Tuesday, November 06, 2018

This is who we are

Again, and again I hear friends declare, "This is not who we are."

You know what? This is who we are. All of it.

If it is happening, it is because we as a society have decided, "This is ok." We the people hold the power to change society for the better. We better start acting like it.

So sure, when a gunman opens fire on a crowd of concertgoers or churchgoers.... that is not who you are, but it is the policies of the representatives that a majority of Americans support which allowed it to happen. Liberal gun laws. Removing protections limiting the mentally ill from possessing firearms. The shattering of the safety nets of society that support the most vulnerable. These are the policies embraced by a majority of our representatives in Congress. This is who we are.

And when xenophobia works, this too is who we are. We aren't shutting down the streets while concentration camps are made in our name. Sure, we shirk away from our racist uncle when he says something embarrassing at the kitchen table, but we don't call him out. And it isn't just the rants from the bully pulpit. He's just saying the quiet part out loud. These are the policies that a majority of Americans have embraced for some time. This is who we are. I've watched NIMBY-ism in my own backyard. So-called progressive neighbors worried about who might move into the apartment complex proposed on the vacant lot next door. And rather than seeing what could be, they fall back on fearmongering and obstructionism. This is who we are.

There is little we can do to change the national stage. But we each have tremendous sway in the neighborhoods and communities we call home.

The apartment complex did get built, but thanks to the leadership of the City Council and a few vocal citizens, we have more than apartments and a strip mall. Yes, we have apartments, but at their core is a small main street of shops. It is a place where people can gather... get a bite to eat, have a drink, talk among friends. Is it perfect? No, far from it. It is no Hyde Park. But it is as Hyde Park as you can get across the street from a Walmart. This is the promise of a representative democracy. You elect people who will represent all of us, think of the impact of their actions on others and will work for the common good. To make things a bit better for the future. Sometimes despite us.

If what is everyday is not who you are, be the change. Call it out. Don't let your friend make that sexist joke in front of your friends. Call him out. Check your own behavior.

Today when you walk into that ballot box, think of the most vulnerable people in your lives. Those who live at the margins.

Your vote will decide if your neighbor can afford that dialysis.

Your vote will decide who is protected under the law and who is not.

Your vote will determine how our nation responds to climate change.

And your vote decides what values guide the development of your community.

If the now is not who you are, be the change. Bend the world into the future you imagine, make a we that you can embrace.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

More todays

I have never felt grown up.  Perhaps the fact I still have a boyish face that gets carded every time I visit the liquor store plays a role in that. I try to stay young.

There are many things I've done in my life of which I'm proud.  My marriage.  My son. I heard Louis CK say once that until you have kids you don't know love. He couldn't be more right.  Yes, I would not only throw myself in front of a bus to save him, I'm throw my wife too if it'd make any difference. I hope my son will grow up knowing the depth of that love.

The full moon guides me to a ridge overlooking the city.  My footsteps crunch against the frozen ground.  Bellatrix, Rigel, Arcturus, Castor, Pollux and hundreds more stars I know not names swirl overhead.  It is nearly midnight.  The hour, the temperature, the day.  They lead to one feeling that's been too infrequent of late.  Alive.

One Cuban cigar remains from my honeymoon.  It lights easily, and I cough.  The tip glows a rich orange and the taste reminds me of campfires.  I don't know why it is my hand. I'd like to think that taste is why I brought it up here.  A taste that brings back the feeling of your elbows resting on your knees while the warmth of the fire and friends surrounds you.  That moment.  You know the one, where conversation slows late in the evening.  The flirtations, planning, updates and nothing talk is complete.  What is left has purpose.  You stare into the firelight and become for a time one with each another, the stars and the spirit.  What talk there is matters.

40.  It puts your life in rather harsh relief.  Doors close.  Some paths are simply plowed under.

I have a woman I love deeply.  A son who lights my world with joy.  A job I love.  I live in a place I love.  I've been blessed.

But damn the mundanity of it all.  Below me is a sea of glowing boxes.  Boxes where people live out their lives.  Waking, breakfast, drive to work.  Come home, cook dinner, watch tv, go to bed.  Nothingness.

"If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine. It’s lethal."
- Paulo Coelho

I try to get out there.  I try to change the world for the better and leave more value than I take.

Here's to less some days and more todays.  Here's to more dreams, more passion, more excitement.  Here's to not growing up.  Here's to living a life with purpose.  Here's to the next 40.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

There are watch batteries inside AA batteries

To be exact there are eight A76 watch batteries inside a AA and four inside a A544 (pictured).  Frugal tips!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


In just a few minutes we will be discharged from the hospital after an unexpectedly extended six day stay.
It feels liberating and a little scary.

For Mom and baby it was a race to the finish. Andrew won the race by four hours, graduating from the NICU around one in the afternoon on Tuesday April 10th after spending part of six days under intensive care.  The evening before, the doctors started Shelly on a new blood pressure drug.  The impact was dramatic and after several days of very elevated levels Mom's blood pressure was considered stable and Mom was cleared for release Tuesday evening.

It wasn't our plan, but it was in the end a pleasant experience, like spending a week in the hotel with better service and no pool.

Baby Two-Step

It's more a dance than a race and for each couple steps mom and baby make towards one another, they take one rock-step in place.  The last few days have been like that.  Baby steps.  The baby two-step.

Andrew continues to grow stronger.  He started his first day with an IV of Dextrose in his sweet noggin to combat low blood sugar.  Unfortunately, the IV only lasted eight hours before Daddy knocked it out trying to hold him.  We decided to try to hold his blood sugar up with just bottles every two hours instead of retapping his veins.  It seemed smart at the time.  Just like Mom and Dad his little veins roll too, and he had four holes in one hand and three in the other to prove it.

Using just bottles worked for a spell, but after about ten hours of just bottles his blood sugar plummeted to the low twenties again - where it was when he entered the NICU.  Rock-step.  An IV went back in his hand, with 12mL of Dextrose again.  He came back strong, his blood sugar levels returned to normal and after half a day we started weaning at the rate of 1mL for each feeding with a strong blood sugar.  My little man soldiered on making steady progress until we hit 4mL/hr.  He hung there for another half a day before his sugar levels and strength returned.  Then it was 3.  Then Andrew decided he didn't like the IV and ripped it out.  Rock-step.  He struggled without it.  Drew's sugar levels dropped but not quite to the panic level, but close.  For the next day he adjusted.  Then last night, he found his mojo again and starting pulling not just good numbers, but great numbers.

Shelly is dancing the same dance a few floors up to a different tune.  You know what they say, "If it's not blood sugar, it's blood pressure!"  Actually, I've never heard anyone say that.

The C-Section was scheduled due to Shelly's high blood pressure.  After Drew emerged rather than getting better, Shel's blood pressure got worse.  So while I was with Drew struggling for breath and then battling blood sugar issues - Shelly was upstairs trying not to go into a seizure. Seriously. They put bumpers on her bed.

Shelly made steady progress springing back from surgery, but blood pressure haunts her recovery.  She was first on magnesium for twenty-four hours.  Then various blood pressure medicines.  Then cocktails of drugs, some successful, some not.  Hope one moment, disappointment the next.  But never despair.  For the moment, for Shelly, it is hope.  She just had a blood pressure one might call within the range of normal.  Perhaps more shocking since her overnight readings were on the edge of alarming.

My girl has also found a role, often remotely, in motherhood.  Through meetings with the lactaction consultant we have been able to fine-tune methods for breastfeeding and find the right pump.  Every three hours now, even with the baby downstairs in NICU, we are up and pumping - sending first small syringes and now bags of breastmilk downstairs for our little man.  Even though her blood pressure often kept her chained to the bed, it gave purpose and hope.

Hope, I've used that word a lot today.  The word hope might be misleading, and an artifact of the limitations of language.  Because it's more than hope really - it's love.  Because despite my past opinion of hospitals and what you hear about healthcare - like other professions staffed out of love: teaching, counseling, biology... this is a place of love.  The staff at St. Luke's NICU and Labor and Delivery have been nothing short of amazing.  It is clear that they care deeply and passionately about their patients and those that care for them. The atmosphere is joyful and love runs like a current through the staff.  I'm hesitant to name names, because *everyone* has been fantastic, but a few individuals do stand out in our experience above the rest.

In the NICU: Julia has been an absolute angel. Saralyn has calmly led me into fatherhood. Brandy and Nicole have buoyed my spirits and kept us all afloat. Stacey and Jennie have led my little man toward success. Nora held my sanity and my son in the rush from the OR to the NICU, and appeared again to set the IV in my boy that no one else could set.

In L&D: Jessica kept us spirited and laughing, while Cindy had us in stitches.  Diane adopted Shelly and cared for her like her daughter.  Roma for going way beyond to make sure we were comfortable.  Rachel, Christy, Natalie... everyone is great.

Everyone here is beyond professional with all the best and most loving parts that come with the word family.

As for the dance?  We just received word that Mommy's Rockstar just got the his cap and gown and graduated from the NICU.  He is headed upstairs to mommy's bed in within the hour!  Way to go my man!  Daddy is so proud!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Mommy's Rockstar

After a day of rest our little guy is back!  I have been told day two is always rough.  Andrew did hit the bottle pretty hard for the first 24 hours.

Day two was the hangover.  To get Andrew to stay awake to eat we had to resort to torture.   Wet cloths under his armpits were most effective.  He would take two sips from the bottle and pass out again.  Around noon Saturday, as he entered his third day with us, his punchiness returned. 

Last night we got in Andrew's first bath.  He wasn't a fan, but he endured.  We dressed him up in some new duds and "Mommy's Rockstar" spent his time like any rocker: fondling and sucking on boobies and drinking until he passed out (repeat).

Mom and son are both getting more familiar with breastfeeding.  It's a process, an art, and a labor.  But we are moving forward.  And by we you think I mean them.  Turns out though Dad is pretty good at expressing, so I am not without utility.

Bear had a really great night.  He has been drinking lots and his blood sugars have been strong.  He is halfway off his IV and with luck and love he could get off of the IV completely by Monday morning.

Mom's blood pressure is still high, but she is off her IV and magnesium and is in great spirits.  It is a time for celebration.

Happy Easter everyone.  Rock out.  \m/

Saturday, April 07, 2012


I'm not quite sure what I expected.  I know I did not expect that within five minutes of meeting my little man, I'd have given up anything to save him.  It's not something for which you can prepare.

It is an epochal shift in one's life.  One that laughs at all but the most sublime experiences of my past.  I'd heard parents joke about it.  I remember one comedian saying, "You expect you might throw yourself in front of a bus for your child.  What they don't tell you is that you'll grab your spouse and throw her in front of the bus, too."  To experience the transition was far more definitive than anything I'd imagined.

Andrew emerged, not crying but sort of gurgling, and despite the best efforts of long tubes, turkey basters and various other implements of suction, he kept struggling.  A certain urgency overtook the OR, and Mom kept repeating, "Why isn't he crying?"  I have a picture of his birth weight.  He's not in it.  They were moving fast.

Generally life is a blur in hindsight.  On this day, life was a blur in the present.  Mom was still cut open with surgeons working all around, a separate team surrounded our little Bear.  It was too much, after checking in with Mom and confirming he was our baby Andrew, I focused just on him as we quickly left the OR headed for NICU.  I stayed focused on him until his breathing was normalized and the flurry of activity around him slowed.

A lot has happened since. Andrew is battling low blood sugars, while Mom is fighting high blood pressure.  Unfortunately, that finds them separated by six floors, and their time together has been limited.  Mom had only minutes with Andrew in his first twelve hours until grandma brokered an excursion downstairs around midnight.  Today we found more time together and both Mom and my little bear are making solid progress.

Just this evening, Shelly was released from her IV's and moments ago Andrew has started being weaned off his IV.  I feel very blessed.  My beautiful wife just brought me the cutest little boy.  I am so in love with them both.