Lucky Penny

I knew I’d be weird this week.  I mean, the whole world is weird right now, so our collective baseline for weird is completely jacked even to begin, right?  Even mid-pandemic, I’d venture to guess that my weird stands on its own.  I wish I wasn’t one of those people who formalize anniversary dates, but you don’t get to pick your quirks, do you?  Sumus quid sumus says my dad: we are what we are.

It’s totally cool if you stop reading right here.  I won’t know you left, and my feelings won’t be hurt or anything. . .  There’s nothing fun or funny whatsoever to be found in Volume 335 of my goof of a writing experiment here.  335??  Wow.  Proceed with caution is all I’m sayin’.

The skies last May 7 may have been clear and sunny, but that Tuesday was the darkest day I’ve known.  My husband and I woke up, probably just like we did any other day.  We got ourselves and our kids up and out the door probably like we did any other school and work day.  My Hamilton crazy was nearing frenzy-level because we (finally!) had tickets for Chicago’s Friday evening show, and I do obsess over music/artists/albums like few others I know.  Friday, the 10th was our wedding anniversary and we’d both taken off work to spend the day in Chicago, so everything on my phone was Chicago/Lin-Manuel Miranda/Hamilton Twitter notifications and Hamilton soundtrack.  I remember arriving at one of my schools for an IEP meeting, checking and then screen-shotting my notifications screen thinking, “Well, I guess my phone belongs to Lin-Manuel now,” and I was happy to hand it over to him.

This was the last picture I took before everything crashed.  Figuratively and literally.

I departed that school for another, ready for my afternoon of therapy.  It’s chronologically inaccurate, but my mind tells me I received the call from my supervisor around 2:45 PM.  My classroom phone never rings because I’m at this school only one half-day per week, and my student kinda laughed, saying something like, “Well you better answer that because no one ever calls you!”  I picked up to my department supervisor’s voice relaying the message that her supervisor contacted her in an effort to locate me because Central Services Human Resources had contacted him. “The City of Milwaukee called and said there’s been an accident. Does that mean anything to you?”  Uhhhhh, yeah, it does.  I escorted Emanuel back to class, then called another supervisor, my husband’s, who informed me that there had been an accident and Tom had been taken by ambulance to the hospital. I was instructed to meet him in the Emergency Department.

My cell phone doesn’t get a signal in my classroom, but as soon as I hit the parking lot, my phone was pinging off the charts.  Two hours worth of missed calls and voicemails stacked up, and texts started dumping in.  I didn’t recognize any of the numbers, but with the accident intel, I redialed the most recent random number as soon as I caught a signal.  My husband’s good friend answered, and I felt relieved, because I figured he’d fill me in, calm me down, you know?  I asked him if he knew what happened, and he matter-of-factly (read: possibly in shock?) replied, “Yeah, I ran him over.”  He apologized for wrecking our anniversary plans, said that Tom was fine, gonna be fine, that they’d taken him to the hospital, and then I heard someone in the background kinda tell him to shut up, which was OK I guess, because at that moment, I received a call from a number that looked business-y, lots of zeroes in the caller ID.

This random caller identified herself as Stacy from Froedtert Hospital, calling she said, at my husband’s request, telling me I needed to get to Froedtert’s Emergency Department as soon as possible.  Park in red-painted spots in Structure 3, they’re reserved for Emergency Department patients, she said, in the structure nearest the Emergency Department.  Your husband knew your phone number, and that’s a really good sign she said.  It was probably that statement–that he remembered my number and what a good sign it was–and that she repeated it three or four times, that first cued me into just how bad this might be.

Or maybe it was being met by hospital security, officers from the Milwaukee Police Department, the City safety supervisor, and a chaplain that finally punched me in the face.  And friends, let me tell you that you NEVER want to be greeted by cops and a representative of god after being told “There’s been an accident.”  I swear on the stars that I found a shiny penny just outside the doors, and pocketed it–the finding spare change in the street bit is a running “contest” between Tom and me.

It was hours before I was able to see him, or maybe not.  I know it felt like hours.  I’d been fed the “He knew your phone number and that’s a good sign” mantra so many times by then, I thought I’d snap.  But I wasn’t snappy.  I was pretty flat affect as I recall, kind of out-of-body-ish, aware I was part of this emergency room waiting area tableau, thinking this couldn’t possibly be ME living this version of real life.  Finally I said to the City guy, “You keep telling me this one thing is a good sign.  What aren’t you telling me?  How bad is he really?”

In the absence of information, the deep and illogical fears in my imagination coalesced into their own version of just-how-bad-is-it hell.  Convinced he was paralyzed, I couldn’t not ask if that was the result no one wanted to be the one to tell me.  I knew the City supervisor had seen him with his own eyes.  Eventually, and with something like an “I’m not a doctor, but. . .” caveat, he relented, relaying that Tom’s head had been bashed in pretty good, he had a pretty long cut (“cut” apparently is code for 9″ skull fracture covering eyebrow to temporal lobe), and he’d lost a lot of blood.  It was taking so long because they were doing lots of tests to make sure he would be OK.  Lots of tests.  “Lots of tests” is code for emergency facial trauma surgery to reattach the ear and surrounding flesh that had been torn from his head and stapling his skull along that enormous fault line.  To be fair, OK sure, there were lots of actual tests too; I saw his chart.

When I did finally see Tom, he was covered in blood.  Though conscious, he lay completely still.  “There is so much pain” were the first words he spoke, and that was the longest utterance he strung together over the next several days.  Like an idiot, I mentioned I’d found a penny outside the ER–like THAT was gonna lighten the mood or fix anything. . .  I stood there over him, “lucky” penny in my pocket, watching for movement, any movement that would contradict the paralysis I’d come to believe was our now-reality.  I vividly recall my internal race-monologue, “I need to ask I need to ask I need to ask I need to ask I don’t want to ask I don’t want to ask I do NOT want to ask this is the last minute of my life I don’t know he’s paralyzed and as soon as I ask I will have to know that he is paralyzed and I don’t want to know and right now I still don’t know so I can’t ask but I have to ask.”  I stood over him, looking with unseeing eyes for even the slightest movement in his legs.  I took a deep breath, steeled myself, and asked Jodi, the ED nurse, if he was paralyzed.  Her chirpy “Oh, no” perhaps elicited more tears than if her response had been the opposite.

I was booted from the ED after that brief reunion, then escorted to the family waiting area of the main hospital.  Being a guest of the City, I had a tour guide of sorts, and I did have an entourage.  I knew that my husband’s supervisors were handling me; I was aware even then that I was being “handled,” but I didn’t mind being handled.  Quite possibly I’d still be wandering the hospital if I hadn’t been directed and small-talked along that route.  All his supervisors, called by duty and I’d like to think a bit of compassion and human decency, along with a handful of his coworkers–really good guys, called by their professional respect for my husband, met in my private waiting area.  Needless to say, I wasn’t great company.  I had to get out of there, breathe, by myself, for a second.  I had to call my kids!  At some point I announced that I felt like the really bad host of a super shitty party.  Even on the worst day of my life, I made them laugh.  I’m sure it was their duty to laugh at the guy who’s probably gonna die’s wife’s pitiful wisecrack, but I appreciated one brief moment of something other than internal chaos.

Can you imagine what it’s like to call your children, telling them that their dad had been horrifically injured, and that they’re being picked up and delivered to the hospital?  Because, just in case he dies, kids, you’re gonna want to have seen him “one last time,” even if he is bathed in blood and swaddled in bandages.  Oh, and don’t watch the news tonight and don’t talk to reporters if anyone knocks on the door, OK?  Don’t imagine it.  Just don’t.  Imagine not taking them home yourself, promising them you’ll be home by 9.  9:30.  Hopefully 10.

Can you imagine having to search for your husband’s set of work keys, sifting through bags of the scissor-cut clothes he’d worn to work that day, all having been removed and bagged as “patient belongings,” still wet with his blood?  Don’t do that either.

This wasn’t even near the end of that first day.  The conversations I had with my people who showed up those first 24 hours are both crystalline and a blur.  I couldn’t sleep that night, and writing tells me how I feel, so I wrote a narrative I will never share.

I don’t know why I can’t stop reliving this hell on earth, or why I’m taking you down this macabre path with me.  I do know that my head’s gonna explode if I don’t write it down and try to unload it somewhere though.

One full year plus one extra leap year day post-May 7, I am not the same person I was before.  I miss my husband, my before husband. I miss before me.

If you remind me that it could have been worse?  Thanks, but I don’t need the reminder.  I know.  I do.  But it doesn’t mean that grief occurs only when you experience that total loss.  And it doesn’t mean that sadness doesn’t beat you upside the head when you least expect it. Or even when you do.  Grief and sadness paralyze too, in unmeasured ways and along timelines for which you’re unprepared.

Maybe that lucky penny was good for something.  All the good, all the miracles, all the unimaginable generosity and kindness the world has shown my husband, my children, and me that terrible first day and then the 365 that followed?  Beyond any words I could string together.  Sharing all of it though would amount to some type of betrayal to myself and to my people.  My people. You showed up.  You did everything I asked.  I will never be able to repay you for that.  And I know you’ll never ask.




Top Fan

Why is everything a contest these days? Why do even the most non-competitive of life activities (enjoying music and live shows, for example) have social media rankings attached?

I received a Facebook notification yesterday.

Well, obviously. I mean, have you been paying attention here, people?

But it’s silly, right? There is no prize, no greater good for society in being so recognized by a social media platform, I assume for the number of times some algorithm has calculated I’ve included the text “Barenaked Ladies” in my comments or “liked” a status. I cracked wise about my “badge” on my FB page (because who wants a badge when a sash is still on my list of must-haves?) but really? This does not have to be a competitive sport. And if it must, I don’t think I want to play. I just want to keep enjoying my concentrated hobby in my car, all by myself, competing with no one and nothing but which song makes me feel happiest. Clearly, I’m not meant for the Major Leagues.

It’s Opening Day!! This IS major league!

I digress. But the Brewers are undefeated, you guys. It was a good day at the ballpark. It’s always a good day at the ballpark.

You know what would be a worthwhile recognition? Acknowledging people whose real life accomplishments made lives better.  To recognize acts of goodness and kindness and generosity and give those individuals gold stars or top fan badges.  So in the spirit of not-competitive do-gooding (good-doing?), I present not-awards, and since Facebook cornered the market on “badges,” from me, you get a sash.

And The Sash Goes To. . .

I’m a super top fan of these people, who, early in the process, lent their financial support to our MDA Muscle Walk team and/or volunteered to show up on walk day.  Much gratitude and love to Allison Schley, Jenna Stoll, Rhonda and Mark Weir, Laurie Stilin, Sue Doornek, and my incredible friend Sally Warkaske.  Wanna be on my Muscle Walk Top Fan list?  Join or donate to Team Greater Than Gravity by clicking here.

We Rate Dogs, a Twitter feed (@dog_rates) that rates dogs and their antics/gifts on a scale of 1-10 should get a sash for their sweet, sunshine showcase of mutts in their noble canine deeds.  Many dogs get rated 11/10 or 13/10, which I consider simply marvelous math.

Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) deserves a galaxy of gold stars for his Gmorning, Gnight Twitter pep talks and pretty much everything else he’s ever said, written, sung, or rapped.  I suck at Twitter. It would be best if I deactivated my whole Twitter account entirely, but We Rate Dogs and L-MM’s genius are enough to string me along.  I just need to shut my mouth there and stay the hell out of political threads.  The rabbit hole is deep and dangerous there, y’all.

My final sash du jour goes to a Milwaukee firefighter. Last weekend, my little guy and I were shopping, and I noticed a familiar face in the shoe section. I approached him, inquiring if was an MFD firefighter, and his response was, “Yes, and I was at your house a few weeks ago.” He was one of the crew dispatched to our home after the Curious Incident of the Ice at the Bus Stop. He asked after my son, and wished him well. I thanked him for providing calm reassurance during a distinctly not calm time. I didn’t want to bother him as he enjoyed his Saturday, so I tried to split pretty quickly, but he recognized having met me!! And that never happens–no one ever remembers me, so extra gold star.

Liking or appreciating something should not be a competitive event, but it’s not a bad idea to point out good deeds and good works.  Rewarding me for being a fan isn’t going to make me a more rabid enthusiastic singer-alonger.  But maybe someone being called out for just doing something nice might encourage more of that just something nice.  A girl can hope anyway.

I still wouldn’t mind having my own sash though.

Channeling My Inner Shirley MacLaine

Presenting a stupid-long blog post, a combination of two drafts and one new tale, all subtitled with Hamilton song titles, because if I’m focused on something, you all have to ride it out with me.  That’s how this little game is played here at Greater Than Gravity, friends.


Our family is fortunate I carry “good” health insurance, so we don’t use the emergency medical department for an ear infection or tickle in my kids’ throats.

I know my son. When he cries out in pain, categorizing his pain as an “8,” you or I would find that equivalent measure at about 74 on a scale of 0-10.

I don’t screw around with calling 911. I’ve dialed twice before in my lifetime: once because my house was on fire–which was one hell of a rude awakening BTW; the second call was placed when I saw a man perched at the highest point of the wrong side of the Hoan Bridge as I drove home from work one afternoon.  When my son was screaming and crying in pain after having fallen on the ice, it was no joke.

Monday evening he called me from the bus stop, saying he couldn’t get on the second bus, the second of two mass transit buses he takes to and from school.  I didn’t really get it.  “Did you miss your bus?” I asked.  He replied that no, he could have caught it, but couldn’t get on.  Ohhhh-kay. . .  So my husband drove the 30 or so blocks to retrieve him, and when they arrived back home, it was clear what he meant about not being able to get on the bus.  He could not walk.

Nor could he sit or stand or do anything without howling or whimpering. His pain was unlike anything I’d seen him endure before, worse, he said, than when he broke his collarbone.  I quote: “This is the worst pain I’ve ever had in my life.”  When I say his pain thresholds are beyond the natural order of things, I say that without a hint of hyperbole.  The kid’s tolerance for pain is, well, it’s just not right.  After a few minutes of should-we-or-shouldn’t-we, we did.  I called 911. You never want to have to call 911.

The Fire Department EMTs arrived, assessed the boy, and called an ambulance for us.  Some degree of agony was alleviated by his being placed on his back, and I was glad he’d be transported in that position.  By this time, the pasta side dish had boiled over and baked onto the stovetop (good thing there were firefighters in the house!)–hey, I was a little distracted!  I collected myself, a phone charger and cord, and off we went, a crime scene of dinner components, half-cooked, half-sliced, half-assembled across the kitchen in my wake.

And there we sat.  Despite arriving via ambulance, there were no ER bays available, so they sent us back to triage, where we waited a full 1:45 to be seen.  I know he’s big, and I know he’s not a baby or toddler, but goddammit, when other parents whose kids have come and gone since we arrived are stopping to wish us well because they can see how badly he’s hurting and how upset he is???  When he’s leaning over my husband, hanging on for dear life openly crying?  My kid needs help.  Does no one see this?

He began to question the nurses as they bypassed him, calling out the names of other patients.  Why?  Why won’t you take me?  What is taking you so long?  Can you see how bad it hurts??  And parents, it would take a special degree of stoicism not to crumble to see your son’s pleas for help go ignored.

I tried not to lose my shit, because being belligerent rarely helps, but after 1:44 (and I know the time exactly, because we checked in at precisely 6:00 PM), I approached the desk again.  My child had been up and down, trying to find a comfortable position, relatively speaking of course, for nearly two hours.  When I finally channeled my inner Shirley MacLaine a la Terms of Endearment (GIVE MY DAUGHTER THE SHOT! GET MY SON A BED!), a bed magically appeared within two minutes.  *Thank you very much*  And no, I did not shout.  I was barely a whisper.

His coccyx is not broken, so say the x-rays taken while he trembled the whole time.  He was discharged at last shortly before 10:00 PM.  The ED doc (apparently it’s not ER anymore, it’s an emergency department, not an emergency room, fine) gave him one pain pill, which mercifully allowed us to get him into the car, home, and up to his bedroom, and a note to return to school Wednesday.  I’m real swear-y today, so forgive me, but are you fucking kidding me??  He cannot stand.  He cannot sit.  He cannot walk without 100% assistance.  This wasn’t a little owie to kiss and cover with a Scooby-Doo band-aid and chase with a couple ibuprofen.  All I’m saying publicly is that I’m so looking forward to my patient visit satisfaction survey.

Not only is he in tremendous pain still, but he’s also worried now about missing class and making up the work he’s missed.  Adolescence is hard enough for him, for any adolescent really, but to be laid up in the middle of things does not fit into his class schedule.  I reminded him I’d be able to email his teachers, saying as I always do, that we’ll figure it out.  We will.  His teachers have been terrific in response.  Lucky to be Huskies, as they say at RRHS.  My friend Nikki immediately sent a fruit bouquet for him, and your spirits can’t help but be lifted by a pineapple wedge emoji! 

I drafted a post last week I’m including below because I never got around to finishing it.  As you’ll read, I was sharing the immense pride I felt at my boy’s fortitude and brute strength in the face of this strength-stealing disease.  You don’t ever want your kid to have to consider this, but for mine?  It’s the lens through which he views the future.

(Maybe now is when you fetch a beverage, some type of refreshment?  I know.  It’s getting long here today, so you may need an intermission from today’s ramble.)

Dear Theodosia/My Shot

“Pride is not the word I’m looking for, there is so much more inside me now”

–Dear Theodosia, from the Hamilton Original Broadway Cast soundtrack

It’s a beautiful little serenade sung by two new fathers overwhelmed with the love they feel for their newborns.  I teared up the first time I’d heard it (as well as the second, fiftieth, six hundred twenty-third. . .).  The song perfectly captures the tenderness and awe first-time parents experience, knowing they’ll do whatever it takes to make the world safe and sound for them, if I may again steal from Lin-Manuel Miranda.

I was an athlete in high school.  I lettered in track and field all four years, and I was in cheer.  My next-door neighbor was one of my physical education teachers, yet still, I struggled in physical education classes.  Sports and leisure activities should have come more easily for me, but they did not, instead causing terrific frustration and angst.

Now it’s my big kid’s turn.  As part of his Section 504 plan, it was decided that we would meet with his physical education teacher prior to the start of the new semester, and that we did back in December.  My husband, ever the optimist to my dark cloud cover of an outlook, felt it went great, and he was confident our kid would do well.

Gym teacher:  Can he do a push-up?

Me: No

Husband: I think he could, he’ll try anyway.

Gym teacher:  Can he jog?

Me: No

Husband: He can run, not too far and not too fast, but he can try for sure.

Me: He will try anything you ask him to.  He will NEVER ask for help, and he will NEVER admit he wants a break, even when he really needs it.

Gym teacher: If it’s required, he can do some of his testing privately with me.  He is not the only student here who has a physical disability, and we do accommodate so that it won’t affect his grades.

You get the idea.  I appreciated the teacher’s time willingness to give my kid his shot. Even able-bodied kids struggle in PE, so I was sure it was gonna be harder for him than it might be for the average kid.

Last week, big kid comes home explaining how he is always tired in his English class, which immediately follows first block phy ed.  He reports that his running intervals have increased, and that tires him out.  I guess they run-walk-run-walk-run in some type of ladder system designed to increase endurance.  I did Couch-to-5K; I get the program.  I suggest to him that his 504 allows him to take a break when he needs it, that his teacher has been made aware of his physical status, and will allow him to time himself out, or rest for longer than the others if he asks.

In response he says to me that he’s just not going to let MD get the better of him, that he’s not going to let it keep him down.

I don’t even have time to turn around or look away before my eyes mist up again.  Pride is not the word I’m looking for (Thanks again, L-MM).

I feel immeasurably proud of his fortitude and attitude, but I simultaneously worry that the denial is strong in that one.  I don’t expect him to wear a medical diagnosis on his sleeve, or to lead with it in every single aspect of his life.  I do however wish for him a realistic view, not an entitled view, or a view that means he begs off and takes the easy road.  No.  I want him to understand challenge, and the value of the effort + heart + hard work = success equation.  I just don’t want him to take the path of most resistance simply because he wishes not to disclose his medical condition.  But I sure don’t get to pick.

My son now has to sign consent forms allowing ME access to his medical records.  Seriously, who thought this was a sound decision for teenagers who don’t consistently remember even to comb their hair?  My point is that I don’t walk that proverbial mile in his shoes, I don’t decide who gets to know what details about his life, and we don’t talk much about MD these days at our house.  I don’t know what he’s feeling all the time.  He won’t do what I would choose to do, or what I think I would choose to do anyway.

He is not letting muscular dystrophy define him.  To most parents, I bet that seems like a monster victory.  For many reasons, it is.  It’s a scary world our youth face.  Some days hope seems in short supply, but not for him, not last week.

Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story

It took a couple centuries for someone to tell Alexander Hamilton’s story.  Thank you for being here with me as I record our story with a bit more immediacy than Hamilton’s.  Today our history isn’t pretty or funny or quirky.  It’s just an I can’t sleep, beat-up mom doing her best for her kid.  When he was freaking out in the ED, I held his hands and told him he’s braver and tougher than most kids he knew, braver than even he himself imagined.  That he could endure anything.  He has.  And he will.

As both his father and I coaxed him into his PJ pants last night, he said, “So now I have an idea what it’s going to be like when I get older, when I can’t move because of muscular dystrophy.” Jesus.

This is his point of reference, and every so often we’re reminded.

Be grateful every damn day.  If you get up and out of bed, you’ve won.  Don’t ever forget it.


Um, Hi

Being on hiatus sounds fancy, doesn’t it?  So academic.  Go on with your bad self, actin’ all fancy and on hiatus and stuff. I hadn’t felt that pull, that need to write here since I declared last month that it was time to take a break.  I’ve been a little emo, if ya know what I mean, and not the up, energetic kind of emo–the crawl under the covers, binge watch TV, and tell anyone who asks you’re just fine, just happy to sleep late kind.  Since I stepped away from the blog one month back, I’ve been bunny-hopping around the yawn of the rabbit hole.

I finally nailed my six-word memoir, writing tells me how I feel, then stopped writing.  Smart.  I stopped at what I felt was a pivotal moment: my kid was entitled to a certain expectation of privacy.  He is.  But I’m  also entitled, entitled to a certain expectation of not losing my mind.

While on break, I read a ton, discovered podcasts, celebrated nailing every word to “My Shot” from Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda, you are a genius), and I wrote a lot of stuff with zero intent of hitting publish.  The writing wasn’t good, nor did it check the compartmentalizing brain box for “writing it down-getting it out.”  Blah most succinctly captures the fun I’ve been to be around.

But if I had been blogging this past month, I’d have chatted about my new television BFF, Midge Maisel.  I am in love with The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, starring Rachel Brosnahan as a ’50s-era housewife, living the Upper West Side life.  Midge’s husband was a schmuck whose indiscretion led to her on-mic rant on an underground club stage which led to her double life as a comedienne.  Her timing is surgically precise, off-the-cuff comic genius at its finest during a time women were strictly barred from the boys’ club.  She’ll never win a mother of the year contest, but MAN, do ya root for her!  I’d D.I.E. to play dress-up in her wardrobe, just once.  Those dresses!  The hats!!

If I had overshared my days and nights with you here as has been my pattern, I’d have shared with you this grocery store telephone exchange with my oh-so-attentive husband. 

I’d have told you my Yellowstone National Park otter story.  You have to read this in “John Cleese as hushed/whispery narrator of a nature documentary” tone until the end, where my tone totally prevails:  So they’re highlighting winter animals in the park, then of course, snow melts, the seasons change, and the river otters are seen frolicking in the spring mountain runoff.  We see that the male otter is looking to git a little somethin’ somethin’ from his gal pal because it’s his spring awakening, though the female’s a little meh about his advances. Enter John Cleese:  The male ottah (because he’s British)  attempts to woo the female ottah, but the female seems a bit distracted.  Me: Yeah, you know why she’s distracted?  Because she’s thinkin’ she’s gotta get groceries, make dinner, clean the house, do the laundry. . .  My husband:  Silently stares at me for a second, then admits it was pretty funny.  He didn’t admit I was accurate, but I’m sure it was implied anyway and I’ll take the victory.  No Mrs. Maisel myself, but my timing here?  Impeccable.

I’d have told you about how my freshman (and about 1/4 of his classmates) positively crushed their first semester grades.  There’s about a 98-way tie for valedictorian so far, and that is not typical Wendy exaggeration, but the incredible effort of these hard-working, high-achieving teens.  The child comes home, tends to his schoolwork promptly and without prodding.  If he coasted the rest of his years (and he had sure as heck better NOT), I’d still be knocked out by grade nine, semester one.

I’d have made mention of a little professional revelation I had that suggested to me it might be time to hang it up. When you’re ineffective, be it by circumstances external or within, you’re ineffective. Even I am tired of hearing my presentations and opinions, so too I would guess are the bulk of my colleagues. The beauty (beauty?) lies in knowing it before having to be told. The “quit before they fire me” school of thought. No, I’m not quitting or likely to be terminated, but I am evaluating my state of affairs anyway.

I’d have told you about my “little” kid’s first basketball game, which, in a real nail-biter, they took 27-1.  And yeah, everyone cheered for the kid who sunk that free throw.  My child is the one with arms like a spider monkey’s.

I’d have written about having seen The Book of Mormon, and the especially offended young woman who steamed through the lobby shouting “Sacrilege!  It was sacrilege!”  Ummm. . .  you bought the ticket with no clue that the dudes who created South Park wrote the libretto?  Were you expecting a fun little evening actually learning about the missionary work of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?  Really???  I have an absolutely profane sense of humor, and even I blushed at some of the language and imagery.  Oh sure, I laughed until my face hurt because it’s wrong in all the right ways/right in all the wrong ways (and frankly a little terrifying in some of the truths which underlie the basis for the musical).  A super badass friend of mine is an ex-Mormon, and I respect and admire her all the more for her strength in having left it, but not Utah.  That’s her story to tell though, not mine. 

I’d have written a new mystery á la Nancy Drew or The Hardy Boys with the working title The Mysterious Case of the Broken Staircase Spindle. It wasn’t me and it wasn’t my husband, and the dog doesn’t go downstairs. . . so, yeah, SO WEIRD that nobody broke it.

I’d have written about the kick of having discovered Snapchat’s ridiculous filters. Because while I LOVE my hair purple and my eyes blue, there are limits to the type of look a 50-something professional woman should want to cultivate in real life.  I don’t actually share snaps (am I saying that correctly, kids?), so if I die and someone goes through my phone’s saved photo roll, I’ll be judged for eternity as someone who thinks a little too highly of her self-portraits.  

It’s our family’s four-year MD anniversary, or crap-iversary if you’re my friend Cindy, who reaches out every year at this time with some wise or comforting words.  Or cake.  Four years. 

January 21, 201–still the day for me that began after. 

Four years of wondering if his outcome would’ve been different had we waited even one millisecond longer to have a baby.  Four years of tears striking at the most unexpected (and those you can totally predict) times.  Four years of gearing up and freaking straight the hell out at the MDA Muscle Walk.  Four years of meetings with school administrators, counselors, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and teachers.  Four years of friends and strangers putting their best, kindest, most generous sides forward.  Four years of reluctantly raising funds for my kid and others with muscular dystrophy, to advance the science as well as social opportunities for kids with disabilities.  Four years of dreams dashed, then reconfigured and revised. 

Four years of writing these random musings.  I need this place to deposit the bad stuff in my head to lighten the load, to be me. Writing tells me how I feel. I want to feel more up–maybe I can write myself a happy ending.



What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity.  These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.

–Joseph Addison

Sunshine and smiles, that’s me today!  I was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award, which is “peer recognition for bloggers who inspire positivity and joy.”  I can hear you laughing, and if eye rolling were audible, I’d hear that too, you guys.  The irony is not lost on me.

I was nominated by one of my favorite bloggers and author Suzanne at My Dang Blog.  She’s clever as hell, she’s an engaging writer, and I am sure if we were neighbors, both we and our dogs would be best friends and share a bottle of wine at least weekly.  Alas, the heroine of today’s tale lives in Ontario, and I only pretend live in Toronto, which makes the weekly wine date somewhat of a trick to manage. Also, no wine for the dogs.  I mean, that was pretty much understood, right? But I don’t want you to think I’d booze up my Rawr-Rawr just to get him off the couch once in a while.

With her nomination and my acceptance, because I am nothing if not one for sucking up to the universe for praise, I agree to answer some questions she has posed, and because it wasn’t an even ten from her, I’m throwing in a few of my own just ’cause.  See if you can guess which are legit and which come from my own Ask Alexa.

1) What country do you come from?  Born In the USA, just like Springsteen, except more Great Lakes Region-y

2)  Political advertisements: Persuasive or Divisive?  Lies.  Lies.  Lies.  Twisted and manipulated from every angle, but the most menacing are the ones from the nut jobs not sharing my ideology.  Obviously.  Hey, it’s my blog and it’s my award. I tried, y’all, I tried to listen to the other side, to remain open and objective, and use those conversations to inform and educate myself on opposing views, to understand why and how people think it’s OK to mock disabled people and shove LGBTQ individuals back in the closet.  I’ve yet to see the advertisement that convinces me otherwise–“Oh really?  So he’s in favor of sex offenders you say? I better check the other box.  Thank you SO MUCH for this clarifying ad.”  Divisive.  What?  This is the Sunshine Blog Award??  Oh yeah. OK, moving on. . . PS–no one is in favor of sex offenders.

3) Left or Right Handed?  Both, actually.  I have answered this before, so read down to #4 if this is old news.  I consider myself a lefty, as I write with my left hand.  I also bat lefty, lead with my left leg, and use a chef’s knife using my left.  But I throw a ball, cut with scissors, and cut food with my right.  The tasks I do with one hand can absolutely not be accomplished with the other.

4)  Last Song You Listened To?  Soooooo late to the party, but I just downloaded the Hamilton Original Broadway Cast recording.  I don’t know the song’s title, but I think it’s called Cabinet #2.  Everyone in the world knows what I’m talking about except me here.  Last week I went to see the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s production of In The Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s pre-Hamilton smash.  He is an unparalleled talent, but you already know that.  I’d have been a much better student of history if I could have sung it instead of read it.

5) What is your dream destination?  I don’t know that I have one.  In his youth, my husband was in the Air Force Reserve, and had a sortie that landed him in Italy.  From the day we met, he has said he wanted to take me to Italy to revisit what he experienced as his happiest days (I mean his happiest days before I came into his life, obviously).  So there maybe?

6) Why did you burst out laughing in a meeting on Thursday?  This question was directed to My Dang Blog in response to a specific post, but I’ll answer it too.  I burst out laughing twelve times a day, at minimum, at work.  Why?  Because my sense of humor is inappropriate and only marginally safe for work.  But this time there was a specific catalyst: Thursday marked the fifth annual South Toronto Day celebration.

My coworker Christine decorates my work and life with Canadiana and Barenaked Ladies-themed Photoshopped works along with other, more traditional birthday paraphernalia to celebrate the birthday of Ed Robertson, my favorite singer.  Yes, it’s a bit over the top, and no, I DON’T KNOW if the guys in the band think I’m crazy.  Stop asking me!  Christine contributes the swag–no small endeavor–and I supply the treats:  maple leaf cream cookies (naturally), all-dressed potato chips, and an extra special find for SoToDay 2018: maple-bacon chips.  If only they made a poutine flavor!  I have a new boss this school year, and she probably thinks I’ve got a few screws loose, but she did play along and wish me a “Happy Canada, what? your favorite singer? what’s the plane about??” Day.

7) What is your favourite movie? (See, Suzanne’s Canadian, so the “u” stays)  I have a few favorites, but if I’m made to pick just one, it’s Singin’ In The Rain.  It’s not the favorite I’d choose to watch most frequently (that would be The Hangover), but Gene Kelly?  Donald O’Connor?  Come on!  I can never walk away from or turn off That Thing You Do! or The Replacements.  Why is this not a top five list?

8) What crazy thing did you do on Friday night?  Last Friday night was off the hook, yo.  After I recovered from an eternal work week with a small fermented beverage, my husband and I shopped at Sam’s Club.  For those not in the know, Sam’s is a warehouse wholesaler, known for its 50-lb. sacks of rice and 2-gallon drums of olive oil, you know, what every household of four needs.  So yeah, Team Weir crushed the livin’ la vida loca Friday night.

Oh, and also there were showtunes. 

9) Are you happy with your current life?  Yes.  I bitch a lot, but I consider myself a generally happy person.  Positivity is quicksilver these days, which makes the timing of the Sunshine Blogger award especially ironic.  I struggle mightily regarding work issues–of the million things I want to go well or right for our department, I am unable to effect the change I want to see happen, and that frustrates me.   As my number one son navigates the world of high school, I wince as I watch him try so damn hard to accomplish tasks that for his peers come easily.  His classmates don’t even ever have to consider the effort going into activities like walking or holding a drum mallet, but mine does, and I find myself playing a dangerous game of comparisons these days.  I have a number two son for whom most things come effortlessly, and I’m relieved and elated for him.  I have a husband who loves me, a roof over my head, a car that starts when I hit the button every time, and enough to eat that I’m about 8 pounds heavier than I’d like to be.  I’d be a jerk not to be happy about that, right?

10) Do you have any new and interesting bathroom stories?  New and interesting?  Ummm. . .  There was that one time I was in the midst of doing the thing at my favorite breakfast restaurant.  Though my door was latched properly, a woman, apparently new to how public bathroom stall doors work, bashed and bashed on the door until it popped open.  She had the, I don’t know what, nerve? naivete? to look surprised to see me sitting there.  But watch me turn this around.  Ready?  I’m happy to be smart enough to know how bathroom stall doors work.  Go, me!

STOP THE PRESSES!  THIS JUST IN–And I swear on all I hold dear that this is entirely true:  Someone pooped on the floor outside my boss’ office today.  Like turds.  In my office building.  Left (is that the correct verb?) between 8:10 and 8:20 AM.  Am I really happy with my current life????  Maybe I rethink #9 above.

I need a moment.  Or maybe a new job.

Now, according to the rules, I’m supposed to nominate other people for this award. To straight-up plagiarize Suzanne, “Frankly, I follow a lot of people, and you all make me happy, so it’s really hard to narrow the list down without me worrying that I’ve left someone out, but here are some people who are very positive and would probably never throat punch anyone.”

To play along, should they accept my nomination, they’re to refrain from throat punching, answer these questions and pay it forward (or feel free to create your own questions) (or feel free not to answer any of them at all) (or feel free to continue ignoring me because most of these  bloggers/sunshine purveyors don’t know I exist).  But hand over my heart, Suzanne, I adore you and Titus and your Dang Blog, and I’m touched you think that for one hot second I spread sunshine.

Jim, at Random Writings On the Bathroom Wall always has a little something nice or sassy or thoughtful in his posts.  They’re quick hits, and I like ’em.  I believe I read recently that he doesn’t share in the blog awards, but I like the quick read = smile thing.

Jackie, The Baseball Bloggess, is an all-star.  Even when her team loses as many games as the World Series champs win in a season, her spin is funny and sassy, which to me is a ray of sunshine.  And I say this not only because she featured my kid in her blog.  Honestly.  She’s been featured in some pretty big press too!

Gemma, at Wheelescapades, savors tea as she explores the UK, reporting back on accessibility from the driver’s seat.  I especially enjoy her interviews with other bloggers.

Oh, to be a visual artist!  I grin madly every time a new Wrong Hands is published.  Clever word play elevated by terrific illustration.  Love.

Another Jackie, this Jackie writes at Disability & Determination.  Like my son, Jackie also has MD, and shares observations and determination in the every day as well as some of the big picture stuff.  Every post isn’t 100% sunshine, but every keystroke is keepin’ it real, and a good 99% of her posts are, in fact, facing the sun.  When I began blogging, I searched for MD-related posts and writers.  Lucky find for me!

The Bloggess changed my life. Not 100% sunshine, but if bravery and candor and holy crap, the funniest woman on the planet aren’t sunshine, I don’t know what is.  Jenny Lawson is the first blogger I ever followed before I knew that one “followed” a blog. Suzanne’s a fan too! xoxo