Friday, September 25, 2009

Synchronicity, Gratitude and Beyond

I do believe in synchronicity. In fate. In higher powers. I have seen this poster in Life Alive, a local restaurant. Not only did it make me fall in love with the restaurant even more, but I put this on my list of things to search out. Literally, I took pen and jotted down, "find "How to Build a Community Poster." That notation, along with "get more kitty litter", "call the bank", and "kill viruses on Mike's computer" sat quiet, waiting for action until this morning.

OK, I have not jogged out to my nearest poster store, and I have not ordered it online (yet?) But I have not let the timing of recent events slip by unnoticed - I rejoice in what God is putting in front of me.

Last night Dave and I attended the presentation of Rachel's Challenge at the high school. The program was led by a young man named Luke from Denver, CO. He is a good friend of Craig Scott, who was nearly killed at the Columbine shooting. Craig's sister was Rachel Scott, the very first victim on that horrible day. He also lost two good friends at the hands of the killers.

You can check the site for the particulars, and please do, but the main point of the project is to spread kindness. Young Rachel was a strong believer in reaching out to others, to show that no one needs to be alone, and that it's easier to spread kindness than hate.

This was an overwhelming experience, even with Tom's previews. He had attended the same assembly yesterday, and was not only tremendously impressed with the presentation, he was impressed by his fellow students. "Mom, everyone was SO...quiet."

There are other things coming to my attention that involve the concepts of charity, altruism, kindness, is not just a coincidence.

Speaking of gratitude, one of the cool things that I'm referring to is the site, The Whole 9. I read many great essays on the site, and there was one piece, a write up about the photographer Sebastiao Salgado. The author included one of Salgado's image, a heartbreaking, but beautiful image of a naked boy. A starved naked boy. This boy was standing next to a tree that was as naked and stark as he was. It was done in B&W, and it looked almost like it was set in snow, the sand was that white.

The comments following contained the word gratitude, many were immediately so thankful as they were reminded of their own blessings. That's important.

But what kept haunting me was this thought...

"It can't stop at gratitude."

Thursday, September 03, 2009


Those dreaded "Dog Days of Summer" have finally departed, leaving us with the some truly gorgeous weather.

As the thick humidity clears from the air , I find that my mind functions a little bit better. Now this is not a out and out guarantee of brilliance, functionality,or organization on my part, but it sure does feel good.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

New Beginnings, New Name?

Love this time of year. Although the calendar shows time is beginning its final descent into the realm of End of Year Clean-up, for me - and maybe because I still have school age children - it feels like a new beginning.

And here's my proposal. I want to change the name of this Blog. I have not liked the name for years now, but was hesitant to change. So maybe all you fine readers can help suggest a new name. Maybe I should hold a contest, and do this reality show style with creating teams and stirring up egos.

No, forget the ego stuff, but you may work in groups. : ) Discuss.

Monday, August 31, 2009

What Does it Feel Like?

(Note- Previously published at Blogcritics Magazine on September 28, 2009)

Or translated: How are you doing? How are you coping?

Of course, we must begin with the neurotic disclaimer - coming from the part of me that must fend off criticism or doubt before it surfaces - is that Tom's story is not my first visit to hell. No exaggerations, but I've been in the shit before.

And so, what does it feel like? How do I manage this whole illness thing?

Mostly not very well, or so it seems.

I walk through the kitchen, fairly numb to the impossible to clean floor, which looks every bit as impossible, grit trapped in relentless pockmarks that make a once white surface a collection of dingy stains. But what really catches my attention is the sight of the full pill cup.

Not just full, but seemingly abandoned. This means meds not taken on schedule and this observation reaches up and smacks me across the head, hard, with the dire message that I'm perhaps not a very good mother. And inside I think, "see, you shouldn't have spent so much time with your email, or you would have been on top of this." Even if the previous 40 minute email session was a chance for me to vent, rant, cry, and even laugh with some good souls, the pure organic goodness of that unburdening is trampled on, muddied with my own constant guilt of not measuring up.

That's one thing.

Another thing is exhaustion. Physical, mental, emotional. Nothing that parents - OK, humans - don't typically deal with anyway, but this is still unexpected. Especially the end of the day collapse, I feel like I'm the mother of very little babies all over again. When the meal is done, the dishes are cleared, all I want to do is melt into the television or a good book - and then I remember. I have to get the night pills ready. Or I have to prepare the tube feed. And really, it's not all on me to do this. D is very capable and is usually ready to do what needs to be done on top of his own crazy exhaustion. But that's not the point.

The point is - those extra steps - they suck. We shouldn't have to deal with pills, weekly blood draws, infusion bags, tube flushes, stool checks. We shouldn't have to refinance the house because money suddenly got so tight, we shouldn't have to run around collecting signatures, and forms, forms, forms, forms to apply for additional insurance.

We shouldn't have weeks piled with clinic visits in Boston, nurse visits to the house, social worker visits, clergy visits, Make-A-Wish visits. Make-A-Wish? Isn't that for real sick kids? Kids who might die? Indeed, it is.

And the worst really is that whole "might die" scenario.

All parents go through this, from the time they tip-toed out of the nursery, to the time they tossed over the car keys, to the time that their very precious child said, "Mom? I've enlisted", parents hold collective breaths all over the world, willing that nothing wicked this way will come. Never, ever. They chant the universal pleaseDearGodkeepthemsafe prayer until their rosaries and prayer beads are worn smooth from anguish and hope.

Tom could have died last February when he had the esophageal bleed. He could have died this June when his kidneys failed. He could have died each time he had a simple endoscopy, in fact one simple procedure resulted in an unexpected overnight stay, because his lungs weren't responding well during recovery. And he could have died during the seven hour surgery he had in 2007.

So, naturally, of course, this brings us up to the big T. The transplant. The waiting. The uncertainty. Tom does appreciate on the surface how significant his "listing" is. He knows in theory that the surgery will help his life dramatically. But he's remarked, "Everyone keeps congratulating me - but they don't have to go through it."

And so next week Tom starts his freshman year at Dracut High, he'll have to "go through" this new school year complete with ninth grade anxieties and an NG tube taped to his cheek.

And how am I doing? I'm a mess like any other parent, yet I'm damn proud of that kid.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

What Gives Hope

(Published first on - the Personal News Network)

Note: I started writing this back in March - and finally find time and inspiration to finish.

I was at the doctor's office yesterday, it's a family practice so the patients come in all age groups, young and old, male and female. I was there for some funky female issues, nothing horribly upsetting, but still somewhat concerning. So, before actually being seen, I was OK, but feeling a bit apprehensive. And in walks this tiny little girl with her mother. The wee thing had to have been not much more than two years old, if that. (Rather like Cindy-Lou-Who, who was No Bigger Than Two - just as cute, if not cuter). She had this adorable little poncho and an adorable little purse. And her poncho hood was still on, which gave her a sort of Kewpie-esque /Snow Babies appearance.

While her mother checked in at the window, young "Cindy-Lou" toddled over to near where I was sitting, attracted to a toy house. " 'ouse, 'ouse", she said. I smiled and confirmed, "house!" Then, too soon, I was called in for my appointment.

My own appointment went smoothly enough, but even knowing my issues were most likely going to be OK, it was still nerve-wracking to be setting up further appointments for an ultrasound and then a biopsy. Once those dates were set I was ready to leave. And out comes little "Cindy-Lou", still no bigger than two, but even cuter than before. She sported a smile that was killer. And the energy between her and her mother was tangible and lovely.

And if you know me at all, you know our family's story - how the Young Prince has been battling liver disease, but at this very moment was healthy and in school (for a nice change). You also know that the Crown Prince was dealing with a new diagnosis of diabetes. In fact, at that very moment he was with his dad at the Joslin Clinic in Boston, having been called in on a somewhat urgent basis, based on the blood numbers that his doctor had sent them.

So our lives had been shaken, our family momentum had been thrown quite off course, and I was trying to be calm about every bit of it. And if you know me - am I ever calm, really? So, it was an effort.

But this little girl, this tiny sweetie carried a wave of pure goodness with her, it was hard to feel anything but happy in her presence. I imagine even still following her and her mom around, not just to observe, but to maybe absorb the good juju that she was blessed with. Little "Cindy-Lou" gave me a boost that stays with me even now.

Fast forward to June 9. Tom has been sick. He was sick in May with a GI thing (in the hospital for three days) He never really felt very well once he was discharged, he still had odd symptoms that brought us back to his pediatrician the very next day. Within a week he developed a cholangitis infection, and directly on the heels of that news, a cellulitis infection in his foot. Eventually the two antibiotics did their work, and he felt a little better.

Better, but not fantastic. His liver docs stressed that he needed to eat better, he'd lost maybe ten pounds in just a short time, so we struggled with that during the end of May. But he just kept feeling worse, and by early June he was eating even less. And on the 9th we were on our way to Boston, knowing he was probably going to be admitted for fluids and testing, and perhaps insertion of a feeding tube.

We were driving through Boston, I think just merging onto Brookline Avenue, when I saw this small gaggle of school children on an outing with their teachers. It was a rainy drizzly day, and the kids were all wearing the most damn adorable rain gear. Boys and girls alike, they were like little water-repellent jewels splashing their way through the afternoon. Polka-dot boots, striped slickers, brilliant little backpacks; the sight of them made me yearn for my old camera, and my old life when I used to take lots and lots of photos of scenes like this.

The reality is though, that those kids - just like little "Cindy" - have stayed with me. Seeing the utter naked joy that floated over these bright souls like little auras of hope was a kind of a tonic. A mini-salvation in the midst of real worry.

We perhaps laugh in our jaded adult ways, at the innocence of children. Not out of meanness, but sadness that we lost our innocence, and dearly wish for it back. But behind the laughter, we have hope. Hope that these sweet precious babies never lose that natural buoyancy of curiosity, laughter, and love. Hope that their goodness will rub off on us. Hope that somehow, life will get better, and even in the midst of the nastiest of nasty days, there are still good and sweet things in our lives that must be recognized for what they are.

Little blossoms of hope.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Making My Wish

A few weeks ago we learned that Tom was going to be eligible for a wish from the Mass. chapter of the Make-a-Wish foundation. He has not formulated his wish yet, but he's meeting with his "Wish Team" next week, and I imagine it should be interesting.

And the whole fantasy granting process has always been something folks indulge in - as a day-dreaming exercise. If you won the lottery, what would you do with the winnings? If you had a Fairy Godmother, what would you have her provide? When I was a kid we used to just riff on the "how would you spend a night if locked in the Burlington Mall?" theme. (Who knew that Kevin James aka Paul Blart would be able to answer that one?)

As Tom's illness has progressed, many family members and friends have offered help. Much of the time I appreciated the offers, but didn't know what to ask for. Clueless! I'm not crazy about other people interacting with my laundry, and it seems silly to ask someone to remind us to get the oil changed in our vehicles. But it does open up the fantasy floodgates.

I'd like a personal secretary/assistant. Not only to remind us to get the oil changed, maybe to take the vehicles themselves to our mechanics and get it done (and it's a fantasy, so the assistant can pay for it too). I'd also like a pedicure. The beautician/manicurist shouldn't mind a little nail fungus, I'm hoping. Ideally the assistant would have already driven me to my podiatrist to renew the scrip for the fungal stuff that I should have taken care of a year ago.

Personal Trainer...yeah, that's the ticket. I have not been to karate since late May or early June, because of Tom being in the hospital, or us being on vacation, or just being overwhelmed with life and forgetting how to put one foot in front of the other. Fat rolls have given birth to new rolls. Ugh. But with my desire to work out comes the fact that I can't right now, due to the funky bizarre knife wound. I'd love for the trainer to also be a cook and nutritionist. I'd reallllly love for someone to recreate the goodness that is "The Swami", a brown rice vegan affair that is at the top of my list as my go-to take out food.

Now back to that assistant. Maybe he or she is fully magical like Mary Poppins, or maybe they have that snarky sensibility that comes with the head wag and the "Oh no girl-friend, you are NOT wearing that outfit in public" type shtick, but either way - being financially savvy would be a real plus. The paperwork is a pain. Seriously.

Oh, and they need to re-order the enteral feeding supplies for Tom too. Make it snappy!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Notes to Self - Under Glass

It sounds a bit maudlin, but I can identify with Sylvia Plath somewhat. I never see it descending, but at some point I realized that the bell jar is already covering my existence, creating a distorting view of the outside world. My experience of life is skewed, voices are muted through the thick, bubbled glass of situational depression.

One event that hovers outside the jar is an upcoming vacation. We're just going to the trailer on the Cape, so no airline weirdness or strange climates to consider or worry about. But still, clothes need to be washed, other details need to be attended to, and we have a whole bunch of new items to bring this time, with all of Tom's tube feeding paraphernalia. And there is still, a great deal of paperwork to take care of in the next few weeks. But the whole idea about getting ready to go seems like something not quite within my grasp. Like maybe it's an episode on a TV show that I stumbled onto. Mildly entertaining, but no identification with my real life.

But since I know that our departure is in the short future, I'm trying in my muted, bubbled over way - to make lists of things to do. Lists upon lists, and notes to myself about what to bring and what to do before we go.

Sleep is something I need to do, because health and a cheerful attitude is something I need to bring, not only on vacation, but with me everywhere.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Tears for the peony flowers, heavy on the stems from too much rain - now muddy and trampled. If my mind was present, I would have cut them and brought them in the house. But my heart is muddy and trampled and so the flowers languished in the rain and no one but God saw the blooms.

Tears for the U.S. mail. I cry when I open a bill, I cry when I open a document that asks me for more documents in order to get the process going where we'll need no more documents. And I cry when I open a card for Tom and feel the love rising from the goofy cartoons and sweet sentiments.

Damn laundry. Enough said.

Tears for the immeasurable kindness of the staff from Lakeview Jr. High. They made difficult things a little bit easier.

Tears for the words not spoken, the thoughts not expressed, and the stories not told.

I ache from the silence, I drown in the tears shed, I choke on the tears inside still.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Midnight Rambler

Well after Midnight actually.

I have not had this insomnia thing in a long time. So that's something to be thankful for.

But here it is, caused or accompanied by a dull ache in the gut. That will sort itself out come morning I expect. Morning and a cup of coffee.

But for the rest? What will sort out the worries? Worries about money, worries about Tom, worries about Mike. Even silly worries about moi! The surface health issues seem fine. Yay. But I had one of those horrible daydream musings about --- what if -- what if I was suddenly struck by a deadly staph infection and succumbed. (and we can substitute struck by a renegade truck or renegade meteor)

That would be most inconvenient. Just entirely horribly bad timing. I picture a dead me, sort of floating above myself, not unlike Patrick Swayze in Ghost, floating and full of anguish. It's never a good time really, to die. But if it were to happen right now...well I just couldn't bear it.

I see myself floating above Dave - trying to comfort and guide him to the right medical websites, pushing Tommy's health folder under his nose...screaming.."look here! Here are all the meds, the phone numbers, the notes, the scribbles, the authorizations."

Then I would try to help Tom get through whatever he needs to deal with, but in such a mournful way. Too soon, too soon. If ever there was a time to bargain with death - this would be it.

It's such a needful thing - the desire to do whatever you can do to help your child - and if you were suddenly robbed of that ability - it's beyond frustrating, it's pure torture. Really.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Perfect Mother's Day

I'd had the perfect Mother's Day planned. Well scratch that, I never have anything really, fully planned. I have wisps of ideas and with luck and work they turn out into something tangible that sometimes doesn't suck.

And so there were some wisps and daydreams about what would constitute the perfect "day off" for me.

Sleep late, but not too late. Wake up and wander downstairs to find freshly made hot coffee and a breakfast pastry of some sort. Like a low fat corn muffin and... and some fresh fruit...yeah, that's the ticket. (Amend dream fragment to include taking thyroid pill an hour before waking up for coffee and muffin) Enjoy muffin and fruit and coffee. (Amend further to include natural morning activities that leave one feeling more...relaxed, and ready to enjoy food)

And important note - all this is done so far in solitude. The family is off in another room, playing video games or doing homework or whatever - just leaving me time to wake up without queries as to my health, or my willingness to do laundry or drive someone somewhere -- NOTHING. Just solitude and maybe some quiet jazz streaming discreetly from the dining room speakers.

And the windows are open, and with no neighbors are awake, the only sounds that the light breeze carries in are bird calls. And during this hour or so of quiet time, I'd read the paper, listen to the news on the radio, and check email. OK maybe just a little Facebook too.

The thing is, I do get these quiet mornings several times a week, time where I don't have to answer to anyone. I don't have to get dressed and go to work and worry about being late. I don't have to take someone to a bus stop or to daycare. Well, I haven't had to get a child off to school in two years, unless you count bringing The Crown Prince to some college classes. And I don't have to worry about getting to work on time - I just have to make sure that I turn the heat on in this room, and that the coffee is made. And I certainly don't have to worry about what I wear to work.

But even though these mornings are not necessarily rare, they still feel precious. And what else would I include this in my perfect, precious fantasy day? Probably a chance to sit outside in the sun, either reading or talking with whomever would want to join me. See, that's what would make this the optimum day - sacred time alone, and then sacred time with the family. And of course the family would be in the most sunshiny of moods, no arguments, no homework questions, and no illness.

Does that mean that the perfect Mother's Day would have no "Mothering" involved? Really, isn't that what the commercial fantasy is? Mom is taken to brunch, to lunch, to the theater - she's shoo'ed away from the kitchen, pointed in the direction of the chaise lounge in the pest-free garden, and she's a goddess for a while.

And that's a great image. And it's not always a fantasy. But to try to make it happen on Mother's Day, is not easy. Not when we planned to have in-laws over in the afternoon - there's the hustle and bustle of bathroom cleaning and straightening up - one can't really call the day their own when one needs to play hostess. And not when there's illness in the family.

Years ago, maybe 10 or 12, one of my boys, I think it was The Crown Prince, had a stomach bug. I have a memory of him running to the bathroom to vomit, and in his urgency, he forgot to lift the toilet top. So, you can imagine the aftermath of cleaning up a projectile mess that was intended to go into a vessel, that instead spewed with force on top of a flat surface and then sprayed out in many directions.

You're absolutely right, it was a disgusting mess. And as I remember, it was the Friday before Mother's Day weekend. I remember saying to myself with bitterness mixed with a little humor - "Happy Mother's Day to me." It wasn't my first bathroom mess and certainly not my last, but the irony of the calendar did not escape me.

And that irony was again present during this weekend.

My Tom, AKA The Young Prince, the boy with the sickness, the boy with the liver disease, the boy who is more fragile than we realized, and the boy who has surprising stores of strength, of spirit, and of love - caught a stomach bug.

He came home from school on Thursday, exhausted and complained of a mild stomach ache. He managed to eat a bit here and there, and although he stayed home on Friday, he seemed to feel a little better by late morning. He took a walk with his brother and when he came home he was wiped out again. By Friday evening he was vomiting and had diarrhea.

It continued during the evening and on Saturday morning I was calling for the GI folks in Boston. I spoke a few times that day with the on-call doc, and we decided that by Saturday afternoon he was on the mend. Fever was gone, vomiting was gone, he was asking for food. It was encouraging. Then Saturday night he was back to vomiting again, and by Sunday morning he was very miserable and asking to go to the hospital.

We took him to a local ER, and they found he was quite dehydrated. After a couple liters of fluids, he wasn't responding as well as they'd hoped, plus they found blood in his urine. They transferred him to Boston, and he was ultimately admitted for more tests and observation. The next couple of days were a jumble of worries - tests for this, tests for that, everyone had to gown-up before coming in his room, it was not horribly scary, but rather a drawn-out event of recovery tempered with many questions.

He's home now, slowly recovering, and the rest of us are trying to recover too. Some Mother's Day weekend, huh?

Yes...some Mother's Day weekend. I did what other moms - and dads - do all the time, take care of someone without thinking of thanks, without noticing the calendar. You just do it because you love that person so much that to do otherwise is not an option.

But yet my Young Prince surprised me. While we were still in the Lowell emergency room, while Tom was still nauseous and nervous - he turned to me and said..."Mom -- Happy Mother's Day -- I'm sorry I didn't say it earlier."

It really was kind of perfect.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Own Real

This poem by John Boyle O'Reilly has been in my head recently, although the original meaning, about appreciating kindness and generosity of spirit is something I highly, highly value - the poem sparks an internal quest for my own Real.

First, the poem:

"What is the real good?"
I ask in a musing mood.

"Order," said the law court;
"Knowledge," said the school;
"Truth," said the wise man;
"Pleasure," said the fool;
"Love," said the maiden;
"Beauty," said the page;
"Freedom," said the dreamer;
"Home," said the sage;
"Fame," said the soldier;
"Equity," said the seer.
Spake my heart fully sad:
"The answer is not here."

Then within my bosom,
Softly this I heard:
"Each heart holds the secret:
'Kindness' is the word."

So, O'Reilly and I are seeking truths. What is my Real Good? What is my Real Purpose? What is my Real Truth? I won't add any more quotations, but words from another group of Irishmen are tempting to recall here - the lyrics of U2's "I Still Haven't Found what I'm Looking For"

Besides trying (and more often then not feeling like I'm failing) to be the best parent I can, what is my purpose?

I've got a pretty strong inkling that writing is a part of it. Writing to entertain, communicate, or educate, what is my real strength? Is the world best served by reading my take on all things 24 related? If so, then that is cool. That is not a bad gig at all. But I feel there's more that I can do, I feel that there's more that's expected of me, or maybe needed from me.

And oddly, I feel that my Real Good, my Real Truth relates to what O'Reilly summarized as being important in not just his life, but all our lives - kindness. That's a worthy message to pass on as often as possible.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Dark

During the day, especially if it was a gray rainy day like today, I like to have as many lights on in the house as possible. I'm not afraid of the dark, but I need to have the lights on for other reasons. It's just a comfort, a healing thing during that winter-time light deprivation situation. And a sunny day, like yesterday is even better.

But at night, I enjoy the dark. It allows me to just be still and quiet. It allows me to appreciate the contrasting flicker of candlelight that combines with the rhythmic rain drops outside to create a meditative space in my head.

And the dark usually means that everyone else is asleep, and I can absorb and process everything that happened during the day, or during my life, whichever needs processing the most right then.

This has been a tough week. And I don't see a respite coming yet. Only what I can create myself, only what I can forcefully hold onto, or just snatch away from the powers that deny me peace of mind.

But first, I have to step into the Dark. I have to write down the worry and the worry and the worry. I have to accept the fact that there might be a seventh daily med added to the list for The Young Prince. I have to convince myself that this stupid lingering cough is just a stupid lingering cough. Sure enough the stethoscope proved clear lungs and no crackling or wheezing. But the fatigue. The lowered hemoglobin, the lowered crit, the lowered albumen. Nothing horrible, but a little lower than last time. Enough to prompt phone calls and faxes between doctor's offices.

I didnt' want this life. This ain't no fucking trip to Holland, it sure ain't fucking Italy - tell me where is this place? This world of trying to keep all the pills straight, this one has to be taken two hours after a meal, this one is only in the morning, this one is only at night, and not a full pill, not a half pill, but 3/4 of a pill. Not easy to cut up a tiny pill without turning half of it into dust. It can be done though. And cut down on the caffeine, doesn't mix well with a beta blocker. And doing the paper route, later and later every day. Hoping that the Young Prince will feel up to it this time. And he's not. Not this day.

And when we try to think ahead, to plan a vacation maybe, for the first time we realize that maybe we better not plan too far ahead. I don't want to be this fatalistic. I DON'T WANT TO BE DEBBIE DOWNER.

But the reality is that we have no fucking clue how to proceed. Oh, sure we operate on the premise that the liver function is OK. Not fantastic, but workable. There was weight gain, energy, sparkle. But slowly the jaundice showed up in early winter, again. Then the bleed in February. The ER. The two unsucessful attempts at NG intubation - and finally the third time worked. Banding procedure, ICU bed, transfusion, and another ultrasound. Then another banding procedure in March, adjusting the drugs to a tolerable level but not after losing another week of school. A bone density scan. Easy peasy, but still - one more test.

Then more sparkle, paper route on schedule, mall time with friends, homework, family... And then a cold that just won't quit. Fatigue...again.

And really, how can I handle the Crown Prince? I don't know how to even get my head around this one. OK, we got a grip on diabetes, meter, strips, lancets, Metformin - but, but...the Crown Prince does not take change very well at all. He knows that these changes are imperative. He understands it all on paper, I think. But the truth is that there cannot be a casual relationship with soda any longer. Either it's diet or it's out. There cannot be ice cream runs - just cuz. And your friends are probably not going to be very impressed by your news and just might want to eat those chips and slurp that soda in your face. And this stuff has to change very soon or there'll be a daily injection.

It's exhausting, is what it is.

So tonight I did carve out that little respite, the oaisis of Just Me and Tom watching a movie together because he didn't feel well enough to see South Pacific at the High School. I lit a bunch of candles and we had the dark, but we had the light too.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Boys and My Boys: In the House

I wrote a blurb for tonight's My Boys season three opener here. But now I can talk about what I really thought. I can release how it was gratifying and sweet to see PJ come out of left field and open up to Bobby. And then the kiss! Here's the thing though, I'm no body language expert, but there was too much distance between them. They sounded convincing if you just saw their faces, heard their words, looked into their was a nice moment. But panning out, they lost me a little. Over all it was a great episode. Stephanie still regrets her fling with Kenny. The boys and the mustaches were funny, and King Baby Jim Gaffigan's Andy and wife Meredith just had their second baby, little Oliver. So it's off to a good start.

And then there's my boys. They've been going through stuff, draining and all that. I've been seeing way more of the inside of doctor's offices than I'd like. But what are ya gonna do. And on a side note, watching House last night with Tom was pretty interesting, Kutner (I think?) was trying to follow the clues from a paralyzed Mos Def. Figured out that the patient's foot was itchy. And then House says (paraphrasing), "itchy feet is a sign of liver failure". Tom and I stared at each other. Weird that we actually understood what they were talking about 'sclerosing cholangitis' and the like.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Old Idea, New Words

It's amazing, really, how many different ways there are to promise a man (or woman) of making a better, thicker, stronger schlong. Or the promise of more wild times in the bedroom, "make her shriek with pleasure", that sort of thing.

As you might have guessed, I was cleaning the spam lint out of my filter. That's really all spam is - just fuzzy harmless emails that - if not cleaned - tend to gum things up.

And I never realized, apparently there is a huge market for fake watches. How freakin' silly. Kind of dumb enough to go the fake purse route - why do people have to worry that much about impressing someone with a fake watch?

Does it tell fake time?

"It's time to tell yourself how damn beautiful you are."

"It's time to uncork another bottle of champagne to celebrate YOU."

"It's time to go make someone shriek with pleasure!"


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Love and Loss

I read something today that was sublime. The most rational yet dreamy treatise on love and loss and acceptance - by horror author Dean Koontz.

From Odd Hours:

"Grief can destroy you - or focus you. You can decide a relationship was all for nothing if it had to end in death, and you alone. Or you can realize that every moment of it had more meaning that you dared to recognize at the time, so much meaning it scared you, and you just lived, just took for granted the love and laughter of each day, and didn't allow yourself to consider the sacredness of it. But when it's over, and you're alone, you begin to see it wasn't just a movie and a dinner together, not just watching sunsets together, not just scrubbing a floor or worrying over a high electric bill. It was everything, it was the why of life, every event and precious moment of it. The answer to the mystery of existence is the love you shared sometimes so imperfectly, and when the loss wakes you to the deeper beauty of it, to the sanctity of it, you can't get off your knees for a long time, you're driven to your knees not by the weight of the loss but by gratitude for what preceded the loss. And the ache is always there, but one day not the emptiness, because to nurture the emptiness, to take solace in it, is to disrespect the gift of life."

An Exercise in Navel Gazing - My "Wordls"

Wordle: An Exercise in Navel-Gazing

Click on the image and you'll be connected to the original site (easier to see)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Speed of Thought

I used to go to libraries pretty frequently. Some of the time the motives were purely social, but I also used the resources there for lots of school work.

Then I used to work in one. A library, that is. It was a bit heady to have all those resources, the reference listings, the microfilm, the Mil-Specs, and all the ACM and IEEE goodness any person with an IQ of 155 could possibly want, all that...information really, really close by. You want the GNP of Algeria? CIA World Fact Book is ready with your info. How about the President's secretary's phone number? Exectutive Yellow Book -- here ya go. The ABCs and 123s of a Russian SCUD missle? Please - step this way.

Those were the easy requests. The harder ones sometimes involved me leaving the comfort of my carpeted cubicle (when I wasn't taking my shift at the Reference Desk), and hoofing it to Kendall Square, Cambridge - to one of MIT's fine libraries. Granted that only happened a few times, and no - I didn't actually "hoof" it. I drove to the subway station and then rode the line to Cambridge. But still, a bit of an unwieldy way to retrieve documents. And as you might have guessed, I worked in a tech library. No story time or quilter's corner here.

This was about 15 years ago, maybe more.

In a way, what I saw, what I dealt with, was cutting edge. Back then, the average consumer did not have or even understand what HDTV was, nor GPS, nor PDA. But these were terms I saw pretty frequently in the research that I pulled together for our staff of scientists and engineers. Much of the jargon and the nuts and bolts technologywas over my head. I didn't know an array from an alogorithm. (well OK I kinda did), but I understood the basic concepts of what HD and the rest meant.

So like, that's all cool and stuff. Right?

But our methods of getting the info, though sophisticated for our time, in retrospect seems so - so --


Yes, slow, that's the word.

Today, anyone with a computer and a decent connection can get nearly the same information all by themselves - if they know were to look. Of course, tons of erroneous stuff comes up as well, it takes a seasoned surfer to discern the difference. Yeah, like I'm all that.

My mother would have loved this stuff.

Fringe Thoughts

I've been watching this show nearly every week, and you know's pretty damn good. I'm glad I don't blog on it regularly. I'd get too lost, too caught up in the mythology. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I just think I could get lost in it, and I don't have time for lost!

(Incidentally - I don't have time for Lost either - which is why I made the conscious decision not to follow the show at all - no offense ABC - I'm sure I'd love it to pieces like the rest of my fellow sheeples!)

Anyway, Fringe is really something. Starting with Joshua Jackson who plays Peter Bishop. Good for him! Really, good for Pacey of Capeside. Kudos to some nice acting.

OK back in the day - when Jackson's and James Van Der Beek's mugs appeared on the screen every time - IMO they were spouting some sophisticated dialog for some dudes who were supposed to be only...what...16? Or 18? Or however they aged in Dawson's Creek. Same thing for Katie Holmes' Joey. They all looked adorable and full of earnest conviction, but really were/are kids that - darn motivated and bright?

But back to Jackson as Peter Bishop. I had my doubts but he does just fine.

John Noble, who plays his dad Walter, looks like he's have a blast. Even though his character is a bit of a whack job, and has some serious baggage, it seems to be a much more lighthearted role than that of Lord Denethor in LOTR - The Return of the King. Please - the dude set himself on fire. Not very happy and shiny there. And his role as Anatoly Markov from Day Six of 24 was memorable because Jack Bauer snipped off one of his fingers for being a nasty man, so that was sort of a drag, eh?

Anna Torv, who plays Agent Olivia Dunham is very lovely to look at, she has the kind of face like Cate Blanchett - who is more beautiful than pretty. Torv's acting pedigree is not as full as some of the others, and I'm not sure yet about her pure acting talents, but she seems to suit the role anyhow.

Any other fans?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Notes to the Universe

Or at least to my closest Internet Neighbors.

Step right up! Be the First to comment!

1. What is a Ponzi Scheme? No. Don't tell me - I KNOW that Madoff did it. But what the blue blazes is that? Money laundering through mall pizzerias? Fonzi's evil twin who wore Kevlar and an attitude? I Googled a little, and finding nothing, I grew bored and listless and move along to a Michelle OBama fashion gallery. Hey, she looks good, they all look good. Reminds me of Jack and Jackie, Caroline and John-John. Here's hoping they all live long healthy lives - but I digress.

2. SAGs - who saw 'em? (A separate post being worked up currently)

3. Most Bizarre Spit-take. Corinne would have loved it. Well, actually perhaps been grossed out - unless I was on stage taste-testing Kick-A-Poo Joy Juice.

- took a nice hot sip of coffee, got a tickle in my throat and convulsively coughed out a spray of Folger's (mixed with a little Newman's Own) not only ALL over my laptop, but reached about five feet beyond me, seriously. Caffiene dew-drops all over our year and a half old sofa, some paperwork sitting on the half-wall (The Young Prince will notice this - it was his school work). Ew. But funny.

4. The Colonoscopy. No need to really elaborate, that much. But if I were a writer - Oh Lordy, look at that, I am a writer - I'd devote a separate post to that. There was a lot of comedy gold there. And no polyps this time (and I thank God for that). So, this was the Happy Birthday procedure, and a follow up from the first time.

5. OK, all of these deserve separate posts. And THE FlOOD, that's another saga in the max-series that is my life.

Here's a brief look:
Ice Storm in December. Subpump failed because generator failed. Finished off sports bar basement with two inches of standing water. Ironically, (besides the XBox, which Tom was quick to save and the TV/Stereo thingies that I was quick to save) the only things really kept high and dry were the unwanted but un-sold household items/toys/books/crap that we tried to unload at our failure of a yard sale. (good stuff cheap but bad timing). Those treasures have been sitting on top of the air hockey table and foosball tables - safe as you please.

Fuck, right?

Notes on the 15 Annual SAG AWARDS

I did not watch the show from the very start, and probably missed the first award or so. But I watched the rest, as I do love these award shows.

And before continuing, I know that award shows in general are often denigrated as fixed, boring, or not a true representation of talent. And that's fine, to me part of the appeal is when you get these glimpses inside the star of the moment, unscripted joy or disbelief, admiration, and the odd flash of jealousy now and then. And I'm a sucker for the glamor and fashion too.

Just a few reactions to last night's two hours of honors:

As Kate Winslet won for Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role for The Reader, she made a touching and most gracious speech. Golly I'd forgotten what she said but it was sweet and humbling.

Hugh Laurie, winning for his work in House, was the anti-House, yet was full of snarky (albeit lighthearted) quips as he accepted his Actor award.

For the second time this season, Heath Ledger won posthumous honors in the supporting role of The Dark Knight's Joker. (He has also been nominated for an Academy Award). Gary Oldman accepted the award on Ledger's behalf, in a quick, restrained, but classy speech.

One of the funniest speeches was from Meryl Streep, winning for her role as a strong-willed and suspicious nun in Doubt. She admitted she didn't expect to win, she hadn't even worn a dress. Streep was utterly charming in her honesty, and expressed her deep thanks and admiration for the not only the other women in her category, but for all the female actors who have done such good work in the last year.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Nip/Tuck DVD Review: Season Five - Part One

Previously posted at Blogcritics Magazine.

Part one of Season Five shows our Drs. Troy and McNamara packing up and moving from Miami where they are big fish in a small pond to glossy Los Angeles, where they nearly down in the Pacific (figuratively speaking, of course). Since LA has nearly as many plastic surgeons as it does wannabe actors, our boys Sean and Christian wait in their new ostentatious offices…and play basketball.

There are a few minor cases, but not enough to pay the expenses of their glamorous real estate. Fortunately the boys soon meet PR big fish Fiona McNeil (the wonderful blade-free Lauren Hutton) and things turn around. She finds them consulting work on a hit TV show about plastic surgeons called “Hearts & Scalpels”, and then more opportunities present themselves. Both doctors get small speaking parts on the show and more importantly, begin to capitalize on the all important networking among Hollywood’s vainest.

Christian (Julian McMahon) is invited to pose for Playgirl, while Sean (Dylan Walsh) begins to date one of the stars from the show, Kate Tinsley (Paula Marshall – Spin City, Cupid, Californication). And the clients steadily come in for consults and surgeries. But we know that nothing on Nip/Tuck really goes as smooth and straight as the doctors’ stitches, and this first half of Season Five is filled with even more bizarre twists and turns then ever. Several fascinating guest stars are featured in these first 14 episodes include Rosie O’Donnell (who reprises her role of Dawn Budge), Oliver Platt, Portia de Rossi, Donna Mills, Sharon Gless, Jennifer Coolidge and Jai Rodriguez.

Some of the intertwining plots involve Sean (and Christian’s) estranged son Matt showing up in LA with his and Kimber’s baby Jenna. Previously the two had been involved in the Church of Scientology, and now Matt say’s he’s left the church, but not after Kimber gave all of his money to the church. Sadly it was just a ploy to get some drug money from the “two dads”, and Matt and Kimber spend it on crystal meth, and not much else.

Another arrival in LA is the radiant Julia, announcing her plans to move in with “Ollie.” Sean and Christian seem to take the news fine, until they find out that Ollie is short for Olivia (Portia de Rossi) and Julia is now a lesbian, or at least in love with one. And daughters Annie (Julia and Sean’s) and Eden (AnnaLynne McCord) are along for the fun. And Eden – it’s not enough to just classify her as a bitch, although she certainly is. It’s much more satisfying to refer to her as a heinous serpent.

What else, stalking, car-jacking, blackmailing and sex. Threesomes, twosomes, and freaky age differences. Incest, poisonings, stabbings and clawings. Pornography, drug addiction, surgery addiction and sex. Gays, Straights, and everything in-between --- yes, it sounds like a season of Nip/Tuck.

My only problem with this whole set was the actual viewing. To watch the episodes on a steady basis, say three or four in a row, can leave one a bit depressed or ill-at-ease at seeing so much off-the-wall depravity. The material was written to be viewed once a week; submersion any deeper takes its toll.


An eerily beautiful scene shows the two stylin’ docs in the California desert gazing down at the beautiful and scarred body of a fallen angel. What does it represent – is the blond figure meant to symbolize Julia? Olivia? Kimber? Or maybe the symbolism is more esoteric, perhaps the woman signifies all the sad debris of the harsh world of Hollywood. You decide.


The DVD set includes a few deleted scenes, one funny but too short set of outtakes, and a featurette called Hollywood Hedonism. It’s a 10 minute “Making Of” type offering, with supporting clips and a mildly entertaining look at the actors’ take on the new season, and what it means to the show.

My Funeral Playlist

No need to really read anything into this, but sometimes I hear these songs and think, yeah, that’d be cool to help ease me into the after-life.

I've got a couple obvious tear-jerkers, what can I say; I’m a sucker for certain songs, despite the huge commercial appeal.

Spirit in the Sky – Norman Greenbaum

Being an oldie but goodie, this song never really registered with me until I was grown up, with the family at a beach amusement park. This song was being played while we were leaving, and it struck something inside. It’s so full of joy and faith and makes me want to dance. Which, I won’t be able to do, when the time comes, actually. So, I rely on those present to dance for me.

Angel – Sarah McLachlan

I don’t know which is more heartbreaking – McLachlan’s voice full of ache and promise, or her haunting lyrics. It became a personal anthem after my father died.

The Precious Jewel – Roy Acuff.

Instrumental version by Charlie Hayden and Pat Metheny

I’d never heard of Hayden, just barely knew the name Pat Metheny. And certainly never heard of Roy Acuff. Then one day Sir Mark wrote one of his usual thoughtful Friday Morning Listen column pieces highlighting how this song came along at just the right time as he and TheWife™ were dealing with some tough family stuff. Triumph in the face of Adversity and all that is how it sits with me.

Cast Your Fate to the Wind – Vince Guaraldi (George Winston version)

Not only is the appeal of this Charlie Brown favorite ageless, the very title is liberating.

The Long Day is Over – Norah Jones

Lovely Norah comforts with her voice, inviting a warm respite.

Glasgow Love Theme – Craig Armstrong

Trust me, it’s a very pretty song.

Fix You – Cold Play

OK, so it’s a little manipulative. But to me it’s God’s ultimate promise in Eternity.

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m looking For – U2 (Live version from Rattle and Hum)

And neither have I, quite frankly. But this gospel inspired hopeful anthem by one of Ireland’s better exports makes the quest not only bearable, but downright invigorating.

Thy Word – Amy Grant

Catchy and inspiring. Good stuff.

Run Like Hell – Pink Floyd

Because the perverse part of me insists.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cinematic Goodness

Some gems to share:

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - directed by Milos Foreman, 1976.

Jack=Hollywood Gold. Sure, we all know that.

But don't forget Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched. She captured the character's manipulative, controlling, and sadistic demeanor masked with sweet-faced concern perfectly. No wonder she took home an Academy award for her work. And Danny DeVito - fantastic. And Christopher Lloyd - wow.

And then there's The Namesake - directed by Mira Nair, 2007.

I have not seen the whole movie yet, but so far it's just lovely. The cinematography pops and enhances the story of Ashima and Ashoke, who are married by arrangement in India, and move to New York City and take care of each other and their new family. The story will ultimately showcase the work of our favorite stoner, Kal Penn, but the unhurried look at his parents' love for their family and each other is a wonderful setup.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

What's in a Name

An oldie but goodie Rant o' Mine.

Corporate Naming. I hate it. I really do. I was looking at a press release earlier for Fleetwood Mac's upcoming tour. And I really can't believe my eyes. Sure there's comfort in seeing Madison Square Garden and the Nassau Coliseum listed as venues. But can you imagine telling your friends, "yeah, I'm gonna hit the Blue Cross (Rochester, NY) for some fine tunes tonight." Or how about "Hey Monster Mike, I scored two tix to the Izod (East Ruthorford, NJ) - our ears are gonna bleed for sure!"

Silly indeed.

Can corporations be so desperate for market recognition that crass over-saturation is just collateral damage, and do they hold the attitude that nostalgia for the old stadium names are for the weak and unhip?

Fuck 'em.

Well, I don't think I have the chutzpah to not mention these brands when I write some entertainment pieces. I can't follow the Denver Post's lead when they refused to use the name of Invesco Field, and instead stuck to the beloved moniker of Mile High Stadium.

Or can I?