Changing Black – MLK

October 18, 2017 (Original start date was March 2016)

I’ve not written or posted an original work in quite some time, but a question I found on Quora (footnoted) this morning, triggered me to complete something I’d started 10 months ago, so here it is.

Rev John Walker and Dr. Martin Luther King. What comes to mind?

I had to look the former one up, because I really had nothing on him, other than a quote.  It was the latter,  however that I drew my inspiration from.

Rev. John Walker, on the other hand could be a person of interest for our modern times.

The other day, I was perusing Facebook and came across a comment made by someone I do not know regarding a link from a person I do know that had shared from someone else he knows.  You know how those things go. It’s social media.

All in all it resulted in a chain of connections that took me to comments for the “shared” item. One comment in particular caught my eye because it was negative about a positive post. Curious, I clicked on that person’s name thinking there might be something there to clue me as to why this person was so defensive.

As I scroll down his page, I didn’t have far to go before I realize this person lives on the dark side of the moon. How sad I thought.

Mostly I saw pictures that depict one injustice after another and really that’s all there was. There was the cheering for someone who pulls out a gun and shoots a purse snatcher,  I guess that could be good if not a bit excessive? Another for some presumed injustice that did not appear to be anything more that a person being pushed around as they maneuvered through a crowd, which could happen to anyone.

The picture that really caught my eye though, was an old one of two people hung. A mother and son to be exact. Below the picture there was the caption explaining why they were hung, which was totally unjust. The two people were black and it appeared that that was essentially their only crime. It was 1911. It was horrible and sad.

I immediately became defensive.

Yes, those things happened. I hate them too.  These injustices happened to blacks, but it happened to whites as well. Unfortunately, blacks were more frequently targeted and today more focused on. This world is not fair by any stretch of the imagination. They happened and it was abhorrent.

In the words of Rev. John Walker, “God does not look at our past and present. He looks at our hearts and our future.”

My father would often defend his use of certain words that were common in his day. It was there nature of speech, but not necessarily their opinion. My father and his father of the 1800’s spoke that way. I know from what my father says, “your grandfather employed blacks and treated them decently”. But what was decent in those days?

It is history but it is not nor does it have to be your history. I had a hard time communicating that to blacks I worked with. They have a difficult time letting go of the past and any overtures of kindness are met with disdain or as being condescending. We need to learn to accept that’s how it was. Somewhere along the way all of us must recognize the past as past and the past cannot be changed. We can’t “fix” that, there are no do overs of he past except in Hollywood. We can only change what’s ahead of us and how we think and behave is the only thing we have any control of.

Those were my thoughts.

This poor soul’s whole FB page was dedicated to focusing on wrongs committed by whites and yes, he is black. This tidbit was not shared for its historical value so much as a reminder to hate. To not forget. Why else dwell on it?

It broke my heart to say the least. It’s no wonder progress toward equality stagnates.

I thought of the big hoopla that was made last year about “OscarsSoWhite” **and how of late we see things going backward rather than forward.  Why is that?

I know many wonderful blacks who I consider friends, but I’ve also met some very racist blacks who blame everyone but themselves for why there is racism. Could Hollywood be part of the problem?

For instance:

I still find the portrayal of the southern white person as bigoted or as one friend in California says when she tells me she hates, “hics” (she never said rednecks).   This she says, staring at me blankly for several seconds after I’d stated that “everyone has prejudices”, as though she were guilty of none.  She finally states that her prejudice is “hics”. (she’s very white).  Her response was like that of the person who believes soap opera’s are real.  I suppose this was intended as noble of her. (BTW, the white supremacist leader is from Boston, not the south.)

A policeman, might have a different perception of race, according to what he is subjected to and faces in his day to day work “place”. (See my footnote.)

Hollywood creates stereotypes and I think sometimes our impressions of certain races is based on these. When I lived in the south my perception of blacks, whites or Hispanics was different than it is in California.

In California, Hispanics actually speak English and blacks are pleasant and friendly, whites are superficial and everyone’s a health nut. In Alabama, Hispanics don’t speak English, blacks are angry and antagonistic, whites are generally working hard to change their public persona. Both states have lots of homeless.  I had a white friend terrified to open her mouth in California for fear her accent would cause people to be ugly to her assuming that if she was from the south then she must be one of those bigots, which is the farthest thing from the truth. Fortunately, no one did this.

If racism is to be overcome, the barriers need to fall on both sides. It isn’t something only whites are responsible for accomplishing.

This mentality does not only plague blacks, it plagues everyone. It plagues the poor, the rich, the sick, the Hispanic, the Asian, the gay or any other group out there that can be slighted.  It seems that the more politically correct we try to become the more cause there is to be offended. There will always be slights. It’s a given because of our humanness.

Have I experienced racism? Sure.

Ironically, it was when I lived in California not Alabama that prejudice smacked me in the face. When I was 20, I dated this young man from a upper class family in La Jolla. He took me to his home to meet his parents, thinking nothing of it. They were cordial, but later he would break up with me because his parents didn’t want him marrying or dating an Hispanic. I guess it was like him mixing with the help. Was I hurt? I was chagrined, yes. Angry to tell the truth, at him for not having balls enough to stick up for himself or me. I guess you have to care to do that.

Was it permanent? NO! I got over it. Did it ruin the rest of life? Hell no!  Did I look for slights everywhere I went? NO! Why should I?

As anyone who’s been following my blog knows, I’m originally from Alabama, but I really didn’t grow up there or live there for long and what memories I have are positive. There were no racial events to tar my memory, other than being called a “yankee” because of my accent. In fact, the kids I went to school with loved me. I was a novelty. My “white” cousins were proud to say they were related. My mother however, was not fond of it and very aware of her swarthy complexion, but that was her. I never noticed anyone singling her or me out. She was more self conscious of them being white than they were of her being Hispanic.

At 60, I moved “back home” and I will admit, I was self conscious at first, but I needn’t have been because I was received well.

Blacks in general would however focus on my ethnicity more than whites did as if it was supposed to cause me problems, but it never did. Sadly, I noticed how so many of them kept bringing up the past and were unwilling to let it go or forgive and in so doing found an affront everywhere in anything anyone said. Some admitted this was a problem.

My dad used to say “if you believe you’re different, you’ll be treated accordingly”.  It was the best advice he ever gave me.

In my many years of living, I’ve gotten along in life not holding onto the race card, not wanting to call attention to my difference and treating others the same.

Staying angry and blaming this generation for the mistakes of past generations does nothing to help us get past the past.  We need to embrace our differences and be willing to accept and laugh at ourselves. (Ecclesiastes 7: 9) .  ” Do not hurry yourself in your spirit to become offended, for the taking of offense is what rests in the bosom of the stupid ones.”

We can’t help what previous generations did, but we can help what this one does.

How do we change conditioning and antagonism?  Globally, it seems overwhelming and I don’t really have a good answer.

What I do know is, feeding on bitterness and hate gets us nowhere. I wanted to say something positive to that young man who thought so negatively, but I didn’t know what I could say that would not be construed as a racist attack, so I left it alone and blogged instead. Will he see this? Probably not.

A person has to want a healthy diet. (Proverbs 14:29) vs29 ..”He that is slow to anger is abundant in discernment, but one that is impatient is exalting foolishness.”

I can only recommend myself and offer suggestions. So, if we want change, change what is in your power to change. YOU.

Change yourself and you will change the world one person at a time. I like the term, “Pay it Forward”, what you give out comes back.

Martin Luther King was in the process of changing black in America. Because he was a Christian and a Baptist minister, he is best known for using nonviolent civil disobedience to achieve civil rights.

“In 1959, he published a short book called The Measure of A Man, which contained his sermons “What is Man?” and “The Dimensions of a Complete Life”. The sermons argued for man’s need for God’s love and criticized the racial injustices of Western civilization.”(Wiki quote)

On October 14, 1964 he became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent methods for combating racial inequality. Later posthumously he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Unfortunately Mr. King was assassinated on April 4th in Tennessee.  Unfortunately it resulted in a wave of riots. I wonder what Mr. King would have thought about that?  Justifiable anger? Absolutely!  This was a good, just and fair man. He was making headway on behalf of blacks. There’s been no one like him since.

The new Black leaders like , Sharpton and Jackson spew hatred and retaliation, keeping alive the sad past of whites against black. Malcolm X and other more radical black leaders, who were present at the “I Have a Dream” speech and march, condemned the speech along with the rest of the march. Instead they keep stirring the pot, fomenting violence and hate. They do not foster a peaceful resolution.

White Supremacists, like Richard Spencer go on to stoke the fire even further as if blacks are the problem. NO, NO, NO!!!

Rioting and destruction in black neighborhoods are the new norm and have now become the new mantra and any excuse will trigger it. Blacks don’t even have to be in the right. If anyone of color is killed, accidentally or deliberately, blacks will wreak havoc, sometimes destroying their own neighborhoods and looting their own people.

In the presidential citation Mr. King received, there is a statement that I believe can still be true.

“Martin Luther King, Jr., was the conscience of his generation. He gazed upon the great wall of segregation and saw that the power of love could bring it down. From the pain and exhaustion of his fight to fulfill the promises of our founding fathers for our humblest citizens, he wrung his eloquent statement of his dream for America. He made our nation stronger because he made it better. His dream sustains us yet.”

We all have that dream. We, all of us can make this dream come true.

Martin Luther King believed in God and he believed the Bible, which still says it best.

(Colossians 3:14) 14: “But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”

Love covers all.

**https://www.quora.com/Why-is-Americas-great-racial-diversity-poorly-represented-on-movies-video-games-and-television?

Post script:  I got this email from my sister just after I posted this, totally unaware of what was transpiring in Florida. I thought it pertinent to my blog.  Please pray for the folks in Gainesville.

Dear —

Well, it is another exciting week in Gainesville…remember I told you about that white supremist, Richard Spencer?   He tried to come to Gainesville and was denied then when he filed a lawsuit the University had to allow it….but then we had the storms.    So, he is now scheduled to speak tomorrow at 2:00 at the Phillips Center.    The Phillips Center is within walking distance from me.  Since Tuesday there have been swarms of State Troopers along 34th Street.   Again, within walking distance from me is a hotel…the parking lot is full of State Trooper vehicles and today on my way home I noticed that cars going into the hotel were being checked.   The governor has already declared a State of Emergency for Alachua County.   That puts the National Guard on ready so there isn’t time lost in getting them involved if need be.

The University has set very strict rules as to what can be carried into the auditorium and one item that is banned is bottled water, but also no bicycles within a designated perimeter around the auditorium.   Today when I walked to Winn Dixie there were several helicopters flying circles overhead.   So, I guess they are as ready as possible.

At work Tuesday, one of the male therapist said he is going to accompany his friend who is a young reporter for the local TV station.   His friend is really nervous about this, but also Brad told me that Antifa has been keeping very silent about whether they will attend.   Partly because the FBI is monitoring them so they aren’t communicating as much.  

The interesting thing is that our pastor Sunday said that the pastors in Gainesville have gotten together and asked their parishioners not to attend even if they plan to express disfavor.  Pastors very rarely actually tell their parishioners what to do…unless they are in a cult.    However, the pastors will be coming together in various locations in town to hold prayer meetings during  the guys speech.   Today in my women’s Bible study group we also prayed over our city/county for protection, but also that this man’s message is diffused peacefully.   

The positive thing is that our local news has given our pastor and the local churches more attention than to this man.     So, tomorrow at 2:00 eastern please pray for us.    I will let you know how the day goes.

Love you, 

 

Blogging

Wow!route 66

Do you know how long it takes to read blogs?  I love them but of late I’ve had to put them on hold. I especially love the friends I’ve made blogging.

 

There is tandemtrekking, who writes about her beautiful treks across this great country of ours, now in the process of doing the Pacific Coast Trail (?) better known as the PCT.

Nutsrok shares what it’s like to be southern and what it’s like having such a colorful assortment of relatives. Telling her stories with such great humor and candidness; bunKaryudo, I’ll be damned if I know how to pronounce that but then maybe it’s not meant to be said aloud, shares his trials of being a parent and other convivial sides of life. He is always on the hunt for subject matter to keep us entertained with.

Then, there’s thelonelyauthor, with his lovely poems about his humanness and I can’t forget all those posts from “the neighborhood @thepublicblogger“. Not lastly, there’s my friend from the past, Badfish, who shares his beautiful pictures as he journeys and gives his perspective of peoples and countries most of us may never get to know from across the world.

Not mentioned are the many more people I’ve connected with since I started to write this particular blog.

From time to time I’ve been prone to and will reblog other’s posts; if you weren’t named trust me, you’re still very important to me.

BLOGS

Do you ever start, stop then after awhile start again, figurin’ it’s been long enough?

That’s me.  I’ve got three half started blogs, no five. This is one of them. So now there’s four.

Lately I’ve had so much on my plate. Working on what I should be working on, screenplays and trying to battle moles and gophers from my yard and finding a way of getting my yard looking half way decent within the restricted water parameters in California.

I debated on graveling the front and/or the back, but my neighbor spent thousands on just a small 6 X 15 foot stretch in his front yard and I’ve got 5 times the yard.  No, I’m not ready to do that yet. It is interesting but California had us restrict our water usage and Californians being conservation minded complied, then the water board proceeds to announce that all our water rates will rise to compensate for the lack of revenue!  We can’t win!

This is one of those times I wish I were back in Alabama where rainfall is consistent enough to not need irrigation or outside water sources.

It’s time for a breather.

Julia and I at Hollywood Film Fest

I had a sweet Young lady visiting from France, Julia Pajot. We met on LinkedIn and became friends. After communicating for some time she came out for a visit. She was recognized for her music in an animated short that is making the film festival circuits. The following link as a beautiful piece and the pas de dux is a short she won an award for.

https://www.youtube.com/user/juliapajot

Dreamworks

She’s an amazing, young composer.

Through and with her, I had the grand privilege of attending some Academy animated film screenings. One at Dreamworks and another at The Writer’s Guild. Later we would view her animated short at the Beverly Hills Film Festival.

 

At one point I had to say “time out”, I’m not as young as I used to be and I had trouble keeping up with her.  She was patient with me.  <grin>

(If I’d known I’d get a red carpet pic, I’d have worn something different.)

We’d have fun for a couple of days and then I’d have to rest a couple of days. Seriously.

How she managed to stay up until one or two in the morning networking and hobnobbing, I don’t know. That’s not true. I do remember those days when I had no trouble staying out late. <sigh>

I too, was patient and I didn’t blame her, you got to make hay while the sun shines, and she had to make the best use of her time while here. She is now back in France but her efforts paid off and she is now in the process of getting a work visa to return.

Ahhh youth! At Dance a thon

In the meantime, the gophers and moles have been contained… for the time being anyway and my lawn is acquiring some color again.

I also got back into exercising  but only for awhile.  I think I’m prone to going at it like I was killing snakes and ended up overdoing and now have to take time out to heal my poor body. Ugh!

Isn’t it funny how our minds still think young and our bodies belie us?  What am I saying?  Didn’t I keep up with those young ladies at the Hollywood Dance a Thon for more than six hours?!  Of course, it did take a week to recover.

So I take time off to let my shoulder, hip and knees recover and next time I start out at a much slower pace. That was the beauty of having a trainer, she made sure I didn’t hurt myself. I can keep up and do the work, but after a few weeks my body doth protest. A bigger sigh. <grin>

It was lots of fun, but now it’s time to get back to work. C’est la vie! Oh well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lights, Camera, Cure

I remember growing up and hearing about children dying of leukemia, the most commonly known cancer in children.

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This is me working on my web series

What people don’t know is that every year, over 15,000 children and nearly 70,000 young adults are diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. Maybe not as many as adults, but think about this.  These are young people whose life has been cut short and not given a chance to make their mark in this world.

I have committed myself to stay on my feet for a good six hours for the sake of raising money for a cure for childhood cancer.  Yes, I’m going to jiggle this 69 year old body for a worthy cause.

WHY?

In 1978, my daughter, Tina, lost a very dear friend of hers to cancer. This was a vivacious young teen, who was diagnosed at the end of the school year, received treatments, went into remission and then died the following summer.  This was a kid, well liked, friendly and easy to talk to. If Tina wasn’t home, Mike would think nothing of keeping me on the phone chatting for hours. He was that kind of kid. It devastated everyone who knew him. For a brief period there was hope because he was doing so well and we thought he had it licked. It was painful, not only for her but everyone in her class.

I have committed to raise at least $300 MINIMUM

With your help – HIT DONATE NOW -let’s make it be more.

It is the 5th Annual Hollywood Dance Marathon presented by Lights Camera Cure  which features hundreds of participants dancing for 6 hours, raising money and awareness to battle pediatric and young adult cancer.

One day we’ll dance in celebration — until then we’ll dance for a cure!

There will be live music, DJs, dance groups, celebrity VIPs, silent auction, red carpet, and raffle prizes are REALLY FUN!

WHEN AND WHERE?

  • Saturday, April 2, 2016
  • 1pm-7pm
  • Avalon Theater – 1735 N. Vine St., Hollywood

WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO?

Pediatric and young adult cancer programs at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA and the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.

You can help by joining my team. This is me at my computer working on my screenplay and entreating you to help me reach my goal.

I’m not asking can you do it, but will you do it…FOR THE CHILDREN?

JOIN A TEAM! — MY TEAM PREFERABLY

The best way is to be a part of a team. If you already signed up as an individual dancer and now want to join your friend’s team or create a new one, email quintas@crowdrise.com and they’ll help you out!

IF  You CAN’T ATTEND?

Stop in at my link and help my team reach their goal or…

Register and have your own dance party at home — LCC will be live streaming the event!

REGISTER TO BE A DANCER/FUNDRAISER

  • REGISTER as an individual or grab some friends and create a team of your own. It’s more fun to DANCE WITH YOUR FRIENDS!
  • Your $30 registration fee goes toward the suggested minimum fundraising goal of $300 per dancer/team.

EVENT PRODUCERS The event is co-produced by Lights Camera Cure (LCC), a Los Angeles-based 501(c)(3) charitable organization and the Penn State Los Angeles Alumni Chapter (PSULA).

Please visit our websiteLightsCameraCure.com for more information, to become a sponsor, or to see photos/videos from previous events.

QUESTIONS / COMMENTS

If you have any questions feel free to reach out to dancers@lightscameracure.com

What people do not realize is that there are many children fighting this horrible disease and we are all so totally unaware.  We hear of adults with cancer and we immediately respond, but we are seldom informed when a child gets cancer.

I THANK YOU!!

This is me ; > ) smiling.

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Happy you decided to help!

 

 

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Oscar’s So White

Wow! Let me think here.

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My Oscar. Found it, bought it, it’s mine!

When I first got wind of the protests about “Oscar’s So White”, I was annoyed. It really irks me that we must or are expected to always bend our work to accommodate everyone’s ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation to tell a story. That’s bull crap!
We are in danger here. What are we willing to sacrifice for the sake of color or anything else? Quality of work? Because isn’t that what the Oscar’s look at?
I pulled up statistics for those of color who have been nominated and won and compared them to Hispanics. Guess what? If Latinos wanted to scream, they would have a right because the numbers are minuscule by comparison.

There has been only one Oscar Best actor win and that was in 1950! and only four nominations; Three supporting actor wins, and one was the same actor twice, Anthony Quinn!; None, Zip, zero for Best female, and two wins for supporting roles, Rita Moreno in West Side Story and Lupita N’yong o for her role as a black woman for Twelve Years a Slave. That’s EVER.

I also looked up the % of population stats. This is how it measures up. The number of whites make up 77+% of the population, blacks are 13+% and Hispanics 17+%. based on the current US census. Now the number of blacks nominated and who’ve won far surpass the Latino numbers even though there are fewer blacks to Latino. Do blacks attend theaters more?

I really don’t know.  When I go to the movies, I seldom see blacks. Actually I see more blacks at the movies here in California than I ever did living in Alabama and there are fewer in number here. So, I’m inclined to wonder. The biggest turn out I ever saw was in Tennessee (I just happened to be there visiting) and it was for a Madea film. Everyday it was packed. So, it depends on where you live, what’s showing(obviously), and how many blacks there are in the area. Based on blacks being 13% of the population, it still doesn’t measure up to the claim I read that more blacks go to the movies. (I looked it up- but I wonder how that’s even measured- is there a button they push when you buy a ticket?)

Tickets Sold by Ethnicity, 2011

Ethnicity TICKETS SOLD PERCENT OF POPULATION
White 58% 65%
Hispanic 22% 16%
Black 11% 12%
Other 9% 7%

Tickets Sold by Ethnicity, 2010

Ethnicity TICKETS SOLD PERCENT OF POPULATION
White 56% 66%
Hispanic 26% 16%
Black 11% 12%
Other 7% 6%

As for the statistics for who makes up the CEO’s of Hollywood, I wonder how accurate those are.  Is there one for Jews? or, are they under “white”?
In which case, those “white” numbers could be skewed in other ways as well, because there are many Latino’s and people of other races who do not look anything but white, or list themselves as anything but white, so how would you really know?

How many actors are mixed?  Many. Halle Berry is half white but is listed as black.

I remember a young person, whose chart I worked up at the health clinic, who I asked for his/her ethnicity. I was not permitted to make that judgement, so I had to ask, but by appearances I thought black. They stated white.
Now take talent. If there were any Black or Latino actors similar to Meryl Streep, who is undeniably one of the most versatile actors out there and if this person was getting the parts she gets, and was still being snubbed, then everyone would have something to complain about. I’ve seen very few ethnic actors that even come close to her caliber, and/or if they’re out there, they aren’t getting the parts.  Is there someone out there that could shine, if given the chance? Probably.

I’ve noticed too, that black or ethnic men have not, in general, had as hard a time as the women, but that’s typical for women period. Which is another Hollywood slight getting attention.
Then I got to thinking about some of the big named black writer/ director/producers who have jumped on the bandwagon of “OSW”, like Spike Lee and Tyler Perry (?). Why aren’t they looking for good quality material for the black population? Most of the films I’ve seen by these creatives are designed or so it seems to widen the gap of race rather than to bridge the gap.  Their films seemed to validate anger, defiance, disrespect and hatred for anyone other than black.

That goes for all the other ethnic writer/producer/directors. What kind of material are you selecting that can optimize the profile of your ethnic group? What kind of stories are you telling?

WE can’t forget who’s funding these films? Ah! There’s the rub.
WHO ARE THE BACKERS? No one can make what can’t be funded. AND, it can’t be justifiably funded if it isn’t marketable.  Is a big name white star going to get more funding to make a good quality feature? Pro-ba-bly. So many things to consider in this equation. So before everyone points fingers at what’s not black enough or what’s too white. Bottom line is what sells?

There was a woman I worked with who hated movies that raked up past social injustices and refused to watch them. For her, it fomented hatred for the white race and made it impossible for her to focus on progress and getting beyond the past. Everyday, she said, she’d pray that God help her be fair to whites and not resent them for their color (or lack of).  She was an educated woman, trying to move on. But it was a day to day struggle. I wonder how many other blacks feel like she does and would love to be inspired to change the way people think of them or they of others?

I too, would like to see stories told that are significant and motivating. Will this change what I think to write? Well, it already has.

I have a feature I’ve been working on with a Latina lead, no blacks. I sent it to my nephew to read while he was in jail. His cell mate was black. They loved the script and the story, but his cell mate, remarked, “she ain’t got no brother in it! Tell her to make Nate black”. I got back his note and laughed. I hadn’t even thought about it, but I really didn’t have one black person in it. Not a baja5good black or a bad black. I really didn’t think about it. To me they were just people. I never said black or white, but I did indicate Hispanic because some of it would be in Spanish. So, I considered changing my heroine to a black lead, partly because of the hoopla being made, but at the same time, I ask why?  I’m sure there are many other writer’s doing the same thing.  Will it move the story forward? Actually, it probably would be an even better choice than having her be Hispanic. But to do so, it would put her male counterpart into the position of your typical black stereotype, which I really wouldn’t want to do. Come to think of it, I was doing the Tyler Perry thing and making the white guy bad. Hmmm. How do you avoid stereotyping anyone?  I also considered having representation of both and/or all three ethnic groups, perhaps one of each. Like Neapolitan.  I can’t decide. Anyway, I’m still working on it.

Have I ever experienced prejudice, yes. I dated a young, from the up side of town in California and as soon as they met me, they made it clear, he was not to ever see me again. Have I ever had a man come on to me thinking that because of my ethnicity, I was probably “one hot little number”. Yes! So what!  I do know what it feels like, but it doesn’t define who I am or who I will be. Change will be slow, but we’ll get there.

Have you ever noticed that when someone opens their mouth, you either like or dislike them, regardless of their color?  If you like them, all is well and good, but if you don’t, it becomes a horse of a different color if you say anything. Let’s change that.

On a final note. Don’t prejudge. I happen to know there’s a lot of people suffering from “white guilt” out there. These are people who hate the history of the past and the injustices done to people of any race. Go easy on them. They are out there. They want change and I know for many, it seems change has been ever so slow. But think about it, the more we initiate change in ourselves, which is the only thing we have control of, then change will come.

If you learn nothing else. Take people one at a time and individually and love your neighbor as yourself. I think hippies had the right idea, way back when, when they said, “Make love, not war”.

 

 

 

AADA- Acting’s Finest

A few years ago and I won’t name how many years back, but it’s been awhile, I was privileged to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

This was no ordinary school, I mean it’s attendees were such notables as Anne Bancroft, Robert Redford, Paul Rudd, Anne Hathaway, Kirk Douglas, Jessica Chastain and many, many more. See: https://www.aada.edu/alumni/notable-alumni#decade:all/orderby:all/display:panel

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We are here at AADA

 

I was honored to get accepted.  I’ll never forget the day I saw the ad in the paper looking for people to audition for the school.  I was in Grand Junction, Colorado at the time and the auditions were in Denver.  I applied and submitted my photo and they sent back what they wanted to see for the audition. At the time, I was 49 and I really didn’t think I’d be considered. After all, they  want young, fresh, malleable students, right?

For some reason, I didn’t let that deter me. So, I prepared my song and a monologue.

The monologue was from a stage play called “Judge Lynch”. I was this hillbilly redneck woman whose husband had just lynched a black man for a theft while the real thief was a white man hiding in their woodpile.  Very controversial piece and I put on the southern drawl and nature of the woman as I saw her.

The song I would sing was “Another Hundred People” from the stageplay “Company”.

At the time, I was associated with a group that had formed at a local coffee shop located in an old, downtown warehouse building. They were trying to generate traffic by putting on artsy events.

When I first moved to Grand Junction, it was shortly after a bust. A bust being where the town had vacated due to the oil shale companies closing down and everyone pretty much connected with it moving out or walking away from their homes. So there was nothing going on there.

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Singing Class

Those of us who had lived in bigger cities were hungry for something, anything to put the arts back into our lives.

So, this coffee shop put out a casting call for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and I auditioned.  I got the part of Nurse Ratchet and was so excited!  First rehearsal and only two -three people show up. We call the no shows and the next time we got a few more but missing others.  After about the third attempted rehearsal, the play was cancelled. So much for that.

However, we had others showing up who had not made the cut for the play and who kept coming to the Tuesday night meetings and from there we formed an improv group, did poetry readings and such. And through that I met a man name “Bob”.  “Bob” would have been the director of our play, and was no novice to theater and show business. It was he who suggested the song and monologue I would do for my audition.

Now “Bob”, not his real name, was obese. It was quite evident from the start that he was also extremely talented and smart, even if he was a bit brusque at times. Anyone who make a point of letting me know that I was meant for the stage, because as he put it, I didn’t have the boobs for film is brusque. The looks maybe yes, but no boobs.

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In Hollywood, actors Work to Live. She was an advance student.

In my opinion, maybe a long time ago that might have been true, but anymore now, no one seems to care. But, I still liked him. I just blew that part off. But that’s neither here nor there.

Anyway, I went to his home, which he shared with his mother, to rehearse.  The first time I went,  I look for his mom, he said she was in the kitchen. He then proceeds to lead me down the hall and eventually to his bedroom.

Yes, I said bedroom, but that’s not the interesting part. It was the hallway.

The hallway was predominately filled with pictures of him with stars and performing in all these musicals and stage plays.  This guy had been a genuine Broadway star! It was hard to believe and yet I was fascinated with this man on the wall, compared to the man next to me, who in these pictures was a third if not one fourth the size was now and he was gorgeous. How did this happen?

I couldn’t help myself, I blurted out, “This is you?!”  He says, “Yes” and I say, “Wow!”, as he continues to nonchalantly usher me to his room.(Now you know why I didn’t use his real name) I never asked, “Why?”.

His room was anticlimactic by comparison. It had a small bed and lots of electronic equipment and a keyboard piano, which is where I rehearsed the song with the orchestral background and then recorded the background tape for the audition. This guy had tons of scripts and sheet music piled high everywhere and it made me sad. He may have been brusque, but he knew his stuff and I couldn’t help but admire him. I couldn’t feel sorry because he would never have allowed it and yet… I do wonder where he is now or if he’s even alive.

I still sometimes wonder what it was that happened in his life to bring him to where he was at that juncture. Yet… well, I’ll never know.

For the monologue, I would go up to Aspen to rehearse with another actor, who’d played a bit part in “Forest Gump”, and who it turns out had other things on his mind, so I finished rehearsing on my own from there on out. At least “Bob” was on the up and up.

Never the less, I made the cut and off I went to L.A.  What was nice is I had a choice of locations. New York or London.  I couldn’t really afford to go to either New York nor London, and even though a part of me really wanted to see those places, I chose L.A.

Another reason was because my grandmother had been quite ill and she lived there and I knew I’d have a place to stay with her, plus I’d get extra special time to be with her.

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The Mimes

It couldn’t have been a better choice.

Every day I’d get home, she’d ask me what I’d learned. She was so proud and protective.

One night I was getting ready to go to a party and she tells me not to take any drinks from anyone, because someone could put something in it. I laughed and asked her how she knew such things and she replied unabashedly, “I watch TV”.  In the meantime, I pooh-poohed it saying, “Abuelita, I am 50 years old, who’s going to want to lace my drink?”

Weeell, I never told her, but she was right. I don’t know how, but I had not even finished half a beer when I felt it.  If it had not been for me spotting a young student, only 14 who was in my class, with a beer in her hand no less, I might have finished that drink. As it was my mommy protective instinct kicked in and I gently imposed myself up on her making sure she didn’t finish the drink in her hand and that she got home safely. After I sobered her up, I called her aunt and uncle to come pick her up. She was a sweetie from England and was really okay with me interfering. However, had I finished my drink, it would have knocked me on my ass.

Ahhhh, “someone” was looking out for the both of us and No, I didn’t tell grandma.

Later, I would borrow some of grandpa’s clothes for my hobo dance and perform it for her. She just loved it! She loved for me to sing for her and never tired of listening even when she heard it over and over again. I think she had as much fun as I.

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Me, closeup
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My hobo dance group

Yes, I made the right choice. We got to have some special times together and I even got to take her to get her US citizenship, which she was so proud of finally attaining. She died a couple of months after I left.

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Grandma “Abuelita” becoming a US Citizen, what a proud day for both of us!

For the Love of Me.

WARNING!  This post is not for the feint of heart. It is disturbing and unpleasant.

As I mentioned early on when I first started posting, there were some things I would eventually include in my posts that were cathartic for me but that I hope might help others as well.  This is one of them.

——–

I have heard from the proverbial “they” that you must first love yourself before you can love others. I have also heard that those who stay in an abusive environment are ones in search of love. They equate abuse with love.  I disagree and perhaps agree a little with that.  In fact, there are countless reasons that come into play. More than you realize. (See footnotes)

My parents were both abusive.

My mother who was later diagnosed schizophrenic was more verbal than physical, although she wasn’t above taking a wooden coat-hanger to us, yanking us by the hair in the middle of the night because we left a spoon in the sink. It didn’t matter who did it, we all got it. It was worse, when she and dad got divorced and she remarried and took on her second husbands children. Those poor babes were taken out of foster homes where they’d been molested to a home where they would get beaten, and they were there because they’d been abandoned as children while my step-father was serving his country. Hard to imagine that kind of stuff exists, but it does.

Oh, did I have my hands full!  My sisters and brothers (now six girls and three boys), made a grand total of nine, with me being the oldest. They tell me they pretty much regard me as the momma they look up to. Hard to imagine. I was 16.

Daddy was both physically and sexually abusive. The sexual he reserved for me. It had never occurred to me at the time to ask or wonder why the other girls were never touched. Later, as an adult, I was to learn his why. It was simple really. He told me he really never thought I was his daughter. Apparently early on in their marriage, when mother had escaped from him after one of his beatings she had returned to Mexico. He thought perhaps she’d reunited with an old boyfriend because when she returned, she was pregnant. She was aghast at the idea and told me, yes she left but had gone to her mothers and upon learning she was pregnant,  returned to her husband as so it was expected in those days.

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But, the question remained. Was he punishing her through me?  I don’t know.

Once I became an adult, he no longer believed that. In part because after I moved to the small town he’d grown up in, he had taken me to a store to meet a cousin. Later, a woman walks in and says you must be a —–, giving our family name.  She hadn’t seen my dad standing nearby but the family resemblance was apparently unmistakable. He laughed proudly.

The sad thing about abuse is, there is often times no rhyme or reason for it.  Abuse is not punishment.  It wasn’t always discipline for misbehaving.  If mother had crossed him, he’d had a bad day at work or was just in a foul mood, he’d take it out on us. His physical abuse against me and my siblings I remember, that against my mother, I don’t, whereas my siblings do. If it wasn’t an outright beating, then he’d hit us on the back of the head with one of his famous backhanded slaps.  (I wince every time Gibbs does that to his people on NCIS even though I’ve noticed he does it less now, so someone may have complained) The sexual part was in a cloud-like dream. I couldn’t remember anything beyond a certain point. In some cases I thought the perpetrator had been someone else.  Over the years I’ve seen several (three) therapists and through them, learned a lot about myself and my ability to cope. I call it “shelving” the ugly. The therapist said that it is how I survived and remained sane.

I came face to face with “ugly” several years ago when my daughter encouraged me to see her therapist and thought maybe it would help me as well. I was in one state and she in another, “out west”. She was having some things she wanted to work through and some of it was in relation to her feelings for me. Being the eldest, she always felt responsible for me emotionally and didn’t understand why.  I too, am the eldest and it was my job to protect my siblings, which I often did, stepping in or deflecting blows, so I understood.

My little sister and I were caring for my father at the time which by comparison was relatively easy to that of caring for mother. I was having a hard time though. I’d been doing it since 2005.  She joined me in 2008. I was already drained from the energy it took to care for mother who had Alzheimer’s and who had recently died. (I had all the paperwork  to do which was daunting since I had a battle with VA constantly and then shared the physical care with my sister.)

Earlier on, there had been an incident with Dad when I found out he was friends with an old neighbor of ours. I had always believed that this neighbor had been part of a group of boys who had molested me. I told him I remembered the blood on my panties and my little friend running for help and his mom coming. I remembered her cradling me in her arms and I presume taking me home. I remember my little sister coming home from the hospital soon after. I remember little else. I was five. My dad blew me off!

He never once said, “poor baby”. “It’s not true.” Nothing. No comment and that seemed odd. He also continued to be friends with this guy, he just talked less of him. I thought, why no paternal indignation or anger?

So when my daughter, who is not generally the most tactful person on the earth made her request gently, I accepted her offer to come out and give it a try. I had questions. Besides, I thought a vacation sure would be nice. Hah!

My daughter had already learned about a phenomenon called “transference”, where the roles are flipped.  It made perfect sense to me. As a child I had been abused in every sense imaginable. I craved love. I was needy. When I was pregnant with her out of wedlock, I recall with definite clarity thinking and saying, “Now I will have someone to love and who’ll love me back and never leave me”.  Oh my! It is a known fact that children in the womb absorb so much more information than before realized and here I am loading her up with this stuff. I was so relying on this child to take the place of all the love I’d ever wanted and never got. So, yes, I wanted to be there for her to work this crap out. I didn’t do this to her knowingly, but I still did it.

I gave permission for her to be present. It was there we learned the extent of the damage. I was functioning as an adult and I was a good parent, but certain triggers would cause me to respond as a child. Trauma, it turns out can prevent you from moving beyond a certain point. (* A form of child PTSD.)  The therapist we saw, tapped into my inner self and found the details of the rest.  So much ugly!

It did turn out there were five teens (as I had remembered) that had raped me, but the man dad was friends with was not one of them. But there was more. Dad was also a perpetrator. Not with the boys, but later.  All I knew was by age 6 it had started. The man I was always trying to please was hurting me in ways I didn’t understand and I had blocked it out! The therapist asked me if I wanted the details. I said, “No way! I can’t go there.”

Oh, I didn’t disbelieve the doctor, because the cloudy dream like memories I had lived with were now coming back to life. Memories of Daddy coming to me in the night, lowering my panties, staring at me and stroking me. I remember him coming  to their friends house where I was staying in LA. They had been in entrusted with taking me to auditions and make Hollywood connections for me to get in show biz, because I could sing and dance “a little”.  I would hear him tell them he’d beaten mom to a pulp because of another man she’d fallen in love with, and how later that night, he came to me and held me in his arms and tells me how he wishes I was mother and then kisses me passionately. I recall wiping away the nasty kiss and not falling asleep, afraid he might do more.  A more I thought I was unfamiliar with. While at the same time he was telling me my Hollywood dream was over, I had to go back home and protect my siblings from my mom?

No, I didn’t want to know details.  I already had more than my fill of memories that suddenly took on a life of their own. What I had begun to think were the musings of an over active imagination were solidified.

A flashback of me confronting him as an adult and him not denying it but making the excuse that he’d grown up with all boys and never had a little sister so was only “fascinated and marveling” at my changing body. (My earliest memory of him was when I was 10 years old so it made sense) He apologized and cried and said he never meant to hurt or confuse me. I forgave him then. Was that all bullshit, or was he just relieved that that was all I remembered? Now the therapist is telling me there was way more than that? My mind was in a whirl. It was too much and I knew I could never handle more. As it was, I was gasping for air and my daughter for one last time, took her mommy role and held me in her arms as if I were her child.

For hours I sobbed uncontrollably. I would see her little girl sitting on the couch, confused and probably wondering why her grandma couldn’t stop crying and me thinking I was no bigger than her. Why? How could anyone do that to a child?  Mother and daughter cried together.

Dear God, how was I going to go back home and continue caring for him?

I couldn’t. More than anything I wanted to run far, far away, but I didn’t.  Did it cross my mind to exact vengeance?  You bet. I didn’t know what or how, but I thought it.

Instead, because I am who I am I didn’t.  I talked to my sisters and we agreed on specifics on how to handle his care, especially when he became totally bedridden. Up until then, it was just me and my baby sister.  The other sis had never stepped up to the plate, but now I was forced to engage her help.  She was out of work and her forte’ was senior care-giving. I would not wash or take care of any of that. I hated to do that to her but she said she was fine. To her, he was just another patient and she needed the money. I strictly handled his financial business, his medical and hospital transport and later hospice care. He had made me legal guardian years ago so that’s what I did. I took extra care to never overstep my bounds of guardianship and I refused to physically touch him.

I had accepted the beatings as how things were in those days and that they (my parents) didn’t know any better and had forgiven them both for that. Mom because of her mental incapacity and dad for his upbringing. His dad beat him and his dad beat him and so on, but this?

When I began caring for my parents, my baby sister had moved from Florida to help me care for mother since my caregiver sister would not.  My parents had been especially cruel to my caregiver sister because they thought she was retarded. Daddy and her locked horns regularly and at the time, he was still very coherent and although he fluctuated between giving her the “farm” and nothing, he could still hurt her by his words. And, she came through in the end. So, in comes baby sister.

I had to find a way to protect us all and still do our jobs. Mom had passed away the year before and we would now be alone with him.

My dad was very well liked in our little southern town. He was highly regarded for his intellect. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t do. If you’ve read my other blogs, you will also know there were many admirable qualities about him as well. He was charming and smart. So, it’s no wonder I was conflicted. There was also this need to hide what had happened. We were related to so many people here, so there was also this sense of embarrassment and shame for the family. My revealing this old stuff or explaining why we would no longer care for him would bring all this out if we just walked out. Maybe we wouldn’t have to explain, but I liked my other family members and being God fearing Christians that they are, I just couldn’t do that to them. They would be so disappointed and maybe even angry. Most of them are elderly.  No,  I couldn’t tell. Walking away would not be that easy.

On his deathbed, I would tell him what had been revealed and why I had distanced myself. I told him too that I forgave him. He had never been a God fearing person but had explored all faiths, but he had accepted Christ and I trusted God would take care of the rest. By then, he had had a stroke and could only listen and not offer up any excuses like he always did before. I went on to thank him, because it was my history with him that made me a stronger person and a better parent. (the girls still tell me I did a good job and we are closer because of it). Early on, I always knew what kind of parent I would be and nurtured my children the best I knew how.  And, I also thanked him for having been able to care for him.

I had to tell him this way, because before his stroke he had inadvertently slipped up and told me about a time he and his pals had violated their little sister, so his excuse about never seeing a little girl’s genitalia was hogwash – he also didn’t see it as violating her. He had said, it was just a child’s natural curiosity.  I get that, but it wasn’t right. What amazed me further is they surprisingly remained fast friends until they died – had she blocked it from her memory as well?

My siblings all say they couldn’t have done it. For either parent.
The younger sister I refer to is the one that was born after the first incident and because of our age difference I never really knew her well. She was also ten when our parents divorced, so our memories are not the same, neither our experiences.

Through it all, I don’t regret it because the bond between my sister and I could never have developed and grown like it did had we not shared those trials the last days of their lives. In so having this experience, I got resolution. The two of us got resolution. We shared our perceptions, our feelings and we are now closer than I can imagine we would have been had we not shared that time together.

We noticed too that my brother who didn’t share this experience with us still has that baggage to unload. I hope he can.

My caregiver sister was my Irish twin and although we wished we could have a relationship with her, it didn’t happen. She escaped back into her own little world again when it was over. Her son would later get arrested for supposedly molesting their sons. I had shared my experience with him and his wife and a year later in the middle of a nasty divorce she accused him. I don’t think he did it. But how does anyone know for sure? The last I heard he was acquitted. Psychiatrists examined the children and there was no evidence to support her claim, but the damage was done.

What’s interesting is, during a bitter period, when a dear friend of mine who also knew dad and liked him, was singing his praise, I retorted “he wasn’t all that he seemed.” Her response was, “we know”.  I didn’t ask what she knew, it didn’t matter.

The family and friends I made during that time are irreplaceable and had it not been my decision to go there and explore my roots and meet family I would never otherwise have met them nor had the experience that was so worthwhile.

And even though they are several time zones away now, I love all my friends there and think of them often.

As painful as it was, it explained a great deal. My daughter now gets to have her mommy back and the “ugly” no longer haunts me. When it comes out it is when I feel it safe to share and perhaps help someone.

I have come to the conclusion that I have great survival instincts. When my first husband threatened to strike me, I stood up like a cobra and got in his face and snarled, “Don’t you dare! Don’t even think about it!”  He stood over 6 feet to my five foot 2″ little self (and I was little then) and he quickly backed off and apologized.  I know I frequently irritated the hell out of him in those days because if he raised his voice or was angry I would duck. I was still young and the wounds fresh back then.

Once when my dad hit his wife while I was visiting, she ran and hid behind me and I immediately got in his face then too and told him, “NEVER, never do that again!  You don’t hit women or kids!” He backed off instantly.  (I had already heard from the neighbors that she would sometimes run to their house to get away.) This woman who didn’t like me for most of the years they were married couldn’t do enough for me from then on out.

Why did these men back down when I stood up to them?

What was different now than from me as a child?  Size?  Not likely. I’m not much bigger now than I was then. Then I remember I did stand up to dad, when I stuck up for my siblings and/or myself and only got more beatings because of it.

The same for my brother. I think he and I got the most beatings. So what was different?   Did it come from the fact that I had nothing to lose or to gain? I don’t know.

No matter.  Tenaciously hold onto life and choose joy and happiness. I do.

The following links shed some light and understanding of the psyche of an abused child and adult.  I hope my blog wasn’t totally depressing.

NOTE: When I added the above picture of me when I was little, I didn’t realize how tying it to this blog would affect me. I suddenly became overwhelmed with the urge to hold that little girl in my arms and comfort her and tell her, “it’ll be all right”.

http://www.loveisrespect.org/is-this-abuse/why-do-people-stay/

*  http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/res/brain.html

http://www.practicenotes.org/v17n2/brain.htm

Detours – Part one (Pictures are in!!)

In the Park
In the Park

I was thinking the other night while I was desperately trying to fall asleep but couldn’t, of all the distractions I have had in my life that have redirected my purpose.

My mind, racing at midnight, keeping me from falling asleep is one.  I told myself I needed a notepad by my nightstand so I could jot down all these ideas running through my head but no, even though I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t force myself to get up just in case I might be on the brink of dozing off.

Needless to say, the only idea, besides those for my screenplay, and those inspired by Badfish is to chronologically share the detours I’ve experienced in life. Truth be told, I could really right a book about them, but suffice it to say, it is barely a fleeting thought to do so.

I don’t know when the first of my detours started. but the first one I would say I had was the one my mom took for me.  She had left dad in San Diego and went back to Mexico. I don’t know what the reason was, perhaps she realized she didn’t love him or perhaps it was because he hit her. Dad was abusive on many levels, so hard telling. Unfortunately, while she was there in Mexico she discovered she was pregnant with me, so she did what she thought was the right thing and returned “home” to him. Had she stayed there, She and I would have had a different life altogether. So, I guess we detoured one another.

As a child, I was somewhat of a showman. I would sing and dance and perform for my parents friends.  One of these friends happened to be a couple who lived in Hollywood with lots of Hollywood connections, so I was sent to Hollywood as there protege’ and began my erudition for the screen.

Actually in retrospect, it seemed more of a pimping because they changed what I wore, how to wear makeup and paraded me down Sunset Strip Boulevard on the back of a new Corvette convertible, waving at whoever might notice me and I did as I was told relying on their advice. In those days Sunset Strip was nothing like it is today; it was more of a place for teens to go cruisin’. When we weren’t doing that I was auditioning in front of their director/producer friends.

I learned how to eat like a lady and how to stir the sugar in my tea without making an ungodly noise, clinking the glass with the spoon. I already had the yes ma’am and no sirs down since I was from the south and no southern child survives without that.

It was there I had my first teen age crush. Their neighbor’s son was home from college.  He was a fine Jewish boy attending med school. Boy did I have it bad, but he was probably 19 and I was only 15. He humored me but never took liberties.

They would later take me to visit another family who also had a good looking son that I went bowling with. We had the time of our life and he was just so easy to talk to. I understood why later when, at the end of the day, his parents explained to me how he was headed to seminary school to become a Catholic priest!!!

I still think of them both. Sigh!

Whether or not I would have had what it takes to make it in Hollywood I was never to discover. My parents got divorced and I ended up back home. My mother’s connection to this couple dropped off after that and I missed my chance, but as I’ve mention before, in those days it was not in vogue for a Hispanic girl to get work as anything but a maid, a hooker or some trash part. So perhaps it was just as well, I would never have made it as a maid. All this took place about the time Sally Field got the part in the Flying Nun and I remembered thinking how much I would have loved doing that.

A New Direction:

beauty pagent

Okay, so acting wasn’t going to happen, but Mother was not to be stopped, so after that any beauty contest or event that would show off her daughter was entered in.  I got yelled at a lot, was pushed and prodded and the whole experience was anything but pleasant. The contest on the right was for the Del Mar Fair’s Fairest of the Fair contest.  I got to wear the “lucky” number 13.  Needless to say, I didn’t win, but the girl that did deserved it.  My heart to say the least just wasn’t in it.

Because I was inclined to be quite the tomboy, mother took the next step to making a lady out of me. I was also sent to “charm” school where I learned to walk, talk, use makeup and dress like a lady. I learned to fence, which having a propensity for sports was my favorite class. To this day I can still walk briskly with a book on my head and not drop it.

 Bathing Suit Shot

I became a commodity. Even though what I wanted to do was act and sing, that was no longer a choice. I was good at it and I did great in high school drama but… that’s not the direction I would go.

Part of the modeling courses included giving us as much exposure as possible to get us accustomed to crowds and public displays. I did car shows, I was a trophy queen at drag races, subjected to nasty kisses from what I thought were old men and who had kids I went to school with!  Anything I could get into that would exploit my features, I was entered in.

The only thing I didn’t mind was modeling for expensive boutiques, there, I got to wear and display gorgeous outfits I could never afford In some cases, the owner would allow us to keep or purchase an item at a very discounted price with no strings attached. Because I was small, most runway jobs I got were for teen or preteen clothing. I didn’t care for that on many levels, for one I was neither of those things and I wanted to look like a woman; the other reason is that for some reason I found it extremely stressful and unorganized, not to mention the people involved were not as nice nor easy to be around.

So modeling was not for me and although I did go on to place in several beauty pageants, that too didn’t rock my world.

To be continued: