Thursday, March 31, 2005

Season of Death

Can't remember where I read it - maybe it was Tom Robbins, I don't know, or in "Throat Sprockets" - but someone once wrote that "Fall is Springtime for Death."

This Spring, Spring is the Springtime for Death.

Yeah, I just checked the news and Terri Schiavo is dead. One moment that headline wasn't there, and then a minute ago it was. May she finally have the peace that has been denied her for so long.

I have new friends who have lost a child - I have them because they lost a child. Shortly after Calvin was born I realized that from this point on, my life was going to be peopled with dead children. Most people don't live with dead children, they don't acknowledge them, they don't exist. And I resented no longer being one of the happily ignorant. It took a long time for me to be ... comfortable with that. Comfortable, that's the wrong word, but it comes close. Accepting is definitely the wrong word. But there it was. I had crossed over into the land of dead children.

And then, having written a play about, making my personal pain public, I had even asked to be some kind of representative, an official of that country. I wanted to do something, I wanted to help in some way, to let others know they aren't alone in this.

My grandfather, the Norwegian sailor, is closing in on his 101st birthday. Less than two months away. They get him out of his bed every other day. He seems lucid, most of the time. But he is not happy. He has a brain tumor and it pains him. But he has lived for so long ... you know, raising a small child I am more aware of how fragile life is, how many obstacles there are to survival, from inside and out. Perhaps, if we get so far, we reach a point where we simply do not know how to die.

A number of people I work with also have grandparents on the verge of death. A friend of mine fell asleep at the wheel last week and hit a telephone pole - and merely broke his nose. We celebrated Calvin's birthday and a wedding on the same day last week. The Pope slouches hopelessly against a window and struggles uselessly to be heard.

And at last, our entire nation, neurotic in all things, and more than happy to spill our guts about our collective drug use, sexual hang-ups and family dysfunction, is (for a moment) talking openly about the end-of-life, and about the right-to-die. We are speaking the unspeakable.

It's in this season of death that we prepare for another child. Our third. I put my head, my hand against Toni's comically large belly, feeling the Fish writhe and squirm (not Calvin, who was a flutter to me, not Zelda who ran in place and beat her fists for hours at a time) thinking, "That's a good boy. Keep moving. Please, please, keep moving."

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

* Cough *

Creationism-In-Schools Proponent Ray Mummert:
"We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture."

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Dude, What's Your Deal With Eggshelland?

So glad you asked. Shortly after Toni and I hooked up we discovered our mutual passion for roadside attractions. Not because they are cheesy. Not because they are cheap. Not for some arrogant, cooler-than-thou reason.

No. We love them because the very best of them are the creation of ordinary people, operating out of their own self-interest, to make their mark on the world. A person says "I made this" and we want to see it.

I had been living on the East Side for several years and I had seen the "This Way to Eggshelland" signs and ignored them. Toni moved here in mid-March, 1995 and the minute she saw one she asked what it was. And so she led me to Eggshelland.

photo: Connie and Toni in 2001

One of the first, outdoor things we did after Calvin was born was to visit Eggshelland. It is a sign of spring. Something to look forward to. A family on a cul-de-sac in Lyndhurst puts out mosiacs of cartoon characters in eggshells sprayed with car paint to celebrate Easter. What's not to freaking love?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Next Performance: Friday, May 20, 2005

Relationships: Concepts, Patterns & Clinical Challenges
Implications for the Helping Professions

MetroHealth Medical Center, Cleveland

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Happy Fourth Birthday, Calvin
A whirlwind memorial weekend ... in miniature

Saturday, March 19

A visit to the Rainforest.

Choo-choo Train Dan hits on my daughter.

The weary kitchen staff, preparing the feast.

The feast.

Sunday, March 20

Happy birthday, little man.

... a short plane ride later, and we're at the Boathouse in Central Park.

The happy couple, who waited a little too long to get married
(Get it? Get it?)

I have a goofier version of this picture, too.

Monday, March 21

A brief, rainy trip to Diana Ross Park.

Saturday, March 19, 2005


Ten years ago today, March 19, 1995, Toni moved in. She didn't have a job, she didn't have a driver's license, but she moved to Cleveland. To leave New York. To be with me.

The mid-90s. Yes, that was a long time ago. And it is shocking to think this decade (whatever we call it) is half over already. And boy, didn't the first half just blow?

Four years ago today Toni and I checked in at University Hospitals for a routine appointment with our midwife and were told our baby was dead.

We've split the birthday party in half this year. This morning Mom joined us at the Zoo. It was cool but very, very pleasant. We were there early and got to see the parade of elephants coming out of the house for the day. And the otters at the Rainforest were particularly frisky this morning. I am very glad Mom came. She seemed very happy.

After nap-time we began the feast - and we are still in the middle of preparing it. There's been cheese-stuffed olives and smoked mozzarella and marinated mushrooms with Kaliber to tide us over until dinner. Zelda's been a big help.

We have been explaining, in a low-key manner, what the celebration is. I am not sure she gets it. She still remembers her Great-Grandfather Calvin who died last spring, and gets her older brother confused with him.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Whose Life Is It, A**hole?

Maybe I need to stop reading the paper today. And maybe I should rejoice in the fact that, even now, I can be surprised.

Apparently our Republican run government has decided that anyone's personal life is their business, and has denied Terri Schiavo's right to a peaceful, dignifed death by requesting her to testify, thereby evoking a statute that protects those called before Congress from harm.

This, penned by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, in cold-hearted mockery of his own oath as a physician.

I keep thinking, how bad could things get? How bad could they get? And now I have to worry that, in case something terrible were to happen to me, hit by a bus, whatever, and my faculties were killed, my senses shut, all but my physical life over, Toni's wishes to grant me an end to my misery could be NULLIFIED BY AN ORDER OF CONGRESS.

I feel ill. Literally ill.

Bush calls this a "culture of life" or something equally twisted. "Life" has so many meanings other than the presence of a pulse.
Life In Venice

Amazing. One article in the New York Times and suddenly I miss Venice Beach. Nice place to visit, I guess. I love the bit about the difference between the early 90s (when I was living nearby) and today, as if to rub it in.

Yes, sometimes I really wish I were living in Chicago or NYC or Minneapolis or anywhere but Cleveland. And then I remember L.A. And I heave a great sigh of satisfaction and relief.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

What's On David's iPod?
Mr. Blue Sky
Electric Light Orchestra
"Out Of The Blue"
(Take that, you frosty biyach.)

"You mean I'm not three anymore?"

I remember asking my brother Henrik that first-thing in the morning on my fourth birthday. That would have been July 26, 1972. We were in the Log Cabin in Flood's Cove, Maine. I also remember getting a toy farm set as a present.

This Sunday, March 20, 2005 is Calvin's fourth birthday. We will decorate the brick, visit his gravesite. The other celebratory events - visiting the zoo, creating the feast, these things we will do on Saturday night, for on Sunday afternoon we are flying to New York for Liz & Harris' wedding. Got a new tux today, the tux I was married in is about twenty-five pounds out of date.

You know, one of the questions that often gets asked during the Q&A following a performance of I HATE THIS regards what has happened with my family since. The strain of their not knowing what to do or what to say, and my reaction to that, is a major element of the show. And the show doesn't change, it just stops at March 20, 2002. So people want to know. I wish they wanted to know for some abstract reason, but mostly it always sounds like they are worried about me, or that it just left them feeling hollow and they want some reassurance. And I can give them that.

Things have changed considerably since then. If anything, the play was a catalyst for change ... maybe an extremely passive aggressive one, who can say. But it did start conversations that had yet to be started.

Mom made several different suggestions of how we could get together on Sunday. It is Palm Sunday, you know, maybe we'd like to come to church. Maybe they could drive us to the airport. Both of these suggestions don't really work due to our strict timetable that day. But it meant so much to be asked. And today she gave us a lovely, purple and pink Calvin Day hydraenga.

Yes. Things change.

And speaking of Palm Sunday, you know what that means ... Eggshelland!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

What's In David's Lap?
A Thread of Grace
by Mary Doria Russell

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

4 Scores

(check out the review in Scene)

One more weekend to catch Sarah Morton's one-woman show 4 Minutes to Happy. Sat in front of Sarah's Mom on Saturday night (oversold crowd - get your tickets today!) and she wanted me to know Sarah was misquoted in the Plain Dealer, she never said our two shows "had a very New York sensibility" but that she had in fact said, they did not have a New York sensibility.

Having cancelled my subscription to Ohio's Largest in 2001, I didn't know what she was talking about. But I was pleased, what with a show to do and all, that what I thought was weighing so heavily on Sarah's mind.

It is a great, great piece. And Sarah performs so infrequently (much, much too infrequently) I'm strongly urging everyone to see it. I was a little stunned after the show, and I have seen it already. My eyes were wet, and I was a little dizzy. Sarah, I just think you are amazing.

Watching it again made me admire, so much, the modern art of solo performance. In the last five or so years I have seen an awful lot of solo work, and very little of it has not been worth my time.

Monday, March 07, 2005

What's On David's iPod?
I Can't Wait
Nu Shooz
(Boy, it felt good to get that off my chest.)

"What (Not) To READ When You're Expecting"

It has been quite a week. March is always a difficult month, this one made even more so by a number of confluent events. Henry's arrival, Zelda's anticipation of her own baby brother, coupled with entirely understandable neuroses about this (or any) pregnancy.

In addition, we are preparing for a wedding which will take place on Calvin's birthday, in New York City. This has been a point of some stress. It's a wedding we have looked forward to, but it means flying when Toni is past 30 weeks pregnant, in addition to taking us out of town on Calvin's Day, when we traditionally do a number of things in town to celebrate.

Last week I met a couple who lost their boy, Johannes, a little over two weeks ago. Marianne at Metro Health got me in touch with them, they wanted someone to talk to, someone who has "been through it."

Meeting Justin and Laura at a restaurant downtown, I was impressed at how well they appeared to be handling everything. I was even jealous, if that makes any sense. Their family was there following the birth, everyone got to hold the boy, there were pictures, a lot of support there. They are very fortunate. I remember being alone with Toni, and, well, that's about it.

We had a lot in common. Not least of which is hatred for a certain book advising women on what to, uh, anticipate while they are, erm, with child. What they don't do is help you expect the unexpected.

That's a common theme - don't tell people about the bad things, it will only make them worry. Again, it's like that episode of Six Feet Under. No, people should not panic, but it's like the motto of The Preeclampsia Foundation - "Know the Symptoms, Trust Yourself."

I was honored to be invited to Hannes' memorial, which coincidentally enough was held in my hometown of Bay Village. We all went. It was a Quaker-style memorial, no formal agenda, everyone sits in a room, and if you want to speak, speak. There must have been close to hundred people. Many spoke. It was a beautiful event.