Monthly Archives: July 2012

Once Upon a Time…

I learned to read when I was very young, I went into kindergarten knowing how to read (which, let me tell you did not make me a popular kid). The books I gravitated towards as a kid were always those I could get lost in, ones that created a new world for me to be part of. I was a quiet kid, kind of shy and pretty awkward so books became my friends. I lived in my imagination, maybe that’s what draws me to write now.

Even as I grew up and learned how to be social I still loved getting lost in a book, I’d spend hours reading alone in my room. I always had at least one book I was reading and most of the time I had more than one. I read a lot of Nancy Drew and Goosebumps and other mystery and horror books, those still remain some of my favorite types of books. When I was in fifth grade we read The Hobbit, this was the first fantasy book I’d really ever read and I loved it. When the Book Fair came through my school that year I begged my mom for the money to buy that book. It is easily my favorite book, I own at least three copies of it.

I identified with Bilbo, this awkward, fearful character who was suddenly thrust into an adventure he wasn’t even sure he wanted. I felt that way about life, I was so happy when I was by myself because it was easier. I didn’t know how to relate to other kids, it didn’t help that my home life was so much stranger than everyone elses. My parents were divorced (that wasn’t really odd) but my mom was sick, everyone knew my mom was sick and that she walked with a cane. Yeah, that makes you the weird kid.

When my mom died when I was 12 years old I delved further into books. I read The Lord of the Rings and I started reading other fantasy books. I wanted to be in the worlds I read about, I wanted to be with the characters who made me feel less alone. There aren’t a lot of things more uncomfortable than being the new kid in school (I was in my new school for 6 months) and having your mom die. I can’t really blame the other kids for not knowing how to act around me, parents aren’t supposed to die when you’re 12 years old.

When we moved back to Los Lunas in 2000 I thought it would be better because I already knew all those people, they all knew my mom was sick and that she had died. It wasn’t much better because again, kids aren’t really equipped to deal with things like losing a parent. I was in eighth grade when I first read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. My Step-Dad had brought the book home and told me I’d like it. I devoured it, here was a character I could really understand. I was so lonely and there wasn’t anyone around me who could even remotely understand what I was going through, but there was this character who felt all the same awkwardness and uncomfortableness about being different.

I read the first four books (the fifth didn’t come out until I was in high school) over and over to the point that I can quote those books like other people can quote movies. It wasn’t just that I liked the story or that they were entertaining, or even that they created a world I could so clearly imagine and fall into, no, it was that I related so well to Harry and I understood so much of what he felt.

As I’ve gotten older and the HP series has become one of the most famous series of books in the world I’ve seen a lot of bashing of not just the books but the fans, calling us a cult and telling us we don’t know what “real” literature is. I used to get angry when I read or heard stuff like that but it doesn’t bother me so much anymore.  I know so many people who read those books and felt things similar to what I felt, that when reading them they felt less alone. The characters and the stories relieved us of the burden of our everyday lives, let us forget our own hurt for a little while and made us feel that it was possible to find someone out there who would understand. One of my closest friends is one of those people, we can have endless conversations about Harry Potter, not just because we’re nerds (and we so are) but because those books helped us, gave us a sanctuary when we didn’t have anything else.

When I about growing up I think a lot about the books and I read and the ones that always stand out in my memory are The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series. Those books were my friends when I had none, they made me feel less alone and they made me realize I wasn’t alone. If I felt those things reading those books chances are so did millions of other people, maybe we’d been through different things and had different reasons for reading but all of us found comfort in those characters and settings.

Even now, as an adult when I read those books I feel like I’m visiting an old friend and I feel comforted. I still love to read, I feel disconnected if I don’t have at least one book I’m reading and I feel better when I have at least two. I love getting lost in stories and meeting new characters, but I always come back to my oldest “friends.”


Choosing Myself

I want to talk about something I’ve avoided for a while not just on here but in my regular life.

Violence, specifically domestic violence.

A relationship I was involved in for 5 years ended due to domestic violence. I was choked and hit. This is something I still have a hard time talking about and something that still has an effect on me. Everything I have written about what happened was written from the mindset of saying goodbye to the relationship. I have done that and I’m now ready to talk about how this has affected me.

The first thing I want to say is I really don’t believe violence is ever the answer to an argument. I don’t believe using physical strength to overpower and scare someone weaker is not acceptable. If violence is being considered as a serious option in an argument or as a way to express emotions the relationship is over. I don’t believe in giving second chances after that line has been crossed. I did give another chance and all I really did was give that person another chance to hurt me and he did.

What happened to me terrified me. In that moment when his hands were on my neck and they were squeezing I knew fear in a way I had never known it before. I was in shock and I became afraid of this person I once loved. As much as I wanted to leave I also feared leaving, I feared what would happen and if violence would again become an option.

I did leave, I was gone for 3 months and then I came back. I let myself be hurt again by allowing him to blame me for his actions, by allowing myself to believe it really was my fault. The fear I developed stayed and it affected the way we interacted, it affected my mental health and when violence again became a way to end an argument I knew I was wrong to come back.

I left again. For good. I thought being away from it would make the fear and the sadness go away. It didn’t. For a long time it intensified, I still dislike being touched unless I specifically allow it. I thought saying goodbye to the relationship was enough to say goodbye to the emotional and mental scars I was left with. I’ve learned it’s not.

I also learned some valuable things about what domestic violence does to a person inside and why so many victims choose to stay. For months after I left I was harrassed and called names and so many times I thought going back would just solve everything. I was made to feel guilty for leaving, for choosing myself. My interactions with men changed, I saw everyone as a potential abuser and expected violence during even the smallest arguments. In some ways I was comforted when a man reacted in the way I was used to, that began to scare me.

I had to force myself to be aware of the behaviors of those around me and I had to force myself to say it wasn’t ok for me to be with someone who behaved in an abusive way. I had to keep putting myself first, to keep choosing myself.

I still am uncomfortable talking about what happened and admitting that it did happen. I hate weakness in myself and for quite a while all I saw was weakness. I finally realized it took strength to leave, it took strength to choose myself.

I’m still learning how to be ok. How to move past what happened and let the internal wounds heal. It’s not easy but I realized I needed to talk about it, I needed to admit it happened. So here it is.

The Secondary Character

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately since I have a stress fracture in my foot and the way my uterus is positioned is causing a lot of sciatic nerve issues. I can’t be as active as I was earlier in my pregnancy, I’ve been stuck laying down a lot so this has led to more reading.

I’ll admit I have a soft spot for silly historical mystery type books (things in the vein of the Da Vinci Code) and lately I’ve been reading an author named Steve Berry. I’m not gonna say these are the greatest books ever written because they’re not. They have a lot of cliche and the occasional ridiculous and unnecessary romance side plot but they are entertaining. One reason I’ve been reading them is looking at the way he develops his characters, the main characters are always very three dimensional. They’ve got a history and they are obviously well developed in his mind. The other characters are often not, they’re a lot more one dimensional and that is what leads to a lot of the cliche and some of the silliness in the books. When the characters your main character interacts with are underdeveloped it makes their interactions have to be somewhat simple and cliched.

Some of the secondary characters he utilizes are The Ex Wife. She is predictably bitchy and very rarely is she a sympathetic character. Then there’s the Older Friend/Mentor/Father Figure. This character is almost always wealthy and either has no children or lost their children when they were young so the main character is a sort of replacement. And finally there’s the Mysterious Attractive Other Woman. She’s younger, extremely attractive in that unrealistic supermodel sort of way and also is stereotypically bitchy until the main character saves her or outsmarts her.

I read books like this 1. because they’re fast, they distract my mind and they are entertaining and 2. as a writer who doesn’t want to create cliche characters and cliche interactions between my characters. It forces me to go back over my own writing and rethink how my characters interact and whether or not a secondary character is just a stock character or if I have a fully fleshed out idea of who they are and why they are doing what they’re doing.

I’ve found I have a lot of editing to do, which I guess is a good thing. More stuff to do while I can’t do anything other than lay down.