Archive for May 2009

SPOT 12

May 12, 2009

My friend Jenny wrote a book.  Correction, my friend Jenny created a wonderful graphic novel memoir!  Spot 12 covers five months of her life after the birth of her daughter Asa, who was born with Tracheoesophageal Fistula (T.E.F) and Esophageal Atresia, a malformed esophagus.  This means her esophagus was connected to her trachea so food or milk in the stomach could get into her lungs.  As soon as she was born, Asa needed immediate emergency surgery and was five months old before she was allowed to leave the hospital.

I first learned Jenny was writing the book when my own son was in the NICU after a premature birth.  I was home briefly between hospital visits when I received a phone call from Jenny, my old high school friend, out of the blue.  She knew I was pregnant, but had not heard I had given birth two months early.  She was just somehow compelled to call me.  Hearing from her at that moment put everything into perspective and seemed like a cosmic intervention.  Finn was going to be fine and I could endure a few lousy weeks dealing with the NICU; it was nothing compared to what Jenny had gone through with her beautiful little girl.

I was anxious to get my hands on the book and when it finally arrived in the mail, I immediately began to devour the contents.  I could not put it down until late into the night when I had finally finished the whole thing.  I did have to take long pauses every few moments, however, because each page of the giftedly drawn story moved me to tears.

Jenny’s memoir is both a striking testimony to the love for her daughter and a restorative cleanse of the most challenging and unimaginable time of her life.  The haunting graphics are the perfect companion piece to an astonishing story of love, strength and courage.  It is simply a memorable and tender work of art.

jenny-cover

jenny-back

Spot 12 is only $15 plus shipping.  To order, please click here to go to the SPOT 12 Website.

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ALL TOMORROW’S PARTIES

May 6, 2009

Parties are obviously different now that we have a kid.  We went to a surprise party on Sunday, but the surprise was blown before we got there.  I wish we knew that beforehand because we had to wake a sleeping toddler in order to make it in time to yell the magic word at the man of honor, but it turned out that precious nap time was disrupted for nothing. 

It is a little easier to attend parties at houses of other toddler owners, but this party was at a house of a gleeful childless couple, so there was much danger for Finn to succumb.  Stairs everywhere, a gate to the street that would not close, thorny bushes, and bottles of medication left out in a haphazard manner.  In other words, one of us had to keep an eye on him constantly.  We would tag team: one of us would socialize while the other would corral the kid like a sheepdog.  Finn loved all the new stuff to explore and wanted to just be free to walk up and down the concrete steps over and over again.  At first he was the only kid there, so I was a little self-conscious of the scream he would emit when I would not let him play with the gardening tools. 

Soon another toddler showed up, a little girl who was one week older than Finn.  It was fascinating to compare a girl child to our boy child.  Of course she did not try to kamikaze the staircase, but instead was calm and social, delighting the party attendees with her verbal prowess.  Finn just wanted to steal her balloon.  Despite the fact that he was younger, she was dwarfed in his shadow.  I felt a little pride that our boy was thriving so completely after being born premature weighing less than 5 pounds.

Finn was just getting over the swine flu a chest cold and his nose was running constantly.  I used to recoil from snot-nosed children and now I had one of my own.  I was following him around with a tissue to try and keeping him from grossing out the other guests, but the green slime was relentless.

Our cue to leave happened earlier than expected when Finn started to have an uncharacteristic break down.  He is usually very good and up for the party challenge, but once he got started on a crying jag this time, there was no consoling him. We quickly bid our adieu and Finn continued to whimper until he fell asleep in the car halfway home.  When I pried him out of the car seat to bring him inside our house, the culprit was immediately suspected:  a bad diaper.  He must have had a tummy ache at the party which culminated in a dramatic filling of the underpants.  Finn does the cutest thing: when he gets hurt, he says: “owie”.  I hate that it means he is injured, but it is the cutest damn thing to hear him say.  Well, he was saying it repeatedly now, which worried me immensely.  I pealed his pants and diaper off to reveal a terrifying site: a red, angry, welting rash on his bum.  It was the second worse diaper rash I have ever seen (the #1 worse rash included bloody skin).  He screamed as we plied the wound with warm towels to clean it.  We gave him some naked time to allow the affected area to breathe.  The most pathetic I have ever seen him was that day, walking around naked, but for one white sock, saying “owie” over and over again while his bum flared red like a baboon.  I kept telling him I was sorry and that I loved him.  He looked at me with big teary eyes and in his limited language mournfully asked: “Yeah?”

Yeah, kid.  Yeah.

I just couldn’t live with myself knowing I had just killed myself

May 1, 2009

The first time I tried to kill myself I was 5 years old.  My sister was babysitting me and she pissed me off; probably would not let me eat sugar straight from the jar or something.  I wanted to get back at her and knew she would feel pretty bad if I died, so I decided to overdose on Aspirin.  I have no idea where this line of thinking came from at such an early age.  I figured taking 8 aspirin would do the trick, but at the last minute I panicked and only took 3.  Of course there were zero effects.

The second time I tried to commit suicide I was 10 years old.  My friends decided to gang up on me and ditch me.  In a fit of miserable fury, I jumped out of the tree house.  The tree house was only 20 feet up, so the jump would not have killed me, but still at the last minute I panicked and grabbed a hold of the rope swing on my way down and zip lined to the ground with my bare hands.  The rope burns I received were disastrous.  If you did not guess already, I was a pretty dumb kid.

The 3rd and final time I attempted to take my own life, I was 16 years old and fully ensconced in the horrors of puberty.  I like to refer to this period of my life as:  the dark years.  I was depressed, wore a lot of black and when at home I would just hang out in my bedroom listening to The Cure.  I struggled every day with bleak thoughts and then I got grounded for an entire year.

Back story:

Some friends and I decided to have a “kegger” at my house when my parents went out of town one weekend.  We passed out flyers that said: Bring $2 and a friend. The plan was to get a pony keg & sell cups for $2 to pay for it & maybe make a little extra scratch. I did not count on the fact that every single kid at my high school would turn up at my house, emptying the keg in the first 2 minutes. It got crazy. There were kids everywhere, the front yard, the backyard, the roof, and in every room of the house. I tried to block off the backside of the house to preserve my parent’s bedroom, but instead it was commandeered as the drug room. Kids were losing their virginity in my attic and puking in the living room. Someone had a drug freak out and broke down the bathroom door. At one point the cops came and kids scattered, busting the railing off the deck in their hurry to flee. There was so much damage done to the house, I had no idea how I was going to explain it without incriminating myself. The second my parents walked in the door, they asked me if I had a party. I said “no” and the shit hit the fan.

You can imagine my parents were pretty upset.  The first night of my grounding I got into a big fight with my Mom during dinner.  Anger, frustration and hormones came bubbling to the surface and I ran into the kitchen and took a knife to my wrist.  Luckily the first thing I grabbed was a butter knife (see?  Smart!) which just ran harmless zigzags across my skin, but the seed was planted, I wanted to die.

That night I got a straight razor and a bag of ice.  I tried to numb my wrists as much as I could, because dude, cutting hurts!  I made about ten superficial cuts when my dad knocked on my bedroom door.  When I jumped up to answer, the bloody razor fell to the ground, right in front of my dad.  I put my foot over it, but I know he saw it.  He came to tell me that he just found a bag of weed up in the attic.  In that instance everything just became too absurd to take too seriously.  I decided to wait and see what tomorrow would bring.

Obviously the above stories show that I was never completely suicidal, I was just reacting to some difficult and confusing emotions.  I was desperately in need of attention and oxygen to wake up my brain cells.  I know I am lucky, because although I do suffer from some sort of depression, like 90% of the world, it is more on the melancholy side of the spectrum.  I don’t need medication and can get out of bed almost every day.  I see severe forms of depression and grief in the world every day and although I do not know exactly what these individuals are going through, I can offer empathy and the advice to just hold on tight, keep going, we need you here.