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My mom had heart surgery on Wednesday. The good news is that she came through well and was very much herself by Thursday. I took both days to get her to and from the hospital and provide moral support.

The surgery was in the new building of the University of Pennsylvania hospital in Philly. It’s impressive. It’s connected via pedestrian bridge to an older building, which led to an inadvertent comedy of errors when I misinterpreted a sign in my quest for a cafeteria and wound up heaven knows where. A kindly staffer took pity on me and directed me to where I needed to be. (When I finally found a cafeteria, it was much better than I expected from a hospital cafeteria. So, kudos.)

Apparently they’ve started providing text updates to support people during surgery. I received two texts during Mom’s surgery, both updating me that the procedure was in process and everything seemed fine. When it was over, a nurse called me on my cell to let me know that Mom was okay. As innovations go, I like those. I had been deputized to update friends and family as I heard things, so people knew she had come through OK probably before she was even dispatched to a room.

The room in which she stayed was high-tech. It had a massive television screen on the wall facing the bed, but the screen was divided into sections. One section was actual TV. Another was the names and photos of her “care team,” including the doctor, the physician assistant and the registered nurse working on her case. A third was “who’s in the room now,” which apparently was activated by badges and a screener device at the door. It showed names, pictures and titles of the people there, and it changed as people came and went. A fourth had the agenda for the day, presumably targeted both at Mom and at her care team. When I arrived on Thursday morning, the screen featured Kamala Harris in addition to Mom’s doctor, Mom’s PA, Mom’s nurse, her agenda and a blank section indicating no staff present at the time. It made quite the first impression.

Had things been a bit more leisurely, I would have asked around among the nurses to see who was a community college grad. But under the circumstances, I decided it was probably best not to distract from the task at hand.

We had been told initially that it would be a same-day surgery. For a heart procedure, that struck me as alarming. As it happened, though, she had to stay a second day so they could address some complications. I’m happy to report that she looked and sounded much more like herself on Thursday. When I got her home, her boyfriend was waiting for her.

A tip of the cap to the UPenn hospital. It’ll be good to have Mom around for years to come.

The holiday break was much less social than usual, given the pandemic. We had a chance to catch up on some binge-watching.

Succession was fun for a while, but it got tedious. By the end of season three, I felt like I could write a script for it. It would go like this: Kendall gets an idea to attack Logan. Kendall recruits a few allies. Kendall confronts Logan. Logan squashes Kendall like a bug. Kendall sulks and does something self-destructive. In the meantime, Roman fidgets, Shiv demeans Tom and Tom demeans Greg. That should just about cover it.

Yellowjackets, on the other hand, is a blast. It’s much more violent than I prefer, but the characters and the soundtrack won me over. And it gives Christina Ricci a chance to do dark comedy again, which is very much her wheelhouse. The comic chemistry between Ricci and Juliette Lewis is worth the entire show.

The most fun, though, came when TW and TG convinced me to catch a few episodes of the new season of Queer Eye. Each episode features the “Fab Five” descending on someone who was nominated by friends and/or family for help. Typically, the help involves re-entering the social world after some sort of loss. It’s one of the most humane shows on television. Each member of the Fab Five has a sort of portfolio: there’s a clothes expert, a builder, a chef, a hairstylist and a therapist. (TG has a crush on the chef.) The arc of each episode features an introduction to the nominee and a brief description of why they were nominated. Most of the episode features that person slowly coming to life as they receive help and moral support. At the end, they’re “revealed” to friends and family. Even better, there’s usually a follow-up visit months later where we see how their lives have changed.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a sucker for the plot line of the flawed character who’s trying, fitfully, to be better. That’s Laura Dern in Enlightened, or Devi in Never Have I Ever, or even Bojack in Bojack Horseman. It’s also the plot of almost every episode of Queer Eye. It works every time.

TG was one of four students in her high school nominated for the senior superlative category “most likely to change the world.”

Yes, she is.



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