One more week and we'll be fully established in the new townhouse, with its natural light and spacious patio. But until then, life is taking a back seat to boxes.
What I'm reading: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. This was the book chosen for this year's freshman read, so I'm trying to knock it out before the summer starts and the freshmen get here. It tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, a black woman who died of cancer in 1951, and the "immortal life" of the cells taken from her without her permission or knowledge, which have been used by scientists the world over to develop things like the polio vaccine, chemotherapy drugs, and otherwise make the drug industry quite wealthy. I'm half-way through, and I must admit that the writing style is incredibly accessible and compelling, despite dealing with cell types and scientific research. The tension between the treatment received by the Lacks family at the hands of the medical establishment, and what Rebecca herself is doing in writing the book, is fascinating to me. I think the book works on so many levels, and even as a historian, recognizing the importance of accepting the past for what it is, I still can't imagine how scientists ever thought it was okay to treat people they way they did in the '50s and '60s.
What I'm watching: Where Soldiers Come From - a documentary following a group of friends from their carefree existence in northern Michigan to sweeping roads for IEDs in Afghanistan and back home again. I feel like it's only as groundbreaking as everyone claims because modern Americans have distanced themselves so far from the realities of war that the idea that young men go off to war and come back changed (and not always for the better) is a shock. In the past, I think societies recognized that as a simple reality, and didn't need to make documentaries so people could "understand the horrors these young men have gone through." You can't understand it. You weren't there. No amount of documenting and voyeuristic journalism is going to make you understand what it's like to be those men. And honestly, I imagine if you asked them (or any of the millions of soldiers who came before them), they wouldn't want you to. That said, it was an interesting documentary, and is worth seeing if only to get a better feel for how we treat our veterans.
What I'm knitting: Finished up my squares for Knitters for Newtown. Managed to get them sent off on Friday, and will now switch gears back to queue-reduction knitting.