Saturday, September 15, 2018

My Son's Snowsuit


Dated December 2017




My twenty month old son has a snowsuit that we put him in when his dad, whom he calls papa, takes him on a stroller ride to dinner. Yes, we believe in family dinners, and sometimes we have more than one dinner in order to scrape by a sense of meal communion, but lately we have all been decidedly under the weather, for over a month at least—swapping laryngitis for the flu for most recently, in my case, a week of an allergic reaction that debuted in the form of scalp-to-feet red hot itching hives. The hives subsided with the wonderful miracle that is prednisone, when adequately dosed, then progressed for a few days to a tightness in the chest, a degree of breathing difficulty just onerous enough to dispel sleep but only once frontiering to the territory of wheezing, which took me to the instacare that sent me to the emergency room for a shot of epinephrine and two blissful hours of effortless breathing and an elevated heart rate before I went home with epipens and that just slightly onerous tightness of breath—

The point being, yes, we believe in family dinners, but on the whole we are happy to be getting by relatively safe and oxygenated, if you know what I mean. As such, when my dear and loving companion can take our son on a stroller walk to their mutual favorite restaurant for a mutual treat (during which I can stay home and rest, even though I am already resting a lot of on any given day) we take that as a victory.

Which brings me back to my son’s snowsuit. This particular snowsuit, which keeps him warm in his stroller during the winter evenings, has little caps for hands and feet that can be pulled on or off, and we usually pull them over our son’s feet on account of us having lost nearly all of his many pairs of shoes—but this means that he is treading on his suit, rather than on shoes, as he walks on the sidewalk and down the concrete stairs to his stroller (his papa spotting him from below).

I know that this suit is bound to wear down at the feet sooner or later, and certainly sooner than snowsuit booties are meant to, and that makes me feel the fleetingness of this moment now with my son in a way that I wish I felt as naturally about the way my son says horses as “her-sees,” or the way he asks me to draw pumpkins over and over and over again, handing me the pen. Of course, these are just two of the milion transient remarkable moments with him that are so fleeting, and yet somehow my mind thinks they will last forever, a beautiful and betraying illusion that lets me doze on the couch when, for instance, my son pulls apart legos with his papa or runs around the kitchen, shouting “fast!” and shrieking with laughter. But when I think of my son’s snowsuit booties wearing down, miniature holes I can’t see building up to become holes I eventually will see, I am filled with heartache.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

New Hampshire


Trivia time: Remember Thomas Edison? Well, he was totally not born in New Hampshire. He was born in Milan, Ohio. BUT, he did go on camping trips in New Hampshire, along with a caravan of chauffeured vehicles complete with gas stove and refrigerator for high dining, and, of course, a generator to light up the camp. So basically, the light bulb was invented to enjoy the beauty of high-luxury camping in New Hampshire. Just in case you were wondering. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Thirty Summers

This is Michael. He turns thirty this year.


Michael takes his son to the playground most mornings.

Michael laughs at Lizzie's jokes and lets her interrupt his work to show him pictures she has drawn. (Lizzie sometimes feels guilty about this).

Michael, in general, does not interrupt Lizzie when she is drawing pictures or reading books or thinking deeply about what books she hasn't read but would like to. 

Michael's favorite meals are Chaboni yogurt, a cheese and tomato panini, or chocolate milk and quesadillas.

Michael eats the corn on the cob that Lizzie makes almost every night, even though it isn't his favorite. 

Michael likes all of Lizzie's Facebook posts, even though Lizzie only sees a few of Michael's posts, and only likes the ones she understands. (Lizzie recognizes she could probably understand most of them if she tried. She feels guilty about this).

Michael doesn't eat avocado because it makes his throat itchy and tense, but when he eats it anyway, he smiles.

Michael knows the way to In-N-Out.

Michael beats Lizzie at Scrabble every time.

Michael turns the AC on for cool air and white noise before Lizzie puts the toddler to bed.

Michael brings Lizzie lunch during class when she forgets breakfast.

Michael helps Lizzie find her glasses when they are on her head.

Michael helps Lizzie find the toddler when she forgets that she is holding him.

Michael tells Lizzie if she has a text so that she doesn't need to own a phone, which Lizzie appreciates very much.

Michael shares his favorite yogurt with the toddler.

Michael takes out the trash.

Michael doesn't mind that Lizzie doesn't take out the trash, or at least he doesn't say anything.

Michael compliments Lizzie when she does the dishes.

Michael compliments the lawn after Lizzie gives it a bad haircut with scissors. It is a very small lawn.

Michael compliments Lizzie when she gives him haircuts, and does not bring up the very bad haircut she once gave him.

Michael gives the toddler his vitamin in the morning.

Michael tells Lizzie that the toddler has already had his vitamin when the toddler asks for another before bed. 

Michael sometimes gives the toddler a chocolate sandwich in the morning.

Michael does not always tell Lizzie that he gave the toddler a chocolate sandwich in the morning. They are very small sandwiches.

Michael walks the same pace as Lizzie, which is more leisurely than average, except when Lizzie is anxious or running behind.

Michael takes many naps.

Michael likes hand massages from Lizzie.

Michael takes the toddler to the babysitter when Lizzie wants to sleep in.

Michael wakes up before the toddler, which is saying something.

Sometimes, when Lizzie does not want to get up in the morning, Michael brings her chocolate and slides it gently between her teeth.

Be like Michael.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

On Understanding




One of my and Michael’s friends, Andrew, also happens to have Cerebral Palsy. Both Michael and Andrew speak differently because of CP. However, this does not mean that they can understand each other; in fact, while I understand Michael perfectly fine, and while Andrew’s wife Carrie understands him perfectly fine, and I understand Andrew pretty well and Carrie understands Michael pretty well, Andrew and Michael sometimes have hard time understanding each other, as Andrew (a stand-up comedian and screenwriter) pointed out to me so refreshingly a few years ago.

Which is pretty fabulous, when you ponder it, and true on so many levels.

Such as:

You are not just one more student or dropout or kid or teenager or patient or old person or parent or teacher or tourist or homeless person or voter or insomniac or pedestrian or shopper or photobomber or billboard sign reader or tooth brusher or restaurant patron or general cluster of cellular activity. You are, in fact, quite uniquely each of those things that you are; no one else brushes their teeth or photobombs their friend’s selfies quite like you do.

And—just as Michael and I can communicate more freely than Michael and Andrew, so I find I can often connect with those who are of a different religion or heritage as well or better than those more like myself. Such as how I can connect with Michael, the ever optimist, more than I can connect with others who tend to be cynical the way I sometimes am.

And—every once in awhile, I don’t understand Michael, and when I talk too quietly, he doesn’t understand me. But we love each other, and I know that Michael and Andrew love and respect and admire each other as well. And, of course, you know that your parents did not understand the fascination you might have had with chewing on twigs when you were five years old. (Um, let me clear my throat for a moment). But they loved you.

And—just like others can love you even when they don’t understand you, you can connect with others you don’t understand. If you don’t understand someone’s words, you can connect over attentiveness or shared experience or social media or deep mutual respect. If you don’t understand someone’s lifestyle or choices, you can connect with them by looking for commonality or by understanding that you have a different background and different life experience, and simply appreciating them for the valuable person they are.

And I’m pretty sure I haven’t even scratched the surface—so much good in the fact of two friends who can’t always understand what the other is saying.




Thursday, June 14, 2018

Illustrated Essay in Sweet: A Literary Confection

One of my favorite journals, Sweet: A Literary Confection, published a short illustrated essay I wrote. It's called, "On Book Curses: An Apology," and it definitely has a couple pictures of Michael (not, I'm afraid, the one below). Enjoy!




Thursday, February 1, 2018

Haircut Comic on Hobart

I wrote and illustrated a story about a time I gave Michael a haircut--not the only time I gave him a haircut, but the only time I have, so far, felt the need to exorcise the experience through writing afterwards (with afterwords?)--you can find it here at Hobart.


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Elizabeth Smart, Deondra Brown, and MeToo

Okay, this is a more earnest post than I usually make, but it's been pressing on my mind in the wake of #metoo stories (though the following isn't the most articulate presentation of thoughts).
I went to the first Smart Talks presentation on Friday night in Provo, UT, with Elizabeth Smart, Deondra Brown, reporter Kim Johnson, child psychologist Dr. Keeshin, and RAD program leader Alyson Larsen. It was really eye opening and interesting.
One thing that stood out to me is that while one in four girls are likely to be sexually abused, one is six boys are also likely to be abused. I didn't know that the statistic was so high for boys. So I just want to say that I think there is increasing liberation in women speaking up, but there is still not very much room for men to share their #metoo stories, which is very troubling to me. This doesn't mean that for every person abused there was an abuser; rather, an abuser may very well have abused multiple people. As well, I think it is worth noting that the percentage becomes more disparate after adulthood is reached, and that men are less likely to be either harrassed or abused than woman are, but in terms of protecting children from abuse there isn't a chasm of difference in risk, and there are many men who have been abused as children.
Another thing that stood out to me was just how much support meant for both Elizabeth Smart and Deondra Brown. Elizabeth Smart was able to pour all of her emaciated energy into surviving because even though she thought no one else would love her if she ever escaped, she *knew* her family would love her. Heaven forbid anything like that happen to any child, but if any situation happens to a child in which they feel ashamed and unlovable, having that knowledge could be the difference between life and death. After she was rescued, she said that it was so helpful to feel the support of others, too--people who didn't hate her, people who said she wasn't any less for what she had been through. YOUR support matters.
Likewise for Deondra, who was molested by her father, having support meant the world. In her case, that meant first the support of her sisters, who had also been abused. Then, it meant the support of her siblings as well as her husband, as she began to process what had happened to her. When the news went viral, all of her siblings were paranoid that they couldn't perform again, that people wouldn't want to be around them or hear them play. When they did their first performance after the news broke, they had a standing ovation as they walked onto the stage, and that support meant everything to them. YOUR support matters.
Even those who have a me too story they didn't share need the support of everyone. They need the support of the people they do tell, and the need the overall cultural support of knowing that they won't be blamed or shunned for what happened to them.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Life of a Slow Driver (#2)



Sometimes when a car is stuck behind me on a one lane road and I'm not comfortable going faster, I imagine that I'm an exotic insect catcher (usually fancy cars are the ones bothered by my speed-limit abiding tendencies). When the lane opens up, I think to myself, "Fly like the wind, butterfly! You're free!"

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Camping Will Solve All of Your Problems

Are you overwhelmed with mess? Wondering what the purpose of life is? Generally irritated at the world around you?


Camping will effectively bring you purpose, let you have space from the world, and eliminate the messes created in your house or apartment for the duration you spend away. This tactic is actually quite compatible with children, at least as long as you


  1. Camp in an area that is not infested by racoons
  2. Camp in an area that is not surrounded by a raging river/cliff drop-offs/mountain lions/virus carrying mosquitos
  3. Camp in an area that is within a few minutes of a grocery store and at least one fast food restaurant
  4. Have extendable arms
  5. Have more than two arms
  6. Have a magically appearing stock of sippy cups and clean water and goldfish and cheese sticks and veggie straws.


If you are interested in this approach to getting a new start to life and you own a home, you may want to consider buying a pet racoon. This nocturnal omnivore will eat through your various doors and walls and eventually require the demolition of your home. However, as you will still own the plot of land, you will be left with a very clean lot of dirt, with which to set up a spare, minimalist arrangement, perhaps with the aid of a tent.


If you don’t own a home, you may want to forego causing any damage to your immediate building, as this will only leave you truly homeless and in debt, for you will have neither roof nor place for belongings nor--and this is the important part--a piece of land to easily camp on. However, with some preparation, you can notify friends or family of your camping intentions and spend increasing lengths of time camping in back or front yards.

Suddenly, your clutter problems will be over and you will have the mental space to focus on the now, prioritizing the pressing need to keep you and your children fed and clothed and at a sustainable body temperature.

New family pet included.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Oklahoma

The season is changing and the sky is softer and the leaves are crunching and the wind is stirring and all things are alive and dying with autumn. We've spent the last few days at a corn maze and a pumpkin patch, pumping water to race ducks and the little one throwing balls in a pit of thick, cool, dried corn kernels. Dirt is filling our nostrils and the seams in our palms. Two little pumpkins, an orange gourd laced with green and a green gourd laced with white lay on our wooden table, a small, yellow-hued thing that we love dearly.

And this morning is was, oh, such a beautiful morning.


So for all of these reasons, here is that most wonderful of states, Oklahoma.


 


Ode to Old Glasses

A few weeks ago I found a page that looked roughly like this in one of my old journals. Dearest Glasses, Fortunately you were bea...