What more fitting subject for my 500th post than books? I've been diving into books lately. I'm averaging one a day (how does she do it, you ask? I have trouble sleeping). I thought I'd share some of what I've read:
Three Cups of Tea
by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
Most of my books lately have happened to be memoirs. This is one. It is a must read for anyone interested in current events, Islamic culture, humanitarianism, the far reaching impact of education, the potential inherent in one single human being, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Taliban, feminism, and miracles.
A quote from the book reads,
"Here, we drink three cups of tea to do business; the first you are a stranger, the second you become a friend, and the third, you join our family, and for our family we are prepared to do anything--even die" --Haji Ali, Korphe Village Chief
Greg Mortenson is a remarkable man who was once a mountaineer, scaling mountains around the world. One trip he nearly died, and stumbled into a poverty stricken village high on a mountain in Northern Pakistan. The people of the village welcomed him, fed him, and housed him until he was well enough again to continue the rest of his descent, and in gratitude he promised to return someday and build the village a school. Over the following ten years, he builds fifty five schools in Northern Pakistan, with a special passion for educating girls. His story is fantastic. The memoir is well written, with a good balance of technical/political/historical context, and unfolding of story. I LOVED this book. The foundation that grew out of his passion to build ONE school has a website www.ikat.org
I have a few more quotes:
My personal fave:
"Trust in Allah, but tie up your camel" -hand lettered sign in Sardu
"There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled.
There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled.
You feel it, don't you?" -Rumi
"It may seem absurd to believe that a 'primitive' culture in the Himalaya has anything to teach our industrialized society. But our search for a future that works keeps spiraling back to an ancient connection between ourselves and the earth, an interconnectedness that ancient cultures have never abandoned" -Helena Norberg-Hodge
"No human, nor any living thing, survives long under the eternal sky. The most beautiful women, the most learned men, even Mohammed, who heard Allah's own voice, all did wither and die. All is temporary. The sky outlives everything. Even suffering." -Bowa Johar, Balti poet
Slightly, ahem, alarming:
"Nuke 'em all--let Allah sort them out" -bumper sticker seen on cab window of Ford-F150 pickup truck in Bozemon, Montana
"when your heart speaks, take good notes" -Judith Campbell
"Our earth is wounded. Her oceans and lakes are sick; her rivers are like running sores. The air is filled with subtle poisons. And the oily smoke of countless hellish fires blackens the sun. Men and women, scattered from homeland, family, friends, wander desolate and uncertain, scorched by a toxic sun...
In this desert of frightened, blind uncertainty, some take refuge in the pursuit of power. Some become manipulators of illusion and deceit.
If wisdom and harmony still dwell in this world, as other than a dream lost in an unopened book, they are hidden in our heartbeat.
And it is from our hearts that we cry out. We cry out and our voices are the single voice of this wounded earth. Our cries are a great wind across the earth" -from The Warrior Song of King Gezar
Driving with Dead People
by Monica Halloway
Another memoir. SO GOOD! The story of a girl obsessed with death, whose best friend's father is a mortician, and whose own family is filled with anger, abuse, and pain. Gloriously funny, heartbreaking, and fascinating all at once.
by Julie Gregory
Another memoir. Fascinating. The story of a girl whose mother had Munchausen's By Proxy, a mental illness and form of abuse whereby a person causes medical illnesses in one or more of his or her dependents, for the reward of medical attention and the special status attached to being the guardian of an ill dependent. (Most often children). This form of abuse is often overlooked or unrecognized by the medical community, and it is lethal. The physician who writes the forward for this memoir is the US expert on Munchausen's By Proxy, states that 'A recent study indicates that when a case of MBP is finally recognized, up to 25% of the sickened child's siblings have already died--most likely earlier victims of the perpetrator.' A fascinating and heartbreaking condition. This book actually had far more overt descriptions of abuse than Driving With Dead People, and it was hard to come out of the depths of the book and not feel incredibly guilty for saying anything remotely disciplinary to my children, because of the horrendous physical and emotional abuse described in the book.
My only critique of this book would be its resolution; her journey through childhood is well described, clear, and concise. Her journey through her adulthood, healing, and untangling from her toxic mother is choppy, vague, and foggy.
Love Walked In
by Marisa De Los Santos
Fiction! A story about all the different kinds of love. Beautifully written, though I did NOT like the ending
A Three Dog Life
by Abigail Thomas
Another memoir. EXCELLENT MEMOIR. Written by a woman whose husband was struck by a car and suffered a traumatic brain injury, and her honest description of life since the accident. She is so authentic she would shame a mirror. And a good storyteller; she knows exactly how many words to use in a sentence, how much detail to give and withhold, and how to describe a journey or process. She is also hilariously funny. Of course her husband's brain injury is not funny, but Thomas' sense of humour survived its effects on her life, to the point where I was reading next to Brent while he slept and because he was sleeping, could not laugh hysterically, so resorted to crying so hard I shook the bed--the laughter HAD to come out SOMEhow, it was so deep. A must read.
On art therapy:
"There was a young man who had arrived at the Northeast Center angry and belligerent, as inclined to take a swing at you as not. He began showing up in Bill's studio and started to paint. Bill watched him become an artist, and gradually he stopped being at the mercy of his rages. He got well enough to leave the center and move to a group home. This is what he said to Bill before he left:
"What is art, anyway, except not pounding on walls.""
"The future was also the place where the bad stuff waited in ambush. My children were embarking on their futures in fragile vessels, and I trembled. I wanted to remove obstacles, smooth their way, I wanted to change their childhoods. I needed to be right all the time, I wanted them to listen to me, learn from my mistakes, and save themselves a lot of grief. Well, now I know I can control my tongue, my temper, and my appetites, but that's it. I have no effect on weather, traffic, or luck. I can't make good things happen. I can't keep anybody safe. I can't influence the future and I can't fix up the past.
What a relief."
Still no baby.
People keep asking me if there are any 'signs' that I may go into labour soon. These people forget I've never done this before. I've no idea! I've had bursts of nesting energy, new pains, lots of contractions, etc, etc, but I've no idea if they are signs or not. Likely not, I imagine.
Hanging in there.
I'll let you know.