My Rant About “The Help”


My title is a little mis-leading. I have no problem with the book or movie “The Help“. In fact, I think it was one of the best books I have ever read. Even after a year, it has still “stuck” with me.

And usually, movies made from books are a big disappointment. But not this time. Although it has a few differences from the book, they are minor. And a few things are left out but for the most part, it’s a mirror image to the book.

I was first introduced to the book “the Help” about a year and a half ago. I had gone to Atlanta for an internet marketing conference and afterwards, I stayed a week with one of my best friends who lives there.

While getting packed to return home, my friend asked me if I had anything to read on the plane. I told her I didn’t. So she gave me “The Help” to read. She said she and her book club had just finished it and it had totally blown her away.

To tell you the truth, just glancing at it, I didn’t think I would like it. What did I have in common with African American housekeepers in the 1960’s?

But on my friend’s recommendation, I started reading it while sitting in the airport waiting to board my plane. That’s all it took. I was hooked. I read it on the plane. I finished it when I got home and was really sad when I was through with it. I felt like Abileen, Skeeter and Minnie had become my friends.

I passed the book on to my daughter, my sister and even my mother and they all loved the book too.

Now here is where my rant comes in. And if I offend anyone, I apologize.

There are some who are upset by this book. Why? Because a white woman wrote it  and used a southern “mammy” type dialect for some of the characters.

Are you kidding me? That’s what they are upset about? As wonderful as this book is, that’s what they choose to focus on?

What does it matter whether Kathryn Stockett is white, black or purple? Unless you were an adult black person in the South in the 1960’s, you don’t have  “the right” to write in that dialect either. That’s not the point.

This book has brought to light the hardships that African Americans had to endure in the mid 20th century. Because, to most of us under the age of 55, it was just a history lesson.

This poignant movie has made me realize that though slavery had long been abolished by then, many people were still not really free.

There were still a lot of hard won battles to be fought before that happened. I am so grateful to the men and women who were brave enough to fight those battles and change our society. Many were tortured and lost their lives. Because of their bravery, my sweet, smart, beautiful little grand daughter, who is bi-racial will have a much better future where she can do and be anything she wants.

I do have a few things in common with this story. I grew up in the South in the 60’s and 70’s and would have been the age of the toddler Mae Mobley in the story. We also had a black housekeeper growing up. Her name was Mary and like Abileen did with little Mae, Mary was a mother to me when my own mother, for whatever reasons couldn’t seem to bond to me.

I mourned when we moved to a nearby suburb that wasn’t on Mary’s bus line. Mary couldn’t drive so she couldn’t get out there to our new house. So my parents got a new housekeeper. I felt like I had lost my mother and was angry with my parents for years.

Looking back, I wonder if Mary and the other black housekeepers my parents employed were treated as bad as some of the ones in the movie were. I don’t remember if they were or not.
Abileen and Minnie
I do know that Mary was afraid to discipline me and I am sure I gave her a hard time as a young child. I wish she were alive today so I could tell her how sorry I am for that.

I do know she loved me. But kids will push as far as they are allowed. I remember one time when I was about 3, I got some scissors and proceeded to cut up my mother’s blouses that were in her drawer. Mary let me do it. I told her my mommy let me do it and she didn’t stop me. Looking back I wonder why she didn’t stop me. Why in the world would she let a toddler, first of all play with sharp scissors and then actually believe her about being allowed to cut up good clothing? Was she that afraid to discipline me?

Any way, to get back to my “rant.” Instead of trashing a movie and assuming it is putting black people down because of the style of  language that is used, I encourage people to see this movie with an open mind. Look at the big picture instead of focusing on something so inconsequential as a dialect.

This story has opened the minds of others, my mother being one of them.  My mother has always been quite racist and I was sure she would not like this book. But she did. And it did change her attitude about some things.

I love what Octavia Spencer, who played Minnie, said about all this controversy. Read it here : Octavia Spencer On Criticism Of “The Help”: “We’ve Gotten So PC…”.

Okay, that’s all I have to say about the subject.  Are we still friends? I hope so. Have you seen this movie yet?  Or read the book? If so, what did you think?

Cathy

 

 

Happy Birthday MayMay

Okay, indulge a proud grandmother. Today is my little MayMay’s 2nd birthday. In honor of that I made a collage of her life the past 2 years in pictures.

It’s kind of interesting to see how she changed over the months. She doesn’t even look like the same baby now as in the early pictures.

This little girl has totally turned my life upside down. But I’m loving every minute of it.

Happy Birthday sweet baby!

Cathy

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

I’m back! Did you miss me? I missed yall! Of course I left you in capable hands with all my wonderful guest bloggers.

So do you want to know where I have been for the last 10 days? Well I’m going to tell you even if you don’t want to know. I took a vacation to the Georgia mountains with two of my best pals Joanie and Denise. Below is a picture of them checking out the beautiful mountain scenery.

Joanie and Denise

The reason we went to the Georgia mountains is that there is a school there outside of a small town called Young Harris that specializes in teaching craft classes. The school is called William Holland and it’s more like a summer camp for adults. You have a dorm room that you share with another person though you do get your own bed. Then you have 3 meals a day in the cafeteria and from 9 to 5 you are in your class room learning something new.

It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot. I learned how to make fused glass, specifically dichroic fused glass. I am now fairly proficient in working a kiln and cutting and shaping glass (something I was a little scared to do in the past).

I made some pretty pieces that I plan to make into pendants and earrings. I also made a pretty tile with a lot of my scraps. Here’s a picture of my finished pieces below.

fused glass

Will I incorporate fused glass in my craft business? Nah. This was strictly for fun and to expand my creativity. I will probably make some of this into jewelry I can give as Christmas and birthday gifts. I will keep some to wear myself.

On Saturday morning after we were done with school for the week, we drove to a nearby town that was hosting a wholesale jewelry show. I bought some components to make my jewelry and a few things for my craft business. The show was huge and exhausting but there was some great buys.

After the show we drove into Asheville North Carolina and stayed there for a few days. Asheville has a thriving art community and there are oodles of galleries and shops. We checked those out one day and did some sight seeing another day. What I really enjoyed was the hotel we stayed in. It was really nice and had an indoor pool and jacuzzi. Denise and I spent a few hours there both nights we were there. I had forgotten how much I love swimming.

Here is a picture of the mountains in the morning.

GA mountains

 

And here is a view from the back seat of the car.

view from car

I have been a beach gal all my life and grew up close to the ocean. But I could really see myself living in the mountains. There is something so peaceful about them.

Oh well, maybe someday.

That was what I did on my summer vacation. So what did you do? Or what are you planning to do this summer?

Cathy

Its the Crickets Fault

Or a Better Title:  Why a 50 Something Year Old Can’t Stand Up for Herself Properly

It was one of those days. We all get them, right? Oh please tell me I’m not the only one that gets really crazy days.

I was overwhelmed with stuff that had to get done and everything seemed to go wrong. I won’t go into all of the things that made my day go wrong but by mid afternoon I was getting close to a melt down. And the best was yet to come.

In the midst of everything, I remembered my poor little fire bellied frogs hadn’t eaten anything in 3 days. I buy 40 crickets for them once a week and that usually lasts them a week but for some reason, a lot of these crickets died before I could feed them to the frogs, and I hadn’t had a chance to get back up to my local PetSmart to pick up some more. So I added that to my list of things I had to get done.

I looked at the clock and saw that I had 30 minutes before my daughter got off work and picked up the baby. So I had just enough time to run up to the pet store and picked them up. Usually my granddaughter MayMay loves going “Bye-Bye” and also loves being in PetSmart although it’s a challenge to keep her in the cart. Like most toddlers, she wants to get down and touch everything.

So I go back to the fish section in PetSmart to where they keep the crickets. The clerk is helping 2 guys with some fish. Okay, great. I’ll be next, I think. Unfortunately, she is taking her time flirting talking to them. While I’m waiting, an elderly couple comes up and waits beside me.

While we are waiting, my phone rings. It’s the hospital. My mother is in the emergency room. Nothing real serious, she just had trouble breathing even with her oxygen and so they will keep her a few hours to get it back up to normal. So I need to get there as soon as possible.

Now, most normal, sane people would rush out of the store at this and race to the hospital. But no, not me. I did have my reasons. First, I can’t take the baby in the emergency room so I have to wait until I can hand off to her mother, my daughter. And this is the 6th time this year my mother has had to go to the emergency room. Only once did they keep her. The other times, they sent her home after a few hours. So odds are, it’s nothing too serious.

Regardless, I’m still getting ansy waiting my turn. I really need to get this chore done and get back home in time for my daughter’s return, so I can get on to the hospital. The clerk is still talking  to the 2 fellows. The old couple and I exchange glances.

By now, my granddaughter has lost all patience with sitting in the cart, and is trying to climb out. I keep putting her back in. I try to hand her a toy to distract her but she throws it down and starts screaming. Oh joy. While this is going on, a group of 5 teenagers walk back and join the waiting group of customers.

The clerk finally turns around and sees the crowd waiting and rushes to us.  She asks us who is next. I say “I am” over the screaming baby and the old couple also point to me and say “she is”. She starts towards me when one of the boys in the gaggle of teenagers pipes up and says “No I was here first!”

Are you kidding me? He was the last of us to get here. So I say, “No you weren’t!” And the boy says, “Yes I was” and his little friends all agree.

I say, “Well I guess you were invisible then.” At which point he just snarls at me.

The clerk looks confused like she doesn’t know who to go to. Now common sense would dictate to go to the person with the screaming baby to get them out of there quicker, right? Also odds are, the older folks here are not going to be the ones telling lies in this group. But what does she do? She goes to help the boy.

I mutter under my breath but loud enough so they can hear, “Unbelievable!” And of course the boy wants to get 3-4 different kind of fish so it looks like we are going to be here awhile.

I’m still trying to quiet my granddaughter when the boy turns around to give me a triumphant gloating grin and I’m just glaring at him. He glares back at me and we  stare at each other for almost a full minute before he says “What?”

At this point, I say “You know good and well you were not here first.” I can’t believe I’m being so petty about this but I just can’t help myself. Melt down time commences!

We get into a yelling match, all the while the clerk is looking panicked and the older couple are just watching with their mouths hanging open.

The boy calls me a bitch. I say that sorry, maybe I’m acting like one but I just found out my mother is in the hospital and I need to hurry up and get to her. At which point he says, “Well shouldn’t you be there instead of here?” I yell back that I don’t need to explain myself to a spoiled brat.

Now looking back, I guess he was right. I mean, how did that look? My mother is in the hospital and here I am out cricket shopping? But then he didn’t know all the circumstances behind it. I should have never even brought up the fact that my mother was in the hospital. In fact, I should have never behaved that way with some kid.

At this point, I feel like I’m going to totally lose self control and whap the kid so I say “forget it” and go to the stack of boxed crickets. I don’t like buying crickets this way because they are more expensive and half of them end up being dead but I can no longer wait for this idiot girl to get a grip and help me.

So I grab a box and rush up to the cash register. There is a customer ahead of me and that’s when the one and only cash register that has a cashier, breaks down. Are you fricking kidding me? I wait while the cashier calls the manager twice over the loud speaker. He’s a no show so after several minutes, I drop the box of crickets on the counter and leave.

As I’m pulling out of the parking lot. the group of teens walk out of the store. When they see me, they go a different way. Wise choice. At that point, I would have liked nothing better than hit the boy. Not really. But it would have been fun to chase him around the parking lot.

Several days later, I am still so ashamed of myself. And I guess I’ll have to go out of my way to a store much further away to get my crickets.

If you knew me, you would know this is totally out of character for me to lose it like that. In fact 99 out of 100 times, I will let people walk all over me. I won’t speak up for myself at all. I was a child of the 60’s and 70’s and raised in the South. I was taught that proper Southern ladies do not make a fuss, or raise their voices in public or pretty much do anything to stand up for  our self in situations like this. We are supposed to turn the other cheek. So that’s what I usually do.

But rarely, when I’m under a lot stress as I was yesterday, I just lose it and that sweet, proper Southern lady turns into Mega-Witch. I was never taught how to properly stand up for myself and have no idea how to do it. So I go to one extreme or the other. You’d think by my age I would have figured this thing out but I still haven’t.

Wow, this has turned into a book. But I do feel better now writing this all out. So my friends, what would you have done in my shoes?

Oh by the way, my mother was fine. They sent her home shortly after I got there. She just turned the knob on her oxygen tank the wrong way. And I sent my son up later to get the crickets so my frogs are happy.

Cathy