Tag Archives: relationships

Book Review: Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

Girl

I recently read Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis per my sister’s recommendation.  Actually, it all started with the meme above.  I then found out that my sister loved the book.  Of course, it immediately moved to the top of my to be read pile.  I love the fact that I belong to a family that shares and recommends books!

Here are a few gems from the book and my thoughts. There are many more I could share here, but I will leave you to discover them yourself.  I highly recommend the Kindle version of the book as it allows the reader to highlight important passages without defacing a physical book.

Sometimes choosing to walk away, even if it means breaking your own heart, can be the greatest act of self-love you have access to. – Page 53.

This just seems to sum up the process I put myself through this summer.  The sad part is that I should have definitively learned this lesson years ago.  I wish everyone, women and men, knew this before heading off to college – or shortly thereafter.  It ultimately would have saved me so much time and heartache.

I knew I was letting my fear control me, that the worry about giving my heart away again only to have it stomped on kept me from taking a next step.  In the midst of such heartache, it’s hard not to worry.  I cried so many tears, thinking, Lord, why would you put this desire on my heart if it wasn’t ever going to come true?  And, God, if we try again, you’re not actually sending my heart out to be slaughtered, right? – Page 108.

Oh, have I been there!  More than once.  There are times when I still wonder how I will ever be able to trust again.  It is not easy to pick ourselves up and try again.  Yet, we must.

I want you to see someone who kept showing up again and again, even when it was tearing her apart.  I want you to see someone who kept walking in faith because she understood that God’s plan for her life was magnificent – even if it was never easy.  And even if it wasn’t easy, she was bold and courageous and honest even when the truth was hard to share. – Page 173

I admit, lately I have struggled to have faith that God does indeed have a plan for my life.  I am currently slogging through it all to figure out exactly what that plan is.  If I am meant to have a family of my own, why haven’t I been able to make it work yet?  Why is that the big unnegotiable of my life if, indeed, it is impossible?  I ask myself questions similar to this all the time.  Ultimately, it is not my timing, but God’s.  It will eventually work out.  Until then, I just need to be patient and keep working.  It will never be easy.

As you can see, I loved the book.  It is a great example of a book that came into my life at the exact time I needed to read it.  I happened to read it just as I was struggling with these questions.  While I would recommend the book to every young woman I know, it doesn’t mean I think the book is perfect.

If fact, in one sense, the book left me feeling unsettled.  It is a feeling I get whenever I get too involved in anything related to religion.  What no one seems to address in organized religion – and Rachel seems to unintentionally fall into this – is that not all women will end up married and become mothers.  Singles in the church, particularly those no longer in their twenties, seem to get left behind.  Whether explicit or implicit, the focus always seems to be on marriage and family.

While I think Rachel was right to spend much of her book focused on marriage and motherhood – after all, this book shares her life experiences – she doesn’t address what happens if you do end up alone.  She doesn’t even seem to acknowledge the possibility even though she goes out of the way to address situations not her own.  This may not be true, but it appears she assumes everyone will end up married and a mother.  A simple acknowledgement would have served the book well.  Then again, maybe I am reading way too much into this and too sensitive.  It doesn’t matter.  The book itself is great, and I highly recommend it.

By the way, I love how she addresses adoption in this book.  I am so glad I read this book before I started the adoption process.  Her family’s story related to foster care and adoption is not an easy one, but it does have a wonderful outcome.  In the end, that is all that matters.

rh dreams.jpg

MSU and Memories

Alumni Bricks

Dear D., Continued – Revisited

Dear D. – Revisited

I’ve struggled for nearly two months to write this post.  It is time.  Back in mid-June, I spent the afternoon in East Lansing with my friend Lauri.  While it was not our only intent, we sought the memorial brick my cousin Lugene’s family placed on campus in her memory.  If it weren’t for Lugene, Lauri and I probably would have never met.  Spending time with Lauri searching for Lugene’s memorial brick seemed fitting.  After all, as dedicated genealogists, Lauri and Lugene spent countless days researching in Michigan cemeteries.  Here we were searching for Lugene.

When we did finally locate her memorial brick, it completely caught me off-guard.  It is located near the gardens where I found myself on a first date with a guy I dated briefly while at MSU – a very fun first date.  I had completely forgotten.  While MSU is far too big for me to legitimately say that I have a memory in every part of campus, I certainly have my share.  They all seemed to come flooding back to the point where I couldn’t keep up.

What it comes down to is this:  I need to visit my alma mater more often.  I avoided MSU after my friend Derrick died back in 2009, and Lugene’s death made it even worse.  Lugene took pride in her MSU alum status, and it was a part of her personality.  As much fun as I had visiting, I also felt out of sorts.  I hope one day I will be able to visit without feeling such a sense of loss.

I’ve finally concluded that it isn’t just the loss of Derrick and Lugene that I was feeling that day.  I also mourned the loss of the college girl I once was.  While I wouldn’t quite say that I was fearless as a freshman, I came close.  I thought nothing of pursuing whatever my heart desired while at MSU.  What happened?  Maybe I can find her once again.

The links above lead to posts I wrote concerning Derrick.

Derrick and I – April 2000

cropped-puebla

The girl I once was – 2002

Dear D., Continued – Revisited

Here is another.

It was unbearable.  The whole thing.  Every second worse  than the last.  I just kept thinking about calling him, wondering what would happen, if anyone would answer.  In the last weeks, we’d been reduced to spending our time together in recollection, but that was not nothing.  The pleasure of remembering had been taken away from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with.  It felt like losing your co-rememberer meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we’d done were less real and important than they had been hours before.

The Fault In Our Stars – By John Green (Page 262)

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Photo credit: theunquietlibrary)

Dear  D.,

I’ve been meaning to write you all this past week for the obvious reason:  August 15 would’ve been your 31st birthday.  It pisses me off I can’t directly tease you about becoming a dirty old man despite the fact I am older than you.  I still feel cheated out of years of memories of us.  I suppose I had such a clear vision of us still arguing over memories in our 70s and 80s, just like your Great Aunts E. and G. and my Grandma, I still can’t quite believe it just wasn’t meant to be.

The passage above describes well what I feel nearly three years after you passed away.  I’m afraid those quirky memories we made in childhood, high school, and then college will die if I happen to forget.  I just don’t want that to happen.  I don’t want to forget.  I’m glad I read The Fault In Our Stars by John Green before I tried to write anything.  Now this letter has a purpose.

That is what is so aggravating.  Every time I think of you, what I want to say to you, or memories of us, it just seems to go nowhere.  Without you here, who is left to really care, besides me?  No one.  Once I come to that conclusion for the hundredth time, I realize how futile writing a letter to you is.  And yet, I can’t help it.  I have to do something.  There were way too many things left unsaid.

By the way, don’t get the impression that I’m the only one who remembers you.  I can only imagine the hole left in your family.  Just the other day I came across a post Carla posted on your Facebook wall.  I know she misses you just as much as I do, as does Jelly.  Some time ago I saw Jelly when I ordered something at Tony’s, and we just didn’t even know what to say to each other.  It was the first time I saw her since you passed away.  We talked about anything and everything else, but that doesn’t mean you weren’t first and foremost on our minds.

So here it goes.  Here are a few memories of us:

High School –

Freshman Year.  You ended up getting hours of detention for picking on me in Freshman English.  It became so bad Miss V. quipped that you and I would probably end up married someday, we were that practiced at nagging each other.  Every time I think of FriendsRomeo and Juliet, or Great Expectations, I think of Freshman English and you.  I can almost feel you tapping me on the shoulder and hear you make some smartass remark about people trying to look like Courtney Cox.  By the way, I know you knew you had it all wrong.  The haircut was called the Rachel for a reason.  You just liked to play dumb to get attention.  I still find it amusing that you ended up with detention and I didn’t.

Prom.  I will never forget you on Prom Night, senior year.  You ended up taking my cousin K. (Rusty) as your date, and she became Prom Queen.  I’d never seen you so incredibly happy.  You had to tell everyone that you were the date of the Prom Queen and were genuinely happy for her.  I know it is stupid, and I never admitted this, but until I saw you that happy, I was envious of K.  If you’d asked me to the prom, I doubt I would’ve said yes.  But that doesn’t mean I couldn’t imagine it.  It could’ve made up for years of us being ostracized by our class.  We could’ve spent all night making snide remarks, joking around, and just proving everyone wrong.  In the end, I don’t think either one of us had the guts.

Kayaking and Guy.  I’ll never forget your Aunt L. and Guy visiting from Texas one summer.  Somehow I was pressured into taking Guy kayaking.  I don’t think I ever paddled so fast in my entire life.  The entire trip was strange.  I just felt like I had to show him up, he was that cocky.  You were very right about him.  I can understand why you two weren’t exactly friends.  I’m trying in vain to remember whether or not you went with us.  Maybe you just came to the Livery and didn’t go kayaking?  It doesn’t matter.  We did talk about Guy and came to the conclusion that he was a little too wrapped up in Friday Night Lights.

State.  I distinctly remember the day we received our housing assignments for our first year at Michigan State.  My jaw dropped when I realized not only were we going to attend the same university, we were assigned to the same dorm complex, Snyder-Phillips.  Quite frankly, I wasn’t happy.  I just wanted to start fresh as MSU, and there you would be, a reminder of school years I would rather forget.  In the end, I’m so grateful for that simple twist of fate.  Quite simply, college would not have been the same without you.

Michigan State –

A National Championship and the Flintstones.  I love the fact that we somehow found each other among throngs of people in Cedar Village after MSU won the 2000 National Championship.  I think about that April night a lot.  How could I not?  That picture of us outside Cedar Village – you smoking a cigar and your arm around me, me smiling like my life depended on it – is among my favorites.

2nd Floor, Snyder Hall.  You used to love hanging out on my floor in Snyder Hall.  I’ll never forget the crazy 3 AM political conversations we had, Kim included.  I just can’t wait until we have the first female President of the United States.  I’ll smile, think about how you just lost a bet, and carry on, thinking about how very wrong you were the entire time.  Sexism doesn’t pay.

Where were you?  I’ll never forget getting a call from your Mom freshman year at State.  She couldn’t get a hold of you and simply wanted to know if I knew where you were.  I didn’t at that moment, and the entire thing broke my heart.  I wish I could’ve helped her – and you.

Capstone.  We’d lost track of each other during those years I studied abroad.  Nevertheless, you found your way back into my life.  You just wanted me to look over your résumé and rekindle our friendship.  It worked.  You once again became a fixture in my life.

Crunchy’s and a Broken Heart.  D, I have no idea what your true feelings for me were, but you must have truly cared for me on some level, whether you wanted to acknowledge it or not.  During the spring of 2004, as my life was endlessly shifting under me before I could even regain my footing, you somehow knew how heartbroken hearted I was.  You knew that I simply needed a night out with an old friend who understood just how upset I was.  I wanted that job in Austin desperately, not to mention the mess that was my personal life at that point.  Many things happened that evening, of course , and even the next day.  I’m not going to talk about them here, but I need to say this:  Thank you!  You knew just what I needed, even if I didn’t.

Brian.  That same spring, 2004, I began my relationship with an old friend, Brian.  Your teasing still makes me laugh.  Some of it was so spot on, especially those jokes about how I could never have any fun while living in Arenac County.  You basically stated that any night of debauchery in Arenac County would become common knowledge before I even made my way home.  So very true.  I got the sense that you were happy that I finally had a man in my life, my first true romantic relationship.  Those were some wonderful days for Brian and I, and I think you could sense just how happy I was at that moment.  If only I could live in those moments forever.

Aftermath.

A phone call or two.  It still upsets me that we weren’t closer in those first few years after I graduated from Michigan State.  I thought we would have time.  Unfortunately that is what we didn’t have.  There were several times I wanted to call you up and just lay everything on the line.  I wanted to know what your feelings for me were.  That was one thing I could never figure out.  I wanted to know why you had so many issues with your Mom and brother, especially your Mom.  I wanted to know what was really going on with you.  Unfortunately we never had those conversations.  I didn’t realize just how wrong things were until you were gone.  It was too late.

Great Auntie G.’s Funeral.  Of all my memories of you, your Great Aunt G.’s funeral stands out.  It was the last time I ever saw you.  It started immediately.  We just gravitated toward one another.  I suppose that’s no surprise as we were the only people under 50 in the room.  Then, of course, my Grandma asked us to go get her a package of hearing aid batteries.  We may have been at a funeral, but it sure didn’t take us long to start laughing our butts off once we were out the door.  You either laugh or cry, right?  You have to admit:  It was the perfect excuse for us to catch up.  After picking up the hearing aid batteries, you and I just drove around  and reminisced.  We covered a lot of ground from Standish to Omer.  I’m so glad we had that opportunity.  In a way, it was almost as if you were saying goodbye.  The last time I saw you, you and your Dad were leaving the funeral home and walking toward the Granton.  It angered me at the time, but I suppose everyone deals with death in their own way.  I just never figured out how to deal with yours.

You have no way of knowing this, of course, but I never made it to your funeral.  I ended up having to work.  I suppose it is just as well as I would’ve been an absolute wreck.  A few weeks after your funeral, I tried to find your grave.  There were things left unsaid (most of which I am writing here today) and I wanted to get it all off my chest.  There is so much in our hometown and in East Lansing that will always remind me of you.

And yet, there is one thing that still bugs me.  What was our relationship?  Whatever it was between us was much deeper than simple friendship, and yet we never had a romantic relationship, not even close.  The closest thing I can come up with is that we were family without actually being related.  We knew how to get on each other’s nerves, we knew how to make each other laugh and cry, and above all, I think we both cared.  Was it really as simple as that?  I like to think so.  I love you and miss you.

Linds

PS – Oh, and one last thing.  Your Mom.  I never told you this, but your Mom happened to be my Grandpa’s favorite nurse.  I know that you didn’t have a good relationship with her and it never was any of my business, but I am grateful to her.  She took great care of my Grandpa when he was dying.  I wish I could simply tell her thank you.  I wish I could talk to her about you.

Dear D. | Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde

Snyder-Phillips Hall was built in 1947. The bu...

Snyder-Phillips Hall was built in 1947. The building was recently expanded to make room for a new residential college. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear D. – Revisited

Sometimes writing is so timeless that it needs to be shared again.  Recent events have brought back a flood of memories, and I thought that I would share some of my favorite old blog posts.  You can find the original here.

D

Dear D. –

After all these years I still miss you horribly.  I just got a new cell phone the other day, and I realized I couldn’t bring myself to delete your number, your e-mail, nothing.  It will always be there.  There are so many times I’ve wanted to just pick up the phone to talk to you for a minute or two.  Like my little brother, you could always manage to put a smile on my face.  You’d laugh your butt off at the hot mess I’ve gotten myself into, as usual.  And yes, Diet Coke still runs through my veins.

I will never forget you and always love you.

Linds.

PS – I haven’t been able to bring myself to go to East Lansing over the last few years.  So many memories!  You were always there when I needed you most.

What Remains

Dad and Grandma Reid – Alaska 1988

It is no secret that I am a stubborn person.  For those that know my family, I clearly inherited that trait from my dad.  Frankly, I am proud of that fact – and it goes deeper into my family history.  My paternal grandmother, Grandma Reid, was every bit as stubborn as her son.  I have no idea if my dad’s father was stubborn or not – sadly, he passed away long before I could meet him – but I am certain Dad inherited at least some of his stubborn nature from his mother.

After my senior year of high school, I spent the summer working with Dad and Grandma at the canoe livery, just as I had all throughout high school.  That summer, however, continues to stand out.  I normally didn’t argue or disagree with Dad.  I had learned to trust his judgement and accepted that he had reasons for the way he did things over the years.  That summer, I bristled.  I no longer wanted Dad to tell me what to do, even if he was my boss.  I couldn’t get to Michigan State fast enough.  To complicate matters, Grandma wouldn’t budge, set in her ways over the decades.  She didn’t always agree with me or Dad.  In fact, Dad and I had to make her get out of the office and enjoy herself.  That is how much she loved to work.

By August, things came to a head.  The three of us were not listening to one another, and we all thought we were right.  All these years later, I couldn’t even tell you what our disagreements were about.  Really, all that mattered is we loved one another, even if we were getting on each other’s last nerve.  Of course, things vastly improved once summer came to an end and I set off for new adventures at MSU.

While I consider myself close to Mom and her family, our stubborn natures somehow brought Dad, Grandma, and I together.  For me, it goes beyond stubbornness.  It is a drive to succeed.  It is a drive to lead a full life no matter what is thrown our way.  It is survival.

Book Review: Marlena: A Novel by Julie Buntin

I enjoyed reading Marlena.  While it contains components of a YA (young adult) novel, I would classify it as emerging adult.  Fair warning:  Lots of drugs and sex involved.  The good news is that the drugs, and to a lesser extent, sex, drive the plot.  They are necessary to the plot, and fortunately, do not glamorize the consequences of either.  By the way, when I mention drugs here, I am including alcohol.

I didn’t read Marlena with a set purpose in mind.  It wasn’t a book club pick or anything.  In fact, I discovered it by browsing a selection of online books available through my library’s website.  It just sounded good.  It is ultimately a tale of two best friends growing up in a dull northern Michigan town.  It took a while for me to get into the book.  The protagonist, Cat, isn’t the easiest person to get to know.  Also, in the beginning, I didn’t get the fixation on drugs.  She clearly understands right from wrong, but she is fixated on her new best friend Marlena and making the worst possible choices for her life.  By approximately a quarter of the way through the book, I was hooked and found it difficult to put down.

Cat, at least the older, wiser version in the novel, nails what it is like to grow up, to love and lose.  There are so many powerful lines I found myself highlighting them in my Kindle copy, forgetting that it is a library book.  Below are a few of what I consider to be the most powerful lines in the novel.

Close enough to being a writer, isn’t it, working at a library? – Page 45

As an aspiring writer, I loved this quote.  Ultimately, Cat is a writer, but it took her a while to find her voice.  Her empathy for other young women is clearly demonstrated later in the novel in her approach to difficult young library patrons.

For so many women, the process of becoming requires two.  It’s not hard to make out the marks the other one left. – Page 96

This passage really made me think.  I thought of the friends, male and female, in both high school and college, who helped to shape the woman I became.  It made me think of what I wrote about W.M here in particular.  There is something to be said for reconnecting with old friends after years apart and seemingly nothing (and everything) has changed.

I think it’s pretty common for teenagers to fantasize about dying young.  We knew that time would force us into sacrifices – we wanted to flame out before making the choices that would determine who we became.  When you were an adult, all the promise of your life was foreclosed upon, every day just a series of compromises mitigated by little pleasures that distracted you from your former wildness, from your truth. – Pages 129-130

This struck a nerve with me as well.  First, I vividly remember being terrified of dying young as a teenager.  Both of my parents lost close relatives as teenagers, and those stories stayed with me.  Second, the fact that “time would force us into sacrifices” continues to be at the forefront of my mind.  I have always tried to find a way to leave as many doors open as possible.  There is just too much I want to do in life.

I was always aware, in some buried place, that girls my age had just entered their peak prettiness, and that once my pretty years were spent my value would begin leaking away.  I saw it on TV and in magazines, in the faces of my teachers and women in the grocery store, women who were no longer looked at … – Page 143

I so desperately want this not to be true, but it is true.  I loathe this fact about our culture.  Hopefully I will live long enough to see it change, permanently.

Before that year I was nothing but a soft, formless girl, waiting for someone to come along and tell me who to be. – Page 250

Thinking back to what I was like at ages 15-16, I like to think I was somehow stronger than Cat.  Unfortunately, that just isn’t the case; I could closely identify with Cat in the novel.  It makes the novel much darker.  There is a fine line between the successful teenage Cat and the degenerate.

I would recommend the book, especially if you love to write or like reading about love and loss (or even friendship in general).  Is the story sad?  Yes, but it is also full of hope.  It does seem that Cat is at least trying to deal with her loss, with varying degrees of success.

I know I have talked about this before, but I am convinced the right books find me at exactly the right time.  While I certainly wouldn’t call Marlena great literature, it addresses certain topics I would like to cover in my own writing.  I will be rereading this novel.

Ghost Stories

W.M and I – Puebla, Mexico. March 2004.

As a writer, I am struggling with how to properly tell the story of my friendship with W.M. throughout my college years.  Even though we never really dated, there was something more than friendship there.  If writing from my perspective, the story would have to include themes of romance and unrequited love.  How do I tell the story fairly?  I have no clue what really happened in the end, why he kept seeking me out, but it never went further than friendship.  When I did try to write the story, the men in my writing group all appeared to come to the same conclusion:  He must be gay.  I don’t believe that to be the case.  If that were the case, I would like to think that we were good enough friends that he could have told me.  I did find it telling that they came to that conclusion after reading the story from my perspective.

I wish I knew what to do with the story.  It is the reason why people study abroad and learn foreign languages.  It is at least part of the reason why Spanish continues to play such a major role in my life.

W.M. and I had a major falling out several years ago now to the point where I haven’t thought about him in years.  Yet, our friendship has been on my mind lately.  The truth is that Michigan State wouldn’t have been the same without him.  Alternative Spring Break and study abroad wouldn’t have been the same without him.  My experiences in Mexico and Spain wouldn’t have been the same without him.  Maybe it is fitting that he must have been on my mind as I am trying to figure out exactly what it is that I want in my personal life.