Like Any Relationship, Really

I knew if I ended up with America, I ran the risk of losing my friends who remained on the fence. But they respected that I wanted that intensity, and teased me whenever we saw him at the bar.

“Trista, look, there’s America,” and I’d look over to his smooth jaw line and dark bourbon drink, “Do you want to go over?”

“No, I think I’ll give him some space, the financial crisis just happened and he’s probably not looking for any company. Maybe in a few months.”

And that’s what I did. A few months later I went up to him and ordered the same but neat. As I suspected we were more alike than different. I thought about his request for a relationship over sorbet and I felt he was being genuine. He whispered how “he’s seen people succeed beyond their wildest dreams with my strengths and ambition” and that’s when I leaned in for a kiss and a possible nest egg.

“America had his friends who wanted to work with me, offering a bank account, a lease and a high-interest loan. I passed on the loan, but I knew I could ask for anything: I was with America.”

The first year together was bright eyed and festive; there wasn’t a bad memory to recall.  It felt like only sunny days and warm nights, a welcomed change from the Northern cold. America had his friends who wanted to work with me, offering a bank account, a lease and a high-interest loan. I passed on the loan, but I knew I could ask for anything: I was with America.

A couple years later he asked me to move in as we had a drawer at each other’s place and I started to anticipate that he wanted to spend the night. So we agreed and had a key made, I put it on my ring and stapled in the visa. That night we went shopping for new sheets. When I saw America reaching for the auburn and beige paisley set I knew this was love. I realized in that aisle that this stability is what I had needed this whole time.

For hours we would hold each other, and for nights make dinner with fresh ingredients. He would tell me his problems and we’d work on a solution on ways to get out of some fiscal issues and politically lead on others. Some topics might not get the reaction he desired, but it needed to be said: this is the time to expose. I promised him I would stay by his side and he confessed how he needed us, that he couldn’t go through these huge leaps alone.

“I wanted to scream from the rooftops – America is mine, all mine and we’ll be together forever. So when he got down on one knee and asked me to marry with a green card in a princess cut, I smiled.”

When he spoke, the world listened. I wanted to scream from the rooftops – America is mine, all mine and we’ll be together forever. So when he got down on one knee and asked me to marry with a green card in a princess cut, I smiled. I didn’t show my disappointment in his choice as I’m an oval type and simply nodded ‘yes.’

This felt right and it was a good time in my life. I loved him and he loved me. I’ve never experienced so much emotional growth in such a short period of time, so why would I doubt this won’t last forever? And then I felt his phone ring in his jacket pocket and I read the caller ID, it was his ex.

It was not the reasonable one who I can see calling him to wish him well on the engagement and to ensure their colleagues were still connected. This was the unreasonable one, the one I never understood why they lasted so long. The one who stalked us online at the beginning  and created fake profiles to ‘like’ my public photos. He said that for months at the end of their relationship she couldn’t cope with the idea that they were over. In her mind she thought they were still a couple, so would show up at his place. And I know America; I know he invited her inside.

I always felt he preferred girls like her, the ones who adorn themselves in his presence and hang off his every word. I refused to see how he enjoyed those kinds of games and her call showed to me how blind I was. When I told him that I was breaking up with him, America thought I was being unreasonable, that I should give him a chance to create a healthy boundary.

But I know better.

I heard she moved in a few weeks later. She likely threw out the sheets and immediately replaced the towels with ones that are monogrammed. Our lamps, curtains and utensils are still around, being judged and kept as a reminder of the time he had that mutual stability.

“To this day I know America and I could have been something real, with a low-interest mortgage.”

To this day I know America and I could have been something real, with a low-interest mortgage. I was desperate for the hope of change and always knew under the surface there were signs that were louder than America’s desire to enact that change. I opened my heart and it was broken with no regrets – just lessons and an escape plan.

Trista Hurley-Waxali is an immigrant from Toronto, who finally listened to her parents advice and moved South. She has performed at Avenue 50, Stories Bookstore and internationally at O’bheal Poetry Series in Cork, Ireland and a TransLate Night show from Helsinki Poetry Connection. She is writes weird short stories and is working on her novel, At This Juncture.


The Confused Conspirator

Many things are ironic in my life. Situational irony is smacking me in the face as I listen to George sitting across from me babbling about his love of oil and cars. I can’t stop tuning him out and thinking that I told myself, many times over, that I’d never lose all of my vision. I don’t know what he’s doing here because he said he would never date a bookworm. I’m in shock because he’s been fine with it up until now. Then again, every stance he has taken or opinion he has spewed has been the polar opposite of what he told me this morning. I wonder if his name is even George.

My profile is splattered with sentences about how many audio books I consume on a weekly basis and my love of sentences, words, and publishing. I told George that I love books when he first messaged me on the website. He said, as I am sure he tells everyone, even his unknowing friends, that it’s “definitely no problem because he’s open minded.”

“So guess what?” he rambles, a word which here means: fires off without any regard to the other person’s thoughts or feelings about the presidential election, a topic he was just spitting about.

“Guess what! I haven’t read a book in over ten years!”

“Really?” I ask, in utter awe, a phrase which here means: completely proud to be anyone other than this forty-year-old overachiever.

“Yeah!” he cheers, “I feel great! I don’t have any bias because of my choice, you know? Reading is for the people who just want portable ways to be brainwashed.”

I stare at the spot where his booming voice is rocketing from. Even though I can’t see anymore, I can tell a few things. He’s spitting as he talks. I feel small droplets pelting me in the face every time he utters a vowel. He’s shoveling chicken into his mouth. I can smell the hot sauce as it smacks my face. He loves to talk about himself. And, lastly, he can’t keep one detail about himself consistent. I wonder if he even read my words or if he just guessed my sentences. I decide to try to reason with him.

“I know you don’t like to read,” I begin, “But, I have to wonder, did you even read my profile, did you even look at the messages you were sending me on the dating site?”

“Oh! Those?” he snorts. This time carrot-flavored spit peppers my face. My stomach churns. “Well, see, I thought you weren’t serious about any of that. I thought you were writing them journalisms because you wanted to weed out all of the stupid people who like to be brainwashed by words on a page or a screen. Now, me, I’m a free thinker. I haven’t been brainwashed at all. Hell, I don’t even know what the word ‘conspiracy’ means, for example. Who makes up these definitions anyway? The media and books tell us how we should think, but they don’t help us think. You feel me?”

I stare in bewilderment, a word which here means: eager to brainwash him with the definition of the word ‘stupid’ instead. “But, see… that’s just paranoid thinking. People read for all kinds of different reasons. To be entertained. To be informed. To explore different worlds. To learn something new about an old event. There’s more than one kind of book and there’s more than one kind of writing.”

I can feel his eyes staring at me with confusion. He seems like he’s having trouble processing what I just said.

“I don’t get why people read. I don’t get why people read the media or books. It’s all portable hypnotizing devices anyway.” He adds, as if to add insult to injury, “It’s such a shame you participate in that brainwashing process. You seem like a really sweet and nice and caring fellow. I mean, here you are, cute as a button, and you are one of them media people that tells the public what to think and how to believe. The corruption has reached you!”

Even though I have only been sitting here for ten minutes I want to flee, a word which here means: scream and run away. I smile, stand up, and pop my cane out. I take a deep breath to prepare for the scream of a lifetime, when he drops a bombshell.

“I love movies though!” he says. “Maybe I can show you some good movies that will make you read less.”

A few minutes later I am figuratively running as fast as I can to the nearest library. I want to apologize to the structure. I want to let the building know that I will literally never speak to George again. I feel relieved when I reach the library. I pick up a few classic audio books from their shelves and stroke their spines tenderly, a phrase which here means: supporting all the writers rolling over in their graves who are begging for a reproduction license requirement.

Robert Kingett is a bestselling author and award winning journalist who just can’t stop pouring his personal life onto a screen. While most admired for his personal essays, human stories, boldly told, and short memoirs, he also covers various beats, such as satire, politics, crime, travel, food and drink, and entertainment. He is a dating advice columnist and actively campaigns to make the world a better place for disabled people as well as other minority voices. His website is

Immigration Raids: Know Your Rights

Some of our editors have been attending trainings from the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. Given the current climate, we wanted to post a few useful takeaways from these sessions.

*Disclaimer: This is not legal advice*

ICE raids are more and more likely. Know what to do in the following places.

At Home

If agents come to your home, they must have a warrant. If someone comes to your door, do not let them in. Instead, tell them to slip the warrant under the door. If they don’t have a warrant, they will likely leave. If they do, read over it before you open the door. They will often only have a warrant for one person, but once they are in your home they can question anyone there. Do not tell any agent your immigration status or where you were born. You have the right to remain silent. More information in English / Spanish.

At Work
Agents are again supposed to have a warrant, as well as permission from your employer to enter. Running away may be seen as an admission of guilt. Do not tell any agent your immigration status or where you were born. You have the right to remain silent. More information in English / Spanish.
On Public Transit

We’re hearing reports of ICE raids on public transit systems, primarily in metropolitan areas. *These are not confirmed. If anyone can confirm, please contact us.* People are reporting on social media that transit authorities are checking to make sure people have a valid ticket; those who don’t are removed from public transit and met by ICE agents. Have a valid ticket on all public transit. Do not tell any agent your immigration status or where you were born. You have the right to remain silent.

If You Are Detained
You can print and carry this card.
From CASA of Maryland, Detention Watch Network, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyer’s Guild.
ICE agents may try to pressure you into signing documents by stating that it will make proceedings go faster. DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING. Ask to speak to a lawyer.
You can ask for a bond hearing to be released on bond instead of staying in detention.
How to Prepare
  • If you can, save as much money as possible. You may need it for legal fees, paying bond, or taking care of your family if you are deported.
  • Find and carry the information of an immigration lawyer on you at all times.
  • Develop a safety plan. Who can pick up your children from school if you are detained? What will happen to your possessions if you are deported? Who will care for your children or pets? You can use this family safety planning worksheet, or this child/youth safety planning worksheet.
  • Collect all immigration documents (passport, visas, etc.) as well as documents showing how long you have been in the country, such as utility bills or leases. Keep these in a place where a friend or neighbor can find them and bring them to you should you be detained.
  • Talk to coworkers, employers, or your union to discuss what will happen if your workplace is raided.


Rights of Trans People in Detention
You have the right to gender-appropriate clothing, transition-related care, and HIV medications. You also have the right to choose the gender of any officer conducting a strip-search. You have the right to be safe from sexual assault or harassment and to not be placed in isolation. These rules are not always enforced. Lambda Legal has more information on trans immigrant rights.

For LGBTQI People & People Who Are HIV+
There may be free legal help available from Immigration Equality – English, Spanish, French, Russian.

You can find more detailed information on protecting yourself from immigration raids in English or in Spanish.

Be safe. Be strong.

In Solidarity,