Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Forgotten Garden

The Forgotten GardenThe Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed reading this mystery, though not your gory typical mystery. A young girl, Nell, is found guardian-less on the docs of an Australian harbor, when one of the workers takes her in. After no one comes to claim her the man and wife choose to raise her as their own. When she has come of age, the man who she has spent her life believing is her father, tells her the shattering truth, thus beginning the intriguing search for who she really is. But as life often thwarts our best efforts, Nell is unable to discover the truth, and the search is taken up by her kindred spirit granddaughter. This beautiful story spans 4 generations, 2 continents, and the vast ocean between them. All in search of "Past. Future. Family." and the truth held in Forgotten Garden.

My favorite quotes: "...How bright such memories seem when the life they catalogue is threatened!"

"Nell knew better than to let exhibits of hindsight into the court of self-blame."

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Brooke's Terrible Horrible No Good Verry Bad Day

One of my favorite books as a kid was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. I can’t really say why, maybe it was the repetitive nature of saying “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day”, or maybe it extends much deeper into my psyche, my predisposition towards negativity. I don’t know, but regardless this book has stuck with me. I quote it often when my students say “I’m just having a bad day”, telling them “some days are like that, even in Australia.”

So when I am having a bad day I often equate it to Alexander’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, (see) and yesterday was one of those days.

Brooke’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day…

I woke up with sleep in my eyes, and I’m sure a few more wrinkles; staring at the mirror my reflection told me to just hop back in bed, today was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

I tried to find clothes to wear though my bloated belly would not tolerate restricting jeans, so instead I opted for my silky dress. I figured that if today was going to be terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, I might as well feel like I was wearing my pajamas.

Mother Nature gave me her gift, for which I was completely unprepared. I tried to make a cup of coffee, only to discover that I was also unprepared to brew. I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Leaving my children with precise directions to be ready to go by 6:40, I headed to the store… to become prepared… and while I’m there I thought I’d treat myself to a lovely cup of jo… upon my ordering, I am told they are out of the white mocha that makes this coffee my delight! It was going to be a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Noticing that I still have time to get a coffee before the kids would be ready; I headed to another coffee store. While on rout, my husband called to inform me that today is the day for my son to bring snack to school. Why couldn’t I have known this while at the first store. It was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Fortunately I could go to the other grocery store and get the snack AND a coffee. But when I went in, the snack I wanted couldn’t be found. To make matters worse two jerks thought it would fun to make obnoxious comments in an attempt to hit on me. I had to settle for a less than superior snack. And because it was turning out to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, I ordered a venti (that’s large) extra shot Americano WITH the white mocha.

Making my way back to get the kids, at least they were ready, we were not running too terribly late. I get a phone call, informing me that in fact I am a looser, and didn’t get an “invitation”. I drop Maddox off hand him his snack to which he refuses to take, because it is not his snack day. Now who do I believe my 5 year old, or my husband who never forgets a date. Upon further resistance, I throw the snack back in the car and leave my son at his grandma’s gate, open mouth crying, and drive away. Yep, it is definitely a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

The short drive to work is bombarded with phone calls from my crying son, and confused husband, which turns out to be more than I can handle. And the flood gates open, I begin to sob. Pulling into the lot, tears gushing, I try to hold them in but it’s the equivalent of damning Niagara Falls. It’s a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Finally I drag myself across the freezing wasteland of a parking lot, soggy tissues in hand, and miraculously I make it before the bell rings. Plopping in front of my computer, I find an email that states I have used my overdraft protection, meaning there are insufficient funds in my bank account. I can hardly believe this, wasn’t it yesterday that I checked the account balance and had over $800 in there? I really should have stayed in bed; it’s a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

The next email I read is from my mother, she is putting a special memory book together for my brother’s 30th birthday. She wants friends and family to write back to her memories, messages, and pictures that we have of him. Which makes me think back to my 30th birthday, where the only good part was being with my husband and dear friends Vycci and Danny, but the rest was a complete disappointment. Then I think that nobody put together a memory book for me, nobody told me how great I was on my 30th birthday, nobody collected great and funny stories about me and gave me a special book on my 30th birthday. It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day 30 birthday and so was today.

I then get a phone call from Maddox’s teacher, stating that today is, in fact, NOT his snack day. Turns out my son was right, let the guilt flood in again…. It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

I, miraculously, make it through 4 middle school classes with minimal damage to their emotional and intellectual wellbeing. While driving home I begin to ponder what exactly I might have to contribute to my brother’s memory book, and came to the realization, that I have nothing to offer. I have plenty of stories of how much we fought, how much he annoyed me, how much I was mean to him, but who really wants to read about that in their super special memory book… I am faced with the reality on this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, that I am indeed a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad sister!

After dragging myself on a run with Anne (where we only had to stop once because I was crying), I began to feel mildly better. It’s true that running is my therapy, pounding out my issues on the pavement, while inhaling fresh air and absorbing some natural vitamin D, helps me gain perspective, creates some distance between the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, and the reality that some days are like that… even in Australia.

Learned: I am so glad that a run, the strong embrace of my husband, and a good nights sleep brings about a better morning, that I can look back at yesterday and be thankful that it is now over, that I have people who take me as I am, even on the bad day, and still love me.