Infographic: The reality of violence against women

•July 21, 2015 • Leave a Comment

In the United States, discussions about equality center around leaning in, or whether or not the glass ceiling has got cracks in it. For women in the developing world, the focus is on surviving everyday violence, assault and rape — a daily struggle that plays a part in keeping a billion people locked into poverty. Gary Haugen (TED Talk: The hidden reason for poverty the world needs to address now) shares five shocking stats he hopes might help us pay closer attention.

Further reading:

1. In 2012, a woman died almost every hour in India in a dispute over a dowry. See this report from India’s National Crime Records Bureau.

2. In 2007, 48 women were raped in the Democratic Republic of Congo every hour. See “Estimates and Determinants of Sexual Violence Against Women in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” by Amber Peterman et al, American Journal of Public Health, June…

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cats are jerks. fuzzy adorable jerks.

•July 15, 2015 • Leave a Comment

It’s nearly 1 a.m.  I am scrambling to catch up on a Sysiphean backlog of files (I needed the vacation, the vacation was worth it, totally made the right decision by not logging in, I chant to myself in a tone just slightly less than frantic), and my cat refuses to accept that there is A Dog Who Lives Here Now.

She won’t go downstairs.  Not happening.  The super-sized pit bull who flattens himself on the floor in the subordinate pose whenever I drag her downstairs (hissing and clawing) literally just wants to be friends with her.  He whimpers (no barks! ever!) and then falls silent, waiting.  She doubles in size by turning her fluff to eleven and hiss/growls.  She even gave him the warning box on the nose.




She’s a jerk.  I spent an hour trying to cajole her past the lower landing.  She’s starving.  Practically drooling at the sight of her food dish.  I covered up the dog’s kennel completely–oh RIGHT HE’S NOT EVEN LOOSE AT NIGHT OR WHILE WE’RE AT WORK.

My god.  She owns me.  She’s going to win.  Gaaaaaaaah.


Look at her. She thinks she’s fierce.

i have my books and my poetry to protect me

•July 13, 2015 • Leave a Comment

 Around the 17th box of books, I usually start to grumble to myself about the number of books I have.  This is the 10th time I’ve unpacked them.  Some of them have traveled all the way from Kansas; the very slim volume lying horizontally atop the book Corrections is a collection of Tennyson’s poetry that I’ve had since high school.  My English teacher gave it to me from her little library after my umpteenth checkout, saying with a laugh that she’d get another.

That’s when I stop grumbling–remembering the stories attached to the books.  The books‘ metadata, if you will.  I haven’t read all of my books, but every single one has a reason for existing in my collection: the old books from my grandfather’s collection that had no value but meant much to him; the recommended readings from friends while I was in dark times because they were texts that helped them in their sorrows; the giant art books I dream through lazily with coffee, searching for inspiration; the childhood favorites I read over and over and over; all the words that taught me to more than not die, but to live.

So maybe it is crazy to have lugged these 1,000+ volumes from Kansas to Illinois to Pennsylvania to Virginia.  I don’t care.  They are my friends and my guide when all the lights go out.

But if I have to move them again, I’ll try slightly smaller boxes, if only to save my back the pain.

survival mode

•September 15, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Some nights (and days) I have this dream.  I will hire a trainer.  I will meet with him/her three days a week.  He/she will help me make this body strong, and I will beat the pain that comes for no reason other than the bloody weather decides to take a turn.  And then I will be able to manage my affairs like an adult, and keeping my apartment clean won’t be so fucking difficult and doing laundry so overwhelming.

Sometimes I dream about living and not just surviving day to day, hour by hour.

It would hurt in the beginning.  And I mean seriously hurt.  You know how bad it sucks when you start exercising again because you haven’t done it in a long time?  People with fibromyalgia tend to experience pain at three times the level that a normal person does—there’s something wrong with our pain receptors.  So instead of trying to overcome pain, we do everything we can to run away from it.  If we hurt, we do the opposite of what we should do: we stop moving.

That’s the rub, isn’t it?  When one is in survival mode already, protecting oneself from pain is the current goal, but protecting oneself from pain is actually the root cause of the problem.  To break out of the survival mode, you actually need someone to force you out of the pattern, and it’s incredibly hard to inflict pain on yourself if you are already in pain.

Sometimes you need some form of boot camp, you know?

this East Coast Bridgens girl

•August 14, 2011 • 8 Comments

Every now and then, I’ll go somewhere and someone will see my last name and ask, “Are you related to [insert name here]?”  (The most recent one was Nancy Bridgens, a psychiatrist in the area.)  When I shrug and say I don’t know, they answer, “It’s your last name—Bridgens is so distinct.  I bet you are.”  In truth, I probably am distantly related to a good deal of people here.  We know we’re linked to John Paul Getty, but it’s so far removed that it’s insignificant—our family doesn’t come down through the wealthy Getty branch, but through the Getty and Lytle branch out of Salem, NY.  There were three branches in the Getty tree, from what I remember of the book, and ours was probably the least significant of the three.  J. Paul Getty went onto great wealth.  If I remember correctly, James Getty founded Gettysburg.  Samuel (or was it William?) Getty disappeared from history, but those of us who came from that lesser line have quietly lived and thrived through the Great Depression and wars and economic disasters.  We’ve seen all the same things without achieving fame or fortune for ourselves.

There is a book that documents this quieter branch of the family.  It’s titled the Genealogical Notes of the Getty and Lytle Families of Salem, N. Y. and was written by Horace T. Currier.   50 copies of it were printed in 1902.  I’ve read it a couple of times, and it is dear to my heart.  I’d like to see it again simply because it is the only link I have to my past.  It is the only thing that makes me feel part of something now that my grandparents have died.  (Maybe I should make a trip up to Salem and see if their historical society has a copy of it…Google searches have been fruitless.  If any copies still exist, they are held in private collections.  The Library of Congress does not have it.  In fact, I found the title of Currier’s book in an index of genealogies not held in the LOC collection.  Maybe the Mormons have a copy in their collection.)

My cousin David and I are the only ones who left (some might say, “fled”) the Midwest, but when he transplanted himself to the Southwest, he went with his wife’s family and therefore moved from one community to another.  When I moved East, I was in a loveless, hopeless marriage, and I’ve been looking for my place ever since.

I have watched my family find their places after the shattering, after the deaths of our beloved grandparents William and Dorothy.  My sister Jody gradually became absorbed in her husband Vince’s family, and I’ve never begrudged her this.  We grew up in a strange, dysfunctional childhood—it was ever our goal to find happiness to replace what we never had.  My cousins Lisa, Erin, and Amy who remain in Kansas have become three very close friends after fighting their way through difficult trials; it is an amazing bond to have watched develop.  My father Cris has found happiness, I think, with his girlfriend Susannah.  Rumor has it that my aunt Terrie and uncle Gregg have grown stronger in their religious beliefs.

But I have watched from the outside, almost like a historian who is not involved but only records and notes events long after they have happened.  I am not included in any of them.  It seems clear that I am not needed or wanted in the process.  I don’t know that I should be.  I don’t know, exactly, where I fit in their world, if at all.  Part of me thinks that if I could only read the book again, I might find some assurance that I still belong to some community greater than myself.  I won’t know unless I actually do.  All I know is that it is a link to my past and my roots, and the few times I have perused it, it gave me a little thrill.  I’m probably in a very small minority who ever thought those genealogies in the Bible were cool.  It had nothing to do with the impossible ages of the people recorded, but that they were recorded at all.  Someone cared to make note of these peoples’ little lives.  They are not forgotten because they have a record, a place, a remembrance.

fake crêpes

•August 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I can’t be the first person to have thought of this, but I’m sharing anyway.  Sometimes I get a craving for IHOP’s Nutella and banana crêpes, but I don’t have the money to run down and get them every time.  So I found a way to fake it this evening (minus the bananas…I don’t have any bananas at the moment because I haven’t been to the grocery store yet this week…stupid 27-day-and-counting sinus infection is making me so very tired).  Anyway, it’s very simple.

1.  Heat up a white flour tortilla.
2.  Slather with Nutella.
3.  Enjoy.

together we will fly above it all

•July 31, 2011 • Leave a Comment

For my birthday, Brian took me for a hot air balloon ride.  We launched from around Route 401 & Route 100 (Ludwig’s Corner in Pottstown, PA) and landed at Downingtown Middle School, near Route 322 and Route 30.  My guess is that we drifted about 8 miles or so, as the bird flies.  It was hot, but not humid, and we had the occasional, lovely breeze.  It was so peaceful—I could have floated for hours.

You can see the full set of pictures at my Flickr account: Hot Air Balloon Ride.

Inflating Hot Air Balloon

Hot Air Balloon Shadow

Brian and Me