Month: September 2013

Book Thief Readalong 1

1. What’s your first impression of Death as a character/narrator?
Its a little hard because my first impression was a long time ago.  I remember feeling a little apprehensive and thinking ‘Is this just a gimmick?  What is this going to be like?’  Now on my 5th read through I welcome his sarcastic, slightly bitter tone.  I think it is the only way you could create a nuetral voice in a story about wwII, especially one set in Germany. I know a lot of people struggle with death as the narrator but I think in a book like this you just have to go with it.
I love how the he describes the colors and flavors of the sky when he takes the people.  I can’t explain it but I know exactly what he is talking about.  Different moments in life do have colors and flavors.  Brilliant.
2. What’s your first impression of the unique writing style?
When I first read it I was in a rut where I felt like all book seemed the same.  I found Zusak’s writing to be so different that it was intoxicating. I didn’t want to put it down.  I love how many characters he manages to keep interest in and he doesn’t bog down in details of setting or time but allows the reader to picture a lot of that herself.
I love how death brings makes the reader think.  For example he asks us about fate? Is it the cause of the tragedies:
Of course not.
Let’s not be stupid.
It probably had more to do with the hurled bombs, thrown down by humans hiding in the clouds
.
3. Which character stands out to you the most so far and why?
I loved Rudy.  His innocence with the Jesse Owens stunt and his friendliness with Liesel.  He doesn’t understand what it means to be jewish, catholic or even black.  He in many ways is the opposite of the jaded death character.
I also immediately loved Hans.  My heart always opens to characters with pure intentions.  Hans is a good soul.  He even loves Rosa!
4. What do you think the author is trying to say about the power of words?
Well throughout the book there is a theme of stealing words.  Liesel says she is  “watching the words” when she first learns to read.  Then she steals books throughout the story.  When it gets to the story of the word chaser we see that even the fuhrer cannot stop the power of words and yet he created words.
5. How do you feel about all the foreshadowing that’s going on?
Gripping. Some of it is outright like with Rudy and the kiss and others are more subtle like Liesel learning to read the Gravediggers Handbook or her first book.
6. Also, how do you feel about all that German swearing?!? 
Honestly this I could have done without so much of it.  It really made Rosa a hard character for me to like and it makes the book harder to recommend to younger audiences.  Still, in a way it makes Rosa a more dynamic character.  I couldn’t figure her out on the first 2 readings.  I didn’t like her and still bristle at some of her behavior.
7. What do you think about the relationship between Hans and Rosa?
Rosa is perhaps the most complex character in the novel.  Why is she such a beast and yet she hides a jewish man and a communist’s daughter?  There has to be some good in her.  I couldn’t help but think of some old couples that I know where the man/woman is all gentleness and lightness but their partners are tough and more practical.  It seems like a combo you see a lot.  They don’t give you a ton of her backstory or explain her character motivations.  She works hard and is tired.  Its almost as if she is the death character on earth.
8. What do you think about the relationship between Rudy and Liesel?
Rudy is one of my favorite characters.  He is so sweet and lovely.  I think him and Liesel match well as friends.  They both have a nonchalance that is very appealing and both do not seem to care what others think about them.  I love the moment where Liesel finally unwinds the grief of her brother to Rudy.  Not to an adult but to a fellow-sufferer.

9.  What are your feelings on the politics of the time that we’ve seen so far?

I think Zusak does a good job of keeping the politics and even the setting as a eerie background.  We all know what is meant when Hans and Liesel take the washing to Dachau.  We know what the 3rd Reich did.  As readers we are all just waiting for the characters to figure it out.  Figure out the evil amongst them.  Hans and Rosa know that’s why Hans plays his accordion.  When will the children figure it out?

Death says that the Nazi’s came into power because Germans enjoyed burning things.  “Shops, synagogues, […] personal items, slain people, and of course, books”.  I can see how destruction has its own sense of power and control.  In a time of economic nothingness power could be extra intoxicating but Zusak doesn’t get caught up in these historical details but it is an undercurrent.
10. What images and/or symbols stand out for you in this story so far?

There are a lot.  You have things like the  jewish star, heil hitler, jesse owens, the colors of the sky, everything.

 

What did you guys think of the first part?  Here is the page on Suey’s books with her thoughts.  Enjoy!

http://sueysbooks.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-book-thief-read-along-discussion.html

 

Beach Day!!!

So if you hadn’t gotten the idea yet, I love the beach.  I love the sound of the waves.  I love laying out in the sun reading.  I love swimming in the ocean.  It’s just so great.  Nature’s amusement park if you will.  I miss the beach greatly when I am away for it and haven’t seen it since 2011.

Today I got to go to the beach!!  We went to Seal Beach in California, which was a new beach for me but great.  It’s crowded but beautiful, with a huge pier and lots of parking.  I was just so happy to be back in the water and away from the ‘walking vacation’.

seal beach

The day started great.  We left the hotel and headed to Seal Beach to first meet up with one of my twitter friends Samantha Ferraro.  She is a food blogger and we started talking because of a mutual love of cooking and Julia Child.  The first time we tweeted she asked the question-

twitter

I thought it was funny that anyone would be deciding to make tomato cobbler and orange curd.  After that we kept in touch and she asked for some advice in preparing for a triathlon and we chatted about the open water swimming part.  She lives in Seal Beach so it was too convenient not to meet up, so that’s what we did for lunch.

We ate tacos and chatted and had a lovely time.  I told her to come out to Utah and I can show her around.  It would be fun to cook together sometime.  You can read her food blog at http://littleferrarokitchen.com/

My second tweet up.  Both have been great!
My second tweet up. Both have been great!

It’s so neat the way we can connect with others so easily, have a positive impact and make friends with people we would never come in contact other ways.  I especially love twitter for this.  It is so nice to have a forum to share with likeminded individuals that share common interests.

So after our lunch Maddie, Mom and I went to the beach and spent the rest of the afternoon playing.  I got out my safe swimmer and swam for about 20 minutes.  The current was really strong or I could have gone longer.  It was so much fun!

open water beach beach girls beach2

It was just so peaceful and fun. I could have stayed there forever.  Sadly we had to leave to get back to my folks house and the long trip to Northern California started.  My Mom drove the whole way which I was very grateful for and we had good conversation, so it all turned out well.

Favorite day of the trip- beach day- followed closely by the massage.  So great!

 

Disneyland Day 3

Some things you might not know about me from reading only this blog- I have hard time being happy (even in the happiest place on earth) when I am A. Tired, B. Sore, or C. Hungry.  I realize this may seem very ‘first world’ of me but there you go.  We are all weak in our own way.

Well, today started out pretty good. I was feeling strong after my relaxed day yesterday and ended up spending the morning alone at California Adventure.  I like spending time by myself.  I like that nobody can hear me groan and I can go at my own pace, eat what I want, do what I want.  I suppose this is slightly unhealthy of me but again that’s the way it is with me!

Meeting the big man himself.
Meeting the big man himself.
At Muppets 3D.  Don't I look Judge Dredd?
At Muppets 3D. Don’t I look Judge Dredd?

So everything was going well and then after a few hours my feet were beginning to hurt and I headed over to Disneyland to meet up with my sister and Mom.  I waited for the omnibus which was taking forever.  Then I decided to take the train and as I was traveling realized I didn’t have my cell phone.  I had to wait until the train stopped, walk back to the omnibus area and it wasn’t there.  (It was also close to 100 degrees plus humidity!).  I went to lost and found and spent time filling out a report with a rather unhelpful lady (and very hard to understand).

I also didn’t know my sisters cell phone number or I would have called her to meet up.  My Mom didn’t have her phone.  Anyway, I had no idea what to do. Then we called my Dad ( I realized I only have 4 phone numbers memorized.  Not good!).  He was able to reach Madi’s phone and she actually had my phone!  I guess someone had found it and called the last number which was her.  Thanks kind stranger.

Anyway, I was pretty stressed out and then when I went to get back into the park I couldn’t find my ticket.  Despite taking a photo of me and stamping my hand they still require a ticket. Sorry Disney but that is dumb!  The whole situation made me cry.

tears
So that’s what I look like when I cry friends

A lot of this has to do with my frustrations over my pain and my unmet expectations of training and working hard on my physical fitness.  I was hoping to have more energy and fun this trip.  It was very disappointing.

So that was the drama for the day (worthy of a Disney movie right?).  Don’t worry though. It got better quick.

A smile back on my face
A smile back on my face

I’ve learned from this trip something about myself.  I like vacations where I can sleep, reconnect with myself and soak in sun (and swim as much as possible).  My Mom referred to Disneyland as a ‘walking vacation’.  Here’s what I now know:  I don’t like walking vacations.  I like sleeping vacations.

My style of vacation
My style of vacation

Good thing to learn about myself right?

So, I don’t want you all to think I didn’t have a good time or am ungrateful because that’s not true.  I did have fun.  I am grateful, especially for my Dad, everyone at Poler and my roommate for making this all happen.  Thank you so much!

Now tomorrow I’m going to the beach.  HURRAY!!!!  I can’t wait.

So you’ve got to keep learning and growing.  Hope you are all doing well.

 

 

 

 

Rest Day at Disney

So I’m here in Anaheim for my first vacation in 3 years.  Yesterday I had a fun day at Disneyland but was pretty exhausted and my feet hurt very badly.  My back had also been seizing up on me.  Normally in my training I can take a day off to recover after a day on.  Walking all day is one of the hardest things for me.  I would much rather swim a 5k than stand and walk for hours.  Strange I know but its true.

I woke up this morning and knew I was in trouble.  I was in a lot of pain and didn’t want to move out of my bed.  Even my new shoes weren’t helping much.  I honestly thought about getting a scooter but that felt so embarrassing.   Plus, I’d worked so hard and was frustrated that nothing seemed to be showing from it.  I had gotten the whole inspiration to get in shape from going to Disneyland in 2010 and having so much feet pain. I thought that if I got in shape I would be able to do better but it didn’t work out that way.

I guess I just have bad feet and walking all day isn’t my thing.  I’ll swim all day instead!

Anyway, I was at the park until about 2 pm and went to the hotel and honestly felt really discouraged.  I was in pain and discouraged about it.  I felt like a failure and a little judged, not by family but by the nameless masses at Disneyland (I realize that is ridiculous but sometimes we are ridiculous!)

After a little cry I went for a swim with my Mom and that made me feel much better spiritually and physically.  Then I said to myself ‘I wish I could have a massage right now, especially on my feet.  Then I said ‘maybe I can?’  I did a quick google and found a service that did door-to-door massages and the price was reasonable.  I made the appointment and they came at 5:15.  It was an hour long and the best massage I’ve ever had.  It was deep and strong but so great.  I felt near-comatose after, so relaxed.

Me in relaxed state!
Me in relaxed state!

Then I ordered thai food and relaxed the rest of the day.  I feel like I’ll be ready to go for tomorrow.  Wahoo! I realized something about myself.  If I’m going to have fun on vacation I need to plan a day on full of busyness, a day off relaxing, repeat.  I think that will be true no matter what shape I’m in.  When you have chronic pain that’s the way life is.

So I may have wasted a day at Disney but I don’t see it that way.  I learned something about myself and had the day I wanted to have.   Its my vacation and I have to take responsibility for having a good time.  That’s the way it is! Live and learn.

 

 

 

Disneyland Day 1

So we had a successful day in Disneyland.  I was amazed at how much we go through in 1 day.  I honestly did almost every ride I wanted aside from the one’s that were closed (thunder mountain railroad and haunted mansion are closed 😦 ).  Its hard for me to stand and walk for hours.  I was hoping as I got in better shape that would improve but it really hasn’t.  In fact, if anything its gotten worse as my pain sensitivity and fibro has increased.

Tomorrow I plan on taking things more slowly with breaks.  I also bought shoes today that should help.  I just wish my feet and back weren’t so sensitive.  It would make things like this a lot more fun.

It was also super hot today.  99 degrees with high humidity.  Made the whole day challenging for me; nevertheless, it is the happiest place on earth and my first vacation in 3 years.  Still had a great time and am very blessed.   The prices also seemed more reasonable than I remembered them. I don’t know if that is because everything else has gotten more expensive or prices at Disney have gone down. Either way it wasn’t too bad.

Here are some photos of the trip so far.

Madi, Sam, Rachel
Madi, Sam, Rachel
Sam was a sweetie and carried our stuff in his backpack.
Sam was a sweetie and carried our stuff in his backpack.
My BYU shirt actually got a lot of questions and comments.  Go Mormons!
My BYU shirt actually got a lot of questions and comments. Go Mormons!
It was so hot had to get ice cream
It was so hot had to get ice cream
dole whip. Only other place you can get them is the Dole Plantation in my beloved Haleiwa. Been dreaming about them.
dole whip. Only other place you can get them is the Dole Plantation in my beloved Haleiwa. Been dreaming about them.
Entrance to park
Entrance to park
3 Wagner girls
3 Wagner girls
Mickey Mouse!
Mickey Mouse!
Minnie
Minnie
Brother and sister
Brother and sister
Hurray comfortable shoes!
Hurray comfortable shoes!
Madi and I.  Her feet weren't as big a problem and she could have gone 24 hours at the park. Sigh...
Madi and I. Her feet weren’t as big a problem and she could have gone 24 hours at the park. Sigh…
the girls at the castle
the girls at the castle
Yeah, space mountain kind of whooped me.  I'm not as young as I once was
Yeah, space mountain kind of whooped me. I’m not as young as I once was

 

If You Love Kids Why Don’t You Get Married?

All 5 of my nieces are above average in intelligence and vocabulary, and I’m not just saying that as a proud aunt, its true.   My oldest niece reads a book a day and can converse on a variety of topics.  Sometimes I think it is hard for her to be the oldest and spend so much time with younger, less mature minds.

I think I have a pretty good relationship with my nieces despite the fact that none of them live near me.  That said, I know there is a lot of my life that seems like a mystery to them.  I live in Utah.  I’m not married.  I don’t have kids.  How can that be?  In fact, the last couple of years every time I see my oldest niece she says ‘Rachel, why aren’t you married?’.   Yesterday it was ‘If you can take care of all of us little kids, why don’t you get your own little kids to take care of?

Ah the simplicity of youth.  I wish marriage was the result of readiness or abilities.  Unfortunately there’s this annoying thing called choice and chemistry…Sigh.

Sometimes I wish I could just have 4 or 5 options and just pick one and make it work.  This randomly meeting the love of my life thing isn’t working out very well.  Set ups and online dating provide few dates so I am left just trying my best to answer my nieces question.  What do you say? Here’s how the conversation goes?

“Well, I can’t have kids until I get married and I can’t get married until I fall in love”

Her response “Well why don’t you fall in love?”

My response “I’m ready but sometimes it just doesn’t happen”

She looks at me skeptically and adds

“If you don’t get married and have children how can you be happy?”

Sigh…I’m sure many young moms are thinking this kid has no idea how hard it is and that is true!  However, there is also great happiness.

I finally have to say

“I don’t know why I haven’t fallen in love, but I hope I will someday”

Still with worry another niece says:

“You should just adopt your own babies”

“That would be fun but hard to do all alone” I reply

Then the conversation wanes. If only there were better answers to all these questions.  And yes, I’ve tried online dating and its not for me.

That’s what I hate the most about dating is how impotent it makes me feel.  There is this big life goal that I know will add to my happiness (even eternal happiness) and there is almost nothing I can do about it.  How do you force love?  Force someone to love you?  You can’t.  You just have to hold out hope and be happy.

It’s just frustrating to have such a big thing in the human experience that is so outside our control.  I sometimes feel like I’m missing out on the most human experience.

To have lived and never fallen in love? Is that a life at all?  Art, music, movies, books would say no.

I know that it is, but it still makes me sad every now and then that I don’t have a better answer to “Why haven’t you fallen in love?”

Why indeed?  Only God knows.

hold-up-heart