Month: May 2014

You should smile more.


I like people. I smile at them. I often chat with them. I like to see them smile. It makes me smile more.

Every so often, someone will say something stupid. It happens. I’ve done it. You’ve done it. The odds are this will happen. I am used to it.

But when I am in my own thoughts or I just don’t feel like talking to anyone, I don’t like being told that I need to smile. I don’t owe anyone my attention nor an explanation of why I’m not smiling.

Walking back to my office one day, a man who works in another office told me I was too pretty to not be smiling. I was walking through the door. My head was down and my hands were in my coat pockets. I barely knew where I was.

His words startled me. I did not know he was there. I stopped but didn’t look up. I just wanted to walk past him and get back to work. Instead he bent over and put his face below mine and looked up at me. It took a tremendous amount of effort for him to get himself in that position. I couldn’t move, even if I wanted to. He was blocking me and was actually in my face with his dumb ass smile and was laughing.

Then he said “You are too pretty to not smile, so SMILE FOR ME!”

I was deep in thought because I had just gotten back from the mortuary with my mom. We were planning my brother’s burial.

I was walking into work where my father and 2 brothers were. It had been the most horrible few days of my life and it was far from over. It was taking everything I had to not fall apart. It took all I had to get through the day, to make sure my family was alright and to handle all the calls coming in from well-meaning people. Well meaning people who were saying the stupidest things imaginable. I dealt with all of them with as much humor and grace that I could summon.

I thought about ripping his face off or at least stepping back a few feet and giving a swift kick to his nuts. Even when I backed up a few inches, he came forward.

And then I did something odd. Something that just came out of my mouth from down deep in my soul.

I growled. I don’t know what else to call it. It was a sound that came from me and it was a warning. Just like a cornered dog. It was primal and raw. Oh, how I wanted someone to blame for the tragedy that happened. I wanted to yell, scream, hit something and bring him back. I needed a target and had none. There was no one to blame. Nowhere to go to escape the grief and horror that my life had become.

And now I was being ordered to smile.


This man had bothered me the first moment I met him. He was insincere and I always sensed a hidden agenda with him. I kept my distance from him. This was not the first time he had commented on whether or not I was smiling or what I was wearing. I always felt a bit sorry for his wife.

I did the usual of being polite with him and kept myself a bit standoffish. My eye contact is from good manners. It does not mean I want a relationship. It is not flirting. It’s showing the person in front of me proper respect and attention.

“Oh, you have such a beautiful smile. You should smile more.”

“What the fuck did you just say to me?” I stepped forward.

He jumped back. It was an actual jump. Suddenly he was standing straight and slowly backing away.

“I’m so sorry that I’m not smiling for you! How rude! Well tell you what sweetheart, the next time I come back from planning my brother’s funeral, I’ll make sure to smile for you. I mean, it’s all about what you want, now isn’t it?”

“Oh geez…I’m sorry…I didn’t know..”

“No, you didn’t. But you are obviously the “Smile Monitor” around here. I’ll try to remember that,” I said and walked away.

I’ll give him this; I went from grief to anger in a heart beat. I felt alive again. Angry, livid, rage filled but alive.

Every time after that, when he saw me in the hallway, he said nothing, kept his head down and gave me a wide berth.

He stopped telling me to smile.

This is not gender specific.

This is asshole specific.








Pushy women.


Image from:

Yes, I’m pushy.

Pushy: excessively or unpleasantly self-assertive or ambitious.

I admit it. This definition applies to me. I’ve never taken it as a derogatory statement, though on many occasions it was meant that way. I just sort of look at them and say ‘Yeah, so what?” and continue on my path. I don’t like the part about being unpleasant, but I will cop to it happening on occasion.

Fact of the matter is, I get shit done. All the time, on time and with the promised results. People entrust their lives to me. Daily. It’s a sacred trust and I don’t take it lightly. Their lives are on the line and I’m the one that stepped up to the plate and said “It will be OK. Trust me.” They do and I don’t get to fail. Failure is not an option in my life. Never has been and never will be. Even when I feel like one, I know it’s not really true. It just means I haven’t figured something out and need to.

I am also loud. I have also been called obnoxious. These are also true statements. I do not apologize though I always feel bad later when I think I could have been kinder at times.

I often feel like a bull in a china shop. Just out of my element where what you say, what you wear, and how you behave is more important than results. I know I will never fit in and for some reason, this gives me an odd sense of comfort.

I’ve read where women are called this and men are called assertive. Maybe that’s true, but why the hell would I care? You see, at the end of the day what matters is what you got done and who you helped. What others said doesn’t count. I am fortunate that where I work and the people I know, all admire these “qualities” or “traits” in me.

I love them for loving that about me.

Today I pushed. I pushed through other people’s worries and concerns. I refused to take “No, I can’t do it” for an answer. I pushed to right a wrong someone else had done. I pushed a scared and timid young lady on how to talk to her boss and make things better for her. I pushed to get more information on how to get 4 women to talk to me to help them. I pushed a hurt and scared woman to seek out the medical treatment she needs to get well. I pushed through a receptionist who didn’t want to put my call through but she did. I wore her out with my charm. OK, bit of a stretch, but it took a lot on my part to cajole her to get her boss on the phone so I could help him.

I pushed through my own doubts and reservations about my writing. I pushed others to write.

I pushed all day long. I will do it again tomorrow.

So go ahead and call me pushy. You are right and it’s a compliment, even if you didn’t mean it.

I’m happy with my accomplishments and appreciate the people who have thanked me for pushing them through and make no apologies for it.

And as far as the self-assertive part of the definition?

Ya think?

I get shit done.


Aspiring writer? Seriously?


I hate the term “aspiring writer.”

I really do. I figure you either write or you don’t.

I write, so I’m a writer. Whether I get paid or not (which I don’t and is a gross error on the part of all agents everywhere) has never been a determining factor to me.

I have no formal education or training. I didn’t go to school to learn how to be a writer, thank GOD!

Learn how to write? That’s funny to me. What you read is what I wrote, first draft with very little editing.

If you like it, that’s wonderful. If you don’t, that’s fine too. I don’t like everything I read either.

Not to say there isn’t much to learn about grammar and language and such, but isn’t what editors are for?

And I always have the internet trolls to come by and correct me. I love that part of this hobby of mine. Those that give unsolicited advice.

I recently had someone on a post of mine decide that she would take the job of being my editor and point out all my mistakes publicly. The first time I let it slide. The second time, I furrowed my brow. The third time when she went on and on and then said I’d “Never make it as a writer” was when the hammer came down.

I was also lucky enough to have a few people slam her back. That made me smile and place them further into my heart.

People like her make it even more difficult for others to create and I think that is completely intentional. It is guised as help, but the intent was to criticize in order to make herself feel superior.

I don’t need to put another person down to feel better about myself. I already think I am quite kick-ass thankyouverymuch.

I know how hard it is for some to write. I think it’s very easy to over-think it. I can’t say that everything I publish is 100% done. I could tweak things forever. I don’t know of a painter who ever felt their work was complete, but there comes a point where you have to let it go and move onto the next piece.

I have too many unfinished projects in the works, so I am making myself work on each of them. Causes a bit of schizophrenia for me, but I quite enjoy jumping from one viewpoint to another. The trick is to do it in a causative manner and not obsessively. My problem is I have so many things I want to write about. I do not suffer from a lack of ideas.

Everyday, I observe and watch people and situations. Everyday, I see something else to write about. Everyday those ideas go into a file and everyday I worry about getting to all of them.

So for those “aspiring writers” out there, shut-up and drop the word “aspiring” from your vocabulary. Just write. You don’t have to publish it or let anyone else see it if you don’t want. That is up to you and is a personal choice.

But if you’re a writer, then you are a writer. It’s like being a little pregnant.

No further explanation or defense is needed.

You’ll never have the time to do it.

Do it anyway.

I see your outrage and I’ll raise you tenfold.


How “Human Rights” are practiced all over the world every day.

Pictures care of:

Oh so much outrage!

He killed all these people! There were signs! No one did anything! It’s because of how men are raised! It’s because no one helped him! It’s because he was entitled!

Ad nauseum.


The outrage is because it happened in the United States. No, scratch that.

The outrage is because it HAPPENED IN AN AFFLUENT CITY IN THE UNITED STATES! For those of you that suck at reading between the lines, that means there are mostly white people there. So the press ran with it and all the sheep followed.

I know why the guy did it but I’m not even going to go near the stupidity I have seen the last few days. Quite a few tried to engage me in conversations. I ignored them for the most part. I saw the notifications and chose to spend a few days offline because online makes you stupid. It makes you reactive and is not good for you.

The very limited conversations I had, I was quite clear about what I was seeing and reading at the end of the day and my response was “No comment.” A few were upset that I refused to agree with them how horrible it all was.

Of course it’s horrible! This shit goes on every day but this particular story was somehow worthy of attention and outrage when others have not been. Now that pisses me off.

People have been killing since we became people. Men have been killing women for a long time. We women have been saying this forever.

Now some are listening? Well, yes, for a moment and then back to the networks.

Where’s the outrage for the millions of people who have their human rights violated every day?

THAT’S what I would love to see more of in my stream. That’s what I want to see hit “What’s Hot” on Google Plus. Those are the things I would like to see shared on Facebook.

I want discussions. I want to see groups and communities formed. Why hasn’t anyone ever contacted me about what to do to start their own Human Rights group other than one person after all these years?

Go ahead, be outraged but nothing will ever be resolved online. Not now and not ever. You may have an anomaly of having an intelligent discussion with someone and educate them. I have seen it and I have done it, but it is rare.

You’re outraged? Well, I’m outraged every day. I just don’t go around telling everyone about it and expecting anything to get better because I posted something AND USED MY CAP LOCK!

So surround yourself in your outrage and your certainty that your anger did some good, if nothing other than you make you feel better. But it bores me and I’ve better things to do.

But I will tell you anger will not work. Righteousness will not work. Being a victim will not work. Pointing fingers and blaming will not work. Generalizing men into one category will not work. Sharing posts will not work. Arguing and insisting that people agree with you will not work. It will make it worse. Oh, so much worse that you can’t imagine.

The worst thing you can do is call attention to the asshole that pissed you off. If you really want to make the human condition worst, by all means put your time and attention on your enemy. Give them the power that they crave to upset you. Tell everyone about “him” and post pictures and screen shots and get that lynch mob going!

For when you do that, you have stepped into the enemy camp and forwarded their message.

They won and will continue to use that tactic for when you do that, you are sending out their message and not your own.

The only thing that will work is intelligence, education, patience and a very precise and well-organized objective.

And that means you log off, shut your trap, roll up your sleeves and go help someone. Form your own group to funnel your anger and outrage into something that will benefit others, whomever they may be.


This battle will not be won by looking to the government. They have their own agenda.

This battle will not be won by looking to corporations. They have their own agenda.

This battle will not be won by the mental health field. They betrayed us and sold us down the river decades ago.

And when you throw your outrage out there for all to see, you must be willing to hear back about why you’re wrong.

Don’t avoid it. Don’t ask for censorship or recoil when an individual shows their true colors and you feel the shiver go up your spine and your toes curl. Don’t run when “It’s all just too much,” for you will do the one thing you don’t want to have happen.

You will have shut the door on things getting better. You are outraged when people tell you their true thoughts?

If you want things to change, you must be willing and able to look the devil in the eye and not flinch. For when he shows up, he’s doing so to either frighten you and make you run and be quiet.

Or he wants to stop being the devil. It’s up to you on how you handle it. But telling him to be quiet and insist he think and act as you deem correct, you’ve slammed the door on all of us.

This battle will be won by people getting together, shoulder-to-shoulder, rolling up our sleeves and helping the person in front of us. It will be won through persistence, dedication and not looking outside ourselves, and using the resources we already have.

You have enough, right now, to do it.

You just need to stop talking and being outraged.

You just need to start. Now.

If I’ve offended your delicate senses because damn it, you’ve been posting for years but have done nothing about it, then fuck you.

If the pictures I posted don’t outrage you and get you to do something rather than talk about it, then fuck you.

For those that want to leave because “it’s oh-so-horrible,” let me get the door for you.

I’m not abandoning anyone.




You poor insecure bastard.



Those words came out of my mouth. I should not have said them.

I was glad I said them.

It was wrong of me to have said it.

I wanted to say it again.

After 3 days of this idiot busting my chops, I had enough.

You know the type.

HE knows everything and therefore YOU don’t.

HE is a man and you’re just a woman, but he’ll never say it because you’re too damn scary.

YOU can’t play the sexist card because everyone knows, you only do that to whine and complain and be…emotional.

Emotional? The fact that I had not bitch slapped him 2 days before proved I was not emotional.

Pissed? Yes.

Angry? Big time.

Insulted? Hourly by this idiot.

I tried everything I could to work with him. I have the patience of Job at times. I can sit for hours and days to help someone, but I am not paid to be criticized, belittled and talked down to.

It finally dawned on me that his problem was him. Yes, I know that sounds like the most obvious thing in the world, but what I mean is that when you are in the heat of battle, you don’t always see things clearly. You see just what you need to see to get through it. You’re slugging it out, just trying to get through it, so you’re not really observing.

You’re reacting to the incoming and trying to find cover. You’re dodging bullets left and right.

Suddenly the light went on. He was intimidated by me yet I was there to teach him.

He was used to getting his own way with people by the power of his forceful personality. He was a blow hard and no one had ever called him out on it.

He was a bully. All bullies are cowards.

It became so obvious to me that I wanted to kick myself.

“You poor insecure bastard. You have no idea what you’re talking about and it just kills you that I know more than you,” I said.

There. I said it. I couldn’t take the words back. The damage was done and I didn’t care.

He flinched. He sat back in his chair. I stood tall and looked down at him. I could get fired for this or at least in trouble.

I waited. I knew to not say anything else. I at least know when to shut-up and this was one of those times.

“I don’t think you can talk to me like that,” he said.

“I just did. You’ve been hassling me for the last 3 days. I’ve tried everything I can to help you, but you won’t listen. I can’t help you, so I’m sending you back home. You explain it to your boss. I won’t,” I said.

He got up and left. Now I had to explain it to my boss what happened.

Instead I went outside and had a cigarette and wondered where I could get another job somewhere, anywhere.

I came back inside and he was back, sitting at the table. He looked up and smiled. I glared back.

“You smell like cigarettes,” he snarked.

“You don’t get to tell me anything.”

“Are you really going to tell my boss?” he asked.

I didn’t expect that.

“Yes I am and it’s going to go on your permanent record!” I had always wanted to say that.

We called a truce, sort of, but I had to stay on top of it. Every time he said something snide, I called him out on it. We somehow got through the following 2 days, but it wasn’t easy. He was learning that just because he was a good-looking, single and rich doctor, that didn’t give him the right to treat women (or anyone) like shit.

I pity his staff.



The inmate who restored my faith in mankind.


Some of you know that I do volunteer work in the field of criminal rehabilitation. For those that don’t, well now you know.

I am currently working with 30 inmates, all via the mail. I do this in the very limited amount of spare time that I have. I’ll usually grade lessons and get caught-up on my correspondence with them during my lunch hour.

I really don’t take a lunch hour. I’m entitled to one, of course, but I always work through it. I’ll grade lessons or write and once in a blue moon, I’ll sit back and get in some additional reading time.

Today I opened a letter from one. Let’s call him Bubba. Generic name and I don’t really know anyone by that name, so I should be fine in using it.

He’s been in prison a very long time and he won’t be getting out soon. I’ve been corresponding with him for about a year.

He just finished up one course and asked for the next one.

It’s what he wrote in his letter to me that made me stop in my tracks, sit back and grin.

California inmates make anywhere for $0.30 to $0.90 per hour for the work they do. Not much at all and they have expenses. The State provides what they need to survive, but nothing additional such as snacks, cigarettes and various other things that you and I buy daily.

His question to me was “Do you know of such-and-such place where I can send my money to? I want to donate to help victims of people like me.”

I sat back. I have never been asked this question before. I got teary eyed and then more so when I glanced at my stack of bills on my desk.

It may not sound like much to you, but it is. It is the equivalent of you and I giving up our paycheck every week and giving it to someone else. Imagine having just enough food to eat for the week and your rent paid. Then imagine giving up everything else (cable, clothes shopping, buying make-up or shaving supplies, etc.) so you can help someone else. Someone that you’ll never see or meet but who was hurt by someone like you.




Labels? Good luck with that.


I know labels are important to some people, maybe many people, and they have their reasons. It’s fine by me and I’m happy to speak to them in a way that is comfortable to them.

That’s not my point.

The downside to labeling anyone is it is also a wonderful way to drop your responsibility or care towards them.

“ADHD! Well, that’s it then…” wash your hands and walk away. I’ve had students tell me that. Each and every time I looked at them and said “Nope, I don’t buy it. You’re fine and there’s nothing wrong with you.”

And each and every time, they did great. I focused on what was right about them and ignored everything else. I made them do the same thing. Suddenly, they could learn because we dropped the labeling and gave it no value.

“I’m a vegan!” they say.

“Great! More meat for me!” I say.

“I’m an introvert.”

“Who gives a rats ass?” I ask.

“I’m extra sensitive.”

“Then you should not hang around with me,” I say and roll my eyes and think “Drama Llama is more like it.”

“Democrat!” “Republican!” “Tea Party!” “Conservative!” “Liberal!” “Atheist!” “Agnostic!”

The list is endless and getting longer.

Some people tell me these things as if they think I care.

Labels. There seem to be new ones popping up daily. I can’t keep track.

And I don’t intend to.

I can only imagine the labels that have been given me behind my back. Actually, I’d rather not know. It will probably piss me off and I’d rather not go down that road.

But if you do want to label me, these are acceptable:


“Brilliant writer!” (The exclamation point is preferred but not necessary).

“Annoying Feminist and Human Rights Activist!”

“Extrovert!” Whatever….this whole subject bores me to tears.

“Animal Rights Activist and LOVER OF PETA FOR FUCK SAKE!”

“Religious nut.” (My personal favorite. It never gets old).

I had a teacher, when I was quite young, say something to me that has affected me even today.

The label was:


She said it. She deemed it. She washed her hands of me. She walked away. I was parked in class and ignored because I was stupid. Or so she said.

I accepted it because she said it and she was my teacher. Learning after that was almost impossible, but somewhere deep inside myself, I knew she was wrong and I knew she was a bitch.

So I labeled her as such and it worked.

I learned in spite of the label that I am sure she put in my permanent file. It ends up, my IQ was higher than most. She knew that.

She labeled me because she didn’t like the fact that even at a young age, I had my own opinions and ideas. I spoke up. I questioned. I didn’t go past things I didn’t understand. If I asked a question she couldn’t answer, she got mad.

Now if I know someone has attached a label to me, I do the opposite. You know, just to mess with them completely.

If labels are important to you, then by all means use them to your heart’s content.

But my question to those that this is important to them is:

Why do you care? Because it seems to me the minute you say “What you say or think about me is important,” then…it is. Your first step of asking others for approval and a license to survive is caring what they think and what they say about you.

What label they give you.

Someone calls me a derogatory name or tries to tell me how I am?

I always tell them that they are right. Why the hell should I care what they have to say about me?

I don’t.

Stop trying to fit into some box that someone else said existed. It only exists if you say so.

Define yourself by your actions and by what you see is true for you.

And let’s stop supporting the pharmaceutical companies on their quest to make more BILLIONS of dollars by selling you and I another label.

Yeah, I’ll not go there. That topic has at least 40 of my soap boxes just waiting for me.

Label me? Do it. I dare you.

I’ll make sure it doesn’t stick.

Carry on…


“Get off my lawn!”



I am used to seeing this expression. I’ve grown-up with it.

I think people get old – mentally – because they forgot how to play. You know, just go out and be silly. Make shit up. Be somebody else. Stir things up.

Go play on someone’s lawn and let them yell at you. Take your shoes off and walk around the office all day without them.

You will upset someone. You will be breaking some rules and I think that’s great.

I am learning to relax. This is a constant struggle for me. I need to learn this. I need to know that it’s OK to not carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. I am getting better and better at it.

But I have to remind myself everyday that all is good and I’m way ahead of most people in many ways.

But it’s not enough for me to be a total and complete goof.

I need people to play with. I need it like I need water and air. It’s vital to my survival.

“Susan, you need to…” is the exact point that I check-out of the conversation. I’ll still smile and nod and try to be polite, but in my head, I’m thinking “Don’t tell me what to do! You’re not the boss of me!” and start to plot ways to do the opposite of what I’m being told to do.

I can’t help it. I like to have fun. I crack myself up most of the time. I get strange looks. I am not unaware of them.

I sometimes feel a bit sorry for my clients. I’m pushing them to do better, to be better and to have fun. More fun. Some fun. Any form of fun.

“Oh, but we’ve got this and that going on and…”

“So what? What good does it do you to worry? Do something about it and stop stressing. The world will still be here when you wake-up tomorrow morning.”

“Well, what should I do?”

I think about this for a moment. This is serious business, this running of a business and making money and employing people. Serious shit, I tell you!

“The next time your boss snaps at you, stick your tongue out.”

She laughs. She snorts. She shakes her head. “Oh no, I couldn’t do that!”

A few days later, the call comes in.

“Susan, did you tell my employee to stick their tongue out at me?”


“Yes I did,” I say and wait. Longest 10 seconds of my life.

“I loved it! Made me laugh.”

Big sigh. “Oh great!”

“But she only gets to do it once, right?”

“Ummmm…yeah…sure….okay….” I stutter.

I hear chuckling on the other end. “Well, I stuck my tongue back at her and we had one of the best days ever around here. In fact, right now, I’m doing it to you!”

And this is THE reason I am online less and less. I no longer enjoy it like I used to. Yes, I appreciate my readers and I love talking to them. I love the response my writing gets. I do what I can to pop-in and say hello to them daily.

You are all very important to me.

But it’s all way too serious online these days. I don’t like it and I’m staying away from it. Nothing will ever be resolved online. It’s not even a good source of correct information any longer.

If something isn’t fun for me and makes me laugh or at least smile, I’m out.

Yes, laughter.

The worlds best medicine.

Men can be promiscious. Women can’t.


“Oh, geez, I didn’t realize that. I appreciate you clarifying that for me since I’ve been getting it wrong all these years.”

“No problem. Besides, see for yourself,” he said and pointed to the TV behind me. I didn’t realize it was on as it had been muted.

I turned around and sure enough, there was President Clinton explaining his relationship with Monica Lewinski. Well, explaining or lying, whichever you prefer.

I silently swore under my breath and wanted to spit  but I refrained. I wanted to grab Clinton by his collar, drag his ass to my class and explain to this young teenager why teaching them morals was important but apparently didn’t apply to the President of the United States. I wanted to hear him say it. I wanted him to see how much damage, up close and personal, his antics had caused to the people he swore to protect. I wanted him to see that the children learn from watching adults and then tell me how it was OK for him to take the highest office in the world and treat it with such disrespect.

Yeah, Billie, ‘splain that to me whilst I try to help a troubled kid and maybe show him a better way. Thank to you, Mr. President, for making an already difficult and almost impossible job, even harder. But hey, it’s OK, as long as you had fun and got your rocks off. Right?

I tried as hard as I could to work around the well-publicized antics of the current President, but it was almost pointless. When you are trying to teach morals to kids and yet our leaders (there have been a few…) think their actions don’t matter or can be forgiven with a public apology, they are sadly mistaken.

Trying to teach young men about not having casual sex, to treat women with respect and “No means no” is almost pointless when the adults are running around and rutting like pigs.

“So if the President can fuck around, then so can I,” my student said and smirked. “It was just an intern; no one important so it doesn’t matter.”

I hate politicians.



My hair is naturally curly and after many decades of trying to control it (my Mom could never brush it, so it remained short for most of my young life) I let it do its own deal a long time ago. No sense fighting a battle you’ll never win.

Now I know for a fact that way back on my family tree, we had slaves. I know this because my great-grandmother told me. It was how things were done back then.

I remember one time, sitting on my grandmother’s lap as she went through the family album, she skipped a page. Going through the family album was important to her. She wanted to make sure her ancestors were never forgotten and that we grew-up knowing about them, who they were and what they did.

“Family is the most important thing in life,” she used to say and she meant it. If ever there was a saint that walked amongst us, it was her.

She grew-up in a time where women ONLY married and had children. She was also someone who never got the memo about that. I know where I get this from.

When she married my grandfather, she was divorced and had a son. This was NOT done in her day, but she did it anyway. In addition to that, she was also in vaudeville, which is where they met. They performed on stage together for many years.

So now you have a divorce woman with a child who performs on stage. This was not good nor was it acceptable. She didn’t care.

She also didn’t cook, so my grandfather was in charge of that. I could tell countless stories of his amazing cooking and the wonderful marriage they had.

So there they are, married and stage performers in San Francisco in the early 1900’s. If you don’t know much about San Francisco, you should know that the Chinese were brought in as slaves to build the railroad. You should also know that no “decent” white person in San Francisco would ever speak to a Chinese person.

This was just not done if you wanted to maintain your social standing, donchaknow.

This was another memo my grandmother and grandfather did not get. They not only spoke to them, they had them over to the house all the time, fed and clothed them and did what they could to take care of them. In return, they gave my grandparents tokens of their appreciation, which meant their house was overflowing with Chinese art.

I grew-up, mesmerized by it and hearing the story of each person that had given them something. I grew to love these people whom I had never met. Though my grandmother was getting older, her memory was intact. Each time she told me about one of the people, a quiet gentleness would appear on her face.

She had loved these people dearly.

So one day, while she was going through the album with me again, I noticed she skipped a page. I reached out and turned the page back and looked.

It was a photograph of a black couple with our name.

“Who are these people? I asked. “Oh, this must be where I get my hair from!’

She slammed the book shut. “That doesn’t matter,” she said and put the album back.

I didn’t understand but I knew enough to not say anything further.

Once she was gone, I of course went back and looked. Yes, they had our name. They were rigidly posed, as everyone was in those days, but I could see them clearly. Not only did I now know where my hair came from, I could see a resemblance in the eyes.

I never brought it up again, but years later I was told why she never wanted to talk about it.

Not because she was ashamed or embarrassed by them.

Because she was ashamed and embarrassed that our family had participated in slavery. This was something that was too painful for her to talk about.

She was a wonderful woman and struggled with forgiveness.

Forgiveness of sins that she couldn’t understand.

I know where I got that from also.