A Review of "Rescue Me" (Seasons 1-5)

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, TV, Vestibular Migraine

Spoilers sprinkled throughout.

The description of Denis Leary’s show Rescue Me always intrigued me, but I never remembered to set the DVR to record it. With the migraines I’ve been dealing with, I can’t sleep, read, study, knit or spend much time on the computer. I’ve been taking advantage of Netflix and mainlined the show over the last two weeks. Chooch is now watching it, and just finished Season Two. Season Six is on disc only, so I’m waiting for him to catch up before I watch it.

The show is set in a New York city fire house after 9/11. Denis Leary plays Tommy Gavin, the most cavalier fireman in his house and because of this he makes some of the most epic saves and is known department-wide as a hero. It’s a tough show to watch, as there are very raw and ugly scenes of the guys on the job rescuing people from deadly crisis. The worst is the babies that die in the fires, but you quickly feel that these men are otherworldly in they’re ability to run towards fires when everyone else is running away. The things they see and experience are scenes straight from what I envision hell to be like, and in many cases the emotional impact makes it far worse then anything I could imagine.

There are some really absurd moments and completely ridiculous situations. In some ways it is very much a soap opera set in a very masculine and testosterone laden world. There are also some contentious and highly offensive story lines dealing with racism and homophobia. Despite this, the delivery of it shows the flaws and frailties of the characters and how human they are in dealing with their problems and lives. Mainlining it as I have, it’s more obvious that the show makes fun of itself and the soap-opera like story lines.

The characters are simply caricatures at first, but all are developed into interesting, funny, charming and tragic figures. Denis Leary’s Tommy Gavin is a raw and many times vile person, succumbing to alcohol and drug addiction, lying and betraying almost everyone outside of his fellow firefighters.  He crosses many lines with them, but it seems as though there is a forgiveness within the family they’ve created there that wouldn’t be possible elsewhere. I knew he was a good actor after seeing him hold his own alongside Kevin Spacey in The Ref years ago, but he is fantastic in this role. It’s bound to be comfortable for him, seeing as how he created the series and the character, presumably. And if it weren’t for the heavy emotional story line, a drinking game could be made using his grunts and growls as the trigger.

While the series is focused primarily on Tommy and his family, this show has an amazing ensemble cast. It started with mostly unknowns, but over the seasons more familiar names pop up either briefly or as permanent additions. My favorite character is Lieutenant Ken Shea, Tommy Gavin’s best friend, and is damaged, insightful and hilarious.

It’s hard to feel sorry for the main two women in Tommy’s life, his wife Janet and his cousin’s 9/11 widow Sheila. Initially, Sheila is a tragic figure in that she is obviously still deep in grief. Actually, this persists throughout the five seasons, but her behavior is continually manipulative an dangerous at points. In their own ways they are insane, manipulative and drove him to many of his deepest and darkest moments. That said, they are extremely strong in their frailties and weaknesses. Tommy himself is loathsome in his relationships and sexual behavior, but at the same time I find him utterly compelling. He’s obnoxious and I wouldn’t want to know him in real life, but watching his story play out on TV fascinates me.

Over the entire series, the grief from what they experience on 9/11 and during the clean-up at Ground Zero is pervasive and nearly always simmering below the surface. It makes sense given their jobs and the shrines that surround them that were set up for their fallen brothers. I suppose to some it may seem as if they should just get over it an move on. The fact that Tommy is haunted by his cousin and others as the show continues keeps it all very real as he negotiates his way around his disastrous life.

Season Five takes a turn into some strange territory. In spite of the critical acclaim, it’s taken a bit of time to get to the point where it tries to take on more and reach beyond what it is to something deeper. I typically hate when shows do this, dating back to when I watched M.A.S.H. in the early ’80s. Because it’s done with a wink, it really wasn’t too bad.

Overall, I have greatly enjoyed the series so far. It is hilarious, heart-breaking, offensive, poignant, shocking and sickening. I think even the never-ending bashing of homosexuals, women and other races serve to teach a lesson about tolerance. I can’t wait for Chooch to catch up so I can see what Season Six has in store for me.

Unrelated fact I just learned? Alan Alda was born as Alphonso Joseph D’Abruzzo.

I Broke

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Friends, Health, No Whining, Too Long For Twitter, Vestibular Migraine

Yesterday was rough. The last two weeks have been hard, but I was actually stuck out yesterday for awhile unable to drive home. My boys arrive home day after tomorrow and I’m trying to get things done so we can focus on each other while they’re here. So I went out with a migraine and some damn bug I picked up recently to run errands.

I ended up cat napping in my car after much difficulty at the last store. The pain, the fatigue, the dizziness just kind of overtook me. I called my neurologist while I was sitting there, completely broken down. I wasn’t crying, but I was desperate for some kind of relief from the pain. I knew this is the last kind of call that gets you pain killers that I likely need to knock them out, but that’s just how much pain I was in.

I just got a call that he’s prescribing two things for me, a new medicine to breakthrough the migraine pain when it strikes along with an anti-depressant. This is the third time he’s offered it to me, but I honestly don’t think I’m depressed. My husband and I have discussed it in the past and it doesn’t fit. My “mood” is actually pretty good, all things considered. Being exhausted from pain is not the same as not wanting to go on, in fact I’d say that I’m feeling the opposite. I’m ravenous to feel better so I can get back to daily walks and tri-weekly runs, work, studies and life.

And let’s not ignore the fact that the top side effects of the anti-depressant are dizziness, headaches, drowsiness and weakness along with some of the nastier side effects that I’m trying to end from the last meds. Now that I know what it is, I’ve got a call in to find out if there are known migraine relief benefits to the medication, but all I’m seeing online is depression and social anxiety disorder relief. Hey, I very likely have the latter, but have been managing it much better in recent months. I don’t need this damned list of side effects just for that.

So in the spirit of “It takes a village…” I’m asking my friends, my actual friends that have spent face to face time with me in recent months if you think I’m depressed. Maybe I am and we don’t see it. I don’t see Twitter as a good data source for this, I need real people, friends, to respond.

Tweets are lost to the stream too quickly, so are only a momentary help. I prefer you reply here or you can shoot me an email to VivMuse@gmail.com.

And thanks for taking the time to read my blog. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone, even though I typically feel like I’m shouting into the abyss.

Medical Update

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Dizzy, Family, Our Kids, Vestibular Migraine

Out of the last two weeks I’ve had migraines for about ten days. It’s hard to keep track, and some are just partial day migraines but it’s been a lot. I knew this was possible, but I did not expect it. I’ll admit that my childish, wish-upon-a-star was for vast improvement as the meds left my body. No, I didn’t actually expect it, but I did hope. And while I didn’t expect to feel significantly better, I also didn’t expect to be in near constant pain.

I took the last of the migraine preventative meds Thursday night. Wean-down is over. Now the plan is to wait a few weeks for them to leave my body and see how I feel. I have to confess that neither Chooch nor I are encouraged. I’ve already received the natural alternative, Migravent, and I’m itching to pop the bottle open. The frustration at the lack of pain relief is immense, but I’m trying to stick to our plan.

Of course, the timing of course couldn’t be worse. Semester is ending and I’ll need to request and extension for the online course. I just won’t finish. Kinda hard to write an essay and take tests when you can’t read the materials or stare at a computer screen for more than a few minutes at a time. The other class is a disaster of a different sort, and I’ll finish on time with our “final exam” on Thursday.

Let’s not forget Christmas. The boys arrive on Friday night, and I can’t wait to see them again. It’s been three months since I’ve seen Naughty Bear and four and a half months since I’ve seen L.T. Their visit is the bright star in my night sky.

We’ve finally started with Christmas decorations. The tree is up and the lights will go on today, but the ornaments will wait until Saturday when we’ll do them as a family. The other indoor stuff will be done today as well, hopefully.

If not for Amazon, I’d have no Christmas presents. It’s entirely likely that few local businesses will receive our consumer dollars and that Amazon will again reap the benefits of my inability to run around the crush of holiday shoppers. This bums me out as I see my little town struggling in the current financial climate, but I don’t really have many alternatives.

I’m thrilled that the boys will be here in a week, but am more than a little overwhelmed at what is on my to-do list. I’m trying not to stress and just relax and revel in the time with them, but old habits die hard and I want to make the holidays magical for them. At this point, it’ll feel magical if I can squeak multiple days out with a clear head.

Bring it on, holidays.