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No matter where you go, there you are.

Daily Archive: September 6, 2015

Sunday

6

September 2015

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Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Three stars

deraniyagala_speakers

This was a pick-up at my favorite independent bookstore last weekend. I found it engrossing in the beginning, although I struggled to finish it. Not because it was bad, or even too heavy. I think I was just easily distracted.

Wave is Dr. Sonali Deraniyagala’s story about her life after the 2004 tsunami that wracked Southeast Asia. She was visiting a resort town in her native Sri Lanka with her parents, husband, and two sons. She was the only one to survive the tsunami.

Each section of this book follows a timeline, from the moment just before the tsunami hit through 2012, when Dr. Deraniyagala is teaching in New York City. It is heartbreaking at times (obviously), but it doesn’t feel like any other book of loss I’ve read. I think part of that is due to the fact that the book continues over so many years; it isn’t just about her first year of trying to get through the pain; it is about how her life has changed and how it hasn’t. It’s about how she is honest with herself but not honest with strangers when it comes to that part of her life.

I am having trouble describing the feelings the book brought up in me. This wasn’t about a ‘triumphant journey of unimaginable tragedy,’ this was instead a look into the life of one individual dealing with loss on a very large scale. Yet it’s often confined to chapters of the author unwilling to leave her room, or the house she is in, or the city she is in.

There is no one moment where she rises up and ‘moves on,’ instead the book serves as a way for Dr. Deraniyagala to both share the story of her life since 2012, and also share who her sons and husband were. There are stories of Dr. Deraniyagala contemplating suicide in a very matter-of-fact manner, but there are also stories about how much her son Vik loved blue whales. It’s both a love letter to her family and a way to let the world know a little bit about what it is like for someone to work through loss on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis.

I think this is a book worth reading. I appreciate that it wasn’t as simplistic as some of the memoirs I’ve read; Dr. Deraniyagala shares the reality of loss in a way I haven’t read before. I don’t know if it would be helpful for someone who has lost a child or partner, but I can see it providing some confirmation that grief manifests in myriad ways, and that’s just how it is.

Sunday

6

September 2015

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COMMENTS

Coming Clean by Kimberly Rae Miller

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

coming clean

CANNONBALL!

I am actually in the middle of two other books, both of which would have been a fine way to reach the milestone of my third cannonball read. But I picked this up at the library before a camping trip this weekend and didn’t want to put it down. So it seems to be a fitting choice for review #52.

Author Kimberly Rae Miller was raised by two loving parents, one of whom is a hoarder, and the other who has, at times, been a compulsive shopper. This memoir tells Ms. Miller’s story through vivid anecdotes that really bring the reader as much into her world as possible, without dwelling so much on the details that shows like ‘Hoarders’ love to emphasize (cat carcasses, anyone?). Yes, she is clear on what she means by hoarding, and yes, sometimes the descriptions are enough to make one maybe not want to eat during those paragraphs, but in reality Ms. Miller is telling a very thoughtful story about the complicated but devoted relationship she maintains with her parents.

Ms. Miller was a shy child who tried to keep the reality of her father’s hoarding from the rest of the world. She began acting as a way to take on another personality in the hopes of figuring out how she could navigate the world. She shares stories of the time child protective services came, not because of the hoarding, but because of a lie she told, and the terror her parents felt because they knew she’d be taken away if CPS saw their home. She talks about the multiple surgeries her mother had, and how after each one the family faced more challenges. She talks about her nightmares and her need for her own place that is clean and under her control.

I really enjoyed this book. I think Ms. Miller’s writing style was vivid enough to create a mental picture in the reader’s mind without resorting to the type of sensationalism that a lesser editor might demand. She was allowed to tell her story, which is largely shaped by her experience with her parents and the hoarding, yes, but that isn’t everything about her. Ultimately I found this book to be about family, and how people do the best they can with what they have. After reading this book I find myself feeling affection towards Ms. Miller’s parents, and admiration for Ms. Miller’s ability to share her story in such a gracious way.

Sunday

6

September 2015

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Things I Learned While Camping

Written by , Posted in Adventures

So much going on in the world, but I did a bad job curating this week. So instead of my weekly round-up, today you get this: Things I Learned While Camping

This weekend Austin and I went camping with a few friends. Some of them are seasoned campers; others had only camped during their youth (me) or had never camped at all. It was car camping at the Tower Rock Campground in Washington State, and here’s what I learned.

  • As much as a ‘camping pad’ might claim to help, what I really wanted was an air mattress.
  • After watching multiple people start campfires, I understand how to start them in theory, but don’t think I could yet start my own in practice.
  • I really don’t have a problem peeing in the woods when the vault toilet is just too far away.
  • I still unintentionally scare myself by conjuring up scenes from the Blair Witch Project when I am in a forest in the dark.
  • There is a lot of prep work that goes into having fresh food during a camping trip. I failed at that this go round, but am ready for next time.
  • I can definitely go three nights without showering. After that I probably need to figure something out.
  • I enjoyed car camping but am clearly not ready to upgrade (downgrade?) to backpacking any time soon.
  • It’s nice to not have any internet or phone access for a few days.
  • I can share a little two-person tent with Austin and not feel claustrophobic at all.
  • The friend who planned this little camping adventure is the best. Here’s a shot of her photobombing us at the lookout near Layser Cave

Camping