WHO AM I?

Freudian slip: an unintentional error regarded as revealing subconscious feelings.

Ever have a Freudian slip when introducing yourself? I did just recently. As I was being introduced to one of my brother’s fans after his performance, I said to her, “Hi, I’m Donnie.” I was as surprised to hear myself say that as anyone else could have been, more so really, because they may have thought I said it intentionally. I had NO idea I was about to say it. Apparently that’s who I feel I am now.

Donnie is my grandmother for whom I am named. I think Donnie is a very cute name for a girl. I still very much regret not letting her call me that when I was little when she wanted to. (Sad Face) And I still very much love remembering my nephew Kyle calling me “Aunt Donnie” when he was little. OMG, he had me wrapped around his little finger!

Since I became a grandmother myself – quite suddenly and with no notice – 19 months ago, I’ve been having a bit of a grandmother name crisis.

MANY years ago, I told Sarah than when I have grandchildren someday I’ve decided my name will be “Darling.” She smiled and said, “No” in the tone one might use with a silly child about to attempt something foolish. We both laughed and went on with our lives.

Last year, when this little guy suddenly showed up, I was thinking probably Grammie, but I always thought Gammie (no r) was a super-adorable name too, but someone in our family was already using that so I wasn’t sure if it was ok. I asked. It was, so that was it. But it wasn’t. I never felt 100% like that was ME. Once Evan babbled the sound, “Deedah” and I said, “Heeey!” Sarah looked at me funny. More recently, it has seemed several times like he is calling me “DD.” I came up with Gramsy for a while after seeing someone’s post about a Grampsy and Sarah sometimes calls me Momsy, so . . . cute, but… no, back to Gammie, and still almost, but not quite 100% committed to it.

A while back, I had sent out a group text to my family and friends asking if they were in charge of giving me my grandmother name, what would it be. Amanda suggested Nonna or Nonnie because it rhymes with Donna or Donnie. Kyle liked that too. I remembered again “Aunt Donnie” and also Jeff called me Nonna when he was a baby. Smile. My brothers and sis-in-law seemed to like these the best too. Still wasn’t sure. Then the other day, my brother David, speaking to Evan, referred to me as Nonnie, and it just hit the spot in my brain. It felt like he was actually talking about me, rather than like I was playing a part. That’s me. I’m Nonnie. I know at least part of the reason it feels so right is because of the similarity to Donnie. (Also makes sense David saying it would do the trick for me; I’m told he’s the one who named me the first time.)

So that is a very long story to tell you that I am Evan’s Nonnie.

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My Brain on Testing . . .

Ugh . . . 4 hours. Not allowed to do ANYTHING with my brain, and also not allowed to sleep – this is some twisted kind of torture.  Okay.  I can do something with my brain, just nothing that shows on the outside.  Mindfulness meditation.  Let’s try that.  Breathe in . . . out . . . in . . . Hey, I know a good way to rearrange the garage when I get home.  Why do we have all that stuff on that side?  It’ll fit much more efficiently on the other side.  Moving stuff around in my brain, picturing it – yeah I think that’ll work; can’t wait to get home and try it.

It’s been 14 minutes.  Cry.

Urrrggghhh . . . yep.  He’s working on test, not cheating, she’s not cheating, she’s not, he’s not, etc., etc.  Now, from the other direction.  Yep, still testing, still not cheating.  Hey, look, Test Mix. (Like Chex Mix, but made special for test days.)  I’m not hungry, but acknowledging the different tastes while chewing is at least something my brain can do.  Crunch, crunch . . . Mmmm . . . savory . . . some is stuck in my tooth.  Wonder how long it will take to dissolve by itself if I just sit here without moving and wait . . . Now I’ll eat some of the sweet bits.  Frosted Cheerious.  Yum.  Oooh, I know. I’ll eat blind handfuls with savory and sweet mixed together – won’t know what each bite tastes like till I get it in my mouth.  Exciting!

Crunch . . . crunch . . . ooh, pretzel.  Kyle doesn’t like pretzels.  I should make him some snack mix with no pretzels . . . Snack mix sans pretzels.  Pretzelless snack mix.  Pretzelless . . . kind of sounds like a new name some hipster yuppie will name their kid eventually.  Probably spelled differently though – Pretceless,  Pretseles, Pretcelous.  Yep.  I think it’s a boy name.  He could go by Pretz.  Or Les. People would think his name was Lester or Lesley, but then he could surprise them with his real, super cool name.   If he spelled it Pretsullous, he could go by Sully.  Kind of sounds like a royal name.  Prince Pretcelous of Whatevershire.  Royal Pretzel Company.  They could make two kinds of snack mixes – Pretzelous (with lots of pretzels) And Pretzelless (with no pretzels.)  That would be confusing because they sound the same and people would have to read to make sure they got the right kind.  Kyle: Amanda why did you buy Pretzelous, you know I like Pretzelless better.  Amanda: I got both.  The Pretzeless is in the pantry. Gimme my Pretzelous!

Arrgggh . . . 2 more hours.  So tired.  Look at that little girl sleeping.  Grrrr.  I love her when she’s awake but I kind of hate her right now.  Wish I could take a nap.  No, no – I don’t hate her.  I love her.  Sweet baby, look at her sleep.  Smile.  Yawn.  OMG, last hour of the test and only two kids still working. So much harder to keep the others quiet when they have finished.  What is wrong with you two?! Oh my god, hurry up!  No, no, – don’t hurry.  Do your best.   Makes no difference; we are stuck in silent, staring hell till the time’s up anyway.

Crunch.

Crunch.

Sigh.

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Maybe why this feels so personal to me . . .

Once, many years ago, there was an awful man, inexplicably placed in a position of power – not great power, but enough for him to enjoy and abuse. Entrusted with safeguarding my welfare, he instead used his power against me in a humiliating and sexually inappropriate way. I was young and didn’t know how to defend myself, to say no, to call for help, or even to tell someone after the fact. Years later, as an adult, I watched him, still in that same position of power, given an opportunity to do right by a child, and again choose instead to do harm with his power. Not sexual this time. Just complete lack of concern for the child’s best interest, and gleeful wielding of his powers while doing serious damage to a child’s life.

That awful man is one of the people I am reminded of by this awful man in the White House who loves power.

There was another man I knew. In his 30s, he liked skinny little 13 year old girls. After gaining the trust of my father, and using my love of horses, he managed to be alone with me on several occasions and took the opportunity to ask me questions about masturbation and other topics inappropriate for an adult to discuss with a child. I believe he was the cause of an accident that happened while I was with him which frightened me and caused me minor injuries. He then “played doctor,” cleansing my wounds. He eventually was ballsy enough to walk right into my house without knocking when my parents weren’t home and enter my bedroom where I was completely naked after a shower. He stood gazing and chatting while I scrambled to cover myself with a blanket from my bed. This time I did at least have the wits to say that my brother (who I’m pretty sure this guy knew had guns) would be home soon, and he left. Who knows what might have happened if he hadn’t believed me? And I still didn’t realize I should tell someone.

That pedophile is one of the people I am reminded of by the pedophile in the White House who enjoys young girls.

There have been and continue to be so many others. Men who talk down to me like I am a child because I am a woman.  Men who treat me with extreme disrespect when there are no other men around but suddenly are all “Yes Ma’am” when another man is present. SO many men all my life who have patted my head and told me various versions of “Stay in your place and be quiet.”

They all remind me in one way or another of this Asshat in the White House who is a complete dolt, is rude like a spoiled child, and demonstrates clearly and frequently his attitude toward women (that their value is measured solely by degree of beauty or usefulness to him.)

He showed me who he is and I believe him.  I recognize him. I see him clearly for what he is because I’ve known pieces of him all my life. Never before though, have I seen them all, so horrifyingly, in one body, and with so much undeserved power as now.

So that’s why when anyone supports him I’m amazed and saddened, but when a man who loves me supports him, it feels like he has refused to defend me against an awful man, a pedophile, a condescending, disrespectful jerk, who would, and one day may indeed, gladly do me harm.

I know they don’t see it that way, these men who love me. I know they would defend me if they knew, if they believed, that I was threatened or insulted. But they don’t know. It’s some type of awful blindness or ignorance. They can’t see him.  They don’t know. They probably wouldn’t understand why I feel threatened and undefended. But this is the way it feels to me.

And now I know to say something.

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Go back and fix it.

There’s a point to this story, but it’s gonna take me a minute . . .

Once upon a time in the early 80s, a young man broke my heart. He asked me to marry him very early in our relationship, agreed to slow his roll and give me time to decide, and then, just about the time I was about to decide I wanted to say yes, he left me – abruptly and with no explanation. Time passed. I recovered – gradually at first, completely eventually.  Fast forward to May of 2011 – almost exactly 30 years since the heart breaking. I was completely over it by then of course. Didn’t matter to me at all anymore. I mean really – 30 years, 3 kids, a few other heartbreaks endured and recovered from, and a lot of life gone by. Then I got a letter in the mail from him, asking if I was the Donna Hunter who knew a (his previous name) in Fort Worth in the early 80s. I knew it was him even though he had changed his name – because 1) he had always told me he was going to change it to that (although I sort of thought he was joking but obviously not) and 2) I’d seen him on TV, heard him on the radio, and seen his newspaper column using it since then.  He asked me to contact him and I did.

He wanted to apologize – after 30 years. He said, “You were a good lady, and I was a complete asshole to you, and I’m sorry.” He was making amends – part of his recovery. He said that many times since that time when something really awful happened in his life (like a motorcycle accident that almost killed him and led to prescription pain killer addiction) he had wondered, not completely in jest, if he was being punished for how he had treated me. I laughed and told him that was probably it. I thanked him for contacting me and told him of course he was forgiven. We started a friendship that day that lasted until Jan. 1 of this year when he died suddenly and from somewhat mysterious causes (possibly some effect of his years before recovery.) He gave me counsel and support and laughs for those 5 years and I’m very glad to have enjoyed that friendship.

The thing that truly surprised me about this experience was how good that apology felt, how valuable it was, how much it really did matter to me. So much that I remember exactly where I was standing 5 years ago as I listened to his voice on the phone telling me this. It felt like I was receiving something I needed, and I had no idea until I received it. Hearing him acknowledge the wrong that was done to me – which, as I said, I was completely over – was still a healing kind of feeling. Maybe there’s only a certain degree of “over it” a person can get without acknowledgement and I had just accepted that level as the best it could be, but really there’s something a little better. That’s what he gave me that day. It did my heart good. It made my life better. And it did his too.

So here’s my point, and it is a message to me as well as everyone else: It is worth the effort to make amends for hurt you have caused, whether intentional or not, whether the blame is shared or not, and no matter how long ago it was. Maybe an apology is needed, maybe just an honest explanation, or maybe even just an end of silence. If you are both still alive, it is not too late.  You can still bring good into their life, and into your own, by mending that fence.

Thank you, Lance/Ben for mending ours.

donna-and-lance-benjamin-23-benjamin-circa-2008

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/dallasmorningnews/obituary.aspx?pid=177527338

 

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Boom! Zzzzzzzzz

I really miss the days when a gun shot inside the house did not wake me up. Or one right outside my bedroom window, or my mother screaming from the kitchen only caused me to rouse a bit and then be immediately asleep again.

It’s not as bad as it sounds. There were skunks that needed killing, and a grease fire. Everything turned out alright without any help from me. The scars on Mama’s legs even disappeared.

My point is I really wish I could get more sleep.

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Good Dirt

I do not like NEW places. I don’t mean places I’m unfamiliar with, although that is also a struggle for me sometimes. I mean places that are just actually new.

Now, I have nothing against new houses; I wouldn’t mind having one of those. But I would want it built in an old place. And I like the smell of newly constructed and painted buildings of other sorts. I love the fresh unspoiledness inside those places. It is in the outdoors that I hate newness.

I refer to areas that have been recently scraped raw of all nature, then built upon, then little tiny trees planted in strategic places, and squares of sod laid down to begin to allow nature back in a controlled, pre-planned pattern. Being in a place like that makes me feel on edge. It’s creepy.

Give me a piece of earth with big, old trees who grew there because they decided to, and rich, dark dirt that smells good and will grow anything because of generation after generation of leaves falling and decomposing in countless layers. The deeper I dig the less I see recognizable leaf remains and the more beautiful soil, so deliciously smelly that I feel the urge to rub my face in it and breathe it in. Maybe an old, pretty, antique style fence, grown up with something I need to get out there and trim back before it pulls the fence down. A densely shaded corner where I can plant something that doesn’t need much sun . . . or maybe just hang a swing from the huge tree causing the shade. And some sunny spots where I can plant something colorful that wants to be there.

I want to live again on a place in nature already in motion and undisturbed for long before my entrance into it, a place that has been busy being and growing and becoming what it will, but happy to have me join, gently,  in the process.

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I really need to update my blog more often . . .

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