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Showing posts from October, 2011

Best (Worst?) Halloween Story Ever

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My children are named Simon and Theo, and not for The Chipmunks, though we acknowledged, even at the second birth, that this connection would be made. One Halloween, we went so far as to dress them as their chipmunk namesakes. I, Amy, was the remaining chipmunk, Alvin. At thrift stores I found long turtlenecks in red, blue and green. For Simon I found black glasses (which would complete a Harry Potter costume a few years later), and for me, a red cap. However, the costumes didn't feel finished with only these suggestive hints toward the characters. I tried shading with brown makeup to highlight chubby chipmunk cheeks, but the look still wasn't complete. Teeth , I thought. The defining feature of a chipmunk is its teeth. Once again I experimented with makeup, thinking I'd black out all but their front two top teeth. The makeup for this was waxy and wouldn't stay stuck. I'll just buy teeth , I thought. I drove to several costume shops and quickly determined that

The Sacrament of Work

There's an element of vulnerability in each of the jobs I do that sometimes shatters me. The ex-offenders entrust their stories to me, the playwright, to find ways to communicate them to a broader audience . Today I heard stories of stabbings and molestation. And repentance. I am the keeper of these stories. For my book project , I've been given the journals of a woman who died in a car crash. That her former husband would hand me this tall pile is humbling, and to read her private thoughts a sacred act. I met with the man who killed her because he would do anything for this family. He willingly gave me his very difficult story. Molestation. Murder. And forgiveness. At the gym, one of my jobs is to clean exercise equipment. I know so many of the people who use these machines, their habits and schedules, that when I clean, I can picture who I'm cleaning for. I wipe away the sweat and dirt and make it new, for them. A man I didn't know, running on a machine the other

This Pill, Broken For You

I'm reading The New Yorker today and in a theatre review see the name of an actor I once knew. This happens here and there for those of us in the business: You're at the movies, a face appears onscreen, and either you yell out the actor's name right then in your surprise, or else a vague feeling of intimacy sweeps over you, ultimately giving way to the memory of communicating this guy's five-minute pre-show call in the shower. Stage managers spend a lot of time with undressed actors. Throughout the 1990s, I worked in Pittsburgh theaters. For one particular festival, performers were brought in, sometimes with their own stage managers, and this was the case with the actor whose name came up today. With the other shows I'd usually call cues from the booth, but D's stage manager insisted that he sit up there, and that I wasn't really needed. Then he ran up and down the aisles swinging a thurible of incense while chanting. I opted to sit offstage and keep quie

And The Costume Theme This Year Is...

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...no big surprise. blogging through the month and almost done

I Miss Him

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Freddie went back to his rightful owners, and there's no longer anyone winking at me as I pass through the living room. Instead, I must contend with these damned sea monkeys, who swish and swirl and mate happily all the live long day. If the sea monkeys are a music video for Rare Earth's I Just Want To Celebrate , Freddie is Philip Glass --the same thing over and over with only the occasional changeup. His winks were among the few movements of his day. A much more manageable approach to life than the sea monkeys'...or is it?

How To Choose Your Kid's Sport, Part 2

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Simon on his bike. Can you read the sign he made and pasted onto his back? "My dad made me do this." After writing the first post on how my son and I are similar, and the ways I try to help him find a sport now instead of in his 40s, I realized I was a lot like him as a kid. Never would I have had the wit or chutzpah to make a sign like this, but I certainly didn't take to athletic activity. And what I'm doing now with my son was also tried by my mother: buy the kid some athleticism and grace by enrolling in a class. Mine was ballet. Dear God. The little pink plastic carrier opened at the top, for my leotard, and on the side, near the bottom, to hold my peach silk slippers. I liked the whole contraption. The class I could do without, but I was obedient back then, and did everything I was told. I plied and whatnot, without much flair. Then one day I no longer had to go. Talk of "missing too many classes," "not allowed." For years I referred

One Mean Dolphin Sandwich

Music on the way to a massage: Nine Inch Nails Music at the massage: ocean waves/pan flute/dolphins Music on way home from massage: Nine Inch Nails

What I Do With Bananas

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As I am unable to reconcile banana carb counts with skin and without*, I choose to go without--which means if I'm packing a banana for my diabetic son to take to school, it must be peeled, then wrapped again. So I make squids. Simon's photo doesn't quite capture both eyes of my giant squid, but you get the idea. I hear he's pretty slimy by lunchtime. Realistic! *Advice on this from you other d-moms would be appreciated. We do 6g per 1-oz unpeeled.

How To Choose A Sport

There are two types of people in the world: those who watch boxing movies and then want to beat someone up, and those who watch them and don't. My family splits down the middle. Simon, 11, is a lot like his mom. He's gentle, and yet you sense a buried fierceness in there. He's strong. At his age, he is unable to harness any of that power, but he's drawn to try. Only to a point. Also like his mother, Simon suffers from attachment issues, and he's not about to give himself completely to anything he enjoys. Disappointment may come, so why get involved in the first place? When I first saw him punch, I knew he loved it. I held the mitts for him here at home and encouraged him to keep going. Nah , he said, and headed back for his book. When he came home from school after a PE class in wrestling, I saw him beam with delight. I got to flip a kid onto the mat! he said. Then he went back to his book. I stopped in to talk to the PE teacher about the wrestling. Among the

RERUN: How To Get To The Other Side

Hello? Are you there? I've committed to writing a post a day this month. Today, I am full of feeling but out of ideas. Here's an old one that captures some of what I want to say, and thankfully, I've said it already. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The introduction of Roadkill, the armadillo character in the film Rango , is startling: a tire width indentation has cut through his middle, leaving tread tracks, and he struggles for breath. The animation here is more realism than not, and the effect is disturbing. Yet you can't look away, and the view from your seat places you directly into his struggle as he says, "I must get to the other side." The other side, he's heard, is where enlightenment is to be found. He knows this is a metaphor, even; "We all have our journeys to make." Over the course of the film, the lead character Rango, a chameleon, will find this to be true, and when the t

Which Creatures Shouldn't Be Together In The Same Room?

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I'm Alone In The House With This

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Because I Could Get Hit By A Bus

With the insurance paperwork, multiple doctors, a list of prescriptions, school forms and daily tasks, managing a child's type 1 diabetes feels a lot like a part-time job that lasts all day. It's not the only thing you do, but it's something you do all day long, and hopefully, there's a team of at least one working with you. My husband gets cc'ed on any diabetes-related email I write, because he might be the one to get the call from school tomorrow. Any insulin dose change gets written into our log, highlighted with a post-it, and verbally called out to Greg (or virally: You saw the Levemir change tonight, Dear?) This system of cross-referencing at every turn makes this "job" feel like one I did many years ago. As a stage manager in professional theaters, I kept many a prompt book, which contained all the information needed to run a performance. Light cues, actors' blocking, costume notes...all in there. I was groomed in the "hit by a bus" s

Putting the Personal In Tire Flipping

My left arm will not extend above my head. Yesterday, I couldn't make use of either forearm. I blame the tire flipping. Lately, I've been trying new approaches to my exercise routine. A little P90x here, some basic grunty strength training there. Raw, straightforward lifting no longer does for me what it once did, and though I've lost strength, I don't miss it a bit. I often spend my Y time on power routines, hence the tire flipping. It's only a hundred pounds, so I thought I'd do a 3 minute round. Then another. Then I couldn't use my forearms. After not vomiting, I wondered how it is possible to kick my own butt. Shouldn't it be like tickling--impossible to do to yourself? When I design workouts for my husband, I know to avoid anything he might find tedious. I need to throw in supersets and some crazy stuff no one else in the weight room is doing. That's why it's called personal training--you tailor it to the person. One of my coworkers s

Meet Bobby, Frank, Fred and Charlie (RIP)

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Just hours after Dottie's departure , we saved these sweet little mice from the jaws of some cagebound rattler. You call 'em feeder mice, we call 'em pets; a buck seventy-five's worth of utter cuteness. (Charlie, seen here in the food dish, died during the night. Ah, but do not grieve for him; he lived a short, eventful life.) (blogging through November but trying not to be like this )

Mr. Rogers Was Right

Here's a reprint of a post from November 2009. Some of the details have changed--I'm now nearly 41, and my dress size keeps shrinking--but the essence of what's here is still on my mind today. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Since 1985, English musician and musicologist Clive Wearing has had what neurologist Oliver Sacks calls "the most devastating case of amnesia ever recorded": a memory span of mere seconds. Along with the present his past has slipped away as well, including the memory of meeting his wife, Deborah, and falling in love with her. Yet emotional memory provides Clive with a basis to remember Deborah at a fundamental level, as Sacks writes in "The Abyss" ( The New Yorker , September 24, 2007): For many years he failed to recognize Deborah if she chanced to walk past, and even now he cannot say what she looks like unless he is actually looking at her. Her appearance, her

Goodbye Dottie

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I will be the first to admit that I've used the term "evil" when referring to our bunny. And that maybe on occasion I've let her out to "play" in the backyard until a neighbor knocked on the door to report that "the bunny has escaped." This only happened two times. Maybe three. But I meant it when I told my son that sometimes, when we love someone, we have to let them go. We have to do what's best for them, which may not be what we want. And maybe I didn't bring up the parts about them coming back if they were really yours, etc. Dottie first came home with us about five years ago, while Greg was traveling in Uganda. Internet connections were spotty, and I remember getting out a short email that said, "And by the way, we have a pet." Dottie unofficially became Simon's pet, arriving right when he needed something furry to hug and hold. She stayed in his room at our first apartment in Grand Rapids; I have pictures of him re

Your Friday Sea Monkey Update

Big mommas: running the place Babies: growing faster than you can say, "But where's its crown?" Stud monkey: expired

In The Stars For Me: A Man

SCORPIO (Oct. 23 - Nov. 21) --You've been looking forward to promoting a certain idea for some time, and today's evolution tells you that the time is now. I had read my horoscope not long after saying this to my coach: "I need a man." While on the heavy bag, a girl approached me. We had been partners last week, and I liked her--tall, thin, peppy, with a pleasant demeanor. She had boxed just a little in Ohio before moving back here. "You ever street fight?" she asked me. "No," I said. "Really?" "Really. Why--have you?" I couldn't quite picture it. "Oh yeah. Twelve, maybe 15 times. You can do anything in a street fight--claw, scratch, pull they hair." "And what's that like?" "It feels good . That's why I took up boxing. Because when I street fight, I make sure I win." Next thing I know the coach is asking me if I can spar the next night. I couldn't. Woulda been with hair-pulling g

Amazing The Stuff You Find Online

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Happened on this photo from the conference I taught last year. Participating in my theatre exercise here, in the foreground, is Doug Berky, a very funny guy. Also found this video, wherein I wave my hands a lot when I talk. Must be those Italian genes. And then this photo , which my husband says looks like I'm flipping someone off.

A Category Can't Contain This

Lisa over at The Glowing Edge has my blog listed under "Women and Sports." Girlboxing has me under "Boxing Blogs." And D-Mom Blog has me as a D-Mom, of course: a mom of a type 1 diabetic. But when I signed up for National Blog Posting Month in October, those categories didn't exist. Their list includes health, hobbies and anonymous foaming. I went for " Humor ." Looking now over the posts of the last 10 days, I'd call about half of them funny. Like, if there was a funny meter, the arrow would point just past the middle. There are a couple sad ones, like yesterday's ; thoughtful ones, like the one about my theatre work with former prisoners; and then a few I read later and wonder why I chose to bring up that topic in public . I'll work on the funny. In fact, I'm saving one of my funniest stories for the last day of this month. It's Halloween-themed, but my kids make me tell it to them all year round. So stick around, you.

A1celebration (under a dark cloud)

The body's report card validated our work: Theo's A1c level was 6.9 today, down from 8.3 three months ago. Good control of diabetes prevents future complications, and this number proves we have good control. We were patted on the back for our work. I felt really proud sitting there with my healthy son, a big binder spilling intensive insulin therapy worksheets onto my lap. Good control prevents future complications. Control + genes = risk for complications. Genes are unchageable, which is why our endocrinologist focuses his efforts on control. He's a brilliant man. He talks more about the books my kids are reading than diabetes, and I really like him for that. At an appointment the day after our diagnosis, the nurse had to step out of the room for a moment. I picked up a brochure from the handful of materials we were to take home that day, and just as she reentered the room, I casually flipped it over to read the back. "Uh uh," she said, gently taking it from m

Things Said To Me This Week That Could Be Taken Another Way, But Made Me Feel Good Nonetheless

"You have an interesting way of looking at the world." "You look like an action figure, Mom." "I didn't expect you to hit that hard." blogging every day

My New Boxing Gear

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Initially I had chosen some cheaper gloves, but when they didn't fit right, TITLE Boxing hooked me up. I love you, TITLE! These gloves have both gel and foam, which protect my old lady hands. I went back to regular wraps (instead of gel) with them, though, and suffered, at least in one hand. Let's blame it on my powerful right, shall we? Because I like the gloves. And all the coaches were jealous. These shoes are listed at TITLE as boxing shoes, but they came with a tag that labeled them "wrestling." My man at TITLE--yes, they treat me as if I, a beginning boxer, am I major account--told me they're for both sports. The extra ankle support takes some getting used to, but I'm tired of the tread on my usual trainers grabbing the cloth in the ring. And I couldn't resist the wasp on the bottom of this shoe, but once I owned them, the metaphor tripped me up. Do I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, or simply smoosh them with my new shoes? Ei

Favorite Lines from James Thurber's The 13 Clocks (so far)

"He wore an indescribable hat, his eyes were wide and astonished, as if everything were happening for the first time, and he had a dark, describable beard." "'If you have nothing better than your songs,' he said, 'You are somewhat less than much, and only a little more than anything.'" "'Half the places I have been to, never were. I make things up. Half the things I say are there cannot be found. When I was young I told a tale of buried gold, and men from leagues around dug in the woods. I dug myself.' 'But why?' 'I thought the tale of treasure might be true.' 'You said you made it up.' 'I know I did, but then I didn't know I had. I forget things, too.'" (for No D DAY )

Guilt Trip for Greg

A couple of days into Greg's trip to Ukraine, there were guys all over the house. My own two boys, running around playing; a friend, mowing the lawn; and a friend of the boys, whom I found digging. His plan was to extend the nearby creek into our backyard. I stopped him. Last night I saw that my left headlight was burnt out, yet another reminder of the need for my man in the house: Shortly after this video was taken, I had the idea to open the instruction manual. It was determined that pliers are not actually needed for changing bulbs. I followed directions, and yet: Got my hands into the greasiness again. Was getting late for work. Cursing Greg. But then this:

The Chore List: A Non-Traditional Primer

My supervisor, the health and wellness director at our Y, seemed genuinely surprised when I said there's exercise on my kids' chore list. So did someone else, when I mentioned it. Which got me thinking that maybe not every parent pays their kids to do jumping jacks. It started this summer. I'd been frustrated handing out money at the end of each week though my kids, good ones at that, hadn't really applied themselves around the house. I also didn't know how it was possible for them to feel full from supper after dropping a significant portion of the meal onto the floor below, and leaving it there for the ants to parade through. At the same time, I was frustrated with myself. There I was, 40 years old, starting a new sport, doing pretty well but knowing I'd be better had I started 20 years earlier. (Reference the recent Mayweather-Ortiz fight; few believed the ancient 34-year-old Floyd could keep up with a man ten years his junior.) Why hadn't anyone got me

Grunting: It's Natural

The kids on the playground were yelling. "Sounds like torture going on out there," I said to the woman ringing up my soup mix. "Yeah, that's every day," she said. "Yelling. I wish I would have yelled when I played." "Never too late," I said, grabbing my change. I spend a significant portion of my job, somehow, talking about this sort of thing, Usually it's while joking with guys in the weight room: "I knew you by your grunting," I'll tell a guy, because it's true. In a gym, the noises one makes are as identifiable as the voices, both of which I hear on a regular basis. Sometimes we'll debate the validity of making noise. Expressing oneself in this manner is somewhat of a vulnerable act, and it always calls to mind the woman who told me she made no noise during any of her four childbirths. Courage or repression, I wondered. In my classes, I'm always yelling for my people to breathe during mitt work with me, a

Happy Birthday, Greg!

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My husband, who is in Ukraine, turned or is turning 45, depending on when and where you read this. When we did a live chat with him this afternoon, midnight struck on his birthday, whereas it was still a day away here. Follow his activities in Ukraine at this blog , or his general musical musings at his regular blog . Check out his really cool brainchild of a database and his official website for all things Greg. And wish this great man a great day!

In A Grand Rapids Boxing Gym The Monday After A Floyd Fight

What I expected came to pass: walk into the boxing gym that Monday, hear loud conversation making use of words like "headbutting," "legal," and "Pacquiao's next." Floyd Mayweather being a native son, any talk of Saturday's fight was in his favor, the subtleties of sportsmanship drowning in deep loyalty. I'd wanted the opinion of the gym to help pull apart the images replaying in my mind: the knockout punch; Ortiz and his dropped hands; Floyd's empty gaze; the ref looking away. Were they on a break when the knockout happened? And even if the punch was legal, was it cool to do? Clips are now all over the internet , and I see now that the ref clearly motioned for them to resume boxing. And that Floyd hesitated after that left hook, giving Ortiz enough time to cover, which he didn't take. Bam. Watching the knockout live, in a theater full of people in Mayweather's hometown, was disconcerting. The break ended quickly, the ref's si

Sure, Yeah, Why Not.

I'm going to try to write every day this month. I think. Yeah. Maybe I'll head on over to NaBloPoMo and sign up again. I need an outlet for recording the little moments, such as finding a fake mustache on my laundry room floor today. Events like this clearly need to make their way out into the world. You with me?

Degrees of Separation

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After watching a video of " Even In the Darkest Place ," a reading by former prisoners, a man new to the group had a question. What's the purpose of telling your crime? he asked. I had written it into the script, five men announcing what they did and how much time they did for it. It happens at the end of the play, after you've heard their stories and come to like them. Some of the men answered him, claiming it's better to get the truth out of the way and let people think what they will. I explained a little of the history, an essay's worth of a story I'll someday write. It all made sense to him, he said, but he wouldn't do it. My crime is worse than all of yours , he said. We all think that, Tony, someone said. But it's true for me, he said. I have to admit that when I wrote this part into the script, I didn't know how to fill in the blanks. "My name is ______ ," I typed. "I did ___ years for _________ ." At the fi