A wonderland of gifts

Enough is enough

commentaryHazel DelacruzComment

A long time ago, when I was a little girl sitting in my second grade classroom, I had an unusual daydream. I dreamt that a man burst into our classroom with a machine gun and opened fire on us. I saw myself quickly shoving my desk upwards and stopping the spray of bullets from hitting me. I can’t really tell you why I had that dark fantasy. Back then, school shootings were rare and there weren’t horrific mass shootings like we are seeing today. Maybe it resulted from the rising amount of violence on television shows and an overactive imagination. But today, with all the mass shootings taking place and broadcasted all over, I can only imagine the nightmares going through children’s minds.

I believe and hope that we are now witnessing an important tipping point for violence in schools. Quite clearly, the collective consciousness of our national youth has had enough. The survivors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have bursted on the national scene, mobilizing to lobby their state and national governments to do something to counter the growing wave of school violence.  This movement has managed to push Florida to enact new laws that defy the NRA. Here’s what these kids’ actions have caused to happen:

   New law includes

  • minimum age to 21

  • extending waiting period to 3 days

  • make school safer

  • fund school police officers and mental health counselors

  • allow local school districts and sheriffs to arm certain school personnel.

  • ban bump stocks


  • ban assault weapons

  • suspend AR-15 sales

  • ban high-capacity magazines

  • strengthen background checks


Many people on different sides of gun violence debate are thinking this is a terrible solution. I have to disagree. Something is much better than nothing. Some concrete action was taken, which is a big improvement compared to many other similar events that ended up in big, messy stalemates.  Unfortunately, we are still seeing in Washington the all too familiar deadlock. Though frustrated by this, I am still hopeful that something constructive may transpire on the national stage.  

Closer to home, there was an impressive showing of support from our own teenagers and kids in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.  A large number of high schoolers and elementary kids stepped out at 10 am yesterday for 17 minutes. These actions did not go unnoticed. CNN showed students from East Chapel Hill High School participating in the walkout. Their courage and determination fill me with pride and hope. I was particularly struck by the messages kids carried on their signs. Here are a few that resonating deeply in me:

what if your kid was 1 of the 17?

I shouldn’t be afraid to go to school

I should feel lucky to go to school, not lucky that I came home alive.

Am I next?

Enough is enough

I also surfed images of the protest. One in particular moved me. In this picture, all the students lay still on the ground in random positions, enacting the gruesome outcome result of a mass shooting. This country needs to listen to the students. We need to put an end to school shooting. Thank goodness for this growing movement. The next big step is the national protest in Washington DC on March 24th. We all need to help our kids. If you haven’t already done so, please check out the website The March for Our Lives at

Stranger Things Inside

commentaryHazel DelacruzComment

Have you watched Stranger Things on Netlfix? When I saw the announcement for the show starring Winona Ryder, I had my doubts. I love sci-fi but my gut told me this wouldn’t that good. But I have to say I was dead wrong.  

The last notable movie I remember Winona acting in was Black Swan where she did a good job playing a bitter, heavy drinking ballerina being forced into retirement. Aside from that, I remember her portrayal of the sweet teenage girl in Tim Burton’s classic Edward Scissor hands. But really not all that much over the last decade and a half. Then there was that horrible shoplifting incident in 2001. All this to say I was not expecting much from Ms. Ryder. However, as I watched her play Joyce Byers, mother of a boy who mysteriously disappears, I witnessed a new side of Winona and developed a new respect. I have to say she does a great job combining angst (maybe from her criminal past?), neurosis, hard headedness and a disdain for towns folks who don’t believe that her missing son is trying to communicate with her through the power grid.

However, an even bigger and better surprise for the first season of the show is Matthew Modine. I never would have imagined him doing this role, because I never have seen him play characters this dark. I only remember Mr. Modine playing heroic characters like Don Francis in “And the Band Played On”, a man who tries to find a cure for AIDS, or John Scully, the business mogul in Jobs (as in Steve Jobs), or Birdy, a sweet kid with a strange obsession to fly. But in Stranger Things he does a perfect job as Dr. Martin Brenner, a twisted scientist that combines fatherly appearances with the spirit of an evil professor who doesn’t think twice about putting children in harm’s way in order to advance science. I'm telling you, you have to watch one episode if it’s only to see Dr. Brenner.

Kudos to Stranger Things for intentionally seeking out kids that don’t look like models for Seventeen and Teen Vogue. All the young actors have atypical looks which contributes to the show’s originality. I’m particularly fascinated by the girl called Eleven, played by Millie Brown. Eleven has telekinetic powers and an ability to travel into another world nicknamed the Upside Down where she meets the most bizarre monster. I absolutely love this young actress’ work - such a great presence on the screen. She can carry a scene with just her facial expressions. I think we will be seeing great things from Millie in the coming years.

While looking up the actors’ names on, I noticed the guy who plays the monster is in the list of cast members. I thought only actors with speaking parts got listed. Maybe when the monster screams “arghh!”, that counts as dialogue? It would appear that monster roles have come a long way. When they first appeared in movies, directors just took some random guy off the set and put him in a costume.  Now they get a credit. In the end, maybe monsters deserve more credit. You couldn’t have the show Stranger Things without the monster, right?

Thinking about shows like this one, I’ve been asking myself why all this fascination for horror and science fiction. The way I see it, monsters are a reflection of our dark side, of our hidden impulses that shape in a large way who we are and what we do. I think Mike Carey, the writer for X-men, sums it up the best: “We make our own monsters, then fear them for what they show us about ourselves”. I got my share of monsters lurking around inside of me. Doubts and insecurities like: am I smart enough, do I look fat, do you like my outfit, will you like my writing. Every day, I battle my demons, sometimes winning, sometimes losing.  I’ve noticed that if I face them and talk about them, they start losing their powers. So there's hope!

What kind of monsters do you have?  And how to you deal with them? 

Back in Carrboro

Hazel Delacruz3 Comments

I have to say it is so good to be back in Carrboro. New York City sure has a lot to offer, but I guess my heart never really left NC.  Still, I’m going to miss Central Park, all those great restaurants and bars, great LGBT scene, Broadway... However, what I’m not going to miss is the fast pace of life, the crowds and the noise!

I guess this would be a good time to introduce myself. My name is Hazel Delacruz. I used to live in the area but moved to New York about ten years ago. Recently, I was sharing with a friend how much I missed Carrboro and would love to find a writing gig back in NC. She suggested I call Cameron’s and see if they could use a blogger. She thought I would have a blast at Cameron’s, and you know what, I think she’s going to be right. The owners are very cool. They told me I can write about whatever I want, that I don’t even have to write about the store. Now that’s a lot a freedom and trust. Hopefully I don’t abuse it.

So in the spirit of writing about whatever I want, I have to tell you about some hilarious thing that happen to me just the other day. I am in the process of learning Spanish. So a good friend of mine knowing this, sends me a book called “Asi como la pierdes”, which is the Spanish translation of Junot Diáz “This is How You Lose Her”. So silly me, not knowing anything about this writer, thought she sent me some cheesy Spanish romance novel and left it on my side table for months. When I finally started reading the book, I was pleasantly surprised how good it was. His writing style is vibrant, gutsy, original. His poignant stories are woven with the immigrant experience and delve into gritty life situations and relationships.

One more thing, Mr. Diáz uses very colorful language, to say the least. The conversations use a mixture of English and Spanish, peppered with lots of curse words. For example, the book has “cállate la boca pendejo” which translates to “shut your mouth dumbass”. Knowing this, I should have been more careful. You see I love to hang out in coffee shops, order a latte and open a Spanish book and smartphone, then when needed speak Spanish words into my phone and have the English translation read back to me. Because of the language, I have usually been turning off the sound on my phone. Well imagine my surprise when I innocently said “cabrón” into my phone and it barked back “motherf**ker” very loudly. People stopped talking and looked my way.  Then I really spazzed out. I started tapping the app repeatedly trying to close it but instead caused my phone to shout the same obscenity three more times, again really loudly. Not knowing what else to do, I grabbed my phone and shoved it under me and sat back down until I could regain my composure.

Very embarrassing. However, I personally believe that in every hardship, there is a lesson to learn. And the lesson here is to remember that technology can be used both for good and for evil. So be careful with how you use it. And remember to keep the volume on your smartphone down!

If the spirit moves you to do so, please drop me a comment and like the post (just click on "comment" at the top of the page and then add comment or like at the bottom of page).