Sunday, September 19, 2010

SPEAK Loudly

I woke up this morning to my phone buzzing because Maureen Johnson had tweeted. Not a bad way to wake up, until I read the text and saw WHY she was tweeting. Apparently a man in Republic, MO wrote a letter to the editor calling Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson "soft pornography," and "immoral." Now, I've read Speak, and personally I don't know what kind of sick person equates rape with pornography. Especially the rape of a 15 year old virgin. I am so torn. I don't want to give this man attention. He doesn't deserve it. But Speak DOES deserve it.

I can't call Speak a fantastic book, because of the subject. However, Melinda is amazing. Her experiences and how she manages to survive is an inspiration. I am SO INCREDIBLY fortunate that I have NEVER been a victim of any kind of inappropriate sexual contact. I thank God EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. that I have always had a choice. However, I know that not everyone has that option. You can see some HORRIFYING statistics here. I work with kids every day who are victims. Who are afraid to talk to me or my coworkers. And they aren't just victims of sexual assault.Some of them are victims of physical abuse. Some of them have been given drugs or alcohol by their PARENTS. Some of them have been abandoned. Some of them are just lost. Do you think that Melinda's story would inspire them? I do. I think that books have the power to HEAL. And NO ONE has the right to stop that healing process, even if they think the message of a book is inappropriate.

If you haven't read Speak, I hope that you will pick it up. I hope that it will inspire you. I hope that you will understand why I am SO VERY ANGRY right now. I don't believe in censorship to begin with. Telling me that a BOOK will cause me to become an immoral person irks me to no end. The first amendment gives you the right to say you think a book is a piece of trash. Having a child gives you the right to decide what is appropriate for YOUR child to be exposed to. NOTHING gives you the right to say NO ONE should be exposed to a certain book/movie/song/picture/etc. You can state your opinion all day long, but book burning went out of style AGES ago.

Here are some things that inspired me to SPEAK up today:
Laurie Halse Anderson's Blog
Saundra Mitchell's Blog
THIS amazing blog entry, which made me cry
The Twitter tag #SpeakLoudly
My friend Bailey
And so many other amazingly brave blogger/tweeters/PEOPLE who shared their stories and how Speak changed their lives.

*I would like to point out that this article also discusses Slaughterhouse Five and Twenty Boy Summer, but I've never read them so I can't really talk about those books. My stance on book banning is the same for all books though...I support your right to decide if YOUR child should read a book or not, but you DO NOT have the right to choose for ALL children.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


It's been quite some time since I last blogged. I always WANT to blog, but life tends to get in the way. Not exciting things by any means, just mundane normal things. Things like work, books, my family, etc. I did lose internet service for several days at the beginning of the week, and THAT was pretty stressful. It has also taken a lot of time to get caught up on all of the things that I do on the internet. I had to forgo catching up on most of the blogs I read, just because there is so little time. I also had to play catch up at work because I submit all of my paperwork online.

Moving right along! Let's get back to my desire to blog. Here is the problem I have. I never know WHAT to write about. I mean I can ramble incoherently for HOURS if need be, but I feel like that's what Twitter is for. I sometimes touch on movies, TV shows, and books that I have loved; but I'm not always awesome at reviewing things. When it comes to review I do one of two things. I either retell the story in so much detail that you don't need to read the book or watch the show/movie.or I can't find words to describe how the book/movie/show affected me. I get kind of lost in translation. Not that I won't review things, I certainly will. But when I do it's more of a "hey friend, let me tell you about this awesome/awful thing I read/saw." I have an entire blog with BFF1 that is devoted to fashion and beauty, so I try to save those posts so that I have subject matter for that blog.

The biggest problem I think is that I want to be amazing and interesting and compelling, and a lot of times I don't feel any of those things. There are times when I am on top of the world, but a vast majority of the time I just feel ordinary. I don't want this to be boring. No "I did this, and then I went there, and I met her." I don't want this to be a bitch session, although there are times that I need to vent my frustrations to the world at large. I don't know what I want this to BE. An expression of who I am, all of the good and the bad. The eloquent and the ZOMG SQUEE!!! I am complex and far from ordinary, even if I feel ordinary a lot of the time. Mainly I don't want you to be bored! I am relatively entertaining, but it doesn't always translate into text.

In other less "woe is me" news, I have realized in the past week what an impact I have on the youth in my area, and it TERRIFIES me. I am surrounded by a hundred seventh graders every day and the more time that passes the more I understand how much the look to me for an example. In the last week I have expressed my views on labels for individuals, standing against society's norms, and being yourself. I have discussed why you should be a patriot and celebrate our country every day as opposed to on one day that is widely observed. I have discussed books that I love with kids who are just now falling in love with books and reading. I have to remind myself each day that just because I only work with a few kids in that school, my presence affects each tween/teen I come in contact with. It is a huge responsibility, but it is a huge honor to know I make them think about the beliefs that they are just now starting to form. They look at the world through fresh eyes, but so many of them will be tainted by how others see the world that they will have trouble forming their own views. I'm glad I get the chance to broaden their horizons. That is my Silver Lining for this day.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


In NO way am I actually a poet. I know this about myself. As much as I love books, poems, stories, and just the written word in general I cannot create it. It is just something I am unable to master. And that's okay. John Green once said "There cannot be books without readers."* This is a pretty accurate statement. Without people who love books and poems and stories, there wouldn't really be a point in authors creating them. So I'm totally down with NOT being a writer. I am a READER and that's okay.

However, today in English the teacher taught the class all about "biopoems" which I had never heard of, and since my client was relatively good today I thought I'd take a stab at it. Apparently there is a structure to biopoems, which I was also unaware of, but I think mine turned out pretty well. Without further ado, HERE is the Rochelle Shanlea Biopoem

Intelligent, Sarcastic, Nerdy
Member of The Younger Gang.
Lover of reading, Harry Potter, and her family.
Who has been to the Smithsonian, New York City, and the Bahamas.
Who needs her family, to own books, and love.
Who fears being alone, Brown Recluse Spiders, conformity.
Resident of Nerdfighteria/The Clump

Ta-Da! There it is! Rochelle Shanlea in nine simple lines. I am excited to see what the seventh graders put down for their answers. It is always interesting to look back and see how you define yourself at different points in your life and to watch how that changes as time passes. I mean, once upon a time I went with the flow and was afraid to be different. This was before I realized how dangerous it is to change yourself to fit society's perception of what is okay. Perhaps that is why conformity is one of my biggest fears now.

Anyway. Short blog. BEDA is over, and I obviously failed at it. I am going to try to be better about regular updates on here, even if I have to spend my weekend writing multiple posts in order to have a few updates a week!

*This paraphrased and I'm not sure which video/blogTV show/interview he said it in. BUT I wrote it down and it has stuck with me ever sense.