I don’t fit the profile

I’ve recently read some thought provoking posts about race. Like this one from Alexis, or this one. Or this one from Benjamin.

So I have a question for you. When you look at this picture, which one of the people in it would you be afraid of? Which one of these people would you cross the street to avoid?

A huge thank you to my dear friend @Reshaud for graciously allowing me to use pictures of him for this post.

If you had never met me or read any of my blog, which one of those faces would you think belonged to a junkie with multiple felony convictions?

I can’t tell you how many law enforcement officers I heard say “she doesn’t fit the profile” as I was perp-walked into yet another police or sheriffs station. If I were behind you in line at Target, you wouldn’t lean away from me as you instinctively moved your hand to make sure your wallet was still in your purse or pocket. I don’t look like what most people think of when they hear the word junkie. I don’t fit the profile.

And yet, here you are, reading the words of a junkie with multiple felony convictions and several stays at the “gated community” as a guest of the state.

I don’t want to hear a word about how “that’s all in the past” or how I’m “a totally different person now”. Those statements may be true, but the cunning, baffling, powerful nature of addiction means that I am, right now at this very moment at 10:06PM, closer to my next high than my next day clean.

Side note: the knowledge of that fact scares the shit out of me, which is why I make meetings, and stay in contact with my sponsor, and work steps, and try and help my fellow human beings by being of service to them. However, should I stop doing those things, my good intentions and desire to be a decent human being don’t mean shit. Because addiction wants me high, and addiction is a motherfucker.

I’ve been arrested multiple times for drug charges. I’ve been arrested for fighting. I’ve crashed more cars than any human should ever have a right to crash. I’ve left a string failed marriages and relationships in my wake. I was an angry, raging, self-centered fuckup for the first 35 years of my life. I did prison time for drug charges. Then I did prison time for a parole violation. Then I did prison time for another drug charge. Then I did probation. While on probation, I was still an angry, raging, self-centered fuckup and I was on my way BACK to prison when I got placed into a drug court program under the care of a counselor who somehow managed to keep me out of prison until I decided that I couldn’t live that way any more.

I wasn’t brought up to be an angry, raging, self-centered fuckup. I wasn’t brought up in a family of addicts or alcoholics. I wasn’t abused. I had a good home, a good family. As an adopted child, I believe that I am proof that addiction is a genetic disease; because there is no logical reason for me to be sitting here saying “I’m an addict named Cindy”. Yet here we are, discussing my sordid history and how I don’t fit the profile.

Then there’s Reshaud. He’s never been arrested. He’s a kind person. I’ve never seen him angry. Well, except when I eat cookies and try to call it lunch. He’s a great employee. He’s an even greater friend to both myself and my Sunshine. Reshaud was the only person I invited to my wedding.

Side note: I’d have invited my family but they wouldn’t have come. Let’s face it, this is my third marriage, and Sunshine & I had been living together for almost 10 years, so the wedding was long past overdue. All of Sunshines family was there: his dad, all the way from Utah; his two oldest sons; his four grandchildren; his nieces and nephews… I saw that I was going to lose the battle for a very private thing like I wanted, and Reshaud dropped everything he was doing on 5 minutes notice on Christmas Eve to make sure I had somebody there that was there just for me. I’m crying as I type this, because that’s a friend right there. That’s the kind of friend I’m not, and the kind of friend I don’t always deserve.

It was my time in the gated community that started opening my eyes to the insidious nature of racism and inequality in this country. I saw the disparity in sentencing firsthand. I witnessed unfair treatment with my own eyes. I also saw more grace and dignity in the black and brown women in the “gated community” than I saw out of the white ones. White people are fucking crazy, y’all, and you will never convince me otherwise. I did time with white people, hell I AM A WHITE PEOPLE, so I know exactly what we’re capable of. And it ain’t nothing nice.

What really drove it home for me, though, was Katrina. It wasn’t the horror everybody saw on the news that did it. It was what I saw with my own eyes in the rooms of 12 step fellowships. I saw people who claimed to be spiritual–who claimed not to care about age, race, creed, religion, or lack of religion–act in despicable ways when the evacuees started arriving in our area. I saw the people who looked like me get hugs and dinner invites; and I saw the people who looked like my friend Reshaud get ignored. I heard those people share their pain, and I watched them be shunned by people who should have been doing everything in their power to make those people feel welcomed and safe at one of the most horrible times of their lives. Racism is alive and well in this country. It’s just a bit more covert than it used to be.

I don’t fit the profile. I am blonde, with blue eyes, and pale skin. I was treated respectfully, politely even, by law enforcement and judicial officials. Well, except for that time my attorney got frustrated with me for being an absolute ass in a courtroom and threatened to slap me. Seriously, he was not having any more of my shit, no matter how good I was for business. And yes, he actually once said that I was good for business.

Every time the police shoot another black person in this country, I can’t help but cry. Black people are dying in these streets like it’s open season, for infractions as minor as wearing a hoodie and eating Skittles… And I spent years getting away with so much shit that I never got in trouble for… And I know it’s because I don’t fit the profile.

I’m here to tell you that the profile is wrong. I’m a white person who has done some pretty ugly shit, behaved in some really ugly ways, and treated people horrendously; and Reshaud is a black person who is so many of the good things I could never hope to be, never been in prison, never been an addict, and can be trusted with my car keys and credit cards and even with little kids. How the hell does it even make sense that I don’t have to fear for my life for wearing a hoodie and eating some Skittles? I don’t even have to fear for my life while going on a drug fueled bleep fest of a rant at a cop, and yet Reshaud had better be polite and do as the cops order him to or he risks dying. I am heard when I speak, while so many are ignored. I am allowed to speak, when so many are being silenced.

I don’t fit the profile, and that is fucked up. That’s privilege, folks. White privilege.

The profile is wrong. Maybe the only way the profile is going to change is if people who look like me quit being ashamed to say “I am the profile”.

Now, I’m going to leave you with two last images, then I’m going to retreat into my corner and go back to listening to people like Alexis and Benjamin. Because they are worthy of being heard. Their experiences matter. And to be honest, their experiences are most likely a whole lot less sordid than mine.

Which one of these people would you be afraid of?


Leave it to Mr B…

When Mr B came over for his morning cup of hazelnut coffee, he remembered he had something in his truck for me. I went out to retrieve it, knowing only that he said “it will be obvious what’s for you”.

I found these

and they fit.

He said he was sitting at a red light and saw these booties on the ground. He opened the door, leaned out, grabbed the booties, threw them over his head into the back seat of his truck, closed the door, and barely missed having his arm and door smashed off by a vehicle blowing past him in the next lane over.

I’m just glad he & his truck came out of the incident unscathed. Now, I’m off to find some foot fungus spray to make sure these booties are cooties free!

Thinking ahead

Last night, I found some really super cool pendant light fixtures on a flash sale site. I showed them to Sunshine, and he agreed that they were, indeed, very cool. He even thought the price was reasonable, and told me if I wanted them to order them.

I didn’t order them. I’m thinking ahead to cabinets and appliances. Those appliances are the battles I’m choosing to fight. Those appliance are the hills I will die on if I must. The functionality of my kitchen is important to me, and I am willing to compromise somewhat on the aesthetics now to better appliamcererefford the functionality when it comes time to buy cabinets and appliances. 

This morning, I woke up thinking ahead to the move from magic bus to little house.

Side note: I also woke up with a radically different mood this morning that makes me think that straight depression might not be what’s wrong with me; it might be bipolar. That’s a post for a future time, though. 

Black to thinking ahead…

I realized that I’m going to have to pack up all our shit in the multitude of locations we have it stored in (magic bus, storage sheds, cargo container, my truck) and move it into the little house. It will be a great opportunity to purge. 

Honestly, it’s a frightening task. Sunshine is going to be far less willing to part with some things than I will be. It’s also frightening because it makes me realize that I should probably make some hard decisions about my clothes and things. Because why should I spend the energy to move shit I ain’t gonna use? We made that mistake when we moved into the magic bus. 

I’ll probably take you guys on the journey with me. If you can help me laugh at myself, or if I can just get your honesty about some of this stuff; well, than that will be a very good thing indeed. I’ve come to count on seeing your faces surrounding me as I walk this path, and you’ve become very fine companions. I’m grateful for that. It makes me want to shout to the world that “IT’S NEVER JUST THE INTERNET!”, you know?

Been busy

I haven’t posted in a few days. I’ve been a bit busy. I overestimated my spoons yesterday, and wound up spending my day pickling okra and canning tomatoes.

We’ve had two of Sunshine’s granddaughters here with us for the weekend while their dad attends a seminar in the metroplex. If you’re ever low on spoons, don’t try and care for little kids. They have so much energy, and I really struggled to keep up with the flow of conversation emanating from their minds😄 They’re beautiful little kids, well behaved and sweet; the just have way more energy than my wrong-side-of-forty ass can hope to muster.

I have work today, but tomorrow I hope to be back to post my response to the blogger tag I was nominated for. Then I’ll be filling y’all in on all the stuffs and things that have been happening around here. (Hint: there’s been progress on the house, lots of food has been preserved, and more food to preserve is coming).

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend, filled with enough: enough laughter to chase away the tears, enough years to appreciate the laughter; enough fellowship with friends to fill your heart with love, and enough solitude to find your center again after the companionship; enough sustenance to drive away the hunger, enough hunger to help you appreciate good food; I hope you had enough.

New faces

We have a new face out here in the middle of buttfuck nowhere. Actually, there are a few new faces. A couple of them are visiting from the Pacific Northwest. One of them is a part-timer who works for Sunshine; we call him Pancho. I’m not sure how he got that nickname, but he says it was a childhood nickname. I’m not sure how he & Sunshine found each other, but I’m glad they did. He works his ass off, he’s polite; and he isn’t a weirdo that won’t eat squash and cantaloupe like Biff is.

side note: what the fuck is that even about, anyway? Who the fuck lives in the south and doesn’t eat squash or cantaloupe? I suppose I’ll give Biff a pass, since he does understand that peanut butter is a food group.

I’m glad Pancho is here. He likes to garden, so I’m hoping that he’ll be able to help me with the workload. He might be able to, if Sunshine will give the guys enough of a break from working on our little house.

It’s nice to see progress starting on the house again. Now, I just hope that the weather will cooperate and it won’t rain on us and shut down work.

I definitely need help

I might have finally gotten some. 

Mrs B likes organizing. I like organized things. I am tired of playing the never ending game of Tetris that all this food preservation causes. So, Mrs B is going to take charge of the community pantry and store and organize it all. She’s also volunteered to take charge of procurement of supplies for preserving food and inventory management of all of the above.

Side note: she also said she’s willing to help pick beans and shit as she can, but she will have a full time job most of the year because that’s how it works for teachers.

Thank heaven! I can’t do all the things alone. She likes organizing, please organize this stuff! She gets out and about far more often than I do, so she has far more opportunities to drop by a grocer or Costco or whatever and grab a gallon of vinegar or whatnot when needed for canning. She also has friends and family in the region that she’s going to ask for donations of jars because that’s the ultimate in frugality and eco-friendly consumption–reuse Mason jars! 

We’re kicking the guys out of the laundry room. They have to get their shit (tools and nuts and bolts and screws and random pieces of what the fuck ever those metal things are) out of there. Mrs B donated a bunch of rolling shelving units to the cause, and Mr B has already said he’d pay for jars since I provide the labor so it’s perfect that she’s taking on procurement for us since she can access him easier for funds (she does live with him, after all).

Once we get a system in place I won’t have to worry about keeping track of how much vinegar and jars and lids and shit I have and I can concentrate on processing the food. The guys have said that they’ll help harvest stuff, she will help when available, I’ll gladly shell peas and snap beans and freeze/can/dehydrate shit all day long, and then I can hand it to her and let her organize and store it for us all. 

Side note: I find a great comfort in the repetition involved in all this processing. I understand the appeal of Catholicism, what with all the repetition of the rosary and all.

It will be nice to have someone else taking on part of the headaches (and TBH it sounds like it won’t be a headache for her once the guys clear their shit out of the laundry room since she likes organizing). It will allow me to concentrate on the processing parts of the equation with the garden (and backdoor fruit from work). 

Thank you, Mrs B, for taking on inventory management and procurement of supplies! It’s nice to have help!

New Friends

So I’ve connected with a bunch of people on twitter lately. They’re a great bunch that I met through the Bloggess.

Recently, one of them tweeted out a call for anybody interested in snail mail pen pals. A whole fucking bunch of people signed up. I’ve been writing letters and sending cards to these folks and I’m loving it.

It gets at the heart of why I am trying to live more simply. Connection. I long to feel connected. Connected to people, connected to the earth, connected to my food, connected to the universe.

Pen pals is one way to do that. And in this digital age, it’s really nice to open the mailbox and see something besides the bill for my phone or internet service.