Saturday, July 16, 2016


When I was younger, I worked as a grave digger. I naively thought it would be cool, then I thought eh, it’s just a job. Then I ended up having to help dig a grave for a kid and I quit that day. I couldn’t do it. I never wanted to dig a grave again in my life.

 I dug a grave today.

 My sweet little dog Amelia was hit by a car, she died as I put my hand on her chest. She was a member of the family only for a bit over a year. She was probably about nine months when we adopted her, they said. We adopted her on February 7, 2015, and she passed away today, July 16, 2016. 

 She was across the street and I called to her to get her to come home. She came running toward me. I’ll never forget that image, and I’ll never feel like it wasn’t my fault. I ran to her. I watched her take her last few breaths, her tongue hanging out of her mouth. I touched her and she stopped moving. I picked her up and cradled her, my sweet puppy. 

 The car had stopped and the guy got out and he was saying something about thinking she was a branch. I have to admit I didn’t really listen. I told him it was ok, it wasn’t his fault. He stood there for a while saying something or other and I told him it was fine, it was an accident. He kept saying he was sorry and I told him it was ok and told him he could go and he did. A neighbor was by, I don’t know who it was, but he stood there with his hand on my shoulder as I stood in the middle of the street and cried and cradled my poor Amelia to my chest.

 The kids were outside. I don’t know if they saw it happen. I hope so much that they didn’t. They are only four and six, they don’t need that. They stood on the sidewalk watching me, Ian didn’t quite get it. Henry did. He cried and puked. Amber took them inside.

 The neighbor offered to grab the hose from the side of the house and spray off the puke, I thanked him as best as I could. I wish I knew who it was, but I was still in shock. Thank you again, whoever you are.

 I took her into the garage and I held her and I cried. I put her down and I dug a hole in the back yard, and there she is now, feet away from where I type this. 

 Ian still doesn’t get it, I guess that’s a good thing about his developmental delays, even though I know that sounds incredibly fucking shitty of me to actually say. He loved that dog more than anyone in the family, I bet. He was always with her. When I would take him places, he would tell strangers out of the blue, “guess what? I have a pet, and her name is Amelia!” I don’t even know what else to say about Ian to be honest. I feel like Amelia getting hit was my fault. And because of this, I took his friend away. I don’t know how I’ll forgive myself for it.

 Henry does get it, though. He’s taking it better than I expected on the surface, but I know him. And I know his last image of her was her in my arms. I know him, and I know that is going to stick with him. I only hope he doesn’t blame me, but I’m too terrified of it to ask. It’s funny how much he loved her, especially because when we first got her he was so afraid of her.

 He made her a card. His words mean more than mine ever will.

The Blue Sky

This is another message board post, one I wrote for my Children's Literature class, reflecting on the book The Blue Sky, by Andrea Petrlik Huseinović. You can read the book online here.

This book really hit me. While I’ve never had a parent die, I did come from a home where I was abused both physically and mentally, so despite having a completely different starting point, I was really able to relate to the girl, her sadness, and her longing for happiness and a sense of belonging. 
The book made me reflect on my own life, and my own past. Much like the girl, I sometimes struggle to remember the good times. While I don’t forgive my family for the way I was treated, I do know that there were some happy memories mixed in with all the negativity. I felt glad that the girl was able to remember so much good, and to hopefully find that happiness and sense of love again at the end. If someone knew my experiences, they may wonder if I was jealous of the girl for maybe finding that happiness again, but I’m not. I’m a parent myself now, and the book made me want to really make sure that any happiness that I missed out on is given to my own children ten-fold.
I thought the main character was a fantastic representation of the feeling of sadness and loneliness that we have surely all felt at some point in our lives. Maybe not all of us have lost a loved one. Maybe we are too young, or we didn’t have anyone close to us when we were children. Maybe we came from an incredibly sheltered home, and our parents were incredibly doting and did everything to make us happy. The fact though is, life is not always happiness. We all have sadness in us, we all have sad experiences. But we all must find a way to take this sadness and grow. Don’t let it fester. It will be a drain on your whole life. I believe the girl realized this at the end.
I think the author was trying to make the reader understand that one event does not define your life. The book starts with the girl, only reflecting her sadness. She is defined by the loss of her mother. Through the book, however, we learn of all the little events that the girl and her mother experienced together. The girl reflects on her happy experiences with her mother, and how they shaped and affected the lives of the animals they helped through their actions. It made the girl realize that she is not defined by her sadness alone, even if it is a part of her. She starts off as a one sided character and by the end, becomes whole.
The way the author wrote reminded me a lot of my own writing style, which I appreciated. Her writing in this book focused less on concrete information and facts, and more on a sense of feeling and experience. It reminded me a lot of the memoirs I enjoy reading, which focus less on what happened and what order, and more on how the experiences shaped the writer.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Another message board post

I started up a new class on Children's Literature, and had to write my initial post to the message board introducing myself. I decided to post it here, too, because it's easier than original content. Enjoy!


As a child, I was a voracious reader. I didn’t have many friends, and my family life was abusive, so reading was one of my escapes from reality for a time, though it wasn’t only fiction I read. I also read a lot of nonfiction, mostly books on space and science. As my school career went on, I grew to dislike any book that was assigned reading, as I felt like it was my escape, and I didn’t want to be forced to read X when I wanted to read Y. I think this attitude really caused some issues with my own enjoyment of reading, and my own knowledge, and I wish I could go back and erase that part of my history. I fell out of reading for personal enjoyment for a long while, and have really only recently begun to find that joy again (well, recently as in the past ten years).

My favorite genre as a child was science fiction. I craved the feeling of freedom that a lot of sci-fi provided. To this day, my favorite book, and the book I’ve read the most times in my life (not including reading and rereading books to my children) is The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells. Wells continues to be my favorite author, even if I am not as much into sci-fi these days.

What I like more now is travelogues, “slice of life” nonfiction, and memoirs. I like learning about the ways that other people have lived, and it has finally, at 32, given me some much needed insight into processing my own childhood, and my own life.

 Other than that, I actually really do enjoy children’s books, and have tried my hand at writing my own over the years, but then I read something by say Sandra Boynton (probably my favorite children’s book author), with perfectly realized words and art, and I realize that my stuff is awful in comparison. Of course, rationally I realize that that is because of my own self esteem issues stemming from my childhood, but sometimes the rationality is hard to escape.

 A lot of what Galda, Sipe, Liang, and Cullinan (2010) wrote about regarding the power of literature I believe rings true in my experiences. Their statement that avid reading leads to a better understanding of the world is something that I have really come to appreciate more and more over my lifetime, and something I hope to make use of in my own parenting (pp. 6-7).

For this course, I hope to learn more about what makes a good children’s book, and how to encourage my own children (currently six and four) to get interested, and stay interested, in reading.