‘Chasing Chaos’ and Those Gently Used Items

‘Chasing Chaos’ and Those Gently Used Items

Now that the school year is back in full swing the sports season is upon us, which means that outside of working hours I’m either driving to a practice, watching a practice, or driving back from a practice. On weekends it’s the same thing except it’s games. I’ve never watched so much sports in my life.

On the reading front I have a new book to share with you. I spotted “Chasing Chaos” on my friend’s bookshelf a few years ago. I started reading it but had to put it back on the shelf when my visit came to an end. I mentioned this later, which of course prompted my friend to stick the book in the mail and send it to me. Thanks, Jess.

“Chasing Chaos” is a memoir I would place in the “Empowered Woman” genre (more on that, later). The book takes readers on an emotional journey through the author’s experience as a humanitarian aid worker in the late 90’s early 2000’s. Think Rwanda. Darfur. I remember the news from these places vividly from that time.

Jessica Alexander’s storytelling doesn’t disappoint; it starts filled with that typical youthful idealism that I recognize in my younger-adult self, and culminates with a more pragmatic maturity, one that knows and respects the invisible forces of global economics and the self-interested actors that fill the humanitarian aid space. The memoir also marks a time when humanitarian aid got a lot of attention- and a lot of money- and the impact that had on the industry and the beneficiaries of all that aid. 

One part that stands out is Alexander’s story about the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia that killed over 200,000 people. She arrives in the aftermath as an auditor, sent to Indonesia to measure the effectiveness of specific programs, a position that only existed because of the flood of charitable donations that overwhelmed the aid world when the tsunami happened. Alexander describes the glut of funding, the need to spend it, and the warehouses filled with gently used but inappropriate winter items like Santa suits, beanies, and jeans, donated by well-meaning organizations. The tsunami hit around Christmas time, after all. I couldn’t help but think of all the stuff I’ve donated over the years and have vowed to be more discerning about what someone might actually want, and what is truly just my old junk. 

It was a quick read. I learned some stuff and felt teleported to a few decades back in time. Alexander’s career was awesome, a crucible of sorts, and if I were a young woman about to graduate college I think I would have liked to read “Chasing Chaos.” And speaking of which, I’d like to introduce you to my reading list, my Empowered Woman Reading List, with some books I’ve selected that I’ve found especially inspiring/encouraging/empowering on my journey to figuring out what sort of lady I am. 

Okay. That’s it for now. Enjoy the Labor Day weekend!