Saturday, February 17, 2007

I tried two things today that really should be experienced before leaving this corner of the Midwest--curling and Tony Packo's. Mike has a group of Michigan alumni band friends who get together annually for this outing, and he invited me along. I had my doubts, but curling turned out to be about 100 times more fun than it looks. The thigh and tailbone bruises (oh, you'll get some falling) will soon heal, but the memories will last a lifetime. As for Packo's, well, how can you go wrong with Max Klinger's favorite Hungarian-style hot dog? The answer: you can't.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I'm on hour 28 more or less at the hospice center. I got in Monday night, stopped by for a while, had dinner and went home and collapsed. Yesterday I dropped mom off at work about a mile away from this place, then picked her up later and brought her back. I've also been out for several meals. But we're basically snowed in, so we slept here last night. I had the third-most comfortable recliner in the room, if you count the hospital bed itself; I estimate that it was about the fifth-most uncomfortable recliner in the world for sleeping, but that could be off a little in either direction. So I'm running on not a lot of sleep and am a bit loopy.

This place is called Donnell House. Unfortunately that seems to be (dun-ELL) rather than (DONN-nul), but I still imagine Dylan McDermott walking in at any time and saying emphatically "But is it possible?" The facility has eight patient rooms and plenty of side rooms where visiting family can unwind. They also have some bookshelves that are almost entirely filled with books on death, grieving, and/or Jesus. I have instead opted for my own copy of Running With Scissors and my character fitness application for the California bar exam, a slightly less depressing option.

Dad is doped up but stable, and since there are plenty of people here and more coming, I'll be headed back to school as soon as the weather breaks or at least bends. I should be on the road tomorrow morning, and hopefully I won't end up off the road somewhere on the Ohio Turnpike. Then I get to come back next weekend for a whole lot more of the same--hopefully minus the freezing rain followed by half a foot of snow.

No weigh-in this week for obvious reasons, and for the less-obvious reason that accessible food at the moment consists of gas station hot dogs, the Eat 'n' Park breakfast buffet, a Whitman sampler someone brought in, and the Texas Roadhouse.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I celebrated my 32nd birthday last night with a small group of friends at a place in town with private karaoke rooms. I was going to say celebrated "quietly," but I guess that's not apt. Quiet in the sense of no huge blowout bash, even if not quiet in decibel terms.

An hour before I left home to start drinking getting ready to sing, my mom called. My dad was transferred to hospice as planned, but she told me that it's probably best if I don't wait the two weeks until spring break to come home. So I'm heading down Tuesday morning, possibly to stay a day and possibly to be there until early March. In other words, possibly for a quick visit, and possibly to be there until the end.

Mom also told me to try to have a happy birthday and not to think about it too much, but she didn't have a lot in the way of suggestions for how to go about doing that. But at least I had a tremendous Birthday Eve.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

For the first several weeks of Copyright, I thought it was fun and a little bit tricky. Then last weekend the professor gave us a problem set and a memorandum opinion from the Copyright Office. I spent a little bit of time on it and realized that this stuff was actually a good bit harder and more abstract than I originally thought. It occurred to me that it was hard enough that not too many people can do it well, which led to two possibilities--either it's worth putting in the effort to become one of those people because you'll be in demand, or it's hard enough that it's just not worth it to worry about learning it real well.

Then we went over the problems in class this week, and now I don't know how anyone can do copyright well. It's absurdly abstract, with different time limits, deadlines, and contingencies coming into play depending on the circumstances of creation and the date of creation and publication of the work. It's a morass, and the reason is the bundle of sticks.

First-year law students here repeatedly that "property is a bundle of sticks." So often do we hear this that we may want to beat people with a bundle of sticks if they say it to us again. What does it mean? Well, it means that having a "property right" means having all or some of the bundle. You could have a right, for instance, to possess something but not to sell it (think: your dry cleaner holding your shirt). The right to sell and the right to possess are separate sticks, and you can have none, either or both. In copyrights there are a whole lot of sticks, old trees are different from new trees, filmed sticks have different rules from written or recorded sticks, and someone might be able to come along and reclaim your tree 56 years after you bought it. That barely scratches the surface of the issues involved, and we're four weeks in.

Bottom line: If I ever become a copyright lawyer, I'm either pretty smart or totally faking my way through.

Monday, February 05, 2007

I know that there's nothing more boring and insipid than talking (especially complaining) about the weather. That said, when I walked to class this morning, it was minus-9. That's just not cool. You know what I mean.

I did make it to the gym the last two days, which made me realize that if I can make it in sub-zero weather, then excuse that I ever come up with in L.A. will have the slightest bit of credibility. At all.

Occasionally I listen to old Loveline episodes at the gym. I was listening to an episode from 2003 today, and some caller used the word "hella" completely unironically. This got me to thinking: why do some slang words catch on for a time then fade away, while others become a permanent part of the vernacular? Of those that fade, some of them truly die out while others stick around but only as signifiers of a bygone time. For instance, "groovy" can't really be used ironically, but always carries some suggestion of cheesy '70s-ness; "awesome" on the other hand has a little bit of that for the '80s, but I think by now it can be used in its own right unironically.

So whither hella? My hunch is that it's fallen off, but then again I've only spent 3 of the last 30 months in California and only 3 days of that in Northern California, which I think is the epicenter of hella. If I had to guess, hella will always be associated with about 1999 and/or being slightly stoned. I have mixed feelings about this. I feel that hella filled a bizarre void or lacuna in the language--a simple, one-word slang term for "very"--that no other word adequately fills. But then it's just such a stupid-sounding word out of anyone over the age of 15 and/or not carrying a surfboard at all, that I would much prefer that some other term step in to fill that void.

But just for old times sake: it's hella fuckin' freezing out there.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

As of tomorrow morning, Dad will have been in the hospital for two weeks. This, in and of itself, is an accomplishment--just try to get a fortnight stay in an American hospital in 2007 and you'll see what a challenge it is. This is not a criticism, mind you, but simply a comment on the actual state of things. People go to the hospital, they're treated, and they're sent home or to some ancillary facility.

In case you would like to follow in his footsteps, here is the winning formula. Start with a serious underlying condition such as prostate cancer metastasized into the bone. Then add a triggering event that puts you into the hospital, such as nasty ass bedsores. I don't mean, mind you, nasty-ass bedsores. Oh no. Next, for some reason, make sure that you can't get the surgery to deal with the infected bedsores for a couple of days. Then, once you've had the surgery, you should develop some sort of additional complication--a blood clot would be an excellent choice. This will mean that you need to go on blood thinners, in addition to the 180 mg of morphine per day, and will make you all the more fragile since bleeding is now a really bad idea. It couldn't hurt if you require an additional clean-up procedure on the surgery (while needing not to bleed). Finally, once all of this is done and you're actually getting through all of it ok, you should live in a rural area where it's hard to find a facility that can take care of all your various needs at the same time, because the few such facilities are completely full.

Things are looking up, a little. Dad himself told me that a week ago he didn't think he was going to be around much longer, but now he thinks he'll be around a while. Mom was on the verge of calling everyone home on Monday, but now that moment has passed. The primary doctor on the case (the oncologist, I think) is now saying "a matter of months"; I find this a little bit amusing, because all of us having been independently thinking "a matter of months" for about a year and a half now, so the phrase is empty of all meaning.

Here's the thing. I love my Dad so much; I mean everyone loves their dad, but everyone loves my dad, he's just one of those people. I want him around, but I don't want him to be in a tremendous amount of pain. Thanks to the morphine, though, he's not. I've decided that I'm happy for him as long as he's still lucid and getting some enjoyment out of life, even if it's interspersed with a lot of inconvenience, embarrassment, and pain. And fortunately, right now he is still getting that. But the really horrible part is, I don't know how long I can take having him that sick. It means constantly living on the edge, never being able to make any plans that you can't cancel suddenly, never being able to fully concentrate on anything else. And of course, it means feeling horrible that you're even thinking these thoughts because the implication is that you just want to get on with it. And of course you really don't. But if you're really honest, a very little bit of you actually does. And that really is the worst of it.