Sunday, November 25, 2012

YESvember - BLOAT 2012 #35 - #31

I'm losing a little steam with this. Though I can't tell if it is because over the past few nights I've only managed 5-6 hours of sleep (long story), if it is because the Ravens are playing like ass in San Diego today, or because my back is KILLING me after spending most of the day stringing lights on our Christmas Tree.

#35 - Christmas Trees With Lights Already Embedded In
Used to have that, and it was GLORIOUS. But alas, after a few years, one of the levels of lights went out, and we could not figure out how to get the lights working again. Since money was tight, we could not really afford to trash the tree and get a new one with embedded lights, so we de-boned the tree and stripped it naked of all the lights and decided we'd have to put our own on as long as the tree held up.

It's held up too FREAKIN' long.

My lower back, but most particular my SI joint, is on fire right now. Oy. But waddya gonna do? Shit has to be done. Of course, I have a sinking feeling that Bennett is going to trash the thing. While some of his behaviors have improved, some of his destructive ones, particularly of things he knows I have a direct hand in, are up a little.

Today in particular he was challenging me with the tree. Once the ornaments are on? Fuggedaboudit. I pre-warned Jen to put nothing on that is fragile.

I remember a great issue during the John Byrne (artist/writer) run of The Fantastic Four (that's a comic book, by the way). He had Reed Richards/Mister Fantastic invent a tree that had everything...lights, ornaments, and even tinsel...all on it. And it all just collapsed like an umbrella when you were done by the push o a done.

Of course his wife Sue/Invisible Woman hated it, thought it totally missed the whole idea behind Christmas and the spirit of it all. EFF THAT SHIT! IT WAS BRILLIANT! Reed Richards, you really ARE Fantastic!!!

#34 - Chiropractors
Speaking of aching backs, I was skeptical at first, and might still be, but I can't deny two very important things about getting Chiropractic care for the back/pelvic issues that have been plaguing me since February. One, they have been the first group of specialists I have seen that have actually identified the true source of the pain.

That source is two-fold as I expected. The compression in my discs affecting my feet and legs and all that, and my sacroiliac joint affecting the rotation in my pelvis and pain in my hips. The sacroiliac joint or SI joint is the joint in the bony pelvis between the sacrum and the ilium of the pelvis, which are joined by strong ligaments. Just in case you didn't know.

Second, they are the first group of specialists that have provided any real relief. Thus far, it has not been total, but it has been some. Not sure if I CAN achieve total, because I can't change some of the things that are causing some of the problems, like driving for two hours a day. But I can certainly work on a lot of the surrounding factors.

Anyway, it is nice to have a path at least. Even if it is a slow one. And nice to be able to be taking less pain medication. I still need it, sadly, but I need it a LOT less. And that's fine by me.

#33 - The Right Medication
I often bitch about how many medications I have been on from time to time. Sometimes I say too many. I also talk about how strongly I resist placing Bennett on any, or Carter, because of how scared I am about potential side effects. And I feel completely justified about those feelings.

Watching Bennett nearly come apart several times over taking medicines that just were not right for him was tragic, and just this past week a new medication was tried on me for depression, and like almost all anti-depressant medications the results were not good at all. I stopped after only two doses.

But when medication works and works well, I can't deny how thankful I am for it.

Take Chantix for example. We're coming up on the FOUR YEAR anniversary of the first time I took that medication and it helped me to stop smoking. Can you imagine that? Smoke free for FOUR YEARS after smoking for over 20. That's something else.

And now Bennett. We've recently tried a drug with him called Intuniv. While it hasn't fully knocked back all of his aggression, it has certainly helped him a great deal with his focus. And it is our hope that this will help him with his learning, which will help him with his communication, which might help eliminate a lot of the frustrations that lead to a lot of his aggression.

And in just a week of his taking it? Everyone who knows him has seen huge, HUGE improvements in a lot of his ability to stay on task, to stay engaged, and especially in his efforts to communicate. That is huge, and as you can imagine, a pretty big step in his development.

#32 - Colorado and Washington
Of course, Colorado and Washington got it right recently when it passed laws legalizing marijuana possession. Well, not really. That's just wishful thinking on my part. I started looking into homes in both states. The truth is more like this.

From the Washington Post:
Voters in those states approved ballot measures permitting possession of up to an ounce of pot. But the federal government has not changed its policy, which labels the drug an illegal substance. Members of Congress introduced legislation Nov. 16 that would allow state marijuana rules to preempt federal ones. But that, in effect, would resemble federal legalization, and it’s unlikely to pass anytime soon.

Well, crap.

I don't get it, to be honest with you. Beer, wine and Jack Daniels are everywhere. But pot is illegal. And there is so much tax money to be made from it. People are gonna smoke it. Just like people are gonna drink. They really are the same type of deal. It's just a sad truth. Both are drugs. Period.

And besides, if I could just make myself some cookies I wouldn't HAVE to take the freakin' high-powered pain medication. Why is THAT legal?

#31 - YouTube
Well, while I clack away and ponder the fact that it makes more sense to me to eat pot cookies for pain than take a chemically produced Vicodin, what are my son's doing? Carter is playing with some toys and waiting to decorate the Christmas tree, while Bennett switches between watching the football game and shouting 'YEAH!!!' no matter who scores and no matter what play happens and when he tires of that and jumping up and down he goes back to the iPad and watched videos on YouTube.

Lately it has been a great tool for him. He likes to watch the ones of he and Carter interacting a lot, the ones I have loaded into my account, some public, many private.

But he also watched a lot of other stuff. He likes to watch kids sing, especially some girl on Britain's Got Talent and of course that Katy Perry kid.

What I like the most is that he IMITATES what he sees now more than ever. So I am constantly seeking as much as I can, and loading as much as I can that might help him.

And of course making sure all my porn is OUTTA THERE! :)


Saturday, November 24, 2012

YESvember - BLOAT 2012 #40 - #36

Even though the actual holiday is behind us, I intend to keep going through the rest of YESvember with the list of Things I'm Thankful For in 2012, or what I now like to call BLOAT 2012, though in 2010 I called it LOFTY. Hope everyone had a filling and fun-filled Turkey Day. We did. It was fun. Bennett and Carter have both seemed to enjoy the time with family too, and I certainly can't complain about that. Bennett has had some minor behavioral instances, but only minor.

These aren't in any order as far as importance, I just wrote them as they came to me.

#40 - Sports Rivalries
I know, I know...this is the post that will probably be skimmed or entirely skipped by many, including Elizabeth and Claire and others. Though perhaps that should be reconsidered, since this does go slightly beyond sport and beyond football if you stick with it.

But then again, that is a reflection of me and how I tend to view many things or how I tend to absorb many things, in a very personal and emotional way. For me, my love of football is based on much more than the fact that it is a terrific sport. It is based on a lot of its history, its character, its emotional components and many of its intangibles that transcend the actual sport itself.

And nothing helps to define that transcendence than the classic 'rivalry' that often springs forth in many sports across our cultures and across our different sports.

Whether we are talking about Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier, Red Sox vs. Yankees, Redskins vs. Cowboys, Auburn vs. Alabama or the 80's Celtics vs. Lakers, there is an intensity and passion to the sports rivalry that ups the ante for both sides that makes that game or games something very, very special.

I picked this subject because as I write this I am watching The Game, as it is called here in Columbus, Ohio. Always the last game of the season, it is one of the top five sports rivalries of all time...Michigan vs. Ohio State.

This town changes this week. There is just something in the air. I can't explain it. It is crazy. But it is a helluva lot of fun. It is NOT fun, though, if Ohio State loses.

But hey, that is the nature of a true rivalry. Ohio State could go 0-11, but as long as they beat Michigan this town will consider the season a salvaged one. However, if the Buckeyes go 11-0, as they have done this year, and they lose this game, the season will NOT be considered a success. PERIOD.

By some. Not by me. But I am less invested in college football than I am in the NFL. And I have only lived here since 2006. Well I did live here from 1997 to 2000, so I guess cumulatively I have lived in Columbus around 9-10 years total.

Perhaps after a while I will feel differently? Ya never know.

#39 - 30 for 30
I learned just how warped the passions of a fan could get in a sports rivalry a couple of nights ago when I watched an episode of the ESPN documentary series called 30 for 30 on Netflix. The episode was called Roll Tide/War Eagle and was all about the rivalry between Auburn University Tigers and the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. Here's a quick summary of the episode from the ESPN website.

There are many great rivalries in sports: Yankees-Red Sox, Michigan-Ohio State, North Carolina-Duke. But they don't compare to the venomous and consuming in-state college football rivalry that is Alabama-Auburn. With no pro sports, the state of Alabama centers around one game in the year: The annual meeting between the two universities called the 'Iron Bowl'. And you could not script what has transpired in the state in the past two years.

30 for 30 is great documentary television, not just great sports documentary television. Some fantastic renowned directors tackle subjects they are passionate about. And what is extra-special about that is the fact that where there are sports, there is passion.

The show currently airs on ESPN, and of course you can catch older episodes on Netflix. One of my favorite episodes, if not my absolute favorite, is The Band That Wouldn't Die, directed by Baltimore native Barry Levinson, about the Baltimore Colts marching band, that never broke up after the Colts left town in the middle of the night in 1984 and how their unbridled passion was, no pun intended, instrumental in Baltimore getting a new NFL franchise.

#38 - Steve Sabol and NFL Films
Speaking of sports documentaries, I would be remiss if I didn't express my ultimate gratitude to NFL Films and most especially to Steve Sabol, who took over as president of NFL films after his father Ed passed away but was also one of its founders. Tragically, Steve Sabol passed away this year. On September 18th he lost his battle with, of all things, a brain tumor. Sucks.

It is hard to put into words just how much of an impact NFL Films had on me, especially as a kid, shaping how I felt about the sport. In those days there was no real source of back data like there is today. There was no internet. No blogs. There were books of course. But the only real media access of things from days gone by was to be found by watching documentary television that you could find on a very few select channels.

I remember how great it was on Super Bowl Sunday to watch all the 30 minute specials showing all the previous Super Bowls, shot on film, many with the deep baritone voice of John Facenda (often nicknamed 'the Voice of God') and scored with actual orchestral music (that I actually still listen to today).

It's sort of a chicken and egg thing. I don't know if it was the Sabols and NFL Films that shaped my perceptions of sport as dramatic presentation, or if it actually IS that and NFL Films was keyed into it as many of us are and that is why it is such a successful entity. Who know? Who cares?

All I do know is that I still watch a TON of stuff that NFL Films makes, and always will. They are THE kings of the sports documentary.

#37 - A Football Life/America's Game
Arguably the crown jewels of the modern era of NFL Films are two programs. One is America's Game, the other is A Football Life. I could have listed both as separate things on the list, but they are both similar in nature and so I am putting them both together.

Both are NFL documentary shows, with America's Game focusing on Super Bowl Championship Teams, and A Football Life focusing on an individual and their life and impact both inside and outside the NFL.

America's Game started with two seasons, since Super Bowl Championship Teams were obviously a limited resource to draw from. They then added a third, smaller season called America's Game: The Missing Rings, which showcased fantastic teams that came DAMN close to winning the Super Bowl but did not. That was a great little series, because it was fascinating to see that particular perspective. And of course every season they add an episode to the overall series with the latest Super Bowl Championship Team.

The format is great. They have a narrator who does standard documentary style presentation of the information you are watching, interspersed with interviews with 3-4 key people from the team. For example, and I am picking this simply because it is the episode I have watched the most, in the episode of the 2000 Baltimore Ravens the credits say 'as told by' Brian Billick, Trent Dilfer and Ray Lewis. That's the Head Coach, the Quarterback and the future hall-of-fame Middle Linebacker.

A Football Life is much more of a traditional documentary format, and focuses on a single individual, in MOST cases. I say MOST because they have deviated from that and done a couple of fascinating episodes like Cleveland '95, about the year Art Modell moved the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore, or The Fearsome Foursome, about the lives of Rosey Grier, Lamar Lundy, Merlin Olsen and Deacon Jones of the Los Angeles Rams.

The best episodes, though, focus on individuals and their lives, especially how their lives go beyond the gridiron. Like the episode about Kurt Warner that showcased his relationship with his disabled stepson, or the more recent episode about Ohio State alumni Chris Spielman and his wife's battle with breast cancer and how he had to make the transition from linebacker to national spokesman for her foundation.

Both series are spectacular, because both show that behind the hits, behind the frivolity that you often see focused on each Sunday, these are human beings with real lives that are often more interesting than the game itself. least AS interesting. :)

#36 - The Baltimore Raven's Continued Excellence
Living so close to Cleveland makes you learn how to appreciate a team that keeps winning. And to hopefully not take it for granted. EVER.

I always feel bad for the city of Cleveland.

The Indians and their struggles. That whole LeBron James thing. And then there's the fact that the Ravens are the Browns reshaped and reforged.

I have seen what that does to people first-hand. In 1984 I was only a junior in high school, and I cared way more about how in the world I was going to use what God gave me to make out with a girl than the NFL. I did see around me how people who were already getting some got totally destroyed when the Mayflower trucks pulled out of Owings Mills, MD in the middle of the night.

They were devastated. For YEARS. Had the Colts gone to Indiana and then won a Super Bowl right after that? It probably would have just been that much worse.

Baltimore's wounds have healed up a lot now since the Ravens have put a consistent winner on the field, especially lately. Hopefully, with the Brown's new owner, Cleveland will get a chance to get a whole lot better too. I don't mind. I like competition. The Ravens vs. Steelers rivalry is blossoming into one of the best of the modern day sports rivalries, and I've already gone into how much I like rivalries. I certainly would not mind seeing another AFC North rivalry brew up.

In the meantime, I'll just be grateful that I get to root for a team again this year that is right in the thick of it, despite being decimated by injuries by some of our key defensive players. Here's to hoping we get all the way to the Super Bowl this year. That'd be SWEET.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

YESvember - BLOAT 2012 #45 - #41

Continuing with the list of Things I'm Thankful For in 2012, or what I now like to call BLOAT 2012, though in 2010 I called it LOFTY. Times change, huh? Well, certainly since we all feel a little stuffed after such a full meal, BLOAT feels a bit more appropriate, yeah?

These aren't in any order as far as importance, I just wrote them as they came to me.

#45 - Thanks to England for All That Tax Crap
See, because if the King George III hadn't been such a control freak about the colonies, you wouldn't be stuffing your face, that stuffing you are stuffing it with right now. And because all the men and women living over here fighting the natives and the giant grizzlies and the diseases and shit didn't really feel like sending a ton of their hard-earned back across the seas to a bunch of wealthy bureaucrats who weren't plugged in, a lot of people got super pissed.

So when they finally had enough, they decided to take the ultimate gamble and revolt. In the end we were successful, but can you imagine how scary those times might have been to the people involved? The uncertainty? Still, you can't argue with the courage to fight for what you believe in, and their boldness resulted in our ability to enjoy unprecedented freedom to this very day. UNPRECEDENTED. I think that passion to action is something that our nation's population is losing as each generation passes.

And Yeah, England may have lost, and I thank them for that, but I'll tell you this much, I'm certainly no England hater, like some of my good friends. In fact I look at England a bit like a parent or an older sibling. And certainly if I could not live here England would probably be my second choice.

Well, that or the Moon. Once they get some domes up there.

#44 - Oh Captain, My Captain
Speaking of domes, and all the good things that the British have provided to us over the years, for some reason one of the things that pops into my mind right away, even before The Beatles, is Patrick Stewart.

Maybe that's just because I was thinking about the above-mentioned friend who has never actually gotten over the American Revolution (even though we won), and his love of Star Trek, but it was the first great English actor who, in my mind, radically altered my perception of a childhood franchise that I grew up loving.

Now when I think of Star Trek, I honestly do NOT think of Captain James T. Kirk doing a flying leg kick into the chest of a Gorn, or making a booty call to a green-skinned Orion slave girl. Instead I think of Captain Jean-Luc Picard suggesting that everyone 'Make it so.'

To me? HE is now THE captain of the USS Enterprise, and probably always will be, no matter what JJ Abrams tries to push on me. Besides that, he is bald. Can't beat that any day of the week. At least from my seat on the bridge.

#43 - Tea Time
Yet another thing to be thankful about to the country from which we originally sprang...the tradition of afternoon tea. Of course, you don't have to drink it in the afternoon, but I'm trying to string together some things that relate to each other, so give me a little leeway here, will'ya?

Picard likes his very simply...'Early Grey...HOT.' I am partial to a little spice Organic Chai tea or some Chinese Black Tea. Also been working in a lot more Greet Tea lately for the health benefit of it.

Been drinking a lot more tea instead of Espresso ever since the Bug Incident in my Nespresso Machine. I still use the machine, but the thought of those little fuggers in that spout has never, to this day, left my head. So tea is much more on the menu.

And like the Brits, I tend to like a cup in the afternoon, especially as the weather gets cooler.

#42 - Who's On First?
If you haven't checked recently, you also may not be aware that England produces some damn good TV. They have for a lot of years, but the bar is continually raised. Of course, American television networks rape the hell out of what they do and try to act as if we do it better, with shows like American Idol (which started in Great Britain) and The Office and so forth. But the English originals are usually superior.

There is one show that has never been attempted here, and I am so thankful for that. Because there is just no way it COULD be. That show is Doctor Who, and the main character, known simply as The Doctor, is entirely the type of hero that could only be conceived by an English writer.

He carries no gun, he carries a Sonic Screwdriver. I should probably write a very long, very thorough blog about why this character is one of the very best on the planet (explaining why it has endured for what is now the 50th anniversary), and the rebooted series which began in 2005 is some of the best television I have watched, rivaling to me shows like LOST, The Walking Dead and others that I always go back to as being absolute must-watch TV.

It is not for everybody, but if you let it grab you, it is something so special and so unique that once you 'get it', you will never want to let it go.

That guy in the picture is the 9th man to play The Doctor, though he is not The Doctor right now. That requires a LOT of explanation I won't go into now, but needless to say if you were to decide to start watching the show that relaunched in 2005 his would be the first face you would see, and that is why I picked it.

#41 - Netflix
If you did decide to give a show like Doctor Who a try, or other really good British TV like Sherlock or Torchwood or Doc Martin, or if you wanted to watch the entire series of LOST over again from start to finish and you do not want to buy the entire DVD set, then Netflix is 100% designed for you.

It is a service that you pay $8.00 a month for, and unlike some other services like Zune and others, you can watch an unlimited amount of stuff as often as you want. It's AWESOME. Especially for people who like serialized TV, because they have a helluva lot of shows on there.

Is it perfect? Nope. But it's only eight bucks a month. Plus it has a TON of kids shows, which for us is an enormous plus. Being able to access Super Why for Bennett whenever I need to, especially on any computer, is HUGE, and for that I am super grateful.

With the ability to get a few other series by purchasing Season Passes, I may just give up DirecTV altogether after this football season and go to just a digital antenna or something. Food for thought. Be nice to save all that money from the satellite bill.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

YESvember - BLOAT 2012 #50 - #46

Sorry for the time lag. Yeah I do that a lot. I'm having an off, um...year.

OK, so you know how it goes. Here's my Ultimate List. No real order of importance, although it might feel like a countdown, I only do that because it is a little easier that way, and more drama for your mamma is always cool.

SO...what am I really, TRULY thankful for? Let's find out, cause I know you are falling over yourselves in anticipation. Hell, I'm curious myself.

#50 - The Election is OVER
Yes, I AM very thankful for this. And not necessarily because of the outcome. I don't really have that huge of a preference either way, despite the photo, and despite the fact that I cast my vote against Bane Romney. But I was ready to vote Republican, I will tell you that much. SO ready.

But the GOP just did not give me a viable alternative. Having said all that, I am just glad I can start answering the phone again. No wait, I can't...too many other people calling I am trying to avoid right now. OOPS!

#49 - Caller ID
What would I do without it? Now that I think about it, what DID I do without it? Oh yeah, now I remember, I just never answered the phone and there was a lot of mystery in my life. 'Who WAS that!?!' Now those questions no longer go unanswered, but the phone calls still do.

Well, except for Private Caller and Out of Area. Dammit.

Anyway, the unwanted phone calls are still WAY out of control, and I thought there was supposed to be a list that stopped these asshats from calling us? Got SUPER bad during this election season. Holy crap. To be honest? I think I ended up just voting for the candidate who annoyed me less with pre-recorded phone messages from celebrities I don't give a crap about during dinner time.

#48 - Peter Jackson...Again?!?
Or should that be there and back again? I thanked Mr. Jackson the LAST time I did a list like this, but I figured there were going to be some repeats on this go-round, but I never dreamed there would be repeats this...specific.

Who'dathunkit? Another round of Hobbity goodness ready to launch its hairy feetness right around the corner? It's astounding. It really takes me back to a time that was, well, different than now. Back before life was the Stress-Mess it is today, Jen and I had a tradition for three years back around the time of our nuptials of going to those movies when we would drive from Maryland to Ohio for the annual holiday visit to stay with family.

Times are SO different now. So different. I expect that the movies will be too. Will we even get to watch them in the theaters? Who knows. I still have not seen The Avengers or The Dark Knight Rises. It's not easy for the two of us to go on a date these days.

Still...The Hobbit on film? Unreal. What's next? The Silmarillion Trilogy?

#47 - Gearbox Does It Again
Got a nice birthday gift this year from my old pal Richard. Borderlands 2, the open-world game from Gearbox. IN a word? Awesome. Has everything I loved about the original, just more of it and done better. And so far, the DLC that has been coming at us is all living up to expectations. This is probably my Game of the Year for 2012.

All I gotta do now is figure out how to get some better guns. I foolishly lost almost all my weapons for my highest level character. Hard to explain. I was an idiot.

Now I know that I play the thing a WEE bit too there is that. But hey, it really isn't my fault. I didn't buy it for myself. I wasn't GOING to buy it for myself either. So all the blame has to go to the person who, like a dealer, pushed the evil across the table at me.

How could I possibly say no? :)

#46 - The Infinite Patience of Anyone Who Still Reads This Crap
I get seriously amazed that many of you still read this blog. Not that I have any issues with my ability to write or anything of the sort. I can be entertaining if I need to be. It's more like I have a problem with the amount of commitment I have been giving this thing lately.

And it's like any relationship. The less love and attention you give, it is only natural that the relationship suffers. That make any sense?

It's no secret I have been waffling too. Hemming and hawing about the future of what I want to do with this space. Do I want to keep writing? DO I want to continue to express myself? Does it matter anymore? Considering the amount of things of late that I can't discuss, I have felt very constricted, that is part of why I haven't as easily been able to write.

When I have limits, it is very hard for me. Can't explain it. Just happens to be true.

But the doubts have been lingering in here, for a long time.

Those doubts were washed away in an instant the other day when I got a message from one of you that was, as I mentioned before...very special. Originally I was going to try to quote some stuff from it but in the end I'm not going to. Let's just say that a Special Needs family was affected in a potent and positive way because of what they stumbled upon here and one of the parents took the time to write and tell me so. Simple as that really.

Stuff like that means a lot. I suppose it always will.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

YESvember - BLOAT 2012

And so here it is...Thanksgiving week. Lots of stuff going on.

Of course there is that T-Day I mentioned above. And the kids have off for three days. Better plan on a couple of extra moments for deep-breathing or other types of stress relief perhaps. Bennett will have at least one more visit, maybe two, with his home-based ABA Therapist to work with him, which will be good, and I've got more going on with some of the stuff I don't talk about here amidst these pages.

I got an e-mail today that made me want to revisit this whole idea of Gratitude that I had started with the YESvember theme, especially since I have been, for so long, questioning this blog and my place in not only writing it but whether or not...I don't know...whether or not it mattered.

The e-mail I received was very special. Very. And it made me want, for this week, to go back to something more traditional, a more standardized Countdown of Thankfulness. Something to really zero in on the Positive that I had originally wanted YESvember to be about. Something sort of like what I did in 2010.

But I never did like 50 Random Things I'm Thankful For. As a Title I mean. It is kind of...weak. So I wanted something else. I hemmed and hawed and the best I got for now is BLOAT. That stands for Blogzilly's List Of Awesome Thankfulness. I had some others, but a few had the word shit in it and I wasn't sure if that would fly.

By that I mean, of course it could FLY, it's my fuggin' blog, but do I WANT to go that way in this, the season of being gracious? Maybe not so much.

So...with that, up next, I'll start posting my latest list of 50 things I am ESPECIALLY thankful for this year. My BLOAT for 2012.

That's one way of trying to hit my annual post target, yeah?

Heard that.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

YESvember 08 - Something Just Occured to Me...I Suck

OK, not really, but it is a GREAT title for a post, don'tcha think?

I am sitting here, Bennett to my immediate left looking at YouTube videos on his iPad (one of his new things), and Carter behind me at the kitchen table with his cousin Wyatt playing with some toys and doing the kind of stuff that 8year old boys do.

Jen is on the sofa across the room, and we are both watching Ohio State play Wisconsin because...well, because that is what people are required to do here in the sleepy village of Galena, the small town 20-30 miles north of Columbus, Ohio.

Bennett is SLEEPY. He started a new medication this week (more on that later, not now.)

Things are relatively peaceful, relatively quiet. My back and hips are killing me, but occasionally I turn to Bennett and give him a toothy grin because he gets a charge out of it even though I want to cry because of my pain level today. I'm concerned because today a lot of it is muscular and I am having temperature fluctuations.

PLEASE don't let this be a flu or something. Let it just be a minor irritation caused by all the chiropractical manipulations I have received of late. Yeah...I loves me them manipulations.

So...why do I suck?

I was looking over this blog, and contemplating its future as well as its past. Do I want it to go on? Do I want to stop it? I've asked this question of myself in the past, privately and publicly. Jury is still out.

But what bugs me is that if I AM going to do it, I don't want to see it continue to go DOWN in post count each and every year, which it has since the blog started. The numbers are essentially this.

2009: 224
2010: 136 (I can accept that a LITTLE since in 2009 it was Seizure City and Surgery Patrol.)
2011: 131 (OK a small drop, but not enormous.)
2012: 97 (So far.)

As it stands though, I am NOT on pace to get up to the 130's. That would really mean pouring on the daily posting, and I mean pouring it on hard. In order to BEAT the number 131, or even 136, I would have to do more than a post a day at times.

There is a part or me that WANTS to. I started the year intending to. But like so many things this year? Massive failure to achieve. Don't get me wrong, I don't feel like USDA Grade A Shit for this. Maybe only Grade B or C.

But...something to think about. So I am. I know it is just a number, but in a year where so many things for me kind of didn't go the way I planned maybe there is a Pyrrhic victory to be had in there somewhere.


Monday, November 12, 2012

YESvember 07 - And You Thought I Would Forget?

Pics I did promise, and pics I do deliver unto thee. A few peeks at the 5th birthday get-together we had Sunday night for Bennett. Tain't many (hee hee...he said TAINT), but I did what I could. I made up for quantity with cuteness (the boys, not MINE) and a nice movie at the end.


Here's the video. One of these days I should show you the comparison of this year and last. He's come a long way.

Oh and of course...PEACE.

But be miss the OUT, don'tcha?


Sunday, November 11, 2012

YESvember 06 - Trying to Stay on Course

I remember one time I was riding in the passenger seat of what ended up being one of my all-time favorite cars, my friend Mark's Nova. That photo ain't HIS, but I don't have the time to dig around to see if I have a pic of the actual Biggermobile. Not that the car was anything special, it was a turd. But maybe that was WHY I loved it. It had character.

Not unlike the beat up Van that I got to drive for a while, or the Buick Century I bought for 300 bucks and a trade-in of my fried Nissan Toyota truck. These cars were crap, but they had a certain style.

What I want to talk about is TOTALLY unrelated to cars though. Shocker, right? But I was riding in that Nova one day, and Mark related an observation that a friend of his made about me who had only recently met me. Mind you, this was when I was in my twenties.

His friend had said something like 'Ken seems like a nice guy, but I dunno, he always looks like his dog just died.'

What does that MEAN, exactly?

It means that all my life I have battled depression. I have always had an uphill climb when it comes to taking a positive slant on things instead of the negative slant. It is work for me to find happiness. Real, labor-intensive work, to see a glass as half-full compared to half-empty.

And that's when things are going WELL. When they aren't? That struggle becomes something that can often send me into a tailspin. The battles I fight in my head can very easily turn into full-scale wars.

That is the nature of a Major Depressive Disorder, for those of you who have never suffered from it. To you folks, I have to say I envy you. And yet, I also have to admit that on the other hand I am also very, very wary of you sometimes. I keep my distance. That might be WHY Mark's friend saw what he did. I remember how even back then I kept so many people at a long arm's length until I knew them and knew them well.

That is mostly because I often find that we so easily pass judgment against each other.

Many so-called 'mentally healthy' people have said either behind my back or even to my face that I just need to 'Çheer the fuck up.', maybe 'Watch some cartoons.' or 'Çan't you just move on...get over it?' Essentially implying that I have complete control over this thing. I won't go into all of the aspects of Clinical Depression and how out of control it can get when you add in any kind of Anxiety or PTSD as a side dish.

I get it though. I don't BLAME people for 'going there'. It's like back pain to a degree, which I also have and have to deal with the inability to truly be able to SHOW people something tangible. And people question whether it is real, with not just me but with a large segment of our population.

The tendency likely comes from the fact that both of these things are so badly abused in our health care, welfare and judicial systems. People claim to be mentally deficient in a serious way maybe when they really aren't to get something they shouldn't, or people abuse the back thing to achieve similar goals.

There is reverse discrimination too though. I know I often experience it. I used to think that those who have not known a certain level of pain and hardship can't understand things in a way that I think they should. And I have had to learn that this way of thinking is monumentally short-sighted of me.

So, why am I talking about all of this right now?

Not sure, other than the fact that I stumbled a little late last week and realized that I felt really down. Though I am fairly sure of the reasons why, with the primary one being the fact that it was Bennett's 5th birthday on Saturday.

Huh?!? Shouldn't a birthday be a time for celebration?

Yes, it should. But with Bennett that particular day is very...complicated. at least it is for me. It trips me up a lot, and for some reason the main issue is that at least right now he is 100% unaware of the fact that it actually IS his birthday.

Bennett, like I said earlier this month, has come a LONG way. A long way. He can communicate quite a few basic needs, some non-basic ones. And I am grateful for it. He is alive and healthy, with no tumor regrowth as of this past week, and I am grateful for that too.

And yet, when his birthday came yesterday, maybe even a few days leading up to it, I found myself overcome with a sadness I can't describe. And on the actual DAY as I interacted with him and tried to tell him things about his birthday and the fact that he was five years old I felt like I was rowing a boat tied to a dock. I felt like I was getting nowhere. He never really caught on, and I did not expect him to.

It did not help that the majority of the weekend his behavior was god-awful either. I mean, really bad. He has an appointment this Tuesday with an all-new Behavioral Psychiatrist, so there is that, and I am cautiously optimistic that we can make some headway with it. As I am about a new home program that is starting up next week for him a couple of nights a week with some home-based ABA therapy.

I think these two things will help him a lot. And he needs it.

Tomorrow, I'll show all the pictures of the 'birthday' celebration we are having for him tonight, which is to be fairly small. But for today I just needed to get some of this off my chest. I understand it is a bit more NO than YESvember, but I'm never going to let some theme I started make me sugar coat the fact that I feel a certain way about something like Bennett's birthday.

And besides...we DID have some very nice moments this weekend. I'm evolved enough now to acknowledge them both while talking about the fact that some days, birthdays and holidays in many cases, can be forever altered in the universe of Special Needs.


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

YESvember 05 - The Results Are In

And the winner is?

Bennett, with no regrowth of the tumor in any way, shape or form. There is still, and has always been, that weird malformation in his brain on the right side that no one can explain or offer any rational prognosis about, but it never changes from MRI to MRI.

And since it doesn't, there is never anything that can or really should be done about it.

Always makes me wonder if that funky area, and it is not a spot or a lump, but more of a larger funkiness (hard to explain I would need to get a copy of the discs), is part of the reason his development, while it is there, is so achingly slow. Part of why he can repeat a LOT of words these days, but doesn't quite grok their meaning.

Communication is a tricky thing. And yeah, I am thankful for how far Bennett has come in three years, I really am. But that doesn't mean that even here, in YESvember, I am going to sugar coat his development and say that I don't, as his 'Special Needs Dad', often see how far he needs to go rather than how far he has come.

That's part of the territory. And maybe that's how it should be, because it means we always push that much harder.

Example. I can say to him...'Hi!' and he will also say 'Hi!'. I can say to him 'Bye-Bye!' and he will also say 'Bye-Bye!'. If he wants something that he knows about, like, say, pretzels...I can, with some repetitive coaching, get him to say 'I want Pretzoo pweeze.'

Nice right? Yeah it is, and I am grateful for it.

I say that with a lot of reservation, because when I do tell people stuff like that and they want to high-five and tell me how great it is I know it is great, and I don't want to focus on what he can't do, but it is important, and I don't know why this is, to stay focused on the fact that his disability is severe and it is profound.

Were I to say to him, when he came back from his weekend last night, 'What did you do this weekend?', his reply would be 'Weekend.' If I said 'Did you have fun seeing Aunt Mandy?', his reply would be 'Mandy.' When he gets hurt and I ask him 'What happened?', his reply is 'Happen.' Or if I say 'Can you show me your boo-boo?', his reply is simply 'Boo-boo.' Though sometimes, to his credit, he has started to SHOW me, but only later.

That isn't REALLY communicating beyond a certain point, do you get my meaning? Does it mean we CAN get there? I don't know what his actual cognitive capabilities are. He always amazes me with the things he shows me he can do. And what does get me though the day is the belief that there is something to strive for, some new plateau to be reached with him.

Otherwise I think I would have stopped trying with him a long time ago.

What the Hell was this post about? Where was it going? I kind of lost my way with it. The main point is that with Bennett there will always be a struggle.

Struggles with teaching him many basic things that come naturally to other kids, struggles with his aggressive behaviors, struggles with the fear and worry that come with the possibility of his tumor or his seizures ever coming back and on and on...but there are also a tremendous amount of things to be thankful for, and as a Dad, as a Special Needs Dad, the key over these last several years has been learning how to find a balance between those two worlds and living in that space without losing my mind (too late!).

I'm far, FAR from saying I have done so successfully. I am still very much a work in progress, not unlike Bennett. The beauty of that is that a lot of these adventures into unknown territory we take together, hand in hand.

And that's nice.


Tuesday, November 06, 2012

YESvember 04 - Today I'm Hoping For a Negative

It's MRI Day.

After Bennett's surgery in 2009, he had to have these things 3-4 times a year, then three, and now 2. Each time, the results have shown no regrowth of his Stage II Oligoastrocytoma, that wacky Brain Tumor that he had jacked out of his head on August 27th that started this whole train ride in the first place.

So while YESvember is supposed to be about a reversal for me, a celebration of Positivity, in this case I want the opposite. I want NO regrowth, I want NO tumor. I want a Negative MRI, because in medical terms a Negative MRI is a POSITIVE thing.

The scan is probably over by now as I type this. Started around noonish at the Cleveland Clinic. Jen went up with both boys on her own and spent some time at her sister's place over the weekend. I imagine Bennett is in recovery, shaking off the grogs from the full anesthesia he has to be on when he goes into The Machine. He just is not able to sit still for an MRI, he doesn't have the ability to be told what it is, what it is all about.

Hell, they scare the shit out of ME and I am 45. Can't imagine what they would do to a little soon-to-be-5-year-old who we can't fully communicate with.

Hopefully will know very soon on the results. In the meantime, I do what I always so on MRI Day. I wait.


Monday, November 05, 2012

YESvember 03 - MyTunes

My eyesight is crap.

Thank God for Spell Check, because ironically when I first typed this sentence I wrote 'eyeshit' instead of 'eyesight'. Makes me wonder if my overly thick Kielbasa fingers will ever gracefully handle a keyboard, but it also reminds me of how bad my ocular degeneration has become over the years.

How bad will it get, I often wonder? But, since this is YESvember, I am focusing on positives, not negatives, right? And the fact is that at least I still have my insane sense of hearing. And it is really, really good. Like, Daredevil good. I am quite content with my giant cab door ears, because without them I couldn't listen to music, and I happen to like it.

A lot.

Yeah, that's the subject today. It's probably not something I often discuss, but I have a fairly vast collection of music. None of it REAL of course. Well, some of it is still around on CD in a box somewhere. But the beauty of today's world is that music doesn't have to be stored anywhere but in this machine.

And because of that you can take it ALL over the place. Love that. Love the iPod and stuff. I don't like the limited storage capacity of the iPod, since it can't store my entire music library, but oh well.

I have this pretty nifty BOSE iPod dock that I have in the basement where I do most of my work, or did, and the sound that little eensy teeny little thing puts out is staggering.

I like all kinds of music, if it is good, but I have my favorites, which are Original Scores. Not Show Tunes (not that there is anything WRONG with that!), but I'm talking about the background music that you hear alongside your favorite movie or TV show. Usually done via orchestra, but sometimes not.

I lean towards the stuff done by orchestra. That comes from WAY back, when I was so blown away at the age of ten years old by John William's score for Star Wars that I actually picked up a musical instrument and learned how to play it. I also started drawing around the same time.

Plus, since I was in a less than ideal situation with my Step-Father at the time, I found that putting on some headphones and listening to music like that had an astounding transportational effect on me. I could easily get out of where I was, which was generally an unpleasant place or feeling, and be right in the cockpit alongside Luke Skywalker as he switches off his targeting computer against the advice of the Rebels back at the Command Center.

'Let go, Luke.' And so did I. And music let me do that. Still does.

I have a vast music library, like I said. Thought you might enjoy a peek at some of it (though creating this image via screen grabs and layers in Photoshop was NIGHTMARE CITY).

I am one of those freaky anal retentive types who HAS to create thumbnails to all my albums in my iTunes and junk. Also, this is not all my stuff. I just haven't had time to get it all organized. Priorities, don'tcha know...

As I wrote this I was listening to a Playlist I created that pulled from the first 6 seasons of the newly relaunched Doctor Who TV series. As I am clacking out this particular sentence a piece that featured a great motif on The Daleks came to a close and a suite from the episode Doomsday came up. I remember the music vividly from the episode because it was THAT good and the music took me right back to everything that was striking about it.

Music can do that.

I'll keep upping my prescription on the glasses, setting my computer screen with a larger font, all that jazz...but let's hope I don't need to get a hearing aid any time soon. Music is one of those things that I use to cope that I think I will always need and never stop being grateful for.


Friday, November 02, 2012

YESvember 02 - Running Away With It

Not this past Sunday but the one before, my wife did something that was simply incredible. To me, anyway.

She ran her very first Half-Marathon. On October 21, 2012, she participated in the Nationwide Children's Hospital Columbus Marathon and finished with a time of around 2 hours and 21 minutes.

I know nothing about Marathons. Or Half-Marathons. Not only was it her first time running in one, it was my first time ever watching one unfold. But I am told that her time, all things considered, was not bad at all.

The truth is, I was there where she was placed to start, and I know that her time could have been a lot better, because she was in the very last group, and when they hit the start line, it looked kind of like one of those zombie herds on The Walking Dead to be honest with you.

So Jen, her sister Mandy, another family member who I can never remember the familial connection (red-face!) and her sister's friend who also participated kind of got jammed up with that crowd and had to weave in and out of The Walkers while trying to get into more open spaces in order to break into a more comfortable pace.

I was waiting at the finish line, with my camera, trying to take a guess as to when they would start to arrive. As I watched some of the runners coming down the lane I found myself very much in awe of what they were doing. And certainly I was very proud of Jen and all she accomplished when I saw her coming down that lane herself. It was a nice moment.

Made me think...maybe...someday. If I could figure out this hip/back thing (seeing a chiropractor now for it), wouldn't it be amazing to accomplish something like that together?

Food for thought.


A Beautiful Blank Page

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