Well, the summer is officially coming to an end. School begins in two days and my nerves remain unsettled. My main concern is not the school itself (Bryn Mawr has, so far, proven to meet all of my expectations and more- in short, the campus and people are beyond lovely). Instead, my worries surround the course/ work load I will soon encounter. I have yet, in my academic career, had to balance a full course load with the responsibility of being a wife and mother. Surely, one area must suffer for the other to remain successful. It sounds pessimistic, I know, but I feel that in a time (like now) in which I have such little control I must remain pragmatic, and, though it sounds cliche, expect the worst. That way, whatever hurdles come into our/ my path, we/ I will be ready. However, despite my efforts to control the impending situation and my emotions surrounding it, another thought is in the constant forefront of my mind- why am I not more concerned for my children? You see, my children have always been my primary concern and focus, but lately I have found the majority of my thoughts looming around my return to school, rather than theirs. Is this a selfish act, or simply a natural one? Has the inability to balance my parental responsibilities with my academic ones already begin? Maybe not, maybe I just subconsciously understand that children are far more resilient than their adult counterparts. Again, I turn the focus to myself and my lack of self- confidence and resilience, why? Should I not worry about them more than I worry about myself? They are both transferring into a new elementary school this year and have many concerns of their own. My youngest, my daughter, is nervous beyond belief. She turned seven years old this August, and is already so riddled with anxiety that she often becomes nauseous simply at the thought of entering a new school and making new friends. I see this behavior in her, and yet find it hard to focus on any distress other than my own- not even my young child’s. It IS selfish and, as I write this, I can not help but be filled with embarrassment. I must make a conscious effort to refocus my mental energies. A more steadily guided path of thought must accompany me along my journey, one that puts my family in the forefront, if the weight of the load I will carry is to remain balanced.
Now that my affair with Dracula is over, I have moved on. That’s right, I now hold a bright and shiny new book in my hand. Okay, so that is a lie. It is nowhere near new; it’s in fair condition, at best, and was purchased at a used book sale over a year ago. So, anyways…Where was I? Oh, yes! I have moved on. Farwell, Count Dracula. Hello, Sal Paradise. You guessed it, I am just beginning Jack Kerouac’s celebrated novel, On the Road. I am only a few chapters into part one, but so far, I’m digging it. It reminds me a lot of Hunter S. Thompson’s cult classic, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Maybe it’s the two friends carelessly traveling across the country, or the promise of excitement and bizarre adventure lurking within the text, but whatever it is, Kerouac’s vibe echoes the same one I uncovered in the summer of 2001, when I climbed in the car with Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo and headed toward the American Dream. Perhaps, Thompson was a Jack Kerouac fan, and found inspiration in the same book that now sits on my nightstand. Note to self- look into this speculation. You see, for those who do not know me, Hunter S. Thompson played a major role in reinventing my love of reading in adulthood. It’s like this- I was born an only child, and by default (due to the lack of outside entertainment, typically accredited to siblings), I was an avid reader. However, as I aged into young adulthood, I found that books just didn’t excite me the same way they once did. Thompson changed that. He reminded me of the power of human expression, and how amazing it can be to witness it through written word. Now a days, I have made it my life’s work to catch up on the many “classics” written during the 18th and 19th centuries (books like Jane Eyre, Candid, and Anna Karenina), and don’t get me wrong, they are fantastic. However, the more of these I read, the more I realize that my heart belongs to the contemporary section of the library. It just does, I can’t help it. Contemporary literature, to me, is so much sharper, so much more vibrant all the way throughout the story. It’s straight to the point and not afraid to be off-beat and impulsive. So, when I allow myself to pull a book like On the Road down off the self, I cannot help but smirk and long for the wonderful repartee that surely awaits me. You know, I am realizing- I talk a big game, but actually know nothing of this book. All I know is what I have read of it so far, and that it is highly praised by the literary world. I can only pray that the always entertaining formula of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, coupled with a group of disheveled and adventurous youth, will prevail in this novel as it has so many times before.
I did it, I finally finished Dracula. Yep, I finished it several days ago, and you know what? Well, I will tell you what- I was incredibly disappointed it the ending. In my eyes, it was wrong. All of it was horribly, horribly WRONG! I was looking for a twist, a little deception, a pinch of intrigue, but no. There was no deception, no big plot twist, and no intrigue anywhere to be found. There was only heart break. Heart break on the part of the reader- me. How could Stoker do this? How could he take such a wonderful opportunity and just throw it away? Mina and Drac should have rode off into the sunset together (hypothetically speaking, of course, considering they are vampires, and nighttime is much more favorable to the undead than sunset). Sure, I will say it, I wanted Mina to complete her transition vampirehood and take her rightful place as the first lady in Dracula’s army of darkness; what’s so wrong with that? Nothing, nothing is wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with assuming the ending would be a little dark and scandalous. But here is the thing, here is the realization that it just finding its way to me, amongst trail of tears left behind by Stoker’s unfortunate ending- Even more than hoping to witness Mina Harker’s decent to the abyss of evil, I wanted Count Dracula to live. Looking back, I can clearly see that I took his existence for granted, simply assuming that he would continue his “work” long after the novel ended. Boy, was I wrong. Perhaps, if I had known his fate (and not just Mina’s) was on the ropes, I would have devoted more time to examining his beautifully complex character, especially toward the ending, rather than obsessing/ praying for the loss of the leading lady’s moral compass. It seems to me that Dracula’s survival would have meant so much more to the reader, and to, well, everyone who is even remotely familiar with the story, than his death. Dracula is dead. Plus, he killed off the other vampires, too. Who do we fear now? Who???? I mean, I must admit, the book was never really that scary for me; and okay, I never once, throughout my readings, leaned toward the belief that vampires actually existed- now or then. However, Stoker should have at least had the decency to leave the door open for the reader. Come on! I should see fog, and wonder if it is him. Is that a bat? Hmm…A large mischief of rats? Oh, no! Howling wolfs? What if? Nope, none of that; not anymore. Stoker closed the door, the gateway to any possibility of Dracula finding his way to your 21st century cul-de-sac. Goddamn you, Bram Stoker! You are no better than Walt Disney. You did to vampire folklore, what he did to fairy tales- you sanitized it and left it for dead (no pun intended). Shame on you! Dracula WILL live on, for when I tell this story to my children he will live. That’s right, he will live and continue his reign of terror from now to eternity- at least in the mind and dreams of my two children (cue the maniacal laugh). As for Mina, I can let her go. You win Mina, Bram. She is all yours. But Dracula, I don’t care if you did create the man, you had no right to kill him off, and for that reason he stays with me.
I am almost done reading Bram Stoker’s gothic horror novel, Dracula, and I am anxious to see how it will end. I only have 43 pages left, and pray that a major twist will be coming my way soon. Not only do I hope that this possible twist will find its way to me, I want more than anything for it involve the loveable, man-brained Mina Harker and her crossing over to the dark side. I mean, come on, who better to help the Count get out alive then sweet-natured, little ol’ Mina? Who would see it coming? NOBODY! Well, no one except me, of course. Lord knows, Jonathan won’t see it coming. It will destroy him to see his blushing bride officially cross over into the world of the undead. Sorry, Jonathan! That’s right, it’s about to get J-U-I-C-Y! Oh, yes! Oh, yes! Well, one can only hope for a little literary juiciness, anyways…
I must say, overall, I have enjoyed the book very much. Although, in my opinion, it does move a little slow at times. The story is told in epistolary format, which is a nice departure from the novels I have read as of late, but can also make for fairly stiff reading material every now and then- considering you are reading a character’s interpretation of past events, rather than experiencing them first hand, though written word, as they happen. Regardless, the Count is an incredible character and none of his intrigue, and/ or mystery, are lost in the author’s choice of formatting. However, I would LOVE to get a glimpse at a journal entry from the Count himself. I don’t know, perhaps it is just me, and what could be, up until now, an undiscovered love for the undead, but I want to know more of the Count’s story. There is no doubt, he is the most complex of all of Stoker’s characters, but yet we know the least about him, his thoughts, and his affairs during the time which the story takes place. Could this be because he lacks a soul, and is, in return, completely void of any kind of emotion and/or thoughts beyond those needed for basic survival? Or is this not his story after all, despite the title, and instead, the story of the others who’s journals are printed clearly for the reader to openly explore?
I claim this- this space, this forum, this opportunity.
This is now mine.
This is now a place where my thoughts, my opinions, my voices, can live freely.
They can now walk around in the open air, existing alongside all the others who came before them.
Perhaps, over time, they will even learn to dance- hand in hand – offering each other companionship and providing a sense of continuity.
Cheers to that.
Cheers to the New Year, a new hobby, and a new hope for better understanding myself and those around me.
Cheers to it all.