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America the Beautiful

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AMERRRIIICCCAAAA AMEEEERRRRIIICCCAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ‘MURCA!

I’m sure there are thousands of blog posts out there focused on the US Presidential Election. I’m sure some of these posts bash Republicans, and others bash Democrats. I’m sure some of those blogs are written by people who aren’t even in the states but this election has affected the WORLD in such a way that everyone is feeling a bit of pain or happiness.

I’m sure some talk about everything I’m about to talk about and more.

However, I feel if I don’t blog about this I might never shut up about it on social media and I’m getting tired of even my own posts about this election to be honest. I really can’t help it. You don’t have to read my blog and you don’t have to like my blog. You don’t even have to agree. It’s mine to write on.

Let’s start with a few facts. I don’t discriminate against anyone who doesn’t agree with my views as long as they disagree in a civil manner. I have so many Trump supporting friends who are respectful and who understand that I am entitled to my own opinions. I voted Bernie. I am still very irritated that Hillary ran instead of Bernie, let’s make that clear. I am also devastated to see Obama go. I voted for Hillary. I am not a lazy, jobless, liberal. I do not believe in gun control, I do believe in legalizing pot, I am pro-choice, and I’m a Catholic. I am constantly called a liberal because of my age, it is constantly assumed that I’ve had a handful of abortions and I want all the pot. It is constantly assumed that I’m scared of guns and an atheist. It is constantly assumed that I feel entitled and that I am too stupid to carry my own weight. I am none of these things. I am an individual with different views on different things with different values who would like to not be labeled.

Barack and Michelle have represented our country with such grace and class, I’m not sure we’ll ever get that back. I am truly going to miss them. I don’t care if you’re not a Democrat or if you didn’t agree with their policies or the changes they’ve made, you can’t take that away from them. Hillary is scary, I will not sugar coat it and I won’t ever say she would be an exceptional President, because I don’t believe she would be. I did believe she’d keep our heads above water until the next election though.  Trump. My Lord….Trump. Insane, big mouthed, trashy, ill mannered and sexist. Hillary has a past that would make even the KKK shake in their boots and Trump is just a disgusting human being who will, and has, embarrassed this country. I just hope they script everything that comes out of his mouth from ordering a burger to making public speeches, he’s just that damn offensive. I feel he is unprepared for his position as Hillary has spent most of her life building up to this only to lose. I wanted Trump to lose more than I wanted Hillary to lose is my point. I believe Trump is one of those people that will abuse his power, we have taken hate and given him a huge, fat, fist. I would not have chosen Hillary to be our first female president, I don’t feel she deserves that title, but I just really could not get behind Trump.

Trump has promoted hate, bullying and racism throughout his entire campaign. Do I believe he can just go out and deport everyone? No. Do I believe he’s going to just flip the entire country upside down in four years? He might, but it’ll be difficult to do since he’s not the only one who makes the decisions. Do I believe that my Republican friends promote this hate and bigotry? Absolutely not. What I do believe, however, is he has enabled every single person who has always been racist and who has always been hateful to act out. He has encouraged these people to treat anyone who is not like them, like dirt. As if they are not part of the foundation of this country. As if they don’t have anything positive to offer us. They should “go back” to their country because they wear hijabs or speak another language. Pure ignorance is swallowing us up. I’ve seen videos that made my stomach turn. People pulling off hijabs, throwing around racial slurs, threatening people and so forth. This is scary. Children in elementary schools are bringing up the fact that Trump is now president, so now the brown people need to leave. The comments on these posts throw me for a loop every single time! “Oh, they’re just kids. Hate and racism has always been around. Don’t blame Trump”. I’m not blaming Trump for racist people and their racist acts, I’m blaming him for making it okay.

I am a first generation American. My parents are immigrants. My mother has a green card, she is not an American citizen. She has worked her ass off in this country and continues to do so. She does not mooch. She does not break the law. She is a woman who is just trying to survive. We are not tan. We look like your every day white people. We do speak Portuguese, and I am a little scared to speak it in public. This still affects us, our hearts still bleed for those who are openly harassed day to day. When people say, “Oh Trump is just talk while Hillary is a murderer!”, it does make me think for a minute. Is he just some guy on a power trip that spews bullshit? Or has he not committed these crimes because he hasn’t had the opportunity…Yet? What’s frightening to me is how many people just completely downplay these events, I seriously cannot get over it! They truly do not believe Trump is capable of causing harm, please get your head out of your asses. Everyone has the potential to do harm. Everyone.

Let’s flip the coin for a second. These riots, the burning of flags, the fighting, coming from the opposite side. This is no way to protest. This is no way to represent our communities. It is not okay to fight unless you are being attacked. It is not okay to burn flags, we need to respect this nation as Donald Trump wasn’t more than some reality TV star trash bag until now. Why are we letting him shake us so? Why are we stooping to their level of hatred? Beating up on a Trump supporter walking down the street just because they’re wearing a Trump hat is not making you look like you have a true purpose. I understand this situation is bringing out the worst in us but we need to stand up the right way. We have no control over the fact that he’s the president at this point. Eight years ago I said, “I don’t care about anyone’s thoughts on Barack Obama becoming President, the fact of the matter is he is our President and we must respect him until he gives us a reason DURING his presidency to make us feel otherwise”. I feel the same way about Trump. He is our leader now and we have to at least give him a chance, and if he messes this up, then we’ll have a reason to really revolt.

What pisses me off is 8 years ago, these people who are spreading so much hate and racism didn’t say that we should respect Obama and are now expecting it for Trump. Practice what you preach or shut the hell up. Period. People actually feel okay to fly confederate/nazi flags, people actually feel okay with shouting ‘Ni****’, people actually feel okay with telling their children they’re not to play with kids who aren’t white at school, people actually feel okay with telling others that they cannot speak another language because it’s the new “law”. IGNORANT, STUPID, MISINFORMED IDIOCY! What are we if we don’t all respect each other? Do we expect other countries to respect us as a country? We are the butt of everyone’s jokes. It’s we as a people who are making it this way. We need to get our shit together. I am all for people with different opinions and views, just don’t push that shit onto everyone else, especially with violence.

So many are saying, “Hillary should’ve traded places with Bernie”. Where the hell were all of you during the primaries? I am angry. Bernie would’ve had a real chance over Trump. Bernie was part of the change we wanted to see. Better luck next time, let this be a lesson to those of you who didn’t vote. In addition, if you didn’t vote, you have no right to complain. You have no right to protest or to bitch. You did nothing but expected results. That is not how it works!

To those of you who have experienced this hate first hand. Please know that where there is bad, there is always good. You are loved. You are wanted here. You will always find people around you to help you and support you if in need. The racists and bigots have always been racists and bigots. They’ve just been injected with pride and a sense of superiority. We will get past this, it will get better. You did not come here to fail or to be dragged through the mud, you came here for the same reason my parents and grandparents came here. To make something of yourself. For a chance. A real chance. LGBTQ and women, we have come too far and have gone through too much to let this shake us. We are stronger as a team. Stick together. Spread love among the hate. Spread strength and unity. Spread fearlessness and class.

Spread hope.

 

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Avô

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You didn’t know him. In fact, if you did, you probably wouldn’t even like him. Growing up, we always heard stories about how terrible he was to his numerous children and to his wife. He was an immigrant who brought this family from the Azores to the United States to start a better life. I never understood this, in the Azores he had a good job and they did okay for themselves (from what I’m told). Everyone around us, judging him and talking about him as if we weren’t standing right there. “We” being his grandchildren, the people who saw a side of him that no one else knew or understood. Sure, we only knew him as our avô, but that’s just it…That’s what mattered to us. Yes, he was a hard man who rarely smiled and had a pretty aggressive personality, However, his grandchildren always made him laugh and smile. We were his weakness.

I remember the days when he’d watch me after school because my single mother worked all hours of the day and night to support us. He would walk to the school and we’d walk back together, hand in hand. I did most of the talking, of course, but he didn’t mind. He would listen patiently and finally ask if I’d like to help him in the backyard. He loved his garden, his pigeons and his paint. He ended up moving to a different town with my grandmother when my mom decided it’d be a good idea to move in with her boyfriend’s family. My grandparents lived in a small trailer where my avô had the freedom to plant and paint whatever he damn well pleased, and he did. I joke that the only thing keeping that trailer together, until this day, is all of the layers of paint. I spent a couple of weeks every summer at their house until I turned 18, after that, I visited at least once a week. I could sit and talk to my grandparents for hours, listening to their stories and advice.

My avô would sit at the kitchen table every day and watch soccer or some other crappy show on the Portuguese channel and complain the entire time. I think I was the only person who didn’t mind this, it always made me laugh. I would sit and vent to him about various things and he would just laugh and tell me how dramatic I was being. My grandparents didn’t speak English, so other cousins only really came around when their parents were around. I tried to make it a point to visit as often as possible since I lived so close by and I liked to help whenever they’d allow.

When  I became pregnant, my grandfather would always say he wouldn’t be alive to meet Victoria. The joy in his eyes when that day came was something that I will never forget. He would just watch her in awe, mostly  because it had been about 10 years since anyone in our family had a baby. Once Victoria started growing, she became more active and was no stranger to getting into trouble. When I would scold her my grandfather would knock me on the head with his middle finger and tell me to leave her alone…She’s a sweet angel. I always laughed at this and I would remind him that she’d be worse once the teenage years approached…In which he would remind me that he wouldn’t be around to see that.

 And he wasn’t.

        He fell ill, recovered, and then fell ill again. His hospital visits were becoming more and more frequent until finally he had to use an oxygen tank and was too weak to stand for too long. I started visiting more frequently, much to my ex’s dismay. I tried to keep things as normal as possible by doing what we always did with each other and following the same routine. I would walk in, give my grandmother a kiss, leave Victoria in the living room with her toys, and walk straight to the backyard because I always knew he was there. It was like he was waiting for me every time. I would call him from the door and he would whistle, letting me know where he was. It was always a hassle getting to where he was sitting, in the middle of his garden. Grape vines, tall leaves of Kale and various fruit trees he invested all of his time in, covered the entire area. I would peak through the hanging leaves and he would look up at me and smile while sitting in his favorite chair. I would give him a kiss and he would say, “you get uglier and uglier each time I see you”.

         This time, it was different, he was different. The process remained but his eyes were so empty. He looked so tired, but his humor remained. Right on the other side of his trailer was a cemetery, and we could hear mourners sometimes, it would always creep me out. He would say, “look at that, all I have to do is jump the fence when I’m dead!”, and I would giggle because it was uncomfortable but funny. I would sneak him packs of cigarettes because they’re what kept him happy. He had been smoking since he was 12, so quitting would just kill him faster. He would hang the oxygen tank hose on the fence and smoke his cigarette; sharing stories with me and joking about how my grandmother would kill us if she found out he was smoking. As strange as this memory is, it always makes me smile. He was always going against the grain, thinking his own thoughts, quoting his own words. I always admired that about him, he always reminded me to be my own woman and to not let anyone call the shots. He was my male figure at the time, the man I looked up to, there to give me advice when I needed it (besides my Uncle Troy). I hadn’t spoken to my father for four years at the time and didn’t start speaking to him until I left Robert.

         Shortly after when I went over, he was sitting on the couch with a vacant expression on his face, eyes glazed over. I gave my grandmother a kiss and walked over to him and sat down. He didn’t look at me, but I started talking to him anyway. He never responded but I knew he was listening, I also knew his time was coming and that scared me. His health deteriorated so quickly, I didn’t have time to take in what was soon to come. We’re never really ready are we? I got a call the next morning…He’s passed. In my kitchen, making breakfast, I turned everything off and walked to my living room. I sat on the floor, I had no idea how to feel or how to react; I felt so empty, so confused, I couldn’t even cry. I left my daughter with my ex and drove over to where my family was, it wasn’t until later that day that it truly hit me. He was gone. Who would pick on me and call me “too skinny” now? Who would tell me that boys ain’t shit and my daughter would punish me by being just like me? Who would paint the trailer and take care of the garden? Who would twist my ear when I said something stupid? Or talk about soccer with me? Or sit in silence with me and stare out at nothing, in a garden near a cemetary?

             I didn’t know. I just wanted him back. I was asked to write a eulogy in Portuguese 30 minutes before the funeral, which I was fine with, but I was nervous and scared and sad. The last thing I wanted to do was talk, if you could believe it. The service was beautiful and so was my cousin’s eulogy. I had no one to vent to or cry to during this time since my ex kept telling me, “Oh, my dad died, you’ll be fine and get over it. It happens everyday”. Not a hug. Not an, “it’s going to be okay”, nothing. I’ve never seen my grandmother react the way she did that day, in fact, I had never even seen her shed a tear before that day. She sobbed and begged for God to bring him back. I stood up to speak at the podium and I was surprised at how many people showed up to pay their respects, he didn’t have friends and didn’t talk to his extended family. It was nice to know that there were those who actually cared enough to show up, even if it was just for my grandmother’s sake.

           Months later, my grandmother had someone gut the entire backyard. She said she just couldn’t take care of it by herself, but I think it was mostly because it hurt her to see it. I think about him a lot. I remember one day, a month or so after I left Robert, Victoria came to me in the early morning and gave me a big hug. I smelled cigarettes and Old Spice in her hair and on her clothes, it was the strangest thing. No one else was in the house, it was just us, and she smelled just like my grandfather did. I couldn’t hold back my tears,I just held her close and she started telling me about a dream she had. “Avô was there and we were at the beach!”, she exclaimed. I looked her in the face and asked if she talked to him a lot and she said, “yes mommy, all the time!”. I am Catholic, but I never believed in any of these things before she came to me that day. Every once in a while she’ll talk about him until this day, or the smell of cigarettes and Old Spice will wake me in the middle of a dead sleep.

I miss him so. He’s taking care of us, I just know it. It’s been three years this past Monday, and I can still picture his piercing blue eyes.