Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Going on a cruise may not have been the best idea. You need to understand Mom though. Christmas is Big. It's HUGE. she usually spent a solid month of preparation, stringing garland, making centerpieces, arranging travel. All of this focus so that the family had a "magical" Christmas. It couldn't just be good, it had to be magical.
So she told us she wanted to go on a cruise. With no energy, i've come to believe it is because she thought the cruise would provide the magic. We all acquiesced, not that a cruise was what we wanted, We just wanted to be selfishly get Mom all to ourselves locked on a boat.
When I saw her at Thanksgiving it was difficult. She looked like a wounded bird, shivering in the cold. This woman once so full of life, was now so weak. But she was still Mom. We made plans, we looked at houses. We ate thanksgiving dinner. I made like seven dishes and she tried each of them (I later found out she couldn't keep any of it down) but she told me all tasted so good. Even though she had lost most of the taste in her mouth.
So I knew that the chemo and the cancer was aging her. I wasn't prepared to see her. She had aged two decades in under a month. Her last chemo had letter her with sores over her hands and feet and her poor mouth was full of sores. while her arms and legs were wasting away, her body had begun to fill with fluid, and this petite woman who once went on a diet of hamburgers and shakes to put on a few, now had a large distended belly. and her feet were too swollen to walk. But she was still Mom, under that sore little body, it was Mom. We had breakfast together and the whole family sat around the buffet and made dumb jokes (a Dayton specialty), and Mom would roll her eyes (a Susan Dayton specialty).
We got on the boat, and things were going well. We had a few good meals, we sat around and talked. We watched some movies, and made plans. We are always making plans. She had a nice view from her balcony, the Queen of the Sea could finally survey her domain. We thought we had two weeks together. Things looked good. We could sit and hold hands and say the last things that we needed to say.
Things changed on the second night. It was a hard night that only my Dad knows all the details to. But we thought it was just a bad night. Her stomach and intestines were revolting. Nothing was staying inside. So the next morning, we sent Brandon and Annie's families off at the port. Mom was just going to rest up. Just to be on the safe side, Dad decided that we could rehydrate Mom and get her started on an IV and get some fluids into her. The medical center on the ship was fairly well equipped. NOt only did they come to her room but they offered to run a few simple blood tests. The IV was slow going, but before we got more than a few hundred cc's into her we got the blood tests back. Her white count was precipitously low. Normally your white blood cell count tells you how sturdy your immune system is. A week ago hers was 8,000. Today it was under 500. Her new Chemo regimen had a dangerous side-effect. The ship told us we had to get off. Unfortunately, the ship was leaving in an hour. WE had to be off by 6:30. Half the family was on shore and we had no way to contact them. Cameron, Dad and I repacked 15 days worth of living and scrambled down to the tenders. The little shuttles that take you to port. With the help of a lot of crew we got her baggage down the gang plank and lifted her little chair down to the boat.
There is a decent hospital in Cabo San Lucas. Ameri Med caters to Americans but the small facility was clean and fairly modern. However Mom wasn't getting any better. She was vomiting anything still left her system, and the diarrhea wasn't helping. We hoped that getting her fluids and medicine could stabilize her and that we could get her back to Buffalo. Specifically closer to her oncologist, and a vital medicine that could help her white count rebound. It was now Christmas Eve and we were in a foreign country miles from those resources.
Dad hadn't slept in two nights. After midnight I insisted he get some sleep. We would have some important decisions to make in the next few days, more critical ones in the next morning. I stayed with Mom. Cameron smuggled a blanket and pillow from the Motel and I settled in. I have had a lot of sleepless Christmas Eve's in my life. tossing and turning, craning my ear to hear Santa. Ironically I spent the same Christmas Eve craining to hear the same figure. Listening for groans and whimpers. The sores in Mom's mouth kept her from swallowing, it had been two days since she had kept any nutrition down, in fact she couldn't even swallow water. So I stayed up with a wad of gauze dipping it in water and letting her suck on it for relief.
When we got on the ship we were talking about our 3 month plan. Dad was going to take medical leave, and move to Salt Lake. By the time morning come, we were talking about a one month plan. LIttle did we know that soon we would be speaking about days and hours instead of months and weeks. The writer Wallace Stegner described the west as a place where the optimism was greater than our water supply. Our problem was that our optimism was greater than our time supply.
Mom was still talking at this point. In the morning she said she just wanted to go home. She wanted to go to Buffalo. We thought we could get her to rebound, to improve. We thought we could rehydrate her and find medicine that would help her white blood count. Buy what our hearts told us is that she was miserable here, she wasn't improving, and she might never improve. WE looked at flights and what we saw was disheartening. 15 hours, two or three layover, and on Christmas day. Mom hadn't done well just sitting and I didn't think she had it in her. Dad took control in the hospital and checked her out against Medical advice. about 5 hours later we were on a plane to Salt Lake.
Uncle Lynn arranged for a Docotr to meet us at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. It turns out that the Chief of Oncology there was a good friend that went through medical school with Dad. We talk a lot about what goes into Medical research. I have been profoundly grateful for the money that has been donated for end of life care. However we didn't look at it that way. We were just looking for a place to rebound and recover.The Huntsman Cancer Hospital is one of the finest Hospitals I have ever been too, and we've had incredible care.
Non of Mom's major organs have failed, her liver is 60% cancer, but her lungs are working and kidneys are working, But fluid is filling her body. Death is a curious thing. I wish there was one thing we could point to and say "fix that" or a clock that gave us predictable time. But we are watching a shrinking clock where Months rapidly shrink to Days, and days become hours. But all day we wait.
Once the brothers were here we hoped for change. Instead on our first meeting we sat and talked about DNR orders, on the time that was rapidly disappearing. And mostly we wept. We originally wanted to take a day or to recover to allow visitors. Instead we realized now was time. If people wanted to say goodbye this was their chance.
So I wrote this in inches, in-between the flood of family, and visitors. And I came home to rest, and tonight we wait. Mom is barely here now. and we wait. We wait for little things, dripping away life. Statistics dipping and swelling.
They say that Cancer is the loving disease, because we get to say goodbye. But it is hard to say goodbye every day. Maybe I can get one more day, and say one more goodbye.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
I know this will sound snobby and whatnot, but there isn't really a ranking or stars. In my critical days I would rate films, but when you think about it, there is only enjoyable and not enjoyable. There is good and not good.
I would like to make a list for this year, but how can you compare "Exit through the Gift Shop", "Never let me go" and "How to train a dragon". If you get caught up in a discussion of bests you miss out on a great opportunity to think, feel, or get lost.
I like movies. It is what I do when I want a treat.
Here, watch this little film clip. Bask in the fun, the beauty, the ridiculousness, that movies can be.
2010 wasn't a bad year. Here are some movies that were good, and worth your time (specifically in NO particular order):
Exit through the gift shop
Scott Pilgrim vs. the world
Never let me go
How to Train a Dragon
Toy Story III
wait, I am not going to do this anymore. I am going to miss some good ones. Why don't you tell ME some good movies. I got a lot of evening free and could use some suggestions.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Which direction we are going.
There's no knowing where we're rowing
Or which way the river's flowing.
Is it raining?
Is it snowing?
Is a hurricane a blowing?
Not a speck of light is showing
so the danger must be growing.
Are the fires of hell a glowing?
Is the grisly reaper mowing?
Yes! The danger must be growing
For the rowers keep on rowing. And they're certainly not showing
any signs that they are slowing!
this is available on blu-ray
Thursday, November 04, 2010
- Don't use superlative, unless in irony. You can say that T.J. Hooker is "totally awesome", or that M.A.S.H. is the greatest show of all time, but if you really like something you heavily qualify it. Like this "Sujfan Stevens is kind of amazing" (When in fact he is TOTALLY amazing, even though I think he believes a lot more is Space nowadays)
- do a blog
- It's okay to make fun of Hipsters, because none of them think they are them. I usually consider Hipsters to be people that dress like my friends, but I don't think of my friends as hipsters.
- make a piece of your own clothes. Even if it isn't cool, it gives you some credibility.
- Know the difference between a Hipster and an Indie Hipster. Both are too cool for you, but the Indie Hipster will make his/her distain more naked. I actually think most Hipsters that I personally know are delightful folk, but they ARE cooler than me.
- If you want them to like your pictures of stuff, get lots of lens flares in it. I like lens flares anyways.
- Don't assume to know about a band that you think they don't know about. Instead of introducing a hipster to a new band, ask for their opinion. instead of "Hey have you heard of a band called the Animal Collective?" ask "Hey, what do you know about this Animal Collective band." They will respect that you know your place in this world.
- Don't wear business casual to a concert.
- Get apple products, but also hate apple, at least a little bit. Here is a good line "Yeah I got the iPhone a while ago, before Steve Jobs got evil."
- Once other people start liking it, you are gonna have to start liking it on your own.
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Monday, November 01, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
- Let me know you want to be in the contest, by making a comment to this post..
- I will do a random drawing
- Swap ipods (at least 4 Gigs of music please) Either in the mail or I will facilitate at my house.
- Listen to the ipod at MINIMUM whenever you are in your car.
- NO MUSIC SKIPPING, ride it out. Let it flow through you.
- You can listen to playlists, or on random, but you can't just look for familiar artists or bands you have wanted to hear.
- Whatever you do DON'T SYNC THE OTHER PERSONS POD TO YOU COMPUTER!
- Swap iPods back and blog (or facebook or whatevs about your experience)
- Mention your best experience and worst experience with the ipod
- You assume all risk (all artistic enterprises are inherently risky)
Friday, June 18, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
Friday, June 04, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
So I am going to get to the point. It's been a great year, it's been a tough year. You can probably say that about most years, but this year, and the last four months probably more so. I've often said that any year where you can't get your heart broke isn't really a year worth living, and I think I have had a lot of living in this year. So I when I got asked to speak in Church, I asked if I could speak about Happiness. Usually I don't get to churchy around here, but Happiness is a pretty important thing, especially when you are not so happy.
I have been extremely happy this year. I've traveled, I've fallen in love, but I have also had my heart broken or at least bruised, my mom's cancer returned, and I needed back surgery, which kept me in bed to think about it all.
HAPPINESS, A REVOLUTIONARY CONCEPT
The doctrine of Happiness is actually a pretty revolutionary one. The Old testament and New Testament COMBINED mention the world a grand total of zero times. Mormon scripture fairs a little better 1 mention in the Doctrine and Covenants and 1 in the Pearl of Great Price. However, our good ole Book of Mormon mentions the word 17 times. Still not much though, considering that we refer to our Creator's plan for us to be called "The Plan of Happiness".
Early Christians in some sects used self-flagelation (the whipping of self) to use pain as a way to atone. Dan Brown blew this out of proportion in his book about that Ninja Turtle's code, but often people wear their religion like a headache (I stole this phrase from the son of Elder Hollandwho was in my Freshman English class- bragable). Often fundamentalist of many faiths look at this life as a veil of tears to pass through to only find happiness in the great beyond or hereafter AKA cloud city. For that reason, the doctrine of Happiness is really a pretty radical one. Consider this quote:
"Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God."
(Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Five, 1842–43, p. 255).
Most of those 17 scriptures in the Book of Mormon that talk about happiness do so in reference to the fact that "wickedness never was happiness" (you look up the reference, brother lazybones) or a state of "neverending happiness" usually accompanied by a discussion of the afterlife. So what are we to think? We know what happiness is NOT (ie:wickedness, like saying bad swears or eating brownies with sin in them) OR it is just a final state. But get a load of this:
And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.
So there is SOME happiness (at least in the life of those that keep the commandments) AND some happiness in the future.
I am kind of not satisfied with this. I am a pretty good fellow, and I know a lot of people a lot more commandmenty than me, and yet they still have sorrow, and often times, deep sorrow.
SURPRISED BY JOY
Here is another really amazing scripture that is unique to Mormondom:
2 Nephi 2: 25
Adam fell that men might be; and men are that they might have joy
Unique to us is the belief that Adam's (and Eve's) decision was NOT a mistake, but a willfull act, without which Men (and women) could not exist at least not as we understand MEN (humans?mortals?) to be and further more with out this certain type of existence, we can now have a joy, that would not have been accessible to us, or mankind for that matter.
We kind of gloss over that scripture sometimes, but check out this companion scripture which can be found in our modern understanding of Genesis, which we call The Pearl of Great Price:
10 And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.
There is some nice stuff in there, but look at this part again "and in this life I shall have joy"
Perhaps one of the first recorded prophesies. IN THIS LIFE, JOY.
so when you don't look at "happiness" joy fairs much better in the scriptures. almost 360 mentions. 98 of those are in the Old Testament (that's the big dusty one with the sad stories). They talk about all types of joy, joyful dancing, joy after victory, and joy in the Lord. There is also a lot of talk about joy through obedience. I am not going to talk about that, because I am pretty obedient, and sometimes I am still sad, and my mom still gets cancer and I still get my heart broken (if you do want to read about joy through obedience I highly recommend this talk by Elder Bednar).
I want to talk about sorrow, sadness and mourning and how it is important for Joy, not just as an opposite but as a necessary component.
JOY THROUGH MOURNING
Let's be honest (as though everything else has been a lie) for most of hones, even the righteous and faithful, life is hard, life is painful and comes with inevitable sorrows. I think therefore, there is a great paradox that for those that wish to be baptized take a covenant to suffer. Let me clarify. To enter this "plan of happiness" we read the following
And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the dfirst resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
I think it is significant that in order to enter this plan, we not only bear each other's burdens, but we really have to "MOURN with those that mourn" we must be sad with them. And as I have had hard times, i realize that it has brought me closer to family and friends, some whom I had grown distant from. Just the outpouring of support from friends and family from my last blog post and on facebook has been incredibly meaningful to me. and because I have been able to weep with my cousin Rachel, and share conversations and a blessing with my good friend Adam, that we are closer, that our joy is more full. not in contrast to the pain, but in some way because of it.
In Jeremiah 31:13-14 the lord promises to turn our "mourning into joy", and I have felt that, but only inasmuch as I have been willing to mourn with others, and to let them mourn with me. I have realized that when I stumble upon someone's sadness I don't need to offer a solution, I just need to weep with them. (Phillipians 2:1-2 indicates that the LORD's joy is full when we become one in this manner).
So today I got some great news. The radiation on the tumors in my Mom's brain has been effective. Her vision has returned, her headaches have gone away, and according to the MRI there are no evidence of the lesions that were there a month ago. We are still waiting for the results of the chemo everywhere else, but today I will have joy, and those that have wept with me will have joy with me. Today in this body in this flesh I may not always be happy, but I can have joy.
It is kind of why we are here.
Monday, May 03, 2010
My Dad would use that saying when I hadn't practiced the piano, to which I responded, "I know, I don't WANT to practice the piano." But the saying has been a sage one, and begs the question. "What do you want to do? Do your actions show it?"
Are you too busy?
About a week ago our family found out my Mom's cancer returned. She beat breast cancer once before, but it came back and brought friends. Recent tests showed that it isn't in her breast, but there are tumors in the lymph nodes around her lungs, lesions in her liver and in her spine. Today I also found out that there are lesions in her brain.
The thing is this, I can't do anything. So I booked a flight out there to do nothing with her. Fortunately I have an awesome business partner who is willing to shoulder a lot for me. Fortunately flights were inexpensive and most of my work this last week was supposed to be writing. So I was fortunate enough to go out there and do what I really wanted to do. Be with her while she was healthy.
But she isn't that healthy. She breathes heavily after doing her makeup. But she is brave and she doesn't let you know that. She got call after call while I was there and everytime she answered to phone with a smile" This is Susan! ...Me, oh I'm doing fine". When people ask me how I am doing I usually say "Good Enough" or give them a number (7 out of 10 is the average). My mom is doing "great" and she just had the worst news of her life and needs 5 naps just to make it through the day. She has some health issues, but mostly she is just tired.
But of all the women I know, she's got a reason to be tired. She has worn herself out in the service of others. What does she want to do? The answer has always been the same, stay busy, keep moving, and usually in the direction of others. Now listen, she's now saint. She's not perfect, I don't want to get in the business of making someone into someone that there not. But I am going to give my mom this: She's lived a lot more than women twice her age and gotten just about as much done. Here is a short list: Utah State PTA president, President Worldwide Organization for Women, Stake Relief Society President, Board Member of the Network of Religious Communities in Buffalo. 3 of those post she holds right now. But those are the ones that mean much to her. She is the mother of 5 fairly decent men. This is the one that has required the most work by far, and the one that hasn't gotten any easier.
Yet when she fills out a questionnaire she has to put occupation: none.
But then there are the intangibles. She never had any daughters, so instead, she has taken on countless daughters that didn't even know they were getting a new mom. I know it because I heard them calling her last week. Weeping on the phone with her thanking her for being a second mom when they needed one. They are in Iowa, and Los Angeles, and Salt Lake, and St. George and Buffalo. Some don't even speak English that well. For years she taught "Girls Creative Dance" she made enough money to pay for a babysitter for us and for her studio. She did it because she had to. She did it because the kids needed a Miss Susan to show them "hello mr. toes" and how to twirl and twirl and twirl, those little girls were all her daughters too. The girls that have married into this family, they became daughters too. Maybe they were harder, because she didn't choose them and they were taking something that she loved so much. But there is no doubt that that they were her daughters.
And even when it is hard to love, she kept on loving. I don't want to get into stories here, but you know who you are. The inconvenient loves, the loves on the other side of the political fence. Mom does that well. This is starting to sound like a Eulogy, but it isn't, it's about a weekend.
My mom has found the time to do what she wants to do. So I can find some time to do a little of what I want to do, and that's spend time with her.
So I went to Buffalo.
We talked about girls and dating. She gave me advice, some of it unwanted but all of it needed, desperately needed. We watched a little "What not to wear", we took naps on the couch, We went to the doctors, and chemo, and after Chemo and she had some appetite I took her on a date to an Italian restaurant where she let me pay. We went shopping for flowers, we filmed a cooking show so that she can show anyone how to make chocolate roll (a family recipe), we played with little Taylor, we fixed her website, we had a chocolate roll breakfast on the porch in the shade of her trees. We got hot wings, even though she couldn't eat any but because she knew I wanted some, I showed her my iPad and she pretended to care. We prayed together over our food and on the last night there I prayed with my Mom and my Dad and hugged them and told them I loved them and cried.
Now my mom is a fighter, and she is not gone yet, but the Lord knows her days and will take her when her mission is done. But you see, I want her to live a million years and meet my wife and my kids and all that, I want her to teach them "hello mr. toes" and how to twirl and twirl and twirl. I want her to give my wife advice on how to handle a guy like me. but for now, I can just find time to do what I want to do. And that is to do what she always taught, stay busy and keep moving, usually in the direction of other.
Now another wise person once said, "No success can compensate for failure in the home". What does that even mean? what is failure in the home? Is it when your kid grows up to be a ruffian? or a chiropractor? what if he leaves the church? or does something bad? is that a failure? What if he uses WAY too many question-marks?
No, that isn't failure. Those are the kids decisions. Failure in the home is if the kids grow up and don't know right from wrong. If the kids grow up and don't know that they are loved. There is a lot of stuff to figure out in life, especially as a parent. But you get those things right and you have done your job. My Mom does a lot of things that are great, but most importantly she lets us know we are loved, She teaches us right and wrong. Sometimes imperfectly, but she does these things.
I am not going to wait until people are gone to say these things. Today I am going to do the things I want to do. I am going to tell the people that I love, that I love them. I am going to leave work when it's more important to spend time with people. I am going to find beauty and love every day, and I am going to love the people that are difficult to love. I am going to find time to do what I want to do.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
What worked: the swinging lights, the altered frame rates
Thursday, February 18, 2010
I didn't think you were serious about making a film. Here is the deal: Films are hard to make and expensive. Every week I get a lot of people that want to make a movie tell me about their idea. Some are good, some are not, but they are all expensive and all are hard to make.(EDIT: removed some personal whiny info) Here are some thoughts. They are kind of flippant, but so am I.
Here are some things to get you started:
-Get ready to be criticized. No one will ever love your idea as much as you do. (this is true of every movie). You will spend the next two years trying to get people to love your idea. That part is the financing part.
-The idea is only worth the paper it is printed on. If it is a fully developed screenplay, it has more paper and is worth more. but an idea by itself is not worth anything. (even a really really good idea).
-Financing is the hardest part. Cheap movies cost about 5 million dollars to make (a number I made up). People want to spend money on there own ideas so you will either need a) a lot of money b) a rich relative or c) a plan in how to turn someone else's money and your idea into a lot of money for them.
-Festivals can create buzz, but they seldom create profit. 90% (a number which I just made up) of movies at Sundance don't end up making much money. which is only important if you are using someone else's money and they plan on getting it back.
-I lied when I said financing the movie is the hardest part. Making it is the hardest part. I can't tell you how to do this part. I am still figuring it out, but I have some ideas.
-Lastly, here is my first bit of feedback on your idea: It doesn't seem like a very good one. Now don't get offended. I routinely get ripped for bad ideas and some of my best ideas have been torn to shreds. But this idea, as you presented it, doesn't seem very good. But I don't know, maybe with the right script, or the right director AND the right script it could be very funny. (EDITED TO REMOVE THE ACTUAL IDEA)
Now all of that can be overcome, but you have an uphill battle on your hands. I am sorry if this advice isn't very helpful. This is a hard business.
Good luck with your script!