Monday, August 8, 2016

She Knows

She knows her grip is too desperate, too needy, but she doesn’t loosen her hold on his hand.

They are going out to dinner, and he has reassured her she looks fine, twice at home, again in the car. His tone had been more exasperated than appreciative that last time, and she winces at the demands her insecurities place on him.

He always says she looks beautiful. He always holds her hand.

Even so, she can’t quite believe him when he says, “I love you.” It might have been true when his infatuation was new, before she’d worn him down, tugging at him like a dingy being tossed by the ocean. He is not the first person to serve as her anchor. Others have tried and failed. Surrendered to it. She knows that one day the moorings will snap and his safe harbor will vanish, too, as she is drawn back into the maelstrom. This is the only truth she knows.

There are reasons he’s still at her side. He’s an optimist, but in a relaxed sort of way that allows time to slip by without bothering him. Her children have his eyes and curiosity. His children have her hair and love of drawing. They are blended together in their small, socially awkward, imaginative, living creations.

On the other hand, he is impatient, frustrated when he is held back from something he wants to do. She holds him back a lot. Some days, he goes on without her rather than work to bring her along with him. One day he won’t come back. This is what she tells herself on the black days.

But today is one of her better days, so she tightens her fingers around his palm and marches into the restaurant. The whispers of thought that brush against her become less of an overwhelming chaotic storm, like the one she’d fought against outside. Walking down busy pavement through swarms of teenagers and judgmental suburban professionals is never pleasant. Restaurants, at least the more dignified ones, are easier. Diners tend to focus on their meals and companions. A thought or two might be sent her way when she walks behind the hostess, winding her way down the path between tables. She can handle that. It’s nice to have a reprieve from the opinions and disdain that pour from other people’s eyes.

Sometimes she forgets how to talk to him, but this is a good day. They talk about world events, friends, and nonsense that makes them both laugh around their forkfuls of pasta. Together they entertain their server with the sort of patter-talk that used to trip off the tongues of Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. The server loves them, their wit, the welcome into their little bubble of irreverent amusement. It’s one of those moments when she knows they’ve been labeled a “happy couple” in someone’s head forever. She wishes she could bottle that feeling and carry it with them back out into the world. She would open the bottle on the bad days, when she can’t breathe from the pain of her helplessness, when he can’t quite find the patience this time to react with understanding rather than irritation.

Her illness has become a third wheel in this relationship, and she doesn’t know how much more they can withstand. How much more she can fight it. How much longer he can stay. But he still calls her “beautiful”, so she clings to hope, and to him.

She thinks that her biggest burden is knowing she’s not quite sane. Her mental vision is forever impaired, tinted nonexistent shades, and she can’t see clearly. This illness has wrapped her in chains that lay so heavily on her, she cannot lift her body from the bed. But she can still see all her potential, all her wasted opportunities, and all the losses of friendships and dreams that have come and gone while she’s carried on surviving.

One day she may not win the battle. She knows that, too. It’s strange that it frightens her enough to make her feel safer, wearing her terror like armor around her heart to protect her from herself. Using fear to survive at the same time that it keeps her from living.

Most times when he attempts to drag her out of the dim room of her inner sanctum, she tries to let him. Some days she hates him for it. On the worst days, she hates herself too much to do more than keep breathing for him.

She has never been a crier, and when she breaks down, it scares him. He brings her ice cream. He tells her why she is worthy of love. He tells her he believes in her. He tells her he’s never going to leave. He tells her about all the wonderful things that are worth living for. He tells her he loves her.

She knows.

Depression lies. It’s not her fault. She’s not a failure. She’s not unloved. She’s not weak for not conquering this awful mountain of Can’t. She matters to people. She matters to him. Depression lies.

She knows.

She holds his hand.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

White Privilege

So. White privilege. I read a really great blog post about this, and I wanted to add my own two cents to the mix.

I’m white. Like whiter than white. But my children are Hispanic. Specifically, Mexican and Nicaraguan and indigenous/Native American. This puts me in a weird situation as far as discussing civil rights and racism, the same sort of situation as white parents who adopt children of color (and of course other parents of biracial children).

I support Black Lives Matter and similar groups trying to protect marginalized people in the US. As a child of the early 70s, I remember when race riots were still a topic of national discourse. Things seemed to quiet down in the 80s and 90s. That’s not to say that racism went away. It just got ignored again.

But then, oh lordy, we got ourselves a black President. People lost their minds. Obviously he had to be from Kenya because (apparently) that's the only place black people come from.

In my naïveté and privilege, I had sort of thought that Obama’s election signaled that racism in the US was on the wane. Boy was I wrong. The ugliness that poured out astounded me, and my view of what Americans are changed dramatically.

It’s hard to push back against the seething mass of hatred, fear, and anger that was unleashed following the 2008 election. My voice is small, and the volume of negativity has continued to get louder and more vicious.

I talked to my children, tried to educate them, and I became more mindful of my own privilege and how I could use it to help stem the tide. I know I will never understand or experience what African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, and other marginalized groups have to deal with on a daily basis. The only way I could hope to relate is my struggles against the misogyny I’ve encountered in my life. But if I’m honest, which I should be, my socio-economic background has insulated me to a certain extent there, as well.

See, the thing with white privilege is that you grow up without having to fear for your life any time you leave the house. It has never occurred to me during a traffic stop that the police officer might shoot me if I said anything wrong. I’ve never walked to the store with the knowledge that some random vigilante could find me threatening and blow me away. When I’ve had to knock on a stranger’s door, it has never been with the fear that I would be seen as a threat and killed before I had a chance to speak. I’ve never had to fight to assert my right to live unmolested and safe. I’ve never had to prove that I matter.

I never expected to have to warn my children about the prejudice and aggression they will encounter because of their skin or their surname.

When Donald Trump rode down that ridiculous elevator and stood in front of the cameras, he chose to accuse Mexicans of rape and murder and insisted he would rid the country of these evil-doers. I’ll ignore for the moment that the vast majority of Mexican immigrants are hard workers, dedicated to their families and communities, and living lives that would make the average suburban white person weep.

The thing that sickened me most about that speech was that it signaled that racism was socially acceptable. Since that day, I have heard and seen more racism, bigotry, and intolerance than I think I had in my entire life up till that point. Because now we have this open culture of hate, and to our shame, a great percentage of our citizenry has jumped up on that wagon.

My oldest son told me once that he “feels white.” What he meant is that he has been sheltered and essentially accepted into the predominantly white environment due to our family’s financial advantages. He’s never been treated like a “lazy Mexican.” Even so, I had to warn him that there are many people out there who will remind him he’s brown, and that he might even miss out on job opportunities just because of the name at the top of his résumé. He didn’t believe me before the Trump speech. Now that he’s seen the aftermath, he realizes that it’s only too true. I hate that he had to have that revelation.

My youngest son asked me if Trump would deport his father. He is genuinely scared of this. He is proud of his heritage and cannot understand why people would hate his grandparents, his father, and him because of it.

As a white woman in the suburbs, I don’t know if I’m really qualified to talk about racism, but I think I need to anyway. I think we all need to. Because if it’s socially acceptable to let hatred and bigotry have a voice, then it should also be okay to speak out against it. So even though I’m steeped in white privilege, I’m not going to stay silent. My children will not stay silent. And I hope that at the very least, I can leave behind a legacy of descendants who will be unafraid to speak the truth.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Now Available

The second edition of The Truth Seekers is now available!

Print copies can be ordered from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and CreateSpace.

Since this is a second edition, I won't be doing much in the way of promotions or giveaways, but you never know - the mood might strike!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Nearly There!

I've received the page proof for The Truth Seekers today, so it looks like this is really happening!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

New Developments

I've been neglecting this blog for quite some time now, but at last I have something new to pass along!

The second edition of my historical romance, The Truth Seekers, will be available on 5 July 2016 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and other channels. The e-book is available for pre-order now, but the paperback is still being sorted. It will be available soon, though!

Also, some may note that I'm blogging and publishing under a different name these days. I've decided to stop writing as Elizabeth M. Lawrence going forward, so all of my future publications, including The Truth Seekers, will now be available only under the author name Mavvy Vasquez.

I'm working on some new projects, as well, and I will keep you posted on their development as they progress. Hopefully not too much longer.

It's good to be back in the saddle again!