Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here:

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
Mail Trillian here<

Trillian McMillian
Trillian McMillian
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Women, The Internet and You: Tips for Men Who Use Online Dating Sites
Part I, Your Profile and Email

Part II, Selecting a Potential Date

Part III, Your First Date!

Part IV, After the First Date. Now What?

"50 First Dates"

Don't just sit there angry and ranting, do something constructive.
In the words of Patti Smith (all hail Sister Patti): People have the power.
Contact your elected officials.

Don't be passive = get involved = make a difference.
Find Federal Officials
Enter ZIP Code:

or Search by State

Find State Officials
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or Search by State

Contact The Media
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or Search by State

Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)



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11/17/13 12/1/13 - 12/8/13 12/15/13 - 12/22/13 12/29/13 - 1/5/14 6/29/14 - 7/6/14 9/14/14 - 9/21/14 9/21/14 - 9/28/14 10/12/14 - 10/19/14 11/23/14 - 11/30/14 12/7/14 - 12/14/14 12/28/14 - 1/4/15 1/25/15 - 2/1/15 2/8/15 - 2/15/15 2/22/15 - 3/1/15 3/8/15 - 3/15/15 3/15/15 - 3/22/15 3/22/15 - 3/29/15 4/12/15 - 4/19/15 4/19/15 - 4/26/15 5/3/15 - 5/10/15 5/17/15 - 5/24/15 5/24/15 - 5/31/15 6/14/15 - 6/21/15 6/28/15 - 7/5/15 7/5/15 - 7/12/15 7/19/15 - 7/26/15 8/16/15 - 8/23/15 11/6/16 - 11/13/16 6/24/18 - 7/1/18

Highlights from the Archives. Some favorite Trillian moments.

Void, Of Course: Eliminating Expectations and Emotions for a Better Way of Life

200i: iPodyssey

Macs Are from Venus, Windows is from Mars Can a relationship survive across platform barriers?
Jerking Off

Get A Job

Office Church Ladies: A Fieldguide

'Cause I'm a Blonde

True? Honestly? I think not.

A Good Day AND Funyuns?

The Easter Boy

Relationship in the Dumpster

Wedding Dress 4 Sale, Never Worn

Got Friends? Are You Sure? Take This Test

What About Class? Take This Test

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, There Was a Really Bad Movie

May Your Alchemical Process be Complete. Rob Roy Recipe

Good Thing She's Not in a Good Mood Very Often (We Knew it Wouldn't Last)

What Do I Have to Do to Put You in this Car Today?

Of Mice and Me (Killer Cat Strikes in Local Woman's Apartment)

Trillian: The Musical (The Holiday Special)

LA Woman (I Love (Hate) LA)

It is my Cultureth
...and it would suit-eth me kindly to speak-eth in such mannered tongue


It's a Little Bit Me, It's a Little Bit You
Blogging a Legacy for Future Generations

Parents Visiting? Use Trillian's Mantra!

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Mod Hair Ken

Caught Blogging by Mom, Boss or Other

2003 Holiday Sho-Lo/Mullet Awards

Crullers, The Beer Store and Other Saintly Places

Come on Out of that Doghouse! It's a Sunshine Day!

"...I had no idea our CEO is actually Paula Abdul in disguise."

Lap Dance of the Cripple

Of Muppets and American Idols
"I said happier place, not crappier place!"

Finally Off Crutches, Trillian is Emancipated

Payless? Trillian? Shoe Confessions

Reality Wednesday: Extremely Local Pub

Reality Wednesday: Backstage Staging Zone (The Sweater Blog)

The Night Secret Agent Man Shot My Dad

To Dream the Impossible Dream: The Office Karaoke Party

Trillian Flies Economy Class (Prisoner, Cell Block H)

Trillian Visits the Village of the Damned, Takes Drugs, Becomes Delusional and Blogs Her Brains Out

Trillian's Parents are Powerless

Striptease for Spiders: A PETA Charity Event (People for the Ethical Treatment of Arachnids)

What's Up with Trillian and the Richard Branson Worship?

"Screw the French and their politics, give me their cheese!"

Mail Trillian here

Trillian's Guide to the Galaxy gives 5 stars to these places in the Universe:
So much more than fun with fonts, this is a daily dose of visual poetry set against a backdrop of historical trivia. (C'mon, how can you not love a site that notes Wolfman Jack's birthday?!)


Alliance for the Great Lakes

Hot, so cool, so cool we're hot.

Ig Nobel Awards

And you think YOU have the worst bridesmaid dress?

Coolest Jewelry in the Universe here (trust Trillian, she knows)

Red Tango

If your boss is an idiot, click here.

Evil Cat Full of Loathing.

Wildlife Works

Detroit Cobras

The Beachwood Reporter is better than not all, but most sex.

Hey! Why not check out some great art and illustration while you're here? Please? It won't hurt and it's free.


Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto


Get Fuzzy Now!
If you're not getting fuzzy, you should be. All hail Darby Conley. Yes, he's part of the Syndicate. But he's cool.

Who or what is HWNMNBS: (He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken) Trillian's ex-fiancé. "Issues? What issues?"

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

< chicago blogs >

Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Life(?) of Trillian

Tuesday, June 17, 2008  
When was someone going to tell me about this?!

I've been a bit preoccupied and busy lately. I'm relying on you to keep me informed of breaking developments which really matter. You eagerly fill my in box with all manner of Beatle and Beatlespawn related drivel (by the way, that joke isn't funny anymore, so it's okay to stop sending me Beatle related "news"), you send me uptotheminute reports on how bad public transportation is in Chicago, you send me reports on weird goings on with whales, dolphins and seahorses (by the way, read this and you may never wash your face again), you keep my absurdometer charged and ready for action, but do you fill me in on the news that matters most?

NO! You wanted to keep this little secret to yourselves, didn't you? Yeah, well, a story this big can't go unnoticed for long. I'm just bothered that I had to hear it on the rough and gritty back alleys of the internet.

We need them, America needs them. In a world of chaos, confusion and fear, we need the sanctity and security of something true, something pure, something real. We need something to believe in.

True love conquers all. Tommy and Pamela, I am so glad you two kids finally realize how much in love you are. Now go on, trot along, go get some new tattoos and make some sex tapes.

Speaking of true love and sex tapes, I'm being pursued by some pretty interesting men these days.

I know, I know! When was I going to tell you that bit of titillating gossip? Speaking of keeping the good stuff to myself.

I've been way to busy and preoccupied the past few months to care about romance, men or dating. And you know, what they say is true, when you're not looking for it it finds you.

For instance, one guy has been in hot email pursuit of me for a few weeks. "You're almost exactly what I'm looking for," he said in his first email. He included his phone number. When I didn't respond he sent me another email. "I'll give u another chance bcuz im looking for someone like u." That kind of charming invitation is difficult to resist! But because of my father's situation I didn't read the email until a few days after he sent it. I thought I'd lost out on my second chance at Mr. You're Right 4 Me Never Mind That I Possess No Qualities UR Looking 4. And then guess what?! He sent me another email!!! It's fate, right?! "call me (phone number) your xactle (I think he means exactly, it took me a few minutes to figure out that one) what i want in a women." Sure, he has none of the qualities clearly stated in my profile: He's not in the age range, distance range or smoking preference, for a start, those are the big three in my book. He also strikes out in the second tier issues of education, religious beliefs and employment. But none of that matters. What matters is that I'm what he's looking for in a "women." Gotta admire that kind of confidence. "I want someone like her. Her interests, her criteria, the type of man she'd like to meet, are of absolutely no concern. This is all about me and what I want." He's certainly not lacking in self assurance and, heh heh, as the cliche is uttered so many times to me: Confidence is sexy. What difference does it make that he's a 23-year-old smoker who lives 300 miles away? Who cares if he's a "self-employed" high school drop-out practicing a faith which denegrates women? I mean, come on! I'm not in a position to be picky about that sort of thing!*

Or am I?

He's not the only who's interested in me! Oh yeah, baby, ol' Trill's really hot right now.

Another persistent would-be suitor has not once, not twice, but three times sent me email wooing me with poetic compliments. "By your photos you look very gentlemanly," he coos at me. Hey, he's from Serbia. Give him a break. English is a difficult language to learn. He may not be good with the gender contextual nuances, but he's interested in me. I have to take the compliments and flirting where I can get it. I can't be particular about details like distance, weird grammar issues and internet scams.

Okay, you're right, no more long distance relationships. So, a bit closer to home, from Chicago surburbia, comes another wooer in hot and heavy pursuit. He's certain I am the one for him. I know! I know!!! Finally, a man who sees and appreciates my good qualities! Finally! Okay, sure, he claims in his profile he's a self employed poet who likes “all women, all ages, sizes, heights and hair colors,” is 5’6”, smokes, earns less than $20,000, lives with his parents and based on the photos posted has an extensive wardrobe of wife beaters. But he thinks I'm the one for him. He's certain we're made for each other. What's great about him is that he's not at all particular about looks, he likes all women. Okay, sure, that doesn't make me feel exactly special, but, I'm not looking to feel special. I'm not really looking to feel anything, so this guy could be just right. He's clearly not into looks and that's refreshing. Sure, he lives with his parents, but at least he's humble and honest enough to admit it. And on an income of less than $20,000 it's difficult to maintain a wardrobe of anything other than wife beaters. And he's a poet. A poet! I mean, how great and perfect is that?!

Sure, he smokes, but maybe for the right woman he'd quit. Maybe I'm that woman. Maybe I can turn his life around, get him on a healthier track, be his muse, inspire him to poetic heights and success. Sure, he hasn't actually displayed any of his poetic charm yet, his emails have been a few short words, but he's concise, kind of like Haiku. "We're made for each other. IM me." "I'm not going away until I hear from you. IM me." I don't care about him being five inches shorter than me. He likes women of all shapes and sizes so he wouldn't be insecure about me towering over him. I mean really, this could be perfect.

Then again, giving me pause for consideration and the poet some stiff competition is a guy who puts his words where his mouth is. In his profile he doesn't claim to be a poet, self employed or otherwise, but, after a few polite exchanges he let loose an email full of poetry on me.

I asked him about his job and what he likes to do in his spare time.

I kid you not, this is all he wrote in response, no preface, no epilogue, no “Hi, how are you,” just this:

as i take your painted landscape onto my brush of changing desires, i realize that your the mistress of my flowing hand over the canvas of lifes silken pleasures. as i follow my hand with the memory of things made to be felt, your soft thighs beckons my finger tips to reach for your warmest envelope of trust. as i pull you tpwards the light of the sun in my eyes, the sparkles in the stars that shine the way to the passion to come, im under your control as i feel your molten flesh surround my senses

Okay. Punctuation, spelling and grammar issues aside, let's talk about what he wrote, his romantic poetry of love. I've heard a lot of euphemisms and slang in my day. A LOT. But. "Warmest envelope of trust" is a new one to me. And may very well remain my all time favorite romance novel drivel. I don't read romance novels so I have no idea where he lifted this idiotic bit of metaphoric crap masquerading as romantic sensuality, but it should have stayed on the pulp page and out of my in-box.

To say I was surprised by this turn of attitude (and ridiculous prose) is an understatement. There was absolutely no hint of this sort of thing in his profile or his previous emails. At first I thought it had to be a joke, I mean, no one in possession of a sound mind would send that crap to a woman, right? At least not a woman he hoped to actually meet in person.

Or maybe there are women out there who love this kind of stuff. Maybe he gets a lot of action by throwing this at unsuspecting women the second they show any hint of interest in him.

Then again, this is also why I continue to use online dating: A great way to screen for this kind of stuff before you even go on one date. And in fairness to him, you know, maybe, months into the relationship, as a joke, it might be funny. But after a couple of short, polite emails? What the...?? I asked him about his job and he assumes that means I want badly written flea market romance novel verbal foreplay?

And let’s just say for the sake of discussion that I’m “into it,” “it” being jumping right into sex talk with a man I’ve never met. What does he mean by his "brush of changing desires?" I mean, I assume he means his penis, but the changing desires thing? Huh? Once a guy gets to the point of flowing hands over silken pleasures, warmest envelopes of trust and molten flesh isn’t the desire pretty much the same constant thing? Isn’t the paramount desire and goal firmly in sight and unwavering? I realize it's been a while since I've had sex and maybe I've forgotten a few things, but I don't get it. Is “brush of changing desires” the new “throbbing manhood?”

It's bad enough he lunged full steam into sexual metaphors, but worse is that it's really, really bad romance novel metaphoric crap. The really low budget stuff, even Fabio is too expensive for the cover of the book containing that kind of drek. His bombastic pomposity is what bugs me about this. I'm no prude, and while a bit soon and sudden, the discussion of sex doesn't offend me, it's that he just pounced it on me, and worse, he apparently thought he was packaging it in an irresistibly romantic box. He apparently thought so little of my intelligence that he threw this at me assuming I'd fall for it. And on that point he's accidentally clever. If I don't respond or respond angrily at him, he can assuage his ego by scoffing and labeling me an uptight prude. He'll just go on to the next one, launch into his ridiculously written crap, undoubtedly get rejected again and undoubtedly will label her an uptight prude, and so it will go until he either finds some stupid or desperate woman who takes the bait, or, he goes down to the pub and consoles with his mates that woman are all uptight bitches and prudes who are missing out on a piece of the finest brush of changing desires ever to pleasure a woman.

This is what you get with a guy who labels himself a “quiet, soft hearted romantic” and posts photos of himself cuddling his dog and cat. Cheap pulp romance novel metaphors haphazardly strewn together. Which is why I've finally, finally learned it's better to stick with the emotionally repressed, homophobic factory worker types who raise Iguanas. Sure, they're unable to tell you how they feel or what they want from their woman, a relationship, life in general and are too afraid of their own ego to utter anything remotely "sweet" or "romantic" and wouldn’t be caught dead cuddling anything but at least you don't have to put up with trying to decipher ridiculous, unintelligible, presumptuous "poetry" with the expectation of you dropping your pants for him the second you ask him about his job.

And so, for the bazillionth time I roll my eyes heavenward and wonder, "why didn't I just marry that buffoon I dated when I was in college? Sure, it would have been a miserable, soul sapping marriage, undoubtedly ending in divorce, but in comparison to meeting and dating the men I've met since him it would have been a Springtime picnic." Crimony. What did I do to deserve this? Maybe reincarnation is real and maybe I was a horrible womanizing bastard in another life and this lifetime is meant for me to learn lessons in humility, sensitivity, ego and compassion by way of enduring every type of crap men can dump on women.

But hey, I have men interested in me. That's an improvement. I'm getting somewhere, right? Maybe not the place I wanted to go, maybe not exactly what I had in mind, but I'm somewhere. I have men who are interested in me. Sure, they may be interested in me because they've been rejected by every other woman on the planet, but I never said I was above taking someone else's castoffs. I never said I was looking for perfection. I was kind of hoping for sane and employed, but hey, I'm a beggar, I can't be choosy.

I don't have a lot of time, or energy to devote to dating. I'm not Pamela Anderson and I don't have a Tommy Lee. (More's the pity.) I have to rely on my wits and charm to find a man. These guys have unwittingly told me more about themselves than I could learn from other men in months of dating.

Cha ching. And voila. The whole point of online dating is actualized.

* Just as an aside, for those unfamiliar with jungle of terms in online dating, "self-employed" is usually code for: Real estate agent, drug dealer or unemployed artist/writer/musician/"filmmaker" living in parents' basement or on ex-girlfriend's couch. Oh sure, there are legit consultants, business owners and such who are self employed, but typically there's some indication of that in the rest of their profile. Be wary of the ones who claim to be self-employed and give absolutely no indication as to what they do with their time, life and career.

8:25 PM

Monday, June 16, 2008  
I’ve always hoped my parents would be spared a “difficult” end. I reason “hey, they’re nice people, good people, caring people, kind people, surely they’ll be given an easy out.”

No, I don’t like to think about The End, but when the thought finds its way into my conscience I play the reasoning game. “We all have to die sometime. My parents are not immortal. I’m not immortal, we all have to go. Please give them the final kindness of a quick, painless end to their lives.”

Then I think, “Yeah, but that's just it, it’s how you go that really gets ya. Slow and painful is cruel and difficult not only for the one who’s dying, but for those who love and care for them.” I think about my mother or father tending for the other, at a bedside administering tender kindnesses, knowing their spouse is dying. Then the scenario ceases to play in my head. I can’t bear to think of it. Too bittersweet, too sad, too impossible to fathom.

My parents are one of those couple couples. They don’t do everything together, but, they do a lot together. Even when they’re apart they’re “together.” I don’t think they always needed each other, I think they were both self sufficient and responsible and very capable of taking care of themselves on their own, thank you very much. The reason for their marriage was that they wanted to be together. They didn't just fall in love, they also liked each other.

But as they’ve aged together, lived life together, built a life together, bought and sold homes, cars and college degrees for their kids together, raised three (at times difficult) children together, managed a couple serious health issues together, I suddenly realize: They don’t just rely on each other, at this point in their lives they do need each other. Nothing like illness to put those for better or worse marriage vows to the test.

I’m scared. I’m scared for my dad and I’m scared for my mother.

We’re being forced to think the heretofore unthinkable.

What will they do without each other?

Last Fall my dad dodged a cancer bullet. The diagnosis was a jolting blow. Early detection found the tumors. The doctors assured us the prognosis was good and the sting of the words "Dad" and "cancer" together in one sentence became less horrific. A skillful surgeon removed the offending lumps of death from him and for a day or two things seemed optimistic. Then the complications hit. Two emergency surgeries and 25 days later my dad got to go home. We had Christmas in a critical care ward. While not The Best Christmas Ever, we, our family, made it work and made the best of it. Cliché as it sounds, the best gift we received was my dad and a huge sigh of relief that he dodged cancer and made it through the complications from the surgery.

It was a long Winter. Literally and metaphorically. My parents stayed housebound through the snowy Michigan months. A nurse and physical therapist visited their home a few days a week to help my dad get back to some semblance of normal health. My parents discovered many people in their small town were eager to help them. After each snowfall (and there were a lot of them last year) their driveway was “mysteriously” plowed. Casseroles and groceries showed up a couple times a week. The local pharmacist called to tell them he heard about their situation and arranged to have his son deliver their prescriptions so my parents wouldn’t have to bundle up and go out just to get prescriptions. The teenager down the street works at a pizza place and brought my dad a pizza every now and then. His parents brought the mail and newspaper up to the door for my parents.

Small stuff, small town stuff, but big time stuff for my parents. They didn’t really need all that help, but having the little stuff of life taken care of for them made it easier for them to deal with the bigger stuff.

My dad grew stronger, my mother overcame some of her physical limitations and by mid-Spring they were feeling optimistic. Not exactly back and better than ever, but, better. They were talking about making some small trips, day trips, little jaunts to build up for the possibility of making some bigger trips.

I talked to my dad around three on Thursday in early April. He sounded more like his robust self than in recent months. He told me about his preliminary survey of the yard after the long Winter. He told me about what he had in mind for the yard this Summer. He told me about a wood project he was working on in the basement and his plans to look into a new gadget he saw that makes cutting crown moulding a breeze and how easy it would be for us to install crown moulding in my bedroom if he had that gadget. I told him he didn’t need to justify spending the money on a new gadget, that he’d beaten cancer and made it through a long Winter and he could have anything he wanted, including a new golf club he’d been coveting. He scoffed at the idea of him “earning” or “deserving” a treat for something as simple as beating cancer. So he stuck with his need to justify spending money on a new gadget. It’ll help Trillian fix up her condo so it’s a “necessary” expense. Okay Dad, whatever gets you through the night. Just buy the swutting thing and I’ll start looking at moulding. As for the new golf club, he suggested that us kids go together and call it a Father’s Day present. “I have a lot of physical therapy to conquer before I’ll be back into my swing again, I won’t need it until later this Summer anyway.”

“Okay, that’s a good idea. We’ll go to the putt course when I’m there in a few weeks. The ice cream’s on me.”

"Ice cream Sunday!" we chimed in unison.

On particularly hot Summer Sunday evenings my dad would exclaim, "Ice cream Sunday!" and we'd all dash to the car and ride to a little ice cream stand on a nearby lake. The stand is long gone, but on hot Summer Sunday evenings the call of "ice cream Sunday" can be heard echoing throughout my family.

Three hours after that phone conversation my mother rang me from their regional hospital. Two hours after I talked to my dad he started sweating profusely and couldn’t breathe. My mother didn’t mess around waiting for an ambulance. She was his ambulance. A doctor later told her that if he’d arrived three minutes later he wouldn’t have made it. She saved his life.

That was nine weeks ago.

My dad has been in and out of hospitals since then. During that time we’ve been told every diagnosis from heart attack to a kidney infection to a reaction to arthritis medication. All plausible, all possible, all explained to us in a way which “made sense” and seemed to shine new light on all that happened.

Every one of those diagnoses were right. And wrong.

Meanwhile he’s lived through seven heart failure episodes. Some severe, some “minor.” He has speech problems and dyslexia as a result of strokes.

We, my mother and I, knew there was an underlying cause they weren’t finding. Something was causing the episodes.

We also knew his neurological issues were getting worse with each episode. It wasn’t just the speech. It wasn’t just newly acquired dyslexia. He’d occasionally try to “answer” a pen thinking it was the telephone. Hey, I mean, I’ve had a few rough days where I’ve done stupid stuff. We cut him slack but stored all these incidents away, made notes to tell the therapist and doctors. Then he started attempting to write his homework assignments with a fork and told me to get him a pen that worked.

Then he had another episode. A bad one. The regional hospital could barely revive him. They told us they’d done all they dared to attempt. We had to move him to another hospital.

We were relieved. Finally. Finally we might get to the bottom of this. Finally he’d get the best of the best.

Five days later we found out all right. We got to the bottom of it.

During the surgery to save my dad from cancer, he was infected with a stealth bacteria.

How’s that for irony?

The bacteria attached itself to a heart valve yadda yadda yadda the valve has deteriorated and is leaking. Okay. Fine, give him major antibiotics and replace the valve, right?

Sure, okay, scary but not insurmountable.

Not so fast.

Those strokes? That weird behavior? The speech problems?

Pieces of the bacteria flicked off the valve and traveled to his brain. Bleeding embolisms. Making it too risky to undertake heart surgery.

So much for my hope and wish that my dad would go quietly and quickly in his sleep.

There is no justice in the end. If anyone deserves to go quickly and quietly in their sleep it's my dad.

But no.

He doesn't get out that easily. He's going to linger in pain and indignity.

The breeding of the bacteria has been stopped thanks to ultra antibiotics. But the damage is done.

The other irony is that in the long run, in the broad view, it would have been “kinder” for my mother to have waited those extra minutes for the ambulance.

It would have been kinder for the doctors to not find the bacteria. It would have been kinder to let the bacteria cells go unfound, free to multiply, spread and consume him.

But no. Now my dad is caught in a medical no man’s land. The heart surgeons deem the life saving heart surgery too risky because of the bleeding embolisms in his brain. The infectious disease team can’t do anything about the bacterial embolisms in his brain. The neurologists can only react to the new symptoms when the embolisms cause a neurological problem. He’s not sick “enough” to keep him in hospital care. He’s not well enough to go home.

So instead of installing moulding in my bedroom, instead of working on getting his golf swing back into form, instead of taking trips with my mother, my dad is spending the Summer, and most likely the rest of his life, in a nursing home waiting to die.

Could be a few weeks, could be a few months.

I don’t believe in miracles. Life and death happen. We’re organic. Sometimes cells in organic beings do things out of the ordinary. It’s not a miracle, it’s a biological blip for the better. If the biological blip doesn’t net a positive result it’s called biology, the circle of life, the end of the line, a “blessing” and “for the best.” There are more negative blips than positive ones, so relatively, the positive ones seem rare and miraculous.

I trust my dad’s doctors. I trust the hospital. I know enough about my dad’s deterioration and biology to know the blips coming his way are not the miraculous type. My dad has always reminded me to use my imagination but remember to apply logic. “Maintain balance, Trill. Be creatively logical, Trill. Don’t let your imagination get the best of you and make you silly, Trill. You can be imaginative and intelligent, Trill, don’t be stupid. Artistic and poetic vision are gifts, not excuses, Trill.”

Over and over and over and over my dad reminds me to apply logic and intelligence. My imagination and creative bents were a source of both humor and frustration for him when I was younger. He’d laugh or marvel at my drawings and stories and book reports, but lose his temper when, after hours of practice with me, I was no closer to learning my multiplication tables than when we started studying. “You’re not stupid, Trillian, so don't act stupid! You wrote a ten page report on cell division and had ‘em rolling in the aisles at the illustrations, too boot! So the only explanation for your inability to memorize simple multiplication tables is stubbornness. You’re not trying hard enough. Get your head out of the clouds and focus on this, Trillian!” Then there were the Algebra years.

Good times.

Years later when I somehow managed to land in a calculus class my dad sat back and marveled and finally took a more sympathetic tone with me about math. “You know, Trill, you don’t have to take calculus. You’ve worked hard and struggled all the way to the top of the math class heap, you're already solid in your college applications, you don’t have to go through with this. You don’t need it for college or for life. Why don’t you take another lit class instead?”

I was shocked. Absolutely shocked.

Years of him pushing and pushing and pushing me to my left brain limits, years of him telling me that life isn’t all books and painting and music. Years of him telling me that I have the curiosity and a knack required for scientific endeavors and I couldn’t let math hold me back from doing great scientific things, especially the genetic and biology things that interested me so much… His suddenly letting me off the math hook didn’t make sense. It wasn’t logical. It had to be a test.

I took calculus. And passed it. Barely. Apart from college accounting and probability and stat classes and a geometry class, I never took another classic math class again. I remember next to nothing about what I “learned” toiling and pushing my brain to its limit trying to learn math.

And now here we are…me with a creative career in jeopardy and him unable to tell the difference between a knife and a pen because of a bacterial infection.

Oh, the ironies.

A couple days ago, when we were still uncertain about the bacteria, heart surgery and neurological damage (I long for those halcyon days of blissful ignorance) my dad asked if he could have an ice cream bar. The nurse couldn’t understand what he was saying, but I could. I've learned my dad's new language. I'm not fluent, I don't always understand, but I can usually figure out what he's saying. “You want an ice cream bar, Dad?”


“Is it okay for him to have one?” I asked the nurse.

“Oh," she said in that 'no way' tone, "Ice cream. Probably not. We’re watching his sugar levels. Maybe another day,” was her unsympathetic response.

My dad shot me a conspiratorially snotty look which I knew meant, “Pfft. Nurses. What do they know? It’s just one ice cream bar, not a pitcher of Kool-Aid and a pan of brownies. Don’t do this, can’t have that, blah blah blah.”

After she left I told him that on Father’s Day I’d bring him an ice cream bar. I made that promise thinking a) we’d have a diagnosis and he’d be out of the woods by then, and/or b) for swut’s sake it’s only an ice cream bar for crying out loud. He reminded me, in his slurred, disjointed new speech pattern, that I promised I’d buy the ice cream when we went to the putt course, and I, har har, owed him an ice cream Sunday, anyway.

Nothing wrong with that long term memory.

We’ve learned a lot since the day the nurse denied his ice cream bar request. We learned he has a rare bacterial infection eating his heart and brain. We learned that, for now, his neurological issues are labeled aphasia and dysarthria and that these will get worse, maybe a little better, and then worse again. We’ve learned that his kidneys are reacting to the heart valve malfunction and, indeed, just a little sugar is not good for him.

We’ve learned the episodes aren’t going to stop just because the growth of the bacteria is curtailed. The antibiotics are good enough to stop them, but not strong enough to make them go away.

He had a bad episode 3 AM Father's Day Sunday. The phone rang at my parents' house at 6 AM. My mother groggily answered the phone as I ran into my parents' bedroom assuming the worst. It was a bad episode, the doctor told my mother, but he survived and could we possibly get the images from a CT scan they’d taken at the regional hospital a few weeks ago?

6 AM? Sunday? Father’s Day?

I sprang into action, started making calls, and much to my surprise I did get the images, on disk, at 9 AM on Father’s Day Sunday.

I raced my mother to the new hospital and ran the disk, at breakneck speed to the doctors. (well, I mean, breakneck for me, which, with my ankle and foot is just above breakneck speed for a turtle) The doctors eagerly took them from me, thanked me profusely and said the images may help establish the trend of embolism growth and movement. I started talking to them about trend charts and graphs and did the math required when they talked about the rate of growth v. movement and how much bleeding was taking place around the embolisms.

“Happy Father’s Day, dad,” I thought, “Math. For you.”

An hour later two of the doctors on my dad's team called my mother and I into a consultation room. The conversation was long, they spoke to us in that overly gentle tone people use when giving bad news. Failing a miracle or another surgeon finding something they missed, the synopsis, minus the math is: Save his heart, kill the brain. Or. Save his brain, let the heart deteriorate and fail.

Happy Father's Day.

My dad had a restless, uncomfortable Father’s Day. We watched some of the US Open on his standard issue hospital room television. How’s that for devotion and unconditional love? Under any other circumstance you’d have to either put a gun to my head or give me serious narcotics for me to endure watching golf on television. But, with my dad, on Father’s Day, in his “condition” in acute care in a hospital, suddenly watching golf on television was my favorite thing in the world to do. When a commercial came on advertising the golf club he suggested he’d like for Father’s Day I apologized on behalf of my siblings and I. “Sorry, Dad, we’ve all been kind of busy and pre-occupied and haven’t had a chance to get you that club,” trying to smile like I believed it, “you work on getting better, and I’ll work on getting you that club.”

I looked embarrassedly at the feeble gifts he’d received instead of that coveted golf club. A shirt and lounge pants suitable for accommodating IVs, heart monitors and leg cuffs which keep him from getting blood clots. An extra large digital clock because he gets confused trying to read and understand his dial watch and the clock on the wall in his room.

And a framed photo of him and us kids taken many years ago at the Grand Canyon. I was about a year old and he was holding me in one arm while draping his arm around my sister’s shoulder and my brother leaned into us. My dad has a casual, easy going air about him, a relaxed, happy demeanor, a Summer vacation air of fun and relaxation with the beauty of the canyon behind us. But his hands tell a different story than the casual one on our faces. I’m perched in the crook of his arm, an effortless parcel for my dad’s strong arms and shoulders, but his hand is firmly holding me. His other arm is casually draped over my sister’s back, but that hand is firmly holding my sister’s shoulder. His legs are in a stance that appears casual at first glance, but is poised and ready to spring into defense action if my brother made one step closer to the railing between us and the canyon.

Be creative but don’t be stupid. Be creatively logical. Maintain balance.

It was nearing time for me to leave my dad on Father's Day. What remains of my job beckoned. I really do not care about trying to salvage my job anymore. My dad, my parents, need me. Why try to save a job that’s most likely going to end anyway? Why? It’s not logical.

Yet. For the moment I have to pay a mortgage and bills and I have responsibilities to clients and blah blah blah. I’ve used all of my vacation days and I have to go back to work or go without pay.

So, it was nearing the time I had to leave to catch the train back to Chicago.

“Okay, Dad, I need to think about going, I’ll be back next weekend. Maybe a lot will happen this week and you’ll be feeling a lot better!” (trying to believe it, trying to sound sincerely optimistic, I suspect more for my benefit than his, maybe if I say it enough I’ll believe my own lies.)

Oh yeah. My mother doesn’t want to tell my dad about the bleakness of his situation yet. She wants every test done, all analyses made, every option exhausted before she delivers the “news” to him. He knows he’s sick, he knows he needs heart surgery, he knows there’s a rare bacteria, he knows he’s got “something funny” going on in his head, but he doesn’t know that he “can’t” have the life saving heart surgery. He thinks he needs to get stronger and healthier and take heavy duty antibiotics for a few weeks in preparation for heart surgery. My mother’s not ready tell him the medical community can’t help him. She’s not ready to let him give up hope.

I respect that. And who knows? Maybe something will blip positive.

So there I was, leaving my dad alone in a hospital room on Father’s Day. As I stood to leave he jabbed his finger in the air, a “Wait a minute!” kind of jabbing finger, and said, in nearly perfect, slur-free, garble-free normal English, “What about my ice cream bar?!”

No one had mentioned this since the nurse negated it a few days prior. I knew his sugar levels were erratic since the episode early in the morning and I knew he “shouldn’t” have an ice cream bar.

The perfectly elocuted request was like a knife to my heart. First no new golf club, now this. He had a rotten Father's Day and I'm a horrible daughter.

The tears welled in my eyes. I turned away so he wouldn’t see that I was upset.

“(expletive deleted) it. Oh yeah! I’ll go get it! Ice cream Sunday!”

I trotted down to the vending area and procured an ice cream bar. I took it back to him and watched him take delight in it.

I know it’s bad for him. I know it could cause all kinds of problems. I know, I know, I know.

But. When he handed me half of the bar uneaten and in his slurred, wonky speech pattern he said, “You know, that’s the best ice cream bar I’ve ever had. I savored every bite. I want more but I want to get better and get out of here. So take this away from me.” I knew even though medically, logically, it may have been wrong, it was right in every other way to let him have that treat.

I was going to keep the ice cream bar a secret between my dad and I. I remembered my 18th birthday. My parents, my mother included, had let me have sips of champagne and even a little wine during my adolescence. We weren't sitting around getting drunk together, but they let me have a little taste here and there. They adhere to the "demystify it and the kids won't be as eager to abuse it" school of alcohol. On my 18th birthday my parents took me to a very nice restaurant. My mother ordered a Kir Royale and gave it to me. A whole entire one just for me. Later that night, after we returned home, my mother tucked away in bed, my dad listening to an old Quincy Jones album, me waiting for Saturday Night Live, my dad came in and said, a bit too jauntily for my new-adult status taste, "You going to stay up tonight?"

I thought,sassily, "I can stay up as late as I want. I'm an official adult now." But said instead, in that annoying teenage monotone, "Yeah." (Seriously, I hate teenage me. Okay? I hate teenage me. I'm sorry I behaved the way I did for about 4 years and I've spent the rest of my life trying to right the wrongs of my behavior in those years.)

Nonplussed, my dad jauntily continued, "Great! I was just going to have a little nightcap. Care to join me?"

This was way too weird for me to process at the time. First the get out-of-calculus-free pass and now a "nightcap?"

Wait. My dad has nightcaps? Either he'd been living a secret alcohol life or he was doing this for my benefit.

Again, thinking this was some sort of test, thinking he was trying to gauge my enthusiasm to see if I was too eager, perhaps thinking I was already well informed about mixing drinks, again, in that annoying teenage sarcastic monotone I said, "Yeh. Sure Dad. Let's have a 'nightcap.'" I think I may have even used annoying sarcastic air quotes. I know, okay, I know. I was a horrible, horrible teenager. Okay? I know.

He went back into the living room, flipped the album to the other side, and returned with a bottle of scotch and a bottle of vodka. "Pick your poison!" he said merrily.

"Da-ad, gross!" which came out more in a 13-year-old kid voice than that of my newly acquired adult status.

He poured a vodka and grapefruit juice and handed it to me then poured himself a small scotch over ice. I sat there bewildered but tried to cover it with an air of adult indifference. As "Walking in Space" played in the background he clinked my glass and said, "Happy birthday, young lady. Cheers."

I didn't know what to do. To drink or not to drink? This had to be a test. So I just sat there trying to act indifferent and annoyed.

"Ohfercryingoutloud, Trill, take a taste, if you don't like it, don't drink it. It's your 18th birthday. There's barely enough vodka in there to make a mouse hiccough. Live a little." And then he gave me a conspiratorial wink, "but I don't see any reason to bring your mother into the loop on this."

My drink of choice has been vodka ever since.

On my way out of the hospital I passed his nurse's station. I walked by and gave a nod of good-bye. I knew I should have told her about the ice cream. If his blood sugar is elevated even higher she may think something bad is happening. But all I could think about was my 18th birthday. I knew he thought there was no reason to bring the nurse into the loop on this. And I wanted that to be true. But as I reached the elevator logic took over and I turned back to the nurse's station. I told her about the ice cream. She gave me a dirty look.

"It's Father's Day," I emplored, "he only ate half of it.".

She said nothing but wrote something on a post-it note and stuck it on his chart.

I felt like I betrayed my dad on a couple levels. I gave him something he shouldn't have had and then I ratted him out to the nurse.

I called my mother after I got settled on the train. I told her to try to go to bed early and get some rest. Just before she hung up and said, "Wait. Mum?"

"Mmm hmm?"

"Do you remember my 18th birthday?"

"Uhhh, yes, we went to dinner."

"Did Dad ever mention anything else?"

"Like what, dear?"

"I dunno, just, anything?"

"Not that I recall, why?"

"No reason. I was just thinking about it. No big deal."

Long uncostumary pause.

"Is this about the car? Did he tell you about the car? He wanted to get you a new car. I wouldn't allow it. I didn't want the expense and I didn't want to spoil you."

Long weird pause.

"Dad wanted to buy me a new car for my 18th birthday?"

"Yes. I had to be the bad guy in that one."

"Mum, I should not have had a new car for my 18th birthday. You were right. You were not the bad guy."

"Now I wish I would have let him get it for you. It would have made him happy. He was so proud of you. He wanted to give you something big and important."

"He did, Mum. Go to bed. You're not the bad guy."


12:19 AM

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