A Letter to My Son – Three Years Later

I was going to write a poem this time, just to keep it different. That reminded me of when your aunt was in Cameroon for a long time and I sent her 100 letters. It took me two years and each one had a piece from a jigsaw puzzle and something I thought she’d enjoy reading. I’d send her lyrics, poems, stories, jokes, news, speeches, just whatever random thing I was thinking about at the time. Most of them were lost, but I think she liked the ones she got. The puzzle was a little cat and a duck. I thought about starting to do that, since maybe you’d rather read something else, but then I started writing this letter. I’m just going to keep going with it.

I’m still trying to be better for you. I had expected it to get easier eventually, but I’m giving up on that at this point. Nothing seems to be getting easier, so I’ll try harder. Your sister makes me so happy that I don’t cry as often, but it hurts to see her play with older kids, or even playing by herself. I can imagine her playing with you, and how much she’d look up to her big brother, and how much you’d love her. You were so perfect. She is just like you.

Your sister is so beautiful. She is growing up fast. Everyone says she is adorable and how she looks like me, which doesn’t seem possible, but it’s true. I bet you would’ve looked like me, too. She likes bubbles and dogs and she can put her own shoes on, even the ones with the straps. She loves her mom and Nana and Grampa so much. She knows what a cow says, and she can count to one. We’re still working on two, but she already has five and eight down so we’re almost there. I tell her I love her and kiss her as often as I can. I did the same with you, I just didn’t have as many chances. I think of you every time I see her and I love you just as much.

Your Great Grandma Betty died on the 21st. You technically met her once, when we visited while your mom was pregnant with you. She gave me a bunch of tools that I haven’t really used much yet, but she was excited to meet you. Maybe you’ll see her around. She loved you.

I still haven’t moved your box. I reached for it once, meaning to move it, but then I didn’t know where I’d put it, so I just left it. It’s fine where it is, really, but I promise I’ll be strong enough to open it soon.

I’ll get to work on that poem. Please watch over your sister and keep her safe.

I love you, Calvin.


One Year Ago

One Year Ago

I’ve learned things,
That I didn’t know,
On this day,
One year ago.

How you’re loved,
How you’ve grown,
Since that day,
One year ago.

How I’ve tried,
To make time slow.
Seems yesterday,
One year ago.

There’s just so much,
I wouldn’t know,
But for that day,
One year ago.

Happy birthday, little girl.

Samantha’s Response


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A Letter to My Son – Two Years Later

Your sister is beautiful.

She was born last November. She smiles all the time. She sleeps through the night. She gets quieter when she cries. People keep telling me that we have the perfect baby. She is so happy, so smiley, so pretty, so cute. They say we’re lucky to have such a reasonable and well-adjusted baby. We are. Then they say we probably won’t be so lucky with our second child. That is the part that gets me. Everyone always asks the same basic question.

“Is this your first?”

I say yes because I think that saying no, or even hesitating before saying yes, would make people uncomfortable. I don’t like to lie, but it’s probably for the best in that context. If you really can see me from heaven, you know I apologize under my breath every time I say yes. But just to you. No need to make people feel bad. The one thing most people said immediately after you left was “I can’t imagine how you’re feeling” and I could never figure out why they were trying to imagine something so awful. I wouldn’t wish that feeling on anyone.

You never took a breath, or opened your eyes, or heard my jokes, or felt me kiss your head as many times as I could. You waved at me during the last ultrasound we saw. You were alive. I never thought you were saying goodbye. But you are still our first.

I’m still too scared to open the box we took home from the hospital with all your things. It hasn’t moved since I told you about it last year. It sits in the corner of our bedroom on top of your mom’s dresser. I’ve wanted to open it, but I never got up the courage. I keep telling myself that I left you alone because I wanted to make you a better box before I see you again, but I’m just not ready. Honestly, I don’t know when I will be.

But your sister is beautiful.

Her name is Samantha Alice. We call her Sam or Sami. She is perfect, because of you. You are the reason she exists. Your sacrifice made this perfect little girl come alive and make me happier than I’ve ever been. I will tell her about you when she is older.

My sisters love her. They are better aunts to her than I could have ever hoped. I couldn’t draw up two more amazing role models for my little girl than my own two sisters and I am so grateful they love her as much as I do. You would’ve loved them.

Sami helps me at work sometimes, making sure I know where the phone cord is when I’m trying to talk to people and banging on the space bar when I’m typing. Bananas are her favorite food, though I’m still trying to get her to love avocados. She really likes our dog and cat and yells “AH!” at the cat every time she sees him. We play catch with a practice golf ball my dad gave her and she rolls the ball back to me. Her favorite trick is standing up in her crib, trying to show off when she is supposed to be going to sleep. She’s such a smart little girl.

Please help me and your mother take care of her. Keep her safe when I screw up. Give her advice when she needs it. Protect her from all the dangers in the world that I can’t see. Do your best. I know you will.

I love you as much as ever. I’ll never forget you.



So Much Time

So Much Time

A baby at 5,
Sitting on the bricks.
You have so much time,
And you spend it selling sticks.

A kid at 10,
Writing his own name.
You have so much time,
And you spend it playing games.

A boy at 15,
Playing with a ball.
You have so much time,
And you spend it against a wall.

A loser at 20,
Making my own mess.
You have so much time,
And you spend it on regrets.

A person at 25,
Out learning the world.
You have so much time,
And you spend it on a girl.

A man at 30,
Finally standing up.
You have so much time,
And you spend it on love.

Young boy, hear this now,
Or soon learn on your own.
You always have so much time,
Until you don’t.

The Ballad of the Immigrant Trump Supporter (And The Crazy Lady Who Wants Him Deported)

The Ballad of the Immigrant Trump Supporter (And The Crazy Lady Who Wants Him Deported)

A Nigerian guy works at the gas station near me.
I go to his store every Wednesday
For lottery tickets and beer.
Once, he gave me an extra dollar in change,
And I gave it back,
So we became friends.

He has lived here for seventeen years,
And been an American citizen for two.
One time last Summer,
I wore a Bernie shirt,
And he wore a Trump hat,
So we started talking.

I asked him, as an African immigrant,
How could he support the things Trump does?
He said he doesn’t care if Trump is racist,
Because everyone in America is racist.
America is about winning,
And Donald Trump is a winner.

He told me Bernie would never beat Hillary,
Because Hillary would cheat.
And Hillary would never beat Trump,
Because our country would never vote for a woman.
But Trump would make America great,
Because he is a great businessman.

We talked for about 30 seconds every week.
Not enough time to get too involved,
Which is probably the best way to talk politics with a friend.
He says, “Good luck, Buddy”
As he hands me my ticket,
And I say he’ll get a million if I win.

As I entered the store,
My friend was engaged in a loud conversation,
With some crazy lady.
I noticed that she was standing in the door,
Letting all the warm air out.

“You need to show me some respect!”
The cashier is yelling back.
“You need to show me some respect!”
They both yell at the same time.
“You need to show me some respect!”
As if that was a convincing argument.

I stand in line,
Next behind some guy with a Bulls hat,
And this loud, obnoxious lady,
Who says he can’t talk to her “like that.”
She kept pointing at the ground,
And staring up at the roof when she spoke.

She told him to “go back to his country,”
And that he didn’t belong in ours.
She screamed “they’re making laws to find you,
And you’ll be deported with the rest of them.”
She said he didn’t deserve to be here,
And he “stole his job from an American.”

She looked at me,
Probably because I was the only other white person there.
She pointed at me,
As she finally closed the door,
And said “that is why good Americans like us voted for Trump,
To get rid of people like you.”

I bought my ticket and asked him what happened.
He said the lady was standing by the counter,
Asking every customer for a dollar,
So she could buy a box of Swiss Cake Rolls.
He told her to leave,
And then she went nuts.

She had a car,
And paid for a lighter with change.
She had just bought twenty dollars in gas.
She looked like an average person,
With an ACC Tournament sweatshirt,
And an old denim fanny pack.

I wonder if,
When that lady tells this story,
The illegal African immigrant,
Who was stealing jobs from Americans
And doesn’t belong in our country,
Becomes the crazy one.

How Trump Could Better Spend $54 Billion Dollars

President Trump wants to increase our defense budget by $54 billion. I think we could probably use the money in other ways.

Boom. Under budget at $53.46b.

So, we have two options:

  • Add a marginal amount to our already massive defense budget and (likely) give Trump’s friends a bunch of fat government contracts to build more things we already have and may not need.
  • Or, we could fix the VA, double mental health benefits for veterans, save the city of Chicago from their own “carnage,” end homelessness in America, get closer to becoming energy independent, fight substance abuse, fix all our dams, improve the lives of our veterans, and save our education system.

You’d think a businessman would know how to stretch a dollar. No wonder he keeps going bankrupt.

Queue the awesome scene from the movie “Dave.”

*Pencil Drop*

First Thoughts: The Briefest Analysis of Rand Paul’s Obamacare Replacement Act

These are my thoughts while reading Rand Paul’s Obamacare Replacement Act for the first time. I’ll probably think about it more later, but this is my “live” first take.


Repeal “essential health benefits requirement” – Basically, say insurance doesn’t have to cover anything again. Ugh. Not a good idea, and probably the idea that will kill it in the first paragraph.

“and other insurance mandates” – People will probably have to pay for vaccines and preventive care out of pocket, instead of having them covered 100%

“Provides a two-year open-enrollment period under which individuals with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage.” – Not sure if this is #1: 2 years from now or #2: 2 years from whenever you lose coverage, even if that is 3 years from now…If its #1, BAD. #2, Eh, not super cool, but pretty good.

“Equalize the Tax Treatment of Health Insurance” – Cool, like it.

“Purchase of Health Insurance from HSA Account” – Here ya go, rich people. Another way to hide your money and get more tax deductions! Unlimited contributions (in previous section) to a tax-free account that you can use for pretty much anything for anyone in your family? Sign me up! To be fair, the benefit for this would really begin with the middle class, but it would kind of help them and seriously help the wealthy

“Medical Expenses Incurred Prior to Account Establishment” Pay for previous medical bills now since you can afford them because we made your payments tax-free. Eh, whatever. I like when our bills get paid.

“Administrative Error Correction Before Due Date of Return” I’ll agree to almost anything if this gets passed. Yes, yes, yes. We have 90 days to get a valid claim to insurers, and they have 15 years to take it back if they find a mistake. Frustrates me all the time.

“Allowing HSA Rollover to Child or Parent of Account Holder” – See previous rich person benefit. Tax-free account, unlimited contributions, rollover to almost any relative…add that up and you have the perfect money funnel.

“Nutritional and Dietary Supplements to be Treated as Medical Care” – Rewarding bogus medicine. No to this one, with prejudice.

“Certain Providers Fees to be Treated as Medical Care / Capitated Primary Care Payments” – Rich people benefit. No, because I hate doctors for doing this.

“Provisions Relating to Medicare” – Rich people benefit. Most people need Medicare and don’t have their own money to contribute.

“Charity Care and Bad Debt Deduction for Physicians” – 10% bonus to us because we give away free care? Um, yes, please…but it is a stupid, stupid idea. I want the money, but its stupid, overall.

“Pool Reform for the Individual Market” – Great, insurers do it, so should patients.

“Interstate Market for Health Insurance” – Big fan of this, in theory, but I think the federal government should establish strict requirements that all states must meet to sell across state lines. Basically, they can do it if the policies they offer to other states meet ACA standards.

“Association Health Plans” – Odd to treat patients as labor unions, but it works. We have several patients with these types of plans and they seem to like them. More work for us and them, but it usually results in well-reimbursed claims.

“Anti-Trust Reform for Healthcare” – Insurers don’t negotiate with places as small as us, so I really don’t know about this one. I’d imagine it’d reduce costs for providers.

“Increasing State Flexibility to Conduct Medicaid Waivers” – If this makes Medicaid more efficient or allows people to sign up easier, it’s a good thing.

“Self-Insurance Protections” – Making sure congress can’t change an actual definition. Unfortunately, necessary. Good.