A Stolen Life – Jaycee Dugard’s Memoir

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I just finished the life story of Jaycee Lee Dugard – her memoir titled A Stolen Life. I checked the book out from the library on Thursday and finished it last night. It was difficult to put down. There were also many difficult and emotionally disturbing parts to read without tearing up.

Jaycee was kidnapped in 1991 when she was only 11 years old. Her kidnapper was a convicted rapist whose wife helped him with the kidnapping. (I won’t even mention their names in this because they don’t deserve to be on my blog.) Jaycee was basically enslaved for the next 18 years, enduring rape and sexual abuse, mental and emotional abuse, and manipulation. Unfortunately, the legal system failed her, as there were several instances in which she could have been rescued. In the book, Jaycee recounts everything she remembered about the day of her kidnapping and what she remembered in between. She was rescued in 2009, along with the two girls she’d given birth to during her captivity. But Jaycee’s story wasn’t over even after her rescue. She was subjected to media scrutiny and paparazzi harassment. Imagine spending 18 years of your life as a prisoner and then having to deal with those heartless idiots!

I was surprised that Jaycee seemed as intelligent as she was, especially since her education stopped at fifth grade. She seems to have a heart of gold and still has the innocence of that 11 year old girl that was kidnapped years ago. Surprisingly, Jaycee is incredibly forgiving of what was done to her, which is something that all of us could learn to do.

Political Differences, Breakups, and Crotches

Normally, I don’t talk politics because it’s just like talking religion. I have friends from all walks of life, and this year’s election has brought out a lot of things I didn’t know about people. I was surprised to hear when two of my friends announced that they were getting divorced over politics. He’s a die-hard Romney fan and she’s somewhat of a women’s rights activist.

“I cannot live with a man that doesn’t believe in my rights, much less be married to him,” she told me. I must admit that I would probably feel the same way in a marriage like theirs.

Earlier this week one of my favorite gay friends announced that he deleted all of his Facebook friends that are Romney supporters.

“If they support Romney, then they don’t support my lifestyle. Therefore they are not my friends,” he wrote.

I don’t blame him. Being the sister of a gay man, I cringe when I see someone posting something negative about homosexuals, because they are hurting a part of me that I dearly love.

I’ve seen dozens of political posts from friends that I’ve ignored. Out of respect, I don’t feel it’s my place to comment on someone else’s page if they have a preference different from my own – just as I wouldn’t want them to litter up my page with their garbage.

And then I had my own experience of being politically abolished. After receiving my ballot and frustrated over propositions concerning women, I posted on my Facebook fan site:

Dear Republicans,
Please stay out of my crotch.

Someone that I’d never heard of before (whose Facebook page was littered with pro-Romney links) – that had neither ever commented nor even “liked” any of my non-political posts (read: all of them except for this one) – stated that I had just lost a fan, and she began bad-mouthing me. Long-time fans came to my defense. I simply blocked her. Anyone that has read my book(s) knows damn well that I’m not going to allow anyone to tell me how I should feel, act, speak, or think (after all, my Facebook page is SusannaSpeaks!!). While I appreciate and respect other people’s opinions, I found it tacky that someone would make an effort to stir up negativity rather than silently remove herself. But it showed her true character.

So I will say it now. I support gay rights. I support women’s rights. If you want to act like a third grader and don’t want to be my “fan” anymore because of how I feel, then so be it. I’m looking for those that celebrate, not hate.

Why I Love NPR More Than My Local News

Each morning with my cup of coffee, I generally read the local news. But not for long. I scan it for anything that may pique my interest, which usually isn’t much. For example, today’s local news involves: a man that punched a woman in the face at a bar, an ATM scanning scam, a hit-and-run case, and an abundance of other crime stories. It seems that most local news, no matter where you go, is the same shit, different city. And that is why I like NPR.

I don’t remember how I began listening to National Public Radio exactly, but I believe it happened when I was driving and wanted to hear something soothing. I don’t recall if NPR was either playing classical music or a show that interested me further. All I know is that I love NPR and the variety that it brings. Best of all, they don’t just put all of the “bad stuff” on their main page; they have the arts and other insightful newsworthy articles easily accessible and more prominent than I tend to find in local newspapers. Plus, many of the articles are aired and archived to listen if a show is missed.

Today I read a really cute and funny story written by a woman who played truth or dare when she was a kid and the trouble it got her into. Now this is a story that I’m sure everyone can relate to. Then I listened to stories about John Audubon’s first commercial illustration and Japanese micro houses. And I wouldn’t dare fail to mention round 9 of NPR’s 3-Minute-Fiction contest. Woo-hoo!

Besides mornings, my favorite time to listen to NPR is on weekends. Comedy shows like Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me, food shows like Kitchen Window, and history shows like Florida Frontiers make for a great Sunday afternoon lying in the hammock, watching the birds in the back yard, and listening to NPR. (Ten years ago, no one would ever hear me say nor write this!)

I can read and listen to NPR all day and not have to see or hear one more thing about the oil spill, the economic crisis, politics, or Sarah Palin’s crappy fake vocabulary. As does everyone, I choose to see and hear what I want. These are the stories I like: lighthearted, cup-of-coffee, intelligent, informative, interesting, and well… out of the ordinary. Perhaps if more people thought this way and refused to continue allowing all of that negative earth shattering crap pushed out of their televisions, radios and online sources everyday, the world might just be a little happier.

A Central Floridian’s View of the Casey Anthony Case

Caylee Anthony

I was one of many watching the news stories about Casey Anthony and her missing baby girl, Caylee. I recall when the news came out that Caylee had been missing for an entire month. I recall when 20-something-year-old Casey lied to authorities about the missing baby, and I recall when she was charged with the murder of her little girl. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, I recall the day that little Caylee’s remains were found near the Anthony home. Silently and behind closed doors, like many others concerned for the baby’s welfare and whereabouts, I cried.

Still familiar with the case, but growing tired of the drama and national attention that overtook other important issues, I began to ignore the whole Casey Anthony drama. I grew tired of the media, everything “Casey Anthony” this and that every time I turned on my television. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in this feeling.

It’s difficult to think a mother could act normal for 31 days without reporting her own baby missing. I did, however, think that Casey wasn’t the only one involved in the death of her baby girl. My gut instinct told me she was also hiding the fact that someone else was involved. But who and why? A boyfriend? A family member? Was anything that Casey said true at all? It’s difficult to believe anything said by a person that could have won an actress-of-the-year award.

Having been out of town for a while and ignoring most of the boring aspects of the trial, I understood that it was still under way, but I had no idea that the trial was at its end. I heard the announcement on the car radio that Casey Anthony’s verdict was going to be read at 2:15. My car’s clock read 2:09. My instinctual gut feeling was that Casey was going to be found “not guilty”, although I was hoping I was wrong.

Tapping at my steering wheel, I heard the extremely long verdict. Come on, just say it! I was thinking. And then I was in awe. My jaw dropped. Hand over mouth, I almost laughed out loud – not in happiness but more like surrealism. This can’t be for real. Is the radio station playing a joke?

My first pity immediately went towards the jurors. I knew that the majority of people watching the case thought Casey would be found guilty of murder. Unfortunately for the jurors, although they have served their time, they will be the next of Casey Anthony’s victims, so to speak. It is not the jurors’ fault that the State of Florida lacked evidence, and the prosecution failed. They did what they thought was right and correct to their best ability, and they have to live with that for the rest of their lives.

As for the Anthony family, the trial is over, but theirs isn’t. Their family dynamic seems to be irreparable. They will never be able to go anywhere again without being recognized as Casey Anthony’s parents or being accused of having an involvement in Little Caylee’s death.

Least of all, no matter how “free” Casey Anthony will be when she gets out of jail next week, will she ever really be free? Will the truth ever be told? Will there ever be justice for Little Caylee Anthony?

25 Years Ago – A Child’s Point of View on Space Shuttle Challenger

Told from a child’s point of view, this is what happened 25 years ago on the day the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up:

It is a chilly, but sunny afternoon. After gym class I head to history. I hear an annoying boy named John yelling in the courtyard.

“The space shuttle blew up!”

He points to the sky at a puffy looking cloud in the air. John is known to say and do things for attention, so I don’t believe him.

“Shut up!” I say. “That’s just a cloud.”

“No, I swear!” he says.

John isn’t lying. I arrive to history class. Our teacher, Mrs. Still, has the television on and announces that the Space Shuttle Challenger has exploded into the sky, killing all seven astronauts, including the first teacher in space. I have never seen a teacher cry until I see Mrs. Still. The entire class sits in awe as we watch the tragedy on the news for the entire fifty minutes. Mrs. Still tells us that it is an historical day in our lives, and that in the future we will always remember what we were doing on the day that the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up.

Excerpt from Unheard: a memoir
©2010 Susanna Hartigan
All Rights Reserved

With Loss Comes Gain – A Commentary on Haiti’s Earthquake

By accident, I discovered a news story today about the Earthquake in Haiti. I am not one to turn on the television or read about world news, so this was surprising to me. This one was bound to grab my attention no matter what. It is an extreme story that no doubt will effect many people, including those who are not involved. This is the type of tragedy that, although with many devastating losses, also brings people together.

Upon viewing some videos put together by Youtube subscribers, I read many negative comments about how the Haitians deserved this. Really?!?!? I was furious at seeing these heartless replies. This type of natural event can happen to any of us at any given time, and the types of people that make those comments sure do have some life lessons ahead of them in the wake of karma. I pointed out to a few of these negative people that not everyone in Haiti is a Haitian, that many Americans are over there as well – several thousand, in fact – and many others from other countries. I had to quit reading those comments because the event itself was upsetting enough and I had to remind myself that subjecting myself to this sort of hatred wasn’t helpful to me or anyone else.

I believe there are more people in this world that are helpful and loving than there are those who are spiteful and full of hate. It’s up to our own selves to seek and find that love. And so I did. I tuned into some radio shows that revealed an outpouring of love from those who want to help. It felt good to be in spiritual alignment and agreement with groups of people I have never even met.

The people of Haiti have been through enough trauma living in a country full of poverty and corruption. This is a perfect opportunity to show the survivors that no matter where we are from, we still care as a human race. People all over the world right now are praying for the survivors in Haiti. Although we all may pray differently and believe in different truths, no matter what, the result will be the same = LOVE.