Saturday, December 19, 2009

College essay written Dec. 6, 1995 "Star Stuff"

I grasp the banister and begin to climb the damp concrete stairs. Lighting being virtually nonexistent, I pull my flashlight from my pocket and focus its beam onto the dented metal door standing before me. The faded red sign screams "Authorized Personnel Only. Others subject to fines. MIT Physical Plant. Blah, Blah, Blah". Feeling pretty authorized, I make use of all the "training" I have received over the past two years and unlock the door. I place a piece of wood between the door and its frame to ensure the possibility of a later departure, then step over the rim of the door casing onto the pieces of gravel and glass lining the tar-covered roof.

The night air is warm and a bit humid, but nonetheless comfortable. I survey my surroundings for changes since my last visit. Noticing nothing new, I proceed to the opposite edge of the roof and lean over its rim. Several cars speed down the narrow street disregarding the numerous speed bumps. Horns blast, car alarms sound, caution lights flash and somewhere in the distance a police siren screams. I turn my attention away from the edge and begin to search for my favorite chair. Several feet from where I had last seen it, I find the beautiful ragged remains of the school bus seat; its vinyl is faded, dirty and torn. I lean it against the short wall at the edge of the building, drop my backpack to the ground, and rest my body against this old friend.

I tilt my head, leaning it against the cushioned vinyl behind me. Again, a siren pierces the air attempting to invade my space, only to be reflected. Shields are holding, Captain. I gaze into the night sky, past the glow of the Boston skyline. The little guys try to hide, but I know where and how to find them. As my eyes slowly being to adjust to the darkness surrounding me, the small white dots gain intensity and become visible against the blackness of space. Like children who are playing hide and seek when they hear the ice cream truck, the tiny flames jump out from their hiding places revealing themselves to me. "Twinkle, Twinkle little star..."

I have always been intrigued by the stars. As a child I would lie in the grass in my back yard staring into the sky until my mother called me in for bed. I wondered how far away they were, and if on one of their planets someone was staring back at me. I learned the names of the constellations at a very early age, and soon after I could place the names to the stars in the sky. Orion became my best friend as I rode on the back of Pegasus across the blackness of the heavens.

On my eighth birthday my grandfather became my hero; inside the long, narrow, badly wrapped box displaying his name, I found a "SkySearcher(tm) junior telescope with adjustable tripod". It was the most beautiful piece of shiny red plastic I had ever seen. I extended its three stainless steel legs, placed them on the damp grass in my back yard, and didn't come up for air for over six months. When the temperature began to get cold my mother refused to let me sit out in the wet grass, and I was forced to worship the little flames through the glare in my bedroom window. It wasn't the best method, but I took what I could get. "...How I wonder what you are..."

Technically, I always knew that there was nothing physically magical about the bright little flames in the sky. They are simply giant balls of superheated gas, formed from the explosion of a dust cloud, that have been spinning in the sky for over four and a half billion years...Sounds pretty easy, huh? Maybe I'll make one in my dorm room this weekend. Nonetheless I have always been drawn to their mystery, their intrigue, their implied knowledge. Maybe if I learn enough or wish enough they will let me join them. I can dance among the immense sparklers, propelled by their combined consciousness. Their serenade will move my feet as I glide over dust clouds and comet trails. I will finally be one with the universe. "...Up above the world so high..."

With vast convolutions Draco holds
Th' ecliptic axis in his scaly fold.
O'er half the skies his neck enormous rears,
And with immense meanders parts the Bears.
-Erasmus Darwin's Economy of Vegetation

The salt scattered black of the Milky Way contains over two hundred Billion stars, all of which have been in existence at least a couple of billion years. I can't even begin to comprehend the magnitude of a billion. I have only been alive twenty years, and I think I know quite a bit of information. Their knowledge must be immense; they have been soaking up data since the beginning of time. If only I could access their memories, know what happened at the genesis of the universe...if only. They must have seen planets created and destroyed, life emerge only to become extinct, and great civilizations slaughter one another throughout the universe. They have seen it all and probably even created some of it. They are giant spheres of superheated gaseous knowledge just waiting to be cooled into a drinkable puddle, and I am the one to do it. "...Like a diamond in the sky..."

We are all made of star stuff.
-Carl Sagan

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to travel among the stars to experience their beauty and wealth of knowledge close up. I will climb into a space shuttle bound for the cosmos someday. It will take me to uncharted territory, a new frontier, filled with wonders never before seen by human eyes. I will know what the stars know; their secrets will be revealed to me, and I will truly be star stuff.

A fire engine siren suddenly yanks my mind back onto this planet and into my sweating body. Captain, we have lost shields. I gaze into the eyes of Medusa once again, refusing to turn to stone this time. I notice Centaurus prancing across the heavens while Leo tends his pride. These are my friends; they have remained a constant throughout my life. Regardless of where I find myself, be it the backyard of a rural farm in Peach Orchard, Arkansas, or on the roof of a dorm in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I can tilt my head towards space and see my old companions, my loyal friends.

My own star is slowly beginning its ascent sending its brothers and sisters off to bed. I should probably do the same. With every sunrise a small part of me feels remorse, regret that I did not have more time to spend with my guardian angels. Maybe some day I will be where the sun never rises, an eternal night filled with waltzes and lullabies. Only then will I truly find my place in the universe.

I should not be here when the rest of the world wakes up; a fifty dollar fine for being on an Institute roof is not exactly the way I want to end my night, or begin my day for that matter. I stumble to my feet, head downstairs, and enter my room. The television is still blasting static as the little hand of my clock points its finger at the five. I turn off the static maker, pull down the shade, and set my alarm for sunset.

College Essay written October 30, 1995 "On Walking through the Institute at 3am"

The night is cold. The wind plays the music by which the leaves perform their ballet. They pirouette across the concrete then exit stage left. I approach the short set of stairs, noticing how their worn edges give them an unnatural tilt. A pair of large wooden doors, ornamented with a giant tarnished knob, stand guard before me. I begin to feel as Alice must have when she obeyed the "Drink Me" sign in Wonderland, but I defy the stately protectors none the less. As the light from within attempts to escape through the compromise in the perimeter, I begin my journey through a place riddled with oddity, nostalgia and promise, a place many will enter but never fully appreciate.

I walk to the marble bench in the corner of the lobby to rest my stressed body. A bubble in the machine near the opposite wall slides gracefully across the nose-smudged glass. The way the bubble's colors swirl about on its surface reminds me of oil on water, each color desperately struggling to stay intact while laws of nature dictate otherwise. Just as each bubble and each color feels safe in its existence, the machine hums to life sending a sheet of soapy water down the glass erasing everything in its path.

As I stand up to continue on my journey, I notice the dead scientists adorning the walls. The air is suddenly filled with their thoughts and ideas. Equations fly about colliding with theorems and hypotheses as the lot attempts to penetrate the minds of all who pass by their discoverers. My walk turns to a sprint as I avoid the numbers and letters once again today. At the top of the steps leading out of the lobby, George Eastman, wearing his polished gold nose, keeps watch. I rub his nose for luck then turn my attention and body to the right as I continue down the hallway.

The walls are cluttered by brightly colored bulletin boards announcing lectures, parties, credit card offers and discounted futons. Several boxes of paper labeled "Trash, please remove" line the walls outside of a professor's office. A water fountain kicks into gear and begins to purr loudly as if to tell me I am thirsty. I comply and allow the cold water to run over my lips.

I turn the corner and see the infamous path traveled on by thousands every day. If these walls could speak, each crack on the plaster would have a story to tell. The rocks below my feet have felt the soles of the shoes of world leaders, scientists and humanitarians, as well as the students who have gone on to replace them. I have heard that on two days each year, a sun beam entering at one end of this Infinite Corridor will reach all the way to the opposite end. Although probably quite magnificent on these two special days, the sun's rays are just as needed and should be just as appreciated on the other three hundred and sixty-three.

I continue down the hallway bounded by huge tributes to famous people and padlock-sealed wall boxes containing student group propaganda. The only sounds in the air are the squeak of my sneakers and the swish of my arms rubbing against my body. As I retrace my steps, familiarity lulls me into a trance; I glide across the cracked rock unaware of my surroundings. My consciousness takes the backseat letting instinct drive me to my unknown destination.

I arrive at another lobby, the consciousness once again takes the wheel. Huge windows criscrossed with black bars dominate the area, compelling me to move toward them. I press my nose against the glass then adjust my view to see beyond the smudge. Even from inside, the vastness of the courtyard is overwhelming. In the distance, I can see the lights of a city, but miles of dying grass separate me from that real world, a world where problem sets and office hours are foreign and Athena is an ancient Greek goddess, no more.

The cold wind howls beyond the glass, commanding the trees to bow in its presence. The quivering leaves run and hide in a corner, out of the wind's reach. I suddenly notice that the cold glass has numbed my nose, and like the leaves, I decide to relinquish my rights to the territory. Before I leave, I pause to read the news on the bouncing-ball-channel; noticing nothing new, I continue my exit.

I journey down the next section of the repetitious hallway glancing occasionally at a wall poster or into the fishbowl Athena cluster. No signs of life; mark the death certificate 3:27am. As I approach the next bulge in the corridor, I can see papers scattered all over the floor. Tech's not taken as well as the unwanted bright pink credit card ads that were so neatly stuffed into each copy, tile the marbled floor. I walk into the center of the domed room and spin around furiously. A frat drop poster whizzes by as do the ones announcing something about a food drive. I stop myself from twirling just as I am facing the towering windows that should be stained glass. I lower myself into the lotus position and stare up into those giant reflective eyes. The irises should be vividly tinted to contrast with the darkness and depth of the pupils. The glass was stained at one time. As a hack the entire lobby was transformed into a cathedral, and the glass was painted to enhance the effect. Pews were brought in, hymns were played through a sound system for the entire day. The cathedral was built in honor of Our Lady of the All Night Tool. Tool...we even have our own language here; for common folk in the real world, that translates into Our Lady of Working All Night.

I lay back, rest my head on the marble and look up into the lit hemisphere above me. All of my problems and worries are pushed back into the farthest reaches of my mind and locked behind a steel door. I gaze into the softly glowing dome and let my mind wonder to times and places long ago and far away. I remember playing basketball in the back yard on warm summer afternoons, sitting on the tailgate of a truck talking to friends on a Saturday night, and making uneven snowmen in the front yard on snow days. I remember those as times without worry, carefree days with no regret, the infamous "Good Old Days".

As long as I'm throwing out cliche's, "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" comes to mind. Maybe I can never be happy with what I have and where I am. When I was living in "The Good Old Days" they didn't seem so good. I wanted only to be free and on my own, and I never realized how good my life was. Maybe only in a few years when I am free of the Institute will I truly realize what I have going for me now. Maybe the stress I feel at this moment is present without cause...maybe

I get up and brush off the floor's grime. I turn toward the Infinite Corridor, close my eyes and listen to the deafening silence. Remembering that I will soon need to look for the key to the steel door in my head, I glance once more at the soothing glow above me. The Infinite Corridor seems shorter now, maybe even finite. I begin my journey with the first step home.

Friday, December 18, 2009

College Essay written November 21, 1994, "Open Arms"

Every family has its stories about embarrassing and touching moments that are told hundreds of times over the span of a generation. There are stories about children embarrassing their parents in public, stories of first steps, first words, first haircuts and stories about more children being born into the family. Each one can easily be recited by every member of the family.

One such notable story in my family involves my birth. Upon arriving at the hospital, my father was assigned to wait in the outside waiting room during my delivery. Being his first child, I caused him an extreme amount of anxiety as he waited for the doctor's word, and as most fathers-to-be do in this time of waiting, mine was pacing from one side of the room to the other. On one such trip across the stark white space in mid-stride along the linoleum covered floor, he lost his footing and fell face first into the edge of a magazine scattered end table. The corner of this near lethal piece of furniture caught my father on the forehead above his left eye leaving a large gash in its place. Refusing to allow the nurses to stitch up the wound, he raced from the emergency room displaying a new row of butterfly band-aids across his forehead. Upon arriving at the maternity ward's waiting room, my father was greeted by a smiling doctor announcing the arrival of a baby girl. My mother relinquished her hold on her first child to her bandaged husband as he hurried to her side. He then mumbled something about wondering if I was worth all this trouble as he laughed and hugged me gently in his arms.

Throughout my early childhood I was always very close to my father. I have seen pictures of him asleep on our couch with a baby stretched across his chest dreaming just as soundly. I apparently preferred that sleeping location above any other. Still more pictures showed a toddler dressed from head to toe in heavy winter clothing riding through a thick layer of snow in a bright red Radio Flyer wagon being pulled by a large stout man wearing a brown quilted jacket, thick black glasses and a look of strain on his face. However, my favorite childhood photo is of my father holding me with a single strong arm against the ceiling of our house. In this picture my arms and legs are dangling from my body while my back is being rubbed against the bright white acoustic tile on the ceiling. The expression on my face conveyed exhilaration and terror, while my eyes showed complete trust.

Both of my parents have always worked away from the home. Having extremely different schedules, they would often take separate vehicles to events occurring shortly after the end of the work day. Occasionally my parents, my brother and I would eat dinner with my grandparents at their home. At the end of the evening, my brother and I would have to make a decision as to which parent's vehicle would be our ride home. Without fail my brother would ride with my mother and I would ride with my father. I always wondered why my brother consistently declined the company of my dad. The black Ford pick-up truck's huge cab and soft bench seat were always an inviting sight. On the half hour trips home I could rest my head against my father and sleep the majority of the way. The crook of his arm would wrap around my shoulder as I leaned against the cushion of his chest. Sleep would come to me before I would even notice my exhaustion.

Upon entering the fourth grade at a new school I began to have some problems with my school work. Having been moved up a grade, the homework took me off guard. I would sit at the dining room table for hours struggling to understand the foreign language of multiplication. As the time ticked steadily onward my frustration and fear of failure would begin to overtake me. It seemed as though my father would always know when I was at this point. He would remove himself from his La-Z-Boy, amble into the tension filled dining room, wrap his strong arm around my shoulders and sit with me until I could finish my homework with complete understanding.

Upon receiving an invitation to attend a movie with a boy I knew, I was forced to ask my parents for permission. As I pushed open the screen door leading to the carport where I would find my father, my heart began to leap in my chest and my feet did a little dance on the cold concrete below. I tip-toed down the front porch steps and began to walk around the big black Ford pick-up which stood between me and my first date. As I rounded the corner of the bumper, my father's face turned from the truck entrails he was examining to my anticipating upturned smile. He slowly raised his body out of the truck's mouth while wiping the grease from his rugged hands. The look on his face was one of knowing. He seemed to be able to read my mind and answer my yet unspoken question solely with his facial expression. As I asked the all important question his expression changed to one of mischief. His eyes said yes as his voice asked the 1001 questions I had expected him to ask. Throughout the interrogation which I new to be a formality, my stomach slowly rose to meet my throat as the anticipation of the night's events began to overwhelm me.

I readied myself and then took on the task of persuading my father that the time to go had indeed arrived. As I waited for his eyes to leave the television screen during the last minute of 'The Rifleman' my fidgeting was uncontrollable. Being too young to have a driver's license of my own, as was this evening's date, my father drove me to the movie theatre where I was to meet my 'friend'. As my hand reached for the truck's door handle allowing me to embark on my evening, my father's hand rested on my shoulder. As I turned to inquire, his strong arm pulled me close to him in a gentle hug. He mumbled something about having a good time then released me out into the cold night air. After the credits had rolled and the popcorn box was emptied I hurried out of the theater doors. Just as I had suspected, my father had waited outside in the truck the entire length of the movie. As I approached the passenger side door and tapped on the window his nap was abruptly cut short. I opened the unlocked door and climbed into the warm truck cab. As the rather long trip home began, my father wrapped his arm around my shoulder, I leaned my head onto his chest and was fast asleep in seconds.

As my high school career progressed I began to become more interested in school sporting events and the social life that went with attending the games. Still being unable to provide my own transportation, my father was the next best thing. He would drop me off at the beginning of the game, occupy himself during the event while listening to it being broadcast on the local radio station and return to pick me up after the game was over. One rainy night, the hoard of teenagers rushed out of the gymnasium after the home team had been victorious to find a dark and dreary night ahead of them. As we each looked across the slushy parking lot wondering which car would be our ride, I noticed a large pick-up flashing its parking lights. I ran across the messy lot to the signaling vehicle while shielding my eyes from the piercing raindrops. I thankfully climbed into the warm dry cab while noticing many others bracing themselves for the long walk home.

Although during my high school years my father wasn't as much a part of my social life as when I was younger, he continued to play an essential role in my new life drama. Along with receiving my driver's license I also received a curfew. I was allowed to participate in social activities whenever I chose as long as I arrived home by the designated time. Each night as I pulled my car into the lit carport I knew what I would find behind the large front door. I consistently found my father sitting in his worn brown La-Z-Boy watching some late night movie, denying the fact that he'd waited up for me to arrive home safely before going to bed himself.

After the many years of living with my parents the day came when I was to board the plane at the Memphis, Tennessee, airport en route to Logan International Airport in Boston. As my parents and I loaded my bags into the car and prepared to leave for the airport and the plane that would whisk me away to begin my college career, I could feel the tension in the air around me. My mother gave her usual lecture about what do to and what not to do, call her when I arrived and eat right. My father said only one thing as he hugged me goodbye. "I love you, and we'll always be here if you want to come home."

Whenever I think of my family, I think of things like Sunday drives around the countryside, watching the sun set while playing basketball behind the house and snowball fights in the slushy front yard. At least, those are the first things that come to mind. Occasionally when I dig deeper into my mind I am able to retrieve some more obscure memories, those that get tumbled into the piles of random thoughts. These memories are the ones I grasp when I'm feeling alone or frightened. These memories get me through the hard times and remind me that I will always have a place to go home to, a place where someone will always wait up for me and leave the porch light lit, a place with open arms.

College Essay written Sept. 26, 1994

I have too much to do and too little time in which to do it. I close my book, put my pencil on my desk and walk over to my mirror. The face I see does not appear to be the face of someone so young. The dark circles under my eyes and my pale complexion tell the tales of days past. I glance around my room at the scattered books and papers, the unmade bed and stacks of empty Coke cans. I need a break from the monotony and a change in scenery. I put on my coat and my shoes and leave the confinement of my four walls for the first time in forty eight hours.

The night air is cold but inviting. Its welcome frigidity burns my nasal passages and stings my face. In the darkness no one can see my aged features. I walk along the dimly lit sidewalk avoiding the hallways of the buildings nearby. My legs thank me for stretching them as does the rest of my weary body. I continue to walk down the never ending strip of concrete until I reach a row of neatly trimmed hedges. Their flat tops end just above my head, not allowing me to see what they protect. I follow the row to its end, then cautiously peek around the corner. Before my bloodshot eyes lies a large open courtyard sprinkled with trees and sculptures. I like this place, and I think I will stay a while.

I walk up to the stone blocks. The dew drops on their surfaces shine in the bright moonlight reflecting each beam in a million directions. The large grey rocks beg to be climbed, and I comply with their wishes. The moisture slowly begins to soak into my clothing. Coldness diffuses throughout the fibers and covers every inch of my frozen body. I lay there motionless, unable to stop winter's invasion of my anatomy. The blocks remind me of something that I can't quite place. Cheese! The blocks look like cheese. The colored rocks embedded in their surface are pores in the Swiss wheels. The cheese begins to melt under the weight and warmth of my body. Its pliable form fits my outline, hugging my every curve, inviting me to stay. I open my eyes and notice that I am not alone. The leaves directly in my view are whispering to me. Their shapes are outlined in thick black magic marker and colored in with a dull crayon. The image is too sharp, and the color's not right. I turn my ear to hear their words but realize that the wind has blown them across the courtyard. As the letters tumble head over heals across the desolate grassy plain, they are mixed in with the lifeless ancestors of my colored friends. The chatter above me stops; the leaves know their whispers will be lost in the winter gales.

My focus shifts. The small white dots behind the leaves are more important. They wink at me and call out for me to join them. These cut-outs in the blackness become my world. My surroundings disappear as I float to meet the sparkling specks in the distance. I am enveloped in the darkness with only my soul in the stars' spotlights. I dance with them; their collective music moves me along the dust clouds and comet trails. I am mesmerized by these tiny flames in the night. They seem to be able to see through my eyes, into my soul. They have learned all the secrets and know the answers to the questions even before they are asked. They share their knowledge with me; they enlighten me to the secrets of the universe. The liquid information is poured in through my ears, my eyes, my nose and my mouth. Some of the juice spills but is soaked into my pores. I refuse to lose even a single drop of this precious nectar of the gods. I can feel the power I possess, as invincibility shoots through my veins. With each contraction of my heart muscles, strength surges throughout my body.

To my surprise the new knowledge is extremely heavy and adds weight to my otherwise immaterial existence. I am no longer able to float among the stars, and I begin to fall toward the earth. I want to stay with my new friends and to dance freely in the darkness. I flail about struggling to regain my weightlessness, but I am fighting a losing battle. The freedom from gravity is gone forever; I am confined to the surface of the earth for eternity.

I sit up and cross my legs Indian style, or lotus position according to my yoga instructor. I survey the rest of the courtyard which ends with a large spotlit building. The huge structure smiles at me with a wide sadistic grin bearing its column-like teeth. Atop this creature's head sits a concrete beanie resembling a large cereal bowl. The monster tries to scare me. He growls and snarles and tries to suffocate me with his hot moist breath. The gas invades the air around my body, but I hold my breath refusing to inhale the stench expelled by the loathsome beast. I have the power to defeat this creature, but I do not have the courage. I cower under the glowing eyes before me, the eyes that see all.

Suddenly, I hear voices above me. I lift my eyes to find their source but see only the salt-scattered darkness of the Milky Way. As the volume increases, I realize that the noise is indeed coming from the wise little flames in the sky. I listen intently to their encouragement and try to convince myself of its validity. I have the knowledge to slay the evil creature; therefore, The courage to do so must also be embedded somewhere in the fibers of my being. I reach deep into my consciousness; I dig into the ooze that makes up my existence hoping to find the element I so desperately need. My shovel hits something. I carefully wipe the dirt from the lid of what I hope to be a treasure chest. A gold colored emblem is stamped across the top of this large box, and a tarnished pad-lock holds the lid tightly in place. How do I open the box? I look to the sky, to my friends and teachers, for the answer, but they will not give me the answer this time. They say I must find the key for myself.

I have to find the key by myself? I spend hours each morning trying to find my shoes; finding a key will be impossible. I retrieve myself from the depths of my mind and stare down at my shivering body. I can't remember if I am shivering from cold or from fright. The teeth are now just columns, but they still scare me all the same. Where can I find this key; where should I start looking? I decide that the big wet rock is not the place to begin my search and hop down onto the thick green carpet below.

The sky has become a pale shade of orangeish-brown and my friends have gone to sleep. No longer can they guide me in my search or encourage me along the way. I am alone. I must make this journey without someone to keep me company or hold my hand, and I must fight the monster without any army beside me. I look up to the leaves gently swaying in the morning breeze; their mouths are tightly clamped shut as they watch me begin my quest. The letters that were piled on the ground are now gone. They have all been erased by the swift hand of time. All that is left before me is the monster. His features have hardened and become stone, but they are still distinguishable; his eyes still mock me.

I begin to walk across the empty courtyard. Soon this place will be filled with sleepy-eyed joggers and backpack wearing students. Are they afraid of the monster? Does it stare into their souls and laugh at their failures? Maybe they can help me find the key. Wait! I can do this on my own. I don't need someone to tell me where the key can be found. As I utter these words to myself I realize I am standing only a few feet from the mouth of the monster. His breath still reeks of those who have been devoured in the recent past, and his eyes glow in anticipation of the next meal. I look down at my now quaking body and wonder if my will is strong enough to move my feet. I stare directly into the eyes of the beast. I refuse to blink or cower in their presence. My feet free themselves from their glue covered shoes as they bravely begin to move. I glance over my shoulder to the realm of my true friends and whisper a soft 'thank you' as I walk into the mouth of the monster. I feel the key is hidden here, and someday I will find it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

So far behind in blogging!

I'm so far behind I don't even think I know where to start! And staring at the blank page makes my mind go completely blank.

Well, we're here and survived the very cold weather last week. This morning it was warmer but the roads were icy enough to keep us home a little later than I'd have liked. I have yoga at 9am and my dad has a trainer appointment at the gym as well. So we had to reschedule the trainer appointment but did make the massage appointment he had and I got a little workout in for me. So all was not a total loss.

My dad is visiting us for a while, and while he's here I'm squeezing as much therapy in for him as possible. He had a massive stroke in April, but is recovering nicely and can get around with a walker. While he's here he works with a personal trainer twice per week, has a massage twice each week and sees an acupuncturist 2 times as well. He can see improvement in his balance, sensation and strength. The other day he even made it all the way up and down our stairs without any help at all. The kids are enjoying having him here, too. He's been teaching them how to play chess and reads to them all the time. Christmas will be especially nice this year with him here to share it with us.

Merry Christmas and Happy 2010!


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