GI Brides: The Wartime Girls Who Crossed the Atlantic for Love by Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi

I am not a history person. At all. I cannot emphasize this enough. But for some reason, I could not put down this book for the life of me despite by years of historical boycott. (I will say that Hamilton is converting me a little bit but I won’t go into that because I’m sure there are plenty of people out there screaming in their heads “Enough with Hamilton!” and then us Hamilton fans are all “Never! I’m not throwing away my shot!” and then there is uncomfortable situations and arguments and splitting sides and….this I the longest side note/run on sentence ever…Summary: I didn’t like history when I first read this book, things have changed since then but for this context, I did not expect to love this book as much as I ended up loving it. Okay and we’re back!). WWII European War brides trying to make it in America with their brand new military husband, in concept seems, frankly kind of boring but I picked this book up randomly just because it was available in the audio library app, and it completely blew me away (….my name is Philip, I am a poet. Promise, last Hamilton reference). Honestly the random finds are sometimes the best finds. Following the true stories of 4 amazing women to find and follow their loves across the sea. They tell their heartbreaking stories of adjusting to this new life, of being outcasts, seeing right in front of them, the lack of acceptance from family, seek the desperately needed acceptance of other GI brides and unfortunately, for more than one, experience what it’s like to fall out of love. I know that it not much of a summary when it comes to explaining the book but one of the best things about reading this is the experience of going into this reading experience blind.

This book made me think about the will of people. Imagine what it is like to leave your entire life behind for a single person. What do you think about? I think about my dear mother who moved so far away to be with my dear father. I think about how the fast way for my mom to get back home would be a 14 hour plane ride. In a time, where phone calls were expensive, where letters days apart was the main form of getting any notice, where there are certain days that you know, you are going to be alone. I could not do it. I am not trying to be purposefully humble or gain self righteous empathy because I would honestly fall apart if I went through what some of these women went through. Their courage is what I aspire to. I think anyone who enjoys human interest stories are required to read GI Brides.


Seeking that Hollywood Ending,

~C

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Risk is a Family Game

My Family is very close. That is an important preface to this story. My parents work together in a flower shop so they literally see each other 24/7 and have done so for more than two decades. My brother and I weren’t always close (especially during high school when actually WWIII was happening sometimes) but have forced our sibling relationship over the past few years, especially when we discovered that we actually have a lot more in common as adults (funny how that works out, huh?). Mom and I text mainly in GIFS, Memes, and BitMojis to the point that we simultaneously understand and don’t understand each other. My brother has more than once followed my dad to the bathroom if he’s not finished tell him about his day and my dad takes it and continues to listen. And on that note, my parents have an open-door bathroom policy and always have for as  long as I could remember. When anything happens to me, be it good or bad, they are always 100% the first people I tell. In the shower, when hold my shampoo bottles and pretend to be winning a Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical, they are always the longest and most emotional part of my fake acceptance speech. We are a close family. We tell each other everything. At least most of the time.

There are rare times where just one of us will leave on a trip for a long period of time. The two biggest ones are both when my mom went back to Korea to visit her family. She was gone for a few weeks at a time, leaving Dad, my brother and me to fend for ourselves for a little. This should not have been a problem. However, the first time mom left up to go to Korea, I was in 6 grade. 3 major things happened while she was gone. One, I discovered a new pass time where I would pick at my freckles until they bled, because I wanted to see how deep the pigment went. Two, my brother broke his collarbone playing football with some of the other neighborhood kids. Three, dad bought a boat. Apparently, we completely fell apart without Mom.

So when she needed to leave the three of us alone again to go to Korea just a few years ago, it’s fair to say that she was pretty terrified even though this was more than a 11 years later and now everyone was legally an adult. The worry was real however and it was almost to the point where she didn’t actually want to leave. When we finally convinced her to go, she made sure to track each of all individually and give us a specific request. To me she said, “Please do make any changes to your body”, to my brother “please don’t hurt yourself”, and to my dad “please don’t be in possession of a motorcycle when I get back.” After a little vacation adventure a few months previous where we rode scooters down Red Rock, Dad rediscovered his love for riding choppers. Something he used to do all the time, until he met my mother and was lightly suggested that he doesn’t actually like them. He gladly gave it up for the love of his life, but 26 years into marriage, he figures that she’s probably stuck with him by this point so why not test those waters again. Mom gave him a pretty firm no and made sure to put her foot down again before she left the country for a few day. The night before her departure, we all made our individual promises with smiles and sincere nods. My poor mother.

She is on that plane for less than half an hour before I have to pick my brother up from work because he accidently used hydrogen peroxide instead of contact solution and got chemical burns on his eyes. We stop by the flower shop to tell dad and wait out the time before going to the eye doctor when he says the horrible words I wasn’t even surprised to hear. “Don’t tell mom yet… but I got the motorcycle.” Before we can really react ,Dad is going on and on about how his friend gave it to him his old one for free so she at least wouldn’t be mad about the money, yada yada yada…while I on the other hand was secretly distracted by a little secret of my own and it only forced it’s way up to the surface after Dad’s little confession. And now I finally saw my opportunity to get away with it. He looked at me almost expectantly because I’m the loud smart mouth of the family that likes to rub it in people’s faces when they get things wrong or when they mess up. I’m also the  naturally the class tattletale, when it comes to my mother. What he was not expecting was for me to blurt out a confession I had been holding in for almost a week. I had done the one thing in my life that my parents had explicitly forbidden me to do multiple times but I had taken the risk anyway. “I got a tattoo.” The word came out one of my mouth before I could stop them. Everything gets silent. Dad looks angry at first but then stops. “Well…I’m really in no position to start judging or be mad.” My brother just looks at the three of us at a whole and asks then question we are all thinking: “When do we tell Mom?”

We had a 3/4 family meeting and decided to take the cowards way out and call her while she was still in Korea so that at least he was on the other side of the country and also so there were a few weeks for her to cool off before we actually were face-to-face with her again. That phone call….was not the best phone call to say the least. But in the end, it did not matter. Mom gave us the silent treatment for a little bit (which was impressive since she was more than 7,000 miles away and we could still feel it in our house) but we are still family. We bicker and squabble and silently judge each other. But we are still the family that is super close, that does everything together and apparently, that tends to really screw things up together too.

Putting the Fuse in Confused

~C

Don’t Pull that Deer Crap on Me

Disclaimer: I do agree of some of the states that are going to be made and I disagree with other but none of that really matters towards the conclusion of this post. Also, I am aware that these are not universal truths but at some point they show how society, be it past or present, has interpreted at one point or another. A women stripping for money is considered unacceptable. Cursing in front of children (both on purpose and on accident) is considered unacceptable. Any form of picking your nose, farting or spitting in public is considered unacceptable. Sneezing without covering your mouth is rude, sneezing without covering your mouth directly at another person is worse and if this person is a stranger, this behavior is completely and beyond unacceptable. Eating food that fell on the floor is gross, eating food that fell on the sidewalk is disgusting, and eating food that fell in the trashcan is unacceptable. Eating a banana very slowly in public is culturally not accepted and talking about castration around anyone with a penis is unacceptable. Wearing authentic fur in a pet shop is just wrong on many levels. When women wear tight skirts, or really short bottoms or shirts that show cleavage, it’s very frowned upon. For certain religions, marrying outside the sect is not always presented as an option. On those lines, breaking religious codes (be it the 10 commandments from the Bible or the Torah) are considered sins that can lead to eternal damnation. Talking on your phone during a movie is beyond all senses of the word unacceptable. Putting children on leashes at Disney World is unacceptable parenting. A woman feeding her baby in public has been called disgusting by more than one person.

HOWEVER. What I learned quite recently is that when a person goes deer hunting, apparently to see how close a deer might be, one must get up close and personal with the deer’s droppings. Not by sight, Not by smell, Not by touch, but by taste. Yes, you read that correctly. BY TASTE. And for some reason that is acceptable. THAT IS ACTALLY ACCEPTABLE. Did you read that as me yelling. Good. Because I was yelling. I said that exact phrase when I learned about this but with an exclamation point and question mark at the end rather than a period. I am not a hunter, and I have never been hunting. I am a Vegetarian (that, for the record and to be completely honest, eats fish and other seafood on occasion) so I never plan on hunting. I do not like the idea of hunting but to put myself out there, I also do not feel that it is right or even my place to say that nobody should be allow hunt ever. But I NEVER will think it is okay, unless it somehow saves your life, to put another creature’s feces in your mouth. So tell me society, how did we get here?

Putting the Fuse in Confused

~C

Attachment Issues

It’s happening. My childhood house is being sold. It will no longer be my house. It will belong to a different family, one that isn’t mine which is just wrong if you ask my opinion. This is the house that watched me grow up. I learned how to ride my bike in the driveway. The tree out front has seen many birdhouses and I was personally in the car when mom accidently took out our mailbox by driving over it with intense force (and then continuing to drive over it while denying that she hit anything). In a few months I will have to say “the” mailbox instead of “our” mailbox and that makes me feel all weird and choked up on the inside in a way that I have only reserved for Nicolas Sparks movies and John Green novels. My peers have all had very different opinions about this. Of course I get the empathetic dealings of sympathy where people hold my hand and make frowny faces at me, telling how they think that is so sad for me. Then I get the people who shrug their shoulders and sort of just shrug. “It makes perfect sense sine both you and your brother are official out,” they say. “It’s just a house.” But here is the big thing. It’s not just a house and it never will be. This house is where I learned how to cook and where I would dance in the kitchen by myself if no one was looking. This house has seen my laugh throughout my elementary school years, cry throughout my middle school years and be super angsty and stubborn throughout my high school years. It was always there when I got back from college and I knew that if I left anything behind, it was alright because it was at home. This house saw boyfriends, girlfriends, slumber parties, movie marathons, family fights, family game board nights that ended or turned into family fights and me naked on multiple occasions when I forgot to grab a towel before my shower. It watched thousands of times as I walked my dog around the corner, and played fetch with her in the front lawn, tried to stop her from chasing the squirrels up the huge tree and then this is the house that also saw her take her last breath and was there to protect her when I couldn’t be there. This house saw me start to experiment with makeup when I was 13, figure out that black eye shadow was not for me when I was 14, figure out that green eye shadow was also not for me when I was 15, watched me Google “make up tutorials” when I was 16 and then watched me get ready for my senior prom all by myself when I was 17 (I also want to just throw it out there that I got ready for the prom in less than 15 minutes, and if this house could talk it would say “Yeah she did!” in a way that a sassy aunt might).

This house watched my brother pace in the living room when he was thinking, practice the trumpet and eventually the French horn, scream in both happiness and pain over every an all sport and always act silly and ridiculous to make me feel better on my worst days. This house watch my parents  raise their children, cooing over cute hugs one moment and then splitting up fights another. It watched as they made each other cry with laughter, hold each other through the hard times and somehow, watched as every single night my mom fell asleep right next to dad’s impossibly loud snores that I could hear from the other side of the house. This is the house that has dents and scrapes on the walls, misaligned floor boards and a slightly leaky ceiling. There is a patch of rectangular shaped grass that won’t really grow again in the front lawn after too many years of the weight of a temporary basketball hoop. This house watched Dad’s golf equipment grow every year despite everyone’s protest and then watch as he taught my brother in order to disperse the clubs out a little. It also watched as my brother accidently bust a hole in the garage door with a misaimed golf ball. It watched hours of my clarinet practice, more hours of mind numbing TV and  filled with smoke a few times due to the crazy fast heating stove that even a decade later everyone seemed to forget was a legit problem. Hundreds of birthday cakes, hundreds of family dance parties, hundreds of early morning coffee talks and thousands of inappropriate jokes that were never to leave it’s walls. It saw my brother pull out of the driveway by himself for the first time and then it saw me. It noticed my brother’s beard growing it, it noticed Dad’s hair getting greyer and it politely turned away as mom offered me money to pull out all of her white hairs. It smells like home. It sounds like home. It feels like home more than any other place I have ever lived. And that’s because it is home. So, yes, I am sad to see it go. Saying goodbye to a part of your family is never easy.