The Wrong Kind of White

blog post june 10th 2019

ALL WRITTEN AND ARTWORK ARE THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF PSG LOPES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, 2019.

When I was a kid I was aware that my family and I were of Portuguese descent but I never really truly understood what that meant until I was much older. My initial observations of the culture happened to be negative and I found myself isolating myself from the Portuguese culture and focusing more on American traditions.

Aside from my dark hair and Portuguese features, everything else about me was Americanized. I enjoyed American foods, American music, American fashion, American actors, and so on. I never learned how to speak Portuguese either so I never really identified with that part of myself. I remember when I was growing up that all of our holidays incorporated Portuguese traditions. My mother would make Portuguese cuisine and desserts. My father was very active in the Portuguese community and was involved in many organizations for writers, artists, and teachers of the Portuguese culture. He used to drag us to different events when we were kids and I hated it. I always felt out of place. Everyone spoke a language I didn’t understand but regardless of the language barrier, there was something I understood even without translation. I was fat and that was something that always stood out to this culture. They didn’t want you to starve, there’s was always plenty of food and drink on the table, but heaven forbid you were heavy! The conflicting opinions held by this culture was unsavory to me and made me want to separate myself from them even further.

I visited Portugal once when I was seven years old. Both sets of grandparents lived in Portugal but I was only close to my maternal grandparents. We visited them the summer of 1988 and I remember so much of that trip even though it was over thirty years ago. I remember the foods, the smells, the beautiful locale of my grandparent’s home, and I remember the people. This trip would mean more to me as an adult than it did when I was a child.

When I graduated high school, I started exhibiting my first signs of independence. When I had to get my financial aid settled for college I realized that I wasn’t going to get any grants or anything. Although my name sounded ethnic, I am categorized as white. I have this conundrum of having a Latina sounding name but categorically I am white. I was never afforded any kind of special treatment. I was stereotyped and discriminated against because of my name, yet people considered me white.

When I got my drivers license, my name was truncated in order to have my name fit on my driver’s license. When I fought the woman at the DMV she asked me if I was a citizen of this country and I knew I was fighting a losing battle. The racist woman’s true colors became visible and no matter how much I fought the bitch, I wasn’t going to win and now every single time I show someone my driver’s license I have to delve into my pre-prepared speech as to why I sound like a not quite de facto Star Wars character.

This would be the general theme throughout my entire adult life. I realized that I didn’t fit in with the Portuguese culture because I didn’t speak Portuguese and I wasn’t a stereotypical Portuguese woman. I didn’t enjoy the Rancho and I don’t wear multi-colored outfits and dance and drink red wine on Portugal Day. I don’t enjoy random pig parts mulled together into an unsavory stew. I don’t like fado music. I don’t visit the Ironbound. I’m not a part of any Portuguese associations.

I’m not American enough, or white enough either. My parents both speak Portuguese. They both have accents. I didn’t realize that my parents were different until I was about fourteen years old. My mother encountered two separate incidents of discrimination. Once I was at the furniture store with her and she was looking for a new sofa and the man explained something to my mom. My mom got snippy with the man because he changed his policy and was not forthright about it. As punishment for my mom asserting herself, he blamed it on her accent and not understanding what he was telling her. I was so angry on her behalf, not just because of the insult, but it was also a sexist remark. The mere thought of women asserting themselves makes men feel the need to denigrate and degrade us.

Another incident involved a neighbor we befriended when we first moved to New Jersey. She was an elderly woman who was old-school racist. She would use horribly racist words and we tended to avoid her or just be polite and say hello and goodbye. My mom got into a fight with her once and she insulted my mom basically calling her an immigrant and to go back to her own country. This became a common theme in our lives.

I spent my whole adult life trying to find my place in the world. I have no identity. I feel that both sides of the coin have betrayed me at some point. I have felt bullied and oppressed because of my name. This name that weighs down on me yet I still keep more to prove a point than because of pride. I spent my whole life educating people that my name is pronounced Lopes as in slopes not Lopez with a “z.” When I was in elementary school, I even had a teacher tell me that I didn’t know how to pronounce my own last name. I even went home to confirm that it was indeed Lopes as in slopes and my dad laughed and told me my teacher was a bitch. So from then on, I got that whole “us vs. them” vibe not only from the Portuguese culture but from the American culture as well.

I never fit in with the Portuguese crowd. I went to a very diverse college, which I loved, but I failed to really belong in any one crowd. I enjoyed talking to everyone. I remember there being a big Portuguese community in that college but I was never welcomed in their club. I wasn’t one of the “cool kids,” which was fine with me because they appeared fake and two-faced anyhow and I associated the Portuguese culture, at the time, with lacking in authenticity. My limited scope of my culture was always with people who I viewed as snobs and unwelcoming which made me hate the culture.

I remember moving to New Jersey and my neighbors to one side of our home were never very nice to us and they clearly are very racist as well. They had a daughter close to my age that they kept away from me because apparently being Portuguese was contagious.

I also remember taking a test in New York City to become a teacher and I was actually accused of cheating because I got near perfect scores. Apparently, you can’t have a name like mine and be smart too. I called them out on their racism and threatened to get the ACLU involved over it. I was just so sick and tired of the blatant racism and discrimination and oppression.

When I decided to finally become a writer full-time I was faced with a very important decision. Would I keep my name or would I develop a pen name? I thought about it a lot. This was a major decision for me. I was tempted to choose the name, Simone Lawler. Was I really going to be that person who hid her cultural identity for the sake of sales? And then I decided that I would keep my name; however, I would abbreviate it since my name is rather long. Those are my full initials and my own last name. This was the name my father gave me and I was not going to be ashamed of it. I wasn’t going to let the ignorance and blind hatred of others get to me. I realized that being a writer is a huge responsibility. My ultimate goal is to maintain my authenticity and I aim to be relatable and educational and responsible in what I write. I want to teach others to do better, to be better, and the way that I accomplish that is through my writing.

Now at thirty-eight, I am much happier and secure with my cultural identity. I embrace it and realize that just like everywhere else you’re going to meet good people and bad people and that’s with any culture. Just because I had a few bad experiences with the Portuguese crowds as a kid, that doesn’t mean that every single Portuguese individual is like that. I just had very limited exposure to individuals of my culture. Now, I have a lot of respect for my culture, I’m fully immersed in the foods, music, and rich history. I am proud of who I am. I am proud of my parents and all of the hardships they endured when they first moved to this country in the 60s. They are two of the strongest people I’ve ever known and my heart swells with pride for them both.

There are so many differences out there. That’s what makes us so interesting as human beings. Every single one of us has an amazing story to tell and it is worth listening to. To shun someone because of who they are is so ignorant and quite frankly boring. I am so bored of racist people who choose to remain willfully ignorant. I feel so sad for close-minded people who will never get a chance to know all of the wonderful people out there. I feel it truly is their loss! I’m done explaining myself, explaining who I am, explaining why my name is the way it is. This isn’t Ellis Island circa the 1800s. We are in 2019 and what do we have to show for it? What has changed really? There’s still so much work to be done!

Thank you for taking the time to read today’s blog. If you are interested in checking out my books, please visit my Amazon Author Page here: amazon.com/author/psglopes.

Also, please view my Patreon page here: www. patreon.com/themoonlitgoddess

I am looking to acquire funding for an editor and to create a song single for my upcoming release, John of Art, coming late summer 2019. Even a $5 donation would help. Thanks so much and I hope that you are all doing well.

 

Dark Musings Poetry Anthologies: The Origin and Story Behind My Poetry Series

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ALL WRITTEN AND ARTWORK ARE THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF PSG LOPES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, 2019.

In January 2017, I was four months into writing erotica short stories and I was miserable! Every month from September 2016 to December 2016 I released four erotica short stories on Amazon and I would simultaneously release six poems each month as well.
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When I decided to veer away from erotica writing and become a mainstream author, I decided my first published work would be the amalgamation of my poetry that I had released over the months from the beginning of my writing journey.
My first published release became Dark Musings Poetry Anthology: Volume 1. The cover art was my very own, which I am so proud of. I had not yet taken up photography at this time, so I wasn’t really well-versed in digital art and creating and manipulating my photographs yet. For my first effort at creating a book cover, I have to say this came out very well, if I do say so myself! I still had and have so much to learn but every month that I continue to write, it is a process and one where I am in a constant state of educating myself and growing as an individual and as an artist.
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The poems for this particular collection dealt with heartache and loss which I felt when I had lost my job as a fifth-grade teacher back in 2016. I dealt with a lot that summer, after I was laid off and went to a very dark place. I explored my feelings and reached the deepest parts of myself and learned that every path leads you to somewhere new and if one door welds shut there are so many other pathways which one can explore. We keep exploring and entering new paths until we find one that is designed for us. I went from feeling like nothing and a nobody to regaining some semblance of purpose with my writing. My writing empowered me and gave me a voice.
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I explored free verse, various rhyming poetry, song lyrics, and other poetic devices. I grew up reading and writing poetry. My first influences were Shel Silverstein, Edgar Allan Poe, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, E.E. Cummings, and so many others!
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Poetry, to me, allows individuals to enter a world all of their own. It’s a secret language between yourself and the words on those pages. I love the thought of people reading someone’s poetry and every single person having a different interpretation of what the poet was thinking when they wrote that poem. I find that poetry is a conversation starter that can last for years. The subjects of poetry are endless. There is no right or wrong. You just grab a pen and write your deepest thoughts. Every emotion, every sadness, every delight, whatever demons or triumphs one faces can be celebrated and acknowledged through poetry. Volume 1 contains thirty poems. In March 2017, I ended up re-releasing Volume 1 as a 2nd edition which features my photography and digital illustrations. I co-released the 2nd edition with my Dark Musings Poetry Anthology: Volume 2: The Storm Over Vermillion Fields. One other thing I enjoy about poetry is that syntax, punctuation, grammar, etc. is very loose and relaxed. There are so many ways to play with language and what may be viewed as a misspelling or mistake may be a playful trick of language that was the author’s very intention.
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It is in my poetry writing that I feel the freest as an artist. Many people think that poetry is dead and that no one enjoys poetry anymore but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s a real need and enjoyment for poetry. This age-old form of expression is still incredibly popular and we need poetry now more than ever before!
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Here’s to what started it all! The spark that ignited a dormant passion that was buried deep within me for years of my life that I allowed to remain quiet for the sake of others. When I finally broke out as a writer, it was as if that dormancy erupted like a long forgotten volcano people took for granted. The presence of this menacing natural structure just laying there in the background underestimated and ignored. Then one day I just burst with rage and anger and sorrow and sadness and the words just exploded on paper and I haven’t stopped since. While writing Dark Musings Poetry Anthology: Volume 1, I have to say I was the angriest. There are several swear words in this book. People have mixed feelings about swearing these days so it really isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. For those who are open-minded and don’t mind colorful language many may relate to this anthology. I have definitely come a long way since this anthology was published but I will always be grateful to the doors this book opened for me as a writer.
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Thanks for reading about my Dark Musings Poetry Anthology: Volume 1, first and second editions!
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You can find this and all of my other works on Amazon via: amazon.com/author/psglopes

How I Got My Inspiration For My First Children’s Book, Little Stan’s Lucky Day!

ALL WRITTEN AND ARTWORK ARE THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF PSG LOPES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, 2019.

My family and I have been taking care of feral cats for almost two decades. What started off as feeding a stray cat here and there turned into a solid feral colony which we feed and take care of daily. It is costly and is a lot of responsibility. And it is more than just taking care of the cats. We have to fight with neighbors who do not agree with feeding strays because they make a mess and those individuals usually lack the proper education on how these animals live.

We have had so many stray cats touch our lives over the years. The gift of caring for another living being is just such a treasure. I never had children of my own, so I consider my cats to be my children.

In the early summer of 2017, three of our feral cats gave birth to a litter of fourteen kittens! We worked with this group in our town called TNR-Trap, Neuter, Return. This organization of volunteers will go around placing humane traps to capture the feral cats so that they can have them neutered or spayed, and returned to their colony. To date, all but two of our feral cats are neutered or spayed. They are the wildest of our colony and are virtually impossible to capture. Anyhow, of this litter, spawned my little Stan! I named him Stanlee after the great Stan Lee, the comic book genius. My family and I adopted Stanlee. I took care of him since he was a little baby. He was such a mushy, whiny little baby. He loved his cuddles and loved being warm and was such a sweet, inspiring little nugget. The head of the town’s TNR group captured the remaining kittens and gave them all proper homes.

This whole experience inspired me to create “The Will O’ The Wisp” children’s books series. Instead of looking at the same old boring children’s books you see in the children’s book store, I decided to create children’s books that educate and relay a positive message to children.

Little Stan’s Lucky Day teaches children about the difference between feral cats and domesticated cats and talks about all of my own cats and how Stanlee adapted to living in his new home. All of my children’s books are told in the form of a poem. That’s my writing style for the children’s books. The illustrations of this book were photographs of my domesticated cats that were stylized and filtered to look like oil paintings. Any proceeds for this book goes back to the care of the ferals and domesticated cats that my family and I care for as the care for taking care of the animals is very expensive.

Another message that I wish to convey is that it doesn’t matter if you take care of one cat or two hundred cats. Your contributions to these animal’s lives mean everything to these cats, who would’ve normally suffered without our intervention. All of my domesticated cats were once strays. I wish that I could take in every single abandoned or stray cat out there but I don’t have the space nor the resources for them. I feel good that I am able to do what I can for the ones we do care for. I feel that it is imperative to reach out and teach everyone, especially our youth, and teach them kindness, compassion, and mercy even for our furry friends!

Writing this children’s book was one of the greatest achievements of my life. I am so proud of this book because it was my first children’s book. I am also proud that it is meaningful. I see so many horrible children’s books out there. Books about crude things like farting and such and I think to myself, “How on earth did they get these books published?” With every work that I produce, I try not to be frivolous. I aim to write with a purpose and with meaning. I aim to help others and educate them on various topics that people may not previously be aware of and it is important to use my platform in a positive manner. These are some pictures of Little Stan’s Lucky Day book cover and of Stanlee when he was a baby and what he looks like now.

Stanlee is a very independent cat with a strong sense of self. He likes being pet on his own terms and even nibbles playfully on your hand when he wants more pets or when he wants to be left alone. He still loves and remembers his mama and will come to me when I call his name but out of all of my cats, he does not like to be coddled. He likes to explore and be his own cat and hang out with his other fur friends! I love my little Stanlee and will always cherish the time I had with him raising him as a baby. That time does not last when they are so small and are so mushy. Then they go off and become happy, flourishing adult cats! It is a great sight to behold and one that I am so proud to be a part of! Thanks so much for reading about my journey with feral cats and domesticated cats and the making of my first children’s book. This book, as well as all my other books, are available on Amazon as a paperback or ebook in Kindle format: amazon.com/author/psglopes.

VISIT THE MOONLIT GODDESS PATREON PAGE

Updates on My Latest Writing Project!

blog post may 29th

ALL WRITTEN AND ARTWORK ARE THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF PSG LOPES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, 2019.

So a lot has been going on in my life and I know that I have not been blogging lately. I have been trying to stay focused on writing my latest project, my second novella, John of Art. At the beginning of May, I had a lot of difficulties regarding issues with my health (the hearing aid debacle), finding a new doctor, and starting my novella and losing fifty-five pages of progress. That was all very devastating to me. But as usual, being used to adversity and being used to being treated horribly by those of little significance to me, I decided to keep going full steam ahead. What started off as a negative at the beginning of the month, has turned into prosperity towards the end of this month.

I am a full believer that life provides a yin and yang experience. For every negative, there’s a positive just around the corner. So instead of dwelling on everything that is going wrong, I am choosing to focus on everything that is going right.

As of today, I can proudly say, after thirty-eight years of struggle, I, PSG Lopes, also known as The Moonlit Goddess, FINALLY has procured my hearing aids! For every villain in the world, there are still heroes out there. A wonderful woman fought very hard for me to get my hearing aids. I am forever in her debt. What she did for me went above and beyond anyone has ever gone for me. She is a virtual stranger but she was so determined after hearing my struggles and what I went through. She worked hard to make sure that I have my hearing aids. I feel blessed. I feel an unfamiliar feeling. I am so used to being hurt, disappointed, abused, mistreated, that when people are actually good to me I am not sure how to feel. It’s quite unique, this feeling.

To have someone who barely knew me work so hard to help me, it is just such a gift. I am so beyond grateful that good people still exist on this planet. A million thanks to those who still possess kindness, compassion, empathy, love, patience, understanding, and mercy. She told me something interesting that I hadn’t thought of. She told me that those girls who gave me grief at my old doctor’s office were so concerned by me because of my beauty and because I am not miserable. They are all young, on the cusp of adulthood, late teens, working straight out of high school. The one who gave me trouble was an obese teenager who was already married and got knocked up during high school. She said she was probably threatened by me. The woman who helped me said that I have this light about me.

I feel that people have always been threatened by me inexplicably. My response to this is simple. I am confident because I know what it’s like to be with nothing. I smile because I have known my share of sorrow. I am fierce because I know what it means to feel weak and powerless. I recognize and understand that these girls have nothing but their small world in that office. They’ve never experienced anything greater than themselves and lack the emotional intelligence to properly understand and comprehend what someone like myself has gone through. My life experiences are a burden to me but they are mine and not easily understood by those without insight. Maybe one day they’ll get it. Maybe one day they’ll know. But not today. And that really isn’t my problem. My problem is making sure that I’m healthy and well taken care of and I should never feel guilty for wanting to better myself. So instead of harboring anger, I want to extend a thank you because without that incident I wouldn’t have pushed harder for myself to be the best possible version of myself that I can create for myself.

As for the fifty-five pages that I lost of my manuscript, I not only got those fifty-five pages back, but I am now one hundred and two pages richer in my manuscript. I am right on schedule for a July/August release of my latest novella, John of Art. I am in the market for an editor and someone to help me cut a song single for my book as well. The lyrics and melody are all set. I just need to record it professionally and get it ready for a co-release with my book in a few weeks. So if anyone knows of anyone who can help, I’d be greatly appreciative. Thanks for all your support and your constant revisiting of my blog.

Thank you all for your continued interest in my crazy world! Love to all and hope you are all happy and healthy!

VISIT THE MOONLIT GODDESS PATREON PAGE