Thursday, April 26, 2007

E Is For Youngest

This was a while ago: Youngest's Pre-K Program at school, a surreal exercise in alphabets, fly swatters, homemade costumes, and, well . . . learning!

He's cute, in an eggs-all-over-him sort of way.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Asthma Blows. But Not Very Hard.

An email from Uncle Second Eldest, Father's Side, and my reply, concerning a trip to the ER.

What’s this stuff with little [Youngest] going to the hospital?? What kind of treatments do they give for asthma attacks? Since when is asthma a problem in this family anyway? Poor little fella. Eat more veggies. I sure hope all is well now.

Eldest had asthma too, but he outgrew it. It's not a our-side-of-the-family thing. We are made of sturdier stuff than that. But Mother's family is so riddled with allergies it's a wonder they can reproduce. Our nephew is allergic to everything. I think his diet is limited to, like, sheets of paper and water from the Euphrates.

Youngest is on a bunch of medicines, many of which, he was sad to learn, are not available as generics, so the money has to come out of his college fund. Why should we suffer? We're healthy!

The emergency room trip was a first for us - for asthma - though if you're gonna go to the emergency room at midnight, I recommend asthma. No waiting! Turns out, the whole breathing thing is sorta important. And a tip of the hat to Children's Hospital. That place is pretty incredible. I was moved to tears by the fact that they have cable TV in every exam room, though I may have been a little emotional, what with the sleep deprivation, and my kid not being able to breath and all.

There, they gave him, like, four huge doses of Prednisomething, which is the stuff that is in his inhaler already, but they loaded it into him, dose after dose after dose. It's sad to see him laying on a hospital bed with a mask on his face so he can breath, but he's used to those masks - which is sad too, I guess.

The stuff they had him breathing is a stimulant, so his heart was racing - which gave me another thing to worry about. I thought my phone was vibrating in his chest.

Then they gave him a dose of a steroid. Wait. The steroid is called Prednisomething. The other thing is. . . I dunno. At home we just call them puffs. Anyway, these days he takes two puffs on his inhaler every four hours, and the steroid twice a day.

That was Thursday / Friday. Yesterday he had to go to his doctor for an update, and she said things aren't much better. She put him on allergy meds as well. So now he's on Puffs, Prednisomething, and an allergy pill that starts with S. Are you writing this down?

The doctor made it clear to Mother that this is a pretty big deal, which is just what Mother needed to calm her down. I'm all like, relax! Its' just breathing! It's not like he can't do his chores.

The steroid should come with a sticker that says "Caution: Causes dickishness." The poor kid is a complete pain in the butt to live with when he is on it - he's belligerent, cranky, prone to tantrums. I have to keep reminding myself that it isn't him, it's the medicine. But that medicine is a real asshole.

The other bummer is that Youngest was going to leave on Friday to go to Disney World with his grandparents and Mother's brother's family. Yesterday the doctor said that if the trip were tomorrow, she'd say no way. As it is, the trip being Friday, she wants to see him again on Thursday. But Mother and I have decided it is a no-go. Disney World is built on a swamp. If the change of seasons in the Midwest did this to him, I'm not sending him down there. Especially not with those people, whose genetics are responsible for all of these problems in the first place.

So, there's that. Thanks for asking.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Eldest's New Friend of Color

It's opening night for Eldest. The show, as I've said, is The Ensemble Member and the Baker!, in which he is the star, which some people call Aladdin, in which he is an ensemble member and a baker.

I was very proud of Eldest for auditioning for this show. Really. The theater company has a great reputation, the director more so. It was an intense, sweaty-palm, stomach-churning, heart-in-the-throat couple of days. It was tough on him, too.

He got cast, and ever since he has put a tremendous amount of time in the show: Three hours every night, a big rehearsal every weekend. He's missed family events and parties and sleep and play and downtime, and he never complained even once, not because he was being a trouper (though he was) but because he was having such a great time. Every time I picked him up, he was in a terrific mood. He had a nine-hour rehearsal last Sunday, and when I picked him up he was energized and goofy.

And tonight is opening night. The whole family is going - the immediates, I mean - and hopefully you'll come see it too. Unless you're some creepy internet-trolling bad guy, in which case I should tell you that all of my children are heavily armed and trained in the arts of the ninja.

Here's some information that was sent:

[Eldest Last Name] (center) is performing in Columbus Children's' Theatre's production of Disney's Aladdin, playing through April 29th at the Columbus Performing Arts Center. Also pictured is Sam (left) as "Genie" and Stephanie (right) as "Jasmine." The show is recommended for ages 4 and up. For ticket information call: 614-224-6672 or visit

So It Goes

New York Times obit

A tribute in today's

I saw Kurt Vonnegut speak once. I took some students to a lecture series years ago. We sat in the front row, and from the excitement of the kids you would have thought that he was a pop singer.

I’ve often referred to the cantankerous wisdom Vonnegut shared that day. One pearl that has stuck with me is his response to the lecture series itself. The title of the lecture was pretentiously long, written by some academic to impress the likes of Vonnegut, having to do with a threatened free press in the US. Vonnegut, it would seem, would have strong feelings on the topic. He’s an author whose works are frequently banned in schools, and he was a card-carrying member of the ACLU. He did have strong feeling, but not those that might be expected. He mocked the topic and criticized it, saying that there is no threat to a free press in the US, that freedom of expression is guaranteed. He said that too many people mistake the right to express themselves with the obligation of other people to listen. No one has the right to write a bestseller. If you want to write, write. No one can stop you. Write, and then show your writing to people. Drop essays on tables in coffee shops. Don’t try to write for the world. Write for you, or the people in your family or your neighborhood. Publish in your school paper or literary journal. Hand copies out on the street. Nobody owes you an audience, but you can create whatever you want.

That's more what I heard than what he said, I suppose. I hope it's close.

To me, a guy who has a room filled with unpublished songs, three plays sitting on a shelf, and a folder filled with generally unheard lyrics, it made a lot of sense. Though most of what I’ve written sits on a shelf, what little I have shared with my small part of the world I have shared, in part, due to what Kurt Vonnegut said. So, in that spirit, I’ll share a song that my friend Chris and I wrote years ago. It’s about Vonnegut.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Flatulence, Tea Makers, and Paradise on an Airplane

A Twelve-Year-Old's View of England
courtesy of Eldest's Journal

Date: March 22nd, ‘07
Time: Around 3:00 pm
Where: Hotel (finally!)

Day One

After semi-malfunctioning ear plugs (my fault), constipation (not my fault) and hunger, not to mention three or four train rides, I let out horrible farts, composing and conducting a flatulent symphony in less than 12 seconds. I’ll call it [Eldest’s] 1st. Today was a good day (so far) except for the previously mentioned ailments.

Kensington Gardens is beautiful, but I’m disappointed that just about everything was dead. I had bookmarked that in my London for Dummies book, so I can check seeing the gardens off for now. The gardens are right next to our hotel, which makes it easy to go to them. I’ll probably see them a lot, considering that we can also use them as a means of transportation.

Lunch was fairly interesting, because we chose a Chinese restaurant, and the food was great. However, they didn’t give us silverware. Only chopsticks. Grandpa coped by using one of the serving spoons (we shared two plates), but Bumma and I seemed to be pretty good with the wooden eating utensils.

Bumma and Grandpa are both asleep, and I've decided to write in this. It was only until recently, though, that I thought Bumma and Grandpa knew what they were doing! We had to ask the hotel concierge when Spamalot is showing at the Palace. I was a little bummed that it wasn’t at the Globe.

I’m not quite sure, but I think that I’ll buy a beanie. I love them, and it’s one of the better souvenirs that you can find around in shops.

I’ve been surprised at how un-English some of the accent have been around here. There have been a few really nice cars, though (I’m putting this down because my friends want me to take pictures of “the nice England cars” for them.)

The plane was great (at least the one to here). We ended up having the middle section all to ourselves. That was nice because I got to lay down, and had two pillows. But this plane was like heaven! They had on-demand movies, music, games, and a map so that you could follow the plane via GPS.

England’s a lot more crowded than I expected, too. Everything’s right on top of each other. That’s probably for tax reasons. The hotel is a lot nicer than I expected (after the cramped- ness) too. There are three twin-sized beds, so everybody gets their own. There’s also a tea maker and a tiny TV. I’ve yet to check out the bathroom, though.

The time change hasn’t been too much of a problem for me, but I probably should get a little sleep soon if I can; don’t wanna miss any of Spamalot!

We haven’t gone on the tube yet, so I’m looking forward to that. By the way, I don’t think I’m going to have any Indian food. In England, every restaurant’s menu is in its front window, and guess their special for today. No, really. Guess. . . . Done? ‘Kay, it was fried seaweed! Eck! Don’t think that I’ll have any of that.

I’m kinda out of things so far for today, unless you want to hear about us sitting in our hotel’s lounge watching the top forty ‘80s songs strictly by women. Well first we. . .kidding.

Okay, I think I’m gonna sign off for today. I’m all out of stuff!

Love ya,


From Daughter and Youngest's Journals

From Daughter’s journal, written just before spring break:

Dear Journal,

I am very excited that we are going to Cincinnati. We are going there for fun and we have to drive my big brother [Eldest] to the airport because he is going to England. We are going to stay at a hotel with a pool and my mom said that when we get to the hotel me and my brother [Youngest] are going to jump and play in the pool even if it is really late at night. Me and [Youngest] are buds so me and him are going to have fun together with each other.

Love, your friend,


P.S. I love my little brother [Youngest}


From Youngest’s journal, as dictated to Daughter, same day, just after:

Dear Journal,

I am very excited because my brother [Eldest] is going to England and we have to drive him to the airport in Cincinnati and we are going to stay at a hotel overnight and me and my sister [Daughter] are going to jump and play at the pool in our hotel. We are going to sleep there for two nights.

Sincerely, your friend,