Small Things Noticed While You Were Out

The last thing I was expecting was a break up. I didn’t realize was how a break up can involve any sort of relationship, including a relationship to a place, or people, or a thing, or even a job. As I wake up heavy each morning, experiencing a familiar feeling of discontent that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, I realized today that it was the feeling of a broken heart.

I wasn’t in Nicaragua for a long time, but the experiences and people will forever have a lasting effect on me.

I miss the city. I miss waving at the people I know as I walk through the park, the bright colors changing throughout the city, the big city feel of a small city in Central America, because maybe small towns don’t exist.

I miss riding my bike through the cramped streets, dodging taxis and holes, because it provides some sort of satisfaction. A satisfaction of I can fit in and get around faster, filled with the fun of the obstacles, with a side of adrenaline. The annoyance I feel when I get to the cobble stone street, then laugh because I am annoyed with the cobblestone street of Granada, Nicaragua.

I miss the quiet jokes that began at the hotel 3 weeks before I left. The conversations that became more absolute as my Spanish improved week by week. My Spanish classes filled with history and culture from an easy-going woman at Spanish School Xpress, learning that I have to just go with the flow. What a grand lesson I learned there in Nicaragua.

I learned to be creative in all manners: getting someone or something from point a to point b, fix an item that is broken, anything can be done with what you already have, for the most part.

I miss habitación 10 with a giant bed and a giant TV that I never use and my window that overlooked the street and church, quite possibly the busiest street in Granada. The church bells that upset everyone, and therefore make me laugh with pleasure because they never bothered me. The firecrackers and honking. The smell of wet pavement when I open my door first thing in the morning, a heavy and sweet smell, ripened by the constant heat. I wake up well rested with my head on the giant pillow, aside from the mosquito intruder that occasionally snacked on me. I need one of those pillows as a souvenir.

I miss the mornings when I needed to find Enrique to escape the confines of security and explore what the city has to offer in bicycle. The views are a little bit like conjugations. Some things are imperfect and recurring, like the man in his collared shirt sitting in front of the church or the ice cream man who always tells me he will have my favorite ice cream tomorrow and the people I wave to relaxing in the park. Other things are preterite, with a beginning and end, like the parades and funeral processions, the banana cart with Texas plates, surprising incidents that make me smile with wonder: how are they doing that?

I miss the clinic, where I became friends with some of the most compassionate and amazing people I have ever met. I miss the miscommunication and jokes and smells and lessons. I even miss fanning everyone learning new tasks when the power went out. The puppies and kittens that seemed to follow us home, but undoubtedly needed medical treatment stat. However, I will never EVER miss the ticks.

It wasn’t easy in the beginning. I remember feeling like I would never get the hang of it, and I had no close friends, and it felt like I was receiving no bones for the amount I was putting in. When I look back on my writings, I had moments of despair as I fumbled through public speaking in front of people who hadn’t come to learn of the topic, comments on how I could improve, endless small talk that I didn’t forsee evolution into something important.

It didn’t last long as I forged friendships that will last, created unforgettable memories with people I just met, helped hundreds of animals and people and students, all at the same time of thinking I wasn’t cut out for the job.

And now I am home.

Home. A place, at this time, that feels more like a stagnant puddle flooded with memories I thought could never reach me again. Home. Where I am still tooth and nail with the family that hurt me what seemed beyond repair. Home. Here I return to the same job that no longer provides the fulfillment I experienced in service work. Home. Where everything is so familiar and reminds me of a loose end that was never tied but tugs at the corner of my heart and stabs my soul with the sharp edges.

What I didn’t realize two months ago when I left, was the void that would exist from living in a place I could call home when I arrived back in Washington. I thought I had missed the scent of old dusty pine, and the sweet PNW summer days that lasted perhaps a hair too long. The mountains that rise around the valley in which I grew up, where all of the memories are uncomfortably setting at this very moment.  I didn’t know I was still so affected by things that happened so many years ago, until I left them again and came back again. It is no different than the last time I returned from an extended stay in Latin America. But I know it won’t be long before I fall back in love with this place, because let’s be real, I have an opportunity I can’t shut the shades on, because it’ll get me to where I need to go.

 

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When the Kale God Shines- Granada Week One

I never really thought that the easiest part of interning in another city, let alone another country, would be getting used to the city. Sure, it is incredibly helpful that I have been here before, and it is my third time to Nicaragua, but I am proud of the way I have adjusted. The city seems easy to navigate, I’m pretty sure I understand the way directions work now too, since number addresses don’t exist. The car conversations involving honking don’t bother me, and I have stopped blinking an eye at the fireworks explosions.

In the morning, I wake up to the intersection. It isn’t the busiest in town, but it is right before the busiest one in the center. On some days, they ring the bells of the church across the one-way street from my window. I haven’t quite found a pattern, but the earliest I’ve caught it is 4 am, and it is 7 am on Saturday and they are ringing. The bird songs, or screeches really, come in waves from the trees in the park at the end of the block, making me suspect parrots. The working horse hooves passes quickly, intermixed with the engine sounds. There hasn’t been a morning that I neglected opening up the window overlooking the street to feel the warmth after a night with air-conditioning.

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When I step out on to the street alone, I smirk a little at how different the traffic is. One man yells while jumping on to the door of a moving Coca Cola truck, and I wonder if he used to work in the public transportation business. If you want to get around on the public transit like I have, you become used to the loud and accented names of your destination while being ushered on by the man hanging out the door. Of course, that isn’t his only job – he also collects the funds on route to another city. Most vehicles, including buses, are stamped with affection from the gods – dios me amo and the like. Many of the buses are transformed school buses from the United States.

Transactions are happening every-where, my personal favorite being the fruit stand that appears every morning just outside my door. How convenient to have mangoes and bananas waiting, especially when I remembered to pack my blender. It may seem strange to pay separately for different items, but I find it easy, provided you have small denominations. If you walk down the commercial street, almost everything to eat costs ten or twenty cordobas, equal to about 30 or 60 cents, and you are on your way as soon as the swap is made. No cards, no lines, and not a whole lot of variety either, but I find it just right. Let’s just say I have been eating a lot of rice, beans, fruits, carrots, and onions.

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That is not the only thing you can buy with ease. I scored a new pair of shoes to prevent tick harboring, and the pharmacy will sell you anything you need. The Quick Stop by the park sells bottles of wine and cans of beer will set you back less than a dollar. The supermarkets in town sell chia seeds and peanut butter, as well as spinach and processed foods. On the way to work, or wherever, you’ll pass at least three people selling ice cream and popsicles.

However, there is one thing I have had the hardest time finding… Kale. And I have been looking. two supermarkets, the open-air market, restaurants, nothing. I know, I know, how hipster of me to say, but kale is a staple in my diet and it saddens me a little to not have it. To give you an idea of just how absent it is, I just merely mentioned it last week when I was told I would be a God if I found it. But it was no where.

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Until I went to San Juan del Sur.

On a little side street, away from all of the surf shops and hostels, was a little café. The only reason I found this café was due to a serious episode of insomnia while sleeping in my hostel in the heat with a less than perfect mosquito net. There I was, lying in bed, thinking about everything in my life that I have fucked up on, with very nice Wifi, trying to sleep, when I decided I wanted some damn food the following morning. All it came down to was which one of the four places with veg-options would be open in the morning after the truck ride back to town (which I got to ride in the front seat for).

We passed the falafel place, which looked like it was open, but there was at least 6 blocks between my drop-off and there. I considered eating the quinoa and garbanzo beans again at the place I had eaten the day before, but it was spendy and not a lot of food. The noodle place wasn’t open yet, so I staggered with my sweat-stache and sleep-deprived brain to Buddha’s Garden.

I was pleasantly surprised as I took a seat in the white-painted room. On a Tuesday morning, I sat down as the only customer and was delicately reading the menu when I saw it…

Apparently some God had found kale in Central America, and that person lived on the Nicaraguan Coast and opened up a plant-based restaurant. I ordered the green juice, with ginger, and kale, and ate my avocado toast with a side of kale with a damn smile on my face while the rest of me melted.

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I thought about asking if I could buy some.

But I didn’t.

And now I am kind of kicking myself.

Because I am back in kale-free Granada. But I love it. It is a clean and colorful city, with entertaining and friendly people. And I waited my whole life to eat in-season mangoes during the commute to my job. And I have the rest of my life to eat kale.

Brief Baby Steps of a One Health Project

Riding in a car was the last thing I wanted to do, especially if there was no air-conditioning. Since leaving León, the days have seemed increasingly hotter, and I had just spent 3 hours packed on a bus. Stickiness and sweat-staches are still not things I am comfortable with. However, this step was an important one in the process of finding new communities to work in and for developing a One Health project, so I waited for the Dr. Adela and Dr. Lester to pick me up. Lucky for me, the truck was air-conditioned.

Our last meeting was about four days ago, just after our first visit to a new community about 30 minutes outside of Granada. It seemed like a daunting task, to develop questions in which to ask people about animal welfare, when I had no idea what it was like to live in these communities or what the culture was around animals. I spent a good portion of time while on the beach researching data collection and not finding much except for abstracts and conclusions, however it was enough to get the wheels turning. It may not be what everyone spends time doing on the beach, but to me, Playa Maderas seemed like the perfect office.

The questions we had talked about, and that I had built on a little, was enough to spark conversation in the truck about our next steps. Since I knew nothing about how communities worked in Nicaragua, it made sense to figure out just who we were going to talk to. The rural towns surrounding the cities have a leader, whom is familiar with the families, resources, and problems of the community. The selected person must be a Sandinista according to President Ortega, they must care about the people, and they must not care about getting paid, as often they are not compensated with a stipend but rather discounts. The place we were headed to was unique, because there were three that we had to track down with the help of the leader from the community we had visited last week.

We developed questions that would help us get an idea of the type of community – which Adela and Lester added into conversation wonderfully. Most of the people were farmers of corn and beans, which they sold to the surrounding cities of Masaya, Granada, and Nandaime. A variety of pesticides and herbicides were used presenting environmental concerns, but local water sources such as streams were not utilized for drinking, as they had potable water delivered on a regular basis. There was no health center nearby for the 1,200 people living there, but nurses made regular trips for vaccination and deworming. A primary school provided elementary education and secondary school was taught over the course of two years on Saturdays by visiting professors. Toilets were not common, but rather one latrine shared by three or four families.

Two out of three leaders were present, and were welcoming to the idea of free veterinary care. I didn’t understand everything they said, but one thing that was clear was that there were more than enough dogs and sterilization would be beneficial. The horses were mainly used for transportation and agriculture, and seemed to be well-taken care of, just like the horses in the preceding community. The last person we talked to offered us his centrally-located property to house the clinic on the following Monday, pending approval from the third leader. We said our goodbyes and analyzed the information we were presented with on the dirt road that led back to the main road into Granada.

When I returned to my hotel, I was eager to continue my research of how to efficiently collect data during outreach days. Visiting this community only took about two hours, and I was happy I went because it isn’t often that I learn that much information packed in so little time. Although, packing things tightly isn’t anything new for this trip – the theme of my time here in Nicaragua seems to be stuff as much as you can into the smallest space available. And by keeping this post brief and condensed, I will continue the theme of the trip.

The past week has just barely scratched the surface on information known about these communities and One Health, and due to the fairly recent development of One Health, it will only continue advancing. As you can see, there are a lot of factors that go into a One Health collaboration, since it focuses on the inter-connectivity of human, animal, and environmental health. The next group of students and teachers arrives today, and in between arrivals I have some time to continue data collection and organization for the veterinary side of things, since our first visit to this community will also be my first time collecting field data.

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Myths and Mannequins – León

Not much has changed in the way of arriving to Managua, except for my confidence. This was the first time I actually had to take a taxi from the airport, and Wilbur was quite persistent in getting me to use his services, which is pretty normal at any station or port. After 30 minutes of waiting, for my ride and for my luggage, I decided to take him up on his offer since neither were there at the moment. But first, he was kind enough to offer me his phone and ask around for someone that might be waiting for me, since I hadn’t met the person yet anyways.

I hadn’t noticed his air conditioning until I was in a microbus, waiting for it to fill up to take me to León. 90 degrees may not seem like much to some, but with a humidity of 85%, it feels like 120. Why did I decide to wear jeans and a sweatshirt on the plane? Why didn’t I get off the damn bus to take off my sweatshirt? I was thinking I could tolerate it, then when I took it off in the well-known-to-be-scorching León, I would be pleasantly surprised.

Two dollars and two hours from Managua, I realized I was wrong. The unremitting heat radiated from the entirely paved city. The humidity and diesel hung heavy in the air between the buildings, bringing with it nostalgia of my time in Perú and Colombia. With every street I turned on, I sought the smallest slivers of shade. Meandering around the streets left me tired and thirsty, but it was enjoyable enough that I continued for three days without taking taxis. The locals walk around in jeans and a t-shirt. I personally don’t know how they get them off, because I certainly can’t get anything off easily. I took a shower when I got there, and another that night, and another in the morning. Finally, I realized it would be smart to rent a towel (which I have the worst time saying in Spanish – toalla…).

My timid nature in new places caused me some discomfort at first, but with every place I visited and Nica I talked to, I became more comfortable. It still caused me troubles in fast-paced spaces, such as markets and street corners, but with practice comes confidence – just like the taxis. In museums and in the hostel, I took advantage of interactions with the patient Spanish-speakers, taking a moment to store the memory of confidence and the smile on my face for future times if it should be needed.


In the Revolution Museum, tours are offered with the entry by a person who fought in the revolution. It never crossed my mind that I would be able to have a conversation with someone such as this, and I was honored to hear the story from his mouth (in Spanish). León is known as the revolutionary capital of Nicaragua, and you can see it in the names, the buildings, and the street art distributed throughout the city. As with any country, there are opposing views, but one cannot to take notice of the injustice between class and race, and that has persisted throughout Latin America and the entire world by international imperial power, and not recognize the need for a change.


It follows that the Museum of Myths and Traditions would have a similar theme, since they were mostly regional legends, but it had a different tone. Six rooms of mannequins had different themes, including legends of terror, dancing, and elves. I almost skipped this museum, and I am quite happy that I didn’t, since I found it to be the most entertaining of all. It was also void of people, like many of the other tourist things I had partaken in. I’ve been told it is the rainy season, but thankfully there hasn’t been too much evidence of that.


Even the volcano had less than twenty people on it, a small number since it is the “top thing to do” in León (thank you TripAdvisor). If there were more than twenty people, I probably wouldn’t have taken notice as I trekked up the black evidence of the eruption in 1999, surrounded by green forest and butterflies. I had the pleasure of seeing and iguana and the national bird of Nicaragua, el guardabarranco. However, at the top, I was acutely aware of my fear of heights as I took in the panoramic view. It didn’t stop me from being second to board down the steep mountain side, hot dust covering my blue jumpsuit and frizzy hair, sporting shoes from the hostel mannequin and beat-up goggles. I thought I was going quite fast as I laughed the entire way down, but the video revealed otherwise.


On Thursday, I replaced the feeling of bugs, which was just dripping sweat, for actual bugs. I am almost positive that mosquitos cannot survive in León, but they thrive on the breezy coast. The Pacific pounded the coastline, the hulking waves warned the many surfers whom ignored them well into sunset. Just as the hostels throughout Nicaragua, you will only be set back five USD for a beach side dorm with a fan. Hotel Playa Roca was a lovely escape from the heat, with mostly locals, an older German gentleman, and beautiful sunsets every night. I spent the evening on the beach with pizza and Toñas, and I was awoken at 3 am to a lightning storm above the ocean.


In the morning, I practiced some overdue yoga on the beach, then took the local bus back to León. I was cheerfully startled when my suitcase was waiting for me at the hostel. It had been in Los Angeles the whole time, and the twelve hours I spent there looking for it clearly wasn’t enough. They had shipped it through my original carrier, Avianca, and someone had kindly delivered it all the way up here. I thought it was a goner.

Since I now have all my luggage, I opted for a shuttle to Granada, instead of packing it all onto the local buses. I am pretty excited for a room and a kitchen. Being plant-based has proved to be hard here in León, especially without a kitchen. However, coming to León was an excellent decision, and I would surely visit again. But for now, onwards to working!

Ein Bier Bitte – Munich and Salzburg

The hangover is present again, but it isn’t nearly as bad as the last three days. Munich was a series of walking to the same areas (namely a spring beer Festival, Frühlings) and drinking heavily. Our first night in, I hadn’t slept in 24 hours and somehow, I managed to lose my ID (later found to have been misplaced by hostel staff), get to know someone quite well in the laundry room, get my debit card shut off, and drink well more than 3 liters of beer. What a slob, I was mess, but I was having so much fun.

The second day, I managed to make it on a walking tour, and came alive again when I drank a beer at the meat market while everyone else ate strange looking sausage sandwiches. The city was cold, but I didn’t seem to bother me at that moment. The guide talked a lot, sometimes too much, but I learned quite a bit about the history of Munich and the history of beer. Probably because much of the history of Munich had to do with the history of beer. Legend has it that the monks used beer as calories during periods of fasting, beer was stored under chestnut trees which resulted in current day beer gardens. And Adolf Hitler had presented many of his speeches over beer in the city in which I resided. I paid him no respect by drinking a beer in his favorite bierhaus.

I slummed around the city alone after that, and found myself dying in a fancy vegan restaurant attached to a yoga center. Stephanie met me in said restaurant and we walked around the historical and grand buildings until we had finally found an area of the center we hadn’t been to. Munich has to be one of the most confusing cities I have tried to navigate, mostly because of the multiple walls built around the city center, which are now roads. If only other people in this world could see the failure of walls. We shyly walked into a small and dimly lit bar that my guide had told me was for the lost souls. The people in these places were broken, but the true gems of the population if you could get them to talk. It sounded like a rewarding challenge.

The first beer (not a liter this time) went down easily, however, before it was done, we already had another one in front of us from the young men at the end of the bar. We said “Danke!” (the only German word I knew that was useful) and moments later an older man was speaking German loudly in my face with a large grin. He really got a kick out of the situation when I used my awful German to tell him that I didn’t speak German. I learned that night that many people in Northern Italy speak German, not Italian, and there was a large futbol game happening the next day which attracted this group to Munich. It wasn’t long before the people in this bar were ordering endless rounds of shots and beer for everyone and we were drunk and it was late. It is amazing how language barriers tend to disappear as the night goes on.

Now, unfortunately for me, the hostel we stayed at had a cheap bar, and the people in our room were partiers. This meant, every night, instead of going to bed like a good girl, I mingled with the travelers from all over the world. It also meant that I got one more drink before falling into bed at some god-awful hour, only to be woken early again to start another day. Sleeping is not something I do well when I am on vacation. So, I woke a few hours after I fell asleep to walk around the city again.

On our third night in Munich, I didn’t go nearly as hard as I had on previous nights. We went back to Frühling’s Fest and stood on tables dancing to live music while drinking liters of beer, you know, just like all the locals that were there. I was hesitant to dance on the table, since I had seen a few spills, but I survived without having to use my non-existent health insurance. German tunes intermixed with Sweet Home Alabama and other famous American songs of the like. We closed the place down, closed down the hostel bar, and took off for Salzburg in the morning.

Now, Thursday night is karaoke night at the Irish Pub on the outside wall in the City of Salzburg. Danny was expecting us, so per usual, we fought the exhaustion and hangover from Munich to go have one Guinness at the smoky and crowded bar. We still made it back to our studio at a decent hour, because we had a lot to see in the morning.

Our studio, which we found on AirBNB, was in a beautiful building built into the side of mountain which seems the ancient civilizations had managed to conquer (an interesting feature in the Alps). The city seemed to sprawl from this central location, where above us, resided a fortress that was constructed starting in the tenth century.

Upon arrival to Salzburg, we had used Google maps to direct us on foot to our place. We had parked on the other side of the mountain, and the directions took us to a side street that terminated in stairs.  A little confused, we huffed up at least 7 sets of steps, unable to stop for pictures upon the beautiful views because we were running late for out meeting, only to realize that there were no stairs on the other side. Why Google, why would you do that to us? We had been totally ignorant to the tunnels and parking garages that wound below the mountain. Of course, and lucky for us I might add, there was an elevator that took us down for less than 5 euro.

On our only full day, we arranged two museums, the city’s oldest bakery, an amazing vegan restaurant, and the city’s oldest bierhaus. Both museums were centered around the rich men who built immaculate buildings with ridiculous resources to show how powerful they were, although their houses, churches, and fortresses were quite beautiful. I learned that the fountains outside were horse baths and people-powered cranes were used for building. The city was named Salzburg because of the salt barges that were tolled along the river, originating from the valuable salt mines nearby. This was also the source for the expendable income on baroque-style interior decorating.

The narrow walkways were fascinating to walk through because of the colorful and historic buildings that created them and the cobblestone that was beneath our feet. It is no wonder it is a UNESCO world heritage site. Expensive shops filled every window and a river ran through the center of the city. Parks were designed with art in mind, evidenced by the intricate placement of flower colors, statues, and passageway construction. The old bierhaus was very similar to the ones we had found in Munich, but we only stayed for a half liter before adventuring back out into the cold.

It snowed on us all day, so I was happy when the special at the tiny vegan restaurant had warm and lovely gnocchi as their daily special. I ordered French Toast for dessert. We spent about an hour in a pharmacy, then a grocery store where I was pleased to find that Austria had its own line of vegan food and the produce was clearly labeled with the country of origin. They even had cheese-filled wursts!! I was blown away.

Did I mention that the gas stations were top notch in terms of food and drink?

 

Daydreaming

Just writing to write. An upkeep for my premature memoir. I have to tell you, I keep daydreaming. I am also worried about what I will do when school ends for 6 months. 6 months with no school. But I will be in Nicaragua for 2, Germany for a half. I’m watching Balto right now. The only class I will get in an A in is Spanish. Symbolic Logic is something crazy. Environmental Science is well-known, but I can’t seem to get good grades.

At work, I think of mountains and rivers, Nicaragua and fresh fruits, colorful houses and new places. Pienso siempre. It gets me through the day and puts a smile on my face. My favorite people have been in bad moods, I hope tomorrow is a little different. I am happy to make money at the least, but find myself rather bored. Or irritated because there is so much to do. There doesn’t seem to be any in between.

I seem to be not as mad as I was before. It scares me because I can’t be getting used to the 45 regime. I’ve been feeling pretty powerless, and I’ve been finding that I haven’t been taking any action as a result. Despite being super strapped on time this month, I hope to gain more knowledge in diversity and organizing, and hopefully successful strategies for change. Still going in circles: “what can I do, what can I do?!”

Last week was Human Rights week at Cascadia College. It’s exciting because it is another opportunity to learn, and I guess it is already included in the tuition you pay. There was interesting talks on a variety of topics that fly off the tips of everyones’ fingers on social media, and if you’re lucky, in real life. However, unlike last year, we had the pleasure of an art installation: Border Doors.

These border doors speak to decisions I can’t even imagine having to make. Decisions many people never have to make. These pieces of art bring another emotion to a topic that is tossed around in media and politics in the United States, as if the people struggling with the choice to move for a potential at a better life don’t exist. I feel privileged to be able to observe the doors on campus this week and last week, and I wish everyone had a chance to see things from another perspective, because in the end, everyone wants the same thing.

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Anyways

I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. How many times can I write it? I don’t know.

I don’t know.

I don’t know what to say or do. I am in shock. I am drinking wine. I am cooking dinner. I am going to school. I am going to work. Moving through the motions, hoping no one will talk to me. Because I will probably argue. Discontent runs deep. Maybe I can feel it in my veins. Maybe I can feel it in the pulses of my patients, as I thread the needle into their artery hoping to pull some life out of the nothing that is left.

I pull it from the artery, and I find no answer.

Just satisfaction in a job that is right for the people and not the individual. I keep it alive until the cord is pulled, and everyone realizes it wasn’t right in the first place.

 

Please don’t talk to me, I have nothing to say. I only have one thing on my mind. Please don’t engage in conversation, because I have no room for opinions on this man. I have no patience for freedom of speech, except to speak out against such outrage. When did it become you, the only human on earth that matters? When did someone else value life less than you? When did someone else matter less than you? Aren’t we all born from a mother and a father, no matter if you know them? Don’t we all come into the world with no morals? Isn’t everything outside of the breathing and eating a learned habit? Do you ever think of the history behind the violence?

I sure do. I suppose I can see the frustration that comes with lack of power and money on both sides. I can see the fear for your family that associates you with someone that has absurd values, especially while running one of the “most powerful” countries. But cant you see the other side? Do you not feel empathy?

I ask – with all of my heart, gut, and head – why does your life matter more than theirs? Is it your belongings? Is it your family? What kind of life is led by fear? One with a tv and a nice car in the driveway?

Is it making sure you have food on the table at the cost of others’ survival? I can understand a fear of survival in a world of competition. And it isn’t your fault that money runs the world. But every single fucking person I know that voted for trump has god damn food on the table and a house to live in, and the privilege of skin color.

I can’t look so many people in the eye. I have no room for excuses. You are human, just like the rest of people. And news cast, the planet is fucked. Climate change is real.

Diversity is important, just as biodiversity is. And we are all the road to hell. Whatever the fuck that is.

Expressions of Pain

People ask me how I slept last night. Honestly, I got drunk. I had decided to not look at the polls so I could find out in the morning and have the news spread in front of me similar to a band-aid being pulled off. I was easily awoken when my alarm rang and I tried to put it off. Going back to sleep was a joke so I checked my email to read the daily delivered news.

Donald Trump has been elected president.

First, I screamed. I rolled around in bed, and shouted again. My mom couldn’t hear me. Thankfully, she was drying her hair. Hastily, I went to her room to proclaim the news. I was disoriented and confused, perhaps slightly the lingering alcohol contributed. Facebook allowed me to express what I was thinking as I collapsed into my bed again. I had to go back to sleep.

I didn’t of course. The newsfeed on social media had me outraged and wondering how he was elected. People declaring their anger, and some speaking of peace and acceptance. I didn’t know how to feel or what to say. Swinging back and forth between animosity and disbelief I decided I had to make some kind of statement that he didn’t represent me. He didn’t represent America.

Donald Trump does not reflect my values. He does not serve the ideas of interconnectedness. Our government does not represent democracy. Our culture enforces limited options that is represented in our elections. Our world changed today, and the change was palpable. The only thing I could manage to do to express myself was to make a shirt with the most basic words I could comprehend on this decision.

Of course, I may not be directly affected by what Trump has perpetuated, but my empathy is vast. However, this isn’t about me. This is about people. This is about the man in my Spanish class that couldn’t hold back the tears of fear. When offered help, words couldn’t be expressed, just expressions of pain. This is about the immigrants here because of war and suffering, who may be sent back regardless of what age or reason they were brought here. This is about a wall being built between nations of race, sex, sexual orientation, and two actual nations.

I know not all Trump supporters have these values or ideologies that I despise so much, but their prevalence cannot be ignored. I can only hope that the outlooks unearthed have only caused an open wound that can now be on the way to healing in some form. Can the ideas that have been televised by this person now be addressed? Or will it continue to divide? Is it possible that this person can change his language and direct the oppression into another direction?

No one really knows for sure, and that is one of the reasons this is so scary. Change is supposed to be good, but this change has pivoted into danger. We can only hope that with this new role, he will gain some social maturity that will reflect on the people who don’t want to experience difference in a positive manner.

Last night, I had to remind myself that everything was going to be okay. Now that it is not, I have to remind myself that everything will be okay. I walked through campus and felt a feeling that I had never experienced before. I cried for emotions I never had before. With an open mind, maybe we can use this as a learning tool. We will see what happens.

Telling Violent Stories with Dignity

For 4 years now, I have kept it a secret. For a multitude of reasons, I haven’t come forward on social media, or really talked about it with my close friends and family. The first year, I denied it, because there is no way it could have happened to me. My friends would have been more up front with me, my mom wouldn’t have loved him so much, and it was certainly easier to blame to break up on him cheating on me. However, only 2 people know what really happened that last night of our relationship in 2012, and perhaps he doesn’t even remember.

(Before I begin, I need to state that this is my story, and it is scary to share. The last thing I want to do is hurt any of this person’s friends or family. I have not named any names for this reason, but some people will know who it is.)

I had driven to Roslyn to visit my best friend and have a couple beers. Naturally, as soon as I left, the whiskey began to free flow at the corrupt little housing place we lived at. I was in the bathroom and on my second beer when he called. I never thought much about, but my friend answered my phone because she was aware of his temper and perhaps not answering it would be worse. Convinced he heard a male voice in the background (we were at a bar…), I was forced to scurry out the door and rush home over Snoqualmie pass in October.

Of course it didn’t end there. On my way home, I got phone calls with my dogs crying and threats saying that he was “taking really good care of my dogs”, one of which just had knee surgery. When I arrived home, I loaded up my car as swiftly as possible, although a majority of my stuff had been thrown out the second story window.

This wasn’t a one-time occasion, and there were certainly times that it got a lot worse, both verbally and physically. There were times when it happened right in front of our friends and our family. Just that one cloudy memory was challenging enough to write about, and I don’t see a need to bring up more details.

I would also love to say that this was the last time I was ever with him, but it 3 years ago I allowed him to come join me in my safe place in central Utah. For 2 secret months we were together and it ended with involuntary police involvement, him going to jail, and me being forced to call it what it was: domestic violence.

The second year was full of suicide threats and a plethora of new email addresses. After dropping the domestic violence charge because of pleading by his father and other personal reasons I haven’t put much thought into, the restraining order was dropped.

At the time, I still had hope that things could be different. This would scare him into treating me well. He would stop drinking. He loved me so much and I loved him and we were supposed to start a life together. I wouldn’t physically see him for most of this year, and I kept outstandingly busy, even for me. The discomfort of no rest was less than the discomfort of facing the lasting effects that would come from such degradation.

The third year, I started to develop plans to do the things I could not do when we were together. Going to school was something he had not allowed, because I already had a degree. Going backpacking alone and travelling to different countries and still seeing him, although rarely, filled up the summer. He had no leverage on me anymore. Anxiety and depression manifested is my life in ways that I had not seen it before, such as not being worthy of my education or talking to anyone I perceived as better than me, and feeling guilt for living my life the way I chose to and still choose to live.

I’m in the fourth year now, and I started telling strangers and acquaintances. I write about it after having too much wine and tell my friends that I have last effects without going into too much detail. I don’t want to face anyone asking questions about it when I am not prepared to talk about it. I do not blame the relationship for my back and forth depression and anxiety, because it always existed a little. What I do know is I still suffer. I haven’t had a relationship since then and I still don’t talk about it.

I don’t talk about it, because the people closest to me already knew. It is embarrassing to bring up to the people who told me all along it wasn’t right and tell them that it still haunts me.

I don’t talk about it because I don’t want to lose friends, some of which are his family.

I don’t talk about it because there are way worse things happening in the world.

I don’t talk about it because I don’t want to seem like a victim. Another person hoping for sympathy. I don’t want sympathy. I just want this thing off my chest and I don’t want people to look at me differently.

I don’t talk about it because I am not perfect, and I still blame it on me from time to time. But, no matter how unreasonable I can be, I never deserved those things.

I don’t talk about it, because I stayed. I am out now, but it took me a long time. I also still make mistakes, like at the beginning of this fourth year.

And finally, I don’t talk about it because I still love him.

The last lingering thing and the most toxic thing of all. The thing that I don’t have an answer to. The thing that I want to go away, with all of its’ baggage. While I would never be in a relationship with him again, I am not to the point yet where I need to be.

I want to talk about it because I know I am not alone. And maybe my story can help someone else.