Time Is Getting On

May 9, 2015

I am getting some white in my beard. My temples are turning a little gray. I am not old and I do not feel old, but some of the people around me are getting there. Some are losing the battle with mortality. Yesterday, I found out that an old family friend died. He had been omnipresent in my childhood. Always over at our house to visit my parents. He was strange, but in the end, a pretty interesting and good guy. He was one of my dad’s friends from high school. Only a few months older than Dad.

I was seven when my grandfather died. I was scared, so I didn’t go to the funeral. My grandfather is why I care about baseball. I loved my grandfather and even now, 27 years later, I still remember how much he loved me. I can still remember playing on the floor in the living room of the big, old house he shared with my grandmother.

Like anyone else, I’m self-interested. Until recently, I only thought about his death in terms of how it affected me, but about a month or so ago I realized that I am older now than my dad was when my grandfather – his father – died. I realized that my daughter is nearly the same age I was when that happened.

The people in my family have a stubborn history of not taking care of themselves and not going to the doctor. It’s taken him a long time, but Dad has generally reversed the trend. He goes to the doctor and generally does what the doctor tells him to do. I don’t think he’s going anywhere any time soon. But he could.

I’m not ready for that. I’m not even remotely ready for that. I know my children aren’t ready for that. They love their grandparents. But time is getting on, now. My dad lost a sister not long ago. School friends are going. Then generation before me is passing. But I hope I don’t have to think about that for a while. I hope my daughter sees my dad and all her grandparents at her high school graduation. I hope she doesn’t have to miss someone and wonder what it would have been like when she got old enough to really know them.

April Book Log

May 2, 2015

Only seven books this month. I was going for eight. Alas, I finished that one on May first, so you will have to wait, with bated breath to read my little writeup of Bend Sinister.

1. Find Me by Laura van den Berg (4/5) – This book is very interesting the second half is almost completely different from the first half, which is why you find so many scathing reviews from readers out there. The change was abrupt, certainly, but it mostly worked. I prefer this to the other book about a plague making the rounds right now (Station Eleven), but they are so different as to not really be comparable.

2. The Arabian Nights (3/5) – Some of these I liked a lot. Some went on a bit. I don’t have too much to say otherwise.

3. Nora Webster by Colm Toíbín (5/5) – His books always startle me because they seem so simple while you’re reading, but in the end, they leave such a mark. This is a very powerful novel that doesn’t seem powerful at all while one is in it. It’s a story about a woman trying to deal with the death of her husband and raise her children and she manages okay, and that’s kind of it, but at the end, it ends up that you’ve really read something great.

4. The Tempest by William Shakespeare (5/5) – Taught this to my AP class. Probably safe to say this is my favorite Shakespeare at this point. It feels so much more contemporary than most of the rest of his work. Other than teaching, I’ll not be dipping into Bill’s plays too much for a while, though. I’m still recovering from last year.

5. A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride (5/5) – This has won some big awards, but it is not a simple read. It is a masterpiece, however. Clearly influenced by James Joyce. It’s hard to imagine a more honest emotional portrait. It is like being immersed in how a person feels their own feelings.

6. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (5/5) – I held Simone off for a while, but after a year, I was ready to read this too her again. She digs it, and I do to. It’s certainly better than the terrible movies that have been out lately. Simone has the animated version from the 70s and has watched it a lot. It’s pretty faithful, but omits Beorn, so when he entered the book she was thrilled (I was wrong, the book is better than then movie!).

7. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (4.5/5) – This won the Pultizer as I was reading it. It is very, very, very good. It’s a different kind of WWII novel than I’d ever read before and I enjoyed how Doerr chose to present it in countless little chapters of intense moments. Not quite a masterpiece if you ask me, but I have a hard time imagining anyone who is a reader not enjoying this book.