storyrainthejournal: (colette'shandw/cat)
My father, David Reisman, passed on Saturday evening, May 23, in the nursing home where he's been for the last few years in Machias, Maine. My brother and his wife, who live up there, were with him. He'd been declining sharply in the last few weeks, nonresponsive, not interested in food.

My brother wrote a thoughtful obituary. Things I've been remembering: he taught me to make eggs scrambled with peppers and onions when I was around 10; he loved photography and the quality of light. Quite a few of the older pictures I've posted were ones he took. As my brother's obituary mentions, he loved poetry and language. He was, for a good portion of his life, very well read. I'm sure his love of language is in part responsible for my own.

When I was small, he called me pookie and sometimes carried me on his shoulders. One summer in Maine, on Long Lake in Naples, when I was four or five, I remember asking him what made the diamonds on the water when the sun was coming up. He gave me the scientific explanation.

He took me to two plays in Philadelphia that I remember well, Fiddler on the Roof and Stop the World, I Want to Get Off. He loved movies and I have very early memories of seeing movies, too. When he and my mother were in the process of getting divorced, when I was six and half or seven, they for some reason thought it was a good idea to take me to see The Andromeda Strain. Then we went for pie. I haven't much liked virus stories since. Intellectual, liberal east coast Jews, my parents.

He also loved eating out and took us to both Chinese and Japanese restuarants in downtown Philadelphia when I was small (my siblings are six and seven years older), in the late 1960s. I remember these experiences, little visual details of them, vividly. Memory being what it is, who knows, but I still appreciate these bits and pictures of experience.

My Dad was never too thrilled with what I wrote; the refrain, which I know quite a few others have heard from a father, concerned when I was going to write something serious, i.e., literary realism. He did once compliment my writing by saying I would have made a good lawyer (his own profession, which was not really the thing he had wanted to do, but the thing he was required and expected to do as a son of an immigrant father and second generation immigrant (I think) mother.)

His own mother, for whom I was named, died when he was 16, of leukemia. He once told me that life was suffering; in retrospect, he was perhaps being darkly humorous, but I was a teenager and it made me very sad for him. There were a couple of years when I lived alone with my Dad, between his second and third marriages. I always felt like we were two people who didn't understand how, and couldn't manage, to have the relationship we were supposed to have, some sort of father-daughter thing that eluded us, that we were both too damaged to engage properly. We were like strangers, trying, always trying.

But I loved him, and I know he loved me, and he honestly tried, and did as many good things for me and my sister and brother as he could.

Here he is in 2007, in Buffalo.



And a couple from a trip my brother, sister, and I took him on, to Philadelphia, to visit our old house and Fairmount Park, the places of my childhood.



storyrainthejournal: (fable)
Notes from a week in the woods...

Brother's large garden provided a bounty of salad veggies, lettuces, beets, green beans, cucumbers...so good.

My dad shuffles around with his cane. He's had some cognitive loss, but he's still in there. He's very intent on food; he enjoyed our lobster meal immensely. But the biggest smile he wore all week was when we got him to use his walker (which he is not resigned to using yet) to go outside in the deep dark night to see the star-heavy, Milky Way swathed sky and spot Perseid meteors with us. He announced every one he saw. (To be fair, we all did.) We saw quite a few. No northern lights, though.

My nephews, both in college, one a classics major who's making extra money doing translations of ancient Greek philosophers, the other in his first year as a government major, were lovely. They and my sister and I all discussed how much we love The Daily Show, and how we were all fans of John Oliver, in addition to Jon Stewart.

Swam in Cathance Lake (the lake on which the lake in my story "When the Ice Goes Out" is based), used the hot tub, stargazed, napped, and read, in addition to spending time with dad and going into Machias to check out the veterans' home he's on the waiting list for.

Read Gail Carriger's Soulless, and now reading Changeless (b-day presents); really enjoying them.

Excellent dinner alfresco with sister in Portland Friday evening, at King of the Roll. I did most of my undergrad in Portland, and I still really like it. A small, lively, arty city, with buildings of a nice age; there's always a scent of salt in the air, with gulls coming up into downtown from the port.

Some pictures from the woods and my sister-in-law's flower garden. A few more if you click up to the Maine gallery.

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storyrainthejournal: (lantern)
Around 4:30 this morning, a fat full moon setting in the southwest woke me, peering through my window all silver-gilt and bright. Eventually it went more parchment gold, sinking into the trees, veiled by our tainted atmosphere.

*
One of the medications my father is taking apparently can cause nightmares. My father's reaction to this yesterday was to fixate, by my brother's report, on a Sherwood Anderson book he remembered, published in 1919, something about the grotesque. This is through the screen of his impaired speech and my brother's attempts to understand. But he was clear about Sherwood Anderson, 1919, the grotesque. My brother asked me to find out what book it was--which was very easy to do. It's Anderson's story collection Winesburg, Ohio, which has a kind of prologue story that more or less subtitles the book, called "The Book of the Grotesque." The book was, indeed, published in 1919.
It's on bartleby.com, http://www.bartleby.com/156/index.html. Here's an excerpt from the Book of the Grotesque, which is about an old writer and his strange notion of truth and the grotesque:

The idea had got into his mind that he would some time die unexpectedly and always when he got into bed he thought of that. It did not alarm him. The effect in fact was quite a special thing and not easily explained. It made him more alive, there in bed, than at any other time. Perfectly still he lay and his body was old and not of much use any more, but something inside him was altogether young. He was like a pregnant woman, only that the thing inside him was not a baby but a youth. No, it wasn’t a youth, it was a woman, young, and wearing a coat of mail like a knight. It is absurd, you see, to try to tell what was inside the old writer as he lay on his high bed and listened to the fluttering of his heart. The thing to get at is what the writer, or the young thing within the writer, was thinking about.

I find it somehow reassuring that this is what my father is thinking about, this little tale and the book from which it came.

*
Vonda McIntyre's fantastic Nebula award winning novel The Moon and the Sun, is available as an ebook through the Book View Cafe site. A really great read, this book (as are, in fact the other books of hers featured there). (You have to register with the site, but why wouldn't you?)
storyrainthejournal: (Default)
A trio of reading links for your reading pleasure this week. First up, part one of Meghan McCarron's "We Heart Vampires" at Strange Horizons. Awesome.

Next, the "Eastern" issue of Crossed Genres, a set of excellent tales.

And, a fantastic dark and powerful fable from Caroline Yoachim at Fantasy Magazine, "The Sometimes Child."

*
Had a good weekend, much needed after the aging parent stress that began last week. Saturday afternoon was a writing date, then dinner with datees (had the amazing smoked chicken chile relleno at Z'Tejas--apricots and raisins and smoked chicken, hooray!, and a lovely hibiscus margarita). Sunday afternoon, after more writing time, took friend and neighbor B to the Alamo for a belated birthday movie.

We saw The Good The Bad The Weird, a totally kick-ass blend of Spaghetti western and Asian action set in 1930s Manchuria. Loosely based on the obvious ancestor movie, but very much its own thing. The 1930s Manchurian desert setting felt very post-apocalyptic/alternate history, the action was absolute fun (though I did have to close my eyes for a few too gory bits), and the soundtrack was AWESOME.

The Weird was played by the actor who starred in another awesome Korean movie, The Host, and he's just...um...awesome.
 
*
Due to the aforementioned aging parent stress (an unfolding saga of no fun), I am in rereading mode, because I don't seem to have the emotional or mental oomph to really enjoy a new book right now. At the moment, I'm rereading the first of Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunner books, Luck in the Shadows. Undemanding, satisfying, transporting.
storyrainthejournal: (in the library)
I seem to be soaking in a lot of Jewish-themed media of late, through no particular design of my own. Read Joann Sfar’s The Rabbi’s Cat, then Michael Chabon’s Gentleman of the Road (awesome and excellent and I loved it—Jews with swords!); and now I’m reading Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union,  which I’m also really enjoying. It’s fascinating and engrossing alternate history, and the argot and cultural depth of the temporary Alaskan Jewish homeland he imagines is as thick, transformative, and difficult to get into as any good spec fic world. He’s just a joy to read, really.
 
Meanwhile, I’ve been watching The Jewish Americans on PBS, which has, likewise, been pretty good so far.
 
I’m considering giving my Dad a copy of The Yiddish Policemen’s Union and saying, see there, mainstream speculative fiction! Quit asking when I’m going to write something serious! Only I won’t yell at him.
 
In other news, very cold and rainy in the early dark this morning, but, unfortunately, a degree or so shy of giving us ice or sleet, which might have blessed us poor office shclubs with a four-day weekend. Oh well, I’ll take the three-dayer.

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