October 24th was the event for Haunted: A Novel by Chuck Palahniuk. During the meeting, we each wrote down an adjective to describe the book, and then discussed which elements of the story best illustrated the word! Some of the words included: disgusting, sadistic, greedy, and confusing. Which words do YOU think best described the story and why? Special thanks to Very Awesome Girl Desiree for bringing Halloween candy and creepy, crawly treats to help celebrate the occasion! Extra thanks go out to Kimberly for sharing her thoughts on this month’s book. Check out her review below!
Review by Kimberly Hice
Haunted an uncomfortable novel. It is a story of what happens when a group of strangers are secluded in a writing retreat; three months without contact with the outside world, dedicated to crafting their masterpiece without interruption. In pieces alternating from present to the past, we learn the individual background of the strangers and their distressing reasons for wanting to hide in the retreat.
Palahniuk has crafted a story that is, at times, confusing to follow. If you can ignore the jarring shifts in story and random segues, every chapter is a look into the disgusting depths people will fall trying to obtain money, power, respect, or a thrill. It is a sadistic book with difficult to read subjects and occasional plot holes, but creative nonetheless. I have never squirmed out of my seat on the first chapter, but I had to physically turn away from the book because of how well it depicted a particularly horrifying scene. Haunted is something I recommend reading only a few chapters of at a time, with the expectation that it is not a happy story.
Kimberly’s Score: 3.5 / 5
Very Awesome Girl’s Average Score: 2.75 / 5
Learn more about Haunted: A Novel or purchase the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Haunted-A-Novel-Chuck-Palahniuk/dp/1400032822
Very Awesome Girls hosted their first annual charity car wash at the Pinball Hall of Fame on July 28, 2013. All proceeds from the event benefited the Shade Tree, a local shelter for women, children, and their pets. Aptly titled, “Car Wish,” guests had their cars washed and dried in exchange for five items from Shade Tree’s Urgent Needs List. Philanthropists could also make a monetary donation of at least $5 that would be used to purchase items off the non-profit’s wish list, such as toiletries, clothing, and food.
Good Samaritan and Marine Joshua Knefelkamp stopped by the event while on leave and was pleased with the results, stating, “The people were friendly and fast with the car wash.” He later joked that the 37 Very Awesome Girls worked so quickly and efficiently that he didn’t even have time to go into the Pinball Hall of Fame while waiting for his car to be cleaned! Volunteer Helen Medina commented, “I had a lot more fun than I thought I would washing cars in the heat. I was happy that so many people came to help out for an awesome cause. I didn’t expect to receive nearly as much donations as we got. I love doing these kinds of events because it just shows you how many people are willing to help out in their community.”
Some notable cars that came in to be washed included a Delorean,anda Jurassic Park styled jeep. Also recognizable was the heavily decaled Alternate Reality Comics car, belonging to local businessman Ralph Matthieu, an avid supporter of the Very Awesome Girls’ projects. Volunteer Lacey Schatz expressed the importance of spreading the word about the event, exclaiming, “I brought 4 cars alone with my big mouth, so I was proud of my friends and family.”
Head Geek in Charge Stephanie Payne congratulated attendees for their hard work and dedication on Sunday, posting on the Very Awesome Girl Facebook page, “At the end of the day, we washed almost 50 cars and have 3 full cars of donations. I also have $400 to go shopping with tonight for more supplies. I can not thank you enough for coming out to show support. Thanks to everyone!” Even the Shade Tree took to their computers to show their gratitude, tweeting, “Thank you @veryawesomegrls You girls ROCK! ” after the donations were delivered on July 30th.
To make a donation, click here.
2013 Car Wish
During the last weekend of June, about a dozen VAGs trekked up to Mt. Charleston here in Vegas for a two-day retreat. Most of us had been on work or church related retreats before, but VAGINA had never held our own before. What we were going to talk about? What if we didn’t know some of the other girls well enough to spend two days with them? What if we ran out of food?? (IMPOSSIBLE) Well, no worries, because everything went awesomely! The kind-hearted and cabin-owning Melanie Davis lent us her vacation spot starting Saturday morning, and, after a few hours of unpacking and settling in, we all settled easily into each other’s company. The wine didn’t hurt either, of course.
There was much hooping, some twerking, and one long 2-day conversation about EVERYTHING. No, really, everything. Sure, we talked about “girl things:” relationships, emotions, fears, why our hair is a jerk, etc. But we talked about lots of social issues too which are not exclusive to the ladies. We had long conversations about serious stuff like sexual assault, body shaming, healthy relationships with parents, and what it means to be loved. Girly? Maybe. Applicable to all races, ages, genders, and orientations? Absolutely.
We also had personal reflection activities where we wrote down our hopes and goals for ourselves over the next year. Letters to be opened a year from now in a patent-pending VAGINA time capsule (read: Zip-lock baggie) are residing and waiting in a safe location (read: my duffel bag.) The team-building exercise where groups of us built the tallest, most stable marshmallow and tooth pick tower went over very well, though it did leave us a bit sticky.
But it was the last activity on Sunday afternoon that was many girls’ personal favorite. We each took turns pairing off, one-on-one, face to face, with everyone else in the group to tell the other person why they were awesome. It could be anything from “You’re so enthusiastic and that’s really brave!” to “You’re the reason I wanted to stay in this group.” Whatever the thing that was said in honesty and openness, it stuck with each of the girls, both the giver and the receiver.
This one-on-one activity was, in my opinion, seriously needed for two reasons. One, we don’t always give ourselves the time to reach out to people who mean something to us. Not doing so does a disservice to the one who wants to say “thank you” and the person who needs to hear it. And two, WE ALL NEED TO HEAR GOOD, REAL THINGS ABOUT US. And we all deserve it too. Not just girls. All of us. Hopefully, this experience will also encourage everyone who took part in it to reach out to other people everyday, even if all that’s said is, “You’re awesome! Thanks for helping me!” or “That’s what I like about you most, how you’re always looking out for other people.” Because when we build community we’re not just building a meeting place to shelter bodies, or planting a garden to feed bellies; we’re building connections between people and shoving flying buttresses around those connections to make them ever stronger.
Sadly not all the girls in VAG could attend the retreat. So we thought we’d bring home a little bit of our one-on-one session and then share it with you. All the ladies in VAG will take a turn, and we’re going to keep going until we run out of members to thank and praise. Each VAG gets to write a short piece on any member she chooses. The theme is “Super Heroine Spotlight,” and the goal is to point out the awesomeness of each member by comparing her to a super heroine we admire. Now, there will be repeats in super heroes, of course. But what’s great about super heroes is that two people can look at Agent Maria Hill and see two different sets of awesomeness about her. (Yes, she’s a super hero. She doesn’t need a darn cape!) Even if we have repeats, I know this won’t be a redundant feature.
Our first volunteer is Ari Limbrick who wrote about Nicole Schlaff. Side note? There are like four Nicoles in VAGINA, and I have to come up with rhymes for all of them to remember who is who. Nicole Schlaff makes me laugh. See? Anyway…
Super Heroine Spotlight Presents…..
…Nicole Schlaff as Barbara Gordon, Batgirl, and Oracle
Upon meeting Nicole, you might think that she’s some sweet little innocent girl. You would be wrong in that assumption. Nicole, just like Barbara Gordon, is a badass in disguise. She might seem all super cute and sweet, because that truly is her exterior. She is easy to get along with and has this upbeat personality, so that might lead you to believe she would be a pushover. Trust me, she is not. This girl is not afraid to speak her mind or give her opinion. She has challenged a VAGINA member to a lightsaber duel, got her nose pierced in the middle of a sleepover, and was highly critical of her own boyfriend’s performance in a Batman fan-film. Like Barbara Gordon, Nicole is honest. She has integrity, and she does not mind showing it or owning it, even if she may walk on the vigilante side of the line. As Batgirl, Barbara Gordon was inspired to fight crime outside of the system in the style of Batman and not her father, Jim Gordon, however, she still retains that sense of justice, and doesn’t let anyone make light of her for being a girl. Nicole embraces being a strong independent female, just like Batgirl, and she enjoys supporting other females in their goals.
When Barbara Gordon became Oracle, she had to adjust to a different way of crime fighting. Nicole isn’t a paraplegic, nor is she a l33t h4x0r, but she knows how to do her research and dig for information. Her dream job is to work in a library, and be a librarian, or work at the reference desk. When you think about it, before the internet became the “thing”, people actually went to a library to look for information. You either poured through microfiche, combed through the card catalog stacks, or if you were lazy like me you would ask the librarian, and she would know exactly where to look. She would probably give you other recommendations you hadn’t thought of, or point you in the direction of exactly what you needed. That is how I would imagine Nicole as a librarian. She’d be the coolest one who would just give you all this advice on the best books you had never even considered before. She would be so animated and infectious when talking about her favorite books that you would want to read them. She’d be that wealth of information just like Oracle is.
To me, Nicole embodies all facets of Barbara Gordon past and present. As a young girl, I always imagined that Barbara Gordon would be a cool friend to have. Someone who would totally get you and understand you because she can easily empathize, yet still be able to tell you when you are wrong or she disagrees. She’d be someone who would be there to offer their support when needed, and not really ever have to be asked to give it. Someone who’s daring and not afraid to take risks. Someone who can take a joke and laugh, yet still take their job seriously. Someone who is just fun to be around. Nicole is just that type of friend.