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I’m just going to start typing this year and see what happens. It’s the least I can do. A wise writer told me on New Year’s Eve that I shouldn’t wait for the right time, and I’ll add that I shouldn’t wait either for lightning flashes of inspiration.

Inspiration is a momentary shaft of light shining through some tiny crack in the walls we all erect around our true selves. The light is useful for the illumination it provides. But it doesn’t, in the end, tear down that wall. And that is the end goal, n’est-ce pas? That takes something more substantial, something more like work.

So here is what I want to work on this year: a story about a couple that drove across country in a GMC truck in 1916. It took them more than a year to get from Seattle to NYC and back again.I believe they kept a diary and that the diary is somewhere in Seattle. So, one of my first calls of 2011 will be to hunt that sucker down.

The writing teacher in me wanted to write “hunt down that sucker,” since you shouldn’t separate verb phrases. But what the heck. It’s a new year.

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I usually complain about healthcare, so let me report a positive experience with the system. It’s rather an unlikely one, considering it inv0lves a New Year’s Eve visit to the ER at a hospital in West Philadephia with a crying toddler. But there you have it.

We were staying with my aunt, who lives near Broad Street in South Philly. Around 6:30pm, I was swinging our younger son, Jack (19 mos. old), by his arms when I heard a pop, kind of like the crack your knuckles make but with more bass. I put him down and he started to cry. I picked him up and eventually figured out his left arm was the source of his pain. Any poke or movement made him cry more. He was just letting it hang. I feared I had dislocated his shoulder.

So off we went to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, or CHOP, which is near Franklin Field. I pulled up to the ER and dropped off Jack and my wife. By the time I parked the car and made it back — I took no more than 10 minutes — they were already in triage.

The nurse finished taking his blood pressure — and making him cry more by sealing him in one of those hospital ID wristbands — and told us to wait. Which we did for about 5 minutes. At which point, a nurse came out to bring us back to an exam room.

The docs came and then within 30 minutes, Jack’s arm was back to normal. A simple snap back into place was all it took. Within five seconds he was using his arm as if nothing at all had happened. Turns out he had nursemaid’s elbow, a fairly common thing in toddlers.

We were back at my Aunt’s house within 90 minutes of leaving. Let’s hope the bill is as pleasant as the visit. The doctors said there’s usually a several-hours wait in the ER. So, if you must take your child to a hospital, do it on New Year’s Eve.

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