Why I’d like to punch Chuck Norris

(and a bunch of other people!)

Public perception about asthma seems to remain the same despite advances in science, information campaigns, and famous athletes discussing the condition. It’s been a long time since I saw that Chuck Norris movie in which he cured a boy’s asthma with karate training, but it still makes me angry when I think about it. I once had someone try to cure me of asthma with physical exercise, and she almost killed me.



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I was a sickly kid. I’ve had asthma since before kindergarten. When I was a freshman in high school, we were all required to take P.E. (physical education).  There were the star athlete students, and then there were the rest of us. I was super clumsy from a recent growth spurt and my team sports skills were negligible. The P.E. teacher did not hide the fact that she loathed me.


This came to a climax one day when a P.E. class ended with running laps. I was sick with asthma during the rest of class and I had been light-headed and even more incompetent than usual. By the time lap running came, I could barely plod around the gym. The gym teacher started yelling. I gasped out something about asthma and she yelled some more about excuses. She was not going to let me go until I ran every lap, even if I was late to my next class.

By that point, I was wheezing so much that girls running by me could hear it. Some of the star students tried to tell her that I was really sick while a couple of my friends stayed with me as I staggered round and round the gym. She ordered the friends away and told the star students something along the lines of “I needed to learn a lesson”.

I finished every lap though it took me through both tardy bells and into the next class. She finally dismissed me. A couple of my friends half-walked, half-dragged me up to the principal’s office. I was so bad by then that the office didn’t waste time calling the school nurse. The principal drove me straight to the emergency room, where they shot my thighs full of adrenalin (a fairly standard treatment of my youth before all the great medicines of today) put me on oxygen for hours, and prayed.

Obviously, I lived. The principal had stern words with the gym teacher, who in turn had stern words with me, in front of the whole class. I should have let her know that I was ill. I shouldn’t push myself if I was feeling that badly. The important thing for us to know was that this incident was not her fault, it was mine, and by golly she wasn’t going to have her teaching record ruined by the likes of me. By pure happenstance, I never had another bad asthma episode in her class again.

Since I can’t really punch Chuck Norris or my former gym teacher in the face, let me try to spread some knowledge instead. We asthmatics are not just being lazy. We don’t have asthma because we’re fat and out of shape. P.E. won’t cure us. We don’t always outgrow it. We aren’t “wheezing on purpose for sympathy”. And if you force us past our limits (or if we force ourselves), you CAN kill us.

Don’t be all Chuck Norris about asthma.

P.S. I grew up to be a reasonably active adult. I hike. I dance. I do other stuff. I still have asthma.

El Jefe


image from pixabay

You always smelled of whiskey,
cheap cigarettes, and fragile male ego.
You strutted your stuff
trying to prove
that you were The Boss
even though you couldn’t
manage yourself.

And yet, there was something
sweet about you,
like a lost little boy who was
determined to find
his own way home,
afraid to ask for help
because everything was always
transactional; tit for tat.

Those who struggle
to love you despite yourself
tell tales
of your greatness,
spun from your lies and
their own battered wishes
of who you could be.
Bon voyage, Jefe. May you find Peace.

The Places I’m From


(c) T.L. Ryder

I am from that indigo moment before dawn
Boiled up from 2 parts sulfurous water
One part shining, frozen snow, and
a dash of good whiskey thrown in for flavor.

I am from the edge of the reservation,
From the side of the cliff that we didn’t fall down—much,
From the back corner of the library, where we
Read the books your mom wouldn’t let us take home.

I am from red-skinned people with black hair,
From white-skinned people with red hair,
From people who came here for a better life, and
People whose way of life was taken from them.

I am from Star Trek, Star Wars and Dune,
The Force be with You!
From the pleading of rosary beads at bedside,
From the glory of Father Sun bringing life to the world.

I am from flat bread, fry bread and sheep tail fat,
Boiled cabbage with bacon, greasy lima beans,
Sage cut from a bush in the prairie, fresh pronghorn stew,
Hamburger Helper and Tab.

(found this old thing from 2010 and decided to re-post it)


THEY say “Home is where the heart is.”
I have left a piece of heart behind
blue asbestos siding
picture window
white trim
and yet
THEY say “You can’t go home again.”
I drive by and find shards of memory
the blue is gone
new bay window
unfamiliar shrubs
and yet
I say “Home sweet home.”
The ghost of once upon a time lives on
old driveway
Dad’s shed
still there
And yet. . .



Easter, about 1968. The picture window is gone but the house still stands.

Footnote Joust

I’ve been reading a lot of Indie/Self-published books lately. Though the quality can vary, for the most part I don’t see a lot of terrible work. Most of the time if I’m left disappointed, it’s because it was a good story that needed just a little more work to be a great story. On the rare occasion when I do run into a really bad book, I’ve been very strict with myself enforcing my “do not finish the bad thing” rule. Life is too short, especially at my age, to read bad books.file000719730180

Recently, I was reading a book that was teetering on the edge of badness. It had lots of copy errors and some very strange and clunky grammar. The story beneath the writing issues was pretty good though, and I was determined to press on. Until I found the footnotes.

Footnotes are rare in fiction, though they can be delightful. See, for example Jonathon Stroud’s “Bartimaeus”. These footnotes were. . .not delightful, unless I am allowing the crueler side of my personality to come out. The author had evidently made edits based on customer reviews, and made footnotes to discuss these changes. In many cases, she hadn’t made changes; she’d simply argued that her text should stand as written. Most peculiar, especially since some of the changes she argued most fervently against were ones concerning the most basic rules of grammar, usage, mechanics & spelling.  Not exotic stuff like oxford commas. Basic stuff that no decent copy editor should let slip by.

We’ve all heard of authors arguing with reviews (not recommended!) but has anyone else come across critique rebuttal by footnote? Strange days indeed.