Thursday, May 31, 2007

6 years ago today

At 5 am, I woke up in a hospital room. I believe they called it a birthing suite. A doctor came in to root around in my wife's vagina. She administered some drugs and caused her water to break. After she left, I made some comment about how that should have been really titillating...but disappointingly, was not.

Throughout the day, as nurses came in to test Polly's blood pressure. Sometimes to
draw blood. And to do some relatively unpleasant things to her. I remember one of the nurses was particularly bad, and could do nothing right. I checked and re-checked my cameras while this was going on. I was pretty much useless.

Time was marked by the beeping of the various machines, and the occasional visits from the doctors and nurses. And the occasional contraction. The kid wasn't coming out. The phrase "c-section" was mentioned. Polly was no longer allowed food or drink of any sort to prepare for what seemed to be the inevitable operation.

Around 4 or 5 pm, it was decided that I wouldn't miss much if I drove home to feed the dog and take a shower. When I returned to the hospital, Polly told me that my sister-in-law had called to let me know that my mother had died. She was looking forward to seeing my son. We just missed her.

Sometime around 8pm, they finally took Polly into surgery. I put on an ill-fitting outfit of disposable scrubs, some paper booties and a cap that looked like a jellyfish sitting atop my head. I vainly tried to adjust the angle of the cap to make it more flattering.

When the nurses thought I had had plenty of time to change, they came in to take me to another room. More waiting. More thinking.

Finally, I was allowed into the operating room. The anesthesiologist was there, ensuring that she wasn't in too much pain. He seemed nice. He and I established a good rapport, and together we mocked Polly a little bit. She was convinced she couldn't breath, and I gently
reminded her that if she was talking, she was probably breathing. I could see him smiling behind his mask.

It's possible that he was also smiling because he knew what we would eventually have to pay for his services.

At one point, I peaked over the screen to check on the doctors' progress. (I was shy subsequent childbirths, I have spent more time observing the operation. I've always said that you aren't close to someone until you've seen her uterus pulled from her abdomen and stitched back up.) As this was my first experience with childbirth, and a c-section in particular, I was astonished by how difficult it was to pry this baby from my wife's body. It's rather violent, really. One little nurse was up on a stool pushing into her belly like it was a big pillow. I didn't know you could treat somebody like that and have them survive. I guess I can understand why you hurt for a few days later...

They finally freed the child (we hadn't decided on a name yet) from his prison of flesh, cleaned him up and brought him over. They handed him to me. I had no idea what to do with this thing. I had never handled a baby that small. I was terrified. Terrified, too, because I was responsible for it for the next 18+ years. Fortunately, I didn't have too much time to dwell on this. Some comedy ensued as I tried to hold the child close to Polly, who couldn't move her arms to hold or touch the child. And then a nurse, probably sensing my discomfort, whisked the child away for more of whatever it is that they do.

We all went back to recovery, just in time for the nurse's shift to change. The outgoing shift thought the incoming shift would take care of us, and the incoming shift thought the outgoing shift had done it.

So...we waited. We talked about names.

Polly wanted to call him Roscoe James, after her great-grandfather and her father, and since I'd
already lost the battle to call him "Johnny Cash" and we couldn't get buy-in from all interested parties on "Declan", we agreed.

Once the nursing staff had figured out that we'd be better of in a room, we were able to leave recovery. My mother in law and brother in law were waiting..and worrying. It had been hours, and they were convinced that something had gone horribly awry.

They took a quick look at Ross. Satisfied that he seemed healthy and had no obvious defects, they went home.

At this point, I think I went back home, too. But I don't remember. Maybe I spent that night at the hospital. I'll have to ask Polly.

I do remember that it was one of the weirdest days of my life.

Friday, May 25, 2007

what's the white stuff in bird poop?

That is also bird poop.

This Monday, we're headed into Memorial Day weekend in the U.S.. In case you don't know (and even some Americans don't know...) this holiday commemorates U.S. men and women who have died in military service to their country. This is usually observed by travel, barbecues, picnics, drunk driving and perhaps a parade or two. International Mr. Leather is a convention/gathering/whatever of leather and other fetishists that occurs in Chicago every year over Memorial Day weekend. That's just an interesting factoid. I've never attended.

Historically, I have observed Memorial Day by having some sort of personal tragedy: heartbreak, an injury or just a bad time. This went on for several consecutive years during my twenties. Eventually, I learned to avoid any memorial day festivities. I have successfully dodged the curse for several years.

However, after lunch, as I was wandering from my car back into my office, I was struck on the back of the neck by some bird poop. If it had been a sniper's bullet, I'd be dead. Mostly, I'm annoyed and a little disgusted, and I can't help but wonder if it isn't an ill omen for the upcoming weekend.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Congratulations, Cole Porter

Would somebody explain to me how Eric Estrada got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame before Cole Porter did? It seems that today that long overdue honor was bestowed upon the songwriter who brought us "I've Got You Under My Skin", "Night and Day", "I Get a Kick Out of You" and myriad other songs that have become part of the Great American Songbook. Did everyone just assume he had a star already?

Whether or not you are a fan, Cole Porter's contribution to music, theatre and movies is huge. I don't really know what politics are involved in getting a star on the walk of fame. Maybe the stars have to pay for it. If so...could I get one? What would it cost?

The first time I laid eyes on my wife (she wasn't my wife yet...) , she was performing in "Red, Hot and Cole", a revue of Porter's music that sort of told his life story. The director was a friend, so I went to check out his show, but made the mistake of going alone. It was dinner theatre. I sat at a large table with a family who I did not know. Drinks were relatively inexpensive, and I took advantage of that. I think by the end of the show, the family I was seated with had become a little bit afraid of me. I didn't meet Polly that night. That came later.

Our daughter is named "Rosalie" after her great-great aunt Rosalie, who in turn is named after a Cole Porter song of the same name. The song comes from a film called (redundantly enough) "Rosalie" featuring Eleanor Powell and Nelson Eddy. Eleanor Powell plays Rosalie, a student at Vassar who also happens to be a princess from the European kingdom of Romanza. Never heard of Romanza? Neither had I, until I saw this priceless gem of a tract on foreign policy. Ray Bolger is fun (warming up for his role as scarecrow still two years away) as Nelson Eddy's best friend/wingman and his soon to be Wizard of Oz cast mate, Frank Morgan (the Wizard) hams it up as the King of Romanza.

Yes, it's as bad as you can imagine...but Eleanor Powell was one hell of a dancer, so there are some nice sequences...and it's a fun kind of bad. And hey...they can't ALL be winners. Just look at Cole Porter. Erik Estrada beat him to the Walk of Fame.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


So yesterday I was trying to make my way through the shop at work. We're very busy right now, and stuff is all over the place, so any attempt at point-to-point navigation is quickly thwarted by some sort of obstacle.

I came across the following in my path:

This particular obstacle wasn't terribly tall or wide. There was a large crate on one side and some half-manufactured piece of something on the other side. It would have taken several seconds for me to find an unobstructed path. Seemed to me that the choice was simple.

And so, I leaped. It wasn't a mighty leap. It was a well-calculated leap. Just enough energy spent to get me over the obstacle and to the other side. At some point mid-leap, I got a different perspective on my obstacle. But it was too late.

My trajectory was set. I hardly had time to recognize the impending disaster. My left heel struck the edge of the skid that was poking out, that I had not been able to see from the other side of the object.

I now have a sprained ankle. It hurts. I'll take your pity NOW!!!

PS. Please send Vicodin.

Monday, May 14, 2007

sketch o' the day...mother's day edition

Today's sketch o' the day--an irregular feature here at mad scribblings--comes to you courtesy of the Hallmark Corporation and the notion of Mother's Day in general. As has become something of a tradition, I got up early with the boys and I facilitated them in making some cards for their mother and grandmother.

I don't know if tradition is the right word. It's pretty much just what happens due to a combination of procrastination and an attempt to keep them occupied and quiet so Polly can sleep.

So the boys worked on their cards. Neither one has yet to demonstrate any innate skill in the visual arts, but they love to try...and they do have active imaginations. So maybe one day their talent will emerge and they can make the decision not to have a respectable career as a doctor or lawyer or even a podiatrist and instead make all the wrong choices and end up a failure on a dead-end career path like their dad.

While they worked, I attempted to draw them...turns out the little boogers are moving targets. Very difficult to draw. After a few failed attempts, I did arrive a a pretty decent likeness of Jack.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Paris Hilton is creeping me out.

I'm very sorry and from now on I'm going to pay complete attention to everything.
-Paris Hilton

So for the last week, the young and hapless Miss Hilton has resurfaced in the media for a new bit of notoriety. She apparently hadn't realized that he driver's license was suspended--a fairly common thing when one is convicted of alcohol-related reckless driving. But you can't blame her...she has people who read for her. Anyhow, she was sentenced last Friday to 45 days in county jail for violating her probation.

I, for one, am a big fan of prison exploitation films. I recommend she shoot "the Simple Life" from there. She'd gain at least one viewer.

But prison fantasy scenarios aside, the thing that has amused and terrifed me most about the Hilton situation is the statment she made to the judge as part of her plea for clemency. She's "going to pay complete attention to everything." I, for one, believe her. I'm fairly certain I saw her peering in through my bedroom windows last night. Creepy.

Creepier, still because my bedroom is on the second floor. Does she carry a ladder around? Or has she developed the power of independant flight along with her new ominpresence? How far can this go? I don't know if the world is ready for an omnipotent Paris Hilton.

Of course, if there was an ominipotent/omnipresent Paris Hilton, perhaps I could have called on her to clear up a little traffic situation this morning that made me late for work. Some doofus driving a flatbad towtruck had stopped his truck in my side of a 2 lane road. He managed to stop the truck just short of a busy T-intersection, so there was a lot of oncoming traffic, so it was very difficult to go around this guy.

What was particularly curious was that they had a motorcycle up on the flat bed, and there were two hipster-type guys up there checking it out. They weren't your usual towtruck driver types. I don't know what they were doing...they weren't moving the truck...that's all that mattered to me. I suppose the truck may have been broken down. But that doesn't explain why both the guys were up there.

It really started my day off badly. Where the hell were you, Paris? I don't think she would have stood for such an affront to her commute.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

where you at?

I have no idea how many people read my blog. I have a few regular readers, some who leave a comment now and again (and I read their blogs, too, almost regularly). And I know Polly reads my blog, but I suspect she's just checking up on me. Anyhow, I might have more regular readers if I would write more consistently. I've made promises to myself to do it. I want to start doing a regular "sketch of the day" feature. Mostly, I find myself too busy or inspired, and sometimes just too damned tired to do it. But I do keep promising that I will...I'm only promising myself, though. I'd feel bad about it if I promised you, blogreader, and didn't deliver. But at this point, I've broken enough promises to myself that I just sort of expect it. I don't find myself to be too trustworthy.

Here's something kind of fun...head over to The MoonTopples Blog and try your hand at short fiction. The "Great Big Awesome (short) Fiction Contest #2" or GBA(s)FC #2, is Maht's second outing hosting a short fiction contest. The first one was fun, and there were a lot of good stories. I took a stab at one. You can read it here. As you can see...there was at least one mediocre story. I don't know if I'll try to write something this time. I'm going to try...but I'm a little bit busy these days.


I'm in a play. Sort of. I've been trying to decide how to pimp this thing...because...well...I'm not really acting. But...I think it's going to be a good play. And the lead actor is very good...which is important, because it's mostly a one-woman show.'s what happened. A director I worked with a lot in college had retired, and wanted to start up a new theatre ensemble. He called me up and asked me to help out with his first production with the new company. The show involves a lot of monologues by the lead character, and two other actors flit in and out of the action playing multiple characters. And there are two stagehands who move set pieces and hand props to the actors as the show progresses. I am one of those stagehands. Occasionally, we interact with the actors. But it isn't really acting. A well trained monkey could probably do what I'm doing in this show. (I'm less prone to fling my feces at the audience, though.)

I've done this before, for the same director...but that show was Kafka's The Trial, and I and my fellow "propmaster" were there as an ominous presence to enhance the paranoid tone of the piece. And at the end, we got to execute the lead. I don't get to kill anyone this time. But I do get to pretend to play violin.

So it's weird for me to talk it up...I think it's going to be a good show...I think the actors involved (those who have lines) are very good. But I feel like I have to explain it too much. So anyway...that's why I'm extra busy these days. That's what I'm up to. If you want to read more about the show, which is called Scrambled Eggs, click here.