The readings I am experiencing are tragic and harrowing stories of these writers’ lives. The Herstory readings all delve deep into issues facing many people every day. The writers all took part in the movement in order to bring about change. Each writer has an experience they feel is worth sharing, whether to conquer a fear or voice sorrow. There are stories of physical abuse and mental tragedy. These adults, not much older than I, live day by day with their own stories. No two stories are alike, several women recited stories, and a man recited a free-form poem. The little black box in which we all sat and partook of the readings reflected the tone of these issues- grave. This part of the presentation was very dark, and very moving. With each writer, I learned of their personal struggle with money, body image, and abuse. in each story i can pull bits and pieces i can relate to, or phrases that stuck with me. I feel bad for these writers but at the same time, I admire their courage for sharing their story for their own empowerment and the benefit of others. The stories don’t always have an overarching moral, or a message to deliver, but in way that is the beauty of these pieces. These works are meant to be a catharsis of emotion for the writer and the audience; even though several of these works have been utilized to promote reform. The Herstory Movement is for the betterment of the individual at the root of it all. The education of the readers, or the audience, is just a result. These stories highlight major issues for women, people of color, and the less-affluent. But the second half of the summit was very uplifting. One of the modern founders of the Herstory Movement spoke about why she did so, and what her inspirations were. She showed a genuine care and interest into the lives of those she was helping. She also expressed a deep, fervent passion for the movement and everything the movement does. She clearly still believes in the mission and promotes the idea of writing as an outlet and a means for change. She encouraged anyone and everyone to also write about their experiences and hardships. She is truly an influential figure and a saving grace for many who were in a dark place. Her movement has given voices to countless people who have needed help and in turn those voices have helped enact real change.
“Herstory Movement .” Hempstead, NY, Hofstra University Spiegal Theater, Herstory Movement .
1.) In “Yolanda’s Homeless Man”, Yolanda Gress is taking her son to a tutor the day after a snowstorm. As they were driving, they saw a man walking in the cold and they wanted to help. But there was no place to turn around to find him. As she drives home, she finds the man and offers him a ride and some spare blankets.
2.) Kelvin Lazaro writes about his experience in prison in “I Close My Eyes to be Free”. Lazaro talks about the pleasant memories of home and how he misses it deeply. He then explains several of the rules of prison and all the beatings and fights he incurred to learn those lessons. His only escape is being alone in his cell, where he can sleep and dream of his family. He explains jumping the new guy in the shower and how he is becoming a person he hates.
7.) Muriel Weyl recounts several memorable moments in her life as she observes the artwork in her home in “Climbing Forever. The focal point of her home are the ceramic stairs which she commissioned a local artist to do. She wants the stairs and the art around the stairs to remind her and her friends of all the events she’s witnessed in her lifetime. At eighty-one years old, she is still adding memories.
9) “Why” follows Elis Sanchez as she is watching her daughters playing with their cousins and having fun. Sanchez reveals that her childhood was not even remotely close to her children’s. She mentions that she aspired to become a lawyer to follow her dreams but were squashed by her parents whom forced them to work on their farm. Through all of this, Sanchez is motivated to do the best she can to ensure her kids a better childhood.
10. Child labor
11) “To Hold You in My Arms” follows Stephany Ramirez’s journey to America to reunite with her parents. Ramirez was separated from her parents since early age and has been living with her great-grandmother and uncles whom taught her everything she knows. When she was leaving, Ramirez is sad that she is leaving everything and everyone she is thankful for and cares for and wishes she can stay longer. When she arrives in New York and reunites with her parents, Ramirez is thrilled to see them after waiting for this chance to be with them.
2. Dominican Republic
12) The story “I was the Intruder” follows Andriea Davies as she recounts her childhood years in Brazil. In school she was bullied for being Chinese, and not belonging, by a Japanese girl. Davies then talks about her first home in Brazil, and its cold, unfinished rooms. She also speaks about her parent’s store, and how she was left in the back, away from her mom but with the rats.
14) Melody Roker Sims discusses her first experience being transferred to a prison upstate. She was woken up early and put into a patrol car with another women, a seventeen yea old. The women is named Patricia and is imprisoned for manslaughter. Patricia was consistently beaten by the father of her children and when he started beating the children, she killed him.
25 to Life
15) Captain Helen Geslak describes the transition of her every-day life into prison in “Pause Button”. The title “Pause Button” gives the impression that this change of going to jail has stopped her normal life and resumes once when she returns to it. Geslak reveals what great luxuries she has been forced to give up and misses as well as the submit her freedom and identity to become no one. Geslak also questions why she is in prison in the first place and lists the reasons why she is in jail.
20) Erika Vasquez recalls her painful childhood memory in “A Childhood Taken” where she was assaulted by a complete stranger. Vasquez had a rough childhood as a result of this trauma and suffers from nightmare about that event. She has no one to confide this to because she is fearful about what will happen once this seeks the light of day. Eventually, this terror will vanish every morning when it is temporarily safe.
5. Brief Joy
6. Sexual Assault
21) Amanda Topping recalls a horrible memory of a nightmarish assault the lasted for two years in “Amanda Topping”. The events are an endless cycle which has Topping physically harmed to the point where she has to leave and eventually returns to her problem. She decides that she can handle the abuse by herself however, once her newly born child is almost killed she knows she has to protect him.
1. Domestic Abuse
8. Emergency Room
10. Near Death
Emily Porter reflects on her poorer beginnings in “You Can’t See the Stars in Hempstead”. She thinks back to her childhood home , and it’s multitude of imperfections, like a cracked staircase and a chipped doorway. Porter constantly compares her home to those of her friends. She recounts the many money issues her parents had, and compares it to her life in Hempstead as she can’t afford to go out with her friends.
I am choosing the second option for Project two about the book. The second prompt addresses issues of home and how Eggers paints home for his characters and readers. Most of my blog posts consist of considerations of home and how Eggers plays with the idea of home so this option will be the most beneficial to write about. Plus i have very strong feelings about Josie and her misguided ideas of home, and would like to voice my opinions of her Alaskan Odyssey in search of home. Home is a concept i could really explore with this option.
Blogposts I May Use:
“It’s beautiful now, yes, but the winters were surely a holy fucking horror”’ (Eggers 151).
“this home, this property, was evidence of the glory of the land, this country . There was so much. There was so much space, so much land, so much to spare. It invited the weary and homeless like herself, her worthy children.” (Eggers 219)
“After her parents and their atomization, she had always identified with the stayers, the homesteaders. But she knew no one who stayed anywhere. Even in Panama, most of the locals she met would just as soon live somewhere else, and most of them asked her casually or directly about getting visas to come to the U.S. So who stayed? Were you crazy to stay anywhere? The stayers were either of the salt of the earth, the reason there are families and communities and continuity of culture and country, or they were plain idiots. We change! We change! And virtue is not only for the changeless. You can change your mind, or your setting, and still possess integrity. You can move away without becoming a quitter, a ghost.” (Eggers 154)
“Paul came downstairs and something in his eyes echoes Josie’s own thoughts about this home: it was warm and solid and made Josie’s family existence in the Chateau seem utterly irresponsible and cheapened their humanity.” (Eggers 142)
References in Lapham’s Piece:
“The advertising of the nation’s ideal shifts from the little house on the prairie to the brochure selling apartments in Donald Trump’s Fifth Avenue tower of glass— ‘Elegant. Sophisticated. Strictly beau monde…Your diamond in the sky. It seems a fantasy.’”
”Home in the American scheme of things is a word furnished with as many meanings and locations as money and mother, God and the flag. A place always somewhere in mind if not on a map or lost to a bank, there to be found over a rainbow or bridge, around the next bend in a river or road.”
The people of Syria are in dire need of help. The Assad Regime and ISIS are taking turns berating the innocent civilians of Syria. Those in the video of the National Geographic documentary, were trapped. A certain man and woman were desperately trying to escape Syria, and provide for their children. Under the Islamic State, they were caged in, none were allowed to leave. And that stuck with me: being trapped in a torturous existence. One where taking the wrong street can get a man shot or walking with any part of the body exposed can get a women beheaded. People’s bodies are being strung up in the middle of the street solely because they were smoking. This is not a life. Those confined in the cities under ISIS control were not living, merely surviving. As one family was trying to escape, and document their attempted escape, the man keep saying, “May God facilitate…” Even in the darkest of times, this family remained devout and kept their true faith, one of peace, and that is the real story. That despite ISIS and all the horrors surrounding them, many of those in Syria only want peace for their families and for themselves.
As the story comes to a close and this huge storm overcomes Josie and her children. Eggers uses hyperbole to conduct his symphony of sounds during this tumultuous storm. Eggers utilizes exaggeration and hyperbole throughout the book, as if to sign, “Eggers was here” over every page. The hyperbole gives the reader another image as if to relate to the event Eggers is writing about. Personally, i haven’t been in many huge storms or in an avalanche so these vivid connections Eggers builds are real to me. As a reader, I can now essentially be another character, experiencing the same events. “She was being pulled back from the light, like am almost-angel now being led back to the mundanity of eathly existence. (Eggers 71)” In this moment, I can experience Josie’s despair on a level that only this kind of writing can achieve. In this moment, I am Josie and i just fell from this inebriated grace as I come spiraling down to Earth. “Christ, she thought, it was beautiful, with its rich coat, its luxurious grey coat, its eyes like Paul’s. (Eggers 256)” In this moment, the description of the fox brings me next to the once-again-inebriated Josie as she is taking in all of nature. To say Eggers uses hyperbole extensively when Josie is drunk is an overreach but Josie’s thought patterns and perception of the world around her do heighten when she’s had a few drinks. Perhaps Eggers uses his extreme hyperbole in order to bookmark Josie’s drunken episodes but also to highlight her perceptive nature.
In the beginning of the novel, Josie constantly makes observation about her children. She said her kids looked like aliens and she calls Paul’s eyes old. Basically, this whole book is a huge roast and her kids are the weenies. Josie doesn’t seem very fond of her children as people (she has to love them because they’re her kids). So when Josie gets some alone time and takes in nature. We see her make astute observations about nature. She loves nature very deeply. And Josie laments, “Our children keep us from beauty, she thought, then corrected herself. Our children are beautiful, too, but we must find a way to combine the things, so we’re not missing one for the other. Could it be so hard? ( Eggers 256)” Josie’s initial placement of blame is on her kids as she doesn’t truly, in her heart, want to connect her appreciation of nature to her children. As Josie bikes back from her nature experience she thinks, “Goddamn them, her terrible robber children, robbing her of so much. (Eggers 259)” Josie is very resentful of her children for separating her from her appreciation of nature. She raised them almost completely by herself so she had no free time to do the things she wanted, such as being out in nature. Josie didn’t want her children and nature to mix now, she fell in love with nature and she new her children would ruin it. Even when she tried to explore a mine with her kids, “The kids were not intrigued. Josie often had no clue what would interest them. (Eggers 289)” So Josie will keep nature for herself rather than share it with her ungrateful children, especially since she couldn’t find a way to connect the two.
As the title suggests, home is all around. Although the idea of home is subjective and can vary greatly, we are all aware of the classic images of home and the stereotypes. As the story progresses, Josie is finding it harder and harder to escape the idea of home. And as home engulfs her, her hatred towards the Chateau and its cramped, dirty entirety. When stumbling upon the bed and breakfast, Josie thought, “this home, this property, was evidence of the glory of the land, this country . There was so much. There was so much space, so much land, so much to spare. It invited the weary and homeless like herself, her worthy children. (p.219)” Josie couldn’t escape this feeling of needing a stable home, especially for her children. This bed and breakfast became the epitome of home in Alaska, even though, by nature, the bed and breakfast isn’t a stable home. Even Paul and Ana began to really grow weary of the mobility as Paul snapped at his mom for wanting to leave the comfortable, stable bed and breakfast, ‘Paul was outraged. “You mean leave?” (p. 221)’ Paul and Ana did not share the sentiments of Josie and just wanted to stay firm in their homestead, whatever that may be. Eggers is laying out the notations to home to show that this trip is coming to an end as Josie is hopelessly lost and frantically searching for a new home and new life in Alaska, but can’t find it.