My Silences Had Not Protected Me

“My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you. But for every real word spoken, for every attempt I had ever made to speak those truths for which I am still seeking, I had made contact with other women while we examined the words to fit a world in which we all believed, bridging our differences.” ―Audre Lorde

This Is One Of My Lines- Do Not Fucking Cross It

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I don’t write about religion often. Usually I mention it in passing, not as core subject matter. I believe that we are all entitled to our personal beliefs, so long as we aren’t hurting anyone. However, when I DO write about religion, it’s because something has pissed me off, which brings me to why I am writing this. There’s a reason.

Nine times out of ten when people meet me, the first words out of their mouth are “What part of Italy are your parents from?” or “What part of Puerto Rico are you from?” (My brother also gets pegged as 100% Italian or Puerto Rican, except he has olive skin and I can totally see it in him, especially when he’s tan.) I stare at them, dumbfounded. For the record, my Italian ancestry is from Rome and Venice and my Spanish ancestry is from Spain and Argentina. To read about additional aspects you can read more here Ancestry, or ask me. Not that I think it is important, it’s not.

For clarity, let me set the stage for you: I am the palest white girl you might ever meet. My natural hair color is a dark brown that I call espresso (It is currently blue-black because I wanted a change.), and my eyes are hazel-green that are predominantly green. They change color depending on what I’m wearing and the mood I’m in. There is not a single thing about me that is distinctively any racial ethnicity over another, but I always get pegged for one of the two, and occasionally people assume I’m Irish (I think it’s my complexion.). I have no problem with any of that, but when I say “Actually, I’m Jewish and my ancestry is blended.”, people audibly gasp as if I just announced I am the reincarnation of Hitler and Stalin and I’m planning on world domination.

There is an awful lot of inter-religion racism that I find deplorable, and I discovered it within my family last year. While we might be related, however closely or distantly, we don’t all have the same facial features, for obvious reasons. I was talking to a cousin and her exact words were “No one thinks you’re Jewish because you don’t have the Jewish nose that walks into the room five minutes before you do, like mine.” My jaw was on the fucking floor at the disgust I heard in her voice. She openly admitted that she thinks it’s ugly, but that she doesn’t believe in spending the money on plastic surgery or she’d do something about it. All I could think was “There are things I don’t like about myself too, but I don’t look at my face that way.” I mentioned it to someone else and they told me “You don’t know what it’s like to go through life as an ugly person.” Again, I was floored. I have NO IDEA what they see that I do not.

I don’t possess that level of self-hatred for quirks of nature that make each of us unique. I treasure the fact that I inherited high cheekbones that both of my Grandmothers had, that I am the last of the hazel-green eyed women in my family (for now), and that I got my maternal Grandmother’s and mother’s full lips and widow’s peak. I am an amalgamation of three different generations of women, perhaps more, all with distinctive genetic blends. I don’t see myself as any one thing, but I do see myself as me.

But I digress.

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About ten days ago, a friend of a friend sent me a Facebook request. Unlike most people, I do not accept friend requests simply because A knows B. I decided to do a little research. It took less than a minute to learn that the woman who wanted to be my “friend” is a 27-year-old Filipino woman, friends with someone I’ve known for a long time, who is married to a 70+ year old British man who is 100% anti-Semitic. Strike One.

His Facebook wall is full of BDS posts, anti-Israel posts, and all kinds of hate messages against Israel. Apparently every Jew on this planet “needs to be eliminated immediately” because “they’re all terrorists”. WOW! I stared at the screen, utterly speechless. This is who a young, pretty girl is married to?! Surely she can do better. I mean really, she’s stunning and appears to be sane. What is wrong with her?

He posts this crap in England and she’s asking him, in the Philippines, if this stuff is “true”. (That’s right, they don’t live together. Does this sound familiar?) His answer is “YES!”, along with additional colorful hate speech. Strike Two.

Instead of educating herself (There is NO reason anyone in this world should be THAT uneducated so as to believe such vile hatred about a country or a religion. You don’t have to be a Ph.D. candidate, you simply have to have a brain you utilize daily and not be ignorant.), she doesn’t question it. It’s coming from her husband, so she believes it. Strike Three. And get this: He’s a philosophy professor. Any university I know would revoke his tenure and fire him for that shit.

I immediately deleted her “friend request”. It would have resulted in an epic fight and I do not have the time, patience, or the inclination to educate someone who should be shipping off to an old age home sometime soon, as opposed to newly married to someone old enough to be his daughter who is either way too good for him, or maybe way too stupid.

If you want to believe that “Israel is plotting terror.”, do your fucking homework. It’s a tiny democratic country in the Middle East, home to Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike, surrounded by countries that all want to wipe them off the map because Israel is the only country in the world that is Jewish land, given to the Jewish people, so decreed by God.

I messaged my friend and explained the situation. She’s “friends” with both of them and I didn’t want to step on any toes because I didn’t know how close the relationship was or wasn’t. I’d never intentionally disrespect someone else’s friends. She agreed that I did the right thing, that the husband is crazy and that his hate messages bother her too, and she said she doesn’t understand his hate or where it comes from. And yet, her answer to dealing with him is to hide his posts on her Facebook wall, as opposed to outright deleting them OR telling him he’s wrong. That’s way too passive for me.

If someone says something derogatory to me because of my religion (or anything else, really), I call them out on their shit immediately. I have freedom of speech and I know how to use it. If you’re going to hide behind a computer and say stupid shit, I dare you to say it to my face. That’s the thing; these cowards NEVER actually come out from hiding and say a word to your face.

Sadly, the most hatred I have faced in terms of direct anti-Semitism has been from  my own people. My own family, and other Jews. I suspect that a lot of that is because I “don’t look Jewish”. I have no idea what that even means, because it is a wholly racist comment. I wouldn’t tell a white woman that she “doesn’t look African”, despite the fact that she just told me that’s where she’s from, so why would I brand anyone else as not looking like an image someone else is putting in one’s mind? That is incredibly ignorant.

Would you tell Behati Prinsloo, wife to Adam Levine, that she doesn’t look like an African woman (She is Namibian. I do my homework.)? No, I didn’t think so. Because not only is she white and a supermodel, but the last time I checked her English is better than most people born in this country.

In my mind, I don’t see color. I see people. Everyone is different, everyone is unique. There are religious differences, yes. The difference in Judaism is that we do not believe in Jesus or that Jesus is the son of God. There are dietary laws and some other historical and biblical differences, but the differences aren’t so enormous that one needs to argue about it. I can argue the two different Bibles with you until the cows come home, but does that really matter? No. To each their own, so long as you aren’t hurting anyone.

However, any form of hatred hurts us all. Hatred is taught. We are not born knowing hate. I grew up surrounded by other religions and cultures, never once thinking anything of it. As I’ve gotten older, I realize how incredibly sheltered some people are, and that is scary and eye-opening to me.

I don’t often wear a symbol of faith because it feels redundant, but the other day a woman came running up to me to ask about my Triple Goddess pendant. I had it custom-made about five years ago. In between the three phases of the moon that represent Maiden, Mother, and Crone are two Stars of David and a very large gemstone in the center represents the full moon. It was my first time wearing it. That is precisely who and what I am. I believe in duality of God and Goddess (this is represented in Kabbalah, but is represented as male and feminine aspects of God as opposed to duality.), but I am also 100% Jewish. And as a Jewish woman, there is no room in my world, or the world on a whole, for anti-Semitism or hatred. Make an off-color, stupid, or rude remark to or in front of me and we’ll see if you’re sitting and/or eating tomorrow. I am supremely polite, I believe we all have the right to practice whatever we believe in so long as no harm is coming to anyone, but I will never be polite in the face of hatred or ignorance, nor will I tolerate it.

Tonight is the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It marks the end of the year 5775 on the Jewish calendar and brings in 5776. It is one of the holiest holidays we celebrate. Many people have told me that this year, their temples have notified them of police presence and/or security for services, partly due to all of the anti-Semitism that has occurred all over the world over the past year. I think it’s smart, but it’s sad.

I, personally, don’t attend temple unless I am invited to something that calls for it. It has nothing to do with anything other than my attention span. Services are long, are almost predominantly in Hebrew or Ladino, and my brain can only listen for a certain amount of time before I space out and/or start to fall asleep, which is rude beyond words, so I prefer to pray throughout the year, light candles on my own, and take time to reflect and work on myself. It is emotionally heavy for me, so I feel it’s crucial to know my boundaries. Part of that is knowing myself. The holidays are tough on me, and going to temple isn’t going to ease that. I don’t have to be among other people to be what I was born, or to be what I believe. That makes sense for some people, but for me, it doesn’t help matters, so I tough it out.

Here’s hoping the new year will be prosperous and sweet. Let there be more understanding, more compassion, more concern for others, more helping people in need, because at the end of the day, there is no room for hate. It benefits nothing and no one.

L’Shana Tovah!

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Silver Linings

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At this particular point in time, I am having difficulties seeing the silver linings. Life has its ups and downs. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it sucks. We’ve all experienced this. I’m not quite certain what to do when it’s predominantly sucky.

I work hard, but there is always a problem that arises and it’s always something I have to fix. It makes almost all aspects of life, outside of a handful of things, completely miserable, moving straight into unbearable. When does it end? 😦

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At a severe low point, I called a suicide prevention hotline. I feel absolutely no shame in admitting that. I do, however, feel incredible outrage by how I was treated by this hotline that will willingly accept my donations, and yours, but refused to so much as help me when I wasn’t very far away from my personal ledge.

The person who took my call was already on the phone with someone “in a more severe crisis”. I have no idea how she knew this other person was in a more severe situation than I was because the first thing she did was put me on hold for about 30 minutes. Let me reiterate that she never even bothered to ask me if I was all right and in a safe place before she did that. She finally comes back on the line and says that the other call is more important and I should try calling back later. She didn’t ask where my head space was, NOTHING. She spewed the call back later crap and hung up. Even if you’re short-handed, even if you’re a volunteer, that isn’t the way to treat anyone who is calling a suicide prevention line. Clearly, they’re not calling for shits and giggles, it takes courage to make that call. I hung up with my jaw wide open, feeling even more betrayed by the world. It was a gut punch. “Wow! Even the suicide prevention hotline can’t prioritize me for half a second before hanging up!” If I wanted to be treated that way, I have family for that.

Earlier this year a now former friend asked me via text message if I “needed professional help”. Instead of understanding that I was in a bad place and needed support, she ended up blowing me off and later “broke up” with me via e-mail. I thought we’d be friends a very long time, so I was understandably blown away by the dramatic behavior and inability to show compassion to another human-being. I will never name names, but I am also at that point where forgiveness is not an option. You only get one chance with me. (Other things did occur towards the end, but I will never discuss any of that because it’s private. If the other person chooses to say something, they would be wrong.)

Telling me you’re worried about me via text message doesn’t convey care or concern. It’s just words. Picking up the fucking phone and saying “I know you’re not okay. I’m here for you.” is a better way to let anyone know that you’re truly there for them.

One of the biggest issues with cell phones and tablets is that no one talks to each other or communicates properly. The other day a woman took a call in front of me from her mother. Her mother wanted to argue and she said “Lets discuss this in person. There is no need to have this conversation over the phone. I will see you in a few hours.” She repeated the same statement several times because apparently she was dealing with a stubborn parent. When she hung up she said she HATED how people misconstrue things via text, e-mail, and sometimes even over the phone. She was totally on my level, saying how she’d rather be face-to-face with certain people because that way, there’s no misunderstanding whatsoever. It was incredibly refreshing.

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I cannot speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself. If I sense that someone is going through a rough time, whether they voice it or not, they don’t have to ask me to be a good friend or family member, because I do not lack common sense. I am not the world’s most compassionate soul (I openly admit that.), and I will never win awards for my niceness (The niceness gene died at age 12.), but I am emotionally present. That’s more than I can say for a great many people in my life and those I’ve chosen to get rid of.

If you love your friends, you fight for them. Their well-being is important to you and you don’t need to be insulting in order to get your point across. The same is true for family. I come from a very large extended family, but at the end of the day, they are almost exclusively people I happen to be related to (Who are banned from future book signings and appearances. LOL.). They’re not my everyday “I’ve got your back”, “Don’t worry about it.”, “No problem, I’ll help you.” family. There’s an immense difference. I have friends and family I’d do anything for, but with the rest… I’d break out the marshmallows if they were on fire.

Ultimately, not everyone you know is a good person down to roots of their soul. If you find those that are good, don’t let them go over petty idiocy. Learn how to say “I’m sorry” when you’re wrong or when you’ve hurt someone. Learn how to admit you don’t know it all. Be yourself, be real, GROW.

Tomorrow is not guaranteed for any of us. So, I employ a “live and let live” policy. If you’re good to me, I will appreciate that and I will say so. If you’re a piece of shit to me, eventually I will make sure you know what I think of you. Or I won’t be so bothered as to waste the oxygen, that all depends on my mood.

If you’re a part of my life, I am grateful to have you in it. I keep my circle of friends close because of the value I place upon the element of friendship. I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t have true friends, and I really don’t trust women who don’t have at least 1-3 close female friends. It’s a red flag. Kind of like a man at a bar that still has a tan line where his wedding band should be, but tells you he’s single or how horrible his “soon-to-be” ex-wife is. Unless you see divorce papers, he’s full of crap and is a married man who hasn’t stopped dating.

I’m eternally appreciative that I am one of those rare people who truly doesn’t care if people like me or not. I spend no time at all wondering what others think of me as a person. Those that take the time to get to know me on a deeper level are the ones that benefit from my fierce loyalty and “ride or die” friendship. Those that burn me clearly don’t know that, like the Phoenix, I will always rise again.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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After Midnight Musings

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Writers are a very different breed of artist. We create differently. We all have different “methods to our madness”, which, in my opinion, is a good thing.

I have friends from all different professional walks of life, but I am drawn to the creative, unique, and quirky. I am drawn to well thought out opinions, to creativity I would never have personally imagined, and to those that understand the deep nature of those of us who commit ink to paper.

People often expect me to be left-brained and all about logic because I come from a fact-based, opinionated background in my work. The truth is, I am predominantly right-brained. I know that if I make all of my decisions logically, I am putting tiny fragments of glass into my soul, constantly leaving open wounds. While making clear, concise decisions is important to me, I also trust my intuition to guide me in the right direction. It’s not about living a life of logic, or of heart-based decision, but a life entirely focused on my internal and external senses. It has yet to guide me in the wrong direction.

Not everyone believes in or understands extra-sensory perception, but I was raised to understand it, and I am trained to understand it, so to live a life where I ignore it isn’t going to fly with me. If my intuition tells me that a glass is going to spill and I walk away, I am going to be pissed when the glass spills because I ignored my own inner voice AND I have a mess to clean up that could have been avoided. That same inner voice is a bit of a guide-post. It can help save your life, and it can help you write something amazing. All you have to do is pay close enough attention.
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Recently it was brought to my attention that I am maybe “too venomous”. I’m not, but this was slightly enlightening to hear. Interestingly enough, only one person feels this way, and if anyone else does, please, by all means, start a club.

I promised myself that this platform would be 100% authentic in every single way. I promised myself that I wasn’t going to tone myself down, dumb myself down, edit my words, over-think anything, or be present “just to exist” and take up space. That’s not being true to who I am as a person, nor is it being true to who I am as a writer.

I absolutely refuse to edit my soul. Like most intelligent people, I know when to keep my mouth shut, I know when to back off, and I know when to stand up and speak. I am not passive or shy. I am a great observer, but I’m also not psycho-analyzing others for the sheer joy of it. If I’m taking the time to psycho-analyze something or someone, there is probably reason for it. I truly prefer to be an introverted extrovert and I am almost never bored because my brain is constantly creating. However, I’d rather be focused on what truly makes me happy, what truly inspires me, than be worrying about whether or not my words are being misconstrued.

So for future reference, if you think I’m “not nice”, you’re probably right. If I write something and it makes someone uncomfortable, then they don’t have to read it. I make avid use of the FOLLOW button too, and everyone has the right to read what they like, to read what inspires them, whatever is encouraging and supportive to them, basically, whatever helps nourish the creative soul.

When I have time, I read things. It might not be daily, but I do read your comments and I will almost always pay your blog a visit if you’ve left me several comments or liked a lot of my work. A lot of people are looking to connect with fellow writers and I think that is one of the best things about the writing community. We are a close-knit, quirky bunch. Some are very easy to get along with, others not so much, but it’s okay. We are all individuals, we all write what we write, and never should we feel the need to compete against one another or be negative because there is room for everyone.

Writing is about growth, it is about creativity, it is honest, refreshing, and a form of communication that I have always found to be quite freeing. If I can inspire someone else, or make them think outside the box, then I am proud to be able to do that. If I can encourage or support someone, then I absolutely will. I am not afraid to discuss the work of other writers or talk about books. In fact, I’m not afraid of much. However, I won’t ever be told by anyone to not be who I am, nor will I be told what to write. A friend once asked me not to be myself, and I am no longer friends with that person. Unless a person is hurting themselves or hurting others, they should be allowed to be who they are, and no one has the right to tell them they’re wrong simply for being themselves.

“An it harm none, do what ye will” are eight words that fulfill the Wiccan Rede. They are part of a moral compass, a guiding principle. What I perceive as harm might be different from what someone else perceives as harm, and the same holds true for many. There’s a difference between physical and emotional harm, I will not denounce either as harm. However, I do denounce perceived harm because that is open to interpretation. I cannot be held accountable for perception, and only I know my true intent.

Every single person perceives things differently. We do not all agree on every single thing in this world, nor would I ever expect us to. That is part of what makes the world go ‘round. Difference of opinion can bring us together or push us apart. I choose to always hold true to my beliefs, leaving room for change if I am somehow getting the impression that my feelings might be wrong on something. As human beings, we are all entitled to that. This is not a place for group-think, it is a place for individuality.

If nothing and nowhere else, allow this to be your place of freedom. It is, without question, without fail, one of mine.

copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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