“It’s just noise coming out of an ugly scientist.”

sisters

I’ve been thinking a lot about my sister, Heather, of late.  The anniversary of her passing was in July.  She died the day before her 35th birthday.  She was coming to Sioux Falls to celebrate with me the following day.  I have no idea where I am in the grief process in her regard.  I miss her.

I still ask myself, would it make 7-year-old Heather cry?  If yes, don’t say it.  (A gift from my mom.)  I’ve since changed it to, don’t think it.  (I’m a notorious thought telegrapher.)  My desire to be kind is far stronger than my desire to be funny.  They used to compete.  🤭

When we were little, we had an unspoken alliance as the only black people in our family at the time.  As the older sister, I assumed the role of Heathers’ protector.  If a child hit her on the playground, I would see red and lose it.  As I got older and recognized Heather deliberately antagonized kids to see my response, I learned to relax and assess before attacking.

knight in armor

As a kid, part of me thought Heather was an asshole for doing this, but mostly, I was impressed because it worked.  As an adult, a psychiatrist prompted me to wonder why she behaved this way.  It was the first time I ever looked at it with adult eyes and perspective.  (It also distracted me for a bit when I most needed it.)

I wasn’t affectionate as a child.  Heather needed to know I loved her unconditionally.  So she tested me.  She did this well into adulthood.  I don’t remember ever saying it, (may have screamed it), but I showed her on her terms.  I think my inner warrior originated to protect my little sister.  I’m doing the groundwork (courage mustering) before letting go of that compartmentalization of my mind.

I can laugh about the time I almost went AWOL to (in my head) murder a piece of shit for beating her up.  It would be more efficient for me to surrender at the nearest police station than go through the motions of committing a crime.

Cop:  Did you do this?

Me:  (Long pause while I consciously, agonizingly, make the neurological connections necessary to speak.) Nod.  (Long pause while I debate whether I said it out loud or not.)  Yes.

It’s just not logistically feasible for me to attempt deception.  I mean.  I think there’s a 72-hour time limit to answer questions or something.  I’d need way more time, internet access, improv training, etc.  Just give me the damn jumpsuit.  (In Minority Report, I’d get suspended for murderous thoughts over horrible men who hurt my little sister.)

volcano

Fortunately for that guy, my military training prevailed.  Also, I’ve never managed to hold on to that level of rage for more than an hour, tops.  It’s incredibly draining emotionally.  I firmly believed the punishment for making Heather cry was beheading for about an hour, though.  Then I wept because I knew I couldn’t do that.

It was the last time Heather messed with horrible men.  Our relationship changed a lot after that.  We grew closer.  Listening to me weep over the phone from another country and repeatedly apologize for not being able to avenge her, even though I was a soldier, affected us both in ways I can’t explain.

Perhaps we both grew up a little.  We were honest about our feelings with each other after that.  We talked for hours about our childhood, and how we felt.  It’s when I first understood why Heather changed abruptly as a child.  When she first encountered racism, she was never the same.  She went from being called, Smiley, to an angry little girl who only acted out around me.

monarch

I noticed.  For a large part of my childhood, I hated Heather on some level, because I was the only person who was safe for her to express how she felt.  I’m just now fully grasping this.  The former resentment is now retro-honor.  I’m so glad I was a safe person for my little sister.  She needed me.  🙃

The day Heather graduated from high school, she moved out of state.  The day.  Everything she owned (and everything I didn’t take with me to the Army) was loaded up and ready to go immediately following the party.  (She relocated to the hood in a city large enough to have one.)

I moved out at 16, but only a few blocks away to my brothers’ house.  I couldn’t live with Heather anymore.  I wasn’t equipped to witness (or survive) her transformation from angry little girl to angry teenager.  (I remember crying a lot.)  She knew just what to say to reduce me to tears.  (Not like it’s hard to make a teenager cry; it’s mean.)

I left for basic training before Heather fully got in touch with her anger.  No shame in stating I’m glad.  My mom was an incredible person.  Somehow, their relationship strengthened during that time.  She certainly got over her fear of what the neighbors might think.  (Teenage Heather aimed at that little weakness.)  🤭

sisters

In some ways, I’m glad I was too busy trying to exist in a physically and socially hostile (to me) world to grok subtle racism.  Most of it flew by me unnoticed.  However, I also deliberately surrounded myself with more diversity as soon as I was old enough.  (I think this used to be a symptom of growing up in Sioux Falls in general.  It’s way better now than when I was a kid.)

I think Heather was the big sister when it came to coping with racism.  She was also the little sister; in that, she acted out her rage toward me because she was a child, and that’s how they express hard feelings.  I’m so glad I got to be Heather’s sister.  It was one of my most cherished relationships.

I’m glad I told her how much she hurt me when I was a child, and she listened and apologized.  She told me things I said that hurt her as well, and how those scars affected her choices.  I apologized, and we cried and forgave.  Then she asked me for a hug, and I presume I tensed up because she quickly retracted the request.

Sigh.  And that’s okay because it was my body speaking for me.  Hugging isn’t mandatory.  It’s just one of many ways to express affection.  I didn’t like allowing people to touch my body for most of my life outside of sexual relationships.  I now know it’s because I wasn’t in my body, and that made it a repulsive notion.

My cat forced me to get over this issue.  Weird.  A kid would have done it, too.  I’m just rambling at this point.  Heh.  I’m off to play Warcraft.  ✌💜

“I just didn’t have them back then.”

shipping containers

I’m having a fantastic week.  A few days ago, I watched Wanda Sykes’ Not Normal on Netflix.  (Cut to me grinning through tears when I found it on my home screen.) 😭🥰😆🙃 Watching was like getting a Prozac infusion while eating Jade-approved yellow cake.  I laughed so hard I’m surprised I didn’t get a noise complaint.  Especially since it involved a bit of involuntary running about, standing up like my seat was on fire, and hollering at the TV.

It’s just that Wanda Sykes is The Comedian Who Made Me Laugh So Hard I Hurled.  She knows how to make all my bones spontaneously turn into jelly.  She casually (and scientifically) explained everything I need to know about menopause (while I was winding down from ugly laughing.)  It all makes sense, now. 🤔👍🏽  Humans are even more incredible than I thought. 🤯🙃

Just when I discerned I’ve been playing a discreet version of Hot Lava, with my bed as the safe zone, Wanda Sykes pops up and says, hey, girl, it’s going to be okay. 🥰  (Oofda, I needed that.)  I finally got to compare notes with a woman who was also interracially adopted, recently.  It was fascinating, and my mom is now even more awesome than I knew.  She did things I didn’t realize at the time were so thoughtful and brilliant.  I’m so proud of her.

black hair

 

For example, she hired local university students to socialize with Heather and me when we were little.  (The only other black people we knew of at that time were Gary Coleman, Todd Bridges, Janet Jackson, and Kim Fields.)  My mom sensed we needed to meet black people who weren’t on TV.  I have fond memories of slumber parties in the dorms at Augustana with young women from all sorts of places that weren’t South Dakota.

We got our hair braided.  We went to concerts, plays, and sporting events with our new big sisters.  They invited us to their homes on school breaks in other states.  We visited a church with all black people, (and I wept uncontrollably from the moment we entered until a woman caught the spirit and started convulsing on the floor, and I ran over and hugged her and wouldn’t let go until I was pried off.)  I thought she needed holding, and the idea of not acting on it terrified me.  Heh.

As I’m sure you’ve imagined, Heather’s version of that event was a lot more detailed, protracted, and (evidently) hilarious.  (Recalling it was one of her favorite ways to shut me down for years afterward.)  😂 Remember that time we went to that church?  🤭 I can laugh about it soon.  Also, the convulsing woman hugged me back, so I knew she was okay, and I held on because I had so much to say to her, and no words.  Here’s a secret:  In my spirit, that hug was an I love you to my culture, and I never let go. 💜✌🏽

“I can’t believe this is happening.”

umbrella ella ella eh eh eh

I’m thinking about my mom a lot, of late.  The upcoming holiday adverts have likely penetrated my thoughts.  I have so many memories of my mom.  A part of her exists in my head now.  Often, I hear her comments in my mind.

I have what I refer to as the Greatest Hits collection.  It includes things she would often say, such as, “I’m the mom; you’re the child.”  (I’m a wee bit embarrassed by how much convincing I needed on that point.)  I accepted I wasn’t in charge, eventually, but never that I was a child.  Fortunately, the temporary nature made it moot.  🙃

I remember the horrible, awful way it felt when I first realized my mom was human, and therefore, imperfect.  (Cut to me at age six, on the phone with 911, reporting my mom for lying.)  It felt like being yanked up and back at high speed with no warning by an invisible force; resulting in utter disorientation in the universe.  The same way it felt when she died.

mother

It wasn’t the first time I lost a loved one.  I was still reeling from the loss of my brother, a year prior.  I honestly didn’t know it was possible to continue existing after losing my mom.  How the hell could I walk when there was no longer a ground?

There’s no way to prepare in advance for the loss of a parent.  When it happens, you fall apart.  Part of the foundation of your existence is gone.  You have to figure out how to rebuild it from within.  It sucks.  It’s hard.  All I know is it helps to become your parent (to yourself,) taking over the role your parent once fulfilled.

I usually know what my mom would say or do in a situation.  She’s still an influential guide in my life.  I now have a reinforced foundation built of the many things my mom taught me when she was here.  It also consists of applied lessons gifted from others who helped shape who I’ve become.

Happy Mothers Day

I’m grateful I had her as long as I did.  It’s funny how I used to resent her for knowing me better than I knew myself.  I thought it was the peak of audacity when I was a teenager.  😂 I can still remember the sound of my mom laughing hard.  It’s one of my best treasures.  I’m off to read ✌🏽💜

“Come on, Jerry, this is a security issue. Boy, you wouldn’t last a day in the Army.”

boxes

I’ve been collecting items to take with me on my visit to see my sister.  I used to keep the boxes from all my electronics in a closet.  Since my purge began, I threw away most of them.  It freed up an unbelievable amount of space.  The boxes from my electronic drum kit took up the most room.  For someone who voids warranties like there’s a prize, it was ridic to keep them.

Having a nearly empty closet feels spectacular.  I’m going to use it for tool storage.  I haven’t designed the layout yet, but I’m going to get some pegboard and paint, then make everything easy to find, reach, and return.  Probably some LED lighting.  I should go through all my tools and get rid of duplicates.  I don’t need four soldering irons.  I’m probably going to rearrange my furniture, too.

I acquired this skill/habit from my mom.  Every year we’d go through everything and weed out the things we didn’t use or want.  Then we’d rotate bedrooms and rearrange furniture.  Spring cleaning meant removing everything from a room, cleaning thoroughly, then starting over fresh.  I remember being anxious and excited about it as a kid.  I’m grateful I grew up this way.  It was especially helpful when I served in the Army.

My family had an annual garage sale along with several neighbors each summer.  I have fond memories of these times.  It was a good lesson on letting go of things.  It also reinforced the joys of being generous.  It was a lot easier to pass along a favorite toy when you witnessed its new owners delight.  I recall bargaining with other kids (and placing a far higher value on 2 dollar bills, and fifty-cent pieces than other denominations.)

tools

The only time I’ve held a garage sale as an adult, I decided everything was free a few hours in (because I didn’t want to hang out and watch it anymore.)  People are weird about free stuff.  If I list something for free on Craigslist, nobody inquires.  If I put it in my parking space with a sign, it’s gone in an hour.  It’s as if being seen accepting is a dealbreaker.  I’m going to list a few things on Craigslist this weekend, mostly because I’m curious about what leads to interest, and what doesn’t.

I haven’t sold on eBay in ages.  They keep changing their policies, and I don’t have any desire to read the revisions.  I got four TOS updates from various online entities yesterday.  I’m waiting for the law to catch up.  It’s bullshit to allow a corporation to put virtually anything in their user agreement, knowing not only will the user not read it; even if they do, they likely won’t understand it.  It’s an old deliberate trick.

You’d think a decent attorney could argue one can’t be held accountable for an agreement they can’t comprehend.  (That’s the intention, of course.)  It would involve epic tedium, but I think it could work, (based on my Court TV viewing experience.)  Heh.  (Back when it was watchable, not TruTv.)  I’m off to Lowe’s to shop for my future tool closet.  Peace.

“Kramer, there’s no way you’re sleeping with me.”

 

Goodbye winter!

My role at work is now a text-only advisor.  Yay.  I’m preparing for my next trip, but I haven’t yet picked a date.  One of my reasons for visiting my sister is to pass on things I no longer want.  She’ll pass along what doesn’t interest her to other relatives.  She’s got five adult kids, (the oldest a year older than me.)  I have a lot of nieces and nephews (considering only half of my siblings have children.)

It’s more convenient than Craigslist.  I’m going to load up my car with electronics that need a new home before I hit the road.  It’ll be fun to pack them safely for travel.  I used to enjoy loading vehicles in the Army.  It was like physical Tetris, only far more satisfying when done well.  I need to get a cheap memory foam mattress topper to protect the TV and monitor.   And locate my bungee cords.  😆

I’m already excited, which means it will probably be soon.  I’m getting rid of all my Amazon products, such as tablets, FireTV, Echo and Echo Dot.  I’m going to keep my Kindle Paperwhite, though.  My Prime membership expires next month, and I’m not renewing.  I’m a bit sad to be breaking up with Amazon, but the cons outweigh the pros.  I’m sure they’ll survive without my business.  Heh.

I’ll sleep better knowing I took a gigantic (for me) step toward reducing my impact on the planet.  It will eliminate impulse shopping.  I’ve given lots of thought to my relationship with material things recently.  I don’t feel overwhelmed by excess stuff anymore since I began my purge months ago.  Giving it away feels wicked good.  I’m addicted to witnessing the joy of others as a result.

Packed stuff

When you give someone something they need or love, they must release some form of contagious happiness endorphins.  (Not that kind of doctor, she said, unnecessarily.)  It’s in my top ten favorite life experiences.  I had the ideal parents for learning generosity.  It rubbed off on most of us.  A few times, I’ve gotten something back I previously gave away just when I needed it again.  (Furniture.)

I think it’s safe to say snowing is over for the season.  I’ll be glad when the 2 feet melting on my balcony is gone.  That last storm was a doozy.  It’s nearly 50° F today and getting slightly warmer in the forecast.  Yay.  I’m getting ready to set up my Privacy Pop tent on the floor in my playroom.  It’s going to be my ghouls (or gools.)  My safe zone.  I have a twin mattress and some string lights to cozy it up.  I think it will be good for keeping my anxiety in check.  I hope.

Amelia Bedelia will assume it’s for her, but I don’t mind her company.  I remember ghouls from playing tag as a kid.  And calling, “Ollie Ollie och-ten free!”  It’s funny to me now because we all knew these words by rote but could easily explain them.  I used to shout, Ollie Ollie oxen free (until someone noticed.)  I’m still notorious for mispronunciation and getting the lyrics wrong.  😂  I’m off to beat my drums with sticks.