So yesterday was one of those episodes of Oprah that makes me glad she's still on air asking the same questions, and grateful she didn't say "John. Tra. VOOOOLTAAAAA!" or whatever. If you don't watch her, I get it, I do. But that's a show that should be seen because it has SOLUTIONS to horrible things that are happening. Summary: girls the world over are treated horribly. Shocker for most of you, right? *eye roll* BUT. It is a shocker to people that wear kitty cat appliqué sweaters and jingle bell necklaces as they hand craft instructions for proper gift giving to the family so The Christmas Party Goes Off Without A Hitch.
What I admire so much about how Oprah is going after these many many many horrible things (it could seriously lay me low for days, just thinking about all of the ugly in the world) with an efficient and swift and AFFORDABLE way for average folks to get involved. It's true: trying to Stop Sexual Slavery is not unlike a game of Whack-A-Mole, but helping ONE person is tangible. Which leads to two people. Then four, and you get the point.
I say all of this because I decided last night that our holiday/gift giving this year is going to be focused on these charities. (My BFF got a birthday gift where she'll write letters to rape victims in Darfur and is making them micro loans to help them get on their own feet. My MiL got a gift of her donation to set up a school in Africa for an entire year. Both were the right size and allergy free, yay!) I had the kids watch some of the episode with me (some. Boy, it's brutal, so don't plunk children down and expect them to walk away not sobbing.) And later the kids are going to "shop" through the charities and pick out which is going to be their Christmas present.
I'm telling my husband all of this last night on the phone (he travels every week with his job) and he got a little quiet. "What? Why is this a bad thing? Are you trying to tell me you're not okay with this? What the hell do we need, we have stuff and things and whaaaaaat?"
His response? "But... I really wanted a Playstation 3." (Note: we have both an XBox 360 AND a Wii.)
I sighed heavily. "Fine. You've worked hard this year. You can have a damn PS3. AFTER we take care of people that you know, have no freaking food. Is that okay with you?"
"Yes. I mean, Laura, we're Americans. We can do both, help people AND be ridiculous consumers." Lol.
I'm not telling you this because I want you to say I'm a good person, or something, for contributing to charity. I'm saying this because I want to be sure that you all know about these charities, too. And seriously, you can give TWO DOLLARS. And that buys textbooks for someone. It's not that it's awesome to do it, but that it's shameful to NOT. :) And be sure to pick up a copy of Half The Sky by Nicholas Kristof, who is absolutely amazing for going where he goes to make sure we know about things that aren't being reported on. Like how more women have died from discrimination than all the men of EVERY WAR of the 20th Century. Ahem.
LEARN MORE HERE. Great site, not Oprah, if you're adverse. :)
Into The Wild
I'm not going to go into meta about the story or the movie or anything deeper than how much this movie made me ache. The Narrows! The slabs! The Grand Canyon! My god, they even filmed in Vermilion Cliffs, an old stomping ground of mine as well. All of the hiking, the laying about in the sunshine, the setting sun hitting the mica in the rocks lighting them up like flames. Red red rock, so red it's hot pink. That lovely sense of being away from everything, not just people, but CIVILIZATION. Society. Cars, noise, elbows, things to acquire.
The nicest people I've ever been around have been random strangers that are stomping through scrub brush, looking for a mythical keva or a rumored heiroglyphic left over from a thousand years ago on a hard to reach cliff face.
People that wave with their hands fashioned into peace signs without irony. That check to make sure you have enough water. People that ask if you have a copy of some random jam band, and then hand you their copy because "it's so choice, and I have it up here, man," as they tap their temple and smile. People that draw maps in the sand to make sure you check out a totally cool rock formation before you head back to your apartment.
There's a scene in the movie where the protagonist Chris is riding the Colorado River in a kayak (oh my god, he'd never done it before and I thought of moosesal and knew she would be LIVID about it, and rightfully so because DUDE THAT IS HARD CORE AND YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING!!!) and he's shivering in the sunshine because that water is so freaking cold. (I mistakenly jumped in once - from the wrong side of the trail where I missed the MASSIVE HYPOTHERMIA WARNING sign. I've never jumped out of water so fast. 115 degrees in the Arizona sun, that water was MAYBE 55. Snow melt and fast movie = never heats up.)
But back to the movie. So he's riding the river and there's a random couple sunning themselves on the bank, waving him over. Netherlands tourists, buck naked, wading in the water, delighted to be in the sun. They hug and kiss Chris, offer him a hot dog - so gleeful to be in America eating American food and they're WARM because they're way below the Arctic Circle. I was shocked to see the girl NOT in ankle socks and high heels, which was how I found almost every European tourist while I lived out West. LOL. But it was that "we're away from everything! We're so happy to be living like humans used to, and to share our delight with someone makes it better!"
I miss that. I have complete admiration for that kid for just living life. I know so many people that have done that and done it successfully. Obviously the movie doesn't end happily, and it's a stupid stupid mistake that isn't uncommon, unfortunately. But hey - he knew the risks, and for those two years that he just lived in the world and left only footprints he finally connected to the world. if you're a believer, he connected to God. If you're not (like me) he connected to the earth, to his history, to the story of man stamped in his genes.
I wish everyone could have experiences like that. I wish everyone could put away their things and just be happy with their own thoughts for more than a few hours, a few days, more than a few weeks and just connect to what grows and blows and moves around you, the things that have been here for eons and will continue to be here when we go the way of the dodo. Here is my most favorite place on earth. The Tetons come a close second, followed by the outback around the Grand Canyon's north rim.
Just... look around at the stuff in your life. Convenient? Of course. Sheesh, I freaking love my phone and my Le Crusette pans, I won't lie. Heaters? Awesome. Down-filled pillows? Delightful. But sitting on some Navajo sandstone that resembles a beehive because of the alluvial plains that have flowed and hardened and flowed repeatedly over millions of years making a perfect series of steps... The sun shining on you, a golden eagle flying over head, the sound of water rushing somewhere in the distance promising a place to cool off, a stinky dog laying at your feet? It doesn't get much better than that, no matter which level you finish on Call of Duty. :)
Anyway, if you have wanderlust, that's the movie for you.
And I can't tell you how badly I wish I could convince Kita and Lynne to take a hike through Red Rock Canyon park this weekend while we're in Vegas. The bouldering we could do! The rock climbing!! Sigh. ;) (And there will be radio silence from me for the rest of the week, so you can sigh in relief.)