I’m a struggling artist, if I define struggling as “someone who intentionally doesn’t do something” and artist as “a writer that never actually spends any time writing.” Continue reading
Had I not turned off my alarm at 6:30a and then accidentally slept until 9:08a, this would have been the most perfect of Sundays. Despite my proclivity of alarm avoidance (third time this long holiday weekend), I managed to have the kind of Sunday that truly prepares me to deal with commuting and general ridiculousness on Monday. Continue reading
I’m catching a flight to Seattle in less than 6 hours and I’m breaking one of my cardinal rules, which is to never, ever take a real book on a plane. Real books are too heavy and clunky and they limit you to just one thing, whereas my Kindle offers a world of books in a teeny little device. There’s only one thing that will make me break that tried-and-true rule and that’s a new book by MaryJane Butters.
If you aren’t familiar with MaryJane Butters and MaryJanesFarm, I have to ask you – what are you doing with your life?! Put down your iPhone, log off Facebook, and listen up.
When I was a kid, my house had a library. Okay, it was really just an unused dining room filled from floor to ceiling with bookshelves, but to an introspective, socially awkward girl like myself, it was a refuge. There, I learned about the world through the encyclopedias that ran along the bottom shelves. I was exposed to history through the hundreds of World War II books Dad had, as well as stacks of Life magazines from the 40s and beyond. The library was where I discovered smut and would sneak through pages of Clan of the Cave Bear when Mom and Dad weren’t home, my mind sucking up words like “throbbing” and “turgid.” And there, in the Romance section (aka Mom’s books), I was introduced to the book that I realize now has had a huge influence on my life as a lover of the written word. When I was 12 years old, I read Ashes in the Wind by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss for the first time.
Alright, so… romantic fiction? Yay or nay? As a reader, they’re my favorite kind of books to lose myself in and, as an aspiring writer, romance is, by far, my go-to topic. Trying to find good romance novels to read… Well, that’s a challenge. Why? Because a big majority of romantic fiction out there just downright sucks.
I’m exhausted. Mentally and physically. Continue reading
I’m in love.
With a book.
I checked out Barnheart: The Incurable Longing for A Farm of One’s Own by Jenna Woginrich from the library, fully planning to leave it on my iPad until I got to the airport next Monday for my flight(s) to Seattle. That plan lasted all of…oh… seven minutes. Before long, I had my eyes glued to the screen and now I’m stealing a minute or two here and there in order to read some more.
As I said before, I’m in love.
Jenna’s memoir about establishing her farm on rented property in Vermont while living paycheck to paycheck is endearing. Her prose is entertaining and she has a way with words that sucks the reader in. (I mean, she talks about the “sun getting tired.” How cute is that???) I loved reading about her determination to get a small flock of sheep, her driving need to get a border collie, and her adoption of Finn, the most adorable baby goat to ever appear in any book.
I haven’t finished it yet. In fact, I have 33% to go. I’m trying to take it slow, even though I’m a fast reader, and savor it like a piece of decadent fudge. It’s too beautiful, too entertaining a story, and I want that life. As I sit in my townhouse, which is tucked under some trees but still close enough to a busy city street that I never escape the sounds of traffic, I realize how much I want that life. I feel the longing deep inside. It burns as strong as heartburn, but Tums will do nothing to take it away. I want my own flock of hens and four (yes, exactly four) goats, as well as two horses and a passel of misfit dogs. I want dirt under my fingernails. I want the kind of satisfying, exhausted sleep that only comes after a day of hard labor. When will I get to pluck a green pepper straight from the vine?
Jenna, though, has advice to offer about this exact question. In the introduction of the book, she says:
“When your mind wanders like this and your heart feels heavy, do not lose the faith, and do not fret about your current circumstances. Everything changes. If you need to stand in the slanting light of an old barn to lift your spirits, go for it. Perhaps someday you’ll do this every day. For some, this is surely the only cure.”
I have plans for my very own garden and livestock and even my own barn. They’re on hold until a few years down the road, after certain stock options have matured and are cashed out. But the important part is that they’re there. And as Jenna so wisely says, everything changes. Until then, I, too, have barnheart.
This morning, after pouring over my iPad Mini during every free moment these past several days, I finally finished The Nazi Officer’s Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust by Edith Hahn Beer.
Edith, an educated woman who lives in Vienna at the start of World War II, opts to go underground and live as an Aryan Christian rather than face her fate as an Austrian Jew. Despite the personal heartbreak of being separated from her mother, who is still in Vienna until she is deported to the ghettos of Poland, and her sisters, who escape, Edith becomes a “U-boat” as she calls herself, sinking beneath the surface and reemerging as a young woman named Grete. Along the way, we meet the Germans who helped her, Jewish friends who labored beside her as prisoners at the asparagus farm, and even a few members of the Nazi party who, despite the risk they themselves faced, helped hide Edith’s true identity. She then marries Werner Vetter, a German with hidden disdain for Nazi authority, all while living in fear that, at any moment, her true identity will be revealed.
The book is both amazing and heart-wrenching as Edith finally realizes her mother’s ultimate fate, comes to term with both her assumed and real identities, and tries to begin life anew in a post-war Europe filled with rubble, despair, and starvation.
Definitely the first autobiography of its kind that I’ve read. Definitely one anyone else interested in World War II and the Holocaust should read, as well!