Friday, May 29, 2009

The Story of Mary and Mr. LUE

Once upon time there was a girl--who loved to read books--and a boy--who loved to play guitar.

They were both young and stupid and lived in So-So Cal.

They got together.

He played guitar. She read books.

They broke up.

He got a job. She dropped out of college.

They got together.

He played some more guitar and worked. She got a full-time job and read books.

They broke up.

He moved away to the land of 10 gallon hats. She kept working and moving from apartment to apartment to apartment. Her friends never wrote her address in their address books in ink.

They started talking about getting back together with the added idea of getting married.

He brought her a pretty sapphire ring. She moved to the land of 10 gallon hats.

They decided to get married by a local justice of the peace instead of having a wedding back in So-So Cal. There was no money and neither of them was interested in getting up in front of a bunch of people to say their vows.

They went back to So-So Cal for a wedding reception in her aunt’s backyard. Her mom’s friend made the cake. Her uncle’s Vo Tech high school class printed the invitations. Her family made the food.

While he moved up the professional electronics sales ladder, she completed her literary studies degree.

They got a dog who would give the cinematic dog, Marley, a run for his money. His name was Bob.

They moved back to So-So Cal.

They had a baby. She stayed at home. He traveled.

A bunch of other stuff happened. Some good. Some bad. Some happy. Some sad.

She worked at the church. He played guitar for the church.

Eight years later they had another baby.

More stuff happened. Some good. Some bad. Some happy. Some sad.

He is still working in the professional electronics industry and playing guitar. She went back to school to learn how to teach people to read.

What’s next? Who knows, but I bet there’ll be some guitar playing and reading going on.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Nurses in Vietnam: A LUE Rerun

This post is published in lieu of a Sleeping with Bread post.

I went poking about my archives today looking for something to republish in honor of Memorial Day. (I'm too irritable to write a fresh post.) I've written several posts about Vietnam. My uncle served there and--whether it is just this connection or something else--the subject of the Vietnam War just draws me in. I chose this post, about the nurses who served there, because: a) Those nurses are worth remembering; and b) It seems there has been a lot of talk about feminism on the 'Net relating to mommybloggers and Facebook and blah, blah, blah. Instead of writing a post about whether or not Betty Friedan would be turning over in her grave because women use pictures of their children as their Facebook avatars, I will republish this post about some women who did incredible things, under horrible conditions, in spite of what people thought they could and should do.

Originally published August 24, 2006:

This past weekend, a documentary aired about women nurses in Vietnam. It coincided with the station's airing of China Beach, an early 90's drama about women in Vietnam. I have had an interest in the women veterans of that war since reading Home Before Morning by Lynda VanDevanter for my American history class at UTD and because my uncle served in Vietnam in the early 70's. After watching the documentary, I knew I wanted to write about it here but I feel at a loss as to what to say.

The women featured in the documentary and in the book, Home Before Morning, experienced a year in hell. Most of them were less than one year out of nursing school and in their late teens or early twenties. They were often promised that if they joined the military they wouldn't be sent anywhere dangerous. Some of them signed up specifically for duty in Vietnam. I remember one nurse saying that her father, a non-demonstrative man, gave her the biggest hug ever as she left and said brokenly, "I have four sons but it is my daughter I am sending into war."1

Upon arriving in Vietnam, their lives turned absolutely upside down. Spending 10-14 hours on a shift, steeped in blood, often without the proper supplies, American nurses in Vietnam worked with doctors in a way that was not common in the states. The doctor's had to depend on them and give them more responsibility than they would have been given in the states and they met that challenge heroically. More than one nurse has recounted encountering a burned soldier, holding his hand or touching his arm, only to have his blackened flesh come off with her hand. Chest wounds with shredded hearts and legs hanging by a tendon were amongst other common casualties. It wasn't unheard of for a nurse to perform an amputation. Sometimes the best they could do was reassure a soldier that he was in good hands knowing that soldier would probably die. When they were off duty, the women nurses played hard just like the men. Anything to shut out the horror that had just been and would be again soon.

After returning from being "in-country," the nurses were in a different situation than the male veterans. While the men also had a difficult time adjusting, they had each other as they continued their terms in the military or they were better able to connect with each other more easily. Of the thousands of thousands of men who served, only about 5,000 women were there so they were more isolated from each other upon returning to the states. Typically, they had no one to talk to who could understand their experiences. Their families usually didn't ask or want to hear about life there. They expected their daughter or sister back as they remembered her not the utterly broken woman who was returned to them. These nurses experienced post-traumatic stress disorder like the men veterans did, but it was much longer before it was recognized in them.

If they continued to nurse, they found themselves in a subservient position without the respect of the doctor's they worked with and they were not allowed to use any of the more advanced skills and training they learned in Vietnam. I remember in her book, Lynda Van Devanter eventually found her way into emergency dialysis nursing. Routine nursing was not for her. Emergency nursing provided the same burst of adrenaline that she experienced during her tour and emergency dialysis required incredible skill.

As I watched the documentary it reminded me of the interview portions of Band of Brothers. Sixty years later, the veterans of Easy Company still are haunted by the horrors of World War II. Over thirty years later, these nurses are no different and still have nightmares, deal with depression, and still have questions about why the war happened and how they ended up there. Eventually, more and more nurses received help. Lynda Van Devanter herself was instrumental in raising awareness of the particular issues of women veterans. Many people worked together to honor these women and their service and in the early 90's the Women's Vietnam Memorial was erected. I hope to visit it someday.2

Who's to say why one issue, topic or story strikes a chord that resonates more than another? There are so many stories of hardship and horror, recovery and redemption out there. Why did this one affect me so much? As I said, my uncle served in Vietnam. In the few years before he died, he opened up more about that experience. Knowing and loving someone who was there is probably part of the reason. Reading about Lynda Van Devanter's experience also impacted me greatly. But there is something greater about their words, their faces, their tears that makes my heart ache and I can't express it any more clearly than that.

Here are just a few links available about nurses in Vietnam.

The Women of the Army Nurse Corp During the Vietnam War

Jeanne Diebolt's Keynote Address at the Women's Memorial

Nurses and the Daily Horror of Vietnam (This is the article which discusses the documentary I mentioned.)

I wrote about my Uncle L.T. here and here and here.

1. The words of the father in this story are paraphrased.

2. I did get to go see the Vietnam Nurses' Memorial in January, 2008.

Note: I did a little editing of this post for clarity/wordiness. (Yes, it was worse before the editing!)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My Summer Reading List

Books I want to read this summer, in no particular order:

Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton
Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (read w/Marley)
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (No sparkly vampires for me)
Wrestling with God by Simone Weil (an introductory text)
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (I put it on my shopping list but can't remember why.)
Creating Robust Vocabulary by a bunch of Ph.Ds (I just came across this book in a professional journal and am curious about their instructional strategies. Vocabulary development is HUGE for college developmental readers.)
The Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer (for Book Club 2 this Thursday)
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (for Book Club 1 next week; haven't read an Irving in AGES)

I don't know that I'll get all that read. I have a lot of cuddling with Marley to do... and laundry... and grocery shopping... and housecleaning... and exercising... and more to do. AND, in June I am writing my Master's project. I will have more reading to do for that, although quite a bit of it is re-reading.

Any other recommendations?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Every Earth

Cyn Kitchen is a finalist in a writing contest!

I've been reading Cyn's blog for over two years. I twice nominated her posts for The Perfect Post award. There is a visceral element to her writing. Whether she is telling the story of her stint as a coffee shop owner or a mother's night out with the MAPS (Mothers Against Preschoolers) or about the impact of a life, she writes with such oomph that I can almost hear that exhalation of breath that comes with a strong effort. Laughing or crying, I am always moved.

Her story that made the finals in the storySouth Million Writers Award is called "Every Earth is Fit for Burial." I encourage you to read the story of her story at her blog, The Cynical Kitchen... and then go vote for her story!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sleeping with Bread... and Academia

I had a big plan last November that I would work with a Herculean effort and graduate this month. Well, in early March I spent a few days in New York with some friends. When I came home, instead of feeling refreshed and ready for a big push, I cried. I was just too tired, too overwhelmed, too everything. I knew that if I didn't make the decision to postpone the project, the decision would be made for me.

So, I am in my last week of this semester and things are looking good:

I finished up all the requirements for my internship. I spent the semester interning in a preparation-for-college-reading class. It was fun, enlightening, and it provided an opportunity for me to learn so much about what it takes to teach college reading.

I got caught up on my papers and other requirements for my remediation of reading difficulties class. I've been tutoring two developmental readers. Developmental reader is college lingo for students reading below a college level. They are also sometimes referred to as at-risk or underprepared students. I've spent hours with two wonderful students and I hope that my working with them has better prepared them to succeed in college.

My computer ate a paper a few weeks ago. The computer ATE my paper. I know, I know, these 'incidents' are usually the result of user error. However, the date on the document that was supposed to be my paper, and instead was just the references, read TWO DAYS before the date I last worked on it. How did that happen? ANYWAY... I finally rewrote the paper. My professor is very particular about some things--like not using the word 'amount' unless you are referring to a number of something and making sure there is a comma after the first author in an APA reference list. However, she is very relaxed with due dates. And I've needed to take advantage of that.

BUT, I am in the last week of my semester and there are still some mountains to climb.

Paul had to leave on a business trip yesterday. Yes, THAT yesterday--Mother's Day. He's out of town until Saturday. Nice.

I have the BIGGEST paper of the semester and the possibly the most difficult paper I've had to write to date DUE THIS WEEK. Oy. Give me strength. I have to synthesize the research on nine studies. Ugh. It is HARD. I keep looking at this stack of studies and then getting on the computer to Twitter and play POP Answers on Facebook. I DID type up the reference list and cover page. (Don't laugh. I know how completely ridiculous that is!)

I know I can do this paper. I just can't do it QUICKLY. Each article has to be read and fully comprehended, as my professor would say. I have to suss out the pertinent details about the research questions, method, and findings. Then. THEN!!! Then, I have to lovingly shape all this information into a coherent synthesis. This takes time, people.

Ugh... again.

There are a few minor assignments, two more tutoring sessions, finalize a tutoring log, yada, yada, yada. All easily doable--and then one final. It won't be easy because I will be expected to actually understand EVERYTHING about qualitative and quantitative studies, how to create them, what threatens their validity, etc.

And then THE ANGELS WILL SING. I will be finished for the semester. I am SO looking forward to this:

Oh, and I don't want to forget these guys. I want to spend time with these guys:

Don't forget to check out what others are sharing over at the Sleeping with Bread blog.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Because I am completely unoriginal…

I hopped in on the meme Beck and Subspace Beacon just did.


But then, because my computer wacked out when I was trying to register my MS Word 2007 to post to my blog, I lost the entire post.


Well, not really the entire post. MS Word 2007 DID autosave and so I give you what is left of my post because I am supposed to be at church in 28 minutes and I haven't even had a shower yet and if I don't post this now I'll probably never post it (BREATHE). Oh heck, I'll shower later, here's the entire list.

Eight Things I'm Looking Forward To:

  1. The end of my school semester.
  2. The end of the kids' school year.
  3. Reading a book for fun.
  4. Going away later today to a hotel so that I can get some homework done.
  5. Seeing X-Men Origins: Wolverine (I don't care if the reviews were lukewarm.)
  6. The end of my school semester.
  7. The end of my school semester. (Definitely worth three things worth of looking forward tos.)

Eight Things I Did Yesterday:

  1. Tutored a middle school student
  2. Rewatched parts of Quantum of Solace (to catch parts of the story I missed. Pinky swear!)
  3. Went to this restaurant…
  4. To listen to my friends perform songs for their CD release party
  5. NOT laundry
  6. NOT clean house
  7. Wasted time on the internet
  8. Listen to a bevy of 25 to 35 year olds bemoan "how old they are getting" and laughed, with bitter irony, at the thought. Ha! Just wait until they are in their mid-40s!\


Eight Things I Wish I Could Do:


  1. Juggle
  2. Play an instrument
  3. Speak a foreign language
  4. Read all the books in the world that I think I should read
  5. Do a cartwheel
  6. Have a dog (except that I learned yesterday there is a faction of the animal rights movement that thinks that no sentient being should be "owned" and if they ever convince enough people to their way of thinking I'll never be able to enslave a dog again!)
  7. Live in a fictional small town where everyone knows my name and there is one central gathering spot but I still would have access to all the movie theaters, bookstores, etc. that I wanted without having to drive for three hours.
  8. Go to Ireland.


Eight Shows I Watch:

  1. Bones
  2. House
  3. Lost
  4. Masterpiece Theatre Classic
  5. The Bonnie Hunt Show
  6. Castle (It better not be getting canceled so soon!)
  7. Malcolm in the Middle reruns
  8. Top Gear (What can I say, funny guys with British accents! Who cares about the cars!)

I tag:

Long lost blogger: Chickenone

Major book blogger: TerriB

Um, that's it, I guess. Unless you just want to do this. Then go ahead, please.

Until tomorrow, when I do some bread baking.