2018: It Was A Year

Hello, hello!  First and foremost, I want to once again thank J. R. Dawson for her awesome guest post last week.  If you haven’t read it yet, go and do the thing.  Now, on to this week’s post!  Since December is speeding toward its end, I thought I would take a moment to look back on the year.  Don’t worry.  I don’t plan on getting all insightful and nostalgic.  But I do plan on sharing five memorable things that have occurred this year in no particular order.

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Before the year washes away completely…

1.  The great wheelchair debacle of 2018.  As many of you know, I recently got my new wheelchair after months (about 7 months) of fighting for it.  Technically, Dad did most of the fighting, I was just stubborn about what I wanted.  Instead of telling us up front that they didn’t normally deal with Quickie chairs, the company we were getting the chair through assured us they could get one, then proceeded to try pushing an Invacare chair on me.  They talked me into trying a molded seat despite the fact that I’ve always hated that type of seat.  All along they said it would work with a Quickie, but when they went to send it out, chair and all, they told us it was an Invacare chair.  They tried to convince us that’s what we agreed to, which went over like a lead balloon.  After much arguing and being punished by not getting a seat I didn’t want in the first place, I have my Quickie and it even has the motors I wanted (though we had to pay the extra for them out of pocket, which is fine).  I just don’t have any pictures of it to share yet.

2.  Getting published (and getting paid for it).  I know you’re probably tired of hearing about it, but it was an exciting part of my year.  We even went down to Port Neches for the book launch, which was a nice little vacation for us even though the seafood was severely disappointing.  And, of course, I can’t write about it without dropping a link where you can purchase the book.  So, if you haven’t read it yet, you can find my story “Lying Eyes” in Road Kill: Texas Horror by Texas Writers Vol. 3.  You can find purchase info at the bottom of the linked page.

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It would look good on your bookshelf!

3.  A new Thanksgiving tradition?  I don’t know if it’ll become a tradition or not (we’ll see what happens next year), but we had a lovely meal at Texas de Brazil this year.  After 32+ years, Dad wasn’t up for cooking the usual feast, so we took our neighbor to the Brazilian steakhouse.  They had a few Thanksgiving staples alongside their normal menu.  It was delicious as ever.  The only sad thing was there were no leftovers.

4.  Saw the Moody Blues live.  I admit that 2018 wasn’t the best year for concerts, but with everything going down in Deep Ellum, it didn’t feel like a good idea to go down there too often.  Plus, there weren’t many bands I actually wanted to see.  But back in January, Dad surprised me with a trip to the Toyota Music Factory to see the Moody Blues play.  They are an amazing band with some awesome music.  Seeing them live was a real treat!

5.  Dad’s hernia surgery.  Most of you already know, but Dad had hernia surgery on the 11th.  His primary doctor finally confirmed he had one last month even though Dad had been vocal about pain and swelling for the last 6 months.  The doctor acted like the swelling was something new.  Then again, this is the same doctor who forgot he put Dad on a diet.  So, Dad found a place called NTTC Surgery Center, which provides routine surgical procedures for a flat (affordable) rate.  It’s basically a collaborative effort from local doctors to provide affordable options for people without insurance.  The facility is nice and the staff was wonderful.  Though, it was a bit of a surprise when the surgeon required his portion in cash, which we weren’t warned about.  But other than that, the whole experience was smooth and everyone was very reassuring.  Dad just had his post-op check up and is healing well.  He’s getting a bit antsy to get back to his normal routine, but he has to take it easy for three more weeks.

How was your year?  Feel free to share some memories (good, bad, scary, exciting, or otherwise) here or on my social media pages!

The Bottle Above My Door

Hello, hello!  I have nothing writerly to talk about this week, so I thought I would share the (boring) story behind one of my weirder decorations.  Hanging above my door, alongside my collection of drumsticks and guitar picks, is a crumpled up plastic water bottle.  Whenever I’m hurting and need to lay back in the chair to shift my weight (or I get stuck on something while writing and just need a break), I usually end up staring at that bottle for a few minutes.  It has this weird ability to make me smile, despite being a piece of junk to everyone else.  I guess it’s because I get to think about that December night back 2011 when I got it.

Kyo's Water Bottle
Yes, I’m one of those weird people who keep things like this 

That year was a year for concerts.  Miyavi came around in November (pretty sure one of the drumsticks is from that one), which was a no-brainer for me.  I was definitely going to that show.  Then, I found out that Dir en grey was coming through that December.  I admit that I struggled a bit with the decision to go to that show.  I knew Dad wasn’t a fan (screamy Japanese metal just isn’t his thing, though I knew he wouldn’t say no if I asked to go) and it was a little expensive, but I had never seen them live before.  And you never really know if Japanese bands are going to come back through Texas, so it’s best to catch them when you can.  Ultimately, I decided to go.

Dad, the Minion (yes, I call my friend a minion, except I think he still had the title of Puppet back then), and I piled in the van and headed down to Trees in Deep Ellum.  It’s one of my favorite venues down there, though we haven’t been in a while.  The owners were super nice.  I heard they’ve reopened two other venues since the last time I went to a concert out there, which is neat.  But I digress.

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The Minion!  And yes, I wore a Mudvayne hat to a Dir en grey concert.

The concert was awesome.  Sat by the stage, right in front of Toshiya, the bassist.  At one point, Dad leaned over and said that he had just realized that that guy (Toshiya) was wearing a skirt.  Given other bands I listen to, it wasn’t a surprise as much as an observation, but it was still funny.  Then, when the concert was over and the band members were leaving the stage, Kyo (the singer) stopped and gave me his crumpled up water bottle.  Still high on the live music buzz, it was the most awesome thing EVER!  A little later, when asked what I planned on doing with his garbage, I vaguely remember a plan to harvest his DNA and clone him.  That never came to fruition, but I did use it as a wall decoration.

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Kyo!

And that’s how one man’s literal trash became my treasure.  What’s something weird that you keep around?  Do you have anything other people would look at and automatically think it’s trash?  Share your story here or on my social media pages!

The Show That Prepared Me For Life

Hello, hello!  I’ve been binge watching Sailor Moon Crystal the past couple of days and it got me thinking about how I would cope with life today if I hadn’t watched the original Sailor Moon growing up.  It’s one of those shows that prepared me for everything going on in the world today.  We all have a show like that.  Whether it was Ms. Frizzle and the Magic School Bus or X-Men or Batman or whatever you watched as a kid, we all have a show that has stuck with us and been a major influence on who we are today.  For me, that was Sailor Moon.  How could a magical girl anime prepare me for the turbulence of today, you ask?  Stick with me for a minute and I shall do my best to explain.

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One of my favorite pictures of all the Senshi.

Aside from a bunch of women kicking ass and taking names with the occasional backup from Tuxedo Kamen, this show was amazing for many other reasons.  Yeah, there was the obvious message that love and friendship can help you conquer any evil, including the evil that lurks within each of us (after all, if Small Lady can become Black Lady and Saturn can become Mistress 9, none of us can claim to be 100% good).  It reminds us that, ultimately, hatred and superiority complexes will fail.  It might take longer than we want, but as long as people don’t give up, good will eventually win.  We just have to believe in each other.

There are also more subtle messages that apply today more than ever.  There was the whole Uranus/Neptune relationship that the U.S. dub tried to pass off as them being cousins (everyone I knew saw through that charade and, honestly, the whole cousin storyline just made a beautiful relationship kind of creepy).  Not to mention Zoisite’s obsession with Kunzite in the original anime (again, no one I knew believed Zoisite was a woman in the dub).  Then came the Sailor Starlights arc where men transformed into women and back again (pretty sure they just cross-dressed in the manga, but I’m talking about the anime where they were biologically males until they transformed).  Early exposure to this kind of stuff wasn’t traumatizing.  If anything, it helped give me an open mind.

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The Starlights.  I wanted those boots, though.  That’s all I cared about as a kid.

The story arc that hit closest to home for me and, in all honesty, is probably the reason Sailor Moon stuck with me so much, was Sailor Saturn’s story.  She was a sickly kid and an outcast, but she had the power to destroy worlds.  It was the first time I remember seeing someone who had physical difficulties (granted, they were nothing like my own) who could be the hero (or the villain if she had chosen that path).  She proved that you didn’t have to be athletic or even normal to be powerful or even accepted by people.  For a kid like me, that was the best message I could have received.  If she could help destroy evil, I could put up with whatever life threw my way.

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The whole purple outfit didn’t hurt my love of Saturn either.

So yeah, Sailor Moon definitely helped shape who I was back then and who I am now.  It taught me about the power of women, the power of friendship, how to recognize evil, how to accept others for who they are, and how to accept myself.  What show helped turn you into who you are?

Labor Day Weekend

Howdy, howdy!  In the United States, this past weekend was Labor Day Weekend.  On Sunday, Dad made a baked ziti with a homemade ragù (yes, you should be jealous), and we had an impromptu thing.  Some people came over and hung out and we watched part of the UT/Notre Dame game.  It was a nice day all around.  But Labor Day Weekend wasn’t always just another weekend in this house.  It used to be a weekend spent at the ballpark or the race track or wherever the Dallas location of the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon was being held.  It was a lively, busy weekend surrounded by a bunch of MDA volunteers and local celebrities and all that fun stuff.

Labor-Day

I hadn’t participated in the telethon for a few years before it devolved into the “Show of Strength” with the departure of Jerry Lewis, then faded away into nothingness.  I don’t know why Mr. Lewis and MDA parted ways.  I don’t know why they decided to end the telethon.  These things just happen, I guess.  But I do know that the money raised over the years helped a lot of people.  I know MDA continues to help a lot of people.  It’s something I’m grateful for.

I’m also grateful for the memories of those weekends along with all of the other fundraisers I participated in over the years.  I got to meet a lot of people I otherwise wouldn’t have.  As a kid, all I really cared about was the fact that the caterers usually brought delicious desserts even if the meals weren’t all that tasty.  Now, I’m happy that I was a part of helping others like myself.  I’m glad that I got to experience the behind the scenes of the telethon, even if it was only at the local level.  I was able to observe and learn.  It’s not something everyone gets to do.

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Always had to display the nails.

 Knowing that the money went towards research and helping families who couldn’t afford equipment and the like makes it worth it.  Even when I was going through that phase where I felt guilty for asking people for money, I at least knew it was helping people.  MDA has helped me on numerous occasions, especially when I was a kid and didn’t qualify for Medicaid because Dad made too much money.  But, there was no way we could’ve afforded all of my equipment (my chairs and later my breathing machines and all that) without MDA’s help.  That’s just part of what MDA does.  It’s part of what Jerry Lewis helped raise money for.  Without him and his telethon, MDA wouldn’t be where it is today.

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At the ballpark.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is, thank you.  Thank you to MDA, to Jerry Lewis, and to everyone behind the scenes.  Not only did the telethon raise money for a great cause, but it also provided many of us with wonderful memories and fun stories to tell.  I’m sorry that the telethon is gone, but I’m happy to have been a small part of it.