Category Archives: American Heroes

Happy Birthday Mom!

Going to repost what I wrote for mom last year.  If you know her, give her some love today.  In addition to all the things that make this woman pretty darned great that you’re about to read, she’s added taking in my 95 year old grandmother and caring for her as well.  If you don’t know her, but you think she’s pretty groovy, please repost/link/press/digg or disperse through your social media of choice.  Hell, just leave a comment below.   Happy birthday Mom, I love you.

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10 Days of 10 Years Later – Day 07

inmylife.jpg

I’ve always loved that lyric.  It was coincidentally the quote I chose for this day a few days ago, but becomes more timely since the passing of George Martin, the longtime producer of The Beatles.  Also coincidentally he produced a tribute album several years ago with celebrities singing Beatles’ tunes, and they’re mostly somewhat lackluster, but for this song he had Sean Connery do a dramatic reading.  And it was quite powerful for me.  It might have something to do with the fact that Dad was often compared to Sean Connery later in life, or perhaps that he is the one and only James Bond and I was raised with his voice in my head.

All these posts have been done in one way basically, I would think of a quote, or get lead to a quote that interested me, and write on that subject completely by the seat of my pants.  But as I’ve said, today was different.  I had today planned out from the beginning.  Or at least I had the bones of today planned out.  I’ve been talking a lot about the guy on the left side of that photo, and also quite a bit about the fella writing these posts.  But today I knew  I wanted to talk about the pretty blonde girl on the right of frame.  That’s my mother.

And today is the 10th anniversary of when she was diagnosed as “cancer free.”

That’s right, three days before we lost Dad, we were celebrating that we weren’t going to lose her anytime soon.  And that seemed to be Dad’s button on a running joke.

He had a penchant for inadvertently stealing her thunder.  She’d get diagnosed with cancer, he’d go into the hospital a couple of days later.  She’d finish radiation treatment and he’d get put on hospice.  She’d be given a clean bill of health, he’d die immediately after.  As my mother and I were sitting with my father’s body in his apartment, waiting for the funeral home to come pick him up she said through some tears, “You couldn’t give me a week, huh Bob?”

I’ve talked a lot about mom, and she wouldn’t want me to rehash the way I have been with Dad, but I urge you to read this to find out more about her.

As it turns out she’s been reading these posts, so I guess I was WAY WRONG when I said she doesn’t internet very well.  I found out this morning when she sent me an email talking about Dad and me and my sister.  It was beautiful and heart-wrenching.  I’d love to share it, but it’s not mine to share and would require too many annotations to make sense. But I don’t have the words to compete with what she wrote this morning.  And I’m not going to try to.

She’s an amazing woman, and I’m damned lucky to have her in my life.  So PLEASE, click on the link posted above and honor her on this day.  Share it.  Celebrate those that not only lived, but who do so with grace and style.  If you know her, drop her a line of congratulations.  She’ll probably be mad at me later for embarrassing her, but suck it, ma.  I love you and I’m so damned happy you are around.

As for you Dad, I’ll get back to you tomorrow.  Today’s about Mom.  You owe her that and a thousand percent more, so shut your trap about it.

Besides, you’ll get to steal her thunder again tomorrow.

JIM UPDATE – 24 Hours With the Toughest Honkey I Know

 

**I found this in a draft folder from 3 years ago after visiting Jim in the hospital following his stroke.  It never got finished due to my schedule when I returned.  I felt it should be posted as a celebration of how spectacularly Jim has fought back from his affliction.  So with only the ado of love and admiration…**

I was fortunate enough to spend the weekend with Jim in his therapy facility.  I was on the ground in Washington for only 24 hours, but I felt like I experienced a month of life and I managed to do so much more than just visit my dear friend and running mate in the hospital.

Washington

I babysat the kids for a few hours, and got to see how much his two year old had grown since I last saw her at a month old.  I got to see Jim’s mother, who has held the job of keeping the kids happy and normal while mommy and daddy are away at the hospital; and with an 11 year old, a 5 year old and a 2 year old that is no simple task.  I can assure you she has done it beautifully, and done it at the sacrifice of being by her son’s side as much as she would like.  None of us who wish Jim well should ever overlook the contributions of those people who are so tirelessly supporting the family.

Two other such people are Casey’s sister and father.  They flew in, from Minnesota and California respectively, to help Casey get prepared for Christmas, and just to check in on the family. They took Casey out to do some basic shopping for the family and managed to get 10 large boxes of Christmas decorations put up in just over two hours.  They also made a cracking pulled pork, I can’t stress that enough.

I was fortunate enough to stay the night in Jim’s room with he and his wife.  She sleeps on an inflatable mattress next to his hospital bed, the place she’s been since he was first hospitalized, and does so with plucky aplomb.  She’s adopted the new normal their lives have found with the same forward-looking tenacity of the 13 year old girl I met so many years ago while working together at Camp Frasier in Irvine nearly two decades ago.  She’s always had an enviable ability to slog forward through any situation, with the finish line always in sight.  I’d call her a strong woman, but she’d beat me senseless for doing so, so I’ll simply call her what I feel she is: a pretty cool chick.

It was about 2 pm when I arrived underneath a thick cover of ash grey clouds that threatened at every moment to open up into a light autumn drizzle, and kept the early afternoon lit with the diffuse light of early evening.  The artist in me loved the lighting scheme, just a little melancholy and possibly forbidding, but the prospect of the sun’s resolve to punch through the darkness.  As Washington residents, I’m sure it was simply another day for Jim and Casey, but for this Southern Californian it was far more poetic.

Jim’s Room

Jim’s room is spacious for a single, like a dorm room with one bed and desk set removed.  The room is populated with get well cards and Muppets naturally, with the occasional Star Wars action figure donated by his 5 year old son to keep an eye on daddy.  There’s a small fridge and a private bathroom, a recliner and a picture window with a nice view that looks over the facility’s courtyard.

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Jim’s eyes were alive and smiling, even though he has some temporary facial paralysis on his left side from the stroke.  He was sitting in a wheel chair, his left arm resting on an attached tray, across the midline of his body.  His children had painted his nails on his affected hand a wonderful shade of Kermit green when he first went in to the hospital, a visual cue to help him remember to engage that side of his body.  It had been a couple of weeks and that nail varnish was chipped from wear while Jim idly stroked, poked and prodded his affected hand with his right hand.  It had become habit it seemed, partly to keep the nerves in his affected side stimulated, and partly I feel due to the same impulse we all have to casually poke at a limb that’s fallen asleep.

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I watched Casey do a bed transfer with Jim while I sipped my coffee feeling a bit useless and noted to myself that for a wee speck of a thing she’s staggeringly powerful.  We talked about how he’s been, what his therapists are doing with him, and lamented the food.  It was mostly just jibber jabber, three old friends catching up while one of them reclined in bed, unconsciously poking at an uncooperative hand.  Then a quick couple of hours later, I was called out to watch the kids back at the house so Casey and her family could have some time together and do some shopping for Christmas, and of course give Jim’s mother some very rare uninterrupted face time with her son.

The Guy Time

When I returned from my quick jaunt babysitting and shooed Jim’s mother away to the house for some pulled pork and beets, I got my first alone time with my best friend.  We talked about the future a lot.  The financial uncertainty, and the options they have, and decisions there are to make.  We talked about how amazing the family has been.  We talked about Casey getting laid off in the middle of this exercise through the American medical system.  And then I asked a question I had been dreading to ask, because I didn’t know how he would answer; “What is the hardest thing about… this?”

It’s a loaded question with so many rightfully selfish answers that would be reasonable, understandable, but hard to spin.  Walking, sitting up, picking up something with two hands are just a few examples of possible answers.  I was ready for one of them.  I wasn’t ready for the answer I got, but in retrospect it was the only one I should have expected from someone like Jim.

“My kids.  I miss my kids.”

Jim, as most of you must know, has been the primary caregiver – stay at home dad if you will – for his three children since Chloe was born 11 years ago.  He’s spent the last decade wiping noses and bottoms and catching frogs and coloring; while getting a culinary degree, working in wine shops, and learning the intricacies of wine making.  He suddenly found himself only seeing his three children in short visits here and there.  Without his children, Jim was finding himself without three of his best friends.

A group of well-wishers had donated a new iPod to Jim while he was still in intensive care to replace his old and broken iPod, and not only did it give him his music library for the boring times, it gave him a window to his children through Skype.  He lights up around his kids, even on a screen, but it was palpable how much he wanted to be around them in person.  I don’t know why I didn’t expect that answer from him; possibly because I don’t have children of my own

It doesn’t easily sleep three who aren’t – special friends – but it is possible.

To be continued later tonight when I get home.

***Nothing further was written***

Drinking Poison

Another shooting.  Another hate crime.  Another day of watching popular blogs push up their click-through traffic with a photo of an odd-looking man-child on their front page.  Glamorizing the words Spree Killer!  Racist!  Murderer!  Another day of watching my facebook wall explode into a digital lynch mob.  Watching fingers pointed at one another, at society, at the law.  Watching people repost imperfect analogies to rage/shame support to their belief.  I watch the world fall apart in anger, rage, and misery.  I watch the name and face of a man-child become burned into my laptop screen simply because there is no way to escape his face, his name, his instant celebrity.

I’m not going to post a photo, or speak his name, I won’t give him that power.  I’m not going to write about race.  I won’t write about what should or should not be done about the law.  I’m not going to feign authority on gun violence by using a story from my past.

I’m going to introduce you to a man whose story changed my thoughts on how we process grief, Hector Black.

I was fortunate enough to see Mr. Black perform this story at a Moth event at UCLA, and how he forgave the man who murdered his adopted daughter.

He expresses, with a voice thinned by age and and years of struggle, what forgiveness means or CAN mean to a person forgiven.  And more importantly, to the person who grants forgiveness.  I felt that those years of struggle on stage with Mr. Black through his retelling of his story, and I saw that same struggle today in the eyes of families who had just needlessly lost those closest to them.

I’m not posting this as an analogue to the events splashed across the media, both popular and underground, I’m posting it as a thought experiment about how we CAN behave in the wake of tragedy.  Perhaps as an alternative to the digital lynch mob that has occupied our collective consciousness since the dawn of social media.

Hector illuminates how the unseen fingers of emotional debt can strangle those who have been wronged, choking the spark of life from the eyes of the living for the rest of their days.  He also illustrates beautifully how difficult forgiveness can be to understand, even to the person granting it, and how forgiving is never synonymous with forgetting.

Unfortunately the performance I witnessed, one that had all eighteen hundred seats Royce Hall at UCLA breathlessly silent for nearly twenty minutes, is not available.  So I’m posting two other retellings of his tale.  I’m posting two, because each has elements of the story he told to us.  To me. Different Moth Event, and RadioLab Interview.

I highly recommend you listen to them both.

In all of his harrowing tale, one line always sticks out for me, and I’m trying my damnedest to hold it close to both my heart and my head.  “When you hate, you drink poison and expect the other person to die.”

I don’t know that I could ever have Hector’s compassion in the same situation, and I certainly don’t ever want to find out. But knowing that there are men and women alive like Hector and the families I saw today gives me hope for myself, and for each of us, the righteous and villainous alike.

I wish Hector, and all families brutalized by inexcusable violence, everlasting peace.

Photo by Eli Goldstein. Used without permission. I hope Eli forgives me.

Photo by Eli Goldstein.  Used without permission.
 I hope Eli forgives me.

Mom

I’ve written at length about my father here, or more specifically about his death and the time shortly thereafter, but I’ve not written much about the unsung hero of my life: my mother.  I’ve always said I was going to but it never seems to happen.  Well today, on her 71st birthday, that horrible exploration of my own sloth should end.

First of all, this is my mother:

weddingcolor

Well, more specifically this is my mother and father on their wedding day.  Those people who know her now might be surprised she was a redhead, but the rabbit hole goes much deeper than that. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let me go back to the beginning and try to present to you the woman I’m lucky enough to call “mom.”

DianeSing

This little blonde girl is mom, showing off  her gleeful “hey look at me” bravado when Vines and Instagrams were non-ironic 8mm cameras.  She’s the middle of three children, with an older sister and younger brother.  As a little girl she rode horses in the vacant lot next to her parents’ house, got in to trouble with the neighbor girl, and generally was something of a ham.

As she got older she worked in banks, was a regular fixture in the Swallows Day Parade (anyone who has watched old Bugs Bunny cartoons has likely heard him sing “When the Swallows come back to Capistrano”), and even briefly dated a cop from a well-known cop show of its day.

But this is all pretext to the history of my mother that really gets interesting:  When I was born.  Okay, no that’s not true, but it is the part I’m more directly familiar with.

First and certainly foremost, she’s had to deal with me as a son, which hasn’t been without its tribulations. I certainly didn’t make as easy as I could have, and in hindsight will spend a good deal of my life trying to make amends for some of those things.

For 10 years, she was a band mom for the high school my sister and I attended.  She stayed up all night long to keep the teenage hormonal shenanigans to a minimum, and in her most legendary and talked about moment, ran down one of the track stars who had gotten a hot dog and soda while in his band uniform.  She hurdled kids, slalomed fences, and ultimately grabbed him the the collar.  But don’t let that fool you, she was also well-loved by the students.  So much so that when a reunion was held 5 years ago, not only was she invited, she attended and a hit at the party.

She offered to take her ex-husband (my father) in when he was on his death bed, despite a fairly brutal and protracted divorce.  That’s more than most people I know would do, but she also did it while she was battling breast cancer and not only would have been forgiven for, but been expected to be a bit more selfish with her time and resources.

But that’s not mom.

I feel like I’m drifting all over the map right now, but that’s the problem with talking about mom,and possibly why it has taken me so long to write this post.  The woman is a moving target.  Perhaps it’s best to focus on a microcosm of her life; her life since being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Mom was lucky.  About as lucky as a person who hears the words, “You have cancer” can be.  The tumor was caught early, and it was not aggressive.

While she was going through radiation treatment she was warned that she should try to exercise more to keep her strength up.  Now keep in mind, this is a woman who has gotten up at 4:30am every day for the last 20 years to walk upwards of 10 miles a day just for the heck of it.  But still, she took the advice to heart, and while in radiation treatment, signed up for her first charity walk.  She figured walking 40 miles in 2 days would force her to train harder and keep her motivated.

I don’t think any of us were prepared for what that motivation would do to her, although we probably should have.  As mom put it in a speech she gave a few years later, “I’m not a doctor. The cure for cancer isn’t something I can fashion with my hands, so I’m going to use my feet.”  She was a woman possessed with a will to raise awareness and fight back against the disease that had tried to sneak into her body and corrupt her from the inside out.

She walked that 40 miles, having received a clean bill of health from her oncologist. She then signed up for her first 3 day walk, with a team called “Cliff’s Crew.”  She then contacted the American Cancer Society and started a 24 hour Relay For Life in our home town.  And she’s continued to walk every year.

The story could end there and she’d come across as dedicated and altruistic, but again that wouldn’t be mom would it?

Four years ago, on the Avon 2 Day walk she had a sharp pain in her knee, 6 miles in.  It buckled her leg underneath her.  She was carried back to medical where she was told she couldn’t walk the rest of the event and that she should see her doctor immediately.  She begged and pleaded with them to give her crutches so she could finish the 32 miles she hadn’t done yet.  They refused and she was sent home.

She had only a couple of months to figure out what was wrong so she could make the walk with Cliff’s Crew for that year’s 3 Day event in San Diego.  A gel injection into the meniscus was prescribed and she set out to walk another 60 miles.

On day one, by the time we reached lunch, she was at the back of the pack, dripping with sweat and tears, leaning against a cane with what seemed like the weight of four bodies.  I sat her down against a short wall and fetched lunch.  She gnawed at a simple sandwich without much interest, her wet and glazed eyes focused on her knee.  The color was gone from her face.  In all honesty, I was genuinely scared.  We talked for 20 minutes on that wall.  I argued the value of living to fight another day.  She just kept saying, “I can do it.”  As the lunch area slowly cleared out, and the crew started the motions of breaking down the lunch pavilion, we sat there on that wall, debating.  Increasingly alone in the dwindling column of walkers, a decision had to be reached.

As I remember it, and it’s up for the debate of personal perception, I remember mom saying, “I need to do this.”

I remember answering back, “I will be here for you whatever you decide, but I need you to stop before you can never walk again.”  I remember her welling up, and her bottom lip trembling.  I hugged her and I felt her sobbing against me.  I remember it vividly because it is one of less than a handful of times I’ve ever seen my mother cry.  Her walk day was over.

But notice I said walk day?  Clearly still in pain, she got up and started walking the 20 miles of day two.  She didn’t finish it, but she did finish day 3.  I don’t know how, but she finished it.

It wasn’t until after the walk that I learned exactly how big a feat this had been.

The gel injection was meant to “beef up” a weak or thin meniscus, but it turns out that mom simply no longer HAD a meniscus.  She had been rubbing bone on bone through the entire walk.  The gel, without a meniscus to inject IN to, had simply dispersed around her knee, and within a couple of weeks was no longer a going concern.

So mom had her knee replaced.

So mom had her knee replaced.

She walked to pre-op with 3 trays of homemade cookies.  One for the pre-op team, one for the surgical team, and one for the post-op care.  When her surgeon had warned her that she would likely need it replaced again in 10 years from the amount of wear she was going to be putting on it, her response was, “Then we’ll replace it again.”

So with a new knee she began training again.

She found her back and hips hurt some, but what would you expect from torquing your back to compensate for walking bone-on-bone?

At some point during that next year of training, while at one of her early morning pleasure walks she suffered a minor stroke.  She got to the hospital within a couple of hours, and fortunately it was a hospital that had a stroke center.  For a second time, she was quite lucky.  By the end of the day, she showed no symptoms of having recently suffered a stroke other than her memory was a little spotty and her general mental agility was a bit slower.  One thing she had not slowed down on was her desire to walk.  By the evening of her first night in the hospital she was already begging the doctors to let her walk around the stroke ward.  Doctors generally hold activity that would raise one’s blood pressure with disdain in the stroke ward, so they forbid it.  By the morning though, they had relented under her onslaught and the MRI’s inability to find the stroke.  It was something of a surreal picture, this solitary woman holding her I.V. stand and walking around the stroke ward, while every other patient is being kept as immobile as possible. In the end it took four MRIs to find the crafty little bugger, and while very small, it was very real.  The cause was never really locked down, but within our family, we feel it was her feverish addiction to landing planes on her tablet.

She was cleared to train once again, and once again she was up and walking.  She did the 3 Day that year, but had trouble with her back and her hips.  By the end of the year it was getting difficult to stand up from a seated position.  So the next year she went back to her surgeon, perhaps there was something wrong with the knee?

I should mention that during this time, the physical therapist she was seeing in the hospital for her knee replacement got cancer.  She called mom to walk her through it.  Through the good and the rough, mom was always available.  That’s mom.  In a hospital full of support, the caregiver calls the woman who intrinsically gives care.

As it turned out the knee was holding up.  her hips on the other hand, had simply evaporated.  Quite literally.  One hip socket was so degraded that it was supported more by the muscle she’d developed from decades of walking daily than by bone.  Keep in mind, we’re talking about a woman in her late 60’s at this point, I can only hope to have her muscle mass at that age.  And one hip was bad enough, but both hips needed surgery.  So she had to limit her training until they were done.

She had the hips scheduled to be replaced 11 weeks apart, the last done 7 weeks before the 3 Day. (It could be 7 weeks apart, 11 weeks before, the hospital visits all start running together year after year)  So it was back to the hospital two more times, back to the now recovering therapist, and back to the eager smiles and anxious stomachs of the pre-op team, the surgical team, and the post-op care team.  She didn’t disappoint.  The night before each of the surgeries she stayed up making cookies and toffee for them, and she was downright draconian in her desire to see those treats eaten.

Thy will be done, thy treats be consumed.

Thy will be done, thine treats be consumed.

She walked the 3 Day that year on a well-worn artificial knee, and two freshly minted artificial hips.  However, all was not well.  We lost a member of our 3 Day team to breast cancer that year, a woman mom had helped usher through the waters of breast cancer, and for whom mom had developed a special maternal affection.  And on top of that, mom’s artificial knee gave her quite a bit of pain.

We carry your heart with us, now and forever.

We carry your heart with us, now and forever.

Again to the surgeon.  And again to surgery.  And again to the friends in this hospital that had become a home away from home.  A full-service staycation that was only partly covered by insurance, and had the odd initiation ceremony of taking a joint out of your body with each visit.   This time she was in because she had tweaked one of the components of her artificial knee so much in trying to compensate for her missing hip sockets the year before that it was out of alignment.  The part needed to be replaced.

Home again, home again.  Jiggity-jig.

Home again, home again. Jiggity-jig.

By this point she was simply known as “Diane with the cookies,” to the pre-op and surgical teams.  This time it was the duty of my sister and I to make sure those cookies were properly delivered and eaten.  She was no less draconian in her generosity, she had simply learned to delegate.  And so, in her seventieth year she walked the 3 Day again, in a brand new shirt emblazoned with the picture of the teammate we lost the year before.  This time on two of last year’s model hips, and an even older model knee with some shiny new parts.

From left:  The equally impressive Deb, me, mom, and my amazing girlfriend, who walked the 3 day for the first time.

From left: The equally impressive Deb, me, mom, and my amazing girlfriend, who walked the 3 day for the first time.

Of course you can guess she was not content to just walk the 3 Day.  Along the route she helped carry a woman who couldn’t make it down one of the hills, stopped to helped a woman along the route who was suffering heart arrhythmia get transportation back to base camp,  and slowed down her pace significantly to make sure a teammate who was struggling this year wasn’t walking alone.

And now, at 71, we start our first training walks of 2015.

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That’s who mom is in a microcosm.  I’m not venturing in to the tangental facts that while all this is going on she also works full time as a nanny to my two rather precocious nephews, helps her best friend – the little girl next door she used to get in trouble with when she was a hammy blonde – run a theater tour of England every January, and helps care for her even MORE tenacious mother, my 94 year old grandmother.

These three monkeys

These three monkeys

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to live up to the example of my mother, for the reasons above and the reasons we simply don’t have time to cover, but I’ll do my best.  I’ll tell her I love her every time I see her.  I’ll smile proudly when she’s not looking, and even get a bit misty from time to time. I’ll try to do the quiet and little things for her without drawing attention to them, the way she’s done my whole life.

I’d love to say I’ll be as great as she is someday, but it seems she’s always two steps ahead.

Happy birthday Mom, I love you.

Gender Stereotypes

What are they?  Are they dangerous?  Are they simply the brain’s way of collapsing data into quick to process nuggets for the fight/flight reflex?  Can they be overcome once the stereotype nugget has passed through the fight/flight barrier and made contact with the higher brain function?   Let’s do an experiment, shall we?

The Science Werks, in an effort to understand how stereotypes affect the brain and where exactly a stereotype becomes detrimental to human progress, have worked up this test:

Look at the images of an excessively hairy man with a pink mohawk, and then answer the questions below, keeping tally of your answers.

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QUESTIONS:

1: Do you find the excessively hairy man with the pink mohawk’s poses to be gender appropriate?

           1 – Strongly Agree                                                             10 – Strongly Disagree

2: Do you find the excessively hairy man with the pink mohawk’s poses to be offensive?

1 – Strongly Agree                                                             10 – Strongly Disagree

3: Do you feel the excessively hairy man with the pink mohawk has no business posing like a 1940’s pinup girl?

1 – Strongly Agree                                                             10 – Strongly Disagree

4: Look at the excessively hairy man with the pink mohawk.  After allowing initial gender stereotypes to pass into the logic centers of the brain, do you find the photos appealing on any level (alluring, comedic, zany), or offensive?

1 – Appealing                                                                    10- Offensive

5: Look at the excessively hairy man with the pink mohawk.  Look at his legs.  Do you find his legs appealing or offensive?

1 – Appealing                                                                    10 – Offensive

6: Look at yourself.  Do you feel the excessively hairy man with the pink mohawk is judging you the way you judged him?

1 – Yes                                                                               10 – No

7: Look at yourself again.  Have you accepted the excessively hairy man with a pink mohawk doing 40’s pinup poses into your heart?

1 – Yes                                                                               10 – No

8: Look at the excessively hairy man with the pink mohawk doing 40’s pinup poses, and gauge your opinion to the following statement:   “That dude is hella rad and cute as a button.”

1 – Strongly Agree                                                             10 – Strongly Disagree

Okay, add up your points and consult the chart below.

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Well crap.  Okay.  How about instead we throw away the other questions and just focus on your answer to number 8?

If you scored a 1-3, congratulations, you can look past little brain nuggets and experience a life not ruled by stereotypes and you have impeccable taste.

If you scored a 4-6, you are grappling with some internal issues, but likely will come out for the better for it and ultimately help shepherd others.  We have faith in you.

If you scored a 7-10, you can just go eat a Costco-sized bucket of unwashed wieners.

What have we learned here?  Well, I don’t know that we really learned anything, but I do know that I’m hella cute as a button.

Shit just got real: my brain aneurysm

Shit just got real: my brain aneurysm.

Good friend of Simpson/Hemstead finds herself fighting with her body and her own mind when she discovers she has an aneurysm in a tricky place.

As you know, Hemstead has suffered from, and rallied back against a stroke in recent years, so this looming fear of WhatIf is close to our hearts.  A good read, from a good woman.

Simpson/Hemstead’s List of Words That Are Fun to Say Like Sean Connery

It’s no secret we’re big fans of Scotland’s single greatest non-alcoholic export, so to start your weekend off right, here’s a list of 34 words we love to say like Sean Connery.  You can picture young and studly Sean Connery, or old and grandpa-ish Sean Connery if you like, the subtle nuance changes between young and old add a nice flavor.  However, I prefer to think of the smily grandpa Connery.  This list is by no means comprehensive, but it is a good start.  So pour yourself a glass of Scotland’s other greatest export and say them along with us.

  • Asbestos
  • Gubernatorial
  • Macaroon
  • Creamed Corn
  • Dianetics
  • Rapscallion
  • Cuneiform
  • Biz Markie
  • Synergy
  • Escargot
  • Susan G. Komen
  • Plutocracy
  • Rectify
  • Street Tacos
  • Sassafras  
  • Space X
  • Buccaneer
  • Sandalwood
  • Intestinal Buffer
  • Slim Shady
  • Dinosaur
  • Epilepsy
  • Sig Sauer
  • Buzzfeed
  • Justin Timberlake’s Myspace
  • Casserole
  • Ziccardi
  • Shag
  • Sea Shanty
  • Bruce
  • Spicy Burrito
  • Sexual Healing
  • Bromance
  • Gluteus Maximus

From the entire team here at Simpson/Hemstead, have a safe and silly weekend, and rememeber:

"Shtay Clashy, Shan Diegough."

“Shtay Clashy, Shan Diegough.”

Big Damned Hero

Less than 18 months ago, Hemstead was suffering the after-effects of a massive stroke.  He couldn’t walk, he couldn’t move his left side, had trouble keeping up with the pace of conversation, and was unable to sit upright without assistance.

This photo was taken last week when he came to California to survey the Western White house, as well as the Western Brown house, the pink one, and also there was a very nice mauve one that tickled his fancy.

He’s leaner.  He’s not meaner. He’s walking.  He’s laughing.  He’s proof that anything can be overcome.

Simpson/Hemstead owes a debt of thanks to his friends, family, the team of doctors and therapists who have had to endure pun after pun during therapy sessions.  None of this would have been possible without you all.

Nor without the absolutely tireless determination of his lovely wife.  Truly a special woman.  She’s not only tolerated him this long, she’s tolerated me.  She’s rolled with the punches and countered back hard.  I’m proud to call her my friend.

Thank you all for your continued support.  The fight isn’t over, and there’s still more heroics to be accomplished, but I know with wonderful supporters like you, Hemstead will prevail for he is the hero of the Simpson/Hemstead campaign:

Cap’n ‘Merica

What precisely is he holding his shield up with?

What precisely is he holding his shield up with?

Jim – Fundraising Update – And a Special Request

Today is the day, folks!  I’m still putting the finishing touches on the post with all the particulars, but by day’s end you’ll have all the info you need to help donate to Jim’s “Get Up And Walk” recovery fund.  Thank you for your patience, and thank you in advance for your generosity and for forwarding to every single person you know.

Now for a special request:  We would like to put together JIM’S KICKASS THERAPY PLAYLIST.  What song would you like to suggest for Jim’s digital mixtape that we can load to his iPod for the grueling gym days ahead?  I’ll start it off:  Joe Esposito – You’re the Best Around from Karate Kid.

 

Please leave your selection in the comments at the end of this post!  I’m going to send his motivational power chords a week from today.  Let’s fill up his ears with the sounds that inspire us and make us think of our plucky hero!

The team of therapists

The team of therapists

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