Monday, September 26, 2011

The circle of life...

We had a visitor this weekend, and it was humbling.

He was 13 months old and, if you were to paint a picture of "beautiful," it would be of Eli.

He's the son of Katie Nelson, a former student and now dear friend, and Eric Owles. Both are exceptional journalists, she with The New York Daily News and he with The New York Times. Eli is, as they are, of Brooklyn. And if his intense gaze at his surroudings is any key, he'll be a great journalist, too.

I met Eli in Weston, Mo., at the wonderful wedding (they're all wonderful, aren't they?) of Neeley Spellmeier (to John Watkins), another former student and now good friend (though she tends to ignore that part by not communicating as often as I'd like -- even though she has MY book! More on that later in the P.S. below.)

Eli and I bonded. Though, I must admit, he bonded with just about everyone, but I'd like to think we bonded, well, more! After all, I am the one who proudly caused the need to have his clothes washed because of the abundance of chocolate wedding cake residue on his clothes. (To be fair, my suit is heading to the cleaners because of cake residue, too.)

He and Katie then came to our home both Saturday and Sunday nights, so we had lots of time to play with Eli. He slept well, both nights. He was busy. I'm just sore, can barely stand, from crawling, lifting, bending, jumping, carrying, crawling (did I mention crawling?) and playing endless sessions of Peek-a-Boo, which always brought a chuckle from him -- and everyone else in attendance. Either Eli looked silly or, perhaps, it was me. But who cares? It was fun.

The reason for this is to take note of how beautiful Eli is, how beautiful all children are. And how Eli, and Katie, and Eric are beautiful, too. And how amazing, challenging , invigorating the raising of children remains, especially when it's done so well by them. And how virtually everything else in the world is infinitesimally less important.

Including brain surgery, especially in my case: The doc, last Wednesday, gave me a big thumbs up after my latest CAT scan with another scheduled in two months "just to be sure." And another welcome edict: I'm being weaned off the med I'm on, so martinis on Sunday in about four and a half weeks!

So life is beautiful. Especially with special visitors like Katie and Eli. So rejoice. I will.

* * *

P.S.: A friend of Neeley's, on graduation, if I recall correctly, gave her a book, "The Natural," by one of my favorite authors, Bernard Malamud. She showed it to me. To her surprise (but not so much to mine), the inside flap had an impression -- the stamp I put in many of my books noting that the book was the property of one Malcolm Gibson. I'd loaned the book to a student, whose name had long slipped from my memory. Apparently, he had sold the book, likely along with a lot others and not noticing mine was among them, to the Dusty Bookshelf downtown. We laughed about it, and, of course, I said the book was hers. At Saturday's wedding, the couple had placed an old typewriter on a table for guests to write something special for that special day. I decided to write a limerick (and for those who've taken my editing classes, they know that it's appropriate because it's something I use to teach word use, cadence and headline writing). It read:

Neeley once was given a book

That from Malcolm someone had took

Amazed they sure were

When the stamp did concur

But no clue to who was the crook.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Brain blips: "Poor soul..."

The big problem with having had brain surgery, whether once or, as in my case, twice, isn't the big ass Y-shaped scar that decorates my scalp. It's not the med I'm taking, which has some puzzling side effects and has barred my consumption of martinis for the time being. And, no, it's not, now, as I wrote about earlier, the uncertainty of healing fully and avoiding seizures.

It's perception. It's you. Or, actually, my fear of you and what you'll be thinking.

Here's why.

This past week or so has been an adventure in misplacing things or overlooking things.

I lost my glasses and had to buy a pair of off-the-shelf reading glasses from Walgreen's. (Those glasses, by the way, broke, and I had to buy another pair tonight because my new tri-focals won't be ready until Thursday.) Then, a lens fell out of my sunglasses, and we haven't been able to locate it.

Oh, and I misplaced my office keys. But they turned up a day later (thanks to Joyce). She found 'em where I'd left 'em -- in the spare car, the Nissan Altima, which was safely parked in the driveway. The keys were there because we had been checking to see that all the lights were working (one tail light was out), and, yep, I had left the lights on, so the battery was dead. (Hey, it was daylight when we did the checking. Lighten up.)

And earlier, just this past Thursday, I'd pulled into the garage with the Miata, dashed into the house, and, next morning, when I went out to start it, the Miata was stone-cold dead. Yep, a dead battery because I'd left the lights on. Thankfully, the Nissan worked (until that next morning after Joyce and I did the "check the lights" exercise. But the Miata was working by then, thanks to Triple-A.)

Yes, I know it's confusing, but, now, you know why we own three cars!

(A note of defense with both the Miata AND the Nissan -- and not with Joyce's HHR, the lights of which switch off automatically. I don't hear well, even with my hearing aid, so the high-pitched "beep, beep, beep" the cars emit when you leave the lights on after the ignition is turned off is lost on me. So, on Saturday, I went in search of a solution from auto parts stores, looking for a device that either increased the volume or changed the sound to a loud truck-proud "ayooooogah!" when the lights are left on. No such device apparently exists. Interestingly, all the clerks at the counters of the auto parts stores said they'd like one, too, because they'd done the same thing!)

Ah, but back to me. And you.

I know what you're thinking every time one of those memory "blips" leap to life these days: "Poor soul. Those brain surgeries sure have taken their toll."

But, nope. Always been that way. Forgetful as hell when it comes to stuff like that. We were hoping the brain surgeries had fixed it, dammit. Still the same ol' me.

But in all this lies my real fear: That folks will, in fact, with every one of those little blips in my behavior, give rise to the "poor soul/brain surgery" response.

Well, again, it ain't.

So, family, friend or foe, please don't do that. It truly is my greatest fear.

Just chalk up quirks, any and all, to the real reason I switched from doing journalism to teaching it.

I truly am an "absent-minded professor." Always been.

And quite happy with it, thank you. Makes life more interesting.