Bits 'N Pieces

Monday, June 14, 2010

Loving Day, Pt. 2

I previously wrote a blurp about Loving Day and how my husband and I were potential interviewees for an article with our local paper. Turns out, they did use us. Loving Day was this past Saturday, June 12. I thought I would share with my readers, the video and the article: Interracial couples gaining acceptance but still face struggles. It was an honor to be part of our community's Loving Day recognition. Hope you all enjoy.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

God bless the Salt Shaker...

*names changed for privacy purposes.

I grew up in a very rural town about fifty miles northwest of Gainesville. It's very heavily populated with rednecks and redneck ideas. Thankfully, I was raised in a loving, Christian home where my parents taught us (myself, sister and brother) to love and accept people of all colors, races, cultures, and ethnic backgrounds. Neither of my parents grew up in the area, (my Dad is from Springfield, Ill, and my Mom from Richmond, VA), so I'm proud to say they are cultured and well-rounded people. Those qualities carried over into their parenting skills - praise the Lord - and they now have three emotionally healthy and diverse adult children. Growing up in Dixie County, there wasn't much diversity when it came to the color of people's skin. There is a medium-sized black population, but the area is primarily white. Racial tension runs high, even to this day.

As a little girl, I remember being attracted to black boys more than white boys, and as I got older the attraction only grew stronger. As a teenager, I remember "interracial" dating being such a hot topic at my school, and with that being said the student body seemed to be divided by a very definite line - those who were
down and those who found it
undesirable (that's putting it mildly). Growing up, I remember hearing derogatory remarks like,

"It's just not the way God intended it...look at the birds - cardinals stay with cardinals, blue jays with blue jays."

Black people just....smell different, and they have different diseases."

Don't have sex with black men or you'll get AIDS...they all have it."

Why can't you just stay with your own kind?"

Why would anyone want to do that? Don't you know black people came from a white person and a monkey?"

Oh, you're boyfriend is black? Well, I don't really like black people."

The list goes on. I think my personal favorite went something like this, "
Well, those aren't real relationships...those are just black guys raping white women." I was stunned. When I heard that phrase leave my coworker's mouth, I felt the blood rush out of my face. I'm sure I was as white as a ghost. My legs felt like they were cemented to the floor. I couldn't move. Speechless. I mean, what do you really say back to such a spout of ignorance? People say racism is taught...I believe it. While most of the above quotes are memories from my teen and early adult years, even as a child I remember feeling a bit queasy when hearing strangers use the word "nigger". I wasn't raised that way. My parents weren't that way - they taught me better. I remember hearing my grandpa throw around the "N-word" as if it was nothing. It always baffled me how ignorance still festered in his old age. I thought wisdom came with age...boy, did I learn differently as I grew up. As a little white girl, I couldn't understand why people would use that word or anything like it. After all, being black or white or brown or yellow was only an outward one can help what color they are. "Isn't it what's on the inside that counts anyway?", I would think as a kid. It [that word] always made me feel gross...and as a grown woman, it still makes me cringe. Ignorance...simply put.

When I was 14, I remember praying that God would soon send me something or someone who would encourage and help me in my walk of faith - someone who had my back and could help me grow in my spiritual journey. From that point until high school graduation, I didn't date much, but I talked to lots of boys - black, white and brown. And one night in December of 1999, I ran into "RayH7" in a Christian chat room for college aged kids. It was called "The Salt Shaker". Now, for those of you who remember AOL chat rooms, you might remember how people would introduce themselves when entering a room. It usually went something like this: age/race&sex/location. There he was, Mr RayH7, 22/BM/VA....typing in black Arial font - bold. I remember it like it was yesterday. I said "hi", only to be ignored. Disappointing. About three weeks later in January '00, I revisited the Salt Shaker....and who was there?....none other than Ray, typing in his trusty black Arial font - bold. ;-) He didn't ignore me this time, and after talking for roughly an hour, I mustered up the courage to send him a private message. It was the beginning of a new chapter.

Ray was a strong Christian, came from a good family, and seemed to have all the qualities a girl could ask for. But things soon proved themselves to be more difficult then I had imagined....I was barely 18, and still living under my parents' roof. He was 22, and on the verge of moving out of his parents' home. He was in Virginia, I was in Florida. He was black, I was white. I tried to be as open as possible with my parents about this new found relationship, but there were issues. Although my parents had raised us to love all colors, there had always been that underlying "interracial" issue. I knew my parents would be accepting in the long run, but that initial shock of "Oh my God...he's black!!" had to wear off. An even bigger issue for them was the online thing. Today, with sites like eharmony,, and plenty-of-fish, dating online is pretty much the norm; but, 10yrs ago - not so much. In the months following, Ray and I got to know each other - well...very well. We spent endless hours chatting on AIM, and sent countless emails back and forth. I have floppy disks full of pictures, conversations, and emails. By the summer of 2000, I remember thinking, "Man, the woman this man marries, is going to be so blessed!" I must add to, that although we had been talking for about 9 months, I had yet to see his picture. He had seen mine, but here I was...falling for a man, who's face I'd never seen! But it was too late, by the fall, I was hooked!! I was just praying that God would make this man attractive to me. When I finally received the email, I was scared to open it. I remember staring at it in my inbox...terrified of clicking on it. What if I wasn't attracted to him? I've invested 2 months shy of a year into getting to know this guy...what if?? I clicked. I opened. What a relief. He was cute!! Praise Jesus in Heaven!

At this time, I was still living at home, and there were already 2 strikes against me - online dating (strike 1), and he's black (strike 2). So, I knew I would have to do all in my power to keep things as open and peaceful as possible with my parents. I knew things with Ray were going to get serious eventually, so I had to smooth my path and keep my windows of communication wide open! Respecting their [my parents] rules since I was still living under their roof was my top priority.
I must add, though, that my parents now ADORE my husband. They are nothing but supportive of us, and I know people have given them grief over the years as well. At the time, respecting my parents' rules meant I was not allowed to give out our home address to write real letters, and no phone calls. Thank God for P.O. boxes and e-cards that allowed real-live voice messages. In the summer of 2001, Ray and I decided to make things as official as two people who had never met (in person) could. :)

After finishing up a year of college in south Florida, Ray headed back to Virgina to enjoy some down time away from school. Almost two years in, and we still hadn't met. Would it ever happen? Then the unimaginable struck - September 11, 2001. As we all remember, 9/11 changed the world as we knew it...indefinitely. It also changed our relationship. Being the man he is, Ray enlisted in the USAF and left for basic training on March 23, 2002. I remember the day he was rainy. I sat in my car in the parking lot of Santa Fe College and cried my eyes out. When would I talk to him again? What was he doing? Would our relationship survive this? I was so proud of him, but at the same time....crushed! I was selfish and scared. We were now even further apart - he was shipped to Texas - and our dreams of meeting in person were pushed back yet again. After spending the past 2+ years talking EVERY day, I knew it would be weeks before I'd hear from him again. I was going through serious withdrawals...just like that - cold turkey. He was my best friend, my therapist, my comic relief...and now I would count the minutes until I received word from him. By this point, I had secured my own personal post office box so that we could write. I received my first (of many) letter from him in April 2002...and I still have every one he's ever written. :) After finishing basic training, he went to tech school for a matter of weeks, which was also in TX. By Summer of 2002, basic and tech school were finished...and he got his first legitimate orders. I held my breath, "Please, Lord...don't send him to Afghanistan...please! I need him." As always, God heard my prayer, and while it was a relief that *Ray wasn't being shipped into harm's way....he was still shipped overseas - Kadena AFB in Okinawa, Japan. Japan?! And it was a two year assignment, at that. Would we
ever meet? By this time, I had moved out of the house and into dorm life at my now alma mater - Florida Southern College. Being out of the house...we had our first real telephone conversation in fall 2003...three years after we'd first met. We spent endless hours on the phone. 4:00am phone conversations and 8:00am classes don't mix well. I learned that the hard way.

Ray had scheduled leave time for a couple weeks close to Christmas 2003. He was flying home to Richmond to stay with his parents for the holidays. A good friend of mine had family in Richmond and a grandmother who was very ill at the time. She wanted to have one last visit with her grandmother, and it was past time for me and Ray to meet face-to-face. Road trip!!! Finally, just days short of four years into this thing, we met for the first time!!! Hallelujah!! December 30, 2003 - there we, my friend *Kay, and my sister...sitting in a Micheal's parking lot in Richmond, Virginia waiting for him to arrive. The anticipation was killing me...and then, we saw it - a burgundy BMW coming our way. "
Dammit, I'm going to puke!" It was really him - alive and in the flesh. What a mix of emotions and nerves. I don't think I had ever smiled so much before that day. My face was frozen in a permanent grin. It was an incredible 3-4 days there. We had our first hug, our first date, our first kiss. This was real...he was real. I could touch him...hold his hand...see his smile...hear his laugh. Bliss! He rented a car, and drove back to Florida with me. He met my parents that weekend. I showed him Gainesville. And then the time was cut short. His leave was coming to an end. We planned our next rendezvous before he headed back to Richmond. It was almost seven months before I saw him again, but on June 28, 2004, I boarded a plane to Okinawa. I had never flown before. I was 22, alone, terrified of flying, and getting ready to fly half way across the world to see my man. After flight drama, an emotional breakdown, a $7-dollar bagel, terrible turbulence, spending an unplanned night in San Francisco, and sitting next to a guy who was very persistent with his flirty desires....I had made it. I was 10,000 miles away from home, immersed in a culture 110% foreign from mine, but I was with him...again! Ahh, the things we do for love.

Ray's tour in Japan was finished the following summer - 2004. Where would they send him now? He got his orders. Is this really happening?! Was he really being stationed in Florida? By the fall of 2004, we were living in the same state. He was stationed in Panama City, where he finished his time in the AF. Although we were finally on the same side of the state line, we were still seven hours apart. I was still in school in Lakeland. We took turns driving back and forth on weekends. We saw each other about twice a month over the next year and a half. I got to know I-98 very well over those 18 months. Late night drives on deserted roads lined with pine trees and rocky beaches. It was draining at times, but worth every lonely mile. Finally, in March was time for him to separate from the service. His duties were done, and it was time to get this ball moving. We'd talked about marriage numerous times since about 2002. I was ready. He was ready. So, what now? He moved to Lakeland to be with me. He had nothing more than the clothes on his back, his car, and the two cats that we had adopted earlier that year. When he reached Lakeland, he lived in my dorm room for about a week. We intensely searched for an apartment and a job for him. By the end of the week, we had landed both. God is good! We were finally in the same state, in the same town, only minutes from each other. On December 16, 2006, he proposed. We were married on August 11, 2007. After almost 8 years, I was officially Mrs *RayH7. We honeymooned for a week in the Keys. Breath-taking. We left Lakeland for Gainesville in May '08. We had a beautiful baby girl on January 6, 2010, and will celebrate three years of marriage in August.

People say true love doesn't exist...I beg to differ. Ray and I have been together for over ten years now. If I've learned anything, it's that love is not a feeling. Love is a commitment, a choice. It's not always frills and lace, or smiles and gushy words....sometimes it's ugly. It's hard. It's scary. It's trying. But it's beautiful. As cliche as it sounds, Ray and I complete each other. We've had hardships - distance, racism, broken family ties. We've endured. He is my first love. My first kiss. My first real heartache. He's it. My soul better heart - together forever. I love you, honey.

"You my soul, you my heart, You my bliss, oh you my pain, You the world in which I live;
You my heaven, in which I float, O you my grave, into which I eternally cast my grief.

"You are the rest, you are the peace, You are the heaven upon me bestowed.
That you love me makes me worthy of you; your gaze transfigures me;
you raise me lovingly above myself, my good spirit, my better self."
~Robert Schumann

The end.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Loving Day

Loving Day. Most people are clueless as to what the heck that is. Despite the name, no it is not Valentine's Day's twin sister, or Sweetest Day's evil cousin. Loving Day falls on June 12 every year, and it marks the anniversary of when the Supreme Court overturned a law that banned racially mixed couples from legal marriage. It took place in 1967, and the case was Loving vs Virginia. Needless to say, Loving beat the state and marriage in the United States was forever changed. If you want more info, there's always google. ;)

My point...A good friend of mine just informed me that our local newspaper, the Gainesville Sun, is looking for mixed race couples to share their stories to commemorate the 43rd anniversary of Loving Day. So, without hesitation, I'm jumping aboard! I am half of a mixed race marriage, and my wonderful husband is the other (and better) half. My story sharing is in the works, and our love tale will be posted when it is complete. Look for that.

I've linked the Gainesville Sun article to the title of this post, so if you're in a mixed marriage in the Gainesville should share your story too. I dare you. ;-)

the end.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Blog for the Boys.

Alright Men, Boys, and Other Heterosexual Males...this blog is for you, so listen up!! Most of you males are absolutely clueless when a girl likes you, or when she's flirting with you, or when she's stalking you (yes, this does happen), or when she just wants to be friends with, I have taken it upon myself to shed a little light on what's really going on w/ the female psyche. Below is a list of a few basic, but extremely important things that you, as a potential manly-man in today's society need to be aware of. And on a side note, ladies...please comment and let me know if I left anything out...aite?

1. Staring vs. Gawking. Boys, there is a very fine line between these two, but a very broad difference. Staring at a girl from across the room, b/c you think she is beautiful - that is totally acceptable...when/if her eyes meet yours, smile at her!! Duh!! This will let her know that you were checking her out, and that you're man enough to admit to it...(that's what the smiling proves). Staring is okay!! Gawking on the other hand - ewwww!! Females are not slabs of meat, so DO NOT, under any circumstance, treat us in such a rude manner. Do not look up & down our bodies, make eye contact, and then make any sort of grunting sound - this is NOT attractive or acceptable...EVER!! This tells us that you are desperate and horny. Gawking is NOT okay!!

2. Just because we say "hi" & make conversation, doesn't mean we want to date you. Oh, how men misinterpret a girl's friendliness. Listen boys, in some cases, this may be true. For instance, if a girl goes out of her way to say hi to you, and she initiates wanting to hang out some time...there is a pretty good chance that she might be interested, but that is NOT ALWAYS the case. Watch her body language, listen to her laugh - these are dead giveaways! But just remember, sometimes girls are friendly just b/c we're cool like that - don't dig too deep!!

3. Yes, we do stalk you! Men, have you ever wondered how that same girl always finds herself outside of your class when you walk out? Or how she's always so conveniently placed at the water fountain at the same time as you? Or how you always manage to see her in the same place, at the same time, EVERY morning on your walk into the office? Of course you never wondered any of these things - you're a guy!! And if you had wondered about such things, you'd probably be in tune w/ everything else about a woman, and I wouldn't be writing this blog. So, let me just tell you...girls will go seriously out of their way to be noticed by a target of interest. Note: YOU'RE THE TARGET!! Think, boys, think!! Put two and two together - it doesn't take a rocket scientist to make a relationship work!!

4. Fake girls suck!! Yes, this is true...women who have fake personalities, fake laughs, fake body parts, or anything else fake (besides hair color) are usually annoying to most of the non-fake female population. So, word to the wise, DO NOT, in any case, ramble on about how hot Carmen Electra, Pamela Anderson, or Britney Spears are!! Although, we could care less about them, if we hear you talking about them, it could (if we are having a self-conscious, bad day) really piss us off. And even more importantly, if we're having an "ugly" day - yes, women do have these - hearing about how perky Jenny McCarthy's breasts are, or how tight Jenna Jameson's ass is, will only make us feel inadequate. Besides, when you talk about those types of women, it only makes you look like a horn-ball who doesn't appreciate real women.

5. Hott vs. Beautiful. Guys, simply put, always telling a girl that she's "hott" or "fine", gets old. Try opting for adjectives such as "pretty", "breath-taking", "stunning", "gorgeous", etc. Oh, and if you use the word "beautiful" - oh, what that might do for a girl. Personally, I think this is one of the sweetest things a guy can say when referring to a girl's physical appearance. So, although, women might not mind the words "fine" or "hott" on occasion (b/c we definitely need to be reminded that you think we're total hotties), most of us would love to hear something that took a little more brainpower to come up with.

6. Never say the "F" word. And no, I'm not talking about the "F" word that rhymes with "duck", I'm talking about the "F" word that rhymes with "hat" - FAT!! Never tell a woman she is fat. Never tell a woman that one of her friends is fat. Never hint to a woman that she is anywhere close to being fat. Never tell a woman she needs to lose weight, b/c she is getting fat. Do you understand that, boys? She will NEVER, and I mean NEVER forget, and possibly NEVER forgive you for using her and the word "fat" in the same sentence. It will permanently scar her, and chances are, you will be a very single man after that!!

7. Buy her flowers. C'mmon guys, do I have to explain this one?

8. Feelings vs. PMS. Yes, gentlemen, just remember, women do have real feelings. Just b/c we get mad and yell at you, or we cry over commercials or movies, doesn't mean we have PMS all the freaking time. We are emotional, fragile, and understanding creatures - so do not confuse real feelings for hormones.

9. Finally, the most important rule EVER. Boys, I cannot stress to you enough about how important what I am about to say is...and I can guarantee that almost every woman you ask will agree. If there is a woman in your life, whether she is a girlfriend, a friend, a sister, a mother, a cousin, an aunt, or a girl you would like to date...if you think she's beautiful - tell her, dangit!! Picture this - the girl that you've been crushing on for weeks, walks in and she is looking hott from head-to-toe....don't sit back and think it - tell her she looks beautiful!! And guys, even if it's just a female friend, if she looks nice...have balls enough to tell her for cryin' out loud. Every woman needs to know that she is attractive. NEVER ASSUME THAT SHE KNOWS HOW BEAUTIFUL YOU THINK SHE IS!!

And just to end this, ladies, if you are reading this....we should never be afraid to tell each other how beautiful we are to one another either. Women are some of God's most precious gifts, and we should never let a man or anyone else make us feel any less than that. And a word to my ladies, just b/c a man may not tell you, NEVER ASSUME THAT YOU ARE ANYTHING LESS THEN BEAUTIFUL!!

The end.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Get Ready

Just testing the blogging waters for now. Got my toe in...I'll jump soon, so look out for the splash!