These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

miss you

its christmas time and its a time for cheer, laughter, togetherness, sharing and festivity. i will feel all of those things this year, as i do every year. except that this year things are slightly different for my family with my dad's cancer.

things appear to be going well with it and yes the tumors have shrunk, with the exception of one. he has had more chemo during themonth of december, chemo that should have continued to shrink. he will have another exam some time in late january to see where things stand and at that point determine what the situation is and what is next to proceed.

however, it is still sad. my dad is not my dad anymore. he is not the person dawn and i saw last in june when he had his surgery. and he most certainly is not the same man we saw during our first visit to texas in march. then, he was blissfully unaware of the cancer lurking inside his colon and liver. he was the man i knew and grew up knowing, the quiet, soft-spoken man with the hidden intelligence and wit that lie just beneath the surface, things i sometimes wish i'd gotten from him.

i talked to my mom this morning and she was happy to hear from me. we talked about dad and how he and my sister were in cahoots to get her something. he told her he needed help from my sister to choose something for her. he couldn't do it himself. he admitted to her finally that his mind isn't what is used to be -- the chemo is taking its toll on his brain and thought process. she broke down and cried several days ago after that conversation, a rare thing for her. but i think a necesary thing for her to do to release that emotion that had been bottled up inside her.

i have not yet seen my dad since his chemo started and i will be shocked somewhat when i see him. but i do get glimpses of him on the phone. when we talk, he cuts conversatons short. at other times i ask a question or finish something in the conversation and he doesnt' answer or continue it. there is a pause and then he asks something else or goes off in another direction. so i have noticed his lapses.

i guess what i miss is my dad being the way he was before. the simple things he did when i was growing up. the things he said or sounds he made. one of them i'd give to hear again and never complain about it. when i was growing up during breakfast my dad would hve his first cup of coffee in the morning. he'd take his first sip and say "ahhh" after he tasted it. being a non-morning person, it would irritate me to no end, since i was still half asleep. and of course he'd do it on purpose. now, the sound of my dad, in good health making that sound, is something i'll carry with me. a fond memory from childhood.

my mom said my dad misses me.
well, pop, i miss you, too. love.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

dark horse

some of the night crew and myself gathered at birdman's house last night for a round of...Trivial Pursuit. yep, we duked it out intellectually for hours after work. it was the first time we'd all got together since sometime in early spring at dan's house. so we had the original gang of mark, dan, krista, alan and jason back.

we threw a die to see who would go first. i was fifth to go. so it was slow going. i sipped a lot of coke while i waited my turn. such slow going as dan and mark sped off
ahead of the pack, answering left and right. (both should apply for mensa membership in the coming year.).

so it was finally my turn to answer a question. nothing. up and out. and it was similar for the next three or four turns. nothing. i'd get a real difficult question. suddenly it felt as if i was sitting among geniuses and i started trailing -- even though both jason and krista also had no pie wedges, too.

then, i made my move. i pulled off the the side and started speeding up, leaving the some of the pack behind and catching up to those two mentally stimulated mark and dan. that's when alan said, " here comes the dark horse."

then the game leveled off, i went up to about three pieces, tying mark and dan. alan got a few. krista got one. maybe jason had one. there was a lull in the action. so we joked about various things, including questions, how certain questions were asked, mark's affinity and likeness to andy in "40 year old virgin" (a nonstop source of fun) and of course that excellent movie out in theaters "brokeback mountain."

i sipped my coke. the taquito pile in front of me started diminishing until there were a few left, then none. the chips dish disappeared, as did the spicy nacho dip. mark had to finally bring out his nuts (a can that is) and started chomping o them.

and the game raged on and on. it was a battle of wills, screw-ups and questions like "which emmy winning sit-com star came outageout as spokesman for irritable bowel syndrome in 2000?" which mark answered incorrectly. correct answer: kelsey grammar.

krista dazzled the group by answering a question correctly about a man sword-swallowing eight swords for a world's record. that brought on some laughter when dan started imitating sean connery in a SNL spoof on jeoprdy!. alan's vast knowledge of sports kept in going when we were stumped.

then i made my move.

i got a string of questions correct and suddenly i was up to five pie wedges, astounding the group with my knowledge of world events, people, history, entertainment. all sat mouth agape as i swept the board. (alan even claimed i had x-ray vision, since i looked at the question while the card lay flat on the table and then answered the question correctly.).

then it happened. i needed my last pie wedge. sports. it came up twice for a chance. if only my vast vault of knowledge inside my liquid-filled cranium would also include volumes of reams of sports information. alas, it does not.

which founding father's statue is in the national swimming museum? i chose jefferson. my second chose (the correct answer) was franklin. lost it.

second question: what suit is the one-eyed king? one in four chance. i thought it over. i answered spades. correct answer: diamonds.

so i never got my final wedge. mark (after eating a lot of nuts) suddenly gained super human mental strength and quickly grabbed the sixth piece. upon finally reaching the center, he got the final question correctly. i don't even know the question. at that point, nearing 3:30, i was mush.

we left it open for another go at it some other time. i think we will. now, instead of going to dan's (who now lives in grandville), we go to casa de birdman for the fun.

Monday, December 19, 2005

the white album whittled down

i've thought about this too much, i think. i have given the songs consideration. i've
decided to go for what i think is a good beatles album and not what i might like or what are my favorite songs. here's the list. they are in the order that they appear in the
white album.

1) back in the ussr
2) dear prudence
3) glass onion
4)while my guitar gently weeps
5) happiness is a warm gun
6)i'm so tired
8)rocky raccoon
11)yer blues
12)sexy sadie
13)helter skelter
14)revolution 1
15)noney pie

i had 14 songs and needed a 15th. i had a hard time going back and
choosing one. maybe i shouldn't hve done it. i went back and added rocky raccoon. i like the piano parts in the middle of the song. i chose "yer blues" because i thought it would give another layer of sound. true it is bluesy,but i thought that would do it.