Tuesday, September 21, 2010


colum I have been wanting to read the book Columbine by Dave Cullen for months now.  I’ve had it on my PBS wish list, but the numbers have never gone down substantially.  This past week, I started taking Leah to Mother Goose story hour at our local library and while we were wandering around afterwards, I spotted the book in the lobby and snagged it.  After finishing Moloka’i, I knew I would have to find something similarly gripping, and I hoped Columbine would be it.

I was not disappointed.  Before I sat down, I tried to recall the things I thought I knew about Columbine.  When it happened, my husband and I were on our first vacation as a couple together.  We had gotten a condo down in Myrtle Beach SC (with my mom! haha)  and were spending a lot of time as beach bums, but that morning, Mom had gotten a call or something that there was something going on and to put on CNN.  We spent the entire day watching the events unfold.  I remember watching “The Boy in the Window” being rescued and the kids streaming out of the building to safety.  I remembered Cassie Bernall’s story of martyrdom, I remembered the Trench Coat Mafia, and the names of the killers, Eric and Dylan.  I remembered one teacher had been killed.  Other than that, I didn’t remember a whole lot. 

The book reads like a novel.  It is so interesting.  Cullen is considered one of the foremost journalism experts on what happened at Columbine and he used his considerable research to write a book that covers Eric Harris’s detailed planning and psychopathy, as well as Dylan Klebold’s suicidal depression and dependence on Eric.  Cullen read through the boys’ journals and watched their tapes, interviewed witnesses and family members of the victims, and meticulously detailed everything to write a book so gripping and compelling that I was reading it straight through for several days in whatever bits and pieces I could.  If I could read a paragraph, I literally would take the opportunity to do so.

Most of what I thought I knew about Columbine turned out to be false.  Harris and Klebold weren’t a couple of losers who hatched a hare-brained scheme to get back at the jocks at school.  They weren’t members of a goth gang of kids.  Cassie Bernall was never asked if she believed in God by the killers nor did she profess her faith before she was shot.  I was so happy to read about The Boy in the Window (Patrick Ireland) and other survivors and hear about their recoveries and what happened to many of them.  It was interesting to hear about how families of those killed dealt with their grief in constructive and destructive ways.

Additionally, what went on after the massacre took place may shock you as much as what went on before and during.  This was a great book and Michael and I talked a lot about it while I was reading.  Oddly enough, he and I were married on the anniversary of the Columbine attack, 3 years later.  Neither of us remembered that it had occurred that day when we were planning our wedding and were reminded after setting the planning wheels in motion. 

5 Stars on GoodReads.com  Highly recommended!  This also counts towards my “What’s In a Name?” Challenge total, as a title with a plant name in it.  Columbine is Colorado’s state flower, and as you can see, it is a beautiful plant.


Thursday, September 16, 2010


It’s been a while since I did a book review.  This is for two reasons.

  1. I haven’t felt like reading much.
  2. I’ve had a book hanging over my head for book club that I Did. Not. Want. To. Read.

Every year when the calendar ticks over on a book club year, I make a solemn vow that I will read every single book.  And every year I fail miserably.  Someone always picks a book about a topic that does not interest me, and this year was no different with 2 books focused on Asia.

Then Melissa joins the book club and due to her attendance record in her early membership and someone else dropping out, I let her pick the September book.  And she chose Moloka’i by Alan Brennert.  She chose this based on the fact that Lesley liked the book so well and blogged about it in 2009.  She seems to like the books that Lesley reads and she spends a lot of time not liking the books that I like to read.  This is hilarious.  Lesley and Melissa are both two of the best friends a girl could ask for, and neither one of them has any taste in literature.  Haha  I say this because I hate everything either one of them loves.  It’s a wonder we’re friends.

So when I found out that Melissa chose it due to Lesley’s glowing review, I immediately knew I was going to hate it.  I went to Lesley’s blog and read her review and thought, “Well, crap.”  And reading a summary of the book induced similar thoughts.  Because, a) I have no interest in the history of Hawai’i and b) sweeping epic novels of any sort of history just turn me off almost immediately.  That’s why I’ve been unsuccessfully attempting to read Gone With the Wind for 3 years now.  Moloka’i spans something like 70+ years. 

Still, I went over to a local bookstore and picked up a copy when a search of my local library proved fruitless and the list on Paperback Swap wasn’t getting any shorter.  I figured I could always swap it for something else.  I read the first several chapters in early August and then put it aside.  There was something about it that was already way too sad and I couldn’t bear the thought of reading about Rachel being torn from her family and forced to live in a colony far away from the people she loved.

31 Before I get any further ahead of myself, Moloka’i is the story of Rachel Kalama, a 7-year-old living in Hawai’i with her mother, sister, and two brothers.  Her father is a sailor and is away from home for months at a time, but is a devoted family man.  Hansen’s Disease (commonly known as leprosy) has broken out in Hawai’i at the same time the government is being deposed, and young Rachel contracts the disease.  She is found out as being a leper and sent off to the leper colony at Moloka’i, far from her family and home and beloved father.  The book is a testament to Rachel’s strength from the beginning to the end of her life, as I say from age 7 to well into her 70’s.

On Sunday, with book club looming on Monday, I decided to re-visit Moloka’i.  I wanted to at least give it an honest effort.  As I  first began to read, I was totally overwhelmed with sadness.  I literally cried every 2 or 3 pages.  But I was also increasingly captivated by Rachel’s story.  I can’t tell you why exactly.  As I went along, my tears dried up, and in fact, I became almost numb to the death and destruction that was apparently commonplace in a leper colony. Even when my favorite character, Henry, dies later on in the book (I’m really not giving anything away, given the span of time the book covers and the subject matter, you can bet most people will be dead by the time you close the back cover), I felt strangely removed from the grief I felt early on in the book.  I started to think maybe something was wrong with me.

Anyway, I didn’t get the last 70 pages read in time for book club.  We had an amazing meeting, literally laughing and crying together, renaming the club B*tches with Books, and just had one of those magical meetings I will remember for a long time.  As member Lauren put it, “There was definitely something in the air tonight.”  But when I got home, I was more determined than ever to finish Moloka’i.  I picked up in bits and pieces what happened at the end, but in fact, I didn’t feel like the discussion ruined anything for me.  I still felt pretty surprised by what went on.  And when I read the Endnote, the floodgates opened, and I had myself a good cry.

Moloka’i is, God strike me dead, an amazing book that Lesley may have been right about.  Hey, it was bound to happen sooner or later!!!  I did tend to skim the Hawai'ian folk lore sections and the mythology, but I loved reading the character’s reactions to modern inventions like airplanes and movies when they were brought to Moloka’i.  This was a great book and I highly recommend it.  Just have a box of tissues handy at the beginning and the end.  Five Stars on GoodReads.com

Book Challenges:

This book  counts as a “Bad Blogger” book for the Twenty-Ten Challenge and as my Place Name book for the What's In a Name challenge.  I need to read 2 more for WIAN? and 5 more for Twenty-Ten.  Woo hoo!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Ready for a Break

This past two months has been tiring with all the business going on with my arm, but the past several weeks have been a nightmare of activity!!! 

Tonight, I am sitting in the basement coloring in price tags so they’re the correct color for the upcoming consignment sale at which I plan to sell of a bunch of baby clothes that either got dumped here in May or else were Leah’s.  So I spent last night sorting clothes and today Cindy came over and we re-sorted and tagged most of it.  Since she’s left, I’ve gotten all but the 0-3 month clothes tagged and bagged.  Which means as soon as I think I’m done, I’ll find stuff I missed.

This week we had a lot of appointments.  Penny had 2 events at school plus a meeting with her AFS liaison, and I had 3 medical appointments for my arm.  After my last orthopedist appointment on Thursday, I noticed Leah had developed some sort of rash around her mouth and wound up taking her to the doctor.  Fortunately, she is fine and has nothing more than a bad cold.  Unfortunately, she has shared the cold with her big sister, so now both girls are miserable and stuck in bed.  Happily, on my own health front, I have completed physical therapy successfully (and made a new friend in the process!) and have been discharged from the orthopedist.  I am allowed to lift up to 30 pounds and drive again (little did they know!).  The risk of re-dislocating my elbow is slim to none.  It would have to be another gross act of stupidity on my part.  So that’s a huge relief to know, although I am not terribly graceful so it’s possible I could do something else idiotic at any moment!

All this week, The Chief has been taking a class up at Quantico.  He has had to go in early, which means he has had to take the train, which means I’ve had to get up early to drive over there.  I thought today would be the last day, but unfortunately for me, his regular driver will be on a much-deserved vacation until Wednesday, so Tuesday, which is Penny’s first day of school and Leah’s first day of school (I’ve signed her up for Toddlin’ Time, a local music and exercise Mommy N Me program here in town), I also have to squeeze in a ride to and from the train station.

Housekeeping, needless to say, has fallen by the wayside.  I managed to get the rabbit cleaned out this week and I cleaned out the fridge.  Other than that: nothing.  Which means I have a lot of catching up I need to do. 

Recently, a link to The Introvert's Corner appeared on a new friend’s Facebook page.  I read over a lot of it, and really related to the idea that my energy comes from internally, meaning I need time to myself to recharge my batteries and be the best me I can be.  Keeping up with my family has not afforded me much opportunity to do so!  I admit, I am loving every minute of having Penny here, and I do think I’m going to feel a little bit (ok, a lot bit) lost come Tuesday when she boards the big yellow school bus and heads off to school.  But I am looking forward to getting Leah back on a schedule that allows me to have an hour or two each day to myself.  I am exhausted.

It’s funny, but all this has turned my thoughts towards family and expansion.  I have 3 friends right now who are pregnant and expecting early next year.  2 of them already have young children at home, and 2 of their children are not much older than Leah is.  And I’ll be honest, there is nothing in this world that could entice me right now to take on a newborn.  I think, “My God, you must be crazy!”  Leah is at a stage right now where she does not give a damn about toys or TV.  There are 3 things in the world that make her happy:  running through the house in her shoes, playing with buckets of water on the back porch, and taking walks around the neighborhood.  Period.  The idea that I could go back to getting up every 2 hours with a newborn and then have to chase around an extremely active toddler all day appeals to me not one bit.

Not to mention the fact that The Chief has been busily applying for jobs in the DC area and informed me that if he gets one, I’ll have to take him to the train every morning.  Thus did I immediately think of Steve Martin in the movie Parenthood when he utters the phrase, “My whole life is have to”.

My neighbor Lisa and I were walking today with the kids and talking about how everyone is asking about the long weekend and who’s doing what, and how every day and every weekend is the exact same to us, and what would we even dream of doing with a 3 day weekend.  I would check into a hotel on a beach, someplace warm and sunny.  In the morning, I’d get up and have my nice continental breakfast, go change into a swimsuit and shorts, grab a book, sit by the water and pretend to read while I actually slept for about 3 hours, during which time someone else would clean up my living space.  Then I’d get up and have a nice lunch somewhere nearby that I didn’t have to drive to, head back to my newly clean room and fall asleep for another 4 or 5 hours, get up, walk somewhere else for dinner, head down to the beach, call a friend or family member, and then go up and sleep some more.  I would probably feel incredibly guilty the entire time, but I’d do it.

Anyway, I think all this fatigue and chasing and food in my hair and the actual work of parenting, which you don’t really believe in until your baby is here, has helped assuage some of my ongoing feelings of grief over our infertility.  Or at least I no longer think “WHYYYYYYYYYYYY!?!?!?!” when I hear someone else is expecting.  I think, “Sucker!” :-D  But I would not trade either my toddler or my teen for all the tea in China.  I love them both dearly.

So now I am going back up to the living room to finish sorting and tagging and then will hit the hay.  Tomorrow is another weigh in and the farmers market and then I might just put The Chief in charge while I take a long nap.  Have I always had this history of biting off more than I can chew, but managing to get it done anyway?  Don’t answer that! :-D