Random Episode #111

What has everyone been up to?  It seems like we’ve all been too exhausted to blog much lately.  I don’t know about you guys, but I’m blaming mine on this huge belly I’ve been lugging around.  I’m down to about 7 weeks left, which is great because my belly is outgrowing my maternity work shirts at an astonishing rate.  Other baby planning is going well.  I’ve picked up lots of stuff at local thrift stores.  There are so many great finds there with tags still on them.  We’re missing a crib and a car seat/stroller, so that’s kinda important.  I’m going to try and hit some stationary stores in town looking for fantastic paper for birth announcements this Saturday.  I’ve been on meds now for a few weeks, and I’m feeling alright.  I’m almost even getting excited.  I’m hoping to keep up the momentum so my nerves don’t get the better of me as the day creeps closer.

DH is out training, so I’ve been lounging around home getting lonely.

I got some of my veggies started for the spring.  I have cucumbers for pickling, green beans, and potatoes started.  I want to get a tomato plant, a pepper plant, and strawberries maybe this weekend.  It’s going to be fantastic!!  There’s a tater tub thing at Walmart that I’m trying this season.  It comes with everything for like $12ish and grows fingerling size potatoes all in this black bucket with a lift out insert to check on the potatoes as they grow.  I’m super excited to see if it works out.  Oh, and I’m sure I’ll pick up some flowers sometime too, but I want to maximize my veggie growing season before it gets too hot down here.

I’ve been reading a ton of great books, but I want to give those their own space.  So…just wait longer.

My parents came and visited about two weeks ago or so just for the weekend.  We had a great time, although we didn’t really do much.  We went and saw Riverdance, and I was a bit bummed because I’ve seen it once before and this time it seemed like a slimmed down version.  It wasn’t a grand feeling like it was last time I saw it.  Anyway, we did a lot of non-baby things and some baby things, so it was a nice mix.  Short but sweet.

Ugh, taxes are here again.  My W-2s got all screwed up, so I’ve been waiting on those to get corrected before I can start.  And for some reason two of my interest bearing accounts didn’t send me 1099-INT forms this year.  Seriously??  Is the universe trying to stress me to the max right before this baby gets here?  I hate tax season…

So that’s what I’ve been up to.  With DH out on a suck-fest right now, maybe I’ll get reacquainted with the blog world.

Love And Black Elephants During Wartime

Over the holidays I finished one of the new books from University of Nebraska Press.  Black Elephants by Karol Nielsen was a quick pleasure to read.  The book is Nielsen’s memoir of falling in love and the evolution of her relationship with an Israeli man during the first Gulf War.

I was drawn to the book because it was a different kind of war story.  I’m used to reading war history, but I live war in a certain way.  I wanted to read something that described the “invisible casualties” like I feel and deal with when I live war.

I love how Nielsen describes in the book how much war does affect people without them realizing it.  She lived in Israel during the Gulf War, but the mental ramifications of the conflict haunt her relationship forever.  People cannot be left untouched by war regardless of their role in it, and the full extent to which they are changed comes out slowly.  It’s a cautionary tale as much as it is a personal memoir.

I really identify with Nielsen and her struggles even though I haven’t lived war or attempted to assimilate into a different culture like she did.  She wrestles with how much of herself to let go into this new relationship, especially when the war is changing what exactly that is to begin with.  She wrestles with loving and living with a person who is equally traumatized by war.  She wrestles with wanting something badly but knowing that something is wrong at the same time.  She describes a very human experience that I think most can relate to even if war has never touched their lives.  She really wants to save someone, but that someone ends up being herself.

The book is a very quick read because Nielsen’s writing is effortless.  Much as I’m sure she does, readers are left wishing for a different outcome at the end but knowing that it could not have been different.  As lonely as Nielsen made the war and surviving it seem, the less alone it made me feel for butting heads with the effects of war in my own home.

Book Review: Restless In Carolina

I was quite bummed to hear about Blogging for Books new policies.  They have been tweaking the contest/giveaway rules for a few months now, and I didn’t care much about it since I’m not in it to get the highest ranking.  But then I got an email saying that Blogging for Books is only offering ebooks for the majority of people while the highest ranking bloggers get to order regular books like usual.  Boo!  I understand why they’re doing it, but I don’t want an ebook.  I spend enough time at my computer.  So unfortunately this will probably be my last review for Blogging for Books. 😦

Restless in Carolina by Tamara Leigh is a romance.  I know, I know.  It’s not my usual flavor, but I was branching out.  I was pleasantly surprised that the main character, Bridget, is a well-rounded and intriguing character.  She is passionate about environmentalism and being an individual amongst her traditional, stuffy, Southern family.  It even impressed me more that by the end of the book all those characteristics weren’t thrown out the door because the right man walked in it.  It has all the makings of a romance, but with the added emphasis of faith, family, and finding where she belongs in between, Restless in Carolina was a refreshing read.

Madness

I picked up the book Madness by Marya Hornbacher recently.  I’ve been feeling horrible and isolated and was looking for something when a patron returned it and said it was one of the best books they’ve read in a long time.  It’s a memoir of a bipolar life, and I took it home to see if it did the subject of mental illness justice.

I’ve read depression memoirs before, notably William Styron’s Darkness Visible, and was disappointed.  I always searched for the words I couldn’t put to my own feelings.  I guess I thought professional authors or at least someone who wrote well enough to get published could articulate the struggle better than myself.  I was wrong.  It’s never the right words unless they’re yours.  Anyway, I was willing to give Madness a try.

I’ve only just started, but I’m impressed and honestly a little scared by the book.  The book is good.  Really good.  So good that the feelings Hornbacher describes feel a bit too real.  I feel like my current lowness is feeding off the emotions in the book, and I’m not sure that’s so good right now.  There’s a few songs that I used the last time through this, and I still can’t listen to them without being sent back to the bottom of the pit.  This book might hit too close to home like that.

I don’t know if people who haven’t been through this fully grasp that we don’t know.  We don’t always know why we’re feeling this way or what will make us feel worse.  We don’t always understand what we need from others.  We’re hurting and we just want to feel better.  I get that from Madness, and I’m already getting the sense that she doesn’t have answers either.  I need to quit looking for them, I know, but I’m always surprised at how little I find comfort in knowing that others feel just as isolated inside themselves as I do.

I know I’m not giving a very good image of the book right now, but I really am enjoying it.  My mood just isn’t cooperating right now.

Review: The Corruptible

Another mil spouse blogger was talking about a really cool sounding program that I decided to check out.  It’s called Blogging for Books, and it’s done by Multnomah Press.  I’ll be honest, I was initially intrigued by the opportunity for free books, and I decided to give it a try.

Multnomah Press is primarily a Christian publisher, but there are a range of books if those don’t pique your interest.  You selected a book that is mailed to you free, and you then have 90 days to read and review it.  As soon as you’ve posted a review to your blog, their site, and a commercial site like Amazon, you can request another one.  That’s it.  There’s a rating system on their site that I haven’t gotten very far into yet since this is my first review for Multnomah Press, but there are prizes for top rated reviews.  Personally, free books alone are enough to motivate me, but the prizes look pretty nice.  Anyway, that’s what I’m trying.  I’ll have to let you know how it goes.

The first title I chose is the Corruptible by Mark Mynheir.  It is the second in a series of books based on a character named Ray Quinn.  Ray Quinn, a new private investigator and ex-cop, takes a seemingly easy job retrieving stolen corporate information for a company that is into more than it lets on. Battling a bad leg and alcoholism, Quinn relies on his sidekick Crevis to help untangle the case that quickly involves a motorcycle gang, druggie ex-girlfriends, and a dead suspect. The further he goes into the case, the less Quinn is sure what side of the case he should really be on.

Even though The Corruptible is the second book in the series, I didn’t feel like missed anything and could easily jump right into the action—action that is likened to just about everything under the sun. The author overloads you with similes on almost every page. The book is extremely easy to read and entertaining, but his descriptions get a bit funny at times. An ex-cop himself, Mynheir knows his police procedure and lingo. It’s a lot like reading an episode of Law & Order. You feel like it’s authentic, there are a few twists, but it all neatly wraps up by the end and you feel good about the characters. Crevis, his sidekick, was my favorite character and added some depth to the story as did the sideline about catching the internet spammer. It was fun to read and I’d be interested to see where Mynheir takes the series, but I wouldn’t call it high literature by any means.

Potpourri Episode 1

I read Tina Fey’s book Bossypants recently, and I had to share.  I usually stay away from all celebrity books.  Just because they are famous for something doesn’t mean they can write or even have something interesting to say.  I don’t find how to deal with my “momager” or how to make my skin look great by eating only sprouts and cottage cheese useful information anyway.  Tina Fey’s book is none of those things.  It’s hilarious, and her writing experience really shines through.  I would put it on your summer reading list if you have time.

DH is gone on TDY (army lingo-temporary duty-away on business…catch up civies!).  It’s sleep diagonally and holding the remote time!

Oh, and with my newly acquired free time I’ve drug out an old project that I had barely gotten started on.  I’m making the picnic blouse from Sew Liberated.  I’ve put away the yarn and hook for awhile.  I’ve made three baby hats and a blanket and have two more hats to go for my coworker, but I wanted to capitalize on the empty dining room table while DH was gone.  I’m seriously thinking about getting some super nice (expensive) bamboo yarn and working on a big blanket.  I really enjoy keeping my hands busy while I watch tv in the evenings.  Maybe after I get done with the blouse.

I met an old friend from school for supper.  She’s down here for school before she gets stationed overseas.  We did our bachelor’s and master’s together, and she’s really cool.  She did her law degree and her master’s at the same time. I know…wha?!?

My annual vacation with Red got canceled this year due to a sudden babysitter cancellation.  We’re so bummed.  We currently have no plans to reschedule, but I’m looking at my summer plans to see if I can go visit her anyway.  It all depends on DH’s training schedule, which has yet to be nailed down more firmly than just “in and out all fall.”  Thanks.  In other Red news, she’s having baby #2!!

I found this super sweet  framed art of three lighthouse prints at the local thrift mall.  $15 and it’s already framed and matted to match my living room!  I looked up the artist (Doug Brega), and he’s very well known for doing coastline prints of New England.  I got these prints for a steal compared to what galleries were selling them for.  He has one in fog that looked great too and is going on the wish list.

So that’s what’ I’ve been up to.  I’ve had a hiccup the last week or two and have been feeling really low.  I’m not exactly sure what triggered it, but it’s been really significant and worrying.  We’re trying to keep tabs on it, but we’re also considering therapy again.  If I have time while DH is gone, maybe I can delve into that further.  We’ll see.

Book Review: Treason on the Airwaves

The University of Nebraska Press was wonderful enough to send me another book to read and comment on.  Judith Keene’s Treason on the Airwaves:  Three Allied Broadcasters on Axis Radio during World War II initially appealed to me because, well, why wouldn’t it with a title like that?

The author teaches in Australia, and I think it definitely added a worldly attitude toward the topic.  American authors really struggle to approach world events outside of themselves.  This text was free of the basis and American flavor that can distract from solid facts.

I thought Keene established very clear, distinct chapters but to a fault.  There was very little segue and transition between the three case studies.  It also felt like instead of explaining why these three people were particularly important treason cases during World War II, Keene merely illustrated wartime propaganda through these specific individuals.  She could have done so much more with the topic.  That being said, I learned a ton that I hadn’t known before.  Her writing is clear, although I found she made some assumptions with terminology that made it obvious it wasn’t an introductory text.

Keene says on page x of the preface that writing the book “made [her] aware of the strain in the relationship between the individual, the citizen and the nation.”  I loved this quote!  I can’t think of a more succinct way of expressing how it sometimes feels to be part of a military family.  Sometimes it’s difficult to balance your self and your personal wants/opinions/needs with the job and lifestyle.  I’ve heard several people talk out in the bloggity world about being conflicted about wearing peace signs while being a mil spouse for example.  And we’re all told to hold our tongues a bit when it comes to politics because our big boss is the President and whether or not we agree, that’s where our orders are coming from.  As deployments and long work days stack up, even the most dedicated to the military get cranky and want a break.  We’re strained, but we do our best.

I think Keene attempted to show how her three examples were trying to do their best too.  As POWs, they thought they were doing something with their limited means.  Perhaps the individual slice of the pie started to outweigh the citizen and nation slices, or at least that’s how the courts decided.  The circle of individual, citizen, and nation is fluid and continually changing.  I don’t know if the same decision would be made today.  Look at the WikiLeaks guy for instance.

As part of my military history degree, I looked a lot at the relationship of the citizen soldier, and I think Keene’s statement speaks to that a lot too.  Every person is all three entities at once regardless of their connection with the military.  We have the potential and duty to fulfill all roles at some point.  Soldiers and their families have to do that a bit more consciously and way more often, but we are all here working toward a better country and community.

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