Tuesday, June 21, 2011

You Are Going To Die

* * * HERE IS A SMALL FACT * * *
You are going to die.

This is one of the opening quotes in The Book Thief (by Markus Zusak). The personification of death makes the book worth reading on its own. I am especially intrigued with this book because death is a central theme in the young adult novel I am writing, The Lackawanna Prophecies--Howie and The Prince of Greed.

I read an article about the life of Walter Breuning, interviewed at the ripe age of 114, and not to long before he died. This is my favorite quote from him: "We're going to die. Some people are scared of dying. Never be afraid to die. Because you're born to die."

Perhaps easier said than done, but at 114 years of age or those suffering great mortal pain, death comes as a relief. I experienced this in a personal way during the worst part of my recovery from a severe concussion. I was trapped in my own mind because any form of communication made me sick. For several days I couldn't watch TV, talk to my wife or kids, or even listen to music. It was just me in the dark--sunglasses-on-shades-drawn-lights-out kind of dark. I even had ear protectors to block out as much sound as possible. If that condition had been months and years instead of a couple of weeks, I would have welcomed death if and when it came.

I hope kids who read my novel will think differently about death, that it doesn't have to be this scary or horrible thing, especially in the natural course of life. Death can be beautiful and merciful. Billions and billions of people have experienced it, and some have lived to tell the tale. There's nothing wrong with being afraid of the unknown, but death is not the evil monster society and media often portray it to be. That classification belongs entirely to people who perpetuate it's untimely role.

So . . . getting back to my book, a possible hook might go something like this:

In a world where no one can escape death, some are chosen to experience it again and again.

* * * DON'T BE AFRAID * * *

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dusting Off The Cobwebs

Life interrupted. That's how I've felt over the past six months. Last November I suffered a serious concussion playing basketball. The referee didn't even call a foul. Where's the justice? The body blow to my head sloshed my brain enough to make it near impossible for me to function on a cognitive level. It was like someone had kicked up all the dirty scum from the bottom of the pond and it sort of hung around for months, clearing up just enough every once in a while for me to think I was getting back to normal.

Man down.

Yes, that's how it was. Locked in the tower of my home for 2 weeks before I could even handle something as basic as a quiet and brief conversation. Phone, TV, my children . . . it was all more than I could handle. Everything made me sick. It was almost three months before I even dared venture back to the office for work. My brain got saturated so fast, that I couldn't handle anything that required serious thought for more than a few minutes at a time.

Don't make me cry.

Okay, I finally get it. Women don't have to have a reason to cry. Cry all you want. I did. The first four months of my recovery were filled with random moments of pure emotion that spilled out my eyes, sometimes for no reason at all. I was starting to wonder if someone had slipped me a heavy dose of estrogen during one of my hospital visits. Thankfully, order seems to have been restored in that department.

Will I ever be normal again?

Who knows. What's normal? I'm working 40 hours a week now and have been for two months, but I'm only in the office 3-4 days a week. I'm trying to bump that up to 4-5 days a week. I still get dizzy every day and nausea seems to be my new best friend. I've been wearing sea band bracelets, but I have no idea if they're really helping. I've also been wearing a Halter monitor for two weeks to figure out why my heart's skipping beats every time my pulse goes up--as in walk-up-a-flight-of-stairs up. My energy/strength levels have only recovered to about 70-80%, sometimes a little less depending on the day. And the brain drains are still happening. Doesn't that sound like fun? It's a weird way to describe it, but that's what it feels like when it happens: like my brain is draining out the back of my head. When that happens, I get sick pretty fast. I was in the ER three times two weeks ago when it first started happening. The whole unknown thing can be kind of scary. All tests revealed nothing. Hey, I guess I'm normal.

It's all in my head.

Yes, that is what I'm coming to believe. I'm pretty sure I've been having some serious anxiety attacks--classic post concussion syndrome stuff.The muddy waters are still settling. I think I'm still cognitively bumping into logs or rocks as I swim through the foggy haze of my brain. The good news is that most of my life activities have returned to a new normal. I'm working. I'm writing. I'm throwing ball with my boys. I even started a major remodeling job on my home. I know,  probably not the smartest thing, but there's no going back on that one--not after sawing through two walls and ripping out two door frames.

Dusting off the cobwebs

So alas, here we are again, not that anyone is reading because I've been gone for months. Hey, I know, you can only wait around so long. But I'm back. And I've resumed the re-write of my novel, The Lackawanna Prophecies--Howie and The Prince of Greed. I'm working on chapter 18 with about ten more chapters to go. I was supposed to be done in January. Perhaps I will be--next January. I'm just grateful to be writing. I hope you are too.