Mr. Hill, This One’s For You

We do see the color of our skin. People who say they’re color blind aren’t being tansparent, no matter what color they are. That being said, skin color isn’t an evaluatory tool. I won’t mention all the other human variations that aren’t evaluatory tools, because what we’re talking about since George Floyd was killed, since Dr. Martin Luther King marched, since Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, is racism in the United States.

Now for a stab at transparency. When I was in college, I asked a black girl what black people thought about something that was going on at the time. She asked me why I thought she was representative of all black people. Made sense. I’m sure not representative of all white people.

fb_img_1584673841152Charles Hill, Tammy Whose Last Name Has Changed, Dr. and Mrs. Bohn, and Dr. Serna

Later, when I taught third grade, one morning before the beginning of the schoolyear I walked into the office, and a huge black man sat at the principal’s desk. See how I said that? His size and color frightened me at first glance, and I guessed he might  be a new custodian fixing a drawer or something, at least I hoped so.  That’s because I didn’t know him, yet. And he wasn’t the custodian. He was the best principal I ever had.

His name is Charles Hill. When he’s your principal, he knows the names of even the good kids. He plays football and basketball with them at recess. He makes it a point to value all the cultures of all the kids. He includes teachers, parents, kids and the community in the life of the school. He takes up for the downtrodden no matter what color they are. He’s one of the good, no, best guys.

So here’s me, initially afraid of this giant. One day, we’re in staff meeting, and he’s trying to help the teachers talk about racism. No one is saying anything because they’re worried about pissing each other, or him, off. I’m sitting there thinking about how much I appreciate Mr. Hill’s efforts. See, I come from a prejudiced parentage with KKK members in our distant relatives. And about the time I tought this, Mr. Hill said, “Mrs. Baker, what do you think?”

Honestly, I considered lying. Not a good character quality. So I said, “I was thinking that I have a KKK member in my family tree back a ways, and I hope we’ve come a long way since then, but I suspect that a lot of prejudice has simply gone underground.” Truth.

Time goes by. One day Mr. Hill asks me to go with him and some other adminstrators to a workshop on diversity in the Bay Area. Why me? He says it’s because of my comment about my KKK relative. He thinks it was transparent, and that I might learn a lot. The workshop leader has us complete a survey, then we line up according to our score. Questions like, “Would you expect the maitre’d in a restaurant to be the same race as you?” Mr. Hill was clear on the other side of the room from me, and not because he is more educated, played professional football, or can motivate kids to do better than they dreamed they could. I wanted to cry.

On the way home, he told me stories about name calling, being pulled over for no reason, his daughters in danger. None of which happens to me, ever. He and another black administrator in our district were in the front seat. That man was on a diet. He pulled out this powder he was using for the diet, and Mr. Hill yelled, “Put that stuff away! You want the cops to think not only do two black dudes have a white lady in the back, but we got white powder in the front?” Funny, but then, maybe not so much.

About that time, my friend and brother, Charlie Crane, asked me to help him write a book about his dad. It turned out to be the story of the Civil Rights movement from his point of view. From the moment he told me about the shoe store owner telling him to put his foot on the outside of the shoe he wanted to buy because if he put it inside, no white person would buy it, I desperately wanted to write that book for him. It was the least I could do. Charlie came to speak at an assembly at my school, and while he was there, he counseled a boy in my class who needed to hear a strong black man speak truth. Charlie told the kids I am his sister that day. They were looking back and forth, and back and forth, but it was true. I am his sister.

Not long after that, Mr. Hill moved back to the Bay Area. There had just been too many incidents. I was heartbroken. But I remember him, and when I see the opportunity to help a black person win, I take it, because he showed me what it means to be black in America.

Rogue Wave’s Available in Paperback!

After some issues getting the cover right, Amazon now has my new novel, Rogue Wave, available in paperback at this link: amazon.com/Rogue-Wave-Book-Seascape-Saga/dp/17

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97834746/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=Jane+Carlile+Baker&qid=1553128074&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmrnull.

If you read and like it, please leave a review. I’d really appreciate it, and readers often rely on reviews for book choices.

You’ll find in this novel child abduction, sea otters, illegal immigration, Morgan horses and the marvelous setting of Carmel, California on the Pacific Ocean. I hope you like it!

Fear and Rogue Wave

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Do you think God wants us to be afraid?

I don’t think He has a problem with the respect kind of fear that I had for my dad, and have for God. That fear is synonymous with respect, and doesn’t want to displease them,  so it cleans up my act. I think God’s OK with that. There’s the fear that happens when someone walks suddenly in front of my moving car, and I hit the brakes. I think God sees the need for that fear. There may be others in this camp. If you think of some, chime in please.

On the other hand, there’s another kind of fear that keeps me from living life to the fullest. That fear comes from the experience of consequences.

For example, a loved one expects that I read between the lines of what they say. I don’t, or I misinterpret, and the outcome is that I experience their rage. Now my relationship with that person is one of fear, especially if it is a power down relationship, like a boss/employee or parent/child.

Or I make the mistake of taking my eyes off my child, and in that instant an abductor makes off with my baby. How do I deal with the fear born in that moment? Does God have anything to do with it? This is the question I’ve addressed in my recently complete novel, Rogue Wave. If this line of thought intrigues you, please comment.

Wait, if this line of thought intrigues you, and you’ll leave your email address, I’ll send you the first three chapters of Rogue Wave. If you’d start a conversation with me, I promise to hold up my end.

 

Fear and a Freebie

Rogue Wave, which I am coming to the end of producing, is about a woman who lets fear control her for thirteen years. After all this time writing this novel, I’m still mulling over fear. So this is thinking in print. Read to the end for a freebie. Hang on, here we go.

When have I been afraid?

When I’ve done something wrong, and feared people would find out. So then, I’d hide it or lie. That kind of fear has bad outcomes–distancing me from people I love, defining me as the stupid choices I make, starting a downward spiral. Those are just a few consequences I can think of. As I think back, it was only when I told someone the truth that I was freed from the tyrany of the fear. Though sometimes the process of freeing me took a while, depending upon the seriousness of the screwup.

Once I was left at the wrong baseball park to see a game when I was in junior high. By the time it dawned on me no one else was coming, night was falling. I started the walk home. However, it was autumn and when leaves skittered behind me I just knew someone with poor motives followed me. My walk turned into a run fueled by fear. I guess, in truth, there was really nothing to be afraid of. And yet the fear was real. Hmmm.

My protagonist isn’t afraid for herself, but for her daughter. I can relate to that because I’ve always been more willing to protect and defend others than I am myself. I hope I’m not the only one who does that, but I hope I wouldn’t do it for thirteen years. Only, I happen to know I’ve been really affected by stuff that happened in my life more than 13 years ago. How could someone who experienced something fierce manage to climb out of the fear it caused? Running doesn’t work. Fear goes with you, even when there’s nothing to be afraid of. I know from the basefall field experience. Counseling might work. Someone to talk it through with. Dang, there’s that talking thing again.

I remember once I saw two guys jump out of pickup trucks and just start beating each other in a gas station. Maybe it was road rage, or something. It’s frightening watching men fight with your own eyes, not like on TV. I was stopped at a stoplight, and about eight months pregnant, so I kept going. (It was before cell phones.) Only, I did feel fear. Violence is fear-causing.

I live a pretty comfortable, peaceable life. There’s not an occasion for fear except every once in a while. Some people don’t have that luxury. I’m thinking homeless people probably spend a huge percentage of their time afraid. Anyway, I would. Just imagining having to sleep in the open on a city street, freaks me out. I’d be afraid if I were getting my food from dumpsters what kind of destructive germs I might eat.  If I hadn’t had a shower in weeks or months, I’d be afraid to get close to other people.  Or what about people who live in gang-ruled neighborhoods? It would be so lousy to have to “not see” what happened right outside your house, or watch your children and grandchildren be pulled into that dark world. Fear.

My writing mentor, Ethel Herr, who now lives with God, once told me that if my writing held no hope, it wasn’t worth writing. Is there hope at the end of fear? I think the hope comes when we face the fear, evaluate what we can do, and do it. Whether it’s remove ourselves from the situation, confess, get counseling, stand up to the bully, or simply tell ourselves the truth. So, that’s what I think.

If you’d like a preview of Rogue Wave, I’ll send you a copy of the first chapter if you’ll leave your email address in the comments.

Perfection

Today Shiloh, my red Labrador Retriever, and I were surprised by a pitbull on the loose. We were walking along, practicing Shiloh’s training, when all of a sudden there was this extra dog right at my feet. Now, I believe I’ve heard rules for encountering pitbulls somewhere, but since there was no lead time, I just reacted with as much sense as I could muster. I was not perfect, not even close, or probably even wise. I just kept my bare legs in between the two dogs, calmly saying no,

magnifique ♥♥♥ go away. My heart was beating like a bass drum. Shiloh just wanted to meet this new friend. I was not friendly. I imagine there were warrior angels saying and doing a whole lot more than I did, because the pitbull went away. Phew!

But it got me thinking about perfection, which I believe this morning was proven to be an impossibility. I have always wanted to be perfect, and I know a lot of other people who feel the same way. And yet, there are all these rocks in the road. Unanticipated events, selfishness, time constraints, incapacity, etc.

But there’s another thing. I don’t think God even expects us to be perfect. He said we wouldn’t until heaven. Why do I want something He has said isn’t possible? One reason is that I hate conflict. My imperfection causes conflict, inside and outside myself. and yet, conflict is as sure a thing as perfection is unachievable. So, I’d be better off practicing my skills at resolving conflict than longing for perfection that’s never going to happen.

What are the conflict resolution guidelines? Lemme see, I’ve got time to think about this. No pitbull at my feet, and the fear factor has decreased. Ask questions first to be sure I understand the situation. Listen to what the other person says. Find out what they’re feeling. Speak in “I” messages. I need, I will, etc. Develop a plan that, if possible, will make both of us happy. Then work the plan. That’s not perfection, but it’s a good shot at it. Probably wouldn’t work with a pitbull, though.