Read of the Week 1-5-2016

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“Another secret of the universe: Sometimes pain was like a storm that came out of nowhere. The clearest summer could end in a downpour. Could end in lightning and thunder.”

Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe


Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.
Goodreads Summary –

This is one of those sleeper books, ones you don’t think will make much of an impact – at least I didn’t – and then it sneaks up into your soul and blows you away.  The story is about two boys going through the pain of growing from adolescents into adults.  As they grow and change, the boys gradually learn the truths about life, themselves and their place in the world.

This story is beautifully written.  It drew me into its world easily and kept me there throughout the entire book. The main characters of Ari and Dante are a mixture of frail and strength, complimenting each other even as they seem to drift apart. The author’s writing style is rhythmic and poetic, delving deeply into the world of adolescents turning into adults.


“Words were different when they lived inside of you.”
Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

“And it seemed to me that Dante’s face was a map of the world. A world without any darkness. Wow, a world without darkness. How beautiful was that?”

Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Quote For The Day 6-11-2015

“No one is ever satisfied where he is….Only the children know what they’re looking for….”

Sleepless without Candles

I lie here wondering why, once again, I can’t sleep.  I go in endless concentric circles, forbidden sleep by some force within my own mind until I’m so exhausted, day after day,  I can’t stay awake and then, sleeping at the drop of a hat. Somehow, there must be a middle ground.  I used to live on the middle ground. Bed by 8 pm every night, up in the morning, and over the first few months my sleeping gradually reverted back to normal.  All the sleep lost over the years made right.

Which lasted until about….towards the end of the marriage and the struggle afterwards.  Back to square one.

But wait.  That’s not what this post is about, not really.  I’m pretending, hiding, avoiding the reality that thirty-five minutes ago the clock clicked to 12:01 am and now it is June 7th, my mother’s birthday.  The first birthday without her.  No searching for the perfect present or baking cakes, finding the sweet treats she liked the most.  My family is small.  Celebrations are almost always meals, mostly at my parent’s house.

But there will be no meal this year.  No one will gather, bustling in with gift bags and coolers full of food. There will be no gathering around the kitchen for the blessing, no filling plates from the counter between the kitchen and dining room.  No bright paper.  No candles.  No laughter.

Just tears.

All my life, I tried to imagine what it would feel like to be without her, trying in my childish and then less than childish way to prepare myself for the dreadful moment I knew would eventually arrive. But no amount of preparations, no years of illness or the knowledge of what was to come, could possibly have prepared me for the reality of her emptiness. It couldn’t prepare any of us.

No balloons.  No cards. Just sadness. Working later today.  Needing to come home and accomplish something, anything, to keep from wasting away the hours of the day, minutes ticking like raindrops on glass.  Each minute another tear. Each second another loss.  Each tick or tock the feeling of being utterly alone in the thick dark when most children cry for their mother. I can only cry after.  There is no more crying for her to come.

I would like to say there is a glaring riff in my soul, a chunk torn from my heart so large that it will never heal.  That would be poetically beautiful, show me as the brave heroine standing fast against the pain.  But I can’t.  I don’t have a riff, just the tick tock of minutes moving me further and further away from the woman who showed me, both by example and by my refusing her example, how to be the person I have become in a world in which she has finally, inevitably, left me behind.

Tick

Tock.

 

Love Dare Day 2 – Love is Kind

Today’s Dare

In addition to saying nothing
negative to your (sons) again today,
do at least one unexpected gesture
as an act of kindness. 


As many of you may have noticed, I am…ah… rather exacting over the meanings of words and sentences.  I don’t do vague in day-by-day communications. The sentence means what it means.  A ridiculously simple example would be the construction truck with the warning on the back – Working Vehicle Do Not Follow.

Okay.  So the truck is working – usually a dump truck so I *assume* the fear is the back will give way and drown the close-following car in dirt or whatever happens to be lucky enough to be enclosed within.

Then my mind goes to work. (And yes, this will relate to the subject eventually…. sort of.) My first thought is, ‘So you can’t follow the truck…. for how long?  A mile?  Forever? Never?”  Will all the traffic suddenly come to a stand-still while the truck drives off into the distance alone?’

The sign doesn’t even give you the respect of clarifying, ‘Do not follow behind this truck any closer than 60 yards. You might get smushed.’  There is still some vagueness here but never mind for now.  You can undoubtedly see the point.  I’m anal about words and grammar.

And now here is where I am going to make a flourish with my hands, say TA-DA, and suddenly spring a ‘new’ subject on you, even if I did  just give you a hint of what was to come.

What does the Love Dare mean by Kind?  Am I kind if I bake you cookies? How about if I mow your grass just because?  Pick up your child from school so you don’t have to miss work?  Send a card?  Call?  Flowers?  Does kindness mean that I have to do something for somebody else whether physical, mental or emotional?

Or can kindness also be not doing something?

I thought about the ways and means of kindness this week, trying to figure out what kindness I could offer to my sons.  Their suggestions would mostly likely cover the money or food avenue of giving them something of monetary value.

So, yes, kindness can be giving but must it always be giving?

Doing their chores for a day? What chores?  The ones I have to threaten bodily harm to get done?  Those chores?  They wouldn’t even notice.

Take them to dinner?  A dinner out would be kind if you mean kind as in ‘nice.’  But is nice what the Dare is asking me to be?

Nice is a ‘nice’ word.  The sky is nice today.  Tells me nothing about why the sky is nice.  Or the clouds or the sun or your spotted dog. Nice really tells nothing more than the speaker doesn’t have the ability, time, care enough, or is afraid to, to say what is really meant.

I don’t want to be just *nice.*  I want to show kindness with action or actions that are real and solid and meaningful. I want them to be able to say, ‘Wow, Mom sure was kind to me today.  She…. fill in the blank as you wish.’

But kindness shouldn’t need shouting from the mountaintops.  Kindness isn’t something done for praise.  So maybe kindness should slip quietly into one’s life like a shadow, maybe not even realized until later.

Last Friday, as always, my oldest picked me up from work.  He had just recently painted his room and I’d told him I would buy him a new rug. I was tired. I didn’t want to go to the store then, but he wanted to go and every other time I was off he had plans.  So off to Kohl’s we go.

Found the rugs.  He liked.  We’re done.  Right?

Ah, no.  He’d been hinting that he needed shoes but I explained to him that was why he worked – so he could buy his own shoes.  But I could tell he wanted something so I suggested maybe he might like to look at the clearance clothes.  Instant smile and off he goes.

And there, in the middle of Kohl’s, I found myself in the middle of kindness.  There is a reason why we disagree on clothes but it isn’t something I’m comfortable with at the moment.  Suffice it to say, the greatest kindness I could have shown him at that moment was to tell him he could get clearance clothes and then walk away. To remain silent when he came up to me with clothes in hand, waiting for me to give the Mother’s ‘No.’

I said nothing except ‘do they fit’ and ‘do you want them.’  And then, ‘let’s go pay.’

At that moment, I was enfolded in the arms of kindness towards another person.  Silent.  Warm.  And filled with overflowing love.

At that moment, I was kindness and isn’t that what the dare was really asking…

Quote For The Day 4-27-2015

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.”
Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten