Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Trayvon Could Have Been My Brother.....

I have stayed mainly silent during the whole Trayvon Martin case.  Not because I didn't have opinions on it but rather, because I did and speaking those opinions would just bring up a whole set of emotions I wasn't ready to deal with.

See, I am a white woman who lives in a Stand Your Ground State (Arizona).  We were the dead LAST state to recognize Martin Luther King day and sadly, we are known as the state where you can purchase an assault rifle in a WalMart parking lot. 

However, I am from Michigan and I grew up with extremely liberal values.  When I was five and a half a great gift was brought home to me in the form of an adopted baby brother.  His name was Steven Matthew Martin and he was perfect!  He was six weeks old, smelled really good and was the most interesting color of olive/brown I'd ever seen!  He had loose curly black hair and he was a very happy baby!

 I remember the day when Stevie came running out of the bathroom where he'd been looking at himself in the mirror.  I think he was three.   "Mama, I am a different color than you are!"  He stated. And while he knew he had been adopted it was in that moment that he began to understand that he was "different".

 My sister and I became extremely protective of our little brother.  We lived in a very small town at that time and I remember people staring at us and I had no idea why.  I did know that at family gatherings, things seemed to shift.  There was an unease when my aunt and uncle were around.  Eventually, they no longer showed up at gatherings or would just be leaving when we got there.

Mama said it was because Uncle Red was from the South and he just didn't think the same way as us.  I wasn't sure at the time what had changed or how his thinking would change the family but we got used to not seeing that set of cousins anymore.

I remember going to Florida one year, which was normal for spring break and driving through Georgia one morning there was the smell of burning wood.  Finally we saw what the smell was from.  Erected in the middle of a lawn was the remains of a burnt cross.

 My dad had us take Stevie to the back of the motor home and put him on the floor with some books, we then took the pull out bed out over him to hide him.  Dad told him no matter what he heard, not to come out until dad told him to. We then drove straight through Georgia without stopping except maybe for gas.  And we didn't get out for a walk that time because were all too scared.

As Stevie grew up I started learning that there were people who thought little boys with black, curly hair and brown skin and dark brown eyes were somehow bad.  I heard a word that I had never before heard applied to my brother and my Mama had to try to explain that it was just a very uneducated word which some white people used to put black people down.  Hmmm.  I decided I didn't like that word.

Sometimes Stevie would get in fights at school and he said that kids would say things about him and he could handle it but when they started in about the family and how we were bad because we adopted him and called my Mom names he just couldn't stand it and would fight. What is a parent to do in this case?  Tell their son to just turn the other cheek?  But of course my parents did.  They told Stevie that there would always be people who just didn't understand our family.

We ended up moving from the very small town in the winter of 1980.  We moved to East Lansing, Michigan which was home to Michigan State University.  In many ways it was night and day to the small town life we'd previously encountered.  For the first time ever, in the middle of second grade, my brother went to school with other minorities!  I can only imagine how it must have felt for him.

Most of the time living with Stevie was just as normal as any other family getting on with their lives. Then. when you least expected it. we were reminded that we were different.  Steve got a moped for his birthday one year.  I remember the first time he got pulled over by the cops.......who asked if this was his moped and did he have an ID  His white friends never got asked for ID for their rides.  Steve was probably pulled over at least twice a year and asked to prove he owned his moped.  He would even be with white friends on theirs and they wouldn't be questioned. 

I remember Steve being really upset by this and my dad telling him that whether it was fair or not the fact that he was black meant that he had to be twice as good and twice as understanding of things because unfortunately that was the way the world worked.  I can only imagine as a parent who is white trying to explain to your child that just because his skin was different that some of the world viewed him as "LESS THAN."

I could go on through my brother's life pointing out areas where he learned life lessons that were much different than those my sister and I were learning.  We learned a few lessons which most white girls never have to learn due to having Steve as a brother and for that I am humbled.

I never realized what my parents chose to take on back then in 1971 when they adopted Steve.  I don't know if they were fully aware of the impact that decision would make on all of us.  I am grateful that they did it and that I had my brother in my life for so many years.  I know that his journey was much different than mine and that he lived through much more bigotry than we bore witness to.  I can only imagine some of the things he endured while we were not around.

He WAS Trayvon Martin at seventeen.  A good kid who was living his life.  Going to the 7 11 to buy a Big Gulp and some candy.  I guess we are lucky that there wasn't a Zimmerman around then.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Disillusionment of Fascination!

 Peter Frampton.  What wasn’t to love?  Played guitar like Hendrix, possessed beautiful teeth and curly, blonde hair….spoke with an English accent.
He was a rock star!  He had the largest selling Live record for quite a number of years in Frampton Comes Alive!  He had an English accent, oh, did I already say that?  Well, it should count twice!  He was beauty itself.  At least if you were a girl who lived in a small town and was 12.  Words to describe me: Emulated.  Infatuated.  In Love!  Imperfect, awkward, geek.
I don’t remember where I first heard him but I really thought that he sang directly to me.  I don’t even remember the first time I saw him on television but I knew right away that he was the man of my dreams!  I didn’t even care for boys with blonde hair, but on him?  Amazing!
He wore the tightest pants and silk shirts, open to the waist and tied with a big knot.  His hair was shoulder length and silky, wavy and multi-colored.  When he spoke it was like hot caramel oozing from his lips.
No mere boy could compete!  I bought all of his posters and filled my walls with his beauty.  I bought all of his records and played them nonstop.  I knew every lyric, every nuance……..every pause.  I was gone, gone, gone…….
I bought fan magazines with information about him.  I knew all of his favorite foods, colors and the car he drove.  I knew his girlfriends and was seriously upset by their existence…
If I could have attended his concerts I would have but my parents would never allow it.  Rock concerts?  No.  Captain and Tenille?  Sure.   Helen Reddy, Yup.  Peter Frampton?  No way!  The crowd would be full of pot smokers and drunk people! No!
He starred in “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” with the BeeGee’s in 1978 and I was there opening weekend.  While I thought the movie was a little odd and didn’t really understand it, I was really excited to see him in it and looked forward to a bigger movie career.
When I heard that Peter had been in a very bad car accident later that year, I was devastated.  He nearly died and I heard that he would probably never play guitar again.  He did recover and continued to record, though at a slower pace and never did achieve the monetary success of the Alive album.
At this time my life changed and I put away my posters and moved my albums to East Lansing, finished High School and started college and my love and emulation of Peter Frampton dimmed but did not die.  I no longer had the fantasy of meeting him and having him fall madly in love with me that I had entertained (but didn’t really figure out given our age difference!) as a middle school girl……but an ember still glowed.
Fast forward to the ‘90’s and I am living in Kalamazoo.  I hear the most amazing news on my way to work!  Peter Frampton is going to play the local venue!  I called work to tell them I’d be late and beelined for the auditorium.  I got tickets and called my sister to tell her she had to come down for that concert.  I was finally going to see Frampton Come Alive!  On stage, in front of me……….I could hardly breath!
The concert was amazing and he played for a long time!  His hair was a bit gray and a bit shorter but he rocked it and was really something!  His guitar playing was stellar and the young shy girl in me was replaced by this very happy adult fan!
I’ve seen him three times over the years and each show is terrific.  Each time he’s been a little slower, hair keeps getting grayer, okay, whiter and shorter but he still plays guitar like a mad man and he puts on quite a show.
The really cool thing about my Peter is he is really awesome and down to earth.  He married and moved to Ohio where he is very politically active in many of the same things I am, he has been clean and sober for a while which really improved his life and his kids are now in the limelight.
He does his own facebook page, which of course I am on, and he answers posts and interacts quite often…so I now have a more grown up admiration for someone who was such a big part of my formative years.  I wrote a post on his page which he thanked me for a few years ago and basically I stated that I was an even bigger fan now that I saw him as an adult….someone with integrity, who believed in the same things that I believe in and who cares for the earth and for people and that I thanked him for being real and interacting with we humble fans.  It’s really nice when you find out your idols are worthy of your respect!  I guess you can say there was no disillusionment in this tale!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Lost in the Circles Goin' Round

I feel like I am stuck in a never ending spiral............Is down up, up down..........right left, left right....nothing left. Spent.  The thoughts spin around until I feel as if this must be what it feels to be mad.  However, I am a person who may have "flights of fancy" but am grounded in reality practically 99.9 percent of the time.  That is why the last year of my life has been so challenging!

I literally feel like I am in uncharted territory.  I look for answers to life's questions in song, prose and movies.  I have reverted to the music of my youth in an attempt to have something familiar and "safe."  At least I am grounded in familiar.  I am unaware if I can find safe again anytime soon.  It's like the song Free Falling by another childhood friend, Mr. Tom Petty.  I was a good girl.  Still am.  Still trying to live a good life.

To Connect..............

She found it easier to crawl inside herself instead of trying to  connect.  

Easier by far than to connect.

Never finding anyone who understood her, she stumbled through life…

Wanting more but not knowing how to get it. 

How do you know what you are looking for when you don’t know what it is?

And so it went.  Decade after decade of wanting something that eluded her.

She thought a few times she had done it.  She thought she had figured out the system!  

 She thought that she had found someone who would get her.

But that had been untrue.  Alone again she wandered.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Chestnut, wavy hair flows down to waist.
Heart shaped lips smile wide.
Laughter is present in your eyes.
Flowing, Grace  in motion as your
Effervescent soul twirls round in the sun.
Multi-tiered skirt hits ankle as  bell anklet sounds it’s shrill cadence.
Love is prevalent; Life is LIVED to the fullest!
Energy. Spontaneity, Goddess of light!

This is the Kari that I shall remember!  Before her own judgement of herself lead to the mess that is Kari now.  Kari the Goddess Swirling Diva died the same day Steve did.  Only the shell has “survived” all these years.  Namaste.