Sunday, January 23, 2005
A Vampire Fable
There was a family with a vampire in its house. Not the George Hamilton or Tom Cruise kind of vampire, oh no. We’re talking Nosferatu’s kind, or Bela Lugosi’s ilk. We’re talking a wicked, hungry vampire without even an unbeating heart, whose sole desire was to feed on others. Lugeratu fed nocturnally and secretively on widowed Mama An and her three little urchins, and on the urchins’ four little waifs as well. Let me introduce you to them all. Mama An’s three urchins were Dam, Gum, and Bom. It was good that Mama An had a large house with many floors because Gum lived on one floor—the top one-- with her girl Sec and her boy Lec, while Bom lived on the first floor with her girl Sun and her boy Gun. Mama An also lived on the main floor while Dam lived on the second.
Here’s how the house looked:
An empty attic
Gum, Sec, Lec
Mama An, Bom, Sun, Gun
When Lugeratu wasn’t in his basement coffin during the day, he spent most of his time on the main floor, where Mama An lived, as well as Bom and her ragamuffins, so they were the most haunted by its constant presence and bloodlust.
Now here’s the strangest thing about this vampire. Most of the family couldn’t see it most of the time. I mean, most of them knew a vampire lived in the area, but they thought it traveled from house to house and never knew that it stayed with them always. In fact, the only time they could all agree that a vampire had been in their home at all was if someone had to be taken to the hospital and the doctors diagnosed loss of blood from a vampire bite. Most often, it was Bom, for her room was closest to Lugeratu’s basement coffin. Strangely, however, Bom denied the reality of the vampire most of all.
When Sun or Gun would see the fresh bites on her neck and notice her looking lethargic, they’d fearfully ask if she’d been bitten again. And Bom would sometimes say gently, “No, that’s your imagination. I’m fine. I’m clean.” And then she’d quickly ask them if they wanted some garlic for breakfast. Other times Bom would become angry at their questions: How dare they even think such an outrageous thing? But she would begin to wear scarves and turtlenecks, even though it was summer. The truth was, as some of the family had begun to suspect, Bom was protecting and shielding the very vampire that was slowly killing her and even preying upon her own children as well. Why? For the vampire dreams. For sometimes vampires find humans willing to make a pact with them: two pints of blood for two hours of beautiful dreams.
Mama An would try not to pay any mind to what was going on around her, but sometimes she’d see at least the shadow of what looked like a vampire walking about their floor, and opening or closing the basement door. And she would also ask Bom, “Has that old vampire been around again?” But Bom would deny it and Mama An would decide that she was just getting too old and couldn't trust her own mind.
Dam stayed mostly on her own floor, but Gum and Sec and Lec came and went from the house frequently into the outside world. And though they lived the furthest from Lugeratu-- or maybe because of that--when they would walk down the stairs and out through the main floor, they always saw the vampire, never doubting its existence. One day Sec noticed a lethargy and sadness in Sun and went to talk to her. Sun showed Sec the sorrow of her neck and Sec and Lec and Gum became concerned. As Bom had less and less blood, Lugeratu had begun to prey upon the others closest to Bom, draining them bit by bit. Gum went to talk to Mama An and Bom about trying to get rid of that vampire once and for all. She said that it wasn’t only dangerous for Bom anymore but for everyone in the house.
Now it is one of the more peculiar things in a very peculiar world that instead of the problem being recognized as the problem, human beings like to create other things to mask the problem. And then they go about spending a lot of time and energy and talk on the masks instead of the real problem. At any rate, Bom declared loudly (some might even say defensively) that Gum was the real problem, that in fact there was no problem at all in the house except for Gum. She said Gum was crazy to be seeing vampires and was just out to get Bom for some inexplicable reason, that she wore scarves and turtle necks only because she liked them, that she was losing blood and teeth and getting open sores on her neck because of various mysterious diseases. And besides, if there really was a vampire at all, the vampire was a poor victim that must need taking care of. Bom went on and on, long after Gum and Sec and Lec had left the house to go on with their lives.
But Mama An and Dam and Sun and Gun continued living in the convoluted stories Bom created from her broken vampire dreams. Bom and Lugeratu gradually took over the main floor of the family house, locked in a death embrace, and everyone else lived cautiously around their center, pretending not to see Lugeratu. When some of the others began having problems from loss of blood, it was never noticed or mentioned.
Moral: If there is a vampire in your house, do not ask the vampire how to get rid of it, or even if it exists; vampires are not honest by their very nature.
Distortions in thinking, most notably denial, make it difficult for
the addict to stop using drugs and drinking alcohol. Denial is the
person’s refusal to admit the extent of the problem. Although the
person’s drinking or drug use is the cause of problems, denial convinces
him or her that it is the solution. As a result, the addicted person does
not think he or she has an addiction.
HOW DOES ADDICTION AFFECT THE FAMILY?
The same form of denial used by the addicted person may be
used by his or her loved ones who fail to realize that a serious problem
exists. Families of an addicted person often suffer from a condition
known as “codependency.” In many cases, family life is destroyed
because the thoughts and feelings of spouses, children and siblings
are controlled by the mood swings and behavioral problems of the
addict. Family members may feel responsible for the problem, which
can lead to the misguided hope that they can “cure” the loved one.
Codependency reveals itself in many ways. The addiction may
cause the family to hide the problem, perhaps by not allowing visitors
into the home, or forbidding discussion among family members about
the disease. When the addicted person is suffering from intoxication,
family members may attempt to protect their loved one by telling an
employer that the addict is ill and unable to work that day. Another
codependency issue presents itself when a family member tries to
control the addict’s behavior by occupying his or her free time, thereby
attempting to stop him or her from drinking alcohol or taking drugs.
Children are not immune to codependency. They may rebel out
of anger, or overachieve in school or sports to divert the family’s
attention away from the addiction. Children of addicts may also set
unrealistic goals that may lead to depression, or they may even become
addicts. Some children deal with the problem by spending time alone,
withdrawing from their family and friends.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Peace, Andres Raya
I need to write about Andres. I’ve only known him for a few hours, and only met him after he died, but his face still fills my mind. So I’m going to give it to you, hoping you can do something with it.
I know this young man, I swear I do. He looked reality in the face over in Iraq and couldn’t live the lie anymore. He wondered why he was fighting for a system that sends his own people to the front in disproportionate numbers, figuring that they’re more expendable than the Anglos. He wondered why he was killing brown skinned families hiding in the corners of their fallen houses in Fallujah, and then stuffing their broken bodies into SUVS. The ribbons and medals given him could not staunch the wide, gaping wound between lie and truth. He had become a Soldier of the Lie and he felt it.
Andres had integrity and a broken spirit. How do I know he had integrity? Because if he did not have integrity, his spirit would not have broken as it did.
Andres did something a good marine should never do—he brought the war home with him. He made us look him in the face. For that, this country will never forgive him.
Over 30,000 American soldiers have been sent home from Iraq with both physical and mental/emotional disabilities. We do not hear these soldiers’ voices. Why? Who can hear Andres’ voice? Look at him and listen. Please. So his death is not in vain.