8.31.2007

The Bubble Boy Update

Returned to the pediatrician this afternoon. Bax's fever is gone, but his cough is so persistent and keeps him up at night still... hence my "please help me" note from this morning.

So, Doc gave bax a Rx for oral steroids. That should help.


...Plus make him totally buff in the process.

He seems less miserable today - and seems to be coughing less thus far tonight. So keep those fingers n toes crossed - cause I am running out of steam.


crazy request?

First, Thank you so much for your many encouraging and sharing posts the other day. It felt so good to see that while I was up and alone in the middle of the night, this whole gaggle of people were there to tell me that Bax'll be ok. And as for the eggfree recipes? Bring 'em on!! I have baked stuff for him with egg-free substitutes, but it's tricky to know when the substitutes work and when they create a disastrous nightmare like the Betty Crocker brownie mix that I tried with applesauce instead of egg --- it ended up like a pan of volcano lava. Burnt volcano lava.

My crazy request: Any chance any of you out there who know the baxman would be willing/available to help me this weekend? Just to play the role of another set of hands in my house and to get up with him one morning?


His cough is just starting to loosen up. He was up in the night coughing, but was able to stop the spasm way faster than the last couple of nights. He's whiny as all hell - so I'm trying to nip that in the bud.

The main reason for help isn't that bax is so much worse or anything like that... it's just that I've fallen behind and can't catch up. I went to be early at 9:30 pm, but each time bax was up last night, I was so wired that I couldn't get back to sleep for hours. And, like every day, he was awake for the day today at 6.

Currently I am so sleep deprived that I feel hung over and on the verge of getting sick. And I need to feel like my feet are on the ground going into week #2 of classes.

Thanks all. hugs,
danna

8.29.2007

Q: It's 3 am. Do you know where Danna is?


[Image: the "nebulizer" treatment]

A: Trying desperately to get Baxter (aka: bubble-boy... so inappropriate, but I won't tell him I call him that if you won't) to stop his persistent coughing fits. The boy has bronchitis and he has spasms of coughing that never end.

Since 2:15 I have been in there trying different things ranging in their ratings on the "freaking crazy idea scale":


Sippy cup of juice
Sippy cup of Coca cola (suggestion from Mimi)
Prop him up a bit on his pillow to be more upright.
Full round (10 minutes) of albuterol treatment through the nebulizer (aka: breathing machine)

Still coughing - so then mama starts to turn crazy...


I remove the throw rug from his room silently so he doesn't see.
I remove all the stuffed animals from his room (maybe they're dusty)

I vaccuum his entire room (again - it's now like 2:45)
Again I try the coca cola.

Not exactly sure where to go from here.

I panic that when he's NOT coughing he's actually in there turning blue or something.

Friends have heard me say this... but I've never written it. In terms of long-term issues for Baxter, more than I actually worry about his health, I worry about the social implications of his situation.

The kid is severely allergic to eggs and peanuts. This means no baked goods: no cookies, no cupcakes and no birthday cakes at school. It means no sharing or exchanging lunches. It often means no impromptu ice cream cones.

He's also - apparently - Mr. Asthma. Which - when I had asthma as a kid meant (or at least I advantageously turned it into - at the ripe young age of 8) ... no running sports and sitting on the side lines at field day instead of playing.

And... ok folks - let's say it: No Daddy. Or perhaps weirder, he has a daddy... but no one's ever seen him cause apparently he "lives on the moon." Now this I could really see posing a problem when Bax is like 13 or so. I'm assuming, giving his penchant for inquiry, that this lil "moon" story might only last another year or so tops... then I figure my shit out anew.

Point being -- yes, I want Baxter to be himself. I want him to be bright and quirky and funny and unique... but I don't want him to be weird.

Being weird = childhood scars.


... Hey!... I think he finally stopped coughing. Let me go check...

Finally peacefully asleep. In his newly vacuumed, stuffed animal-free bedroom.

Go ahead... say it. I'm a f*cking lunatic.

Good night, friends -- or shall I say good morning?

8.27.2007

Thank you.

For another amazing night!

This year's Laughtastic Sketch-o-palooza was a huge success. We made almost $1000 in donations alone. And to Mary Lou - who won the 50/50 and then gave her half to the Mike Young fund... Thank you so much. It was great meeting you and I hope we see you again next year.

The crowd was full of friends and strangers alike - people who had driven down from NYC to see us (Thanks MJC!), people who I hadn't seen in a long time (Anne and Michael!) and people who I love so much but hadn't seen since the day Mike died - this includes Mike's surgeon, Dr. David Andrews (who came to the show with his daughter), and Mike's NICU nurses.

Wow, right?

Thanks again to all of the talent who performed for free, to World Cafe Live who gave us a huge break on the cost of the space for the night, to Swivel Studios for the design of the program, and to Disc Makers for the original program design, and for donating the production of the programs...

Thanks Jessie, for helping with sound stuff in a pinch, to Susan for kicking ass getting donations and raffle ticket sales, and to the great Don Montrey, whose tireless committement to jokes he loves is... impressive. Come on, people - you know Mike was laughing at the Hitler joke. It was IRONIC for gosh sakes. Or at least Mike was laughing at your unflappable delivery of the Hitler joke and unaffected stage presence in the face of a... shall we say.... pregnant pause from the crowd? Don - I don't care what anyone says... YOU, my friend, to have large balls.

So much love and so many hugs,
danna

PS: The wonderful Annie, who was sitting for Baxter last night, was kind enough to wait to tell me that Baxter was coughing like a crazy man and had a 102 fever before bed. She had it under control and didn't want to freak me out.

So, today I'm missing my faculty meetings and am home with Baxter. Classes start at Delaware tomorrow, so I can't afford to not nip this in the bud now. We went to the pediatrician this morning. He's got bronchitis. The boy is a lil' asthma machine. As soon as he has a cough for more than 2 days, the doctor said I need to start Baxter on a nebulizer machine. Otherwise it undoubtedly WILL turn into an infection and get really tight and horribly wheezy. So... live and learn. In my attempt to not be a crazy overreactive mom, I turned the kid's cough into bronchitis. ahhh... welll...

The kid's in great spirits and is a total goofball.

Ok - he just asked me why the puppet animals on Jack's Big Music Show "...don't have tongues?"

Tongues?

"Yeah. they don't have tongues. Why, mama?"

Then, this morning on our way to the doctor I said, "Baxter, you're my favorite person."

He replied, "I'm not a person, I'm a man."

"Ok, well, then you're my favorite man." and out of curiosity - because I never talk about him being a "man," i asked, "Do you know what makes you a man? I mean, how do you know you are?"

He said in an emphatic tone, 'BECAUSE, mama... I build things. Like Bob the builder."

Ah-ha.

"But mama builds things. I'm not a man."

"Mama. I'm a man because I'm not a girl."

Right. process of elimitation. that works.

Gender roles. Gotta love 'em.

8.24.2007

Plug in today's Philly Inquirer Weekend



More laughs,
from Friday Aug 24th's Philly Inquirer:

"Featuring award-winning talent from the Philly sketch and improv circuit, Laughtastic Sketch-o-Palooza returns for its second year of laughs. Begun in memory of Mike Young, University of Pennsylvania alum and artistic director of ComedySportz Philadelphia, who died of a brain tumor at 38 in July 2006, the event brings together acts such as ComedySportz, Bad Hair Sketch, Rowan and Hastings, Jen Childs, Karen Getz's Suburban Love Songs, and Tongue & Groove Improv. The laughs begin at 7:30 p.m. at World Cafe Live (3025 Walnut St.). Tickets are $15, and all proceeds go to the Mike Young fund at Jefferson Hospital for Neuroscience. Information: 215-222-1400."

FOR entire article, click here:
http://www.philly.com/inquirer/weekend/future_file/20070824_Do_This_.html



Ooooh! Why didn't I think of this before??
VIDEO PREVIEWS (click on images to play videos through YouTube):

Bad Hair Sketch:








Rowan and Hastings:

8.23.2007

City Paper Article about Laughtastic Sketch-o-palooza

Excerpt:

"
Hosted by Don Montrey of local comedy show and blog "Die Actor Die," the night features local performers who have worked with Mike. ComedySportz will, of course, be performing its competitive improv matches. Bad Hair Sketch is bringing its quirky, fast-based blend of sketches, video and music. Other troupes include reality-based improvers Tongue & Groove and wacky duo Rowan and Hastings. Choreographer, comedian and Dirty Dancing cast member Karen Getz and two-time Barrymore award-winner Jen Childs will also take to the stage..."

Read the entire article here: http://dev.citypaper.net/articles/2007/08/23/just-do-it-2

8.22.2007

Keeping myself moving forward.

[In an effort to keep my foot in the "moving forward" door, I am going to spill my guts here into this keyboard. I haven't had to do this in a while, but this dream wigged me out. Thanks for letting me rid my brain of this stuff. It helps me lead a productive life.]

So, I had that ol' dream again. The one where Mike is in the hospital and alive, but completely unraveled. In this dream I went in to visit the nurses (like I did last week to drop off posters) and Dr. Evans was there. He asked if I wanted to see Mike. Obviously, I protested - given the fact that he's dead. But Dr. Evans said Mike had been in a coma for a year, but had just started showing signs of consciousness.

I walked back into this alcove (not a hospital room) - out in a hallway. It's the only place they had for him. He was alone was trying to get up and walk out of his bed. He had no muscles left in his legs and his skin was almost blue. His hair was matted and long and his beard was gray and unkempt. He was in the process of collapsing against the counter - his legs caving in beneath him. He said hi to me in a flat tone - didn't look at me. He was still blind.

Dr. Evans told me that they were considering sending him home.

It was fucking horrible.


I wonder if it's just an image that I'm always going to have in my head - and a strong sense of fear that will always be palpable to me: the fear of having to contend with this untenable situation - all by myself.


I think I know why I had this dream, though. Last night at dinner I was discussing the reality of failure in life - of not being able to get what you want. And how, if you're someone who pretty much always succeeds, not getting what you want can be an important lesson in humility and lack of control.


As we were talking about this, I thought to myself - yes I wanted Mike to be with me forever, but at a certain point, did I want him with me at all cost? No. There came a time in our journey that I shifted what I wanted... away from wanting Mike to live - to wanting Mike to live a life worth living.


So, in this dream, I was totally caught in this clusterfuck. He was back. He wanted to hug me. Dr. Evans asked if I wanted to lie down with Mike for a while in his hospital bed (like I used to for all those months). But I didn't want to. I was mad and confused.

I have really felt a new sense of progress in my journey over the past month - since the year anniversary. I feel able and willing to put both feet through the door - not just one. And this dream told me just how far I have come.

And, once again, it rattled me - but I woke up knowing that Mike dying was NOT the worst thing that could have happened.


Geeezus. This turned into a heavy post. Shit. Sorry.


Everybody ready for the comedy show on Sunday? Wheee! (oy.)

Seriously, though -
I know several of my friends have expressed that they're not ready to revisit Mike's death with Sunday's World Cafe Live show. But, this year's show is not a funeral. It's not a tribute to Mike. It's a comedy show featuring a whole gaggle of amazing people whose comedic stylings were influenced (to varying degrees) by Mike Young. We're not doing a sad slide-show. We're not doing a long speech about how much you all mean to me. You all know that shit already.

It's a comedy show. I swear.

And I, Danna, am revisiting the stage for the first time in 2 years: Singing. In Pajamas. With Pat and Peg Walsh.

Need I say more?

love you,
danna

8.17.2007

Another milestone

I took off my engagement ring two days ago. Right after Mike died, I kept it on my left finger for a few months, and was also wearing his wedding band on that hand, too. In the fall I took off his wedding band and moved my engagement ring. I have been wearing it on my right ring finger since the winter. I still wear my wedding band - now as a pinky ring.

I think that I have felt that it's a little weird to be dating with an engagement ring on. Colin was like, "Um... you might want to ditch the ring." and I said, "But --- it's on the wrong finger!" Yeah, guys have no idea which hand is which.


Plus, whenever I see it or feel it, I feel married to Mike. Which has been comforting for so long... but I'm ready to feel like I'm not married to him all the time. I can love him and talk to him and tell stories about him, but not be actively married to him in my day-to-day.

The thing is, getting the EFFing ring off was such a drama. I have put on some weight in the last 2 years. Fortunately, I've started to curb that effect over the past 2 months, but damn - my fingers are still puffy. I used Windex and struggled for literally 5 minutes spinning the freaking ring around and pulling and squishing. I thought I might like break my finger or pop a vessel or something. My finger was red and damaged for like 24 hours afterwards.

But I got it off.

Perhaps Mike was trying to make it a challenge just to be ... you know... a pain in the ass. Funny, Mike. Funny.


I don't know if this post is sad or somewhat uplifting and forward-thinking. I'll let you decide.

I have a great weekend planned: Seeing Rufus Wainwright at the Mann Center tonight, rehearsing my musical number for the WCL show with Pat and Peg on Saturday, and toasting the resignation of Karl Rove from the Bush administration with friends on Sunday. Good times.


PS: I realized that I forgot to post this beautiful photo of Mike's blooming tree last month! Susan took this pick on July 17th while I was in NH. It's still blooming now and looks amazing.

8.12.2007

Putting ducks up my ass.

[At left: you'll just have to read on down the bottom of this post for the relevance of this lil' pic.]

Some random thoughts and observations tonight before I fall asleep by 9:30.

On Friday I ventured to Jefferson. First time I've been back at all. The head of JHN development asked me to bring by some Laughtastic posters to promote the Aug 26 show around the hospital. She said if I wanted I could bring some right to Dr. Andrews and Evans' office, too.

I wasn't sure if I was up to it... but I did it. I saw their nurse, Lauren, had a nice chat in the waiting room of their main office. The office where we waited so many times back in the early days after mike's diagnosis. Once I did that, I felt like I could go up to the 6th floor of JHN and hand deliver some more posters to the nurses who took care of Mike for so many months.

So, I did that, too.

Got in the elevator, pressed the button and then the doors opened. There was that hallway. The one where we would roll mike in a wheelchair out to the window where he could "play" with Baxter on the occasional Saturday or Sunday. It smelled the same. As soon as I walked around the corner by the nurses' station, I saw familiar and welcoming faces. They knew who I was and greeted me with hugs. I got a lot of "you look so good, Danna." I must have looked like shit last spring... I guess that would be appropriate given the circumstances.

I didn't stay long. It was fine while I was in there. Meaning I didn't lose my shit or anything - but it definitely set me back a bit over the weekend. Not in any tangible way... Just sort of generally anxious and down. Lots of hospital thoughts popping in out of nowhere...


Maybe it was a mistake to go there. Whatever. It's done.

Colin came over Saturday morning and cooked us a yummy breakfast and gave Bax some good "guy" time. Other than that the weekend was very chill. Lots of great little moments with my boy. He's so random. Great random, you know?

****

We were in the car heading to the grocery store and I was listening to the Garden State soundtrack that I just dug out after having watched the movie again with Susan up in NH. The second track came on. As soon as it started, Baxter's face lit up - which is weird, because he doesn't really know this song.

He said, "Mama. My daddy loves this song." Now, to be fair, Bax has said this very statement about other songs. Songs mike did love - and songs mike never heard. But Bax has never elaborated on it like he did this time.


The song was The Shins: Caring is Creepy. A song that Mike did love. Maybe not an all time favorite, but definitely a goodie according to Mr. Young. We saw Garden State in the Ritz at the Bourse about 10 days before Baxter was born. I cried the entire movie. From the first song to the end. Mike and I smooshed and held hands and he kissed my hands throughout the film and looked at me with loving eyes - as if to say, "My poor over-emotional and tearful smoosher." I felt sad and emotional and like Mike and I were breaking up or something like that. It was a very odd movie-going experience. I had a similar experience seeing Brokeback Mountain with him in February. At that point, mike had already had several surgeries. We knew the tumor was back. However, only I knew that he was unraveling before my eyes - so I guess it makes sense that that movie flipped me out a bit.

But Garden State? There was no real reason for me to feel such a profound sense of melancholie - except that I was uber-preggers.
I digress.

Back to Baxter's little car observation:

"You're right, Bax. He does love this song."

"He says it's his favorite song." Bax said, looking out the window at the intersection of Haddon and Cuthbert in Westmont.

"He does?"

"Yeah! He's clapping."

"Right now? He's clapping?"

"Yup. He's clapping on the moon. ... and smiling."

interesting.

***

And, I'll leave you with a funny story from my time in Paris, walking beneath the Eiffel tower with Thomas, the handsome waiter. I don't know why, but this story makes me laugh so much when I think about it.

He was telling me that he's been sort of getting his life organized over the past year. Saving up money, figuring out his plan. He asked if I understood (cause, remember, this whole exchange took place in french).

I tried to explain that in English there is an expression: Putting your ducks in a row.

So, I tried so say something like, "Il y a une expression. On dit qu'il faut mettre tout les canards dans une queue."

At least, that is the (already bad) translation that I tried to say. Unfortunately, in french, they have two different "u" sounds. One is like "oooo" and the other one is much harder.. it's like you put your lips as though you're making an "o," but you say the letter "e."

The problem came with the word "queue" - which literally means the line where people wait. Instead of saying "queue," I said "cul" (silent "l") which means "ass."

So, I told this guy that there's an english expression for "getting organized" that is: "You have to put ducks up your ass."

He laughed so hard when we figured out the confusion.... It was such a great clusterf*ck of a language moment.

So, I think that's where I'm at right now. I'm putting ducks up my ass.

8.07.2007

And... we're back!

It's great to be home - though the air quality leaves a bit to be desired (there you go, dad... i said it. you're right. the NH air can't be beat).


It was an amazing month all in all. Lots of quality time for Baxter with his Mimi and Poppy. One invigorating trip to Paris. And then, Michelle and her girls flew up to NH followed by CSM. Good times!

The picture at top left was taken by Susan on the old Railroad train at Clark's Bear show and trading post up in Lincoln, NH. At right are the two cutest lil' kids ever: Baxter and his older woman Jamie Lynn (Michelle's youngest) watching the sunset at Newfound Lake. We spent most days at the Hebron beach with our beach chairs emersed in the very clear, very shallow water - watching the kids play and swim and watching baxter play baker and collection on the shore. He loved it. (at right: CSM and Bax at the beach and on a bumper boat with Jamie).

Susan is my lil hero yet again - making the drive back with me on Sunday - helping pack up everything into the car, keeping Bax happy and entertained. And we did it! 8 hours and we were back in Philly.

It's a little bit quiet here on Melrose Ave now. Just bax and me again. It's been a little disconcerting at times, but I'm sure we'll get back in the groove. I have shitloads of stuff to do before classes start on the 28th of August at UD, so I'll certainly be keeping busy.

A friend of mine who lost her son two years ago told me that the year anniversary brought her to a different stage in the grief process. A change of some sort. Not necessarily making things better, per se, but just a different kind of distance. I am certainly feeling that. After climbing Mt. Sugarloaf and leaving some of Mike's ashes there, we spent the afternoon of July 18th watching Mike's old Mask and Wig performances as Baxter was totally absorbed in the shows: "That's MY Daddy? " he kept asking with a huge grin on his face. That day Mike was so present. It was hard and beautiful at the same time. But since then - and since my big trip to Europe where I felt young and alive like I hadn't in 2 years - I am feeling in a dfferent place with things. No longer can I look back and say, "A year ago Mike was blah blah blah." Cause now I look back and a year ago, I was floating in the land of suck. Somehow - in some Effed up way, that is comforting. I am in a whole new place all on my own. Finding my way, raising my son, paying bills, teaching students, doing research, enjoying wonderful friends... and Mike would be so so psyched for me.

He would have loved my traveling to France with Liz. He encouraged me to do it for years. And it was everything that I had hoped for. Liz is like my female Mike - grounded, thoughtful, lighthearted, organized, and fun - so traveling with
her feels so comfortable. (Left: Danna and Liz in Dijon) .

Now I'm in the throws of trying to plan the August 26th World Cafe Live Event. Since I've been away and disconnected for 4 weeks, I'm getting nervous about turnout at the show. I'm frantically trying to publicize it through every available channel. Any help getting the word out is welcome.

Last year it was such a celebratory event for Mike so turnout was super easy. People went to pay tribute to him. This year, I'm trying to make a point of toning down the Mike-centric feel of things. He wouldn't want to be the focus over and over - year after year. He would want the show to go on in his memory, but with its own fresh vibe. So that's what we're doing. New acts - new sketches - good shit, i tell you.

(Left: McManus making a bold bold call as ref in last year's CSz show! Right: Steve Roney and Jen Childs in last year's voicemail sketch)

We're keeping the voicemail sketch, though. Mike wrote it in the early 90s and it's a universal winner. After last year's show so many people told me that they were pissing themselves at that sketch - I had to keep it. What's a comedy show without pants-pissing? tell me that.

If you haven't gotten tickets yet, please consider going online to purchase them so we can get a feel for the turnout.

LaUGH-TaSTiC SKeTCH-O-PaLOOZa
Sunday August 26th 7:30 pm@ World Cafe Live Philadelphia to benefit Jefferson Hospital

Tix $15. Get tix HERE: http://tickets.worldcafelive.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=2010
For detailed show info, visit our website:
More info: http://dgoldyoung.googlepages.com/2ndannualworldcafelivecomedyfestival2

Featuring: MC DonDon Montrey
Right: Bad Hair performing the Moustache Song

Performers include:
Comedysportz Philadelphia
Bad Hair Sketch
Rowan and Hastings
Jen Childs
Karen Getz's Suburban Lovesong
Tongue & Groove Improv

*********

That's all for now. Consider me home. Let's do dinner. Wine? Coffee? BBQ? Call me.
Love, Danna and Bax