Sunday, October 18, 2015

Halloween Memory 2007

Since Halloween is approaching, I would like to recount my memory of the last time I ever dressed up. It was October 31st, 2007. I was in middle school and we had plans to go trick-or-treating with friends early that evening. Halloween was on a Wednesday that year which made it a school night. I knew I wouldn't have enough time to get ready when I got home from school. So the night before, I put temporary pink streaks in my hair. When I got to school the next day, I was pulled out of the classroom and cornered by my teachers to ask why I had dyed my hair. I explained that it wasn't permanent and I didn't have time to do it when I got home. My teachers told me it was against the dress code and it was not a natural color which was specifically in the handbook. The sad thing was, mine washed out! There were other kids in the school who had permanently dyed purple or red streaks in there hair. So I figured I was okay. Nope. It was still kind of early in the school year as well. We had been in session for maybe two months total and I was already getting in trouble. Now, I was that kid that if they got scolded by a teacher I would feel embarrassed, humiliated and there was a good chance I could possibly cry. I always tried to be quiet and out of the way. So after I got home from trick-or-treating, I searched for my handbook. There was not a damn thing in it about unnatural hair dye. Nothing about hair at all. After a few weeks of burying the memory (I apparently did not bury this deep enough); I colored a streak in my hair with a highlighter. I had really blonde hair so it showed up real well. Nothing was ever said to me. Also, other people started doing the same and they weren't scolded. So moral of the story is if you are going to scold one, scold all. Also, if it's Halloween and it's temporary hair dye. Let it go.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Family means more than internet.

I am not one to air dirty laundry online, but I think I've reached my wits end on this one.

So this started back in May. My aunt and her family who live right next door had their cable and internet shut off. They fell on hard times. Which I completely understand. We've been there before. So we let them have our router password until they got on their feet. My cousin thanked us for letting them use it and told us he uses it in the morning and his parents watch the Roku all day. A Roku is a digital media player that gathers channels through a wired Wi-Fi connection. Such channels as (and personal favorites) HBO Go, Netflix and WWE Network.

Anyway, the point is. We didn't see a problem with them using the internet. Until it started to effect us. Both households running on one small router was bogging down so much on the connection. Our internet ran ten times slower and Roku would buffer over 15 times in under a minute. We would get so frustrated that we would just shut the computers off and just watch cable. So my mother started asking if the internet was running slow for them or if their Roku was . No, they weren't online and the Roku was unplugged.

Well mom and I investigated and there is a way to see which devices are logged on to your router. And low and behold, there we're three computers and two Rokus logged on. We do not own three computers and we most certainly do not own two Rokus. When you sign your computer up, it asks you to give it a name. Mine says Lauren's. My moms said Crystal's. And so of course, my aunt's name pops up as well. We could see when they logged their devices on and off.

One rainy Sunday, it was the night of a WWE paper-view. So Dad and I sat down and watched it. It buffered 50 times in under a minute (yes, we counted) and it got to the point where, once again, we got so frustrated that we turned it off. My dad works all the time. There is little time to just sit down and watch TV together during the week. So we try to cram it in on weekends when he's off. We look forward to WWE paper-views every month. That's mine & my dad's thing. Mom doesn't get involved. So that's bonding time for us. We sit down to watch something we've waited a month for, pay for, and it's buffering.

So my mother texts them and asks if their Roku is running slow as well. My aunt just replied with. "I don't know. Ours in unplugged. We are watching TV on an antenna. Ours does do that sometimes especially if storms are near."


1. A Roku stays plugged up to the internet, unless you unplug it from the wall. We've tried this out with ours. It still said their Roku was online.

2. It was raining, but it was just a casual rainstorm. It was not pouring down. It was not lightning, thundering, or windy. Just simply raining. Even with heavy thunderstorms, it does not buffer as bad as it did that night.

We were furious, but we let it slide. Even though they stayed online constantly and pulled away from us. We just let it go. Give them more time to get back on their feet.

So let's fast forward to early August. We were sitting outside, enjoying the cool summer breeze that evening. When we looked up we saw a mother and baby deer across the road. We live in the south, with a lot of woods around us. It's normal to see woodland creatures running around. We love to go out and watch them. We find them beautiful. So of course, I grab my camera. I've photographed them several times. Even walked right past one a few feet away one night. So when I logged onto Facebook that night, I uploaded the photo. Tagged my parents and my aunt, uncle and cousin. It was public on all six timelines.

One of my aunts friends commented and we're just chatting away in the comments when the conversation started to get a bit personal. They started to talk about my great grandparents and how they passed away. She said that she had gone up there and found him. I was really little, but I still remember the night each of them died. And it wasn't her who found him. It was my mother.

The night my great grandpa died, my mother got a call from my aunt. She said she hadn't talk to him all day and he wasn't answering. Asked my mother if she could go up and check on him. So my mother did. When she got there, something was wrong, she felt it in her gut. She used the neighbors phone to call my aunt and grandmother to get down there. She the proceeded to break in and that's when she found him. I remember the night very vividly because my dad dropped me off at my aunt's next door. Where I stayed with my two cousins. I remember a conversation I had with one of them. We were all standing behind the couch trying to guess what could possibly be going on. I innocently and morbidly said "maybe he's dead." My cousin scolded me and said "don't think like that." When everyone came back to the house they told all of us three youngsters that he had in fact passed away. Exactly what I had felt in my gut. My cousin who scolded me had a panic attack and couldn't breathe. I remember because my aunt had gotten him a brown paper bag to help him breathe. I had never seen him like that. The death was hard on all of us. There was no doubt about that. The death was followed by a lot of family drama. I watched people starting to act differently, they were fighting, nothing was happy and I never understood why. I watched my mother firsthand take on the imprinted memory of finding her grandfather dead. Every. Single. Day. I watched how it effected her. It was a rough.

So I'm sitting here reading these comments, knowing for a fact that wasn't what happened. So I asked. "Didn't mommy find him?"
I chalked it up to maybe she was just getting old and her memory wasn't good. Maybe the death affected her and she blocked out what really happened. Or even the sad theory of she wanted to make it out to seem like she was the hero.

After I said that I didn't get a reply but my mom did. My aunt told my mother she will no longer discuss her parents death. Anything nice about them, she would talk about but anything bad, she wouldn't. She also said my mother and I shouldn't have said anything in the comments. (On the photo I posted.)

My father and I were enraged. How dare this woman speak to my mom that way. After we helped them out in a time of need. Using our internet to do so. So my father simply told my mother that she had two options. Either change the password or he would rip it out of the wall.

So that night mom changed the password. The next day, mom receives another message. "It is your right to do what you wish, but if internet is still off by 9pm I will assume bridges are burned. You know me. I always mean what I say. It's up to you. In all ways with all members of my family"

My mother, who is 43 at this point, was given an ultimatum. We didn't change it back. My aunt was using our internet to tell us what to do. When she didn't pay for it and undermining my mother for how she got the password in the first place.

My cousin likes to do these religious debates with people online, and he had one scheduled. So my aunt asked if they could use the internet for that. Mom said yes, gave her the password. She then told mom that the internet connection wasn't strong enough and they went up to my grandmothers house. A week later, we found out they were using our internet. She didn't even ask if she could use it whenever they wanted to. Just for that specific debate. They then proceeded to use our internet for over 75 days.

So the day after mom changed the password, she started feeling guilty. Tried to work it out. She saw them leaving to go up and use my grandmothers internet, and tried to walk up a piece of paper with the password on it. My aunt then refused to get out of the car to get it. She sent my cousin to get out and get it, but he just wanted mom to hand him the password. My mom expressed she just wanted to talk to my aunt when he turned around and said "She doesn't want to talk to you. You've been acting like a God damn bitch."

When I heard those words fall from his mouth; I rushed up to them. I grabbed that piece of paper and ripped it to shreds. I walk my mom home who was furious but also distraught. My aunt had a hand in raising my mom. As they are only twelve years apart. I watched my mom descend into sadness. She apologized again and again and no one would work it out. My dad then went in and changed the password again. Neither mom and I were given the password. As dad knew mom would give in again. He said that if we gave them the password, he would cut the internet off completely.

Now, something that befuddles me is... A man who has accepted God into his life. Let God consume him. Let God be his world. Studies the bible religiously; turned to his elder and said she was acting like a God damn bitch. Using the lords name in vain.

Now I'm not the most religious person in the world nor am I and expert on the bible. Yet one thing I was taught growing up was Exodus 20:7 which reads: "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain."

He even went as far as in-boxing my parents and myself a bible verse. Which reads: 1 Timothy 5:8 – “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

The internet was created way after the bible. Had they been hurt, or hungry, or even homeless, she would have taken them in and not let them go without. She did feel like she did not have to provide their entertainment. I've gone without internet before. I'm still alive. It wasn't the end of the world.

I always thought that very religious people. Especially, southern Christians, that you are suppose to work it out. I was taught (by my aunt included) that family is everything for they are the only ones that have your back. You remain by their side and no matter what, and always come together to work it out. Disowning family over internet is ludicrous. I could never see disowning my children or any family member over something so small and meaningless. As my grandmother always told me "Don't sweat the small stuff."

I was taught that spending time with family is what matters not the material things. Now, mom and I play on the internet together. We send each other funny things or we play games against each other online. We watch countless hours of TV together but in all of that, we are most likely in the same room. We know how to spend time together without using technology. We know how to talk to each other for hours. We play cards. We play with the dog, we go shopping. Those memories will last until I am old and gray.

Since all the chaos they have moved. They even got their own internet. My mom has endlessly tried to work things out. Even offered to pay for counseling to unite the family once more. My cousin has written a blog post. Calling my mother wicked and immoral. Saying she should repent. My aunt has called her toxic and a troll. She has proceeded to block her on all social media sites. I do not understand how internet is worth pretending family members cease to exist. That very woman told me countless times that she loved me like I was her own. Now she wants nothing to with me. It makes me think if circumstances were different, would she actually do this to her children. Also, what kind of example is she even setting for them? If someone doesn't do what you tell them to treat them like they are beneath you? That you are above everyone? Always using their religion to justify that they are always better than you. That if someone believes differently than you, tell them they are wrong and debate them? To pick and choose bible verses to fit the situation and not apply the rest of the book to their life as well?

I had to write this. I only feel like it is fair to share our side of the story. Regardless of what anyone believes, my mother is not a bad person. She has gone without to provide for me. Every time I was sick she took care of me. When I was in the hospital to have my gallbladder removed she barely slept to tend to me. She walked me to the bathroom every time I had to pee. Which is a lot when you are on an IV. When we came home she nursed me back to heath. She will hold my hair back if I'm throwing up or hold my hand when I get shots. She held my hand the other day when I had to have a tooth pulled. My parents have guided me through almost 20 years of my life. I'm alive, healthy, and happy. I am blessed with what I have.

I had four family members who I can recount countless memories. Easter Egg Hunts, 4th of July's, Trick or Treating, Thanksgivings, Christmases, Birthdays. Days of playing in the front yard, building forts, swimming, playing video games but apparently it means nothing to them. What I would give to have my great grandparents come down to earth to whip this family back into shape. Yet, sometimes I think even that wouldn't work. My aunt is kind of stubborn We can only move forward from this. If things ever worked out, it would be a miracle. Yet it wouldn't be the same. You don't forget when family stabs you in the back. I hope to one day find peace with their decisions and the fact my family dynamic has changed more times than I can count. I do not wish bad on them, as I still love them. I do believe in karma. I believe what you put out to the world, you get back. I believe if you do something to hurt others, karma will kick you right in the butt and give you something even worse to hurt you.

I will not sit here and call them names as they have done. I just do not simply know what to think anymore. So I have written my feelings down and sent them out into the world. Hoping that one day, I will get the answers I seek. Just remember to hold those dearly to you at a higher standard. Don't let them run over you of course, but always try to come to an agreement. Work it out. It is honestly not worth this to disown someone and try to erase history. That's not how this works. That's not how any of this works. My family means more to me than having internet. Having good family means honesty, sacrifice, understanding. It takes hard work. You shouldn't try to erase something so precious and valuable over something so petty.

"Ohana means family, and Family means nobody gets left behind.. or forgotten." -Lilo & Stitch

If you have made it this far, I thank you. You are a very patient person for reading my rambled mess. You get a gold star!