Posts Tagged ‘Personal’

Rhymes with Cabinets

May 14, 2018

In 2010, I had arrived back in Baltimore after living in New Jersey for 9 years. I was a little at a loss for what to do with my life and I felt like I was adrift. I had worked professionally in theater for five straight years but I had lost my passion for it. I also wanted my nights and weekends back. At the time, my mother had started dating a man who is now my stepfather and, through him, I was introduced to a good friend of mine who I quickly began to call my cousin. It was suggested that I join him in working on a political campaign, something I had never really done before. In fact, I was 27 years old and I had never really voted with any regularity. However, I needed something to do and I was told that working on the campaign might lead to a job. And so I spent the entire summer of 2010 putting up 4X8 political signs and I spent the fall knocking on doors and cold calling people. It was probably one of the hardest jobs I have ever had but it taught me a lot.

As I am writing this, it is Friday, May 11, 2018. Yesterday, the candidate I worked for, Kevin Kamenetz, suddenly died of a heart attack. It was quite a shock. I know for a fact that Kevin was quite wealthy and took care of himself physically so I was surprised to hear he had been taken so suddenly. While I have not talked to him in eight years, his name has never escaped my mind and it never will. I used to put up gigantic 4X8 signs with his name emblazoned on them, I wore a shirt with his name on it, and I said his name so often that it became second nature. I will also remember his name because of the friendships that formed in the trenches of that campaign that I value to this day. Finally, I will remember his name because Kevin made sure that people remembered him by being an impressive politician.

More than impressive, I saw Kevin as a force of nature. I was rarely at campaign headquarters because I was often out on the road but when I know that Kevin was also rarely there. He was the leader of the Baltimore County Council but he was also always out campaigning. He was shaking hands, making appearances, and attending meetings all while sincerely working for the people of Baltimore County. I had very few run-ins with him while all of this was happening (at least not until late in the campaign) but every single one was memorable. I attended a meeting as his assistant once and I got to witness him talk. He must have been a great attorney before politics because he spoke with conviction and passion and he was impossible to ignore. As we drove to and from the event, we talked one on one and he made me feel like he was listening to what I had to say.

Obviously, I was not the only person impressed with Kevin. He gained a huge following and, in the last few days, plenty of people have had kind words for him. Even people I thought of as his enemies, like Larry Hogan, had great things to say about him. The thing that I always pointed to when asked during the campaign was the thing that I continued to be impressed by in his career. He was a champion of schools and education which was why he was originally endorsed by the teacher’s union. He was involved in trying to make sure that all Baltimore County schools had air conditioning so that we did not have to choose between baking our children or sending them home early in the early and late parts of the school year. As somebody who spent a lot of time sweating in 100-degree weather for his benefit, I appreciated the focus on good air conditioning.

It took me a while to sort through and figure out what Kevin had given me. At the end of the campaign, he did give me a chance for a job. In the end, it was not something I was passionate about and I should have used it as a stepping stone instead of a missed opportunity. Beyond that educational experience, working for Kevin taught me a bit about the inner workings of politics as I talked shop with the people around me. I started to read the news more and pay attention to the world around me. I really started to decide what kind of person I was going to be when it came to my politics. In the end, the person I became did not agree all the time with Kevin’s policies. However, it was clear that he and the people who worked for him were dedicated to serving the community as best they could. If he had lived, I definitely would have considered voting for him for governor (especially against Hogan).

I am proud to say that I worked for Kevin Kamenetz. He was not always the easiest person to work for because whatever you accomplished he always demanded more. While this was frustrating at the time, maybe it was way more positive than it first appeared. Always striving to do better is how you succeed in life and in my last few jobs, it has been a personal goal of mine. In the end, Maryland has suffered a loss and it will take a while for the political system to recover. My heart goes out to his family and friends who must be way more devastated than I am.

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Poetry

April 18, 2018

I used to write a lot of poetry. Part of that was that I thought I was really deep and literary and poetry sounded like somebody smart would do. For the record it actually is but I was a teenager who was definitely trying too hard. The other reason I wrote poetry was because of my school’s literary publication called the Mock Turtle. The Mock Turtle was, of course, named after the character in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It was also a class where our English teacher (Helen  Underwood, I think) taught us how to write poetry. We also read a lot of some of the best poems in history. For the record, my poems were never celebrated (except the bad poetry slam I once won).

However, a lot of the friends I hang out with most are scientists. They either studied science or work in the field in some way. I was never a scientist. While I respect science immensely, my two careers have been mostly dealing with the power of words. The word that my friends use is ‘poet’ and so I sometimes refer to myself as a poet. It actually reminds me of Patton Oswalt describing a college course he once took called Physics for Poets which was an easy Physics 101 course designed for humanities and art students. That is what I am. I study the law and I write, those are the two main things that I do. I am a poet, I guess.

None of this is to denigrate scientists. I love science and my scientist friends even when they are overthinking water filtration or child development in a tabletop gaming session. Science is how we track and examine our world on a physical level. “Poetry” is how we examine and govern the world based on its meaning to us. Both are important for different reasons and neither make life worth living alone. This is why it is so important to not only push STEM when it comes to education. We also have to push the humanities. Art and the various other ‘poet’ pursuits are so important to how we run our daily lives. Of course, communication between the two is integral to running a fair and beneficial society. But I digress.

Here are a few types of poems:

Haiku:

I hate the summer
The heat is too oppressive
I love the fall best

Cold wind like a sword
Driving deep into my chest
I huddle for warmth

This month is crazy
I am writing many words
Please enjoy it all

Pastoral:

I listen as the train’s wheels clack on the track below
I feel every bump as the train travels downtown
Every turn threatens to toss me to and fro
I try to keep my head up, try not to let myself frown
I am used to this kind of treatment every day
The other choice is enduring traffic on city streets
So I shake it off and just let my music play
I listen closely and nod my head to the beats
I know it is what I must do to get to work
So I just smile and try not to be a jerk

Limerick:

There once was a young writer
A “poet” since he was an ankle biter
He scribbled some rhyme
Most of the time
But he was nothing more than a blighter

There once was a woman in B More
As a mayor she thought she could be more
In the end she was wrong
She just sang the same song
And as a politician she was mostly a bore

Freeverse:

I am writing this after going to the gym for over an hour
Why do I punish myself by pushing my body so hard?
Because the future is a place I want to live
What use is fighting for the future if I keel over?
I also feel so invincible afterward
A little sore but I feel like I just killed a dragon
It is so rewarding and my shirts fit a little better lately
That is so great
As I lay on the couch and write
I feel like I am conquering the world
Just don’t ask me to move

The Very Bad Audition

March 5, 2018

When we are young, a lot of experiences can both open our eyes and open paths to our future.  In the end, nothing we do is really all that inconsequential.  When I entered high school at Friends School of Baltimore, I was a total geek.  Now, if you have read this blog you know that geek is a word I use with pride when I refer to myself.  I was really into comics, video games, and letting my imagination run wild.  I was getting good grades and, for the most part, I was pretty much enjoying school.  However, I was still a shy and solitary kid.  I had my friends, two of whom I had spent eighty percent of my social time with for years.  When it came to public speaking, I shriveled up in what was probably a close cousin of a panic attack.  My mother told me point blank that she was worried about whether I would be able to speak in public in the future.  However, thanks to my younger brother, she had a solution.

And so, it was that I was sitting in the auditorium, waiting for my turn to audition for Tartuffe.  On a side note, Tartuffe is an excellent satire by Moliere which is also called The Hypocrite and The Imposter.  I definitely felt like an imposter while I was sitting in the old red-cushioned steel chairs.  I had no desire to perform, I was just there to get over a fear.  I took my turn up on stage, auditioning for the part of Damis, an angry young man.  The monologue I delivered that day was intended to be angry, but I could feel my knees shaking and it must have been clear how scared I was.  Director and English teacher Tom Buck thankfully saw that I was not cut out to be an actor and passed the role onto one of my classmates.  Walking away, I realized that I did not want to act but I realized that I did not need to audition to be on the Stage Crew.

The Stage Crew met after school and on Saturdays.  They welcomed me with open arms and it was cool to hang out with sophomores, juniors, and seniors.  For the first time, I felt like I was actually in high school instead of in the fourth year of middle school.  I started to form friendships outside of my little friend group or the youth group at church.  I started to grow as a person and I realized that I had a passion for the building part of show business. When they asked who would run the lighting board for Tartuffe, I volunteered when nobody else stepped up.  I ran that lighting board for the next four years.  You got up to the board through a Spanish classroom in the rear of the auditorium, so they eventually gave me a key to that classroom.  There were definitely some awkward collections where I had to walk through Spanish or Russian classes.

I eventually became co-Head of Stage Crew and then Head of Stage Crew.  I also started to dabble in the design part of things as I eventually designed the lighting for each show.  Although I was a little distant, I felt a fellowship with the cast of the all of the shows I worked on.  Things really kicked into gear when we all put on Fiddler on the Roof and I teamed with Michael McVey as well.  By the end of my time at Friends, I had kind of become friends with Tom Buck, sadly a teacher I never had in high school.  My only regret was that I realize now that I never trained anybody to take over for me because I wanted to be the go-to guy until the end.

My experiences in Friends School Stage Crew inspired me to seek out more experiences with show business.  I got into community theater down at Fells Point Corner Theater.  I volunteered a lot of my time running sound for all sorts of shows.  Eventually, I started working for Mobtown Theater and, at the age of 16, I joined their board of directors.  Suddenly, I had all these new experiences outside of Friends School and new friends most of whom had graduated from college years earlier.  Those experiences were magical, and I felt like part of the greater theater community of Baltimore City.  It drew me away from Friends, as I spent a lot of my time in Fell’s Point rather than on campus.  I felt a little more disconnected from my classmates which I feel like I eventually remedied but I feel good that this was a positive path that Friends helped put me on.  In fact, that connection to community theater later sparked a connection to the school paper and helped reignite the love of writing that I still have today.

Of course, I then went on to major in Stage Management and minor in Sound Design in college.  I took that degree and I got a job for years and years in a regional theater in New Jersey.  All of that grew from one afternoon I spent trembling on the stage of the auditorium.  I am a little sad that that auditorium does not exist anymore as it has been completely remodeled but I am happy that the Friends students of today and tomorrow will have an excellent facility to experience what I did.  Not because they should all go off and major in theater but because going to that audition ended up accomplishing my goal.  By connecting with the people in Stage Crew, eventually being in charge, and then finding my voice in community theater, I became better at talking to people.  I felt more comfortable speaking in public and communicating my ideas.  I do not hold back like I did as a young kid.  For that, I feel very thankful.

Valentine’s Day 2018

February 12, 2018

Heart

Why yes, I did learn how to make Animated GIFs. (Hard G 4 Life)

Well, dear readers, once again Valentine’s Day approaches. This holiday usually comes and goes rather quickly through my life, here and gone in a flash. After all, I have never had a girlfriend. I have had relationships but no actual girlfriend. As I posted before, this is not something that really troubles me when I think about it. For some reason, the holiday has gotten stuck in my head this year. It might be that all of the advertising for flowers, pajamagrams, chocolate diamonds, and chocolate covered berries. Maybe it’s all of the magical girl stuff I have been watching lately. Maybe it’s the sum of all of pop culture around this time pointing us toward showing affection to our significant others.

I remember hating Valentine’s Day when I was a kid. We had to bring Valentine’s Day cards into class and we had little mailboxes on our desks. I hated having to come up with a cheap valentine for each member of my class. I hated receiving all of them because I knew that everybody had to bring a card for everybody in the class. I was shy and unpopular and I was stuck between a desire for validation and wanting to hide in plain sight. I do remember liking seeing my favorite superheroes on the Valentine’s Day cards which I had my mother buy even though I’m sure not everybody in the class liked the X-Men. Of course, I had yet to find girls who liked the geeky stuff that I liked. I also thought the whole thing was kind of pointless as we were little kids and it really was not going anywhere. Thankfully, a lot of that disappeared in later years of school.

In later years, I saw boyfriends and girlfriends in school giving each other gifts. It was cute but it kind of ratcheted up a sort of pressure in me. At times, that made me want a girlfriend but not because I actually wanted to spend a lot of time with a girl, but because I felt I was supposed to. Of course, that is the dark side of Valentine’s Day. Those who have somebody feel content and those without somebody feel like something is missing. When I grew up a little more, I realized that the pressure came from within and not from society as I had originally thought. Once I let go of that pressure and embraced just being friends with people, I felt way better. Later, I found out that “aromantic” is an actual thing and it may be where I am at. So now, I am way more at ease with Valentine’s Day.

This year, whether you are with somebody, somebodies, or alone, I urge you to first learn to love yourself. That is something that I have struggled with in the past. I have struggled with anxiety and depression where I just knew that I was not good enough. Lately, I have been doing my best to turn that around. It is part of my larger goal to accentuate the positive instead of dwelling on the negative. It is something that Commander Holly (of YouTube and Dungeons Dragons fame) taught me. She yelled it out “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love anybody else?” at the end of a Game Grumps Valentine’s video and I loved it. Ever since I heard that, I have tried to incorporate it a little more into my life each year.

Please don’t view this post as an indictment of regular Valentine’s behavior. Go out and buy jewelry or don’t. Go on a date or don’t. This year, I am naming you guys as my Valentine. I love waking up to notifications that somebody has subscribed to this blog or liked a particular post. I love you guys so that’s why I am giving you a little piece of my heart not just for Valentimes but also three days a week year-round (and more during April and October). Whatever you intend this Wednesday, I hope you have a good one.

New Year’s Day 2018

January 1, 2018

First, I would like to apologize for this post being later than it usually is. I know that might not matter much to whoever is reading this but it matters to me. Usually, I have things together and I have a post or two scheduled so I don’t have to scramble to get something up when I might be busy. Do I have a good excuse on why I did not do this for today? Not really. Basically, I got through one of the most positive Christmas holidays I have had in a while. I felt like I really had a good time and things went smoother. I was also super pleased with the Christmas gift that I picked out for people now that I can afford real gifts again. I got great gifts as well, mostly reference books to help with the D&D campaign I am working on. I could honestly go without gifts but my mom and stepfather love giving them and I understand because I love giving gifts too. Once again, I stressed over Secret Santa for no reason because I love to put pressure on myself but I felt like I relaxed a lot more this time around.

I had five days off from work that I mostly spent out in West Virginia and there is a lot of joy for me just in walking down the super friendly main street of Shepherdstown. I was proud to live there for nearly two years and visiting is nostalgic for me. It reminds me of the good parts of living in Sussex, New Jersey, and the family vacations to Woodstock, Vermont. When I got back, I got to have a drink and a great conversation with my brothers. Longtime readers (or archive delvers) of this blog will know how much I love and respect my brothers. I had a day off to myself in Baltimore which I used to watch The Last Jedi which I loved. Then it was back to work for three days, one of those limbo-like weeks where part of the staff are out and the other half are a little bit checked out.

On Friday, I spent my birthday at work which is fine by me. People who know me know that I do not like people to make a huge deal of my birthday. I have not had an official party in a long time. If anything, I have a calm dinner with my folks and see a movie but sometime that happens weeks or months after the day itself. Many people left great messages on my Facebook which reminds me that I have to do better with wishing other people a happy birthday. I spent Saturday as I wished, and I went and saw I, Tonya to treat myself. I had a great time decompressing, watching stuff, and playing video games. I also have had some great winter walks lately.

Last night I moseyed over to Joe and Jill’s house, a place that I often go for gaming. I also go there for craft night on Tuesday which is where I get some of the writing for this blog done. I also hang out with that group of friends on Trivia Night on Wednesday. By the way, if you are in the neighborhood in Columbia, Maryland on a Wednesday night, stop by the Second Chance Saloon for Atomic Trivia. A great time is had by all. This group of friends is something that I am really grateful for as we enter into 2018. I may not make it to every gathering but I have fun every time I am with them and I look forward to the times when I can make the drive out there.

There is a lot more that I want to do with this blog. I had a lot of fun doing DnDcember this year and I might make that a thing next year because I really love creating in that world. I will be continuing the new story When It All Ended which takes place about five years ago in my Elorian campaign setting. I will be writing more about and in that campaign but I cannot post what would be spoilers for my players. I have other ongoing stories that I want to continue/finish. I especially have great plans currently for Redcross and The Symbol (which may get a new title now that I am thinking about it). I want to write more weird stuff too, like the short bit based on a deck of playing cards and a deck of tarot cards and the court reporter script. I want to continue to stretch and grow in my writing and continue to have fun writing.

I continue to have faith in humanity this year even though that faith is constantly shaken and tested. I believe in the goodness of my family and my friends. I believe that when push comes to shove, the people I surround myself will do the right thing. I believe that I will do the right thing when the opportunity presents itself. The United States feels like it is on the edge of something bad like one good shove could ruin everything. Maybe that shove already happened with an unpaid-for tax cut that will probably put us trillions of dollars into debt. Still, I have to keep having hope or I will spiral into depression and I will never get out. I have to believe that good things can and will happen. I sincerely hope that things get better for you, dear reader, even if last year was a good year. Things can always be better.

Interview Questions 8

June 5, 2017


What is your favorite movie quote?

“I don’t want to kill anyone. I don’t like bullies; I don’t care where they’re from.”
Steve Rogers, Captain America: The First Avenger

This was the most powerful line of the movie for me. It also made me fall in love with the character of Captain America and the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. The line is in response to Steve being asked whether he wants to kill Nazis. A lot of soldiers probably entered World War II hoping to destroy evil. This line sets up Captain America not as a weapon but as a shield. He cares more about protecting the innocent than destroying evil. As a child of the eighties, I grew up hearing epic stories of World War II. I was one generation removed so there was definitely a more romantic sheen on every story I heard. While war is not ideal, evil prevails when good men do nothing. The Nazis were the ultimate bullies and the world rose up to stop them. It was the last time we had a clear conscience in a fight like that. I still get chills when Chris Evans delivers that line with such passion.


Would you rather spend five days exploring Disney or New York City?

I would take five days to explore Disney World or Disney Land. I am lucky to have been to both New York City and Disney World. I have not been to Disney World for a long time but I have been to NYC off and on for decades. I have enjoyed both places a lot at different times. However, New York City is a real place. It has real dangers and real downsides. Disney World and Disney Land are fascinating as they are wholly manufactured worlds. Every inch of the parks are built for my pleasure and there are a million surprises waiting for me. I would never run out of things to examine and re-examine if I lived there forever but definitely not in five days. New York City is interesting but there is just more of a chance of me searching for treasure and getting disappointment instead. If I am dedicating five whole days, I pick a Disney park hands down. Of course, if we are talking about the fictional Disney multiverse, then I also chose that because that would be amazing (and probably dangerous but whatever).


Would you rather be the most popular kid in school or the smartest kid in school?

I have never been the popular kid. To a certain extent, I have always been part of the nerd and geek subculture which was never at the top of the food chain while I was a kid. I was also never the smartest kid but I was always on the smarter end of the student body spectrum. School just came easily to me. I worked hard but I usually understood things pretty quickly. I enjoyed being smart. Being smart makes homework easier, which left me more time for video games and other extracurriculars. Being smart also makes lectures a little more fascinating and learning a lot more fun. Schoolwork is almost never too frustrating when you are smart enough. However, being the smartest brings the pressure to excel to higher heights but I would be secure that I was qualified to do whatever I wanted. While I pursued being popular as a kid, I was kind of glad that I never really succeeded. Socially, I am more comfortable in smaller crowds. I would hate to have too many people clambering to hang out with me. I like having my solitude when I want it. I would prefer the life of the mind while I maintain my small circle of trusted friends.

The Cure for What Ailed Me: Epilog

May 29, 2017


I empathize with you so much, little horse.

They wheeled me to the front door and then I was on my own. My family was there but nobody could really do anything for me anymore. Somehow, my body had forgotten how to walk properly. Everything was sore and my strength and coordination were still way off. It was embarrassing. I felt like a newborn foal. My bedroom at home was on the third floor and it was my sanctuary. Until I healed, stairs were too difficult and we worried that something would cause me to have to go back to the hospital. So, I slept on the couch for weeks as I got my sea legs back. My grandmother, Maw Maw, came up to keep me company.


My scar was exponential.

I am left with a fairly wicked scar. When it was fresh, it curved from between my shoulder blades down to my left side above my hip. It was pretty brutal-looking. However, my body grew and the scar did not so it is a lot smaller these days. It looks less like I wrestled with bears. That is an actual rumor that my wrestling coach joked about starting in seventh grade. Experiences like that made me self-conscious about the scar but also let me laugh about it. Body image is especially tough when you are young, even if you are a guy.


I have never had street cred.

Next to the moon-shaped scar is the scar from the place where they inserted the drainage tube for all my various fluids. It was gross to think about and even now I can feel my skin crawl. Sorry if I made the same happen to you. My family affectionately called that scar ‘the bullet wound scar’ because of how clean and precise it looked. Also, when the time came for them to remove the tube so that I could heal, it certainly felt like I had been shot. They grabbed and yanked the tube out of me and I felt a sudden, hollow pain. It was one of the worst pains I had felt at the time.

Slowly, I started to find my footing again. It did not take too long for me to start gobbling food down faster than I anyone else at the table. I was overcompensating for all of my past issues. I started to breathe clearer soon after that. The danger had passed.

Extra Stories and Fun Facts:


No No No No No No

Now some readers may remember my great fear of needless. When I went in for the MRI test to map my circulatory system in advance of the surgery, the nurse was very kind but very utilitarian with a brusque bedside manner. They were going to give me something to put me out for the MRI and they also had to inject the fluid that would make the MRI actually work. When I started to get nervous she told me ‘Don’t worry, it won’t hurt any more than a bee sting’. The problem for me was that not only was I afraid of needles, I was also terrified of bees. I was swarmed by a whole nest when I was younger. My mom leveled a hard look at this nurse and informed her that she was not really helping.


What do I have in common with him? Not much, thankfully.

They told me a lot of interesting things to try to calm me down in the days before the surgery. One of the more interesting things was my surgeon’s past history. They told me that my surgeon had been one of the surgeons who operated on Ronald Reagan after he was shot over a year before I was born. Of course, this impressed me when I was a kid. Now, I am just glad that he was successful with me. Regardless, he was a world-renown expert on the surgery and I was lucky that he worked at a hospital less than half an hour away from home.


I owe a lot to the most powerful institution in Baltimore past, present, and future.

Now, medical science is much more advanced than it was over twenty years ago. Doctors are able to detect Cystic Fibrosis much earlier. They are also able to detect Double Aortic Arch through many different tests (some of which I eventually got). Often, the problem is detected in the womb or shortly after birth and is corrected through surgery before the damage is done. In fact, most babies born with Double Aortic Arch usually turn blue from oxygen deprivation not long after birth. I went through what I had to go through and nobody really screwed up. It is one of the reasons that I support science-based medicine so much. It saved my life.

The Cure For What Ailed Me Pt. 3

May 22, 2017

When we last left off, I had finally received a confirmed diagnosis of Double Aortic Arch. To this day, doctors still do not know exactly what causes the condition but they think it may be genetic. Whatever caused it, I was born with a congenital heart defect. This was an amazing find because it is a very rare defect. It was also an amazing find because, like Cystic Fibrosis, it usually kills babies fairly quickly after birth. I was born with it but I survived over ten years without it being detected. I am so lucky that I did not die. I could have easily keeled over and they would have diagnosed me in an autopsy. The thought both makes me feel good and it also terrifies me.


Wow, that was dark. Let me remind you that this has a happy ending and I am not a ghost.

The doctors told my mom that not only did things look bad but with each passing day, they were getting worse. My body was slowly strangling me from the inside and there was no chance of it healing on its own. Medical intervention was absolutely necessary and that means that I had to go into surgery and soon. My mother, knowing that Halloween is my favorite holiday, asked if the surgery could wait. The doctors told her in no uncertain terms that the surgery could not wait. They told her why. One night, my parents sat me down at the dinner table that I had grown to dread. They told me what was wrong with me and they told me that I had to go into surgery.


I would be going as a sick kid for Halloween.

I sobbed and begged for it not to be true. I remember being on my mother’s lap, my heart seized with fear like never before or since. I cried and cried but tears do not change reality. They told me that if I did not have the surgery I would lose the ability to walk and then I would die. I had to be in surgery soon and I had to learn to accept that. I told my friends and my mother told the school and they were all behind me. I wish I could say that this made anything better. I remember going into the hospital for a consultation with the surgeon. He sat me down and drew simple little pictures and told me what he was going in to do. He was kind and although it did not make me any less scared, I know I appreciated at least knowing what was happening. Knowing is almost always better.


Nothing funny here. This was the inspiration for my character Lennon Clarke.

The day of the surgery came in almost no time at all. The night before, I was given the usual order to not eat or drink anything. This had to be enforced by my folks because I get cranky when I do not eat. As a concession to my young age, they allowed me to drink apple juice but only a little bit to keep my blood sugar up. They brought me into the hospital. Having been briefed on my fear of needles, they numbed my arms before they injected me. At some point, a troll doll from the school store was put into my hands and I clutched it tightly. As the drugs started to take effect, I cursed at whoever would listen and I told them that my parents were lawyers and they better take good care of me. They pumped enough drugs in me to put down a horse. I started singing the Animaniacs theme on loop and then I blacked out.


I was quickly getting zany to the max…

It was hours later when I awoke in the Intensive Care Unit. I was still alive. Not only that, but I was told that the operation was successful. I was in pain but happy that the scariest event of my life was all over except for the healing. As a reward, I got to watch Disney’s Aladdin on heavy drugs. It remains one of my favorite films to this day. I do not remember much else from the ICU except for fading in and out of consciousness and the occasional sponge bath. They had deflated one of my lungs to get at my heart and there would be a lot of healing. Eventually, they decided that I was out of danger and moved me up to a room to recuperate. Once there, I became a more difficult patient.


I had my own fight going on so I felt for Link.

I happily ate applesauce and watched television. However, it took me a while to kind of learn how to go to the bathroom again. I insisted I could do it and I would struggle my way to the bathroom and then nada. I was stuck with a catheter for a while. As they decreased the drugs they gave me, I hurt more but hurting is part of healing. While in the hospital, I got the entire set of Aliens action figures including the Alien Queen. There was a hospital visit from Captain Planet and I got Wheeler’s fire ring and also Linka’s wind ring. When I got a little better, I would make the long and painful journey to the game room to play Legend of Zelda on the NES. I never had enough time to get anywhere in the game but controlling Link made me happy.

Stay tuned next week for part 4 which will probably be the epilog!

The Cure for What Ailed Me Pt. 1

May 8, 2017

I have danced around this story for quite some time especially in April. I searched my archives to see if I have told this story and I could not find it. Of course, I do not have time to comb through over 500 posts to make myself completely sure. I am not going to stress about it. I want to tell this story right because it is such an important part of my life. So welcome to the tale of that time I got life-changing surgery.

I have always been a short guy. When I was a little kid, my pediatrician constantly talked about how I was at the lowest end of the growth chart. I was the shortest kid in my class and I was something approaching underweight. I was a happy boy but I was also kind of a frail boy. This is very disconcerting for a kid who grew up reading comics and watching Power Rangers. The power of friendship and kindness in your heart only got you so far. Eventually, I would have to punch something. More importantly, I was reminded at every turn that I was not as big or athletic as the other kids. I was the only male who sat on the floor for class pictures. I started to look up at my peers instead of looking over at them. I remember feeling really uptight about that. Every time people called me short, it was an insult instead of something I just could not change.


Screw you, Randy Newman.

Later, things got even worse than just being of a small and slight stature. At some point, I realized that I was always the last one at the dinner table every night. Let me explain. My family ate dinner together almost every night and we talked about our day and any other cool topics we could think of. We all ate and talked but, whether I was talking or not, everybody was done with their meal before me. I ate so slowly. Eventually, my folks had to release my brothers from the dinner table because everybody had things to do before bed. I would still be eating. I would focus on eating to try to beat everybody else to no avail. I could not point to anything specifically but I just could not manage to eat fast enough for the family to all finish together. Before you ask, it was also not because I am a picky eater. I ate pretty much everything happily.


Eating by myself. Alone. Independently.

It got worse. I noticed that I was getting winded a lot easier at recess. This is horrible news for kids because they are supposed to have nearly boundless energy until they pass out like their batteries suddenly lost charge. I was not the most athletic kid (and probably the worst Little Leaguer ever) but I did like to run around with my friends pretending to be a superhero. I have fond memories of pretending to be on the X-Men Blue Team while not using a basketball court as it was originally intended. However, I was breathing hard more and more. I was having difficulty catching my breath and even talking could be a chore sometimes. This is when doctors really started to get involved. They really do not appreciate when kids stop breathing correctly.


I usually wanted to be Cyclops. Less running.

For the longest time, they thought I had asthma. I had never really shown signs of it early in life but suddenly at age ten, they thought I had somehow developed it. That may be possible but (Spoiler Alert) that was not the case. When I went off to sleepaway summer camp (for dyslexics, another great story), I had to bring my inhaler with me. After breakfast and after dinner I had to get in line in front of a table with the other weaker members of the pack. When it was my turn, I had to breathe in chemicals that stung my throat and lungs from a little plastic bag. It is probably a hundred percent the reason I never tried marijuana. It felt like crap and it never helped but everybody, including me, felt more confident about my condition while doing it. Eventually, they realized it was not asthma. At that point, they thought it might be Cistic Fibrosis.


This was my anti-drug…. nevermind.

Yes, Cystic Fibrosis, that disease that the March of Dimes was always raising money for everywhere I looked at that age. Of course, my parents did not tell me this tidbit. Cystic Fibrosis sounds really scary and the medical description sounds even worse. The disease causes a build up of mucus in the lungs that blocks airways and makes it difficult or sometimes impossible to breathe. It also causes a mucus build up in the digestive system which makes that process hard to do as well. It seemed like a likely contender for what was wrong with me. I had problems in both those areas and everybody was probably pretty proud of themselves for coming up with that answer. Of course, nobody was happy about the diagnosis because it meant a lifetime of health complications and being stalked by death for at least the rest of my childhood. But was it the answer? We will find out next time in part two.


Support your local March of Dimes.

ZZZzzz

April 30, 2017

I think it is fitting that I close out this challenge by talking about how tired I am. While I love this challenge, there have been a lot of changes in my life that have caused me to have to run on all cylinders. I got a new job, I finished an internship, I marched for Science and I have been working harder on this blog among other things. I have been dedicated to this challenge and I decided that I would not be deterred from completing it. Still, it is an endurance trial, one that I will talk more about tomorrow.

I have always been a big fan of sleeping. I used to do a whole lot of it back in the day too. I used to work in live theater and that always caused such a weird sleep schedule. In college, I would have rehearsal until eleven at night and then I would have to do the paperwork afterward. By midnight, I was tired but keyed up and ready to hang out online. With classes during the day and rehearsal at night, I had to have some time to socialize even if it was online. At that point, I would be up as late as five in the morning.


I used to frown on people sleeping in class and then I did it.

In my freshman year of college, I had classes scheduled at eight in the morning. This was something my advisor did to me in the naive opinion that it would be good for me. After that first year, that would never happen again. Every morning I would crash before the sun rose (sometimes) and then I would sleep until lunch time before running off to class. It put me in a weird position with the rest of the world. I was often asleep when everyone else was awake and I felt disconnected from the real world and submerged into the fairytale world of theater.


I learned to draw on deeper energy reserves.

Once I got a job, that tendency to want to sleep until noon continued. Luckily, I was in a small regional theater. For the most part, work did not begin until ten in the morning because, once again, we all had rehearsal the night before. So, one again I spend a lot of time at night on my computer and I met all new friends since I was stuck in the middle of nowhere. I was continually tired and sore and crawling into bed at the end of the night was a welcome relief. By then, I had learned to sleep deeply in order to survive. Also, I learned to operate in a tired state and soldier on the best I could.


I wish that sometimes I did not wake with the sun.

Now that I have an office job, I am used to waking up bright and early at seven. No matter what I do, I cannot seem to sleep past nine even on my day off. Today, I planned to sleep until noon to recover from the recent excitement. The oncoming heat makes me restless when I try to get to sleep so once it cooled down, I looked forward to existing in dreamland for quite a while. I woke up at eight in the morning after getting to sleep at one. I still get about six to seven hours of sleep per night but now I feel like I have more of the day to do things. If I had gotten up at noon, I would have missed a surprise lunch with the office I interned at. I would have gotten so much less done. I am learning, bit by bit.


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