19 September 2010

Silencing Speak?

Mood: Irritated (banned and challenged books do that to me)

On Tv: COPS (hoping to see someone tazed - sweet, I swear, someone totally just got tazed!)

I have never read this book:

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is a book for young adults that deals with very real but very difficult and uncomfortable young adult topics. Like drinking. Like parties. Like Rape. Like a young woman who feels she has to remain silent about what has happened to her. In other words, it contains uncomfortable and difficult young adult topics faced by nearly every teenager at every high school in America today. 

Unfortunately, this has prompted some dissent from people  like Wesley Scroggins. Who has decided to protest its inclusion in school curriculum (certainly his right) but he protests its inclusion by calling it "filthy" and "soft core porn" and then calling into question the Christian morality of the school board, teachers and parents that allow such immoral reading material to be put into the hands of our nation's teenagers. 

Really? Really Mr. Scroggins? First, rape is not porn. It's a horrible act of violence. And it happens whether someone is moral or not. Whether they're Christian or not. And when it happens it leaves the victim feeling alone, broken, traumatized and terrified. Just like the character in the book. And just like the character in the book so many of those who are victimized will be afraid and embarrassed and, because of that, they will choose to live with their shame instead of allowing the shame to rest where it should - with the perpetrator of the crime. 

Uncomfortable or not, these are issues we need to discuss with our young people and, whether you use it as a talking point with your teen or if they see themselves in the book and feel empowered enough by it to come to you, books like Speak can be an incredibly effective way to open that oftentimes difficult path of parent - teen communication. 

While I strongly acknowledge a parent's right and responsibility to monitor their children's reading material for content and age appropriateness, no one has the right to decide what I will and will not allow my children to read nor what I will read myself.  

So, I said at the beginning of this post that I have never read Speak. However, I will. And if I don't like it? I will opt not to read it again. If I don't think it's appropriate for teens? I won't allow teens in my care to read it. But if you want your teen to read it because you think it will be a powerful teaching tool? I will give you my copy! 


10 September 2010

Meanwhile, Eight Years Later...

Mood: Content (just got back from a mini-vacation and celebrating my 8th wedding anniversary with the hubs!)

On Tv: Chopped (love what they give these chefs to work with - here's some hotdogs, liver, dried cranberries and dandelion greens - now make me a tasty dessert!)

Hubs and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary on September 7th. In honor of this stunning accomplishment (seriously - his packrat tendencies and my OCD tendencies should have really created an ultimate death match situation far before now), we decided to take a small vacation to the St. Louis area and, for once, the vacation Gods smiled and we were allowed to (mostly) enjoy our days off!

First? We went to the Arch in St. Louis. Hubs has been before but I have not. I seriously underestimated two things.

1. Just how TALL the Arch really is.
2. Just how terrified of heights I really am (for the record? Terrified doesn't even begin to cover it.)  

Dude. That? Is tall. Props to hubs for doing the vertical pan to get it all in one picture because it was way more massive than I imagined. Also? Had no idea that there was a museum, shopping and other fun stuff under the arch...well, not under the arch but under the ground under the arch. Amazing. Really.

At first, I was all "no way am I going up to the top of that thing" and really that was a very smart initial reaction. I am a big baby. I make no bones about it and one of the things that I'm most terrified of is heights. Well...not so much heights as the potential for falling from them.

Then? I was all "I'm brave and I'm not going to allow my fears to limit my life experiences! I'm going up to the top of the arch!" So now I can say that, on this trip, I added to my list of life experiences : Going to the top of the Arch and Having a panic attack at a major National Monument. Go me!

Oh, and for those of you who haven't had the pleasure of going to the top of the Arch? You go up in a "pod". The pod is tiny, they cram up to 5 people in each one and it jerks and tilts as it makes its way up to the top of the Arch. I may have gotten a jump start on my panic attack in the pod on the way up. I may or may not have mentioned my fear that we were going to die.
                   Scary, tiny pod of doom ---------->

After we survived the Arch (and the resulting panic attack) we headed over to the Old Spaghetti Factory for lunch. Hubs raved on it, friends have raved on it and now I see why. The atmosphere was amazingly classy and romantic without being too over the top. The food was incredible and I tried an Italian Cream Soda. Quite possibly my favorite new drink of all time. Seriously, how did I not know about these and their amazingly creamy goodness?

The next day we *I* was all geared up to spend the day at the Grant Farm. It's a living history farm with all kinds of animals, historical demonstrations, A Deer Park, the famous Budweiser Clydesdales and all kinds of other fun and "squeee" worthy stuff. The best part? It was all free except for a nominal $11.00 parking fee. I was practically bouncing with excitement.

Thanks to my trusty smart phone GPS app we found the place easily enough but I was immediately concerned when I noted that the parking lot was completely deserted. The place was absolutely empty. Normally that would have made me happy but I realized there was no way that a place like this would be completely empty if it were, in fact, open.

Suddenly I had that sinking feeling that Clark Griswold must have felt when he arrived at Walley World

Unfortunately, there was no giant moose for me to punch. Why are there never giant mooses to punch when you need one???
Apparently the farm is only open on weekends after Labor Day. Well played Vacation Gods, well played.

Hubs and I quickly regrouped and decided to check out the St. Louis Zoo.

You guys? I got to play with stingrays. Baby stingrays, giant stingrays, black stingrays, gray stingrays...it was epically epic. I'm usually not a fan of touching wildlife of any kind and stingrays, well, they killed the crocodile hunter and he was pretty bad ass so normally I wouldn't even think of putting my hand in a tank of these things...but for some odd reason I really, really wanted to. And I LOVED it!

Oh, and ladies, try not to be too jealous but I have one more picture to share. My anniversary gift from my loving hubs:

 Some women get jewelry, some women get showered with priceless gems. I get a ceramic pig with a tiara and a tutu and it's absolutely perfect proving that my hubs "gets" me. :)