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07 January 2019

She'll do all of this....and She'll do none of this

I'll teach my daughter / To bang on anything that makes a beat / She'll shake-a-boom, she'll quake a room / She'll ... She'll do all of this. And she'll do none of this. And it's funny how we hide behind these daughters, Hide ahead of our own herstories. Scared of ourselves.

Today is my mom's 15th birthday since her death. It is the last of the 15-year milestones (15 years since her death, Ella's 15th birthday, 15th Christmas, 15th of my birthday). The woman who instilled in me how special I was, how important I am to the world, and who held me to high standards, should be indulging in a tiny slice of turtle cheesecake for her day. Instead a bit of her ashes sit in a tiny urn on my altar.  She hovers over my life as a sage and cautionary tale. 

Dear reader, you may be shocked at how I can hold anger in my heart over her death. Well, I do. I am mostly angry at all the wonderful things she has missed out on, including resolving our relationship. Before you stop reading, I should tell you that I am far more heartbroken than angry. At the start of my relationship with grief, I thought I needed to pass through phases, that you did not hold each at the same time. Thanks to the Refuge in Grief newsletter and splurging on the 30-Day writing group, I know that it is quite common to feel both. So much of the pain in the first few years of grief was actually pain caused by the world, including some close to me, telling me to "get over it," to push through the anger to heartbreak to acceptance. As if accepting the loss of someone who meant everything to you, who literally made you, would end the grief. 

Mom looms large in my life. She was the more vocal of my parents on how I should live my life. She prescribed a lot of my choices, sometimes not always in my best interest. I have reflected on her bad advice with my therapist. How life always seemed to bulldoze her and how that may have impacted how she guided me. She raised me to kick ass, but also to be cautious of deals that sounded too good to be true. I have come to the realization that she was so scared of me getting bulldozed by life that she steered me away from too big of risks least I fell on my face. 

I shared the gory details with my daughter on my mom's birthday last year (when I wrote the bulk of this post). Not to disparage her grandmother, but to share with her why I am so determined to support her dreams, no matter how large and out-of-reach they may seem to others. I try to be rational in my support, telling her that is she wants X, she better start doing Y to get there. It is hard not to want to live out my dreams in my daughter. She looks so much like me, she is very much like me. But she is not me. And I am not my mother. 

I am not my mother. 

That sounds awful to say on her birthday, but it is the truth. My dad and her worked hard so I could be offered opportunities they did not have. Now my daughter has opportunities I dared not to ask for growing up because I knew we could not afford them. I know the world is what it is. It can be cruel, but it can also be loving. Sometimes at the same time. I have had my share of joys and also life kicking me in the gut as I lay on the ground crying. I work hard to not let the challenges life presents instill fear in my daughter or to try to control her life so she easily overcomes them. And it is freaking hard. 

One day last year Alix Olson's Daughter came over my earbuds as I was at the climbing gym. I remember the first time I heard it thinking, "Yes! This is how my daughter will be!" Then getting to the end of the piece and thinking, "Shhiiiiit...." With Daughter raging in my ears as I willed myself up a wall, I flashed back to me explaining at Christmas 2017 that we are born with all the eggs we will produce. Meaning that as I floated in my mother's uterus I already had my daughter in me. Three generations together in a tiny moment of time. 

Life beat my mom into fearing my dreams. That has left me with the challenge to show my daughter that no matter how hard life punches me, to stand back up and punch back harder. That we will fail, but we don't stop dreaming. That is the fear Alix sings about. That is the fear I fight. 

My mom was and still is my everything. I am angry that she died before she could experience the joys of being a grandmother to the most amazing girl ever. I am crushed she missed me hitting my stride as the woman she raised me to be. Her memory is not just a blessing, but what keeps me moving.





01 January 2019

Happy New Year!

Yup! It's a hopeful New Year's blog post! All full of spunk and aspirations to write more in the new year.

Year 6 of #365feministselfie!  And me trying to get back with Flickr.It is also a post to acknowledge that #365FeministSelfie is still a thing and at the start of our sixth year. SIX YEARS!  Part of me can't believe that this is still going strong. Part of me sees all the posts and knows why it is still going strong. I've said it before and I need to say it again, but what started as a silly project ended up creating a conversation and community around feminism and how the media depicts feminists.

Yes, we still have articles popping up saying that selfies are dumb, narcissistic, and all that jazz, but selfies are just a medium. Not all selfies are dumb, but not all of them are feminist either. Some are cries for help, but not in the manner that set off this project. I have seen people post selfies asking for support in many different ways for many different scenarios. I am not good at asking for help, especially from those closest to me, so to think I had a hand in creating space where people feel safe to be vulnerable is pretty jarring. Jarring in that I am inspired to be more vulnerable. But I also know that my emotions get the best of me. When I want to voice something, I can feel all the tears start to well up and it takes all my energy to tap them down. There are just some things where I feel like I either shut myself up or drown in tears. Neither is helpful. I guess we'll see what my therapist says about that.

I have a lot of ideas in my brain - shocking, eh? - and I really want to make time for all of them. Of course I won't, but I know I'll come close. So watch this space for updates. This space might just be for mulling over ideas. It might be for me to meet my daily 20 minutes writing goal. It might be for testing out stories I want to tell on a stage this year. I feel better when I share my story, so here's to feeling better in 2019.

14 October 2017

I'm still here...

So hey...As anyone looking at this blog can tell I haven't made time for this space lately. The honest truth is that life is fairly good. But that good is exhausting. At this time last year a grant I helped write was funded and I've spent most of my energy working on getting that project off the ground. It is going so well, but I come home pretty well spent. And when I do have energy to do stuff I am organizing with Reclaim Chicago trying to make Chicago the best it can be. Then there's the not so little data point that my daughter is now in high school. She's the best teen you could ask for, but it's still an adjustment.

I am also going to start experimenting with Medium. I wrote a post a few weeks ago, so please go check it out! I'm working on another post for Monday.

https://medium.com/@vivalafeminista/the-fragile-masculinity-of-tech-bros-the-failure-of-liberal-feminism-f56d00e8cff0

But I do want to write more here because I'm behind on my book reviews again. My TBR&R pile is out of control. So watch this space for more! Don't forget to like my Facebook page because I share stories that interest me there. Maybe this site will be more of a launching site for all the other stuff I do. WHO KNOWS!?! All I know is that I let this blog's 10th anniversary pass without any fanfare due to a lack of time and energy. SMH.

Lastly I'm heading out for some travels this week. All work related, but all high fun potential. Keep an eye on my Instagram to see what I'm up to in the next few weeks.

08 March 2017

Why I'm Working on March 8th


Today is "A Day Without a Woman" and I'm headed to work.

It is not because I cannot afford to not go to work as I can. But as a salaried worker who gets paid vacation and sick days, if I don't show up at work, I still get paid. Not sure how that fits into the rhetoric about striking.

I am also at a very critical start-up moment for my new job. I am trying very hard to not bring home work or check email over weekends, so being an efficient as I can be during work hours is very important to me. And this being efficient during work means I've been so tired when I get home that I've been too tired to write much here.

I fully support everyone who does strike on Wednesday and support those who have no choice is showing up at work. If anything comes from this day is a larger examination of who provides the volunteer hours to make our schools function, who organizes the medical appointments in the family, and how many vocations are dominated by women that the threat of a strike causes places to just up and close.

As I pondered about where I usually spend my money on a workday, it was nice for me to realize that I usually get my coffee at the independent cafe co-owned by a Latina and one of my favorite lunch spots is owned by a Black woman. But in reality I'll pack my lunch and suck it up on coffee for the day. And be upset that I don't have a lot of red to wear! 


05 February 2017

Margaret Atwood warned us about the 53% of white women who voted for Trump



I was invited to participate in Evanston's Writer's Resist event on January 15th and this is an edited version of what I read. I'm still new to the live lit scene, but will occasionally post what I read. Sometimes things are best left at the event.


Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale has been shorthand for the collective backlash to women’s progress, especially in regards to reproductive autonomy for quite some time. Safe to say most know the plot without having had read the book. A tale of a post-democratic former-USA taken over by an ultra conservative Christian theocracy where fertile white women are forced to reproduce for the “worthy” ruling class. A few weeks ago I was struck by the faint memory that the book does not conclude in escape or the reestablishment of democracy, rather it ends with an academic talk pondering the veracity of the story we had just consumed. This fact hit me in the gut as I have been considering how we will document the resistance during the Trump administration.

In the last chapter entitled, “Historical Notes on the Handmaid’s Tale” Atwood reveals where she got inspiration for not just the plot but the costumes and even a brutal public hanging of a handmaid at the hands of fellow handmaids — the group of handmaids pull on the rope that hangs the doomed handmaid up on the stage — immediately afterward they tear a man apart with their bare hands. Atwood often gets asked how she comes up with all the ideas in her books. Her response? She doesn’t. She just looks around the world. Atwood, through the character Professor Pieixoto, reminds us how easy it can be to slide into a state of fear that leads to a theocracy.
As we know from the study of history, no new system cam impose itself upon a previos one without incorporating many of the elements to be found in the latter...Gilead firmly rooted in the pre-Gilead period, and racist fears provided some of the emotional fuel that allowed the Gilead takeover to succeed as well as it did. (page 305) 
Gilead was, although undoubtedly patriarchal in form, occasionally matriarchal in content, like some sectors of the social fabric that gave rise to it....the best and most cost-effective way to control women for reproductive and other purposes was through women themselves. For this there were many historical precedents; in fact...in the case of Gilead, there were many women willing to serve as Aunts, either because of a genuine belief in what they called "traditional values," or for the benefits they might thereby acquire. When power is scarce, a little of it is tempting." (page 308)
As I reread those passages it was as if Atwood was responding to the 53% of white women who favored Trump at the polls. The fact that the Clinton campaign embraced the historic nature of a possible win in 2016 versus 2008 gave too many people confidence that women as a whole would act in concert to shatter the glass ceiling of the presidency. Yet even the one book that feminists have waved around as a warning sign for years told us not to expect women to stand in union against totalitarian regimes. Because as Atwood states, they never have.

In the end, after reading these dozen pages over and over I have come to the conclusion that we cannot assume allegiances. We must be better at identifying those of the oppressed who wish to find solace in oppressing others. We need to identify in ourselves when we allow our biases to lead us to condemning a brother or sister out of fear. We must remain vigilant of allowing that fear to push us to serve the incoming administration.

We must document whatever horrors emerge from this administration and hold accomplices accountable. we must write our own history. Especially in the time of Trumpism, facts are opinions unless said by the person you trust. Writers must resist whether it is in our pen & paper diaries, blogs, Instagram feeds or nationally syndicated columns. Just resist.

Postscript...Hulu is running a minseries based on the book this spring and I couldn't not share the trailer here.





01 February 2017

Do Work That Matters

During this difficult time I am finding myself avoiding working after I get home. I've made 4 pussy hats in about three weeks. I binge watched "One Day at a Time" - which was amazing, by the way. Go watch it. I have also tried to spend as much time as I can with friends. Basically I have practiced a lot of self care. I hope you have too.

Part of my self care routine for this year is to try to draw you a little something to color each month. I combined my new obsession of fancy handwriting and long time love of inspiring quotes for bad ass people. This quote is from Chicana feminist theorist Gloria Anzaldúa.


Go to Dropbox to download a PDF of the image.

01 January 2017

New Year, New(ish) Book, New Hashtag


Don't get too excited now...I am certainly not going to attempt to blog every day this year. But I felt the need to get blogging right away today. So who knows!

 2017 eh? We survived the great 2016 purge and we should be grateful for that. A lot of has been written about our public grieving over lost idols and pop culture icons. What I will say is this...1) I truly feel like we are finally at some tipping point of pop culture where we have a critical mass of such idols that when they start to die, it feels like a reaping. We're still just about 100 years since the mass consumption of radio, television, and films. Add to that the explosion of pop culture from those who create art (Bowie) to those who simply do stupid shit, and we have a whole lot more people to watch out for on our dead pools. 2) Many of us learn stuff from our idols. Some good, some bad. But behind the tears are some really strong reasons for mourning. I am still a bit ashamed to say I got up early to watch Princess Diana's funeral and cried through it. But ya know what? I think I was sad that this woman whom I grew up watching through photo shoots, tabloids, and rumors seemed to have finally gotten her life together was robbed of that life. So yeah, cry over Carrie Fisher, Prince, and George Michael. For some reason they imprinted themselves on your heart and that is why you cry.


I finished my last book (Rollergirl) a few days ago and wanted to wait until today to start a new book. I got a copy of Daniel D. Arreola's Postcards from the Sonora Border in the mail a few days ago and thought it appropriate to start the new year with a book written by someone who shares my last name. Alas, I feel it most appropriate to start the new year, a year which brings much challenge to us all in the form of the Trump administration and good challenge to me professionally as I just started a new job. I saw that Florinda is doing First Book of the Year so that pushed me to decide yes, I am going to restart and finish Brené Brown's I Thought It Was Just Me. My primo will have to wait for a little introspection before I tackle his book.


The new New Year's question of my life...What is happening with #365FeministSelfie? Well as I often say, while I launched that hashtag a few years ago, there is little way to truly own & control a hashtag. Last year's leap year produced a new hashtag out of necessity. Others have made the hashtag their own by adding kids, pets, or simply day to day life. But going back to using the hashtag to build community and looking out into the new year to create something powerful, I suggest we start to use #365FeministsResist. This does not mean #365FeministSelfie is over. Rather this is an addition to the #365Feminist family because this year will be our year of resisting, of being the resistance.Use the #365FeministsResist hash tag to challenge yourself to resist something every day. Are you speaking out when someone teases boy about showing emotion? Why are you standing silent when a racist goes on a tirade in front of you? Do you offer a sign of support to your neighbor who does not look like you? This new administration is mean and if we are truly going to trump it with love, we need to act radically in love. Be careful out there, but do not be afraid.

ONWARD...

31 December 2016

Here's to 2017 in color


I asked friends on Facebook what word they want to carry into 2017 and this is what I made from their suggestions. Not everyone's word made it here, but I did my best.

And yes, I made you a black & white version to color for yourself.

Now let's go kick 2017's ass before it can do the same to us.

via GIPHY


via GIPHY


via GIPHY

06 November 2016

Why I joined #BreakUpwithSalt


I was honored to be asked to join the American Heart Association's #BreakUpwithSalt team. Here is an excerpt of my post:
This December I’ll be 42. That puts me at t-minus five years until I am as old as my mom was when she died. FIVE YEARS. No one does know how long, but most of us do want to live to be little old ladies and men. One thing I am trying to get a hold of is my health. My mom died of diabetes and my dad, thankfully still with us, is battling high blood pressure and heart disease. So yeah, I have a lot of work cut out for me.

In terms of the high blood pressure, I know that increased sodium in one’s diet is the major cause of that. But I had forgotten WHY this is such a bad thing to do to one’s body.
Head over to the AHA's site to read more of my reasoning and to find resources on how you can also #BreakupwithSalt.

Disclaimer: I was compensated for writing my post on the AHA.



18 September 2016

Psst...anyone still there?

wow...Almost four months of not posting here. That may be a record, but I'm so busy that I don't have time to actually figure it out. So what's been up with this lack of writing? Well writing other places.

First of all I've been writing over at Bitch Media, mostly, about the election. 
And as you can see, doing a lot of writing about Trump. Hopefully you are following me on Twitter or like this blog at Facebook because that is where I do promote my writing.

I also wrote two pieces about Brock Turner at Mom.me.

I also spent the summer wrapping up my last job working with women in STEM students. I left that job in August and am now focusing on my writing full-time as well as consulting with others, mostly academics and authors, on their social media strategies. 

That means summer went by faster than it I would have liked it, but that's the cookie that life crumbled for me.

On the other hand, I did get a lot of reading done so I have a few book reviews to share with you all soon!

AND...lastly, my daughter turned 13. Who knows what I will feel like I can here or other places about now being the parent of an official teenager. Ugh...the dilemma us parent bloggers face. Share that story so other parents can feel like they aren't the only ones? Or respect our child's privacy?

I hope your summers were awesome and that the school year has started off well. I do have a post about that soon!!

Thanks for reading,
V

07 February 2016

Whirlwind Wrap-up

WHEW!

It's been quite a few weeks for me. Let this gif speak for me:

I feel like I forgot something and well, that's how much of a whirlwind the first few weeks of 2016 has been. For transparency sake, it hasn't all been ups, but for privacy sake, the downs are communicated in person. Over bourbon.  Or cupcakes. 

15 November 2015

Soccer Sunday Season's End


This fall Ella moved from playing recreational soccer to a club team. This means she's playing with and against girls who are serious about their soccer. We still have a continuum of seriousness as well as skill. But overall it has been a good fall season.

At 12, Ella has moved from being a big fish in a small pond to being in a much tougher pond. And for the most part she has handled it beautifully. Ella is still learning to be a better soccer player, and she is doing it by learning from her fellow players. That point is really a highlight to this new league. Playing in a competitive league could have lead us to a group of girls and their families where players are cut throat. All the girls are between 11-13, prime middle school catty time, right? But the players on our team seem intent on winning, so that means making sure all the players are ready to win too.

Today was their last match of the fall season, which they won. It was a tough one too, but that makes winning it that much sweeter. Now we get a well deserved break until January. Whew!


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14 November 2015

NWSA 2015


This weekend has been the National Women's Studies Association conference in Milwaukee. I presented a paper on the use of femininity to attract girls and young women to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). It's a paper that I have been mulling for a few years and the conference's theme of "precarity" gave me the push I needed to finally work on it. Luckily I also had a summer intern who not only read some of the journal articles I cite, but we were able to sit down and discuss them. My office is pretty small, so when I can have a coworker that I can bounce ideas, discuss papers and even flesh out paper directions with I really enjoy it. The paper is not complete, but the feedback I received today will propel me to finish it and try to get it published.

This is hands down my favorite conference to attend. It's a feminist nerd fest. And this weekend has not disappointed. Some highlights:
  • Sara Ahmed's keynote was riveting. She started out discussing two books by George Eliot,  one of which was Silas Marner, that threw me off because I had never read them and her deep analysis was really deep. But then she flipped into spaces that were familiar to me, including how diversity officers in organizations are charged with changing the same organization that appointed/hired them. It's pretty impossible, but one more of us think should be accomplished. 
  • I heard one paper that discussed how precarious the framework of "scientist" was during the 2001 anthrax attacks. At the start of the investigation, the media and investigators blamed citizen scientists. Then as it became clear that a "real" scientist was behind the attacks, the narrative shifted to the "mad scientist" trope. 
  • I volunteered at the Bitch Media table in between sessions. It was a lot of fun to talk about the magazine, blog, podcasts and their Bitch on Campus program. 
  • I got a copy of Gloria Steinem's book signed by her. 
Most importantly for me, I got to spend some time with my NWSA friends that I usually only see once a year.

Next year we hit Canada! Montreal here we come! 


12 November 2015

20 Years of Swallowing Down that Jagged Little Pill


This is how you know that I was not a good riot grrrl. I worshiped the shit out of Alanis Morissette. I've heard all the critiques of Alanis. That she was too pop to be real riot grrrl, but to one 20-year-old young woman trying to find her place in the world, Alanis was the perfect amount of anger at the right time. Every.single. song. on that album spoke to me. And the fact that there was the hidden track? OMG! Mind blown at the audacity.

"All I Really Want" is still one of the best openings to an album. "What I wouldn't give to meet a kindred," spoke truth to the fact I was lacking in close friends at the time. I had friends, but somehow I had failed to make really close friends. I missed a lot during college. I also have a concert tee that says "Intellectual Intercourse."

"You Outta Know" is my go-to karaoke song because even 20 years later you can get a room full of women to scream out "YOU OUTTA KNOW!!" at the top of their lungs. "Perfect" was the perfect song for a girl who was living the life she wanted, but was struggling to reach the high standards she had for herself. I thought I was "Mary Jane." For me being 20 sucked.

But having that cassette tape made it suck a little less.

I was like an Alanis evangelist. I told everyone I knew that they had to get it. Some rejected it out of her anger, but most of them came around.

Then she went on tour. I got to Tower Records early enough that I was first in line AND won the ticket lottery to be the first to buy tickets. This is why I'll never win the Lotto. I barely saw any of that concert despite being front row center because I danced through the whole thing. I was possessed as I swung my long curly hair with her. At the end of the night she tossed daisies and guitar picks at the crowd. I still have mine somewhere in a box.

To read her tell the story of "Jagged Little Pill" and how she bust on to the scene was like a visit from an old friend. You thought you knew her, but gawd damn you didn't know half the story of how bad ass she was. Yes she was commercial, but I didn't have the acces to riot grrrl music that others had. Hell I didn't even find Ani until a few years after college when I former friend said, "If you love Alanis, you'll love Ani." Funny thing is that Evergreen State College was my first choice for college. Birthplace of too many riot grrrl acts to list. Would Alanis had made this much of an influence on me? Who knows. What I do know is that I do not think I would have made it out of my 20th year without Alanis. And for that I say thank you.

And I adore that you did this video.



03 November 2015

Happy Pub Day, Love Her Love Her Not!


It is finally real. The anthology, Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox, is officially published!

When Joanne Bamberger invited me to submit an essay to the anthology I was still smarting from leaving a doctoral program. But I dove in and edited an essay that I had written for The Broad Side. While I resemble many other writers in dreading the revision process, it was quite healing to have something to focus my brain on. And the theme of the anthology certainly summarizes my feelings about Hillary. She is complicated and tests my progressive feminist ethics. But I know there won't ever be a perfect candidate. I try to weight her flaws with her strengths.

I hope that you will pick up this anthology and read all of our hemming and hawing over Hillary. I am proud to share space with these fabulous thinkers:

KJ Dell'Antonia, The New York Times
Amy Ferris, Marrying George Clooney
Nancy Giles, CBS Sunday Morning
Froma Harrop, Creators Syndicate
Sally Kohn, CNN
Katherine Reynolds Lewis, Fortune
Mary C. Curtis, The Washington Post & The Root
Lisa M. Maatz, American Association of University Women
Suzi Parker, The Daily Beast & The Economist
Deb Rox, BlogHer.com
Emily Zanotti, The American Spectator
Lezlie Bishop, Author, Talking to the Wall
Anne Born, Author, A Marshmallow on the Bus
Kim Cottrell, Author, A Healthy Stepmother blog
Patricia DeGennaro, Senior Fellow, World Policy Institute
Estelle Erasmus, Redbook & Marie Claire
Jaime Franchi, Morey Publishing
Jolie Hunsinger, Veterinarian
Helen Jonsen, Forbes Media & Working Mother Media
Faiqa Khan, Hey, That's My Hummus! podcast
Rebekah Kuschmider, Author, Stay at Home Pundit blog
Jennifer Hall Lee, Filmmaker, "Feminist: Stories from Women's Liberation"
Linda Lowen, Host of "Take Care" on WRVO Radio
Lisa Solod, Author, Desire: Women Write About Wanting
Lisen Stromberg, Author, Work Pause Thrive (forthcoming)
Aliza Worthington, Author, The Worthington Post blog

Events will be held across the country. Subscribe to my newsletter to find out when we have one in Chicago. And you can purchase your copy from IndieBound or Powells to support VLF!

Thanks Joanne!

10 May 2015

Some Mother's Day Writing For You


I made it into the NYTimes, folks! I wrote an op-ed about how the perfect gift for Mother's Day is a selfie. It stems from the fact that I do not have a lot of photos with my mom. Please check it out and share widely.



I also wrote a Mother's Day piece for LatinaMom.me about learning to love Mother's Day again:
It has been 12 years since I've had a mom. It has also been 12 years since I became a mom. The cognitive dissonance can be overwhelming and becomes unbearable as we build up to Mother's Day. My mom died at the start of my third trimester, as I was pregnant with her much-requested first grandchild. And it sucks more and more every Mother's Day. But every year, I also grow to love Mother's Day in a new way.

Soon after my mom's death, I let my subscription to Mother Jones lapse because their renewal notices had marketing copy on the envelopes that read: "Your Mother Wants to Hear from You!" In my head was a litany of curse words about my mother not being able to want much of anything anymore, $%#@#$'ers! This should have been an early warning for the eventual turn of the calendar, which would bring me to not only my first Mother's Day as a mom, but also my first Mother's Day without one.

My husband did his best. He bought a gift and signed the card from our 9-month-old daughter. But inside, I was emotionally unavailable to truly celebrate that moment. When writing this piece, I went back through my blog archives to see what I have written in the past about this awkward relationship I have with Mother's Day and I found a short piece I wrote when my daughter was able to reframe the day about me:
Read the rest at Latinamom.me. 

It is funny that I went years without really talking about losing my mom and then in the last six months I have written about her three times. For some people talking about things is healing. Apparently I need to write about things a lot. Especially since losing my mom impacted so many different parts of my life.

And let's end this by acknowledging the radical origin of Mother's Day!
Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be that of water or of fears!

Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.

We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says "Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance
of justice."

Blood does not wipe our dishonor nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.

Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the
alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

Julia Ward Howe
Boston
1870

03 November 2014

Space Camp: Day Two

One secret about Space Camp is that it is not just about space, but about team work. This lesson was drilled into us on the second day when we went out to a wooded area and told to find a way to escape an exploding Earth to Venus. We had to build a bridge and since we were in space, we had to stay tethered to each other, always maintain contact with the bricks AND could not speak. As you can see in the photo above, we did pretty darn well. We fell for the oldest trick in the book - we trusted our trainers! They watched us like hawks waiting for us to let go of each other or of a brick and OOPS! It floated out into space. For me it was a lot of fun because I like these type of challenges.

 We obtained our second mission and I got to be the pilot! Lea Thompson, eat your heart out. The previous night we learned that the pilot is actually the co-pilot. The shuttle commander is the actual pilot. And I'm totally ok with that! Phillip, the commander, and I focused mostly on landing the shuttle. We had that baby down. A bit off the runway, but otherwise a safe landing. Of course later on in the day when we did the real mission, we crashed miserably. But it was such an amazing experience to have to flip all these switches over and over. Ha! It sounds silly, but when you are there and you are preparing for landing...it's just awesome. Even if you have to find the three switches on this board in less than a second. Yes, they tried to keep us on the timing that actually occurs. This is why astronauts log hundreds of simulations before the real thing. They need that practice to find the switch so oxygen actually comes on!


We got a tour of the Saturn V rocket museum. These are the rockets that helped take NASA astronauts to the moon. But wait, it was not just a tour...it was a tour by one of the rocket scientists who worked on the rockets! Oh, yeah...if a group of nerds could get even more excited, it was when we walked around the corner and saw the massive engines. He walked us through all 300+ feet of the monster of technology that is really a huge can of fuel on top of five engines with a tiny room at the top for the humans to sit in.

I have seen memes that remind us that the technology in our smartphones is more advanced than the technology that took us the moon. This is correct. But having walked alongside the rocket, it is not just the computing power that landed us on the moon, but it was also the ingenuity, innovation and curiosity of the people involved. The most impressive factoid I learned was that the fuel was too hot for the metal so that is why the fuel lines zig zag. That keeps them cool enough to function.
Next up we got to play in the astronaut simulators. THIS IS WHAT I WAS WAITING FOR! THE MULTI-AXIS TRAINER!!!!! This is the spinning chair that simulates what it feels like to spin out of control. This is what friends & I were joking about me having the best vomit of my life. I rode it twice. BECAUSE IT WAS AWESOME TO THE INFINITY POWER! Do you see that smile on my face? This is when everything I was waiting for since I was 12 became reality.

16 October 2014

Space Camp: Post-landing thoughts about Day One

There is the proof! I made it to Space Camp and it was awesome folks. I could write for the rest of my life and not fully describe how awesome it was to be there.

As I have said before, I was inspired to be an astronaut after the Challenger explosion so the shuttle means a lot to me. Thus being this close to Pathfinder, even if it was never built for space, was freaking awesome. Advance apologies for over using "awesome" in this post. Pathfinder does include two solid rocket boosters, genuine space shuttle main engine nozzles and a genuine external tank. So there's that.

I seriously was so nervous for this trip that I had a nightmare the night before I left that I overslept and missed my 6 AM flight. Then I was worried that I booked a flight for the wrong weekend, because well, sometimes I am prone to writing things down wrong. I double checked times a zillion the dates when I booked the flight and every few days since then. I guess when you have been dreaming of something for almost 30 years you get a little anxious about details. I wasn't calm, er, sure this was happening until I met another camper at the airport. Two people couldn't be wrong!

We got picked up by the Space Camp SUV from Huntsville Airport and a quick drive found us at SPACE CAMP!!!!! After a quick check-in process I found my room and bunk. Yup, bunk. We get the same accommodations as the kids do.

I unpacked and waited for my roommates to show up. One did and then left. She checked into the hotel next door. Yup, the bunks were certainly not hotel worthy. They were bunks. But hey, it's part of the experience right? Soon my other roommate showed up. Mary stayed. Yay!

She had made a friend, Lynna, on the way to camp and as fate would have it, she was next door and all three of us were in the same mission crew. So we headed out to find some food and picked up my airport friend, Stacy. Afterward we headed over to orientation where Stacy had to join her crew while Mary, Lynna and I met the rest of the crew of the Endeavor. We had a two couples and a father-son in the group. Our first task was to start building a rocket. The goal would be to successfully launch said rocket AND ensure a safe landing for our egg-stronaut. It has been years since I launched a rocket, pretty sure we did it in high school physics class, so I was a bit lost as to the best way to do it. And wouldn't you know it, we had an engineer on our team!

Next we were given positions for our first mission. I received the job of talking with the International Space Station. That meant I had to relay anything from Mission Control to the ISS and vice versa. I also had to help them solve any issues. During our training the trainers threw a lot of anomalies our way with O2 and N2 leaks galore! There was one point where I basically threw my hands up in a "I HAVE NO IDEA!" way. All the codes were a mystery to me and the anomalies just kept coming.We had three different reference guides and it was all written in code. The quick reference guide was neither quick nor reference!

But in the end it was all a lot of fun. And practice for our actual mission on day two. More on that later.

Astronaut selfie! Margaret Rhea Seddon's husband Robert L. Gibson! Margaret was part of the first group of women astronauts & went to space 3 times. Robert flew 5 shuttle missions! He told amazing stories. #LaunchRoniAfter dinner we received the treat of a lifetime...we met a real astronaut! The second astronaut I've had the chance to meet! And not just any old, astronaut (is there even that kind?) but Robert L. Gibson who is married to one of the original women astronauts, Margaret Rha Seddon! Yes, I was equally excited to meet an astronaut who flew 5 of the six shuttles AND was married to a woman astronaut. While I was a kid and memorized a lot of NASA trivia I use to be able to name all the original women astronauts. Gibson told some amazing stories of not just his days as an astronaut, but also has a fighter pilot. I'm drawn to space exploration for the exploration part, so I sometimes forget how intrinsically it is tied to the military, especially in the early days when being a fighter pilot was a requirement. You could tell we were at Space Camp because after he spoke to us and we watched "The Dream is Alive," the line to meet him was three times as long as the line for wine. AND...AND...I impressed him. How? My selfie taking skills. OMG, for reals! I impressed an astronaut. Sweet.

10 September 2014

Update on Space Camp!

A quick update...

1) I am all set! And we're now just one month away from me paying for the most expensive vomit ever. YES!!

2) While I only raised less than half of what I wanted to pay for this birthday gift, I am closing down my GoFundMe campaign for two reasons. The first was the fact that they will allow campaigns to support the police officer who killed Michael Brown, but secondly they think raising money for abortions is bad. So ok, make a case that raising money for an officer before he's found guilty shouldn't be a big deal..Seriously, I'll give you that. And even PayPal and all the credit card companies are making money off this tragedy (). OK, ok...but what really got me is that they wrote in no abortions in the GoFundMe "" page. And if you know me, you know I raise money for abortions a lot, so seriously, I can't give that platform anymore of my money...which is actually your money since they take a cut before I get my grubby hands on it. But you know what I mean.

Back to the trip...the only question remaining is this: Do I pay for the
jumpsuit or not?

06 August 2014

Quick Update on Space Camp

 I booked my weekend!

Enough friends have chipped in for my 40th birthday wish, that I just had to jump at registering for the 4-day experience in October. I'm so excited! I'm still far away from my goal, but today I'm taking my saving jar to the bank to see how much I have there. Doesn't sound like a lot, but my husband is a 5-star coin saver.

Thanks to everyone who has chipped in for this trip 30 years in the making!

Disclaimer

This blog is my personal blog and is not reflective of my employer or what I do for them.
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