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Archive for November, 2007

Lori Drew Pushed Megan Meier Over the Edge

Friday, November 30th, 2007

On October 16, 2006, in Dardennes Prairie, Missouri, thirteen year-old Megan Taylor Meier hung herself with a cloth belt from a support beam in her bedroom closet. She died the next day in a local hospital.

It is always sad when a person chooses to take their own life; even more so when that person is so young and has so much life ahead of them. A life cut so violently and tragically short is hard for any of us to reconcile in our hearts and minds. There is the knowledge we possess, being older and wiser, that had they waited they would have seen that things change and get better. Life is worth living, you wish you could have told them – just wait, just give it one more chance…this too shall pass.

Sadly, such a message was never delivered to Megan and like so many before her – feeling all hope was lost and her life ruined – she chose to end it all.

Megan did, however, receive a message on that fateful evening – likely less than an hour before she grabbed a cloth belt and went to her closet. The message was not one of hope, love, or consolation. It was, unfortunately for Megan and all those that loved her, the exact opposite.

…you are a bad person and everybody hates you. Have a shitty rest of your life. The world would be a better place without you…

Hurtful and cruel words for anyone to hear; all the more so for an emotionally distraught teen with prior mental problems.

In the end, however, the most chilling thing about Megan's story and the callous words that pushed her towards the most final of acts is that they came from an adult.

Around a year earlier, Megan's parents had moved her from public school due to taunting for being over-weight and her problems fitting in with the "in" crowd; the popular kids.

By her parents' accounts, young Megan thrived at her new, private school. She lost weight, seemed happier, and made new friends. She was excited about her upcoming fourteenth birthday and getting her braces off when she met Josh Evans online – no one yet knowing this was to be the beginning of the end of her young life.

Megan's parents were vigilant about keeping tabs on Megan's MySpace account; they had her password, and had to pre-approve any and all friends' requests that were sent to Megan. When a cute, local, sixteen year-old boy named Josh Evans sent Megan a friend request, she begged her mother to allow her to accept. Tina Meier did.

Tina, still, felt some instinctual motherly premonition that something wasn't right. As Megan and Josh became closer, talking almost daily through MySpace, Tina contacted the local police department to see if a MySpace profile's authenticity could be proven. She was told it could not.

Megan was going through the highs of young love, the rush of endorphins that makes the world brighter and life sing. She was happier than she'd been in years – a boy, a cute, older boy at that – liked her. What thirteen year-old girl wouldn't have been head-over-heels?

Things changed quickly. Tina's cell phone rang October 16 as she sat with her younger daughter, Allison, at the orthodontist's office. A distraught, tearful Megan was on the other end. Megan told her mother that Josh was saying mean things to her – that he told her something along the lines of "I don't know if I want to be friends with you any longer because I hear you're not nice to your friends". Others had joined in on the harassment, and were posting bulletins saying calling Megan fat and a slut.

Tina told her daughter to turn off the computer, but when she returned home she found Megan firing off angry retorts to her attackers. Appalled at the words her own daughter was using, Tina insisted she get off the computer and sent her to her room.

Tina and her husband, Ron, discussed the issue as they prepared dinner – worried about Megan and wondering what had truly happened.

When Tina went to get Megan for dinner, she found her hanging in the closet.

The story is tragic all on its own, yet it is when the truth is laid bare that the true horror of this story is made evident.

"Josh Evans", the Meiers learned months later, never existed. He was a puppet – a fake profile created by someone to befriend Megan and gain her trust. Who would do such a thing, and why?

The 'who' is appalling – it was the mother of one of Megan's former public school friends; a woman we now know is named Lori Drew. Curious as to what Megan was saying about her daughter, and the other former friends, Lori – employing help from her own daughter and a few others – laughingly created "Josh" to get inside Megan's head. Once she had the information she sought, she turned "Josh" on Megan – a turn of events that ended when Lori as "Josh" sent the chilling message above and, soon after, Megan slipped a cloth belt around her neck.

It is hard to get inside the mind of a woman like Lori Drew – someone who has shown little to no remorse for her actions in pushing Megan to despair that led to suicide.

At Megan's funeral, she was overheard telling someone she didn't feel "as guilty" because she heard Megan had attempted suicide before. Megan had not - but even if she had, it makes Lori's going after her all the more irresponsible and perverse.

Is Lori Drew a sociopath, or simply that immature and ignorant? One has to wonder what a grown woman is thinking when she does something like this…to see what gossip is being said about her own daughter?

I remember how vulnerable I was at Megan's age...and to have found myself in a similar situation, realizing I had been "had" (lied to and manipulated, probably laughed about behind my back), would - in itself - have been enough to push me over the edge. All in one instant, she realized she'd been duped, that the boy she'd fallen for didn't even exist and that all of her happiness had been for naught. She was then being taunted, teased, and further bullied by "Josh" and his pals.

What Lori Drew did to this innocent child...there are no words. She acted like a child herself, playing grade-school games with no thought or care as to the possible consequences. She seems to me to be a sociopath- or very immature and ignorant, at least. She should be held accountable for her actions - not for "cyber-bullying" but for preying on a child in what is, essentially, mental/emotional abuse. I hope justice is done for Megan, and for her parents and sister so that they may find, at least some, peace.

The story is all over the Internet, and naturally a number of differing opinions abound. The ones that disturb me the most are the ones that place blame on Megan's parents, and even Megan herself.

It truly disturbs me to see people saying things such as Megan should have been stronger or taken responsibility for her own actions; she was a child...and when you are young, with raging hormones, and suffer from these types of mental conditions it is very simple to fall into a panic attack or anxiety-ridden and emotional blind rage.

Could she have up and committed suicide with no prior "warnings"? With her medical history and the addition of teenage emotions and hormones...absolutely.

The truth is, young Megan had no defenses against the malicious attack on her by an adult; an adult who knew full well that Megan had problems and was not a fully stable child (even if she had been, still not an excuse). When Lori Drew made the decision to attack, manipulate, and mentally/emotionally damage an innocent, vulnerable child she went beyond the pale.

She is guilty of involuntary manslaughter at the very least, and should be considered a danger to children; considering her mindset and maturity level aren't that much higher than those of a young teen.

It is not so simple as stepping away from the computer of being stronger…as some have implied...Megan was baited, and she was a sick child who had no defense against such an attack; an attack that, ultimately and resolutely, pushed her over the edge.

Some have called for laws against cyber-bulling; I don't think that is the answer - in fact, that just opens up entirely new cans of worms. An over-all sweeping law is not going to solve this problem, nor bring justice for Megan. This was not about cyber-bulling so much as it was about an adult going after a child; an adult that should be punished for her actions and removed from any further contact with children and young adults as she obviously poses a threat.

Did Lori Drew, with her infantile and ignorant prank, mean to push Megan Meier to suicide? No, I don't believe she did. Should she be held accountable for her actions, and punished for baiting and harassing a child? Yes and to the full extent of the law.

It's not just to bring peace to Megan's parents; it's to get justice for Megan.

Why I Am The Luckiest Woman in the World

Monday, November 26th, 2007

Last week I came down with a nasty cold that had me nearly bed-ridden with a low-grade fever and sneezing fits for days. One of these days, my sweet man came home from lunch after having stopped at a local grocery. It was some time after I heard the keys in the door that he made his way upstairs; I, lost in my Memoirs of a Geisha DVD, did not notice the lapse in time until he appeared in the doorway to our bedroom - a heavy-laden tray in his hands.

Upon this tray was a glass of ice water, a small glass of orange juice, a plain ham sandwich cut into agreeable fours, a bowl of chunky chicken noodle soup, and a can of just-opened Pringles. It could not have been a more perfect meal for me in my sickly state, or a more kind gesture by the man I love. I ate one and a half of the sandwich squares and sopped up most of my broth and tasty noodle & chicken bits on Pringles crisps...my favorite way to eat any soup. The orange juice revived me, and the cold, ice water was heaven to my parched lips and dry throat.

He sat quietly next to me on the bed, eating his own lunch and watching the movie with me. After it ended, we napped for a few moments before he had to return to work, and I slept soundly for over two hours after he gently disentangled himself from me and crept out.

Better now, and thinking back on the episode, I realize - as I often do - how absolutely blessed I am to have this man in my life. Not only do we love each other to the point of silliness and cherish every moment we have together (even though we share a home and see one another daily), we still - after over six years - go out of our way to do little things for the other. There is still much thoughtfulness, caring, giving, and sharing that goes on in this relationship - when I long thought such things would have dried up and blown away.

Had you told me five years ago that our home today would be filled with such harmony - a mixture of the pretty mews of our kitty "children" and the shared laughter of dozens of common joys and interests - I would have scoffed. We are absolutely different people with very different ideas on day-to-day living and survival; to top it off, I'm a manic-depressive, sometimes-bitter cripple, partial ADHD mess prone to panic attacks and high states of nervous anxiety. He's not always easy to live with either, but to be fair, I take the cake in the "most difficult to live with" category. Yet, still, despite these seeming insurmountable obstacles - we make it work.

It is not ever easy, and it sometimes involves lots of yelling (yelling, tears, and throwing on my part), but at the end of the day we both have in common that fact that we're absolutely mad about each other; enough so that all of the trials and tribulations we go through to make "us" work are undoubtedly worth it.

When the going is good - and it often is - it is so worth it. We laugh and love and laugh some more, we cuddle our "children", marvel over our good fortune, and thank the stars for our warm home, our wonderful friends and family, our healthy furbabies, and - most of all - for each other.

And when times get tough, and there he is - nursing me through a fever, leg pains, or a panic attack - no matter the agony I may be going through at the moment, I know that I just might be the luckiest woman in the world.

Tabla Is My Soul

Monday, November 19th, 2007

It's no surprise to me that John Foxx would be the person that brought tabla into my life; my dear friend and a talented musician with whom I share many musical tastes.

On a trip to San Fransisco in early 2007, John was drawn into a small shop on Haight Street where a beautiful, melodious sound had piqued his keen musical ear. Once inside, he asked the shop owner what this amazing yet unique music was, and if it was for sale. It was Midival Punditz, and John immediately bought a copy. Upon returning home, he offered to let me listen - not sure I would like the unique sound. To the contrary, I was enthralled and immediately entranced. It was all I listened to for weeks on end.

The sound led me to find similar music...and I was soon drawn to anything involving the soul-tingling beat of the tabla drum. I - on a whim - purchased Tala Matrix by Tabla Beat Science; an outfit pieced together with amazing artists like Midival Punditz, Bill Laswell, Karsh Kale, Zakir Hussain, and more. I would be lying if I didn't say that - to this day from its purchase in March - I have not listened to that CD repeatedly nearly every single day.

Not only did I fall in passionate love with the sound of the tabla drum, the music on this album led me to purchase CDs by a number of now-favorite artists...Bill Laswell, Karsh Kale, Zakir Hussain, Lumin, DJ Cheb I Sabbah, Azam Ali, Bombay Dub Orchestra, Talvin Singh, Niyaz, and many more. My musical repertoire has been forever enhanced and enriched because of this beautiful music and these talented artists.

I cannot begin to describe my love for this music, and the many beautiful Indian instruments I have the pleasure of hearing now - especially and foremost, my beloved tabla drums.

These days, in heavy rotation, the only things that have been gracing my computer's CD drive have been Bill Laswell's Asana OHM Shanti, Sacred System, Chapter One: Book of Entrance, Sacred System, Chapter 2, ROIR Dub Sessions, and Tala Beat Science's Tala Matrix and Live in San Francisco at Stern Grove.

It changes and rotates, in August I listened non-stop to Azam Ali and Niyaz, but this music - as it spins in my computer's CD drive is like nothing I've ever experienced. The combination of ancient Indian or other instruments, folk songs, and rhythms, mixed with modern instruments, electronic equipment, or even  scratching makes my ancient soul and modern spirit soar.

Talk About Happy Birthday!

Saturday, November 10th, 2007

The evening before my birthday, Baret and I traded in my beloved Stella (a midnight blue '97 Mazda Miata) and brought home Sylvia...an '02 Mazda Miata. She is leather-interioried, Bose sound systemed, and power-everything - I'm rather in love.

I have an amazing boyfriend, people. This was my 30th birthday present. And do you know he still sent me roses to work on my birthday?! As if he hadn't done enough; I love that man.

As I hit the big 3-0 mark I am reminded how proud and blessed I am with the life I have created for myself and the amazing man I am able to share it with.

Happy Birthday, indeed.

There Is No “Freedom To Not Get Your Feelings Hurt”

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

Duane "Dog" Chapman, star of Dog the Bounty Hunter, is the latest person to have their lives ruined in the over-sensitive, over-blown mayhem of political correctness that has been sweeping this nation in the past few years. It's a problem that is becoming, in my personal opinion, one that threatens the very foundations of American ideals.

Is it right to insult or put down others' based on race or religion? No, of course not. Yet, is it, then, permissible to have a person's entire career shattered and their lives ruined because they made a p.c. faux pas? According to our great Constitution - no.

Freedom of Speech means just that - the freedom to say what you like - regardless of whether it's insulting, stupid, ignorant, or even a huge blunder on your part - without the fear or threat of persecution. The infamous quote, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" sums up the idea of freedom of speech rather efficiently.

There is not a clause anywhere in our first amendment, that I'm aware of, that adds the right to not be offended. In fact, the very idea of freedom of speech is that you are protected from those who are offended by your words - with the indelible authority of the Constitution of the United States of America; which, last I checked, is the rule of this land in which we live.

These days, however, anyone who utters a word or phrase that hurts any person, group, or organization's wittle feelings is - metaphorically - tied to the stake and burned; their lives, careers, and/or public persona's forever tarnished and essentially annihilated. Regardless of their past or any good works, noble deeds, or contributions to mankind the person has previously performed they are shunned and demonized by society - to the point of being nearly, and sometimes definitely, forever ruined.

How anyone can state this is a nation that believes in freedom of speech, in light of this, is a wonder to me.

Was Duane Chapman wrong with the statements he made? Yes. Has he sincerely apologized and - in light of his past work and help of others of all skin colors - proven his innocence and admitted his ignorance? Yes. Should his show be canceled and his life ruined because he made ignorant and angry statements for which he is truthfully sorry and repentant? No. Hell no. Whether we (or even he, at this point) agrees with what he said, the truth of the matter is, he had a RIGHT to say it as an American. He also has a right to apologize and make amends for his mistake. No one, however, has the right to persecute him for words he has spoken; however ignorant, hurtful, or wrong they were to speak. The man made a mistake, which we all do and which he has owned up to in a very mature, dignified, and respectful way. Now let it go.

James Watson was a world-renowned scientist and a Nobel Peace prize winner for his work in helping solve the riddles of DNA. This man has made contributions to our world and humanity that are countless, and has lived his life exploring science to make ours better. Yet, James Watson will now not be remembered for his years of dedication to science, his Nobel Peace prize, or for his advancements in the field of DNA. He will be remembered for being forced to retire - in shame - because he made statements that people found "racist" and "offensive". Whether what he said was wrong or right - whether you agree or disagree - he had a right to say it and a right to not be persecuted for it. Do I agree with Dr. Watson's assessment about the intelligence of black people? No. Do I care that he said it? No, I do not; it's his opinion and his business and I do not have to agree with it - nor does anyone else. If he had said that white people were the less intelligent race, would I have cared? No, I would not. Someone else's opinion is not going to sway me from what I know to be true, and I'm not going to let someone else's ignorant opinion affect me. Do I think that Dr. Watson's entire career should have come to a grinding, shameful halt because of his statements? Absolutely not. A man's life and good works are now in tatters because some people got their panties in a wad over statements he made. That is absolutely ridiculous and childish and if things continue on this way for much longer, no one is going to be able to say anything without fear or serious persecution and repercussion.

No one on this Earth is above being talked about, laughed at, discussed, or even made fun of. Not black people, not white people, not yellow or red people. Is it wrong that some talk about others based upon the color of their skin? I don't agree with it, but I also don't think it's such a horrible travesty that it should ruin lives and destroy careers. We are creating a society that condemns and silences individual thought and persecutes those that do not live up to, or go by, the status quo. Everyone treads so lightly afraid to hurt someone's feelings or step on any toes. It's patently ridiculous.

The entire world needs to lighten up and just let others' be. Do what you do, do what you like, and ignore the rest. If something someone says hurts your feelings, by all means, speak out about it, get your voice heard - but don't ruin the other person in the process. How can lively debate exist in this atmosphere? How can anyone say anything and not fear the repercussions of their thoughts or words? The thin skin covering America - and indeed the world - needs to thicken and the entire political correctness bull needs to go right back out the window; it has served nothing and no one.

In other words, people, get over it and move on. There are much bigger issues in the world to be worried about than a careless word being thrown around that hurts individuals' feelings.

Yearly Self Interview: 2007

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

I started this little q&a with myself on my birthday, 2004, so here we go again:

Monday, Nov. 6, 2007
Age: 30

Who are you?
Shanna! Loud and proud to be THIRTY! I earned this hallmark in life, this numeric stamp of my earthly existence in this body. I am thrilled to be here...thank you very much. I am me - a woman molded and formed into the Shanna I am today by 30 years of hard knocks - I am everyone, a me that is learning that to know Self I must first realize my connectedness to everyone and everything else. I am an individual - yet I am every one and every thing. I am part of the whole, I am so much more than mysElf.

What religion do you practice?
Shannism...my own funky brand and blend of all the beautiful religions, truths, hints and nudges the universe provides and more. It truly has no name or label, it just is what I am...constantly evolving and changing as I do.

Are you in love with yourself?
Perhaps now more than ever before.

Do you trust yourself?
No, but we're working on that.

Name one thing you'd like to accomplish before your next birthday.
Getting my raise at work; in other words, being formally put into (and paid for) the position I'm already doing! It's been over five years...I've waited long enough. If it doesn't happen in the next year, then it's time to move on.

Where do you hope you'll be a year from now?
Vacationing in Tuscany...no, seriously. A girl's gotta have dreams.

What was your biggest accomplishment since your last birthday?
Keeping my sanity...it hasn't been an easy feat in the last year.

End with two quotes; one that sums up last year & one that reflects your wishes for the upcoming one:

"What is the truth of a human life, and who can find it? God Himself would be puzzled. In the midst of all this anguish and delight; this filth and this luminous purity; this fleshly body filled with hellfire, and this same body alight with heroism and beauty - where is the truth? God knows, or the devil knows - but I suspect they are both puzzled." - Isadora Duncan

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." - Anais Nin

Happy Birthday to Me.