The Pit Bull that Changed Her Life
There was once was a girl named Ashley and she loved dogs. She had a puppy named Abby, but she wanted maybe one more. But she and her husband, Brian, lived in an apartment and one large breed dog was enough.
One day, they decided to take Abby to the local pet store. There she was introduced to animal rescue and her life was never the same. She became a foster mom and a volunteer with the rescue. She and her husband fostered many puppies and loved every minute. But there was one breed she was not so keen to foster—pit bulls. She grew up in an area where this breed was considered mean and vicious. She believed this all her life and stayed away from any of the pit bulls the rescue saved. Little did she know, that would drastically change.
Enter the Pit Bull Girl. Her real name was Danielle. She started to volunteer with the rescue at about the same time. One day, at the weekly adoption event at the pet store, Danielle walked in and headed to the table. Ashley noticed a woman with three pit bulls in tow. One was tall and leggy, one was shorter and sweet, the other... the other was a colorful puppy jumping around and barking. Naturally, Ashley strayed away from this woman. She didn't know that Danielle was actually a volunteer. The president of the rescue introduced her to everyone and everyone loved her dogs but found the puppy to be...excitable. It was hard to pet him. He was wiggly and wanted to lick your face. Danielle introduced her dogs as The Monster Trio. The leggy one was named Chaos. He was very friendly but very large. All he wanted to dog is lay one top of you and kiss you. The shorter one was named Daisy. She was shy at first but warmed up to you. Once she liked you, she liked you and wanted pets and snuggles all the time. He hyper little one was named Capone. He was noisy, hyper, noisy, excitable, noisy, energetic, and noisy. But what he lacked in manners, he more than made up for in love.
Ashley told Danielle that she was always afraid of this breed because of all the negative press and the fear-mongering media attention. The two women became fast friends and soon Ashley would go over to Danielle's place to hang out and visit with the dogs. Every time she came over, all the dogs were happy to see her, but none more than the little one. He was especially happy to see her. He knew that Ashley gave great belly scratches and loved to snuggle. Before she knew it, Ashley had bonded with Capone. Chaos and Daisy loved her, but it was Capone she was drawn to. Every time, she would visit, Capone would be the center of her attention. She was even able to calm him down...slightly. Danielle and Ashley bonded as well.
But Ashley had a secret. She suffered from severe depression. She didn't want her new friend to know about it, so she kept it a secret. She would always smile and always wanted to hang out, but on the inside, she wanted to cry and curl up under a blanket. Some days were better than others. She and her husband adopted a foster dog named Patches, who became her unofficial therapy dog. It really helped her get past the bad days. But when she was in a bad place at her friend's house, it was Capone who always helped her. He knew when she was sad and gave her kisses. He knew when she was anxious and would try to sit in her lap. It didn't work most of the time. He was too big. So he lay down next to her with his head in her lap. He just knew and he helped her. He was still hyper and noisy at times, but she loved him and all his flaws.
There came a day when Danielle announce she was having a baby, but she couldn't keep the Trio since she was a single mom. Chaos, Daisy, and Capone found really great homes with her friends. Ashley was incredibly sad to see them leave, but her heart broke when Capone found a home in North Carolina. Thankfully, the home was with the Dennison family. Ashley and Danielle are unofficial members of his family and would visit at least twice a year. Capone fit perfectly in this pack and was happy. He would run out and jump up and down when they came to visit. He was older and not as hyper, but he was still noisy. He loved the Dennison family, Carrie, Larkin, and the kids. He had his own bed and his own blanket and a ton of space to run. He managed to help Carrie through some of the toughest times in her life just like he did with Ashley.
As the years past, he mellowed even more but was still the happiest, and noisiest, pit bull of them all.
Oh the Places I Have Yet to Go
I have never been to see the Eiffel Tower reaching high in the Parisian sky
I have never seen the opulent golden grand palace of Versaille.
I have never been to Santorini, the caldera in the sea
I have never been to Athens to see the ancient ruins from a boat in a quay.
I have never seen the Sphinx, sitting tall and proud
Or the Pyramids at Giza, where tourist are no longer allowed.
I have never been to Pisa, where a famous tower leans,
Never have I seen the Colosseum, were a gladiator will kill you by any means.
I would love to see Constantinople, I mean Istanbul, the Taj Mahal
Machu Pichu, the Louvre, and the Great Wall.
The Sydney Opera House, Bran's Castle in Romania, The White Cliffs of Dover,
Famous hotels in Dubai, and Stonehenge before it topple over.
I want to see Bavaria with castles big and small,
The Buddha of Kamakura, largest of them all.
The Maya, the Aztec, and the Inca in Peru,
The Middle of the earth in Ecuador, and the famous Waterloo.
To get the full view of the Windmills in Kinderdijk,
I would have to crane my neck.
I want to visit Kanchenjunga or Mount Everest in Nepal,
Or better yet Mount Erebus, the most southern of them all.
All of these places are on my bucket list
One by one, I will see these wonders, not one will be missed.
I am only one person, but I swear I will get to be
The first person in my family to see all that I want to see.
One day I will get there, just you wait
I will get there, I will not hesitate.
He sat in the middle of his new apartment floor. It was a decent sized apartment for one person and it came with a washer and dryer, so no laundromat. His belongings, stuffed in black trash bags or in this laundry baskets, were stacked neatly against the wall. He had to leave quickly. He didn't have time to pack things in boxes. His tow large suitcases held his important stuff—electronics, paperwork, family photos, and a few miscellaneous knick-knacks. He also managed to salvage his jewelry and wall hangings. He had no furniture. He would need to go to Walmart or Target later. He was okay with it. He now had a new life—a new identity.
He looked down at his arms. They were covered in bruises. There was a long jagged cut running the length of his left arm, hidden behind fresh bandages. Thankfully, he didn't need stitches, but it was still going to hurt later when the pain meds wore off. His face hurt as well. New bruises covered the old ones. His nose hurt. His cheek hurt. His rib hurt. He was pretty well banged up. It was a bad night. He was exhausted and in pain. Not a good combination. He gingerly laid down on this back. If he was on his back, it didn't hurt too bad. He ran his hand through his uneven hair. He loved wearing his hair long, but now, it was cut in severe angles or pulled completely out. He would need to go to a hairstylist to see if it can be salvaged. He was happy once. How could he have not seen this? Why didn't he do anything earlier? Was he that stupid and blind? His eyes stung as tears started to flow. He turned over to his side and wept.
Five years ago, he was sitting at a cafe, drinking coffee and reading a book. He just started to grow out his hair. It wasn't long enough to be pulled back just yet. The day was beautiful. The sun was bright. The temperature was in the seventies and there was a slight breeze. It was perfect. Then she walked out of the cafe with a coffee in one hand and the same book he was reading in another. What were the odds? She noticed his book, then noticed him. She struck up a conversation about the book. A year later it turned into a relationship.
They were happy. Things progressed to a point where he fell in love and she asked him to move in with her. He agreed. At first, everything was perfect. The would go to work. Come home. One of them would cook dinner. They would hang out and watch TV together then go to bed. But then, things started to change.
It started out with small things. She had to have the bed a certain way. She had to have certain foods cooked in a certain way. She didn't like the way he wore his shirts or didn't like a color of a tie. Then the names started. She wanted new furniture. At the time, his furniture was in storage and hers was used to in their apartment. He wanted to move into a bigger place so they could stop paying for a storage unit. She refused. She wanted new furniture. She whined and cried, then raged, calling him stupid and mean for not getting her new furniture. He relented and they spent a couple of thousand dollars to get new furniture for every room. She then bullied him into getting rid of his furniture to recoup some of the money. Since that moment, every time she wanted something she bullied him into getting it for her. They didn't use her money. They used his.
Next was the paranoia. When he would work late, she would meet him at the door demanding to know who he was with and held out her hand for his phone. He wasn't allowed to have a passcode on his phone. He wasn't allowed to have any numbers of women unless she approved of them first. If he went out with his friends, she would call constantly to check in with him. If she went out, and he called her once, she accused him of being controlling. The arguments progressed to the point where she would blame him for her actions. She “wouldn't have called seven times if he had just picked up his phone the first time, the fight would have been avoided.” His clothes would go missing and replaced by outfits that she liked. She inspected his clothes when he came home to make sure he didn't “smell like other women”. She would always put him down, treat him like her own personal butler. If he said something about it, it would turn into a huge fight. He got to the point of staying silent. He didn't want to deal with the drama. He was miserable. This was not the woman he fell in love with. This was something else. He kept telling himself that maybe he was doing something wrong to make her unhappy but no matter what he did, it seemed to make things worse.
One day, it crossed the line. It was a rainy Saturday and she was already in a bad mood. It was the first of the month and all the bills needed to be paid. That left them with budgeted money until next payday. She wanted to go shopping for makeup, but there wasn't money for it. She cried. She screamed. She threw things. He moved closer to her to try to calm her. She punched him. In the face. He was so shocked he just stood there. She hit him again, this time in the abdomen, one punch after another. Then kicked him behind his knee, causing it to buckle. He fell hard, catching his ribs on the side of the coffee table. Later she came to him crying, asking him to forgive her. She promised it would never happen again—promised she would go to anger management. Swore up and down that she wasn't like that, just overwhelmed with work, bills, being an adult in general. She just let everything build up and she lost her temper. It would never happen again. But make sure to allot her spending money next time around.
It became a pattern. He knew it would never end, but he didn't know what to do. If he reported his girlfriend for abuse, the police would just laugh at him. Men don't get abused, women do. He tried to reach out to his friends, but they didn't believe him and called him weak. He was stuck. She became the “man” of the family, according to his friends. Eventually, he stopped asking. No one believed him. He was walking on eggshells with her every day. He never knew what mood he would come home to. Everything was on her schedule. He was at her beck-and-call. Even in the bedroom. She would, more often than not, force herself on him and make him do things that he was not comfortable doing. If he told her so, she would berate him then claim that he would do it if he loved her. It was a catch-22. If he did what she wanted, she was in a good mood and nice. If he didn't, all hell would break loose.
After four years, he accepted his role. He had tried to leave, but it didn't work. She found him and drug him back home. She reported him as a missing person who was mentally unstable and needed medication for paranoia. Spun a web of lies that made everyone think she was a saint for caring for him, never leaving his side through his sickness. When he was found, he tried to put up a fight, tried to explain what was going on, but it fell on deaf ears. She was far from it. She started staying after work later and later. She would come home drunk and smelling like a bar or smelling like sex. She was very protective of her phone. He suspected she was having an affair. When asked about it, she threw a fit and the abuse began. He needed to get out of there.
One day he came home from work to find her on the floor surrounded by wedding books and magazines. His stomach dropped. She was convinced that they were going to get married. She was starting to plan the wedding. This was enough. He couldn't deal with this type of psychosis. He pretended to be excited. She pointed out the ring that she wanted, at $15,000 investment from Tiffany's. The designer dress she wanted was another $5000. She wanted this and that, everything fairytale. He offered suggestions and colors and who to invite. He complimented on the style of bridesmaid dresses chose, even going so far and to tell her about heel coverings that are put onto the heel of a stiletto so the shoe doesn't sink in the grass causing the person to fall. He pretended to be invested in this idea. He even tossed around the idea of looking into buying a house. She was happy which meant she was not abusing him. But little did she know, a plan was put into place to quickly move him out of the apartment. He was in the bathroom at work, trying to clean a wound over top his fresh bruises, when one of his coworkers came out of a stall and gasped. He tried to quickly put down his shirt and make excuses about falling or some lame excuse. His coworker, Brad, placed a hand on his shoulder and asked if he was okay. Of course, he was okay. He was fine. Everything was fine. Brad didn't believe it. He explained that his brother was a victim of spousal abuse and he knew the signs.
“If you need to talk, you are safe with me. If you need to get out, I can help you. Male spousal abuse by their wives is a real thing. I believe you.”
He burst into tears. It was the first time anyone had believed him. He slid down the wall and made himself as small as possible. Brad told him it would be okay and that he would be right back. A few moments later, Brad came back with their boss, Rosette, who understood abuse all too well. They both sat down next to him. He couldn't hold it in any longer. Everything from the past four years came bubbling to the surface. He told them everything. It felt really good for someone to actually listen to him and actually believe him.
Two days later, they had a plan. A week later, he had a new apartment, new bank account, everything. His paychecks were rerouted to the new account. His name was taken off the lease, leaving her responsible for payments. His name was on all of the utilities. He worked with them to move them to his new place. He explained the situation and they were more than happy to help. He was completely cutting her off. Brad recommended that he contact a local lawyer to make sure she could not have him declared sick again. The lawyer suggested a psychological evaluation. He got one then filed it with the lawyer. He documented every bit of abuse and his coworkers confirmed that he, indeed, have bruising consistent with abuse. They also signed statements about her calling him constantly. They were able to pull the call logs on his office phone, the emails from their server, and even the call and text logs from his cell phone. It painted a very different picture of her.
Once he had all of his ducks in a row, he was ready to take everything to the police to press charges as well as filing and emergency protective order against her while he worked petitioning the court for a restraining order. Things were coming together. He was given information for counseling from Brad. He bought a burn phone for when it was time. He hid it in the bathroom. For the first time, he felt like he was treading water as opposed to drowning. Everything was ready.
She found out about the lease. The leasing office called her to confirm payment method and discovered what had happened. They weren't supposed to tell her until after he left the apartment. That was the rule. He needed to get to safety first, but the new hire didn't follow protocol. She burst through the door in a rage, demanding to know what was going on. He refused to speak to her. Violence ensued. By the time she calmed down, and began to apologize....again.... he was covered in cuts and bruises. She had grabbed a knife and started slashing about. She punched every spot she was able to reach. She swept his knee and grabbed handfuls of his hair, ripping it out or hacking it into uneven chunks. She managed to slice his arm.
She went to the bathroom and grabbed towels while begging him to forgive her, begging him not to leave. Threatening to kill herself if he did. He told her that he was going to go to the bathroom and to clean up. He promised her that the leasing agent made an error. He was asking about a bigger apartment until after the wedding when they can start looking at houses. They were going to need a bigger place because of all the stuff they would be getting from the wedding. Of course, he wasn't going to leave her. He loved her. He was even looking at fun places for a honeymoon to surprise her and was compiling a list. They could have a fun night looking up all the places to see where they wanted to go.
She believed it. He went to the bathroom and dug out the burn phone from behind the cabinet. He had hollowed out a small hole behind the actual cabinet. He turned it on and dialed the stored number.
“I am on my way,” said the voice, “call the other numbers. Don't say a word. Sniff your nose if she is there so we can prepare.”
He did as he was told.
“Alright, we will be there in a few minutes.”
He cleaned up the best he could. He wanted to leave some of it for the police to see. He left the bathroom and found her in the kitchen. She was making sandwiches for dinner. He grabbed a couple of glasses and napkins and put them on the dining room table. He wanted to appear as normal as possible. His heart was racing though. He was nervous and terrified. He was scared that he would accidentally give something away and she would go ballistic and seriously wound him. She brought the sandwiches over and they sat down to eat. He smiled and talked about honeymoon places.
Time seemed to stretch on. He was beginning to think they weren't coming. He knew better. This was part of the plan, but still....She was in the middle of explaining how she wanted a real diamond tiara to wear and how she found on for a good price when there was a knock at the door. She stood up to answer it. He took the opportunity to close the bedroom door and lock it. He just wanted to be safe.
The police were at the door. She told them it was a mistake. No one called the police. They stated they were here to arrest her for domestic violence. She laughed and called his name. He didn't answer. She called him again. It was then she noticed that he was not at the table. A police officer stepped between her and the bedroom door.
“Are you in there? It is okay to come out.”
He opened the door.
The officer gasped.
“Did she do that to you?”
She started to protest, denying the abuse. He nodded. She lunged at him, calling him horrible names, threatening to kill him and herself. She tried to grab him. She tried to hit him. She fought against the police. She managed to get free and tried to escape but met Brad and Rosette at the door. They managed to subdue her while the police slapped cuffs on her wrist. She screamed obscenities as she was carried to the police car.
He took a deep breath. It was over. It was like a large stone being lifted off his chest. If she tried to find him, she would be arrested. She kept at it, she would go to jail. He was free.
Two years later, he was sitting at a cafe, drinking a delicious coffee and reading a book. It was a beautiful day. Not too warm, sunny with a nice breeze. He looked up as another person sat down at the table. The guy took a sip of his drink, pulled out the same book, then looked up and smiled.
“Hey, that's a good book! What chapter are you on?”
Just Following Orders
“When is it enough? When do those who commit atrocities, in either war or peace, be held accountable for what they do? It is easy to pass the buck and pretend to be a good person just following orders instead of admitting their deeds.”
The lawyer looked over to the jury. “At some point,” she continued, “a person needs to take responsibility. The country needs to be held accountable for its citizens' actions. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, people of the court, citizens of the affected countries, I will prove to you, beyond a shadow of a doubt that the charges against the leader of this country, who is responsible for the attack, and the subsequent war, beginning April 2017, are true. I will prove to you that the cabinet members and advisers, knowingly and willingly, sent thousands of military personnel to fight an unjust war, resulting in the death of 80% of those deployed. I will prove the that the leader had first-hand knowledge of the attacks on our civilians and did nothing to protect or warn them. The leaders of this country will be held accountable for breaking the laws of humanity causing the deaths of millions. The United States is guilty of War Crimes and it will be held accountable. I will bring to light the atrocities this country as committed in the name of “peace”. The innocent dead and suffering will have justice. I shall begin with ….”
This scenario could be a reality in the next few years if the people do not stand up to the current tyrannical government. History has a nasty way of repeating itself. Why? Because we humans have a nasty habit of ignoring the past. We cannot forget where we came from. We cannot forget the past.
On August 6, 1945, at 8:10 am, the Enola Gay, the Great Artiste, and the Necessary Evil, were flying over the city of Hiroshima, Japan. Their orders were to drop their payload, an atomic bomb named Little Boy. The Enola Gay was carrying the payload. The other two planes were ordered to record the results of the bomb. Each plane was loaded with cameras and scientific equipment. The soldiers on board the planes were not told what type of bomb they were actually carrying. They were told not to fly through the cloud and to keep their protective eyewear on until the light faded. At 8:15 am, Little Boy was dropped on the unsuspecting city. It took 43 seconds to fall 31,060 feet and detonated 1,968 feet above the city to maximize the destruction. It detonated with the power of 16 kilotons of TNT. To put that in perspective, one kiloton is equivalent to 1000 tons of TNT. One ton is 2204.6 lbs. 1000 tons of TNT is roughly 2,204,600lbs. Multiply that by 16 and you have 35,273,600 lbs of TNT. That is an unfathomable amount, especially coming from a small atomic bomb. Approximately 80,000 were killed either by incineration from the blast or in the resulting fire. Those who survived looked into the face of death and lived in hell. Thermal flash burns, burns from fire, and radiation poisoning were among some of the issues plaguing the survivors, many of who could not receive any form of medical help since 90% of the doctors and 93% of the nurses in the city were killed. The bomb was supposed to land on a bridge but was blown off course and detonated near a medical center. Screams pierced the air as the people tried to make their way to help. To make matters worse, it began to rain. But this wasn't rain caused by nature—it was rain caused by the bomb. The heat of the bomb evaporated water and drew it up to the mushroom cloud and then made radioactive. It contaminated the land, the water, and the people. The generation that was a part of this war will say that the Japanese deserved it. Looking back, did they? The innocent men, women, and children? Documents revealed that the people were tired of the war and did not agree to it. Why were they punished? But the American government's propaganda dictated to the masses that it was a necessary evil, instead of a pissing contest with Russia. Japan had asked Russia to broker a peace deal with the Allies. Instead, Stalin refused. There were even letters to President Truman stating Japan would like to negotiate surrender. He never saw the letters. They were found in a desk of a top military official who happened to be head of the committee that oversaw the work on the atomic bombs. The bombs were used as a way to show the world that the US was a big player in the world of weapons. Following orders indeed.
The Nazi party was no better. History has made it clear that the Nazi ideology is a violation of human rights and breaks the rules of war. In Belarus alone, 120,698 Jewish and Romani people were murdered from 1941 to 1943. A good portion of the number exterminated were children, who were separated from their mothers and immediately sent to Auschwitz to be put to death in the gas chambers. The genocide of the Jewish people was appalling. Men following orders like good Germans.
Aktion T4 was a Nazi program that ran from September 1939 to August 1941 that resulted in the murder of over 70,000 people. Their crime? They were mentally and physically inferior—racial hygiene that needed to be cleansed of racial enemies. Mental institutions and church-led hospitals were required to provide “mercy killings” to patients that were “inferior”. The men behind the organization of this program have the blood of thousands of men, women, and children on their hands. But, hey, it was okay because they were following orders.
The establishment of the Einsatzgruppen, mobile killing units, were responsible for mass killings by shooting. The massacre of Babi Yar saw the death of over 33,000 Jews in two days. TWO DAYS. That is an unfathomable number. There is no justification for that number. These were men who loved to kill. Hitler should have been looking at the mental health of his killing units for signs of insanity instead of hospitals. Hitler's orders to annihilate the Judeo-Bolshevism was interpreted by the Einsatzgruppen commanders to use extreme force and violence to the Jewish population. The commanders gave the orders and the soldiers had to follow them without thought and without mercy.
The Vietnam War caused 627,000 civilian deaths. 18.2 millions gallons of Agent Orange was sprayed over 10% of South Vietnam during 1961-1971 with lasting effects. 400,000 were maimed or killed by the chemical and a further 500,000 children were born with birth defects, something the US does not want to admit. It wasn't until 2012 that the US decided to help Vietnam clean up the mess they made. The people of Vietnam were living with contaminated water, crops, land, and food for nearly 40 years before the US finally decided to help. But the US was not charged with war crimes even though it broke several of the Rules put into place for the treatment of prisoners of war. The Massacre of Mai Lai has been glossed over in the history books since history is written by the victors. The US military conducted themselves in a disgusting manner, killing innocent men, women, and children. In the end, only one person, the platoon leader, was convicted. He was on house arrest for three years instead of serving the initial life sentence. No one else in his squad was convicted of war crimes because they were just following orders. Where were the orders to push a villager into a well and then toss in a grenade? Where were the orders to shoot villagers in the back of the head because they were praying and crying in a temple? Where was the order to shoot innocent women with babies in their arms as they were trying to protect them? Where were the orders to rape and sexually assault young women and girls? Or the orders that allowed the soldiers to pile villagers in a ditch and kill them with a grenade launcher? Nowhere. There were no orders just like there was no enemy fire during the massacre. There were no enemies and no weapons in My Lai. Just soldiers following orders like good soldiers are supposed to do. To make matters worse, there were those that did not participate in the actions of their comrades. Instead, they stood silent. They said nothing. They could have reported the tragedy, but they stayed silent and silence is deadly.
On April 24, 1863, Abraham Lincoln created the Instructions for the Government of Armies of the United States in the Field, or, as it is commonly known, the Lieber Code. This document dictates how American soldiers should conduct themselves during wartime as well as the ethical treatment of the population in occupied areas. These ideas were expanded upon during the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 and again in the Geneva Conventions. The Geneva Protocol forbade the use of chemical and biological weapons—something the Nazi Party ignored. During the Nuremberg Trials, the Allies had to define what constitutes a war crime and to whom does it apply. The biggest hurdle that was faced was outdated practice of “Superior Orders”, meaning, a leader gives an order, it is followed, and the underling is not at fault since he was following orders. The Nuremberg Principles not only defined, in black and white, what is considered a war crime but also states that following orders no longer protects a soldier's actions. When an order is given that violates human rights, the soldier cannot hide behind a superior officer because he knows that the order is morally wrong and he has the possibility to object. In other words, “I was just following orders” is no longer a viable excuse for crimes against humanity. Since the Nuremberg Trials were military trials, the main defense for the Nazis on trial was called, the Nuremberg Defense stating “Befehl ist befehl”, or literally, “an order is an order”.
While there are interpretations to the principles that have applied to more modern cases, the main fact of the rule is clear. These rules and codes of conduct are here for a reason. They protect the innocent, or rather, try to protect the innocent. Dictators and tyrants have a habit of doing what they please. The point of this rambling history lesson is this: SILENCE KILLS. It is citizen's moral duty to ensure the government is not trying to start illegal wars or committing crimes against humanity or peace. When a country tries to segregate a particular ethnicity from the rest of the country because they are of a certain race, sex, religion, or cultural heritage, it is the civic duty of the people to speak against it. No government has the right to dictate what a person is allowed to look, act, or worship. If not, then the world is looking at another genocide, and this time, it will be the United States standing in front of an international tribunal for war crimes. Where are you going to be? With the aggressors? With the protesters? Or, worst of all—the most guilty of all, with the silent?
She hid in her closet with her little brother. It was black as pitch, but she could see the light from the fires raging outside through the crack between the doors. Her bother was crying softly. Her mother was downstairs pouring water around the openings of the house to make sure the fire didn't catch. She told them that it was important to stay silent until she opened the closet. Their father was missing. He went to work one morning and never came home. Her mother explained that he was needed for a special project and was going to stay away for a few weeks and send home money. Her brother believed it. She knew better. The same thing happened in her school. Mothers, fathers, even her classmates, just gone. There were rumors of people being taken to special places to work—camps and cities inside of cities. She overheard her mother and aunt talking about them in hushed tones. There were also people being forced to leave their homes and many more not allowed back into the country of their birth.
The shouting outside, far away at first, was now deafening. They were getting closer. Her brother let out a small cry. She wrapped her arms around him and held him close.
“Shhhh,” she whispered.
They both jumped at the sound of shattering glass. Her brother held her tighter and buried his face on her chest. She covered his ears with her hands. They were too terrified to move. More glass was broken. Each time a window shattered, the crowed cheered. The smell of smoke permeated the air. She prayed that her home was not one on fire.
It lasted through the night. The cheers and chanting of slurs finally ebbed and dawn was approaching. Just as she was getting ready to open the closet, her mother was there. Her dress was ripped. Her eye and cheek were black and purple with bruises. She was missing a couple of teeth. There were scratches and cuts along her arms and legs. She had been beaten, but was alive. Her mother coaxed them out of the closet. She looked around the room. It remained intact, but the window was in pieces on the floor.
She walked towards the window, but her mother stopped her.
“Lida, come. We must pack.”
“Why must we pack, mother?” her brother asked.
“Because we are being sent to a safe place.”
Every shop and every window was broken. Some places were still burning. Everywhere, women, and children were being herded onto trucks. Men and teenage boys were loaded onto their own truck—packed in like mules. Heavily armed guards lined the streets as well as the lines to the trucks. If anyone tried to fight, they were hit with the butt of the gun and tossed on the truck, bleeding profusely.
She looked around at the carnage. Mothers and wives wailing for their lost husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons. Racial slurs filled the air from the crowd gathered behind a police barricade. She saw some women, who were friends with her mother, standing in silence as they the truck started to move. In fact, most of the crowd were people standing in silence. Many people were crying, but no one said a thing. That was the sight that stayed with her as she lay on her deathbed in an overcrowded tenement camp. Not one person stood up to protect them. There were millions of people in the United States, and not one person fought for the injustice of dumping thousands of people into a prison no bigger than a football stadium due to the fact they were Muslim. But history has a nasty habit of repeating itself.
Just because our country has taken a giant step backwards politically, emotionally, and socially, doesn't mean you have to give up.
Just because fighting looks difficult, doesn't mean you give stop.
Just because it is dark, doesn't mean you shouldn't extinguish your light.
Just because you think you may not be good at something, doesn't mean you should not try it.
Just because you tried something new and the results weren't all that great, doesn't mean you failed.
Just because you don't conform to current standards of beauty, doesn't mean you are ugly.
Just because you do not feel like you were born as the correct gender, doesn't mean you are a freak.
Just because you love someone that is the same sex as you, doesn't mean you are disgusting.
Just because your religion demands you to condemn a certain group of people, doesn't mean they are right.
Just because you have multiple sex partners, doesn't mean you are a whore.
Just because you like to wear makeup, doesn't mean you are trying to hide.
Just because you have a mental illness, doesn't mean it is all in your head.
Just because you have a disability, doesn't mean you can't do anything you want.
Just because people are nasty to you, doesn't make you a freak. You are you. You are beautiful as you. Be true to you. Love you.
Sticks and stone will break my bones, but words will never hurt me. The mantra my grandmother told me to say over and over again when my classmates were cruel. Honestly, I would rather have the sticks and stones. Words may not physically hurt you, but emotionally....mentally.... they destroy you. I would know. I have fallen apart over words—almost completely destroyed. But, thankfully, I'm still here.
Some of my earliest memories are of kids being mean to me. I never understood why. My first memories of kindergarten were children laughing and calling me stinky and “Poo-Poo Girl” because I smelled like cigarette smoke since my grandparents were chain smokers. The great and incomparable
Maya Angelou said, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I do remember what was said. I remember everything.
Kindergarten: Poo-Poo girl, Stinky, and I was teased for having a chili bowl haircut.
First Grade: Hey Poo-Poo girl.
Second Grade: I moved, but the kids were still just as mean. Fatty Fatty they would chant as they threw food at me when the teacher's back was turned.
Third grade: I moved again. This was the longest and, by far, the most horrible of all. My grandparents decided to buy a trailer and live on my great-grandmother's land in Rice, Texas. It was dry. It was hot. It was dusty. We lived on a dirt road. Rice was an old railroading town, but it didn't boom like some did. The town didn't have a high school at the time I was there. Not enough kids in the town to warrant the budget. The older kids were shipped to the nearest town, almost a half and hour away. The cliques were strong. If you didn't wear a certain type of clothing, or if your parents didn't make enough money, you didn't belong. We were poor and couldn't afford the en vogue clothing at the time. I also chipped my tooth when I was seven and my grandmother didn't see a need to get it fixed until I was older. You can imagine what it was like for me. Here I was, overweight, poor, girl who smelled like second-hand smoke.
“Move along, Thunder thighs!”
By the time I was sixteen, after I moved in with my mother and her ex, I was diagnosed with depression. We lived in a more affluent neighborhood. I was okay being invisible in the large school. I was mostly ignored. But the home life was not the best. “Worthless piece of shit”, “Product of a Rape” “Worthless. You are worthless.” It wasn't her. It was him. Years of being mentally broken. Years of wanting to end my life. I believed it. I believed the horrible things. It is so much easier to believe the negative than to see the positive. I felt truly worthless. I felt like I had no value. His love and acceptance was based on how well I looked, or acted, or how many accomplishments he could take credit for. When I didn't do what he wanted, the names.
Years later I am better. I realized that it wasn't me. I wasn't the problem. They were. I had value. I was worthy of love and kindness. However, more often than I want to admit, the voices rear their ugly heads and I relive the trauma. But another voice pops in and says, “No. You are beautiful and kind. You matter.”
And for once, I believe it.
I'm a 33 year old, happily married geek that loves to read, write, yarn craft, play video games, and the coolest dork you will ever meet.
Ermagerd a blerg....
Random crap I like to talk about. I mean, let's face it, that is what I blog is.I do need to add that the photos that I use are usually pulled off the internet. If I can find the owners, I will list them, if not, please give credit where credit is due.