I toss and turn and rove in bed. I can smell Mama, I know she is close. I use my leg as a feeler and locate her. I keep my eyes closed and move toward her. I then climb onto her, go above and over and strategically place myself between Mama and Papa. With my mission accomplished, I drift off again.
I wake up to utter chaos. Mama is moving like a tornado. Leaving a trail of destruction behind her. Clothes. My diapers. Dishes. Spilled milk. Overcooked idlis.
She’s late. Nothing new folks. I yawn and stretch in bed. I sit up. My balance takes a while to warm up. So, I roll over and fall. I yelp. Mama notices I’m awake. She’s looking for something in her closet.
Papa seems to be done with his bath. He’s trying to get some tea going. Both my crazy parents are yet to iron thier respective work garbs. Anyhoo, I need my morning “tea”; so Mama gets to it. She fiddles with her phone all the while. She blackmails Papa into ironing her clothes as well- using poor me as an excuse!
We all sit down for a hasty breakfast. I decide to have some fun and test Mama’s already worn patience. I splutter and spit everything that Mama puts into my mouth. Just for fun. So we have a war of wills, early in the morning. I want to have a fun, leisure breakfast, Mama wants to be done with it. After a while, we call it a truce; I relent and eat. For her part, Mama lets me play with whatever I want to, including her precious phone 🙂
Papa has an early meeting, so he heads out first. Mama is distraught, she was counting on him to watch me while she gets ready. She mumbles to herself senselessly as she cleans me up and gets me dressed.
She is forced to leave me in my walker just outside the bathroom door. I am allowed to watch my favorite Peppa Pig episode on the iPad. Yay! I wish Papa had to leave early everyday.
She finishes her bath in record time and heads out dripping. Plugs in the drier and goes berserk. I occupy myself with some sheets of papers on the night- stand while Mama changes. Mama screams and pulls them from my grasp. Oh oh, some are torn. Maybe they are important. Who knows!
Mama pulls up her hair into a messy but functional updo and starts to put stuff on her face. I guess she has somewhere important to be today. I don’t really care folks, I am utterly bored in this stupid walker (which doesn’t really “walk” anywhere). I wish this thing breaks or just falls off the face of the earth one day.
I make sounds and try to get her attention. She doesn’t look my way. So I do what I do. I cry. This time it works. She picks me up.
My Mama thinks she’s super- woman. Or rather she is forced to be one. She can do almost anything one- handed. She puts her creams on one- handed. She can brush her teeth and load the laundry one- handed. She can mop and cook. She can wear lipstick. Even type.
Today, she was doing something to her eyelashes. With a black brush like thinngy. I wanted to check it out. So I tried to grab the thing.
Oops! I think she poked her eye. My bad! She’s hurt I think. And there is a big black mark across her face. It’s funny. I laugh. Hehe.
Poor thing washes her face. And this time doesn’t bother with the eye stuff and lipstick. She packs her hand- bag and my nappy- bag. I’m to be dropped off at Grampy’s you see.
She then goes in search of a pair of socks. Like always, they are impossible to locate. She finally comes out of the room with a pair. Ha! They are Papa’s I notice. Oh Mama, Mama!
She collects her keys, puts her watch on and puts on the bags, one on each shoulder. My designated location is her left hip, so I get pulled up and propped on her hip. We are just about to get out of the house, she slaps her forehead with her right palm and goes in again.
She frantically starts looking for something. The closet, cupboards, drawers, laundry bag…. Even the washing machine. Finally, with a triumphant expression on her face and a damp piece of cloth in her hand; she comes out and loads everything onto herself her again (the bags and me- we were all left on the floor).
By the way, the damp piece of cloth was part of last- night’s laundry. Not fully dry yet because it lay forgotten in the washing machine. It is Mama’s favorite navy- blue polka dotted head cap. I’m sure she has an important surgery today. (Papa and I call it her “lucky” cap, though she refutes the allegation vehemently. She says she is not superstitious and does not need luck to help her.)
Anyhoo, we are almost an hour late by now.Mama looks really harried. I feel bad for her now. Poor thing.
I shall not trouble her from now on, at least in the mornings. I promise!
I am inclined to start off with a clichéd statement- Oh dear! How quickly the month has passed! I had hoped to make this a monthly feature, so here goes.
Here are the things that I enjoyed this month.
1. I am skin-snob now! Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate
I have already shared this on another post. To be honest, I am not sure how it works. It has not changed my skin dramatically. It has not made me radiant or luminescent. It hasn’t worked on my blemishes or my pre- 30 wrinkles. Then why is it on my list of monthly favorites, you ask? Because, it does work. Somehow. Subtly. I can feel the difference but cannot lay a finger on it. I am not daft enough to believe it will last even if I stop using it. But I’m going to enjoy it’s “benefits” while they last.
2. Custom- made. Layering scents/ perfumes.
These are part of a Bvlgari perfume set that I purchased on board my last Qatar airways flight (darned expensive for the teeny quantity, a full sized version would have been smarter). I am not a fan of any of them individually. One day, on a whim I mixed them up and voila- made my own custom perfume. And I got compliments galore that day.
This entire month, I have been mixing and layering perfumes. Florals with sweet scents. Musky, woody perfumes over super- sweet smelling ones. It’s a great way to use up some of my not-so- favorite perfumes and the best part- I don’t smell like anybody else!
Be warned though, some perfumes should just not be mixed 🙂
3. Daily winter face. The Body Shop Lip & Cheek Stain, Maxfactor Liquid Effect Pencil in 05 Brown Blaze and MAC Face and Body.
Most days I slap on some sunscreen on my face, fill- in my brows and rim my eyes with kohl and I’m done. (Without kohl, I look like the undead.) On days that I want to look decent, I have been using these tried and tested oldies.
4. Zoe’s picks. Shirts from Zara Baby.
I picked these up from Zara Baby last week. These shirts are great for layering and are super soft. I have been dressing Zoe in these shirts and leggings almost everyday these past few days. It’s hard to describe how adorable she looks in them- miniature adult-ish but also baby- chic!
5. Biker Mama! Leather Jackets.
Mama has been obsessed with leather jackets lately. Black, brown, tan, beige, grey- color no bar! It really fits in with the whole winter /biker- Mama look. (Mama does ride a two- wheeler most of the time!)
6. More bike- friendly stuff. Backpacks.
Handbags, totes and satchels are so last- season; and extremely bike- unfriendly. So backpack it is. And obviously not the generic, canvas variety!
7. Nifty gift from the Mister– Generic, inexpensive tech trinket.
Another oldie but goodie. My friend in need! My old Grampy Lappy is blind in the dark. With no keypad backlight, I was driving everyone crazy with my typos and mistypes. This helps. Trust me. Especially when your baby wants lights-out at 10 PM and you stay awake till 2 AM.
8. Sample queen! Trying samples.
I have suddenly turned into sample freak. I hoard samples and then religiously try them. For what joy, you ask? Just because folks. Just because!
9. Back to classics– Re-visiting favorite classic books.
With absolutely zero time to spend reading new books, I keep my book- hungry monster in check with a small dose of CLASSIC everyday. I randomly pick up an old, already- read book and read a few chapters before drifting off; ergo the recent posts on Wuthering Heights, Anna Karenina, The Metamorphosis etc.
Finito folks. That is all for the month of December. Hope the new year brings loads more new and shiny things for Dr J to try 🙂
It is the most unlikely time for me to be typing a blog post- early morning. I decided to forgo my run. It is cold and cuddling with Zoe is far more appealing then getting into my tracks and braving the morning chill. I make the easy choice this morning. What is life, if I cannot make the occasional “easy choice”?
The “weekend” vaporized. It was a cavalcade of chores, of things I had put off during the week. Of guilt- tinged Zoe-time. Of endless errands. Of pending work.
I ain’t complaining folks. Oh no. I have everything I need, and more. Of wants, we shall not make mention; for they are legion. I am merely venting. Letting some steam out, like our trusty Indian pressure cookers! After all The Blog is the online me. An online journal. Private journals should never exist in my opinion. I once upon a time wrote in a journal religiously. Every night. And then tore it all up years later. I did not want to read about the embarrassing, private me. If you decide to lay your fickle soul and dark mind on paper- the one you don’t the world to envision; you risk being found out. If that is a risk you are willing to take, or if your life- events and inner- thoughts are world -changing, then go ahead, put them down on paper. But if they are the usual stream of mundane jealousies, petty squabbles and unexceptional complexes and problems- then putting them on paper is otiose.
I digress senselessly! Anyhoo, it’s time to get out of pyjamas. Another work- week begins, as another year ends. And yes, this uncharacteristic early-morning-post was initiated by the undisturbed eight hour long sleep that I had last night. The first in over a year!
He knew he was awake. He knew it was morning. His brain had powered on, but hadn’t ‘booted to start’ yet. He kept his eyes shut, and let his mind wander. He thought of the things he would have to do today; the chores and the mundane errands, the endless packing and planning, and one very important meeting. He did not want to dwell on that now. He just wanted to be awake with eyes closed.
Last night was hard, but definitely not among the hardest. Not by a long mile. Nothing a few cuts and drinks could not tackle. He wasn’t sure if it the was the Long Dark or the Short Dark though. He tried to gauge his mind’s mood and mien. He gently nudged and prodded his inner self, without daring to disturb Him. He seemed to be reasonably jolly and light. Even so far as to be thinking a few pleasant thoughts. It might be a good day after all.
He finally let his eyes drift open. It wasn’t as light as he thought it would be. It was dawn, not full- blown morning yet. Damn. He hadn’t slept long at all. Well, not that it mattered. He could sleep an entire day, and still feel tired and battered. Four hours of restful, dreamless sleep is almost divine.
He contemplated going back to sleep. Then abruptly, he jumped out of bed, brushed his teeth and put on a pair of tracks and a flimsy tee. He pottered around the room looking for his iPod and headphones. He located them under the bed and shoved them into his pockets. He was still working in partial darkness. He did not feel the need to turn on the lights, the slither of dawn peeking through the curtains would do. He quickly laced up his trainers in his usual quirky way- a double wrap around the ankle and a bow knot to secure; and strode into the first morning light.
The air was cool and crisp. And fresh. It was nippy enough for a light shiver and some goosebumps. He walked briskly for a few minutes and then broke into a jog. He jogged toward the sea. He loved running on the sand. And it was a bloody brilliant way to work- out.
He inhaled deeply and as the air filled his lungs, he could feel his spirits rise. The blackness in his head, was conspicuous by it’s absence. Aah! It was the Short Dark after all. He smiled to himself, it was most definitely going to be a good day!
A ten mile run, 50 crunches, and an equal number of pull- ups and push ups later, Zun felt enlivened and sprightly. The sweat dripped off his brow and stuck to his clothes. It made his flimsy tee even flimsier. The middle- aged throng of women in their chudidars and sneakers passing by stared appreciatively. He wasn’t paying attention though. He was in his White Bright World where he needed no appreciation or flattery be feel like the king of the world. It was going to be a splendid day.
On days like these, he was on super-charge mode. Where time seemed to expand, and his ability to get work done seemed to increase manifold. By late afternoon, he had applied to terminate his gas, telephone and broadband connections. He also packed up all his books into cartons and haggled with and hired a goods- van to transport them home. He even managed to squeeze in a hair (read neighborhood barber) appointment. He wanted to look his best. He didn’t bother with lunch. On days like this, even air alone can be sustenance enough.
He was contemplating another shower when his phone rang. It was one his rowdy colleagues. He corrected himself. Now ex- colleague. He probably wanted to know why he went AWOL last night. Zun was in no mood for small talk and explanations. His mind was on other more important matters.
The hot water felt good. The tiny bathroom steamed up. “One more night” by Maroon 5 played on the radio. He sang along, unmelodious and out of tune but with enough feeling and zest to make up for the lack of melody and tune. He knew he shouldn’t be excited. It was rather pointless. But he was. Undeniably excited. He heard the phone ring again. He sang louder. It continued to ring, stop and then ring again. He swore, grabbed a towel and ended his very enjoyable shower.
He was still dripping when he grabbed the phone to yell at or curse whichever moron (he used far more colorful words in his head) was calling so persistently. His swear words evaporated in his head when he saw the caller- name. He smiled. The slow, languid, crooked, one- sided smile. The smile that left female undergrads, interns, juniors, patients and scrub nurses tingly and weak- kneed.
It was her, calling to say she’d be an hour late. She apologized profusely, and he was extravagant in his “it’s alright”s. But he was on the edge. A White Day meant a lot of excess energy, and now he had an hour to kill. An hour filled with anticipation. He was pissed. In a good way.
He dressed meticulously. Uncharacteristically, he changed and re- changed his clothes about four times. He wasn’t sure what made him look good. He was vaguely aware that some women consider him attractive, but he was clueless as to what particular garments or style enhanced his looks.
He settled on a classic and safe choice of attire. Bordering on boring even. Starched white linen shirt tucked into light blue jeans. He did not even bother trying to tame his wet hair with a comb, he just ran his fingers through them. He left his two- day stubble on, he wanted to look somber and vulnerable. Not dark, and mad like he truly was.
He wore his trademark brown- leather Tag Heuer watch and loafers and got out of the house. He was still forty- minutes early. He fidgeted with the door lock and then with his sleeves, folding them up and then unfolding them about half-a- dozen times. He finally left them folded.
Enough, he berated himself. None of this was going to make any difference. He’d never imagined being this stupid and petty. Ugg! Of all the darned women in the world….
Phew! I just feel like I have run a twenty month long marathon. Like I am participating in a 24 hour, ongoing- never- ending reality show. A show where I am being constantly judged- by family, relatives, strangers, the universe….
Heck, many a time I do something and the stare I get from my almost- ten month old makes me squirmy and embarrassed. She seems to be saying, ” Mama, what the heck do you think you are doing?”. Or ” Mama, are you crazy?”
Well, I’m sorry Zoe. I really, truly am. I really do NOT have a clue what I am doing. I am just making up stuff as they come along. Going by my sometimes not-so – great maternal instincts.
I’m sorry that you are my “trial- child” so to say. I will probably do a better job with your brother or sister. Or maybe not!
Actually, the first ten months outside the womb are not much different from the ten months they spend inside of you. The tiny, helpless human is completely reliant on her clueless caregivers.In fact, in may ways carrying them inside, where they are clothed and fed and nurtured by your more trustworthy physiological body is easier. The psychological, thinking you is far less reliable.
The pregnant you is anxious, yet hopeful that somehow, miraculously you and your equally scared partner- in- crime will turn out to be decent parents. You hold hands and take long walks by the sea. You talk endlessly about how the little one will turn out. Of whose eyes she will have or how her tiny limbs and fingers will form and whom she will resemble. You discuss strategies on coping with the much- publicized sleep deprivation and postpartum stress. You squabble over diaper- duty even before you purchase your first box of diapers. You often say things like “I will never do…..”, “We will not…” , “She will not be”, “We definitely will not…”. You decide to enjoy every moment of parenthood. You want to cherish the little human you created. You hope it brings you closer as a couple. Parenthood is said to be the ultimate binder. You are finally bound together by blood and DNA. Another human who is half of you. A blend of your chromosomes. Finally, you are truly going to be A FAMILY. Not just a random couple who plays “home- home”.
You read and talk and discuss and argue. You dream and wish and desire. You prepare. You think you are ready.
And then IT happens. And crap hits the ceiling!
All bets are off. All assumptions are proven wrong. All strategies go into the toilet. All plans go awry. And nothing makes sense anymore.
Your time which you took for granted, and most often abused; isn’t yours anymore. Your body that you worked so hard for, feels alien to you. Your carefully decorated home; your haven of peace and tranquility is a neglected mess.
Husband becomes DAD and wife becomes MUM. The couple dynamics change drastically and romance goes out of the window.
Yes. The first ten months were hard. But it was great fun too.
Probably the best ten months of our lives. Yet. Maybe.
So, what would I say to my fellow comrades, or to those who going to embark on this tiring but magical journey soon?
1. Don’t read/ research ad nauseam.
There is really something as “too much information”! I mean child- bearing and rearing is a natural physiological/ evolutionary / biological process. Many a situation has been made stressful by over- thinking and over- googling. Information is great, but too much information is a nuisance.
2. Get your affairs in order before The Birth.
Try to get your life in some semblance of order before the little one arrives. It helps. New home, new job, new anyhting… can maybe wait a while. Also, try and get some “newborn” shopping out of the way before she arrives. You really wouldn’t want to drag yourself to a mall to buy sleepsuits or onesies a week after you give birth. Naa…
3. Play tag- team.
You do, I sleep. I do, you sleep. This approach helps keep the sleep, deprived new parents sane. Rest is paramount. Both for mum and dad. Poor dads are never given enough credit. They too lose sleep. They have to not only care for the baby, but also are obligated (and often guilted into) to help and care for their recovering wives. They lose more sleep in some cases, as they have to work during the day; while the mums can sometimes sneak in some sleep with the baby during the day. The poor dads may even have to do more chores around the house. So ladies, do cut them some slack. You really need them on your team. Trust me!
And the gentlemen, please stay true to your name- BE GENTLE- MEN to your wives.
4. Smile and nod, smile and nod.
Well wishing aunts, relatives, friends, acquaintances, neighbors, colleagues and plain ol’ strangers will all have something to say about your parenting. Take it or leave it. Just don’t waste your energy trying to “make them understand”, or dispel any long standing myths and beliefs. To each their own. Most of time, I realized; the best way to deal with unsolicited advice is to SMILE AND NOD. And keep repeating the same, till either they stop, or till your head falls off!
5. Sleep when you can, where you can, however you can.
This applies more to the first couple of months. Don’t stay up when the baby is asleep and stalk people on Facebook or watch ridiculously useless videos on YouTube (like yours truly!), you will regret it when she is awake and wailing and your lids seems to have lead implants in them- they just can’t seem to bear their own weight.
6. Ditch the OCD- clean freak.
The Clean Freak, Ms Organised and Mr Schedule have no place in a home with a baby. Atleast for the first few months. The chores can wait. The dishes won’t disintegrate and perish. The laundry won’t spoil. An hour or a day off WON’T make a difference.
7. You are not in the OR, stop sterilizing!
I don’t get this. Unless you have a immune compromised preemie, I don’t understand the concept of “sterilizing”. So many mommy forums and parenting websites talk about “sterilization” of baby items. We use gigantic, industrial autoclaves in the hospital for our surgical instruments. They are autoclaved from 3mins to 21 mins, depending on the temperatures and pressure (121- 132 degrees Celsius, 15 to 30 psi) and it’s super- heated steam we are talking about here. Still, at the end of it, we know that we have not killed off every organism on the instrument (there are “thermophilic” bacteria y’all). But I see people, putting their 7 month old’s spoons and toys in boiling water every time they are used, or falls down. Well, to each their own. But I wonder, a 7 month old literally cleans the floor with their palms and licks every surface available- how do you sterilize them?
Save yourself the trouble folks, just wash the darned bowl with some warm, soapy water, rinse and be done with it. Lord, you have no idea how many organisms live within your little one!
8. If all at possible, do what our evolutionary ancestors did.
If at all possible, breastfeed exclusively for the first six months, Mamas. It saves a ton of time, energy and money. NO hassles of boiling and cooling water, measuring and mixing formula, “boiling” the bottles and teats, worrying about the formula in your diaper bag spilling or going bad, and worse of all- being stuck somewhere without THE BOTTLE.
If you can’t for some reason, then no issues friend. Just do what works for you. And don’t fret or be bothered by what anybody tells you.
9. Grow a thick hide.
This will most likely happen automatically. You will suddenly become more carefree, less worried about people and what they think. The women lose some sense of shame and coyness (delivery room anyone?) and the men suddenly don’t mind not being macho and manly anymore. Honestly though, I now find a man changing diapers or cooing or singing to a baby extremely sexy and attractive. It must be the Mommy hormones.
If you are the sensitive types. learn to care less. Yes, it can be done. Even if are not born with this extremely important life-skill/ survival tool you can still acquire it. It takes practice that’s all.
10. Never say NEVER!
You may read all the books and articles you want. But your little one has not read them. And she will have an agenda of her own. So yeah, all your plans, strategies, schemes and thoughts can go to hell!
You will invariably end up doing many of the things you scoffed at or said your never will. Just saying….
11. Most importantly, ENJOY!
This sounds pretentious and preachy, I know. I remember being told to enjoy motherhood and this when I had stitches which made it hard to sit, a baby who had her nights and days reversed and a 6 week long hospital rendezvous- and I wanted to wring the neck of the person who told me this.
In retrospect though, I think she was absolutely, 100% correct. I already miss my “newborn ZOE”. The tiny, tiny human is now gone. Poof! I have no idea when and how it happened. And I miss her. I love my squirmy, restless, curious cat of a 9 month old; but I do miss the days when I did not have to worry about her tumbling out of the bed or touching something hot, or opening kitchen cabinets, or wandering into the bathroom …I could go on. I could hug her and not be pushed back as though ” Mama, get away, I have stuff to do!” I also know that a year from now, I will miss my nine- month old baby.
So yes, really do try and enjoy everyday. Really.
This is just what I have learned in the past ten months. From the best teacher there is- EXPERIENCE. She taught me well, and I might find all these lessons handy the next time around. I hope I do….
I could ramble on. For pages. Maybe a book even. But I have a bed that is calling out me, promising a night full of rest and recuperation. You have no idea how fantastic that sounds right now!
Till next time…
A beleaguered but ecstatic Mama!
P.S. I fell asleep typing last night. Thankfully Worpress saved my draft. So I posted it this morning. Have a good day y’all and Merry Christmas!
It was a special day. A watershed one. Zoe is standing, all by herself. All quivering and unstable, but standing.
And on the same day, Mama suddenly finds out that her clothes don’t fit. Her favorite pair of pre- pregnancy jeans are loose. Yes. You read that right- LOOSE!
It’s fantastic when the naysayers and negativity breeders are proved wrong.
She was told things will never be the same again. She was told to get rid of her old clothes.
She was told she would never find the time. That it would all be a bit much.
Her “healthy” cousins who hated her skinny physique were finally delighted. Pregnancy and child- birth will fill her out they whispered.
She was told a lactating mother should not exercise. Apparently it messes up the supply.
She was told, the fat stores would never dwindle.
She was told she would never run like before.
And she believed them. Just enough to make excuses for her lazy lifestyle.
Just for a couple of months.
Until, the pure insanity of motherhood pushed her to the brink.
Until running became more of an escape rather than the love it once was.
The excuses started to fade away.
Yes, we don’t have a battalion of nannies. We don’t have million- dollar personal trainers and fancy gym memberships. But honestly, where there is a will, there is a way folks.
And please, oh please don’t let the “well- wishers” get to you. They mean “well” but they have no idea what they are talking about.
In our part of the world, marriage and motherhood is an excuse to give-up. Throw in the towel, literally and otherwise.
We are asked to give- up everything we enjoy and hold dear, and live out the rest of our lives FOR THE FAMILY. No harm. If that is what you choose. But ultimately, we have but one life. And our excuses, mean nothing to anyone. They are meant to fool only ourselves.
Having a family, it the most glorious gift of life. But, sneaking an hour or two for ourselves is no crime.
I am no motivational speaker. I ain’t a fitness expert. I am no one special or extra- ordinary.
I am an ordinary working daughter, sister, wife, mother who struggles to get through each day with her sanity intact.
The to- do- lists never get done fully. There are always chores pending. At least one person is pissed off with me each day. I nod off on my laptop each night. I drive my husband crazy with my antics. I inwardly curse some whiny, nagging patients. I have almost zero tolerance for shoddiness or ineptitude from juniors at work. I change diapers at night, with my eyes closed; half- asleep. I am impatient and swear at the guy who cuts me off on the road. I don’t eat as healthy as I would like to. I binge on sweets and savory fried stuff. I cannot always squeeze in a work- out everyday like before. And I hate waking up in the morning.
I am as imperfect and flawed as the next person. If not more.
I also make a million excuses each day.
I think these excuses are my shackles. They stop me from being the best I can be. From fulfilling my potential.
Darned cable TV, kept showing adverts for a movie with a girl with nasal prongs and a bob. I thought it was one of those, irritatingly “inspiring” cancer stories.
And then, whenever I went to The Virgin Store or Jarir (bookstore in the Middle East) I saw this bunch of colorful, teeny- bopperish books on the best- seller racks. Some guy called John Green wrote them.
It must have been the font, or the dialogue clouds on the cover that put me off. I thought, they were books meant for kids, teenagers at best.
“Diary of a Wimpy Kid” types.
I never quite put them together- the movie and the colorful book; until I saw the book on Amazon, with The- Cable- Cancer- Girl on the cover!
Aah! It finally clicked.
I read some of the reviews. It was great book apparently. A critic/ reader wrote-
“This is a book that will break your heart – not by wearing it down, but by making it bigger and bigger until it bursts.”
It was No. 1 on several lists. I claim I care two hoots for these lists, yet I buy most of the books that appear on them!
Well, what can I do?
I am a compulsive reader, and if someone says something is good, I HAVE to read/see/ experience it myself for two reasons:
1. I would hate to lose out on something in life
2. I like proving people wrong 😉
And if the thing is on discount….Well, that’s just the straw that break’s the camel’s back.
2. What is the book about?
It’s the standard “battle- with- cancer- brave- strong- kid- tears- death- life” sort of tale. The narrator is sixteen year old cancer patient, Hazel Grace Lancaster. She meets a fellow- cancer survivor Augustus Waters at a support group meeting. The young adults hit it off, in an endearing, cancer- groupie- philosophical way. The book then follows their life for brief time, cut short by death that is after- all inevitable in a story such as this.
It is about illness ridden, puppy love.
The pristine, untarnished, first- love that can only bloom between young people.
A love that is clouded by illness and impending death and misery.
A love that is not restrained by life or togetherness.
It is about spunky, young people whose lives are far too short. Or maybe it’s the shortness of their lives that makes them spunky…
3. First impressions?
Be warned, if you are anything over 25 years of age, the language at first will seem juvenile or rather YOU will feel “uncool” and ancient.
In fact, on the Wednesday I made the acquaintance of Augustus Waters, I tried my level best to get out of Support Group while sitting on the couch with my mom in the third leg of a twelve- hour marathon of the previous season’s America’s Next Top Model, which admittedly I had already seen, but still.
Me: “I refuse to attend Support Group.”
Mom: “One of the symptoms of depression is disinterest in activities.”
Me: “Please just me watch America’s Next Top Model. It’s an activity.”
Mom: ” Television is a passivity.”
Me: “Ugh, Mom, please.”
Mom : “Hazel, you’re a teenager. You’re not a little kid anymore. You need to make friends, get out of the house, and live your life.”
Me: ” If you want to be a teenager, don’t send me to Support Group. Buy me a fake ID so I can go to clubs, drink vodka, and take pot.”
See what I mean? I mean it’s almost a decade since I even had to think about a fake ID!
4. Final evaluation?
Well, it’s a bit of a tear- jerker, no doubt. It’s not a cry fest that people are making it out to be though.
Yes, it’s written well. But not enough to warrant such a review, in my opinion.
“Just two paragraphs into the work, and he immediately wallops the readers with such an insightful observation delivered in such an unsentimental way that its hard not to shake your head in admiration.”
Jodi Picoult, author of My Sister’s Keeper (part of the Cancer- Genre) keeps the exaggeration in check and says, “an electric portrait of young people who learn to live life with one foot in the grave……..filled with staccato bursts of humor and tragedy.”
I think I agree with her. It has it’s moments, when simple things are portrayed with immense reconditeness and profound matters are dealt with a restraint and simpleness that is refreshing.
Yet, when a sixteen year old Hazel speaks this way…
“There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I’m likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”
I am not sure what I am supposed to feel!
Then it all becomes very age- appropriate when this happens…
“What a slut time is. She screws everybody.”
5. How long did it take to finish?
A few hours.
Well, for the genre that it belongs to (the young- people- with- cancer-who- become- wise-beyond- their- years genre), it is a great book. Insightful at times, funny at others. And tinged with just enough sorrow and hope that you are not bawling at the end of the book. You are left with a bitter- sweet feeling.
The characters are sketched with just enough novelty and spunk to give a whole book a breath of freshness and differentiate it from other similar stories. After all, most stories dealing with terminal/ incurable illness have to tread a similar path, and end at a pre- determined destination.
7. Who would you recommend the book to?
Mostly to young adults. People who need some sobering up. Youngsters who have great lives and yet whine and complain endlessly.
8. Would you read it again?
I doubt it. Though I do go back to most of the books I read.
9. Do you regret purchasing it?
10. Favourite part/ quote from the book?
“Augustus Waters was a self-aggrandizing bastard. But we forgive him. We forgive him not because he had a heart as figuratively good as his literal one sucked, or because he knew more about how to hold a cigarette than any nonsmoker in history, or because he got eighteen years when he should’ve gotten more.’ ‘Seventeen,’ Gus corrected. ‘I’m assuming you’ve got some time, you interrupting bastard. ‘I’m telling you,’ Isaac continued, ‘Augustus Waters talked so much that he’d interrupt you at his own funeral. And he was pretentious: Sweet Jesus Christ, that kid never took a piss without pondering the abundant metaphorical resonances of human waste production. And he was vain: I do not believe I have ever met a more physically attractive person who was more acutely aware of his own physical attractiveness. ‘But I will say this: When the scientists of the future show up at my house with robot eyes and they tell me to try them on, I will tell the scientists to screw off, because I do not want to see a world without him.’ I was kind of crying by then.”
“Without pain, how could we know joy?’ This is an old argument in the field of thinking about suffering and its stupidity and lack of sophistication could be plumbed for centuries but suffice it to say that the existence of broccoli does not, in any way, affect the taste of chocolate.”
It was so good to be young and say things like abundant metaphorical resonances of human waste production!