Well, that was fun

Yeah, so I’m back from Reynoldsburg, Ohio, where they held an event today to honor the missing children of Ohio. Although I showed up in an unofficial capacity only, I had a blast.

I mainly came cause Gina DeJesus, one of the Cleveland kidnap survivors, was speaking. The event was at the Messiah Lutheran Church. I showed up slightly late and had to sit in the back. There were several speakers before Gina, and I spent some time trying to figure out which one of the people sitting in the audience was her. It was fairly easy because half or more of the attendees were black, and most of the rest were white. I zeroed in on two brown-skinned women in the front but couldn’t figure out which one was Gina. They turned out to be Gina and her older sister Myra.

My view from the back of the church; Gina is on the right and Myra is on the left.
My view from the back of the church during the sisters’ speeches; Gina is on the right and Myra is on the left.

Anyway, Gina read a speech off several sheets of paper about how it was important to pay attention to missing persons bulletins, and it was important to pay attention to your surroundings and the people in your neighborhood and so on because you never knew who might be hiding something. I mean, people went inside Ariel Castro’s house and had no clue about the women held captive there. I think a lot of that is because the idea that your friend, neighbor or relative might have three kidnapped women locked in his basement is just something that would not occur to most people.

Myra spoke also, and talked about what life was like having a missing family member. One of the things she mentioned was how a man known to the family told her parents, reassuringly, something like “Don’t worry, they won’t find her dead.

That man was named Ariel Castro.

There was an intermission before a middle school choir showed up to sing a song. I went around talking to people — not Gina, I was not sure whether to approach her or not at that point — and handing out business cards. There were booths about various topics set up in the lobby and an adorable remote-controlled talking boat that went around telling people about boat safety. I told the boat about the time I nearly drowned in Lake Michigan at age five, failing to mention the fact that this near-tragedy did not involve a boat, just some poorly supervised beach time.

Me and the talking robot boat.
Me and the talking robot boat.
Gina (far right) with members of the anti human trafficking group Break Every Chain.
Gina (far right) with members of the anti human trafficking group Break Every Chain.

So after all that was over we had a balloon release in the parking lot. Fortunately the wind cooperated.

Just before the balloon release.
Just before the balloon release.
Post balloon release. Each one has a missing child's name attached.
Post balloon release. Each one has a missing child’s name attached.

Just before we all left, I decided to approach Gina after seeing some other people do so. We didn’t really talk but she consented to have her photo taken with me before we parted ways. I wish I had remembered to smile in the picture. It was one of those days where it was cloudy out (it rained later) but the light hurt your eyes anyway, and I was squinting so hard I forgot about smiling.

Gina DeJesus (right) and me.
Gina DeJesus (right) and me.

And then I went home.

Altogether it was a most profitable visit. I made some contacts and hope to return next  year.

Interview with The Scold

I was interviewed by Marli Kaufmann for The Scold, a small online magazine directed at women. Marli is an old friend of mine whom I met while we were both attending Hendrix College in Arkansas. She interviewed me by email in February. Initially she was going to write a regular article about the Charley Project, but she liked my interview answers so much that she decided to just post the whole thing as-is.

So check it out: Meet the Woman Who Catalogs the Missing, published on March 8.

My “Unfound” podcast interview

Although Ed Dentzel released the podcast on I think Tuesday, I didn’t mention it on my blog till today cause I wanted to listen to the whole thing. (Why that was, I don’t know; I’d heard the whole thing already, when I gave the interview in the first place.) Well, Michael and his parents and I listened to it all this afternoon and it turned out great. I wish I hadn’t talked so fast though. My apologies if people have trouble understanding me.

The entire podcast — the introduction, interview and after-interview statement — is 1 hour and 12 minutes long. And I would recommend you guys turn up your volumes a bit.

It’s on Podomatic and on Stitcher and on iTunes.

Some more “UnFound” podcasts

The guy who does the “UnFound” podcasts has just released three more. (My links for the MPs’ names direct you to their Charley Project casefiles; click on the “UnFound” link above to see the podcasts.) There’s:

The podcaster, Ed Dentzel, interviewed me by phone on September 21. We talked for about an hour, and afterwards, at his request, I emailed him a bunch of stuff. The September call was actually what they call a pre-interview. The real, public interview will be next week. In the meantime, Ed is going to send me an outline of how he’d like the interview to go, what questions he plans to ask me, etc., for me to examine and suggest possible changes if needs be.

Regarding that podcast

I had mentioned that a guy who does podcasts about missing people was going to interview me this past Friday. Well, we did talk for an hour and he seemed absolutely fascinated by me and asked all sorts of questions and I wound up telling him all sorts of stuff about the inner workings on the Charley Project. And then I sent him some emails with more stuff, some links to some of the cases I’d mentioned him, info about the social media, etc.

The talk I had with him was actually a “pre-interview”, though. I’ve done those before. Basically it’s a rehearsal for the actual interview: the interviewer and interviewee talk and together they basically figure out a general plan for how the interview will go and what questions will be asked and so on.

Pre-interviews can be very important, especially if the actual interview is live. I was once interviewed on Skype by a TV station in Colombia. The interviewer spoke English, but her accent was so pronounced that several times I had to say “I didn’t understand that, can you repeat it? And maybe say it more slowly?” This was in the pre-interview, thank goodness, because in a live interview that would have been a big mess. But I learned what she was saying and during the actual interview there were no misunderstandings of that kind.

So my actual Charley Project interview on this person’s podcast won’t be done for another few weeks — I sent him a lot of material to look over and he wants to do it right, and this isn’t going to be like a two-minute sound bite type thing. But here’s his podcast on iTunes. They’re all free. He just put out four new episodes. He did mention that all the shows together total 6 1/2 hours in length, so listen at your own risk.

Podcast on Friday

A guy named Ed Dentzel emailed asking if I could do an interview for a missing persons podcast her does. He wrote saying,

“Part of the format is I do interviews for the show. I’ve done interviews with writers, mothers of the disappeared, friends of the missing, and some bloggers. I’d love to have you on the show some time to tell everyone what goes on behind the scenes at the Charley Project. As you know, it is probably THE website for missing persons and my listeners would like to hear how it all works.”

That is extremely kind. I wrote back saying yes of course, and we exchanged phone numbers. He says probably it will be Friday. I’m available all day Friday except between roughly 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

So you can hear me all then!