October 11, 2004

 my brother, my niece

this is the most joyful thing i think i've ever seen.

and there is more here.

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April 23, 2004

 the fart dance

this is the last day of rob-blogging. i thought i'd end it with a bang. today i'll tell the legendary story of the fart dance.

now, rob insists this never happened. but there are two people who insist it did, and our collective memories outweigh his one.

rob and i were both in high school. i must've been a senior and rob a sophomore. one night i had my best friend bridgette sleep over. i loved bridgette. she was a terrible influence on me.

bridgette and i decided that it would be fun to spend the night on rob's giant waterbed. rob didn't like the idea at all and vocally opposed it. of course the minute he headed out with his friends for a night on the town she and i decided we'd do it anyway.

hours later and not sleepy at all, we heard rob coming home and we quickly ran to his bedroom, jumped into the waterbed and pretended to be asleep. a minute later he came in the room, saw us in his bed, then paused for a moment before muttering, "BITCHES!!" and beginning a low, maniacal laugh.

then, as bridgette and i lay there watching him through barely-open eyelid slits, rob began hopping and dancing around the waterbed, stopping occasionally to fart in our general direction.

now, i can't be sure they were actual farts, but i was definitely hearing fart sounds. and continual maniacal laughter. he was like a little fart leprechaun or something.

when he finally left the room bridgette and i looked at each other and bust out laughing. (but quietly, so he wouldn't hear us.)

i mean, come on... how could we make up a story like that???

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April 22, 2004


last night i went digging through some of my old photo albums and found some really great pictures of rob & me. you can click on the thumbnail to see the full-size image.

this was taken when we were all still a whole family and living in arlington, texas. i have a series of photos taken on this day, but this is my favorite. we are so happy.
again, in texas. yet... there's snow! snow never happened in texas, and we were pretty psyched. as you can tell.
this is my all-time favorite photo of rob & me. lord knows what we were doing. jumping on the bed, i think. i have a cape on, which identifies me some kind of superhero. rob, with the sunglasses and smiley-face is the most hilarious thing i've ever seen. a couple years ago i made rob a t-shirt with this photo ironed-on it. he wears it a lot.
this is still in texas, though our parents have by now split up. we're on a summer visit to mom's house. (the rest of the year we lived with our dad in indiana.) mom always let us do crazy shit when we visited... we'd roller skate in the house, have water balloon fights indoors, and, as you can see, she'd also let us make tents and forts in the living room.
the 80s were not kind to either of us.
this photo was taken just last year, in new york city. i forced rob into a trip to my favorite french fry restaurant. from rob's expression, you can tell he thinks i'm crazy.

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April 21, 2004


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 the week of the brother continues...

yes, i'm blogging about rob all week long. he rocks that much.

so, he's a smart kid, my brother. he has a masters in physics. he designs circuits for computer chips. he has the patience to explain to me, a half-dozen times, just how an airplane stays in the air. in my mind he's a certified genius.

in addition to his tech savvy he's also got phenomenal interpersonal skills. he's as good with kids as he is with grown-ups. he puts everyone at ease. he a knack for sizing up a situation then melding himself into it. he can talk about anything and everyone likes him.

as kids, though, rob & i endured the sort of cold war enacted by divorced parents. later on, in my early 20s, a lot of the anger i felt about those adolescent years bubbled up. i was in therapy, trying to work out a lot of pent-up angst and emotion. i held a lot of hostility towards my father, also an engineer and a genius (with a patent to his name) but not nearly the outgoing people-person that my brother is.

during this period i wrote my dad some awful, truly awful, letters expressing my anger at his emotional distance. i thought these letters would make me feel better. they didn't. they made me feel worse. i felt like i was suffocating under the weight of my past.

rob and i talked about this stuff a lot, painful as it was. he had somehow already forgiven our dad, but i just couldn't fathom it. during one of these conversations rob said something so simple to me... it effectively changed my life. he said: "dad can't help who he is. he did the best he could, raising us. we weren't abused, and i'm sure he loved us. but when he was growing up, his parents didn't show him any love or emotion... he simply raised us as he himself was raised."

this revelation stopped me cold in my tracks. it was the first time i consciously remember putting myself into someone else's shoes... imagining my dad's life without any hugs or kisses from his parents. and as quick as that i had forgiven my father.

rob changed me at my core that day, and he probably doesn't even realize it. next month he himself is going to be a father... i know he'll be the best the world has ever seen.

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April 20, 2004

 he really is the best brother in the whole world...

wanna hear another story about my brother? a happier one?


when we were in high school rob had a paper route. i'm pretty sure he hated it. especially during those rough indiana winters. trudging through six inches of snow before the sun even rises probably wasn't his ideal method of earning a little extra spending money.

but i had a car. i'd only recently gotten my drivers license but mom went ahead and splurged (all of $100, probably) on a baby blue AMC hornet for me. i loved driving that thing. i felt like a big shot. not very many juniors had a car... especially not one with a bench seat.

rob, of course, immediately saw how my car could improve his life on those cold mornings. he asked me once to get up really early (4am, maybe?) and drive him on his paper route. because i loved him so much (and still do) i agreed.

now, really... how many 16 year old sisters would do that for their 14 year old brothers?? not many. and i'll tell you what... it was not a lot of fun, driving him around in that cold, cold car that morning. i tried to not let on how miserable i was, but i'm sure he saw it.

we were probably halfway through his route. it was pitch black outside. after delivering a newspaper he came back to the car... i could see him in the headlights, with snow up to his knees. as he got in he handed me something dark and heavy. he said, "congratulations... you have won the official wrought iron fencepost award." and he smiled this loving little smile that i don't think i'll ever forget.

it was just some piece of crap he picked up in the snow, but it made me laugh and i was glad we were out there in the dark morning together.

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April 18, 2004


you know, when you wake up in the morning you have a certain set of expectations as to what the day has in store for you... a list of things that are going to happen before you get back into bed at the end of the day. today i expected to do a little knitting, run a durham symphony concert, and maybe have a nice dinner.

what i didn't count on was hearing that my little brother had a heart attack.

it all started as pneumonia, he says, back around monday or tuesday. he watched his temperature; it peaked at 104. his wife took him to the the urgent care clinic where he got a prescription for antibiotic. he went home and laid on the couch alternately shivering and sweating for a couple of days, and just tried to rest and recover.

then on friday afternoon he says "i started having massive burning pains in my chest that would not subside, along with a dull, throbbing ache in my left forearm." terrified, they went back to the clinic. the doctor saw some questionable things on his EKG and sent him off to the emergency room. tests indicated he had had a heart attack.

but further investigation (including cardiac catheterization to look for blockages; there were none) showed, in fact, it was not so much a heart attack as pericarditis, and though he was perdiodically in extreme pain he somehow had escaped permanent heart damage. thank god.

i have to quote a little bit of his email here, because quite honestly i don't ever want to forget what he went through:

4:00 am Saturday morning now, the nurse comes in to get a couple of vials of blood, and I can't get back to sleep because I have a bit of mild pain in my chest again. 10 minutes later, it is full-blown, worst-pain-I've-ever-felt chest pains again, left arm hurting so badly that I can't even move it around. We hammer the nurse call button, she comes in and hits me up with the anti-inflammatory again, but it took an hour to take effect last time and it is much worse this time. I get a morphine shot in my IV, which has absolutely no effect. I am literally writhing on my hospital bed in pain because I can't lay still, and Lulu is at her wits' end because it is obvious that nothing is helping, and the nurse has run out of options according to the doctor's orders for my care. The nurse can't reach my cardiologist, but she gets his partner, and they OK a dose of dilaudid, which unbelievably eliminates ALL of my pain within 30 seconds, leaving me basically zombi-fied, but able to speak slowly and groggily. When the dilaudid wears off, the anti-inflammatory has taken effect, and I feel good enough to sleep.

rob finally sleeps for a couple of hours. he wakes up before midnight and watches saturday turn into sunday, which happens to be his 33rd birthday.

the good news is 1) he's alive, and 2) he's basically back to normal. thankfully pericarditis is treatable with anti-inflammatory drugs, and when he was discharged this morning they didn't even tell him to avoid exertion. he can go right back to normal life. (he needs to avoid heavy lifting for several days while the plug in his femoral artery --from his catheterization-- heals, and he needs some rest to finish recovering from the pneumonia, but other than that he's apparently in tip-top shape.)

from all accounts his pericarditis was the result of a massive viral infection that attacked the fluid around his heart. (pneumonia is a bacterial infection, so that likely wasn't the cause of it... though it could have easily reduced his ability to fight this viral infection.) in short, it was all a fluke. my brother was (and is) in very good health. this could have happened to anybody. but it happened to my brother, and i was really scared for him.

when i got to the bottom of his email and he was reassuring us he was ok, my next thought was of lulu, his pregnant wife. i can only imagine what private hell she was going through, watching rob writhe in pain like that.

thankfully, i got in touch with rob by phone last night and just hearing his voice was reassuring.

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