Thursday, October 1, 2015

Challenging Religion in Books

Another post from my Banned Books discussion board...

The topic of religion has always been a difficult one for me to discuss, but not because I don’t like to. My issue is that I grew up in a very non-religious family where we were each taught that we could believe anything we wanted but we weren’t the church-going type. I’m not familiar with the bible other than what I’ve seen or heard from others (not intimately familiar with any religion really) so I struggle sometimes to have value added input to a conversation about it. While I may not be a religious person, I do respect others’ beliefs and values but I just wanted to make that distinction.

Teaching creationism in public school science is inherently problematic because of the basis of the concept. The very idea of creationism is that the universe was created by one single higher entity. To teach creationism in a science class, an intangible concept, would create issues for students like myself that aren’t religious. According to Google, science is defined as “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.” Teaching a concept that is based in the bible is, as our reading suggested, religion and not science. Those teachers that teach creationism spend less time discussing and teaching evolution. This puts those students at a disadvantage and could also confuse those that don’t believe in the same belief system as the teacher. Creationism isn’t a science, it’s a belief. It can’t be proven or hypothesized because there’s no way to test.

As for the examples in the text that could be challenged, I thought about Moses parting the Red Sea being considered as magic/occultism. Moses being able to actually create a path within the ocean would definitely be something that you could consider magical. I think that action can be defended because of the importance and the significance of Moses leading the people out of Egypt. I also thought about the plagues that also could also be considered occultism/magic. That can be defended by using the idea of consequences and analyzing why the plagues were happening in the first place.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Banned Books Week Virtual Read-Out: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

My Banned Books course also introduced me to the Virtual Read-Out project that's done over the course of Banned Books Week. We were supposed to choose a passage from a book that's on the frequently challenged list, explain why we chose it, and read it on camera to be posted on YouTube. Normally, I actively avoid making videos to post online because I'm a perfectionist and I don't really care to see how I come across on video but this was a project that is/was near and dear to my heart. 

I'm sure it's not a surprise based on my previous post that I chose #60 from the Top 100 list on the ALA's site. I chose Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson because it is a book I'm incredibly passionate about. The challenging of this book is what made me start really paying attention to the idea of banned books as a whole.

The passage I chose starts on page 124 and continues on to 125 in the chapter titled Hall of Mirrors. I chose this because it represents a struggle that I think every person Melinda's age goes through. Trying to reconcile who you are based on what you've been through and trying to figure out if that one terrible thing is going to define you for the rest of your life (or at least what feels like the rest of your life). This passage also draws attention to how difficult it is to talk about it and how painful it is to keep something pent up within you and to just try being "normal."

“I adjust the mirror so I can see reflections of reflections, miles and miles of me and my new jeans. I hook my hair behind my ears. I should have washed it. My face is dirty. I lean into the mirror. Eyes after eyes after eyes stare back at me. Am I in there somewhere? A thousand eyes blink. No makeup. Dark circles. I pull the side flaps of the mirror in closer, folding myself into the looking glass and blocking out the rest of the store.  
My face becomes a Picasso sketch, my body slicing into dissecting cubes. I saw a movie once where a woman was burned over eighty percent of her body and they had to wash all the dead skin off. They wrapped her in bandages, kept her drugged, and waited for skin grafts. They actually sewed her into a new skin.
I push my ragged mouth against the mirror. A thousand bleeding, crusted lips push back. What does it feel like to walk in a new skin? Was she completely sensitive like a baby, or numb, without nerve endings, just walking in a skin bag? I exhale and my mouth disappears in a fog. I feel like my skin has been burned off. I stumble from thornbush to thornbush—my mother and father who hate each other, Rachel who hates me, a school that gags on me like I’m a hairball. And Heather.  
I just need to hang on long enough for my new skin to graft. Mr. Freeman thinks I need to find my feelings. How can I not find them? They are chewing me alive like an infestation of thoughts, shame, mistakes. I squeeze my eyes shut. Jeans that fit, that’s a good start. I have to stay away from the closet, go to all my classes. I will make myself normal. Forget the rest of it.”

Banned Books

I started taking a course at ODU in my final semester before graduating with my Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies Professional Writing. This course has reinvigorated my love for reading and books and I'm so grateful to actually enjoy a class that I can provide real value added input to. That course is on Banned Books and it's analyzing literature that is often challenged or banned. I wanted to share on here some of my insights on the idea of books being censored. I wrote the next paragraphs within the discussion board of my course and wanted to put them out in the world for others to read (if they ever come across this silly blog). 

Reasons to Challenge
The three highest reasons for challenging books are: sexually explicit, offensive language, and unsuited for age group. The highest challenger overall is often the parent followed by administrators and school institutions.

I’ve read many of the books on these lists but the ones that stick out to me are A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard is a book that I struggled through as an adult and understanding the gravity of what she was trying to convey so I kind of understand why that might be challenged in schools. For the others, it honestly confuses me as to why these books are challenged and/or banned because they are all dealing with real life issues and situations. I don’t understand why people would want to limit access to books that speak to actual life events and could potentially help someone that has experienced something similar through a difficult time.

To be completely honest, banning books for being sexually explicit makes zero sense to me. We live in a world where at any point in time, there is some type of sexually explicit media being thrust upon our eyes. Whether it’s on the radio and Beyonce is singing about having sex in the limousine or commercials with blonde models in bikinis taking a bite out of a hot dog (though I suppose this is implicit), our society is already sexualized. Banning books for being sexually explicit seems to be hypocritical and utterly absurd when you take those things into account. It’s shocking to me that there are people in this world that think a high school girl dealing with the aftermath of being raped/molested over the summer is deemed as sexually explicit (Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson). I understand that need for limitations and moderation in books that may contain sexually explicit material, however, I don’t think that banning is the way to do it. Consider that movies, TV, music, video games all have ratings systems that specify a certain age or adult consent to access. Why not attempt the same for books? Or, and this is my preferred way of thinking, allow the parent to discuss with their child the books they are reading and if the child is ready for it. It’s not up to the institution or society to make that decision.

Violence in Literature
Some of the reasons to keep violence in literature include “feel[ing] the tragedy of the event without having to fight ourselves” according to Phil LaMarche. Violence doesn’t necessarily beget violence and instead could lead to the opposite. Keeping violence in literature allows the reader to explore different types of pain and tragedy without having the physically go through it and helps understand consequences of such violence.

It’s hard for me to get into the mind of those that think that violence should be banned in literature for public schools but if I had to take a stab at it, I would think that it would be possible to give public school students ideas. Instead of exploring the consequences of violence, they would instead see and learn about different types of violence they hadn’t yet discovered and might take a liking to. Another reason that might be relevant is that violence provokes more violence. If someone already has the tendency towards violence, reading about it will only encourage that behavior. A final reason for removing violence from literature is to deter readers and future writers from also writing about it and reading about it. Keeping violent literature away from students keeps them sheltered and not allowing literature to assist in imagining violence and tragedy.

To be completely honest, the violent literature reaching the hands of children seems to be the responsibility of both the parents and the school administrators, at least from the perspective of how readers can get their hands on the physical book. However, I also think that the internet is to blame for violent literature reaching the hands of children. If  the environment is controlled and the student or child has to seek permission to read such a book, then it is up to the administrator/teacher/librarian to ensure the child is prepared and should be reading such a book. It’s also up to the parent to talk to the child to ensure their level of comprehension is high enough to understand the type of book they are reading.

I struggle to find blame or reasons for violent literature to be removed from libraries and curriculum because I feel like there’s a need for it. As Phil LaMarche suggested in his article, violence in literature is a way for someone to learn how to deal with that kind of emotion or pain in a therapeutic manner. If we don’t allow violence in literature to teach kids, we remove stories like Beowulf and works by great authors like Shakespeare. Can we really condone removing such literary classics from curriculum?

Sexuality in Literature
According to the readings, books with sexual content should stay in school curriculums because they provide a safe way to teach kids to discuss and talk openly about sex instead of sheltering them. These books can be used as teaching tools in schools to express that sexuality is part of human nature. If we remove these books from the curriculum, kids would be missing out on classic works of literature. Mature themes, according to the reading, are part of great books and provide both story and context to sexuality. As said in one of the quotes in the Yes/No article, banning books for sexual content “paves the road for future censorship.” Who is the person that is responsible for determining what exactly is too sexual?  Not discussing sexual content in literature keeps students from openly asking questions and analyzing the repercussions of sexual content, whether it’s pregnancy/abuse/etc.

Removing sexual/mature themes from books is thought to keep sexuality as a personal aspect of life instead of through classic works. Making kids uncomfortable is part of that reasoning to keep sexuality out of books. Because we’re talking about public schools banning books, many believe that the books should not be part of curriculum because they should only be outside of school. They aren’t appropriate for upper middle/high school students to read. As with violence in literature, I have a hard time getting behind any of these reasons as legitimate concerns when mature content is available on both the internet and television.

According to the Banned Books Week article “Almost Always about Sex,” the grade levels debated are middle school grades, specifically 8th grade. The type of sex that Scroggins argued included homosexuality, oral sex, anal sex. I am inclined to agree that upper grades in middle school (7th and 8th) and high school grades are the times to really start discussing sexual content and sexual education. This age, mostly around the age of puberty, is the best time to help kids learn about their bodies and learn that sexuality is not something to be ashamed of. With all that students should be learning at that age about their bodies in the first place, why not allow them to also learn in a controlled about such things as sex and homosexuality (or any sexuality for that matter)?

I was an active participant in the #SpeakLoudly campaign regarding Scroggins’ challenging of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. The messages in that book, to me, were a necessary lesson to learn when I read it in middle school. I remember reading it and thinking, “Man, I wish I could have read this sooner.” In my opinion, as long as the content of literature isn’t sexual just to be sexual and there’s a message or reason or lesson behind it, there’s no reason to ban it at that age range. Honestly, I'm not sure I would've known about the #SpeakLoudly campaign had I not discovered Laurie Halse Anderson on Twitter. I just happened to have a Twitter account and follow mainly my favorite authors (selfishly trying to track when my next favorite books were going to come out). Most of the authors I followed wrote some type of post about it and it was incredibly informative. I hadn't really paid much attention to the fact that there were still people in this day in age that wanted to ban books. To say I was flabbergasted that this man thought Speak was "soft core pornography" and that there were people that actually agreed with him is a bit of an understatement. To me, it just proved the point that the people that want to ban books don't actually read them. Instead, they skim the works looking for trigger words or specific plots that they deem inappropriate. Who are they to make that distinction? How do they want to teach their kids about the "bad" in life without using books as a tool?

The fact that we have this Banned Books class at ODU kind of points a point on that idea, doesn't it? "Paving the way for censorship" should not be a phrase used when referencing books, in my opinion. It's incredibly disconcerting that we have to have discussions like this and there really isn't much reasoning with those that believe in this type of censorship. Again, I wonder who is the authority on what is too sexual and too violent? Again, it’s important to realize that not every student is the same and it’s really up to the parent to discuss with their kid to determine if they’re mentally prepared to discuss such things.

In the Highland Park case, I absolutely disagree with the school board’s decision to remove those seven books but I understand the need. With so many parents showing up to protest and bring with them their reasoning, the school board had to make a tough call. It’s those parents that don’t want to deal with their kids learning about sexually explicit content and those parents that aren’t ready that forced the hand of the school board to basically remove them to avoid escalation of the issue and to revisit the issue with a committee. I think the best explanation as to why Shakespeare’s work is never banned was suggested by Aimee Simms when she said “classics can address complex topics, such poverty, with fewer sexual references and curse words.” Honestly, I think Shakespeare is never banned because he used complex words and rhythm in his works that make it difficult to really understand at first glance. I think those parents that are up in arms about young adult books can easily skim a page that is discussing a girl being sexually abused and see what’s happening vs. skimming a scene from Othello where Iago claims to share a bed with Cassio and describes a scene in which Cassio kissed and touched Iago. The language that’s used isn’t as clearly discernible as a young adult book is but that doesn’t make it less explicit.

Challenging the Hunger Games
One of the reasons that the Hunger Games is officially challenge is due to the violence in the book. An example of this is on page 138, “I can see the muscles ripple in Cato’s arms as he sharply jerks the boy’s head to the side.” This actually shows Cato murdering one of the tributes by snapping his neck with no remorse or concern.

Another reason this book is challenge is that it’s sexually explicit. I wasn’t able to find anything that I found sexually explicit but I thought it might have something to do with the fact that kissing and “love” is used to sell Katniss as a good person to sponsor. As shown in this quote on page 160, “He’s dozed off again, but I kiss him awake, which seems to startle him. Then he smiles as if he’d be happy to lie there gazing at me forever. He’s great at this stuff.” Katniss is aware that she should be using her kissing and romantic feelings in order to get people to send her thinks (sex sells, doesn’t it?).

The fact that Rue and Thresh are the only people of color in this book and they are from the agricultural District 11 could potentially represent the third reason for challenging as anti-ethnic. “They whip you and make everyone else watch” (page 125) shows that District 11 could be representing slavery. These characters are the only two people of color in the book and they are both killed in the arena.

To be completely honest, the only offensive language I was able to scrounge up was “More likely they’ll make your life hell in the arena” (page 68) that represented the horrors of killing in the arena and equating it to hell. Damn Suzanne Collins for being so offensive!

Finally, this book is challenged for being inappropriate for the age group reading it. I think I can understand why that might be the case when someone has their tongue cut out for committing a crime. An avox shows up in the story and Haymitch describes, “Someone who committed a crime. They cut her tongue out so she can’t speak…She’s probably a traitor of some sort. Not likely you’d know her.” (page 51) That kind of consequence and cruel punishment may not be suitable for certain age groups if they’re not prepared for that level of violence (which brings us full circle).

I would venture to say that the jump in the challenging of the Hunger Games has something to do with its growing popularity and the movies associated with it. People tend to become more familiar with books if they have been turned into a movie. Often, those same people assume that the movie represents what the book is about and is the direct replica of that book. I would think that a lot of the people that are trying to challenge the Hunger Games are basing it on the movies instead of the actual literature. It goes along with the idea that most people that challenge books haven’t even read those very books in the first place (infuriating to the max, by the way!).

So far, that's all I've had to say outright in my Banned Books discussion posts. I've replied to my classmates within my group and I can tell that I'm the only one that feels as passionately as I do. I often get feedback from my instructor that I've gone above and beyond. Just last week, she said my response (regarding the Hunger Games) was the best she'd seen of everyone. I find it incredibly rewarding to get that kind of feedback from my instructor. I'll be posting more as the class goes along. I don't know that I have an audience but I've always got something to say. :) Next, I'll be posting my Virtual Read-Out in honor of Banned Books week. It's one of my favorite projects that I've done for college.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Catching up & Big News!

Whoa, so it's been way too long since I've updated this bad boy. There's just a few things I need to catch up on and then I get to announce my big news!

I started the 100 book challenge on January 1st and I've already read 53 books. This puts me about 2 books ahead of where I need to be in order to actually read 100 books this year! Most of what I've read are pretty good books but I've read some pretty terrible ones too. I'll see about doing a more in depth post with a few words about each of the books I've read so far.

Next up, I turned 25! And went to Alaska with Cisco for a much needed vacation! Again, I'll have to do an in depth post about our trip there but it'll probably wait until I have all the pictures from our time there so I can share those too. 

Upon our return from Alaska, we also bought me a new car! It's pretty. And green. And amazing. And, and and... lol so many happy and exciting things!
I'm standing next to my Fiona! :) 
Now, I guess I should probably get to THE biggest news of the year....

Cisco asked me to marry him!! 

I have been bouncing off the walls for the last couple of weeks with all the happy I have in me! We don't have a date set yet but it's on the agenda to discuss. Yesterday, I wrote out our proposal story and I figured what better place to share it than here. I've been getting a ton of questions on Facebook about how it happened and all that jazz so without further ado...

If you know Cisco and me, you know that we are not the typical couple by any means. We bicker and taunt each other enough that we could take this show on the road. We are not a normal couple and so very far from traditional so you should know that our proposal story is one for the books. Cisco does things on his own timetable so obviously this has been a long time coming!
In June of 2013, Cisco and I were gearing up for a vacation in Alaska. The day before we were to fly out, Cisco took the day off to prepare for the trip while I worked. We had a plan that when I returned home, we would immediately go shopping for last minute things for the trip. All was great until around 4pm when I suggested that I might get off work early. Cisco decided that he didn't want to go out shopping and we'd wait until the following day. Of course, I was grumpy with the idea of waiting to pack until the day of and I definitely let him know it!
When I arrived home after work on 19JUN, I walked in and after cleaning around the house for a bit, I decided to go to dinner with my parents. Cisco had once again declined going out even for dinner so as I left the house, I was still frustrated with him. Once I left, I decided that I was going to do the errands that were initially planned so I called Cisco back. While on the phone, he put me on hold to answer the door. Once he got back on the phone, he had me turn around and come pick him up. My thinking was he didn't want me to be irritated with him anymore. So I walk in, and wait on the couch while he gets ready to go. The following is a rough draft of the exchange he and I had as we prepared to go out:
CR*: "Okay, babeh, I's gettin' ready to go now!"
CL*: "I don't understand. We had a plan. We were gonna leave right after I got home from work. We discussed this earlier!"
CR: "Hold on, I have to get Harley to go outside. Harley! Outside! Come on Harley!"
(Harley stands in the living room with her head cocked to the side)
CL: "Seriously? Leave her inside and go take your shower. What is your deal? She's fine!"
CR: "Okay, hold please! I have to find my flip flop. I know it's around here somewhere!"
(He crawls around in front of the couch where I'm sitting, grasping around the floor. I'm getting further annoyed that he's still not ready to go. Every new task is just irritating me more because it's like he was stalling to get going!)
Cisco pulled out a little black box while he was "searching for his flip flop" and said to me: 
"First your way: 'Chelsea (rest of my name removed), will you marry me?' Now my way: 'You's bein' mah babeh forevah!'"
After a stunned moment of silence due to the emotional whiplash he gave me, of course I said yes (after verifying that he asked my Daddy for his blessing)! 
It turns out, the whole reason that Cisco decided not to go out and run our errands or go to dinner was because he was waiting for the UPS guy to show up with the ring. He ended up showing up in the span of me leaving the house and returning to pick Cisco up. So the whole reason I was grumpy was moot since he didn't want to leave without signing for the engagement ring! It just wouldn't be us if we weren't bickering or I wasn't grumpy with him for some reason or another during this momentous occasion!
My smile has yet to dim after that amazing night and I'm so incredibly excited to begin the rest of our lives together. The next day, Cisco and I went on our first extended vacation together and had quite the adventure in Alaska. It was the perfect time to be an engagement couple and everything is just falling into place for us. 
I hope you enjoyed our story and I'm sure Cisco will have something to say about the way I portrayed it (the guys always do!) For now, know that Cisco and I are incredibly happy.

"I paid how much for that ring?!"

I still catch myself staring at this gorgeous ring!
Don't let him fool you, he's happy!
What better place to celebrate our engagement than at Hooters with my parents?!
I am still just incredibly mind blown that I'm engaged to the love of my life! I never imagined it would feel and be like this. Every time I look at my hand, I have this huge grin on my face and I know just how lucky I am to have my Cisco. On another post, I'll have to talk about how Cisco asked my Daddy for his blessing and also about my Mom's reaction when I told her.
So on that fabulous note, I get to talk about my good friend Mallory Hotmess! She has generously offered to take our engagement photos for us! She's learning to and becoming an incredible photographer and we're grateful to be her first engagement shoot. She is and going to continue to be a force to be reckoned with so check her out at her site! 
One of my all time favorite pictures of myself was recently taken by Mallory. She definitely captured my "I just can't..." emotion!
I'm sure I'll have to change the name of this blog to something about weddings or green or something like that since the next posts will likely be centered around that. I'll still be reading but I doubt I'll want to write about it unless I read a mind blowing book.
Anyway, thanks for reading and I'm glad I could share my story!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

100 Books in 2013

This year I was able to get through 86 books in 2012 and I'm quite proud of that number. Between January of 2011 and December of 2012, I have read 167 books. Some books have been awesome and others have been near dismal. This year I've decided to attempt 100 books in 2013. There's a Challenge that Book Chick City is currently hosting. Here's hoping I can accomplish it! This will be my second attempt at it but I think this will be my year! Feel free to leave me suggestions!

I'm also hoping to win a copy of Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews by sharing about this contest!

2013 Reading Challenge

2013 Reading Challenge
Chelsea has read 2 books toward her goal of 100 books.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Another post unrelated to books...

When a sibling tells you they are sick, what is your first reaction? Do you cry? Do you hug them and tell them that everything is going to be okay? Do you quietly fall apart inside while they tell you they are going to chemo? Oh, you do? Huh...what's that like?

When my sister informs the family that she's sick with cancer, my reaction? I scoff. I roll my eyes. I patiently wait. What do I wait for? Oh, just the moment when she realizes that she can't keep up the charade and lie anymore and miraculously she's healed. I also get angry. I rage. I cry for all the wrong reasons. I cry because it's not fair. I cry because I'm angry at the wrong sickness. I cry because I have nothing else to do. It breaks something inside me to have no compassion for my sister. It destroys something within me to know that if this is the one time she's telling the truth, my initial reaction will have always been disbelief and anger at yet another dramatic story from Ashley.

I don't talk about my sister very much; I refer to her as my sister even less. I'll always love her because she is blood and that's what I'm supposed to do but I don't like her. While I understand that she has a mental illness and I've have plenty of therapy to get me to where I am today, I don't like her and want very little to do with her. I don't get to have a sister that I'm close with. I don't get to have a sister that I call every couple days to talk about my day and see how her life is. I don't get to have a sister. Period. I don't get that because of who I am. I don't get that because of who I have grown to become. I don't get that because I don't accept that her illness is an excuse. 

No one should be able to make me feel the emotions that my sister does. I shouldn't feel like a horrible person because I either don't believe her about an actual cancer that she might have, or I do believe and I'm made a fool of because the lie seemed so real this time. I have lost count as to how many illnesses and sicknesses she's had. I've lost track of the amount of the times that she's supposedly been pregnant. I can say with complete seriousness that she has cried wolf so many times that it's become a joke in my family. She's a liar. She's a thief. She's ripped wounds open so many times in my family that there are scars where they used to be. She is a one-woman wrecking machine. 

This news today has a lot more affect on me than I'd like to give voice to but I've been incredibly quiet for so long regarding this that when I do talk about it, it's confusing for my audience. For a long time, I had only my parents. While I was in high school, I was practically an only child. My brother had his own life that he was screwing up since he was out of the house but I had my parents. I spent my weekends with them because I liked their company. I liked making them proud because I knew at that point, I was the only one. I used to joke that I had to make up for a lot but I'm not so sure it's a joke anymore. I guess I should be thankful to my siblings, especially my sister, because most of the decisions I make are based on the ones my siblings made before. I have my full time job. I have my college degree (albeit an AAS) and I'm continuing on to get a BS at some point. I pay my bills. I have good credit. I'm in a stable, healthy, and happy relationship. I would rather spend my time reading then going out and drinking and barhopping. I'm 24 years old and I'm settled in my life. I owe that to my parents. I wouldn't be where I am today without them. 

My sister broke our family down systematically with her sickness and her lies and her mistakes. She has weathered us so much that something like her having cancer doesn't phase us. She broke our compassion long before now but still, there will always be that niggling feeling in the back of our minds. At least in my mind. When my sister says she has cancer, I roll my eyes. That sentence should exist. That thought shouldn't be in my head. But it is. And it breaks me. 

All I can think of is what if she really does? What if she really does have 6 months left to live? Will my incredibly strong and stable parents break? Will I go to her funeral? Will I go for the right reasons? To support my parents or because I'm really and truly sad?

For the first time in years, I saw my sister a couple months ago. The visit was for all the wrong reasons and we all had banded together to help my brother. We only had to spend a day with her. That day was the first time I had seen her in probably 6 or 7 years. Not one moment of that day did I think "Man, it's good to see her again." Nope. That entire time I was with her, I was willing the clock to move faster. I was wishing for a reason to leave the room whenever she was in it. I couldn't stand to hear her voice. I couldn't stand to listen to her and my brother talk about our childhood like it was this horrible event. My siblings have a habit of making it seem like our childhood was this disaster and our parents were so terrible. Every moment of every day I wish my parents knew that they were full of shit. They don't, though, because on some levels they question their parenting because of the mistakes my siblings and I have made. Yes, I've made mistakes...significant ones. But I'd like to think I've learned from them. Not so, for my siblings. 

When I think of my siblings, I don't think of home. I don't think of all the good times we had when we were kids. I rarely think back to our childhood. All I can remember is the pain that we've all made my parents feel. How heartbroken we've made them when we make the significant mistakes that don't seem so big when we're making them. All I can remember is my brother saying that Dad never let him do anything, and my sister saying that my Dad used to abuse her. All lies. Every single one of them. Lies. 

There is absolutely nothing I can do or say to my parents to make them forget those things said about them. There's nothing I can do except my very best to show them that I've listened and I've learned. I wish there was but so far, I've only been able to use words. Even so, the fact that my Mom is so calm and quiet about my sister angers me further. A mother shouldn't be so desensitized to something her child says. She should never be in that position in the first place. A father shouldn't have to feel like a bad person for not believing another lie. Parents shouldn't have to deal with that pain.

My sister doesn't afford my parents that courtesy. Instead, every week it's something new. Two weeks ago, she only had 6 months to live and there was no reason for it. Today, she has cancer. I ask questions. Why cancer now? Did she see how we rallied around my cousin and her husband's passing from lymphoma? Did she hear a story about how people would give more attention if she was dying of cancer? Was it more believable for her? A little sister should not have to ask these questions. A parent should not have to ask these questions.

For a very long time, I hated my sister. I hated what she put my family through. I went through therapy to talk out my issues and to stop hating my sister and I believed I'd worked through my issues. I don't think I have, though. I think my indifference was masked anger. I don't think I've ever been okay with my sister and the things she's done. In my head, I know that she's mentally ill. I know that some of the things she does and says are because of that illness. I also know, though, that there is something of my sister in there that knows what she's doing and saying and she doesn't care. So long as she has the attention, all is right in her world. 

There is no answer to this. There is no right or wrong for me to feel which just pisses me off further. My sister shouldn't have an affect on my life anymore. Yet, I still get tears in my eyes when writing about it. I still have a weight in the pit of my being because of guilt. Guilt for not believing, guilt for believing a tiny bit, guilt for still wanting nothing to do with her, guilt for considering my reaction at a funeral for her, guilt for not wanting to go to a funeral for her, just guilt. 

And that guilt weighs heavily.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Reading is a way of life...

I have a couple of great images from the interwebz to portray my love of books...enjoy!

I'm sure I'll have another post with more pictures and quotes. I figured since my blog is called Lost in Literature, I could do a little more regarding books and such. :)