All posts by Mikey B

List of what's most important to me starting from most to least: 1. My wife, the foundation for happiness in everything else on the list. 2. My 2 girls Layla and Maggie 3. My own well being whether reading, blogging, cooking, running and maybe start yoga(love to stretch), watching movies or TV shows(The Walking Dead, Grimm, Big Bang Theory, HGTV, sports), and sports video games. 4. Talking and hanging out with my extended family oh how I wish we all could live closer to each other. 5. Friends that i too wish we could all live closer. Somewhere in all that mix we do have to accomplish day to day superficial and spiritual maintenance. If you want to know more about me just continue reading my blog and check out my first 27 posts from bookinthoughbooks.blogspot.com. I like sharing a little about myself and my life in each blog post. What comes out greatly depends on what book I am reading. Scary!! I hope you enjoy my experience reading the 1001 books you must read before you die.

It’s been a while…

Inspired by “On Writing” by Stephen King, I decided to write, assigned by my creative writing professor, about a topic I am well familiar with. I am curious to whomever reads this blog, what is it about The Walking Dead that keeps you watching week after week? Is it specifically your love of zombies and the world of zombies? Or maybe you love a few of the characters, Daryl, and hoping they make the cut the next week like watching an episode of Survivor? Here is my reason. Enjoy.

TWD words

On “The Walking Dead”

What would I think if I were to wake up to a world which has been completely transformed? The roads are clogged with immovable vehicles, some with rotting carcasses inside. Many houses are vacant but for the few that are used as fortresses. Their windows boarded up, doors are barricaded, and pantries stocked up with an assortment of canned foods. Restaurants and grocery stores are no longer bustling businesses but scenes of mass looting. The “people” that walk, no drag, their slack bodies around in search of the living. They are “The Walking Dead.” Rules for the game of life have changed, and my survival depends on figuring them out. Every direction I turn, death has reared its ugly face. I can run in search of some place safe, but that’s just a lie. I can fight and fight and fight until exhaustion takes over, and then fight some more, however; no matter how many battles I win the war can’t be won.
When I tune in for the show on Sunday nights, it’s not to see the skulls bashed or blood and guts ripped from the living. I’m there to follow the lives of those who struggle for hope in a hopeless world. Each person has had to watch friends and family taken from them in such devastating fashion. They carry the burden like sandbags placed on their hearts, and the only way to sustain the weight is through the help of their companions. What’s interesting is how each individual handles the life they have been given. Rick surges forward with the goal in mind to find stability for his group. Each day is wrought with peril, however; up ahead there could be the answer to his prayers. A sanctuary where evil can’t enter. A home where they can finally get a full night of sleep. Darryl is the lone crossbow man who doesn’t like to be idle. Thoughts can wander during times of unproductivity. In a world like this thinking can be a hazardous exercise. He finds security in numbers, and like a soldier he fights for the man or woman beside him. There are other adversaries in the midst of the zombie apocalypse. Humans who have no respect for life. Their moral code is eat or be eaten.
As I watch “The Walking Dead”, I can’t help but compare it to the life of a parent with a child who has special needs. Actually anybody that faces death on a regular basis can relate. When my wife and I were told about our daughters’ disorder, and her ultimate fate, we both felt like we just woke up to a life in peril. We held onto faith in a brighter future for her, free from suffering. Each new drug was a new hope which got bashed in like the skulls of zombies, but we surged forward like Rick. I understand the desire not to be idle like Darryl as I busy myself with schoolwork in an effort to not think about our life…too much. We have friends and family who fight along with us and carry us when we are down. When these characters on the show lose a life and fight on I too am fighting along with them.

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Haruki Murakami’s, “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage”

In my adolescent years I was a big talker, I would gibber-gabber constantly spouting out a series of unorganized sentences. My parents and my brother would nod attempting to decipher my chaotic ramblings. Then I inevitably got distracted by a thought about Star Wars and would make a bee line to my room to act out scenes from the movie with my toys.

When I became a teenager I finally realized what everyone around me already knew. I developed a fear of speaking from this recognition. Whenever I found myself in a social situation I would blurt out a comment that undoubtedly came out of my mouth disjointed leaving me feeling embarrassed or I tried to blend into the background. After a while I just avoided these uncomfortable situations and stopped talking.

foghorn leghorn

Fast forward to today. On the cusp of turning 38. Married with two daughters. I still get easily distracted. I continue to battle with impromptu conversations. When I talk I usually find myself pausing here and there in an attempt to quiet all my competing thoughts for the ones that are desired for the moment. On occasion during a discussion I can feel a beautiful symphony of sentences shoot out of my mouth. I feel bad for my dominated monologue with no knowledge of its duration. I always wonder what the other person thinks when this happens. The times I am brave enough, I’ll ask, “Did any of what I said make sense?”  It feels so good though to say exactly what you feel though. It’s like holding a pee in for thirty minutes and finally it’s out.

harukiquote1

During my lifetime of reading books there have been many that have expressed the thoughts and feelings I’ve had in the past that I can only dream of saying as clearly as these magnificent authors. I know they spend a great deal of time and effort to say exactly what they want.

harukiquote

One such novel is Haruki Murakami’s, “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.” The main character Tsukuru Tazaki tells the story to his girlfriend the mystery of how his close group of four friends from high school just up and abandoned their friendship with him without an explanation. The four friends (two boys and two girls) all possessed noticeable personality traits that make them unique and each had a color in their names which became their nicknames. Tsukuru felt he was just the fifth wheel with no color (no nickname) and a dull personality. Sooner or later the friends would find this out hook up with each other and squeeze him out of the picture. They did brush him away without regard.

At the age of thirty-six, sixteen years later, the repressed wounds still exist leaving a trail of failed relationships in the wake. The present girlfriend noticed the paid he hasn’t dealt with and urged him (threatened to end their romantic affair) to contact the four friends and find out what really happened for his friends to end their friendship so abruptly and get closure. What a woman can make us do. Heck I became a Christian because I had a dating relationship with one. I started reading because I wanted to impress the ladies. Should have started lifting weights instead.

Anyway…opening up those old wounds he discovered and I as well an interesting story behind this mystery that kept me reading for the next couple of hundred pages. What he actually thought of himself was not what others actually saw. The story made me think that we can become paralyzed by our thoughts of ourselves and what others think that we actually start to avoid the uncomfortable feelings and watch life pass us by instead of doing something and engaging the real issues.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood

“Hunger Games”, “Divergent”, “The Maze Runner” and “The Handmaid’s Tale”. What do they all have in common? They all tell the story of dystopian societies. You know what else? This genre is very popular today (stating the obvious). Atwood’s novel however was written way back in the year of 1985.

Let’s go off subject for a second. What was the world like during that year?? Microsoft released the first version of Windows, Windows 1.0, Compact Discs were introduced to Americans (you know, the form of music that used to be sold at music stores which are becoming obsolete like video stores), gas was $1.09 average a gallon, that was the last year the Chicago Bears won the Super Bowl, my brother and I were sporting the Jim McMahon ‘do, and we were living in Hawaii. Oh, I miss you tropical paradise.

http://www.si.com/longform/monsters/index.html
Super bowl shuffle

June 25, 2195, “The Handmaid’s Tale” describes a dystopian society that centers around surrogates that preform the childbearing duties of the barren wives for the leaders of the new government of “The Republic of Gilead.” With the previous corrupt government overthrown, the new regime attempts to right the wrongs by reverting back to a biblical based system. Jobs, bank accounts, and any possessions are taken away from most women and they are forced to lead submissive roles to men. The misdeeds of the men and women before and after the formation of the new government, were written on a sign that dangles over the necks of the hanged perpetrators who are perched on “The Wall” for all to see. One of the misdeeds includes “gender treachery”. I’ll let you figure that out for yourself.

The story follows a handmaid by the name of Offred who was given to a Commander as his future childbearing surrogate. We read her story of what happens when she was seized by the new government and her new life is like within the confines of this dysfunctional society.

This book was ahead of its time. The central figure of a woman who isn’t interested in playing along with the new dystopian society goes quite well with the novels I’ve mentioned in the first paragraph. Along with being on my list of 1001 books, it was included as Good Reads, “50 books that will change your life.” I for one enjoyed reading it but not to the extent that I would include it on my top fifty as of yet.

books, etc

Its been a while since my last post. Why, you ask? At the beginning of October we went to Orlando, Florida on a Make-A-Wish trip. We stayed at the amazing Give Kids the World Village which also supplied my family tickets to more theme parks than you can see in a six-day period. If we could have that one day, like in the movie “Groundhog Day”, to be repeated over and over again it would be any one day on the trip. It was great to share in that once-in-a-lifetime experience with my parents and in-laws (who are also huge Disney fans). The volunteers at The Village (I miss you free ice cream people), the people who donated to this wonderful cause, and the theme parks’ VIP service to Make-A-Wish families made all of our experience unforgettable.

Karma! Life finds a way to balance itself or so it seems. After coming back from Orlando we had only a short couple of weeks to recover and relish in the trip before the first snowfall and cold weather hit. What came with the early winter was sickness. Layla had bacterial pneumonia (which brought on new seizures), Maggie had a never-ending cough and stuffy nose which included pink-eye, I fought through my bout of bronchitis, and Amy was achy with a  sore throat while taking care of us all. Of course as adults with kids we don’t have the privilege of comfortably recovering from our illnesses. On television we see a family all red-nosed and hoarse while sprawled on the couches in the living room. The kids are cradled up against the mom and dad…it could be a humorous sight but in real life…IT SUCKS!! Pneumonia is nothing to shrug at for lissencephaly kids. From Halloween to almost Christmas we have only enjoyed a few sick free days.

imgarcade.com
imgarcade.com

Another reason why I have taken a break in my reading and blog-writing is because we are taking steps towards relocating our family to Oregon.

Not only do I love the cool mistiness in the air, the picturesque landscape and being within close proximity to the ocean. But, living in Portland, Oregon as opposed to Fort Wayne, Indiana will offer all the doctors we need for Layla within thirty minutes as compared to a two-hour drive to Indianapolis. We would have family support within our city. There are a few alternative methods for treating seizures that are not offered for those living in most other states. The difficulties we have encountered since our children were born has been an eye opener that life is so much more than earning a paycheck. I want to inspire and be inspired. I want what’s best for our family. Sticking it out in Indiana would be the safe choice. Good job. Good insurance. There’s no excitement in those words. I don’t want to read about harrowing life journeys that leave me examining my mundane one. What if it could be better? What can I do to improve our future, our present? What life lessons do I want to teach my children. What kind of husband do I want to be for my wife? I ask these questions daily. I decided, with my wife’s consent, that I will try my best to give my family and myself the best life possible. Oregon here we come!!

#30 “Disgrace” by J.M. Coetzee

I just finished reading “Disgrace” on my lunch break. I now stand at my work station waiting for the starting bell to sound for the monotony of truck building to commence for the next two hours until the end of my shift. The air feels heavy with disillusionment. Yeah, I initially thought it was asbestos too. Each breath seems to enter my stomach weighing me down or it could be the two pounds of barbeque from “Shigs and Pit” I scarfed down a few days ago. No… I know with sixty percent certainty that it is directly related to the content of the aforementioned novel.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g37114-d3196968-i97302212-Shigs_in_Pit-Fort_Wayne_Indiana.html
http://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g37114-d3196968-i97302212-Shigs_in_Pit-Fort_Wayne_Indiana.html

In this two hundred and twenty page book I trudged along laboriously reading about David Lurie’s downward spiral from a position of esteemed English professor to a lowly assistant of an animal shelter who aids in euthanizing and disposing of injured and unwanted animals.

How did this happen? I’m glad you asked.

David Lurie made a series of bad decisions based on faulty reasoning with the backing of his chemical composition. No. he doesn’t have a psychological disorder. He’s just a typical guy flirting with fire who finally got burned. So, David Lurie likes sex. No… he NEEDS sexual release. He had a good plan from the beginning; he saw on a regular basis, an escort by the name of Soraya. Lurie hopes that this will satiate his hunger (faulty reasoning number one). But one day by chance, they spotted each other outside of their weekly “meetings”. Soraya was with her two boys and that glimpse into a non-sexual part of her life was awkward for them both and eventually led to the termination of the arrangement.

Next scene: David comes across a student of his, Melanie Isaacs,  “dawdling” “through the old college gardens”. After inviting her up to his place for all intents and purposes to seduce her into bed she woke out of her naive trance realizing that she was about to have coitus with her fifty-two year old professor with his aged body and gross wrinkly balls. She leaves with no harm. Later as he  battled within himself over whether to accept the reality of the situation (it’s just ICKY) or give into his desire, the latter won out. He tactically pursued her whereabouts, caught her off guard, overcame her and got what he wanted without a struggle.

A complaint was filed which led to him being confronted by a committee of his peers. He plead guilty and lost his job and respect. All of this occurs in the first fifty-five pages.

The rest of the one hundred and sixty-five pages reminded me of the last few episodes of “Breaking Bad” when Walter White discovered that his actions have created some serious repercussions. Instead of admitting his mistakes he continued spouting his pompous drivel of “I’m doing this for sake of my family”.  Likewise David Lurie pridefully admitted his actions were justified explaining to his daughter (faulty reasoning number two):

“When you were small, when we were still living in Keniworth, the people next door had a dog, a golden retriever…It was a male. Whenever there was a bitch in the vicinity it would get excited and unmanageable, and with Pavlovian regularity the owners would beat it. This went on until the poor dog didn’t know what to do. At the smell of a bitch it would chase around the garden with its ears flat and its tail between its legs, whining, trying to hide…There was something ignoble in the spectacle that I despaired. One can punish a dog, it seems to me, for an offense like chewing a slipper. A dog will accept the justice of that: a beating for a chewing. But desire is another story. No animal will accept the justice of being punished for following its instincts…that poor dog had begun to hate its own nature.”

Well, the rest of the story as you might have expected from my second paragraph didn’t go well for David. I wanted there to be restitution for his actions but it really doesn’t feel satisfying when it actually happens.

http://www.allmovie.com/movie/disgrace-v462908
http://www.allmovie.com/movie/disgrace-v462908

Can I be honest?? I am a male, big surprise. Glad I got that off my chest. Phew!! Seriously though, I can relate to this character. I used to go to bars and dance clubs and how often I’ve seen and heard men using many tactics to catch their prey off guard in the hopes of getting laid from the simple “can I buy you a drink” to the lame when I actually heard someone say they were a rocket scientist. Does this work ladies?

Like in “Disgrace” we have the pursuer and the victim. In the bar setting both parties are subject to my earlier statement, “bad decisions based on faulty reasoning with the backing of his chemical composition.” As in animals we feel the heat of passion and want to release the pressure. As humans we have deductive reasoning and forethought that going home with someone at the bar will usually not end with a positive note. Oh well we only live once right?? I hate that comment. I would like to hear someone say that after they find out their pregnant or contracted an STD.

I have no game. No skills. All I got is my tireless attempts at making eye contact and I know how to shake my booty. I recall once walking around the dance floor, scoping out the ladies, beer in hand, when I spotted a lady staring me down. So this is eye contact. Surprised, I continued walking sipping my beer and glancing in her direction again. Still locked in my direction. I turned around to see if someone was behind me that was the recipient of this look. As you can tell I was not used to this. I danced with her and left it at that. I didn’t want to be a baby daddy.

The application after reading this novel is use deductive reasoning before allowing yourself to fall prey to your passions.

#29 “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque

The day I moved from Dayton, Ohio to Marshall, Texas was the scariest yet most exhilarating experience of my life. Embarking through the great unknown equipped only with a couple of suitcases full of clothes, a credit union card, and a hodge-podge of practical life lessons to help me survive. Of course initially I didn’t put all that good advice to use. The only one I actually applied was when it came to coitus, “It’s better to be safe than sorry.” Or my more crude version, “wrap it before you tap it.” I was never really much of a tapper.

When I first arrived in Marshall I grabbed the first apartment I found available with a communal laundry room which was the hang-out of some of the worst riff-raff I’ve ever encountered. An assortment of flying insects fluttering about, spiders lurking in the corners and webbed above the entrance, and waterbugs the size of mice scurrying to their hiding places as I plied into the room. The apartment was only slightly better. Waterbugs and cockroaches invisibly squeezing themselves between the carpet and walls. The bedroom ceiling fan covered with duct tape to seal the entrance from the swarm of ladybugs that blessed me one day right before bedtime.

Apartment, check. Next, it’s time to go shopping for food and supplies for my new home. I took off to Walmart and bought pizza rolls, frozen burritos, Hot Pockets, candy, cereal, milk, cups, silverware, cleaning supplies and plates to put my Subway sandwiches and all that other crap on. I’m nauseous even thinking about how I actually ate that stuff.

forgottenbeast.wordpress.com
forgottenbeast.wordpress.com

Finally I bought the big stuff. Microwave, air mattress, Playstation, DVD player, and a 48 inch big screen television (Rent to Own).
This is surviving baby!

I’ve said all this but what does this have to do with “All Quiet on the Western Front”. I’m glad you asked. One day I rented “Band of Brothers” at Blockbuster to watch on my 48 inch TV from the air mattress on the nasty carpet eating my Subway sandwich on my new Walmart plates. Thus began the moment when I fell in love with this mini-series and the amazing stories of the brave soldiers who fought for our country. I discovered that real history was much more interesting than the condensed and biased version they teach in high school. For me, facts and dates are nowhere near as captivating as the stories of the individual struggling to survive and make a difference.

Reading “All Quiet on the Western Front” reminded me of what I loved about “Band of Brothers” minus the special effects. A story about a collection of German soldiers banding together through the harsh elements of World War I. Not filled with political propaganda but designed primarily to describe the realities of war:

thegreattimewarp.wordpress.com
thegreattimewarp.wordpress.com
  • A limited supply of nourishment and sleep.
  • Death an almost certainty and the longer the war the greater the odds it will come for each soldier.
  • A need for survivors to develop a thick skin for others who have perished before them or fear of the soldier’s fate could leave them petrified.
  • WWI trench warfare.

The details included in this novel was expressed so translucently it became a banned book in Germany. I presumed the country saw this novel as a threat to the morale of future soldiers.

I constantly hear about how some week has been designated to pay tribute to something or ruther so Septempter 21-27 has been chosen as “Banned Book Week“. Check out this list when you have time and feel like a rebel with the book you’ve chosen to read.

My wife requested that I make this a two part blog since I wrote multiple versions about this amazing novel. I loved the story about a war I was less familiar with that was from the German perspective. Even more so I connected with the mental struggle the soldiers endured with my own battle with having a daughter with a neurological disorder knowing from the beginning that it will inevitably take her life. I will explain in more detail in my next blog.