I have a story to tell. I am angry. My daughter and I have been persecuted. Our Charter Rights as Canadian citizens were violated and this was never addressed by the Canadian government. We were supposed to disappear. We haven’t. I have been waiting, for ten long years and I am now ready to open my big mouth and holler it. Shall I? If I do, then those within the Newfoundland Justice system and in Ottawa will have a lot of explaining to do. I may appear to be a small fish but I have teeth like a shark.
Lately I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions just like the one above. It has been seven years since the following entities and people ripped the lives of my child and I apart: David Joseph (the initiator and abuser), Lummi Tribal Court, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Walmart, The entire Newfoundland Justice System, The RCMP, The Whatcom County Sheriff, The FBI, The RNC, and the Newfoundland Social Services.
They took two innocent people, my little girl and I, and they pushed illegal documents through the judicial system, in the form an application for the Hague Convention on behalf of a man who had beaten me and abducted my little girl. It was well over a year before he decided to reabuse us using a system that is clearly for the criminal not the victim. He did not meet the time limit to enact the Hague Convention and neither the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children or Walmart checked this man’s history or his lateness to apply. If they had they would have discovered the bench warrant out for his arrest for beating me and a subpoena ordering him to bring my child to court. Ironically, this man used to steal Wooden pallet boards from behind Walmart in Bellingham Washington and sell them before being caught by the manager and yet they have been unaware of this and assisted him in hunting us down. How is that for irony?
The Newfoundland Justice system treated me like a criminal while knowing full well that I had fled with my daughter from a battered women’s shelter in Washington state to Canada our birthplace, with a lump in my breast and fear for my child’s safety filling my days and nights with terror. They ignored this and actually ordered social services to remove her from my home in case I tried to leave the Island, again on behalf of a man who had violently abducted her just prior to this and taken her to three states while thumbing his nose at the various state police and arrest warrants.
To this day this man has not done one day in jail for beating me or kidnapping my daughter although there is a file supporting all this, photos included. I am angry, fully enraged and as time passes my justifiable disgust at a system that took advantage of our lack of power and our financial neediness grows by the minute. I am NOT going to let this go. I WILL get a public apology for my child and I from the head of the Newfoundland Government, The National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, Walmart, The RCMP, The RNC and everyone else who decided to kick my little girl and I in the face for doing nothing but surviving the horror of a man who has a long history of domestic violence, causing us to flee in the first place.
To the above entities, on behalf of my child and I, I say a very bitter and terse fuck you. I will NOT lie down and take this and if it is the last thing I do before the breath leaves my body, I will make damn sure policies are changed so that background checks are done on the men BEFORE the paperwork is filed to enact the Hague Convention on child abduction against women who are essentially running for their lives and the lives of their babies.
In addition, I would like to express my profound disappointment with the battered women’s shelter and the feminist element in Newfoundland for not contacting me or even calling to ask if my child and I were okay. Not one of you showed your face in court to stand behind my baby and I. Shame on you, you knew all about this and remained silent, afraid to do that which you are supposed to do: support women and children who are in a violent situation. Your failure is profound.
Those four letters above are pregnant with meaning. We all have one with breath and a beating heart. We will either attempt to hide it or share it depending on our experiences and choices. We love to read about and explore the sordid lives of others, a shameful type of voyeurism we indulge through tabloids, reality television and the occasional memoir. What are we looking for in the misery of others? Is it a distraction that makes us feel superior because we are not quite as fucked up as the person we are reading about or viewing? Or, do we secretly hate those who expose their wounds for all to see/read/hear?
Recently I sent a query to an agent for a book I’m writing. The story could be about any event in my life but I specifically chose this because it has some serious potential to positively affect the lives of battered women and children. I sent my query to a female literary agent because she has a good reputation and of course her bio states that this book is something she actively seeks. I have been down this path before, querying for two other books, sending out dozens of emails to various agencies in both the US and Canada. I sent this particular query Friday, received and automated response and forgot it. However, yesterday she promptly responded requesting clarity to an already very concise query. Her email was depressing but not because it was a rejection (that came the next day) no, it was her complete lack of respect for the content of that query and the suffering that myself and other women have endured that disgusted me. She clearly skimmed over the text then emailed to ask me what format the book was written in when I had addressed that, if she had bothered to read my words. When I replied I cited the paragraph and location, expanding once again on a very clearly written summary of the book with even more background included. Her response? A very terse ‘not interested’ with absolutely no reason given although deep down I do know why and she should be ashamed. When Ms. W from F agency takes her next shopping trip through Walmart, I want her to stop and look at that wall full of faces of women and children and know that her cavalier fuck off email to me was tantamount to spitting in their faces. When your ego is enormous and your courage absent you miss opportunities to do good things for the vulnerable. She fucked up. Nuff said, venting done, over and out.
On August 1, 2001 I became a statistic. I was officially homeless. My daughter was thrown in a truck, I was beaten and left there to figure it out. I owned nothing except a suitcase fiilled with photographs of my daughter, as many of her clothes as I could pack, two pairs of underwear and a T shirt for myself. I felt I could survive with just the clothes on my back and actually, I didn’t really care, I was just too traumatized and absorbed in the search for my child as well as the monumental task of staying alive. I will admit to being exceptionally grateful to be out of the filthy rat infested shack my daughter and I had been forced to live in for five years of our lives. I would be sleeping in a house with a roof overhead that wasn’t full of holes and that in itself was a marvel. I didn’t expect my child and I to get out of there alive and my ability to write about all things related to this period in time is miraculous indeed.
I have to fight each and every day to focus and concentrate because the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that clings to me like a hungry alligator is a constant companion and foe that challenges my every attempt to function and write. So far, I’ve endured. At the time of these events in my life, I lived in a state of urgency and the present, with no thought of tomorrow being a viable truth. When the shelter system spit me out with the rest of the women and children who’d used up their sixty days, I had no idea what to do but my survival instincts kicked into high gear pretty damn quick. Living on the street is not something anyone can write with cogency, unless they’ve spent time in that particular gutter, isolated and desperate.
One reason I wanted to write this post, is that in my travels around the internet, I’ve come across two separate items about homelessness. Each one was written by people who have absolutely no idea what they are talking about and it is insulting to those who do. One is about exploiting the poor for money under the guise of helping them overcome their plight and it is a scam and utter bullshit. The other is written as observational poetry by someone who’s work is mediocre at best and ridiculous at the worst. This particular poem was bending down the ridiculous end like spaghetti until it snaps. I had an enormous “How dare you!” moment, I admit it and after reading this crap, I sat and cried. Yep, I did. I sobbed a tissue soaker, because here I am, with a million stories to tell, stories about real people with the authenticity that comes from suffering and guess what? No one wants them. I won’t delve into my submission history, but it appears, if I write fluff for print magazines and take a few cutesy photos, an editor will lap it up like a cat does cream. However, if I produce something real and valuable, with my heart bleeding on every word, they won’t even give me a glance. I’ve been having some serious doubts recently about whether I should continue with what appears to become a fruitless endeavor that is completely related to the corruption and politics that is inherent in the publishing industry. I want to be proven wrong about this, to be given the opportunity to give someone a memoir that would make us all a lot of money, but no takers. I clearly don’t know the right person/people, or possess the degree necessary to make me palatable to those who can give my words to the world.
As it stands, I have two books in various stages of development and a third is completed, although I’m tweaking it and polishing it, (thank you Bryan, your input was very important to me and priceless.) It will be ready to submit this week and I’m facing the prospect of that inevitable editorial boot in the face, with such despair and trepidation it is crushing my soul. I’ve survived so much and I made a promise to some very broken people, to write this book and sell it. I’ve written it, but the selling it isn’t up to me and once again, just like those days spent in hell, living on the streets of Bellingham Washington, I am at someone else’s mercy. It isn’t a good place to be because in my experience, there isn’t a surplus of mercy among the rich and powerful. Wish me luck, I’m going to need it over the next little while and if there happens to be, by some quirk of fate, an editor or agent cruising by this blog, I have this to say to you: I have a best seller in my hands, it’s entitled, The glass Tulips. please, email me and request partials, full, a proposal, whatever, just ask for it and it’s yours. Of course, I won’t hold my breath because this glass is not only half empty, it’s been drained.
Okay, off to do the usual grind, be good to yourselves and have a Happy and safe July 4th to everyone south of the border.
Within the twilight thinking hours
between two and four am
I recall in dreams the many incarnations of life as me
An eternal breadline somewhere in Washington state
waiting in the heat of noon time sun for the handout
to illegals like me
with an empty stomach and hollow eyes
clinging tightly to my friend with the baby
as the skin heads spit their threats
in our colourful Indian, White and Hispanic faces
We wiped the caustic hate away with been here before sighs
and laughed our hungry wolf stomachs into submission
A mouth filled with gasoline soaked gravel and the heart and body bruises
to rival a pugilist down for the final count
Dust, the wild west backdrop
making pain clouds in the wake of a lunatic’s truck
The hater of love punching and dashing away
with an innocent’s raindrop tears rolling back to me in torrents
A woodshed where I buried hate with an axe and a cord of wood
forever splitting that which would never be burned away
the desire for ashes and a phoenix saviour to tell me how
to take the dogs of war out of my raging middle ground
the red eyed hell hound always taunting me
from the flaming perimeter fed
by the fire of a monster’s cold heart
A park bench next to tomorrow’s cold case
swigging stolen Walgreens Brut
down that toothless hatch sliding snake eyes in my direction
Sizing me up for knocking me down and out
a coveted sally ann suitcase special
I lugged around with nothing in it but pictures of a little girl lost
no one seeking to find but me
a non existent woman drowning in the indifferent belly of America
next to Denny’s
where I hear they serve lovely apple pie on Mother’s Day
They come in all sizes: small, medium, large, extra large and extra extra large
They come in all colours: Black, white, yellow, Brown and Red
The sleeveless aspect of this model allows for freedom of movement of both arms and hands, as well as a perfect design for the showing of tattoos, scars, biceps and triceps development. Perfect for that backhand backyard BBQ or happy hour at the local watering hole.
The wife beater is available at our many exciting locations throughout the world: middle class neighborhoods, subdivisions, trailer parks, urban ghettos and of course, penal institutions
*Important information regarding the care and maintainance of your wife beater: Will shrink in cold water and when confronted by a blue uniform
The past couple of days have been troubling for those in this world who cherish freedom and peace and in particular for women and children. I was going to write this post the day before yesterday, but changed my mind as the cares of running our business and being a mother tilted my universe in the other direction. After ruminating on the ‘mother’ part this morning, I’ve decided to discuss a couple of news items and a blog post by a fellow writer that have piqued my interest for very personal reasons. My hope is that it will positively open up for discussion an epidemic that is usually dismissed as soon as it’s mentioned. Let me explain by starting with the news items. The first photo below is obvious. Singer Rihanna at singer Chris Brown’s assault trial and Rihanna covered with the bruises and blood Chris Brown inflicted on her body. I will briefly encapsulate the verdict, in case you’ve missed it: Chris Brown was found guilty as charged. He was sentenced to 5 years probation, 180 hours of community service in addition to attending domestic violence classes. For a first offence many have stated this to be harsh. What do you think? I’ve my own opinion (you just know I do), but I very much want to hear what you think. Why? Because you not only change laws, but as writers, you are artists who deal in words and they are power. Words change lives and the world. Before you comment, please look closely and contemplate those images, then scan down and look at the other image of Neda Agha Sultan, a beautiful 27 year old philosophy student who was shot dead June 20, 2009 while attending a protest against the elections in Iran. It’s pretty graphic and if you can’t tolerate that sort of thing, then please don’t watch it. I ‘ve posted only the link for this very reason. Neda’s story is far more tragic but it is still about the same thing: violence. No matter the context, why is it one human being feels it is their right to oppress, imprison, beat, murder, terrorize and torture another simply because they don’t agree and are delighting in their human right to be free. Okay, now the blog post. Here is the link
Debbie Schubert I won’t elaborate, it’s important to read it and I urge you to. Debbie is a wonderful writer and an even more wonderful person and this is a story that is all to common and happening around probably this very minute, somewhere on the street where you live.
My story. This coming August 1st, it will be seven years to the day I was beaten and my daughter was thrown in a truck and abducted by her other parent. I won’t go into details but suffice to say after three months I found her and it was truly a miracle. We were abused by the system over and over again and the person who did this got away with it. I’m sorry to say, this is usually how it all goes down for victims. Why? Because the public doesn’t demand a change to the law and the subsequent enforcment of that law. Why? Because people are hindered by the shame of it happening in their own homes. The usual picture of an abused woman, for example, is that of a weak waif, uneducated, pregnant in highschool, poor etc. The True portrait is this, but it is also, a lawyer, a doctor, a teacher, a nurse, a dentist, a singer, an actress, a dancer, a…now get ready for this, psychiatrist, an accountant, a CEO, a pilot, a writer, a mother, a sister, an aunt, a grandmother, a black woman, an oriental woman, an asian woman, a white woman, an aboriginal woman, a persian woman etc…I think you see what I’m driving at. For all any of us know it could be YOU. It’s impossible for me to condense or distill in one blog post everything that needs to be said, but it will always boil down to the dialogue. First we must talk, then we must agree and decide, then we must inform. Fiction, fantasy, chick lit, horror, satire, poetry, no matter the genre, it’s a writer’s job to expose the truth and inform or teach through the entertaining use of words. If you don’t believe this, ask someone who has their right to use words taken away. You may see it in a new light. Okay, that’s it. Remember to send the good vibe to your fellow scribes, talk about that which makes you uncomfortable and utilize that talent you have.
Neda Aghan Sultan Protest Shooting: http://foolblogger.com/neda-agha-sultan-video/
Neda Agha Sultan