Beyond FINDING A WAY: Blogomania Strikes
So I figure I may as well get on with it. When things overwhelm, as blogging sometimes can, I resort to making lists. Actually, I make lists even when I don’t feel overwhelmed. I love them. And crossing things off them as each thing’s completed like a toddler determined to color a hole into a piece of paper until he can see (and decorate) the tabletop underneath. So here’s a list of things I’d planned to blog about this month but am beginning to realize will never get attended to if I don’t attack them all at once. My trip to Boston, btw and thanks for asking, was wonderful! All the company, including three of my sisters and my sweet mom, had me laughing so hard I thought I was going to hurt myself. And soon my family and my husband’s extended family (including folks from Montreal and Minneapolis) and I will head to warmer climes together for spring break. That means no blogging or emailing or even typing a single word (or cleaning laundry or bathrooms either, for that matter) for over a week! It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it, right? So here’s my list:
Bloggers at Work
Lisa Kenney over at Eudaemonia works full-time and travels quite a bit for work but still manages to volunteer as a publicist for Denver-based juvenile justice non-profit, Pendulum Foundation. In this capacity, Lisa created the Compassion in Juvenile Sentencing blog to raise awareness of the fates of young adults incarcerated in adult prisons and sentenced to life without parole. Recently, Lisa posted a series of interviews with Jason Lind, an adult who’s been in prison since he was a teen. Lisa wrote this about her series, From Inside Supermax:
“The purpose of this series of posts is to gain an understanding of how we’re handling the cases of juveniles convicted of very serious crimes and what happens to these juveniles once we’ve locked them up. I don’t pretend to have any answers, but my contention that juvenile LWOP and incarceration for juveniles in adult prisons is wrong remains strong.” I’m looking forward to reading the eight parts of this series to see what so many young Americans are up against….and what many more will face in the future if we don’t get our education system under control (see reference below to The Freedom Writers Diary for more on that).
Meanwhile on Eudaemonia, Lisa also has been posting weekly chapters of her novel The Foundling Wheel—as she writes them—as part of the popular Dickens Challenge. I printed and read her first ten chapters while en route to Boston and can’t wait to read more!
At Simply Wait, Patry Francis has written yet another priceless post, this one about her son Gabe, on living life well. It’s always a joy to stop by Simply Wait and see something new! Hugs from Denver, Patry!
At Twenty Five Days to Make a Difference, young blogger-activisit Laura highlights a worthy cause every month. She’s currently raising awareness of Compass House, a Buffalo-based shelter for runaway and homeless youth. In her current post, Laura teaches how to give to resources like Compass House easily through CheerfulGivers.org, a Minneapolis-based charity that provides “toy-filled birthday gift bags to food shelves and shelters so that parents living in poverty can give their child a birthday gift.” For Laura’s recent birthday, her family donated to Cheerful Givers in her honor. What a terrific way to spread the love! Kudos to Laura on her continuing work on behalf of worthy organizations. She’s a cheerful giver through and through who makes a difference every day of her life.
Books on My Radar
I read a lot when I travel and (finally!) plowed through The Kite Runner this past weekend for an upcoming book club meeting. I’m happy to have read it, but definitely understand why some folks (like yours truly) hesitate to take it on. The fact that the abuses against children documented in it happen in many impoverished countries on a regular basis (including in Afghanistan, which the U.S. has sorely neglected for the past six years) makes it even harder to tackle, but the writing and story-telling and characters—and especially the glimpses into the lives of Afghanis past and present and of Afghan Americans—make it ultimately worthwhile. I’m looking forward to reading A Thousand Splendid Suns.
As for Atonement, I’ve heard not-so-great stuff about the movie but so far I love reading the book. McEwan’s textured prose and approach hooked me from word one, as many well-read bloggers promised.
In the non-fiction realm, I recently (finally) read The Freedom Writer’s Diary about the experience of a young ambitious Long Beach CA English teacher faced with a class of high school freshmen who preferred to taunt her and their classmates from rival gangs than listen to a word she had to say. How Erin Gruwell not only survived her first year with this class but went on to teach them much more than literature is the underlying story of this book. The true depth and power of The Freedom Writers Diary, however, comes from the journal entries the students wrote over their four years with Erin Gruwell (who was allowed to teach them throughout their high school careers not because she was granted special favors by the administration but because no one else wanted to deal with these kids). The incredibly varied forms of abuse, neglect, and violence to which these young adults were exposed throughout their childhoods boggle the mind. When a student writes about a stable home life of any kind, so often it’s marred with parental illnesses or lost jobs that force the student to step into a parenting role long before he or she is ready. Meanwhile, other kids face life-threatening pressures because they’re set up to defend “their own” above all else. Others have learning disabilities that have never been diagnosed or treated. Others fear for their lives when they step out their front door every morning, or even while they sleep at night. This book rivets with its tales of how these kids are expected to step up and make the grade in school and how so many of them miraculously do just that on their way to college…with a lot of help from Erin Gruwell and many others in the community, but hardly any from the administration within their school or school district. Most of these kids were not even expected to graduate from high school and were largely abandoned in many ways. Hell, most of them expected to die before even getting the chance to grow up. Their stories deserve to be heard not only for their own worth but as dramatic reminders of how much remains to be done to truly protect our children and make sure they get the education they need and deserve.
To learn more about The Freedom Writers, go here.
Bloggers in Need
Many bloggers write to vent and/or laugh, many to connect, some just to make sense of their daily lives. The bravest admit when the going gets tough and open themselves to the grace and goodness of those who’d like to help. I know of a few bloggers who could use a virtual hug or two; feel free to help spread the love to: G at Rooster Calls, Pam at Rhett’s Journey, Laini at Grow Wings, Kim at Kim Stagliano, Michelle at The Zoromski Chronicles, Jodie at Jodie’s Random Thoughts. And if you know of any others in the blogosphere who are calling out for a kind word to help them make their way, feel free to let the rest of us know.
Funky bleach painting © Deborah Gwinn at Seattle-based Moth to Flame Studios