Russian Roulette Saturday, Feb 5 2011 

“You’ve no room to call her names or treat her the way you do–you’re  as much of a liar and a cheat as the rest of the world. You don’t shit gold bars, and anyone who truly knows you–knows it… we’re all done listening to your broken promises, never being good enough, and being made to feel like no one will ever love us because we are not how you think we should be. You might be right, no one might ever love me the way I want them to–but I would rather be alone and happy, than be surrounded by things of monetary value and an old man who always treated people like they were not worth his time… look at yourself in the mirror. You will not like what you see. Stop pointing your fingers at everyone else, and actually look at yourself–take responsibility for all the bull shit and lies you have put her through. I’m sick of seeing her try to jump through these fiery hoops and perpetually get burned. You’ll either fix your issues, or you won’t. She deserves better and you know it.”
Day 11: A picture of something you hate.

Hi Readers,

I guess we are going to delve into one of my touchy subjects today. This particular subject is closer to me than I would like, and that being said, I’m not quite sure what I will write versus what I refuse to. I wrote the above passage to a man that probably did not enjoy reading it. He has an abusive personality and that is it. I did not like how he was treating the people I care about, so I finally said something.

If I am going to be honest, I might as well tell you that domestic violence is one of the big things in my life; an unfortunate, consistent cycle, that needs to be ended… will be ended. Abusive relationships involving my family have… more or less made me not want to be in a relationship. I shouldn’t say that I don’t want to be in one… I’m terrified of being in a romantic relationship because I can’t trust people enough to not hurt me.  I know that getting out of an abusive relationship, is like going to rehab– you really have to want to rediscover the part of you that you lost in the battle…

I guess my final message is this… to women and men: If the person you love has physically, emotionally, and psychologically hurt you… I want you to know that you are worth more than you will ever know. Despite what they say and do, I hope that one day, whether it be today, tomorrow, or next year, you are able to stand up and find yourself again. I hope that you are able to find the strength to realize you can make it on your own, and you don’t have to live in fear–believing that you are worthless and wondering what you did wrong. It might be how it is–that does not mean it is right and should be that way. Domestic violence is wrong and there is  a way out.

❤ Nolaleigh

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Our House in the Last World Tuesday, Oct 26 2010 

Hello Readers!

Another entry for a book I read for my American Immigrant Experience class. I’ve been writing this particular review for a couple of days and just to be frank with you, Our House in the Last World by Oscar Hijuelos is a slow start, but it picks up quickly. This is Hijuelos’ first novel, published back in 1983. Apparently, this novel was semi-autobiographical which only makes me cringe. It was really hard to read this because  of the content handled–it was handled well all things considered–but if it was semi-autobiographical it makes me wonder how much was true and what he knew about his family that we don’t know for sure. In short and like I said, hard to read, but it made me think and that was enjoyable. So, to get started…

“English forced its way through him, splitting his skin” (95).

I will get to that particular quote in a moment–firstly, the title of the book. For me, the word ‘house’ is unfamiliar, cold, and empty. ‘Home is where the heart is…’ There is a sort of permanence and warmth there. In the Introduction, Hijuelos states, “Ultimately memories of Cuba always seem to loom over the Santinio household like an unattainable ‘last world,’ a fount of happiness to which one can never return” (8). Hijuelos goes on to say that he is “proud of the ambiguity of ‘last world.’ It could refer to Cuba or to our present, perhaps final reality…” (238). When my class discussed the novel, it seemed like many of them found there to be many worlds, while some believed Cuba to be more of  a vehicle to getting them to America. Maybe it is just me, but a house is just a house. Now a home, a home is the  environment within and around the house–it’s the memories and events that take place and the people who come into and go out of your life. That’s home to me. So I guess what I mean to say is that Cuba is home to Mercedes, one of the main characters, while America is just some place she is and despises.

Now–to get to the quote I have there. Language is such a huge part of this novel. While gravely ill, Hector Santinio is taken to a hospital and treated… horribly. His nurse is just nasty and I would love to give her a piece of my mind. How dare she lock a child in a closet! I was livid when I read that. She would keep him there until he learned english. Thus begins a conflict within Hector. If he speaks spanish then he is degraded until he speaks english. If he speaks english, his Cuban family becomes upset. He can’t win. Which doesn’t help because he has no identity. Having been told many times, he begins to believe he is not Cuban, he is not Spanish, and he is definitely not American. He might look one way, but to others he is just as much of an outcast as the rest. Both he and Mercedes dissociate and float away from their bodies on what seems to be a daily basis as to not have to confront the issues that terrorize them. That apart, it is absolutely horrible because he does not have a home–he has a house with a poor father, a mother that must have Munchausen syndrome and maybe even Munchausen by proxy (terrible), and a brother who knocks up a sweet girl and beats people within an inch of their lives before running away to the military. Ugh.

Speaking of violent behavior–there is an obvious and dramatic cycle of abuse in this novel. It is just disgusting. Alejo beats and rapes Mercedes–oh what fun that was to read. 😦 Then, because she claims she has nowhere to place her anger and frustration, she beats her children! Here’s a thought Mercedes–fight back, don’t lie down and take it. Alejo also just lays into his children. Lastly, her two sons: Horatio and Hector. Horatio goes and finds fights which continues the abuse while Hector does not even try to defend himself when his mother or brother go after him without provocation. If you haven’t already been able to figure this out–domestic violence is one of those topics that is touchy and leads to many a heated debate where I’m from.

Overall, this novel was amazing and despite the fact that I have issues with the content–it truly is a fantastic read. In short, I am giving Hijuelos’ Our House in the Last World a 4.5 out of 5.

“Virtuoso writing…. A loving and deeply felt tribute.”
–New York Times Book Review

50 Things You Probably Don’t Know… Wednesday, Jul 21 2010 

I’m reading an amazing novel right now… so I need a filler until I can finish it. Here goes…

1) I have weird dreams–I’m soo serious. They seem so real, sometimes too real and then when I wake up–it is almost bittersweet.

2) I’ve moved 26 times. No, I’m not military. Just moved alot… but I’ve always stayed in state.

3) I try to be patient… but sometimes it just doesn’t happen.

4) I live by a schedule… okay, maybe that’s not true. I do homework by a schedule. It’s the only way for me to get things done. In between those schedules are my times where I unleash–not as “uptight” as you thought.

5) My music choices are broad. I mean, they were broad before, but they have since expanded–it’s wonderful! I really love pretty much all kinds of music.

6) I have to believe that there is a man out there for me who will listen whether I’m right or wrong. Love me whether I’m right or wrong. Take me as I am. I can’t and shouldn’t have to be anyone other than me.

7) I love the look of tattoos and would love to get a few more.

8.) I do not tolerate domestic violence–physical, emotional, psychological, whatever. It is bullshit and you know it.

9) When you pass by, my mind is juggling all that I have to do over the next day or so. I’m not intending to glare at you–I probably don’t know you are there. No offense. More so, I’m quiet. I don’t mean to seem snobby, I’m just soo shy.

10) I don’t regret things–but I sometimes I wish I could undo certain things–it probably would have just been better that way.

11) I know and respect where I come from. Just because I am growing doesn’t mean I don’t remember my roots.

12) I believe in things being different–not better or worse, just different. A “good” different.

13) In my personal life, I am not a fan of change–there are certain parts about my character and appearance that I love reinventing. However, at first, I do not like moving and going against the usual day-to-day. Hang around me and you’ll figure it out–it’s kinda funny.

14) I love singing. I’m becoming comfortable enough with that part of me to the extent that I will sing quietly in public. Progress, Progress.

15) It’s irritating when people say “retarded”, “gay”, “Crack” related jokes. It makes me think you are ignorant, intolerant, and/or have little respect for people around you.

16) I love learning–languages, history, english, geography, psychology, sociology, etc. It is fascinating. This includes watching movies with accents so I can pick them up and use them.

17) I’m snoopy–but not rude. I enjoy hearing about people’s lives–and speculate about people of the ancient world and their lives–royal or not.

18) Archery is amazing. I haven’t practiced in awhile, but I would love to start up again.

19) Newsflash! I love jeans, hoodies, big sweatshirts, flip-flops, button-up men’s shirts… Comfy. 🙂

20) When it comes to make-up, I wear blush on my cheeks and eyes, gloss or chapstick, eye-liner, and then mascara. Quick and looks pretty. Takes less that five minutes.

21) I love when my nails have a nice length to them–painting them is fun too.

22) Reading and watching movies are up there in the Top 5 of my favorite things to do besides sing, cook/bake, and take pictures.

23) I enjoy doing the dishes. It gives me time to sing, or even think about whatever is going on with me at the time.

24) I LOVE SHOES. Oh my gawd– I hate shopping… but shoe-shopping… we are all go.

25) Looking at the stars is so fun and it reminds me that I am one person in a place of God knows how many beings. It also reiterates that I may be one person in countless beings, but I am of countless importance to at least one person.

26) My favorite quote for 2010 so far: “Put the shit-sandwich on the porch and light it.”

27) I write about my life–a long process, but it gets me over the events that happen.

28) Music can connect to all areas of my life–I have made it that important to me. ❤

29) I don’t like being in water… lakes and oceans. Pools are okay because I can see the bottom. Showers are perfect.

30) I thrive while making deadlines and being under pressure.

31) Ballroom dancing is soo beautiful to watch–movies and shows with any kind of dancing are fun, but ballroom dancing takes the cake.

32) I think one of the most romantic things that could be done to me is being sung to–wouldn’t mind that a bit. 🙂

33) My 2010 Reading List is huge. If I were to take one book and take a week to read each novel, it would take 2 1/2 years.

34) My eyes are Hazel. Depending on the lighting, they look blue or green. It took 15 years for me to love the color of my eyes.

35) I’ve been told I have a sparkling personality. I’m not sure if that means I’m a multi-faceted individual, or that I have no personality. I hope my boss was saying that as a compliment. haha

36) Green and blue are in a tie for being my favorite colors.

37) I hold back what I really want to say to people sometimes because I don’t want to deal with the emotional bullshit of what is to follow. But that is changing…

38) I consider my life to be like salad–different flavors and textures–some more preferable than others, but they are there all the same.

39) I am the shortest person in my immediate family at 5’4″. My fifteen year old brother is almost 6’2″. My sixteen year old sister is 5’9″. Mama is 5’11”.

40) I do not easily trust people. I often question people’s intentions and keep myself at a distance–it doesn’t matter how close we were, are, or could be. I think acknowledging this is a testament to who I am, and gives me something to improve upon.

41) I love reading Emily Dickinson–she is the queen of dashes. I pay homage to her often in my writing–

42) I hold on to certain things for a long period of time and then let them go when they no longer serve a purpose to my writing. That might be harsh, but it is what it is.

43) It rubs me the wrong way when people leave words hanging over my head–if you have something to say, say it. Don’t worry about me–I’m not made of glass. But hey, if it helps you sleep at night, so be it. #37 is just part of the contradiction that is me.

44) I’ve been told I have a warped sense of humor. Hate to break it to you, my humor is no more warped than you are–I’m just more open about it.

45) The Hannibal Lecter series is probably in the #1 slot for Favorite Movie series ever.

46) I’m really into the supernatural–the idea of “the other side” has fascinated me for years.

47) I’m completely guilty of putting up only one side of my personality. For certain people it will be one way, for others another, and so on.

48) I respect my native american heritage and am not embarrassed with it.

49) I would not mind teaching one day–it’s getting there that would be an issue. If you throw me into a situation I can adapt, but give me time to change my mind and you can bet your ass I will give you any and all excuses in the book. In any case, I could teach history, but not my major–english.

50) I love Washington State weather. I guess that is the one kind of  change I absolutely love. 🙂

Speaking of Grit Ball Monday, Jun 14 2010 

I am pretty damn sure that the only woman I’ve ever heard speak openly about defending yourself against a man’s wrath is Madea. We all know Madea–and no matter what is and is not, I wish she were my Grandma. Maybe then I’d have figured out sooner how a woman is supposed to be treated. Not going to lie–women are great at being able to imagine wonderful lives for the friends, but we are damned if we try to wish or take action to grasp onto something better. Despite race, ethnicity, orientation, economic status, political beliefs, or religious background, we all deserve to be treated with respect and love. What has brought on this thought process one might ask? I was in my boss’ class printing documents for her when one of her students made an… “interesting” statement. He wants to argue in his paper that it is okay to hit women–wives, girlfriends, etc. I was floored. A man had just openly argued it is okay to hit women! Is he out of his damn mind? I want to read this paper and see where he is coming from… maybe he is playing devil’s advocate–that is what the optimist in me wants to believe…but the way he said it… it was just too honest to be playing that kind of game. My first inclination would be to play grit ball with him. In case you don’t know what grit ball is, Madea tells Vanessa and Lisa to “Cook a big pot of grits, bring him into the kitchen, then toss the grits on him. Then after you toss them, swat him with a frying pan. You gotta get you a good balanced weight, toss and swat, toss and swat, Venus and Serena, that’s called grit ball.” However, do unto others as you would have others do unto you–Matthew 7:12.

I don’t understand why people think it is okay to hit others, women in particular. Sean Connery just confused me even more. 😦 Or, we have the recent issue of a contract being signed so this guy can abuse his pregnant girlfriend whenever he feels like it. If your spouse is hitting you, there is a white elephant standing in your living-room and believe me, this elephant wants to tear your spouse’s shit up! I’m not one to mince my words when it comes to things like this. Generally, its people who, themselves, have been abused–falling into the belief that they are abused because they deserved to be punished. That women have to sacrifice to be comfortable. What the hell is up with that? I come from a family of domestic violence survivors–so, you might call me biased… but I guess that is just the way the world turns.

I am a fighter and I’ll be damned if my man ever thinks it acceptable to hit a woman because if you are man enough, you won’t pull that card from a low-handed deck. I should just state for the record that that I am by no means saying all men are the same. I wholeheartedly acknowledge that women are just as capable as men to abuse their partners… but I’ve yet to meet a guy who is not just my friend… that has the ability to treat a woman appropriately–they just seem to be few and far between. The relationships that do work give me hope for my future. I don’t think anyone deserves to be hurt–it’s so hard to say that because you want so much for Karma to come around and bite them in the ass for what they’ve done to you… but you have to forgive them. By not forgiving them, you let them hold you down and make it so your future relationships don’t have a chance in hell to have an ounce of potential. Maybe I should not be writing this, because if I have any readers, I don’t want to lose them just because this is seemingly one-sided. It is this way because it is what I know. I know that I am still trying to find out who I am because of the domestic violence I’ve experienced–one of the first steps is forgiving my abusers. Whether physical, emotional, or mental–it all hurts and more often than not, it is the emotional and mental wounds that remain–and the physical scars are few because the abusers are smart that way–got to hide the evidence. In Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea tells Helen and Myrtle a story:
     Madea: I remember this dude made me so mad, I didn’t even know how mad I was until I went to his funeral.
     Helen: Why were you so mad at him?
     Madea: Because he hit me. Yes he hit me… and I didn’t even know how mad I was until I saw him in his casket, he’s 8 feet under.
     Myrtle: 6 feet, that’s how they bury people, Madea, 6 feet under.
     Madea: That’s what I’m trying to say, I thought I was over what he did to me until I saw him at the funeral, I was so mad I BEAT HIM DOWN 2 more feet.
Madea then states that if you can see the person that hit you and you feel nothing towards them, it is then that you know you’ve forgiven them for hurting you. But if you want to “beat them down 2 more feet,” you’re more than likely not over it.

I hope that both women and men can one day get out of the unhealthy relationships they are in. We only hurt ourselves when we stay in bad places and teach future generations that it is okay to be badly treated. We leave our friends behind because we may feel we have no choice. We feel like we deserve to be punished somewhere along the line. We must stand up and realize that despite what we are told, we deserve more and better. We can and we will. You can not stop us. You might be able to slow us down–but you can’t stop us. However, we thank you and forgive  you because without you, we would never appreciate what we will have.