I'm 64, live in San Diego. I'm working on my memoir that deals with my daily struggles with mental health issues and the residual trauma I had sustained from the years (over two decades) of abuse and neglect in my childhood.
A year ago I wrote a Flash Fiction piece for Halloween. It’s a very short piece.
Around two years ago I met a director by the name of Rick Baker, in one of my Facebook groups, who lives in L.A. During COVID, he and his producer buddy, Anthony Stoppiello, who lives in New York, have been collaborating in writing, producing, and directing short horror and thriller Old Time Radio shows. The difference is, these are completely modern, original stories. Their goal is to bring Old Time Radio into the 21st Century. The name of their company is ‘Troupe of Lost Souls Entertainment’. It’s an anthology of short tales of approximately 30 minute each. Here is the link:
I got a message from Rick Baker, telling me he and his team has created a story based on a short story that I wrote and sent him! I’m so honored and on pins and needles!!! I asked him when will I see the big bucks rolling into my mail box. His answer? As soon as the money starts rolling into his mail box. Not funny Rick!!
The episode based on my short story will be aired on June 24th at 7:00 p.m. I will update the information as needed.
Without further adieu here is my story that he’s basing his latest tale of horror on:
She hurried off before he had a chance to let her know not to enter the house. She was deaf, you see, so it wouldn’t have done any good to call after her. Nor could he run after her, because he was tied up – literally.
He knew the creature that restrained him was also waiting for her inside the house. All he could do was helplessly watch her slowly recede into the murky mist.
Earlier today I called a pharmacy to have one of my medications be sent to them on a temporary basis. My regular pharmacy is miles from where I’m living at the moment. I’ll be here for three weeks. I don’t have a car, and my caregiver is only coming once a week – Thursday – because the drive is too far for her. The idea is that I could take an Uber to the pharmacy that’s closer to me to save on travel expenses.
So, I called the pharmacy. Gave them all the information they needed to call my regular pharmacy and then refill my prescription for me. They said it should be ready tomorrow. I can pick it up then. I asked if they delivered. They said yes, by USPS. I wish I would have said no to that, but I simply said, “Okay.” and hung up.
After an hour or so, I got a call from this new pharmacy. The pharmacist said that somebody had already come by to pick it up, then asked,
“Was that you?”
My stomach sunk as I said, “No!”
“Your name is Kelly Jeanne, right?” they asked.
“Yes, it is.” I said with growing alarm.
“Well, a woman came and gave her name as Kelly Jeanne. She even knew your birthdate. Did you call anyone and let them know about the medication?”
“No! After we hung up, I remained at home, watching T.V. and working on my computer. I have not talked with or called anyone.”
“Do you have a caregiver who may have picked it up for you? Could I give them a call?”
“Do you speak Spanish?”
“Because she doesn’t speak English very well and like I said, I didn’t notify anyone of anything. And where she lives, there’s no way she could have arrived at your pharmacy so soon.”
I was going to ask him if he saw her photo ID. Then I realized that would be pointless because they don’t know what I look like. Finally, I asked him,
“Can you refill the prescription?”
“Unfortunately not. There are no more refills on it.”
“Super!” I said. “Now I have to call my doctor up tomorrow and explain this very bizarre situation. Hopefully, she’ll agree to refill it.”
To be honest, I was getting scared because I only have one more day of the prescription left before I completely run out. Then, I’ll be in horrible pain. I hope my doctor okay’s it.
What was that about? Who could have come in knowing my name and birthdate? Did I have a Doppelganger? How did she know I had just called the pharmacy and had my prescription filled.? How could she have known? This is too bizarre for me.
What do you think about what happened? Have you had any weird happenings that were similar? If so, I’d love to know about them.
What is a glitch in the matrix? It’s something so bizarre that can’t be explained and the more you think about it, your brain begins to hurt.
Years ago while I was at work, I was put in another department for awhile to help someone complete a task. My job was to clean the keyboards of various laptops. Using specialized tools, I took apart these keyboards in order to do a more thorough cleaning of them. Then, I put them back together and started on the next one.
During this time I started teaching myself Spanish. I bought tapes to help me practice. As it happened, I lost a tape and this really saddened me because the tapes weren’t cheap. No matter how much I looked for that missing tape, I never found it.
While at work one day, cleaning the keyboards of these laptops, I noticed something on the floor. I picked it up and noticed it was the missing tape I had lost.
Why would I find this particular tape at work? This was the first time I’d ever been in that department. It was so bizarre that I found it impossible to entertain this occurrence anymore without my head hurting.
There is simply no logical explanation for this and to this day leaves me dumbfounded. It’s as if for a brief moment in time, I had left this current reality and stepped into another dimension.
Have you ever experienced a glitch in the matrix yourself? Was there ever a time when you felt you had entered another dimension altogether?
Brielle: Dario was just released after spending a night at the hospital.
Alvin: No! What happened?
Brielle: Apparently, he’s having stomach problems.
Alvin: Wow! Who would have thought? He never struck me as someone who was losing control over his bodily functions.
Brielle: Yea. He’s coming over today, so…
Alvin: This is going to be awkward.
Just then the door opens. Dario walks in looking and feeling beat. Both Brielle and Alvin give each other awkward glances then uncomfortably shift their bodies in their chairs. Brielle is the first to speak.
Brielle: How’s it going, Dario? You all right?
She finds it hard to look at him. Dario gives a sigh. He knew it would eventually come to this when his so-called friends would begin talking to him in a childlike manner.
The above scenario is, of course, ridiculous. When something is wrong with our bodies it’s normal to have it checked out by a doctor. In fact, it’s encouraged!
The last I checked, the head is a part of the body. The brain is an organ, no different than any other organ of the body. So, why is it something I should be ashamed of when I have the organ in my head checked?
My mental health is just as important as my physical health, right? Instead of being applauded for recognizing that something is wrong with my mind i.e. brain, I’m demonized for it.
My brain has been damaged multiple times from concussions. My mind has been traumatized from the years of abuse and neglect at the hands of my family. Would it not be the responsible thing for me to get professional help Knowing that my conditions are chronic I take medication every day to remain stabilized (or as stabilized as I possibly can be). It’s not perfect, but it’s far better than not taking anything.
When your heart is bothering you, you would be encouraged to go to the doctor. If you didn’t, your loved ones may feel very anxious and frightened for you. At times frustrated and angry. They know you’re putting your health – and ultimately your life – at risk.
So, you go to the doctor and get checked out. After a thorough examination everything is okay. Great! You go home and everyone is so happy you had your physical health checked.
What would happen if you had to take medication on a regular basis to keep your heart in working order? Not one member of your family or friends would raise an eyebrow. They would feel sad that you’d have to, but there’s no judgment.
With me, it’s bad enough to go to a head doctor on a regular basis, but to have to take magic beans daily is enough for others to feel awkward and embarrassed. After all, now there’s a constant reminder of my mental condition.
It doesn’t matter that I’m doing what’s best for me to keep me safe and alive. After all, I have attempted twice in my life. I would think they would be happy. They are, but reservedly so, along with looks of pity.
I suddenly realized I should make a point in telling you that this series ‘Living With Trauma’ is, in no way, shape, or form dealing with my being on the spectrum.
This makes me sad, because it means that most only see me as one dimensional. This is why I titled my blog ~ I AM ME ~ MULTI-FACETED ~ LIKE A DIAMOND ~ to stress that – like anyone – I have many sides to my personality. I even put it in all caps to hyper-exaggerate this point.
By not recognizing this about me means that people have automatically put me in this box labeled ‘Aspergers’. They don’t see me as anything else. I’m not seen as a full and complete person who is capable of having a gamut of life experiences that are no different than anyone else’s.
This series on trauma I’m writing is only dealing with the neglect and abuse I received, having been raised by a narcissist and pedophile, and how, having dealt with that every hour of every day (except when I was sleeping) for 2 1/2 decades really messed me up. Yup, ‘messed me up’ is an actual term that’s used in the mental health field. Not really, but it should be.
So, without further ado let’s continue talking about the resulting mental health issues I had inherited from the abuse.
Here I want to discuss and break apart the old refrain that so many are fond of saying:
“Do you think you’re the only one with problems?”
So, what’s wrong with this statement? After all, it is true that I’m not the only one with problems, right?
The main reason this statement is so toxic: This is a most invalidating statement. By telling me this, you are saying that my feelings are not important, not valid. What I have experienced; am experiencing don’t matter. More importantly, I don’t matter.
You’re also showing me that you are devoid of sympathy and empathy. It shows me you’ve never been on the receiving end of such a statement, because if you had, you would know how invalidating those words would make anyone feel, making the chances of your saying them to me less likely.
There was a woman at the last church I had attended, who, when I told her about the time I was 7 and had been attacked by an 80 or 90 some pound German Shepherd while the family did nothing and let the dog attack me. All she could say was,
“You’re not the only one with problems, Kelly.”
In effect what was she telling me? We all have our problems, but was her casual response to such an incident her way of saying that most children experience such a level of abuse by their parents? If so, than I believe every adult should get themselves spayed and neutered right away. That’s not how you raise children.
Is she telling me that she’s lived a life free from pain – whether physical or emotional – that she couldn’t find it in herself to express any kind of concern for me?
Did she really feel that her feelings were more important than mine? Or maybe she just didn’t like me?
Having spent entirety of my childhood being invalidated by my family since infancy has really damaged me. I was taught, day in and day out, that I didn’t matter. I grew up denying my own feelings. When I left home the abuse from others continued because I honestly didn’t recognize such treatment as abuse. This resulted in being bullied, mocked and ridiculed by others even after I left home. If I mentioned this before please forgive me, but there were even a couple of times when I was beaten and spit on by these ‘mature adults’.
I was so indoctrinated, so brainwashed by those who raised me. My subconscious only knows one reality. But, I’m almost 65. This means that things have improved for me, right? Not really. Especially when you consider when the neglect and abuse started, how severe it was, as well as the length of time it lasted. These are all very important factors that need to be taken into consideration. Because my subconscious knows no other reality, that ought to tell you when my abuse started: In my infancy.
As an adult, I can use logic to understand that this is not normal. That nobody should be treated like this. The problem is I shouldn’t have to reason out, on a cognitive level these things. This should be automatic. I shouldn’t have to stop and think about whether or not the way I’m being treated is wrong.
My subconscious knows for a fact that I’m invalid and deserve to be treated poorly. I constantly have to fight that and tell myself that I am valid and deserve better. Understand that I’m not saying I can’t improve or I don’t want to improve. I’m simply laying out how my subconscious mind is.
“So, Kelly, you’re nearly 65. What’s the problem?”
It’s very complicated. On top of the level and length of the abuse, I’m also dealing with multiple concussions. My impulse control is practically non-existent. That’s why it’s so easy to lash out so quickly in anger. A brain that’s been physically damaged – especially multiple times. – means every day is a constant struggle to survive. When the part of the brain that regulates emotions is damaged this can cause a Jekyll and Hyde effect.
About 5 years ago I was at a grocery store, the same one I’d been going to twice a month for years. One particular time I was at the register with all of my purchases. As I had everything in my cart and was just about to pull my cart away, the store manager walked up to me and said,
“I’m going to have to ask you to leave and never come back. You’re not a very kind person. In fact, you’re downright mean. The employees here work hard everyday. They don’t deserve the way you treat them.”
As he was saying this to me I didn’t react at all. I felt as if I were having an out-of-body experience. It all seemed so surreal, yet at the same time, this scene had played out countless times in my life. When he was finished I said, “Okay.” and walked out the door with my groceries.
It’s funny, but as I walked out, I had no sense of shame or embarrassment. Not because I didn’t take any responsibility for what happened. It’s just that this had happened so often in my life that all I felt at that moment was numb and empty. I felt gutted. It’s as if my nerves have been cauterized, which prevent me from feeling. I’ve been like this most of my life.
Remember King Sisyphus who was made by Zeus to roll a huge boulder up a steep hill incessantly? That’s how I feel. The daily burden never ends. Mentally and emotionally I’m exhausted because I’m constantly having to drive away negative thoughts. Most times I don’t succeed.
Every once in awhile it gets worse. Horrible feelings of abandonment take over. I find myself taking certain things that happen to me personally. It’s a Herculean effort to fight those feelings and not act on them. Usually when I do, it doesn’t end well, with very few exceptions. Most times when I lay into people either through fe-mail or Messenger on Facebook, I end up regretting it.
One time I laid into someone through fe-mail, and we became sworn enemies. Another time I unleashed Hyde on someone in Messenger and in the end we became more bonded. That doesn’t happen very often. These two incidents happened about a year apart. As you can see, life is a cabaret for me…NOT!
I am not a bad person at all. In fact, I spend much of my time defending those who are different against bullies. I encourage others. I’m very empathetic to the point where when I hear about what someone is going through, I end up feeling uneasy, as if I’m experiencing it myself.
I’m hoping that someday medical science will soon make it possible to perform brain transplants. I’ll be the first to sign up for it.
In Part Four I’d like to deal with the statement
“You need thicker skin.”
Thank you for taking the time to read this rather lengthy entry. I truly appreciate it!
Do you have any thoughts about this? Have you been through similar experiences?
Yesterday evening I was in a Read & Critique room. Now, I love this group of people. It’s a very dynamic group. We spend the first hour working with 2 prompts. The host usually gives us 10 minutes to make up a story about them. Sometimes they are word prompts. Other times they are image prompts. After that, she puts us into breakout rooms of 2 – 3 people where we take turns reading the stories we came up with and to get a little feedback. Then we all come back to the main room and work on our second prompt and do the same thing as with the first prompt.
After sharing our creations from the prompts, we then took turns reading excerpts from our WIPs. Usually a chapter. Last night 4 people had signed up to read. This is where I got into trouble. I’m so ashamed.
One of the regular attendees is writing a fantasy novel. His story is set in the 17th century. I’m very impressed that he is staying as true as he is to how English was spoken back then.
I was third to give him my feedback and I cringe to tell you what I said. I know that when I tell you this your opinion of me will definitely get much lower – much, much lower. I’m embarrassed to even mention what I said, but I have a need to talk about it, plus I have this habit of being very honest, even though by doing so, I incriminate myself. I’ve been like this all my life. So here goes nothing.
In this story there is a character who, I only discovered about a month ago, that he has an array of folks in his head that talk with him. He’ll have conversations with these individuals.
Before I began my critique I asked him if the character is schizophrenic. He replied,
This is what I told him,
“Ever since I found out he’s schizophrenic, I’ve lost some respect for him.”
Here I am, someone who is always defending those who are different, whether it be because of mental illness or just being different period and I make a statement like that. Let’s just say I never put my foot in my mouth because my foot seems to have taken permanent residence there!
What made that statement even more awkward is this: One of the members in the room, a young woman, just so happens to be schizophrenic. When I was finished making a fool of myself, she spoke up and said,
“Well, I’m schizophrenic and…”
The rest I honestly didn’t hear because I was too busy chastising myself. There was no anger or hate in her voice. In fact, she was very gracious to me when I apologized to her. She is a sweet person and such a gifted writer. I will forever be kicking myself about this.
I’m not trying to backpedal what I had said, but, as most will tell you, I have a problem with words and for some reason his schizophrenia stuck out for me and just wouldn’t let go. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it had nothing to do with that, but more to do with the fact that the character is a jerk. Just not a good person all the way around.
I tried to clarify myself, but because it sounded like I was backpedaling, it just landed like a lead balloon. It also illustrated something else that I try to impress upon others.
We all have our ideas about certain things and even when we ‘grow out’ of them, those negative connotations stay with us still. Even if we know different; know better. The difference is that most people are adult enough to not say everything that comes into our heads, except those like me.
Time and again I have to keep telling myself that it’s not necessary to voice everything that pops into my head. For the most part I have conquered the tendency to be ignorant, but every now and then, I slip up.
I want to go on record as saying that I am not prejudiced against those who have schizophrenia. When I think of all the myriad of mental health issues I have, who am I to judge others? My fault is that I allowed myself to cater to an old ideology that I grew up with in the days when I was distrustful of those dealing with this issue.
I own up to my insensitive remark and I’m sorry for any undue stress my ignorant remark may have caused you. You are very bright and talented writer.
This adventurous mishap took place at the main library in downtown San Diego, Ca., in The United States of America, on the continent of North America, on Planet Earth, tucked away inside The Milky Way Galaxy, situated somewhere in The Universe.
In the year 1996 A.D. while browsing through some books, my bladder started talking to me. Most times it starts talking early enough to give me a heads up. This time I got the memo a bit late and had to walk as fast as I could in search for the restroom.
With a look of grateful relief, I eyed my destination. I rushed right in and headed for the nearest stall, but not before catching a quick glimpse of the urinals, but I was in such a hurry I didn’t have time to put two and two together. There was nobody using them at the time, which aided me in keeping a blind eye.
After doing my business, I opened the door to the stall, where my eyes fell on a young man, all by himself, doing HIS business at one of the urinals. You would think at this point I would have been able to do the math, right? Nope!
Instead, after walking toward the exit door, I turned around and scolded him, “Do you always relieve yourself in the women’s restroom?”
His back was toward me, of course, and he never responded. In my mind’s eye, it seemed as if he were completely ignoring me. What did I expect him to do? Turn around and address me?
I just stood there fuming while staring at his back. After some seconds I turned around and marched toward the door. As I got outside the restroom, I turned around and saw the sign on the outside of the door. It read, ‘MEN’S RESTROOM’
My eyes widened and my jaw dropped! I was between being embarrassed and laughing as I gingerly tip-toed away, hoping nobody watched me step out from there!
Do you have an embarrassing mishap in your life you’d like to tell? 100 points if it involves a restroom!
Here I am 64 – very soon to be 65 – and people are always saying to me,
“Get over it, already!”
“Do you think you’re the only one who’s had it difficult?”
Let’s take the first one. “Get over it already!” This always makes me laugh because it implies that I’m choosing to stew over these things. I don’t think anyone would choose to do that. That would be insanity!
My abuse started as soon as I was born and continued throughout my childhood. This is important because it means my subconscious has never known any other reality, but the abuse my family dished out to me on a daily basis for 2 1/2 decades. Our subconscious rules most of what we do, say, and how we act and react to others. If you’ve had a relatively good life then it’s not a problem, but for someone like me who was born into a severely dysfunctional environment, it has distorted and warped how I see the world.
The experiences I’ve been through at the hands of my family only got worse as I got older. That, coupled with the fact that I was horribly bullied throughout school didn’t help either. This meant I had no reprieve. My mind never had a chance to bounce back. I’ve always been in survival mode. That is not a great way to live. In fact, it has severely crippled me. I grew up knowing that people are cruel. I grew up hating people. To this day I’m not very fond of people, and that’s putting it nicely. I can like individuals, but as a whole, people are bad, as far as my subconscious is concerned.
Most people who come from healthy and happy homes, grow up automatically knowing that life is good, people are good, and good things can happen. These people would not be expected to suddenly think negatively about others, right? Then why am I, whose experiences with people have been largely abusive and toxic, be expected to, out of the blue, think well of others? That would be highly unlikely and grossly unfair.
Another way to look at it is this: To tell me that I’m thinking negatively is ludicrous. If all I’ve ever experienced is cruelty and abuse at the hands of others all my life, then it’s not a matter of thinking negatively, because I can only be expected to draw from my own personal records in my memory banks.
Conversely, when you take someone whose had a childhood full of positive interactions with others, it’s not so much that they’re thinking positively. It’s that their subconscious has been molded in such a way from an early age, that’s going to affect how they interact with others. They’re only taking cues from their subconscious. They don’t have to go out of their way to think positively, just as I am not going out of my way to think negatively,
My subconscious has learned hate, anger, and distrust. In fact, any other concepts are alien for my subconscious. I can never act or react automatically to what’s happening around me. I’m always weighing the actions and words of others. This is automatic for me. I’m still in survival mode.
Here is a simple illustration. How many times do you sit on the couch, play with your cat, take your dog for a walk, fix yourself a snack, etc., and your mind wanders? For most people, when the mind wanders, it usually takes them to pleasant places. For those of us whose memories have been mainly negative, those bad memories are always right there to rear up their ugly heads. This is not on a conscious level. I don’t choose the bad thoughts. They’re just always there. A few years back I talked with someone about this and they said,
“No matter how you spin the Rolodex, it always comes up bad.”
Very aptly put. That’s it in a nutshell!
No matter how hard I try, I just can’t conjure up good memories. My well of good memories is dry.
There’s another factor involved that seriously dictates my thoughts. During the abuse while living at home, I sustained multiple concussions. This has made life very painful and difficult for me. Throughout my childhood I had explosive outbursts of anger. My mom used to call me ‘Mt. Vesuvius’.
Concussions are dangerous and has changed my personality for the absolute worst. Depending on which part of the brain is affected, it’s going to seriously affect the ability to control emotions. This is what has happened to me. It’s necessary to take daily medication to control my anger. If I don’t take it, I’m out of control, I would be crying incessantly, By the end of a week I become suicidal.
Even with medication it’s a real struggle to keep those horrible thoughts and anger at bay. You might ask why. If you’ve ever taken medication for pain, you’d know that it doesn’t completely eliminate the pain. It just makes it a little easier to deal with. This is how it works for me. They are not the magic beans I wish they were.
Sadly, these terrible memories are always there, ready to take center stage. Do you know how many times I’m in front of my TV and a commercial comes on that triggers me, or I see or hear something very innocuous that may jar a memory? Many times these memories bring me to tears. For the next 10-15 minutes I turn into Hyde and I have to make a concerted effort to redirect my mind and calm down. This is what I deal with multiple times a day, every day of my life. In the past when I’ve mentioned this to therapists, many of them would excitedly say to me,
“You see, Kelly! You can control your thoughts!”
That’s ridiculous! How many people do you know who have to make Herculean efforts to keep their minds from going astray? What about the days when I’m too tired to even make the effort? Then what? Do you know what it’s like to always have an iron fist on the neck of my emotions? For the most part it feels animalisitic. By the end of the day I’m exhausted.
Usually, it’s when I’m alone at home that this is an issue for me because these are the times my mind is unguarded and resting. I don’t have to be on high alert. When in public my mind is more preoccupied with what’s happening around me.
In Part Three I’d like to cover, “Do you think you’re the only one who’s had problems?”
Whether you are a person of color or not, let’s celebrate Black History Month. We can honor and show respect by recognizing all that they have done to help build this nation of ours, for having willingly fought in the many wars, risking their lives to secure our freedoms, dating back to The Revolutionary War.
We can honor the Black culture by actively speaking out when we see any kind of social injustice being committed. It doesn’t have to be anything as grand as taking part in a protest. It can be something as small as offering a kind word, defending people of color against bullies, wishing someone a ‘Happy Black History Month’, just as you would wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas”, or a simple hug.
If you have any kind of platfom, use that platform, at the very least, to acknowledge Black History Month. All these acts say ‘I see you’. That is so powerful and so many segments of the population have been invisible for far too long.
Trivia Time! Do you know the name of the first slave ship that went to Africa? Amistad. Do you know what that means? Friendship! I find that appalling.
Racism isn’t just happening in this country. It’s happening all over the world. No matter which country you live in, let’s all do our part in doing what is right and just.
Whether you are a person of color or not, what kind of neighborhood did you live in? I, for one, was raised in an all-white neighborhood and wasn’t exposed to anyone Black, except from what I saw on TV, until I was about 12. This had a tremendous impact on me.
I believe this is vitally important because it helps us to understand each other. That’s the first step in stopping racism. Open up a dialogue with your friend and discuss what you can do to bring the Black community uppermost in the minds of others, this will help to bring awareness, thereby helping to change attitudes,. By talking about certain factions of the community, you are not sweeping them under the rug. When you begin speaking, it causes an awareness of certain segments of society to become more real to you, as well as raising awareness to others.
I was raised in an all-white neighborhood and wasn’t exposed to anyone who wasn’t White until about 12. One day, while at the beach, I took a walk along the park that ran along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. I remember seeing an older Black man sitting on a bench, I decided to sit next to him, We started talking, about what, I don’t remember, Then his family came pulling up in their car, His granddaughter got out of the car, came over to me and asked,
“Are you alright, honey?” as she touched me softly on my shoulder, The look of concern on her face led me to guess that she assumed her grandfather was being inappropriate with me.
TV shaped all that I ever knew about Blacks. Sadly, much of what I saw was in a negative light. Unfortunately, this really distorted my ideas of the culture.
One of the first impressions I saw on TV was the big, loud mouthed Black woman. She was always shown with a lot of ‘in your face’ attitude who rarely showed any compassion and empathy. They were constantly shown telling their crying children,
“I’m going to hit you upside the head if you don’t shut it!”
That’s the only way I had ever seen them portrayed as. I only saw the stereotypes. Of course, what did I know? I was a very small child. As a result, I always saw them in a negative light. Ultimately, this overflowed into my not trusting the Blacks in general. How easily the media can help to breed racism.
Then something incredible happened. Sidney Poitier came on the scene! Wow! I was about 10 at the time. At first, I thought it was rather odd to have a Black man playing leading characters in films. This thought didn’t come from a prejudicial standpoint, but purely from a clear understanding of the racial tensions of the day. This was back in ’68 which was the height of the Civil Rights Movement. At first, I watched him out of simple curiosity.
“Does the director know he’s Black?” I thought sarcastically. I tried to figure out what was so special about him that Hollywood would gamble on someone of his race!
Trivia Time! Did you know Sidney Poitier was the first Black actor to play leading roles in Hollywood?
Soon, I understood why and couldn’t get enough. For one thing, he was a superb actor. He knew how to touch people’s hearts. He certainly touched mine. The themes of most of his films dealt with racial injustice, if not, some kind of social injustice. I came to love, respect, and admire him for that.
The first movie I was, “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner”. I did find the theme of the movie rather odd. Imagine back in the late ’60s bringing your Black boyfriend home to meet your parents? I’m not saying it never happened, but it certainly wasn’t a common occurrence back then. The acting was superb and the dynamics between her date and her parents were played out very well. The racial tension was very palpable for me.
“To Sir, With Love” didn’t really affect me as much. I viewed it as primarily a fantasy piece. Olivia Newton-John lessened the whole experience, plus, with few exceptions, I’ve never been a fan of musicals. It’s been a while. Maybe I should see it again,
The one movie that truly touched my heart and brought me to tears was, “A Patch of Blue”. Wow! There were so many elements in this movie I found intriguing. The first thing I found very different was that a Black man cared to step out and help a young White woman. Imagine that! Now, before you judge, I was around 10 at the time, not to mention this was a time of much civil unrest. Everyone was so divisive back then. Not like today…right? It seems history is repeating itself. We’ll never learn, it seems.
When Selina D’Arcey, played by Elizabeth Hartman, began to fall in love with Gordon Ralfe, played by Sidney Poitier, it broke my heart and I found myself sobbing. For once his skin color didn’t matter to me. The Sidney Poitier experience (not to be confused with The Jimi Hendrix Experience!) has stayed with me for the rest of my life. I am eternally grateful to him for playing a major role in helping me to shift my attitudes toward the Black culture.
If I may, I’d like to tell of another experience that happened when I was in high school.
The kids at my high school were not at all kind. When one of my sisters befriended a couple of Black sisters who had recently moved into our neighborhood, I was beyond scared for them. In my mind’s eye, I imagined they would be beaten up and called all sorts of horrible names. and – by the way – the first real honest-to-goodness Blacks I ever personally interacted with, other than that old man at the beach. The oldest girl was so sweet, open, and friendly. This made me all the more fearful for them. Long story short. Nothing of the sort happened and I was so grateful for that.
Have you had experiences similar to mine? Or were they completely different? No matter your skin color, what does Black History Month mean to you?
This particular mishap ocurred about 10 years ago. It was the day before Thanksgiving and I volunteered to cook the turkey for our Thanksgiving party downstairs in the Residencial lounge. I had never cooked a turkey before, but I thought I’d give it a try.
I know what y’all are thinking. The mishaps has something to do with the turkey, right? Keep reading.
Before cooking the weighty bird, I did some research online as to the best way to cook one and maintain its juiciness throughout. After searching online for several different ways to do this, I finally decided on one.
Everything was going well and I was congratulating myself. Already, I felt like an expert and just couldn’t understand how people talk about how difficult it could possibly be to cook a turkey.
After putting the turkey in the oven, I took the frozen cherry pie out of the freezer, along with the can of whipped cream. It was at that momentI realized my two favorite shows were going to be on soon: Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!. You don’t get in my way when those two game shows are on. In my rush to make sure I don’t miss my shows, I placed the can of whipped cream on the stove and headed toward the living room to play out my nightly ritual.
Pretty soon I was snuggled up on the couch, lost in my shows. A good half hour had passed when all of a suddenly, I heard a very large pop followed by a hissing sound. Naturally, I jumped! Nearly off the couch! For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what could have possibly made that strange sound. Very slowly, I inched myself back into the kitchen, not knowing what catastrophe I would find.
Then I saw it. The whipped cream was everywhere. At first all I could do was stare blankly at the splattered contents of the can that was all over that kitchen. There was no way I’d be able to clean that mess up myself! It would have taken me forever. I ended up calling a friend and explaining my predicament. We both had problems containing our laughter. She was over in no time to help me clean up it up. As we were cleaning the globs of whipped cream from the walls, the underside of the kitchen table, and between the cracks where the refrigerator and stove met, we couldn’t help but let out a laugh here and there. Having a friend to help sure made the whole situation less stressful.
What about you? Have you had a mishap of your own? If so, how did you survive it?
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