• Book Reviews,  Bookish,  Personal

    Every Note Played book review

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    ✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

    This book grabbed my attention within the first few pages and I finished it in one day. I have seen the cruelty of ALS and I am currently watching a friend deal with it and it is heartbreaking. 

    Richard is a world-famous concert pianist who is divorced from Karina and has a barely existent relationship with his college aged daughter Grace. He comes off slightly narcissistic and in an early interaction with his ex he essentially calls her a farm animal due to her tastes for wine. Not impressed. 

    He cancels his tour as the early symptoms of ALS manifest in the paralysis of his right hand. He privately continues to play with his left hand but cruelly, that is the next to go.

    Putting piano in front of everything, he has ostracized himself from nearly everyone in his life. He is left to count on home health aides as with his rapid deterioration. One day he mistakenly calls his ex, Karina for help and she arrives without hesitation to help him and clean him up.

    It’s at that point that they both realize he needs more help than he can afford and cannot live in his 4th story walkup condo.

    So he moves back into their family home with his ex-wife. Um, no thank you. 😳

    The rest of the book is the descent into ALS hell and while it’s an important topic to give awareness to, the characters get lost on the shuffle a bit. But for the cause, I was fine with the shift in focus.

    Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The writing was excellent and you can tell that it’s well researched as the author is a neuroscientist.

    I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a book with a medical plot and a dose of forgiveness and redemption.

    Book review over…

    The backstory of Richard and Karina’s divorce is a common one. He was unfaithful, abuse was alluded to, he was absent, she grew resentful, and their daughter chose her mother’s side.

    I have been happily remarried for 12 years but there are a lot of similarities between the marriage/divorce in the book and my own life. The biggest difference is that I left when I was pregnant.  I honestly don’t know what I would do if I was presented with the situation in the book and tasked with caring for my ex-husband in any way. But what struck me was when one of the home healthcare workers pulled Karina aside and told her that she needed to get to forgiveness, not for Richard’s benefit, but for own benefit.

    I’m nearly 14 years on the other side of divorce but I clearly remember being given similar advice. It was one of the hardest walks I have ever been on. But it was necessary and made me better for it. My second marriage is better for it as well. Forgiveness is essential in any relationship and even a great marriage is still two flawed individuals who build a life together and without forgiveness, it would be a tougher road.

    Parts of my first marriage were absolute hell and leaving him while pregnant was one of the scariest things I have ever done. But to this day, I still tell people that I would do it ALL over again. It made me who I am today, it gave me my daughter, and I learned how to forgive. I didn’t understand the part about the forgiveness being for me when the advice was given but now I do as forgiveness is a vital part of any good relationship.

  • Feminism,  Personal,  Writing

    About this morning…

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    To say that the last two weeks have been tough would be an understatement. And really, it’s been more like the last four years. I’ve shared snippets here and there on Instagram but because so much has been intertwined with other peoples’ stories to tell, I have largely remained quiet.

    But in remaining quiet I lost my voice. Sure, I had a voice to advocate for everyone around me but for me it was radio silence. I’m not blaming anyone for this because I know I did the right things for the right reasons.  I wouldn’t change anything because our experiences make us into the people we are meant to become.

    This summer we stopped watching the news. It was a conscious decision that Steve and I made together and it was a good decision. I get everything I need to know from my daily conference calls and emails at work. The rest of it, the commentary especially, wasn’t good for my mental health.

    I have paid attention to the Kavanaugh hearings and as a mother of a daughter who had her own story to tell earlier this year, yesterday was gut-wrenching. Between that and everything else, I woke up on fire this morning.

    I am far from perfect and I yelled. I yelled at my daughter and my husband over things that are worthy of getting upset about. But I felt so much more inside and knew it was about far more than people not taking care of their morning responsibilities.  I had hit my limit. With everything.

    I don’t cry and this morning my daughter saw me cry for the first time ever as I apologized to her for yelling. But I wasn’t crying just because I yelled. I was crying because I woke up different. And tired.

    I’m tired of how people treat each other. I’m tired of how men treat women. I’m tired of how women treat men. And the worst, I’m tired of how women treat each other. I’m tired of trying guess what is next and what someone’s motives are. And I’m tired of things that don’t bring me peace. When you don’t have peace, you get caught up in the chaos and the next thing you know you’ve lost your voice. I know this cycle well.

    I was telling my husband last night that lately, no matter how bad my day was, writing in the evenings helped my mood. So I’ll be writing more. Writing brings me peace and gives me a voice.

    And quite possibly, more peace and feeling like I am heard will keep me from losing my mind at 7:00 am when our dogs do dumb shit. Everyone wins.

  • Book Reviews,  Bookish,  Personal

    Tidying up

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    I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up earlier this month and the book lived up to the title. There is a system to follow that I’ll let the book lay out for you if you are interested. But the basic concept is to purge by category instead of by room i.e. closets.

    You literally ask yourself if the item you are holding brings you joy. If so, keep it. If not, toss it into the donate pile. It sounds a little silly at first to ask such a simple question but it works so well.

    We started with clothes. The book suggests putting every piece of clothing you own on the floor. As in pull every shirt off it’s hanger, every pair of socks out of the drawer, and even coats from hall closets. We opted to pile everything on the bed because if we didn’t get through the clothes we weren’t going to be sleeping there. Two hours later and we were done and had immaculate and organized closets and drawers.

    Next up were the books. I’m the reader in the house so this task was on me. I honestly didn’t know how I was going to be able to part with books because I love books and having them in the house; or all over the house if we are really being honest.

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    I dumped my bookshelves, collected the books on nightstands, end tables, and even the ones in Amazon boxes. Those books are ones I typically slowly introduce into the house because my husband pays attention to silly things like new books piling up.

    I posted a before picture on Instagram showing all the books on my bed. The comments ranged from shock, mild outrage, volunteering to take books off my hands, and even a few encouraging comments. I started slow following the same process of asking myself if the book brought me joy. It was surprisingly easy.

    I attach memories to objects and books are no different. The first book I picked up was one I read when I was going through a really awful time.

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    Joy at the sight of this book? No way. Donate pile! Within an hour I had my books sorted and looking at the donate pile made me happy.

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    But what actually brought joy was to see clear shelves full of my favorite books to read again, loan to friends, or to look at the cover artwork because book covers have really become miniature works of art in the past few years.

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    I also found books that I could not believe I ever bought and read. What was I thinking? Thank God for therapy! And I’m sure I also bought and read a self help book to counteract this poison. I should find it and bundle them together before I donate this one.

    I also found some real gems I had forgotten about.

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    Don’t worry though, I still have lots of books to do fun things with. I love this cart!

  • Audiobooks,  Book Reviews,  Personal

    Lucky Boy book review

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    “She’d learned the lesson that all women learn sooner or later. If there was something to be done, she’d have to do it herself.”

    “There is a beast in all of us. On the worst things can bring it ripping through the human veneer.”

    Lucky Boy ✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

    This story tugged all the heartstrings and even tore a few in the process. I finished it at lunch today, ugly cried, and then had to go back to work. 😳

    Soli is 18 when she crosses the border illegally from Mexico. The journey alone was harrowing and she arrived at her cousin’s in California broken and pregnant.

    She’s determined to keep the baby and has a boy who she named Ignacio. His nickname was “Nacho” and was such an endearing reminder of how young Soli was. She finds a good job with a family, is a great mom, and everything is going well until she and her cousin are picked up by the police.

    The parallel story is Kavya and Rishi, a Berkeley couple who are desperate to have a baby. After many failed attempts they decide to foster: enter Ignacio into their lives. They nicknamed him “Iggy” and I liked how the author did this to show the contrast between the two worlds this toddler was living in.

    This was such a timely book and without spoiling the ending, the reader is forced to look at such a difficult situation where no one is right and no one is wrong.

    The audiobook was fantastic and I was amazed at the narrator pulling off both an Indian and Hispanic accent. The writing was excellent; so descriptive and vivid. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read about both perspectives of the immigration debate without it being too heavy-handed or political.

    ✂️

    What did I personally love about this book? The relationship between Kavya and Rishi. Their separate grief and their shared grief. The way they learned to communicate and support each other. Absolutely, I found the message of the book to be so important: awareness for the plight of the undocumented immigrant and their American citizen children. But also, what is a book if you can’t apply parts of it to your own life?

    “Why did people love children that were born to other people? For the same reason they lived in Berkeley, knowing the Big One was coming: because it was a beautiful place to be, and because there was no way to fathom the length or quality of life left to anyone.”

    This last quote has been my life the past several years. Loving children, teenagers in particular, born to other people. It’s often a thankless job and one even resented because you are “the mom” in the house but never THE mom. And don’t get me wrong, I never ever want to replace their mom but it is a purgatory I would not wish on anyone. Especially kids. So my heart went out to the characters in this book lost in a purgatory of a situation where there were no good answers and no clear signs of heading in the right direction. Sometimes all you can do is love hard and hope for the best despite the unknowns.

  • Book Reviews,  Personal,  Wit

    Everyone has a first

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    Hello! Here before you is the obligatory and awkward first post. Welcome to my blog where I’ll share what I’m reading, what I’m loving, honest book reviews, how I related to the characters and what I took from the book, what I’m passionate about, and maybe a bit of original writing.

    Fun facts about me:

    • I learned to read when I was 3. I thought I could do anything once I learned to read and I was mostly right. Except grow… I’m 5’0
    • I went to a small private school and their first library was in the janitor closet. I spent a lot of hours sitting in there reading. I still love the smell of Pine Sol.
    • They finally noticed I was spending too much time in the broom closet, I took a test and skipped 3rd grade. I didn’t find this out until breakfast before my first day of 4th grade. Surprise with a big bowl of Wheaties!
    • I’ve spent 20 years in finance a.k.a a male dominated industry.
    • Reading is my escape from work, momming, kid taxi service, and the general WTF’ery of my life.
    • My dream job: writing full time with a healthy side of reading and traveling.
    • Coffee, water, Diet Coke, and bourbon… in that order (most of the time)
    • I have strong feminist tendencies. See: working my industry and raising a daughter.
    • I struggle with depression, anxiety, and PTSD and believe that no one should struggle alone.
    • My husband Steve is amazing and puts up with my book hoarding tendencies in exchange for all the gadgets and electronics he buys.
    • We have two beagles, Buddy & Gus, who don’t know how to read but listen to more than their fair share of rants. They will appreciate this new outlet.
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