Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Taking Life For Granted

“Man, he looks like he’s had a bad night,” I thought to myself, as I pulled up next to my mechanic. I yell to him through the open car windows, “I’m finally bringin her in for a check-up.” “I’ll be right in,” he says.

As he walks toward me, Michael is talking on his cell phone, “No, she’s great. She made it through. I haven’t seen her yet today as they keep real strict visiting hours. I love you too.” Now I’m starting to realize there IS a reason he looks like he had a bad night.

“When my wife was 9, she fell off the porch and hit her forehead. She broke the skull underneath…” At this point he pauses. “One day she’s sitting and watching TV, and she starts screaming, and shaking, and crying.” He calls for the ambulance and she is transported to the emergency room. They find that she has a temperature above 104, and massive infection throughout her body. It turns out that they never knew that she had broken her skull when she fell from the porch, and now, years later, her brains’ grey matter is leaking through the crack in her skull through her sinus passage and into her body.

They put her on powerful antibiotics which need to be infused through an IV. This process takes 4-1/2 weeks. Ultimately, though, they have to operate, because, as the doctor told Michael, “Brain fluid only belongs in the brain.”

The operation involves cutting open her skull, pulling down her face, and fixing the crack in her forehead. There’s a 5% chance (yes, five) that things will go well. There is a ninety-five percent chance that she’ll go blind, lose hearing, lose feeling, be paralyzed and/or all the above.

Coming out of the surgery, Michael’s wife saw him and told him she loved him. A day later she was beginning to eat and hold full conversations with him.

My pastor is fond of thanking God for “…another day which you did not promise us.” Amen.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Burning the Journals-Musings on Being a Writer

Did you develop a writing discipline?

I wrote my first novel when I was 14. I was a big fan of Raymond Chandler, Hemingway, all those guys. I had read a wonderful book of Chandler's letters. In it he said something like you should spend four hours every day doing nothing else but writing. I took that very seriously. That became my discipline.

There must be various strains of the same disease. I've never spent four hours a day writing; heck, I barely spend four hours a day sleeping. I have been known to carry a notebook to scribble in though, and I've filled many a paper coffee cup sleeve with poetry and personal observations. Do I bleed ink though? If I was banned from ever writing again they'd have to put me in a rubber room, this I know. Of course they can't stop you from writing the story in your head.

I've filled journals since I was in high school. Which I'm thinking of burning by the way. Why would I do that? While going through the 10 boxes of paper (refrigerator boxes, not shoe boxes) I hauled out of my mom's house, I came across one of her reviews from her last employer. It was a horrible review, my mom was still working at age 70, and may have been a tad burnt out. Reading it provoked all type of bad thoughts and feelings about my mom; not necessarily balanced or rational. Gads, I thought. What will they think when they read my unedited, gut level, no-holds barred journal entries?

Four hours a day is impossible. What if I just commit to writing more? Writing about daily adventures? While writing this note, my ex-wife called to remind me the mortgage on the old house is due. Is there a story there? Hailey and her friends were over tonight for grilled-cheese and pineapple. That's the title of a children's book right there.

What do you think? What lights you up? What if you did that an hour more a day? Let's give it a shot.