two if that’s what floats your boat.
  5. Adele and The Wiz Live – Both are available On Demand. 

    All of the items above are recommendations for one. Sometimes I self-medicate with solitude.  But I gotta tell ya – it’s good to know that you’ve got family and friends who understand and wait on the porch until you’re ready to come out and play.  Thank you.

May your Christmas be filled with music, light, and mostly, love.  For love is the greatest of all. If you need scripture, check out  1 Corinthians 13:13. If you like philosophy, “All you need is love” – the Beatles.

Roll. Bounce… or just stand.

It was the late 80’s and Sunday nights were my time for worship.  I lived approximately 7 miles from the fellowship facility, but it seemed to be 70 miles because we had no car.

I would start calling friends for a ride on Friday because I wanted to save Sunday afternoon for choosing an outfit. It was serious.  There was no place that made me feel peaceful, confident and happy.  The lights, the smells, the guys, the dancing, and the MUSIC. The music.

I went back in time last night as I visited my old stomping grounds; place of worship. Rivergate Skate Center.  Ahhh, the place that sucked out the gloom week after week and replaced it with pure joy!  I couldn’t believe I was back in that place.  Same lights, same smells and SCREEEEEEEEEECH!

REALLY?

First, my daughter had to help me take off my boots.  And, oh yeah, I went with my 20 year old daughter.  Second,  I had to learn to balance on the same skates (those skates were at least 30 yrs old) with an additional ## lbs. Third, the DJ was nicknamed Granny. Fourth, the guys – well, what guys, I’m married!  Fifth, my first roll around the rink was met with some strange pain in my hip.  Then my calves.  Then my thighs.  Did I say my back?  I went on a Wednesday night.   Because, you know, there are no other options for the old and fluffy.

Ol Skool

With the extra fluff, aches and pains, I tackled the hardwood with zero poise, yet somehow remained upright.  The music – ole skool- was not as awesome as I remembered or maybe my trepidation muted the bass lines that would normally get me going.  Rolling.  Bouncing.  I became acquainted with areas of the skate center traditionally reserved for lame-o’s.  Those who stand and watch the cool people.  Once I was a cool people.  Now, I’m a card-carrying lame-o.

Still, the best part of the whole night was time with my girl and watching her have fun.  And I didn’t embarrass her.  So, even though I felt each of the 25 years since I last skated successfully, I exited those doors popping with pure joy.  Some things never change.

 

Welcome to the Gun Show

Warning: Unfettered thought train ahead!

December.  It all started in Nashville with a simple vote to cancel a 35-year tradition of gun shows at the TN Fairgrounds.  Then, in a tragic twist, two cities in our America experience mass shootings at the hands of its own. And let us not forget the ongoing internal war that is Chicago; the mayor, Laquan McDonald, and the city’s weekly “mass” shootings. And it’s just December 3rd!

Do we have a gun problem or a heart problem? Is this issue really as simple as whether or not you support the 2nd amendment?

Do we only care about gun-toting hate when it sneaks up on our comfort level and targets those going about lives similar to our own? (Because Chicago)

Are we proponents of gun freedom only when the gun owners don’t look like my father and grandfather? (See jail system)

For you TN gun show goers, you now have fresh blood on the streets that validate its very political eradication. While its hard for me to advocate for gun shows while our nation grieves for the fallen innocent, it is not difficult at all to mourn the beginning of the end of the fairgrounds as we know it.

If you are still reading this roller coaster of thought you, no doubt, think I’m a flake.  Too bad. I’m not overly anything about guns – pro or nah – knock yourselves out over this issue. However,  I wholeheartedly believe that the gun discussion has race and class undertones at the foundation of both sides of the argument. I also believe that the removal of gun shows in Nashville is a strategically palatable blow to the fall of the fairgrounds.

I’m just desperately seeking peace and love in this season of peace and love.

God bless the people of San Bernardino and Savannah.  God bless America.

Always Start at the Beginning

Ever fried a turkey? It’s simple, right?  Buy $400 of peanut oil and fry for like 45 minutes compared to the 4-hour saga of baking.  Sounds too good to be true?  Because IT IS!  You have to let the darn oil reach, like, 6,000 degrees before dunking Mr. Turkey.  And if it’s cold and windy outside, well, just put him in the oven.  Not too many Thanksgivings ago, we thought we would serve our guests a piping hot turkey – straight from the fryer.  After waiting 1.5 hours later than we planned, we served the bird. Let’s just say he could have flown away.    #thanksgivingfail

Not quite sure what the hell the title of this inaugural post means, but, unlike that fried turkey, it’s a good start.  Hopefully, this little blog will be the start of a meaningful, fun, and fruitful relationship.

Why a blog? At your age? With your limited writing skills? And tired sense of humor?

If you must know…

I am a 44 year old, married mom of 2 adult-aged wanna-be adults.  I love my little family, but I have issues.  I suspect most of us do.  So I’m putting it out there; sacrificing a little dignity for the greater good.  We may wax poetic about our Pinterest woes or build a bitch session around education. From the pigskin to PMS and all points in between.  We will discuss it, Adele it, Netflix it, Google it, love it and leave it.

While I lack even the most basic of writing skills, I come equipped with voice and heart with a double shot of wisdom.  Because I learn from mistakes like partially cooked turkeys can kill humans.

So, for you and for me, I’m turning up the volume and letting this little light shine.  From silence to song and absence to brilliance. Together.

V&L