6.26.2014

Taking a (photo) Dump.



Well, I decided to do it again. Because everyone knows that a picture can be a powerful thing. That's why National Geographic is so popular, and also hella pricey. It's like the complete opposite of Playboy --"I only read it for the pictures." Know what I mean? *wink wink*

Anyway. The truth is, I've spent this week writing real words about important things that matter, sorting it all out in my head, fact checking, getting certain names and places right and purposefully obscuring others, carefully filtering the details in order to share what's relevant without being unnecessarily sensational, deciding on which pics are most appropriate and useful to the story.

There's so much I want to say about my trip with The Exodus Road, and I want to get it right. I want to tell you about the things we witnessed, the people we met, the good work we saw first hand, the thoughtful, longterm approach of the men and women on the ground in the fight against human trafficking. And, especially, I want to invite you to partner with this work in a significant way. I promise, all of that is coming! But, as you can imagine, it's not easy stuff to write about and I am a slow processor and a slow writer. Basically? I'm just slow. It will take me a little while to have something put together that I think is worth posting here. 

So, right now I'm taking a break from writing real words for a second to partake in one of the most powerful forms of media we have at our fingertips today; The iPhone photo dump. They used to say 'a picture is worth a thousand words', now they say 'pics or it didn't happen'. Both of those statements are really unfortunate for people like me, who's pictures only say a few words, like, "I can't tell what this is.", or "Why am I looking at this?", or simply, "Huh?"

Prepare to have your mind blown by my keen eye and skilled thumb. I give you...


A JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE 
SOUTHEAST ASIAN SEX TRADE (but not really);
 A PHOTO ESSAY (but actually just an iPhone dump)

...........................................................

Our journey begins with.... Well? A slice of pizza.
This was the first pic in my phone. I'm not entirely sure why. It's probably because I have a real legitimate asthma inducing fear of flying and every time I board a plane I am 100% sure I'm walking down a narrow aisle to the seat of my death and pizza is my favorite food and I ate it right before I left, so I probably snapped this pic so I could die with my great love in hand. Why this is not a picture of my favorite husband and perfect children, I cannot explain. ...But, mmm, I do love me some pizza. 


Next up? Apparently, the first thing I wanted to remember from the country I lived to land in is an unreadable snapshot of a McDonald's menu taken from a bad angle. I'm beginning to sense a theme, but what can I say? I'm a real foodie.


Ok. Obviously nobody really cares that Mcdonald's has A CURRY CRAB STICKS PIE YOU GUYS !!!!! on their menu, so I turned my attention to taking pictures of more important things.
Like arms and legs. 
But seriously, look, there's a tuk tuk, right there! Can you see it? It's kind of far off in the background. Do you see it?!?! No??? No?! You have to look PAST the arms and legs... Y'now what? Just forget it.

This is a pic of a tuk tuk. Trust me. 
There were things to document at every turn; beautiful architecture, smiling faces, entire families on a single scooter, shacks in front of skyscrapers, small children running, playing, having all manner of fun, bustling streets, thriving businesses, restaurants, strip malls, engrish. And there were other things, too. Darker things. Massive red-light districts with miles of glowing neon, prostitutes holding their babies on the street while they called out to potential clients, women from all over the world - stately Russians, gorgeous Ukrainians, elegant Ugandans, delicate Cambodians - all for sale, and men of every country, creed, and color who arrived in droves to buy them. 
It was like a photographer's dream come true.

Alas, I am not a photographer. But I did get this pic of the city...

I don't even know.

...and this pic of the country...

Unbelievable scenery. You'll just have to take my word for it. 

...and this impressive shot of the ground with some white people's feet...

sigh.

...and the blurry inside of a parking garage. Wouldn't want to forget that now, would we.


As you can see, I thoroughly enjoyed taking in the many sights SE Asia has to offer, but my primary objective on this trip was not tourism. I went to do a job. I went to learn. I went to witness, observe, and document the many ways the Exodus Road is working in partnership with other organizations and government agencies to end slavery and trafficking for good. That included an introduction to the world of undercover investigations. 

In order for this to happen, we were briefed and debriefed and rebriefed and then we were briefed one more time about what we could say and which pictures of their work are and are not acceptable to share publicly. This was a constant dialog in our group and we chose to err on the side of caution and safety for the people who are risking life and limb for this cause. 

I did, however, manage to sneak a sweet shot of a nighttime investigation so you'd have an idea of what we were up to, then I added a filter to really help the detail pop. You're welcome. 


I also caught this bit of excitement from one of our nights out. 
I know! I can't believe it either, but it really happened!



This is just an awesome pic of Roo Ciambriello in the rear view mirror. *ahem* Don't mind what's happening elsewhere, just look at Roo in the mirror. *cough cough*

These are not investigators and they're not doing any work.
SO DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT. 

I can't remember, but I think this is some top secret shit that I didn't want to forget, so I snapped a pic to refer to it later. It's a good thing, too. 

I cannot read any of that. You?

In addition to the rescue side of things, we were invited to a couple of aftercare facilities to get an idea of what life looks like for girls and boys after they've been freed or escaped from an abusive environment. 

We toured the Anti Human Trafficking and Child Welfare Center for abused, exploited, and trafficked children. This is a pic of the other bloggers talking with the amazing guy who runs the place. Obviously. As you can clearly see here, they were enthralled by the stories of redemption and restoration he told us. He is honestly one of the most inspiring people I've ever met!


At this home, the children participate in skill building activities like mushroom farming. Seriously, those are mushrooms. I mean, they grow other stuff, too. But MUSHROOMS YOU GUYS!!!

I felt just like Alice in Wonderland.

Plus, they grow their own protein! 
I took a pic of this single egg because I was gonna say something deep and meaningful on Instagram about how one egg can mean the difference between life and death for these children. But then I remembered I'm not Sally Struthers. 


#Chickenstagram 

I got close and whispered, "My cat would love to meet you."
That's why it's making that face.

I really wanted a good picture of Khru Ja to share on my blog! This one didn't turn out, 
so I decided to take another... 


Ah, yes. Much better. 

:|

 Naturally, we didn't spend every second of every day working. We had a cultural excursion one morning and went to see an incredible, old, intricate Buddhist temple. So glad I got this crooked, out of focus, poorly framed shot for posterity.


And, one day, en route from one location to another, I looked out the car window and THERE WAS A BABY ELEPHANT WALKING DOWN THE STREET!!!!  

I swear there is a baby elephant in this picture. LOOK HARDER!!!

Before the trip, our hosts graciously asked us if there was anything special we'd like to do or see while we were their guests. None of us had any ideas, but I jokingly responded that
 I wanted to see an elephant walking down the road like it owned the place.

And then, purely by chance, THAT. ACTUALLY. HAPPENED.

 And I have a picture of an elephant's giant ass next to a taxi to prove it.

Just driving down the road, when ELEPHANT!!!!

And then we got back to work. 

Here, we're meeting with Matt Parker at a coffee shop to talk about next steps for
 The Exodus Road and how we, as bloggers, can get on board and help the most. His love and passion for enslaved and trafficked men, women,  and children is palpable and his business plans are sensible. ⬅ That's the kind of non-profit I want to back!

I probably should have been at this meeting
 insted of taking pictures of it. 

For our last night there, we wanted to celebrate with something really special...
So, um, yeah. We did.

This is a real place.

This big sign greeted us as we walked through the door. I'm putting it here, but in a small form because it's filled with stick figures defiling each other in a myriad of ways - all in the name of safe sex. Good on you, Cabbages and Condoms!


I guess I should not have been surprised in the least to find, once inside, a full sized version of Santa Claus... made from condoms. I knew no one would believe me, so I grabbed my camera. 


And, then, not trusting my own photographic prowess, 
I got a CLOSEUP.

I'm sorry. 

Condom art. It's a thing.

Then we got on a plane and flew home. The end. 


Wow. This series paints such a good overview of our time there. It was a busy, blurry, up and down, high and low, bright and dark, streaky, wonky, beautiful week. And there were condoms. 

I should probably pursue a career as a photojournalist. 

But, at least for now, I'll stick to what I know..

Like taking pictures of my cat being creepy. 

Knives really missed me.

...................................................................

I'm so nervous and excited to roll out my real posts about all we saw and my hopes for this community's involvement with The Exodus Road, their partners, and the future of those who long for freedom. It will take me some time, because I'm slow, but you probably already figured that out. 

Thank you for your patience and thank you for your encouragement. It has meant so much to me! 
In the meantime, check out Roo, Kristen, and Heather as they offer the unique perspective of their experience from their own eyes and hearts, and in their own words: 

Roo Ciambriello, semiproper.com :

Heather Armstrong, dooce.com :

Kristen Howerton, rageagainsttheminivan.com : 

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I hope you enjoyed my photo essay! By my math, it's worth about 40 words. It's hard, I know, but try not to be jealous of my mad skills with an iPhone camera. 

As always, THANK YOU for following along!


6.24.2014

A million ways to say it wrong.


Welp, I made it home alive.

Not that I ever doubted for a minute I would survive the trip to SE Asia. I knew I would live. 

I mean, except for the part where my calves, ankles, and feet swelled up like a couple of waterlogged loaves of Wonder Bread, and then when I accidentally ate a chili pepper that I'm 100% sure gave me a brain aneurysm, and except for the time an elephant tried to eat my entire head in one bite, and when my scooter-taxi driver departed from our group and zipped off with me alone down a dark alley in a big city, and except for being constantly on the verge of heat stroke, I felt totally safe and sound the whole time I traveled. Except for when I was flying, you know how I hate to fly. But other than that, it was a stress free trip and I was able to stay focused and attentive to the issues at hand.

Can't you see how terrified I am?
In fact, we all lived. 

All four bloggers survived our week long trip to the other side of the world, where we were introduced to the seedy underworld of human trafficking, invited in to the secret work of investigations, entrusted with the words and stories of exploited men, women, and children, and encouraged by those fighting for the aftercare and oversight of the rescued. And while our brushes with certain death took different turns at times (exhaustion, a billion insect bites, gluten overdose, relentless diarrhea, severe blood loss from accidentally shaving off a billion insect bites, bloating to the point of actually bursting open and having your guts spill out on the ground), I know that our shared experiences are sure to have changed the way we each spend the rest of our lives.

We lived and we'll keep on living and our lives will continue at their usual frenetic American pace, but as we settle in to our busyness, we've gained a new purpose.

 So now comes the really hard part, the truly life and death part.

We all lived. But like *barely*.
This is the part where we each stare at a blank page on a computer screen for too many hours trying to find the right words to say all the things we want to say and share the things we want to share. This is the part where we desperately try to do justice in what we write to the things we've seen and the stories we've heard, for all the hands we held, and eyes we met, and the hearts and souls we felt keenly connected to over one week across the world. This is the part that means life or death for a blogger trip, yes, but far more important, this is part that can bring new life to victims of human trafficking and sex-slavery.

Let me just say this out loud; No one wants the trip we “survived” to matter in tangible ways more than we do.

No one wants to share about the things we witnessed while preserving the privacy and dignity of the victims we saw more than we do.

No one wants to help you feel a deep connection to the good work happening in the world more than we do.

And no one is more afraid of saying it all wrong than we are. No one.

There are a million ways to say it wrong. There are a million ways to screw up something beautifully crafted by using one wrong word or adding the wrong picture. There are a million ways to be misunderstood. And there are a million ways for people to twist good words into total crap.

photo cred
I know this because as we made our way through a packed schedule and long days last week, posting pictures and status updates as rare snippets of wifi allowed, someone from internet land was never far behind to let us know that we were wrong, or stupid, or assholes. Or wrong-stupid-assholes.

If a picture of our group riding scooter-taxis went up, we would be accused of not caring about trafficking because we were having fun. (How dare we use public transportation!)

If a picture of the land or cityscape went up, we would receive a finger-wagging assertion of blatant “sex-tourism”. (How dare we fall in love with the beauty of the country!)

A picture of a red light district – with no distinguishable faces – would garner a complaint of “exploitation”. (How dare we share a vague picture of a world renowned tourist destination that is snapped a hundred times an hour!)

We loved the food. And that makes us
assholes who don't care about the
victims of sex-trafficking.
When we shared about hiring two prostitutes for an interview, we were charged by the internet police with everything from using the wrong words (they're sex-workers, not prostitutes?) to not paying them (because we would totally rob a couple of hookers?), to using them as fodder for the masses, and probably getting them beaten up by pimps. For the record, they introduced themselves as “prostitutes”, we paid them handsomely for their time, they expressed tear-filled gratitude for listening and allowing them to tell their own story to our readers, and neither of them had a pimp, just a couple of deadbeat boyfriends – but more on all that later!

My point is, this is a highly sensitive subject and WE ALREADY KNOW THAT!

No one wants to uphold the honor of the people, the country, the investigators, the NGO's, the sex-workers, and especially the victims more that we do. No one.

But we get it. Maybe better than anyone because last week we stood awkwardly in the disparity of it all, we get that we are privileged white women, middle class bloggers, lucky, spoiled, comfortable ladies of fortune. We have easy lives and too many shoes and we practically sweat money. And we get that because of all that, some people want to be offended by our desire to help and critical of our efforts to change the world for the women and children who weren't born into privilege. But how will justice happen if the people with privilege are too ashamed by their sweet lives to leverage their privilege on behalf of the powerless?

A few months ago, my pastor, Brad Franklin, said, “Justice happens when the people with power use that power to do for those with none.”, and I just couldn't stop thinking about how I am the people with power. Since then, I've been determined to find smart, reasonable, compelling ways to engage in the global fight against poverty and slavery, and I will use everything in my power (yes, all that ugly white privilege) to do it.

So I'll be sharing more from my trip in the coming weeks, as will Heather, Roo, and Kristen. Along the way, I'll be inviting you to join me in partnering with The Exodus Road to fight human-trafficking and slavery, and, truthfully, I'm praying I don't screw this up. When I think about the stories I want to tell, my palms get sweaty, because there are a million ways to tell them wrong and I'm scared. But I'll live, I know that - It's the bringing life to others part I'm worried about.

I went to SE Asia for an intense week and I lived, just like I knew I would. Now I'll talk about it and no matter who I piss off in the process, I'll live. 

But will she live? Will the girl smuggled across the boarder to be sold for sex daily live? I mean, like, will she really live? Will she live a beautiful life? Will she live a life marked by love? Will she know she's valuable? Will she ever learn her real worth?

I don't know. But I know I have the power to send out the ones who can find her. I know I have the power to equip those who will do everything possible to make her free. I have the power to bid her "rescue is coming", even from my place of comfort across the sea. So I will.

I want to leverage my power for those with none, so, yes, I'll do my best to tell her story. There are a million ways to say it all wrong, but I'm going to say it anyway, because this space, this audience, this readership, and these words are the most powerful thing I've been given.

And she deserves no less...

Thrive

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How can you leverage your power for those with none?



6.13.2014

3 Tangible Ways to Stop Sex-Trafficking in the U.S.


As I head back to Southeast Asia to further explore the issue of global sex-trafficking and what can be done to stop it, I'm aware that this isn't just a faraway problem in a faraway land.

I've been chastised many times for engaging in the problem of sex-trafficking overseas when it's a problem “right here, in our own back yard”. (Why, yes, I do say that with a deep, redneck drawl and a camo shirt that says, 'Merica!') And they're right. If we are serious about stopping this atrocity, it should be stopped everywhere. So, since I fly away on Monday morning and have about 600 things to get done beforehand, and none of those things is “write a blog post”, here I am, with a blog post about 3 ways to help put an end to sex-trafficking in the good ol' U.S. of A.



Procrastination, for the win. Yeeeeah. 

….          …..          ….

1. Know what you're talking about. .No, but like, really get your head around it.

Sex-trafficking is a reality in the U.S., that is a fact, but it's often misunderstood or misrepresented. If you want to have a role in ending it, you need to do your homework. You can't know what your talking about unless you do some research, so do that. Do some research.

But if I may offer a few suggestions? Ignore the crazy statistics. Ignore the dramatic stories about how every year the Super Bowl transforms a city into the biggest sex-trafficking hub that's ever happened anywhere in the entire universe. Ignore the endless lists of which city is “The #1 sex-trafficking city in America”. I've found that statistics are tricky little bastards. They're easily manipulated. They lie. So instead of filling your head with a bunch of internet facts and figures that may or may not mean anything, find out what sex-trafficking actually looks like in your town. Call the police station and ask if they have an anti sex-trafficking unit and, if so, see if someone from the unit will talk to you about it. If sex-trafficking is a problem in your area, learn who's at risk to be trafficked and who's doing the trafficking, and learn about who is driving the demand. Research non-profits near you who are working in this field; pull their tax info, review their track record, compare their claims against what you've learned from the police, and if you like what you see, give them your time and money.

Be informed about the place you live, and then get involved accordingly.


2. Become a foster parent.

I know, I know. You're like, "Um. Easier said than done!" But when you do your research, you will probably learn that kids in the foster care system are incredibly susceptible to predatory adults.

We love to eat up stories about pretty little blond girls being lured away from their suburban youth group by a cute boy who gets her high and sells her to his greasy uncle for forty bucks and a pack of cigarettes forcing her into a life of drugs and prostitution. While this has actually happened to some degree, it's very rare. Like, super rare. But the girls and boys in our foster care system, kids who often feel unlovable, unsupported, and disconnected, are a bluzillion times more likely to be drawn into a life of forced prostitution than a white kid in the suburbs. Yes. A BLUZILLION. …. Ok. Fine. I made that number up. (See what I mean about bad statistics?) But the part about foster kids being at higher risk of being trafficked is totes true. They're transient, they're scared, and they're undervalued as human beings, so they often run away and fall into the hands of the wrong people.

What we need are more healthy, stable, mercy-filled foster families to show these beautiful, broken kids their worth. Yes, it is the hardest thing you will ever do, but your love and your home could be the lifeline that keeps an at-risk child from being sold, used, and terribly violated. Consider becoming a foster parent.


3. Stop soliciting prostitutes.

Ok. This one seems kind of like, “duh", right? But nobody wants to talk about it!

Nobody wants to think about WHO is paying for the sex that drives trafficking right here in our own back yard. Nobody wants to admit that we probably all know people, primarily men, who solicit prostitutes. They work in our offices, they coach our kids, they sit in our churches (hell, they lead our churches.), they live in our homes. Sometimes, they share our beds. Sometimes, they marry our daughters. Sometimes, they appear in our mirrors. Don't believe me? Well, I think you'd be surprised. Regardless, the issue of supply and demand cannot be ignored. Trafficking exists and is quite lucrative in the U.S. because SO. MANY. PEOPLE are paying for sex! I know that most of those patrons never consider the service they're buying may be coming from someone who was enslaved and/or trafficked, but they need to start. The only way to be 100% certain you aren't complicit in contributing to sex-trafficking and slavery is to avoid soliciting a prostitute.

In all fairness, it must be noted that not every man and woman working in the American sex industry is doing so under duress. Many bright, drug free, totally sane people enter the business legally and of their own volition, and they are just as appalled as you and me by the thought of someone being forced into it in any way, shape, or form. So – I'm not a proponent of sex for sale, like, not at all – but if you are going to engage in sex for cash? For shits sake, do it with a conscience. Do your diligence to ensure that you're buying a free and willing partner (that means he or she must be above the age of consent and able to walk away at any time, if they so choose.), and if you can't be sure? Don't do it.

That said, I know there are some people who will read this who don't want to do it, but will do it anyway. They are addicts, and they need our help.

We can't go on pretending the addiction which drives so much of the porn and sex industry is not also a major factor in the business of sex-trafficking. There are so many people around us who are utterly destroyed by sex-addiction, engulfed in hopelessness, yet, we sit silent. We are too embarrassed to bring it up, too ashamed to talk about it, too stigmatized to reach out to each other, so we suffocate in our secrets because the risk is too great, the consequences are too dire, and the Church is too damn quiet about it all. That's just not right, and I'm sorry.

My friend, if you're a sex-addict, I pray you will seek help. Today. Right now. I pray your confession will be met by Grace. I pray you will find Peace and know Love. I pray you will experience Redemption. I pray you'll find that from the God who is perfected in our weakness, we gain strength. And I pray you will never hire a prostitute again.

You are not alone. 

The sex-slave and the addict need the same thing... Freedom. And the world will be a better place when we can say to them, both, “Rescue is coming.

…         …..          …

Please add to this list! Surely there are more than 3 things...

Oh, And if you have found valuable resources for people trying to get free from sex-addiction, please link them in comments. Thanks!



6.02.2014

20 years.

We just celebrated 20 years of marriage. For real. It's a miracle.

The miracle, though, is not that our marriage survived the last 20 years, it's that it survived the first one. Whew, that year was a doozie. We were young and poor and stupid and selfish; learning to be adults, and partners, and parents all at once. It was the perfect storm.

One day, right after our first anniversary, we had a massive fight. Like, a HUGE fight. It was the kind where you're screaming and yelling at each other, hissing the word “divorce” like you just pulled the pin out of a grenade with your teeth. ~ Boom! It's over. We're through. ~ But that night we were supposed to go to a party for my work, a Hawaiian luau, and we had a babysitter coming over and everything, people were expecting us, we'd already paid for tickets. So we resigned ourselves to get through it, to bear each other's company for one last evening. We could eat, drink, and pretend to be merry one... last... time. It would be a long night, we knew, but we thought it would be a good way to cool our tempers. When we got home we would be able to discuss the details of screwing each other over our impending separation with clear heads and calm voices.

We drove to the party in Hawaiian themed clothes and stone cold silence. We sat amongst friends and laughed and talked, but not to each other.

Then, like every proper Luau, there was a hula-hoop competition, and when they announced it our eyes met, we gazed at each other across the roasted pig's head, and it was clear we were thinking the same thing. “We own this!” Without a plan, without even a word, he took my hand and we marched onto the stage. In one fluid motion, I snatched a hula hoop from the emcee and he swung me up to perch on his massive shoulders. I straddled his neck and flung the hoop around my own, twisting it in sweeping circles, and he stood up tall with his arms wide open, we were like a totem-pole made of white people, nodding to the crowd, “YES. WE REALLY ARE THIS AMAZING.”

You cannot make this shit up.
Needless to say, we won.

That night we won it all. I mean, obviously, we won the respect and admiration of onlookers and we won the Grand Prize (a blue, plastic pitcher with a tray and four tumblers), but, more importantly, we won back our young marriage. Because if you can win a hula-hoop competition together when you hate each other's guts? You can do ANYTHING.

That's the night we realized we would grow old side by side, and probably die holding hands on the same day.

I feel like I should say something super encouraging now, like, “After twenty years, every single day is as thrilling as winning a hula-hoop competition!” But that would be a lie from the devil. Twenty years later, we still fight dirty, we're still kind of stupid and selfish, and we have somehow managed to regress back to being poor. But I will say this; After twenty years, we understand we're just better together.

I suppose that's what we learned that fateful night, when we dominated the hula-hoop competition. We can do things together that neither of us could or would ever dream of doing alone – not just alone, but specifically without the other. I would not be who I am without this specific man holding me up, and he could not be who he is without me, and only me, perched on his shoulders. After 20 years, we know that when we each do our part for our partner, we both win.

Beyond the glory of the hula-hoop, we now share a twenty year history of life well-lived, wars waged, battles fought, hard won victories. Our marriage is wrapped in memories that tell us, Yes, together we are this amazing, and every year our anniversary comes around again, to remind us we have a whole lot of amazingness to celebrate.

I read Gone Girl like a month ago, and it made me wish I'd forced El Chupacabra on a clever scavenger hunt which simultaneously revealed how well he actually knows me and culminated in an awesome gift that was perfectly representative of twenty years of marriage. But Google told me twenty years is the “china” anniversary and that's just dumb. So, since we have no need for the dishes kind of china and we can't afford to go to the actual kind of China, we settled on spending our anniversary night at the adorable B&B where we spent our wedding night. Cute!

And for El Chupacabra? A watch. But not just any watch. A kick-ass wooden watch from JORD. (Seriously. Have you seen these watches? They're incredibly cool! And I gotta say, since it's only been twenty years, apparently I forgot I married a man with wrists like a wooly mammoth, so the watch didn't fit – duh! - and I was super bummed, and my husband was like, “I'm sure they can just send more links.”, and I was like, “NO! IT'S A WOOD WATCH. IT'S FANCY!! YOU CAN'T JUST ADD MORE LINKS WHENEVER YOU WANT!” So I emailed the company and asked if it's possible to add links because I knew it wasn't and I wanted to prove I was right, and they were all, “Sure. No problem. How many links do you need?”... So, um, yeah. JORD makes awesome watches, and has great customer service. Highly recommend!) 

You'd think I'd know by now that he's a huge person. 
Overall, our anniversary was a lovely, romantic evening. For dinner we had chili-cheese onion rings and beer, and for dessert we had indigestion. We caught the show "A Steady Rain" at a local theatre where we were so much younger than the average patron, they probably all scoffed out our meager 20 years of marriage like we were still in diapers. (Actually, I'd be willing to wager that more than few of them were in diapers.) Anyway. It was a fun night out.

We talked about how we're both pretty excited to see what the next 20 years has to throw at us - I mean, bring it on. We already won the hula-hoop competition. So, basically? We've already won at life.

Happy 20th Anniversary, El Chupacabra!!
I would make a hula-hoop totem pole with you any day!