**This week, seems to be forever.
**I feel like I have put wedding planning on a major hold after I did all the major stuff. I really need to get to work on that.
**Sometimes the universe has weird ways of putting things in your face. Little reminders that you aren’t alone and that the world is MUCH greater than what is in front of your face.
**It makes me sad when good, strong people have to endure hardships. But it also makes me inspired to see them endure these situations with their heads held high. I often times wonder if I would ever be capable of doing the same.
**I feel like I’m teetering on the edge of getting massively sick and I cannot let this happen.
**It’s hard to sleep when a 65 pound dog and two cats decide they want to sleep with you too.
**Our good health is something I think we all take advantage of. I think we often only pay attention when things are bad and then get better, never stopping to appreciate all the times we are well. My heart goes out to those who are suffering with ailments.
**I often wish I could have a career helping people. One that wouldn’t make me cry every day because I couldn’t do enough to help everyone.
**I have been very nostalgic lately. VERY. The littlest things have been reminding me of the past and people.
**This new moon is giving me weird dreams. Like REALLY weird.
**Anyone ever feel like they are just hovering in a weird place?
I saw Rachel Is on Saturday afternoon at CIFF and I am so glad that I did. Rachel is a 21 year old developmentally disabled girl living in Pittsburg with her mother, Jane. Her sister, Charlotte directed the piece and the entire film is so intimate as a result. All three invite the camera and essentially the audience into their lives. The focus of the film is essentially on where Rachel will be living after she graduates from school, she wants to move out of her mother’s house, yet Jane does not want her to live anywhere but a group home. Shared living options are tested and do not work out, so Jane intensifies the search for a home where Rachel can live with her peers and lead a normal life.
Rachel is hilarious and warm, yet I could tell that the demands she unknowingly imposes could be harrowing for a caretaker. Throughout the film, Jane is almost unflinching. Stoic even. Her quiet strength and patience with Rachel was truly inspiring. So was her passion for finding the best care for her daughter in a system that often overlooks developmentally challenged adults. Watching Jane as she remains calm while Rachel screams in the doctor’s office can only be described as amazing. Some people lose patience quickly over a minor tear, and here Jane remains strong. You can see the love that all three have for each other and none of it is forced or faked for the camera. Even when it is obvious that Rachel is annoying Jane, I never got the sense of resentment. Charlotte did a great job directing this film, getting her point across, and showcasing her sister. I was particularly struck and moved by a point where she stated: “when I was 16 I realized it was time for me to stop apologizing for Rachel. She was just Rachel.” Just because Rachel has a disability, it does not make her a freak, nor is anyone else with one. I think society probably often forgets this. Rachel Is was a great film about love, family, support, and also made me very aware of the limits of services for the disabled.
***Reviewed for www.luxuryreading.com***
Matches In The Gas Tank is a commanding memoir about religion and family. The emphasis of the book lies not on the inner workings of the Radio Church of God, but instead on the inner workings of the Powers family and how the church influenced and ultimately had a hand in destroying them. Carla Powers tells her story in a careful, yet poignant way. She is not quick to pass blame on the church but instead shows the error of their ways and their teachings in regards to her family and herself. The memoir mostly focuses on the decline of her father, Charles, who is an alcoholic with an anger problem and the ultimate strength and love of her mother Mary Ann. As captivating and influential Herbert W. Armstrong the church’s founder and leader is, Carla does not fill the book only with his words and views. He is a looming character in the memoir, but sends his ministers to do his dirty work which the reader sees. Instead, she focuses on the struggles and triumphs of her family and herself in spite of the far reaching grasp of the radio Church of God. This mostly is a memoir of a woman coming to terms with her lack of relationship with her alcoholic and non-existent father.
Carla has overcome poverty to become a successful lawyer in Texas, far from her sheltered beginning in the Radio Church of God. When she receives the call that her father is dying, she is instantly thrown into the memories she has worked long and hard at forgetting. As she goes to the hospital, she joins her mother and two brothers, Steve, who still thinks fondly of their father and Dan, who never even knew him, and the four of them push through the memories and hurt to figure out care for the man laying the hospital bed. This is the very man that almost destroyed them all, individually and as a family.
Powers memories are vibrant and clear. She remembers details with amazing accuracy yet does not overwhelm the reader with useless information. You can feel her pain listening to her parents argue, feel her shame when the ministers come to inspect the house, and ultimately feel her triumph when she realizes the lessons she learned and that her upbringing helped shape her into the strong woman she became. For those looking for an intimate look into a fanatical religious movement, this is not that type of story, this book is for anyone looking for a success story of a strong woman and her family, who started with almost nothing and came out with so much.
**Reviewed for www.luxuryreading.com**
Rhoda Janzen’s memoir, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, is a heartfelt and hilarious read. 2005 is not a good year for Rhoda, yet she manages to pull herself from the mess and emerge anew. Her husband Nick leaves her for a man on Gay.com and she gets in a life threatening car accident soon after. Living in a huge, beachfront home she cannot afford on her academics salary, she returns home to her Mennonite family to recover both emotionally and physically. Although Rhoda does not follow the Mennonite way of life any longer, but she looks back and fondly reflects on her upbringing and the lessons learned.
Rhoda’s mother, the overly positive, devout and straight to the point Mary, is a nurse and family cheerleader. The reader is filled in on hilarious stories such as Rhoda’s conservative elastic waistband pants that she wore throughout high school and her traditional Mennonite lunches that filled the whole lunchroom with their stench once removed from the wax paper. Rhoda’s father, Si, a leader in the community, is gruff yet lovable, and is the strength of the family. The interaction and banter between these two is definitely a highlight of the memoir. The Mennonite community is a tight knit one, which Rhoda remembers as she finds herself dating, being thrown into awkward situations, and answering millions of questions from sympathetic and nosy sister-in-laws and neighbors.
Mennonite in a Little Black Dress is a feel good read without being cheesy or melodramatic. Janzen’s humor adds to the memoir’s appeal as do her real life portraits of the people who mean the most to her. The lessons she learns and remembers along the way aid her renewal and these lessons and stories can be used by anyone looking for a lift. Janzen is straightforward with her feelings and emotions and I found myself cheering for her in all situations. Nothing is more inspiring than someone who can overcome massive obstacles and changes to emerge triumphant. Janzen is proof that it can happen.