Thursday, November 10, 2016

Dear (white) America, I just can't with you right now.

Dear (White) America,
I just can’t with you right now.  I was not prepared for the range of emotions that I would feel with this election result.  They have vacillated from snarky to angry to downright heartbroken.  I was more optimistic than I realized. I thought we were better than this.  After a cursory look at social media on Wednesday morning, I realized I needed to stay away.  There were too many things that I just couldn’t hear from those who would select a reality tv star to run our country.  There are some things that I don’t ever want to hear again.
1)      Please don’t say we are a Christian country.  Stop lamenting that there is a war on Christmas.  Don’t post your favorite Bible scripture and tell me to trust in God.  God’s greatest commandment is to love one another.  You just elected a man that has repeatedly disrespected and disregarded giant swaths of our population – anyone that is other to him.  Your vote validated his words.  I don’t want to hear that you love everyone.  Your actions speak louder than your words and I hear you screaming at me right now.  You make a mockery of Christianity.
2)      Please don’t tell me not to be fearful.  We live in a country where one in four women can expect to be sexually assaulted in her lifetime.  I have four daughters.  Which one should I be prepared to comfort?  I have lost count of the number of times this year that some (white) man has raped a women and gotten a slap on the wrist because we’d hate to ruin his chances at a great life. My daughters deserve a great life too. You just elected a man that bragged about sexually assaulting women.  How much more emboldened will rapists be to attack my daughters when the President of the United States thinks it is just fine?
3)      Please don’t tell me that we need to put aside our differences and work together.  It is our differences that make us special.  This guy ran a campaign that said different is bad and something to be feared.  Why are you so fearful of difference?  Why can’t we celebrate the different people that make up our country?  Why can’t we demonstrate compassion to those who don’t look and worship like we do?  When you tell people who are different from you to put aside their differences, you devalue them.  You demonstrate through your actions that you don’t believe people of color, people who worship differently than you, people who weren’t born here, people who are different from you have anything of value to give to you.
4)      Please don’t tell me that it is time to make America great again.  The only group that the America of the past has been consistently great to is white men.  At what point in time were we great?  I need to know, so I can know what treatment I can expect from you.  I need to know, so I can be prepared to stand by and use my privilege to protect those who have traditionally been oppressed – people of color, religious minorities, LBGT, and women.  It’s time for you to wake up and realize that greatness is not only contained within white skin.  Until we celebrate the greatness of every individual in our country, we will never be great.

On Wednesday morning, my girls asked me what we are going to do now that Trump is going to be president.  I told them we are going to keep doing what we’ve been doing.  We are going to love one another.  We are going to be kind to others.  We are going to stand beside our friends who might look different than us and feel afraid right now.  We are going to work to make sure everyone feels valued because we are truly stronger together.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Oh, Henry!

Yesterday, Charlotte and I were out doing some grocery shopping.  We were contemplating some frozen food at Aldi, when this young boy about Charlotte's age comes up to me and engages in conversation.

Boy (very enthusiastically): Hi, I'm Henry!  What's your name?

Me: Hi, I'm Kristina.

Henry: I'm Henry. Do you like me?

Me: Well, Henry, I don't know.   I just met you.

Henry: Well, I'm Henry!  Do you like me?

Me: Well, you seem like a nice kid.

Henry: Can I give you a hug?

Me: Sure.

So, Henry gives me this really tight hug.  At this point, Henry's caretaker comes up. It didn't seem like it was his mother, but I guess it could have been.  She says that Henry doesn't recognize social boundaries.  She tells him to come on.

Me: Thanks for the hug, Henry.  That was very kind of you.

And it really was the sweetest little hug.  Kind of random encounter in the grocery store, but it really made my day.  Charlotte was amused with the whole thing.  I kind of thought it was important to show kindness because, above all else, don't we all just want to be liked?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Clement Girls on Slavery

So, last week, we were driving across town to pick up my car from the mechanic.  I'm not sure what sparked the interest in the topic, but we got into quite the conversation about slavery.  It went something like this:

Emma (certain the answer was no): Mom, does slavery still exist?

Me: Actually slavery does still exist and there are even people who are in slavery in Georgia. [This is what you get when you have a mom interested in social justice issues and knowledgeable about human trafficking and the fact that Atlanta is one of the top cities in the country for human trafficking.]

Charlotte and Emma (completely shocked): Huh? What?

Emma: What about the 13th Amendment?  They can't just ignore the 13th Amendment.  That's illegal.

Me: Well, I'm pretty sure they don't care about the 13th Amendment.  These are not good people.

Charlotte (absolutely indignant): Just because Lincoln is dead doesn't mean they can not obey his law!

Me:Yeah, well, these are not people who care about obeying laws.  It's not the same kind of slavery that you learn about in on plantations in the 1800s. These are people that are being forced to work without pay in people's homes and businesses....maybe being held against their will.

Charlotte: Are there light skinned and brown skinned slaves?

Me: Yes.

Charlotte: Slaves used to be different.  Kind of like in Harry Potter.  You know how they call Hermione Mudblood?  It was like that.  The light skinned people thought they were pure bloods or something.  (Exasperated.)  I mean I have friends that are African Americans.

Emma: Me Maya, Rocky, etc...etc.... (Pause.)  Actually, I think most of my friends are.

Charlotte: This is just wrong.

Emma: I know.  I mean the 13th Amendment...(shaking her head)

I thought it was interesting that Charlotte used the Harry Potter example because I read an article not too long ago that said that kids that read Harry Potter were more understanding and accepting of difference.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

When I'm President

Last night, Charlotte was moping in her room because her bike wasn't working properly.  In an effort to cheer her up, I invited her to come on a walk with me.  While we were walking, she was going on and on about how much she hates school because it is so boring.  She told me that she just wants to be home schooled because it will be so much better.  She wouldn't stop asking me why she had to go to school, so I finally told her it is against the law for her not to go to school.

Me: Why do you hate school so much?

Char: Because school is all this is this and that is that.  I hate school.  When I'm president, I'm going to break the law and not go to school.

Me: Well, to be the president you need to understand the laws and stuff that you learn in school.

Char: So, if I'm president, I can just break the law?

Me: Well, just because you are president doesn't mean you can break the law, but you could try to amend the law.

Char: Amend?  What does that mean?

Me: Well, that's why you need to go to school, so you can learn what words like amend mean.

Char (Exasperated!): OOOOOOOOOOOOHHH! C'MON!

Me: Amend means to make some changes.

Char: Well, when I'm president, I'm making some changes to the law, so you don't have to go to school if you don't want to.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Before We Were Born

I've read on more than one occasion that family dinners are a great way to build relationships and keep your family intact.  I have to say that for us, family dinners are a source of amusement and great stories.  Here is a snapshot of the conversation at our dinner table last night.

Emma: I have this dream that I have like once a week.  I keep dreaming that I am in heaven waiting for God to find the perfect parents for me.  Charlotte is there too and we are best friends -

Charlotte: Yay!  We're best friends.

Emma: It took so long for God to find the perfect parents for us.

Kristina: Seriously! We were waiting for a long time.

Emma: Yes, but it was okay because we got the best parents in the world.  [Bonus points for Emma!]  When I finally came down the chute, I was so happy to have you as my parents.

Charlotte: Yeah, but when you left, I was like waaaahhh, I'm all alone now.  Then, I finally got sent down.  Before I was born, I was like, aaaaahhh, I'm in the belly of some giant beast.  Then, I came out and was like, waaahhh, I can't walk and these people are giant.

Kristina: Geez, Charlotte, thanks a lot.

Charlotte: Well, I didn't know you then.  Being born was like an earthquake and everything was so scary.  I love you now.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Jesus, Take the Wheel

I never imagined yesterday when I was leaving my office a little before 1 p.m. that I wouldn't get home until after 1 a.m. When I initially left the office, I went to my car and sat in the same exact spot for almost an hour before giving up and going back into my office.  An hour later, I tried again and the streets were not quite as gridlocked as they were during my first attempt.  When I went back to my car at 3 p.m., I was able to drive straight to the bottom of the deck and exit out onto the street in just a few minutes.  In less than ten minutes, I was on the connector headed northbound.  This first part of the trip was totally fine.

I see a lot of people online talking about how awful Southerners are driving in the snow.  When I was on the connector, the snow was falling pretty heavy, but the roads were perfectly fine.  People were driving cautiously.  The roads were so congested, we were all going slowly.  I didn't seen anyone driving like a maniac in the snow.  We were all just scooting along like any other rush hour in Atlanta.  It took me about an hour and a half to get to I-285 and off onto the surface streets to my house.  That is where the nightmare began for me.  I guess I was lucky in that I-85N didn't have any accidents.  I really think it is because the roads weren't icy at that point.  There was snow accumulating, but not really sticking because of all the traffic.  When the sun went down and the temperatures plummeted, the roads started icing over quickly and that is when things got bad.

When I turned on to Buford Highway, things slowed down, but it wasn't until I made the turn onto Jones Mill Road to head towards Holcomb Bridge Road that things basically began to creep.  It was four hours later when I made it to the QT and decided to take a pit stop.  I'm so glad I did or I likely would have burst before I made it home.  What I know now is that there was a truck overturned on Holcomb Bridge Road that basically meant no one was ever going to be able to take that road.  It would have been nice to know there was an accident ahead to avoid that road totally, but I am guessing the hundreds of accidents in the metro area were too much to track online.

We were moving at a rate of .2 miles an hour.  While I sat on Jones Mill Road, the hours were ticking by and I was amazed to see school buses dropping off kids after 8 p.m.  This is when the roads started to get pretty treacherous for me.  At the top of the road before turning on to Holcomb Bridge Road, the road was covered in ice and I got stuck on a patch of ice trying to get up the last bit of hill before the intersection.  I wasn't sure what I was going to do.  All these cars were passing me and I was sitting there feeling a bit helpless.  Then, two teenagers, a guy and girl, offered to push my car for me and I was able to get off the ice and turn on to Holcomb Bridge Road.

In hindsight, I wish I had gone straight across as I had been contemplating earlier, but I tend to think that everything happens for a reason.  (I read online later that the road I eventually ended up taking had a number of accidents earlier in the night.)  In the next four hours, I would go less than a mile.  I was amusing myself by checking in on Facebook and following friends who were trying to get home as well.  About hour seven, I started to get a little overwhelmed by the whole situation and shed a few tears.  It was so frustrating inching along.  I was on the phone with my sister, Mary, who was telling me that where I was headed was "red" on google maps.  It was very disheartening to learn I was in the "orange" area considering how little movement there was on the road.

It was around 11 p.m. when I was approaching the intersection of Holcomb Bridge Road and Spaulding Drive.  I had already decided that I was going to try to get home a different way by detouring down Spaulding Drive and eventually hooking up to Peachtree Parkway.  At one point, I tried to cut through a parking lot to get onto Spaulding Drive. Unfortunately, there was a hill and I couldn't get my car over the hill.  I got to the top and was stuck.  Then I started sliding backwards and ended up putting the car in reverse and going back down the hill and into the traffic again.  For the longest time, I was just a few cars from the turn on to Spaulding.  There were two teenagers that were walking down the street handing out bottled water and granola bars.  They shared with me the news of the overturned truck ahead and solidified my resolve to attempt a detour home.

At midnight, I was finally able to turn right onto Spaulding Drive!  When I turned and was able to hit 20 mph, I felt like I was flying.  I tried to continue straight on Spaulding to Peachtree Parkway, but the road was covered in a thick sheet of ice and it was difficult to get any traction.  There were two cars stuck in the ice.  For awhile, I was sliding on the road and finally ended up on the curb.  I sat there for a minute seriously praying that I could get out.  Eventually, I was able to get the car in reverse and go back towards Peachtree Corners.  The road was icy, but I was able to move slowly along it until I could almost see the turn onto Peachtree Parkway.  At this point, I hit a patch of ice and the car started spinning around the road.  I couldn't even figure out where to steer or what direction I was even headed at this point.  My goal was to just stop the car from spinning and sliding because just ahead of me was a car facing me in my lane.  My heart was racing a mile a minute when I finally slammed the car into the curb and stopped it from sliding down the hill into the SUV in front of me. I just sat there for awhile afraid to try to go again because I didn't want to end up in a head on collision with the SUV.  I don't even know how long it was before the SUV was able to get off the ice and out of my way.

When the SUV finally moved, I eased back into the road, sliding a bit, but still making forward progress.  I was really nervous at this point because hills were difficult for my little Civic and I had to go uphill before I could get on Peachtree Parkway.  The road was covered in ice, but I eventually made it on to Peachtree Parkway.  From here, I was basically home free. I think Johns Creek had put something out on the roads.  I was able to take Peachtree Parkway to State Bridge Road to Jones Bridge Road without any major incident.  There were still a number of cars on the road, but everyone was being cautious.

When I finally made it to our subdivision, the intersection was totally iced over.  For those who have been to my house, you know how hilly our street it.  I made it to the first stop sign, but couldn't get my car to go up the hill at that intersection.  I decided I was done with driving and would just walk home.  I wanted to be home so badly.  I parked the car on a side street and started walking home.  I had a tearful moment when I got out of the car.  My legs were so sore from sitting for so long.  I was so happy to know that I was just a short walk from home.  I called Brian to let him know that I was in the neighborhood and he said he'd come meet me.  It was cold outside and my teeth were chattering in no time.  I was thankful that my walk was short compared to people who walked miles.  I've never been so happy to be home.  It was about 1:15 a.m. when I made it to our house.

While I still feel a bit traumatized by the whole experience, I am incredibly thankful that I was able to make it home safely.  I sincerely appreciated all the prayers and words of encouragement from friends and family on Facebook and over text message.  It kept my spirits up and I felt all the love from everyone. It is really exhausting and overwhelming to experience something like this and have no control over your situation.  What is hard to explain to people not stuck in the situation is that there really wasn't an option to seek shelter somewhere.  It wasn't like I could decide that since Target or Home Depot were taking in people that I would just go there instead. The traffic was absolutely gridlocked.  I had about the same chance of getting to shelter as I did to getting home.  I would have had to abandon my car and walk a good distance to get somewhere taking in people.  If I abandoned my car, I would be further adding to the travel problems on the roads.

Overall, I was really proud of the people around me in traffic and the strangers who were willing to help me out.  I guess we all realized the severity of the situation and were trying to do the best we could to get home. For those still dealing with the craziness, I pray they get home.  For now, I'm enjoying sitting in front of the fireplace and I can't get "Jesus, Take the Wheel" out of my head!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Count Your Penny Blessings

This morning, I was out walking Maggie with Charlotte.  We were about halfway up the hill from our house, when Charlotte spotted a penny on the ground.  Ten steps later, she found a nickel.

Me: Wow, Charlotte, you're rich!

Charlotte: Well, if I lived in pioneer times, I could buy something at the Oleson's Mercantile.

We walk a little farther and Charlotte found two more pennies.  Then, I spotted a penny on the ground and picked it up.  So, we were up to nine cents.

Me: You know, when I'm out running, I always see pennies and I think I should pick them up so I can be rich.

Charlotte (proceeding delicately): probably wouldn't be rich with money, but you would be rich in blessings!

We walked all the way to the end of the neighborhood and turned around to head back home.  On the way back, Charlotte spotted another penny and then I found a dime.

Charlotte: You know, there is no need to go to the bank for money, when you can just pick it right up off the ground.  Who needs a bank!?

All in all, it was a profitable walk and I was reminded that Charlotte is just one of my many blessings!