Monday, June 28, 2010

Book Review: "Still Alice" by Lisa Genova

I literally just finished this book (in under 3 days I might add), and I have not yet stopped crying. Lisa Genova's novel, "Still Alice" is a beautifully written and gripping first person account of Alzheimer's Disease. The main character Alice is a world renowned expert in linguistics, Harvard Professor in Psychology, mother of three, and a wife, who we follow from her realization that something is amiss, to her acceptance of the disease which is Robbing her of her memory, and beyond. To top it all off she is only 50 years old, and still in the height of her career when the heart breaking diagnosis is delivered.

It's hard for me to know where to start in this book review, because while I think anyone could really enjoy the book, I think I was so moved by it due to my associations with the disease. Not only did my grandfather on my mother's side have Alzheimer's, but my grandmother on my father's side had early onset Alzheimer's just like the character in the book. While reading the words on the page I was forced to also dredge up memories of my own grandmother, picturing her unable to speak or communicate what she needed from us. The book also touched on the genetic mutation that leads to Alzheimer's disease (and it's 50% chance of being passed on), which caused me to think about the possibility, or probability of my parents inheriting this heinous disease, or even myself and my siblings. In fact as soon as I finished the book I immediately sent an accusatory email to my Aunt who lent me the book, saying that I loved it but how could she let me read something that would touch so close to home, and then called my father hysterically crying.

Now, I know that this may sound like I'm not encouraging you to read this book, but oh cont-rare! I LOVED this book, it drew me in from the minute I started reading it, and couldn't put it down. I was immediately connected to the characters, and my heart broke along with Alice and her families as she lost sight of things that were once so familiar to her at a rapid pace.

I also think it was also important for me to read, because even though it's fiction, I feel like it helped me understand what it might have felt like for my loved ones to fight such a horrible illness. It also made me aware that I don't focus enough on it, and finding a cure. Why do I donate and participate in the fight for a cure for so many other diseases when this is the one that has the potential to tear my family apart the most? So I also emailed my family and decided to participate in this year's Memory Walk:

The books the main character once says that if she could she would trade this disease for cancer, and while the thought is a terrible one, I can't say if in her shoes I would disagree. How many of us would rather be robbed of our mind instead of our body? Please look into the walk and consider participating.

Read the book with a box of tissues close at hand. SB

Friday, June 18, 2010


So overdue with my next Africa post, but my computer literally died as I was putting on the finishing touches the other night, and I didn't want to leave everyone hanging!

Anyway, we are headed up to Saratoga, NY this weekend to relive Rob's youth and favorite past time Phish tour! We'll be camping out and jamming out all weekend! Not to mention getting wasted and making fools of ourselves (my favorite past time, j/k)!

I can't wait to get up there and get the party started! It's going to be a great weekend of music, friends, and fun! I'm really looking forward to being outdoors all weekend, escaping the stress of work, and letting my mind be distracted by amazing tunes. Wow, I really sound like a dirty hippy(but I'm thinking you guessed that based on my blogger name)!

I plan on making jello shots tonight, and since there will be plenty of them to go around they will be on sale for $1 each!! What's your favorite flavor jello shot, or favorite weekend activity that takes you back?


Friday, June 11, 2010

Our African Adventure Part II

One of the main reasons Mr. B and I travelled all the way to Africa for our vacation was to go on safari, and what a safari we had! We spent two nights and three days in the Serengeti, one of the countries largest game parks, where we camped among the wild life exposed to the unknown, saw amazing animals in close proximity, and drove around in pop-top Range Rovers with the wind in our hair. Not to mention the amazing, breath taking scenery you're looking at with Zebras, Elephants, Wildebeest, and more in the foreground! Here is the view of the park from our great lunch spot!

We happen to be lucky enough to be in the Serengeti during the great migration, and because of that we saw thousands of Zebra and Wildebeest! Someone joked with me that they had become the deer of Africa before we left, and that's definitely how we felt. At first we were all extremely excited by them, and made our guide pull over so we could snap tons of pictures, but by the time we left the game park we were unfazed by them. Even though we did see a lot of them the zebra are beautiful creatures, and they always made me smile.

Our guide explained to us that zebra and wildebeest travel together because zebra have good eye sight and a bad sense of smell, and wildebeest have terrible eye sight and a good sense of smell. Basically they work together to stay safe from predators. We also found out that zebra are very defensive animals, and often found them standing like this:

On our first night of camping Mr. B was very nervous about wild animals being so close to us, while I'm usually not phased by such things. However, on our way to our tent from dinner I had noticed an Ebok (deer like creature) a few yards from our tent, so when I had to use the facilities (and they tell you not to venture all the way to the toilet at night), I was careful to scan the area behind our tent for any near by creatures. As I stood there with my head lamp scanning the bush, some sort of animal (I'm guessing a warthog) let out a snarl that sent me running back into the tent as quickly as I could! We found out in the morning that others in our group had water buffalo munching grass behind their tent all night, and that a hyena had run through our camp site early in the morning! If that's not a safari experience I don't know what is!

Here are some more of the amazing animals we saw on safari, including some rare sights like cheetahs!

Being on safari was so freeing, I felt completely exhilarated the entire time. Camping out always relaxes me, and really takes me away from all my cares and worries. I can definitely say while I was in Africa I was really able to let go of life at home and all my usual stresses. Being out in nature I didn't think about work, or any thing else really, my mind was a blank slate. It was just what I needed! More about our final leg of the trip later! SB.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Committing to a Triathlon

While I'm definitely far from done with our African Adventure story, I think it's important that I keep you up to speed on some current events in the Blue house hold. Mr. B and I decided on Monday that we would compete in our second triathlon next month! The only problem, it's only about 4-5 weeks away(July 11)!!! With other previous social plans we have, and the seriously short time period, I'm a little worried about our trainging schedule!

Our triathlon, in Up State NY, is a what's considered a "sprint" or "beginners" tri, in other words we will have to swim a 1/4 of a mile, bike 14 miles, and run 3 miles. Luckily this is a tiny bit shorter then the previous triathlon we did 2 years ago (maybe 3?), so we're hoping it shouldn't be a problem to finish. What we are worried about though, is that this triathlon has a 2 hour time limit!

Since I did so well in my last 5k race, I'm determined to try this tri (sorry I couldn't help myself, I had to use the triple t's) for time (4!), while Mr. B is just trying to finish, and using the race as an excuse to get in shape. So we've started our schedule of swimming, biking, and running, and getting in tip top physical form! Of course the tempatures have cooled down this week, which make swimming in our unheated outdoor pool a bit harder, but we're giving it our all!

Another thing I had forgotten, was what a big time commitment training for a race like this was. I usually find my week loaded up with plans with friends, work commitments, or errands, but there's no excuse now for not working out unless I want to crawl over the finish line in 4 weeks! Hence, I apologize to any friends or family who may find themselves neglected in the next month due to my rigorus athleticly inclide schedule!

I'll keep you posted on our progress! Here's to avoiding injuries, getting in the best shape of our lives, and the sweet (or should I say sweat?) taste of accomplishment! SB