Posts Tagged ‘family’

The Fall by del Toro and Hogan – a review

September 13, 2011

I owe a lot to the horror genre, and specifically Stephen King. Grades 1-5 took a lot of time and care to bludgeon out of me any joy that I got from reading. I was put into special reading groups, so I had to miss movies the rest of the grade got to see. I had to read books only two or three other people had to read. My spelling lists were different. My entire school experience was different from probably 95% of my classmates. My response was to say to hell with it and morph into one of the laziest (though still high grade attaining, which was quite the feat), most put off students you could find. I wasn’t put enough to quit doing the work, just enough to do it sloppily and as averagely as I could. Unfortunately, this was a lesson that I am still unable to entirely shake, as I still find myself wanting to default to “not give a shit mode.”

Thankfully, Stephen King (specifically, his Eyes of the Dragon novel) rescued my interests at some point in middle school and I took up reading again. Truth be told, I’ve never been overly interested in the horror genre outside of King. I tried Koontz, but couldn’t get into it. Lost interest in Lovecraft, and enjoyed the occasional zombie anthology. There was a brief time when I really dug Phil Rickman, but suddenly his books quit appearing on the bookshelves. Though intermittent reader, I’ve always kept at least half an eye turned towards the horror section, looking for something new and interesting.

I found it with the first book of what’s promised to be a trilogy, The Strain. It was original, returning vampires to the ugly, brutal cloth that I think they were originally meant to be before they were sanitized and made glittery.  It was a breath of fresh air for a subject that had simply lost me.

Reading The Fall, the newness of the approach is, as expected, gone. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does force the novel to stand on its own feet in a way the first novel didn’t have to bother itself with. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite hold up its own weight. The people you expect to die, do. Those you expect to live, do. And it clearly leaves off in preparation for a third act, so any great revelation isn’t to be expected.

Where the third book goes, is still up in the air. They seem to hint at a somewhat darker turn at points in this novel, specifically regarding Ephraim’s son and the biblical turn his story line appears to take towards the end of The Strain.

There are some larger themes at play in the book. There is certainly a question of obsessions becoming a blinding force, luring characters into actions they feel are necessary but are really foolish and destined for failure, often leading to the loss of loved ones. We see it with Ephraim. We come to see it with Setrakian. We see it with Palmer. We see it with the Ancients.  It’s repeatedly early and often in both books.

Also, there seems to be a lot going on with blood, not just in the sense of nourishment/poison, but in the sense of family, connections and responsibility and it often ties into the idea of obsessions. The vampires introduce their own idea of “blood” and family, and the obligations that go along with it. With the human characters we see varying definitions of what family means and entails, and the sacrifices that go with it. There might really be something here in regards to how the male and female characters treat the idea of familial responsibilities, and the success each gender has at fulfilling the roles they largely self-define.

This idea of family and blood, and the differences along these lines between the vampires (and specifically the ancients) and the humans gains a bit more depth considering the connection between the ancients and their “homes” and between humans and their homes.

Alright, my coffee cup is empty. I’ve been tempted to google some of the stuff from The Strain having to deal with The Master and things Satrakian said, but I actually don’t want to chance upon some part of the story the authors plan on revealing in their own good time. So while there might be more depths to plunge in that direction, they are going to have to be spelunked by someone else. Or if  I am to do it, it will be at a later time after having read the next book.

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My Mom is My Hero

March 17, 2010

Alright, it’s corny, but it’s true. And it’s all because my mom can be a A Level Bitch when she needs to be. She’s always had this quality of being able to stand up for herself against anyone and relentlessly argue a point if she feels she is in the right. Granted, it’s something that has dimmed a bit with age but once in awhile the embers are given a quick puff of air and the flames alight anew. And last night she saved her mother, my grandmother, from death.

Yesterday afternoon my grandmother was taken to the hospital. My mom left work (and might actually be punished for having left work for this by being given a “point”) to be there, as nearly any child would if they knew their mother was being taken to a hospital. Once there the attending physician in the ER aid there were two possible diagnoses. One was cellulitis and the other was a blood clot, as they have similar symptoms.

My grandmother has had cellulitis before. Two christmases ago, my uncle died from complications from cellullitis because an emergency room didn’t recognize how ill he was and sent him home. Last night, the attending physician tried to send my grandmother home. He said he had seen worst cases of cellulitis. That she’d be fine. That modern antibiotics were very strong and would fight it off just as easily there as in the hospital.

Then my mom became a bitch. She argued with the doctor until he finally gave in. they admitted my grandmother. They ran blood cultures. This morning they found that her leg was beginning to go septic. When I say her leg went septic, it means there was bacteria in her blood, or she was beginning to suffer from blood poisoning.  This is what killed my uncle in less than twenty-four hours. Sending my grandmother home last night would have been a death sentence.

What my mom does isn’t in everybody. I don’t know if it’s in me. But I hope that if or when the time comes that I can step up and be a son-of-a-bitch when I’m needed to be.

For more information on cellulitis, here’s the google.health page for it. It says its common but, from the experience with two members of my family, it can be an insidiously dangerous and deadly disease.

It’s Jan. 2nd, do you know where your word processor is?

January 2, 2010

We spent nearly two whole weeks back in michigan. Partly because of family, partly because I had to sit in a  dentist chair for two hours as he hacked a large chunk of tooth out of my mouth so that a crown could fit on it. in that time, I didn’t accomplish much of anything. I didn’t write. I didn’t read (much). I spent a lot of time going from house to house, visiting different family and friends, and then collapsing on the bed so that I could get a bit of rest before doing it all over again the following day.

Now that we’re back in Cleveland, the kid’s on the last couple of days of his christmas vacation and trying to fight off a cold. His asthma makes it twice as difficult and he has to be hooked up to a nebulizer – a machine that turns a liquid medicine into a vapor he breaths through a little mask with fish eyes painted on it. When he first got it, I think the whole fish aspect of the mask made it slightly more endurable for himbut I’m not sure he cares at all about it any more and is back to seeing it as something he must simply endure.

The weather is, well, snowy. Not all out twelve inches of hell snow but snow enough. A little yesterday, a little today and we have a few inches on the ground. While I know the odds are in our favor that neither of us will be in an auto accident, I still hate seeing either of us have to go out in the stuff and the g/f’s journey to Akron once a week this semester has gradually bugged me more and more.

And I’m having second thoughts about going back to school. Not so much about myself, I’m fairly certain I want to, but whether we could actually make it work schedule wise. She’d have classes, I’d have classes, and in the middle we’d have a six year old. 

In the mean time I’m still trying to get my own writing done and find some sort of work. Fun.

Diaries, steno books and phlegm

October 30, 2008

yesterday I was at my grandma’s and I was helping her clean out closets. Grandpa died in April. We’ve been trying to get her to pack everything up and to get ready to move out but it’s like pulling teeth so wanting help cleaning out the closets was welcomed progress. one closet held a bunch of stuff that’s typical of old women. Old little baskets for fake flowers. Plastic junk, trinkets. That foam stuff you cram into flower pots. Bits of cloth. Etc.

The second closet was interesting, though. There was an old yellow pinto and a radio. Greatgrandma, grandma’s mother, owned a real yellow pinto which she bought soon after the brakes in her Chevy went out. The radio was just a radio. Then came a couple of boxes which got placed into a larger box on the floor. And then came the album after album after album. Some were photo albums. Some were scrapbooks. Big things. Old things. With the rope binding at the one end, tied into a knot in front. they go into a box. Grandma pulled the box over and started going through them. I pull more down from the attic. she starts talking about the pictures and scraps pasted in.

Grandma’s talking and I’m leafing through another album. Then I open one of the little boxes and I look inside. Grandma glances over and says,  “Oh, more diaries. I’ll have to pitch them, too.” Some months ago, a year ago maybe when Grandpa was still alive, there was some consternation over finding that Grandma had secretly burned a bunch of her mother’s diaries. These had been hidden away in the cupboard and she had forgotten about them.

Knowing this history, I grabbed them and kept them with me. When it came time to go, they left with me. Grandma glanced at them. I asked if she wanted to look through them and she said no, it was okay. I could read them. So I’ve brought them home and I read them a bit now every day.

They are nothing overly special. Just little notes on the day. Temperture. Something that happened. They only cover the last 15 years or so of her life and take up next to no space. I see my name mentioned occasionally. I wish I had the ones that hadn’t been burned so I could see other names mentioned. But these little notes on the day is really not so different from the poetry I write. I read what she writes and I see in it the familiar. The effort of noting something. Of laying down a mark.

Every once in awhile I keep a little stenopad of poems that I try to work on every day. Fill it up, move on to the next. They probably all suck but they’re really not much different from what great grandma was doing  and I wonder if it’s really different from the majority of poetry-recounting the time in some way. Trying to find that special nugget of existence.

Unfortunately, I appear to have lost a recent notebook. I can’t find it anywhere and it’s already been through so much. It was submerged into a pool and had many of its pages washed clean. It was wrinkled and crackly as I would hold it my hands and a lot of the pages no longer had lines to write along. And I feel like a part of me is just gone now. I’m happy greatgrandma didn’t have to know her daughter would burn her diaries. And I’m fairly certain I will never burn one of my own notebooks, regardless of how embarassing and/or poorly written it might be,

I’m trying to write more. But I’ve been sick lately. Hacking all of the time. I find it hard to write when I’m not feeling well. Blah.