Monday, November 11, 2013

Birthweek: Day Seven

Ok, for reals this time, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! Yup, today is the big day. At 10:30pm I will roll over to 29 years. I can hardly believe it. The last year of my twenties. Feels kind of surreal, honestly. My newest favorite part about my birthday is that I get to share it with this {little} angel.

Isn't he great? He was the best present my sister ever could have given to me. And, just like me, the boy knows how to arrive in style, rolling in at 9:30pm on a Friday night. We are destined to be kindred spirits.

When I see his smiling face I am reminded that every mother who has ever looked at her baby boy like this has never imagined that someday he will disrespect and violate a woman. Never that he will brutalize and do unspeakable things to girls. No mother ever starts out that way. No baby boy does either. They start like this, innocent, pure, filled with genuine joy at the smallest things, and brimming with potential.

So what happens? How do our beautiful baby boys grow up to be rapists and abusers? Honestly, I don't know. But it sickens me. It sickens me to my very core. Many women who have daughters worry about their futures--how women are portrayed in media, the stress that is put on girls to be perfect, and the possibility of being violated. Just as much as I worry for my nieces, I fear for the world that my nephews are growing up in, too.

Rather than stand on my soap box against victim blaming (because I have one, and it's big, and my rant speech is LONG) or be angry, I want to try to do as Ghandi said, and be the change I want to see in the world. Not too long ago, I was sitting in one of my Sociology classes and I just couldn't take the pitting of men against women anymore. And I may have blown up. I blew up about how tired I am of the culture of fear that is being perpetrated on women as a guise to "protect" them (more about that later). I want, instead, to see real change.

Today's organization is one I have supported from a distance for a long time, but this year I became personally involved. Because this year, learning about another woman who was raped while on the campus of her university, was the last straw. I had to DO something. Eve Ensler, the founder of this organization, has been doing something for years. Today's organization is VDAY.

Their largest campaign, in honor of the 15th anniversary of V-DAY this past February, is One Billion Rising. The name comes from the fact that, statistically, 1 in 3 women will be the victim of violence, meaning ONE BILLION women will be affected. ONE BILLION. The organization not only fights to end violence against women and girls, it does so through education with programs such as V-Girls and V-Men, which are found on their Take Action page.

Maybe you aren't prepared to perform in the Vagina Monologues, or perhaps you feel this agenda is too out-spoken and are not ready to donate. I implore you, do something. Speak up when people joke about rape. Speak up when people mock abusive relationships. Stand up for women. Not only that, stand up for men. Don't allow them to be side-barred or minimized in this fight. Their role in the ending of violence against women and girls is immense and immeasurable. Educate your sons and your daughters. Be the voice amongst your peers who will not tolerate the mistreatment of women or the minimization of the role of men in doing so. It's time to change the tide of this hate and to rinse our world free of its toxic influence. Take a stand. Be the change you wish to see. Celebrate the end of this birthweek by making the world a better place for having you in it.

Birthweek: Day Six

One of the three jobs I have right now deals with the disease of addiction. It is destructive, it can be terminal, and it is no respecter of persons. An addiction that is running rampant and unchecked is Pornography Addiction. One non-profit organization is doing their best to fight against this multibillion conglomerate. It's called Fight The New Drug

They work to educate youth and adults against the harmful effects of pornography as well as help rehabilitate those who are addicted to pornography. Best of all, they have a variety of ways to get involved, and they're all listed on their Get Involved Page. Not only that, they have a great Store, which features items you can buy to also support them including Fighter bands, t-shirts, and their Fortify literature.

If fighting against the harmful effects of pornography isn't something you can get behind, then I encourage you to support a cause which is fighting against something you find harmful to our society. And, as always, let me know how it goes!

Birthweek: Day Five

It's been an amazing four days, and things are just going UP from here! Yesterday was all abut literacy, which is fundamental. However, it's not going to do the future any good to be able to read if there isn't anything worth reading.

It's true, as an English major I'm more or less a Grammar Goddess-in-training, but even if I wasn't I still believe that the things being trotted out as readable material would drive me nuts. Maybe that's the Grammar Goddess-in-training speaking.

At any rate, that's one of the reasons I want to support 826 National.

Here is their informational video.

The power of community that comes together to support the local chapters of this program astonishes me. I would love to have something like this where I live. As there isn't anything, and my time here is limited, I'm supportive of 826 National and what they are doing to improve the writing, publishing, and tutoring of children ages 6-18. Want to help out? Donate today!

If you aren't prepared to donate, I want you to let me know how you are going to help make a difference with tutoring children with the goal of helping them improve and publish their writing.

Birthweek: Day Four

My entire life is defined by books. The first book I "read" was Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss (I say "read" because really I had made my sister read it to me so many times I had it memorized). My reading skills were actually subpar in school. My first grade teacher, Mrs. Jensen, actually sent home one of her Cabbage Patch dolls with me so I could practice my reading. It wasn't until third and fourth grade that books actually came alive for me. They opened my world beyond Cedar City, UT, and--for the first time--I could see what other people saw. The world was bright and fresh and new, I wanted to drink it all in. Books allowed me to travel to far away places, to see past my prejudices, to experience complex emotions I could not even begin to fathom.

That is why I wholeheartedly embrace First Book.

Their approach is multidimensional. You can get involved by providing monetary donations, and volunteering, participating in virtual book drives. They also have a program called Authors in Action or you can choose to participate in their monthly book club.

If you aren't familiar with this program, they provide books to children who do not own books. A $10 donation can buy four books. Don't believe illiteracy is a problem in North America? First Book has put together some statistics on just that.

Today's challenge: help put an end to illiteracy today. Whether that's through First Book or by volunteering at a local elementary school, begin to make a difference today.

Birthweek: Day Three

Isn't this fun? I feel like it's the first day of school, all giddy and anxious. This is the same feeling I get every time I help someone else. It may be fair to say I'm in love with this feeling. And today the love continues.

I featured this organization last year, and am just as enthused to have them on the list again today. Yup it's The Shine Project.

 This organization believes in helping others and promotes, "Shine where you are." Additionally, they work with inner-city youth to help them attend college (you can read about the project here). The youth are paid to work where they make these amazing bracelets.

 You can always choose to donate monetarily at The Shine Project (funds go toward scholarships for students from Cesar Chavez High School), or you can get something pretty from Threads AND employ these students (I'm getting the Jahlil this year--Eee! it's so great).

People say all the time that the youth are the future, but it isn't very often that we see people doing something about it. So today, do something that will help youth in some way. Help the youth and fall in love with this amazing feeling.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Birthweek: Day Two

The organizations for today are near and dear to my heart.


Seriously, how could you not love that face? And those ears! Oh those ears...

The organizations (yes, two, because I couldn't pick just one) for today are Friends of Festival Country K9s and BAM (Because Animals Matter). The former is an organization local to Cedar City which is working to educate the community on pet ownership/responsibility as well as establish a local dog park. If you know Joë, you know she LOVES to run and play. We could really use a dog park. You can help move their cause forward by donating today! The really nifty thing about their site is their donation page also lists other local shelters who are in need of assistance (including Dust Devil Ranch Horse Sanctuary if horses are more your speed).

BAM is the organization that rescued Joë, who was originally Brownie, then Fiona, but when I saw her picture on PetFinder I cried out, "She looks like a baby kangaroo!" Thus she became Joë. One of the things that I love most about BAM, beside their no-kill policy, is that all of the animals they rescue are placed into foster homes to be socialized with people and other animals. In addition, they update vaccinations and require spay/neuter before permanent home placement. The group of volunteers that work together to make it all function are truly remarkable.

There are a variety of ways you can become involved with BAM, including donating, volunteering, fostering, assisting with their Kibbles on Wheels program, or helping out at one of their many community events.

Once again, the theme of today is LOCAL. If you aren't from the Iron County/Washington County area, you may want to look into how you can help out closer to your own home. As a pet lover, you can help ensure that these little fur babies find loving homes. If you aren't a pet lover, you can also help ensure that more unwanted pets aren't produced by supporting spay and neuter programs. Let's celebrate today by helping those who can't help themselves!


I want to see what you're up to! Make sure to leave comments about how you are celebrating with me wherever you are.

Birthweek: Day One

Happy birthday to me! Ok, so it's not the day just yet, but the week is here. Thus, the celebrating commences!

This year I decided to change up the order of things. I want to start by doing something local first. I think trying to make a difference in the community where you live is crucial. One, because we ought to help those around us to improve the culture of community where we live. Two, because reaching out on a local level helps you see the difference you are making.

First on my list of organizations I can stand behind is the Iron County Care and Share.

The facility provides a variety of services, including sack lunches, temporary housing, rent assistance, clothing and gas vouchers, etc. You can read about their list of services here. If you would like to be of assistance, but aren't able to provide a monetary donation, you can also visit this link to see how you can become involved as a volunteer. Of course, you can also donate. Aside from financial contributions, the Iron County Care and Share also participates in a "Grocery Rescue" program with local grocers. They also accept food donations from individuals. Information for all types of donations can be found on the donation page.

Like I said at the beginning, I want this support to be local. If you aren't from Cedar City/Iron County, I urge you to find the nearest food bank/emergency shelter in your area and see what you can do to reach out and give a hand up to those members of your community who may not be able to help themselves.


I want to hear about it! The point of celebrating birthweek is to spread good by being alive. I want to know what differences you are making this week, so leave a comment and let me know how you choose to help me celebrate this wonderful adventure we call life.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Their Eyes Were Watching God Pantoum

One of my resolutions for this year is to do one thing every day that makes me happy. Creating makes me happy. I've spent a lot of time lately reading the creations of others, including the much-acclaimed novel Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. Much of her language is poetry in prose form. It's beautiful.

This semester I'm also TAing for one of the Creative Writing Professors. One of the activities I prepared for the class was the form for a pantoum (information available here on what that is). As part of my reading of Their Eyes Were Watching God I've been asked to keep a reading journal. I had a spark of an idea today when I was finishing the novel; taking some of Hurston's words and formulating them into a pantoum.

I pulled the phrases I noted in my journal, then used a number randomizer to assign them line numbers (as the lines repeat in a specific order). I'm sure this may seem like a cop-out for creativity, but the honest truth is, I loved each of the lines so much, and the pattern is so intricate, that this is the best way I could come up with to bring it all together. And, honestly, I don't think I could have thought up a better organization if I had worried it out for weeks and months.

I don't have a title yet. Therefore, the working title is an homage to the text from which it is drawn.

Their Eyes Were Watching God

The mother of malice had trifled with men
the palm and banana trees had began that long distance talk with rain,
"Have the nerve to say what you mean."
It was just so.

The palm and banana trees began that long distance talk with rain--
it was hard to love a woman that made you feel so wishful
It was just so.
"There ain’t no tellin what I’m liable to do yet."

It was hard to love a woman that made you feel so wishful
several men sat around stuffing courage into each other’s ears,
"There ain’t no tellin what I’m liable to do yet."
God would do less than He had in His heart

several men sat around stuffing courage into each other’s ears--
after a while the people finished their celebration
God would do less than He had in His heart;
she was too busy feeling grief to dress like grief

after a while the people finished their celebration
"Have the nerve to say what you mean."
She was too busy feeling grief to dress like grief--
the mother of malice had trifled with men

And might I suggest; do something today simply because it makes you happy.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


I generally try to be even-handed. If I get great service I like to spread the word. If I have lots of issues with a place I like to do the same.

Enter our experience here.

When Adam and I were returning to Cedar City from South Korea we had a really difficult time trying to find a pet-friendly place to live. I enlisted the help of my little sister, and she was able to do some great footwork for us. She found an apartment that let us keep Ojo, and was within our price-range. The neighborhood was less-than desirable, but our actual neighbors were wonderful.

That said, I felt unsettled about the rental company, Century 21 Prestige Realty. The woman we were actually in touch with in Korea mysteriously quit, so we dealt with her new, untrained replacement. She was nice enough, and we didn't have any real problems. Then, when Adam went in to pay the rent the following month she was gone, too.

We always paid our rent on time, reported all the issues we had, took care of the apartment, and even cleaned up after our dog every time he went out (not something we can say the same about the rest of the pet owners). But the uneasy feeling lingered.

At the end of October we decided to give notice when we paid rent at the first of November. We reviewed our contract and made sure we wouldn't be violating any terms. So Adam gave notice in writing when he paid rent. We agreed to be out of the apartment by November 27.

We actually had everything moved out by November 25, and spent the last two days cleaning top to bottom. We even shampooed all the carpets. The morning of the 27 I had the keys to the apartment, storage closet, garage, and mailbox, and the garage door opener to Prestige Realty by 8:30am. We gave them our forwarding address, and I was told by the woman at the desk that she would file the paperwork and we should expect a deposit in two weeks. I waited until the week before Christmas and still hadn't heard anything I called the office. Nobody answered. I left a message. Two calls. Two messages. No response. The day after Christmas I received a call back. The woman told me she would pass our information on to the owner because he was the one who actually held the deposit.

Questions I should have asked at the time: Why hadn't this happened sooner? And, how long would it take?

Fast-forward to January 8 with no word. I called again. They said: The owner had been sick and didn't have time to check the apartment yet. It would be two days at the most until a check would be in the mail, and she would personally call me. The two days later, and no call came. I called. The owner was out of town. It shouldn't be more than a week, and they would call. Nobody called. I called again. The owner was trying to move equipment from Kanarraville and was supposed to stop by the office; she would try to call him and then call me right back. It wouldn't be more than 10 minutes. She never called back. I called again. She put me on hold, came back and said the owner would be coming in tomorrow, and she would call me so I could pick up the check. Can you guess? She didn't call. I tried calling them well before closing. Nobody answered. I left a message. Nobody has called back.

In short, we are now at January 19, only eight days away from having been moved out for two months, and we STILL don't have our deposit back. Not only do we not have a deposit back, we keep getting the run-around about getting it back, and without going a legal route have no recourse for getting our money back any sooner. What's more aggravating is that if the shoe was on the other foot, if we had taken this long to pay the deposit or the first month's rent, we would have been long-evicted by now.

So we're spreading the message by word of mouth. After seven (there is a record of each and every one on my phone) calls, a myriad of excuses, nearly two months, and absolutely no progress it seems our battle has just begun. If this is the level of service you expect or the kind of business you'd like to experience then by all means, we recommend them. But if you find timely responses, follow-through with what you've been told, problem solving, or straight-forward communication to be solid business practice then we only have one recommendation for you: do not do business with Prestige Realty. Beyond that, it's generally considered polite to forewarn people you like, even remotely, about things you know to be bad for them. That's why we're sharing this story with you. We hope you'll do the same.

For those of you who might be curious about any repercussion for me publishing this: the first point of libel, burden of proof resting on the accuser, is that a false statement was made.