I’ve been amazed and impressed this week with the discussion about the Steubenville rape case.

Yes, there is all the judgment of how the media has handled this story. I’m not talking about that.

I read 2 articles this week that spoke about going “all the way back” to the source. How do we stop this kind of event, how do we teach kids to stick up for another person, how should we function as members in society.

The first I read was Henry Rollins post. I like, and appreciate, how he calls attention to the two convicted boys being Offenders. That is what they are, they aren’t victims, they are Offenders that are being tried and prosecuted as our society sees fit. Sure, some wanted more time, some wanted a hand slap. Me? I’m super glad they have to register as sex offenders. Still – those boys, ALL of them, need to come to grips with the reality behind them and what to do next. I can only hope (and pray) that they learned why what they did was so wrong. On EVERY level. Every action they took – the rape, the pictures, the social, the joking and condemnation of the girl – was a horrible, reprehensible, sad display of common sense and humanity.

The second was a post by a mom of boys. The post is named – I am so fucking sick of teaching our daughters not to get raped. I think it’s right on. As a mother of a girl, I will have to tell her all those warning signs and tips to keep herself safe. It’s a necessity. I honestly don’t remember my mom ever having that conversation with me. I do remember watching people in high school and learning a lot on my own. I like that this mom talks about how respect and No Means No needs to be ingrained in every person. And another person calling out that those boys are responsible and accountable for their actions. They don’t deserve our pity. They deserve our sense of injustice and anger that it happened. They need to learn why what this did was so wrong. So horribly and disgustingly wrong. So sad….

I’ve seen a handful of others posted by friends on Facebook. There is so much discussion. I’m glad there is so much discussion.

Then yesterday, one that’s so close to home….

I’m on an alert list for any sex offenders moving into a certain radius of our neighborhood. It’s a frightening aspect of parenthood that I would rather plug my ears and scream LaLalaLaLA!!!!!

But that isn’t reality.

The reality is there are NINE registered sex offenders within a TWO MILE radius of my house. NINE!!!!! Within a TWO MILE radius!!!

On a normal day, that makes me incredibly sick to my stomach.

Yesterday, I received an alert of a newly registered sex offender. I hate that I get new alerts. I hate clicking on these links to see a picture of their face. I hate reading what they were committed of, thinking about what did they actually DO in the first place?! (think about that one, does it occur to you that maybe the actual act was worse than the conviction? I do….and some law enforcement officials will tell you to think about that too)

I was shocked. So shocked. So sickened, to click the link and see a young boy’s face staring back at me. Seriously – a boy. A now 13 year old boy. Convicted of “Rape of a child in the first degree”. Do you know what that means exactly? I do now:

RCW 9A.44.073

Rape of a child in the first degree.

(1) A person is guilty of rape of a child in the first degree when the person has sexual intercourse with another who is less than twelve years old and not married to the perpetrator and the perpetrator is at least twenty-four months older than the victim.
(2) Rape of a child in the first degree is a class A felony.

Oh my fucking GOD! This (now) 13 year old had sex with another child who at the time was LESS THAN 12!!  And 24 months younger than this boy!! (those are all ANDs, not ORs) So let’s say he was 12 when the rape happened. This other child was 10. TEN!!!!  Even if he was 13 at the time, this other child is still ONLY 11.

Now – granted – it is not lost on me that this boy and the other child may have had what they considered consensual sex. They might have. It is just as likely that it wasn’t consensual.

I applaud the parents of the other child. To go through and press charges against this (now) 13 year old. I can only imagine how hard it would be for them – how that might impact their own child, admitting it happened in their family, backlash from the community, etc. etc. etc.

I think it is a timely and perfect example of telling society, this is NOT ok! I will NOT stand for this!

Now this 13 year old boy has to live with the consequences. Forever.

We should stand up and demand the change to make it better, change to stop us from having the conversation and debate in the first place…. It’s not extreme, it is what is required!

Be

Truthful,

Gentle

and Fearless.

Gandhi

I retook a class last weekend that reminded me of some important values and desires of my life. How support is so critical in moving forward. It also helped me identify where I’ve been getting stuck (More on that later, I have a post drafted)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Stuff. Consumerism. Excess. Then yesterday I read this post from Dooce about her own reflection on Stuff and life changes. And quite honestly, I’m feeling a bit disgusted with myself and all the physical Stuff I’ve collected over the years. When I was single, like post college/early Seattle years, I moved every 9-12 moths. I learned to keep only the most important sentimental items so I wasn’t lugging around all this Stuff from house to house to apartment.

Lately I’ve been looking around my house and just feeling paralyzed by all the Stuff. I have this anxious energy to purge. Granted, being honest with myself, some of this is also wanting order and not so much chaos. In my worst anxiety moments, when I have trouble sitting still, I can’t even think if certain aspects of my house are out of order. Yes, I talk to my therapist about this. Yes, I’ve been working on reducing the list of Stuff that has to be in the Right Place so I breathe and deal with the issue at hand. Which usually has nothing to do with the Stuff to begin with.

I digress.

I’ve been slowly purging small spaces in the house. When I put the holiday decorations away this year, I got rid of a lot of stuff. I’m determined that those decorations are maintained to 4 storage containers and no more (maybe you think even that is a lot, maybe you think that’s nothing) This past week I’ve been cleaning shelves in the kitchen. Getting rid of old mugs, even some that at one point held sentimental value (goodbye big-ass Philly mug from Starbucks).

We are talking about redoing the family room and need to pick the weekend in March to actually do the transformation. I think it’s a perfect opportunity to purge that space and get organized. My vision of the room is like a Real Simple article…bins with labels, everything in its place, children putting toys back on the shelf. I want the room to look lived in, I also want the room to be free of tornado aftermath.

I was thinking this morning that when I was a teenager, and my dad got totally fed up with the state of my room, I would be sent there and not permitted to leave until it met Standard. I don’t think he realized how much I loved doing that. Yes, I was a pat rack (I kept *receipts* from memorable experiences with friends and family) but I did purge some stuff. Plus, I got to blare my stereo with whatever band/album I was obsessed with at the time.

We live busy lives. Norman and I both work and have our own individual activities that help keep us sane and feeling fulfilled. A has her own list of events and friends and classes outside of school. What I’m trying to say here, is as much as I want to lock myself in the house for a week and do nothing but purge and organize, I need to be realistic with myself that I can only eat that elephant one bite at a time.

I think the happy medium is to actually schedule time on my calendar to eat that elephant. To create an agreement with my husband and my child that for that time, I want to be left alone with my organizational mind, trash can and music. To look at everything I pick up with a critical eye if I truly need that Stuff or if I can take a picture for the memories and move forward (hello Kid Art!) Even better – each one of us should have a list of areas to purge. The family room is the best place to start so we can do the room transformation on time and take it off the home project list.

When I feel the need to change I often don’t verbalize it. Then no one knows, I can continue to beat myself over the head and I don’t have to face the work. So here is my first declaration to the universe that I’m ready to move forward with reducing the Stuff in my life. (Bonus – I believe doing so will open up other opportunities in my life) Particularly since this Stuff rules space in my brain that can be better utilized.

And so the work begins….

Here we go….

You are the HIGH in my NOON, the FLAP in my JACK, the JELLY in my BEAN, the HOP in my SCOTCH, the FORTUNE in my COOKIE, the GRAND in my CANYON, the BEES in my KNEES, the ZIG in my ZAG, the ROCK in my ROLL, the FOX in my TROT, the POW in my WOW, the GEE in my WHIZ!

H. Jackson Brown, Jr

He’s the guy that wrote Life’s Little Instruction book.

My cynical, sarcastic self rolls my eyes super hard (like to the back of my head) when I read that. I am not a sunshiny-type. Sure, I like to think about the positive solution, or how to get out of the hole I’m in (whether I created it or not) but dear gawd I am not that sunshine person. Nor do I aspire to be that.

So there it is.

The end.

aka – If you are Jen Guadagno

I came home from a 5.31 mile run and went for a banana. But they weren’t ripe yet. So Norman offered me something from a pastry bag…a Black & White cookie! We rarely see these on the West Coast and I when I do, they are no where near comparison of the East Coast variety (or the ones coming out of my kitchen). So, this how I eat a B&W cookie:

1. Eat along the chocolate side

2. Eat along the white sugar icing

3. Even them out, leaving just a bit more white icing

4. Enjoy both flavors at once

4a. (but maybe going back to just chocolate if I want to finish off with the sugar icing

B&W

I just finished reading Tell the Wolves I’m Home. It’s our book club selection right now.

This book broke me.

I cried all the way through the last 50 pages. Trying my best to not have heaving sobs given a sleeping (sick) child across the hallway.

I believe we each have our Causes. The organization you always send money, spend your time, will talk about with a stranger. HIV/AIDS awareness is one of mine that started back in high school. I think that is part of what hit me so hard in this book. It’s set in the winter/early Spring of 1987 and the main character is 14. (I was a sophomore in 1987, and would have been 16).

I can’t tell you why it hits me so hard. It just does.

Shortly after I moved out here, I joined the Chicken Soup Brigade. I volunteered in the warehouse to inventory food and get ready for deliveries. I also delivered meals to people with HIV/AIDS in the Seattle area. I loved that work. It was Friday afternoons and I would race out of the office at 3:30 every week to get on my way. There was one client in particular that I loved visiting. I would always go to his house last even though it wasn’t the most convenient delivery route. We would always have witty banter at the door, as I brought the bags into the kitchen. We would both say good-bye laughing, sometimes crying from laughter. (Usually people would just take the bags, say thanks, and go back in their homes) As he got sicker and wasn’t able to meet me at the door any longer, his partner would answer and I could only yell through the apartment to say Hi and go on my way. And then there was finally the week he wasn’t on my route any longer. I could only guess he passed and they weren’t accepting support any longer. It was a difficult day. I stopped doing the home deliveries shortly after that.

Back to this book – it is described as a coming of age story for the main character June, after losing her uncle, (as the book jacket describes it), “a tender story of love lost and found, an unforgettable portrait of the way compassion can make us whole again.”

It’s the compassion and friendship that broke me. Thinking back to how people reacted in the 80’s (and as the author illustrates in the story) how lonely it must have been for some, that didn’t have anybody. That even just one person can make a difference.

I think many of us lose sight of that a lot in our busy lives filled with work and internets, Facebook and family schedules….I sure fucking do!

This passage from the book is my absolute favorite, I even (gasp) dog-eared the page so I would have it marked forever:

Don’t you know? That’s the secret. If you always make sure you’re exactly the person you hoped to be, if you always make sure you know only the very best people, then you won’t care if you die tomorrow.

That doesn’t make any sense. If you were so happy, then you’d want to stay alive, wouldn’t you? You’d want to be alive forever, so you could keep being happy…

No, no. It’s the most unhappy people that who want to stay alive, because they think they haven’t done everything they want to do. They think they haven’t had enough time. They feel like they’ve been short changed.

Great reminder that it’s about creating the life I want surrounded by the people I choose and having a fabulous time in the process. Feeling pretty good about where I’m at with that too…

This daily word thing has been interesting so far. 23 days into the calendar year. Which feels like 2 months already.

I’ve forgotten twice in the last week to pick a word at all.

I’ve picked a word late at night 3 times, going to sleep thinking about my word.

Yesterday I pulled Responsibility (when I actually started this post).

I’m going to PMI-geek out now…anyone know what a RACI chart is? Quite honestly, I shudder hearing the term. I have wasted TOO much time in the last 4 years of my career trying to discern a RACI and fighting back that you need to keep it high level so you aren’t micro-managing people. For instance, I do NOT want to be the kind of project manager dealing with…. On Day 534, Jen Must Notify Norman that it’s time to open the door (task #2,359). Subsequently, on Day 534, Jen Must Notify Norman that he should walk to the mailbox (task #2,360) and retrieve the mail (task #2,361)….My gawd I would lose my mind! Not to mention Norman being irritated for being nagged about to get the mail.

Anyway – my point is the R = Responsible and the A = Accountable. Some people see them as interchangeable, or put both on that RACI chart. But they aren’t. The Accountable party is the one you go after when the work isn’t done, regardless if they are doing the work or not. The Responsible does the work, or tasks, and answers to the Accountable party.  If the Accountable person is on the hot seat, you are for damn sure the Responsible person is in for a world of hurt. (why am I going down this road, I already passed my PMP…)

Anyhoo….

My point is the word yesterday was Responsibility. So I need to go and do the work.

A few months ago I started putting on the Today show while getting ready in the morning. Inevitably, kidlet gets up, crawls into my bed and starts to wake up with breakfast and one of her shows. Often times she sees a part of a story on Today. Most of the time, they are pretty tame and I’m not concerned (hello Golden Globe results!)  But sometimes, like today, there are heavy subjects.

She came into my room just as they did a story on a rise in teachers (in Texas specifically) going to gun training classes. I asked her to change the channel. Then I paused (story still in the background)  I asked her if she understood what they were talking about…

Yes, but why would teachers want a gun?

Well, some think they would feel safer and be able to protect their students if something terrible happened.

Huh.

Do you think teachers should have guns in the classroom

(she scoffs) I don’t think Mrs. S would want to have a gun!

She might not…

I find we are reaching an age with A that some topics in the news just can’t be avoided. How we sat down and told her about what happened at Sandy Hook before she went to a sleepover. How I sent a message to the parents with other kids at the party to let them know we were having that talk. That she didn’t quite understand why Norman and I couldn’t talk about it without crying.

I still want to protect her from heavy topics and would have preferred she not see the segment on Today this morning. But she did. So instead I want to have real conversations with her. I want to answer her questions. I want her to have information.

Besides that all – I still want to hold her and make all the  bad stuff go away. At least for a few more years to keep some level of innocence about her. That time is quickly slipping away from me. All I can do is prepare both of us for what’s next.

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