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‘Ohio’ Is A Wild, Angry, Devastating Debut

Ohio, the debut novel from author Stephen Markley, begins with a parade, but it’s not a happy one. The town of New Canaan has gathered to salute Rick Brinklan, a native of the city who was killed in action in Iraq. The novel then jumps in time to 2013, six years after that parade: “It’s hard to say where any of this ends or how it ever began, because what you eventually learn is that there is no such thing as linear,” Markley writes. “There is only this wild … flamethrower of a collective dream in which we were all born and traveled and died.”

Ohio, though, is more of a nightmare than a dream. Markley’s debut is a sprawling, beautiful novel that explores the aftermath of the Great Recession and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a powerful look at the tenuous bonds that hold people together at their best and at their worst.

Markley follows four characters, all of whom knew one another as high school students in the fictional city of New Canaan. The first is Bill Ashcraft, who returns to his hometown on a mysterious errand; he’s agreed to deliver a package from Louisiana to Ohio, although he doesn’t know what it contains. While in town, he happens upon some old classmates, with whom he feels a particular affinity: “Once handsome, marbled, small-town athletes who couldn’t understand why they hadn’t conquered the world.” Bill was an always an odd fit in his high school: a popular jock who embraced left-wing politics with a fervor that annoyed his friends.

The second character is Stacey Moore, a graduate student who’s come to New Canaan to meet with the mother of her ex-lover, a mercurial student named Lisa Han, who’s been out of contact with her friends for years. Stacey isn’t thrilled to come back to her hometown; it reminds her of her youthful awkwardness: “That’s how teenagedness works: everyone lives in a bubble of their own terrifying insecurities oblivious to the possibility that so does everyone else.”

Markley then turns to Dan Eaton, a soldier who lost an eye in Iraq, who comes back to visit his parents and his ex-girlfriend. Dan was always on the edge of the in-crowd in high school, brainy but athletic, and he has mixed feelings about running into his old friends. He complains to one about “how this town sucks you in. Keeps you doped on its own mythology.”

Finally, there’s Tina Ross, whose life has been marked by tragedy. She was abused by her high school boyfriend, a cruel linebacker named Todd Beaufort; after years of struggling with an eating disorder and self-mutilation, she’s come back to town to confront him. She knows she’s not the only one of her cohort haunted by old ghosts, unable to explain to her current boyfriend “the sadness somehow born in their high school days that could reach out and touch any of them at random.”

The four acquaintances all return to New Canaan on the same night, but for very different reasons, and none of their homecomings go exactly as planned. The novel ends with a terrifying act of violence, the culmination of a set of lives that have been destroyed by abuse, drug addiction, hatred, war and poverty.

Markley intersperses the stories of the four Ohioans with flashbacks to high school, and his portrayals are horrifyingly accurate. He does a perfect job examining the casual cruelties teenagers inflict on one another, and how those cruelties never really end, but perpetuate themselves well into adulthood.

There’s a lot going on in Ohio — a sprawling cast of main and supporting characters, and a series of interconnected events that doesn’t come together until the book’s shocking conclusion. But Markley handles it beautifully; the novel is intricately constructed, with gorgeous, fiery writing that pulls the reader in and never lets go. It’s obvious that Markley cares deeply about his characters, even the unsympathetic ones — he treats them with respect, never writing condescendingly about these people whose lives have been battered and bruised by circumstances they don’t quite understand.

It may sound like an odd thing to say for a book that’s so unflinching in its look at violence, but Markley’s novel is, in the end, about love — how it can unite and divide, sustain and destroy. “Love was what God gave you to make you both unbearably strong and intolerably weak,” he writes. “Love was the ghost of yourself, a mirror image you saw in a crowd — different life, different ideals, different map of the world — but somehow still you.” Written with a real love for its characters, Ohio isn’t just a remarkable debut novel, it’s a wild, angry and devastating masterpiece of a book.

Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day

I hope that all the father’s have a very special day. If your children are small, then you should make it special for your husband the father of your children. In all honesty you should have prepared your gift of love before now. Here are 5 last minute gifts for the procrastinator.

1. Cook his favorite meal, set the table complete with linens and candles.

2. Get last minute reservations at his favorite restaurant, take him for a romantic drive along the coast or some beautiful scenery.

3. Let your husband have a lazy day, give him the TV remote, while you treat him like the King he is. No projects, no chores.

4. Give him a massage for 30 min. with relaxing music, wine and chocolates.

5. Take him to the theater and let him choose his favorite movie. Buy all of the snacks he likes without criticizing him. Let him have a cheat day.

Ladies, if you waited to celebrate your husband, just make sure you are prepared next year.
Signed
Ms. Kim

Why Should Our Children Graduate?

Why should our children graduate from college? They should graduate from college, so there won’t be such an economic gap between college grads and everyone else. College graduates earned on the average 56%  more than high school grads in 2015. The gap widens as the need for more educated and skilled workers are needed.  As parents, it is our job to guide our children while they are in elementary, middle and high school. Encourage them to do their best in school, so they can get scholarships to go to college . If they don’t get a scholarship, they can start at a junior college first completing the mandatory courses. Then transfer to a university for the remaining two years. There are loans and grants your children can apply for,  to help pay for college. Your children can also apply for part-time work on or off campus.  Let’s prepare our children ahead of time, so they can enjoy all of the economic advantages this world has to offer. 

Go graduates Go!  

Class of 2018

Congratulations Alexis Ximara Wilburn – University of San Diego, and Lauryn Reese – San Francisco State University

Signed 

Ms. Kim 

Happy Mother’s Day

Sunday May 13th is Mother’s Day. I want to wish all the Mothers a very special Mother’s Day. I pray that their children acknowledge and appreciate them. Here are five of many things a mother is:

1. A mother is your mother for life.

2. A mother is someone who nourishes you with life and love. When she is pregnant she eats well, exercises, and gets plenty of rest ensuring that her children have a fighting chance at coming into this world healthy. It doesn’t stop there, once her children are born there are the daily routines, feeding, changing diapers, guiding, cuddling, reading and singing, keeping them safe, and loving them unconditionally all at the same time.

3. A mother goes the extra mile, whether it is the first day at school or your graduation from college and or everything in between and after.

4. A mother encourages her children to get to know God for themselves, so they can stand on their own two feet in times of adversity.

5. A mother never stops caring and loving her children, just because they grow up, but she realizes she has to pass the torch so her children can care for their spouse and children.

In essence, if your mother is still living, love, cherish, celebrate and appreciate her while you have the opportunity to do so. I thank God, I gave my mother her flowers while she could smell them.
My mother is no longer with me and my mother-in-love I never met. However, I can say our mothers instilled the love in both my husband and myself, which we have passed on to our children.

Love Never Fails
Signed Ms.Kim

Losing and Failing

At times, we are more afraid of what could be that what is. We forecast what the future will be so much, that we worry ourselves to death over possibilities. Possibilities are just that; something that might occur. And while it is good to have a plan for these possibilities, it is not good to be in so much fear of them that we remain where we are instead of taking a step forward. Sometimes the thing we dread happening the most is exactly what will set us fear. Life is not a staircase. We do not gradually ascend to our destiny. We fall, crawl, stumble, cry, fight, lose, and ultimately triumph towards our dreams. It sounds scary, but only because of fear. We are more than capable of enduring those heartaches. Luck never built a strong foundation, but adversity did. Tough decisions may be uncomfortable, but they advance you towards that goal. If everything went our way, we wouldn’t know what to do when something did not. As much as we do not like to fail, it truly is your best friend. Failure can build you if you don’t run from it. Failure can teach you more about winning than winning can. But if you are too scared to make a decision because you might fail, not only have you failed, but you have nothing to show for it. Get something out of failure so you can win the next time. Don’t be afraid to make the tough call, be afraid of being to afraid to make any call. The worst decision is indecision.

No Stress Fun Filled Day

Hey Ladies,

 

My husband and I just celebrated another year of living on this earth. We share the same birthday, so we can never forget . This year we went for a no stress fun-filled day. We spent the day at Universal Studios eating junk food while pretending we were kids again. I must say two rides through me for a loop, the infamous Jurassic Park and Revenge of the Mummy.  After those rides, I just wanted to take in the sights and get something  to eat. So that’s exactly what we did and we enjoyed every minute of our no stress fun-filled day.

Signed

Ms. Kim

Happy Veteran’s Day

Hey Ladies ,

I was so overwhelmed this weekend. Starting with the Marine Corp Birthday Friday November 10th and Veterans Day Saturday November 11th. There was such and outpouring of love and respect for our veterans . Businesses had special deals and discounts just for the veterans, from free meals, free hair cuts, health screenings, 50% off furniture, free dinner and a show at certain Las Vegas Hotels to churches recognizing the veterans and everyday people just going about their day and recognizing the veterans by merely saying Thank You For Your Service. All of this is great, but we need to take care of our veterans, get them trained, so they can provide for themselves and their families. They sacrificed so that we could live the American Dream, let’s show them the same respect . The following are 7 things we should do for the veterans :

0.Train a veteran.

0.Hire a veteran.

0.Feed a veteran .

0.Clothe a veteran .

0.House a veteran .

0.Give medical and dental benefits to a veteran .

0.Respect a veteran .

Thank you for showing love to our veterans.

Signed

Ms. Kim

Thank You For Your Service

Hey Ladies,

Saturday November 11, 2017 will be Veterans Day. Veterans Day is an official United States holiday, observed annually on November 11, that honors military veterans ; that is , persons who served in the United States Armed Forces. This day is the anniversary of the signing of the armistice, which ended the World War I hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany in 1918. Veterans are thanked for their services to the United States on Veterans Day. I pray that everyone thanks the veterans ( for their service ) that they come in contact with this Saturday November 11. It means the world to the veterans to here you say, Thank You For Your Service.

Signed

Ms. Kim

Privacy Is Golden

Hey Ladies,

Stop telling your girlfriends your business.

Don’t let anyone tell you what you should be doing in your house with your family. Where you should worship and how you discipline your children is your business. How often you clean your house or what you cook for dinner is also your business. The marrow of this story is keep your girlfriends out of your business.