Of Loss and Illness: A Personal Entry

This is a personal entry of sorts. I’ve worked up a great deal of enthusiasm for a story I began to plot just before the New Year. Started drafting it out, and got about 5k words of it down in the first five days of January. I awoke on the sixth day of the year to find I’d missed two calls from the home of my parents. I returned their call, and received the news that my grandfather on my mother’s side of the family had passed away earlier that morning. His health had been in decline since a close call in 2016. A closer call last year had his medical professionals calling him the miracle boy. His survival through those ordeals allowed him to attend my wedding and meet his great granddaughter, for which I will be eternally grateful. I’ve been luckier than most, in that I’ve had both sets of grandparents into my 30’s. My grandfather lived most of his life in Columbus, but moved to Florida with the intent of enjoying his golden years in the sunshine state. He was a working class musician and youth athletics coach for many years, in addition to the “professional” jobs he held throughout his life.

Later that day I had a Skype session with a friend who is currently residing in Los Angeles. Aside from catching up, the purpose of our conversation was to have him describe his life in Hollywood, as I intend to write about such places. It was during our chat that my wife entered the bedroom with our baby, the both of them covered in vomit. I told my friend we’d have to resume the talk at a later time, ended the session, and promptly bathed the child. The stomach bug ran through our home, and made the week the most miserable in recent memory. Everyone took a turn being bedridden. Once the stomach issue had passed our baby seemed lethargic again, and a visit with the doctor confirmed respiratory and ear infections, though both were minor. She’s been prescribed some medicine, and seems to be doing better.

I’m not sure why I’m writing all of this out. Complications from being sick and familial loss have brought the writing to a halt, except in this strange exercise. We’re heading into the weekend, my wife intent on starting her new job with a nine-hour shift on Saturday, followed by the family gathering that’ll take us into next week. I guess I’m exhausted, and instead of putting words down on my new piece of fiction I’m just here making excuses. But you’re allowed to be tired. You’re allowed to take a break. Family and health take priority, and I’ll not be shamed for it. I’ll not shame you for it either, when the time comes. I’m rambling at this point, but it’s my declaration that I’m taking a short break to recuperate and be with family. Rest easy, Grandpa.

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Trashed: Graphic Novel Review

Solid entertainment coupled with documentary style insights makes for a quality read. Backderf is no one-trick-pony, as Trashed is his followup to ‘My Friend Dahmer’ that tells the story of young men doing a dirty job out of necessity. The characters are genuine in a relatable way that makes me want to share a pizza with them on a night out. They gripe about their role as thankless cogs that contribute to life as you know it. They’re a brand of people who I’d call ‘chill.’ Take this conversation for example:

“What are you doing here in th’ dark?”
“Meditating.”
“To Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood?”
“Fred is the light and the way… neighbor.” (70)

Backderf had a year of experience as a garbage man, and his knowledge on the topic shows that experience beyond the bits that are composed of research (facts and statistics are strewn throughout for context). The story is brought out of the 70’s and into a contemporary time, but one theme that hasn’t changed much is the exposure of our throwaway culture. There’s a point in the story where the crew is burdened with all that is abandoned in a foreclosed home. They pop open a shoebox full of photographs, and take a moment to flip through the sentimental memories of the people who had once inhabited the house. A materialistic culture finds no comfort or value in the commodity with which one fills their life, and thus it’s all potential waste. While one character voices a sadness over the pictures, another offers his own take, “Think of the economy as a giant digestive tract. And we’re here at the rectum of the free market to clean it all up.” (203)

Showed up for the Dahmer story, stuck around for the quality. Backderf should keep making full length graphic novels. Trashed kept me turning pages to the point where I went through it in one sitting.

 

trashed