General Ignorance

Taken from The Book of General Ignorance by John Lloyd & John Mitchinson

Q: What is the tallest mountain in the world?

A: Mauna Kea, the highest point on the island of Hawaii. This mountain 13,799 feet above sea level but when measured from the seabed to its summit, it is 33,465 feet high, about three quarters of a mile taller than Mount Everest. Mt Everest is at 29,029 feet is the highest mountain, not the tallest.ii

Q: Where is the driest place on earth?

A: Antarctica. Parts of the continent have seen no rain for two million years.

Q: What is the largest living thing?

A: It’s a mushroom ( Armillaria ostoyae). In Malheur National forest in Oregon it covers 2,200 acres (80,9031km^2)

Q:How long can a chicken live without its head?

A: About two years

Q: Who invented the telephone?

A: Antonio Meucci

Q: How many senses does a human being have?

A: At least nine; sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch, thermoception (sense of heat), equilibrioception (sense of balance), nociception (perception of pain from the skin), proprioception (body awareness).

Q:How do the Cherokee pronounce “Cherokee?”

A: They don’t. The correct spelling (and pronunciation) is Tsalagi. Cherokee is a Creek Indian word meaning ‘people with another language.” The preferred Cherokee word for themselves is Aniyounwiya, which means “the principal people.”

Q: Was Jesus born in a stable?

A: No. Not according to the New Testament. The idea that Jesus was born in a stable is an assumption made only because Saint Luke’s Gospel says he was “laid in a manger.”

Q: What is the most likely survivor of a nuclear war?

A: Cockroaches is the wrong answer. The king of radiation resistance is the bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans.


Mandatory Volunteering

by nide zimemo stannard

The volunteering system at my son’s school is mandatory. His class is a combination of  two grades. There are twelve students in the third grade, which my son is in, and exactly twelve students in the second grade and these two grades share one classroom. This Combined Grades strategy works because in the classroom there is always a teacher, a teacher’s aide and a parent, sometimes two parents, at all times. The stipulation is that we volunteer a minimum of forty hours throughout the school year. This is where my mandatory volunteering begins to be mandatory, or is it volunteering mandatory?

I am in the classroom, it’s 8:15 am, I lean slightly by a bookshelf at the very back of the classroom with the teacher’s aide as we chit-chat softly.  The teacher quizzes the kids with math questions timed at 3 minutes for second graders while the third graders get 2 minutes. As the kids bend over and start calculating their math questions there is a wonderful silence yet buzzing sound in the classroom. The teacher comes and joins us by the bookshelf. She starts sharing details about how her teenage daughter is now doing driving lessons and how her daughter is afraid of driving out of the mountain roads and getting on the freeway. This happens in the very same sequence every single Monday I am there. The teacher will then forget the timing watch until it starts beeping. This is the signal that the kids are done, pencils on the desk.

After a few minutes of kids shuffling around, they go to their respective group tables. The second graders are my favorite group (they come in a group of six). I start handing them their tablets to log in at their online math program called Aleks, this is where my mandatory helping comes in. I help them log in with their passwords, assist in navigating the program and help  solve their math questions. Some of these questions are not math related at times: “Mrs Stannard, which one of my five fingers am I not suppose to put up when the other four are bent down?” As stumped as I was by this second grader ‘s question, another one calmly responds “It’s the middle finger, the middle finger is a bad word” continues the other second grader who seems to be very knowledgeable of finger communication. These second graders are so soft spoken, calm and mostly polite. When I am done with the two groups of second graders I always feel like I have really made a difference in a child’s life and that is a good feeling. Enter third graders.

My heart starts pumping faster and beats a tad louder. My armpits start to sweat up a little bit. I’m not scared of them, I’m scared that my sudden tourettes syndrome may over come me and I might end up popping one of them in the mouth, then I imagine police will be summoned,then they will have to book me and give me a charge, I’ll claim 51/50, and probably won’t be released the same day  and I would hate to  miss my Modern Family episode tonight–whoosah!–

The first half of third graders is the one with my son in it. They are pretty independent in this group and know what they are doing. The problem with my son’s group is that they talk too much. They don’t know how to just sit for fifteen minutes and focus. The second graders have them beat on this is one. These third graders have identified their rights. You cannot deny them a bathroom break.  They incorporate every video game sound of shooting every time they tap their little fingers on a tablet screen. You tell them to stop humming and they continue with a new different sound. A few of the girls are  mini teacher-volunteer-wannabe’s  when another kid has their hand, sit down Reese Witherspoon, this is why I am here, I got this!. I offer them scrap paper to help them solve ‘extensive’ math questions, “No thanks, I can do it in my head” says one kid, “How about you take the scrap paper just in case you need it”, “No thank-you!” Saved by my son who has raised his hand up because I don’t understand how this student plans to solve long math equations without chicken scratches. Reese Witherspoon gets up from her chair to go help my son. “Please get back to your own seat and do your own work on your own tablet”, I say calmly and softly, she boldly responds,  “My teacher says…” “Sit down Reese, I’m the volunteer here to help answer question you are the student.” I go over to help my son out as I do with all the kids…who know how to put their hands up and wait for me as I finish up with another kid.

At the end of the last half of third graders I will normally ask my son, sometimes other kids, to help me place the tablets back on the teacher’s table. This time, one kid was having a hard time logging off. This is also time for recess so the rest of the other kids in the classroom are already running around the class and grabbing their snacks, the boys shooting imaginary guns at each other and the girls talking about Frozen. Still, throughout this commotion, this one kid was just not logging off from the tablet. He said he was having a hard time shutting it down. My son is forced to wait on this kid to log off before he can leave for recess. My son says: “You know, you don’t have to shut it down…” He hadn’t even finished his sentence when a group of third grader boys,in unison, screamed “YOU HAVE TO, IT HAS TO CHARGE!!!” I immediately felt like my son and I were under attack and i had to react quick. I flip my super hero mom cape. I have to defend my kid from these monster third graders. Now don’t get me wrong, these kids are one hundred percent correct about shutting down the computers at the end of the lesson so that they can be charged. “Hey! listen! there is a difference between logging of and shutting down. Log off, yes, big difference!!” Shit, I didn’t know what the hell I was saying but I had to say something to these ballsy kids, they can’t punk my son in front of me. They didn’t know what to say to me after that, they just dispersed, all the while glancing back at me.

Oh Nide you are too Americanized!

by Nide Z. Stannard

 Americanized definition:

In countries outside of the United States, americanization or americanisation is the influence the United States has on the culture of other countries, such as their popular culture, cuisine, technology, business practices, or political techniques. The term has been used since at least 1907. Within the United States, the term Americanization refers to the process of acculturation by immigrants or annexed populations to American customs and values.

Americanization has become more prevalent since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s and especially since the advent of widespread high speed Internet use starting in the mid-2000s.

There is a constant loyalty that is expected from me. Since the dawn of Facebook it has been amusing for me to see how appalled my South African black friends can be offended by my humanistic and secular point of views. Because I am a black woman, I am supposed to be pro EVERYTHING black South African. I have been labeled a ‘proud lesbian’ during a debate  where sexual orientation is not even the point at hand, as if I cannot make an educated opinion simply because of my preference of pussy over dick.  Oh the tragedy when I denounce religious dogma!

“…emotions can either enhance or hinder your ability to learn.” – Marc Brackett

To an extent and twisted way of thinking, I make an effort to put myself in others shoes. That has been a tiring practice, especially when cognitive dissonance plays a significant role  on the counterpart. Using ad homonyms is a staple nowadays to redirect crucial points. I am also guilty on that at times but I am definitely aware of it when I do it,  so I do try to curb it.

Being an ex pat in my experience is a persistent pull of being expected to please my South African friends by making agreeable comments, regardless if it’s an opinion that goes against my humanistic ways. Most of my fellow expatriates share similar sentiments. Once you emigrate from South Africa there is an immediate judgement that you are now ‘lessor’ of a South African. As laughable as that is, it is real.

What I find incredibly interesting is that the very same complaint by black South African ‘friends’ towards me [my Americanized self], is that they feel that South African Indians, Chinese South Africans, even Coloreds etc. are not doing enough to acculturate in South Africa or to be more specific, acculturate in ‘black South African’ culture. The way I see it, black South Africans expect other cultures to accommodate them, while they refuse to accommodate anything else that is not black South African culture. This twisted way of thinking is extremely asinine for the progression in South Africa, the so-called ‘Rainbow Nation’. There is nothing wrong in opening yourself up to experiencing different cultures, it is called ‘growth’.  When even the smallest attempt is made to learn and try to understand other cultures, it’s an actual win in  personal development, you get to look at the world through someones else eyes. Try it some time, it is very refreshing. Being able to be honest and see dangerous faults in your very own culture is pivotal to transforming your preconceived notions of others.

My loyalties in my lifetime do not only lie with South Africa, America, black women, lesbian women, or religious dogma. My loyalties are embedded in the love I have for human beings as a whole and how I can add a positive impact to change dangerous ways of thinking in order to make this planet less filled with idiots, so that my son does not suffer the same struggles of ignorance plagued by the previous and my current generation. I’m sorry you think I am Americanized, I’d rather be that than have a tribalistic mind in a progressive technological Age.

Save a life, know your racial slurs.

by Nide Zimemo Stannard

I hope that people will finally come to realize that there is only one ‘race’ – the human race – and that we are all members of it. – Margaret Atwood

Racial slurs are a  derogatory or disrespectful nickname for a racial group  used without restraint.

Why have I not done a Google search on racial slurs before? By a simple search and click here on the internet I came across an incredible list of racial slurs from around the world. A few hours later, my mouth still wide open, I was thoroughly informed on the history and the origination of racial slurs from different cultures globally. I learned about the atrocities and inhumane injustices endured by Aboriginal Australians, Pacific Islanders and other different cultures. If we were all proficient in our racial slurs, we would be less sensitive and hurt when someone hollers them at us. This post is by no means to encourage you to go around calling people by racial slurs, instead, it is to inspire you to learn the history of other cultures and the diverse ethnicities so that when someone thinks they can spoil your day by calling you a racial slur, you can instantly empower yourself by reaching down to your left back pocket and pulling out a magnificent racial slur rebuttal ‘OR’ use that opportune moment to educate that fool! At least you have a choice. Example:

In the early 2000’s I lived in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts USA. I worked at a near-by hospital that was perfectly positioned to face the water front. The distance from where I lived and where I worked was a half-mile walk and the route was breathtakingly picturesque. When I was not riding my bike to work, I would walk it. I loved inhaling the ocean air and sucking in the scenery with boats and yarts docked, lovers strolling hand-in-hand, and the clear summer skies. One afternoon, a car packed with a bunch of teenage white boys approached me as I was walking to work.The passenger riding shotgun unexpectedly stuck his head out the window of the moving vehicle and screamed loud at me “N I G G E R!” Of course this took me by surprise and I immediately got angry so I yelled right back “It’s K A F F I R!” Do you realize the frustration of a misplaced racial slur? I find it infuriating because 1) I am African, I am labeled and called a bunch of racial slurs in Africa already  and 2) This little fucker did not stick around to hear my impressive vocabulary on racial slurs. What that white boy screamed at me did not crush my sense at all, instead I wished I could find him and educate him on his obviously unaware pertinent racial history he too has inherited from another group,yes white-on-white hate exists too. We all have a history; Italians, Asians, Africans, Scottish, the whole lot of us.

Once you read about your own racial heritage, turn the page over and learn about another culture and what they have historically endured as a people. This will give you a clear perspective on how fucked each and every ‘race’ has been historically and how some still currently endure racial hate, racial unfairness and racial injustices. YOUR ‘racial’ injustices do not trump those of other races. Without comparing the crimes imposed on each culture, it is fair to say that YOU are not the only one that can go around calling people godawful names…so can I you asshole. Let’s stop being easily offended by racial slurs.If someone slaps you with a racial slur, punch them right back with a racial slur that pertains and is specific to them and then walk away, like a BOSS. See, no violence needed. Know your history and your view of people and their cultural struggles will change the way you see them…maybe, one thing for certain, learn all the racial slurs you can and pull them out to that idiot who tries to show off in public at your expense.

Here is a list of some racial slurs that I found on the internet and some from friends of mine who shared racial slurs that they had heard of. As I read the list, it is easily noticeable that racial slurs are  name calling. Some are a little silly and some are incredibly hateful:

niggers,boots,coons-BLACKS; beaner,wetbacks-MEXICANS; Wops-ITALIANS; cracker,honky-WHITES; spicks-PUERTO RICANS; kites-JEWS; kaffir-SOUTH AFRICAN BLACK; kreuts-GERMANS; red skins-AMERICAN INDIAN; chinks,chinaman-CHINESE; curry muncher-INDIANS from INDIA; kwere-kwere-NON-SOUTH AFRICAN AFRICAN; christ killer-JEWS; cholo/chola-MEXICANS; oreo cookie,darkie,tar baby, belly warmer-BLACKS; ching chong-CHINESE; hairyback-AFRIKANER; half breed-INDIAN mixed with WHITE; hillbilly-WHITES; jigaboo, jungle bunny-BLACKS; kimchi-KOREANS; klansman-WHITES; nigglet-BLACKS; miser-JEWS; ooga-booga-Aboriganese; paddy-IRISH; guinne-ITALIAN; mick-IRISH; hebre-JEWS; pickaninny-BLACKS; rednecks-WHITES; howlie-WHITES; chinky-eyed-CHINESE; yellow-ASIANS; zipperhead,charlie-VIETNAMESE; haji, sand nigger-ARABS; skinny-SOMALIANS(militia fighters); sooty, uncle tom-BLACKS; wigger,whitey-WHITES; Yid-WHITE JEWS

For an extended list, click on these: AND

You’re welcome.

Cease and Desist Woman Servitude – A note to all women…bitches too!

by Nide Zimemo
Drawing by: Shannon Stannard

“A woman with opinions had better develop a thick skin and a loud voice” – Anya Seton, The Winthrop

It used to be, back in ancient times, female slavery and females being at the bottom of the socio-economic poll was unequivocally accepted. Unbeknownst to women of course, the separate laws and standards that were forced upon them were implemented by highly testosterone law makers and were acceptable moral standards of that period. I’m not saying these ancient women were not smart, I’m just saying, they didn’t know any better and had zero access to information.


“Women are your fields: go, then, into your fields whence you please.”-Quran 2:222

“Men have authority over women because god has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because god has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and forsake them in beds apart, and beat them.”-Quran 4:34


“Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing – if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control” – 1 Timothy 2:11-15

From the very beginning when women landed on this planet, they were by default labeled bitch, loud mouth, transgressors who deserve to be punished, and weakly physically. I beg to differ. Granted, men are useful in their own right but women are way better…if only women can free themselves from self hatred and realize how worthy they are. If you think hard about it, what do women need men for?…I can wait. You say to impregnate? Nope, we have artificial insemination for that. I bet you right now there is a woman in a science lab underground somewhere, working on a formula to create sperm from female chromosomes only. Did you say we need men for strength? Nope, we have forklifts for that.

Religion has trained and persuaded women into believing that they are second class citizens. Sexual freedom is frowned upon while men do the exact same thing. There has been an overwhelming miseducation in the female community and this post is to rectify those misconceptions.

Women, ladies, bitches. Whatever crown you wear, do so unapologeticaly. The world rotates around women and women should recognize the power they possess. Burdened by child birth pains… [actually we got drugs for that now], so no more pain. Ha ha to the religious nuts who thought child-birth was our eternal punishment–silly religious chauvinists. The remedy for this is for women to respect one another and be less judgmental of each other. Consider China’s One-Child Policy, male babies are deemed precious and so mothers suffocate their girl babies and husbands can punch a pregnant wife in the stomach and call it a “spontaneous abortion.” As to date, there are more men in China than women and so now the baby girls who were birthed are being kidnapped and raised by their kidnappers so that they can sell them later to other men to procreate. See how that worked out, a woman has value even after the fact.In Boko Haram, Nigeria African women are helpless, a handful of dirty scoundrels can grab young girls and keep them hostage in the forest indefinitely. In India, the Red Light District is packed with girl slaves. Do you see my point here? Women have value and society is going to take it whether it is consensual or not.

Reversing the inferior complex instilled by religion and culture will be an uphill battle, but worthwhile nonetheless. The beauty standards have been set by the male ego from millions of years ago. Society feels that when a woman states a point “passionately” that her high-pitch voice sounds like a nagging, batty woman. How else can women express themselves in this male-dominated planet? And then when a female takes testosterone injections, her voice is now considered unattractive. Make up your mind society. It almost seems like shutting up is what the fraternity desires of women.

There is enough room in our civilization for all three types of the female gender:

definition: A malicious, unpleasant, selfish person, especially a female.

This form of sassy and boldness is by far the most effective when dealing with male-egotistical circumstances. Being a bitch is a gift of the quick, snappy, probably Tourette’s Syndrome mouth piece we carry around, but we wear it with confidence. The trick is to know when and how to unleash a fitting dose of the inner bitch appropriately.Bitches are great. But you have to grow out of it at some point.

definition: A woman of superior social position, especially one of noble birth.

A lady is a remarkable and notable kind of female. She is well put together, minds her p’s and q’s and won’t go full nut-job, especially with that new hairdo that cost $350. You would think that society appreciates this over achieving female, sadly, no one respects a lady.

definition: An adult human female

Being a woman is the final stage of female-ism. Finding the right balance between being a bitch and a lady is what all females should strive for. A woman lives by her rules, cares less about what another person thinks and most importantly, tries her damnedest to raise decent children. Applying make up and adorning herself is a way she shows respect for herself and those around her. Women work hard and expect nothing from no one…but still love to be given free shit.

To make sense of this: Women, you are prized no matter which category you fall under. Stop selling yourself short. It is now 2015 and to continue to abide by societal standards that are outdated is simply preposterous. Living on this earth does not make any human being greater than the next. Matter of fact, compared to the rest of the cosmos, no matter what gender you are, we are all insignificant. Do not allow one individual dictate how short your skirt should be in public and how much money you should make. Mostly, women must stop abusing other women.

This blog is not intended to arouse “hate male” propaganda because, you know, we love our men…not so much need them, but love them because they need love too.

I’m screwed!

by Nide Zimemo Stannard

“It’s not about telling people what is right or wrong, because there are very few absolutes, but rather about proving a frame to operate within”James Van Praagh


Why on earth would I read a James Van Praagh book about life after death right before my surgery? Knowing all the doubt I have in myself when it comes to making sound decisions, it is not the dying on the surgery table I am  concerned about, it’s the loud pounding of my heart that I want to slow down. For most of my existence, I have been surrounded by the notion that one should pray to a deity when feeling overwhelmed with fear or doubt.


“In actuality, God is a formless multidimensional reality much like electromagnetic waves that pass through space” James Vann Praagh



As I sit at the waiting room to be called in, I’m suddenly overwhelmed by the urge to go take a shit.Crap! Now I feel the need to pee. Maybe if I sat on the toilet, I might get inspired by a piece of literary warming advice that I have read in the past, so I wheeled myself to the waiting room bathroom.Why when I pull up to the bathroom this is the sign I see:


What are the odds that a headless gentleman is allowed to share a bathroom with a gentle lady. If that is not a good sign for me, then I don’t know what is. I must have sat on the toilet for hours (15 minutes to be exact) and nothing happens. Don’t you hate it when that happens?


Now I’m back in the waiting room.


“Spirituality is how one expresses one’s spirit. Religion is a set of rules and limitations that are placed on an individual’s spirit. The first is natural and infinite; the latter is a human construct and finite” J.V.P

Get out of my head James, this is neither the time nor the place to have an internal debate about the existence of a deity. I hear my name being called to go in and be prepped. Wait a minute, I’m not ready. I have not found the right ‘scripture’ to soothe this fear. Now I really feel like I need to take a shit.


All gowned up and waiting for the surgeon to come talk to me, but wait, I’ve got to take a quick selfie:



She holds my hand and kisses some fears away. I watch how she interacts with the doctors, nurses, anesthesiologist. She does this thing when she is involved in a conversation, she will spend the majority  of the conversation eye-locking with me instead of the other party who probably is hearing the story for the first time.  I like it when she does that. My heart rate calms down tremendously.


The synergy and the sequence of this morning’s events have led to this moment. The nurses, the anesthetist and doctor, my partner by my side [as she constantly texts friends and family on my behalf letting them know I was ready to be cut open…again], all this brought an enormous sense of confidence and calm that I was in the right place, doing the right thing at the right time. I did not need to pray. I am in control of my fears. Of all the religions in the world, she is my favorite religion. I am not screwed after all!

The wonderment of an 8-year-old mind

I have to say, we have come a long way. From psychotic crayon drawings, to indefinable scribbled shapes found all over our now 8-year-old son’s drawing pages. What about that time in first grade when he colored everything purple? Purple faces, purple trees, purple sun. These past five years, my hersband (Shannon) and I have undertook a color-training quest. We decided to guide and nurture his artistic side. The three of us hold coloring competitions in our home most evenings after dinner. Of course I always win–especially when Shannon doesn’t compete. As our boy grows into his own personality he is starting to exhibit confidence in his drawings, I find this to be a cool and interesting quality. I am that mom that throws out the important school’s newsweekly letters and fundraiser stuff into the trash bin, but rather dig deep to the bottom of his school backpack to find his homework first and then…at the very bottom of his ever dirty and crumb-filled backpack, will be a bunch of crumpled drawings. Recently, I noticed a ‘Before’ and ‘After’ colored-in drawing he had brought home and left laying on the messy floor of his bedroom. The one drawing is torn at one corner and both pages looked like they just escaped the impending doom that happens to most of his drawings–crumpled and neglected.


This above picture, after staring at both the before and after, I realized how, even when rushing through his work and getting answers correct, still did not make the drawing completely done in his mind, yet I am tickled that his after picture is daintily and perfectly colored yet answers are not filled in. The picture to the left is my favorite of the two.


He also has little caricatures that I find to be so funny yet expressive of what goes on in his 8-year-old brain. His DNA, unfortunately, carried from both paternal and maternal sides shows zero traces of art creations…with respect to drawing and sketching only. This boy is learning and adapting to something that he truly does enjoy doing, inspired by my hersband and his big ‘bad-ass’ teenage cousin. With a pen in his little left hand, Shannon allows him to pen all types of ‘tattoos’ on her solid, masculine, light-skinned canvas of a back. As far as he is concerned, this is a serious competition held by all little kids at Shannon’s work. So he takes this ‘tattooing’ very seriously especially knowing that my hersband brags about his art at her work. It’s been five years since the beginning of this never-ending competition and he has “won” some and lost some.

The painting below is my favorite. It’s a water color painting.


You see, we are not overly concerned on whether he becomes an artist or not in the future, we care that he takes time and shows care about what he is about to ink.

What is in a name? Apparently a whole lot!

Nide Zimemo Stannard

Side note: Omarion has a tattoo with what seems to be my name on it. Desperate much? I think I am.

As I sat at the hospital waiting room for my name to be called, I started to get agitated, so I decided to close my eyes for a second. In between the interrupted naps, I would panicly open my eyes and ask my accompanying friend “Have they called my name yet?” She would reply, “Go back to sleep Nide, of course I will hear when they announce your name on the intercom”. After hours of waiting, I heard faintly in my deep sleep “Ny-dee, Ny-dee please come up to the desk.” I quickly woke up and wheeled my chair to the front desk. As my friend trotted behind me she was still convinced that my name had not been called yet.

For such a very short name it proved to be such a challenge to most. My lax attitude and not being stern enough about the pronunciation of my name has forced me to learn more about this name called Nide. How I got named is the most embarrassing account and to avoid the dreaded conversation of “Oh, that is such a pretty name, what does it mean?” Well, anyone that has asked me that question probably got the “It means gorgeous princess in Xhosa, my African dialect”. That is so far from the truth. Here is some few examples of what my closest friends call me:

Shannon: Knee-day [this is my spouse of seven years]
Frank: Knee-na
Zida: Knee-dee
John: Knee-duh
Jolene: Yo!
Patric: Knee-dhe
Hospital staff: Ny-dee
Lack of interest strangers: Nadia

When I was born on March 28, 1981, I was a 5 1/2-month premature baby. The story goes that I was so tiny that when my immediately paranoid mother left the hospital with me — in a baby swaddle blanket– she had to check it every second, just in case I slip through a blanket opening. My entire family was uncertain on how to take care of me because of my fragile and weak state. When my father saw me for the first time, he denied me as his daughter because as he so eloquently put it, “I don’t make such weakly pathetic babies, you should see my other kids [from a different mother],they are healthy and strong.”

How I get my name apparently, my family members were debating on what I should be named after coming from the hospital. They had never seen a baby so minute that jokes were thrown around. It is at this point that my ever-drunk aunt piped up and scolded the adults: “Nide nihleke nje…” This statement translated in English is, “How dare you start to laugh…” After she scolded them she suddenly was hit by the bright idea, “Nide, oh my god, we should call her Nide”. By any language, how the hell was I ever supposed to explain that to strangers, particularly English-speaking strangers. From that point on, I never cared to explain my name to anyone.

In 2005, I got pregnant with my first child. His father and I decided on a name. At that time, both his father and I were dedicated followers of the MTV reality show called The Real World. There was one contestant there that we both were particularly fond of and so we decided to call our son Nehemiah, after this contestant.Many months after our Nehemiah was born, his father and I decided to watch the re-runs of The Real World.As we both stared at the television screen, turns out, the guy we were fond of was NOT Nehemiah, but his name was Alton. Nehemiah was the other guy that we did not care for much. This is why he and I are incapable of co-parenting. Somehow, my son heard me share this story with a friend and so he walks around the house calling himself Alton. So, I have decided to reclaim and bring back pride in my name so that my son can also go back to being proud of his first name.

As I do with all my research, I decided to confront Google and demand answers. To my amazement, my name rocks!

cyanide = Strong poison;

snide = Unpleasant remark;

Enid Blyton = My Favorite author growing up;

uranide = Any element having an atomic number greater than that of protactinium;

unideal = Lacking ideals;

niderings = coward;

selenides = Any compound in which selenium serves as an oxidation number of -2;

nonidentity = No identity;

antimonides = Any member of a rare mineral group consisting of compounds of 1 or more metals with antimony;

actinides = Typical metals that have properties of both d-block and the f-block elements, but they are also radio active;

arsenides = A compound or arsenic with less electronegative element or elements;

nonideal = Differing in behavior from that of an ideal gas or solution;

ozonides = Any compound, usually explosive, formed by the additional of ozone to the double or triple bond of an organic compound.

Whew! Thank goodness for chemistry and physics. What a relief to find out that somewhere, somehow my name means something significant. I cannot say that I am proud of all the meanings of the words that have ‘nide’ in them, but this sure was a great start. Next time someone asks me what my name means, if it is someone I don’t care for: “It is derived from the word cyanide, meaning poison” I think from here on out I am about to have fun with my name. Now my next dilemma is to work on the name Nehemiah.

Atheist meets Pastor

On November 17, 2014 I found myself dragging my body out of a car that had rolled 4-5 times down a 100-150ft embankment, not too far from my resident. This post will not be discussing my accident but rather, a ‘virtual encounter’ with a gentleman I had never met.

My first couple of nights home post surgery, I found an envelope outside the screen of my front door. Inside this envelope was a check donation. I was astonished and touched at the same time. A stranger, a man who had never met me cared. This blew my mind of course. These donations, as in most cultures, are what people normally present to you to show care and compassion when they find out that something tragic has occurred at a home.

A couple of weeks prior to my accident, I had had the opportunity to proofread a story of a young black boy who was inspired by a white lady during the civil rights movement back in 1965. I had actually proofread this story and as it turns out, this would be the same gentleman who sent me a donation. In a town where population black is 1.1%, I always admired how the editor held no prejudices in the topics she wrote about. The black gentleman is a pastor of a Baptist church in Memphis,Tennessee and he told of a story of many years ago when he was just a pre-teen.

My great friend, P.H, who is also the editor of our local newspaper was the person I called immediately after my accident. I called her because I needed her to make immediate arrangements with regards to tying up loose ends of my day i.e. Make sure my son was picked up from school, call my spouse and make sure my sweetheart doesn’t lose her mind while driving to the hospital. P.H. was affected by my accident and she shared her shock and hurt with Pastor. This explains the check that was tucked at the screen door of my house in the middle of the night. The pastor had sent the check through P.H. and so she made sure I got it.

The healing process brought on me a period of sadness, regret, anger and lost total interest in the world outside my door. P.H. kept asking me to contact the pastor just to tell him how I was progressing. Reluctantly, I sent the first email out to him two months after I had received the gracious donation:

Jan 19
Dear Pastor

This is the young lady that got into a horrific accident back on November 17, 2014. P.H. has called me out and told me to snap out of depression mode. I have not been expressive to anyone about my accident. I find it a hard topic to discuss…for now. I am normally in control of my life and this accident has left me helpless, lost and just…sad.
You have been on my mind since you sent me that donation and you have touched my heart since. I am actually excited to have your personal email.
I hope this email finds you healthy and well. I would love nothing more than to stay in contact with you. Please let me know you have received my email.
It’s 9:35pm here in California and I am going to rest my bones now. Looking forward to talking some more with you.
Nide Zimemo Stannard

His reply:
Jan 20

You are more than welcome. I am very glad to hear from you. I am very glad P.H. is trying to encourage you not to let what happened deflate your dreams and goals. I have a lot of confidence in P.H. and she thinks well of you. Since she does, I was touched by her concern for you and I responded as best I could without knowing you all in person. God has a way of bringing people together in strange ways. I have learned never to take meeting of minds and people lightly. I know it is sunny and warm in California. We are in the fifties today and that is far better than what we have had since before Christmas. Of course, in this part of the country, we can see 0 and 72 degrees this time of year. Tomorrow or the next day, it will be in the forties. Thanks to God that he provides for our ability to cope with whatever comes. If is in your schedule or mindset, please read the Old Testament book Habakkuk. The first chapter and the last part of chapter three are essential to your finding inspiration. You may already be aware of that fact.

All my friends and associates are well aware of my anti-religious beliefs. Part of dragging my initial ‘thank you’ email to the pastor was because I did not want to find myself debating the bible. This is inevitable with a religious person. So, of course when Pastor gave me a passage to read from the bible, I did more than that. My curious mind did not just stop there. I researched the history of the book of Habakkuk and was particularly curious to learn about this amazing prophet called Habakkuk. As with all my other bible research, it came as no surprise on my side that there was suspect information about this beloved prophet.

My Second email to Pastor:
Jan 20

Molo Mr. Wright,

(That’s how we say ‘hello’ in my mother tongue Xhosa).

I don’t know if you know this but I proofread your article that was published in our November monthly edition. I remember being entirely impressed by your style of writing and “storytelling”, and how you too were inspired by an inherently good person.

I believe in the goodness of people. As I journey through life, I am in awe of people who have overcome major hurdles in their life and have made a difference in their lifetime. I am not too quick to allow people in my heart because I know I have a big heart and fear those who will use it and abuse it. By this standard, I choose to know the real side of someone because I cannot help but show that someone the real side of me.
All day today I pondered how you being a pastor, and me being an atheist could communicate without trying to convince each other about our individual opposing views. I read the book of Habakkuk and even further than that, I researched who this prophet was.

Turns out, I actually enjoyed reading about him and identified with his concerns and cries. It is however very interesting that chapter 3 holds controversy amongst biblical scholars because of the quick change of tune and change in the style of writing. It is also interesting that when the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, chapter 3 was not included. Maybe you can clear this controversy.

As an atheist, I live on a secular humanistic creed. I am against religion. I am pro human rights. Religion does not have rights but people do, and that is me in a nutshell.
I also enjoy debating these topics because I get to learn something new…even if it leads me further from having ‘faith.’

P.H. is taking me to my doctor’s appointment this Thursday and I will see (by x-ray) how my hip is healing. I’m very nervous.
I have never been to the southern states and have always been curious how life is down there.
How is your family?

Nide Zimemo Stannard
His reply to my second email:
Jan 20

Thanks for the response. I hope that your healing is progressing well. I also thank you for your honesty regarding your belief system. I will look into the concern about the Dead Sea scrolls involving Habakkuk, chapter three. My OT professor can help us out with some clarity on the matter. What I find in that reading are some words of inspiration. No, I don’t try to convince anybody to believe what I believe. However, I do believe in God, who I believe to be the Creator and this world or all life is sustained by the invisible power. I cannot understand it fully, but my faith guides me to reason in the power that I cannot see with my physical eyes.
When P.H. spoke of you in such a beloved manner, it was a natural response to offer some hospitality, regardless of how small the amount might be. See, I believe God to be kind and loving and I believe strongly enough to spread some kindness in response to Him being kind to me and not just me. P.H. has been kind to me and so has her husband, G.M. It is through P.H. that my faith in God has been refreshed and renewed with more vigor.
As far as the southern states are concerned, historically it has been very strange and tragic in so many ways. The problems of the south in America runs deeply. These problems of this era are indirectly impacted by what transpired over four or five hundred years ago. For example, my great great grandfather, Richard Brown, was a slave in Louisiana back in the early to mid-1800’s. He was forced to fight in the Civil War or the War Between the States. My story in this regard is not unique. This is common history for just about every African American/Black American. California was not developed too well during the civil war, but existed and I am not sure how blacks were viewed back then, in the 1700 and 1800’s. California, Michigan, Illinois, New York, Wisconsin, and Nevada were a few states that blacks migrated to, in an effort to escape to horrible conditions of injustices, inhuman treatment, racism, and flat out hatred for people of color. I can assure that things are much better than they were just 45-60 years ago in the USA. However, I do understand that things are not as well as they could be. The bitterness, hatred, resentments, and disrespect are real. People like Patric and Frances O’Brien shine rays of hope that things are getting better and they will continue to get better as long as there are those who care, love, and have deep compassion for all human beings. My current wife is doing fine now. She had three major surgeries since we have been married (2006-present?). My previous wife died from a dreadful disease called Leukemia. My most treasured mentors are all deceased. It is not hard for me to love people. I have overcome so much and the Creator gave me great inner strength, will, and a decent mind. For that, I am very grateful to the Almighty. There are many roads in this life that lead to various endings. I have chosen the road that leads to the road that Jesus Christ of the New Testament lays out so well.
My wish and prayer for you is that you get well and function as you are purposed to do in this life time.

My third and final email:

Hi there!!
I am waking up this morning feeling well-rested and just happy. I like this feeling better.
I’m so sorry to hear about your first wife. I am happy to hear that your second wife is doing fine after a total of three surgeries. She has to be the toughest person out here. Please say ‘Molo’ to her for me.
I lost my mother in 2006 to full-blown AIDS. We think this was the result of her taking care of my uncle a few years prior who too had the same virus. She used to yell at me when I tried to help my uncle with daily activities: “Nide, how many times have I told you not to go around your uncle?” I always thought she was harsh because I loved my uncle. I see now why she was like that.

Being from South Africa, I appreciate learning American history straight from the mouths of Americans. In the 14 years I have resided in this country, I have fallen in love with the different cultures and the diversity it offers. I am also a foodie. I intend to come down to the South and taste ALL local cuisine…including moonshine lol! I love this country, I respect what it stands for and so I call it home.

I have a very handsome 8-year-old boy. He has been so attentive and helpful through my healing process. He is funny and likes to joke a lot…even when I am not in the mood.
I have been married to my wife since 2009 and we were able to get legally married here in California in 2013. She is a Desert Storm Desert Shield War Veteran. In 2009 she underwent total hip replacement surgery due to her prior battle wounds. We both walk around the house with canes and walkers. She is amazing and is my greatest support.

P.H. and G.M. are an amazing pair. They were amazing even before my accident. They continue to do other amazing things for the community as well. I am lucky to have them on my side and now I feel so honored to have had a chance to “meet” someone like you.
Have a fantastic day, stay warm and drive safe.

Nide Zimemo Stannard
His third and final reply:
Jan 21

Thanks for the note/response. I am glad that you are at peace with yourself and injury. You are so right about P.H. and G.M. They do a whole lot for a lot of people. I don’t know them in the sense of having seen them in person, but I can tell that they are strong people and very smart. Any support you give them is a good thing. P.H. listens well. I am happy you love this nation. It is a good place and like any place, it has its pros and cons. With all of the history, bad and good, it is still one of the best countries around. When people understand the issues, the problems, or the barriers; it is much easier to find and execute fair solutions. Martin Luther King was so right when he said: “God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others live in abject deadening poverty.” That is so true. However, violence and crime is never the answer to bringing about right or justice. There are some things that are beyond our comprehension and even reasoning capacities. There is a song that has been sung for years down here in the south and it is called, “Put It All in His Hands.” We try hard to do what is right by people, the nation, humankind as a whole, and make as much of a contribution to the good of society and leave the rest to God, the Almighty and the Creator of it all. Life has a way of balancing itself out in the long run. That is the beauty of the animal kingdom, they usually balance nature out when we leave them alone and don’t try to make them something that they aren’t capable of doing. Have a good day and best wishes to you, your family, P.H. and G.M., and the sunny California residents. By the way, I have a number of cousins who live throughout the state. I have a sister-in-law in California(LA). The cousins are first, second, third, fourth, and beyond. With all due respect for your belief system, I still God’s blessings upon you and your healing process.

This is where things have been left so far. It has taken a lot in me to refrain from replying to this email. As I navigate my way in this journey called life, I will respect anyone’s views as long as they do not put my views down and/or impose on my world. Pastor’s last email was a conclusionary one that purposely did not acknowledge any of my personal life/lifestyle, which I opened up and shared with him. In fact, I deliberately brought my mother, my uncle, my war veteran spouse and my son up to give him plenty of optional topics he would feel comfortable talking about. My last email clearly caught him off guard. It is apparent that somehow it never occurred to him that this black woman, from Africa, living in America could be an atheist…let alone a homosexual.

It does bother me a lot when so-called-people of god/s claim they sow goodness in this world but evidently that goodness is only restricted to those who believe what they believe and conform like they did. I am left wondering if his concern was really for me or for the newspaper. Either way, I appreciate the time he spent emailing me and the initial thought of sending me a donation. This type of treatment is appalling,particularly from an African American pastor who turned his life around because he was inspired by a white woman that fought against racism. Oh the irony!