Friends Transcript!

Tyler

In this segment we’re going to be talking about friends, specifically our furry friends and dogs. So back in 2018 in November, voters voted to ban greyhound racing and about 70% of voters favored that and it would be phased out but COVID hit so now the some of the tracks are closing even sooner than expected. And so, there are all these dogs that need to be adopted. The vote to ban greyhound racing was a really big deal because greyhound racing had been in Florida since 1931, who was the first state to allow pari-mutuel wagering on dogs. I found an article from 1939. I’m going to read a little bit about what they say. And the article is titled dog racing is a doggy business.

Gramel

That’s original. Oh, I think maybe it’s a dog eat dog business.

Tyler

Right or a dodgy business, but it says doggy here. Okay, so it starts its dog racing time in Florida again. The sport is big business down here and in many other sections of the country now with four major tracks operating nightly through the December-April season in Miami alone, there’s several hundred dogs. They received care comparable with that of the top-notch thoroughbred horse. Top hatted, red-coated stewards lead the colorful procession from the paddock where betters have made their pre-race inspection of the streamlined animals.  The barrier goes up and the Greyhound streak out after a mechanical rabbit, which they never catch. Greyhounds are valued at 50 to $1,000 each, a few at several thousands.

So, in the 40s that was a lot. I saw from one of the newspapers was 20 cents to get into the track. And then it says rusty the rabbit leads and merry chase as the racers hit the turn. Racing dogs cost about $7 a week for upkeep much less than horses, but their money winning days are usually limited to only two years occasionally three. So they really don’t have a long time. And then after they’ve been done racing, oftentimes, not the best things happen to them. Sometimes they go to farm sometimes they’re killed historically.

Gramel 

Do they get a lot of injuries?

Tyler

Some of them break their leg. Well, in the 90s, greyhound racing constituted a multibillion-dollar industry, which was another reason why it was so hard to ban greyhound racing because the state was getting money from that. From the reports that I found, since 1931 this state made at least $4.38 billion from pari-mutuel wagers. This was back a couple years ago, but some of the bad owners started to give the dogs drugs. Cocaine.

Gramel

Cocaine? Did they have cocaine in 1960?

Tyler

 I don’t know when it came to the world, but I mean they you could go out or in any street corner and buy it. I don’t know. I wasn’t alive then.

Gramel 

What you can it do to them besides kill a baby?

Tyler

Kill a baby?

Gramel 

Kill them maybe?

Tyler

Oh, yeah, definitely don’t give cocaine. Don’t do drugs. Yeah, this is not a pro-drug, cocaine podcast. Yeah, I think it gives them more energy and it can make them run faster. They will start giving them cocaine, they would start giving them some kind of steroids. And they would train the dogs and then they would, some of them would keep them in cages for a long time. I want to say that that’s not everybody, but that was definitely some owners because when I wrote this article, I got some people pushing back on like, not all dog owners are bad and I got some strongly worded mail. Someone wrote to me and I wrote back well, okay, like, let me talk to you because they offered and then I never heard back but anyway, so there was some shady stuff going on with the dogs. in 2013, Florida started mandating tracks to report Greyhound deaths. There were 400 deaths reported from 2013 to about 2018.

Did you ever go to any of these tracks?

Gramel 

I actually went on a date to a greyhound track down in St. Petersburg before I graduated from high school, and they were mind boggling. They were I couldn’t believe how fast they were. It was very interesting. I paid a lot of attention to the dogs. At first, it was exciting. They were so fast. But then it got kind of sad to me that they ran and never got anything. They didn’t get a reward that I could say because they never caught that artificial creature and,

Tyler

And they were never going to be able to catch it.

Gramel 

And I thought that got really sad to me after a while.

Tyler

I remember going to the dog track, I want to say Derby Lanes. Yes, that’s the same one. So, I remember going there. I don’t I must have been in either high school or a little bit. Maybe 19. A friend’s family used to like to go to the dog track and they took me.

Gramel 

It is amazing. The people that are interested in it.

Tyler

Right. And I never understood. I don’t like to gamble. I like to keep my money. Yeah, you know, that’s not something that I want to just be given it away. I mean, I’m not against gambling for other people. I just don’t like to gamble. Remember that time we went on that gambling bus trip?

Gramel 

We’ve been on two cruises together that we never bet a penny.

Tyler

Right. But the one trip that I’m thinking about they gave us a voucher.

Gramel 

Oh, yeah. Well, that was Yeah. And we sat there. I remember sitting there I think with a it was hot. So we had a lot of Coke.

Tyler

All of the people that were there were probably senior citizens. And they all love to gamble. They wanted to do the slots. Yeah, and at least with card games, there’s some kind of thought process and I don’t know about the slots, but that just doesn’t seem fun to me.

Gramel 

And with card games, you have interaction between all the people playing cards.

Tyler

More power to that. Well, I don’t know. There’s also a gambling addiction. So I’m not sure I’m Pro. This is a pro gambling podcast. I don’t know. Live your life.

Gramel  

I know a lot of people that set a limit on what they will spend. Yeah, especially on cruises, and that’s all they’ll spend. And when that’s gone, then it’s gone. And I think that’s, you know, life is chocolate and it’s gone.

Tyler

I think that was probably the most fun I’ve ever had at a gambling trip because I never liked the dog track. I remember they had a great buffet.

Gramel 

Oh, yeah. Oh, yes. Yes. And my friend, my friend Bernie and I, we really liked the buffet.

Tyler

They had a really good buffet. I don’t even get to it was just big. It had so much stuff on it. I mean, I know this as whatever is the sounds. I think when I was younger, I didn’t really think about the dogs racing as I mean, I thought it was sad, but I was there for the buffet.

Gramel 

Well, it took me a while to figure out how sad it was because they would ever catch that creature.

Tyler

And I think that it had been happening for so long. And you know, Derby Lane was just a thing that we knew about. It took me a while to realize that, hey, racing dogs is not something that everybody thinks is okay.

Gramel

And actually, if they won, they didn’t really win that much.

Tyler

I don’t know. I think the people I was with, they didn’t really win that much show. And I think that I remember my friends, I don’t even know if I bet or If I helped someone pick because they have all kinds of wild names. Yeah, you know, so I was just picking based on the names that I you know, like Barbie’s dream house, or whatever, like go go razor fast as you can or whatever, you know. And then you’d have like, all of these wild like long names and then you’d have like, Claire, yeah. Right or something like that. It was kind of hard to figure it out a bit. I only went a few times.

Gramel

I only went once.

Gramel 

Plus, I was still in high school. So I didn’t have any money to bet

Tyler

After becoming aware, I think just becoming more aware of the dogs. How they keep them cramped up. It’s like how, yeah, that’s so sad. I started to really care about the greyhounds. I had always been interested in them, but my boyfriend adopted a greyhound. He initially went to a farm to play with the greyhounds and pet them because they need love. And that’s good therapy.

Gramel 

People that do that.

Tyler

They’re not used to walking on a leash, and they don’t know how to walk on tile or up the stairs. So they’ll slip on the tile and they can’t get up the stairs. That broke my heart when I heard that. They do learn but they just have been in cages and racing. They hadn’t been in the house and they often walk into sliding glass doors or step right into backyard pools or body of water. They learned but these are just some of the things that when they come straight from that track.

He was just gonna go play with some dogs for a while. And then this, his dog came over and sat right on his lap and would not move. And yeah, and the person was like, I guess, you know, he chose you. And you know, if a dog chooses you like that, it’s really hard to say no, I think no dogs ever chosen me. I don’t know. I guess I’m more of a cat person. But anyway, I just thought that was a lovable story.

And then I’ve been around that dog a lot and his name is Jet. And so that was the name of the dog at the track hat and he was a champion. Now he sleeps about 20 hours a day. The greyhound does not like to be awake, I guess. I mean, like he’s just leisure. He’s worked a lot. I feel you know. I want to say he’s like six or so. And I want to say they live to about 15. I think I don’t have the data in front of me. So Jet is super lovable. And my favorite thing about jet is that he will go to the door when he has to use the bathroom and then we’ll come in, he does not love to be outside in the Florida heat. And then he just likes to be pet and just sleeps a lot. And I had thought about adopting a greyhound when I was living with you.

Gramel 

Did you know that Hallmark has been providing funds backing these places to take care of old greyhounds? Hallmark has been working on that for a couple years really. And they talk about it on their shows a lot. And then what lovable wonderful pets they make.

Tyler

I love that and you’re huge Hallmark fan. I mean, one might even say an expert.

Gramel 

Yes, yes, one might say that I know one person say that.

Tyler

But so I know that I’ve watched some of it. I know that they’ve been adopting dogs on Hallmark. But so you’re saying specifically greyhounds?

Gramel 

Well, they did have segments that they, they mainly do. They concentrate on getting good homes. And they’re all it’s all over the United States that they know about all these homes in different states. And they’ll show them and it’s very, very heartwarming what they do.

Tyler

Because the dogs, they are super lovable, and they’re just really good dogs and they’re clean to take care of and they’re super well, I don’t know if they’re super easy to take care of.

Gramel 

Right, friendly, and so on, so forth.

Tyler

But you and I had talked about adopting a greyhound and what was your thoughts on that? Do you remember?

Gramel 

Well, the only thing is that I walk with a cane. Bigger dogs seem to be more gangly, and they don’t mean to, but they can walk by and not get over with their tail. And then I wanted a dog that if the dog got sick, I could actually pick it up and take care of it. If I needed to take it to the vet or just take care of it at all, I needed a dog I could pick up.

Tyler

right and I think that they are great dogs but they’re very skinny, but they still weigh about I think Jet weighs about 100 pounds

Gramel 

A lot of times that those kind of dogs are the skinny dogs don’t get around in smaller areas.

Tyler

So talk to us a little bit about your experiences with dogs. I’ve know you’ve had some over the years and what have you learned about taking care of them?

Gramel 

We, at least I learned from animals, you know, because they are, they teach you things, and they are very, very dependent on you. And so it’s a kind of a blessing to have one and it’s a precious relationship. Aggravating sometimes.

Tyler

What’s that, Roxie?

Gramel 

And the Bible talks about unconditional love. And I haven’t personally known people that possess that very much.  Dogs do. And I think that’s just amazing that you observe that and they don’t stay mad at you, or they don’t even get mad at you. They don’t hold a grudge. You can say give me your tummy and they’ll give you their tummy. I would be mad at my husband half the time and he’d come home from work and I wouldn’t even leave the kitchen to come out and say hi, well, the dog would get up in the window, bark and carry on and jump on him and kiss him and lick him and all that. So, I learned that they do give you unconditional love, which is a wonderful, wonderful gift. And then I’ve learned also that when you have a dog, you’re very responsible for him. You need to take not as good a care of him as you do a child. They need a lot of care, a lot of attention, a lot of love, but they also need to, especially this day and time to be taught rules and regulations. You know, if they get away from you, they could get hit by a car and a second. And so, I think you’d have to just like with children, you have to give them discipline with love. But no, there’s no boundaries on that discipline. This is a way it’s got to be

Tyler

You’re not afraid of dogs. And I say that because I’m not necessarily afraid of dogs. I’ve recently learned I’m more of a cat person, but we don’t need to get into that. I don’t pet dogs that I don’t know.

Gramel  

Which is probably very wise.

Tyler

A lot of people thing that’s weird though, or like not friendly.

Gramel

I think you need to ask their permission right or let them come to you when you don’t know like john every time he sees a dog he’s going over to pet the dog and he’s got his face down at the dog. He loves dogs.

Tyler

I was thinking about this because when I was younger, I was bit by a little dog I have a scar on my thumb. And I just remember crying.

Gramel 

Once upon a time, cocker spaniels were known as vicious dogs.

Tyler

Ever since then, I was just been kind of you know, wary of dogs and I have had dogs that I’ve loved and that I like to be around but I have to have trust in the dog and the dog has have trusted me before I want to pet it.

Gramel  

With a with a dog, you should not show any fear. I’m not saying you’re supposed to be stupid and getting their you know, their territory, but you can’t let them know you got it. You know, it’s like anything, you know, they can smell fear, and they say, we’ll have fun with this guy.

Tyler

Well, that’s tough because remember when I was younger, like Rottweilers or something where we roaming around in this neighborhood.

Gramel

I learned with rottweilers and any big dog, they seem to be very well trained, disciplinary, wise. And I had to run at me one day and I was walking – didn’t have anybody with me or anything in my hand. And all I did was say, stay and they got their little rumps or their good size rubs right on the ground and they stopped. You have to just have a cool head. Don’t do anything. Like put your hand down to pet them. Let them come to you. They’ll tell you when they’re ready, ready to come smell your hand. But you know, my life is not ruled by fear, I think and my husband used to say Margie, you’re gonna find it, a dog someday you cannot Buffalo, but that hasn’t happened yet, even though I have dogs in my life.

Tyler

I’ve come to realize the dog has a lot to do with the owners more so than the dogs because I mean, I think dogs generally at the default are loving, friendly creatures. I think it has a lot to do with the breeding, breeding the owner so I’m not holding anything against dogs. I love dogs, but I don’t want to pet your dog if I don’t know your dog.

Gramel 

My niece that lives in Atlanta had a pit bull. And her name was Daisy. She was the most lovable dog and when she got to know you, she’d come sit on your foot where you couldn’t get up because she wants you to stay right there and play. You to throw her ball and I mean, she was a lovable thing. She and her master weighed about 95 pounds, but she had her totally under control.

Tyler

And pit bulls are often known to be aggressive. I think they have that reputation. But Daisy and was other dog Bella. Then people get such a bond with their dogs because I think you know who you’re talking about, she would choose her dog over a lot of people.

Gramel 

well and she was very tough you know she was a babe in total control of herself. So I think it has a lot to do with the raising of the dogs and I’ve learned you know, you could learn from people that give them you know, their territory where they feel like they know you then and then better.

Tyler

So I think that’s a great place to end for us.

Gramel

I have learned a lot from this, and it’s brought up good memories and it almost – I do have a nice big backyard.

Tyler

Has it made you want to adopt a greyhound?

Gramel

I didn’t say that, but you know, I do like dogs. And I do like Hallmark.

Tyler

There are a lot of greyhounds that needs to be adopted Jets, brothers and sisters are out there. And a lot of people might not think that they could have a greyhound because it is a bigger dog, but it is a good apartment dog. They’re very chill. They’re very loving. They’re not grouchy, you know, and they need to get adopted as quickly as possible. And they’ve worked hard, done their best given their bodies up for it. So, we got to give them a good home.

Gramel

It’s just wonderful to adopt senior dogs because that’s what I’ve done the last three dogs, they’re not so active so I can keep up with them. And they deserve good, golden years just like we deserve good golden years. I agree. And I think that is a great place for us to end.

Tyler

In the previous segment, we talked about furry friends and dogs. And now we’re going to talk about human friends, how to make them at different stages of life and how to keep up with them during quarantine and also the value of having friends who don’t necessarily think in the same ways that you do.

You know, I’ve been thinking a lot about making friends when you’re at different points of your life. I’m in my mid 30s, not in my mid 30s. I’m in my early –

Gramel 

first third.

Tyler

A lot of folks have children, or they already have their friend groups. So I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit about how you were able to make friends when you’re a bit older at different stages in your life, and then maybe talk about what you’ve been doing in quarantine. I know you talked about the book club that you started.

Gramel

I now text.

Tyler

So I was happy that you got a cell phone, then you weren’t really using it. You didn’t have text message on it because you got jitterbug, which is geared towards senior citizens, and there was no texting. But then why don’t you tell them why you started texting?

Gramel 

Well, I kept getting texts every now and then. I would get something from my veterinarian, and I thought well with businesses they must have something they can send you messages other than the phone and so on so forth. But on Easter, I got like 20 photos, and I’m going okay, now what is this all about? And it was from my friend that lives in Ohio’s granddaughters and I think they said something to me, meaning isn’t something to her, make a long story short, I went wild. And my first bill had $76 extra on it, but I loved it. I loved it. So then I called and now I have unlimited talk and text.

Recently I was showing a lot of my friends how my hair is grown out, and then they would text back pictures of all their haircuts and so forth. And I find there’s a lot of people that will text that aren’t crazy about emailing or aren’t even crazy about a telephone call. You increased your audience by about a third. And so now I’m hearing from people that have maybe heard have heard fun, three times a year or something, but I like talking on the phone.

Tyler

I do, too.

Gramel 

One of the nicest things is a cousin of mine that calls me. She has these twin grandchildren and she sends me pictures. They’re now like 14 months old. And I feel like I know those children, right. And they live in Virginia. And I’ve never even met their mother. And now I have seen pictures of her. And she, I think she’s an awesome mother, just by the way, she takes so many pictures of them doing all these awesome things. And so I have a feeling in my heart about those children.

Tyler

And so what I think I’m hearing is that you have to be able to communicate with your friends in the ways that they want to communicate. If they’re more into texting, then text those people yet don’t call them or whatever, and try to figure out what that friend wants out of the communication.

Gramel

Now, I have two or three friends that prefers emails, and especially prayer requests. And that’s good because I can keep up with them and know what’s going on the good and the bad, and, but you’re right, everybody has a different form of communicating. And I have a friend that sends me stuff regularly and I send her stuff regularly. Because, you know, we’re kind of sitting around to a certain extent, people have figured out these things. And then I’m, I’m somebody that’s never afraid of being turned down. If I text you, and you don’t text me back, well, that’s fine. I’ll probably forget about it because my forgetter works very well.

Tyler

So you make the first move, and you don’t get offended if they don’t text you back. I think that would solve some problems for people because we do get caught up sometimes like, Oh, he’s not calling me or he’s not texting me or she’s not texting me back or whatever.

Gramel 

Everybody has a bad day. And they have them regularly. Sometimes, you know, more than their share. I’ve never wanted anybody to be left out when I go to a gathering. If I see somebody up against the wall and not chatting, right over there. If you don’t want to be bothered, you don’t want to be bothered, but I’ve had some wonderful experiences with people that don’t sound like they want to be bothered.

Tyler

Right. And they do. Off the top of my head. You’ve met made friends at Walgreens,

Gramel 

Insurance companies.

Tyler

Restaurants. Someone walking past the house.

Gramel 

One of my best friends has a dog and she’s in her 40s. She would walk by and I’d say hi up. She had a doggy Violet and I have a dog Roxy and we became friends. We exchanged telephone number, so on and so forth. Then when this pandemic started, she was up in North Carolina with her family. And when she got back, she called me and she said, Margie, I am 40 years old. I was in the army. I haven’t been sick but maybe twice in 20 years and I would like to do your grocery shopping. And it almost made me cry because a lot of my friends don’t want to go to the grocery store either.

Tyler

And that made me feel better because was still in Mississippi all the time.

Gramel 

Right and my niece, cousin that calls me in Margie. She lives in Georgia. She wants to thank all these people because I have another friend that I met in karaoke one goes to Publix for me and when the other one goes to all days for me, another person lived across the street said we go to Sam’s anything you need you let us know. And I said, Well, I need bleach and I need alcohol, rubbing alcohol. And she came over with her little son who’s precious and brought it to me right then I met this lady named Janet. I met this lady named surely and we’ve just talked and talked and never met had known them before.

Tyler

And I think that’s something that I try to take forward to is just you know, reaching out to people because if people sometimes that I think I’m going to be closest with the turns out I’m not. And some people who I’m like, Oh, we don’t have anything in common ended up just being fun, good people that I like to be around.

Gramel 

Yeah, I’ve got a new friend that is just awesome. And she has a different religion. Now I have several new friends that are different religions, which is a great thing to be. We’re supposed to be kind to one another and be willing to listen to one another. And this was all before the pandemic. I have a friend from Egypt. I like having different friends. I like having guy friends, different religions. That just makes life way more interesting.

Tyler

It makes me think of one of my close friends. We’re on different ends of the political spectrum.

Gramel

The one we went to her wedding. Oh, wow, we had a blast.

Tyler

I mean, she’s amazing. And she’s so funny. She’s super into the Second Amendment, of course. And I always supported her because she knows how to use a gun. And she’s smart.

Gramel 

And you want somebody in your corner that knows how to use a gun who will use it in the right way.

Tyler

I mean, whatever I’m not trying to get like into anything, but I felt comfortable with her knowing that if anything were to happen, she would know how to handle it. And we would just have really good conversations about everything because we were on different ends of the political spectrum, but we still cared about each other. She would always bring food because we would work these long shifts and she would like make meat and bring me some. She, you know, was so sweet. We just didn’t agree politically. But I learned a lot from her too because she was a veteran. And she has a different lifestyle than me, but we didn’t judge each other.

Gramel 

Yeah, when you have friends like that, not the people that go to the same church you do. They’re much more interesting and much more exciting.

Tyler

It kind of really made me think something. Everybody else was very liberal in that situation. And so she felt like they wouldn’t like hear her out. They just assumed she would be a certain way. And you know, I’ve been in situations where people will assume I’m a certain way and they won’t give me a chance to be friends with them or whatever. But then I was the only person from work that she invited to her wedding. And you know, like you were saying, you talk a lot to people and we were at a table where nobody was trying to talk to us. It gets awkward. We don’t know anyone. But you and I will both strike up conversations because we’re sitting with people for two hours. But no one was trying to talk to us. But then you started talking to that guy.

Gramel 

Yeah. He taught me about vaping.

Tyler

Yeah, he was in his like, mid or late 20s or something.

Gramel 

I told him about karaoke. He was really, really neat, even though he was really really tipsy, but he stayed seated. I think when somebody is tipsy, they should kind of stay seated.

Tyler

No one wanted to talk to us there. But anyway, we had a good day. We ended had a very good time.

Gramel

She was the first bride I knew that had a tattoo. Really. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a wedding that if they had a tattoo, it didn’t show.

Tyler

Kind of circling back to what we were talking about, you were married for a long time. And then you’ve been single later in life. So how has making friends and maybe what are your strategies? How have they changed throughout those seasons of your life?

Gramel 

I was married for 47 and a half years, I’ve been actually a widow for about 12 years, I guess it is now. I’ll let y’all Guess which one I liked the best. But anyway, first of all, I don’t push it. I don’t push relationships. I’ve learned to let God fight a lot of my battles, and I just don’t push it. Now. I can tell you when I left my husband and when stayed in that apartment complex, I lost about 10 friends.

Long story, I’m not even going into it. But as time went by, I got 10 friends. Ten new friends, it was funny. And what I mean by pushing it. I’ll say hi to somebody. And if they are friendly, I’ll be right friendly back. But I don’t know. See, I don’t say I’m gonna make friends with that person. I may say I would like to make friends with that person. To me that’s different than pushing it not. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with pushing it, because you might get some of your best friends by pushing it.

I’m just saying I’m too old to push it is like, okay, I’ve lost 12 pounds in these three months or whatever. But I eat everything I want to because I’m too old to do without, but the Bible talks about balance. If I’m going to have two Hershey bars, that’s great. To be my meal, but I think your life should be balanced. And if you want to do something if it’s not against the law and it’s not against God’s law, do it but do it in balance. I don’t down at people that smoke. I don’t look down at people who drink because I overeat. I don’t think we should ever judge anybody.

Tyler

We just had a great chat about friendship over the years and stuff like that. And now we are going to talk to my BFF about friendship and motherhood. And as you’re about to hear, you know, we had some fun.

Now we’re going to talk to you my bestie – my ride or die. She knows where the bodies are. There are no bodies, but if there were any, she would probably know. I was thinking about it though. I feel like we’re at the point of our lives now where if there actually were bodies, I don’t think you would actually tell me because you wouldn’t want to implicate me and I don’t think I would actually tell. I mean, I actually would tell you because I would need help.

Jessica

I don’t think you would actually tell me. If I had a body which I don’t, I would not tell you.

Tyler

Because you know, I would like spiral.

Jessica

I’m not good at first. If I washed my hands with non-antibacterial soap, like if I just did it with like scented soap, I feel like you would spiral.

Tyler

Only if you tried to touch me. What you do with your body is your choice but not when you try to come into my space.

Gramel 

Well, getting back to bodies. At 77, you forget where the bodies are. So It’s not a problem anymore.

Jessica

Maybe I’ll share the body’s locations with you.

Tyler

We are here with my bestie Jessica and she is in her new house, which I have not been able to visit yet because we are practicing social distancing. But I want to come see soon. So before we get started, I was hoping you would regale us with a story that you told me last week. I need an update about the snakes at your house.

Jessica

Oh my goodness. Okay.

Tyler

Well wait, I want to preface this if you want to leave the room because I know you don’t like snakes. This is a pretty intense story.

Gramel

Can I eat my chocolate?

Tyler

Yeah, and I’ll come get you when the story is over. So I think last week you were telling me this wild banana story about the snakes and I still can’t get over it. So remind me what happened.

Jessica

I go outside and I see this black racer come out. And I’m like freaking out but like not really because I’m not scared of snakes but like one comes out and then kind of goes through the brushes and then goes around. So I’m like, okay, whatever, there’s this thing. And then another minute later, there was another one. And then another minute later, there was another one. And then another one. Like they were just following the same path. There was probably like 25. It was a lot. So I went to see kind of where these snakes were coming from. So I went closer to the action, and they just like, came and snapped at me, but like not really me because it was in my son’s helmet like his bicycle helmet. So like it snapped at the bicycle helmet, which is weird behavior for black racer. Based off you know what I know about black racers. They’re kind of like a really chill race of snakes. So like, it was really weird that it was like so coming at me, you know, because like I’ve owned several snakes in my life and like I haven’t had except for one snake. I haven’t had any snakes. Like really lunged at me. So like, it was definitely a weird experience. And that’s when I went inside and started watching from out the window. And then I just got bored. So I stopped watching but there were like a ton.

Tyler

Well, the weird part to me, as you were saying they were each following like a very specific path, one after the other, but not together.

Jessica

Not together. Like it was like a one minute two minute gap between each snake. But they were coming under my fence and kind of going around the bushes and then going around the house but all following the same path.

Tyler

And so this happened for about an hour if there was like 25 or 30 snakes,

Jessica

Snake after snake, and then I got bored. And then I went back out and there were still more so God knows how many, you know total.

Tyler

but I think there are a few logical explanations to what was happening. A) there’s a curse somewhere. Maybe I’m not saying on your house because they weren’t stopping at your house, but there’s obviously a curse somewhere, too. It’s the apocalypse or three, they were going somewhere to mate or they had just come from mating and they were smelling each other.

Jessica

I did not think the third if we’re gonna be real, like I didn’t like some sort of meeting. So I definitely would go for the first to being more logical. Yeah, this is some curse that’s happening around here.

Tyler

that was like, what a week or two ago so what is the update? Have you cleansed your house? Have you burned Sage? What have you done?

Jessica

I ended up talking to my neighbor who was like, Yeah, man, I saw a snake in my garage and I sprayed snake repellent. And I was like, oh, okay, so then they were leaving your house.

Tyler

So there was actually a logical explanation.

Jessica

There actually was like I fully anticipated there being a curse on my house and on my land. But I was like, this makes way more sense.

Tyler

So you don’t have to burn down the new house that you just moved into. So I’m happy about that. I don’t think I’ve ever even heard of snake repellent though. That seems weird to me.

Jessica

It’s weird to me too. But I also just moved to Polk County and I’m like, nothing’s out of the question.

Tyler

They have some of their own remedies for things.

Jessica

Like snake repellent whiskey. We don’t know what it actually was. But like I’m here for I support it. And now I have a reason.

Tyler

So I’m glad that there’s an update and I can rest easy knowing that your house does not have a curse once I come to it. So I’m gonna go tell my grandmother, it is safe for her. I think she’s eating chocolate, so she might not come right back, but I’m gonna let her know.

Okay, so you and I have met at the southern Baptist school that we were both attending. So we’ve known each other for more than half our lives at this point.

Jessica

Wow. My gosh. Yeah,

Tyler

And we’ve been pretty, I mean, I think we were been close since day one.

Jessica

You know, I’m trying to think of a catty response to that. And I have none because honestly, yes, like from day one, we were kind of kindred souls. Like, I love you. And I love everything about you. And we had so much fun.

Tyler

You said something interesting to me. You said that you think one of the reasons why we became so close was because you were one of the only students of color at the school and I was one of the only closeted at the time. Gay students.

Jessica

For sure. I think you know that we were two unique individuals. I don’t even have a word for what was happening at that school, but everybody kind of molded into almost like if you’ve ever watched Stepford Wives. It was almost very that.

Tyler

I had gone to school with those folks since kindergarten, because it was one of those schools that’s like K through 12. And so I think at that time, I was thinking about my identity and realizing that I didn’t necessarily fit in with these folks that I had gone to school with my whole life and I guess that we gravitated toward each other. While I was interrogating my identity, you came along.

Jessica

And I think, you know, on that point, you know, I was one of the people who hadn’t known you your whole life, I was able to take outsider’s point of view like, Hey, man, you’re actually really cool outside of this identity. Obviously, it was more broken up and more rough around the edges, then, you know, kind of simplified into that sentence, you know.

Tyler

I think that’s a good thing. It’s like finding someone who you can just be yourself with and that’s not going to make fun of you. Like, we think the whole RENT soundtrack one night just being stupid.

Jessica

I did that last night,

Gramel 

I knew it a school teacher there. She was actually a substitute. She thought Christian kids were meaner. But she said maybe it’s because they don’t do drugs and they don’t drink to take the edge off. Whatever that was a real eye opener. He shared the good stuff a lot more than he did that not so good stuff, because I guess that’s how you treat a grandmother. Except I’m not a typical grandmother.

Tyler

I should probably say that this school had these kind of morality contracts where if I would have come out, I would have been expelled. And that was one of my biggest fears at the time, because I was like, I won’t ever get into college. But I do think those schools can be good for different types of students. And I think it was good for me for a while, until I was realizing this part of my life and I could keep it hidden and kind of away whereas, you know, as you were saying, as one of the only students of color at the school, you were on a different visibility

Jessica

Being half black, I can’t be like no. I’m also a very strong personality. Me my color plus me, you know my voice and how I express myself and my hand movements and everything like that was something that could not be expected by anybody who was going to that school and just being so like by the book and just almost military, like definitely oppressive. Like if you express yourself in any sort of way, that wasn’t the norm. My Bible professor was like, Hey, I was like you I was from the hood. And you know, I had to tell this man, like, I live on Indian Rocks. Okay. Just because I’m half black and agnostic does not mean that I’ve like had this you know, like, you can put me in like the pocket just because I’m, I’m biracial, like, Okay, so we’re all from the hood. I’m not saying shit about the hood. I’m just saying like, I’m not from that.

So just to bring that to me was just such a weird, like, I feel like that was like my first kind of inclination like, Oh, this is racism that I’m dealing with –  just like a really revealing moment like, oh, okay, now everything else makes sense like and think that was my first picture of Oh, this is about my skin color. Like this isn’t about my beliefs or how I behave or anything this is just like about my skin color like he’s basing all of my actions off of that. It was just a very eye-opening experience. You know, I was expelled from the school because they told my mom I was on drugs, which I was not.

I was I was absolutely not. I had never even tried to drug at that point. And they did not test me. They just told my mom that I was on drugs. So then I got kicked out of my mom’s house. I think, you know, we definitely met each other in that moment of life.

Tyler

For us, we’ve been friends for very major points of our lives. But we haven’t always been in the same city. I know, it’s been messy. We’ve made it here this day,

Jessica

You know, like on a broader scope, I just think, you know, like, you’ve always been here like, for me personally, and I haven’t left Florida so like, you’ve always been here for every monumental moment of my life. You’ve been here for my kids’ birthdays, you know, you were here, you know, when I was pregnant and you know, visited me, I was there when you graduated. I was there, you know, through all these like milestones. So like, I feel like that it just kind of keep touch with the milestones, you know, it’s really important for you to be there. And, you know, I don’t really know what’s kept us strong. Honestly, I have no idea how we made it this far, because you and I had completely different paths.

Tyler

And I mean, you know, we don’t really have that much in common either. No shade to either one of us, but we just like different things.

Jessica

I literally hate poetry and you have made a career of it. And you don’t like business and like I love it.

Tyler

So I don’t, I don’t like spreadsheets

So you have two kids and you had your second child via artificial insemination. Is that what it’s called? Is it called like, what is it? Hmm? In Vitro? What is the term?

Jessica

Well, it’s not in vitro because in vitro is like IVF which is like you’re having fertility issues or anything like that. But it was just a sperm donation. So like, it wasn’t, you know, anything kind of inserting into my egg or anything like that. They would just insert the sperm into me, and then you know, I would create the babies so there was no fertility issues with my process.

Tyler

So then what led you to the decision to go through that process?

Jessica 

I had wanted to do this for a while. I was just like, this is really important to me. I do want to have another kid. I’m not dating somebody. I have a dad figure for my son. And it’s been a nightmare. So yeah. No. So I don’t want to repeat that whole thing of like broken promises. And could I have gotten married? I never met anybody who I was like,tThis is who I want to be with for the rest of my life. But I knew that I wanted to be a mother and I want to be a mother of more than one kid. So I didn’t feel like my lack of relationship and lack of wanting to kind of tie myself down to one person to the impact that. So I called my mom just to make sure that she was on the same page as me because you know, I am a single Mom, so I need to make sure you know if I’m saying somebody else can take care of the kids. It’s not fair. It’s kind of just like a husband. You can’t rely on this other person, you know, for taking care of your kids without involving them in the situation. So I called my mom and just to make sure it was okay with her. And it was finally because I had brought this up before but she was like, no. And finally, she was like, Yeah, for sure. Part of you know, the sperm donor process is, you know, choosing whether or not you want your kid to ever be able to have the opportunity to meet the Father, and I did choose that option. So she will meet him when she’s 18. And she does have at minimum 32 other siblings.

Tyler

That’s bananas. I didn’t know that. 32.

Jessica

Yes, he had 32 other families. So one family is consisted of one person buying the sperm so if one person had five kids from them, that was still be considered one family. So at minimum, she has 32 siblings, but God knows how many she actually has. Because there’s no limit on how many times you can purchase from the same donor. I don’t really understand why men do it. But I do appreciate the opportunity. Like, I wouldn’t have my daughter, you know, and she is amazing. Honestly, I think they’re gonna have like a group chat when they get older. I think it’ll be really cool for her. But I definitely didn’t want to take away her ability to meet her father. You know, when the time comes, if she wants to, it’s totally her choice. It’s not mine.

Gramel 

You’ve done a great job, I’m sure. And it is an education and it’s something you wouldn’t want to live without.

Tyler

I always really respected your decision. And I just thought it made sense for you and where you were at to have another baby the way you did, but what were some of the responses that you got from other folks about the decision?

Jessica

Well, like the guy who I always say would just be, you know, he was my back burner. And his reaction, you know, when I told him I was going through with this, his reaction was your kid is going to be a psychopath. Like, he had a really negative reaction to it. And I was like, you know, do you think that’s gonna change what I’m gonna do moving forward? And he was like, No, and I was like, Well, why would you say something negative like that, you know, so that was pretty much the end of our relationship. You know, the other reactions that I’ve had are just like, why didn’t you go to a bar? Why didn’t you just do it?

Tyler

Race is a topic that you and I have spent a lot of time discussing. So what is it like being a biracial mother raising, as you’ve said, white passing kids.

Jessica

So that’s been an interesting journey. I will tell you know, kind of based on like, one of the first times I ever brought Sam out, my son was to a bank. And when you know, the bank, people are like, hey, it’s so nice to meet you. Are you babysitting? Are you a nanny? So she gave me those two options. You know, because my son is so white passing. You know, like I said, He’s just, he’s blond hair, blue eyes, white skin, like he does not look like me. If, if you saw me, I am clearly biracial. I have brown skin. I have brown eyes and they have dark curly hair. So I say clearly by race But a lot of people think I’m Puerto Rican. You know, that was that was definitely a weird, you know, moment in my life, but that kind of set off like a chain reaction, you know, that was the first time I’ve ever brought him. And after that, you know, it’s just kind of progressively just been the same but at least you know, I knew what to expect from white people. And I’m not trying to be racist when I say that, but like, anybody of color can clearly see that that’s my son, anybody that’s Hispanic can see that that’s my son, but it seems to be a real barrier for white people to be able to see that that’s my son, you know, and even when he was in public school, you know, as we got older, like I went to go pick him up for a mother son lunch, and I was taking him and his best friend who is Vietnamese, he’s dark skinned like me, but he is Vietnamese. They were letting me take him out, but they stopped me from taking my son. They were like, you need to show proof, you know, of being this child’s mother, which was so weird to me, but expected and that, you know, I understood what I was doing when I went in there, you know, and it’s really sad to say, but that’s to say the world right now, which needs to change. As being a biracial parent to white passing kids, it’s very difficult. it’s very disarming. It’s very invalidating. I love, you know, my kids, but it just, you know, whenever we go in public places, you know, I’m aware of my surroundings. So I see it and it’s awful.

Gramel 

Well, I’m sorry, you have to go through that, Jessica. That’s not fair. It’s not it’s not okay. Good people need to be aware of things period, just have an education, and just be kind. Just be kind. You don’t have to just blurt out any thing you want to say or just have a smile on your face and not be looking at somebody with a negative look on their face. One thing I always remember from my, in my childhood was mama started me in church. And we all went, my brother and I and my mom. Daddy stayed home and made these two unless it was Christmas. We sang the song Jesus loves little children, all the children of the world red and yellow, black and white they are precious in His sight. And I always just grew up with that. I was just alarmed when I met people that were unkind about it is just, you know, that’s not the way God would have been.

Tyler

I wanted to ask with all of the experiences that you’ve had and raising your kids, how are you talking about race with them? Or how do you plan to talk about race with them? Especially considering the Black Lives Matter movement and some of the other social justice issues that’s been really prevalent this summer?

Jessica

Super interesting question. And, you know, I think, with my kids being white passing, it’s a little bit more of a difficult conversation to have, you know, and I understand that black women and black men have to have the conversation with their kids about how to be in public, and I will never compare what I’m going through to what they’re going through like at all. I don’t think it’s comparable. You know, I just have to teach my kids at this point to be aware of the social and injustices that are happening, you know, and to be supporters of equality. And, you know, it’s been really difficult to even approach that conversation because I don’t have to have it because my kids are white passing been kinda difficult to kind of pinpoint, you know, where, you know, you don’t want to take their innocence away. And I understand that black people don’t have that privilege to not take their kids innocence away because that just is. So it’s really kind of embarrassing even to say, you know, as a bi racial person, it’s embarrassing to say like, I don’t have to deal with that with my kids, but I don’t. So I haven’t really broached the subject.

I wanted to take him to the protests. I wanted to definitely be a part of that and just kind of have him engage with the black community and understand he’s a part of it. I think that that’s really important, but I haven’t had the opportunity to do that and honestly, and no shade on Cops I think cops are, you know, fantastic. And I love what they do. And I, you know, call the cops when the time is necessary. And I think there are a lot of good ones. But going to the protests, like I was more scared of what the police officers would do, then, you know, people of color, which was a really frightening place for us to be because, you know, I don’t ever want my kids to be scared of the police, which again, is a privilege because you know, black people with their black sons, you know, and black daughters need to almost essentially teach their kids at this point, Hey, be cautious. That’s not something that I want my son to feel like and that’s a huge privilege and I get that I totally understand that.

So it’s kind of trying to find that middle line of, you know, understanding your heritage, understanding who you are, while having the privilege of not being put on the ground. If you are pulled over. Not being, you know, taken out of the car, not having to put your hand, you know, and ask the officer for every move that you’re trying to do. Like, I can’t even put into words how awful it is to kind of just be in the center lines, if you will. Just, I don’t know how to talk to my kids about this.

Gramel 

To me when I get asked, then they’re ready to hear him. He hasn’t asked.

Jessica

I mean, he did make a couple comments about, you know, not really being black, which really threw me for a loop. So like, I think it’s really important for him to meet his black family, or the black side of my family to kind of just like reinitiate himself to the roots, but he hasn’t asked about anything yet. So I’m just gonna kind of wait. But again, on the other side of that, you know, a lot of black parents don’t have that leisure to be able to wait till their kids asked.

Tyler

I’m sure you will handle it, how it needs to be handled. Yeah.

Gramel 

You know, it’s like, kind of simplistic, I guess. But have your daughter or your son, either one asked about babies or whatever.

Jessica

Sam has asked, you know how babies are born? I keep it very scientific though.

Gramel 

But like with a little girl, you have to prepare her about menses and so on and so forth. But I just found that basically with my kids, because if you tell them stuff before they’re ready for it, that you’ll have to tell them again. They don’t happen to be ready to hear that. Maybe they’re ready to hear all kinds of other things.

Tyler

Thank you so much for talking with us. I know you have a lot to do. You put your one kid to bed and now you got to go find where your other kid is great off to. We will talk to you soon.

Jessica

I love you both.

Tyler

That is our episode on friends. Thanks for being a friend – traveled down the road and back again. Your heart is true.

Gramel   

Call a dear friend today or contact them and say, Hey,

Tyler

Do that and subscribe to the podcast. Yes. Send your friend the podcast.

Gramel   

Oh, that would be wonderful. They would love it.

Tyler

Send your grandmother the podcast.

Gramel 

Especially your grandmother.

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