Author Archives: Jill Reed

About Jill Reed

Nerdy PhD passionate about education, fitness and the environment. Currently living pura vida in Costa Rica with kids and dogs. Reinventing for the umpteenth time and writing content for all the land.

Alone on the (Beautiful) Farm

We live on a beautiful picturesque farm outside Charlottesville in the mountains of central Virginia with horses, goats, chickens, sheep, a few dogs and a token cat (www.riverrockfarmva.com). All told it’s close to 40 acres and sidles right up alongside a gurgling, sometimes rushing, river. In addition to the animals, we maintain a sweet little guest cottage that rents short term on a vacation rental website. It is idyllic. It is full of breathtaking colors, views that stretch for days, and happy little boys who frolic about without a care in the world. It is lonely. It is hard work and it is severely isolating on many days. There is a disconnect, quite literally. I sit writing this blog post in the library in the city, because we lack the infrastructure for fiber internet. When all the houses between us and the connection box are home, it can slow to a crawl that would make you mourn for the days of dial up.

For the past two years my wife has been coaching full time and I’ve been in charge of the farm and the rental quite a bit, and then there are our boys. At five and seven, life is full of sweet questions, heated arguments, picking and fighting, and endless needs. My hands are never idle. And yet, my brain feels full of absolute gobbledygook: songs that make no sense, reminders to record Ninja Warrior, relentless grocery lists, dates for visitors, dates for opening and closing the pool, dates for potential wedding events that utilize our new venue, birthday wishes, underwear sizes, lunch preferences, water bottle locations, stain removal secrets.

I spend my days teaching kindergarten (no, literally, I do), cramming in training runs, cleaning toilet after toilet after toilet, washing the craft table, vacuuming dog hair, fixing creative kid dinners, organizing gift baskets and flowers for guests, calling Century Link for the 8000th time (you know those calls take over an hour each), taking a sick cat to the vet, feeding a crazy ram who wants me to pet him but will actually end up killing me I’m sure, looking for baby lambs to drop any minute, tossing hay (I’m hyper allergic). I’m so tired of listening to my shit I can’t write anymore about it.

The other day, exhausted, I came home and reluctantly googled “tired mom farm business” and pulled up two op-ed type pieces about the typical hang in the mom, you’re doing a great job BS, and then some farm businesses that cater to small children and families. I was looking for some camaraderie, similar voices. I found none.

So, I’m writing about it myself. I’m freaking tired and I’m beat and I feel super isolated on my farm with my kids.

So today I’ve been googling home swaps. In Chile, or Bali, or Sweden, or Spain. Anyone interested? I have a really great farm with sweeping Blue Ridge views and picture perfect farm critters.

Extreme Momming, Laird Hamilton, Wim Hof and Ironing

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Laird Hamilton & Gabby Reece

So I opened my mid-morning Sunday with some yacht rock and a core workout, but I’ve been thinking about this Wim Hof method lately because I’m currently reading Scott Carney’s book What Doesn’t Kill Us about his adventures in pursuing Wim Hof, his breathing method, and his various disciples. I just finished the chapter on Laird Hamilton who I’ve admired for years because of his devotion to the water and his genuinely over the top approach to his own fitness. Dude does squat jumps from 12 feet under water with 50 pounds of dumbbells. Insane. But he also rides 40 foot waves. His XPT program is another post entirely. I digress.

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Passing out

Wim Hof. Anyway. I’m doing my measly 40 minute core workout on dry land, in a climate controlled home, and I think, why not just see if the breathing/push-up thing is something? So, post measly workout, I get into the easiest position I can for falling into pushups. (NB: I tried this yesterday and I nearly blacked out. Of course, I was in a hot shower and had just finished running 10 miles.) At any rate, I’m taking precautions today. I breathe 1 second in and 1 second out for 40 breaths. I expel all the air I can and drop into pushups. I manage 15 before I need to breathe. I was hoping for 20. I check my heart rate – 122. That can’t be right, but I take my pulse at my carotid and it is. I start over and this time I hold my breath and manage 23 pushups. Pulse is 124, it rises slightly to 134 before dropping back again. I try again and get to 25 pushups. For real?

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Wim Hof

Tip of the iceberg. Literally. Wim Hof’s method also includes extreme cold training – running shirtless in the snow, ice baths, meditating barely clothed on ice, and alternatively, spending time heating up in the sauna. All of this in an effort to tap into human abilities we have seemingly underutilized over the course of our relatively quick evolution. Our bodies are far more capable than we realize. Given time and the proper training Hof postulates that humans can essentially heal themselves.

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XIT Extreme Iron Training

All of this leads me to this. My workout is done, my silly little test is complete for today and now I am ironing and it looks like this:

Travels with the River Rock Crew: Christmas in Eleuthera Edition

 

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Over Christmas break our family traveled to the Bahamas for 12 days in paradise. Once you know we traveled with children you might assume this was a trip and not a vacation. I am writing to assure you that it was indeed a vacation for all of us. My wife spent time with her kids and her sisters and mother, my kids engaged gleefully with their Montana cousins and I read books, stand up paddled, napped in a hammock, day drank, and still maintained my training schedule. We had all the fabulousness because we rented the amazing Five Palms beach house on Eleuthera, an out island in the friendliest place in the Caribbean. How did you get there? How did you find the house and what made it so special? What did you eat and what did you feed your children? What activities are there? How was the weather? These are the things you want to know and I will tell you.

 

How did you get there?

My wife and I have been to Eleuthera once before in 2009. We rented a house in the busiest area of the island, Governor’s Harbour, specifically, Banks Road. When I say busy, I mean probably the easiest place to be if you are feeling somewhat out of your element and you need to be surrounded by others just like you. Although, truthfully, Harbour Island is more for you if you’re feeling this way, but that’s another post. My point is, we knew that Eleuthera was slower, less populated, and much more rustic than some of the other places in the Bahamas. Just our style. We enjoy places that are somewhat difficult to reach. It keeps the riff raff out. You must fly into Nassau and catch a Bahamas Air or Pineapple Air flight into GHB (Governor’s Harbour), ELH (Northern Eleuthera) or RSD (Rock Sound). Alternatively, you can fly from Fort Lauderdale into ELH, but that’s mainly for people headed to Harbour Island – it’s way north, and Eleuthera is a LONG island. You could also charter from Fort Lauderdale, West Palm or Nassau. During the Christmas holiday, that’s not a bad option, but $$$.

We flew Charlottesville to Atlanta to Nassau and then overnighted before our Bahamas Air flight the next day or so we thought. Bahamas Air, for whatever reason, delayed so late that evening that the “sunset rule” came into play. No flight can and on the out islands after sunset. What?! So we had to spend another night unexpectedly in Nassau and that was $$$. We could have chartered at that point. My advice? Book Pineapple Air. All their flights got out on time. But they only go from Nassau.

I was weary of schlepping our shit and our kids’ shit. But we made it, the next morning and all was well. We were greeted at the airport by the lovely house manager and our rental van which, by the way, accommodated our entire party of 11. The van came with the house at an additional fee and was perfect for our needs. When in Eleuthera, be advised, there is no Enterprise rent a car, you must know someone who knows someone. Ask your house manager or the people you’re renting from or the hotel you’re staying. Cabs are $$$ and inconsistent. You’ll want a car.

 

How did you find the house?

I started looking almost a year in advance and I found Five Palms on VRBO. It had stellar reviews, it accommodated my large group nicely with 7 bedrooms, plus an additional guest house if you need it, and the owners’ don’t change the rates for holidays. HUGE BONUS. When you’re looking at rates, remember to factor in a huge VAT tax (13%), cleaning fees, and tips for the house manager and team. This house also had the added bonus of its own website so we could see additional information such as local fishing rentals, in home cooking services, and we avoided VRBO’s ridiculous service fees which would have added over $1000 to our cost. We booked directly with the family through their paypal. Easy peezy, lemon squeezy. My biggest concern was that the house was so far south for us, but it turned out to be the perfect location.

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Why was it so special?

Five Palms has room for all the family to have their own space and bathrooms. That’s crucial. It also had everything we needed. The game room and entertainment space for the kids (and the rest of us really) was amazing: cushy wrap around couch, big tv and over 250 movies for movie night, games galore, books, puzzles, gobs of legos, an art center for the littles, a wii system and games. I’ve rented all over the world from VRBO houses and I’ve never seen one this stocked. We had access to washer and dryer, the house was fully stocked with paper products, cooking products including two coffee makers, waffle maker griddle, crock pot, margarita maker, pizza stone, lobster pots. The kitchen was spacious and was even able to handle all the people who wanted to be in it at the same time. The dining room was set up perfectly for large families and included lots of placemats, cloth napkins, coasters, candles, everything we needed to make our dinners magical. Julian, the caretaker, was there every single morning to clean the pool and beach and pull out what we needed: kayaks, surfboards, SUPs, fishing gear, boogie boards, floats, life jackets, snorkel gear, chairs, towels, you name it. They even had sunscreen, bug spray, coolers, and beach bags. The beds were super comfy, the bunk room for the kids was a dream and they all wanted to sleep there together. That was a first for us and very special. Sunrise every morning was a shared event either on the back deck or through the gigantic wall of windows across the living, dining and kitchen area of the house. My mother in law liked to jokingly say, “Another terrible day on this god-forsaken island!”

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We could have stayed at the house everyday, but we did venture out. We explored Ten Bay Beach twice, the beach across the street was great for shelling and snorkeling and we drove up to Harbour Island one day, too. It was horribly crowded and we were so glad to get back to Five Palms, stopping by French Leave for sunset on the way back.

What did you eat and what did you feed your children?

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We ate mostly what we eat at home. Beryl, our lovely house manager, stocked us before we got there with my own grocery list I emailed a week ahead. She also ran out for us mid-week because it was a holiday week and we were running out of milk. She called around, found it and ran to get it for us. And she was the best price in Eleuthera, guaranteed. Very is also available to cook for you. She made dinner for us one night and it was spectacular local grouper. What a treat! We did take down a cooler of meat we’d frozen before we left. We brought organic beef from Costco, a huge whole filet tenderloin (for Christmas dinner), chicken breasts, and pork chops. Fresh fish can be bought on island. Also, the best grocery store in Eleuthera is in Rock Sound, minutes from your doorstep. Fresh produce, cereal, milk, eggs, cheese, ovaltine, doritos, organic chicken, whatever you need. But expect to spend big bucks at the store. That’s just the rule. Everything is brought in. We ate dinner out one night at Rainbow Inn – love the atmosphere. The food is fine. Mostly we ate meals in or packed lunches for the beach.

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Activities?

We sailed, swam, snorkeled, fished, shelled, walked, ran, stand up paddled, boogie boarded, sunbathed, kayaked, explored, and boozed it up a little. I read a lot. The kids did all of the above and created lots of art, played games, watched a couple movies (at night) and did sparklers, danced, surfed on floats in the pool, you name it.

No one was ever bored.

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How was the weather?

AMAZING. I was super worried it would be shite. The year we went (2009) it was cloudy, overcast, gray, dreary, rainy and crap. It was even cold, windy, uninviting. I was so paranoid it would be like that again, but it was a dream. Every day was in the 80’s and sunny. We had one windy day at the house and we simply trotted over to the beach across the island and it was perfectly calm and delightful.

I cannot rave enough about this vacation. It was a very special one for our whole family and we are so incredibly grateful that we found this place and were able to gather together for memory making. Our kids will talk about it for a long time. Forever I hope.

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Super Mom, Super Tired

This fall I will turn forty. My first notion was to book a fabulous beach vacation somewhere that requires a passport and invite all my friends, but then I realized what a pain in the ass it is to take time off from work and family, spend money (not necessarily on a place you want to go), and just to simply be out of your routine for more than a couple days. So I bagged the idea of asking my friends to join me.

Once I knew it would be a solo adventure, I started to narrow down my list of locations. The rules were as follows:

1. It must be somewhere I have never been;

2. It must have an amazing beach and warm sunshine;

3. There must be alcohol (in other words, we’re not going to the Perhention Islands).

My list included Peru, Sri Lanka, Portugal, and Hawaii. I want to hike, run, swim, stand up paddle, do some yoga, maybe some pilates, definitely have cocktails. So long story short, I picked Hawaii, which seems SO LAME compared to the other more exotic locations, but I’ve never been and then there’s this – One of my former students who was born and raised on Maui is leaving four years in the Peace Corps in Uganda and returning home this summer, so I have a home base, a connection to the localness. That was the final straw. I booked the ticket. Done and dusted.

But that’s not enough, is it?

I just happened to look up some running options for that week in Maui and it just so happens that it’s the weekend of the Maui Marathon. So, I registered for the half. I swore I would NEVER run more than 8 miles, but you know what? I have lungs and they work. It seems these last few years people I love have been losing their lung abilities. Well, I still have mine and they work and I can run. So that’s that.

Except now I’m training and this is what I feel like all the time:

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My Summer of Loss

What a summer. Talk about having the wind knocked out of you. About a month after I gave birth to the twins at 36 weeks, my very special handsome boy Henry (my oldest golden retriever) decided to pass on his supper one night and there began my nightmare. All my subsequent doctors’ visits and surgical procedures, and adventures in injecting pain killers are well documented at our George and Henry website. 20140902-212318.jpg

I got Henry when I started grad school in 2004, seems like a million years ago. Just feels like he’s always been there. Grabbing balls out of the chuck it, dropping boulders on my toes, doing jujitsu on my legs while trying to steal a soccer ball, gently babysitting my two year old, torturing anyone who would throw something for him to fetch or catch, cavorting in the river, running in the woods – plume of a tail high in the air. Always, always there. Sweet, loving, gentle, athletic, heartful, and so very, very handsome. I knew from the beginning, after we managed to pull through the red mange he had as a puppy (genetic disease), that he was an angel, honest to God, an angel. I’d only get him for a little while and I’d have to give him back. I knew it. I just didn’t think it’d be this soon. There’s a heavy, deep hole in my heart. The raw and sharp pain of loss lessens a little each day, but the ache of missing him feels like it will never go away. He’s everywhere. Here on the farm, in my car, around town, in the eyes of my other dogs, and two weeks from now, I’ll see him everywhere I go on Nantucket. Aside from River Rock, that was his most favorite place on earth.

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At any rate, I felt like writing about him and I wanted to share this little story about him: This is a photo of our chimney. The stonemasons we hired to work on our house are two highly skilled brothers. This story involves them, but first, let me set it up a bit.

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We built our home over the course of a year, basically the first year of our first son’s life. So Henry was going through a big change – he was learning to share me a little (with the baby), and he was doing so well. Mainly because he’s such a likeable easy going guy. There was a team of three guys who built our home, but we had lots of subs in and out during this time also. Well, once Henry figured out he could sucker almost anybody on our building team to toss him a ball or a stick or even a rock, he was over at the jobsite almost every single day, rain or shine. He’d follow Christie over every morning after the walk and he’d stay long after she left.
Here’s where the stonemasons come in. Both fellas grew particularly fond of Henry and would entertain him for hours, throwing sticks, rocks, balls, whatever, and sharing their lunches with him. They had him running quite alot. A good portion of Henry’s arthritis might be attributed to this relationship. At any rate, the stone masons were really impressed with the size and sheer number of rocks Henry would bring up from the River. They joked that he was adding to their pile (all the rocks they used were quarried from our river bed). One day they were so chuffed they decided to use this one rock in their work on the chimney. In fact, they made sure that when they placed it, it would be low enough that it would always be at Henry’s eye-level. He could trot by and see his contribution to the chimney anytime. It’s a beautiful pinkish hued River Rock in the shape of a heart. And that’s my Henry. Not only did he get me, but he got to me, and he got to everyone else, too. He was a very special dog – this is his rock, it hides behind the hydrangea now.

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I found this poem last night that hits close. I don’t know who Holly Gray is but I feel her grief. It’s awful quiet around here.

To our Golden Retriever, Shockoe

I sit and try to write the words, I want your heart to hear.
Hoping to find some comfort, in the fact that your not here.
I look out into the open field, that you once occupied,
Knowing now that field is empty, because my love, you’ve died.
I do believe with all my heart, that your soul has gone to be,
With all the other angel dogs, that you were meant to see.
We will have to stay behind, until God calls us too,
So do not be afraid, that he’s only called for you.
The water is still, in the pond that you played,
And your bed is so empty, where your pretty head laid.
Our bed is to empty, where you once laid between,
the two people who LOVED you and now only dream,
That one day our eyes will shut one last time,
and you will come greet us, angel of mine.
Until then, I’ll keep trying to see through my tears,
with memories you left us, to reflect through the years.
We’ll never forget one minute we spent,
of loving and laughing, of places we went.
And I dread the day that your scent disappears,
for it’s “proof” to me, Shockie, that you were just here!
But one day will come, when we’ll start to see through,
the pain of the moment, and remember just “you”.
Now you go and play, and look down when you can,
remembering we love you, and this isn’t the end.

-Holly W. Gray, Shockie’s mommy

Norman Reedus, Prince George, Ice Breakers, & Sarah McLachlan or ‘News from My Week.’

I’m an hour late to swim laps this morning so why not take time to drop some completely ridiculous and unnecessary news and updates from my world? So here:
1. My grossly over pregnant self has worked up to 1200M in 30 min. Yay me!
2. At the beginning of this week I had a dream wherein MeNotMe/Beth won a huge walker fight and then made out with Norman Reedus. Despite my aversion to greasy hair, it was actually kind of hot.

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3. I’ve eaten three pieces of grape ice breakers ice cubes this morning. Yum.

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4. Prince George has affirmed my obsession with smocking and English sandals on adorable squishy baby boys.

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5. Guess who gets to see Sarah McLachlan this summer at the Cville Pavilion? This girl. Very very excited. Would’ve flown to freezing ass Canada to see her if I had to.

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Red Rubber Boots, Trader Joe’s & Running Dreams

So there are three things on my mind. Well, right, there are a million things on my mind at all times, but there are three that I feel like jotting down. 1. Every night when I lay down with my big kid to read stories (typically gathered from the library) there’s a little voice in my head that says I should document and share the really good ones. Tonight I’ll share Red Rubber Boot Day. 2. I love Trader Joe’s. I didn’t want to, but I do. I actually found myself saying out loud as I drove past it the other day on our way back into town, “Jeeze, I feel sorry for all those people that don’t have a Trader Joe’s.” 3. I REALLY REALLY MISS RUNNING. WTF. I never in a million years thought I’d miss something I used to dread doing, but I really miss it. So much so, I dreamed about it last night.

So, here’s number one:

Red Rubber Boot DayI apologize for the shiteous photo, but I was trying to squeeze in the author and illustrator. Author: Mary Lyn Ray and Illustrator: Lauren Stringer. My kid loves to jump in muddy puddles and we are so GD sick of snow and icky wintery-ness that we picked this book at the library Saturday to remind us that spring is on the way! Tonight was the first time I read it to him and it’s absolutely beautiful. I started to think that when I hit this page:

Boots and Bare FeetYou can literally feel the “green rain” squishing between your toes and under your arches. You can smell the muddy puddles and feel the cold drops. The drips from the leaves, and I swear it’s only the latter half of the book that takes place outside. The rest of it is just as beautiful but it was at this point that I started to feel it. I recommend this one. It’s very simple, so young kids (2-4 I guess).

Now, Trader Joe’s. The berries, the full fat creamy little tiny yogurts, almond milk, sunflower seed butter, coconut oil, lava cakes, salsa, pasta sauces especially the vodka sauce, olive oils, organic butter, whole chicken in brine, fresh flowers, belgian pancakes, dried fruits. Not the veggies, not the lunch meat. The veggies go bad quickly and my kids don’t like the lunch meat. Also, they have Kind bars at the best price in town. You can’t do all your grocery shopping there, but you can find some treasures. Lots of whole foody type stuff at regular people prices. I love you, Trader Joe’s.

Last night I dreamt that I was running in shorts on a hot day. My legs looked awesome – tan, long, lean. I had no belly. What pregnancy? I remember that my shorts were orange and pink and that I kept looking at my fit bit that was somehow also timing my run. I was absolutely besting any PR I have ever dreamed of for a mile. Like, for real, my time was something ridiculous – maybe 6:24. Only in my dreams. But it felt so damn good, running, taking in the road, the sights, the sounds, the people, the warmth, the sunshine and the day. I miss it. I miss it. I miss it. In fact, I hate running in the pool so much that I actually got out at the 30 minute mark today and swam 500M at speed, in the lap pool. MUHAHAHAHAHAHA. Take that, twin pregnancy! July 9. Get here.

 

 

Trends in Human Hair

I wasn’t expecting this topic to be my first blog post back from “getting knocked up” hiatus, but I couldn’t resist. With so many awesome phrases within this Slate article pertaining to lady bush, how could I not share. You know how I loathe stray human hair.
Here’s the Slate piece on the NYT piece, complete with a fabulous photo of bushy mannequins.

Just Finished Reading…

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I just returned home from a quick trip to Colorado and I had loads of time to kill while there as I was on bed rest for a day and a half. I started reading Next Stop by Glen Finland on the way out and finished it on the plane into Denver. My wife picked up Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan for me to read while I was on bed rest. I finished it before we left the hotel to come home. Days later back at home and inundated with playing catch up (and catch the little people) I am still thinking about both stories. 

SIMILARITIES:

Strong parent advocacy for a child

Mental illness and the stigma associated with its diagnosis

Disease with shockingly many unknowns

Misdiagnosis

Strong parental relationships (despite divorce, hardship, etc.)

Resilience and independence (the child’s)

Incremental growth or recovery in very small, sometimes painful baby steps

At the center of Brain on Fire is Susannah Cahalan, a successful, but young reporter for the New York Post whose normal daily functioning is quickly overtaken by some unknown ailment which causes her to deteriorate into a state of psychosis. Next Stop is one mother’s story of her son David who is born with Autism, but of course, it takes years of doctors’ visits, special schools and repeated testing in order to arrive at this diagnosis. In both stories the parental support is vital to the eventual diagnoses and treatments.

ISOLATION. There are many moments in Brain on FIre where the reader can feel the total isolation of Susannah and, at times, her father as he follows her every step of the way into the darkness of her disease – the outbursts, the paranoia, the escape attempts, the awkward uncontrollable limb movements and eventually the catatonic state into which she slides before meeting Dr. Najjar. It is so very clear that as the physical ailments slowly get ticked off the list of probable cause and the shift moves toward complete psychological diagnosis, doctors and nurses slowly turn away from her and her parents. “I can’t help you, I’m off the case,” they say. Glen Finland writes in Next Stop of feeling isolated in the grocery store even when she recognizes a father and his autistic son in the aisles. She wants desperately to pat him on the shoulder and say, “You’re doing a great job,” but she realizes that once you’ve met one autistic child, you’ve met one autistic child. Every single one is different. Even in physical therapy with her son David at  very young age she looks around the room and sees so many other overwhelmed and tired faces (of parents) that she is reluctant to share her story or her feelings with the other parents. How isolating is that? You’re all going through similar things and yet you can’t share the burden. It’s already too much.

RESCUE. Susannah’s case is eventually turned over to Dr. Souhel Najjar who through a series of simple tests including one in which he asks her to draw a clock, he discovers that she has a disease only recently named in 2007 – Anti NMDA receptor encephalitis. Its progression of symptoms include (taken from Wikipedia):

  1. A prodromal phase of nonspecific viral-like symptoms (fever, headache etc).  
  2. Psychiatric disturbances with schizophrenic-like manifestations (hallucinations, visions, suicidal ideation). This is usually the phase that patients are admitted to hospital.
  3. Memory impairment – in particular anterograde amnesia.
  4. Dyskinesias (especially orofacial) and seizures (often tonic clonic but not associated with epileptiform activity as assessed by electroencephalography).
  5. Loss of responsiveness, low Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS).
  6. Hypoventilation/central respiratory depression.
  7. Autonomic instability (e.g. variations in blood pressure and salivation rates).                                                                                                            You can see how one might be considered a psychiatric patient headed for a for-life facility. And the shit kicker for poor Susannah is that even when she’s on the mend, she has to go back through each stage in order to reach full recovery (which no one was sure she’d actually reach).

David’s consistent support and rescue team includes his parents (mostly his mom), his brothers and, in a few cases, some of his brothers’ coaches. Public school, private school, back to public school, vocational school, and finally a program in Florida that is meant to be training for life on his own. All the way through, his mother is there, watching, taking notes, pushing and making sure David gets the care he needs. Eventually she sets him free on the metro – to explore, to learn, to become fully independent.

PROCESS and CLARITY. Susannah, a trained and skillful reporter, leans on her strengths in order to process the life changing experience, particularly since she cannot recall at least one month of her life. She looks for clarity through interviews with doctors, family members, nurses, co-workers, and neighbors; video of her time in the epilepsy ward at NYU; journals her father and mother kept while she was in the hospital; personal research on her disease. She slowly pieces together and writes her story. David runs. He runs so fast and so hard and so long that his high school track coach picks him up for the cross country team. He runs for his independence, for his sense of self, for the simple pleasure it gives him. He runs the Marine Corps Marathon – perhaps the most emotional point in the story for me (and there were MANY). 

Certainly these are very different stories about very different people, but they’re so fresh in my mind, I just can’t help but see the similarities.

No parent will get through Next Stop without some serious emotional connections. Heartbreakingly beautiful. I dare you to get through Brain on Fire without being horrified at how simple it would be to disappear into a psychiatric ward in an unforgiving and inflexible health system where psychiatric disease still has so much stigma still attached to it. Also, it totally makes me rethink Linda Blair and Emily Rose. And all the other crap shows I’ve watched on demonic possession.

  

 

 

Allegiant Ends Divergent Series…

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There are so many reasons I love the Divergent series, mainly because I can’t wait to see Shailene Woodly make it through Dauntless initiation and hook up with hottie Four (Theo James), but also because it’s been a fast paced, dark, twisted, thrilling and passionate series thus far. That said, I just finished Allegiant tonight – last book in the series – just came out. I didn’t love it. The explanation(s) for the dystopia (government, always the government) & the fractured social landscape served only to disorient an over analytical (Erudite) reader. But, I am an overeducated douche reading teen lit. Anyway, I found it jumbled, cheesy, too loose and especially brisk in its wrap up and then overly sentimental in the conclusion. What’d you think?
Here’s where I begin my chant: “Bring back Tris! Bring back Tris! Bring back Tris!” Come on! Really?