Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thank you MYT.

My past blogs may have given the impression that I was something of a social outcast while growing up. I put up walls to keep most everyone away. Most of the few friends I had were either social outcasts too or had grown away from me.
In the fall of 1982 I auditioned and got a part in a local youth theatre production. The difference in my life was obvious to me even at that time. One thing I did was have a new start with a new crowd. Another thing was that even if these kids knew what a horrible baseball player I was, it was okay because they were theatre kids and a lot of them may have sucked at sports too. Kids may have joined the theatre for a number of reasons. But I think that anyone joins anything because they want to belong. I fit into this new crowd and I thought to myself at the time that it was one of the best things that ever happened to me.
A lot of the kids who were in that first production with me are on Facebook now. If they’re reading this…thanks.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

and now there are two

My son, Benjamin is 13 years old today. Sometimes I think that parents of one child are more clueless than parents with no children. Sorry, that’s no very nice and not very true either. But I didn’t really learn about kids until we had our second because Naomi was very different from Harrison.
Sometimes I shudder to think what Naomi might have been like as a teenager. She was already a very over-the-top drama queen. But now I don’t know. Harrison had a difficult childhood in his school-age years. Then as a teen he somewhat mellowed out.
Benjamin has been a very amiable and helpful kid all the time. Now as he becomes a teenager he’s starting to bristle a little bit. And here am I who thinks himself an experienced parent having to think on his feet again. Well good. I has getting too comfortable anyway.

Monday, June 28, 2010

in sickness...

Prajna is ill today and has been for a few days already. I get frustrated when she’s sick because I get sick so rarely. I had perfect attendance my second grade year then 6th through 9th grade I missed no days. I think I must have a strong immune system. The most I ever got sick was when I was a pack-a-day smoker from 1987 to 1992. I had recurring tonsillitis when I was 18. Over the years I’ve had my tummy bugs and flu bugs and other ailments. I usually have less severe symptoms.
My kids seem to have inherited my iron constitution. Even Naomi would bounce back quicker than expected when she had no white blood cells. But Prajna tends to pick up bugs probably as much as most people. So I try to have sympathy for her but end up getting frustrated because, hey, I would be better by now.
When I go come down with something I act like a big baby anyway. But for the most part my poor diet and lack of exercise tend to give me mood swings rather than headaches. It seems we all have to pay for it somehow.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

planetary conflicts

I had a couple of friends in the fourth and fifth grade and in the sixth grade I had more than a couple. It was the first time since the second grade that I had friends like that. My friends accepted my claims to be an alien as some game and one even told me about his home planet where rhinoceroses were sentient.
In the eighth grade my speech class had to give a brief life story. I went in with all seriousness and told how I was from another planet. Three years previous it had been amusing. But in the eighth grade it was no longer cool. Popular kids, surfers and skaters, brains, locals, pretty much everyone expressed their distain for me and my beliefs.
Things grew worse in the ninth grade. I had abandoned most weirdness except that I wore a jacket to school every day without exception. (I think I believed my home planet was warmer than Hawaii.)
Then in tenth grade I joined up with a community youth theatre and everything changed forever.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Imagination triumphs over logic

When I was in the fifth grade a classmate asked me if I was an alien. He reported observing that I never sweat, (I was one of the only causations and it may not have shown), and that he never saw me go to the restroom (I held it all day).
I think his main reason for thinking so was that I was decidedly different from everyone else. I had given up trying to fit in and concentrated on being as different as possible. If I had no friends, at least being the weird kid put that in my control.
I loved the notion of being an alien. So I began to act even more abnormally. I wore two wristwatches. (This was half a decade before it was stylish.) I mixed my cafeteria food together in my milk carton and then ate it with a little bit of the carton too.
Most of all I made it no secret that I was an alien from another planet. I made up a history picked out Alpha Centauri as my real home and did my best to convince everyone. If I only convinced one person on the planet, it was me. Now I had a great reason that I didn’t fit in. I wasn’t even supposed to be there. I longed for the day that they would come and take me home.
If they came today I would have to tell them never mind. I have a place now.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

still spinning

I didn’t blog yesterday. I woke up later than usual and then spent the morning shopping. Thank God for Costco when you’ve got a big family. After Costco I went to a natural foods store to get bulk cereal. We usually have hot cereal for breakfast even through the summer. Benjamin makes oatmeal or Harrison cooks farina to make cream of wheat or corn meal to make a porridge that the kids call corn meal mush or muck. That’s the one hot cereal I don’t care for and I don’t think the kids like it either but sometimes it’s necessary for a little variety.

I also bought a multi-pack of Spam. The kids and I all love Spam and hopefully we can have it with eggs and rice some morning soon. Prajna can’t stand the stuff so I don’t open a can when she’s home. I also home to make some musubi with it on a day I can take it to work to share.

When I got home from everything the house was empty. Prajna and the kids had gone to see Toy Story III. It was about noon. I ate for the first time that day and went to Starbucks to real for about an hour before work.

So I didn’t brew a pot of coffee yesterday and I didn’t blog. The world kept turning anyway.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

good work, stagehands

After I survived almost being dragged by a car and killed I wondered if perhaps I had just sustained some bizarre head injury and was in a coma dreaming everything. For years after I thought that maybe everything was a dream and if this was so I was pretty creative to dream Star Wars and stuff. I thought that the world would be entertained if they could tap into my dreams and watch them daily like a TV show or like the Talosians watched Captain Pike’s thoughts and dreams in classic Star Trek.
Speaking of paranoid delusions I also considered that when I was riding in an airplane that I was not actually traveling anywhere. The plane was sitting somewhere with people working outside to rearrange the scenery. Why else would opening the door be forbidden? And the planes that flew over me were other people who were in on the conspiracy.
I don’t know how normal it is for a school age kid to be half convinced that most of the world is in on something cover-up and it is all against him. Anyone who knows me now might think I’m a little paranoid still but not nearly as much as before. All of this, however is very small compared to the strangest thing that I believed in some of my young years.

Monday, June 21, 2010

coiled springs and a gravely parking lot

When I was perhaps five or six one Sunday morning I walked around the parked cars after church. Everywhere were big American cars, Volkswagen Beetles and pickup trucks. One family had a hulking Chevy Impala and I noticed that it had small coiled springs at each corner. These springs pointed out at the ends of the car’s bumper, perhaps to absorb a very small impact.
I didn’t know what they were for. I did know it would be fun to kick one and I did. It made a pleasing boingyoingyoing sound. Then I realized that my shoelaces were stuck in the coil. I stumbled a bit forward to keep my balance and said hello to the owners of the car as they got in to go home. The engine started. I stood on one foot and pulled at the other one, but the laces were worked into the spring.
Then my mom came running up yelling to wait. The man in the car said he wouldn’t run over me. But my mom told him what was happening. Their son was a big teenager named John who taught me contemporary colloquialisms like ‘outasite’ and ‘hey, man”. John got out and worked my shoelaces out of the coil.
As John and his family drove away my mom told me that I would have been dead in less than a minute. Looking back now I think that if the car had driving away I would have probably not been dragged but landed on my butt as the car popped my shoe off and drove away.
Still, I thought that that was the closest I had ever been to death. I also thought that perhaps I was in a coma and was dreaming everything that happened after that.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I do have an unselfish point here

The news radio yesterday reported a study that dads are really not that important and that a child will turn out just fine with just a mom or two. I’m not making this up it was on KFI 640 at 7:00 pm. I rarely take studies at their word because I’m convinced that any study can be manipulated to manufacture the desired result.
But it still rubbed me the wrong way. There are so many single moms out there that maybe this comes as good news to them. I can’t think of any other reason to put out a study like this other than to reassure moms of children with no dad in the home.
Well I’ve made it my purpose to make myself indispensable to my children. If that study had studied me they would have found a dad whose role is vital to the family. I am not a background character in a sitcom dopey dad go ask your mom dad. I spend time with my kids, help them with decisions, disapprove of their bad ones, and love them unconditionally. Most of all I love them unconditionally and try my best to show them that. I want my sons to be good dads and my daughter to marry a good dad. And yes I pray for them every day too.
Well what a self righteous rant this has been. Let me end by taking it away from myself and say this. I know lots of dads and we all want to be the best dads we can be. Most dads I know are essential to their families. This is for all of them. Happy Father’s day dads.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Onomatopoeic office equipment.

If you are close to my age you probably at some time in your life held a piece of paper that was run off on a mimeograph machine. Before Xerox machines that used malodorous thermal paper most offices had these machines that held a stencil on a rotating drum. Ink was dispensed through the stencil as the drum rotated and paper was fed through. The stencil moved across each sheet of paper and the paper came out printed with whatever was on the stencil.
When I live in Lahaina, our church was about 100 yards from our house. I would visit the church office, a small room under some stairs, sometimes. My mother was the church secretary for many years. I might have seen her on the IBM Selectric typewriter, her eyes on her notes, fingers moving on the keys and little metal globe wrapping words.
Then my dad would run the mimeograph machine. Unlike older hand crank models, this had a motor that rotated the drum, fed the paper, and best of all, the receiving tray widened and narrowed as the printed paper went into it.
My dad would throw a switch and the machine would hum. Another switch and a steady click CLICK click CLICK click CLICK would begin. Finally one more control would be activated and I would enjoy the chahHOOK, chahHOOK, chahHOOK, chahHOOK, chahHOOK.
My dad would press a long lever down inking the machine often. I would watch the paper tray and listen and smell the stencil and ink. This in one of my favorite childhood memories. More than any beach we ever went to I loved this.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

ignore the crossroads, stay comfotable

I got my Writer’s Digest in the mail yesterday and that always makes me itch in a way that writing is the only way to scratch. Sometimes I write, often times I just ignore it and get cantankerous. But I have kept up blogging 6 days a week now for almost two months. I tend to repeat myself anyway so I will restate this. If no one is reading this I can live with it. I am simply trying to get some squeaky wheels into motion.
I actually have four followers in and other friends commenting on facebook.
This is only taking 15 minutes a day or so when the kids are done with breakfast and brushing their teeth I am usually writing this. There is a big question like a hole in the roof with rain or honey dripping down that I can only go so long ignoring:
What do I really want to do? I have a novella and a children’s story that need work but have potential. I have fantasy and space opera and dystopian fiction in my head. And I was told I could write a memoir.
I could too. I could write about Naomi’s life, diagnosis, illness and death and my long road of grief and recovery. I could use the title of my children’s story and work it in.
This Writer’s Digest magazine has stuff about writing memoirs.
I feel I am at a crossroad where my usual course of action is to take the easy road of denial and safety from failure. Posting this here is a bold step that I may regret.
Denial has been so comfortable.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

plethoras of creations

I probably don’t have the journals that I wrote daily in school in 5th and 6th grade. I remember most of the time just jotting a few sentences down saying what had happened the previous day and then I would draw a picture to illustrate it.
If I were to look back at the journal entries they might say I went home from school, played in my room and watched TV. I liked drawing the picture most of all. I liked drawing so much back then that journal entries will report that ZI went to an art class on Wednesdays. Lahaina was full of artists back then. One of them facilitated an art class for children in her studio. There was little structure or instruction. I mostly drew pictures and I was unconcerned with detail or realism.
I still have spiral notebooks full of drawings that I made over 30 years ago. I made up a line of cars and spacecraft and a whole plethora of superheroes. It wasn’t the drawing that I liked as much as the creating. Moving on to writing was a natural progression.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

cracks in the earth

As a kid, natural disasters fascinated me. I watched a Saturday morning version of Emergency! Called Emergency Plus Four where the firemen were helped out by some kids. Aside from fires and rescues they dealt with natural disasters. Tornados fascinated me the most and 35 years later I still remember dreams I had about them.
Another show had an earthquake. As some kids ran for cover another one told them to stay out in the open. The ground cracked. I wondered if the cracks went all the way to the center of the earth where the devil lived.
I had an old Time magazine with pictures of the 1971 San Fernando quake. On its cover was a speculative picture of the Golden Gate Bridge collapsing in a strong quake.
Then one evening when we were living in Hawaii I was lying on the living room floor watching TV. I felt the ground moving under me as if I was laying the hood of a car with the motor running. My mom saw a swaying plant and declared that we were having an earthquake. I flew into a panic. I jumped up and ran to go outside before the house fell down on me. My mom stopped me. Nothing was happening and it was apparently over. But I hyperventilated myself to sleep that night.
Until then, I had never known that there was such a thing as a minor quake.

Monday, June 14, 2010

writing advice

I only spend about five to fifteen minutes composing and posting my blog every morning except Sunday. Looking back at it I wish that I could spend more time. I think about what to write about sometimes as I’m wrapping up the previous one, sometimes the night before or the next morning. Sometimes I make it up as I go.
If I had more time I would try to write better. I used to say that the best advice that one writer could give another was ‘keep writing’. Yes, that is very good and that is what I do. But at what cost? I heard another piece of advice one writer give another and that was this: ‘Good Sentences’.
Reading back over some of my writings I am pleased to see that I have a rhythm. But I have too many adverbs and passive sentences in my opinion. So I wish that I could take more time to make my writing better. Grammar and spelling are vital, but I really want to write better sentences. If this blog is good practice than it’s worth it. Bear with me and thanks for reading.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

home alone

I’ve been having a busy week at work with three graduation ceremonies in four days. With other events going on, some nights have been exhausting. I like being busy at work though. I am able to get everything done in my eight hours most of the time. I usually work alone and listen to audio books.
Last night the ladies picking up after the graduation reception gave me two plates of cookies. A few weeks ago a group gave me a chocolate cake. If these people think that all it takes is a little food to placate me, well that’s where they’re right.
Some evenings I will be the only person on that big dark campus. People ask me if I have a problem being there alone at night and of course I don’t. I’m one of those people who really likes being alone and I don’t get freaked out on big dark campuses.
This morning Prajna and the kids left for Murrieta and I’m home alone. I like being with my family most of the time though so this I don’t like so much. I’ll probably cook myself something, wander around the house and then go to work early.

Friday, June 11, 2010

brightness through the grey

I made a late breakfast this morning of leftover rice, beans that were given to us and eggs. As I was washing up the breakfast stuff Sarah came and asked me if I wanted to hear a poem she wrote. I told her yes, when I had less distractions in a few minutes. Then Harrison came and asked me if I wanted to hear the new music he composed. I told him yes, after I heard Sarah’s poem.
I really don’t see how I can ever complain about anything if I’m telling my oldest son that I will come and hear his composition after I hear his sister’s poem. Harrison has a CD burned with some of his music and I listen to it in my truck sometimes.
Sarah’s poem was more of a prose narrative indicating an attack of a character with a spear. Sarah devours books like candy and likes to try her and at stories.
The remaining three kids I haven’t bragged about. Benjamin just tried and failed to fix an old game console and Jamie and Nathaniel are bored because it’s cold and grey outside. The real temptation is to put a DVD on for them to placate their boredom. But I’m going to hold out and not squash their opportunity to find something to do on their own. It may be too much to ask that I will have three more artists, but I won’t get in the way.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

the good the bad and the in between

In my teens I considered joining the Maui Police Department. My dad was a police Chaplin to them so one night we both got to ride in a police cruiser around Lahaina. I had a ball sitting in the back grinning and waving to some ladies. They smiled back and shook their fingers in a shame on you gesture. I shrugged and smiled again. I have never been in the bad boy club. It was fun to pretend.
At a very young age whenever we played cops and robbers I never wanted to be the bad guy. Being bad was wrong and that was that. I was baffled that people would root for the Klingons on Star Trek or wear shirts that declared ‘Darth Vader Lives’.
That night riding with the police department I listed to the officer and watched his frustration one of his colleagues who was speeding. I learned that like everywhere, there are good guys and bad guys. I decided not to be a cop.
And everywhere there are good and bad people. Teachers, pastors, and even doctors have both and in between. Just lately I have learned that we have our good and bad days too. Some days I’m a bad dad. But being a good guy I try to get over it and move on.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

special time

When Harrison was young we would spend a lot of time together. After his nap we would go for a walk or play at a playground. In Budapest we would walk or ride to a train station and watch trains sometimes.
Back in Kihei, Maui we would go for walks and sometimes collect caterpillars to take home. We would put them in a jar and watch them create their chrysalis and eventually be butterflies.
The other kids never go as much one on one time as the first-born. Naomi got a lot of time driving to and from hospitals. She and I like to go for walks inside Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. We would find a window to look out onto Vermont Avenue or the Hollywood Hills.
Nowadays Nathaniel keeps track for me who is up for special time. This means going to the store or maybe lunch. The other day Nathaniel and I drove out to the Cabazon Outlet Malls to get some shoes for me. We saw trains on the way and visited the dinosaurs when we were done. It was a cheap date but Nathaniel was thrilled. So was I.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

fish sticks and Dr. Seuss

When Prajna and I were new parents we subscribed to Parents Magazine and even gave a subscription as a gift to friends. We haven’t had it for about a decade now but looking at the cover is amusing now. The theory of the month resurfaces regularly and the tips and tricks that parents send in can be funny too. (We solved eating problems…we just give him a fish stick for every meal!)
And yes, I’ve been told that I could write a parenting book. Maybe I could. But so could a lot of other homeschool families with 5 or more kids. And while Harrison taught himself to read when he was two, Benjamin didn’t start reading until he was six. If I’ve learned anything about parenting cutting six umbilical cords it is that kids are different.
So I can’t write a parenting book to advise anything except love your children unconditionally. Know what makes them different from other kids. I can only suggest other things like put a little variety in their meals and read them lots of books.

Monday, June 7, 2010

standing in another world

I had three odd socks today counting one of Prajna’s that I washed. Last week they came out even. I used to wear socks with holes in them on purpose. I called them my time travel socks.
I got the idea from C.S. Lewis's The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The children are pulled into Narnia my magic. I got to thinking that if a magic spell, teleport beam, or something along those lines grabbed ahold of me that it might only take me and what’s immediately touching my body. So, having holes in my socks guarantees that my boots come along with me. If I felt the beam or spell in time I would thrust my hands in my pockets to hold my knife and whatever else. Money would not be a priority.
I tried not to think that time travel socks might only bring my insoles. I also ignore the actuality that I already was in another world called denial.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

July 1999

If Naomi was alive today she would be 14. But she will be six forever. She was three and a half when she began having headaches, nausea, and body aches that made her limp.
Her personality even changed. By the time an MRI found the tumor by her adrenal gland her cancer was advanced.
When the pediatric oncologist took me into a little conference room she had already took Prajna and was tearing up. She told me it was neuroblastoma. It was cancer. The shock and despair that followed was agonizing.
A few days later we met with a family whose little girl had relapsed. The dad took me aside and assured me that it would get better. He didn’t mean Naomi. I understood he meant the horror and confusion. I believed him. And in a few months we were used to the fevers and throwing up and glances at the bald girl.
He was right.

Friday, June 4, 2010

he's more like her than anyone

We learned that Prajna was pregnant with our sixth child just before we learned that Naomi’s cancer had spread to her bone marrow and she didn’t have much time left. Naomi never saw her brother on this side of heaven.
I lost my teaching job in April of 2003 five months after Naomi died. On July second of that year I started a new job as a land surveyor. The due date came and went. Then Sunday morning after the longest labor the smallest baby we had was born.
Nathaniel Patrick Faux was not what we were used to. Fussy and needy more than all other children combined. Maybe that was a time we needed to be needed though.
Nathaniel was also a late talker. He was more manageable once he could be understood. He has an amazing ability to remember numbers and sequences. He has the heart of a planner in charge. He will be seven years old in a month and a day and we still call him Pickle.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

we left the cart full of toys in the line

In the interstate ten freeway in Redlands, California there is a beautifully landscaped interchange to the 210 freeway. In 2001 it was still called the 30 freeway. There are rocks and waterfalls and plants. This is where I figured our child would be born if we didn’t have him at home.
Sarah was born in just under an hour and Prajna’s hospital stay after was not helpful. So having the next child at home made great sense. We found a wonderful midwife and had prenatal visits with her.
Even with the comfort knowing about a home birth that was a difficult year. Naomi relapsed in the late summer. And in September of that year it was scary to know you were bringing a child into the changed world.
Prajna and I were Christmas shopping in San Bernardino the evening of December 1st. We were just 5 minutes from Loma Linda University Medical Center and Prajna water broke. We made it home in time. Jamie was born.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

a good day on the highway

Lots of cool things have made a lot of awesome days in my life. I got to go aboard a Nuclear Submarine for a tour, kick a door in at church, eat free at a fancy restaurant and other things. An obvious answer to what’s the best day of my life was my wedding day.
Days my children were born too, but the day Sarah was born is up there at the top.
I had taken the week off from teaching. Benjamin being born in about an hour made me want to stay close. We had an emergency home delivery kit too, which we ended up using.
Harrison was at school. Prajna and I went for a walk with Naomi and Benjamin. We ran into an old friend that we hadn’t seen since the night Naomi had been born. The kids went down for a nap after lunch and Prajna’s contractions grew strong and regular. We couldn’t leave home with the kids napping and Harrison due home soon. We called Prajna’s mom.
When Prajna’s labor got even stronger we reassessed the situation and I called the paramedics. I hung up on them when Prajna called for me. Our little girl was on her way. Prajna’s mom got there in time to coach. I played doctor, or catcher. The delivery was textbook routine. I suctioned the nose as the head came out and made sure the cord wasn’t wrapped around her neck. She came out a minute later blue and calm. I suctioned her again and the paramedics arrived in time to give her some oxygen help cut the cord. Harrison arrived home from school in time to see us getting into the ambulance.
The paramedics wanted to write ‘Jane Doe’ on their paper work so we named our daughter Sarah Marie Faux right there on Mokulele Highway.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Második fia

Benjamin was born in the middle of the night in the summer of 1997. Hong Kong was going back to China at the time. We were in Budapest, Hungary. Prajna had been having contractions for months. Then she woke me up to tell me it was time.
We called a friend from church to come and watch Harrison and Naomi and then I called a taxi. In the two years in Hungary I rode maybe 5 times in a motor vehicle that was not public transport.
At the hospital a cheerful nurse asked in “Mi a baj?” (What’s the trouble?)
We, the young couple at 2:00 in the morning that included a very pregnant woman, hesitated, and then I blurted: “Viz!” (water).
The doctor didn’t make it to the hospital in time. Prajna and Benjamin agreed that they had waited enough.
Fiú” (boy) said a nurse as Benjamin presented himself.
Hours later I walked home. It was about four in the morning and the sky was getting light.
Benjamin has an American birth certificate and passport and no Hungarian citizenship at all. Aside from crying a lot he was an easygoing baby and a great eater. Over the years Benjamin has stayed amiable and easygoing albeit he turns 13 in 29 days now and it’s beginning to show. He’s my son.