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.

After going on fifty dates and one failed relationship in the world of dating in the United States I can say that there is a definite paradox of choice. Frankly, it’s overwhelming and I find that people are always constantly looking beyond their shoulder for the Next Person , the next thrill and it’s more than easy to flee a relationship when something isn’t going exactly to plan. The elusive sense of being happy takes precedence over commitment and growth. People I find become interchangeable. One minute I had guys gleefully messaging me on the phone and the next, they disappear without warning. This feeling that people are just set pieces, that we don’t value the relationships we cement- be it friendship, jobs or love- is a nagging feeling that I have seen a lot in the past year.

When you are faced with a huge amount of choice- people get overwhelemed and are never totally present in the relationship they are in. Furthermore, at times it ceases to fulfill a significant purpose other than having ” fun”. The one question I would get asked is ” What do you do for fun?” Frankly , I never knew what to answer to this. Anything given a chance can be fun. But my ultimate goal when cementing relationships is not to have fun it’s to grow and understand new things.  I found that as time progressed people kept telling each other the basic facts of who they were, but not really went deep into the person’s character. Because dating in the states – at least in my experience- can be so quick and painless people move on just as quickly.

The reason is the possibilities are endless. There’s online dating, meetup groups, bars, religious groups, book clubs, coffee shops. This is especially the case with women, who can easily find a date if they know where to look. They can also easily find a hookup, a one night stand, a temporary relationship, friendship with benefits… but very rarely can people find someone who genuinely wants a long term committed relationship.  Furthermore, things go quite fast, there is no sense of courting or getting to know someone, you go on a date you see if it works and if it doesn’t you never have to seee the person again.

This exchange always made me uneasy. If anything, when you go on a date, or meet someone for coffee you get the chance to meet a new friend or contact. The problem is that people come in with predisposed notions and won’t settle for anything less than what they want. If you aren’t exactly what they want they will more than happily dispose of your acquaintance. This was shocking to me. What happened to all the time you invested in getting to know the person and finding out who they were? Where does all that go?

The opposite problem you can find in El Salvador. The friends you have are generally within a limited social circle of job, who you grew up, your religious group or interest. People don’t get close to strangers. In general, people don’t just casually date either. Most people go into long term commited relationships – or a hookup if it’s kept secret- but they don’t date a lot of people at once. That’s because the choices are limited… there are very few men compared to a huge amount of women.

This creates a strange philosophy in that, if you do ” find a man” you latch unto him and even if the situation is less than ideal -you aren’t physically attracted to them, they are sexist, they have a lot of baggage, they aren’t compatible, etc – women are taught that you should maintain the relationship as much as possible, While the positive side is that there is an emphasis on family, the result is a lot of single mother households, rampant cheating and women who feel that it’s better to be in a bad relationship than be alone because her value as a person is placed on the shoulders of who they marry, Men on the other hand, can easily pick a huge array of women and get the best of the crop even if they themselves aren’t the ” best”.

Women in the united states and Europe are no longer bound as much to marriage as a status symbol.

All of this is due to the fact that we still have a weird concept about love, dating and marriage. We base a lot of our decisions on what the person looks like, what we are attracted to, the initial thrill of courtship than anything based on a permanent long term relationship. We are constantly dissatisfied suffering from a cognitive dissonance because the people we choose don’t fit into an ideal. We mirror what we want in ourselves in other people. We base our own happiness purely on the companionship of others.  No one can possibly carry that burden.  No one has the power to make us unhappy unless we let that happen.

While both cultures have different rituals of courtiship, of love and dating I find both sides to be dissatisfying. We forget that people can come into our lives- be it in an awful way or in a good way- and we can choose to grow and learn from it or sink in constant unhappiness because they don’t fulfill our ideals. We don’t have to stay in a relationship out of fear of being alone, nor should we BE in a relationship out of fear of being alone.  Relationships are wonderful, they are also hard work and a constant source of growth.  We weren’t meant to be alone, but if we do make the choice of being with someone, I believe that at least in my case it would be because we want to enrich our lives , find new perspectives.

Relationships can cause us to see the world from a different vantage point, it can be painful because we see ourselves and our faults and what we need to improve. We have to adapt and change our lives.  True meaningful relationships will also cause a degree of discomfort and pain, but they will also achieve growth. They should not be so painful that it stagnates our own growth – so that we think we have no choice and continue to stand it- but we shouldn’t expect everything to be perfect either.

Human beings are messy creatures, the only thing that is pure and beautiful is the power of the spirit.  The more we give the more we give in return. If we start to see our relationships on a spiritual plane- that is that they transcend what we are doing physically, the nature of transient problems, the power of now vs. the future… if we see our wealth based on the relationships we surround ourselves with , the amount we give and serve others and the way we grow to acquire qualities we can eliminate the huge bout of individualism and paradox of choice.  In acquiring relationships as a means to grow, we can also eliminate a feeling of doing things just to ” latch on” or a fear of what society things is best for us.

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