Wednesday, January 28, 2015

what we're reading wednesday: unwind (& sequels)

I recently finished a young-adult sci-fi (or dystopian maybe?) series that I've been working on for a couple years-- only just finished because the final book only just came out. There are 4 novels and a companion novella by Neal Shusterman-- Unwind, UnWholly, UnSouled, and UnDivided (and the novella is UnStrung).

I can't decide what I think of this series. It was very good, but I can't say that I loved it, because it was so disturbing. But I think I would recommend it BECAUSE it was so disturbing-- it was supposed to be.

The premise is as follows: sometime in the not-too-distant future (but several decades prior to the start of the series), the U.S. was ripped apart by a civil war fought over the issue of abortion. Part of the treaty included the Unwind Accord-- a law which made abortion illegal, but allowed parents to choose to "unwind" their teenage offspring. "Unwinding" means that all the teen's organs are harvested and distributed to those who medically need them (which technology had recently made possible), with the justification that since all parts of the body remain alive, the unwound person has not actually been killed, but is simply now living in a "divided state."

This seems so horrifying as to be implausible, but of course objectively it's no more horrifying than the millions of unborn babies who've been killed by abortion. It just feels more horrifying because we're used to abortion... just like society in the novels is used to unwinding. The great thing about the books is that this parallel is never explicitly made, so it never feels preachy. There's one brief scene in the first book where several teenagers scheduled to be unwound have a discussion about abortion and at what point a fetus is a person... but the author never inserts his opinion on abortion, which I think makes the parallel much more powerful. (I don't actually even know the author's stance, though if I had to guess, I'd guess he's pro-life.)

The storyline follows three main characters (all teenagers scheduled for unwinding, but for different reasons) with perspective shifting among them with each chapter. A fourth main character is introduced in book two, and there are several more minor characters who get their own perspective-chapters to a greater or lesser degree.

Cautions/FYIs: A lot of horrible things happen in the books, but none of it is particularly graphic-- it's more horrible concepts. Premarital sex between two of the main characters (and several minor characters) is mentioned but not depicted. There are some allusions to "mercy killing" without clear judgments made. I'm pretty sure there's some bad language, but I honestly don't remember.

I wouldn't recommend it to younger teens unless they're very mature, just due to the horrible-ness of the premise, but most high-schoolers would be able to handle it. Well, I mean, as fine as can be expected... I lay awake thinking horrified thoughts about these books, but that's kind of the point. It's less graphic than the Hunger Games, but much closer to home. But (spoiler, I guess) the end of the series is uplifting/hopeful, so that helps.

Looks like I can't link up to Housewifespice until next week... I've been a bit out of the loop lately!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

new year, new couch (sort of)

So we had this couch. It was a super-comfortable leather sleeper sofa that I bought on Craigslist three years ago for $160. But, it was old. I don't know how old, but old enough that the leather was literally disintegrating. I tried stitching it, patching it, even gluing it... but it just kept falling apart. (It didn't help that Josie used the rip on the seat as a handhold for hoisting herself up.) So we decided to get it reupholstered-- expensive, but less expensive than a new leather sleeper sofa. And the process was just so, so very Guam.

First off, the shop where we got it done was just... okay, you have to see it to believe it.


Josie and I can't decide whether to be amused or incredulous. Or horrified.

This was seriously this man's place of business. And this is just how it looks when you walk in the front door, it's not like the back room or anything.

That door IS the front door.

Gotta be a fire hazard, right? Fortunately, this is Guam, where no one cares about such things.

Second, the timeline was ridiculous. Guam is a place where no one has any sense of urgency at all, about anything, ever. When we left our couch at the shop, the owner and upholsterer (hereafter known as Upholstery Guy) told us it would be ready in "Ten to fourteen days, probably closer to fourteen." Fair enough. He said he would call us when it was done.

Day 14- No phone call, so I call to follow up. Upholstery Guy is confused and vaguely incredulous. He says it will be done by Wednesday (which is day 18, by the way). He will deliver it to our house.

Day 16- I call to clarify when the delivery will be, to ensure someone will be home. Upholstery Guy is confused and vaguely incredulous. He says it will be done sometime this week. He will call us. He cannot deliver the couch; we will have to pick it up. 

Day 20- I call to ask if the couch is done. Upholstery Guy is confused and slightly annoyed. He says it can be done by tomorrow. But maybe we could give him until day 23 instead? That would be better. But if I insist (which I do) I can pick it up tomorrow.

Day 21- Given how this has been going so far, I call to confirm that the couch is indeed ready. Upholstery Guy is confused and slightly annoyed. He says OF COURSE it is done. YES, we can come get it.

Day 21 (later that day)- We arrive at the shop to pick up our couch. Upholstery Guy tells us, "You call too much."

(Now, to give you a more well-rounded picture, he was actually very nice, and I'm sure some of the communication problems were due to language barrier issues. But still. Seriously.)

But! The couch looks awesome now! So all worth it. I guess.

(Sorry, couldn't find any good "before" pictures. Apparently I was subconsciously avoiding having any photographic evidence of such an eyesore. Bad blogger, I am.)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

did I forget to mention this?

Baby #3 is officially our first boy!

I'm not gonna lie, I'm kind of excited. Baby girl clothes are cute and all with their ruffles and bows, but I'm ready for trucks and dinosaurs and robots. (Not that girls don't like trucks and dinosaurs and robots, but you know what I mean.) I had a feeling he was a boy, though I'm sure that feeling was just based on the notion that we were "due for" a boy, which of course doesn't make any logical or statistical sense, but whatever. Jack was convinced (equally illogically, I might add) that we were fated to have only girls, so of course when the ultrasound revealed the truth, I turned to him and very maturely exclaimed, "I TOLD YOU SO!!"

I took a Facebook poll, and everyone agreed that there's nothing weird about posting grainy sonogram pictures of my fetal son's nether-regions on the Internet. So that makes it officially okay, right? So here's proof.

I knew since before we were married that my firstborn son's name was pretty much decided already-- my husband being "the fourth" of his name and all. But the nickname was all ours! But... there are surprisingly few nicknames for John, so my list of options was actually fairly short.

So this is John C. McDonnell V, aka baby Jackson. 

He's a cutie, inn'e? 

Also, here's kind of a funny thing: pediatricians are weird about what week of pregnancy we're in. For the first half, we're pretty much like everyone else. But speaking from a medical perspective, fetal viability begins at 24 weeks... or maaaaaybe 23. So at like 22 weeks, pregnant peds people start to get all nervous. Not like a baby born prematurely at 22 weeks is worse than a baby born at 19 weeks... they're both "nonviable." But it just feels like, so close! But then the anxiety doesn't really lessen significantly at 24 weeks, because 24 week preemies are sick as crap and a lot of them die or have severe brain damage, so you're all like, "STAY IN THERE BABY." And then with each passing week you breathe slightly easier. Because while a lot of babies born at 29 weeks will need to be on a ventilator and stuff, mostly they end up okay. And babies born at 32 weeks need to stay in the NICU for awhile, but their lungs are reasonably well-developed and they can breathe pretty well. And most babies born at 35 weeks are basically the same as term babies except maybe they'll be more jaundiced and have a little trouble eating, but they're really totally no big deal. Except there's some evidence that babies born at 37 weeks have a higher risk of like, neurobehavioral issues than babies born at 40 weeks, even though 37 weeks is technically term.

So we have all this stuff running through our heads whenever we think about what week we're in (26 currently for me, FYI), and it's kind of weird and maybe a little morbid, and mostly it all amounts to "STAY IN THERE BABY" even when we're sick and tired of being pregnant.