Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Michael and Tom, bloggers all!

Good evening.

I was just reading a really interesting blog from Tom of Los Angeles, and I wondered what my other blogging friend, Michael of Los Angeles was up to these days. I sent Michael a note poking him about posting before his birthday.

Now that Devin is living here, the computer room has more or less become his office, as he's online constantly, making contacts or contracts with brokers and mutual fund houses or places of lots of money with gold on the floors and people with guns and all that crap. He Blackberries on his Raspberry, tweets on his tweeter and has contacts all over the world. There! I just showed you, in graphic detail, my knowledge of accounting, financial planning and the stock market. Make me a millionaire by age 55. That's all I ask.

But seriously, it's great to have Devin here. I'll walk past the room, and I can tell by the look on his face if things are "bull" or "bear". He has decided NOT to do business on the weekends, and he disconnects himself from the rest of the world when he goes to church, which is basically every Sunday. He says he loves it, so that's good -- church and his job.

I've been having some ups and downs, myself. I often anguish for the weekend over something that happened at school during the prior week. Devin has use of that condo in Panama City Beach again this year. I look forward to spending some time there real soon.

I think that once I spend a few days at the beach I'll be in more of a blogging mood. I'm after Michael to write, and I'm glad to see that Tom has written a blog entry. He's such an eloquent writer. I could only hope to be such a writer.

It's 8:00 PM, and it's starting to cool down outside. It's gonna be beautiful for the next week or so. We'll spend more outside time at school tomorrow, that's for sure.

Have a great evening!


  1. It would be nice if life was a smooth street but we all know that will never happen as things may look smooth ahead til you hit that bump in the road.

    I am glad you are able to get away for awhile.

    Happy Easter!!!

  2. Oh, I just now read this (I need to do much better). I hope that when you are a millionaire by the time you are 55 that a million dollars will be a million dollars (at least by today's standards), not enough to buy you one slice of bread!

    I'm on my way to writing two or three new blog entries...I've actually been DOING stuff, lately!

    Thank you for your kind and generous words. Of course, you know, but it bears repeating, you ARE an eloquent writer, a very, very, very good one, and one with an immense impact. Oh, here's something I should tell you that will also have the benefit of maybe serving as proof of what I just said about the power of your writing.

    We have at the school where I work a kindergarten-age little girl who was discovered to have cancer in her brain last summer. The family also has a son at the school in second grade, and one in sixth grade. The mother is a very active and well-loved parent at the school, and the father is on our Board of Trustees. Everybody who knows these parents loves them and the little girl is such a sweetheart.

    She has had to be pulled out of the school for what is hoped to be only this one school year, the reason being that due to her extensive chemotherapy, she is immensely vulnerable to infections and other diseases if she were existing among the general student population. Apparently her immune system is made to be in a very weakened state. In addition to all the chemo, she had to have extensive radiation therapy against the cancerous cells in her brain. What they have to do with this radiation therapy is, in my view, awful beyond belief. Since the radiation is "deadly" to any region of the brain, they only want to hit the cancerous cells (as accurately as they can aim), so they have to mask out the adjacent regions. In order to do so, they made a (I think it is lead) "mask" that fits over the girl's face that is BOLTED to the radiation table so that she cannot move out of the carefully set up position. She had to have something like 40 of these treatments and she never complained one little bit, just went into these treatments smiling and 100% cooperative. Now, I am someone who had to fight panic over just going into a high-speed TANNING BED (the operator at the tanning salon explained that the table automatically locks shut during the time that is set, but if you need to release it, there is a button over here that will unlock it. This was enough to make me spend the whole time (only 5 minutes on a side) deep in meditative prayer mode so that my on-the-verge-of-panic brain was occupied elsewhere. I didn't enjoy the experience at all, and felt terrible several days afterward (like my skin had been deeply burned, although it wasn't). I decided to not go for any more artificial tanning, not because of the discomfort of being locked into that tanning machine, but because I could FEEL that it was destructive to my inner tissues. Yes, this machine that only produces UV-A is supposedly "safer" in that UV-B rays are the ones that can cause burning, I later read that UV-A harms the collagin in the deep tissues and causes rapid aging of the skin. So, yeah, sorry, no more tanning beds for me. But working indoors all day, I can never get enough of a protective tan to allow me a happy vacation to tropical climates....

    Anyway, I'm talking about the little girl with cancer, not me and my pale skin.

    (space is limited; has to be continued as another comment....)

  3. continuation:

    I wanted to do SOMETHING for that girl and her family, but what could I do? it seemed that every teacher was going over there to read stories or tutor her; every person with money was showering her with gifts and clothes; and scores of people were leaving comments on her "Caring Bridge" website. But what I had learned from you and your deeply revealing writing is what is REALLY going on in the hearts and minds of a family undergoing a child with cancer and, I believe, in extension, what is going on in the heart and mind of that child. And using you as an example, I think I learned what NOT to say. No, "God wants her back," or "Everything will turn out alright," or "The doctors are really good these days," or whatever; these, and other comments along a similar vein do more to make them frustrated, angry, and miserable than it helps, and I figure that it probably ADDS to the emotional burden that they have, they not only have to deal with the terrible understanding that even at best their child is deeply suffering, and at worse, their child just might die, now they also have to deal with deflecting away all the stupid and false things that people say. "Yes, we know they mean well, but I wish they would shut up."

    So, I realized that I simply couldn't say (or write) ANYTHING, or not very much, anyway, or only could say the same things over and over again, such as "I am thinking about you," "I love you," or to celebrate whatever successes have happened along the way ("Hooray, you kicked that nasty old parasite out," "You've had the last of the radiation," "Share a kiss with your favorite nurse for me, and I would kiss you myself if I were with you," that sort of thing.

    (still has to be continued)....

  4. (second continuation):

    So here is what I decided to do (and I pray that IT isn't a detriment, too, like some of the other things that people do). I figured that despite it all, there are still beautiful things in this world, things that are surprisingly wondrous, flowers that are beautiful, animals that are cuter than the dickens, sunrises and oceans and gorgeous forests and waterfalls and moments of fun and exuberance and silly things that happen and the only thing I can do is parade as many of those good things as I can into the lives of everyone in the family so that at least for a few moments they will get to feel THAT, and that maybe deep inside those things there will be a genuine feeling of hope and joy and love. So what I have been doing is every time I find some picture on the Internet that fits the bill, I save it in a file--there is a file for the little girl, and a file for each of her two brothers and a file for each of the parents, and I have so many of these, now, that this could go on for years and years if it had to. Then, I will look through these various pictures until my intuition says "this one," which I will use to make a greeting card, and as I insert the photo onto the Word page, something to say pops into my mind, which I then have print on the inside of the card. The little girl mostly gets cute or funny animals, sometimes beautiful photos of cakes or candy, or little girl things (dream castles, glittery color), the boys get funny or active or mischievous pictures or else something that relates to the powerful support that they offer their sister, or else a reminder that I understand that they, too, have a life to live and dreams that they are developing (because I know their suffering is acute in that not only are they having to deal with what their sister is going through, but they have to feel that their own issues must be put on a back-burner and they CAN'T do this since they are trying to grow up, too), and the mother usually gets gorgeous landscapes or interiors or romantic travel shots, and the father gets mind-blowing nature scenes, Hubble Telescope galaxy photos, powerful animals (eagles soaring, lions roaring, elephants protecting baby elephants, and so on). I try to send these pretty frequently--one to the little girl, and then one each to each of the boys, and then one for the girl again, and for the boys again, and then to the parents, and then back to the girl again. This way, everybody gets something at least once a week, but the girl is getting them more often, but nobody would feel left out.

    The mother has thanked me profusely for "filling up my children's mailbox" and she says that all of them get very excited whenever there is an envelope from me in the mail. She also said, "How you do it...no, don't tell me, I want to keep having that sense of magic." This makes me feel that I am doing the right thing. The boys, who are still in the school, have figured out who I am so they excitedly greet me when they see me, now. I don't think the Dad yet knows who I am, but someday, he will figure it out. But I don't expect to GET anything from this, I only hope to be GIVING something. And I wouldn't even know to do it, or how to do it, if it hadn't been for you and your writing.

    The girl is doing spectacularly well, by the way. Several months ago she completed the entire series of radiation therapy and, apparently she will be finished with all the chemotherapy before the middle of May...she has only one treatment left to go, but having it requires her to achieve a certain level of strength. They have already discussed with our Headmaster the possibility of the girl attending class for the final three days of school, which she really very badly wants to do, and if she can, that will be an immensely positive sign. While I always retained the belief that she will successfully beat this thing (but based only on hope), it looks like she truly will beat it.

    (one more continuation will do it)....

  5. (conclusion):

    I hope my bringing this up doesn't refresh some hurt for you (which will always remain at some level), but if lessons that others can learn from your family's suffering can lead to providing some small comfort for the suffering of others, then maybe you don't mind being told about it. At any rate, the power of your writing continues to radiate, like gorgeous chimes or beams of light, and adds to the aggregate that we all get to enjoy.