Sunday, October 27, 2013

Allegiant Book Review (or Rant)

I LOVE to read.  Love it.  I have a lot of books, with real paper pages and downloaded on several electronic devices.  I was hooked with Veronica Roth's Divergent.  The characters and the storyline drew me in.  Insurgent kept me intrigued, especially the ending.  I have been looking forward to Allegiant for some time, pre-ordered it ages ago on Amazon and waited for it to arrive.  It did...I read for hours straight and then, it was over and I was left lost.

*ALERT:  SPOILERS, SWEETIES.  You may want to stop reading if you haven't completed (or started) your reading of Allegiant*

In comparison to the first two novels, Allegiant lacked the intensity for me.  It seemed so calm and without the passion of the first two.  Yes, Tris and Tobias are together and have their passionate moments - some memorable quotes and scenes come out of this, for sure.  But, as far as the rest of the story, it just wasn't there.  We learn what "Divergent" truly means and how the city (Chicago) came to be and what it really represents.  We learn who Tris' mom really was to some extent (there could have been so much more, in my opinion).  We discover that the serums were originally developed by people outside the city, people who created the faction world and watch it carefully through surveillance.  We meet David and somewhat gather his place in all of this.  To be honest, I felt as though all of these pieces were rushed and so much more could have been said or done.

So, let's get to the big elephant in the room: Tris dies.

Now, I'll admit, I am one for a happy ending but my anger at this is not that she dies but that it wasn't essential to the story.  It did not move the plot along or encourage big events.  I feel that the amazing character built around Tris was betrayed.  She fought off the death serum but allows her mother to pull her away to death?  This brave girl fought for so much, made mistakes surely, but fought for everyone then doesn't fight to live one more time?  Nope, sorry, don't buy it.  It feels as though Roth simply wanted not to have a happy ending.  For me, having the protagonist live is not a happy ending in itself.  Often, the "hero" is left with scars beyond comprehension - Tris lost her mother and father, suffered a great deal, her living would not have changed these things.  She lost friends, killed one as a matter of fact, dealt with so many choices beyond her years.  Her strength was indescribable through the first two novels (and, yes, she made mistakes and rash decisions -that's why it was believable) and then, in the last frame, her strength is gone?  She folds to be with her mother?  Sorry, that's not my Tris.

Since this book is a YA novel, I feel it needs saying.  Teenagers are reminded everyday that the world is not perfect nor is it full of happy endings.  The blessing of literature is that it provides an opportunity to shine upon the strengths of our characters, a way to imagine what could happen should we be faced with overwhelming odds.  Tris would never have come through these novels whole; she lost too much.  But, to not have her come through at all, that's too far in the other direction. 

By the way, I understand I didn't write this book nor do I hold some claim to be an amazing writer.  These are my thoughts and opinions.  Obviously, Roth is talented or I wouldn't have waited so long to get my hands on this last installment.  Sadly, though, I do not think that I can re-read the first two novels ever again, knowing what I know now.  That for me, is the measure of a great book, one that I can read over and over and never be disappointed.  And, Divergent and Insurgent were books on that list for me...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Loss

I lost my dad 6 weeks ago.  He was here on Earth and gone so quickly.  My heart is broken; broken in a way that will never heal.  There is no length of time that can mend this, though I know that it has gotten easier to realize as the weeks have passed.

My dad was my rock.  He was the person who made everything make sense.  He was my supporter through everything I chose to do.  He gave me strength and confidence.  He loved me always and told me so.

There is so much about the situation that I have needed to talk through.  Moments and memories that are both hauntingly beautiful and sad.  Like the moment that I leaned down to kiss my dad in that hospital bed and say "I love you" to which he responded, "You don't have to say that."  I could have cried and told him that I knew I didn't have to, I wanted to - his words:  "I know you do. You don't have to say it."  Cue the tears.  The pride that hit me when he apologized for being sick and feeling like he let me down-yes, pride; my father loved his family so much that he was hurting for us instead of himself.  Or the moment when he looked me in the eyes and asked "Why?" - I couldn't answer why this happened to him, I could only kiss him and tell him that I didn't know but that I wished I could fix it.  Finally, the moment when he knew his life was ending and he was crying, unable to speak and all I could say was "It's okay, Daddy.  It's okay.  I love you."

Two and a half months after his diagnosis of Lymphoma, we lost him.  I am blessed to have been able to go to our hometown and see him before he was gone.  But, I am angry at myself for not getting to see him more.  I am angry at myself for wanting so badly to move away from home and start a life, knowing it would be years before we could settle in a place of our choosing.  Angry that he was proud of me for it, proud that I built a life with my husband and pursued our dreams.  I am struggling with the guilt that I should have been better, tried harder, done more.  I am wrestling resentment that my husband's career is what pulled us away; I know it's not his fault but grief is a difficult thing, there's too much to process, too many what-ifs.

To top it all off, in the middle of my father's last weeks on this Earth, we find out we're PCSing.  To a place that is incredibly far from home and nowhere I ever wanted to live.  I am trying to find the positives in this duty station and hold fast in my belief that my life happens for a reason.  But, I am crumbling under the weight of it all.  Thankfully, I have great friends that have given me an ear (and shoulder) as I wade through this.  I can continue to make my dad proud, I know it, I have never quit before and don't plan to start.

*If you have read all of this, thank you.  It is my heart right now in print, it doesn't get more real than that.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Single Parent?

Does the fact that CC is gone mean that I am currently a single parent?  People toss the phrase "single parent" around like it should be some term that I indentify with.  Well, I would like to set the record straight.

Though I am the only parent present in our home currently, I am not a single parent.  That's right, not.  N-O-T.  If you were to ask if my kids were being raised in a single parent home, I would say no every day, deployment or not.

At the moment, however, I am a "double parent."  I, as part of my promise to love my husband, am currently doubling up on the things I need to do as a parent.  Usually, when Bubba needs a haircut, Daddy takes him - the barber shop does lend itself to a boys-only zone.  Fixing things around the house, taking care of the cars, taking out the trash, wrestling with the kids - those tasks are usually under CC's domain.  I need to take special care to pay attention to my kids and give them more of me because Dad isn't here to talk to them about their days, too.

But, even as I write this, it seems as though I am taking something away from CC.  He is still Daddy even though he's far away.  I don't see myself as "Mom and Dad," I see myself as Mom times 2.  I can not replace CC's presence in the kids' lives but I can work to make his absence easier for them to manage.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Invisible

I am proud of our family.  I am proud that we go through trials and come out stronger on the other side.  I am proud that my husband is a member of the military.  I am proud of each and every accomplishment that my children achieve.

BUT, I am a quiet-type of proud.  I tend not to make a big deal of things that go on and certainly do not wish for any sort of recognition.  Military spouses are often referred to as the "silent ranks" - I get that, I do.  Yet, I wish to be more than that - invisible.

I don't need to make known how long my husband's been gone or to where or when he'll be home.  I don't want to talk about being a "single" parent as the kind woman I work with yesterday brought up.  I don't care for thanks for all that my family does -this is our life, you are thanking us for being ourselves which feels so awkward.  I almost wish they would all forget that CC is gone and treat me like a whole person and not like someone to be pitied...or that I were invisible in this way.

I know, I sound so unappreciative of the efforts to connect to me.  But, that's just it - they aren't trying to connect to ME, just the idea of what I should be as the wife of a deployed airman.  It seems like whenever there needs to be attention brought to someone or something, the information becomes assembled into this nice, neat package to deliver to everyone.  I don't fit into a pre-assigned notion of a military wife, not by a longshot.  There are some that do but I'm not one of them.

I am a strong, rather silent, take-care-of-it-all kind of woman.  I want to be reminded that I am more than a deployment (because, hell yes I am!).  I want to you to go out of your way to get to know me and, please, do it when CC's home because that shows me you're doing it for genuine reasons.  My best friends (that, by the way, are not military spouses) don't ask me how "single" parenting is going.  They don't ask me when he'll be home or count down since he's gone.  They love me for me.  They text or call to ask how my day was and listen to me fuss about the mess/kids/bills/car.  They encourage me without patronizing and mean it.  They remind me that I am strong when I don't feel like I am.  They let me be invisible when I need it because they understand me.

I guess this is just a bunch of rambling but this has been eating at me...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Weighty Issues

SO, in the time that CC has been gone, I have been trying to lose weight.  So far, I'm down about 3 pounds.  It was 5 then stress hit.  Yes, that's right, I admit it.  When I get overwhelmed, I am known to grab ice cream or chocolate or fast food instead of cooking.  I am working diligently to change this though.  I have tried very hard to ensure that I cook dinner and rarely eat out.

In addition, with 3 kiddos, I feel like there is little time to work out.  I have been making a conscious effort to work out after they go to bed in the evening or early in the morning.  My routine is getting more solid and I have seen inches come off.

But, I know that the scale needs to budge, too.  The amount I weigh is not the only important thing and I truly know that.  Yet, I know my weight before I had kids and my weight now is about 30 pounds more than that.  I was strong then.  I was by no means "skinny" and that is simply not realistic for my body type.  I want to be fit and that is my main goal but I know that I need to focus on eating right and exercising in a manner that will help take some weight off of my frame, too.

I am working on sticking to fresh fruits, veggies, and lean protein.  I have cut out soda (and I miss it!) and am drinking green tea and water.  I am working out every day.

I am trying and giving my best, every day.  I hope that I can lose at least 20 more pounds before CC comes home.  In an ideal world, I could lose all 30 before then but I don't want to set myself up to fail.  So, here's to trying...

Friday, June 1, 2012

They think they know.

For many of us, it's our nature to attempt to understand the things around us.  To show some sort of comprehension and empathy for those with circumstances different from our own.  For those living lives not directly connected to the military or consumed by the world of deployment, I appreciate the want to show me that you get it and that you "understand."  BUT...

You don't.  I can try to sugar coat that and make you feel better about your lack of understanding yet I am so thankful (and jealous) that you do not have to get it, that you do not have to know what this life is like.  A lack of understanding of this lifestyle does not make you less of a person.  There are so many situations that I do not know and therefore cannot comprehend...I have never lost my husband, nor a child, I have never suffered through a life-threatening illness, or a divorce, the list goes on.  I am positive that there are things that have gone on in your life that I would not be able to fathom, which is as it should be, we are all unique and see the world through lenses tinted with our personal experiences.

That being said, there are no two military wives that approach a deployment in exactly the same manner.  Please, respect that.  Each day is new and the pain, or lack thereof, is our own.  There are days that I wake up and am ready to tackle every obstacle in front of me and it would appear that I do not miss CC.  I assure you that the pain of separation is constantly there but, some days, I am in denial, just numb or simply too overwhelmed to give in and recognize it.  There are days when I seriously consider not getting out of bed at all.  That's the truth.  Is it a truth that I wear on my sleeve for everyone to see?  Absolutely not because I want my husband to be proud of how I handle myself in all situations.

Sadly, though, so many think they know how I must feel.  If I'm not crying and falling apart, I must not miss him enough.  If I need a break to just breathe and catch up, I must be on the verge of falling apart because I miss him too much.  It is not that simple, I promise.  I also promise you that I miss my love with all that I am but love him more than that - I don't need to pronounce it publicly every day because I live my promise to love him through it all.  If you see nothing else when you look at me, see that.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

More kids?

Okay, so, I need to talk about something that it definitely personal but also just never seems to resolve itself for me.  CC and I have 3 beautiful kids.  The age difference between the oldest and the youngest is 3 years...yes, that means that I gave birth 3 times in 3 years.  I never planned on 3 kids.  I had two, I was content and thought, hey, we're good with this.  But, then baby #3 came along and swept me away by surprise.  They all bring such joy to my life and I am so thankful for them...they also require a great deal from me when CC is away.

So, how do I know if I want or don't want more?

I go back and forth on an almost daily basis.  At this point, I hate to wait too much longer because then there would be such a big gap (compared to the gaps I currently have) between the youngest and any new baby.  But, then, I just don't feel ready for another.  I was anxious for the first for many reasons, and so ready for my second.  The  third, she shocked me and I had no time to contemplate having another or not.  Now, I have this time to think and wonder.

Can I handle another?  4 kids in a grocery store? doctor's appointments? sports?

Can I afford another?  4 kids to feed and clothe = $$$$


Can I provide emotionally for another?  4 kids to nurture...realistically, often alone.

Then, I think of other things.  My girls have each other.  My son could surely use a brother, right?  But, a brother 10 years younger (which is what would happen if I keep debating this and then decide yes)?  Even number of kids makes it easy to pair everybody up...silly, I know, but this is what I think of.

I just don't know.  I do know that I rambled quite a bit here, but I put some of it out there, which I needed.