Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Books 2017 - Post 3

I know what you all need today. You need to hear all of my opinions about the books I've been reading lately. Right? Right.

But first, a funny meme about books.

Tuesdays with Morrie - Mitch Albom. Am I a terrible person if I didn't like this book as much as other people like this book? The poignancy and life lessons learned felt a little forced to me.  

The Underground Railroad - Colson Whitehead. Greg got me this book for Mother's Day because he's an amazing human being. This book was thought-provoking. It re-imagines the Underground Railroad of the antebellum south as an actual underground railroad, with conductors and trains and everything. It blends really, really authentic historical fiction with the fantastical in a way that I don't know if I've seen done before. That allows Whitehead to discuss a variety of social themes touching on the African American experience throughout American history in a way he probably couldn't have done otherwise. You grow to really care about the main character, Cora, but beware: this book is sad, and kind of graphic at times. It will never be one of my favorite books but I'm glad I read it. 

Kaffir Boy - Mark Mathabane. I first read Mathabane in high school, and I just always remembered the name. This is a memoir of Mathabane growing up in the ghetto in South Africa during apartheid. Out of all the heinous things in his life, it just BLOWS my mind that apartheid government systematically destroyed black families (among other atrocities). Blacks were sent to live on tribal lands and could only work in cities if they had a permit and a job. No one wanted to live on desert tribal lands because there was no way to support a family, but women weren't allowed to bring families to cities if they didn't have jobs. So what ended up happening is that men lived in the ghetto in government dorm style housing and women stayed on the impoverished tribal land--and never saw their families. If families did live together in the ghetto, they often did so illegally, and their children grew up terrified of police brutality. Reading this heart-breaking memoir just reiterated my belief about how important strong families are for the health of a society. Anyway, great read. I love memoirs. 

The Elephant Whisperer - Lawrence Anthony. So this book also took place in South Africa, and it was very informative to read both books together--one written from the perspective of a young black in the ghetto of Johannesburg, and one written by an older white man who was trying to run a game reserve in Zululand. This is also the first audio book I have listened to by myself...usually when I do audiobooks it is so Greg and I can listen to something together. While it was super nice to have something good to listen to while I was doing dishes or driving or whatever, I kind of missed the smell of the paper, turning back a few pages to reread something, seeing the beautiful African names spelled out...I don't know. I'm old-fashioned I guess. Anyway, I now LOVE elephants and this book was beautiful...perhaps even overly sentimental at times. This made me want to read more from Lawrence Anthony. Also I really really need to go on a safari. One day, it'll happen. One day. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


It's funny to look back on blog posts.

Most of my recent posts have been musings on books, quick picture dumps, stories about vacations. It's a very different place than it was when this blog started. And that's fine. It's a good thing.

But I look back at how open and vulnerable I used to be on this blog, especially about infertility and miscarriage, and you know, that was good too. I just haven't blogged that way in awhile, and since I'm out of practice I guess it's been hard to transition back to that place where I was willing to put myself out there. I did it because I wanted support and I wanted to remember, but I also did it as a way to increase overall awareness about the scary, heartbreaking, black abyss that is infertility and child loss.

So now it's like....can I do that again?

Don't read too much into this, you guys. The last thing I need it a bunch of people making assumptions about when we're going to add more kids to our family. SO DON'T DO IT, OKAY??? Guess what, I don't know if you're aware of this, but I have NO CONTROL when it comes to these things. NOOOONNNNNNNEEEEE.

But obviously it's been on my mind, which is natural when you have an almost two year old and you don't want her to grow up alone.

I guess all that I'm trying to say is that I'm kind of sad today. I am so grateful for Brynn, but I sort of feel like I'm on a time crunch to provide her with a sibling. I wish I could do that for her. But you know, time crunches and fertility don't mix with me. I thought it would be easier this time around to jump back into the heartache and the uncertainty and the disappointment and the humiliation.

How I wish a miracle would just drop out of the sky, and make it all easy and fast and safe. But you know? My miracles take more the form of healing--not avoiding the wounds. Um, but really though, could I get some of those wound-avoiding miracles? Just this once? Could I pass on the waiting and the money down the drain and the feelings of inferiority? Please?

I'd like to acknowledge right here that we all have our trials. Comparing trials to those that others are going through is, frankly, stupid. Everybody goes through hard things, whether those things are visible or not. The fact that I'm sad about my trials in this moment doesn't mean I don't see the pain of other people going through different trials. Anyway. Just thought I'd throw that out there.

But here I am, and I'm here to say infertility and miscarriage suck. I've seen it hurt some of my best friends and my beloved family members in the last few years. Today it is making me feel heavy. I am weary of it, which is challenging, because my experience tells me I have years to go before I will smell that new baby smell and feel in my heart, Mine. 

Hello, my name is Heather, and I'm sad today. These things don't go away. They stick around. They make us stronger. They make us grateful. They make us kind.

But today it makes me sad.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Books 2017 - Post 2

I didn't think I would write another book post so soon, but I've read a few more and I might as well record them while Brynn is playing.

The Perpetual Now - Michael Lemonick. Tells the story of an artist whose brain was damaged by a virus, to the point where she can't form new memories and therefore cannot access old ones either. Learning about the brain was interesting, especially when told in such an anecdotal way, but I found the book a little repetitive at times.

The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver. I started this once in college but, you know, sometimes it was hard to read books for fun when I was reading approximately 5672 pages every week just to keep up in class. I really loved this book. A family of missionaries goes to the Congo for a year at the time of independence from Belgium, and their lives become totally intertwined with Africa. I found the character of the despicable father to be believable at the beginning of the book, but perhaps less so as the book went on. I wished he was more involved at the end of the book but I think the way that his character was handled was very conscious on Kingsolver's part. This book was so intelligently written. I wished I understood the politics/history behind the US's involvement in the Congo revolution better, because I think it would be beneficial to get another perspective. Anyway, I highly recommend this.

Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck. Heartbreaking. Amazing how Steinbeck gets you to care so much about so many characters in such a short book.

A Thousand Miles to Freedom - Eunsun Kim. A memoir written by a woman who escaped North Korea. Perhaps written a little simplistically, but I think that only adds to the sincerity and humility of the message, and the overall power of the book. It made me want to be more educated about the Korean situation.