Friday, August 22, 2014

Book review: The Impossible Knife of Memory

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

For the past five years, Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.

Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.

Before requesting this one from the library, I knew very little about it. I’ve read some of Laurie Halse Anderson’s other books and follow her on twitter, so I saw the hashtag everywhere when this one came out and I guess it just stuck in my head.

TIKOM is a heavy book. The Hayley’s father is a veteran a couple times over. He suffers from (what I would call) PTSD and has a lot of addiction issues. He can’t hold down a job and isn’t really doing much parenting. Hayley is self-sufficient; she doesn’t like relying on other people and will do whatever it takes to protect her life with her father.

The Impossible Knife of Memory focuses on a population that isn’t often addressed in Young Adult lit -- veterans. I won’t say too much on this because I know there’s a lot of people who have a lot more experience with vets and their challenges after active duty, but I think they’re a forgotten / misunderstood population, and this book shines light on some challenges some (certainly not all) vets might face.

I think it also presented a realistic portrayal of addiction -- of not knowing which version of your loved one you’re going to meet when you get home, of the ways the addiction ends up poisoning all areas of your life.

Given the topic, it’s hard for me to say I loved this book. Guys, a lot of it is a downer. But it was incredibly well written and the main character’s voice is true. The characters in TIKOM are deep and people you come to care about. I ended up racing through, wanting to know what would happen to everyone. 

I gave The Impossible Knife of Memory three stars (but I was torn between three and four).

Have any of you read this one? What did you think?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Top ten things I've learned from my big sister

It is her birthday.

So, in honor of my sister being old, here's a top ten list of things I've learned from my older sister. Maaaaybe it's not reaaaally THE top ten. But it's a pretty good ten.

ONE. Sometimes when you're really mad at someone, it helps to hear someone else call them a lot of really bad names and cuss about them.

TWO. Most meals can be improved by a little bit of garlic or a lot of Parmesan cheese.

THREE. You should blow on your blush brush before you apply your blush so it doesn't come out streaky.

FOUR. If you're uncomfortable at a party, it feels better if you have something in your hand. Even if you're not drinking, hold a cup.

FIVE. I like sweet white wine.

SIX. Speaking of, bartenders know when you're drunk. Even if you don't know you're drunk. They know.

SEVEN. The University of Kansas is a wonderful place and the Kansas Jayhawks are the best team there is.

EIGHT. It's ok to root for the team everyone else is rooting against. Know your stuff so you can argue back and have fun with it.

NINE. Keep your arm strong when serving a volleyball. No bending at the wrist.

TEN. Adoption is the best way to find your pet soulmate.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY EMILY! Hope it's great!!

PS. I just thought of another really good one and I already forgot it but it's proof that there's more than ten...

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Hello from Colorado!

I've been keeping secrets again. The biggest one I showed off on Instagram this week -- did you see?

Yup, I've moved to Colorado!

If you've been around a little while, you probably know I graduated in May with my Masters of Higher Education Administration -- a degree that prepares you to work in college administration. My people are called Student Affairs Professionals, and we do things like work with student activities, advise students academically and on career development, and provide educational and safe on-campus living.

Anyway. I got a new job in Colorado and just a short month later, here I am! (Today is actually my first day at the new job -- wish me luck!)

I am TERRIBLY behind with you all, seeing as I've spent the last month apartment hunting, wrapping up my old job and moving, so I may be posting about some things that happened forever ago (like graduation!) but that I want to document here. Bear with me!

This move also means the start of mine and Pat's last stint of having a long-distance relationship -- he's still in Kansas getting his masters and he'll join me here in Colorado in May when he finishes.

Anyway. I hope to be back here more regularly, perhaps with a few retrospective posts, but hopefully updating you all on current happenings!

Love from Colorado!

PS -- Who wants to come visit???

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

We're getting married!

First things first: in case you missed it:

So, there's that. And now for the story....

I've been keeping a secret from you guys. A secret that started when I visited Pat in Denver at the beginning of March. And it wasn't really a secret like, ohmygosh something is happening -- but more like, this is a gushy boyfriend thing that I would typically keep to myself.

[Sometimes, as much as I love my life with Pat and want to tell everyone how great he is, there are certain things I think are just for us, you know? And I thought this would be one of those things.]

But now that I know how the story ends, it's not really something I can keep to myself.

So. Back to the beginning of March. I visited Pat in Denver, where he was seven weeks into a 12-week internship. We hiked, ate some good food, watched the Jayhawks lose a basketball game, and just enjoyed being together. And I also pestered him a little bit about my upcoming birthday on March 22.

But he said he already had a present for me and that I would get it Monday morning before I flew back to Kansas. (!!!)

I'm not good at waiting, so I'm sure I asked him just a few times if I could have it early. And he said no. But Monday morning, he retrieved a box.

I could tell he'd made the box himself. It was about three inches tall, eight inches square, and not very heavy. And he told me I couldn't open it till my birthday.

Remember that whole not good at waiting thing?


So, I flew back to Kansas, really only knowing that whatever was in the box, it would withstand the rigors of air travel and wouldn't get me in trouble going through security.

In the next few weeks, I pestered Pat about what was in the box and asked for hints. I learned enough to know it would be several things and that I wasn't allowed to open them all at once. [This kid and all his rules.] I started to think it would be something to open each day until he got back [still another two weeks or so away].

And then he told me it had to do with a shape used in the Olympics.

RINGS. duh.

I told him, "You're trying to make me think it's something that it's not." But I got no further clues.

Three weeks later, I was home in Missouri for my birthday and I finally got to open my box. Inside, I found a chain link of a bajillion papers, like the kind you make at Christmas. The instructions said that each day, I was allowed to open one ring by separating it from the chain and unfolding it. And there were WAY more than just for two weeks until he got back.

I was kind of pissed because all the first one said was Happy Birthday. REALLY? I WAITED THREE WEEKS FOR THAT? and then I had to wait a whole day more to open the next. Silly rules.

But I played by the rules and for two months, I opened a note from my favorite human every morning.

And many nights I asked him if I could just open the rest, but he never let me. Rude.

Here are some we selected to share with you all. :)

The very last ring on the chain was dated May 22 -- and on the outside it said, "Open me on top of a volcano."

See, we had plans to climb Mt. St. Helens in Washington -- our graduation gift from Pat's dad. We had been planning on this trip forever, and Pat bought the climbing permits way back in February, so he knew what day the trip would be.

I brought the last few rings in the change with me to Oregon after graduation. [I actually forgot them and had to turn around on the way to the airport and go back for them...]

And I carried the last ring all the way to the flippin top of Mt. St. Helens. [YOU GUYS. that climb was so hard. I'll try to write another post about it.]

And we got to the top and I didn't want to bring it up. I wanted him to bring it up.

But I'm bad at waiting. So I asked him if I could open my last note yet.

I opened it..........

and it was blank.

So I said, "It's blank!"

And he said, "Oh. Shoot. I gave you the wrong ring -- I had two, I must have put the wrong one on. Here..."

and he dug around in his giant backpack for a minute and then pulled out a pretty, sparkly, perfect engagement ring.


We're getting married!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Life lately [brain + photo dump]

Hello loves!

I keep telling myself I'll keep up with blogging better once my comprehensive exam is done, once classes are done, once I graduate... but the fact is, life is BUSY. I finished my comprehensive exam over FOUR weeks ago, and classes ended Monday...

So, I hope you'll just be happy to see me when I'm here and not miss me too much when I'm gone. Like your favorite flaky friend who is oh-so-hard to make plans with but whom you love dearly. :)

Here's a glimpse at my life lately. (that is, the part of my life that wasn't work + papers + presentations + job applications...)

I attempted for a while to walk or run a mile a day in May. That fell apart pretty quickly (#postmarathonslump), but I did manage to convince Pat to take a walk with me on campus one evening!

He took this sneaky picture of me while I was taking the first picture. (#bloggerproblems)
I celebrated my last Capstone class on a patio with my lovely friend Ashley.
 I ran a 5k that was 19 seconds away from my best time ever. (I'll take it!)
My wonderful friend Sam visited, and we went disc golfing! (aka the boys golfed and I walked around and talked at them :)

 This is what a disc-golf walk ends up looking like:

And finally, I had my last college class this Monday. These lovely ladies and I started together and now we're finishing together. (also, you can see in this picture that I chopped my hair off :)

Upcoming in my life: Me and Pat are both graduating this weekend!! Which means -- The Meeting Of The Families. My little sister, Anna, has met Pat's dad and aunt, but they're the only ones who have met. So my parents will be meeting his dad and aunt and everyone will be meeting Pat's sister. It should be exciting!

We also each have three ceremonies!! Luckily, two of them overlap for both of us. Pat and I will each miss one of the others' ceremonies (does that make sense? his business ceremony is at the same time as my hooding ceremony. booo).

And we're also having a graduation party Saturday! SO MANY THINGS.

And then next week, we're taking offffff on a trip to Oregon and Washington. I'm SO excited. We're going to hike Mt. St. Helens, meet Shauna and Tim and see my friend Jacque and do lots of cool things.

I am not sure when I'll be posting again. :( If you want to keep up with me, I'll be on Twitter and Instagram -- find me there!!!

Lots of love,


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