O.k I am going to talk about my LEAST favorite genre in the young adult books. This is also the one I am pretty concerned about because there are some themes that are being retreaded over and over and over.
When I was a kid, if you wanted to read YA romance novels you usually turned to sweet valley high. They weren’t perfect- they are pretty darn close to pretty little liars- but it seems Ya fiction has come a long way from that former assessment.
I guess romance novels have become a beast in of itself, and while I was sort of expecting chick lit- which I don’t seem to mind reading from time to time- this seemed a lot more like harlequin romances than anything.
They are also trending number one in teen novels…beside fantasy/ sci fi and dystopian novels.Which have the same similar themes. As I started to read them a lot of them became blurred into the same darn plot albeit some key changes here and there.

Lover Boy as the Bad Damaged Distant Guy

He has penetrating eyes, and strong biceps tends to be a ladies man but doesn’t seem to connect with anyone. He is damaged , in some way or another. He has a dark past which usually involves sexual, physical or some kind of abuse. He has horrible parents or absent ones. He has no direction in life until he meets….

Wimpy Damaged Heroine

Our damaged heroine is a victim. She has been a victim of horrible parents/death/rape/incest/domestic violence… but somehow is still pretty wimpy. She shivers a lot and is unaware of her captivating beauty. That all changes when she meets ( insert ridiculous name here ) who awakens her and frightens her at the same time. Even though he is dangerous, and can’t stand having anyone talk to her or any men around her she feels ALIVE. She has no real ambition of her own. We don’t know any of her talents, we don’t know how she thinks and quite frankly she is pretty annoying. Despite people saying how great she is, she is pretty one dimensional

I hated these two themes more than anything else because it promotes the idea that if you fall in love, your pain and scars will disappear… if anything without therapy a relationship with two very screwed up individuals can become even more conflicted , toxic and codependent. It is not a cure, and romanticizing codependency is an extremely irresponsible thing to do . They very rarely really deepen on how this pain affects the characters. If you really want to know the effect of physical or sexual abuse go read i know why the caged bird sings, among other books. It’s really very dark and you do not recover just by some manly man cradling your weakened body into your arms.

Unecessary Conflict
After a lot of misunderstanding they get close… like fall- in -love- after- three- days -close. And then like there is some random stupid barrier that doesn’t allow them to get closer …. some misunderstanding

At the last minute
They realize their love until

Another unecessary conflict
Usually someone is about to die, is going to die or will die. Only they don’t …they make some miraculous recovery.

The girl is always a virgin
There is a lot of very steamy love scenes in this which surprises me because it is catered to teens where the stupid inexperienced virgin ( that everyone is surprised she is a virgin at 17 ….) gets experienced finally by the bad boy.

All Characters are white and American…
These guys don’t get around much in terms of diversity.

The characters get married
They get married without finishing school, having any ambition or even a view of the future. Most of these characters get married within six months of knowing each other.

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Bad romance novels bad. I am not a romance novel expert so please school me but surely we don’t have to retread the same plot over and over to appease teenagers.

The story of my mother

Posted: March 2, 2015 in Combating ignorance

In a small little glen in Scotland there was a little girl who believed in fairies. She had thin tufts of blond hair, an upturned nose and grey eyes that were always filled with books and imagination. She had a father who was a farmer but always wanted to be a scholar and a mother with a penchant for drama and beautiful border hats. She looked like her mum, the same cleft chin and square face. It was strong genetics, they passed all this on to me eventually.  The little girl loved playing the woods, and one time she accidentally set fire to the barn near her house.  From what I know of this time, it sounds idyllic, but this was but a brief snippet in time. She had two identical twin sisters who were ten years older than she and had long gone from the house. She was left hours in her imagination.

One day, when she was nine years old, she came home from school and her uncle sat her down and told her that ” Her father had gone to rest with the angels.”. She was not allowed to go to the funeral, people feared she was too small and needed protection. After that, her whole life changed. They sold the sprawling little farm, and moved into the city for at the time a woman was not going to have the property. It was just her mum and her, and her mum suffered from epilepsy. A year after they moved , when my mother was ten years old she had a fight with her mother over doign the dishes . She marched upstairs to watch her favorite television program. She heard a crash downstairs, and plates breaking. Her mother had collapsed with a heart attack and died. She was an orphan at ten years old.

This is where my mother’s life could have been a series of pity parties and tragedies. She went to boarding school and graduated early at 16 and went off to ireland. She had boyfriends , and seeked out a life for herself. But somehow, she didn’t become a wild child but became a Bahai and by age 20 was on the plane to America where she met my hippie father. Three months later they got married. My father was Peter Pan, he never grew up and they had me shortly after in a trailer in New Mexico.

My mom grew up fast, and she became a mother. I am not sure how she knew how to become a mother as supportive and giving as she is or how my father who had wonderful parents was completely incapable of being a responsible parent.

Despite this, my mom’s belief and faith kept us afloat. She put herself through college, she became a teacher and she desperately wanted another child and eventually adopted my younger brother. They came to El Salvador in the middle of the civil war and made this tropical country their home.

It was not a good marriage, it was dark, and there were many days where my mother’s strong arms protected us from the horrible things that happened.. but somehow my mom was able to keep us afloat and when they divorced and she was a single mom she somehow was able to pay for most of our expenses. Thankfully, my grandparents on my dad’s side helped me, but my mum somehow managed to put lucas through college.
My mum envisioned something, and it came to pass. She wanted a green Toyota Rav, and somehow she would get a Green Toyota Rav. She wanted to move to London, she would make it happen. She didn’t have parents behind her, so her sheer determination and will made things happen for her. Her love for us made things go along. I don’t think she realizes how rare this is, and how it is not that easy to achieve for other people such as myself. She willed her life to be better and so it was.

She is not a victim of circumstance, she is a survivor.  Her love for her family kept us strong. Today is her birthday, the sum of things that is my mother, who by all accounts is my best friend and the person I rely on the most.  She is the best mother I could have asked for and it is by the grace of God that she was placed in my life.

Happy birthday mom.original

A couple of years ago, in this very blog I wrote about being fat. At the time I hated the way I looked. I disappeared from photographs, I tried my best to  be inconspicous. I was uncomfortable in my own skin. But the thing is, I was the same way when I was thin.

I used being fat as a way to put off a lot of things. It was as if, by being fat I had an excuse to not live my life. This is hardly surprising because as a society we are taught that if you are overweight somehow you shouldn’t be treated with decent kindness and respect. You are taught that random people can come up to you and tell you that you are unhealthy . You are taught that somehow, you have to justify your life. You cannot be beautiful in your own skin, or somehow be proud of the things that make you you but you have to somehow build up on them.

When I was in my early twenties I lost all my college weight. I lost seventy five pounds. It was a lot of weight to lose in a small amount of time and I did it for the wrong reasons. I did it because I thought that if I did that maybe the boy I loved would love me back.  Guess what he didn’t.  I also got into a really bad relationship with someone that made me feel like less than a person.

in other words, losing weight is not the be all and end all for everything in my life. It didn’t cause me happiness, or sadness it is just a state of being. If someone decides to lose weight it should be for health reasons. When I was 18 and was skinny I was still asked to lose weight by my peers. Girls would always bring me down because of the fact that I had bigger boobs or a wider hips . I was never GOOD enough. And therein lies the problem, we externalize weight as a way of social acceptance.

Our sense of worth is tied up so much into what we eat, what we look like.   And we feel better about ourselves if we compare others . I grew up in Latin America where it was common place for girls to tear each other down because a girl looks ” fat’ in that dress , yet men walk around fat and no one blinks an eye.

I had bought into it so much that I never believed men when they told me they found me attractive.  I never had a lack of men trying to vy for my attention, and many of it is false flattery.  I always thought that there was an ulterior motive. ( There is also the part of me that hates that we buy into the beauty myth)

When my best friend told me that maybe I should get a gastric bypass so that ” a nice guy would notice me” it kind of hit me. A sort of epiphany. Why should you do anything for another person? The implication is also that in order for someone ” decent” to notice me, someone who treats me with respect I should be skinny. The notion is that as a fat person, I don’t deserve that kind of love or respect. It is kind of ironic because when that person go married, they weren’t skinny. Yet because as a male, that’s more accepted it was ok.

I am fully aware of the health risks of being overweight. I know what I look like. My grandfather tells me to lose weight, but in the same breath offers a bunch of cookies and desserts on the table.  It’s as if, people like to point out the flaws but want to enable for it to continue. IN society, someone who is fat has an obvious ” flaw” you can latch unto that , it ‘s something tangible that can be fixed. What if I don’t need fixing?

I found that as time went along, and I had the strength to look in the mirror I liked what I saw. I liked my flaws. I was comfortable in who I was, and that wouldn’t change whether or not I lost weight. There’s a famous case of a woman who was on Oprah who was overweight. Her father kept pressuring her to lose it so she had a gastric bypass. Supposedly, she was ” happier” and more ” fullfilled”  by losing weight but years later they found that she could not have children due to that same operation and she was not happier .

Fat is only a physical manifestation of your unhappiness. I know why I’m overweight, because of a thyroid issue and PCCOS and a ton of other reasons. But I shouldn’t have to give people a reason. I shouldn’t have to validate my life, and being fat has nothing to do with solving other problems in my life.  I find it more concerning to eat healthier and do exercise and be ok with how I look.   I’ll never be a size 2, but that’s ok.  Morever I am not going to let my weight stop me from ever doing things I want to do and taking risks. I am not going to stop living life just based on a size. It’s funny but the moment I started to think this way was the moment people reacted more positively towards me. When you feel confident that attracts good things.

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I used to have this fantasy that I would emerge skinny and somehow my life would solve itself. But that never happened, because all the times that I lost weight the problems were still there. Losing fat doesn’t mean you are going to be happy, it doesn’t even guarantee you will be healthy.  I like how I look, and whether or not I lose weight, that confidence is the best thing I ever gained.

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