Haben Girma’s memoir, Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law contains many gripping moments. For example, in the opening scene, her father is taken off the plane in Ethiopia, leaving seven-year-old Haben, with her limited vision and hearing, to puzzle out the mystery of his absence and how she will make it home to Oakland California by herself.
Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law also contains many humorous nuggets about navigating our society’s rampant ableism that creeps even into the mind of her little cousin who demands Haben make him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, while insisting that blind people cannot make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches: “You said a blind person can’t make a PB&J. So how can I make you a PB&J?” she asks him to which he responds: “But I saw you!”
“His personal observations contradict the ‘truth’ he…
I am a little older and wiser since the tenth of the month and yet I don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m headed. Currently, I am listening to a live feed from a famous pub in Dublin, Ireland with live, Friday night entertainment.
I did turn thirty-six recently and my niece and nephew were so excited to start celebrating with me. We had a cake made and sampled by the time my sister arrived with dinner.
I am thankful for family on my birthday. Even my nearly three-year-old niece sang. She loves to sing.
I am thankful for loved ones who can bring me smoothies, milkshakes, and oranges to soothe my sore throat.
I am thankful my post birthday cold didn’t last too long.
I am thankful for the nerve blocks I’ve been getting.
I am a little wary of being injected in my head, but in the nerves specifically. I have had Botox to try to treat headaches in the past. Nerve blocks are helping one very specific headache I get.
I am thankful to have written a poetry review for a talented artist’s first poetry chapbook.
Okay, well if we’re not doing a great job so far, I at least hope everyone doesn’t give up and keeps talking.
I know things seem particularly rough right now, but at least we’re facing these issues, head-on. When we push them down and hope they won’t make too much trouble, it only prolongs any possible solutions.
I don’t pretend to know the answers, but I feel quite emotional about it all when I think of the history of this land and how it will all progress in future.
The live performance at Temple Pub and they are doing a version of this, one of my favourite songs by The Cranberries, after all this time.
It reminds me to keep on dreaming for myself. I am extremely grateful for dreams, but I remind myself of this lyric often:
“Don’t mind dreams. It’s never quite as it seems. Never quite as it seems.”
I am thankful for February. This winter hasn’t been as cold as some likely have been, but still cold enough for complaints, but I love this time of year better than summer.
I am thankful for anything I can do to distract myself from some of what’s going on in the world these days. I’m nervous that 2020 will be a long, rather scary year in some ways, but that’s why I keep doing all the things that bring me fulfillment and joy to balance it all out.
SA: Not exactly. There are bad stories in which something bad happens. But when I say “bad stories” I mean stories that lead to bad things happening. Stories that are untrue or that are cruel, stories that make people want to break things, rather than build things.
RA: I don’t get it.
SA: Okay. Here’s an example. If I said to you, “You can’t trust people with green eyes, because they will steal your toys. You have a right to play with your toys, don’t you? But if…
Feminists today speak of being descendants of those witches once tried for practicing witchcraft and burnt at the stake.
I see Emma Watson on TV and walking the red carpet with Tom Hanks. She’s doing just fine after playing one on screen for a decade.
I knew very little about witchcraft until I was in my mid twenties. I always heard the word and thought of black magic, frowned upon by God.
I knew not.
Now I picture that giant castle (Hogwarts) and I wish I could have received my letter.
A classic tale of good vs evil, but as the story eventually makes clear, none of us have only, strictly one or the other inside of us.
All those religious groups and parenting groups who protested the Harry Potter books and movies originally thought of evil too, without reading the books themselves, to see what treasures were waiting to be discovered.
Claiming Godliness does not automatically make one an all good person. I think Harry Potter and the many witches and wizards throughout his fictional world can teach valuable lessons about what is right and what true decency looks like.
For fiction, this story was wonderful. It was a magical world, coexisting alongside the non magic world, both containing good and bad. The power of witchcraft had terrible misinformation attached, leading people to judge something without getting to know more about it. Rowling did a wonderful thing, an important thing, in bringing these subjects into the mainstream.
I am particularly affected by the themes in the HP series, as being misjudged is never a welcome place to find oneself.. I don’t want to judge anything unfairly, if I’ve hardly even given it a chance. I would hope all of us could learn from the witches and wizards in the story that J.K. Rowling created.
I sure wish I could wave a wand right now and make things different from what they are, in several areas.
***This is my first year of joining the A to Z Challenge and so I’ve decided to post randomly, as a way for new visitors to my blog to get to know me a little better. I look forward to discovering some interesting new blogs too.
This is a book about pain. Chronic, searing, never-ending pain—a pain that’s shaped Sonya Huber’s life for years. It’s also a book about the language of pain, the discourse of pain, and her gradual movement toward being able to talk and write about her experience with this mysterious thing that dominates her life.
As someone who hasn’t yet experienced chronic pain, I relied on Huber to draw me into her world, to show me what it feels like, to allow me to begin to understand an experience that many of us will, eventually, know first-hand. And she takes on this project masterfully, introducing her readers to pain just as she might introduce a family member. By the end of the book, I’d begun to see my current pain-free state as an aberration, as a temporary fiction, and I was grateful that she’d facilitated my entry into a world…
This is important, because the Brevity blog only reviews books of nonfiction.
So here is my review:
It is an interesting book. A quick read. The paper is nice. The cover feels solid. The entire package fits neatly in your hand.
By the way, royalties from sales of the book are being donated to ProPublica by the publisher, Abrams. ProPublica is an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest.
So there we go. More facts. More nonfiction.
I am beginning to feel pretty good about my book review. I might write some of my good feelings down – in the book, on the…
I am feeling a little like I am frozen, and I’m warm while I say that. I don’t need to be out in a snow bank to say it. It is January, a new year, and I am frozen by many fears. I am afraid I will accomplish nothing, that this year of 2016 will be empty and a blank void in my life. I feel frozen by indecision and by uncertainty, but I hope I can find a way to thaw from that feeling of being frozen by all of this, that I can find the courage to take risks and keep moving forward.
I am equal parts afraid and optimistic. I am a lot hesitant and somewhat hopeful. The fear that I could go a whole year and not get anywhere at all clings on tight. On the other hand, I see a wide open year ahead as full of unknown possibility and promise of something great.
You never know the experiences you might have, the events in life that you just can’t plan for, and the people you may meet, who may come into your life for all kinds of reasons, for the short term only or for longer.
Here I am, a year on from the fear and those remarks I made on my blog at the start of 2016, and a good year for me personally and creatively, trying new things, all by deciding to focus on myself is how 2016 actually turned out.
And now, I end 2016 and begin 2017 by looking back, at the year I’ve just had and ahead to the year to come.
Then, to kick things up a notch, I thought the best way to focus on my writing was to take a writing workshop with a Canadian writer I’ve admired since I began blogging and seriously writing. Carrie Snyder – Obscure CanLit Mama
Her style to creative work was just what I needed and it made me open up and here I am, one year later exactly, off to broaden my writing workshop horizons.
In reality, my brother had just come off a close medical call and was becoming himself again. I had lots to be thankful for.
I just needed a bit of a push, some creative inspiration,
and a path for a new direction in my life.
The year 2016 would, by many, be labeled “The Year All the Greats Died…the cursed year” even if you look at that with perspective from other years, past or future.
It began with David Bowie, but for me, it all started with Snape,
as Bowie hadn’t quite meant to me what he’d meant to many others who felt his loss.
A new year maybe, but a new month meant another #1000Speak,
focusing on the subject of forgiveness.
With the start of 2016 I decided to start a new Friday tradition.
This third month of 2016 would bring more music, as I would discover my theme song for the year and forevermore: Scars – Emmanuel Jal Feat. Nelly Furtado
and I would officially begin to learn how to play the violin, with lessons that would challenge and reward me, in both big and small ways.
Then, in honour of International Day of Happiness, I wrote a piece for March’s #1000Speak
about how music makes me happy.
By this point in the year, I decided to cut back on blogging and write more of the memoir I’ve always planned for.
The writing mentor was a big deal, for that, as great and knowledgeable as she is and as much guidance as she’s been so far, but it was a sign that I could make writing my future – only I could do that.
Weeks before, at the end of May, the lead singer of Canada’s own Tragically Hip announced his fight with brain cancer and all his fans of Canada were listening, especially all across the country, one night in August.
“Regarding the influence from his poet-balladeer father, Cohen has said, “He’s tremendously helpful. Forget that I am his son. I was tutored in lyric-writing by Leonard Cohen and I had his sensibilities to draw upon. And I’m not just talking genetically. I could literally talk to the cat and he could lean over my notebook and point to a couple of phrases and say, ‘These are strong, these are weak.’ How can I consider myself anything but incredibly fortunate.”
Canada loses a great artist and the world all feels it, a distraction, in the form of RIP Leonard Cohen,
just following the chaos in the United States.
I focused on my own personal growth for a greater part of 2016, but managed to fit in a little, last minute dating during the final days. Also, I made new and face-to-face connections with a few local women writers. So, a balance of personal and social, for good measure.
A few of the final famous deaths of 2016 would include daughter/mother pair Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, but for me, it was the loss of this guy that brought me back twenty or so years:
I watched Days of Our Lives multiple days a week, while I was sick at home from school or stuck on dialysis. It was my favourite soap opera of the late 90s, as ridiculous as the storylines always were.
And now, here I am, and another January is upon me.
It is a bit of a contemplative month, with the new year so new and fresh, but I value it for its melancholyish quality. It is a quiet time of reflection and so much possibility ahead.
As a new year begins I search for the motivation I see all around me, the kind that is going to get me to the places I strive to get to. I feel the blueness of January and hope I can find some momentum in the months to come.
My 2016 Resolutions were:
I want to make more connections with writers, creative and smart women, and I want to keep writing. I want to not be afraid to keep putting my words out there, even though the fear of more rejection is a lingering one.
Some make resolutions, others pick one word for their year, but I resist doing both. If I have to choose one word though, I suppose I will go with “Adventure”. I do want more of this, as I believe life is one giant adventure, all the years we get to live it.
One of my favourite Christmas time traditions growing up was to go for a drive on a snowy night to check out all the houses and their lights, coloured or all white. Didn’t matter, not at one time.
This holiday season I still feel grateful for so many things, including the lights of Christmas. It is not so easy to spot houses covered in lights anymore, but I am still thankful. Having traditions at this time of year helps to brighten my mood as the end of another year draws to a close.
And what a year it was.
I am unable to really see this photo now, but sounds nice anyway. Trees. Lights. Snowflakes softly drifting down.
December is here once more. I have a tree-like situation in my living room, lights outside on my house, and snow is starting here in my part of Canada, but all over really.
I am thankful for where I live.
I am thankful because I know Canada isn’t the greatest country in the world, but it is pretty great still. I am happy to see Justin Trudeau using social media, as is how it’s done these days, but he uses it without malice or ugly undertones.
The still current U.S. VP Joe Biden visited Canada this week and spoke to the Prime Minister and the representatives of the provinces, about climate change. It is close to many Canadian’s hearts and on many of our minds, the arctic, pipeline concerns, effects of oil on animal species, and severe weather patterns with melting sea ice. It isn’t so easy to ignore, but I know it isn’t easy to figure out either.
I know a lot of people who live here hate the cold and the snow of the long winter months Canada is so well-known for, but I can’t think of anything better than a still, silent, and snowy night.
I am thankful to have a mother who loves decorating for the holidays and she sets everything up for me, now that I am on my own.
Last year, around this time, our family found ourselves in a frightening situation, likely the most frightening we’d ever experienced, which is saying a whole lot.
It wasn’t so easy and somehow didn’t feel quite so important to decorate for Christmas, while we waited to see what my brother would be like when he woke from a sudden head injury.
Of course, as soon as the shock wore off and things began to look up, family and holidays were once more the priority and felt right to celebrate.
None of us, nobody in fact wants to spend Christmas in a hospital, but they are so nice to have when needed.
I am thankful that I can still see Christmas lights.
Who knows…next year this time…five years from now…ten and beyond. I’m living in the now and enjoying what I have while I have it.
I am thankful for the recognition that is still extremely necessary and is brought into focus on December 3rd, every single year.
It feels good to see the plans forming officially. It will be here before we know it…before I know it. Preparing. I can and I will do this.
I am thankful for the help I’ve received so I can be comfortable with my stuff I will be taking with me, my ability to read and write, and to just fit in and be another member of the class.
I am thankful for the guidance from my writing mentor, a wonderfully helpful local travel agent, my parents, and all the family members who have been so supportive of me wanting to take on a new adventure in 2017.
I’m thankful for some of the fascinating reading material I’ve received already, reading material about one place in particular where we’ll be during the writing workshop.
I am reading New York Times articles about a place of art and that goes by the name, translated from Spanish, to mean “House of Frogs” I believe. Better than “House of Scorpions” as I am a little more nervous at the thought, ever since I read “The Pearl” in high school.
One minute, it went from the reading material from off of my shelf, to use for scanner practice, and then suddenly two copies were being requested. A lovely surprise.
In the last month or two I’ve gotten my anthology possibly sent and traveled all the way to Australia and now a copy will surely live at a school for the blind that I did not attend, but I know lots of people who did.
About half-way through Barbara Hurd’s latest essay collection, Listening to the Savage: River Notes and Half-Heard Melodies, I find myself splayed across a granite boulder in the middle of the small river that runs through my backyard in rural Vermont. Obviously, I am listening for crayfish. An avid river watcher, I confess that until reading this beautiful, brilliant book, I had not considered the role of river listener, or river monitor as Hurd calls herself, pointing out that monitor derives from the Latin monere, which means to warn or advise—even to remind or teach, according to my old Latin dictionary. From my back porch, I often eye the river’s movements, its patterns, its shimmer and light; I watch for deer, wild turkeys, ospreys, foxes, bald eagles, and the occasional Great Blue Heron. Recently, in the shallows near the yard, a few kids appeared, pants hiked…
I heard it was a book about time travel and immediately, my first instinct was to move along, but I’m glad I didn’t.
Time travel isn’t all about science fiction. It means history. I love history.
It also had a lot to do with today and the issues we’re still seeing around matters of racial divides and those who’ve overcome such prejudices and defied those odds.
That I am headed to Mexico for a very special writing workshop.
This just sort of happened suddenly. I received the invite from my writing mentor. She is running the workshop and she made it possible for me to participate.
I will be traveling to Mexico this winter, for a whole week, to learn about writing and literary travel writing.
This is a huge thing for me, traveling so far away from home and family. It is scary, I won’t lie, but at some point, I have to go for my dreams and experience more of the world.
I’ll admit, it’s still far enough away that it doesn’t yet feel real. It’s such a big deal that I am still in some shock that it’s happening at all. Things like that don’t happen to me.
That I have those in my life who support my writing and believe in me, wanting me to have experiences and stories to tell.
I owe it all to my writing mentor, my family, and friends.
It’s months away yet, but I am so excited that I had to share the news on Facebook. Everyone seemed excited for me.
My family know what it means for me and to me, traveling by myself like that, but that I need a chance to grow as a writer and to experience life. They want all that for me and are making it possible.
Also, to my writing mentor, who is in my corner and, as a writer, believes in my abilities.
For another year with a working kidney for my brother.
It’s been three years now, but somehow feels longer.
I guess the whole experience was so new to us all, felt so gigantic, that three years later I look back in wonder.
For my violin teacher’s ability to fix what the music store got wrong.
So, remember, some of you, a few weeks back when I broke a string on my violin?
Well, it took three store employees to figure out why it wouldn’t fit.
So when I got back to my lessons this week, my teacher looked at it and said it was on sideways.
And so, she fixed it, telling me about a product known as peg dope, in the violin world, made for violin peg adjustment.
I just love these new terms I’m learning. I’m also glad I have a teacher who knows what she’s talking about. No offence meant to those hard working guys in the store, but I think I’ll let my violin teacher replace my strings from now on.
That my mother is a pro at sewing.
I hate bathing suit shopping and finding one that fits at all.
I know, as a woman, I am not alone on this one. It used to be that I needed to find one that would cover up any surgical scars I have. Now I was left with one that tied in the back, right below my head, which was uncomfortable and gave me headaches.
Well, when stores failed me and time became a factor, in came my trusty mother and her sewing kit. She transformed a halter top into a bathing suit where the straps actually now go over my shoulders, instead of around my neck.
For a lovely beach day with family.
Okay, so the weather wasn’t ideal. It was cool and cloudy for most of the day. The sun did finally show itself by late afternoon.
The water was still pretty cold, which didn’t stop my mother. She’s the tough one in the family, but my niece braved it with her. My nephew enjoyed the air mattress as a floating device.
My brother had his handy portable grill and we had enough food and snacks to go around.
I was thankful for that grill, as a makeshift fire to sit around, as a way of keeping warm before the sun made its appearance later on.
There was a washed out little stream up on the beach and a log across, which my niece used as a balance beam. Sand castles were made. My brother is a design man, an artist, and it’s possibly being passed on to his little girl. She also loved feeding the sea gulls, which is something I like to think she got from me. That was my favourite thing to do as a little girl, though now I felt rather uneasy when they were flocking all around our group. I prefer them off in the distance, hearing their cries against a backdrop of waves, but my niece was enjoying having them so close, she could almost reach out and touch them. She even put a piece of bread on her head to see if one would take it. They aren’t that bold.
The water was much calmer than the last time. The birthday cupcakes were peanut butter with Spider Man, The Hulk, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, for the birthday boys.
We had a bit of vehicle trouble in the family to end off the night, a flat tire, but luckily, the guy who ran the chip wagon knew about flat tires. All and all, a nice day all together.
That I was invited by another blogger to write about
Thank you, Life Through My Bioscope, for the invitation.
And there you have it. Lots of big things, memories (old and new), and I couldn’t sleep again last night, thinking over everything that happened this week.
I want to find the perfect quote or song, something that comforts me and something I could look to for confirmation that I am doing all the right things and that it will turn out the way I hope it will.
I just don’t think there is such a thing. I guess I can be thankful for mistakes and for nature and for the lessons of travel and life experience. I can be thankful for anonymous organ donation and for people willing to take a chance on little old me.