How to Be a Man in Scary Times

It’s a scary time, he says.

He stands at the microphone, a preacher in front of his congregation, a cold, defiant smile on his face. He gesticulates as he speaks, waving to the masses and shaking his fist in the air to emphasize his point. His forehead glistens slightly, though it’s hard for me to tell if the sheen is a result of tiny beads of sweat from the spotlights or the oils from a low-quality spray tan. The crowd cheers in response, drinking in his charisma as if it has been forty years in the desert and he is the land of milk and honey.

I’d rather stay thirsty, I can’t help thinking. Continue reading “How to Be a Man in Scary Times”

Keeping Safety 1st During Late Night Baseball

The text message popped up on my phone just after midnight.

Trudy was trying to fall asleep in our bedroom and I was on the couch in the living room. The Cubs and Rockies had just gone into extra innings in their win-or-go-home playoff game and I didn’t want to disturb my exhausted wife by reacting to key pitches or controversial calls. I was exhausted too, of course; caffeine only works for so long and my energy stores had already been low after a frustrating day at work. Sports fandom being what it is, though, I was determined to see the game through for as long as I could keep my eyes open.

I had been alone for maybe ten minutes when the soft glow of my cell phone caught my eye. I picked it up, expecting to see another message from my friend with whom I’d been texting during the game, but it wasn’t from him. It was from Trudy. Continue reading “Keeping Safety 1st During Late Night Baseball”

How Do I “Do Diversity Right?”

“It didn’t even seem like they noticed,” she said to me.

We had just finished putting our apartment back in order after some friends had spent the late afternoon with us. Eitan and Shayna had put up much less of a struggle going to bed than I had anticipated, given that it was much later than usual and that the hyperactivity of entertaining company had not yet worn off. Shayna had no doubt exhausted herself by trying to defend her territory against the other young girl who had come over (never mind the fact that the other girl was six months Shayna’s junior and had very little interest in fighting). Eitan, meanwhile, had pushed through the initial focus on the two girls and used up his energy convincing all four adult males to play board games with him.

“I mean, I’m glad they didn’t notice,” Trudy added. “It’s just interesting; I don’t think we’ve ever had any black friends over to our apartment before.” Continue reading “How Do I “Do Diversity Right?””

Be Here Now

Brian stepped into the elevator and pressed “Lobby.” He stood against the back wall, his hands shoved into his jeans pocket and his ID badge swinging softly from the lanyard around his neck. He leaned his head back and closed his eyes, doing his best to forget about the phone call he had just finished.

“Rough day?” a woman’s voice asked.

Brian opened his eyes. He hadn’t realized someone else was in the elevator. His lips curled into a hint of a smile.

“A bit,” he answered with a soft chuckle. “Though I don’t know that it’s been drastically rougher than any other day.” Continue reading “Be Here Now”

Dear Eitan, Love Mommy

Dear Eitan,

I know Daddy usually writes these letters to you but I couldn’t help myself today. I am writing this as I sit down by the ocean and I watch you boogie board for the first time. Eitan, you truly are one amazing kid. Just yesterday, I bought you your first boogie board and today you are already riding the waves. Your sense of determination is awe-inspiring; I couldn’t believe how you pushed yourself to bring the boogie board into the ocean on just your first day with it. You have grown into such a strong, independent young little man. I am so proud to be able to call myself your Mommy. Continue reading “Dear Eitan, Love Mommy”

Be The Match Part 6: The Collection

“Aaron, you look like a different person today!”

“I feel like a different person,” I answered.

The PA’s face was a mix of wonder and astonishment as she gazed at me through her thin-rimmed glasses. Her lips broke into a wide smile.

“What happened?” she asked.

“I dunno,” I said with a shrug. “I did what you guys said to do. I rested into the evening, took some Tylenol to bring the fever down enough to get my appetite back, ate dinner, kept drinking Gatorade and went to sleep. Then, this morning, I woke up covered in sweat.”

“You broke your fever,” she said, shaking her head from side to side as she kept trying to comprehend what I was telling her. The smile never left her face. Continue reading “Be The Match Part 6: The Collection”

Be The Match Part 5: The Fever

It came out of nowhere.

We had spent the entire day out together as a family. We went to the mall, got lunch and met up with Trudy’s parents for dinner. Shayna was fine the entire time; she had been running around, talking and laughing throughout the day so, when we arrived at home, I was surprised when Trudy told me that Shayna’s head felt warm. I dropped Trudy and the kids off and went to run one more errand by myself. A few minutes later, Trudy texted that Shayna had a temperature of 100.5. Continue reading “Be The Match Part 5: The Fever”

Be the Match Part 4: The Shots

The hardest part about the intermediate step in the stem cell donation process was not the pain from the needles.

You might think that it would have been, since I received two injections for five days straight.1 The needles went into the fleshy skin on the bottom of my triceps, which is not an area I’m used to thinking about. The nurse alternated arms so I wouldn’t have freckles of needle-sticks peppered all over the same area of skin. She would pinch the skin and then press the needle in, pushing the medication through the syringe slowly to avoid disturbing the skin too much or losing any of the liquid. The needles hurt; but they were not the worst part. Continue reading “Be the Match Part 4: The Shots”

Be The Match Part 3: Count Your Blessings

This post is a little out of order chronologically but it seemed worth it to publish in order to continue the story. Every word was written by my wife, who has been by my side through the entire process. Also, any reference to time or days are simply based on when she wrote it and shouldn’t be considered indicators of the date of the collection procedure. Please also read the other parts of the series. Enjoy!

For those of you who don’t already know, Aaron matched with someone who needs a stem cell donation. After a few hiccups on our end (thanks, kids, for getting Daddy and me both sick), Aaron finally started the donation process. We’re not going anywhere for a while (6-8 hours to be exact); anyone have a Snickers? Continue reading “Be The Match Part 3: Count Your Blessings”

Pear Shapes And Water Bottles

I’ve never considered myself an artist.

The most generous among you would say that I am an artist with words and I would thank you politely while struggling somewhat to accept the compliment. In this case, though, I’m referring to visual art.

I do have some artistic talent. I can draw a fairly straight line without a ruler, for instance, and I know a little about the use of coloring, shadow and perspective. My drawings are usually close enough to the image in my head that someone else would be able to tell what I intended without having to ask. Continue reading “Pear Shapes And Water Bottles”