Once a year… – Emily DeBias

mom

“Emmylou-who! Hullo to you!” – Mama

My mother is a great many things. When my mother was younger she wanted to be a clown. Correction. My mother is a clown. She may not have the official title and she doesn’t go around town with a big red nose on, but make no mistake. If papa was a rolling stone; my mama is a clown. My mother was the first one to make me laugh and I find great joy in making her laugh in turn. She kind of screams actually. She kind of sounds like a goat…I mean that lovingly, ma. When she really truly laughs she screams and then goes completely silent. The only way you know that she is laughing are her shoulders. Bobbing up and down, up and down.

My mother is a salesperson. There are sayings about people like my mother; “She can sell sand to an Egyptian.” “She can sell glasses to a blind man.” Etc, etc, etc. My mother would go a step further though, she would ask if she could help the Egyptian carry said sand back to Egypt, just for the adventure. She would ask the blind man if she could walk with him and have tea just to hear his story. My mother loves people and people love her. She treats everyone equally, the way people should be treated. I’m honestly surprised I haven’t heard of her protesting on behalf of people. Yet, that is also how my mother was raised. Which is strange to hear about in that time. People not seeing color or sexual orientation in the early 50’s and 60’s, but that is how she was raised and I am ever grateful for that because that was how I was raised.

My mother worked in a cubicle, a laser hair removal office, a talent agency, and a children’s theatre; but most people remember her as a waitress. She was good. Well, to an extent. If Joycie brought you the fried fish instead of that burger you actually ordered you just ate it. You know that song “Dizzy”? That’s my mother. But you can’t help but love her.

My mother calls me…a lot. Usually just to say hi, but sometimes there’s a story. A funny story. A story so funny that we’re both in tears and she can barely get the words out to tell me what happened. It’s a language only her and I can speak and I’ve spent years mastering it. I’m a Joyce-linguist-master. If you want an example of such a story, head over to my old blog and check out the time she called to tell me about the time she “accidentally waxed her cat”. That is not a euphemism folks. That actually happened. http://thelittleihave.blogspot.com/2011/11/my-mother-and-accidentally-waxed-kitty.html My mother also likes to call and tell me the weather. “Emmy, it’s cold out there.” I live in the Midwest. She calls me at Christmas time and tells me to “look at the Christmas lights.” This is why I love my mother.

The reason I tell you this is because today is my mama’s birthday and once a year I actually get to tell people what an amazing person she is. For those who don’t know anyway. My mother had me when she was young and some times I feel like we were meant to be together. She was meant to teach me the meaning of laughter and taking life as it comes, and I, well I was put here to teach her structure. That is not to say that my mother doesn’t get anything done. She can, when she puts her mind to it. And come on, she raised two kids practically by herself and she managed to always remember when bills were due.

My mother is everyone’s champion and everyone’s biggest fan. I feel blessed everyday to be referred to as “Joyce’s daughter”, and when the day comes I hope my children are even half the person their Mimi, Nanny, Ninja, Grandma, Granma-Dukes is. She is simply amazing and I’m convinced there is no one in the world like her. There will also never be anyone like Joyce, Joycie, BOP, Ma, Mama, Momma, Momma-dukes. So, no matter what you call her, take a second and wish her a happy birthday or just stop and think about that one time you went to such and such a place with Joyce or, at the very least, fill today with joy. For that is her name. Joyce.

Happy birthday, to my mighty hermaphrodite! Love you, mama!


The Magician’s Land- Lev Grossman

magiciansland

There was no end to Fillory, no end to the beauty and strangeness, except there was, and this was it.

The last book in The Magician’s trilogy is by far the best one of the set. Not without its fault, the end of the series is a roller coaster ride of adventure. Without wasting any time Grossman plunges us right into Quentin’s world post-Fillory and in to a life of magical crime. Always looking for the next big adventure Quentin takes sides with a talking bird, a stoic stranger, and a misfit band of magicians to steal a suitcase. What’s in it? Don’t know. Why do we want it? Not sure… ‘Kay.

So starts The Magician’s Land. He also takes us back to Fillory where Janet, Eliot, Josh and Poppy are doing their royal best at trying to keep the seams from breaking apart. Come to find out, that’s impossible. Now, without giving too much away, this book does jump around quite a bit and some times I had trouble keeping track of where I was. Especially when it comes to the back story of Plum, a vivacious undergrad from Brakebills who also happens to be living a life of crime, and Quentin. You have to just be ok with the fact that you’re going to be confused for a couple of chapters. Are they lovers? How did they meet? Why do they not want anyone to know that they have met prior to the talking bird? That being said. I love Plum! She is a fresh young voice that the, now grown, Physical Kids needed. He definitely makes the fact that the gang has grown up by adding a lot more “adult” language.

As with The Magician King loved characters come back in to the fold and also places that you never thought you would hear of again make a triumphant return. Fillory is always there, even when it’s not specifically being referenced. You’re always thinking of Fillory. I know. I know. I was a huge Fillory hater when I first started the series but I can’t help but love it now. As a good friend of mine said once; “I want to go to there.” We would all be lying if we said we never thought about getting accepted to Hogwarts, crawling through a wardrobe to Narnia, or holding a button to get to the Neitherlands. Grossman brings the feelings and wonder of wanting to be in a magical world when you’re young and makes it possible for us to entertain the notion as adults of flying on the back of a hippogriff. It is a satisfying end to a satisfying reading experience. Magic is everywhere friends, but remember it all comes at a price, dearies.


The Magician King – Lev Grossman

magicianking

Maybe this was one of those times when being a hero didn’t involve looking particularly brave. It was just doing what you should.

For those playing the home game; you know that while I really enjoyed Lev Grossman’s novel The Magician’s I had a hard time getting past the fact that Fillory was basically Narnia. I enjoyed the sequel more than the first to be honest, sometimes that happens. Maybe it’s because they’ve had to time to flesh things out. Either way I feel like Mr. Grossman did a phenomenal job returning us to the loving arms of Fillory.

First, he plunges you head first into Fillory where the Kings and Queens have been ruling for some time and they are comfortable in their roles as caretakers. That is, except for Quentin, who is always looking for the next big adventure. He finds it in the form of a quest for magical keys. What they are used for? He’s not really sure. But an adventure is an adventure. A quest is a quest.

Among his companions on this trip is the ever mysterious Julia, whom we met in the first book. She had a such a juicy story and a pretty disappointing exit in the last book. What happened to Julia? Why did she remember Brakebills? Why did she so resemble a junkie last time her and Quentin met? Why is she suddenly flying outside of his office window with Janet and Eliot? Wait, how did she even know Janet and Eliot? These questions plagued me at the end of the first book and I am happy to say that all these questions and more are answered in the sequel. Grossman takes turns chapter by chapter shifting from the present and Julia’s past  and her story arc is satisfying.

In this epic adventure that Quentin and Julia are on, you follow them to the Outerislands, back to Earth, back to Fillory, and round and round you go. It is easy to keep track of where they are since Grossman has a knack for describing the surroundings. You meet new endearing characters and some people, albeit pretty predictably, return. You are left wanting more at the end of this novel. What’s going to happen to Quentin? What’s going to happen to Fillory? Is Alice ever going to make a return appearance? (Something I’m sure fans were asking with the release of the final novel published last August.) I’m excited to see how this epic tale of Quentin and Fillory ends. I hope it’s as satisfying as I want it to be.


As You Wish- Cary Elwes

asyouwish

Well…you know.

Everyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I am a nerd about The Princess Bride! My Aunt and Uncle sat me down to watch it when I was around seven or eight, along with another wonderful fantasy film Willow, because they were flabbergasted when I had told them I hadn’t seen it. So, to them, I say thank you. The film The Princess Bride has been my favorite since that day back in Texas when the first shot of the old 80’s baseball video game flashes on the screen. To this day I still watch at least five times a year…at least. I could go on and on about the random trivia I know about the film or how I love being the first person to tell someone that S. Morgenstern isn’t a real person. But this isn’t what this post is about.

I was completely bowled over with emotion when I received this book from my fiance’s family for Christmas. I unwrapped it half way, saw the title, jumped up and hugged them. What a better way to start the new year than with a book about my favorite movie?!? It is a breeze to read and anyone who has any love for the film should read it. Even though you can feel the love that the cast has for each other it’s nice to read about how close they became on set and how close they all still are.

I was pleased to find out that I don’t know all of the “behind the scenes” things that went on during filming. For example; one of my favorite lines is during Greatest Swordfight in Modern Times when the Inigo asks the Man in Black:

“Who are you?”

“No one of consequence.”

“I must know.”

“Get used to disappointment.”

Then something amazing happens. Inigo just shrugs and says “Kay.”  It was completely unscripted! One of the greatest responses to a series of questions!

This book just deepened my love for the film, which I didn’t think was even possible. I have grown up watching these characters and can recite lines at the drop of a hat and yet I still never tire of climbing the cliffs of insanity, going in against a Sicilian when death is on the line, battling R.O.U.S’s, hoping it’s enough to buy a miracle, not going swimming for a good hour, storming the castle, and finally finding true ‘wuv.


The Magicians- Lev Grossman

themagicians

I got my heart’s desire, and there my troubles began.

I remember being in Borders on the corner of State and Lake in Chicago one particularly rainy afternoon when this book came out. I picked it up and read the back which toted such names as George R. R. Martin saying “The Magicians is to Harry Potter as a shot of Irish whiskey is to a glass of weak tea.” I realized that I wanted to read this “Harry Potter for adults” book, but I didn’t have the money at the time or what have you so I put it down. Now, flash forward to a few months back where I’m perusing the stacks of the Ferndale library and come upon the book I discarded years back. Again, this wasn’t why I was in the library so I put it down.

Then, as luck would have it, I had nothing in my queue to read. I couldn’t for the life of me remember the title or the author’s name, but I remembered the tree. That damn tree on the cover plagued me. I went to the library and thought “I’ll just walk through the stacks around where I saw it the last time.” And what? Pull out every book within the range of where I think I remember seeing it? Yep. That’s exactly what I did. And people! It worked! My stupid plan worked.

Now, I have to say that if you look on my goodreads.com page (linked below) you will notice that I finished this book back in early December. The delay on this post is simple, friends. Gilmore Girls. Yes, again I was distracted by the damn Netflix! Also, I was given a copy of Cary Elwes’s book As You Wish for Christmas, which I am almost done with and will blog about it promptly this time. Enough of my prattling. On to the book.

I tore through the first half of The Magicians where you are introduced to Quentin, Alice, Penny, Eliot, Josh, and Janet. You also meet, Julia, a girl with whom Quentin is infatuated with at his highschool. Julia bugged me. She seemed like she was going to go somewhere, like she was going to have an arch then she just disappears. Either way, Quentin dreams of living life in Fillory a fictional place, much like Narnia (I’ll come back to that in a second), when out of the blue he is transported to a school in upstate NY that is safeguarded by magic. He takes a strange written test and then goes through a rigorous physical magic test as well. Not really sure what he’s doing he passes anyway. Enter the Physical Kids, that is what the gang mentioned above call themselves. They go through school together and grow to really care about one another; a romance blossoms between Quentin and Alice, which you see coming from the first time they meet but it’s satisfying non the less. All of the magic happenings and all the things they go through at school are thrilling! I couldn’t put the book down…that is…until they “graduate” from magic school.They laze around a New York apartment, drinking, having sex, dabbling in magic. They become so severely bored that they betray one another. Which just made me sad, honestly. Then Penny stumbles back into the picture, he had been absent for a while, he’s come with amazing news. He has a button. A button that will get them to Fillory.

Now, folks, I have a problem with Fillory. I love Fillory. I think it’s a great place and it picked the pace of the book up again, but it’s too much like Narnia. The parallels are so similar that I would have to stop reading, especially if I was at work having my shift drink and ask my literature major friend JoBeth; “Did this happen in Narnia? Did that happen in Narnia? Wait, weren’t there four kids in Narnia?” I asked her so many Narnia questions that I think I may have annoyed her (Sorry, JB.) but she finally looked at me one day and said “Fillory is really bothering you, isn’t it?” Yeah, it did. I couldn’t get over the similarities. Correction, I still can’t get over the similarities, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the book. I loved the book and I’m looking forward to returning to Fillory and Quentin and the gang in The Magician King. 

A link to my goodreads profile page:

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/14093573-emily-debias


The History of Love- Nicole Krauss

thehistoryoflove

Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.

As most books go, this one was recommended to me by a coworker who had to read it for a literature class. I had nonchalantly asked her if she had heard of it; her eyes widened and she clutched her heart in shock that I hadn’t read it yet. I went out the next day and checked it out of the library.

The History of Love is told from the point of view of three different characters who switch off chapter to chapter. Leo Gursky, a Polish man who came to America during the war, a man who loved a girl when he was young and never quite got over her. Alma, a fourteen year old girl who recently lost her father and is clinging to the pages of his favorite book, a book that gave her her name and that her mother is currently translating to English. Last, but not least, an un-named “historian” (for lack of a better word) who tells the tale of the author of the book within the book also titled The History of Love.  All three narrations are unique and have distinct voices, you never once get confused on who is speaking at the time. The symbols before each chapter and at the top corners of the pages help, if for some strange reason you can’t tell an older Polish man from a fourteen year old girl from New York.

Now, I have to say that I have been shooting myself in the foot recently with my book choices. I have been reading all of these great books but they have such crazy plot twists which makes it hard for me to talk about the books at any great length. This book is one such book but I feel I may be able to divulge some things without ruining the plot. When you first meet Leo Gursky you think he is a strange little Polish man who enjoys getting in people’s way and is afraid of dying. Then when you find out that he was in love when he was a younger man in Poland and that he was a writer (and a damn good one at that) your heart warms to him and he becomes as dear to you as your own grandfather. Alma. Alma I loved from the very start. You feel for her over the loss of her father and the fact that she feels she needs to protect her brother, Bird, from the world. If I talk about Alma I have to talk about her brother. Bird is a secondary character but I found myself fascinated with him and I wish that he had more of a central role in the story. There isn’t much to say about Mr. No Name historian. He moves the story along and fills in plot points that otherwise wouldn’t have been filled by Leo Gursky or Alma.

I really enjoyed this book and will pick up others by Ms. Krauss. You close the book wanting more from Leo and Alma, Bird and Mr. No Name. I would’ve gladly have read another couple hundred pages with these characters that I loved. That being said, I believe that she ended the journey right where it needed to end and she did it beautifully.


Finding Robert – Emily DeBias

I’ve been struggling with whether I should write this or not. At the end of the day I’m not forcing any one to read anything that I write, I just didn’t want someone to read this and think that I am looking for any type of pity. I have had an amazing adventure of a life. It’s just been different than most.

My little brother and I are what society has lovingly labeled “bastards”. Actually, I’m not even sure if they use that term anymore, but that is what they used to call us. The dictionary defines a “bastard” as: a person born of parents not married to each other. My brother and I, never satisfied being of the status quo did it one better. We are also the product of a broken home and were raised by our amazing mother. Yes, we were the Three Musketeers for most of my life.

We left Long Island when I was three and my brother was one, the reasons we left are hazy at best and are probably told differently from every side of the story. The one constant is that we left. I remember sitting at my great aunt Joan’s house with my Uncle eating strawberries dipped in sugar. Try it, if you haven’t already, it’s heaven. I don’t remember the plane ride and I don’t remember most of the time we spent living with my grandparents in San Antonio Texas. I know that my brother, ever mischievous, got in to my grandmother’s pills and the ambulance was called to the house a few times. Now, now, before anyone gets up in arms; this was a different time. There weren’t child protected pill bottles and my brother was a chubby little handed child, capable of ripping the lids off of just about anything.

We went and saw our father once in 1993, at least that’s what the picture says and I only have one memory of that trip. We were trying to catch fireflies in jars, we are assholes us children, and he was trying to help but he accidentally smashed it on to his shirt instead. He glowed the rest of the night. That was it. That was the last time I saw him. That was over twenty years ago. I have a vague memory of seeing him at my Uncles house, his cigarettes rolled up in to the sleeve of his plain white t-shirt. But the mind is a fickle lover and memories fade and are often concocted of what we want to remember. So, I can’t tell you for sure if that ones real. The fireflies were real. You never forget fireflies.

The real reason I am writing this is because a few years back I got a message on facebook from a guy named John. Now, let me go back, back, back a few years. Yes, I knew that I had half siblings. Yes, I knew I had five of them. Yes, I did try and find them but it’s hard when you don’t know anything about them except for the fact that they exist. Now, jump forward, forward forward a few years to the golden age of facebook where you can find anyone! So I woke up 2/6/2011, the Steelers were playing the Packers and since I was living in Chicago at the time this was a pretty big one for our house. I opened facebook and found this:

Hi Emily i know this is weird but after doing some research i just wanted to contact you. My name is John DeBias i’m the first born child of Bob DeBias and if I have this correct I’m your half brother. I’ve always wondered if i have brothers or sisters out there and being unable to find Bob i had to search on my own. If i have the wrong person i’m very sorry if not and you would like to contact me my number is *** *** ****. or message me on here. if not i totally understand as well. I hope your doing well.

My jaw hit the floor and it took me a good five minutes to call my mother.

Me- Mom, I got this facebook message from a guy claiming to be my half brother.

Mom- What’s his name?

Me- John.

Mom- Yeah, that’s him.

So, within the minute it took me to read a message on the internet I had a half brother and then a few months later we had found our father. I cried uncontrollably the night I found out that we knew where he was and I had his phone number. It took me a while to call him. My brother, braver than I, called him first. I was out shopping and he called asking for his number. I was nervous to give it to him because I didn’t know what he was going to say. What if he ruined my reunion too? My brother and I always had different “views” of our father. Where I had let go of any animosity I had towards him years ago, my brother was still bitter. He said he just wanted to leave a message. He called me back and said that they had a nice conversation and that he really wanted to hear from me. I still couldn’t do it. I want to say it was another month before I even got up the nerve to call, and even then I had to have a beer to slow my heart down or else he would have heard it pounding through the phone.

I thought about hanging up after the first ring. I thought about hanging up after the second. Then before I realized what was happening a woman answered:

-Hello?

-Hi, I’m looking for Robert?

-May I ask who’s speaking?

-Um, yeah, it’s Emily.

-Oh, I, hold on. Bobby! It’s your daughter.

She knew who I was. This woman I had never met nor spoken to in my life knew me by name. Then it happened. I was talking to my father. “Hey darling.” He sounded like I remembered. We talked for ages. I apologized for taking so long to call him. He apologized for not being around. We forgave each other. We cried. And just like that, I felt as though my life was complete again. Then he told me that he was having brain surgery in a few months. He’s been epileptic for a long time and they thought that this would help. So, now I have my father back and people want to cut his head open and take part of his brain out. Ok.

If I had the money I would’ve flown out there to be with them. I would’ve swooped in before he woke up from surgery and surprised him. Or would I have? What if he woke up and didn’t remember who I was? This thought plagued me until I got a call from him from the hospital telling me that everything was alright. He was fine. That was three years ago. We talk as much as we can. My brother, I’m happy to say, calls him more than I do. In a few weeks I’m flying to North Carolina where my brother and I will go meet him for the first time in twenty years. I’m excited and nervous at the same time. I never thought this would happen and now as the day grows closer I become more and more nervous. It’s happening. I’m bringing baby pictures. I’ll probably even bring them a book or two; they love to read. Yes, I will probably have to stop and get a glass of wine before we get there, but soon I will be looking in to eyes so much like my own and I will know that I am whole.

“Hello darling, I just called to wish you a happy rabbit day…or chicken..or chick…uh duck? It’s one of them! Happy something! I love you. Bye Bye.”


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 491 other followers