book reviews, celebrities, religion

Repost: Cherry Boone O’Neill’s book, Starving for Attention…

One last repost, since I posted reviews of her sisters’ books. This is the first book about the Boone family I ever read. I originally read Cherry’s book in 1989 or so, but I reviewed it for Epinions in 2003 and updated the review in 2011. It appears here as/is.

For some reason, I recently decided to re-read Cherry Boone O’Neill’s 1983 memoir Starving For Attention after reading it for a high school paper I wrote when I was seventeen. It was interesting to revisit this book again after all these years, mainly because I have a totally different perspective now. Right now, I’m an adult and, in a manner of speaking, I’m a mental health professional. Back then, I was a high school student who was interested in eating disorders and had to write a book report.

Cherry Boone O’Neill is Pat and Shirley Boone’s oldest daughter. She has three younger sisters– her mom had four daughters in three and a half years! When Cherry was born in Denton, Texas in 1954, Pat Boone was just beginning his meteoric rise into teen idol status and attending college. Fourteen months after Cherry’s birth, her sister Lindy arrived, born in New York City. In 1956, Debby Boone was born in Hackensack, New Jersey. Then in 1958, youngest sister Laury was born. In the midst of his burgeoning career and the quick expansion of his family, Pat Boone managed to graduate from Columbia University, earning a degree in English. It wasn’t long before Hollywood beckoned and the young family moved to California.

Cherry writes that she was always eager to please, and having grown up with very strict parents who were strong Christians, she was especially motivated to toe the line. She also felt very responsible for watching her sisters. Debby was the most rebellious of the four sisters, while Laury was a mischief maker. Cherry tried hard to bring home straight A’s. The girls were also incorporated into Pat Boone’s act, especially since he had a TV series, the “Chevy Showroom”. The girls made their television debut on the last episode of that program. As they grew up, they made albums, went on tours, and appeared as guests on other television shows like the “Flip Wilson Show”, “Merv Griffin”, and “Glen Campbell’s Goodtime Hour”.

When she was a teenager, Cherry began to have emotional problems brought on by school pressures. Rather than face classes that gave her trouble, she would fake illnesses and stay home. While she was at home, she would eat high calorie foods and watch TV. Before too long, she realized she was gaining weight– so much that her school uniforms no longer fit her. Horrified, she made the decision to control her body. She put herself on a sensible diet and ordered a couple of gadgets that were advertised in the back of teen magazines. One gadget was a pair of “Bermuda shorts” that hooked up to the vacuum cleaner– it was supposed to suck the fat off of her body. Another was a pair of stretchy leg wraps that made her legs look thinner. She started exercising more. Gradually, the diet turned into anorexia.

At first, Cherry’s family was proud of her. Then they became concerned. Cherry writes about an incident that occurred one Christmas after Cherry skipped dinner and then binged and purged when she thought everyone was asleep.

My distended stomach ached– I must have looked six months pregnant. My food frenzy began to slow down when I could no longer walk without bending over. Did I get everything I wanted? I guess so– besides I can’t eat any more.

But wait! Some chocolates! I’ll chew on those on the way upstairs with a glass of punch.

Once in my bathroom, I completed the now familiar ritual I’d begun this time with that first bite of turkey. I forced my finger down my throat. After several gut-wrenching heaves I regurgitated as much as I could until nothing but small amounts of bile tinged pink with blood, emerged. I wiped off the toilet and began rinsing my beet-red face when I was startled by a hard knock on the door.

“Cherry, what’s going on?” My father’s voice was stern.

My heart pounded. I’m just going to the bathroom. Why?” I quickly straightened my hair, straightened air freshener, turned off the water.

“Open the door, Cherry. You know the rules about no locked doors in this house.”

“You and Mommy lock your door sometimes,” I answered back.

“Open this door, Cherry! Right now!”

“All right! All right! Just let me get my robe on,” I stalled, trying to open the window for fresh air. Then I calmly unlocked and opened the door.

“It doesn’t take you fifteen minutes to go to the bathroom, Cherry.”

“I haven’t been in here fifteen minutes,” I lied.

“I was outside after taking a sauna and I looked up and saw your bathroom light on. I waited, listened, and I know I heard you vomiting.” His eyes glistened with anger.

“I did not! I swear! I was just going to the bathroom and washing my face!”

“Look here, Cherry,” he said, gripping my arm and pulling me back into the bathroom. “Look at yourself! Your face is red, your eyes are bloodshot, the room stinks and you’re telling me you didn’t throw up?”

“I didn’t, Daddy! I promise I didn’t! I was going to the bathroom. I’ve been constipated so my face gets red. Honest!” My voice quavered with fear. Tears welled up in my eyes.

“Cherry, I don’t understand this. I know you’re lying, but it’s late and I have to get up early. We should both be in bed– it’s been a busy day. But don’t think we aren’t going to discuss this when I get back from Chicago! Now go to bed, and don’t you get up again– for any reason!”

Suddenly he was gone and I stood alone in front of the mirror. I stared at my gaunt face, then burst into tears. 

Stories of family squabbles like this one pepper the book, first with Cherry’s parents and next with her husband, Dan O’Neill. Cherry’s family was very close and loving, but some might say they were overly strict– to the point of being smothering. Corporal punishment was employed on the girls into their late teens.

Cherry did do some shocking things while she was ill. One night, after enjoying a nice dinner with her fiance, she promised him she would go straight to bed. But as she walked through the kitchen, she noticed that there were a couple of lamb chops in the dog’s dish. Cherry loved lamb chops, so without thinking, she got down on her hands and knees and started eating them, not realizing that her fiance was at the window, watching her… until he started rapping on the window!

I enjoyed reading this book because it has the elements of a story that I enjoy– biography (or autobiography as the case may be), a fair amount of drama, some trivia and anecdotal information, and a touch of comedy. However, there isn’t a whole lot of medical information in this book and the little bit you do find is quite dated. After all, Cherry suffered from anorexia back in the 70s, when many doctors had never even heard of the disorder. If you want to read an autobiographical story about anorexia with more up-to-date information, you would do better to read Marya Hornbacher’s Wasted. Even that book is a little dated– the author was treated in the late 80s and early 90s and treatments have changed drastically since then.

This book led me to believe that Cherry was never hospitalized for long for her anorexia (there is some brief detail provided about one hospital stay she completed as an adult). There are pictures included of her, however, when she was ill. One disturbing photo shows her at 82 pounds, right before her first appointment with Dr. Raymond Vath, a psychiatrist in Seattle who is credited with helping her get past anorexia. She looks positively skeletal in that picture, as well as in a couple of others that show her at 88 pounds, eating at a picnic. There are a couple of other pictures that show her performing with her family– the illness is not as easy to discern in those.

Starving for Attention has been out of print for some time and may be hard to find. You may be able to locate it at a public library or on http://www.half.com. I think it’s a worthwhile read, although I don’t believe it’s the only book you should read if you want to learn about eating disorders. By the way, Cherry and her husband had given birth to their first child, Brittany, at the end of this book. As of now, Cherry has had five children, proving that those with eating disorders can eventually go on to have children.

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book reviews

Repost: A review of With God in Russia, by Walter Ciszek and Daniel Flaherty

I thought about this book review recently and decided it was time it was added to the new blog. I am reposting it as/is, the way I wrote it on June 23, 2018.

Sometimes Facebook can be a great place to find books, even from memes posted by long, lost co-workers from twenty years ago.  That’s how I happened to read Father Walter Ciszek’s harrowing story of being held prisoner the Soviet Union for twenty years.  My friend, Courtney, is a devout Catholic and she shared a meme featuring one of Ciszek’s quotes.  Not being Catholic myself, I had never heard of the man.  I do find books about the Soviet Union and the prison experience fascinating, though, so I decided to download Father Ciszek’s book, With God in Russia: The Inspiring Classic Account of a Catholic Priest’s Twenty-three Years in Soviet Prisons and Labor Camps

With God in Russia was originally published in 1964, but it has been republished several times.  I read the version that was released in June 2017.  The price was right at just $1.99.  The book is Father Ciszek’s story written by ghostwriter Daniel Flaherty.  It includes an afterword by James Martin. Father Ciszek, who died in 1984, has been considered for possible beatification or canonization since 1990.  His current title is Servant of God.  

Who was Walter Ciszek?

Walter Ciszek was born in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania in November 1904.  His parents were Polish immigrants who had come to the United States in the 1890s.  When he was a young man, Ciszek belonged to a gang.  He later surprised his family when he decided to become a priest.  At age 24, Ciszek entered the Jesuit Novitiate in Poughkeepsie, New York.  

In 1929, Ciszek volunteered to serve as a missionary to Russia, which had become part of the Soviet Union in 1917.  At that time in Russia, there was a real need for Ciszek’s services.  Religious rights for most citizens were curtailed and those who were religious suffered from persecution.  There weren’t many priests around to offer religious services to believers.    

In 1934, Ciszek went to Rome to study the Russian language, history, and liturgy, as well as theology.  He was ordained a priest in the Byzantine Rite and took the name Vladimir.  Just as an aside, not being Catholic myself, I don’t understand the practice of taking different names for religious reasons. I was a little confused as I was reading the book and Ciszek was referred to as Vladimir.

In 1938, Ciszek went to eastern Poland to do his missionary work.  The following year, the Soviet Union invaded Poland and forced Ciszek to close his mission.  At that point, Ciszek decided to go east, into the Soviet Union, under the assumed name Władymyr Łypynski.  He and two others journeyed 1500 miles to the logging town of Chusovoy, where he worked as a logger and provided religious services on the side.  

In 1941, Ciszek was arrested and accused of spying for the Vatican.  He was sent to Lubyanka Prison in Moscow, where he spent five years, most of which were in solitary confinement.  During his time at Lubyanka Prison, Ciszek was drugged and tortured.  After enduring severe torture, he signed a confession.  Convicted of espionage, Ciszek was sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor in the GULAG.  He spent four more years at Lubyanka, then was sent to Siberia, where he worked in mines.  Throughout his many years imprisoned in the Soviet Union, Ciszek maintained his deep faith in God and provided religious services to other prisoners.

In 1955, Ciszek was released from prison and was finally able to write to his family, who had assumed he was dead.  He lived in the city of Norilsk with restrictions.  He wrote of how local authorities tried to get him to take a permanent Russian passport, which he refused to do.  Three years after his initial release, the KGB forced Ciszek to move to Krasnoyarsk, where he secretly established missionary parishes.  When the KGB learned of what he was doing, they required Ciszek to move again, this time to Abakan, a town about 100 miles south.  There, he worked as an auto mechanic for four more years.  

In 1963, he received his first letter from his sisters.  A few months later, the Soviet Union exchanged Ciszek for two Soviet agents who had been held by the United States.  He did not know he was going to be exchanged until he was handed over to a State Department representative, who told him that he was still an American citizen.  He left Russia in October 1963.

From 1965 onwards, Father Ciszek continued his missionary work in the United States, working and lecturing at Fordham University and providing counseling and spiritual guidance until he died in December 1984.  He published two more books, one of which was released posthumously, and has left an impressive legacy to Catholics.

My thoughts

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’m not Catholic and I don’t know that much about Catholicism.  I didn’t read this book because of who Ciszek was in a religious sense.  I read it because I am interested in the Soviet Union and what life was like for people who were imprisoned there.  I spent two years in the former Soviet Union just after it fell apart.

Although Armenia isn’t Russia and it wasn’t part of the Soviet Union when I was there, the Soviet Union had only just fallen.  Some aspects of Ciszek’s descriptions of life there rang very familiar to me.  I’m sure Armenia still maintains some remnants of that time even now, although I can see from pictures and Facebook posts from Armenian friends that the country has changed since I knew it.

Ciszek’s story is very engaging.  Flaherty did a good job making it read as if it came directly from Father Ciszek himself.  He describes the monotony of daily prison life, particularly when he was in Lubyanka and basically sat in solitary confinement for years.  He writes of the struggles of staying nourished while he was at hard labor.  I was particularly fascinated by his descriptions of meal times, when prisoners would bring out a large pot of soup and dish it out to all the prisoners.  The ones who were served first got the thinnest and least satisfying helpings and would demand that the soup be stirred before it was served to them.

In Ciszek’s voice, Flaherty wrote of special duties that would score prisoners extra rations.  For instance, the prisoner that would dump the bucket used for toileting would get another bowl of soup.  The prisoners would be so hungry that some were eager to take on that duty.  Naturally, because it was a prison, a lot of the people Ciszek did time with were actual criminals.  He wrote a lot about the “thieves” who would try to trick other prisoners out of their rations in Machiavellian ways.  

I was impressed by Ciszek’s devotion to God, even when it seemed like he couldn’t get a fair shake.  Make no mistake about it, Ciszek’s time in prison wasn’t fun.  I remember how Ciszek was given extra rations one day, not told that it was to last him for two days he’d spend riding on a train to another prison.  There he sat with his Russian handlers, who had plenty to eat and didn’t share with him.  When a piece of buttered bread fell to the floor on the train, he tried to get it with his foot without attracting the attention of one of his guards.  The guard eventually did catch him in the act, but Ciszek pleaded with him to let him eat the dirty piece of buttered bread.  The guard was indifferent, so he got the bread.  There is something about the desperation of that story that sticks with me.  Ciszek appealed to the guard’s humanity to ease his suffering just a tiny bit and it worked.

Although I am not a very religious person, I am fascinated by people who are committed to their faith, particularly when their commitment is genuine and not motivated by greed or a desire for power (although those people are also interesting for other reasons).  Father Ciszek was able to maintain faith, hope, and courage in extraordinarily difficult circumstances.  He did not become a bitter shell of a man who hated God or blamed God for the twenty plus years he spent incarcerated in Russia.  Instead, he turned that situation into an incredible life story, full of adventure and hope.  He sets an example of a man who did not give up or give in to self-pity or doubt.  A lot of religious people, particularly the leaders, could learn from Father Ciszek’s example.

In any case, I highly recommend With God in Russia, particularly to Catholics who aren’t already familiar with his story.  I found it a very interesting and inspiring book.  I suppose the very fact that I read it proves that not all Facebook memes are useless.

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funny stories, music, obits

Rest in peace, John Prine… and I am not a Catholic lesbian.

First thing’s first. This morning, as I was waking up, I was very sad to read about John Prine’s death yesterday. For the past few weeks, he’d been suffering from the affects of COVID-19. I knew he’d been on a respirator, and the longer a person spends on a respirator, the less likely it is that he or she will be able to recover. I knew he’d already beaten cancer twice, and that he was in his 70s. I still had hope that he would pull through. I won’t claim to be one of his biggest followers. I love his song, “Angel From Montgomery”, and have sung it many times. I also recently discovered some of his other creations, including the adorably quirky “In Spite of Ourselves”, a duet he did with Iris DeMent which makes me think of my life with Bill.

I think this song is a new favorite…

Thanks to my friend, Susan, I recently purchased several of John Prine’s albums and introduced his witty genius to Bill. We’ve enjoyed a few nights listening to Prine’s brand of offbeat, humorous, and poignant storytelling in the form of beautifully crafted songs. A lot of my friends are genuinely sad that we’ve lost another American treasure. I won’t pretend to grieve as much as they’re grieving, since I am admittedly late to the party. I do remember playing his music by request on my radio show back in college. Incidentally, college is also where I discovered Bonnie Raitt, who made Prine’s song “Angel From Montgomery” a hit back in 1974. I know Bonnie is grieving, too.

Anyway, I’m genuinely very sorry to see John Prine go. I was really pulling for him. And I offer my deepest condolences to his wife, Fiona, and their sons. Besides music, John Prine and I also had Stuttgart in common. He lived there during the 1960s, doing his stint with the Army. I read that he downplayed his military service, saying that he spent it drinking beer and “pretending to fix trucks”. I spent a lot of my time in Stuttgart drinking beer, too.

My own turn with John Prine’s song, “Angel From Montgomery”. I’m no Bonnie Raitt, but I get by…

And now… what’s this about Catholic lesbians?

Because I don’t want to write much more about the depressing subject of COVID-19 right now, I’m going to shift subjects. This morning, as I was looking at Facebook posts from the past, I noticed a quirky status update I wrote on this date in 2016.

Just so everyone knows, I am neither Catholic nor a lesbian.

And it’s true. I’ve never been a Catholic, and I’m definitely not a lesbian. However, I am on an email list from DignityUSA, which is an organization that celebrates “the wholeness and holiness of LGBTQI Catholics”. I’ve got nothing at all against that mission. I don’t care what people do in their bedrooms as long as everyone involved is able to consent. I think love is love, and everyone should be allowed to experience it. But it’s not a cause that I’m particularly passionate about, either.

So how did I get on DignityUSA’s mailing list? It’s kind of a funny story.

About ten years ago, Bill and I took our first cruise on SeaDream I, one of twin mega yachts owned by SeaDream Yacht Club. It was our first luxury cruise experience, but we were not really financially equipped to afford a luxury cruise. In those days, Bill was still paying child support for his youngest daughter; I still had student loans; we also had car loans and a lot of credit card debt.

I managed to find a five night Caribbean cruise taking place in late April 2010. I booked a guaranty rate of $1599 a person, which was a great deal for a SeaDream cruise, but still quite expensive for us. I had a feeling that if could just get Bill on the ship, he’d be sold on all inclusive cruising on small vessels. Naturally, I was correct. After our first cruise, Bill was as big of a SeaDream fan as I am.

Our first SeaDream cruise really bowled us over. On board with us were a couple of approachable celebrities, a group of rowdy Brazilians, some obviously wealthy people, and people who were more like us. It was mostly all inclusive. The food was amazing. The service was incredible. The scenery of the Caribbean was glorious. I actually got to meet the people who launched Joan Jett’s career and they still talk to me today. Michael Moloney of Extreme Home Makeover was also on the ship, although I didn’t know who he was. Yeah… we were blown away by it so much that I pre-booked another cruise for 2011. The next cruise was 7 nights, and cost a lot more than $1599 a person, although we did get a 15% discount for pre-booking onboard.

We scheduled our second SeaDream cruise for November 2011, in honor of our 9th wedding anniversary. I worried about how we’d manage to pay for it, while simultaneously salivating at the idea of going on another wonderful cruise with SeaDream. Someone on Cruise Critic had posted a tip that people could buy coupons for SeaDream cruises on some Web site that I no longer remember. All we had to do was make a $100 donation to one of the listed charities, and we’d get a $500 voucher for the luxury cruise. It was akin to getting $400 off of our cruise for donating $100. I thought that was a good deal, so I bought a coupon for DignityUSA and applied the voucher to our second delightful cruise.

I don’t remember if there were other charities to choose from besides DignityUSA. Knowing me, I probably did think it would be a good group to support. I think certain religions can do a lot of damage to some people, particularly strict religions where a person’s diet, dress, or sexuality are dictated. However, I do think a person can be of a non-traditional sexual orientation and still be religiously faithful. Some people get peace, faith, hope, and love from their religious beliefs. I don’t fault them for that, even if I’m not particularly religious myself.

Anyway, ever since then, I’ve gotten emails from DignityUSA. I think I also used to get mail from them, but that stopped after we moved a half dozen times. Sometimes I look at the emails, but since I am neither a Catholic nor a lesbian, I’m afraid that’s about as far as it goes.

I should probably unsubscribe from DignityUSA’s mailing list, since I’m only a casual and rather accidental supporter of their cause. However, for some strange reason, I just don’t have the heart to do it. I do support their cause on some level… even if I don’t believe in Catholicism and I don’t really understand what it’s like to be homosexual or transgendered or any other way other than straight.

As for our love affair with SeaDream… well, it’s been about seven years since our last cruise with them. Our third cruise– which had stops in Italy and Greece– was probably our favorite of the three. However, I didn’t pre-book another cruise that time because it was a year before Bill left the Army and we didn’t know what his job situation was going to be like in 2014. I did have my eye on one of the cruises offered last summer, but Bill was reluctant to book it because, again, he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to arrange the time off for when it was sailing. Also, SeaDream cruises are even more expensive now than they used to be, although to be honest, I’m not sure if the line is going to survive in the wake of the virus crisis. Based on what people are posting on Cruise Critic, it looks like their treatment of people who had signed up for cruises this year is alienating a lot of their customers (even though their crew on the ship is fantastic).

Still, I’m grateful that Bill and I were fortunate enough to sail with them three times. I see from Facebook memories that we booked our last cruise, which was on Hebridean Princess in Scotland, about a year ago today. It’s amazing that a year ago, we didn’t have a care in the world about a pandemic. And now, we’re seeing it ruin and end a lot of lives and livelihoods, as it also somehow brings people closer together in all kinds of ways. I suspect I’ll be writing more about that in the coming weeks.

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book reviews

Repost: A review of Do Tampons Take Your Virginity?, by Marie Simas

I originally wrote this review of Do Tampons Take Your Virginity? A Catholic Girl’s Memoir, by Marie Simas, back when I was posting on Epinions.com. I don’t know exactly when this was posted, because the date of the original review has been deleted. I had reposted it on my original blog in 2017, and now I’m reposting it again here. Enjoy!

I love a good memoir.  I also like profanity.  And I was probably attracted to Marie Simas’ 2010 book Do Tampons Take Your Virginity? A Catholic Girl’s Memoir because of the provocative title, which told me that the author was probably going to be very irreverent.  The price was right, too.  Amazon.com was selling this e-book for 99 cents, though a paperback version is also available for $9.75.  I decided to take the plunge when I saw that the book was supposed to be funny.

Who is Marie Simas and what is her book about?

Born in 1973 and raised in California, Marie Simas grew up Catholic with a super strict father and kindly mother.  She has a younger brother, Johnny, who is apparently the favored child.  Her parents are from The Azores, so she takes family trips to Portugal, both to the mainland and The Azores.  Do Tampons Take Your Virginity is a collection of memories from Simas’ upbringing.  Each story is prefaced with a title, a year, and the age Simas was when the incident happened.  She covers her life from childhood until young adulthood.

Not that funny, but very interesting…

I mentioned earlier that this book is supposed to be funny.  It’s listed as a “humor” book.  I want to caution prospective readers that this book is mostly not at all funny. Marie Simas grew up with a very abusive father who was overly strict and behaved like a tyrant toward her and her mother.  She describes several heartbreaking incidents that no sane reader would ever find laugh-worthy, scenes that involve physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.  However, Simas does have a very irreverent writing style and uses a lot of profanity.  I like profanity, but even I was getting tired of Simas’ constant use of the “f-word”. 

That being said, I have to admit I was very fascinated by many of Simas’ stories about her youth.  Because she presents her life in chronological order, I could see her progress from being a frightened child who was bullied into obeying her father at all times to a defiant young woman who had developed the courage to stand up to her abuser.  I didn’t always agree with the way she handled her problems or the way she treated other people, but I will admit that her methods were mostly effective on some level. 

Overall, Simas comes across as an understandably angry person who could probably use some intensive therapy.  Sometimes, I empathized with Simas, even as I occasionally thought she came across as obnoxious.  I am myself an obnoxious person who grew up in an abusive environment.  I think I partially understand the anger behind Simas’ words and the reasons why she’s obnoxious and irreverent.  Every once in awhile, I also saw a softer side of Simas, a side that revealed humility and sadness rather than over-the-top anger and excessive profanity.

Not really that much about being Catholic…

Another thing I want to address is this book’s premise of being a “Catholic memoir”.  While Simas does mention some things about Catholicism and her father’s strictness, I didn’t get the sense that this book really had that much to do with religion.  There was one section in which Simas writes about one of her cousins not wanting to divorce her abusive husband because she’s Catholic, but overall, this book seemed to be more about a girl growing up with a very abusive father than anything else.  I didn’t feel the Catholic religion always had that much to do with her father’s propensity toward violence.  In fact, I felt like the family’s Old World Portuguese heritage could have had more to do with Simas’ father’s old school attitudes than anything else. 

Simas describes her father’s homeland, The Azores, as a very rustic place where people didn’t have running water or other modern conveniences and everyone’s provincial and backwards and lives in a rural village.  In my mind, even the fact that Simas’ dad is from The Azores and had a provincial upbringing shouldn’t really have that much to do with the fact that he was an abusive man who repeatedly raped his dying, bedridden wife and beat on his daughter.  I think the man was probably just a criminal.  But, he did seem to have a lot of hang ups about sex and women being attractive or independent.  Maybe that has to do with Catholicism or being Portuguese, but I don’t think Simas made that abundantly clear.

Simas is rebellious 

One thing I took from this memoir is that it doesn’t pay to be overly strict with children. It only teaches them to be deceptive and manipulative. It gives them a reason to be rebellious. Marie Simas writes that her father used to refer to her as a whore, especially when she wore makeup. He didn’t want her to use tampons because he felt they would take her virginity. He demanded that she follow his every order to the letter or risk being beaten, and he had to approve of all of her friends.

And so, when Simas became a teenager, she started wearing makeup when her father wasn’t around.  She used tampons.  She stayed up after midnight to create art and she used her friends to get her out of the house.  Simas writes that at least one of her friends “cleaned up nice”, but was actually a pretty nasty person who was not a good role model.  Simas’ father was all about his daughter not being a whore, but Simas admits to being very promiscuous and actually being really mean to some of her boyfriends.  She writes about these incidents as if the reader should be cheering her on, but to me, it just seemed like she projected her father onto a lot of the men in her life.  I felt sorry for the guys instead of identifying with Simas.

Simas apparently has issues with fat women

Several times in this book, Simas describes women as chubby or fat.  Her tone regarding these women is generally somewhat derisive and dismissive.  The only heavyset woman Simas doesn’t seem to have a significant issue with is her doctor, who helps her decide what to do when she unexpectedly becomes pregnant.  I did think it was telling, though, that Simas referred to so many women she didn’t seem to like as “fat”, “chubby”, and “ugly”.  I don’t happen to think that fat people are necessarily ugly or unlikeable, nor do I think that thin people are always attractive or appealing, but Simas seems to think the conditions are not mutually exclusive. 

Anyway, to wrap this up…

I’m of kind of a mixed mind about Do Tampons Take Your Virginity?.  I think this book is reasonably well-written, occasionally poignant, and overall, interesting reading.  Parts of this book are also surprisingly funny.  I wish Simas had written more about The Azores, which is a place that a lot of Americans never get to see.  And I wish she had written more about her life as an adult.  She describes how her son was born and mentions she has two kids, but she never writes about her second child.

I don’t think this book is really that much about Catholicism, nor do I think this book should be considered “humor”.  I don’t think abuse is particularly funny and a good portion of this book is about child abuse.  While I wasn’t offended by the stories about abuse, I want to caution prospective readers that they may be disturbed by some of Simas’ childhood memories.  No one should pick this book up and expect to laugh all the way through it.

Overall 

I give this book three stars and my recommendation.  I think it’s worth reading, if you can stomach the language and stories of abuse.  Just don’t expect a million laughs.  Amazon.com really ought to reclassify this book as just a memoir so that people looking for humor won’t be disappointed. 

I will probably read Simas’ next book, Douchebag Roulette, because I have a morbid curiosity about it, despite the three star rating I’m giving to Do Tampons Take Your Virginity?. I think there’s a lot to like about Simas as an author, even if I didn’t always find her as likable as a person– at least not as she comes across in her writing. As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon when purchases are made through my site.

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stupid people

Hold my beer…

I read an initially amusing news story this morning about two guys in Rogers, Arkansas who both wound up arrested after shooting each other while wearing bulletproof vests. On March 31, 2019, Charles Eugene Ferris, 50, and Christopher Hicks, 36, were sitting outside on the back porch drinking. Ferris was wearing a bulletproof vest, so naturally he decided he needed to test it out. He told Hicks to shoot him.

Hicks, obviously an obliging sort, shot his friend with a .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle. The shot hurt, and it pissed off Ferris, who then gave the vest to his friend to try on. Ferris then unloaded the clip into Hicks’s back. Fortunately… or maybe unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, the bulletproof vest did its job and the two men weren’t seriously injured. But when Ferris complained of pain after the shooting, his wife ordered him to visit the emergency department of their local hospital.

The hospital staff determined that Ferris’s injuries could have been a result of foul play. They called the police, who interviewed Ferris. Ferris didn’t want his friend to get into trouble, so he came up with a bullshit story about taking fire after having been paid $200 to “protect an asset”. He claimed that he took fire after driving off gunmen who shot him. The truth came out later when the police officers spoke to Ferris’s, wife, Leslie.

Both men were arrested and have been charged with aggravated assault. They are both free on $5000 bonds. The rifle and the vest have been confiscated, and the men are under orders not to contact each other. They will be arraigned May 13th.

As I read this story, I couldn’t help but notice how sheepish these two guys looked. I’m sure it seemed like harmless fun at the time, trying out the bulletproof vest to see if it actually worked. Naturally, alcohol was involved… and probably boredom. These two guys are probably Trump fans, too. Yep… in fact, I looked up Ferris on Facebook and he has a picture of himself holding the severed head of a ram. He’s even some kind of minister. Indeed, he is a fan of Donald Trump and a vehement pro-lifer. And yet, he also gets drunk and shoots his friend for shits and giggles.

I hate to say this, but it seems that America is full of idiots like these two guys. They are all about gun rights, restricting access to abortion, and being racist. Ferris purports to be some kind of religious leader and has several pictures of himself on social media dressed in religious garb. And he also has a very public Facebook page, loaded with memes about conservative politics, being anti-abortion, and maintaining the right to bear arms. He and his friend have proven that neither of them should have any access to weapons. They lack critical thinking skills and good judgment.

This morning, I also read a very sad story about a family that fled violence in Honduras. They probably would have liked to have stayed in their homeland, but they were targeted by gangs who were looking for money. They headed to the United States, where they were separated in Calexico, at the California border. They were trying to reach San Francisco, where the mom had an uncle who might help them. The youngest of the three children with the family, a toddler girl, was snatched from her father’s arms and sent to San Antonio, Texas. The father, who had previously been expelled as an illegal alien, was arrested. It took the mother going to the press and threatening to go to Texas to retrieve her child before U.S. authorities returned the girl, thinner, suffering from a hacking cough, and infested with lice.

I wonder if Charles Ferris, a supposed Christian with his pro-America, anti-abortion, pro-gun views, would be in favor of helping this family? Would he want them protected, provided for, and loved the way Christ taught people should love their fellow man? I have a feeling he hasn’t thought much about it. It looks to me like his religion is more about maintaining white power. I see that he’s even proud of his sudden notoriety. Ferris is a founder of a couple of Facebook groups. On one them, he re-posted this.

It doesn’t matter that Donald Trump is a horrible person. He’s seen as an “exterminator” of sorts, getting rid of the “undesirable raccoons”… which actually, even sounds horribly racist. “Coon” is a racist term, after all.

Ferris runs a page called “Poor Knights of Christ”, which may or may not have anything to do with racism. However, when I look at the picture of the men in that group, I can’t help but be reminded of the Ku Klux Klan. Click on the associated Web site, and you go to a site with the word “militia” in its address. Having looked at the Web site, it appears to be some kind of Catholic organization, perhaps married with the Masons. Upon further examination of this guy’s social media, I found both of these photos…

Hmmm…
Does he not notice that he wears a robe that looks much like this?

I just can’t wrap my head around this. This man is supposedly a “man of God”, but he gets drunk, shoots his friend, lies to the police, and posts all kinds of vile, hateful rhetoric. Plus, he openly supports an immoral criminal who is leading our country down the drain. And he openly admits to selling his soul to the devil that is Donald Trump, simply because of illegal immigration– brown people invading the United States because they’re being terrorized by gangs in their own country. He supports forcing women to give birth, but he has no problem killing people who have already been born and are in need of help. He likens them to invasive “raccoons”.

It’s nauseating and scary. I’m now kind of sorry I didn’t just laugh off this story. But I have a habit of falling into rabbit holes, don’t I?

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