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Anything We Love Can Be Saved
Anything We Love Can Be Saved
by Alice Walker
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.75
140 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hope Doesn't Spring Eternal Without Human Compassion, Desires, and Activism, October 30, 2006
Alice Walker writes ideas I don't already know, and she gives me new ways of interpreting people. She is worth considering, especially when you think you disagree with her. It is better to engage her in thoughtful debate than to not listen to what she has to say. Ms. Walker did not title this book "Anything I Love Can Be Saved." Importantly, she chose "Anything WE Love Can Be Saved." The book discusses pursuits she has shared with others.

"Now I know that . . .activism is often my muse . . . All we own, at least for the short time we have it, is our life . . . Whenever I experience evil, and it is not, unfortunately, uncommon to experience it in these times, my deepest feeling is disappointment. I have learned to accept the fact that we risk disappointment, disillusionment, even despair, every time we act. Every time we decide to believe the world can be better. Every time we decide to trust others to be as noble as we think they are. And that there might be years during which our grief is equal to, or even greater than, our hope. The alternative, however, not to act, and therefore to miss experiencing other people at their best, reaching toward their fullness, has never appealed to me." pp. xxiv-xxv.

I've spent a good deal of time researching concepts of love. Many people are familiar with Paul's description of love's attributes from 1 Corinthians 13. Alice Walker highlights the next chapter's oppression of women in the verses of 1 Corinthians 14:33-35. "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church." I have to agree with Ms. Walker's assertion that the Bible was written by men. And I doubt any intelligent "god" would seek any "peace" that silences women or dictates they become intellectual subordinates to their husbands. As I have grown older, I've found more community and guidance from the voices of women.

"If the women of the world were comfortable, this would be a comfortable world."

To understand what the title of this book might be saying, a person must interpret how Alice Walker is using the word "saved." "Saved" is a word I have trouble with because I grew up in a religious community where a person could only be "saved" by choosing one being and one way. Seeking additional voices or additional community was "fallen" or "depraved." Alice Walker does not appear to be primarily be using the word "saved" in the commonly connotated evangelical "conversion to more enlightened path" sense. She is also not primarily using the word "saved" to promote "possession or acquisition of" another human being.

Ms. Walker emphasizes "saved" in the sense that any person, idea, or object of good character can be remembered, preserved, nourished, grown, and sheltered by love. She says "love and justice and truth are the only monuments that generate everwidening circles of energy and life . . . though trashed and trampled, generation after generation."

She discusses principles of preserving and sharing past loves in relation to recounting how written word efforts and community acknowledgement have honored Zora Neale Hurston, a woman who herself wrote in order to honor and preserve the often concealed, but discretely passed down, African American culture that survived hundreds of years of slavery and discriminatory religious & cultural practices.

Zora also wrote to preserve the memory of specific loves from her personal history. In Zora's work, Alice found a character named Shug, Alice's "outside" grandmother, her grandfather's lover, whose descendant Alice was named after. And if you've read or watched The Color Purple, you are familiar with Shug. There are real people behind most great literary characters.

Alice believes in preserving and sharing the good qualities of those who were unjustly dishonored and have passed from view. Her essay "Anything We Love Can Be Saved" was an address she gave at the the First Annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival in 1990, a festival bringing attention to and honoring the writings of Zora Neal Hurston. Injustice is not overcome through silence. As the subtitle of this book "A Writer's Activism" emphasizes, love is active, notorious, and publicized. The act of love may start "First in their own hearts," but it must be communicated to and shared with "the hearts of others. They have only to make their love inseparable from their belief. And both inseparable from hard work . . . Paying homage to her, memorializing her light, her struggle . . . brought us peace."

Twelve Reasons Why I Love Her
Twelve Reasons Why I Love Her
by Jamie S. Rich
Edition: Paperback
20 used & new from $7.71

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reasoning, October 23, 2006
Tear tracks are still staining my stupid face as I write this review. If you start reading this book, you will likely read it in one sitting. While I was still in the malaise and intoxication of emotion, this question came to my mind: How do I write a review to encourage others to read this book?

Universality - 5 out of 5 stars
Recommendability to a friend - 5 out of 5 stars
Creativity - 5 out of 5 stars
Unformulaicness - 5 out of 5 stars
Visual beauty - 5 out of 5 stars
Insightfulness - 5 out of 5 stars

I scan through several hundred comics every month in Previews, trying to decide what to buy. This cover & title jumped out at me. While I am not a regular reader of this graphic novel genre, this design was compelling, and I ordered the book. I am writing this review with one hand behind my back, because as you will understand after reading the book, I can't really review it completely without giving away the plot flow and conclusion. It would kind of be like trying to write a review about "The 6th Sense" without commenting on the fact that Bruce Willis is dead throughout most of the movie (You have seen The 6th Sense? Right? Please tell me I didn't just ruin that for you.) How do you review a book like this without disarming the artists' intended effect? Since it is a new book, I don't want to spoil anything for anyone. I apologize for the mystery. So instead of a normal review, I will just mention a couple responsive thoughts that came to mind after reading the book.

The book reveals issues that arise when a person chooses that one special person to spend the rest of their life with.

Love is sometimes an emotional and intellectual drive that inspires us beyond our initial ideas and boundaries in search of ways to create long term healthy rapport with others. Self-selected morals and boundaries that disable that drive tend to limit our ability to experience, recognize, maintain, and grow love that is often near to us.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 29, 2010 10:32 PM PDT

A.S. Byatt's Possession: A Reader's Guide (Continuum Contemporaries)
A.S. Byatt's Possession: A Reader's Guide (Continuum Contemporaries)
by Catherine Burgass
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.83
77 used & new from $0.45

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finding Ways To Balance Good Desires So They Can Co-exist, October 23, 2006
I give this book 5 stars because it did what I hoped a book like this would do: It gives the reader more ideas, history, and perspectives from which to interpret A.S. Byatt's novel "Possession." This is not a Cliff Notes. It's more like if you invited a person who was way "too" smart and "too" informed to your book club discussion. Of Byatt she says, "She has worked assiduously towards encompassing what are frequently regarded as mutually exclusive states." And this is true in so many ways. Byatt takes on ideas that most people consider contradictory and challenges those assumptions capably.

There is a "signifanct part of the work (Byatt's fiction) which is semi autobiographical." "As the main title suggests, the novel is about possession, and in line with its complex form dramatizes multiple aspects of this theme, exploring the nature of possessive love and the contrary impulse to self-preservation; superficial possession - of things - and supernatural possession by ghosts, literal and metaphorical; the quest for knowledge (intellectual possession)," and "a degree of self-possession (pride)."

Catherine Burgass examines the book's form, plot choices, and language. She gives examples of the literary criticism and reviews the book has received from major media sources and different schools of thought (old and new). The book intrinsically asks how do contemporary focuses and forms interact with the considerations of the past and future? "Part of Roland and Maud's mutual attraction is, paradoxically, a shared desire for solitude."

When A.S. Byatt was asked if she was tempted to write biographies of other people, she replied, "I do not wish to spend most of my life on somebody else's life - not one other person's life. The words came to me long before the plot of the novel, Possession, and it was to do with being taken over - or alternatively, taking somebody over, depending on whether you're a sympathiser or a hunter."

Byatt's characters are beautifully complex. Ash is sensitive to past, modern, and possible future sensibilities. So "at one point in the novel, Ash considers the way to win Christabel: 'He would teach her that she was not his possession' (p.279)" or anyone else's possession for that matter. And in the end "She and Ash remain linked in their lifetimes, poignantly through this child, whom neither of them can publicly own." The "child" in the novel could be representative of many good things they shared, their literal child, their chemistry of ongoing communication, or the things their relationship created in the real world. The novel explores how and why both characters choose to hide or silence parts of their relationship.

Love that creates consistent beauty and quality is rare. Some people think it comes only once. Some believe they can experience it in several ways, at the same or different times. Some find it in art and work as much as they find it in other people. Regardless, it is rare for most people. And the novel and the Reader's Guide explore how seemingly contradictory loves may co-exist by reconsidering perceptions, definitions, and forms.

I wrote a review of the movie before I read Ms. Burgass' Reader's Guide. My review is on Amazon if you'd like additional perspectives. If you like the movie Possession or the novel, and you'd like to consider it further, I highly recommend this book. Ms. Burgass really cared about the intelligence, complexity, and work that went into creating the novel. And her Reader's Guide may open doors to considering the story in new and valuable ways.

Apollo 13 (Widescreen 2-Disc Anniversary Edition)
Apollo 13 (Widescreen 2-Disc Anniversary Edition)
DVD ~ Tom Hanks
Offered by paulies_dvds_cds
Price: $24.85
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5.0 out of 5 stars How Some Respond To The Risks of Exploration, October 23, 2006
The movie is remarkable at communicating these ideas and emotions: The intent was not to send a man to the moon; rather, it was to send mankind to the moon. It was to go where no man had gone before. It was to put priority and real action into a charactericstic that defines humanity: curiosity. And when most of mankind stopped caring about the adventurers we put at risk to pursue those goals, there were a few people who cared enough to never stop trying to find new and adaptive ways to get those adventurers out of harm's way.

Catch Me If You Can (Widescreen Two-Disc Special Edition)
Catch Me If You Can (Widescreen Two-Disc Special Edition)
DVD ~ Leonardo DiCaprio
Price: $5.00
536 used & new from $0.01

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ethics of Love, Loyalty and Honor, October 23, 2006
Spielberg's most recent films have emphasized ethical questions. This movie looks at some of these questions and more:

- Is it ethical or healthy to ask a child to choose one parent as more primary and beloved than another? The boy is asked to "just pick one" of his parents to have primary custody of him. This tears him apart and faced with the choice of choosing only one as primary, he runs.

- When your real parents do not provide you with solutions that make sense, is it okay to choose other father figures who do make sense? When Frank Abagnale, Jr. finally encounters a man who loves him more like a father should, is it okay for Frank to choose to emulate him more than he emulated his own father?

- Why would a man like FBI Agent Carl Hanratty care so much about someone who wasn't even a friend or family member?

- Who should you honor? How should you act? How should you pursue wealth? These are key questions this movie explores.

The cognitive framework of "No slave can serve two masters, for he will either love one and hate the other, or hate the one and love the other" is a foundational concept for some people. It is a concept followed to support their religious, patriotic, and military exclusive loyalties. This type of thinking scares me and misleads others. The irony is that slaves don't serve one master. Any society that supports slavery ends up requiring slaves to serve many masters. Slaves are subservient to most any member of the preferred class. Further, slaves get very little discretion as to who they are allowed to love and who they are allowed to hate. Those choices are dictated for them.

The "No slave can serve two masters" is a principle discussed originally in relation to the pursuit of wealth. On its face, it suggests that a person cannot act like a slave in relation to the pursuit of wealth. If they are a slave to God, then they must hate the pursuit of wealth. This makes no sense to me. As if slaves had too many advantages already. Now they're not supposed to even love the pursuit of wealth? Wealth can be defined as a state of being rich; prosperous; affluent. Wealth generally means that you have worked hard to protect your family by storing up resources and making alliances, reducing their susceptibility to hunger and desperate circumstances. The pursuit of wealth is usually a healthy thing for poor people to pursue. We all balance many competing interests. And to pursue one interest does not mean you have to hate all the other interests that may compete with the one interest. That type of thinking destroys relationships, progress, and health.

Adam was supposedly kicked out of Eden because he sought knowledge beyond what "God" told him to consider - he ate from the tree of good and evil, the tree of knowledge. I gotta tell ya - most days, I follow Eve's tempations and try another fruit. I think both Frank Abagnale Jr. and Steven Spielberg do too. Pick a cliche a day to refine away.

When people are no longer treated like slaves, nor expected to act like slaves, things improve. Whenever I hear concepts based on "No slave can serve to masters" thinking patterns, I remember my parents. Unlike Frank Abagnale Jr., I had extraordinary parents. They divorced when I was a toddler. They NEVER asked me to love one of them more than the other. By both of their words and actions, they taught me two principles: A good parent, when asked to love one family member as more primary than another, declines that offer. A good parent communicates equal love to all their children. Maybe a slave can't serve two masters who have different and conflicting priorities, but a beloved child sure can. Children can sometimes find ways to love both, ways that adults have trouble finding. Both in the movie and in life, Frank Abagnale Jr. eventually found ways to love and honor both his parents and the strange and unusual FBI agent Carl Hanratty.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 24, 2009 4:29 PM PST

I Was Someone Dead
I Was Someone Dead
by Jamie S. Rich
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.24
26 used & new from $3.43

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The memories we select to share are what we use to let other people in", October 21, 2006
This review is from: I Was Someone Dead (Paperback)
This story examines a man (but it could just as easily have been a woman) who constructs a controlled environment for his world. His name is Hieronymus. He literally moves to an island "with his fish and a dog and as many books as he could fit in the walls," an island with no other people. "A person could live decently with only books," he reasons to himself.

When Hieronymus approached the edge of his world on the beach, an obscured and hard to describe "Thing" would consistently "arrive in a shriek of pain, linger for a handful of moments . . . then sink away," terrifying him regularly. The narrator asks, if The Thing only visits the man when he sleeps on the edge of his domain, and never when he sleeps in his bed in his home, why does he continue to sleep on the beach? Because it "brought him his greatest terror" and "his greatest peace." This book is about the struggle to overcome internal reasoning that leads to avoiding socialization.

Hieronymus takes great pains to avoid interacting with other humans. He has all his supplies delivered to the far side of the island while he is asleep at night. One day his ordered crate of books arrives with something extra . . . And that is where the plot summary portion of this review ends, because it is a clever plot, and I don't care to spoil it for readers.

This book is funny and smart. I laughed repeatedly, especially reading the Zen parable of Enyadatta. I enjoy stories of people overcoming personal hardships, and I like metaphors of slaying giants, but there was too little insight and wisdom into Hieronymus' final catharsis. It was a little too much, "just face it, beat it up, and keep on trying hard for one more day." Ironically, those ideas can be counter productive or insufficient to help many people who deal with these types of disabling social issues. While I learned things along the way and I recommend the book, I wanted more innovative & practical ideas and less cheerleading in the end.

A close friend of mine asked me, "What is the book you were reading about?" I didn't want to be insensitive or miss the point of her question, so I didn't say, "It's probably about more things than I understand." Instead I paused to think up a considerate answer, "It's about a person who has lost connection." "Why did they do that?" she asked. Again, the book is very good and there are probably many answers to that question. But I sensed she wanted a brief answer, and not a long discussion about the many possible answers, so I chose, "Probably because they never were taught how to connect."

"Does he ever connect?" she asked. This question was more than I could answer simply, so I finally yielded softly, "You would have to read the book to find out that answer." I didn't want to ruin the book for her, and to me, the answer is not clear for the following reasons: I tend to judge "coming of age" and "romance" stories not by whether or not the author tells us in the end either "he became more wise and mature" or "they found a love that was true and would last." Instead, in a coming of age story, I look to see how many really good ideas the protagonist learns. And in a romance, I look to see if the characters' interactions make their chemistry apparent and enduring.

In this book, the author tells us in the end that genuine change has occured, and a war has been won. But I'm not convinced the ideas and the means discovered by Hieronymus support the dramatic end declarations. And for me, that keeps this very, very good novel from being better.

If you want a better Jamie S. Rich story, with more realism and less dependence on fable, symbolism, & metaphor, I recommend "12 Reasons Why I Love Her" - a book that I give 5 stars.

The Oprah Winfrey Show: 20th Anniversary Collection
The Oprah Winfrey Show: 20th Anniversary Collection
DVD ~ Oprah Winfrey
Offered by GoldenEntertainment
Price: $37.85
176 used & new from $0.15

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Oprah Effect, October 19, 2006
This is a marvelous DVD collection of 20 years of highlights and Oprah commentary. You will probably learn or re-learn many good things. If you watch the DVDs again 10 years from now, you will probably learn even more good things. Study Oprah's social abilities and patterns. She draws out uncommonly sharp, kind, and transformational forces that exist in people around her. Sometimes the beauty of a person is revealed by how the people around them become more beautiful and become their best selves in that person's company.

Oprah makes people around her better. Her friends. Her guests. Her nation. She is a thoughtful individual who elicits better responses from those interacting with her. I've seen some of Oprah's guests on other shows and read some of their books. Oprah's guests often reveal the better parts of themselves in her presence more than they do away from her and on their own. I have had the good fortune to have been close to several people who have had a similar effect on the people around them. Sometimes we never let go of those people, even after they have passed away, because their company clearly continues to make us better. When faced with a ethical question, I'm interested in the answer to the question of: What would Oprah do? I care about what she has done. She makes us better by her example. She has that effect on our culture.

All-Star Superman #1
All-Star Superman #1
by Grant Morrison
Edition: Comic
22 used & new from $1.00

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What is Superman's most powerful attribute?, October 19, 2006
This review is from: All-Star Superman #1 (Comic)
It's rare when a comic book comes along that deals so well with mature themes of mortality, love, & choices. If you think this is just a story about men flying around in colorful pajamas, you probably haven't read much by Grant Morrison before. At the time of this review, the first three issues have come out and there are more to come. The series started out in January of this year, and is being released monthly. I'm eager to see what happens next.

You cannot review a comic book without equally discussing the artist. Frank Quitely's figures are real. While they are overproportioned, they are also flawed and aged. I love his art for it's weight, color, and sensualness. His women are shaped like real women, not too long, not too muscular, and not too skinny. He really cares about body language, demeanor, and expression. His art has richness, thickness, and depth.

In this Superman universe, Clark, as a result of a rescue attempt too close to the Sun, becomes mortal. So the series asks: If Superman knew he would only live a normal or shortened lifespan, what choices would he make in his limited time? Would he continue to keep his secrets? Would he still focus on helping others? Would anything change? And what force might make an "all powerful" person change?

In issue 3, he reveals that he has spent a lifetime synthesizing a potion and creating an enabling costume to give to Lois Lane so she can experience what it feels like to have his super powers for one day. It is a beautiful act and sentiment.

She gains most of his physical super powers, strength, physical invincibility, speed, and ability to fly. But even after she gains all his physical powers, she encounters a greater force that threatens to take her life.

And in that crisis, Superman uses his intellect, revealing that his greatest strength may not be his physical powers or invincibility. It may be his willingness to yield or temper his fight, because someone he loves requests it or needs it, even though it is against what he personally wants. It may be his willingness to always keep searching for and trying non-lethal possible solutions. It may be his hard-experience-learned willingness to concede that physical force superiority will not solve many major problems the world faces. It may be his intellectual choice to fight for others even when he can't see if they are as willing to fight for him.

Superman is sometimes like a soldier or policeman, who thinks he is more willing to put himself at risk to protect others than they appear willing to protect him. But his perception may be incorrect if he does not see how others put themselves at risk in non-violent ways for his potential benefit.

For many reasons, Clark continues to love Lois even when she will not "see" or recognize him, her eyes always focused on Superman. But who can blame Lois? She understands that Clark is attracted to her and treats her well. But if she is going to get Superman, she has to dismiss Clark's attention, doesn't she? Should Clark feel incredible harm at being passed over for Superman? If so, should Clark continue to love Lois when clearly she will never choose to care for him over Superman? The complexity, flexibility, and universality of the Superman love triangle has stood the test of time for many good reasons.

Should a person admire Clark more than they admire Superman? Or vice versa? I can empathize with both of their suffering and appreciate both of their beauty.

And in this series by Morrison and Quitely, both Clark and Superman, when faced with mortality and the possibility of losing Lois, decide to become more honest with Lois and reveal their hidden identities.

Issue #3 asks the classic question of: What happens when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object? The uncommon answer may not be what you expect, and may not be what you want, but it may be a valuable answer worth considering and appreciating. And it is worth the price of buying the first 3 issues.

Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions: Second Edition (Owlet Book)
Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions: Second Edition (Owlet Book)
by Gloria Steinem
Edition: Paperback
39 used & new from $1.59

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alice Walker Is An Intelligent, Creative Force, October 12, 2006
These are comments on the essay "Alice Walker: Do You Know This Woman? She Knows You" in this book.

What has made Alice Walker such a good writer?

Alice Walker grew up living with suffering first hand. She writes on the topics she understands from personal experience.
She didn't turn her head away from the suffering all around her and she listened carefully to the suffering of her ancestors.
She has lived with chronic disease that constantly reminds her of life's fragility, finiteness, and pain.
She lost sight early on in one eye and is constantly reminded that all her senses are not to be taken for granted.
She grew up with significant facial scars that showed her how the world treats people with unusual appearance, and made her particularly aware of appearances.

She has experienced many loves over her lifetime. She has focused on and brought attention to people who have not traditionally been shown love.
She has done regular work, speaking engagements, and activism activities that bring attention to genuinely controversial and dangerous issues.
She lives and experiences lifestyles that many people still disapprove.
She challenges the major religions and blasphemes regularly without apology, suggesting that helping others is a higher ideal than worshiping a deity.
She suggests there is the potential for redemption in the people commonly expected to be unredeemable.

When she has been criticized or pressured to be silent, she has continued to write and publish, discussing unpleasant and uncomfortable issues.
She has voiced her objections to unjust, unfair, and cruel systems. Her protagonists often do the same.
She believes that well-presented ideas can change the world. And if they can't, it's still better to err on the side of trying.

In the interview that Gloria Steinam conducted with Alice Walker, Ms. Walker said, "I'm not sure a bad person can write a good book. If art doesn't make us better, then what on earth is it for?" I agree.

Art does so many good things. It records the epiphanies, moments of progress, and moments of joy for us to pull out and replay in our times of need. There are so many times when there seems to be slow progress, moves backwards, silence, or numbing indifference. Thank goodness that we can pull out the artworks we love - to add music to ideas, color to darkness, and hope to silence. Beauty, wisdom, & genuinely good feelings.

If you would like to be a good writer like Alice Walker, consider her example, and live a life that would make a worthwhile story to read.

Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions: Second Edition (Owlet Book)
Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions: Second Edition (Owlet Book)
by Gloria Steinem
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.30
237 used & new from $0.01

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gloria Wrote Her Mother's Song To Enable & Encourage Other Daughters To Discover Their Mothers' Songs, October 10, 2006
This review is not a review of the whole book. For focus, it is a review of "Ruth's Song (Because She Could Not Sing It)," a memoir essay written by Gloria Steinem about her mother who suffered from serious mental illness throughout Gloria's entire life. But before I focus on that essay, I want to mention that this book also contains an essay "Alice Walker: Do You Know This Woman? She Knows You" written in 1982 before The Color Purple won the Pulitzer Prize the following year.

If you are trying to decide whether you want to buy this book, pick it up in the book store and read Gloria's essay on her mother's detailed history of mental illnesses. "Write what you know" is a common adage, and it rings true here. If you want to understand what energized Gloria to take on a life of advocacy promoting women's rights and equality, reading this essay will help you easily understand how her personal suffering has given her such robust motivation for so many years to combat the forces Gloria believes led her mother to become mentally disabled, to varying degrees, for all of Gloria's life. Gloria starts by inquiring into the mysteries of what led her uncle and mother to shut down and completely change from the outgoing and incredibly bright people they were in their young adulthood (her uncle a brilliant electrical engineer, and her mother a math teacher who once taught college calculus) to meeker and lower functioning older adults. She notes that the family was concerned about her uncle, but not as engaged in trying to remedy her mother's ailments.

Gloria lives with the hindsight that she did not know in her youth how to possibly help her mother better, "Assuming there to be no other alternative, I took her home and never tried again," and "Perhaps the worst thing about suffering is that it finally hardens the hearts of those around it," and "For many years, I was obsessed with the fear that I would end up in a house like that one in Toledo. Now, I'm obsessed instead with the things I could have done for my mother while she was alive, or the things I should have said to her. I still don't understand why so many, many years passed before I saw my mother as a person, and before I understood that many of the forces in her life were patterns women share." Gloria spent many years growing up with only herself and her mother in the home while her mother suffered from agoraphobia (primarily suffered by women), terrors, delusions and many other cognitive deficiencies. Her mother suffered from depression and other mental roadblocks, spent time in sanatoriums, was drug dependent, and could not work outside the home.

Please, please read it if you or any woman you care about has either suffered from mental illness, or if they "became a different person" at some point in their life. I have a female relative that all my uncles could not understand why she "changed so drastically" and fell into never ending depression, drug dependency and general dysfunction. But I understand many of the likely reasons for those declines, declines that our extended familial environment contributed to more than most of my family ever realized or were willing to acknowledge.

Gloria's mother, Ruth, sold her only home so Gloria could go to college. She encouraged both Gloria and her sister to leave home for "four years of independence she herself had never had." Before certain events happened to Ruth, Ruth was one of the first female journalists and went to dances when her religion and community told her the music was sinful. Why does Gloria share this private and painful family history? I believe she wants to help teach other women how to tell their own stories. Each woman is best at telling her own story. But when they cannot or do not sing their own song, sometimes others sing it for them, to share their beauty. Gloria concludes with, "At least we're now asking questions about all the Ruths in all our family mysteries. If her song inspires that, I think she would be the first to say: It was worth the singing."

A beautiful coincidence: my mother's mother was a musician named Ruth.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 15, 2014 12:03 PM PDT

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