Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Postcards from World War II: Sights and Sentiments from the Second World War

Postcards from World War II: Sights and Sentiments from the Second World War

Robynn and Matt Clairday 
Weight: 14.4 oz
Method of Disposal: Donating

The ideal honeymoon involves The United States Postal Museum and an Air and Space museum (one housing a shuttle) if you ask me.  I've been to that magical place with the stamps, mail trucks, and Owney the dog once.  It was amazing.  I bought this book of postcards there (amongst too many other things) and just got around to reading it a year later.  Sure, it is full of patriotism and propaganda, but it also has actual notes written by soldiers to their loved ones, and the voyeur in me thrills at that.  I love reading other people's mail.  Since that is a felony, the only way for me to live out this dream is to read published letters and dream......

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Bridge of San Luis Rey

The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
Weight:4.8 oz
Method of Disposal: Donating

I do not know what finally drew me to this book when I was out sick from work earlier this week.  If this sticker was purchased around the same time I bought it a minimum of 15 years ago and have no idea if I ever took another look at it.  I was so different then.  I had lots of disposable time and income, whether I knew it or not.

I was shocked to open the book and have these tiny photos of my two best friends at the time flutter to the ground along with a Chapter 11 bookmark.  Shocked and pleased.  I sent a card with several to Noelle on the left who I never see enough but still love and then texted this photo to Sarah on the right who I have not seen in years but will always love.  Both of them mothers now.  Both of them so different, but still so loving when I talk to them.  It made me miss my friends, and it made me anxious to get out of bed and back into life.  I have so many people I want to catch up with!

As for the book itself, it was fantastic.  I read it in one night on the floor of my dad's house while Harriet slept off the hospital visit in the bed to my left.  It was human, direct, unflinching, unapologetic.  People are here and then they are not.  They do all sorts of good and bad things in between, but no one knows what the next second will bring.

MaddAddam Trilogy

Oryx and Crake (x2), The Year of the Flood, and MaddAddam
Margaret Atwood
Weight: 50.4 oz
Method of Disposal: Sent one home with my mom and donated the rest

My mother gave me this Atwood series for Christmas after having heard about it on NPR.  It sounded very interesting and, given her previous work, it seemed like it was practically guaranteed to explode my mind.  I did not realize it at the time, but I had also purchased the first book in the series at some point in my earlier life because I found an older edition in my library later.

The first book I read while I was sick.  It was the holidays and my mother was staying with us.  Harriet and her were watching a terrible television show (Reign) so I would read and bite my tongue about all the awkward costumes and poor historical portrayals.  Everything I had heard about the book had me riveted, but when I actually read it I was under impressed.  I could not decide if it was more about who I am now or about the writing itself.  I did not care for the main character and all the references to child pornography was making me feel queasy,  When I got to the end, though, I did want to read the second one and was disappointed (at that time) that it was not a book involving the same character even if I did not like him.  The second book in the series was by far my favorite (hanging out with a bunch of religious, nature-inspired, folks living commune style) so I thought the third might be the one with the most potential, but that one let me down too.  The end of the world has happened and in between the rapes, murders, and chases there are bright blue waving penises with innocent intentions.  Woohoo.  I was constantly right there with her and then let down.  Right there.  Let down.  To be fair, I had very high expectations.

My mother read the first one and then apologized for giving them to me, which seems extreme even now.  The idea of them was irresistible, and I read them all the way up until now.  It took me awhile because I was also reading other books and never getting well.  I went to the doctor for the first time since my coughing and breathing issues had started back in December.  I started using an inhaler all the time and could not sleep through the night without waking up in a breathless panic.  I continued going back to the doctor and eventually set up an appointment with the specialist.  I still ended up in the ER with IV fluids and medications being pumped into me at, what I found to be, an alarming rate. I cannot even begin to tell you how shocked I was when they said they were going to admit me to the hospital.  I had to leave all my work and friend plans behind and. just. lay. there.  But my beautiful Harriet stayed with me the whole time, and we "slept" together wrapped up on a hospital gurney, patiently waiting the 12 hours it took to get a slightly larger hospital bed.  She was scared.  I wished I could make her feel better.  We felt incredibly close.  Soon enough, we left the hospital and continued care at my father's house before coming home.  At that point, I took her crashing down with me.  Now she is coughing and short of breath.  They say hers is not a pneumonia yet, but I can see it following the same path as mine.  I sure hope she gets better soon.  I am worried, and she still wants me to feel better.  

I am behind at work, my chest hurts all the time, and I feel weaker than before, but I also can breath, which is really the main thing.  I am getting better and maybe it was all a blessing in disguise (for me, not The British One).  I've never been content to be a quitter (even as one) when it came to smoking, but I am officially over it all now.  I like breathing.  I like it so much and, when I do go out, I hope my chest is not exploding or dissolving into itself.  I hope I can catch my breath.  That if I cough something comes up instead of just hanging around, growing in size.

While I was in the hospital, I missed saying goodbye to a dear friend who moved to Connecticut for health and financial reasons.  She left gifts behind for me and Harriet, and we are texting more now that we did when she lived in Georgia, but it is not the same of course.  She told me today that she has emphysema.  Sometimes life feels like one gigantic lesson with people who actually play all the parts, and it is always unclear who the lesson is actually for since so many people are hurt (or helped) in the making.  I just hope that years from now, when she goes out, she is able to catch her breath and not feel that weight on her chest.