Empty Holes

No matter how much we love our kids, after two weeks or so of summer vacation, sometimes parents feel just about ready to give them up for adoption. We tried to keep Annika very busy with activities each day:  Swimming lessons, playing in the park, balcony gardening, baking, drawing, reading, etc.  The list seemed as endless as her energy levels.

It was crazy: No matter how many things we did with her on any given day, just moments after any activity was over, Annika would say, “Will you play with me?”, in a hurt tone of voice that sounded like she’d been marooned on a deserted island for at least a month, maybe even more.

And crazier still is the fact that on the first day she went off to summer day-camp, there was a great big empty lonely hole in my heart.

Posted in Annikdotes, Humor | Leave a comment

Fill ‘Er Up!

Just in time for Halloween, Annika came home from school, and regaled us with her first joke ever. Well, at least, her first ever cleanly executed joke from beginning to end.

Annika: “Knock-knock!”

Me: “Who’s there?”

Annika: “Phillip!”

Me: “Phillip who?”

Annika: “Fill up my bag with CANDY!”

Honestly, for such a simple joke, the punchline still caught me by surprise, and made me truly laugh out loud. What was even more priceless was the beaming smile she had the whole time. She was sure proud of herself on that one!

Posted in Annikdotes, Humor | 1 Comment

Return To Music

I’ve been spending a lot of time writing over the past two years, much to the detriment of  the music I love to play.  Here’s a new recording of a song you may have downloaded before from my website, but I think you will consider it “new and improved”.

I’m feeling quite dizzy from it all:  I’m the only musician playing all the instruments, as well as being the recording guy, and final mixer/producer.

I hope you all enjoy!

Inisheer (new version) – For Streaming

 

Inisheer (new version) – For Downloading

Inisheer (Take 2)

Posted in Blocked Artistries, My Mother | Leave a comment

Franky-V’s Basic Green Lentil Soup

Franky-V's Lentil Soup

Franky-V’s Lentil Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 or 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 or 2 tsp. curry paste of your choice (we used Thai-style green curry paste)
  • 2-3 tbsp. Miso paste
  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 6 cups of water

Instructions

Pour 3 tbsp. of olive oil in large pot and sauté all the chopped and diced vegetables. (Onion, garlic, carrots, and celery) until onions are translucent and/or veggies are soft. Add the 6 cups of water, the curry paste, and miso, and bring to a boil. Once water is boiling, add the 1 cup of green lentils, stir, cover, reduce heat and simmer on low for 1 hour.

Tips

“Simmer on low for 1 hour” actually means: As the soup is simmering, remember to check every fifteen minutes, and stir from the bottom of the pot to make sure the lentils are not sticking. Also, taste the broth to make sure the soup is seasoned the way you like it. (We have a five year old, so this basic recipe keeps the spicy heat and saltiness low).

Near the end, if you find the soup is too thick, add more water, ½ cup or even 1 cup at a time. (Of course, remember to taste and adjust for preferred saltiness each time you add more water.)

Posted in Recipes | 1 Comment

Can’t BS Our Five Year Old

One of our family’s favorite hobbies is poking fun at ridiculous advertising. And at just the age of five, our young girl Annika seems to be mastering our cynicism and sense of sarcastic humor.

Recently, during a chewing gum commercial on television, the narrator repeated how pleasing and refreshing the “icy-crystals” were. Annika was on the couch and playing with her toys, but clearly paying attention to the TV.

Annika responded loudly to the announcer’s hypnotic voice: “Icy crystals: HA! NOT!”

I just about fell off my chair from laughing so hard.

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A Present for Mama

This story comes from my wife Bonnie:

The other day Annika was in the bathroom wrapped up in her towel so that she was completely hidden. At one point she says: “Mama, there’s a present for you!”

Bonnie: “What is it?”

Annika: “An Annika!”

Bonnie: “Just what I always wanted!”

Annika: “Yes, it’s a LISTENING Annika!” (Translation: She’ll listen to me more).

Bonnie: “Wow! I REALLY need one of those!” (Of course, her listening didn’t last long, but it’s the thought that counts, right? LOL).

Posted in Annikdotes, Humor | 1 Comment

Hiding Hands

There was a time I felt ashamed about how different my hands looked. I knew my face and upper torso were not so different looking than those of an average person, but my hands on the other hand, if you will pardon my obvious pun, were a different matter.

Not only are my fingers short and stubby, another side effect of my dwarfism is that the third knuckles in my fingers are fused together. This limits my dexterity, and also prevents me from making a proper fist. As I grew older and began using public transit, I buried my hands in my coat pockets whenever strangers stared at me.

Wedding Hands (Bonnie and Frank)

Wedding Hands (Bonnie and Frank)

I don’t know what the turning point was, but eventually, I not only came to accept how my hands and fingers looked, but also to take pride in the things they can do. And when Bonnie and I went to buy our wedding bands, I also realized my fingers are anything but small. We quickly discovered the jewelry store did not even have my ring size in stock, which is a size twelve, the second largest on most charts.

 

Size Twelve Ring

Size Twelve Ring

But as they say, it’s not the size of your hands that matters, but how you use them! These hands can cook, play music, doodle, type eighty words per minute, do cross-stitch needlework, and so much more. Best of all is their ability to communicate warmth, friendship and love, all things a person can be proud of.

Hands In Love

Hands In Love

Posted in Dwarfism, My Life So Far | 3 Comments

Hip-Hop Irish Dance Stepper

Just before our daughter Annika turned five back in June, she performed in a hip-hop dance recital at school. She did quite well, considering she was one of the youngest in the group. At one point the older kids did some solos while all the other kids stood still.

Of course, Annika was in her own special world, as she usually is. Instead of standing still like she was supposed to, she started doing her own self-taught version of Irish step dancing. We confirmed with the instructor afterwards that Annika had totally improvised her impromptu and unrequested solo.

I’ll always remember those few hilarious moments when Annika, in all her glory, looked like our proud little stank-faced Irish hip-hop stepper.

Posted in Annikdotes, Humor | 1 Comment

Lessons in Not Getting Hurt

There are days I wonder if our parental words of “wisdom” ever sink through the thick skull of our darling young girl. But then once in a while, we get a very wonderful surprise.

Word for word, here is what my five year old daughter told her mother to write in my birthday card this past summer: “Dear Papa, Happy Birthday. You’re so smart you make me learn more and more, and you make me not hurt myself. Love, Annika”

Clearly, Annika has learned some of the safety lessons I’ve tried to teach her, as well as how to melt my heart.

Posted in Annikdotes, Humor | 1 Comment

“Inspiration Porn” or Just a Compliment?

There is an insidious phrase gaining popularity over the last few years called “Inspiration Porn”. Lene Andersen (Health care writer, RA and disability advocate, and wheelchair user) states:

“Porn involves the objectification of one group of people for the benefit of another group. Using people with a disability or chronic illness who are somehow managing to go about their lives as inspiration for non-disabled people to feel better about their lives or motivation to get off their arse meets the definition.“

In condemning what is called “Inspiration Porn”, one argument basically states:

“A wheelchair athlete should not be considered inspiring just because they use a wheelchair, but instead because “they are a world-class athlete who competes on the international level with some of the fastest, strongest, most amazing athletes in the world.“

Oh, pardon, I see, only the very best get to be inspiring. Bull crap! That elitist attitude, “only the best can inspire”, is the very same thing we see everywhere outside of the disabled community: Only superstars get to be considered special and inspiring, while the rest of us peasants grovel admiringly at their feet. If you doubt me, just watch any talk show, or Entertainment Tonight style show, and you will see what I mean.

Every little thing that a star athlete, super model, pop star, and famous actor does is magnified, even the everyday stuff. How often have we seen interviewers coo at their beloved media royalty “OH, you actually cooked a meal/changed a diaper/played with your children this weekend? How FANTASTIC! Tell our listeners more!” What drivel!

For many of us with disabilities, doing daily chores can be like an ultimate chess match, combined with the physical effort of climbing Mount Everest. Should we complain about it? Certainly not! Should we be proud of our efforts? Absolutely!

We don’t ask for medals, or media interviews, but please, don’t get all high and mighty if someone uses our courageous images to put a little inspiration into someone’s life.

Another argument goes like this:

“Inspiration porn is a dangerous thing because, even if the intentions are good, it implies that the average disabled person is weak or lacks independence.”

Really? Couldn’t it be instead when a person with a disability receives a compliment like “You are amazing” that it is just an expression of the fact at least some able-bodied people see their own weaknesses by comparison? Weakness like when they call in sick for no good reason, or do not take a single walk the whole weekend just because of their own laziness?

Personally, I’m thankful when someone recognizes how hard it is for me to get around, and says that I’m inspiring: A lot of pain, sweat and tears went into my rehab when I was a child. Even I forget how awesome an effort I put in to get back on my feet. But just because I forget that fact does not mean others have to ignore it as well, or god forbid, avoid complimenting me for it.

Also consider that overachievers often don’t realize just how hard it is to be doing what it is they are doing. Overachievers, whether they have a disability or not, often feel they are doing nothing special, and that you are being silly, or worse, when you compliment them. What galls me is that it is mostly these overachievers, successful and outspoken in their given fields, that are using derogatory terms for these inspirational images of people with disabilities, as if our lives are not grandiose enough to be considered inspiring.

How each of us responds to any compliment is our own personal responsibility, and reflects our own state of mind much more than the stranger complimenting us. The truth is, just as a stranger knows nothing about you, the reverse is also true: You know nothing about the stranger who is complimenting you. Maybe that stranger has a sibling or even a child that has a disability, and that relative has given up, whereas you have chosen to rise above your limitations.

Sometimes, a compliment is just a compliment, and an inspirational image is just an inspirational image. When we try to over-think things, and come up with clever terms like “Inspiration Porn” it just boomerangs back on us in all the wrong ways, and becomes a public domain label that everyone gets to slap on those of us who have a disability.

I encourage everyone to continue to be inspiring to one another, whether you have a disability or not, and whether your victories are big or small. And to those who would call that inspiration porn I say, “If you don’t think we are inspiring enough for YOU to be inspired, that’s your problem, not ours.”

Posted in Dwarfism, Random Meanderings, The Crooked Looking Glass | 4 Comments