Night by Elie Wiesel: A Book Review

img_5345“Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes.”

Can you imagine the weight of the responsibility of murdering someone’s God?

Just let that sink in for a moment.

The quote above is just a small glimpse of the sadness you will experience as you read Night by Elie Wiesel. It is one of the most somber books I’ve ever read in my entire life.
After seeing this book on list after list of recommended reads, I added it to my reading list this year. It is nothing short of a true historical phenomenon. This narrative of  Hungarian Jew’s experience in Nazi concentration camps will leave you with a perspective you never
imagined and emotions you probably haven’t experienced before.

The book begins with a young Hungarian Jew as a teenager. His perspective takes you through World War II in his country. The details of the war were not very well known in the beginning especially the secrets that the German police would hide from the average citizen. This child’s voice carries you through times and places overlooked and ignored because of the seriousness and painfulness of their nature.
Why read this book if it’s going to be so depressing in nature?

Because it’s so important.

Nazi Germany, more specifically the Holocaust, is being forgotten. Some will go so far as to say it never even happened. But the truth is that it did. People want us to forget that humans could cause such pain and torment to other humans. How could our race do this? It’s inhuman.

But in reality, it’s just human nature in its greatest depravity.

It is heartbreaking to realize the truth of this time period in history, but it’s important for us to remember those who experienced this. Shed the light on truth. Read the book. Share the reality of the Holocaust so that we can help prevent history from repeating itself again and

Bad Decisions

The sign said not to push the button, but I did. I’ve made worse mistakes.


Worse Mistake than Pressing the Button Number 1: The Time I Decided to Unjam a Paper Shredder


You would think that would be a good idea, right? Well, let me tell you. It’s only a good idea if you turn the paper shredder off first. Here’s what happened: I worked at a pediatrician’s office. It was a great job. I did front office secretarial work. You know, things like checking insurance, collecting payments, and lots and lots of paperwork. Hence the paper shredder. Medical information is confidential and it needed to be shredded. We had a small shredder once upon a time, but then it died. So we got this industrial sized one. Leave it to me to try to destroy it on the first day. Our stack of papers that needed shredded was the size of the paper shredder, so I just went to town shredding personal information. It was great fun! Until I put too many papers in the slot at once. I thought it would work just fine and it did. I made the stack a little bigger each time. But it became a little too large to swallow. Dang it. I got the papers stuck. So I sat there and pulled and pulled on the papers. They wouldn’t budge. My inch and a half stack of papers was jammed. I tried to tug on it for about ten minutes when I had this brilliant thought. Better unplug the shredder. Great job, Genius. Should have thought of that at the beginning. I put my hand on top of the shredder a little too close to the paper slot and leaned behind it to pull the plug. A whirring sound and next think I know, the fingers on my left hand and half of my hand are jammed in the shredder. The whirring sound continues followed by the sound of my frantic yelling. “Someone please help me.” Tears pour down my face. My hand hurts so bad.


The nurse working with me starts running around the office. “Ron! Ron!” She calls the doctors name as she opens and closes exams room doors all throughout the building.


“Oh my gosh. It hurts so bad.” I stand there bawling, helplessly trapped by a small body part. I’m pulling as much as I can.


The other nurse comes and finally thinks to unplug the still whirring shredder then proceeds to go call my parents. “Her arm is stuck in the shredder.” Arm. Arm. Really. Arm. My parents are gonna think I’m disabled now. 


Frantic nurse is back with her arm around my shoulders, and I can’t get away from her touch. “It’s okay sweetie. We’re gonna get you out.”


Tears continue to pour down my cheeks. I hear the same nurse on the phone. “Yes, her hand is stuck in the shredder.” She gives the address for the office.


I hear the doctor run in. He stares at the machine for 2 seconds and runs out.


Where is he going? “Someone please help me.”


He comes back a few minutes later with pliers. Pliers?! Are you kidding me? How is that going to help? He shoves the pliers in between the slots. I get just enough leverage to pull my fingers out. This is why he’s the doctor and I’m not.


My sobbing turns to quiet cries. I’m free. I stare down at my smashed fingers. Flat as a pancake. My dad is gonna kill me. 


I’m sitting in the spinny office chair, but it brings no joy at this time. Nor do the three emergency crews that soon walk in the door. The first two paramedics take my blood pressure and tell me I’m practically dead because one of them has no clue how to properly use the sphygmomanometer.


Why three crews you may ask? Because one of the nurses’ moms who is a dispatcher heard the call go out and thought it was her daughter when she heard the address. Ugh. My awkward life.


Well, after telling the emergency crews I would live they finally left me alone and didn’t drive me off to the ER like they wanted to. Thank goodness.


I spent the next three days on Tylenol with Codeine. Talk about being wiped out. I was out cold for hours. It was great. My throbbing fingers spent several days in a splint as we try to make sure that nothing was too broken. The following summer just one fingernail fell off and I cried because my fingernails were so pretty. Word of advice: don’t be stupid and you won’t lose your fingernails.


But you also may not get meet cute paramedics. Yes, they called back the next week to check on me. My skin reached new tones of red that day. Finally my fingers did stay straight, I still have my hand, and my nail grew back. All in all, that bad decision came around to be okay eventually.


Worse Mistake than Pressing the Button Number 2: The Time I Decided to Take a Hiking Trip 


Now in and of themselves, hiking is a great idea! It’s great exercise. It’s great bonding time with friends. It’s great views and conversation. But it’s not great when you’ve never been there and you don’t take a map.


Here’s how it happened: my best friend came to visit me and we decided to be adventurous. We’d been hiking before near her house and it was great! So I found a new place in south Georgia. It couldn’t be that crazy. We drove about an hour and a half to get to our hiking destination. It was about 1:00 pm when we started. A beautiful early spring day. We walked and talked for hours. I mean hours. We’d been following the white trail. We snacked on granola bars and dove chocolate. We took pictures, paused for breaks at beautiful views. And soon, the sun was setting. We kept walking on the white trail. And soon all the trees started to look the same. I didn’t have a map either. It got colder and all I could see were the same trees I saw 10 minutes ago.


I pulled out my phone. GPS is a beautiful creation. Too bad it doesn’t help if you don’t have a signal. I was close to tears. My best friend and I were about to spend the night in the woods with dove chocolate, granola bars, light jackets, and bears. After wandering around like a Jew in the wilderness for about an hour, I didn’t know what to do anymore. I began to think of everything I knew about hiking. “Stay on the trail.” This is supposedly the best advice that people give you. I absolutely disagree at this point. And I chose not to listen to that. I heard a car and I searched frantically for any sign of other life. Nothing. And then I heard it again. Thank God for giant trucks that put off a ton of pollution into the atmosphere. I saw the black truck go by and decided to find the road. We cut off the trail and made our way to what was supposed to be the direction of where the road was and finally our feet stepped on the pavement. I could’ve kissed the ground I was so happy.


We took a right out of the forest and made our way up the road. Still no sign of civilization. I was praying a car would drive by, but we found the next best thing. A wood post with maps of all the trails. But I wasn’t daring to set foot on the trail again at this time. The sun was almost down. I found the number of a park ranger and thankfully we got in touch with someone fairly quickly. Soon, two men were on the way to pick us up from the side of the road. This is as close to hitch hiking as I’ve ever come.


Maybe they’ll be young hot guys. We were both hoping for this. It would be about 10 minutes before they would be there. Also, let me mention that during the last hour, I’ve turned down 5 phone calls from my parents who I was supposed to for dinner like now.


The truck pulled up right on time. We were introduced to John and Rick. Unfortunately they were both grandpa aged, but that’s okay. At least we were safely on our way back to the car that we soon found out was six miles away from where we were. Good thing we hadn’t gotten back on the trail.


After getting to the car, I called my mom and told her we weren’t gonna make dinner. We lost track of time (aka got lost). When we got close to home, we chose to celebrate with Mexican food. What other way would you spend rejoicing that it wasn’t your last day on earth. Although, it could still be when my parents find out what really happened.


As soon as I got home, I told them. My sister called me an idiot (I deserved that). My parents chewed me out (I deserved that too). But at least we were safely home, I could life with this bad decision too.


Oh, there were a couple of positives. Like this pinecone that I found:




But perhaps the greatest part of all of this was that my dad, brother, and I went back for a guided night hike. (I probably need a guide for every hiking trip from now on.) Allow me to share with you the name of my guide. His name is Rick. And no, I did not reintroduce myself. I try to let my bad decisions stay somewhat in the past.


Worse Mistake than Pressing the Button Number 3: The Time I Decided to Use the Wifi at a Sketchy Dunkin’ Donuts


I don’t have wifi at my house. I know it’s like I’m still living pre-millennial. But to be fair, I have an apartment, so I can’t really go digging up around the place since technically it’s not mine. So I make due. Currently, I’m writing this from Starbucks so I can use their wifi (and also have a good cup of coffee).


This story takes place right after I moved to a new area. Leave it to me to find the sketchiest part of town to do my school work. I found literally the only coffee shop close by. Result of a small town life. It was a Dunkin Donuts right in the middle of the space between I could see myself raising a family here or I might get shot on my way in.


But it was my only option.


I settled down with my computer and began working on my lesson plans. Probably the worst part of teaching if you ask me, but it’s a necessary evil. There was a man sitting in the opposite corner. The local mailman. Welcome again to small town life. Next thing I know, he’s making casual conversation. It’s normal around here to talk to complete strangers. So I’m friendly enough. I’ll really talk to anyone, and this man was no different.


We chat about life and careers. I’m a teacher. He’s an aspiring musician in the R & B industry. I live just outside of Nashville so this isn’t uncommon. But here’s what is.


“Do you do music?” he asks.


“I play a little guitar and ukulele, but I’m not that good,” I say honestly.


“You should come by my place sometime.”


Wait. What? 


Next thing I know, there’s a napkin with a name, number, and an apartment address of a 40 something single man on my lesson plan books.


“Thanks,” I say as politely as possible as I pack up my things and get out of there.


Well, this story gets around to my friends. I find it quite hilarious and I always have an awkward story to share. But oh trust me, it gets better.


Fast forward two months, and I’m in the middle of my first week of teaching. It’s going well. I love the 7 year olds that I spend all day with. My lesson is going perfectly. My classroom is at the front of the school. I have huge open windows and no curtains. So I get to see everything. Including the mailman walking into school.


I did a double take.


No. Nononononono. 


Yes. It was him.


Ugh. My awkward life again. To this day, my life as school is spent hiding my face whenever the mail truck drives up. Sometimes, bad decisions follow you for a very long time.


So in light of all the bad decisions that could possibly be made, I don’t think touching the button on the store display blender is the worst one I could ever make.

Life Lessons of a Bridesmaid

img_4733This past weekend, my best friend got married. I think that’s typically part of being a 20-something in this time. All of your friends start to get into serious relationships, then comes the ring and marriage. And soon it’ll be puppies and kids. (Puppies first, it’s like training for parenting. I’ve seen it happen many times.)

I had the privilege to be maid of honor in this wedding, and it was definitely a learning experience. I think there are several takeaways every bridesmaid can tell you.

So here are a few of the life lessons I learned from being part of this bridal party:

Life Lesson #1 – Elope. Just kidding. But if you can’t handle high stress, dealing with other people, and any kind of conflict, you might want to consider it.

Real Life Lesson #1 – Be prepared. That can look different for different people. Have a checklist on your phone, make a notebook, or hire someone to do it all for you. Just make
sure you plan and prepare for everything that way the beautiful day isn’t ruined by lack of planning.

Life Lesson #2 – Be flexible. Even with all the planning in the world, something is bound to go wrong. Find a way to deal with the problem. That means plans might change. But that’s okay. Roll with it.

Life Lesson #3 – Be happy. I know this sounds cliche, but really take time to enjoy the day. Be happy around your people. These are the bride’s and groom’s life-long friends: childhood, college, and future. Don’t be that one person that ruins the special day.

So there’s just a few things that I learned from being in a wedding. I’m sure there are so many more things you could add. But just remember to keep the special day special.