Archive for August, 2012

Grover Norquist, founder of  Americans for Tax Reform, was recently interviewed by 60 Minutes. Amongst a lot of things that ticked me off about Mr. Norquist, one stood out.

His main ambition was to shrink government to where we had at the turn of the century (1900 not 2000). Lets make a list of problems that emanated from the lack of government from 1900 to 1930.

1. ‘Jim Crow’ laws and KKK (America’s first terrorist group), killed, oppressed and intimidated thousands of African-Americans into not voting. Federal law enforcement would have been nice back then.

2. Adults and children (over the age of 7) were prosecuted, convicted and jailed together. The young victims of molestation were accused of seducing adults.

3. Young children were the new ‘slaves’ of the American labor force. Thousands of children were maimed, killed and denied schooling.

4. Lack of government regulation contributed to the Stock Market Crash. Sound familiar?

5. Without patents where would American inventors be?

6. Organized crime was unable to bribe their way through federal law enforcement and prosecutors. Local government officials were in mobsters’ back pockets.

7. Women who were pregnant due to rape and incest died in back alleys from ‘dirty’ abortions.

8. Mandatory sanitation and groundwater protection would have prevented the death of countless Americans. Cholera, Smallpox, The flu and many other diseases were the end results.

9. Slaughterhouses were the breeding grounds of many gastrointestinal ailments and deaths.

10. It was federal funding that maintained and repaired bridges and highways, preserved our National Parks and stopped unlawful dumping on our beaches and lakes.

Those that call themselves Conservatives need to ask themselves, what am I conserving? If the answer is ‘American’ traditions, wake up. Not all of them are good.

America is not a pure-as-the driven-snow bastion of justice. Anyone that believes that is blind, crazy or stupid. Corrupt people have and still do con the masses for the bottom line, their personal gain.

It is human nature to evolve. Living in the past is not evolving. Suppression of the human heart and mind is shortsighted and futile.

Not surprisingly, as a liberal Democrat, I am pro-choice. That said, I respect all views on this matter.  My reasons for being pro-choice are entirely based on my life experiences.

I grew up with many examples of bad parenting (not just my mother).  I had friends whose parents were less than understand and forthcoming when it came to sex education.

More than a few girlfriends freaked out when they started to menstruate. School nurse stepped in and did what their mothers wouldn’t.  Then there’s the 13 year-old boy who gets grounded for masturbating.

I heard about cases of incest in the remote backwoods of the United States. I thought, what would I do if I got pregnant via incest? Such an area would be ideal for a predator.

If a parent/abuser wants to keep a child from school, all they have to say is that they are home-schooled. What is a child to do in such a case? Schools are the daily eyes and ears of local government when it comes to child safety.

And how often do we hear about ‘the system’ failing to protect children (not fetuses)? Far too many children have suffered abuse, neglect and atrocities right here in America.

The message is simple. Not everyone should be a parent. The Republicans want a nation of Christian-only celibates that wait til their wedding night then make lots of babies.

Birth control and abortion are bad. Really? A reluctant young mother who is annoyed when her baby cries and needs a diaper changed is bad. A sexually repressed man who rapes voiceless, frightened children is worse! And he’s out there.

I think if your pro-life you need to find solutions and safeguards for such situations. If you’re pro-life, ‘the system’ has to work for at-risk kids. If it doesn’t work, blame yourself. You didn’t try hard enough.

And I even have a nun that agrees with me. Sister Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun, had this to say on Bill Moyers’ show in November of 2004:

“I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-m-granholm/republicans-what-about-ch_b_1835134.html

As a young child, I believed that the ‘safe zone’ from racism was within my own Hispanic community. In East Los Angeles, unquestioned acceptance was certainly the vibe.

In the barrio, everyone was poor and Chicano. If a Vato killed another Vato, it had to do with payback or insult. So, if I behaved as expected, I would be completely safe.

This was my perception as a young child. Later, amongst actual Mexicans and other Latinos, a new perception emerged. Latinos, with darker complexions, were viewed as inferior.

Such Latinos, were and are still curiously absent from TV and positions of power and/or leadership. The indigenous tribes of Mexico are often times treated as undesirables.

The existence of dark-skinned communities is seen as a weakness by many Mexicans. How is this possible? Terms like ‘wet back’ and ‘beaner’ plagued Mexican immigrants for years.

Mexicans are nannies, gardeners, housekeepers, factory workers, farm hands, construction workers and janitors. This is how white America viewed us for decades.

So why would they do it to their own people? Maybe because a class war still exists in Mexico.  Revolutionaries fought for the poor peasants against the wealthy ‘white’ European-looking landowners.

It was not unlike the English treatment of the Irish during the potato famine. Latinos passing for Europeans gave a sense of legitimacy, intelligence and beauty.

The lighter the better, is the message. African-Americans, I have observed, cripple themselves the same way.  Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge, Halle Berry are all seen as beautiful (and they are).

They also pass the ‘paper bag’ test (no darker than a paper bag)! I recall seeing the cover of a magazine with a very dark, black woman crowned by her virgin Afro.

I thought she looked beautiful, but many of my black friends said that she looked like a turd. I was shocked. She looked like a pure-blooded African and they were offended.

When I heard that Catholic and Protestant Irishmen fought each other, I thought that man will always find a reason to hate, belittle, look down upon their own kind or any kind.

It’s a coward’s way of stepping on others in order to feel superior. I remember my grandmother saying to my grandfather, “You’re old, stupid and ugly. And nobody loves you”.

His response was, “That’s okay, I love myself”! What an excellent way to combat an insult. I think that many people can benefit from such logic. No love required, I love myself!

There are many phobias in the world. I am plagued by a few of them, but not homophobia. Homophobes, I think, are really just reality-dodgers and hate mongers.

Heterosexuals have harmed me, in one way or another, all my life. In contrast, gays have often times protected me. I always knew what the Bible said about this issue, but I didn’t care.

My logic was that God was a loving god and he wants us to be good to each other. Flawed and political men wrote, edited and deciphered the Bible. How could a book with so many variables be taken literally?

When I was around 6 years old, my cross-dressing neighbor hid me in his house while gun-toting gang members terrorized the neighborhood. He didn’t hurt me. He was kind and silly.

When it was safe, he walked me home. I’ll never forget it. He wore a flowered blouse and jeans. When I asked him why he dressed like that, he said he liked pretty things. It was good enough for me.

I made friends easily with gays and lesbians. When I heard about Florida allowing same-sex couples to foster kids but not adopt them, I was furious. I have always been against discrimination.

I can’t understand why radical bigots exist. Why do people put so much effort into oppressing or abusing others while calling themselves Christians? Jesus would never behave like that.

It’s one thing not liking a particular group, but to focus your energy on exacting punishment on them is insane. Such people can’t be happy, ever. It makes me think that they might be gay themselves and are trying to prove that their not.

When religious leaders turn into hate mongers, it’s proof of Satan’s existence. I often go back and forth with being angry and feeling pity for those infected with hate, bigotry and fear.

It makes me glad that I have no hate in my heart. I have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and discovery. I don’t just look for beauty either. I look for truth, whether it be ugly or beautiful.

My brothers and sisters are many and they live everywhere. That makes them relevant, interesting and valuable. I wish bigots could be dropped into a foreign land with no resources.

How would they handle it? I would handle it with humility and a willingness to learn. Where a bigot would see a problem, I would see an opportunity.

As I was reading about victims of molestation, incest, physical and emotional abuse, I noticed the absence of a key element. The offender, also known as the monster, is immediately nullified.

He (some are women) is targeted and becomes the recipient of everyone’s hatred. It’s easier to mentally handle their very existence, if you treat, refer to and see them as less than human.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have and do pigeonhole child abusers in general. I just think it’s naive to suppress them without trying to understand them. Not forgive or condone, just understand.

Do they live with regret? Can they ever stop? Were all sex offenders sexually abused? Do they believe that they can never have a moral, decent life? How many of them are happy being sadists?

I have been in the presence of evil men, but it isn’t enough to call them evil. My first molester had a PhD in psychology and was an ordained minister.  I was sexually abused for 3 to 4 years.

I call him evil, because he was never happier than when he was torturing me. One of his relatives also molested me 3 times. His abuse did end for me, but God only knows how many suffered. Thankfully, he died of lung cancer.

When I was a teenage runaway at 16, I woke up in a strange house naked. It took me hours to find any clothes and then sneak off. I was most definitely raped, but I don’t think about it. I have enough baggage.

I’ve been told child molesters do it to gain power and control. I guess that was taken from them. If that’s the case, why aren’t I a sex offender?  Twenty years ago, I had a friend with 2 kids.

Her daughter’s name was Amy and son’s name was John. Sometimes I would babysit them. One day while bathing Amy, I noticed her vagina was red and inflamed. She was 3 years-old.

When I told my friend what I saw, she freaked out. I told her we had to take Amy to the hospital. She said no and she knew who did it.  She was sure it was Amy’s father.

I was prepare to go to jail for murder back then. As she screamed, pummeled and scratched the father, he begged me to call the police. I called, Amy went to the hospital and murder was avoided.

She had a food allergy reaction. Her hymen was intact. All was forgiven and we could all relax. Years later, Amy was molested by her half-brother. Nothing was done.

He apologized to her, his father beat him with his belt and Amy stayed away for several years. Mike might be in jail right now. I don’t know.

I just ask myself, why the hell didn’t they do more? He was barely a teen when he molested her.  Their father is father to 15 kids, by 4 different women. His mother used to talk about how ‘big’ he was.

How far back does it go? When will it stop? All of us, at some point, come across people who are perverse in some way. Are we willing to say something? I hope the answer is yes.

Anxiety is building up inside me, even though many life-altering obstacles have recently been resolved. My problem is that  I have no real problems. What do I have? Options, damnable options are everywhere!

I have almost always had issues and problems to conquer and overcome. Thus, I thrive in chaos. So the void of chaos makes me nervous. When I couldn’t worry about myself, I worried about others.

Now the ‘others’ in my life solve their own problems. How dare they grow up!  My ‘lady parts’ health issues are no more. Our financial issues are settled once and for all.

The absurdity of feeling this way is driving me nuts! The only person who really needs me is my husband. He doesn’t even need me to earn a living!  There are many who covet such a situation.

So now, I weigh my plethora of options. I can do volunteer work, continue my blogs, lose weight (just 20 lbs.) by joining the YMCA. I guess they all plague me because of my daily physical assessments.

I feel so incredibly weighed-down, tired and depressed. I often don’t eat til after 1 pm. The real issue I have is finding a new psychiatrist. My previous one doesn’t accept my newly acquired Medicare insurance.

I have my meds for a month or so, but I suspect I need an adjustment. The only things that are really keeping me going are these blogs and my husband. Thank God!

Whenever he can talk me into going out, my undying inclination is to go home. Lately, I can only take so much of outside or getting out of my night-gown or pajamas for that matter.

I guess I love and hate being bipolar. My work can be really good when I’m depressed or manic for that matter. The downside, I become a happy recluse.

I really do love the world. I miss being outside. I just get this unsafe, uncomfortable, desperate feeling.  It can drive me to tears.  When it does, I can write about it.

When most people hear someone mention the word education, schools automatically come to mind. In previous posts, I have touched on my own education and my family’s education.

I was once asked which taught me my greatest lessons, life or school. I could say life, because I’ve lived more years than I’ve been in school. Truth is, school was the catalyst to my becoming a citizen of the world.

The epiphany of a world outside of my limited world came to me as a young child. It has driven me to question everything I know. This was annoying to my teachers.

My favorite pastime was questioning and arguing with my teachers about conclusions made in my english and history textbooks. I was no blind follower. This trait, at times, could be problematic.

At least I wasn’t boring. I also questioned race, my own included. It infuriated many that I could make a convincing argument for and against horrendous topics such as slavery or racial persecution.

I, of course, always ended that neither was moral and I’d rather be moral and kind.  I felt that only thoughtful, frank discussions about bigotry was the best way to combat it. So being politically correct was a cop-out.

I was also angry about the purposeful whitewashing of American history. I recall my textbook spending less than two pages on atrocities committed by Americans. The Civil War was romanticized, rather than being truthful about evil-doers from the North and South.

I never bought the story that the United States was the greatest country in the world. We may be the wealthiest, but that doesn’t make a nation great. Americans can and have been generous, loving and proud.

I am proud to be an American, but won’t be a mindless drone spewing out self-serving rhetoric. I much prefer honesty, in her bitter or sweet form.

Life, not school, taught me about the wide spectrum of the human condition and my reaction to it. In my early 20’s, I had to take 2 buses at 6:30am to work at the garment district of downtown Los Angeles.

I was a clerk for a clothing manufacturer. The garment district was comprised of warehouses, the homeless, contruction or sanitation workers and the working poor illegal aliens.

I walked 3 blocks from the bus stop to work. Disgusting, obscene construction workers plagued me with vile tongue and finger gestures. This happened, without fail, ever damn day.

Then one day, I was walking with other female coworkers and I couldn’t take it anymore. I marched, with fire in my soul, to the pigs. Face to face, I cussed them out.

I told them that I hoped their wives or mothers never encounter scum like them. They never said a word again. Confrontation was a good thing. Fighting back became my new mantra.

When an able-bodied guy with a cane tried to mug me, I took the cane and hit his shins. Down he went. I told him, if I ever saw him again I would beat him to death. He believed me.

Education comes in all forms. The stuff that ends up on a resume may not be your greatest assets. Everyday, I try to learn more. I don’t want to just learn about pleasant things.

I want to learn about ‘real’ things that matter. The world is my classroom and recess is over.

Carmen

Posted: August 24, 2012 in Children, Life, Society
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I want to talk about my sister. Carmen is just a year younger than me, but seems many more years younger than me.  Before I go into my relationship with her, I have to tell her story.

Shortly after my Mom gave birth to Carmen, my father left the us. Esteban was 3, I was 1 and Carmen was barely a month old.  Not only abandoned us, but left my mother in debt. The rent was severely past due, all utilities were off and mom didn’t have a cent to her name.

So she got loans from distant cousins, asked the local priest for help and started looking for housing. The Father referred my mother to a woman in the daycare center. She agreed to care for all three of us in our apartment for several hours.

In one day, my mother secured housing for all of us. Feeling victorious, she went back to our apartment. The neighbors told her that everyone had gone to the hospital.

My mother, knowing that we all had colds, thought maybe we had a fever or something. The hospital was a few blocks away and my mother ran there. That was when the nightmare started.

My mother was informed by hospital staff and police that Carmen’s skull was cracked from ear to ear. She had suffered massive brain damage. The babysitter had dropped her on the kitchen floor.

After several weeks in the hospital, Carmen came home completely blind. She cried all the time, required special care and therapy. After almost 3 years, Carmen was still blind, but thriving.

Then a second blow rocked our family to the core. Carmen suffered a severe bout of spinal meningitis. My grandparents were visiting from Mexico at the time. Carmen woke screaming, as if someone were killing her.

She was burning up. My mother gave her an ice bath, wrapped her naked body in a sheet and called an ambulance. She went into several violent seizures, then mercifully a coma.

Several doctors told my mother Carmen would never walk, talk or have a normal life.  After months, my mother took her unresponsive daughter home.  Carmen wouldn’t even look at my mother.

Then my mother began to sing to her and Carmen looked at her. It took four years of physical therapy to get Carmen to speak, walk, go to the toilet and laugh. Everyone in her life was her therapist.

Meningitis gave us one blessing.  Carmen’s sight was slightly restored. She was now partially blind or ‘legally’ blind.  Carmen was and is very childlike. This made her a target in school.

As I mentioned before, I was the victim of bullying. Carmen was bullied as well, but she had a solution. I was not above going to blows (with someone I feared) when it came to Carmen.

I was the insanely outraged sister, whenever she was picked on. In my mind, there was nothing scummier than picking on a disabled person. Then there was my mother.

I was ultra-critical of her parenting methods when it came to Carmen.  Many times Carmen got lost on the bus and I would be losing my mind. My mother kept saying, she’s fine.

I would pray to God to bring her home. When Carmen got home (8 hours later), I wept and embraced her. I was afraid of the world. I was sure it was going to eat her up.

It took years to get her to read. She did graduate from high school, but she is unable to retain most of her memory. That said, Carmen wanted a normal life. Almost 4 years ago, she got married.

It was a bad marriage to say the very least. Her ex was abusive, controlling and a massive burden to Carmen. Her ex was wheelchair-bound and diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

He refused to wear diapers or be attended by a nurse, thus making her life hell. If he was able-bodied, no telling what I would have done to him.  When her divorce was finalized, we all celebrated!

I love, resent, then love some more, my dear sweet Carmen. Today she lives with my mother about three miles away. She claims she will never marry again. I think she’s married to herself.

Bully Talk

Posted: August 23, 2012 in Children, Life, Society
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In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a parent and/or guardian.  This is just me saying what’s on my mind. I was thinking about bullies the other day.

There was a show about why kids kill. In this case, the bully was killed by a bunch of kids that hated him. One of these kids was his best friend.

I was a victim of bullies in and out of my house. My brother, Esteban, was my live-in bully.  Black girls, Armenian boys, downright Aryan-looking boys and girls taunted and physically abused me to no end.

In the 80’s and I’m sure before that,  it was acceptable to suffer through this rite of passage. Sometimes I stood up for myself, but mostly I just took my licks.

In the aftermath, the usual fantasies consumed my youthful brain. My very public suicide with my tell-all letter plastered throughout school campus, was a reoccurring dream.

Then there was terrorizing the bullies under the cloak of night or hearing about their torturous demise executed by a vengeful God. Those awful thoughts were only thoughts.

When I hear about kids executing these horrific acts of revenge I ask myself, how close was I. The answer frightens me. Then I think of the kids and parents of today.

Parents are told not to spank their kids, because it will teach them to solve their problems with violence. Then there are kids who wear out their parents til the parents cave.

I’ve seen parents trying to be their kids’ best friend. I’ve heard kids cussing out their parents. I’ve heard of kids having sex in their parents’ bed, getting caught and ordering the parent to leave!

All that is just plain crazy to me. I was afraid of my mother. She, of course, beat me with a belt or extension cord whenever I did something wrong.  Years later, I told her she abused me. She agreed and apologized.

That said, I had friends that were afraid of their parent(s) even though they were never hit or beaten. Why aren’t kids afraid of their parents? Maybe parents want their kids’ approval.

Maybe parents are kids themselves. Maybe kids haven’t been given enough self-esteem, confidence, time with family, the truth or wisdom. Perhaps the kids feel like they’re a bother, problem or a chore to their parent(s).

If this is the case, what is the solution?  I don’t know. I just wish society (not just parents) contributed to this dialog. No child is born a bully or victim. Revenge only destroys. Real justice is in the prevention of a bully mind.

Dreams

Posted: August 22, 2012 in Love, Politics, Uncategorized
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Politicians, the media, religious leaders and anyone with an opinion want to tell us what our ‘American’ dream is. What is a dream anyway? Webster defines it as a series of thoughts, images and emotions occurring during sleep.

Do you dream of balloon payments being due on your mortgage? Isn’t homeownership the ‘American Dream’? And really, you don’t actually ‘own’ it. The bank owns it for 15, 30, 40 years!

Do parents dream of paying thousands of dollars so that Tommy Jr can chug copious amounts of alcohol at a frat party? That kind of thing happens in colleges and universities (aka bastions of higher learning) all the time.

I think the American dream should be deeper and tailor-made to fit each individual American and documented or undocumented resident of this nation.

I would gladly forego ever owning a home, if one homeless family had a permanent home. Open eyes, intent ears and a humane heart has given me my higher education. I love learning from libraries, museums and the world.

I try my best to walk without blinders. My joy is in helping anyone. I get praises, but I’m the thankful one.  I’m thankful I was in a place where I could help.

I love buying a meal for a homeless person. Giving a tired woman at the bus stop a lift is great! Telling a random person, I love your ….. whatever, starts the domino effect of kindness.

People hold onto that for a very long time. I make it a point to look people in the eye and smile, because we all need that connection. That should be our collective goal. Being nice, friendly, kind and connected is priceless to so many.

I want to go to a park full of homeless people. Pass out sandwiches, ice-cold drinks and awesome cookies. Then I want to sit with them and talk for hours about anything.

I don’t need to problem solve, lecture, judge or question them. I just need to treat them like friends. And in doing so, I write a page in their book of life as they write in mine.

Several years ago, my homeless father died. He was found on the street by a police officer who knew him. He had suffered a stroke. When he died, it was the hospital with family around.

After the funeral, I went to a diner he frequented. I met people who helped him  I also met people my father helped. One of the best meals I ever had.