Thursday, March 31, 2011

Because Sometimes...

Because sometimes I have too much to do.....I tweet things like this:








Because sometimes my heart feels weary and grows hard.....my daughter has a smile that can melt it.


Because sometimes bad dreams come.....there are middle of the night movies and cuddles under a polka dotted blanket.


Because sometimes when I see a random thing, I can't just pass by......my husband stops the car while I take a picture...
Guy Balancing on Bike

or two

Guy Riding on One Wheel of Bike

Because sometimes I don't snap the picture fast enough....I missed when he tipped over, after a few seconds of riding the bike like that.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Days of Color and Warm Milk

I was three years old, and my family lived in San Antonio. In the mornings I went to Rainbow Hills School, and my whole class was working on the biggest picture I had ever seen. My teacher had to push all of our tables together to hold it, when she rolled it out each day. At the end of the year, she hung it up, and it stretched across two walls.

My friend Maria and I worked together on the left side of the picture. Her long black braid pooled on the paper as she leaned forward to fill a small flower with bright orange. I picked up magenta and colored a larger flower above it. I started at the outside edge, slowly, making sure that the color stayed on the petal and not the leaves around it, my strokes getting faster and darker as I worked my way to the middle of the flower.

When coloring time was over, the teacher had us put up the crayons and go outside for lunch. I picked up the My Little Pony lunch box sitting in my cubby on the way out the door. Maria and I ran to the back of the playground to claim our favorite spot, the dark green picnic table by the fence. There was a big tree on the other side of the fence and its shadow fell across our table.

Peanut butter and banana on white bread bread, a bunch of grapes, and a Nutty Bar were nestled in my pink lunch box, next to a thermos of water. Maria opened up her box, pulling out tamales in a plastic container and some other food that I didn't recognize. She tipped her purple thermos toward me, so I could see the frothy, white milk inside. 

That night when mom was packing my lunch, I asked her if I could have milk. "I didn't think you liked milk," she replied, "and besides, it would be hot by the time you got to drink it." 

"But I will like it. Maria had some in her lunch today, and it was still cold. Please?" 

The next day I colored tree trunks. Coloring time was short because we had a fire safety presentation from Joey's dad and then we went outside to see the fire truck. While I was standing in line for my turn to sit in the driver's seat, I counted the folds in the yellow hose. The firemen that came with Joey's dad stayed during lunch to answer questions. Maria and I sat at our green picnic table and I whispered to her that I had milk too.

My nose crinkled at the sour smell when I unscrewed the cap on my thermos. One small sip was enough. The milk was hot and the taste matched the smell.

The next year we moved to Florida. The first day of kindergarten at my new school, I sat in the cafeteria that smelled like macaroni and cheese and looked at the stark, white walls and tables. One hundred kids were in the room, but the only noises were forks and spoons scraping on white plastic plates, because we weren't allowed to talk. A teacher walked next to my lunch table, holding a big basket, and passed out warm cartons of milk. I opened mine and the smell reminded me of that day at Rainbow Hills. I thought about Maria sitting on the dark green picnic table under the tree, and I wondered how she kept her milk so cold.


The Red Dress Club: Remember Kindergarten. Mine your memories and write about the earliest grade you can recall. What was special? What was ordinary? 


Constructive Criticism is welcome!

Friday, March 25, 2011

March Edition - Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse

at The Hope For Trauma. 
This month's theme is Springtime, with the focus on "spring" as an adjective.

I want to thank Hope for all the work she did this month, hosting and organizing the carnival. There are a lot of great submissions. I hope that you will be blessed as you read through them, and show some support to those who have shared their hearts and healing journeys with us this month.

Thank you for raising your voice and speaking out against child abuse. 

The purpose of the Carnival is to share important posts with others who may not be frequent readers of an author's blog, and expose one's work to a wider audience. There are so many wonderful bloggers who are contributing to the cause of ending and recovering from child abuse. If you, as a reader or author, know of other blogs that you find helpful, please encourage them to submit to an upcoming issue of the Carnival Against Child Abuse; and please bookmark that page so we can continue to receive high quality submissions from a wide swath of bloggers.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Expressive Art - 6 Word Memoir

Seeking Joy Courage Empowers Hope Propels
The theme for this month's Expressive Arts Carnival is 6 Word Memoirs.

Seeking JOY: I have been on a journey to find joy for over a year now. It challenges me and helps me to look and see things differently. It has touched my family and friends (possibly in part because of the ways it has changed me). 

Courage Empowers: At the beginning of this year, I claimed the word Courage.
I purposed to find courage in big and small moments. Courage fuels my decisions and strengthens me.

I did not know that these two separate purposes, joy and courage, would converge, but they have...and working beside them is hope. 

Hope Propels: There have been many dark days in recent months, days when I didn't know how I was going to make it...but there has also been hope. It is hope that I have clung to. It has helped me to continue finding reasons to live, continue writing, and have the courage to continue seeking joy.


Monday, March 21, 2011

This Is An Exciting Title

Monday mornings are for bullet points. Not to be confused with real bullets, which could be dangerous. 
  • Every time I open an umbrella, there is a small part of me that wonders if I will fly away, like Mary Poppins. 
  • String Cheese is fascinating. It is always my goal to peel off the smallest "string" that runs the entire length of the piece of cheese. 
  • The movie E.T. is very loud (especially early in the morning when my brain is not fully awake).
  • The word "fib" bothers me.....as if somehow a lie is less than a lie if it is little, or starts with a different letter. 
  • Heard in my house this morning, "Don't come sit beside me because I have Pringles."
  • Sometimes you have to sniff in and out at the same time in order to trick your sinuses into believing they can breathe. (or maybe that is just my sinuses?)
  • Polka Dots make me happy. 
  • Thomas says that the sky was more blue when he was kid. I think that orange juice tastes different than it did when I was a kid. Someone is stealing the blue and changing the oranges. 
  • The correct answer to "Shhhhhhhhh" is not "What?"
  • Robin Eggs. Jelly Bellys. Cadbury.......do you feel it? Spring is in the air....and after I visit the grocery store it will be in my pantry too. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rape is Not Funny

Yesterday I had a conversation. I was told about the number of times the word rape had been casually used by a group of men in Florida who are in their late teens and twentys.
One man was concerned that his video game account might get hacked and said if that happened, "the hacker would rape the items and bank his character had collected". Another man, playing a video game where a group was working together to complete a quest, got angry when they lost yelling, "We just got raped".  Several of the men also made jokes about rape. While watching a video where a woman said something he disagreed with, one man said, "I hope she gets raped"
All of these statements were made loudly, in a public place, and there were more of them, many much more vile than what I have shared here. The men in the room laughed at the jokes. Not one person in the room stood up and said that it wasn't okay to throw around the word rape, or make jokes about rape, or wish that a woman would get raped because she said something that you don't like. Not.One.Person.

- - - - - - - - - 

Earlier this month, the New York Times published an article by James C McKinley Jr. about an 11 year old girl who was gang raped in the small town of Cleveland, Texas. The article has received a huge amount of criticism, due to the fact that it is full of concern for the men and teens (18 so far) who have been arrested for this crime, instead of concern for the victim.

Although the article references reporting done by the Houston Chronicle, McKinley does not use any of the quotes that the Chronicle got from the victim's mother. But he did include a quote from a neighbor, who wondered, "Where was her mother? What was her mother thinking?".  McKinley was also sure to include comments about the 11 year old girl dressing older than her age and wearing makeup.

McKinley says that the community wonders, "If the allegations are proved, how could their young men be drawn into this act?" I happen to have an answer for them.

The 11 year old girl was taken to a blue house. She was told to take her clothes off, or she would be beaten and would not get a ride home. She was raped by multiple men. Then there was a phone call. More men were invited over to the house to rape her. At some point, an aunt of one of the suspects came home and the suspects and victim left through a back window.

The 11 year old girl was then taken to an abandoned trailer. Her bra and underwear, left behind at the house. At the trailer, the men continued to rape her. They took pictures and videos with their cell phone cameras. They recorded themselves raping an 11 year old girl.

How were the young men drawn into the act? At least some of them were recipients of an invitation. Then they had to get in their cars, or on their bikes, or hitch a ride, or get on their feet and walk to the blue house, so they could rape this child....and then after climbing out the window, they went to the trailer so they could rape her some more. They made a conscious choice, that is how they were "drawn in".

After videos of the sexual assault swept through the school, a student who recognized the girl and several of the young men, reported it to a school employee, and that is how the police investigation got started. (by the way, the police have said that there may have been more men involved, and the investigation is still ongoing) I wonder how many people received and watched videos of this child being raped before one of them stood up and reported it?

But wait...there is still more victim blaming to be done. Last Thursday, Quanell X, a community activist from Houston, led a town hall meeting in Cleveland called "What's The Real Truth Behind The Rape Allegations?".  During that meeting, CNN reports:
Among other issues, he said that the girl didn't do enough to stop the alleged assailants. "It was not the young girl that yelled rape. Stop right there -- something is wrong, brothers and sister," Quanell X said.
This man spewed his shit across the room, and people yelled out support.

What exactly is it that Quanell X expected her to do that would stop 18 (and maybe more) men and teen boys from raping her?

Let me make something very clear. I don't care what this girl was wearing, and I don't care how old she looked, and I don't care what color her lipstick was, or where her mom was.....she was raped....and it wasn't her fault.

- - - - - - - - - 

Back to yesterday's conversation. I asked, "Do you think it is okay for the men to say those things, to turn rape into a joke and an acceptable threat or wish against someone they don't agree with?".

The answer I got was, "No. But everyone does it. You don't understand how prevalent it is."

Angry and hurt, through my tears, I told this person that that was unacceptable. I told him that the next time someone makes a rape joke in his presence, he should not just sit there quietly offended, but he should stand up and speak out. I told him that he can not say he cares about sexual assault survivors, and then not challenge the thinking and acceptance of the rape culture that is all around him.

Either rape is serious, or it is a joke. Either rape is wrong, or it is okay.
You can not have it both ways. You must make a decision.

Yesterday's conversation came flooding back to me tonight when I read this quote from Oscar Carter, who is related to an uncle of one 16 year old who has been charged in the Cleveland, Tx case:
She is 11 years old. It shouldn't have happened....
Somebody should have said, 'what we are doing is wrong'.
The words you say have meaning, they have power, they are important. Just as important, are the words and actions you allow to go unchallenged in your presence.....if you don't challenge it, you are condoning it with your silence.

A society that marginalizes rape and turns it into a joke, makes it easy for rape victims to be marginalized and blamed for the crimes committed against them.

- - - - - - - - - 

I am sick and tired of the victim blaming.

I am sick and tired of seeing rape made into a joke. On tv shows. In movies. In conversations.

This 11 year old girl was raped.

Rape is not about sex or what someone is wearing. It is an act of violence. It is an act of power.

There is nothing funny about that.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Artichoke, Made With Love

The term morning sickness is a bad joke. Try all day sickness, with hospital visits and iv treatments thrown in. My stomach was not my friend, neither was food.

The times that I actually wanted to eat something, I found that I wanted things remembered from my childhood. Clearly Canadian. Shortbread. Fruit Roll-ups.

I was curled up in our white and grey striped chair trying to get excited about eating, when I had a memory...

I was six years old, dancing around the kitchen impatiently, as Mom trimmed off the bottom of the artichoke stem and cut off some outer leaves. She handed me our orange, plastic mixing bowl, and I filled it halfway with water. Mom put the artichoke in upside down, and the bowl went into the microwave. I stood in front, looking through the glass door and counting down the numbers with the timer.

We weren't a kitchen table kind of family. There were silver and green tv trays that we used most nights, but if we were sharing something, we would sit on the floor and use the coffee table. It was wood with a glass top, and just big enough for all three of us to sit around.

Two glass bowls, one with melted butter for my Dad and one with mayonnaise for my mom, sat on the table. The artichoke was in the center where everyone could reach it.

It was a little strange to be encouraged to eat leaves, but I quickly got the hang of it. Pulling off a leaf, dipping it in mayonnaise or butter, and then scraping the soft part off with my teeth. 

One leaf at a time, we ate the artichoke, savoring each bite.

When all the leaves were gone, Dad scraped off the fuzzy stuff and divided the heart. I watched closely, because Mom had told me the heart was the best part, and I wanted to make sure that all three pieces were the same size.

Sitting in my striped chair, pregnant and suddenly hungry, I knew this was what I wanted.

I couldn't remember how much water to use, or how long to cook it, and I didn't have that orange mixing bowl, but I was determined to have an artichoke for dinner.

That night, Thomas said he would take care of it. He got an artichoke on his way home from work. He trimmed and cleaned it, and put it in a pot full of water on the stove. I was insistent that Mom had used the mixing bowl so the artichoke wouldn't roll around while cooking, so he stood there with tongs, holding the artichoke still while the water boiled around it, steam hitting him in the face.

When the artichoke was ready, I peeled off the first leaf, dipping it in mayonnaise, and scraping off the soft part with my teeth. It was everything I remembered. Warm. Slightly sweet. Fun to eat.

I shared it with Thomas, but I definitely ended up eating more than my half of that artichoke. Savoring each bite.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Accepting Submissions for the March Edition of the Blog Against Child Abuse

The Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse is a monthly event. Its purpose is to raise awareness about the serious issue of child abuse. All forms of abuse—physical, emotional, sexual, spiritual, verbal—are discussed. We highlight blog posts, from child abuse survivor stories and their art & poetry, to child abuse as a topic in the news media, as well as PTSD, dissociation and other areas of the abuse "aftermath" that adult survivors are forced to deal with. We link to hopeful posts about therapy, recovery and healing from abuse. All forms of child advocacy and awareness are included.


The March edition of the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse will be hosted at Hope for Trauma


Our theme this month is Spring, and I love the direction that Hope is taking it, "I want to focus on the word “spring” itself as an adjective. How does one move forward and recreate their reality? How can you spring forward when the pull is nothing but backward?  Moreover, how do you know when it is ok to just take a break from springing forward and embrace where you are?"


As always, all of our regular categories will also be open:
-Advocacy and Awareness
-Aftermath
-Healing and Therapy
-In the News
-Poetry
-Survivor Stories
-Art Therapy



The deadline for submissions is March 23rd, and I'm excited to see what y'all will share this month. 


As always, if you have any problems with the submission site, you can email your link and information to BlogCarnivalAgainstChildAbuse@gmail.com
The purpose of the Carnival is to share important posts with others who may not be frequent readers of an author's blog, and expose one's work to a wider audience. There are so many wonderful bloggers who are contributing to the cause of ending and recovering from child abuse. If you, as a reader or author, know of other blogs that you find helpful, please encourage them to submit to an upcoming issue of the Carnival Against Child Abuse; and please bookmark that page so we can continue to receive high quality submissions from a wide swath of bloggers.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

A Patient Visitor

This weekend, we had a visitor come by our home.

He stopped by the door and waited.

No loud knocking for him; he just waited for us to come out and find him.

Then he stayed there patiently while I grabbed my camera and got a couple of shots.

When I was done, he quietly flew away.

Dragonfly

I have really enjoyed participating in the Happiness Project. Looking for moments of joy and capturing them with my camera to share with y'all. Today, Leigh is starting the second year of the Happiness Project with a new name, 52 Weeks of Happiness.




   What is making you happy today?

Friday, March 04, 2011

Filling The Empty Spaces

Carol sank to the bathroom floor, no longer able to hold back the tears. The tiles felt cold against her face, as she stared at a Q-tip that had fallen and rolled under the cabinet. Staring until her eyes blurred with a new rush of tears.

Getting up, Carol reached for the shower knob. She turned the hot all the way to the left. Steam rose from the water.

The razor called out to her from the sink, where Kevin left it sitting that morning, but Carol forced herself to turn away. She quickly peeled off her clothes and stepped into the shower.

The hot stream hit her face, and the water mixed with her tears.

"Come on. Warm up." Carol muttered, shivering.

Maybe a bath would be better.

She pushed the stopper down in the drain hole. Sitting down, she lay her head back and felt the water slowly rise as it flowed out of the shower head, filling all the empty space around her.

"I'm tired," Carol whispered to the water, "Tired of not feeling. Tired of this conflict inside me. Tired of being cold."

The water was coming down hot, but it seemed to cool immediately once it hit the porcelain tub. Her head felt warm, but she was still shivering. It was a weird feeling....but at least it was a feeling.

Grabbing a lungful of air, Carol allowed herself to sink down under the water.

"One. Two. Three." she counted the seconds in her mind, and concentrated on feeling the water around her, "Four. Five. Six. Seven." she concentrated on the sound of the water falling, "Eight. Nine. Ten. Eleven."

Would a little cut matter so much?

What about a big one?

Carol rose out of the water, breathed in deeply and shook her head. "I can't do that to them. The kids are the only ones home, and they would be the ones to find me."  The cold felt like it had reached her soul.

The thoughts pressed in, invading the empty spaces in her mind. She pushed them back, and reminded herself that the kids were the only ones home. When the thoughts kept coming, Carol went down the list and whispered each reason, one by one.

The list of reasons she could not commit suicide.

It took her three times going through the list, but finally the thoughts quieted.

"This is what my life has become," Carol told the water, "All I am is a list of reasons I can't kill myself.

I don't think I have a list of reasons to live. That makes me sad."

Something cold hit her eye, and snapped her out of her thoughts. Carol looked up to see that the shower had run for so long, condensation had built up on the ceiling and was now dripping down in little cold splats.

She watched the drops gather, and tried to guess which one would fall next. A thought ran through her mind, "I don't think I've ever cleaned the ceiling. I wonder how dirty these drops are?"

Splat. The drop landed on her left knee. She watched it slide down her leg until it got lost in the water around her, filling the empty spaces.

"If only this water could fill the empty spaces in my life...." and then, she had a thought, such a small spark of a thought, she barely whispered it to the water, "Filling the empty spaces is a reason to live" and with that, Carol turned off the water and got out of the tub.


This piece of fiction is for the Red Dress Club's writing prompt:
Water gives life. It also takes it away.

Write a short piece - fiction or non-fiction - inspired by one or both of these statements.

Word maximum is 600.




Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Now You Can Hear Me Say Words

Something fun.

Do you have an accent?

Do I have an accent?

I saw it first from Busy Mom, and then at A Day in My NYC, and also at This Full House. Vlogs where they demonstrated their accents, or lack of accents.

I told myself this year that I would vlog. I would pull out the camera, summon my courage, and speak to you....and this seemed like a good opportunity. So I  forced asked Katarina to record me...


What do you think, do I have an accent? 


(Also, it is now clear to me that I need to get a lamp for the right side of the room, I'm looking at little "Phantom of the Opera" with my half shadowed face.) 

In exchange for being my camera-woman, Katarina wanted to do her own vlog for you. Here she is reading the list of words....

What do you think, does she sound like me? 


Now it is your turn....
If you want to follow along or do the Accent Vlog yourself, here are the words/questions:
Aunt, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught
  • What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
  • What is the bug that when you touch it, it curls into a ball?
  • What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
  • What do you call gym shoes?
  • What do you say to address a group of people?
  • What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
  • What do you call your grandparents?
  • What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
  • What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
  • What is the thing you change the TV channel with?


If you do it, be sure to let me know so I can come laugh at how you say words hear your lovely voice.