Literary Bears

For the Love of Books

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On Tuesday, Margaret told me she liked the little oranges with the seeds better than the ones I bought. I hated her for that. Margaret was the type of person that LOVED things, not in the way normal people love things. It was more like the way Annie Wilkes from Misery loved things. If Margaret is ever accused of kidnapping her favorite actor, I would not at all be surprised. (I would say her favorite author, but who am I kidding? Margaret can’t read.) As a matter of fact, if Johnny Depp ever goes missing, I’m going to automatically assume it was her. I will just call the police and point the finger. She’s such a psycho, but I digress…

On Monday, Margaret had told me there was something about seedless fruit that just made her want to eat nothing but fruit all day, and that I should buy seedless EVERYTHING because it was just so life-altering. She yapped about this ALL day, until finally I went out to buy some seedless fruit so that she could stuff her face and leave me alone. When I got home with the grocery bags, she looked at me like I was the second-coming of Jesus and said she loved me more than anyone ever could, and she meant it wholeheartedly, I could tell. I told her, “That’s disgusting, please don’t love me. Just stuff your face and shut up.” She ran to the couch with her freshly washed fruit and I did not hear a peep out of her until the next day. So when on Tuesday, she declared that she liked “the little oranges with the seeds” better than the ones I bought, I almost choked her.

Margaret and I had been roommates for 9 months by this point, nine miserable months. I knew she was crazy on my first night there, but it was too late. I had signed the contract saying I would be required to stay one full year, and breach of my contract would result in a lawsuit. I thought that was pretty crazy when I read it, but I would never again find an apartment in this area for this cheap. They claimed the contract was to control who could live there because they wanted to keep excellent tenants, and discourage the kind that “floated from place to place” from even applying for rooms in their house. Of course now I know better.

I’ve learned since signing the document that my landlord is Margaret’s mother who knows exactly the kind of nutjob she gave birth to. She forces tenants to sign a contract in hopes that Margaret will find friends. How sad is that? It’s sad, but then you meet Margaret. Once you meet her, all sympathy goes right out the window.

The night I moved in, I asked Margaret if she wanted to split a pizza for dinner. She thanked me for the offer, but said it was much too soon to be her “bestie”. I thought she misheard, so I repeated that I was only asking if she would like to order pizza for dinner. She told me, she valued my persistence, but now was not the time. On the day after I moved in, I found Margaret sniffing my shoes. I wish I was joking, but I’m really not. When I asked what she was doing, she claimed she dropped something and she swore it had fallen in my shoe, but she guessed she was wrong. On the third day, she started to comment on strange things like the smell of my deodorant, and the smell of my toothpaste. I didn’t feel like my life was in danger, but I thought it was time for me to go. I immediately made an appointment to meet with my landlord. She seemed to already know what it was about, and immediately apologized and made excuses. That’s when I found out she was Margaret’s mother. As sympathetic as she seemed, she was not going to let me out of my contract. I had no choice but to go back to my little loony bin.

It did not get easier to deal with her. She was constanly making strange observations, and was constantly in search of her next obsession. The worst was when she fell in love with a YouTube video about a cat meowing on a loop. Think about it. REALLY think about it. Do you have any idea how annoying waking up at 3am to “meow.meow.meow.meow.meow.meow.meow.meow..” is? And she didn’t just watch it, she created a playlist that would play it on a loop nonstop so that she could hear it every moment she breathed, whether awake or asleep. That lasted for six months. I almost jumped out my window, and I didn’t do it because I calculated the fall would not kill me, it would only break one of my limbs; an arm or a leg depending on how I landed. I decided that a visit to the hospital would not be a long enough vacation from her so I never jumped.

Time has passed, and I have planned a huge party to celebrate my freedom. People may think I was just released from prison, but that’s quite alright. It’s accurate enough. My last day in my cell is 2 weeks from today. Yesterday, I saw a young woman who was interested in renting the room. Before I knew it, I was yelling out to her, “Don’t do it! It’s not worth the cheap rent! They’re crazy! They’re all crazy!” Margaret and her mother did not even blink, they turned to the young lady and said, “that’s the crazy lady you read about on the website. Don’t worry. She’s finally moving out.”  and to me, Margaret said “there you go making up lies again. tsk tsk”

At that point, I decided to start this blog. If you having fallen a victim to that contract, please know you are not alone! If you have managed to survive the year, let’s have a drink! If you are currently under the contract, find strength in knowing many have been through it, and it can be done!! You too can survive this year!

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Book Review on Jefferson’s America


I am a history nerd, and early America is my favorite era to learn about. Strangely, I never had an interest in the exploration or expansion of the new country. Thanks to this book, that has changed.

I must mention that this is the most accurately titled book I have ever encountered. It is indeed about Jefferson, the effects of the Louisiana Purchase, and the brave explorers who risked their lives for the sake of knowledge. The only explorers I knew about were Lewis and Clark, and even though they were the most popular in their time as well, there were more. The book discussed the experiences of  Dunbar, Hunter, Freeman, Pike, and Lewis and Clark, but also mentioned the failed attempts of previous explorers.

What I learned upon reading this book is what truly fearless heroes these explorers were. Because borders were not defined when the Purchase was made, there was a Cold War with Spain who felt that the land was still theirs. The Spaniards were hostile and would send their military to imprison or kill the trespassers. I felt that particularly, Freeman’s mission was a direct threat to his life. I admired the bravery behind his response when warned that 1300 Spanish soldiers awaited him in the distance, “My instructions were to proceed until stopped by a superior force.” and with that gave the Natives traveling with him, the opportunity to turn back. Did he survive? Read the book to find out.

Aside from their bravery, I also love the excerpts describing their experiences with unknown people, animals and plants. In particular, I loved the description of Lewis and Clark’s encounter with Grizzly Bears. I even loved the way they handled hostile Natives who tried to instill fear in them. They were a great team that would not be cowered, and just worked well together. I loved learning a little more about them, and learning all about all these other explorers.

Their experiences all differed, but in particular one interesting shared experience was the suspension of morality and social norms. Finding themselves so far from home, these explorers did things they would never think they could do. Many found it difficult to go back home when their lives had so drastically changed.

These explorers became the new nation’s heroes. They were not people of science, they were ordinary folks. This is the American Dream and the nation loved them for allowing them to dream of becoming the next explorers. Overall, it was a great read, and I would recommend to any history buff. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review, and I am so grateful because I would probably not have picked it up otherwise. 4.5/5.

For more information, please click on the links below.

On Being a Hyphenated-American

I went to visit my parents today, and on my way there I was listening to a radio station “broadcasting live from the Empire State” so naturally, my mind drifted to the Empire State Building, and then to the Twin Towers, and finally 9/11. I still feel like crying when I think about that day. I remember that day vividly, despite it being almost 15 years ago. That was the day I became an American.

I was born and raised in New Jersey, but being the daughter of immigrants, I had a strong tie to their country, El Salvador. I liked to say that I was Salvadorean, even though I was born here. I grew up knowing everything about the culture, the music, the language, and because I was sent to El Salvador on summer vacations, I felt a tie to my family as well. I loved the country, and claimed it as my own. Because I grew up watching futból, I was all about sporting my team’s soccer jersey, the Salvadorean one. When we played the United States, I would often only cheer for El Salvador, but be okay with the result if the US won, which was basically every time.

When the attacks on 9/11 happened, my world was shaken. I cried because it hurt to see something I took for granted, get destroyed. It hurt because so many innocent people were killed, and it hurt because I realized that this was my country and I loved it more than I had ever realized. If I had been old enough to enlist in the army, I would have. I was not scared, I was angry. The anger I felt only further proved how much I loved my country and how much I wanted to do something for it.

From that day on, I only claimed America as my country, and if people got annoyed by it, so be it. Now don’t get me wrong, I still love El Salvador; it gave me my parents, which is what I love most in the world. I am very proud of my heritage, and I will try my best to keep the culture for the younger generation in the family. I’m very proud of my ancestors and where I came from, but ultimately the country that gave me everything I have, is America. I may not have much, but my parents emigrated for the promise of a better life for their children, and that’s what I have.

My parents left their home and everything they knew, at a young age, solely for the promise of a better life. They left the safety of their families, and ventured into a strange land without knowing a word in the foreign language. They might as well be astronauts, settling in to live next door to aliens. Nothing I EVER do will be as great as that. They accomplished more than I ever will, before they even hit 30. I could never leave my family and venture over to a foreign country, but that’s only because I’m not desperate enough to do so. For that, I thank them.

I honor their sacrifice, by making sure everything I do is to make them proud. I think most hyphenated-Americans would agree with me. The pressure is on to be the best person you can be. Our parents suffered so that their children could be dreamers. I often think what my life would be like if I was born in El Salvador. I would not have half of what I have now. I know that. I often dream of my future, and I often pep myself up by telling myself everything I dream of is attainable, I just have to work my ass off. That would not be the case if I did not live here, and I think it’s something we have to always remember. The American Dream is very much alive, and we have to remember many people would give anything to be in our shoes. Make the most of that.

With everything going on in the news today, it makes me sick to hear all the hatred aimed at immigrants. Do you really thing people WANT to go to somewhere where they know they are despised? No one wants to enter somewhere where they are not wanted, but they do so because they are desperate. Cleaning shit off walls is a better opportunity than their options in their home country. That’s sad. This nation was built by immigrants; it would be nothing without them. So before you tell someone to go back to their country, imagine what their life was like. They put up with the likes of you because they have no choice. Our vote is more important now, than ever before.

So to all my hyphenated-Americans, I say, make your parents proud. Make sure you live a better life than they had, and make sure your children have a better life than the one you have. That’s the best way to honor all the sacrifices made. Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. If you didn’t go to college, make sure your kids do, and make sure their children do as well. We were given the wonderful opportunity of being born with an American passport, make it count for something, and once you do, stay humble and always remember your roots. Make sure everyone knows that all the sacrifices made were not in vain.

Make sure to always remember who you are. Like the famous scene in the movie Selena we hyphenated-Americans have to be “more Mexicans than the Mexicans, and more Americans than the Americans”. We’re not all Mexicans, so please substitute your own nationality, but the sentiment will be the same. Us hyphenated-Americans will never truly fit in to either side, but that’s why we create our own little Hyphenated-World. The odds are stacked against us, but we have to fight like our parents did. We have to stick together and rise above the statistics that tell us we will fail. Just because the teachers claim we will never amount to anything, it does not make it true. Prove them wrong, and help your friends prove them wrong too.

Now when I’m asked where I’m from (and I always get asked because I’m not American enough for the Americans) I make sure to say, ” I was born here, but my parents are from El Salvador. BOOM! Everyone’s happy! Cheers to all the hyphenated-Americans, especially the minority youth.


Little Brother

I was trying my best not to lose my temper, but sometimes it seems like Charlie’s main goal in life is to make me angry,to make me lose my cool. He’s been doing this for years, starting with the time he was born.

On that May 1st, I was 4 years old and my parents decided to take me to Disney World; they wanted to bond with me before stupid Charlie was born. They felt I might feel neglected or jealous once the new baby was born, so they wanted to make the most of the time we had as a happy little family of three. Going to Disney World was my biggest wish come true, so I remember it vividly. I made sure to watch all the movies right before our trip, and I made sure Mom packed ALL of my princess costumes. I had it all planned out, I would change twice a day, to attract as many princesses as possible. I remember thinking that they would offer me a job there because I would look just like a princess, and I would stay and live in the castle forever.

On our drive to Disney, we played all of my favorite songs, and all three of us sang along to them. It was so much fun, and I thought nothing could ruin my day. Just then, Mom started feeling uncomfortable and asked my dad to pull over so she could walk a bit, and get some fresh air. I remember being mortified because my mom had “an accident” in her pants. When my parents rushed back to the car, I assumed we were rushing back so that Mom could change her pants before someone saw her. An hour later, I found myself at a hospital because stupid Charlie decided to be born 5 weeks before he was expected, effectively ruining my Disney World trip. Typical Charlie.

Let’s fast forward to my Sweet 16 birthday party. Charlie decided to get me “the perfect gift” by spray painting “Happy Birthday, Pee Nelson!” on the city water tower. Mom and Dad have always called me Sweet Pea, stupid Charlie has called me Pea for short all his life. Apparently, he thought it would be hilarious to write Pea as Pee. As if that wasn’t enough, he got caught and was arrested for it. My parents had to leave my party early to go get him. Lucky for him, that was his first offense and they dismissed it. Good for him, but I missed my chance to dance with my Dad at my party, but at least I would have my chance at my wedding.

Sixteen more years passed before my wedding day. In the years between my sweet 16 and my wedding, there were countless fights, countless screaming matches, and countless tears. Stupid Charlie and I would never get along. I truly believed that his goal in life was to anger me. Nothing could convince me otherwise, and my parents were relieved when I left to college and never moved back.

I met the man who would eventually become my husband at a restaurant. My best friend and I made plans to meet at this restaurant one day, she text me she was running late, so I decided to order myself a drink at the bar while I waited for her. A handsome man, named David, struck conversation with me. He said he was also waiting for a friend who was running late. Finally my best friend arrived, but she walked in with stupid Charlie, and I was confused. He had a huge smile on his face as he yelled “Hi Pea!!” and hugged me. Just then David stepped up and asked “you two know each other?” My handsome man was there to meet stupid Charlie, who turned out to be his old college buddy.

Despite his poor judgement in friends, I agreed to go out with David. We fell in love, and two years later he proposed, I said yes, and we started planning our wedding. To my horror, he picked stupid Charlie as his best man. I explained to him that we weren’t at all close, and he did not have to pick him just because he was my brother. David responded that we were all family now, and he knew they would be best friends forever. I knew Charlie would ruin my wedding day, just like he ruined every event in my life since he was born.

On my wedding day, I braced myself for his speech. I was mortified when he brought out all the baby pictures, but he brought everyone to tears as he spoke about growing up with me as his big sister. He remembered everything about my childhood a lot differently than I did. In his speech, he talked about always trying to impress his big sister, and how his goal in life was to make me happy, but he always managed to screw up instead. The guests laughed hysterically as he recapped how for my 16th birthday, he had written Pee instead of Pea, because the other 12 year olds with him convinced him that was obviously the correct way to spell it. Even I laughed when he discussed the voting process that went into it.

It wasn’t until that day that I found out Charlie was the mastermind between David and I meeting. He overheard my mom ask me over the phone about my plans, and later asked her what I said. My mom didn’t think twice about the question, and wouldn’t have mentioned it to me anyway since she knew I didn’t get along with Charlie. In his Best Man speech, Charlie told everyone he knew me so well, he knew that David would be my soul mate. He asked David to meet him at that restaurant. The fact that my best friend also ran late was just a happy accident. He was so overjoyed to see that we had met on our own that he hugged me at the restaurant. He told David that I was also his Sweet Pea, not just my parents’ and that he knew that the person he adored most in the world would be well taken care of forever.

That night, I finally got my dance with my dad. I also danced with my little brother. I guess some people can’t help being annoying. He is no longer Stupid Charlie, he is now my little brother, Charlie.

Today’s prompt was: “I was trying my best not to lose my temper, but sometimes it seems like Charlie’s main goal in life is to make me angry,to make me lose my cool. He’s been doing this for years,starting with the time…” I really didn’t know where it was going except that Charlie would be a sibling. Instead of making it a story about fighting, I made it a story about reconciliation. Life is too short to hate your siblings.