Review: What Was Mine [novel] + other random thoughts

what-was-mine-9781476732350_hrEarlier this week I finally began a book I had bought about a month ago at Target that was marked 20% off. At first when I read the summary on the back of the book it sounded right up my alley, until I did a double take and realized it was probably better suited or relateable  for someone who has kids. But, I gave it some more thought and ended up buying it anyway.

I had the day off today so I decided I would do my best to finish the book since it was much shorter than the last one I had just finished on Sunday. Well, I did finish it today and I definitely have some mixed thoughts about how I feel about the overall book, and have strong feelings about how it ended.

The book is about a woman who kidnaps a four month old baby from Ikea whose mom walks away briefly for a work phone call, and ends up raising the baby as her own. She makes the decision to kidnap her after having tried for years to have a baby of her own, even suffering a miscarriage, as well as trying adoption. And then on top of all of that she and her husband separate.

The chapters alternate from the different viewpoints of the characters in the book. The woman’s name who stole the baby is Lucy. The biological mom’s name is Marilyn and her daughter’s real, legal name was Natalie, but, Lucy changes it to Mia. There are other characters who narrate the book, too, such as Mia’s nanny Wendy, Wendy’s husband, and child, Lucy’s ex-husband, and Marilyn’s husband, and children.

Overall, the book was written in a way that for the most part kept my attention and wanting to find out if and when Lucy would be caught for having kidnapped a baby and raised her as her own for 21 years. But, as I read on and it got to the part where *SPOILER ALERT* Mia finds out Lucy’s secret and she then questions her identity, it made me feel… indifferent. She acknowledges that Lucy is the mom she’s known her whole life but, after finding out she isn’t her “real” mom she feels a sense of betrayal and feels as though she no longer has a mom to turn to–neither Lucy or the mom her gave birth to her.

Here is why I feel indifferent. I understand the feelings of Mia, as it is definitely understandable and she has every right to feel the way she does. Now I know she is a fictional character and it’s a fictional story–but–situations like hers have very much happened in real life before and the way she feels, people in real life have and can definitely feel too although maybe not necessarily in the same manner.

For example… And I am not referring to myself in this scenario, but, for other people out there who have been adopted, or raised by someone other than their biological parents from when they were less than a year old (and therefore the people who raised them are all they know) they may have felt similar feelings that the character Mia did.

My problem is, however, that the character of Mia completely writes off Lucy when she finds out the truth. I get it, and like I said above she has every right to be angry at the news itself, but, to never want to be able to forgive her mom (although *SPOILER ALERT* she ends up doing so) and resenting her for lying to her all those years, she fails to recognize that while her “adoption” by Lucy wasn’t legal, she fails to recognize that she still was able to grow up in just as loving of a home had she not been kidnapped. She just assumes she now has no one to love her and lost her identity as soon as she found out she wasn’t who she thought she was.

Okay, so now I’m starting to not be able to make sense of the thoughts I had in my head before sitting down to write this but, what I am trying to say, is that this character was so willingly and able to disown her “mom” Lucy and go off and live with her biological mom, Marilyn, across the country, and a woman whom was essentially a stranger to her. I obviously don’t believe in kidnapping babies–whether fictional or real life, lol–but, Mia fails to realize that while what Lucy did was against the law, and bad in the eyes not just of the law but morals of the people around her, she kidnapped her to take care of and raise her–not to harm her. As I read on in the book I realized Marilyn was not a bad mom overall, she just made a human mistake of walking a little too far away to take a phone call, but, again, it’s fiction so.

I just felt that while Mia had every right to be angry and upset and feel like her identity was gone, it shouldn’t have been presented that way. Being a(n) (real) adoptee myself, I can’t imagine myself, should I ever be in that situation if I were to ever find/know my biological parents, that I would feel like my identity of the woman I today was gone. I was raised by my mom and dad since they adopted me when I was four months old.

Whoa, sidenote, I just realized I was the same age as the fictional character in the book. Anyway…

I don’t know a life any different, and while I wouldn’t be opposed to meeting or knowing more about them sometime down the road, it’s not something I’ll be sad and angry if I don’t. My identity and say, my culture and its history, is different than and not tied to who gave birth to me. I am in no way lessening the important role birth parents play in adoptions but, this book just seemed to me, to have it backwards. I tie my identity to how and who I was raised by and with. I tie it to my own likes I acquired on my own growing up. I of course tie it to my Guatemalan roots as well, as that is a part of me, but, it’s not all of me. I was raised in America.

Which brings me to a completely different point and in no way related to my loose review of the book…

I shake my head and literally have no words when more often than not in recent time have I been approached asking in some form, where am I from?

When people ask me, Where are you from? I respond: Michigan.

This answer, for the most part, satisfies people but, then you get the occasional, and seemingly more now lately, people who look baffled and question me even more. Take for example, my Uber encounter last weekend when I was back home.

I get in the car and the driver starts making conversation with me and he asks where I’m from. I tell him from the area and to his dismay, he presses on, and asks if I am Mexican.

Number of times in the last month I’ve been asked some variation of that question (or, if I speak Spanish, which I do not): A HANDFUL. 

I took a deep breath, trying not to lose my shit after wanting a simple, no big deal, and QUIET ride home from the bar, and respond, “no”.

Of course, he looks dissatisfied and questions me asking where am I really from, as if somehow, for some reason, I am lying. Then to satisfy him and shut up him, even though it clearly shouldn’t matter nor should it be any of his damn business, I tell him where I was born.

As you’re reading this you may be wondering why I would get so worked up and annoyed by such a simple question. Here is why…

The Uber driver, like others I have encountered over the last month, are making an assumption about me based on how I look. I clearly do not look Caucasian, I get that, I do. But, you know how many people I myself come across who clearly aren’t Caucasian and don’t assume or ask about where they’re from as a way to pry and be nosy, instead of the usual small talk like when I say to people in Indiana, “Oh I just moved here.” To which they reply, “Oh, where did you move from?” To which I answer, “Michigan”, and alas that’s the end of it.

But other times, such as during this Uber ride, he didn’t ask me to make small talk. Or, perhaps he did, as it was a ride home from a stranger but, to me, it doesn’t seem appropriate for small talk. It’s just like when people automatically start speaking to me in Spanish or ask me if I speak Spanish and when I say no they look all confused.

I get annoyed by that because I don’t look at people who aren’t of the majority race and ask if they speak what I speculate could be their native language, or even just their race. It’s not how I was raised and I just don’t see it as polite. It’s other people making an assumption based on how I look. And I am no in way saying that being Mexican or any other nationality or race myself would be a bad thing, it’s just not who I am and I don’t appreciate that people are so quick to assume things about another.

But that’s enough about that.

Just something I thought I would touch on going along with my brief review of the book I read.

That’s all for now. It’s #TGIT so that means it’s almost, kind of, time for my TV shows to come on.

Until next time…

XO,

Ana

Change is inevitable, progress is optional…

So, it’s been a minute since I’ve last blogged.

Okay, so it’s been two months but, I’ve busy with work, a bridal shower, a bachelorette party, my 26th birthday, patiently (okay, not so patiently waiting) for the arrival of my nephew, etc. etc.

Alright, so maybe I haven’t been that busy to where I couldn’t blog but let me tell you, sleep is my number two priority after work. LOL. When I am not working or busy with other commitments you can guarantee I am sleeping or watching ridiculous Lifetime Movie Network movies.

Anyway… Moving along.

So today actually marks the two month anniversary of when I moved into my apartment and then on Saturday it will have been two months since I started my first day at C-T. (That’s The Chronicle-Tribune for those of you who don’t know the abbreviation, lol, because I don’t feel like repeatedly typing it out)

Work has been a learning process–fun, cool, exciting. I still consider myself a rookie because coming in I felt a bit rusty. I had just finished up my internship at HOMTV and yes, I obviously studied journalism and got my degree in it and had my intern at WLNS, etc., but, being back in a print-focused atmosphere was something I was struggling to get a hold of again. Thankfully my co-workers and boss are awesome and have been helping me out along the way. I mean yeah I still have more to learn, and always will, I believe with any job it’s like that, and thankfully I’ve had great mentors along the way.

Of course, while I’m learning a lot and still getting to know the town of Marion, I wouldn’t be being completely honest if I said I didn’t have some challenges along the way. Like for example, after the Fourth of July holiday weekend when I was leaving my cottage to come back I got upset, and quite honestly, it was hard to say my “see you later’s” to my family. My mom saw it firsthand, and as any good mom, she told me everything would be okay. And deep down I knew it would be, but, at that exact moment I didn’t want to leave after having spent an incredible weekend with my whole immediate family, plus my uncle Steve.

Fast forward to this past weekend, and same thing happened. I know, it sounds pathetic, especially being 26-years-old–an adult–living on her own but, it did happen again and, I have no doubt it will happen again until I become more familiar with Marion and meeting friends and having people to hang out with instead of just constantly being by myself in my apartment when I get home from work. Anyway, this time it happened not while I was leaving from home in Michigan to my home here, but rather, leaving Nashville and coming back home to Indiana but wanting to make it all the way back to Michigan for just the night so I could finally meet my nephew Stone.

So Stone was born on Wednesday, July 27, 2016. My sister-in-law, Jamie, went to the hospital early Tuesday morning (like the middle of the night), and my mom called me at 6:30 a.m. to tell me she had so. Of course that was the morning I was scheduled to drive down to Nashville to stay with my old college roommate and friend, Kayla, and see my cousin’s new house and then spend the rest of the weekend celebrating the bride-to-be, Alison, and I was put in a tough spot. Part of me was dying to go home instead so I could be there when he was actually born but, the other part of me wanted to stick to my plan and go on to Nashville because I thought it would be rude if I didn’t. Plus, what ultimately made me choose Nashville over the birth of Stone was that I knew I wouldn’t get to celebrate Alison and her bachelorette party again, but, that Stone would and will always be there when I visit home next. It was still a tough decision for me and as soon as he was actually born and my mom sent me pictures I felt like I was immediately starting to regret making the trip down south. He was more beautiful and perfect than I could have ever imagined. Words couldn’t describe the feelings I had when I saw him (in picture form) for the first time. But, let’s just say I was at out shopping at the mall at the time and definitely started tearing up, in the baby clothes department, looking all kinds of pathetic. LOL.

Fast forward to Tuesday, two days ago, and when I found out I would get to leave early from work I knew I had to make the 2.5 hour drive home to see my nephew. Sure, I will be going home again tomorrow but, I seriously just couldn’t take it any longer. I drove home as fast as I could and when I got to my brother and sister-in-law’s house, I RAN to the front door. (And for those who know me, you know I don’t run for anything–I HATE running, lmao.) I open the door and see Jamie feeding Stone, and I am even more shocked and taken away at how precious, beautiful and perfect he really is. I called Jamie as I was leaving town to tell her I was coming home and wanted to see him and also warned her I would probably cry when I saw him. Thankfully I was able to hold my tears back but I kid you not, every time I look at a picture of him, and even yesterday when I was out shopping for groceries at Meijer but then “somehow” ended up in the baby boy clothes section, I started tearing up. LOL.

I’m sure some of you are probably wondering why I am so emotional over Stone and maybe even some of my family members are thinking back to when their babies were born and how I didn’t act like this. It’s not that I love any of my other nieces and nephews any less or anything like that–I will tell you now that being an aunt is my greatest “gig” yet and I’ve been lucky enough to be one since I was 2.5 years old. But with Stone, it is different. And I will tell you why…

My older brother Adam, is someone, who despite us literally fighting sometimes or him just being a natural big brother and picking on me from time to time in general, is someone I appreciate and look up to. I look up to all of my siblings, yes, and I love them all the same. But, for those of you who know Adam–you know he is, how do I put it? A bit “rough around the edges”, if you will. He’s not perfect by any means but, who is? No one. When he was growing up he wasn’t a horrible teenager but, he wasn’t an angel either. (Love you, Adam) And so of course when he and Jamie told the family at Christmas last year that they were expecting I lost it. Mind you, I had a few glasses of wine in me, lol, but, even to present day, I get emotional thinking about him as a dad. I guess to be honest there were some days, some moments where I thought, “Adam as a dad? Yeah right, not any time soon–more like not for a long time.” And, I think part of me thought this because I had always known him to be the one who likes to have fun, doing whatever it may be. But, after the news broke and time went on, I knew he and Jamie were going to be forced to “grow up” (not saying that they were careless/reckless or anything like that) or rather, “upgrade” to parent status. It was weird to think about, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t have doubts but, at the end of the day, I knew they would make great parents. Like any parents, I imagine (I can’t speak 100% because I myself am not a parent yet), they will make mistakes and deal with Stone acting out as he grows up and gets older but, that’s normal for any family with kids. Seeing Adam transition from the “having fun” guy to dad, is something that’s very sentimental to me. (If that’s the right word to use??) Not that I am not proud of Jamie, or my other siblings with kids, but, this is my big brother, Adam, we’re talking about. It’s just something that’s hard to explain without it coming out wrong so if you’re reading this and taking it the wrong way, I am sorry. It just is something different with Adam being a dad. Even just typing this is making me emotional.

At the end of the day, I love all of my nieces and nephews the same. I hate that they grow up so fast, though, which, is also part of the reason I think I am so obsessed and in love with Stone. That, and we haven’t had a baby boy since… Calvin, I believe, and he’ll be 10 (?) this year. REALLY?! It’s just crazy how fast time goes by and how quickly each one of them grows up. Even Annabelle, who will be 3-years-old in December (OMG, that just hit me… THREE?!), has grown up so fast right before my very eyes. And that’s not to say my nieces and nephews aren’t as fun when they grow up, but, their priorities shift as they get older just like mine did. My niece Madi has two daughters, is engaged… My nephew Drew is in college, has a job… My nephew Zach is a SENIOR in high school and will graduate next year… My niece, Gabi, will be fourteen, WHAT?!… My nephew Max will be THIRTEEN (I think, right? See, I myself am getting too old to remember everyone’s age, LOL) in December AND he now has his own cell phone. I texted him a couple times so far and one time when I texted him asking him if he was watching Big Brother he said “no” and then didn’t really say much to me after that so he must have been too tired to text me too 😦 LOL… My niece Amelia and nephew Calvin will both be 10 in November… My nieces Raelynn and Gigi will both start Kindergarten in the fall… And like I said earlier, Annabelle will be THREE in December. And then my niece, Ashlyn, and her girlfriend are both working and have a place of their own and then my nephew, Corey, and his fiancee have their own place too with their two kids and pets. I mean, they’re all grown up! This is partly why I freaked when I wasn’t there when Stone was born because I there for just about every other birth of my nieces and nephews and to not be able to be there for Stone tore me apart. Even now, living away, it’s hard because I know I don’t get to see him all the time like I did growing up with my other nieces and nephews.

I have to remind myself though that I don’t live that far and can always come home on a weekend if I don’t work, but, living away in general is still taking getting used to. My mom and dad assure me it will be fine, and I know deep down they’re right. It’s just going to take time.

Hopefully soon I will meet people to hang out with and stuff, but, even if not, it’s a part of the growing up process–just like my mom told me. I am an adult now and she said herself, I can do it. I’m thankful to have the best parents in the world who refuse to let me give up when times get tough. They believe in me enough to know that I can work past whatever it is that is thrown my way. So mom, dad–thank you both. Thank you to all of my family for giving me that push I needed to make the move to work my dream job and do what I love most.

I know there will always be challenges here and there in the future, in whatever aspect/stage of life, but, they’re always there behind me.

Until next time…

XO,

Ana

Prayers For Kalamazoo

Ever since I found out my best friend’s older brother was in the Uber vehicle that we would later find out belonged to an alleged killer, my heart has been heavy. I’ve been sad.

I keep thinking, “what if?” 

I am so incredibly thankful he is okay, but, I am also incredibly sad for the families who lost a loved one(s) from this tragic ordeal.

I still can’t wrap my mind around how or why this happened. And what makes it even harder is we may never know. And even if we do find out, it may never make sense to us.

But, I have been and always will be a believer in God and guardian angels because I believe if weren’t for them, my best friend’s brother might not have been so lucky. He’s like another brother to me; I’ve known him since I was born and he and my brother are best friends and have been since kindergarten.

I’m glad he trusted his gut and got out of the vehicle when he did. I was talking to my mom about it on the phone this morning and she said, “I couldn’t have imagined a world without him.” And I thought the same thing. But the sad reality is, is that there are now 6 families living that nightmare. They now have to live their lives not imagining life without their loved ones but, actually living it. And that, it breaks my heart. 

And of course it’s not just the shooting from Kalamazoo that makes me feel this way, it’s all of them that occur. But, this one hits particularly close to home because a close family friend of mine was involved.

Not only that, but if people didn’t know where his hometown (which is the same as mine) was before, they sure know where it’s at now, due to the national attention the tragedy has received. I was down in Nashville when I first heard about it and it even showed up on the TV at the bar my friend and I were at yesterday.

  

Not only do I know my best friend’s brother who live in Kalamazoo, but, I know other people as well. Friends, sorority sisters, etc. It’s sad and scary because it could have been anyone, anywhere. It could have been someone else I know. I’m thankful it wasn’t, but, it’s a scary thought knowing this kind of thing CAN happen anywhere.

There clearly was some kind of mental illness this man was dealing with, and I can only hope that moving forward more can be done about education on mental health. I see people say guns are the problem, but, in my opinion I disagree. 

People kill people.

It doesn’t matter if the person has a gun–he or she can and will find other means to harm people if they really want. I know not everyone agrees with that but, I’m sick of the blame being put on guns.

It’s a mixture of the two–I believe some, not all, people need to be educated on gun safety AND even proper lock up. Because even if a person legally owns a gun and isn’t mentally ill, it doesn’t mean that someone who IS mentally ill can’t potentially get their hands on the gun if it’s not properly stored and locked up. Again, this is just MY opinion.

Secondly, mental illness needs to be talked about more. I think we try to brush it off and under the rug, but, it’s a serious problem. I think if it was a more discussed topic people wouldn’t be afraid to seek treatment–they might actually realize they need treatment to begin with. And even if the person with mental illness himself/herself doesn’t realize they need help, again, if we talk about it more then other people–like family and loved ones–could notice the signs and get the person help.

This is strictly my opinion, and in regards to people boycotting Uber… On one hand I would like to agree, but as others have pointed out, it really isn’t Uber’s fault. Sure, maybe they could do more in terms of background checks or something but, this guy had no criminal history, nor, could Uber have predicted this individual would go on a killing spree. And like I mentioned earlier, this could have happened anywhere, any time. Things happen that we can’t always predict or understand. But again, moving forward, I hope more can be done to be able to discuss mental illness more openly and more often because I believe that’s the root of the problem. Not guns. Again, just my opinion and not everyone will agree but, something major needs to be done. 

We as a country can’t keep saying we’ll make change, we need to ACT on it.

I’m thinking of my friend’s family, especially her brother and his fiancée–who originally posted to her Facebook about how bizarre the alleged shooter was acting when her fiancé was riding in the Uner before the driver eventually went on his killing spree. She and her fiancé had even filed a police report right after the bizarre ride and unfortunately action wasn’t taken soon enough. But, what’s done is done and what we can do now is make sure justice is served for the victims whose lives were taken much too soon and pray for their families and other loved ones. ❤️

Michigan is my home.

And I understand this could have happened elsewhere, and shootings have occurred before, I’m not ignoring that fact–but, my heart is extremely heavy it happened in my home state, and while my family friend wasn’t killed, it still doesn’t make it any less sad. The whole situation is just awful and like I said, we as a community AND state AND country need to stand together not just for this mass murder, but all of them.

#PrayersForKalamazoo

#MichiganStrong

– Ana