Books, memory and suitcases

I have loved to read my entire life. On my seventh Christmas I got a set of children’s classics and I was thrilled. They included “Alice in Wonderland”, “Black Beauty”, “Heidi”, and “Little Women”, among others. “Alice in Wonderland” was the first I read and I remember I was pleased because it was a hardback book without pictures, so in my child’s mind it was important. I also had a habit of completely losing myself in my books, to the point I would be completely unaware of what was going on around me. I don’t know how I did it, but I really did not hear or see anything outside of the pages when I was engrossed in a book. This led to a few unfortunate incidents.
When I was nine, maybe ten, I was reading when my father told me to make dinner. It was after my mother had left but before she died. I put water on the stove to boil and went to read some more while it heated up. I have no idea how much later, I became aware that my father was running past my door, up and down the stairs. Being ripped out of my book, I also suddenly became aware that the smoke alarm outside my door was going off. I don’t know how long this was going on before it managed to penetrate my book haze but it was mid crisis by this time. I had set the house on fire and my father had burnt his arms up. I immediately realized what must have happened and knew I’d be in trouble. My father had to go to the hospital.
We lived in a split level, with my room being downstairs and the kitchen upstairs, so I never actually saw the fire, I just saw the aftermath. Right now I’m up visiting family and somehow this incident came up. I don’t think I ever told anyone on my mother’s side what had happened, because of course my father wouldn’t have wanted me to. Anyway, when this came up, my brother spoke up and said he remembers the fire. He was only three (maybe four) at the time so I was really surprised. He said the only thing he remembers is being in the kitchen and seeing the fire and crying because he was frightened. He said he remembers the fire and our father’s burnt arms. He said the memory would surface once in a while but he had never had any context for it and didn’t know I had started it trying to make dinner,  because we had never discussed it before.

It makes me wonder what other memories he might have. My brother is rather stoic and trying to get him to talk is like pulling teeth. Sometimes I think it’s just a guy thing. Women like to dissect incidents, while men prefer to sweep them out of sight. We grew up in such awful circumstances, and I have the memories of all these things that happened, but he is six years younger than me. He has almost no memories of our mother, just impressions.
I find that the older I get, I actually miss my mother more now than I did in my twenties. Maybe because I was so busy in my twenties I didn’t have time for much reflection. I was a different person in my twenties, someone wild and dangerous. My brother is missing her more now also. Or maybe he’s missing the idea of her. He’s gotten more curious about her, and started visiting the grave, which I plan to do tomorrow.

When I was twelve I was given a suitcase of her things that came from the accident that took her life. It’s bright blue metal with bright red metal trim, and it’s beat to hell, probably from the accident. Inside it are her clothes and a crapload of papers and photos from her death. There are photocopies of the newspaper article about her accident, complete with photo of smashed to hell tractor trailer, and copies of her death certificate and papers from the funeral. Someone took a metric ton of pictures of my brother and I standing at the grave looking miserable. I had a fuzzy winter coat on and stood holding my brother’s hand. My brother and I both think the photos are tasteless and rather morbid. Inside this suitcase is also her purse. The purse is what I found to be valuable because it held little bits of her. It’s been quite a while since I’ve gone through it, but I remember she had letters, and jokes and a weapon. I’m sure there’s a name for these but I don’t know it. What it was, was a metal ball wrapped in some sort of rope, and with a long rope handle with a loop for holding, and you would fling it around and use the metal ball to smack the hell out of your target. Even the little scraps that accumulate at the bottom of purses had meaning to me. Cigarette paper told me that she must have started smoking after she moved out. Things like that. I have her jewelry box too, which has photos and a dried up corsage.
After all these years, my brother finally wants to go through it, so I gave it to him the last time I came up to visit. I told him I’d been hauling it around since I was twelve, so it was his turn. 🙂 He hasn’t gone through it yet though, so I offered to go through it with him. I think we’re going to do that tomorrow if he doesn’t have to work too late.
Speaking of late, it’s time for me to sleep. I only have one more full day here before I head back on Friday. I hope everyone is having a good start to a new year.

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Books and cats – necessities of life

It’s the weekend after a busy week and today has been spent mostly reading. I’m currently reading “The Terror” by Dan Simmons, and am engrossed with the story. I finished the first 5 “American Vampire” TPBs, David Morrell’s “Creepers” and “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel since last I wrote. I started “Lemony Snicket” but I was rather annoyed with the constant stopping to define words. I understand that’s great for the kids for which it was written, but my patience couldn’t take it. I may finish it later. I read short stories in between. “Creepers” appealed to me as an urban explorer, although I haven’t explored for a while. MD was rich in abandoned hospitals and the like, but not so for SC. Well, the trip to the Southwest with Raven is booked for April, and I plan on checking out some old ghost towns while we’re out there. It should do us both good to get away. Travel has a way of clearing my soul.

Jack, the one eyed black kitty we adopted, is settled in nicely. I planned to get two cats, and should have got them at the same time, but I didn’t. So Jack and Merlin sometimes play, sometimes smack each other, but generally get along. Jack is a sweetheart… I really want to give him a better name, but nothing has seemed to fit so far. I still miss Wraith and Rudy. Especially Rudy… I had him longer and he was such a lovebug. I picture him often, with his various expressions, and remember how he looked stretching, and running and sleeping. I think he was doomed from the time he was dumped in the shelter, but with a lot of help from Ali, we saved him, and I’m grateful for the time I had with him. He always had health issues left from the shelter mess, and they are what ultimately killed him. But he knew he was loved for the three years he was with us and he didn’t go through a prolonged illness at the end.

I’ve been trying to go to sleep earlier because my husband asked me to. I’m not suited to it, but I’m doing it. Some nights my meds will knock me out an hour or so after I come to bed. Other nights it’s much longer. Every night I wake up off and on through the night. I’m trying to get used to getting up earlier as well, but that’s difficult to adjust to also. Raven is up late every night and if I try to wake her before 11 it usually takes a few tries. I guess that will sort itself out when she gets a job.

Tonight I went to bed but there is discord, and I am far from sleep, so here I am. The wind is howling around the house, scaring the animals. Deek looks frightened while Jack is all eyes and ears, waiting to see what’s trying to come through the door. Merlin is indifferent to the weather, as usual. Anyway, I like to feel my husband when I’m laying in bed, even if it’s just a hand resting on his back. Last night we lay together and he held me and said “That’s mine” and it hurt my heart. It hurt because he hasn’t said something like that for so long and it pierced my armor. It gave me hope. After everything that has happened I thought my defenses were tougher than that, but apparently they are not. Just that little gesture and those three words meant a lot to me. I had thoughts of how tonight might go, but things never turn out how you imagine it. I guess all I can do it try a little harder. Enough about that.

.I’m currently reading “American Vampire“, “Dead Mountain“, a book of short stories by Ray Bradbury and re-reading “Blaze” by Stephen King. The first two are holding my attention the most. “Dead Mountain” is about the incident in the Ural Mountains where a hiking group of 9 students were found dead under mysterious circumstances. It’s been fascinating people since it happened, in the 1950s. The book is a good one and I’m about halfway through it. “American Vampire” is great. I’m currently reading Volume 3. Before that, I read the first volume of “Coffin Hill”. I’ve been going through my comics and there are some I want to try to sell. Others I want to re-read at some point, and there are a couple of on-going series that I’m reading. I was taking Raven to the comic book store, but she loses interest, and she doesn’t bring her own money to spend. Maybe when she gets a job we’ll try it again. In the meantime, I need to book our tickets for our Southwest trip. It’s coming up fast and I’m looking forward to it.

Raven wants to be a writer. I tell her that she has to read books, and write, every day, if she wants to be a writer. She’d rather skype with people in California and tumblr. I can’t help but worry about her. I think that comes with the territory though. I’ve been worrying about her, and her brother to an extent, for most of their lives. I want her to have everything. I want her to meet real life friends she can hang out with, a real life love interest, and go to school and get her degree. I want her to be happy and adjusted. I know these things take time, and she has made some progress. Being here has helped but I feel like she’s stuck so I’m trying to get her unstuck.

Goodnight.

Away for a short while

So my computer has been dying for quite a while now. I know it needs a new hard drive; it was telling me every 20 minutes before I turned the notification off. I hope that’s all it needs but we shall see. I have to take it in to see how much they’re going to charge to fix it.

I just got a Kindle Fire, and am trying to learn how to use it. So I’ll be able to check email and such, but will be limited to how much web stuff I can do. Typing on it is irritating as hell but I imagine I’ll get used to it eventually.

I have so many books… and I never want to let go of them. My preference I think will always be a paper book that I can hold in my hands and put on my shelf. I often re-read my books… going back to favorite authors now and again. At the moment I’m on my second reading of Game of Thrones. However, the Kindle will allow me to get other books that I may only want to read once, or that are more for reference, and cut down on the number of books I add to my library. The kindle will be something I can take with me when I travel so there will be one less bag to lug around. 

So… I’ll most likely not be blogging while my pc is getting fixed. I tried to log into my account on kindle, unsuccessfully, and I doubt if I’d be typing that much on it anyway. I’m hoping they can fix it in the store and not have to send it back to the manufacturer.

For now, have a picture of my handsome kitty Merlin. 🙂 Image

See you when I get back.

Books

I have always loved to read. Growing up it was an escape and I remember walking down middle school hallways with an open book, swallowing pages in between classes until I was forced to close the book. I don’t remember the first books I read, but I was always far advanced for whatever grade I was in. I do remember getting a set of hardback classics one Christmas when I was 7 or 8. They included “Black Beauty”, “Robinson Crusoe” and “Alice in Wonderland”, among others. They seemed like adult books to me. They had hundreds of pages and very few illustrations, and I remember finishing “Alice in Wonderland” first. It didn’t take long for me to raid my father’s books, in particular, The “Shannara” series. I sank into those.

When I was 9, I started dinner. I set water to boil and went to read a few pages while I waited. However, the book sucked me in and I was aware of nothing but the world I had found in its pages. I sat in my room with the door open, reading as a fire started. I did not hear the fire alarm. I did not hear screaming, or my father running up and down the stairs. The book had me. When I finally pulled myself out of it, I was astonished to hear the alarm and see all the commotion. I knew I’d be punished for my absent-mindedness but I just had not heard a thing. I realize now it was probably more than getting into a book.. it probably had some dissociation going on with it as well. But that’s one example of how deeply I could immerse myself. It was not the only time things like that happened.

I remember going to the library and checking out huge piles of books. A man saw me there once and told me I should read non-fiction as well as fiction. Well by that time I was into mythology so I saw that as a sort of non-fiction. My love affair with mythology has been life-long, but I’ve also read many truly non-fiction books. As I grew older, I would take a book out to the forest to read. I’d find a log to rest on and sit reading in the peacefulness of the woods with only the sound of birds, animals and the wind in the trees. I ache for those woods now. It’s so hard to be away from them.

I think I wrote my first poem when I was 8. If I remember, it was about an owl flying at night. I was being published in the student pages in the newspaper by 6th grade, but by 8th, my writing had become very dark and I was often sent to the guidance counselor because of it. I knew better than to talk by that time.

When I bought my house, I had a “library” for the first time. I lined the walls of a room with book shelves and was able to finally have my books on display. The problem is, I hate to get rid of books. I do re-read many of them, but I add new ones frequently. When I moved here, we got new bookshelves, which I promptly filled, and then double stacked. The shelves started to bow, but that’s pretty much normal, in my experience. 🙂 Brian decided to paint the room and build stronger bookshelves but I didn’t know he wasn’t going to do it right away. So my books have been stacked in two rooms for a few months, and I dig  through the stacks to find the ones I need. I get into my books frequently, at least 2-3 times a week. I re-read my old stand-by, Stephen King, and have just started to re-read GRRM’s “Game of Thrones” series. GRRM’s writing is a delight because he is a Master of subtleties. There is so much in his books that people miss on the first reading. I missed some things myself. A lot of people watch the show and think Theon didn’t lose his cock in the books, but he did. It was referenced several times, but it was subtle. Anyway, that’s another tangent.

I want to write a book. I’m trying to get back into the habit of writing with this blog, and I’m writing when I can, but not every day like I wish. I think I should start trying those ‘writing prompts’ that many sites suggest. It couldn’t hurt, I suppose, just be boring to read maybe. And this blog is more for me than anyone else. My other blog is for things meant to be shared, but I’ve only posted one thing there so far.

I don’t know what I’m afraid of. I’m not aware of being afraid of anything, but I think I must be for sabotaging my writing. Perhaps that’s for therapy.