People had feared this one. My parents have six children, twelve grandchildren, and nieces and nephews, and all of us knew the end was coming for my Dad. On the last day of the first month of the year, he’d had a massive heart attack, which he survived. But that event had finally given us all the map to what was going on inside him: a series of small strokes (doctors traced the first to about 2009; I’d put that one at least a year before), progressive dementia, and now the thing with his heart.

Dad struggled to understand it himself. Months later, we would find handwritten notes he’d made. “Hart attack,” says one, dated February 17. “Thank them for the gifts,” it adds. “Flowers and fruit.”

As his children recognized the enormity of what had happened (was happening) with Dad, we planned the annual family gathering with more attention than usual. It was understood that no one would make the mistake of sitting this one out. No one, that is, except Dad.

He just never spoke about it. August. San Diego. My mother would talk to him about these things, but he never really responded. To Dad, it was as if they did not exist.

Of course he was right. That event simply wouldn’t happen for Dad. We didn’t want to hear anyone say this, but it was true. Continue reading


Kevin Comes Back

Never say never.

In my favorite story of this week, snowboarder and TBI survivor Kevin Pearce did the one thing he’s longed to do since his horrific accident on the last day of 2009: he got out on his board and rode.

I love everything about this.

Kevin was a leading contender for the 2010 Olympics, and in fact was a week away from trials, when he hit his head on the halfpipe during practice runs in Mammoth, CA. There were those who doubted he’d survive, never mind walk, talk, or use his working memory again. I was all kinds of sad. For Kevin, snowboarding again seemed out of the question.

Still, there he is.

What a great story, awesome kid, and terrific family. Back in 2010, I said that I wanted to prove that the love in the Pearce family had the power to heal their wounded son and brother.

It does.

It’s a good life, isn’t it?

Burn, Baby, Burn

"They just oughta leave it the way it is. Kind of a shrine to all the bullshit in the world."

The Towering Inferno was on cable last night. I have thoughts:

  1. How could I have seen this movie if I was eight the year it opened? I’m sure my parents watched it on TV. Which means that I did, too.
  2. Disaster movies: I remember a lot of them. Earthquake was a standout, and not in a good way.
  3. It’s amazing that I can even leave my flat.
  4. All the people-running-on-fire scenes: could this be why we kids spent a decade of nights in stiff, smelly, itchy, flame-retardant PJs?
  5. Because the 70’s were like, “Go ahead and die on your skateboard if you want, but I’ll be damned if you burst into flames in your sleep.” Continue reading

Say No To SOPA

You know something's bad when these people agree to hate it.

Hi all. Despite a huge response from Teh Internets, and steady pressure from giants such as Tumblr, Mozilla, and many others, SOPA is still on the table for our completely out-of-touch Congress.

Keep up the pressure. Spread the word: This is not China. Freedom of speech leads our Bill of Rights. We will fight for it.

What you can do: Continue reading

Get Your Dose of ‘Mad Men’ Right Here

PBS is broadcasting a four-week series on classic TV characters. On Sunday the 13th we will encounter “The Misfit”, but we have already met “Independent Woman” and “The Man Of The House”. (Rarely seen in the same place, but a great team, I find.)

I discuss “The Man Of The House” here. If you like sharp analysis, loving recollections by smart people, and lingering close-ups of Jon Hamm, you should watch it.

I’m down to once-a-day viewings, myself.


How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavoured to form? His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful!–Great God!

– Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Oscar Wilde said it best: when the gods want to punish us, they answer our prayers. I wonder whether this nation, in its most ardent prayers, could have asked for a more perfect product of its wants and needs than Kim Kardashian.

Everyone wants to be famous, right? Kim does! She’s the kind of person who releases personal news early on a Monday morning, to make the most of the week’s news cycle (and encourage posts like this). If you can’t act, sing, dance, write, or perform any other kind of art or service, I guess it’s fair to make money being a jerk.

Everyone wants to be rich! What if you could make 18 million dollars just for having a wedding? You’d do it, right? You’d think about doing it for sure. You’re thinking about it right now, I bet.

Doesn’t everyone want to be perfect? Kim does; a pretty girl to begin with, she’s spent lots of money and time making herself look even better. And what could be wrong with wanting attention, wanting people to look at you, even more than they do? Where’s the harm in a little cosmetic procedure here and there?

I am just not sure she will recover from this one. Continue reading

The Message in the Silence

For this relief much thanks; ’tis bitter cold
And I am sick at heart.
Hamlet (1.1), Francisco to Barnardo

Question: what does a good American do when she feels terrible?

I knew the answer, and that for me it was different. Let me repeat that: I knew my answer. But I wanted not to know it. On the side of not-wanting, I knew that I would meet with support. So I went there instead.

My father had a heart attack in late January of this year. He survived, but it was frightening to Mom, and to my sister and brother and me, when we saw him. The doctors said he was better. A terrible shock, they said. They released my Dad from the hospital in early February. But something was wrong. Dad was sick. He had been for a long time, we knew. This was something worse.

As my mother and he began to confront his convalescence together in March, I fell into my own deep darkness. Inexperienced, I called it depression.

Doctors, good ones, had diagnosed me with depression before. I have had several major “episodes” since my twenties. I believe these were real, and that at least one of them responded to treatment. The darkness of March felt somehow old (I think now that it’s been there for years), and familiar enough for me to seek the classic measures. In this country, those measures are drugs. Continue reading