what did the world look like when you were 12?

Girl studying outsideI recall crying into my pillow on the night after my 12th birthday because I had desperately wanted to stay 11 forever. There was this horrible sense of life being outside my control, of time creeping past unbidden, of, well, aging.

I suppose, really, I was locked in that awkward interim of neither being completely a child nor completely an adolescent. I wanted to be one and the other. I wanted the pierced ears and the platform shoes and my period to start. But I also wanted to unwrap toys at Christmas and to not have to make my own bed. Oh, the traumas of this 12 year-old’s life.

The only way food figures in my memories of that age is that it was always plentiful. On Sundays, we’d have a traditional roast beef dinner, with crispy roast potatoes, stuffing, gravy-covered vegetables, and big inflated Yorkshire Puddings. Mum would make a crumble from the rhubarbs growing in our garden, or we’d have gently warmed Lemon Meringue pie with cold cream poured on top.

REALITYThe Girl Effect CHECK: 600 million girls living in poverty

Picture this:

  • You’re 12 years old
  • You don’t go to school
  • You can’t read
  • Soon, you’ll be married off against your will – and pregnant soon after
  • You’ll have to sell your body to predatory men just so your family can survive
  • It’s likely that you’ll contract HIV

Now, picture this:

  • You’re 12 years old
  • You do go to school
  • You learn to read
  • You are able to choose when to get married
  • You receive regular healthcare, stay healthy and HIV negative
  • Your children are healthy like you are

This is known as The Girl Effect: The unique potential of adolescent girls to end poverty not only for themselves but for the world.

PLEASE take a few minutes to watch the video below and then visit http://www.girleffect.org/ to find out three things that you can do right now to help these girls. They need us.

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Blog about Girl EffectThis post is one of hundreds being submitted to the blogosphere today to help spread the word about Girl Effect, an organization which is working to change the lives of 12 year-old girls in developing nations around the world.

Click here to find out how you can add your own post to the mix.

Vegas: an introspective (part 2)

Every single photo from that day. Lost.

I finger the tiny gold eagle on my Alex & Ani bracelet as the plane tips me back to Providence. I try to find that stillness of spirit that enshrined me at the Grand Canyon, but it slips through my heart chords.

Now I have to make do with a refurbished handset, an inconvenient UPS driver, rapidly dissolving memories.

The Canyon played me that day. It played my cardiac muscle like an indulgent harpist.

My fear of heights? Gone. Crescendoed into silence. I damn near riffed at the edge of oblivion. Rocked out on the Skywalk.

Tourists shuffled and switched places for photos, the timbre of their voices mingling in the shifting heat. I climbed a triangulated pile of rocks thousands of feet deep and stretched my arms into wings.

I want the wind to play me like an air guitar. I want the Canyon to absorb me into its hollow symphony.

Helicopters buzz like tiny flies through, up, returning. The heat sticks to my forehead.

I buy a fridge magnet.

Back at the Luxor, I hide from the zinging rinky-tink of slot machines, the clamorous Roulette tables, the clashing orchestral bonanza of show girls and coin showers and Enrique Inglesias pop songs.

I allow my King-size bed to envelop me into a soft white finale.

Except there is an encore.

One night later, Vegas lures us into the Mandalay Bay hotel bar. Laughter is our cocktail de choix. There are nine of us and then there are three. We gamble in a beat-up bar on Fremont Street.

I leave my phone on a bar stool and, when I go back, it has disappeared.

***

On 60 Minutes tonight, I watched the people of Otsuchi rifle through water-logged photographs salvaged from the tsunami that hit in March 2011.

A little old Japanese lady walks away from the rows of memories, clutching her own in a plastic wallet. She beams as she passes the cameras, her joy palpable.

A timely reminder: There are photos and then there are photos.