We are living in deeply troubled times. Daily, my faith in humanity, my sincere belief in the inherent goodness of people and our ability to be collectively, “a people”, is shaken.
Our nation’s police continue to murder those whom they are intended to protect, bringing to light the longstanding fact that our police system is fundamentally flawed. Policing and protecting as a concept, the who, the why, and the how, must be stripped to the studs, re-imagined, and re-built.
Despite an unfathomable body count, and the shocking normality of domestic mass shootings, our nation’s government continues to hide behind big gun money and a tragically simple interpretation of the constitution.
In another example of history repeating itself, we, as citizens, turn a blind eye to the fact that money, training, weapons and power of extremist terrorist groups is largely supplied by the American government.
And what is there to say about the inhuman, heartbreaking European response, or rather, non-response, to the refugee crisis?
This is just a microscopic smattering of the sadness that weighs on the world today. Happiness and peace could be and should be had, but for reasons far beyond my brain’s ability to comprehend, our humanity - the salt of the earth, find common ground, put yourself in the other person’s shoes kind of humanity - shrinks at a shocking rate.
I’ve been wanting to write a personal post about all the happy that occurred this spring (We moved to Maine! My nephew got into Bates! I became Anna Bullett, LLC! We planted a garden!). Then June came along and I’ve been wanting to write a post about all the sad that happened this summer (Our beloved, life-loving Aunt died unexpectedly. Unprepared for the loss would be an vast understatement. Not even two weeks later, our Grandfather passed away, while not unexpectedly, much more swiftly than we’d anticipated).
But other than the paragraph I just wrote – I cannot say more about my personal happiness and sadness at the moment – I am too haunted by overwhelming sadness at the state of the world and it’s people. Writing feels and is, at least in this case, ineffectual. I know I need to take action. But I am not there yet.
Let me tell you about what I am reading and what I am drinking.
Light and breezy has never been my style, summer or otherwise. If that is what you want, click here then come back and scroll down to the part about wine.
Because when I am sad, for some reason my instinct is to make myself sadder, I just read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I am way late to the party, what with all the awards it has won – but as you may know, I am strictly a paperback gal and this has yet to come out in a lightweight version. My aunt was one-third of the way through before she died and I was compelled to read her copy for her, same bookmark and all. Reading about heartbreak to heal heartbreak is not necessarily recommended, but Mr. Doerr’s prose is so truly magical, I could not stop myself. I read it in four days and now want to start over from the beginning and read it more slowly. The novel is clearly the author’s life’s work, and what a work it is. “Light summer reads” be damned, if you haven’t already, or even if you have, read All the Light We Cannot See and be heartbroken with me for a bit. Oh how I wish I could talk about the book with my Aunt Joanie. If you are into reviews, read this.
Before I even knew what All the Light was about, or that I would be reading it this summer, I sped through the also about World War II, bittersweet yet lighthearted, adorable little-novel-with-a-long-title, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by the deceased Mary Ann Shaffer and her niece, children’s book author, Annie Barrows. I am a huge fan of historical fiction and this gem did not disappoint. I knew vaguely about the German occupation of France during WW II but had never considered what that meant for island communities, learning about a patch of land on this beautiful planet I am unlikely to ever visit was worth it enough, the little love story and the hilarity of the main character’s letters wrapped it up in a bow. Read a review if you must. Or just trust me.
Lastly, your reward for reading (almost) all the way to the end of this long-winded, woe-is-me, woe-is-the-world post:
Two wines for your summer drinking pleasure. You probably know a thing or two about vinho verde. If you don’t, read this. I was getting a bit tired of rosé (HOW DARE I ADMIT THAT?) and currently associate my former favorite inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc with the case we drank our way through during the sad month of June, so while at my local Hannaford I grabbed a bottle of the only Vinho Verde I could find, with low expectations. How pleased I was to find it immensely refreshing and full of ripe fruit and mineral flavors. If you live here in Portland, get thyself to the Hannies on Forest Ave and snag a bottle (or five).
Summer sipping usually calls for light and bright but if you are all the way down here with me in this post, you’ll understand my need for melancholy at the moment. The TJ’s exclusive, California-made pinot noir I’ve been pouring whenever we’ve been eating red meat or pizza these last few weeks is a gem. Generally speaking, I am a super-snob about pinot, Willamette Valley or nothing when it comes to the Thanksgiving-loving red wine varietal. But for the price, this pinot is very worth it. Get to your local Trader Joe’s today, for I fear it sells out quickly.
I don’t know how to end such a long ramble of words and #feelings. When my faith shakes and the ground beneath my feet quakes, I look to the words of writers far more prolific than I. Needing to be reminded of what it means to be American, that powerful feeling of freedom and privilege, and purple mountains’ majesty, I read, or sometimes watch, the incredible Richard Blanco’s One Today, written for President Obama’s inauguration.
Thanks as always for your time in reading our little blog that could. Please, share with us in the comments how you muddle through the sadness-es, small or large, individual, or collective, that confront us in these troubled times.