Monday, July 5, 2010

Monday Morning Coffee and a Book - The Glass Castle

Everyone has been saying that I need to read The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.  And so yesterday while doing laundry and waiting for a load to come out of the dryer I sat down to read.  I couldn't put it down.  I was fascinated.  I mean, it opens almost immediately with a little girl, by little I mean three year old girl, boiling hot dogs.


It is interesting, normally I try to sit and tell you what I liked about a book or didn't like about a book.  But this one pulled an emotional reaction out of me and so I can't really.  I am going to have to write this assuming that you've read it.  And if that is frustrating for you I am sorry, stop here.

And let me insert: this is a great book.  It is well written and engaging.  It is also true and on that note, it will blow your mind.  Read it.  You will be entertained and you may learn something.

I started missing my dad almost immediately.  My dad was so much like Rex Walls without the all the bad stuff.  I could see him grabbing a knife and running out into the street with a little me to chase away Demon so I could sleep at night.  Like Rex my dad was well educated and did much self educating.  He believed the brain was a muscle that like any muscle, lost critical mass if not in use.  He was all about adventure.  He had some grandiose plans and occasionally made promises he couldn't keep (like that horse he promised me in 7th grade) and I adored him and would have forgiven him anything.  Although unlike Jeanette I don't think I could have forgiven him using me as bait...

I thought of my sister Myon who received a burn from flipping pancakes in the kitchen in Las Vegas.  We moved away from Las Vegas before she was 6 years old.  So she could have been anywhere between 3 and 5 when she got burned?  And the time she drank shampoo out of the bottle while we were moving, still Las Vegas, and she & Mom ran off the the ER in a fire truck and my brother and I waited with the neighbors we had just met, and the time she fell into the pool- her blond hair floated to the surface like a white gold grassy halo- and she dog paddled but was too little and inexperienced to pick up her head.  Mom was on the phone in a white seventies tunic with embroidery all over it and she dropped the phone, ran across the patio, did a life guard kick jump into the water, pulled Myon out, did mouth to mouth and pumped her arms to get the water out.  Myon lay there like a fountain spouting water out of her mouth...

And Mom's tomato jungle.  At that same house in Las Vegas Mom had a side yard that she converted into a garden.  She went to a goat farm out in the middle of the desert and she cleaned up after the goats in exchange for goat milk for my brother who had an allergy to cow milk.  We ran around the farm and chased peacocks while she did this.  Anyway, she brought the goat mess home in dog food bags and piled it into her side garden.  Mom stood 5'4" and her tomato plants were as tall or taller than she was.  They also planted peach trees there.  I have the best memories of picking hot peaches off the tree and eating them outside in the desert sun while the juice ran down my arm.  Then we'd jump into the pool to clean off.  There were lots of references to deserts in this book, I think maybe that got to me too...

And the scene with the chocolate bar.  I stopped cold.  I have never, ever gone hungry.  I want to be very clear about that.  But I so related to that chocolate bar scene.

I completely got how Jeannette seemed to be unbalanced after her dad died.  She left her first husband and fine house and it was like her need for him to balance her dad had lifted and her vision had changed.  My dad was the greatest driving force in my life until he died.  It took (maybe is still taking) years for me to identify who I am without him.  That sounds insestious as I write it.  Maybe if you lived the life of a military brat you get it.  You are defined by your sponsor.  The military god tells your sponsor where to move and when.  The sponsor comes and goes from your life at the whims of the military god.  You move constantly so the only long term relationships you have are with your immediate family...

My dad was an Air Force Pilot who loved Mathematics.  My mom was an artist who'd been accepted into the Rhode Island School of design and gave up her chance at art school to follow my dad around the world and raise his kids.  We had crazy times.  We laughed and fought a lot.  We were super close.  We were not in poverty.  We were not abused.  But I related to many of the sentiments in this book.

3 comments:

ma thet zin said...

I really love your posts!

Cheryl said...

I loved that book, and I do understand what you are saying. I can understand why certain themes or parts of the book would touch of certain memories with you or even go deeper. I agree, you are so insightful, you posts are always so wonderful.

Just in case you didn't know, she has a second book out now. It is about her mother's mother and how they grew up. I'm almost done with it, so if you ever want me to send it to you, just let me know. It was interesting to me to see how her mom became the person she did. I think it is the social worker in me or because of my own family issues, but it always fascinates me, how families come together, turn out, strengths and weaknesses. Or maybe that is why I ended up in this field. That is probably more life it, lol.

Mónica said...

Beautiful words about your life and your family. Hugs. Lovely family