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Showing posts from 2010

Inhabitation

My many jobs: erratically chosen, it would appear, far-reaching on the scale of demands and skill requirements. But no! Let me connect them, if not for you, for me. Gym fitness. I see a guy doing tricep push-downs and know he's putting too much stress in his back. I'm not mentally comparing him to a chart of proper form; rather, for that moment, I am him, I inhabit his body and know how it works. As a newcomer I struggle to quickly pinpoint the solution for him, i.e., "pin your elbows in." But as for the knowing, I know. Writing. Entering a topic, stepping into someone's shoes, hearing and staying true to a voice. Allowing yourself to walk into another world or the perspective of a reader makes writing come alive. Stay there. Inhabit that place. Don't wander off for a brief journey to a joke if the mood is somber, no matter how good the joke is. Don't show off a large vocabulary where a simple line will do. Stay in the world. This is more difficult than

What's Left

'Twas the night before Christmas, with yesterday spent boiling a mouthpad--twice, to sink those molars--and being hit, and hitting. Not your normal holiday preparations, but then again today is hardly usual for us. A sick kid is in the next room. Your average winter cold is ominous for the diabetic, and we had communicated with the on call endocrinologist twice before lunch. Next stop is the ER for IVs, he said. Merry Christmas. The line up was such at boxing class that I'd be sparring the teacher. "Oh man," Chad exclaimed, knowing what Emily could be like. "You're in for it." I had figured I'd be up against either a smaller, older man in the class or Emily, and it's saying something that I preferred the man. The preparation for being alone with your opponent and your wits requires people: the boxer is helpless to put on the gloves or the headgear. I stood as a fellow classmate pulled the headgear down over my face, was able to do nothing about

Radiant Decapitation: A Simon Short Film

Use Your Brain(pad)

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When it was determined that the family schedule had shifted, that my husband would now be able to attend my first sparring session, the first response was one of relief. "Oh, good," Greg said. But almost immediately, he corrected himself. "I mean, uh, no. Why don't I let you go handle this first one yourself," he says. "What does that mean?" I ask. "I'm just not sure about this whole you getting hit in the head thing." (He had forgotten I survived this .) "I'm not going to get hit," I said. " I'm so fast that last night I turned the light switch off in my bedroom, and I was in bed before the room was dark." (I've mistaken myself for Muhammed Ali.) Greg continues. "I have this vision of you getting punched for the first time, and just sort of stopping and saying, Hey, wait a second! That hurt!" Apparently, this interest in boxing will be thrown in the corner once I realize it's actually

Christmas Wishes

As I was making lunch today, a snow day, Theo said to me, "It's amazing that you have to cook the food AND count the food." It is, yes. I'm glad for the recognition, especially by the guy it's all for, and especially after a week when diabetes tested my will and soul. Last weekend I found myself pretending, if that's even possible, that diabetes wasn't the elephant in the room. Casually I'd cook meals and not allow time for carb counting, though of course I had to, and of course the shot was waiting. Somehow, yes, I tried to play cool while doing my job. Maybe this was a good thing, but it felt like denial. Sunday night, we're watching AFV, which is followed by Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The kids always beg to watch the first part before heading off to bed, the part that gets Mom crying and Dad angry that he's been manipulated into crying. "Sure, we can watch til the first commercial," I say. The bus, blah blah, meet such-an

Remember

On March 14, 2008, Thomas Towers Sr., 56, lost his son. A young man had driven a Honda Civic off the road and smashed into the car of Thomas Jr., who completed two tours in Iraq and had returned home just six months earlier. The driver, 19 at the time, spent four months in a coma. A blood test showed drugs in his system but no alcohol. Towers didn't want the kid to get eight years in prison, according to an article by Lane DeGregory . That would mean he'd sit "in the air-conditioning, watching TV on the tax payers' dollars." Instead, Towers wanted an apology. Every week. Andrew Gaudioso, now 22, will spend 15 years on drug offender probation sending weekly postcards to Towers, 780 in all. If a postcard doesn't arrive--God bless the postal worker--Towers will call the probation officer, and Gaudioso will be hauled off to prison. "I want him to remember, for the rest of his life, that he killed my son," Towers said. You can understand Towers'

I'm a D-Mom

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I'm today's featured D-Mom (mom of a child with type 1 diabetes) on d-mom.com . Woohoo! Read the interview by clicking the above badge. A special welcome to all of you who ventured over here from there. My son Theo was diagnosed this past August just before his seventh birthday, and life since then has cycled through many stages. You can read about them in my posts labeled " diabetes/type 1 ," which intermingle with writings on weightlifting, parenting and even boxing, because as you know, life keeps going post-diagnosis. In fact, here's a great example of how diabetes hasn't slowed us down one bit. Theo, at least--I get tired just watching him. Thanks for stopping by!

The Ol' One-Two Hurts

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First, you've got the bag burn on the right (my computer camera reverses images): Then you've got the cut and swollen knuckles on the left. Injury one happened on the bags, injury two...in my bathroom. Let's just say I missed the air while doing my shadowboxing homework. Think I look bad? You should see the sink...

Found On My Camera: Violence Edition

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This concludes the one-month posting every day challenge. Read them all or I'll shoot!

10,000 Jumps

In an attempt to understand success and genius, Malcolm Gladwell writes in his book Outliers on the 10,000-Hour Rule. Based on a study by Anders Ericsson, the 10,000-Hour Rule states that the equivalent of 20 hours a week for ten years must be put into a skill or career before real success arrives (historically speaking: Bill Gates and The Beatles are among the examples). The 10,000-Hour Rule is just one part of Outliers , which also explores why soccer players born in certain months are more successful, why pilots from certain cultures are more prone to crash their planes, and why hard work alone won't get you to the top. Gladwell has said , "I do think that we vastly underestimate the extent to which success happens because of things the individual has nothing to do with." Yet the 10,000 hours--mastering a skill, repeating a task--bears a closer look, especially as I come to the end of a blog-every-day challenge . The other day I was jumping rope in my garage, t

The Birds and the Bees, and the Hissing Cockroaches

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A continuation of a discovery made a few days ago . SON: What's the white thing in the cockroach cage? ME: It's called an "unfertilized egg case." It's filled with things that look like baby cockroaches but aren't. SON: So they're dead. ME: Well, uh, no. It's like the eggs in the frig, how they're not going to turn into baby chickens, because there were no boy chickens around. SON: And our cockroaches are girls. ME: Yes. One of them had this egg case, and she's hissing a lot to protect it because she thinks she had 30 babies, but she didn't, really, because, uh, they're real but not real. Sort of. SON: I don't get it. ME: Honestly? Neither do I.

Nice weather we're having....in the stadium

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I interviewed the meteorologist for the University of Alabama football team, winner of 13 national championships. What's that? You didn't know sports teams hired meteorologists? Neither did I. Click here and scroll down for proof he exists.

What's Right

Thanksgiving day, I'm reading the paper and see someone I know. The Grand Rapids Press does a great job each year of partnering with the United Way, gathering a list of needs from around the city, and publishing it on a holiday when folks practice gratitude. Requests are grouped in categories (home repair, dental) and information is given on how readers can donate. Some are spotlighted with photos; in one, I saw a woman from the homeless shelter where I taught theatre . Shaquita's got her own place now, I read, but no bed. She's thankful for four walls but, with her disability, the lack of furniture is hard on her body. Lots of faces came and went during my time at the shelter, but nobody forgets Shaquita. Shaquita gave me grief on a regular basis. The requirement that she sit through my session was not acceptable in her sight, and she often grumbled curses under her breath and audibly, as well. She'd stir up fights that would call everything to a halt. When I sa

We Thought They Were Both Girls: Thanksgiving Edition

Something strange appeared in the cage of the giant hissing cockroaches today. Something white, with lots of brown dots. Early internet searches indicate this could be a dead egg case, though we're open to official, scientific opinions. Meanwhile, though we grieve alongside [Chubby][Lipstick], we're thankful that we have 2 and not 42 cockroaches.

Tweaking

When I run sound in church on Sundays, and a woman at the mic appears to be talking in a tunnel, I reach for the sweepable mid. I boost the lower mid range, maybe add a little high end to brighten it up. Stop and listen, let the sound settle in my ears, adjust 'til satisfied. When I prepare an insulin shot for my son, I count the carbs in his meal and divide them by 20. I check his blood sugar, and if it's high, I subtract that number from his target number, which is determined by the numbers of hours it's been since he last ate. I divide the result by 100 and add it to the food dose, dial up the pen, give the shot. You start to want life to be like this, a matter of small adjustments adding up to a desired result. But then the guitarist plays and it's too jingly, Theo's sugar runs high despite your careful counting, and you see that all of it is a cycle of maintenance, of tweaking your way through.

Attention, Those with Deficits

What I don't like about blogging every day is that posts I like quickly get buried. So hear ye, hear ye, a list of posts you might want to view: I like this account of being punched in the head. And this one of being hit in the ribs. I like this video of mom and pup. And these photos by my other pup. I like how big my trophy is . (Check out other competition news here .) This meditation on life and death is good, too. And this one on work.

Breakfast

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Insert vegetables in juicer, drink, repeat each morning. Faithfully for the past four months. Shouldn't I have superpowers by now?

40

In "The Wheel of Life," Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, an early pioneer of studies on death and dying, reports interviewing tens of thousands of people, whose vital signs had stopped but later were revived. Death, says Kubler-Ross, occurs in distinct phases. The accounts given by subjects ages 2-99 and culturally diverse were too similar to discount. The floating out of bodies, the tunnel, the light, meeting with deceased family members--she heard it all over and over again. One woman reported floating out of her body, hearing doctors pronounce her dead, and watching them cover her with a sheet. A young resident, in his nervousness, told a joke; Mrs. Schwartz, on being revived, reported it back to him. Those who entered what she calls Phase Four reported being "in the presence of the Highest Source. Some called it God. Others reported simply knowing they were surrounded by every bit of knowledge there was, past, present and future. It was nonjudgmental and loving." I

I Think, Therefore I Get Hit

He was only sorting pears. Pitching the rotting ones into a can across the fruit aisle. But when he went to throw, I ducked. Or, rather, bobbed --to use the boxing term, because it's boxing that caused this reaction. Specifically, the punches to the ribcage I had endured the evening before. Trainers train by punching where you're exposed, because you won't leave those elbows up for long. Whether a punch or pear is coming at you, there's no time to think; only the motions practiced thousands of times will save you. Not thinking: not my specialty. A barrage of punches were thrown before I determined that nothing creative was required of me, that I simply needed to freakin' get outta the way. I had been paired with the teacher to shadowbox, to theoretically take turns jabbing or weaving in air, but Emily would have none of that. I'd weave and she'd punch me in the gut. I'd jab and she'd slap my arm. No, I wasn't to move my feet. I was to stay s

Found on My Camera 3

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Thanksgiving's Back Door

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Burnside Writers Collective has published another piece of mine: Thanksgiving's Back Door , an essay on last Thanksgiving at the homeless shelter where I taught theatre. While there, check out their other offerings , as well as my two previous writings: Activist: The Origin Story and When Poodles Cry .

Found On My Camera, Day 2

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Found On My Camera

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An entire blog could be dedicated to this. With two boys, ages 10 and 7, sneaking the camera at their will, we're approaching a record number of pictures, mostly of our bunny. Too, I am now quite familiar with the appearance of my backside as it stands cooking dinner, or walks up stairs. Thus, with this photo, a new series: Found On My Camera. Captions welcome.

And The Winner Is

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After the twelve-round Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito fight on Saturday, Pacquiao, the winner and a Filipino congressman, couldn't sign autographs, because he couldn't hold a pen. Margarito, a head taller, was hospitalized with a broken right eye socket. He's having surgery on Tuesday. You could call this a brutal sport, or you could embrace its primal nature and wax philosophical, as boxers like to do. "You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life," said Rocky Balboa . "But it ain't about how hard you can hit; it's about how hard you can get hit and keep movin' forward." Theo watched some of Pacquiao's 2009 fight with the bigger Miguel Cotto, which brought Pacquiao his 7th world title. He asked, "Why do they always keep their hands up?" Because the hits are gonna keep coming, Son. You have to be ready.

The Daily Fs

As you know, I'm trying to blog every day this month, and yes, it's getting to be a bit much. Thanks for sticking with me. There are three other things I'm trying to do daily--this month, and beyond. F is for Flax Oil. Flax oil is good for you. Read the specifics elsewhere; in fact, google the name of anything that ails you, and I guarantee that flax oil will appear as a remedy. It's that good. F is for Flossing. While Greg lies in his hygienist's chair, basking in the glow of the bright light and endless praise for his beautiful teeth, teeth which he steadfastly does not floss, I'm in the next room being berated. Fact is I do floss, thank you, though not often enough for close-set teeth, and not while watching television with a long minty strand adorning my neck, as my hygienist helpfully suggests. So I'm working on it. But not via the necklace method. F is for Functional Mobility. This is a fancy way of saying I'm trying to stretch every d

Fitness with Her Royal Hissness

Guess The Context Of A Conversation I've Had Twice

ME: Can you show me your insertion site? Or is it in your pants. SOME GUY: It's in my pants.

On Work

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When I was a little girl, I didn't want to be a princess. Nothing against tiaras--rather, I lacked a proclivity for planning ahead, and, perhaps, the optimism that lets one dream. When I grow up ... wasn't on my radar. Later I'd say astronaut if asked, or airplane pilot , or The Incredible Hulk . The college years shook up my plans, though one could argue I'm nearing that last goal ( Amy strikes most muscular pose here) . After trying on an urban planning major, I graduated with a BA in theatre and a minor in communications. And although personality tests told me I should be a florist, I've tried most everything else, it seems. As my blog description indicates, I have many interests. I'd argue they're all related on a basic cellular level, though you might question that if you caught me browsing through job ads. I head toward Social Services first, think to myself I can do that , then glance over at Construction. There's something about the phrase &

BENGAY, The Sequel

When we first encountered our protagonist--or, rather, antagonist antagonizing--she was disturbed by the smell of BENGAY permeating the competition gym. In part 2, the method of madness is discovered; and though the perpetrator remains at large, a threat of revenge is made (closed caption: "we'll smear it all over his car").

We Now Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Competition Video Fest

Tune in tomorrow for yet another video and yet another NaBloPoMo post; today, though, we'll pause to honor D-Blog Day , started five years ago to promote diabetes awareness. "Six Things You Want People To Know About Diabetes" is the theme. Given that I didn't know much about diabetes on August 1, 2010, but learned a great deal starting the next day , when Theo was diagnosed, I bet I know a little of what you don't know. Type 1 is not Type 2. You hear about type 2 in the news because it's brought on by diet and exercise and can be controlled by same. Type 1 is not brought on by one too many candy bars; instead, it's...well, they don't know exactly, but genetics and possibly viruses play into the causes. It's not contagious. As for control, we can manage the diabetes, but we can't get Theo to a point where he doesn't need insulin, until those smart people come up with a cure. Theo can eat anything. Because type 1 is confused with type 2

Amy and Theo on Weightlifting, Arnold, and BENGAY

Amidst praise and adoration from my youngest son, I manage to complain--about the awful smell emanating from a lifter who applied BENGAY before the first flight. In the small gym that hosted the competition, the smell was overwhelming, and I forgot to breathe throughout the entirety of my first lift. Don't forget to also watch the winning lift (during which I remembered to breathe) and the footage of the huge trophy and the other stuff I'll post this week to keep up with NaBloPoMo .

Embracing the Pause

My fellow benchers and I were surprised to learn, upon arriving at the competition, that it was of the pause at the chest variety. Sending the bar skyward after a full stop at the chest is extra difficult, and usually means you lift less than your best. I pause-benched 120 on Saturday, which you'll witness in the video below; but using the traditional ribcage-as-trampoline method, I can bench 130. The good news is that I benched ten pounds more than I did at the last pause at the chest comp .

Not Bad For Someone Who Was Punched In The Head

To help meet the National Blog Posting Month challenge, I'm going to milk the details of my fourth bench press competition for all they're worth. Tune in this upcoming week for stats, photos, and videos. Stats! Photos! Videos! Oh my.

Hurting My Shoulder Was The Least of My Worries, as it turns out

You'd think that someone who signs up for a boxing class would expect to get hit eventually. Maybe at the last class, which is dedicated to sparring and will involve actual sparring equipment, such as headgear and mouthguards and gloves. But not at the first class. By a guy. And his bare fist. Accidentally, and in my forehead. Which hurt for an hour. Oddly enough, I can't wait to go back. And mess him up.

Slowing Down For Salsa

In the kick-off post for the NaBloPoMo daily challenge, I mentioned my initial fear of not having enough to say. Such fear besets the very few. Blogs are so often blah-gs, filled with daily ramblings written in the manner of a Facebook status. Heck, there's a blog called What I Ate For Lunch and Why . It's been running since May of 2008. Surely it's a thrilling read, but you see my point here. My chosen challenge month has many ready-made topics built in: my fourth bench press competition, my fortieth birthday, a foray into boxing. But drama does not always for good reading make. Don't just say something because you have something to say; first, have something to say about what you have to say. You follow? I write long posts. I rarely include pictures. I overheard a twenty-something say she'll bypass a blog if there aren't enough pictures. We live in a visual culture, for sure, but that's no excuse for not slowing down to read. When The New Yorker arri

NaBloPoMo

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When I first read about National Blog Posting Month , a challenge to post every day, and which actually happens every month, not just November, I thought, Nah. Who's got that many ideas? By the time I got out of the shower, I had to scramble, naked, for paper to record the three original, insightful--visionary, even--topics that had come to me. Here we go. You with me?

Watch this video, and a kid in a poor country gets insulin

Three months into Theo's type 1 diagnosis, insulin shots are part of our day, like eating lunch or getting dressed or sleeping. But Theo could sleep in or stay in pajamas all day to no great effect, whereas without insulin, he'd die. There are kids in this world who can't get insulin simply because they're poor. Click HERE before November 14 to watch a video, and a donation will be made in your honor toward this important cause. (I'm having trouble embedding it, unfortunately.) For more info on about The Big Blue Test and World Diabetes Day, see sixuntilme.com and d-mom.com .

The Moment I've Been Waiting For Has Really Bad Timing

I searched high and low for a local boxing class, and I found one! It starts Thursday. I trained a couple of months for a local bench press competition, and I'm doing well! It's on Saturday. That's a mere 36 hours between. Ever hit a bag full of sand? It wreaks havoc on your arms. I need my arms to bench. The trophies are big, I hear. Maybe I'll take my gloves on Saturday, knock out the rest of my weight class, and meet both goals.

I'm Starting With the (Wo)man in the Mirror

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Sometime between the ninth Iron Man passing by and the appearance of my son, dressed as Michael Jackson but more closely resembling Weird Al dressed as Michael Jackson, I whipped my left arm out of my jacket, flexed, and said to the woman sitting next to me, "Does this look bulky to you?" Women and their "I don't want to get too bulky." I lift the heaviest weight I can for most exercises and am not bulky, despite what m y children say . Genetics play a part in how any of us look, of course, as does the amount of fat masking the muscle. But if the fat is there, it generally will look better with a little muscle providing what is often called tone. And if the muscle is there, and you pay attention to nutrition, you'll burn the fat more easily, and fight off the effects of aging and osteoporosis and all sorts of things women worry about. Writers are told to pare down their pitches to an "elevator speech," a brief explanation able to be eeked out b

Breathing: It's Overrated

Monday night, following heavy sets with both barbell and dumbbells on the flat bench, I had the distinct sensation that my ribs were poking through my heart, and that my lungs, in solidarity, had ceased all major operations. Greg says this is my punishment for having another man spot me on the dumbbell press, but my feeling is he shouldn't be spiteful when I'm here knocking on death's door. Reactions have been mixed. Regular folk are alarmed upon hearing phrases such as "I can't breathe," whereas powerlifters are like, "Go stretch. You'll be fine." I must admit that stretching has done nada; only time is taking away the feeling that the 45-pound dumbbell is sitting on my chest. I figure by next Saturday's meet, I'll either be really strong from carrying this imaginary weight around, or I'll pass out from the lack of breathing.

Puppies and Kitties

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Of the four bench press competitions I've been involved in, two have been held at my local Y, and the others at farther away locations. For those far away I've had to mail in my registrations. When I do, I like to use mailing labels with puppies and also kitties.

Good Grief

Recently I began the process of writing a 504 plan for Theo's diabetes care at school. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 provides protection against discrimination for children with disabilities, including those with diabetes. I'm writing a comprehensive plan of care to be followed by school staff in order to keep the disease managed with as little disruption to Theo's day as possible. My preparations include reading a brochure called " Your School and Your Rights ," written by the American Diabetes Association, where I found these words: To qualify for protection under Section 504, a child must have a physical and mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities... In making this determination, a person with diabetes is viewed as he or she would be without the help of mitigating measures such as insulin. Without the help of mitigating measures such as insulin. It hit me: Theo can do anything, go anywhere, be anybody,

Impressive

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Big guy at the gym is taking four 45-pound plates off the bar at the incline chest press. "For all I know you didn't lift that," I say, teasingly. "You put them on there to look like you did, just to impress us." "Yeah, and I sprayed myself with water to look like I'm sweating." I put the key in the 190-pound slot for close-grip pull-downs. "Running out of weight here," I yell. "Sometimes we're trying to impress ourselves, right?" Big Guy says. "If you're in here, you're not satisfied. You keep topping your last weight. You keep going, because it's never enough." "And you hope that discipline translates over to real life," I say. "I just turned 40," he says, "It all starts quitting on you when you turn 40. You gotta push yourself, but you gotta accept what you're given, too." "40's in a few weeks for me," I say. "I've realized that this is

Passion

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About sports, friends, school and life, Simon is ambivalent. But ask him about LEGOs. Ask any ten-year-old boy about LEGOs. Have you ever asked a ten-year-old boy about LEGOs? Watch as unbridled prepubescent devotion is channeled into small, colorful bits of plastic. No need to ask how or why; the heart goes where it will. To there: to LEGOs . Not long ago we were in a store browsing the LEGO section. A boy approaches. He's short, on the pudgy side, with auburn hair. He's standing at the end of the aisle listening as we wonder aloud if we should buy a particular police wagon set. He's quivering. And then he speaks: "It's...a really...cool...set." The words come in small bursts. It's as if his head is a balloon and someone's letting out the air every few seconds. "Oh yeah?" I ask. "How come?" "It's just....cool," he says, breathless. "The mini-figure...he fits in there, and....you can close the door, and..

Fashion Sense and Sensibility

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In my house, stuff isn't often new. It's borrowed (from the library), used (from a thrift store), or donated (from a friend). The day we gave Theo a white sheet of paper to draw on, he flipped it over and exclaimed, "There's no writing on the other side!" When friends with good fashion sense gave us some clothes for the boys, we were grateful. Simon especially liked this shirt ...and on Sunday, wore it to church. He's a handsome boy, and he looked quite good in the shirt, what with all the hand-stitched, asymmetrically hip designs. But sometime during the chorus of "Take Me As I Am," I looked over at his right sleeve and saw this: Now I'm all for celebrating the body, and this mermaid's v-taper certainly is cause for a party. But seeing as the pastor had just concluded a sermon on being stewards of the inner life, I rolled up my son's sleeve and got to work on just that.

D-Mom

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The D-Mom blog is a great resource for parents of children with type 1 diabetes, and I'm happy to have been added to their blogroll. Now I'm thinking I need an avatar, too. Who out there can draw?

Eight Seconds

Simon is standing. I'm behind him cutting the back of his hair. He's talking. We're laughing. "Mom?" he asks, and leans forward. Mmm, I say, holding my scissors back. The lean becomes a fall. His face hits the door frame. His head rebounds off the sink. His body crumples to the floor, eyes are open, staring upward. I'm screaming. He won't talk. I won't leave him. I have to help him. I don't know what to do; I don't know what to do. Then: He talks. He's fine. Why is Mom asking me my name? It's not a second son with diabetes; he just fainted. After his bike ride. That's all. Just an eight-second reminder to love the ones you're with.

Man On Wire

On August 7, 1974, Philippe Petit strung 200 kilos of cable between the tops of New York's Twin Towers and walked, knelt, lain, and danced across it. He and his cohorts spent the previous night juggling the logistics of this criminal act of poetry in the sky, which lasted 45 minutes to an hour, six or eight crossings between. Friends on the ground alerted crowds to the dancing speck in the sky. In a time before cell phones, without the means to broadcast the news to anyone not in the immediate vicinity, people looked up. A photograph shows faces angled upward, arms hanging slack, lips parting. Police gathered on the tower roofs; Petit laughed and ran to the middle of the wire. Ran: how would they follow? When he eventually gave in, the elegant act was traded for the violence of arrest, of handcuffs and the danger of a steep stairwell. Some friends would deny they knew him, pretending instead to be journalists. The police report would accuse him of "intent to cause public inc

People In The Place

Theo, with guest appearance by AquaMan.

Here We Go Again

A phone call, the words bench press competition girls only and You in? and I'm in. November 6. Here we go.

Giving Herself

Susan called it a midlife crisis; Robert just calls it life . My friend Susan Matheson was the first in West Michigan to donate a kidney to a stranger. Typically, donors are family members of those who need a transplant, but Susan didn't know Robert, and wouldn't unless he wanted to meet. He did. Here's the video of this ultimate act of philanthropy: giving life.

Something in the Air

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Emma likes Nick. So says my son Simon, age 10, who sees the two together on the playground every recess. When the group plays Star Wars, Nick is General Grievous, and Emma is General Grievous's wife, a character not previously included in George Lucas's world. Hmmm. Simon's right. If that's not love, I don't know what is. Funny how people attract each other. Maybe you're more yourself, or too much of yourself, with a certain someone; all sorts of dynamics jump around depending on who's in the room. I had a meeting at my kids' school the other day regarding our diabetes management plan. A rompin', stompin' shout-out, it was; the other party brought out the fighter in me, and I pushed back on certain policies as politely, firmly, and loudly as I could. When the meeting finished, the ref called a tie and we bumped gloves amicably, yet there was a sense that Match No. 2 was right around the corner. I walked out of the conference room and disc

Where Do You Stand

Think of someone you admire , I said to the men at the shelter, and walk silently around the room as that person. Don't mimic or imitate; find new ways to hold your body and become someone else. In my line of theatre , this becoming is essential to personal awareness and empathy for others. And let me tell you: seeing a homeless man walk like President Obama makes you stop and think. Tall Tom stood taller. He held his shoulders back, his head high. Look in his face and you'd see a fortitude not there a half hour before when he stood on the sidewalk to wait for breakfast. Each time I led a similar exercise in the shelter, I came away thinking I'd found the key to personal evolution. Something so simple as good posture can build a person's self-confidence, which surely could help them begin the ascent out of life on the streets. But later, while watching the hoopla preceding the finale of LOST , I noticed something. The characters of LOST are stranded on an island

Book Your Tickets Now

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I'm teaching at an Applied Theatre Conference in Greenville, SC, in March. Be there!

Choosing No. 4

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I'm working on a chart. The secretaries at Theo's school need a reference page to go by when they check his blood sugar levels. So yes, when he's 80 or over, go ahead with the lunch insulin. But wait! 78 is close to 80. Maybe I should back that 80 down to 78. Better yet, have a separate line for what to do at 75-80, and 70 to 80 with symptoms, and 70 and above without. With type 1 diabetes, the numbers really do make a difference. Theo's target blood sugar at this age is 80 to 180, and we'll do everything we can to keep him in that range. We've been given insulin dose ratios as well as education on how and when to adjust them. For example, Theo gets 1 unit of insulin for every 24 grams of carbs he plans to consume. Some parents plan their meals down to the gram, whereas we've been figuring out what he'll eat and rounding up or down according to facts, circumstances, and gut intuition. Numbers are everything. I've been feeling a bit guilty lately

Arm in Arm

January 25, 2010. The sidewalk on the hill that hugs the shelter is slick, and no one is answering the intercom to buzz me in. I give up, link arms with Catherine, and penguin walk toward the front entrance. Catherine is a large, unstable woman who is often suspended from using the shelter's services; some of the women say she brings bad spirits into the place. We're finally allowed in, and I note that the offices of the director and other staff are suddenly empty. I'll learn later that a drug raid wiped out all but one of the staff, including a woman who covered for those who went back to their old ways, but for now, all I know is that I'm in trouble. When the teacher's gone the students act up, and today, I'm the sub. The women's spirits are down. I can plainly see that no one is up for participating in my theatre class. I begin with stretches and call it exercise, which relaxes them a little, even the ones shooting me looks of death. They're easing u

Activist: The Origin Story

In a single essay, I mention Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, Batman, and the size of my chest. Check it out at Burnside Writers Collective .

Who Are You and Where Did You Come From

Come to think of it, yes we did send our kids to school first day with talk of Hitler. The scene was Rockwellian at its onset: I’m sitting on the couch with an arm around each boy, Greg is attentively angled in our direction from the reclining chair. We’re bantering around topics appropriate to the start of school, and in this spirit I mention I never was into history until later, as an adult. “You have to make a personal connection,” says Greg, directing this fatherly advice at his sons. “Like the time you studied Germany, Simon—you knew that you’re German from my side, so you took an interest in it.” I scoff. “Yes, and he can also make note that he’s of direct lineage from Hitler.” Greg retorted: “One word, Woman: Mussolini.” The kids chimed in: “Is it time for the bus yet? Dropping the ancestral attacks but keeping with the theme, I mentioned an illustration used by Peter Rollins the week before at Mars Hill. He said that sometime in the 1930s a prof