s-s-s-santa claus s-s-santa claus

Sung to the tune of Poker Face:

I wanna house and deed as big as Texas please
Diamonds of all size, and rubies, emeralds just for me (I love it)
Santa, fill your sleigh with lovely presents from afar
And after you deliver I want a bright and shiny car

Ho, Ho, Ho
Get ‘em while they’re hot, only two left in stock
Ho, Ho, Ho
Get ‘em while they’re hot, only two left in stock

Can’t wait for, can’t wait for
No I can’t wait for Santa Claus
(He’s got toys like nobody)
Can’t wait for, can’t wait for
No I can’t wait for Santa Claus
(He’s got toys like nobody)

S-s-s-Santa Claus, s-s-Santa Claus
(a fur coat for my Ma)
S-s-s-Santa Claus, s-s-Santa Claus
(a fur coat for my Ma)

I want expensive clothes like you won’t believe
Gambling in Monte Carlo: another gift for me! (I love it)
Playing Roulette with fancy kings; a lot of fun
Bill Gates will ask for hand outs when it’s all said and done (done)

Ho, Ho, Ho
Ho, Ho, Ho
Get ‘em while they’re hot, only two left in stock
Ho, Ho, Ho
Get ‘em while they’re hot, only two left in stock

Can’t wait for, can’t wait for
No I can’t wait for Santa Claus
(He’s got toys like nobody)
Can’t wait for, can’t wait for
No I can’t wait for Santa Claus
(He’s got toys like nobody)
S-s-s-Santa Claus, S-s-Santa Claus
(He’s got toys like nobody)

Santa I will love you kiss and hug you
sugar cookies from my oven
I’m not lying, I just want a great big mansion

Lucky chips in a casino
Take the bank and then I’ll pay you
with promises, promises

bring me gifts ‘cuz I am marvelous.

needle, thread, and a dacron patch: my daughter’s open heart surgery

One early December morning in the year 2000, Dr. Winfield Wells strolled into my daughter Holly’s room at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. His street clothes looked like Pat Boone circa 1962: polo shirt, plaid golf pants and white shoes. Holly’s cardiologist said he was the best pediatric cardiac surgeon on the planet and I think he knew it.

His team of doctors clamored around him like an entourage with their clipboards and white coats. He said, “It looks like we don’t need to put in a pacemaker after all!” A few days earlier he easily patched up Holly’s 15-month-old heart with Dacron like a piece of fabric on a rag doll.

She was born with a large ventricular septal defect. After the surgery, Dr. Wells doubted Holly’s heart would beat on its own. I spoke with God the night before and said if she needs a pacemaker then she needs one. My husband Tim and I will deal with it.

After Holly’s birth, no one doubted Holly’s survival. She just needed extra care. My parents helped us out for the first 10 months of her life. My mom said she would never leave me to take care of Holly by myself. I knew why. My grandmother died from something similar – a leaky heart valve at age 39. When I told Mom the news about Holly, she immediately put her hands over her face and wailed, no doubt remembering how she watched her young mother pass away.

It took Holly 15 months to gain enough weight for the operation. Dr. Wells said he could wait until after the holidays but we said no, we wanted Holly taken care of right away. If she was in the hospital on Christmas day then so be it. We could celebrate the “normal” way in the future.

Most people find the antiseptic smell of hospital rooms annoying but I find it comforting. That smell reminds me we are in the hands of God and that He sends us angels in the bodies of doctors and nurses clad in white to fix whatever needs fixing. The morning of Holly’s surgery, a tall nurse with perfect makeup and a bright smile with a Christmas bow on her surgical cap said, “Now is the time for hugs and kisses,” before they took her into OR. She gave Holly a teddy bear with a tiny green surgical mask.

Afterward, Holly woke up with tubes and wires attached. She opened her mouth to cry but no sound came out. My husband left the room but I stayed so she could hear my voice. She had such small soft hands scarred from surgical tape and IV tubes.

Holly was too young understand Santa Claus. I didn’t have to explain Santa delivers gifts to hospitals on Christmas Eve. I wrote a letter beforehand answering any questions if she was old enough to ask them. She might ask, “If I’m not allowed to have a Christmas tree in ICU, where does Santa put the presents?” I wrote, “He delivers them to the doctors and nurses and mommies and daddies to bring them to you.” Or she might ask, “Hospitals don’t have chimneys, how does he get in?” I wrote, “The nice workers let him in through the front doors.”

But no need to explain. The night before the surgery to insert a pacemaker, her little heart started beating on her own. The nurses checked and rechecked the long strips of paper that printed out the rhythm of her heart beats. Doctors upon doctors came into her room looking at the monitors, then at her, then at us. They all said the same thing: “We didn’t expect this.”

Within a day, Holly sat up, dancing in her seat to Disney cartoons. We left the hospital on Christmas Eve. I held her while a nurse wheeled us out. formerly robbed of that privilege after her birth since Holly stayed in neonatal ICU. When Holly saw the sunlight as the doors opened, she smiled, giggled and clapped like she just found her favorite toy.

There were dark circles under her eyes as we unwrapped presents by the tree that night. Her hazel eyes lit up as she saw the orange teddy bear named Ojo from the TV show Bear in the Big Blue House. Today, as a ten-year-old, she wants nothing to do with that bear but I keep it up on my dresser, ready with a patch and thread if it ever needs them.

orson welles: I like what I do, not what I am

Mr. Welles with daughter Beatrice

“I like what I do, not what I am.”
~Orson Welles to Jean Clay, 1962 

The above line I found in the preface to Orson Welles, Volume 1, The Road to Xanadu by Simon Callow. If anything sums up what an artist thinks of him or herself, that’s it. I don’t think any great art has come through without at least a part of self-loathing compared to the whole. Self-loathing in art is a constant, not a variable.

In the next passage of the book, Welles tells Peter Bogdanovich to throw all his research away. “It can only cripple the fine spirit of invention.” Then in another interview with Kenneth Tynan, Welles says, “I don’t want any description of me to be accurate; I want it to be flattering.”

Welles probably thought anyone who wanted to know anything about himself as a person, rather than his art, was nuts: “There’s a philistine and an aesthete in all of us, and a murderer and a saint. You don’t reconcile the poles. You just recognise them, ” he states.

Hello Americans is the title of Volume 2. I didn’t hear of these books until Dennis Miller mentioned them on his radio show. Miller praised Callow’s books as the best on Welles. And many books explore the man who wrote and directed the best film in history, Citizen Kane, but didn’t follow up with anything of that magnitude afterward.

My journey into the life of Orson Welles began over 10 years ago. In fact, my first buy with Amazon.com was the shooting script of Citizen Kane. One day, I combed the library for more info on Welles, I discovered we shared the same birthplace of Kenosha, Wisconsin. One thing I didn’t know was that a little life grew inside of me. The next day I took a pregnancy test and from then on, motherhood came first. My script went into the closet along with all the books I hadn’t read.

From now on, I am that Orson Welles scholar from ten years ago. But still second to a good mother. That’s up to my children to decide. I don’t care if Mr. Welles thinks me nutty for wanting to find out not only about his art but himself as a person. I’m going to do it anyway. Because I like what he does and who he is.

I want to hate but I have no room in my heart

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas. I’m not saying that because I have to. I hope everyone finds joy in this season celebrating the birth of Jesus. However, some times holidays bring more sadness than imaginable.

For instance, the murder of my pastor’s son happened the day after Christmas. This year my pastor and his family didn’t celebrate it which is understandable. If that happened to any of us, the wish of Merry Christmas loses all meaning. An impending state of doom clouds many who have lost family members at this time. It doesn’t matter when or how they passed away.

Last week, I felt clouds setting as the rains came to Southern California. I looked back at all that happened the past few years: my older daughter born with a set of medical problems which still need periodic check-ups, major back surgery that still hurts once in a while, and my brother passed away. I thought, what more? Then I imagined the worst as a lot of us do. But the worst already happened.

As I think about all the struggles, I know the only place to go is up. When my pastor sat fifteen feet away in court from the three men who murdered his son, he thought, “I want to hate but I have no room for it in my heart.”

That one thought should at least give us some hope this season.