Tag Archives: health

This is a Simple Story About Love

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All a mother wants, above and beyond anything else in life, is for her child to be happy. It’s a subliminal inclination fueled by emotion, like the echo of a throb…a primal instinct driven by that first, curious flutter in the womb.

And it never goes away.

My grandmother is no different from any other mother in this respect, even though her youngest was born with an umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. Unable to breathe, my Aunt Micki was rushed to a nurse instead of Grandmother’s open arms while doctors worked to change Micki’s color from a pallid shade of blue to something that looked a little more like life.

Micki survived only to suffer her first seizure when she was nine months old. It was the earliest of many signs that something about her seemed different. Abnormal. Uncommon. Not right.

As months turned into years, “different” transitioned to “retarded,” a term loaded with so much meaning that it overflowed, creating a non-navigable chasm between Micki and other kids her age. Words can be transformative in both good ways and bad, and “retarded” became a life-size label that would shade just about everything she did, starting with the length of the bus she boarded for school.

Both Grandmother and Micki learned to move under a cloak of filtered light that could only throw shadows on the stolen glances and downcast eyes of the world at large. Yet in those everyday moments where growth can’t really be measured, the bond between mother and daughter grew.

Given enough time, life will teach you that the only thing you can count on is change. Yet Micki’s role never has. She is and always will be my grandmother’s constant companion. Not her retarded companion, just a loving daughter and friend.

When my mom left home for college, Micki stayed. When my uncle took the same path seven years later, Micki stayed. When my grandfather died of a heart attack at the age of fifty-one, Micki stayed.

We don’t use the word “retarded” anymore, or at least, we don’t admit it when we do. From my grandmother’s perspective, that word has always misrepresented her youngest child. If you ask, she’ll say Micki came into the world just the way she was supposed to be.

Today, at almost ninety-three, the time-honored light in Grandmother’s eyes is fading. She’s more feeble now than even a few years ago, and bones that used to bend under the weight of life now break. Yet she pauses and lingers longer than most because her remaining purpose sits beside her, quietly holding her hand. Theirs is silent proof that under the right conditions, the narrative of a love story can last forever.

My grandmother will tell you that she’s here today because of youngest child. Not her abnormal, uncommon, retarded child, but her sweet, loving, beautiful daughter.

She’s not a surgeon, or a star, or even that girl from high school you wish you still knew. Yet if you ask Micki if she’s happy, she’ll nod her head and reply, “Yes. Yes I am.”

You don’t have to ask Grandmother the same question. The answer is obvious in the way she looks at her daughter, without bias or pity or doubt. To a mother, a child is simply a child and love is just love. Micki is her life’s greatest gift. We should all be so lucky.

On October 5, 2010, President Obama signed legislation requiring the federal government to replace the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability” in many areas of government. This measure, known as Rosa’s Law, strips the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” from federal health, education, and labor policy. According to the World Health Organization, about 15 percent of the world’s population — or 785 million people — has a significant physical or mental disability. 

For anyone accustomed to my attempts at more humorous, light-hearted posts, I’ll be back next week to talk about either what I found in my neighbor’s trash, or the time I spent in my version of prison, or both. These topics aren’t remotely related, but probably should be.

Gemini Girl on Hackers, Weight Loss, and The Ever-Changing Silhouette of Madonna’s Face

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Dear Friends and Family,

My email has been hacked twice in the past week. After studying the link sent repeatedly to my entire contact list, it seems some covert ring in Shanghai is under the impression I have considerable influence over anyone trying to lose a few pounds.

Based on my newly found infamy, I’d like to set the record straight.

1. I don’t believe in weight loss products.

2. I don’t think you need to lose weight.

3. If you think you need to lose weight, please don’t use any of the scams that Jack Dong, aka Wang Dong, aka, UglyGorilla, aka notorious member of the Chinese hacker group Pwned has sent you via my email account.

That’s the infamous hacker group Pwned. Just kidding, it’s Harvard’s 2013 graduating class. Just kidding, it’s Brad and Angelina’s home security detail. Image via rfa.org.

4. No one can lose twelve pounds in five days without sacrificing a couple of vital organs.

That’s your liver on diet pills. Just kidding, it’s the liver of the oldest goat on the planet. Just kidding, it’s Tom Cruise’s dinner. Image via path.upmc.edu.

5. If you drink more Slim Fast than water, feel free to replace a healthy regiment of weight lifting and running with these awesome alternatives: constipation, headaches, loose stools, gas, bloating, abdominal discomfort, and intense hunger.

That’s Madonna after a 30-day Slim Fast cleanse. Just kidding, it’s Mike Tyson in drag. Just kidding, it’s your worst nightmare. Image via gstatic.com.

6. If you drink more tequila than Slim Fast, please check out this link: http://www.aa.org/.

7. Fasting is a great way to lose weight, as long as you believe that your 3:00 a.m. trip to kitchen to clear out the Cool Ranch Doritos, life-size chocolate Easter bunny, and an entire box of Saltines was just a dream.

That’s what I like to binge on late at night. Just kidding, it’s a culinary creation made from fish eggs, ramen, and bacon grease on Chopped. Just kidding, it’s a fetus. Image via dishola.com.

8. Avoid any diet plans containing the  words “clinical trial,” “Kardashian,” and “alkaline”.

9. There is no cream you can rub into your body to lose weight, unless it’s creamed gasoline, in which case weight loss will be pretty much confined to your top three layers of skin.

10. If you really want to lose weight, I highly recommend a mid-life crisis.

That's me, totally stressed because I somehow lost my Burberry credit card invite.

That’s me during a mid-life crisis. Just kidding, it’s me after discovering all the Cool Ranch Doritos are gone. Just kidding, it’s Mike Tyson.

My sincere apologies for any disruption or inconvenience my errant emails from Wang Dong have caused.

Stacie, aka Gemini Girl

What Every Girl Needs to Know About Skin Care and Shaving The Fuzz Off Her Face

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There comes a time in every woman’s life when she realizes her husband is connected to a lot of well-endowed Facebook friends under the alias ‘Shazam Man!’ she’s not getting any younger, trades her engagement ring for a boob job breaks free from the constraints of social judgment, and installs a stripper pole in her bedroom starts to shave her face.

Or at least she should. Shave her face, that is. Stripping is pretty much all about daddy issues, flexibility, and cash flow.

Take me as an example. Not for the parts above I can’t discuss in public any of the stuff crossed out in the first paragraph, but for a hairy face.

That’s not me, but it could be (at least the beard part).

One day, I was lounging on the sofa in a killer pair of Jimmy Choos trying to figure out the horrendous stench coming from my son’s backpack, when my daughter made an interesting statement.

“Mommy, your face is furry,” she said.

“My face is not furry,” I replied as I attempted to pry open a lunch thermos while simultaneously resisting the urge to throw up in my mouth.

“Yes it is. You look all fuzzy and stuff.”

“You wanna see fuzz? Check out these meatballs,” I said.

“They’re not as hairy as you mom!”

“Well, you look like Mike Tyson,” I replied.

Image via blogspot.com

This, in fact, was true. She’d just had eight teeth pulled a couple of days before.

Grace's teeth look a lot less hairy than my face.

My daughter’s teeth aren’t hairy at all.

Since I’d pretty much laid down the best “In your face!” comeback ever on my 10 year-old, who gave me a serious “oh Mom, you’re such a loser” look had no idea who Mike Tyson was, I was feeling totally righteous. But I was also feeling a little premenstrual vulnerable, because out of the mouths of babes comes the truth, weird songs that can win you a bunch of money on YouTube or get you arrested, and stuff like that.

Anyway, as soon as I freed myself from the binding constraints of the ankle biters got my little darlings off to school, I checked the mirror. Closely. To my surprise, dismay, and genuine horror, I found that my daughter was 100% right. The entire side of my face looked alarmingly like the back-end of my dog.

You don't want your face to look like this.

You don’t want your face to look like this.

I immediately called 9-1-1 to report an emergency my friend, Lisa, the best paramedical esthetician in Denver, to let her know my hair of the dog philosophy to hangovers had morphed into something literal I had turned into a werewolf.

Image via sodahead.com

She just laughed the laugh of a confident, beardless woman and told me I needed to dermaplane.

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Who wouldn’t want Lisa to shave their face?

According to a random website with a super-cool design, dermaplaning is a highly effective procedure for removing the outermost layer of dead skin cells. Dermaplaning will also remove the layer of vellous hair that often covers the face, commonly known as “peach fuzz,” which traps dirt and oil. The treatment gives the skin a smoother appearance. The removal of the outer layer of skin cells also allows for better penetration and absorption of both pharmaceutical and cosmeceutical products. These skin cells are no longer a protectant, but are a barrier for other procedures and/or products.

Yep, that's me getting a scalpel shave.

Yep, that’s me getting a shave.

That sounds pretty much right on to me, so after informing my daughter that she can no longer take piano lessons finding some extra cash for my treatments, I feel just as qualified as the neighbor who constantly hits you up to buy girl scout cookies skin care products you’ll never use that promise you the ability to time travel, to offer my advice.

As a self-certified expert, I’d like to debunk several myths about skin care you may have read on the late-night chat room you haven’t told ‘Shazam-Man” about Facebook.

1. Some skin care remedies not only remove dead cells, buy can actually resurrect the dead.

This, in fact, isn’t true.

The woman on the left supposedly applied some freaky bovine hormone-enhanced cream a hydrating scrub to improve her skin’s appearance and achieve the look on the right. There’s just one problem. They aren’t the same person. I’m willing to bet my CSI home starter kit that the hand on the left is my great grandmother’s. I have the exact same bulging veins skin tone. My great grandmother made the best fried okra in the state of Georgia, mowed her lawn at the age of ninety-three, and dipped Bruton Scotch Snuff until the day she died. Which was in 1992.

Don’t believe the hype. As much as I miss my great grandmother, no amount of topical lotion will bring her back.

2. Anyone capable of giving you toenail fungus from a dirty set of clippers can successfully treat your skin.

This, also, is not true.

The process of dermaplaning involves the use of a surgical knife. It’s kind of like a custom-made shiv scalpel for fine lines, wrinkles, and whiskers.

te-animas-a-probar-el-dermaplaning-2

If your manicurist tells you she just purchased a cosmetology license from an infomercial dermaplanes, and pulls out a Bic Single Blade Lady disposable razor? Run. I made the mistake of cheating on Lisa with another recreational liar skin care specialist who ended up making my face look like this.

IMG_1848 - Version 2

That’s road rash on my face inflicted by a supposed expert (not Lisa) who dug so deeply during a dermaplane treatment that I thought she was trying to kill me reach my soul. I think she may have used a Lady Bic but I’m not sure because I couldn’t watch. The feeling of my own blood coursing down the side of my face in rhythm to Enya’s “Sail Away” was an experience I never want to repeat.

3. It’s a good idea to purchase skin care treatments with a Groupon.

Please refer to the previous two paragraphs.

4. Proper skin care will improve your sex life.

Maybe, but check out the items crossed out in paragraph one or the soft porn section on Netflix for a sure thing.

5. A well-planned and properly executed skin care regiment will reverse internal damage from heavy recreational drug use.

Image via trutv.com

These two women aren’t even remotely related. Just kidding. That’s Tawney Kitean after and before becoming addicted to prescription pills. Here’s a freebie piece of advice that has nothing to do with unwanted facial hair but will help you keep your teeth. Don’t do drugs.

So thanks to Lisa, I no longer have to endure “Chopsticks” being played over and over on a keyboard. I also have super-smooth skin.

If you’d like the best shave and skin care in the state of Colorado, visit Lisa at:

http://faceitandothernews.wordpress.com/about-lisa/

(303) 792-3838

If you’d like to install a stripper pole in your bedroom, check this site out:

http://www.yourtango.com/experts/sex-expert-chrystal-bougon/4-tips-choosing-right-stripper-pole-your-home

If you liked this post, you might enjoy:

Seven Ways To Get Me On My Back

Why I Run

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I run to be alone and I run to return to the world a better person.

I run to ground myself and I run to be free.

I run to practice what I preach to my kids because they have too many things to fight for fitness.

I run to see the world from a different point of view.

I run for inspiration.

Oscar Pistorius inspires me. Image via telegraph.co.uk

I run to keep it together and I run when I’m falling apart.

I run to maintain a resting heart rate of 56. Heart disease is prevalent on both sides of my family.

I run to focus and I run dream.

I run to do something with my friends besides drinking cocktails. OK, that’s not true. I run to do something healthy with my friends before we drink cocktails.

A Moscow Mule tastes a lot better after a 10K. Image via Stacie Chadwick

I run to stay sane on days when I feel anything but.

I run to create.

I run to release my demons and I run to capture my spirit.

I run to remind myself to focus on the moment.

Beach art. Image via Scot Chadwick.

I run to find my space and I run to be a small part of something much bigger than me.

I run because sometimes my legs tell me not to and I don’t like being told what to do.

I run to strengthen my body and I run to relax my mind.

I run to eat sea salt caramel pretzel ice cream.

I run to get away and I run to come home again.

Running on the beach in flip flops with one kid on your back, one kid crying, and one kid about to throw sand in the face of the crying kid can still be fun. Sort of. Image via Stacie Chadwick.

And when the morning is still, the kids are asleep, and the sun is just beginning its climb toward the sky? I run because it makes me happy.

If It’s True You Can’t Go Home Again, Does It Matter If You Get Close Enough To Knock On The Door?

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Everyone on earth yearns to connect with someone, to find meaning in the moment and value beyond the day-to-day. Unless you’re that dude wearing yellow crocs and a vacant stare trolling up and down the street. If that’s the case and all you want is a Butterfinger and a ride on your pet unicorn so you can time travel through a space portal and enter the third dimension? I’m not talking to you, so feel free to jump the cracks in the sidewalk all the way to crazy and ignore this post.

Charlie Sheen. Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from a nicely padded, white cell. Image via celebrityhealthcare24.com

Assuming you’re sane, curious, and reasonably interested in what life’s all about, the question becomes a little more relevant.

Twenty-four years ago, I fluttered off to college wearing a Laura Ashley jumpsuit and gravity-defying bangs. Physical evidence proves that I came of age in an era of hideous fashion. So what if I longed for a pair of blue polka-dotted J. Crew shorts four times the size of my waist, a button-down shirt straight from my dad’s closet, shoulder pads, and a fake tan? Don’t judge me. It was a sign of the times.

Dear Stacie, Laura Ingalls Wilder wants her housecoat back.

A more important marker of that period though, was the ease with which I maneuvered life. The only things I worried about then were grades and my checking account, because bottoming out in either meant an unwanted call from Mom. As long as I maintained a healthy balance, I was free to test my fake I.D. at every bar in town, sleep through an 8:00 a.m. Victorian Poetry class the next day, head to Bagel Deli for a late lunch, and start the cycle anew. I didn’t appreciate the value of doing absolutely anything I wanted every single day without encumbrances or constraints, because it was the only language I knew how to speak.

Why go to class when you can pass out fully clothed with your besties instead?

Fast forward two decades plus, and things look a lot different. My world is now colored in deeper hues, painted from a time worn palette, and buffered by the tiny yet significant details relevant to growing up. Things don’t look as simple as they did back then, but to compare a black and white charcoal drawing to an oil-on-canvas piece created in the dark with a palette knife doesn’t make any sense. They aren’t even close to the same thing.

Deep thoughts at our twenty-year reunion as we debate the long-term effects of botox, chemical peels, and whether or not hormone injections from baby giraffes is an ethical way to battle sagging skin.

What I failed to understand in my haze of studying, partying, and not enough sleep, was that college was never meant to be a destination, just a rest stop off the side of the road to fuel up with the necessary caffeine and carbs to make it to whatever comes next. If I lived in a bubble back then, today I exist in the shadow of the sun, often rising and sometimes fading, but always growing under the heat of filtered light tinged in infinitely more interesting shades.

Can true enlightenment really be found at the bottom of a champagne bottle? My twenty-one year-old self says “Hell yes!”

This past weekend, I took a step back in time to my twenty-year college reunion, just to check out the view. What I found once I’d settled in and looked around, was that while the campus landscape has changed a little over the years, the structure is the same. Like a stalactite. Or the ocean. Like me. Or you.

So the question remains, if you can’t really go home again, can you at least get close enough to knock on the door? And if life’s about the journey, what do you want to find when you get to the other side?

What would you do if you found this on the other side of the door?

Twenty Year College Reunion Observation and Etiquette Guide

1. We may be older and wiser, but we still make stupid mistakes.

2. Although modern medicine has advanced dramatically since 1988, hair plugs have not. So don’t go there. Ever. It will never be an attractive alternative to a shiny dome.

3. If you’ve come back to college looking for the One Who Got Away, reconsider. The person you were then and the one you’ve become today share an important trait. You’re both the product of free will. Back then, you each made conscious decisions that put you on different paths, so keep that ring on your finger and your mouth shut.

4. Party pics trump viral pics.

5. Skip the room temperature, keg-flavored Keystone Light in favor of a Maker’s over ice. Corporate domination, siphoning unnoticed cash from the family checking account, or both have earned you the golden ticket to a sweet buzz.

6. Memories are as clear or fuzzy as the glasses you see them through.

7. You aren’t a better dancer at 2:00 a.m. and you never were.

8. If you refuse to listen to #3, then please consider wearing Spanx. There’s no better deterrent to what will become a regrettable decision than the modern-day equivalent of scuba-inspired latex lingerie.

9. Frat house stalking is a lot more rewarding than Facebook stalking. Not that I’d know.

10. Hand sanitizer is now more important than the buddy system when it comes to going to the bathroom at any local bar.

11. Don’t be afraid to replace what you’ve lost in elasticity with filler. A little goes a long way.

12. Grab-a-dates trump Match.com.

13. Today’s college kids don’t look younger than we did; their apparent toehold on the fountain of youth is just the blurry aftermath of your Lasik eye surgery wearing off.

14. If you’ve ignored items 3 and 7, and you’re still trolling Facebook for the One Who Got Away, don’t go to your college reunion and fire up to Journey’s Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’ unless you’ve got a raging case of halitosis. And adult back acne. And a lazy eye.

15. Mystery trumps technology.

16. Don’t do shots with a kid who was born the year you graduated from college, in fact, don’t do anything with a kid who was born the year you graduated from college.

17. Female hormones rage with as much intensity at 42 as they did at 22…they’re just a lot more unpredictable.

18. Remember that Sangria you drank from the Delt’s bathtub at your first frat party freshman year? No amount of recreational Prozac can overcome the recurring visual of what was really floating at the top of that cup.

19. And if you refuse to listen to items 3, 7, and 14? Understand that the grass isn’t any greener on the other side of the space-time continuum-inspired fence. It just looks that way because there’s no mortgage, demanding boss, and needy kids to kill the color. Weeds tend to suddenly appear where you least expect them though, so do yourself a favor and tend your own garden instead of trying to plant a new one.

20. Your college friends are your besties for life, and they’ll always have your back, even when you’re sweating through your shirt.

Photo Gallery, ‘Cause Sorority Chics Love Looking at Pictures of Themselves

Litehouse 1992

Litehouse today.

Activewear 1990 (notice the "dad" shorts and XXL t-shirts)

Activewear 1992 (notice the “dad” shorts, XXL t-shirts on the girls and half-shirts on the token dudes).

Activewear today (this picture was taken sans make-up after a four-hour Tough Mudder/Crossfit/P90X stroll through campus).

1992

2012

1992

2012

1992

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1992

2012

What Would You Do Differently Today if You Were Having Brain Surgery Tomorrow?

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For you and me this is a hypothetical question, because in that way we’re lucky.

But the rhetoric is real for my friend.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to get a fast food dinner to support some of my favorite families, because the restaurant was giving half the value of anything purchased that night to their school.  I’m all about the two-toned beauty of take-out and showing up when it counts, so to me, it was a win-win.

Based on the ginormous line snaking out the door when I got there, half the neighborhood agreed.  Regardless, I dutifully stepped up, wrenched my phone from the ankle-biters, and hummed We Want the Funk under my breath to pass the time.

George Clinton

We want the funk! George Clinton Image via Flickr

It seemed that the lady behind me, who was clutching two kids wearing the uniform of the school I was there to support, didn’t like old-school hip-hop.  Or me.  She was mad, and she wasn’t singing a decades-old song under her breath.  Instead, she ran off a litany of rants that sounded a lot like:

“This line is ridiculous!”

“Do people (me) think we have all night to order?”

“I can’t believe,” heavy sigh, “that someone (me again) would be on their phone in the middle of a restaurant.”

My son, Taylor, was at basketball practice, my husband out of town, I had two straight-from-the-pool, dripping wet daughters next to me, I needed to be three places at once, I wanted to be a good friend, and I quickly glanced at my phone to place the order Taylor had texted about an hour before.

That’s it.

She probably thought I was playing Fruit Ninja, or trolling Safari for articles about Demi Moore.  But I wasn’t.  I was just doing my job as short-order cook and chauffeur extraordinaire for the fam.  Oh yeah, and supporting her kids’ school.

Fruit Ninja is played by using a touch pad to ...

Fruit Ninja Image via Wikipedia

As the back of my head absorbed her string of accusations, it became obvious she was frazzled.  But no more so than anyone else.  Her kids were probably hungry.  Ditto that.  And she obviously didn’t mind taking the news ticker of complaints running through her mind straight to the street.

That’s where I stopped short.

I was this close to going there, and shoving my phone down her throat.  But my soggy girls, wilting by the minute and aware that something was off, stared up at me with a look that questioned a lot more than the menu.  So I kept my mouth shut.

A side view of a Rotary phone

A rotary phone is hard to shove down someone’s throat. Image via Wikipedia

Instead, I stood there and thought of twelve things I’d say to her if I were alone.  That night?  I woke up at 3:00 a.m. and thought of twenty-three more.  I completely obsessed over ways I could fictitiously tell her where to go and how to get there until the next day, when I found out about my friend’s brain tumor.

And then?  That lady disappeared, and instead of stalking my every thought, took up zero percent of my space.  Which is where she should have been all along.

I tell anyone who will listen, but especially my kids, that it’s the small things in life that matter.  What I don’t often let on, because I forget it myself, is there are many smaller ones that don’t.

With that in mind, I’m asking you to help me with one of those small things that matters most.  Whether you pray, think positively, or wish upon stars, please keep my friend in your heart.  His surgery really is tomorrow, he’s one of the good guys, and the world is a much better place with him around.

***

This is my friend's brain tumor.

What was your first thought when you found out about your tumor?

Am I going to die? Be paralyzed? Permanently brain-damaged? What am I going to tell my oldest daughter, Maria?

What is your present state of mind?

That my life is on hold.  I’m worried complications may draw out what I expect to be an unpleasant experience, and I’m not looking forward to a hole being drilled in my head.  I’m also hoping that I’m not too much of a burden on my wife.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

To be healthy, financially independent, and spend my days reading, skiing, trail running, cycling, traveling, and playing with my kids.

What is your greatest fear?

Disappointing the people who rely on me.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

My quick temper.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Intellectual arrogance and physical bullying.

What would happen if you elected not to have surgery?

The tumor would continue to grow over the years.  It would cause more hearing loss and balance problems, as well as ringing in my ears, and double vision.  It would damage nerves that would make the left side of my face droop.  I would lose the ability to close my left eyelid and my sense of taste.  I could have difficulty swallowing which would make it difficult or impossible to drink or eat, and I might have to be fed through a stomach tube.  I would suffer fine motor control problems in my left hand.  The tumor would eventually grow into the brain stem, which controls involuntary muscle like the lungs and heart.  My lungs and heart could stop functioning.

What do you consider your greatest achievements?

  • Graduating from West Point in the top 5% of my class.
  • Successfully leading my Army unit on long deployments in Bangladesh to build schools, the Kingdom of Tonga to build water desalinization plants, and Micronesia to complete various civic action projects for the islanders.
  • Finding a great woman to marry.

What have been your greatest struggles?

Growing up in poor in Harlem Heights, NYC with an alcoholic, chain-smoking, wife-beating father.  I hated being poor, so I resolved at an early age to do well in school so I could secure a more stable future.  I try hard to be nothing like my father.

What do you admire most about your mother?

Despite living a life filled with abuse and hardship, she is a patient, forgiving, and caring person.

What do you admire most about your children?

  • Maria’s sweet sensitivity (age 10).
  • Michael’s resilience and independence in the face of three surgeries (age 8).
  • Alberto’s easy-going personality (age 8).
  • Andre’s sense of humor (age 5).
  • George’s tenderness (age 3).
  • Ann’s rambunctiousness (age 2).

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

First, the fear of losing a child.  Second, being jailed in a small cell forever with a beautiful view of mountains that I will never be allowed to explore.

Has your prognosis changed the way you look at life?

I worry less about things that don’t really matter.  I worked way too hard and traveled too much last year, so I’ve changed that and am spending more time with my family.

What is your motto?

I have two.

The Seven Ps (from the Army): “Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.”

“Life is good.”

***

As I look back at these questions and my brave friend’s replies, I’m struck by something I’m embarrassed to admit.  Before this week, I didn’t know the majority of his answers.  I’d never bothered to ask.

In our daily sprint against a fading clock, it’s a lot easier to say, “How are you,” in the form of a statement rather than a question, because society is conditioned to respond with a unilateral “fine.”

“Fine” makes things easy.  It’s an all-encompassing reply that rests in the gray matter of our conscience and allows us to smile, nod our heads, and move on with our day.  “Fine” is a free pass that someone stuck under the windshield wiper in the grocery store parking lot.  It’s when you wave to a neighbor from the porch instead of meeting her at the curb to talk.  “Fine” is convenient.  It’s Facebook…a click, a thumb’s up, quick comment, and I’ve done my job.  “Fine” is one of the small things in life that doesn’t count.

There’s something wrong with a world where I‘d rather shove my phone down a stranger’s throat than stop to ask what’s the matter, or that I go deep with a friend only in the face of pending danger and loss.  Or maybe there’s just something wrong with me.  Either way, I don’t like it, and from now on I’m replacing “How are you?” with “Who are you?”

It’s a small change that leads to a big question, and I, for one, would really like to know.  If I were having brain surgery tomorrow, that’s the first thing I’d do differently today.

02/16/12: I’m happy to report that my friend’s surgery was a success.  He’ll spend the next week recuperating in the hospital, and then he’s homeward bound to rest some more.  All of your thoughts, prayers, and positive wishes made a difference.  Thank you.