Friday, April 28, 2017

Five on Friday: Home/Work HIlarity

Because life is funny and I laugh every day. Here are some things at both home and work that have made me laugh recently:

1. That time (on Tuesday) that I was working in both positions at the Museum on the same day (leading the login cabin workshop in costume and working in the office). Worlds collided, hilarity ensued:

2. Me: "So I was talking to one of the Blacksmiths . . . " 16-year-old B: "For a minute I totally forgot why you might know any Blacksmith never mind multiple ones."

3.  Overheard while I was walking from the log cabin back to the office, "LOOK! IT'S A COSTUME PERSON!"

4. Earlier in the week, our 9-year-old son Z said, "Hey Dad, Thursday is Take Your Child to Work Day. Can I go with you?" Daddy O replied, "Sorry buddy, I'm traveling that day." Z sighed and said, "Oh man. Mom? Do you know anybody else that works?"

5.  A 2nd grader on a school tour told me very seriously and sincerely that "there was another olden days when people didn't even have menus." (I have absolutely no idea what he was talking about but I will always remember this, um, lesson that he taught me.)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Five on Friday: Hiking Staples (Activist Edition*)

Last weekend felt like true vacation: the late-blooming spring had finally sprung, my husband took Friday off, we had one birthday, one holiday . . . and two hikes.

Two hikes. In a row? Cue the hysteria, mainly from the 9 and 15-year-old boys. Mom! No fair! We just took a hike yesterday! I hate hiking!

Hey, listen, when Daddy and I were growing up we had to go to church every Sunday. And Sunday School all school year and sometimes even church on weeknights! We don't make you go to church. But we do make you go on hikes . . . and to protests. Hikes and protests are our church.

What if I protest going on the hike?

Touché, son. Now go get your sneakers on.

Miraculously, everyone had fun on the hike. Two snakes and one very cool old glass bottle were found as was lots of other people's garbage.

As we sat for a snack break by a stream, we discussed what  we should always have with us on hikes. Here is our list of five things to have packed in a backpack just waiting for snacks and water to be added before our next adventure:

1. Plastic bag for picking up other people's garbage*

2. Small first aid kit, bug spray, sunscreen

3. Chalk for when we find spots to make our own fun & temporary graffiti

4. Binoculars

5. Hand sanitizer not necessarily for washing hands (though I guess that'd be an added bonus) . . .  but because I heard it can erase marker on some surfaces if we come across any hate speech (there can be a surprising amount of graffiti on some trails.) Also a Sharpie if we can't wipe it off and just need to transform it into a giant heart or flower or something * 

*Surely some other items would be more useful than the plastic bag, sharpie and chalk . . . but then it wouldn't be just right for our activist family. Here's to lots more complaining and adventure now that the weather is nice and our backpack is ready!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Five on Friday: Luckiest Survivor I Know

Last week in my post for Sexual Assault Awareness month, I told you that I consider myself to be the luckiest survivor I know.

I didn't realize it at first. I remember when one of my sisters told me that I was one of the luckiest people she knew. I thought to myself, "Um, does she forget that I was raped?"

The next day, a person I knew for years confided in me that she was also raped in college. A date rape that she didn't report and didn't tell her family about. She struggled for years.

Since that time I've only become more vocal as an activist and I've had so many people confide their stories to me and I realized: maybe my sister is right.

1. Though my attacker had a weapon, I was not physically injured or killed.

2. Nobody ever told me that they didn't believe me.

3. Two months after I was raped, some old friends from my Freshman year had heard what had happened and invited me out. I said yes even though they wanted to go to these awful bars that I generally avoided. While we were at one of them, I saw my attacker. 

4. Though he also saw me and took off, he was apprehended later that night. He also eventually plead guilty and was imprisoned.

5. My support system was and is amazing. I couldn't feel as strong, safe and confident as I do now without them. I couldn't have such a happy life filled with love and I don't think I could help other people the way I do if I didn't have the loving family and friends that I do.

Each individual thing that I've listed here is probably only true for a very small percentage. So how did I get to experience all five of them?? I'll never know how I got to be the luckiest survivor I know but I will continue to show my gratitude for it by helping as many others as I can.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Five On Friday: Sexual Assault Awareness Month

My survivor symbol: a wounded but soaring heart

I don't feel like I can legitimately call myself an activist if I don't acknowledge the "awareness month" for an issue that has profoundly affected my life. But can I still refer to myself as one if the word "awareness" in this context makes me cringe a little?

I mean, the word is overused, probably misused and frankly, it sounds dumb. Who's not aware of sexual assault?

But then . . . maybe that's not what a month like this is about. Maybe it's not for providing the definition of the cause du jour, but maybe it's a platform for sharing statistics, techniques for avoidance, organizations that are doing the best work (and perhaps could use a donation). 

Maybe this month, being sexual assault awareness month, is the perfect time for me, as a survivor, to let you know what I would like you to be aware of:

1. The first one is about the statistics: the number of people affected sounds exaggerated. I know, I didn't believe them either. But once I began speaking out, countless people began confiding in me. Now sometimes I wonder if the statistics are actually high enough. Either way, one thing I can say with confidence is that every one of us is surrounded by survivors of sexual assault even if we don't realize it.

2. The next three are about language. Seeing as how survivors are everywhere and language is powerful, please don't tolerate any sort of joke that normalizes or promotes rape culture. This should be obvious. It's not.

3. Perhaps less obvious? I, personally, don't like being referred to as a victim. I prefer survivor. This won't be true for everyone but it's something to be cognizant of, just in case.

4. I loathe the casual use of the word rape. (However, I will use it as a Scrabble word while my primary opponent, my husband, refuses to.)

5. Many of you read along with me as I dealt with my rapist's release from prison last year but many of you may not realize this: I will never know when he is actually free. 

Let's just take a minute on that one: the man who had a previous assault on a child, who raped me at knife point and repeatedly threatened to come back and kill me, who was arrested and imprisoned may or may not be on the streets. When the sentence was up, he was sent to the facility for sex offenders for a mental health evaluation. They may have decided to release him or they may have decided to treat him. The required residential treatment may have been for weeks, months . . . or the rest of his life. Because this is not a criminal sentence but a mental health issue, I am not privy to this information.

In spite of that, I still consider myself the luckiest survivor I know . . . but the reasons why are a Five on Friday list for next week.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Five on Friday: Birthdays, Boxes & Buddies, Oh My!

A look back on the past week in pictures:

1. We hosted a birthday party for my newly-minted 9 year-old son on Saturday. We had some fun with making colored water balloons and freezing them for a "cold potato" game. My daughter also decided to fill a plastic glove with blue water. Made for interesting decor:

Her finger broke so I told her to ice it. Hardy har har.

2. We had an uninvited guest but it didn't eat much so it was okay.

Hey there little buddy!

3. I had a performance with The Meta Theatre Company on Tuesday. These two ladies that I'm proud to call my friends came. Oh and those goofballs in the second picture? Some of my lovely cast mates.

4. Just when I thought the novelty of this box wore off and maybe it was time to recycle it . . . it was turned into a cozy reading nook out in the sun.

5. So what IS a social justice theatre company? We do things like act out scenes that have happened in real life and then ask the audience how they'd handle it. It's like a choose your own adventure book, but live. Here I am playing the racist jerk and one of my very best friends (on left) volunteered to come up and try to disrupt my hate talk.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Five on Friday: Books I'm Devouring

Are you a big reader? Do you keep track of what books you've read? I have a Good Reads account to keep track of what I've read and one of my favorite things about it is seeing how many books I manage to read in a year. I'm a fast reader but I'm always exhausted and since right before bed is usually my only time to read . . . sometimes I don't get too as many books as I'd like to. In 2016 I finished thirty-one books which was ten more than the year before. Challenge accepted!

This year I've read seven so far and am currently driving my husband crazy by reading two books at once (but they're both so good! And are both fourteen-day books from the library, which adds an additional challenge).

For today's Five on Friday, here are five great books I've read so far this year:

1. The Moth: All These Wonders As a fan of this storytelling podcast and one of their former storytellers, I had a special love for this book before I even cracked it open. As expected, it was filled with joy, heartbreak, humor and sorrow.  Bonus for me was the number of names in that book that are people I've actually met. (So cool!) Enter to win your own copy here!

2. Behold the Dreamers Such compelling story telling I figured out a way to squeeze in day time reading and then I missed the characters when it was done. It was that good.

3. The Nightingale This has been on my "want to read" list for a long time. I was wait-listed for it at the library, finally got it but had way too many fourteen-day books (bane of my reading existence) at the time. Glad I finally got around to it. Masterful storytelling and a setting I had never given much thought to before (Nazi-occupied France). 

4. What We Do For Love this is a novel by master doodler and memoirist Ilene Beckerman of Love, Loss and What I Wore fame. I love the way she weaves her drawings into her memories to create such charming and lovely books. Having had the pleasure of meeting her last year and having lunch with her last week, I can tell you she is just as charming and lovely as her books are. You should check out her new blog:

5.  I Will Find You: A Reporter Investigates the Life of the Man Who Raped Her  I write about rape survival a lot but I don't tend to read about other people's experiences. I'd never seen one that seemed relatable before . . . until this book. I had never heard of anyone else even considering (re-)meeting her rapist like I had contemplated myself. I was hooked immediately and finished this one in record time.

(And if you're wondering what two books I'm juggling at the present, they are actually both memoirs:  Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Trevor Noah's Born a Crime. I might have to do some daytime reading to finish these in two weeks but they're both so damned good I won't mind at all)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Five on Friday: This is the Time to Remember

When both you and your spouse both start singing the same pop song from 6th grade randomly on the same day, it can only mean one thing: BILLY JOEL IS NARRATING YOUR LIFE NOW.

This is the time to remember
Cause it will not last forever
These are the days
To hold on to
Cause we won't
Although we'll want to

Billy Joel has never narrated my life before so I thought maybe I should listen to the man.  Because it's true, in so many ways, this is the time to remember.**

Things like:

1. Impromptu birthday parties for stuffed animals

2. Drawings from the in-house cartoonist mysteriously surfacing

3. Too many hands helping

4.  Ridiculous snow day scavenger hunts with semi-rhyming clues:

5. Everything about this picture

**Okay, that text turned itself blue and every time I try to turn it back to black, it does not listen to me at all. I guess it's true, the Billy Joel works in mysterious ways.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Five on Friday: No "Either" . . . Just OR

Early on in parenting, Daddy-O and I mastered the talent of giving kids choices. Stubborn toddler dragging their feet about getting out the door? Asking them if they want to put on EITHER their shoes OR their jacket on made them feel like THEY were in charge but still helped us get out the door in a more timely fashion.

Eventually they stop being stubborn toddlers, thank goodness. They still get a voice in decision making for themselves . . . not all the time though. Sometimes, there's not either/or here, kids. I'm the parent and I say:

1. It's my way OR the highway.  Sometimes that's just the case. (Sorry not sorry)

2. Whisper OR don't talk at all. Seriously. You don't understand how loud you are. Shh.

3. Shoes on OR socks off. You're outside. Come on.

4. Get back to getting along with one another OR get back to bed. I cannot deal with bickering this early in the morning.

5. Gum in your mouth OR the garbage. I didn't understand why it grossed grown-ups out so much to see kids pulling gum out of their mouth and stretching it, etc . . . but now I get it. *shudder*