Thanks to an incredible teacher.

As school in Westmoreland County ends, my favorite teacher, Trudi Ficklin?, is retiring from teaching. Mrs. Ficklin taught me home economics when it was still called home ec.

When I started at W&L I knew no one, I was scared, I was lonely, I was dealing with a drinking problem that most people had no clue about, in fact, this will probably be the first time my Dad knows abou tit.

My depression and anxiety issues started about the time I moved to W&L. Mrs. Ficklin took me under her wing, taught me things I would truly need in real life, things like balancing a check book, how to wash clothes, how to cook, how to take care of a family, and make a house a home.

However, she taught me so much more than that. She taught me that I was worth the time. She taught me that I was a good strong woman. She taught me that I could be picky about my future spouse (I was engaged in high school to an older guy, we were not a good fit. However, we are friends, now.)

Trudi Ficklin brought me into FHA, got me involved as the reporter for it, and writing my first articles for the Westmoreland News? about vocational education at W&L. Yes, that means I have come full circle now.

She taught me to believe in myself, to defend what I believe in, to learn from my mistakes, pick up and move on from them.

She taught me leadership as I moved into the role of President of FHA my senior year.

When no one else believed in me, she did. When I was done and ready to quit school, permanently (I didn’t bother going to school for most of a year at CBHS,) she listened to me, and helped me to realize that was a mistake.

W&L will be lesser without her. I’m glad Kyrstin? got at least one class with her.

Good luck in your next endeavor, Trudi! Thank you so much for everything you did for me, and for all your students, in your time as a teacher.

My town

This was addressed to others who live in/around Colonial Beach. Our town won a $747,000 grant to help with financial and physical blight in the downtown area.  The next closest town won the same grant a year earlier and looks incredible:

If you haven’t been to/through Montross recently, you need to go see it! One year before CB did, Montross received a grant to help with the economic and physical blight in their town.

It looks amazing. New facades, murals, old buildings being razed. Montross has a fresh coat of beauty all over it.

That’s next for CB. As the revitalization group continues its work, CB’s downtown waterfront area will improve as well! I can’t wait to take pictures, and report on it, as it happens.

Our little town can be better on the outside. Now, if we could learn, as a community, that the gossip and hatefulness does not help us. Colonial Beach is a beautiful, waterfront town, with the second largest beach front in Virginia.

We could be something astounding, but, it takes not only money from grants, volunteers, but also a willingness for the citizens to accept change and see it as a good thing.

We need the tourism. I know that we swell with people during the summer, we need those people to spend money. We need them to buy food, lodging, souvenirs, and gas. (also, note places that sell souvenirs, the correct spelling of that word. Also, bikinis, not bikini’s)

We can be the great destination we used to be. Accept the people, enjoy the summer when we fill with those who don’t have the joy of living in this small, beautiful, waterfront community.

Everyone of us is lucky to be here. We have the amazing river passing by our windows, a school that is the backbone of our town, many who volunteer their time, and so many others who just love this town.

Support it, support progress, and also, go see what CB will look like!

Yeah, at least it’s a post…

I remember anniversaries of things, good, bad, or otherwise and they stick with me. Tony and I celebrate our dating anniversary, our wedding anniversary and other days of our firsts. Those are the good kinds of dates. 18 years together, 16 years married.

Then there are the anniversaries of bad things. My cancer diagnosis, the date a friendship ended, the day Michael took his life.

Today, December 16th is four years since Michael died.

To back track a bit, Michael was my best friend and my first love. He and I had a brief intense relationship in which we had a lot of good, then quickly tremendous amounts of bad things.

Our relationship, and friendship, originally ended on a bad note.

We avoided being in the same place for years as it was just intensely uncomfortable for either of us.

In August of 2010 we both ended up at a birthday party for a mutual friend’s son. His then girlfriend, Jenn, and I hit it off immediately and begin chattering at one another.

He stood behind us, scared of what I might say, while we talked.

A few days later we talked online. I had taken pictures of his stepdaughters, he saw them, asked if it was okay to share them.

Then, he apologized for all the bad things, for how poorly he handled the pregnancy loss, and everything surrounding it.

We discussed the past, told one another about everything that had gone on in our lives over the years. He told me all about his ex-wife, the girls, his Mother’s death, and caught me up on his family (whom I love, they are all wonderful people. After his funeral, at which I was hysterical, his sisters came to me and just hugged me. <3 you Kelly and Dawn.)

I told him all about Tony and our lives. How I had gotten hurt, my cancer, my life, how I was writing, and the nieces and nephews.

We fell back into a friendship again. A good one without the other baggage of a relationship.

 

On the day he died, it had snowed, a lot. He got home from work early.

I was housebound as I try not to take a chance in the bad weather with my leg (cold is not good for a limb with lymphedema in it.)

We talked on facebook, texted a bunch, he called me at one point. Just chattering.

He was drinking a lot. Bad rotgut tequila. Depressed due to being alone for Christmas, worried about money, drunk and with a handgun in the home were bad things.
Michael asked me to come over. He needed someone to talk to. I couldn’t. Not only was there snow on the ground, but I drove a very low car at the time, we lived 15 miles apart.

I didn’t want to upset Tony by going to his house.

So, I didn’t. He said he understood.

Then, the texts got more depressed.

He sent one last one, “love you, love Jenn, love my girls.”

I knew as soon as I saw it what was about to happen. My soul knew he was about to die.

I called, I texted him, I messaged on Facebook.

 

No answer. Nothing at all.

 

After a few minutes, I messaged Jenn on Facebook for her to try, or to call the police as I didn’t know the address of his house.
She and I messaged back and forth while she sent the police and we waited for word. As the time drug on and a friend of showed up at Michael’s and wasn’t let passed the police and ambulance, I knew.
Then, after what seemed like an eternity, she messaged me, “he’s dead, he shot himself.”

To this day, I am so incredibly grateful that Tony was home from work and of how amazing he was. The sound that came out of me as I read that Michael was gone was not a sound that comes out of a human mouth.

When I calmed down somewhat, or more correctly went into shock, I had to call our mutual friends and ended up having to repeat it to several of them. I can hear the words still, “Michael’s dead. He shot himself.” over and over I had to say that.
I had it easy though, I didn’t have to call his family like Jenn did. Nor did I have to tell the daughters that he had raised for most of their life.

 

His funeral was one of absolute worse days of my life. As was the day previous to it when the detective who was investigating his death questioned me.

I was out trying to finish my Christmas shopping when he called me. I answered his myriad of questions and then had to go in the final store.

Let me tell you, people avoid you if you are crying while shopping. They tend to run in the opposite direction.

All of this is to say, I miss my friend. I will never understand why he took his life. I will never understand why I was the last person he talked to that day.

I will never understand why he would renew a friendship only to take his life.

He will always be missed. I will always remember this date. Even as time marches on, I will keep his memory alive.

168864_10150115743851563_3925331_nMichael and I, 1995 Colonial Beach Boardwalk

Cranky as hell

I’m cranky.  Here’s a list why:

I’m cold.

My foot hurts

My other leg hurts

My crutch slipped out from under me and I pulled something.

I’m tired.

I’m a week behind on Holidailies because I suck

I’m too busy

2014 can kiss my ass.

 

Can we have 2015, now?

Again? Day Three

“Garner, 43, died July 17 while he was being arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes. In a video of the arrest, which has since gone viral, Garner screams “I can’t breathe!” multiple times until his body goes limp. A medical examiner later said that he died of a chokehold, a move that is banned by the NYPD, and ruled his death a homicide.”  from-The Huffington Post

 

Note, you are free to disagree with me, however, I will not be publishing any racist comments. If you wish to disagree, go write it on your website that you pay for, not mine.

I cannot imagine the pain that black and African American citizens in our country are feeling right this moment. Within just a week’s time another white officer was not indicted for killing a black man. While there are questions on the Mike Brown case, as there was no video, there aren’t in this case.

 

Eric Garner’s death was ruled a homicide. There is video of him being choked to death, screaming that he couldn’t breathe, before he died. NYPD does not allow a choke hold to be used, yet, it was.  Garner is dead.

 

And, no indictment.

 

The officer will not stand trial for this death. Garner’s crime? Selling single cigarettes on the street.
Seriously, selling loosies? That is why he’s dead?

 

Something stinks and it isn’t just the smoke from those loosies.

Black Americans know that our society is still racist. It has been racist from the start, the racism continues to the deepest levels of our country.

Yes, even though we have a black president. Obama is not the end of racism, if anything his presidency has brought the racists to light as so many have had issues with his race from day one.
Don’t try to deny it, white America. I’m one of you. Racism is all around us. When you think there is no one of color around you still say the racist jokes. You lean in and say the horrible things you do and expect all those with you to agree.
I don’t agree.

I’m tired of watching the lives of our fellow black citizens being treated as disposable and lesser than.

 

Why in 2014 are we still this way? Why are white men with guns still so afraid of a black man that they would shoot him more than half a dozen times? Why are white men still so afraid of a black guy selling cigarettes that he is choked to death?

How many times has Mike Brown been called a thug? Does anyone, other than his close family and friends, really know much about him?

We know he was 18, a recent high school graduate, accused of stealing some cigars (but, not actually by the store owner,) shot multiple times by a cop.

There is a picture going around showing another young black man, one with a gun, that is being pointed to as Mike Brown.  It isn’t him.

How anyone can look at the actual picture of him and think this other guy is him shows how racist we are all still. They do not look alike, at all, yet, it’s a meme. People aren’t even questioning whether or not it is him.
I look at these pictures and I fear for the young black men I know. The children of my friends and classmates. The child of my cousin, who is only an interracial toddler now, but someday is going to be a young black man.

I fear for their lives.

How can you not? We do not believe that black lives matter. We are killing or imprisoning a young generation of men.

I won’t go into the way that young black men receive much harsher sentences, for the same crimes, as young white men. There are studies after studies that show that.

The racism goes back to the earliest days of our country from slavery on. The county I am sitting in, the birthplace of George Washington and James Monroe, still had segregated high schools in the 1970s.

Within my lifetime AT Johnson still had no non-African American students.

We have a long way to go and obviously we still aren’t anywhere near the finish line.

 

Edited to add: Jon Stewart tonight