Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Racial Divide

If you know me, you probably know by now that I often process things by talking about them and by writing about them. I sometimes get really quiet first, and go within. But the need to let it out inevitably comes.

The problem this time is, that I have no answers. I don't know what to say. But I know that not saying anything, is NOT the answer. I am talking about the police shooting of Michael Brown and the death of Eric Garner in Staten Island and what is really a huge racial divide in our country.

Here is what I will say. I am so sad about what has happened. I am so, so sad about the very real possibility of it happening again, and that it could happen to someone I know and love. I am sad that people I know and love have to even think about this, ever.

Like many, I've been glued to my twitter feed and news outlets. My thoughts about this all have been a bit disjointed. Here are some of what I've been thinking...

1. Within the past year, I was out to breakfast with one of my besties. We were at a very well-known and loved establishment in my very liberal town. We had a delicious meal and great service. Our waitress was sweet and friendly. And when the bill came, it was placed in front of me. Not in the middle of the table, where there was plenty of room. Not in front of my friend. There was no question of who was paying this bill. And the waitress was dead-on wrong; my friend happened to be treating me that day. We both stared at it sitting in front of me for a moment, nodded our heads and acknowledged that we both saw the same thing.

2. The majority of my career, up to this point has been spent teaching young children, most of whom are minorities. I know that the children I taught in Newark, who are now turning 15, 16, and 17-years-old are at risk. They are at risk for a lot of things...drug abuse, gang violence, dropping out of school, and yes, for being targeted by the police. I took care of them like they were my own babies, and this hurts me.

3. Lilly does not see color in the way that the world does yet. I would like to preserve that as long as I can. She's 6. She may use it to describe a friend in the same way she uses hair color.  And that is it. She was describing her "crush" the first month of school. "His name is James. He is taller than me. He has short brown hair. He talks a lot. He's nice. He gave me this ring. (?!) He's an oldster. (a 2nd grader) His skin is brown. And his eyes are black." 

4. White privilege exists. I wish it didn't. I don't know what to do about it. But for my babies who I taught in Newark and Hoboken; my friends; my friend's children; my neighbors; Lilly's friends...I want to figure it out. How do we stop this?

What can we do? Talk about it, even if it is uncomfortable. Be respectful. Listen. Keep an open mind. Love. Because I still have hope that love wins.

What do YOU think we can or should do?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

My new road

So much for writing regularly, as I had hoped back in August. Life, as usual, got in the way. I have been teaching, learning my new job, being a mom, and, oh, yeah, getting divorced.  It's official now, I am once again Melanie Rose Fleming. People have asked me how it feels, if I am upset, or if I cried.

The only way I can describe it is this: It is like a sigh of relief. That is not to say that I do not have a long road ahead of me as I traverse my new life. I still have some messes to clean up from before, financially. I am now, not only single at 39, but a single mom with full legal custody of an amazing but rather precocious 6 year old. The road ahead may be rocky, or full of overgrown weeds. I am guaranteed to find a few dead ends. Some parts are going to seem like they are all uphill, with the rewarding views far in the distance. I am trying to enjoy everything, one step at a time. And you know, I have been wanting to get back into hiking for awhile now. :-)

Sunday, September 14, 2014


Change is hard. Even when it is good change, it can be so overwhelming. I feel as if my life is filled with uncertainty right now. I am in the middle of a divorce. I am on the brink of a career change. I had not really thought of it in that way, but my day-to-day duties will be very different than what I am currently doing. I also started teaching as an adjunct professor.  It is exciting to take what I know and have learned over the years and teach it to the future teachers of our world.

I am so blessed to have these opportunities and I am having fun with them. But it also causes that pit in my stomach that I cannot quite get rid of right now.  What if I made the wrong choice? What if I fail? I HATE to fail. But...if I have learned anything over the last few years, it is that staying static does not improve situations. I have also learned that life moves forward, with or without you, whether you are involved or not. You might as well choose your path, before it is chosen for you.

So. Here I go...onward and upward into the unknown. I have really awesome friends and family who are supporting me along the way. I have people in my life who see things for me and about me that I have trouble seeing sometimes, and for that I am grateful. It is important for me to surround myself with people who know me; the real, nitty-gritty me. And they believe, not in spite of who I am, but because of who I am. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Vacation by Myself

I just came back from going on vacation by myself. Well, I did a lot of driving by myself, but I stayed with friends. It was glorious and much needed. I drove from New Jersey to North Carolina to spend some time with my college bestie, Michelle. I stopped along the way in Virginia and spent some time catching up with other friends and a cousin. I drank large margaritas, ate delicious food, drank lots of wine, danced, and even sang karaoke for the first time. Note to self: practice that before doing it in public again... haha. I drove with my music blasting, singing along to either my ipod playlists or the satellite radio. Hello, 80s and 90s stations! I really enjoyed my time, but missed Lilly enough to make coming home welcome. Having her 6 year-old self wrapped around me when I got home was the best!

I would have never thought that I could enjoy myself while being away from my daughter for so many days. I always worried about her so much, even if I left for more than a couple hours. But, I knew she was in good hands with her grandmother and then my mom.  She even got to spend the day with my SIL and niece, which was a huge hit.

As moms, we put ourselves last. I have been doing it for so long, and to such extremes with my recent situation, that it took me some time to realize that it is okay. By taking care of myself, I am taking care of my daughter. I needed that time to turn my brain off for awhile. At times I used the solitude during long stretches of beautiful North Carolina and Virginia roads to turn it back on, sort of in the background, just to let myself feel and think and BE, without anyone asking me questions or needing something from me. I was not lonely, even when I was by myself, but more notably, especially not when I was with others. I processed...dreamed...hoped.

I felt more Melanie than I have in a long time.  It was nice to be with her again. She plans on staying for the duration.
Vacay selfie, with btw, no make up.  Not bad for 39!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

I'm baack...

Hi y'all. I'm back. Not that I really went away; I had a self-imposed blog-break. Why, Melanie? Why have you not been writing your fabulous blog posts for us? Listen, I am not that self-important enough to think that any of you are thinking this. I write because writers have to write. It is just kind of how it is. Artists gotta do their art thing. Athletes have to move and be active. Writers gotta write. I cannot have this self-imposed silence any longer. So I am just going to come out with it and say it and then we can move on to bigger, better, more exciting topics.  Okay? Okay.

Over the past year I had come to the realization that the changes that needed to happen in order for my marriage to be successful were not going to happen. I stayed until I could no longer stay. In April, I moved with my daughter to my parent's house just a few miles down the road. I am currently in the process of a divorce. I was waiting for it to be final to share this information, but I have no idea how long that is going to take and as I said before, I have to write!

I do not intend on writing about the ins and outs of my situation here, as it is not appropriate. However, you may find a post or two about parenting through divorce, or being newly-single at the age of 39.

Know that I am doing well. I am strong and so is Lilly. In fact, I am realizing just how strong we both are. This does not mean that I do not have meltdowns and "wtf happened to my life" moments. I have amazing family and friends who immediately stepped up to the plate to help however and whenever I needed. I have had some really, really difficult moments. I have cried more in the past few months than I have in years. At the same time, my daily stress levels are lower. Lilly is doing extremely well, especially given the circumstances. She has outbursts and moments, but she has a fast recovery time and I am using them as teaching moments about managing her emotions and self-regulation.

So. Thanks for your patience, understanding, and support. I hope to be writing with some degree of regularity now. I will leave you with a few pictures so you can see that Lilly and I? We are doing just fine, my friends.
Happiness Selfie with Lilly

Springtime Sprinkler Fun

Moving Day Motivation, "This is Strong."

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Oh my...

Well.  It has been a while since I have written here.  I have a lot of things going on, personally, and I cannot write about them here right now.  What's rather ironic is that I have a lot to say.  Lots and lots.  I am a talker and a writer.  I want to talk everything out and at the same time I want to write down all my thoughts.  And here, on my blog, I tend to write what I want to say.  I don't have to write about what other people think, or want to hear.  It is my place to write what I want, how I want, everyone else's opinions be damned.

But I do try not to hurt people purposefully.  Because above all, I believe that I am a kind and good person. And in those circumstances when what I am thinking or want to say is hurtful or maybe just not public-forum-stuff, well, then I need to be quiet. And write in a private (read: not online) journal because the writing, too, has an important place in my life.  It helps me to reflect, to sort things through.  Sometimes it helps me to breathe, just getting those thoughts out of my head.

So I ask you to bear with me during my self-imposed blog silence.  I am doing well.  Better than well, at times.  And hey, I am doing the NJ Mudderella race on May 10th (the day after my, gulp, 39th, birthday) with some awesome high school mates.  I think it is just the thing I need right now.  Because we are stronger than we realize, all of us, especially when we have amazing family and friends surrounding us.  I will be sure to post some pictures of the awesomeness that will be me covered in mud and smiling.