Before I get to my goals, there are a couple of things that I want to talk about. Serious things at that. First and foremost is the loss of one of the most influential people in my life: Maya Angelou. She passed away a few days ago and I'm just now getting to the point to where I can write about it. I needed to collect my thoughts.
When I woke up the other day and checked my news feed on Facebook, I was met with the news that she had died. It was a bit of a shock to me. I became very upset. I haven't had the easiest of lives, especially the parts where Douche Bag is present. As many people know, he made my life a living hell. I discovered Angelou in high school when I was 15. Her book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was required reading. I fell in love with her instantly. I went to the school library and picked up a book of poems. It was as if she was speaking directly to me, like she understood everything I was going through.
But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing
The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.
It felt like I was that caged bird. In many ways I was. The tight leash that Douche Bag kept me under was unbearable. I was not allowed out of the house most of the time. I was kept in a cage. When I graduated high school and my little brother was born, it was worse. I agreed to watch him while going to school instead of paying rent. It was supposed to be a win/win situation. The next thing I know, I'm watching my baby brother full time, working a full time job, going to school full time, while cleaning the entire house and cooking dinner while my mom was gone for work, and trying to maintain a relationship with my boyfriend (now husband). It was a living hell. I failed out of school since I was never allowed to use his computer to do my school work. I was not allowed to take classes on campus. It was hell. Not to mention dealing with his crap at all times. So naturally, I turned to books. Angelou was my go to. I figured, if she made it through all these horrible things in her life, I could as well. At one point, I had enough and I made the decision to leave. It was the best decision I have every made. Husband was in Virginia Beach at the time and he has proposed to me. I shouldn't have had to ask permission to see my fiancee. Seriously. I was done. It was just after I left that I went through the worst bout of depression I had in years. Pissed that I left, Douche Bag began to terrorize me on the phone and though e-mail. I was constantly being accused of stealing things in the house and medicine, specifically codeine, which knocks me for a loop. You can tell when I have had medicine with opiates. I went to my bookshelf and randomly grabbed a book. She was in my hands again. This time, another poem spoke to me.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.
It was after reading this poem that I started to fight back. I refused to be silent and take crap from this man any longer. I came into my own. She was right, I could go through hell and back and be okay. I was and am.
So, when I heard that this amazing woman had passed, I shed a few tears. She had been there with me through the bad times and held my hand through the hell. I hope, wherever she is, she knows just how important she has been and how much of a positive influence she has had on so many people. I can't speak for other people, but I know what she has done for me, and, even though we have never met, she is a friend. Requiescat in pace, Maya Angelou.
My next serious topic is spousal abuse, primarily, male spousal abuse. I love to read “Dear Abby”. She actually responded to me once (squeeee!). Most of the time, I gloss over the questions and responses, but occasionally, there are ones that strike a chord. Case and point, the following question:
DEAR ABBY: I am a male victim of domestic violence. I was traumatized for five years at the hands of my ex. I suffered through name-calling, physical and sexual abuse. Once, when she was upset, she hit me with her car and dragged me across our parking lot.
I tried several times to leave only to find that in my community there was no help for men in situations like mine. There are women's shelters everywhere, but none that cater to men and their children. I ended up having to return home, and things just got worse.
I finally left with the shirt on my back and a few belongings. Because I couldn't find help, I slept on the street.
I am now a survivor and attending school to become a social worker. I have been trying to raise awareness of men as abuse victims, but it's an uphill battle. Why? -- EMPOWERED IN CENTRAL WISCONSIN
Abby, of course, responded in kind and gave a good deal of references for him to use. But this just irritates me. Why do people assume that it is only women who are abused in the relationship? Granted, it is more common for the men to abuse the women, but that does not give women the right to be the abusers any more that it gives men the right. It saddens me that there is very little awareness in regards to male spousal abuse. The poor guy in the story above felt like had no other option but to return home and be subjected to abuse. No one deserves that. The media and government focus the most attention on the female victims of domestic violence. Men are largely silent on the issue because of the perception that men are physically stronger and should be able to subdue a female attacker easily. Those men who do report physical violence are more likely to be ridiculed–both by law enforcement and by the public–than women are. More money is spent on women’s programs, and more crusades are launched on behalf of women who are victims of domestic violence despite the fact that men are almost equally or in some cases more likely to be victims of both physical and psychological abuse. What is worse than the statistics, however, is the fact that there has been little research in the area of domestic abuse against men because neither the Justice Department nor any other agencies will fund such research. Because they refuse to do the research, people are able to perpetuate such myths as women are only violent when defending themselves, or that men could more easily leave a violent relationship.
Because of lack of funding, there are also few shelters that cater to men. Most shelters available will only take women and children, and some even have an age limit on the boys that they will take in (13 years old). Abuse is abuse and no one should be subjected to it. Gentlemen, if you are being abused, please speak up. Abuse is NOT okay in any form or fashion. There are places for you to go and people for you to call.
Next topic, Reading Rainbow. Levar Burton put out a plea and started a kickstarter thingie to bring back Reading Rainbow. This show was a big part of my childhood. I loved it. I never really got Sesame Street and I never really like Mr. Rodgers because he put me to sleep. I was into Reading Rainbow. What he wants to do is to bring reading to every child. He is using the funds and modern media to bring this show into the classrooms, on the tablet ad computers, on the phones, etc. I think this is a great idea. Literacy I a very important cause for me. I love book and it saddens me that there are people out there who do not read or hate to read. Then you have people out there like Kanye West who refuses to even open a book and calls reading stupid. I feel sorry for his daughter. Hopefully the nannies will read to the poor child. He initially set the goal to *puts pinky to side of lip* one million dollars. He reached that in a single day. He posted a video of his reaction when the goal was met. He was a little misty eyed. So, as promised on my FB, I am reposting his kickstarter goal every day to help him reach his updated goal of five million. There are incentives. Kind of neat. The link is below. Check it out and donate if you can, even if it only a dollar. Here is the link:
Last topic before I get to my goals. Editing. My parents gave me a printer, well two actually, and I decided to put down my science fiction novel for a bit because I kept getting wrapped up in the research and not paying attention to the details that matter (baa....). ←Inside joke. Anyhow, I went back to my novel I wrote in November. I needed to change the tenses.....again....and decided to print it out and edit what I had and go back and change everything all at once. It was an odd experience editing my own thing. I'm usually editing for people, not me. There were moments of “Holy crap this is good stuff!” and moments of “Man! This isn't going to work.” Then there was the part that I wrote during Night of Writing Dangerously. If you are curious about that, I think I posted a blog about it, but imagine a room full of sugar stoned, overly caffeinated, writers who spent 14-ish hours locked in a library all night. I had a wonderful time, but my writing became progressively weird throughout the night. I even made up a few words. Other than that, I'm excited to get back into this story. I don't remember what was written because I haven't looked at it since November. Which brings me to my last topic:
Goals! I don't remember what I posted as goals for last month. I should probably go look at those. More than likely, I didn't meet them. It was a month of not focusing on anything. I'm keeping my goals simple this month.
1. Continue work on my story.
2. Continue work on this stupid blanket that was due in April.
3. Mail the blanket that was completed and due in March.
4. Continue my role as Chief Minion for my various friends with businesses.