Season One, Episode Twenty-Six: Saving the Invisible Children

“Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”

This is what a seven year old should be doing, not being trained how to kill people.

This is my son, Nicholas. He just turned seven last month. He loves tornadoes, Ramen noodles, and cats. He plays softball and is learning how to read. He’s never known anything except being surrounded by the people he loves.

This is because he lives in America. He will never really understand how lucky he is to be an American–I am twenty-six and am still discovering on a daily basis how lucky I am to have been born in the United States. I don’t think that most of us realize, even among the rising gas prices and political games and the unstable economy, just how incredibly lucky we actually are to live in Ohio or Indiana or Colorado or Alabama or Washington or any other of the fifty states that comprise our nation. In our country, children can be free to be children, they can be free to play out on the streets and go to school and learn without the fear of being taken from their homes and taught how to kill against their will. If Nicky had been born in Central Africa, his life would be very very different.

At what seems to us the very young and innocent age of seven is seen as the perfect age to be taught to shoot a sub-machine gun and mutilate people in the eyes of crazed warlords. In Uganda my son could be yanked from his bed in the dead of night and be forced to kill me and my family or be killed himself. He would be taken from his school, his friends, everything just to become another faceless, nameless child soldier, nothing but empty collateral to “armies” such as the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda or the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council in Sierra Leone. My son would be pumped full of drugs and be promised crazy, unattainable things in return for carrying a gun that would be roughly half his size and kill innocent people. If he thought of leaving, he would be tortured or mutilated or murdered in front of his fellow “soldiers”. All at the age of seven. It disgusts me.

I watched a video earlier this evening from a nonprofit group that I have been supporting since at least 2007, Invisible Children. The nonprofit uses film to raise awareness of the abductions and abuse of children in Central Africa, namely the children recruited to serve in Joseph Kony‘s LRA. Their main goal is to capture Kony, hold him accountable for his crimes, and end the LRA. The video, “Kony 2012”, asks us to bring Kony to the forefront of our international media and asks us to use social networking, among other tactics, to help lead to the capture, arrest, and conviction of Joseph Kony. I found myself choking up several times during the thirty minute video, especially when they focused on Jacob, a Ugandan boy who had witnessed his brother killed by Kony’s regime, and Gavin, the filmmaker’s young son, who couldn’t understand why someone would have children kill.

Here is the video. It’s gone viral since its release on March 5, garnering over 44 million views on YouTube and roughly 14 million views on Vimeo:

KONY 2012 from INVISIBLE CHILDREN on Vimeo.

Joseph Kony was indicted for war crimes in 2005 by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. His regime has been accused of abducting and forcing over 66,000 children to fight for the LRA since 1986. Invisible Children has called for people to come together and spread the video online and to donate to the cause. I am impressed at the speed of how the video and the message about Joseph Kony has spread. #kony2012 is one of the top trending topics on Twitter, and I have seen the video numerous times on my Facebook news feed. I hope that the actions of the people help to find Kony and bring him to justice. No child should feel like Jacob has, that maybe it would be better to be dead than to live in a world with the constant threat of evil men like Joseph Kony.

I believe that every child should get to live a childhood like my son. Every child should be able to lay their head down on their pillow at night and know that they are safe. No child deserves to become invisible.

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Season One, Episode Twenty-Five: One Day I Will Get Slapped By Julia Child’s Ghost

I am a picky eater.

I always have been, I most likely always will.  My list of things I won’t eat probably outnumbers the list of things that I do eat by a landslide.  I’ll share a general consensus of the things that I don’t eat with you just so that you can get a ballpark estimate of the way things are for me at mealtime.

  • Fish, shrimp, shark (I suppose that could be fish, but I just think it deserves its own spot on the list of things I don’t eat), mussels, oysters, clams, lobster, crab, sea urchins, porpoise (you never know)…pretty much anything that swims and/or dwells in saltwater or freshwater ecosystems.  I can’t do it, it’s gross.  And it smells.  And I really loved The Little Mermaid and I don’t want to chance eating Sebastian or Flounder or one of Ariel’s cousins or whatever.  Judge away, but you all remember what happened to that crazy French chef who tried to turn Sebastian into Ariel and Eric’s lunch.  Just sayin’.

    Pfft. Les Poissons indeed.

  • Steak, shredded beef, cubed beef, anything that is essentially NOT ground beef.  Not really sure how or why this quirk came into being, but I’ve tried steak and thought it was gross.  It was too chewy.  Perhaps I need to try a slab of cow that has been cooked medium well or better and slathered in cheese and bacon–the steak I had was medium rare or some shit, and was NOT delicious.  Maybe I was too busy thinking about how reddish pink the piece I was chewing was, or maybe I’m just not fancy or cultured enough.  I don’t know.
  • Poultry.  That includes chicken, duck, quail, grouse (whatever the hell that is), pheasant, Cornish hen, and turkey.  Pretty much anything with wings that lays eggs.  I do, however, eat eggs.  But only scrambled and with cheese.  No negotiations.  I do remember that I used to eat Chicken McNuggets as a tot, that I adored them with sweet and sour sauce.  I remember why I stopped eating them too–I was at a McDonald’s down on Euclid Avenue waaaay back when I was 4 or 5, maybe I was a little older, I’m not one hundred percent sure, but I took a bite of that crispy morsel of chicken dipped in that golden sauce and into a bone.  I bit into a big hunk of chicken bone.  I freaked out in a quiet fashion and spat it out into my McNugget box (I was very classeh).  I remember telling my mom that I was full of chicken and just wanted my fries.  But I never ever ate chicken again after that day.
  • Pork.  Well…I eat bacon, sausage, and bologna.  And chorizo.  Anything else…no dice, as Charles Bronson would say.
  • Most vegetables.  I will eat ketchup, potatoes, etcetera, etcetera…I’ve started this new thing where I blend up veggies and mix them with meat or whatever so that I get the nutritional benefits without actually having to see the vegetables on my plate.  This goes back to an intense dinnertime showdown between five year old Me and my dad and a plate of cold and slimy Popeye spinach.

    Yuck. Twenty-one years later it still grosses me out.

  • Most fruit.  I’m trying, though.  I think if I can’t see it in its original form, I’m good.

I have reason to believe that I have an irrational fear of trying new foods or trying the foods listed above.  I seriously freak out.  I’ve smacked a fork away once or twice when faced with the seemingly inevitable prospect of trying pork ear or steamed kale or whatever.  I like to think that I look like a lioness backed into a corner.

What?!?!?! You want me to try the Grilled Palm and Garlic Heart Puttanesca? Noooooo!!!! Rawrrrrr...

So, as I said, I’m picky.  Insanely picky.  My boyfriend, however, is not.  He loves food, especially fish and veggies and fruit and weird grains that I’ve never heard of.  We go to fancy restaurants and I think he gets embarrassed because I have to critically analyze the menu for something that I will remotely try.  I unapologetically eat like a five year old.  I love pasta, so usually they have something pastalicious on the menu and I just tweak it to my culinary whim.  I’m sure I sound like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally when I order.  I like going out with him to eat, but honestly I would just like to go to some seedy little Mexican restaurant that makes great tacos or a fabulous quirky place that makes amazing grilled cheese that rocks my world.  I like simple comfort food.  I may eat like a five year old, but it works for me.  I like eating mac and cheese and burgers and pancakes and waffles and cookies and grilled cheese…And I do try new things, I just have to adjust them.

I’m sure it drives him crazy, I’m sure it drives everyone who has eaten with me crazy.  I just like to think its another one of those quirks that makes me me.  And I’m sure I’ll broaden my horizons more as I get older; I already have expanded my culinary horizons by leaps and bounds since I was five.  I just need to do it on my terms.

Maybe one day I’ll just go ahead and try the Duck Meatball Soup.