Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Dispatch from the Revolution: Homeschooling

Olympic Blvd. Los Angeles 2014




Virus or no virus, the show must and does go on. I woke, if not refreshed, then certainly feeling better, and Oliver and I both got busy, our second week of homeschooling. This eighth grade year will be a bit more scheduled -- more homeschool and less unschool, but it's still a daunting task that I am at once thrilled by and terrified of messing up. We're using some curriculum for writing and vocabulary, and today's "lesson" included the use of concrete nouns in a one page description of a painting or photographic scene in an art book. Oliver can't spell anything -- and I mean anything -- but he is a damn good writer. He generally writes something out on paper and then dictates it into an app on his iPad. Then we go through each sentence and proof it. Let's give a wild round of applause for technology! This year, we'll be doing the following:


  1. Writing - we're using a textbook called Wordsmith by Janie B. Cheaney. I got this recommendation from a homeschool mentor, and it's a great, simple program, albeit a bit old-fashioned. I believe it's from a Christian homeschool source, but so far I've not encountered anything objectionable (we did a lower level book under the same title last year).
  2. Grammar - Oliver is taking a high school grammar course at a very cool secular homeschool place called Urban Homeschool. He took a science class there last year, and while he has reservations about the kids that go (I think kids that have been homeschooled all their lives are different than the kids Oliver hangs out with), he appreciates having someone other than moi to work with him.
  3. Reading - Can you believe that Oliver read three books on his own this summer? That is definitely more books than he's probably read in all the years that came before this summer. They were close to grade level, and he listened to the audible story as he read on his Kindle with the words magnified. Let's hear it again for technology! We'll hopefully continue with this and supplement his study of American history (see below) with novels and poetry geared toward it.
  4. American History -- I'm so excited about the history book that we're reading. It's Howard Zinn's A Young People's History of the United States. It's adapted from Zinn's adult history book and basically tells history from the point of view of the people -- the farmers, the slaves, the Native Americans -- as opposed to what Zinn calls the leaders and the conquerors. This historical perspective is upsetting to many conservatives, and I believe it's part of the basis for that polemic of a movie America: Imagine the World Without Her. Since I have some family members who rhapsodize about that film, I'm not going to go into it here, but I'm as likely to go see it as I am to see a triple-x porn flick. Come to think of it, Michael Moore's movies, from the other side of the spectrum irritate the hell out of me, too.  Here's an excerpt from Zinn's book:  People who write and read history have gotten used to seeing terrible things such as conquest and murder as the price of progress. This is because many of them think that history is the story of governments, conquerors and leaders. In this way of looking at the past, history is what happens to states, or nations. The actors in history are kings, presidents, and generals. But what about factory workers, farmers, people of color, women, and children? They make history, too. I could probably type out the whole introduction for you -- it's that interesting.
  5. Math - I don't do math and won't do math. Oliver goes two to three times a week up the street to a math tutoring place and works at his own pace. As far as I'm concerned, unless he expresses some over-riding interest in the subject, I hope he'll learn algebra and geometry, as well as functional math and then call it a day. I really don't understand why people are forced to take math well into high school, particularly if they abhor it. Oliver actually likes a lot of it, though, so who knows where he'll end up?
  6. Science - Next week, Oliver will be starting at a school that provides one-to-one teaching and will be taking a Life Sciences course twice a week. The class is expensive, but it's a novel idea (originally used for kids who are professional actors or athletes or who just can't hack ordinary school) and really excited both of us when we toured the place. Options for high school abound -- you can basically take any high school requirement, AP classes and electives, art and music. When the proverbial ship comes in, I might transfer him there full-time and return to Bora Bora on that same ship. You know Bora Bora is my true home.
  7. Electives - We've started with this free, cool program called OnInnovation that builds on Oliver's natural entrepreneurial instincts and have downloaded the lesson plans, watched videos and worked through the discussion sheets. Again, let's hear it for technology! I've signed Oliver up for free science classes once a month at the Science Museum of Los Angeles County, and we'll take advantage of field trips organized by the homeschooling group that we joined again.


Speaking of technology, I had the best exchange with my dear friend Marie Ange, whom I wrote of here the other day. We instant messaged one another for a half an hour early this morning -- a half an hour of heartfelt words and memories and laughter. I know many of you think technology is a burden, a time suck, and a destroyer of community, and I might be one of the world's biggest contrarians, but I am grateful for it every single day. I'm not just grateful that it's provided a way out of crippling isolation for the legion of persons with disabilities, but for me in particular to keep in touch with people I love who I ordinarily might have let slip away into fond memory.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Two Tigers




We're in our separate rooms. I'm lying on the bed, puny and pathetic, my cells distracted by some invader that's made me lurch when I get out of it. She's in her room, pacing in circles, bending gracefully over to pick up the toys she loves to mouth. Music wafts out and down the short hallway, sometimes eclipsed by her moans. She might be agitated. She might be vocalizing. I don't know. I tell myself that she's happy or at least content even as she's stimming away. I push away the thought that if I opened the door, she'd walk out and away. We're in our separate rooms, like tigers in cages. Her cage is purple and cream, lined with mermaids and music, swaying palms through glass, a padded door. Mine is my thoughts, the restless guilt, the never enough, the loneliness, the overwhelming fatigue, the whimper. I've told you about tigers before, way before there were tiger moms, way before when there was only Blake and what was burning bright. Here's that post from 2009.

I'm not Chinese. I've been leached, drained of my tiger-ness, like that old story about the little boy in the jungle, the tigers who spun so fast around the tree that they melted into butter that he put on his pancakes and devoured.

Cannabis Update, Notes in a Seizure Journal



Cross your fingers and your toes, praise Jesus or dance naked in the rain.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Continued Squirrel Girl Imperil


So, this morning I walked outside to get in my car and drive the two blocks to CVS in my sexy Mazda to buy a cool mist vaporizer that might help alleviate my and Sophie's terrible coughs that I guess I'll blame on a virus worsened by the incredibly dry air that's accompanying the drought caused by global warming. Did you get that? I was immediately made aware of something angry chittering at me. I looked up, and there she was -- The Mother Squirrel. She stayed on that branch for what seemed like minutes but was probably a few seconds, and the whole time kept up the most angry racket of mutterings and growlings. For a split second I felt terrified, certain that she'd come leaping off that branch like some kind of Monty Pythonesque beast and splay herself all over my guilty face, but then I remembered that as a human, the world is under my dominion***, so I pretended bravado and looked down for a moment to adjust my phone, took the above photo and then attempted an Instagram video as she scampered away. Basically, I got away with a scolding, but I'm certain she was pissed at me for not taking care of her baby. I have no idea whether her baby is even alive, but when I got into my car, my other least favorite animal appeared from under my car -- a big, fluffy black cat -- which makes me a tad suspicious that she was waiting around for another baby to fall from the nest.

In all seriousness, if there's such a thing as karma, this might be a testament to its veracity. Baby squirrels falling from nests, black cats lying in wait, sexy Mazdas  instead of legs, a persistent cough and headache, no rain for eight months -- what does it all MEAN?









***Just kidding. I don't really believe that the world is under my dominion. I was only quoting a very well-known Mormon blogger who years ago poo-pooed global warming with that Biblical imperative.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A City Girl and a Squirrel and UPDATE



UPDATE: The squirrel has disappeared. Oliver noted that it was there one minute and gone the next, so we're hoping it recovered from the fall and scampered off to join its brethren.



That thar is a baby squirrel that might have fallen out of a tree that I nearly backed over but noticed as I walked to my car. I didn't scream out loud, but I screamed in my mind. In case you didn't know this about me, I'm a city girl. In fact, many moons ago, I had a roommate during my sophomore year in college who was a sweet, sweet young woman from Beulahville, North Carolina. Despite the fact that she had a Jesus is Lord Carolina blue frisbee pinned to her side of the room and I was the type gal who sometimes slept the night out, she never judged me nor tried to save me, and we became great friends. One weekend, she invited me to her home in Beulahville, and since I was dying to go to such a bucolic-sounding place and knew that I'd eat delicious food, I accepted. Her daddy was a turkey farmer -- he didn't have turkeys out in the dirt, pecking around (or is that chickens) but rather housed them in several vast football field sized barns. When you stepped inside, the din was outrageous. I think some people even wore earphones. There might have been millions of turkeys crowded in this giant barn, and the feathers were flying, the stench was outrageous, and I believe I raised my hands up to my ears and stood there stupefied. This was so many moons ago that I don't think we had expressions like organic farming or free-range, so when I stepped into those barns with my hands over my ears, a bit green at the edges, my roommate's daddy just hooted and hollered at me. He had the thickest of North Carolina accents and was as sweet as sugar on a stick, as my Alabama friend Sybil used to say, and later that day when he fiddled with his radio, he screamed at me, How'd ya like to get on my ham radio, city girl? 

Anywho.

That squirrel.

After screaming in my mind, I noticed that it was still moving so I ran inside and got Saint Mirtha who not only watches Sophie most Saturdays but is good in a pinch for things like taking a brown paper bag and scooping up a baby squirrel. I disappeared in my sexy Mazda and went to Trader Joe's, but not before posting that photo on Facebook with a request for advice on what to do. I got a bushel o' advice, my favorites being get it the hell outside from a friend in Nashville who apparently doesn't know me that well and thought I had brought the thing in my house, and Here in Texas they'd just throw him in the stew from a southern friend who always makes me laugh. Mostly people were helpful and suggested that I call wildlife rescue, and a few people kindly sent me websites that detailed How to Care for a Baby Squirrel, and when I opened up those links, I screamed again in my mind and immediately felt bad that I'm really not as good of a person as I might seem because, really, the last thing I want to do is nurse a baby squirrel back to life, even if it is dying a slow death on a bag on my front lawn.

Where, where are the coyotes that come down out of the Hollywood hills and kill small dogs?***







***I can't even imagine what Anonymous thinks of me now.

Drought


In case you hadn't heard, California is in a very big drought. We're letting our grass go brown and dead because it's really almost sinful to continue to water it. Even with water restrictions in place, the sight of glossy green lawns makes my stomach turn, and I'm trying not to be moralistic about it. I think about it all day long, to tell you the truth, the drought and the brown lawn and maybe what I'll plant there or do to that space when my ship comes in -- or runs aground, I should say. Despite the drought, I took a shower today that was on the long side and very hot. I was hoping that it might help my cough. I know people don't believe in global warming, still, but maybe they will wake up when all the fruits and vegetables and nuts and grains that California provides to the world wither and dry up, too.

And speaking of heads up nether regions, there's a drought going on here in blog world, too, at least at this blog. I just don't have much to say. I dragged myself to a movie last night with Oliver, my friend and her son, but it was a very stupid football movie. I actually love a good football movie, even though I hate football, but this one was just dumb and sad all around. I can't even remember the name of it -- something about standing tall and proud? Football and the military -- two things that I just don't have the love gene for, I think.

Or maybe I'm just depressed, and if I pulled my own head out of the proverbial nether regions, I'd have felt moved by the story of how football orders some kids' lives who would otherwise have nothing.  Like Eeyore, though, my thoughts run more to the doleful, thinking that those kids are just pawns in a massive and gross money/education/bullshit machine that makes me despair.

A drought of the spirit.

Jeez. This is an unbalanced post, isn't it? How about a poem?


Take Love for Granted

Assume it's in the kitchen,
under the couch, high
in the pine tree out back,
behind the paint cans
in the garage. Don't try
proving your love
is bigger than the Grand
Canyon, the Milky Way,
the urban sprawl of L.A.
Take it for granted. Take it
out with the garbage. Bring
it in with the takeout. Take
it for a walk with the dog.
Wake it every day, say,
"Good morning." Then
make the coffee. Warm
the cups. Don't expect much
of the day. Be glad when
you make it back to bed.
Be glad he threw out that
box of old hats. Be glad
she leaves her shoes
in the hall. Snow will
come. Spring will show up.
Summer will be humid.
The leaves will fall
in the fall. That's more
than you need. We can
love anybody, even
everybody. But you
can love the silence,
sighing and saying to
yourself, "That' s her."
"That's him." Then to
each other, "I know!
Let's go out for breakfast!"


Jack Ridl
via The Writer's Almanac

Friday, August 29, 2014

Marie Ange


I was just riffling through a small box, looking for the business card of The Foot Doctor, whose name I can never remember, so that I can make an appointment for Henry, whose big toe appears to be acting up again, not responding to the Epsom salt soaks. Anyhoo. I was riffling through the cards and pulled out the above photo that I haven't seen in years, sent to me by my old friend Mary Angel (or Marie Ange, as we said in our bad French accents).  I'm still a tad sick, as is Sophie, and I'm feeling all whimpery, edgy, like the end of the world is coming and it's all centered around me. Do you know that feeling? I keep reading people's gratitude lists and keep staving off the sinking feeling that --what? Just a sinking feeling, I guess. A sinking feeling that has nothing to do with anything in particular. I could chalk it up to the virus I'm fighting -- these sorts of viruses attack the central nervous system, I think, and push me into mild depression. I guess. I'm not really sure of anything, to tell you the truth, other than that I have a sore throat and a vague feeling of dread and weirdness. Mary Angel is one funny lady, and we shared many laughs during the four years we were in school together, many at the expense of the evangelicals that surrounded us in family, friends and atmosphere. There was no mockery, though, just amusement and solidarity. I guess. She took that photo many years after college, though, when we hadn't seen each other for a long, long time, and while I don't remember where I was when she sent it to me or what I was feeling, I must have thought it funny enough to save and stash away. Today, though, I felt buoyed up when I pulled it out of that stack of cards, buoyed up and out of myself and into laughter. Pierced. Saved. I know.

Thank you, Marie Ange. Body piercing did indeed save my life, at least for today.

Thoughts (Not Rants) for the Day on Disability and Worth and the Supposed Welfare State

*** I'm re-posting this because I don't have anything to say today other than some paltry words about how weird it is to read of the ALS organization's request to patent the words "Ice-bucket Challenge" as their own and to continue to wonder how effectively they'll use the nearly $100 million dollars that they raised. Since my reservations about non-profit foundations and the way they conduct business in this country were met so vociferously and rudely the last time I voiced them, I'll stick to issues that I know of very intimately, like this one.


I read this article this afternoon as I languished, a bit sick, at home. For the record, I did do some part time work and home-schooled Oliver in American history and writing. The article was titled Aid to Disabled Kids Surpasses Welfare and states that the amount of federal money going to disabled kids through Supplemental Security Income programs has surpassed traditional welfare programs. You can imagine what this means. There will be people (conservatives) talking about corruption and those who milk the system and rely on government benefits, who don't use their bootstraps properly, who go on vacations when they find out they've qualified for disability and who are otherwise, losers. They will claim that the increasing numbers of children diagnosed with mental health issues, ADHD and other disabilities should actually be parented differently.

There will be people (liberals) blasting the conservatives for once again targeting the vulnerable, blind to white collar corruption and to military expenditures and waste that probably surpass the GDP of most second and third world countries, much less welfare and SSI expenditures. They will talk about the shrinking middle class, how the poor, truly cut off from welfare as it was once known, depend on SSI to even make ends meet.

What you probably won't hear, though, are the voices of those who benefit from SSI programs, many of whom are, literally, without voice. You won't hear about how difficult it is to actually get the benefits, how much education you have to have to parse out the requirements, and in the absence of education, the sheer stamina and persistence  to make sense of the paperwork, to navigate the system, to continue to care for the child with disabilities, to plan for her future with or without you. You won't hear the voices of those who have to continue to make a case for needing the money each year. You will hear that these people are working the system, making up disability so that they don't have to work, that their numbers are growing and America will go bankrupt dealing with them.

First of all, you know that I've a liberal voice, and my voice also happens to be Sophie's voice, since she doesn't have one of her own. Sophie began receiving SSI benefits monthly when she turned 18, the bulk of which I use to pay for the huge drug co-pays that her insurance company doesn't cover, any other medical treatments that her insurance company doesn't cover, her diaper wipes (I pay for her diapers with my own money even though they're covered under MediCal) and various toiletries, occasional clothing and apps for her iPad that she uses at school. Last month, I used part of the money to help pay for her two weeks at communication camp. I realize that some of this is luxury -- she could sit at home in her stroller (also partly paid for by SSI), next to me at my desk as I do my part time work instead of going to camp for three hours. Since I've never found a dentist that provides adequate dental care under Medi-Cal (Sophie receives dental insurance under Medi-Cal but none through our private insurer), I chose to continue to see our family dentist. It's expensive, and in order to keep Sophie's mouth healthy and because it's very difficult to brush her teeth adequately, we pay out of pocket every three months for a cleaning. The SSI money helps with that as well. Sophie's needs are met with a combination of government funds and those earned by her father and me, as well as generous donations toward her care given to us by my parents. I know that there are many, many people out there like us, making ends meet, not abusing the system and grateful for every bit of help -- both private and public. I know that without the combination of funding sources, many of us would have to resort to going into debt, to living far more stressful lives than we already do and to turning our children over to institutional care so that we, their caregivers, can try to find full-time jobs.

I understand that the system will always have corruption, and that some people will take advantage of that system, lie and cheat and steal in order to get something for free. I understand that part of my tax money is going to help the liars and the cheaters and the thieves, but I have a feeling that the vast majority of those that use these funds are doing so responsibly and because they very much need them. I understand that part of my tax money also goes to fund bombs and arms and war apparatus, even if I don't support those wars. It's a sort of price I pay to live in the country that I live in, a democracy where I supposedly vote for the representative that best works in my interest. I understand that people (and I know some of these people) who have millions of dollars but who are also veterans continue to collect what they're "owed," and while I believe that is pretty low-brow, even repellent, I also believe that my taxes go toward far more veterans who, after serving their country, are out of work, homeless, mentally ill, permanently injured or otherwise in need of them. For every Mitt Romney pumping money into tax havens or writing off dressage horses, there are countless businessmen and women getting into their cars and going to work, collecting their paychecks and paying their taxes.

What's the point of this post? Hell, if I know. I guess reading that article sent a frisson of fear into me. The fear is that the difficult job of caring for a person with disabilities in this country will get even more difficult. The fear is that this "difficulty" is really just a cultural construct -- that living in a nation that exalts individual responsibility to the exclusion of community makes my daughter's value recognizable only in dollar terms. The fear is the knowledge that she, and millions like her have to constantly prove their worth. I have certainly been proving her worth for the past nineteen years, and I suppose I'll have the stamina and grit to continue to do so, but damn. It's difficult.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

I'm going to watch this all day in lieu of connecting to the world

Laird Hamilton SUP surfing in Epic Malibu conditions!! He shoots the pier twice!!! from Dual Hemisphere Media on Vimeo.


That video was taken yesterday! I knew the waves were huge on Sunday when we were at the beach, and evidently Hurricane Marie is causing giant swells. Unfortunately, I've got what Sophie had and there's no use listening or watching any current events, but it's the first day of my new year, I'm happy to be alive and hope that in my next life I am a surfer.

It's coming on September, and it's hot. I wish that it would rain. I feel guilty even watering my potted lime and lemon trees.

What are ya'll doing today?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Gifts, Poetry and Cake




I've had a lovely day -- breakfast with my friend Jenni, flowers from those neighborhood cuties above, and a coconut cake that I bought myself in the late afternoon. Henry surprised me with a card and an apple, carved into a swan.


Who knew?

Oliver gave me the most beautiful blue reclining Buddha. Here it is in front of my friend Moye's gorgeous pottery:


I posted both the apple turned swan and the Buddha on Facebook, and Heather McHugh -- that angel saint poet who gave me the respite week last year and who is the founder of Caregifted -- wrote a comment that is a poem. Honestly, I am in awe and so honored. Here it is:

amazing how much they have in common, the swan and buddha, in these iterations... but though the steadiness of the buddha's eye is to live for, the seediness of the swan's eye is to die for.

Wow. Right?

And then someone left this link on my last post which I believe is perfectly suited to a person who was born in 1963.



So, there you go. Gifts, poetry and cake -- I am rich indeed.

Birthday Number 51

My first birthday
August 27, 1964


Good lord. Evidently my love of cake began at an early age. Look how young my parents were, how adorable! That was fifty years ago!

I guess there was another party which meant more cake for me:


Doesn't Sophie sort of resemble my darling mother in that photo?

Oh, here I am eating cake on my sweet sixteenth birthday with one of my oldest friends, Audrey.  She lives in New York City but usually calls me a day or so after to wish me happy birthday. We've made a ritual out of that, and I would never want her to call me on the actual day. I'll pick up the phone and she'll say, Happy Birthday! and I'll say It was the 27th! and she'll say I thought it was the 29th! and then she'll tell me that the only reason I remember her birthday is because she was born on the exact day that my parents were married, which was in October of 1962, ten months and several weeks BEFORE I was born, my mother is quick to remind me. You know, just in case I thought less of her. In any case, this silly ritual has amused Audrey and me for decades.



Sometime this week I'll probably eat cake with my other oldest friend, Moye, and we'll laugh together and I'll realize how much I love her and am grateful for our long friendship. Later today, I'll eat cake with my children, open presents from my sisters and my parents, be grateful for a body that is strong and healthy, and a  life that is blessed with beautiful children, family and friends.

I hope to live another fifty years on this wonderful planet, particularly if I morph into my southern Italian peasant grandmother and live in Bora Bora in one of those huts over the cerulean sea.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Whisky Sour and a Birthday Eve Dinner




Emily, Sylvia, Leah and I have been taking one another out for birthday lunches or dinner for over ten years, now, and tonight they took me to a fabulous new restaurant around the corner called Republique. I got there early and sipped an amazing whiskey sour that had whipped egg whites in it. I know that's standard and authentic, but I'd never had it and can I tell you that that was one outrageous drink? The rest of our meal was outstanding -- we ordered so many dishes that I couldn't begin to remember and do justice to them here. There were salads and sushi and soft shell crab and vegetables tempura and rich pasta carbonara and crusty bread with salted Normandy butter. We laughed and talked and caught up for several hours  and ate so much that we turned down dessert before rolling out and back home.

Thank you, ladies, for a beautiful evening!

How to Figure Out What's Wrong With Your Non-Verbal Child 233***




***This is an advanced class, designated 233 for the number of months said child has been non-verbal. If you have not advanced through How to Figure Out What's Wrong with Your Non-Verbal Child 1- 36, you may not find this class relevant to your life. You can read on for random stimulation but might find the contents upsetting or completely boring. In any case, the above photo is from the other day, during a brief respite from shallow, heaving breathing.


  1. Take note of extreme number of seizures on one particular day, but figure it's the lower ratio CBD oil or the moon.
  2. Wonder if the extreme number of seizures is actually a portent of an earthquake.
  3. Take note of earthquake happening in home state but dismiss as reason given how far away earthquake is from home city.
  4. Ponder why child is breathing shallow and hard, constantly.
  5. Ask oneself: Is she breathing like this because she is having an asthma attack? Place head on chest and try to discern wheezing. Is she breathing like this because she is now more alert and thinks it's fun? Tell her to stop it right now because the breathing thing is driving everyone insane. Is she breathing like this as a sort of seizure? Observe that after getting higher ratio CBD, the seizures actually stop yet the breathing continues. Notice that she's particularly alert and happy and is once again having no seizures. Is the breathing self-stimulating? Decide that there's no way to tell.
  6. Ponder why child is reluctant to drink anything. Force child to drink by dripping liquid into her mouth.
  7. Obsess about hydration and constipation.
  8. Start worrying about having to call The Doctor.
  9. Tell oneself that every time you take her to the doctor, it costs hundreds of dollars, and it's probably a virus. 
  10. Last night, during a coughing fit, observe the child to really be struggling to breathe and coughing up some pale yellowy mucous. Observe that she is very agitated and uncomfortable.
  11. Worry that she might have aspirated something or have pneumonia. Think about the interaction of CBD and Onfi and wonder if it's all going to kill her.
  12. Calm down when she calms down after you apply some Baby Vick's Lavender Vapo-Rub, but call the doctor anyway and make an appointment to take her in the morning.
  13. Take the child in to the doctor and try to answer all the pertinent questions despite not being able to really tell the doctor what, exactly, the child feels. Be reminded that the last time the child was on an antibiotic, she was less than three years old when speech was still a viable hope.
  14. Help hold the child down so that nurse can get a throat culture to check for strep. Nurse, doctor and you talk in calm and determined voices as you hold the child down on the floor and dodge her flailing legs and arms.
  15. Stand up with child, look her in the eyes and firmly tell her to calm down, everything is all right. 
  16. Cry a few tears when she throws her head into the tiny Buddha necklace that digs into your clavicle in just the right spot to cause obliterating momentary pain.
  17. Feel grateful for the physical pain that can mask the emotional pain of the whole freaking situation.
  18. Repeat above steps so that doctor can listen to lungs, heart and get a pulse oximeter reading.
  19. Try to explain to doctor what you think might be the problem, and because doctor is so wonderful and states that since she never sees Sophie because she's always so healthy, she agrees and orders an x-ray of her lungs to check for aspiration and/or pneumonia.
  20. Feel relieved and grateful that the quick strep test is negative but listen with sorrow to the doctor explain that her throat looks pus- y and that we shouldn't rule out strep until the culture is fully grown. 
  21. Feel extra sorrow because this is why she hasn't been drinking. Her throat is sore, and she's unable to tell you.
  22. Drive to x-ray place and curse oneself, silently, for not bringing the wheelchair. Apologize out loud to child who is sitting in back seat, less agitated but still breathing heavily.
  23. Fill out forms in x-ray office with one leg over child because she won't stay still and you can't tell her to do so.
  24. Go into the back of the office, don a lead apron and help the technician to hold the child while another technician operates the machine. 
  25. Keep talking to extremely agitated child who doesn't understand what's going on, other than that she's wearing a heavy lead skirt, is being asked to raise her arms and stand in one place without moving.
  26. Cry a bit inside.
  27. Feel grateful when technician is finished, they get clear x-rays and she helps you to dress Sophie.
  28. Feel tearful when the technician kneels down and puts Sophie's shoe on her foot.
  29. Feel momentarily irritated when technician says God only gives you what you can handle! like you've never heard that statement before and actually might welcome it, but realize just as quickly that she is a goddess of a technician and who cares what bullshit she says so kindly?
  30. Receive the news that the lungs are clear and feel nearly orgasmic with relief.
  31. Walk back to the car and feel nearly tearful with gratitude for the valet dude who helps you to put the child in the car.
  32. Drive home wondering if you'll figure out what the hell is wrong with child, knowing that she probably just has a virus.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Part 2 of Ray Bradbury's Inadvertent Writing Prompt

February, 2012

Here's the Raymond Chandler quote again, in case you missed it from the earlier post:

“You have to write the way you see things. I tell people, Make a list of ten things you hate and tear them down in a short story or poem. Make a list of ten things you love and celebrate them. When I wrote Fahrenheit 451 I hated book burners and I loved libraries. So there you are.” 
Ray Bradbury 

You sent me some great hate lists, and now it's time to list ten things you love. I think what comes after that is something that you create from both lists. In fact, let's have a contest. Send me what you "tear down" from your ten hates and what you "celebrate" what your ten loves -- a short story, a play, poetry, a prose poem --and I'll read it. Hell, if you can write a novel really quickly with this prompt, do that and send it to me! I'll pick out the one I like best, post it here and send you a copy of my friend Brittany's new novel Angel Food. I've been meaning to review her raucous book, unlike anything I've ever read with an almost old-fashioned sense of story and plot and characters, yet so twisted in sensibility that your head spins in the best way, making you feel at once invigorated and breathless with anticipation. Oh, and the characters become as real as anyone you've ever met but are at once completely surreal, both terrifying and irresistible. How's that for a mini-review? If you're not going to win the contest, you need to click on over to Amazon and buy it and read it for yourself. You'll thank me for telling you to do so.

Here are ten things I love:


  1. the moon
  2. the word and the color cerulean
  3. fat and tedious novels written about characters in the nineteenth century
  4. those three children in that old photo up there
  5. pizza, pasta and yellow cake with dark chocolate frosting
  6. California and its temperate weather with no humidity
  7.  men with wicked senses of humor
  8. Van Morrison's voice, especially when he sings "Astral Weeks"
  9. Yosemite Park
  10. a stack of books not yet read with a few slim books of favorite old poetry mixed in

Your turn --

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