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Showing posts from March, 2012

Where I'm Going, and Where I've Been

In 1995, I traveled alone to York, England, to spend a week with Riding Lights Theatre Company. I had responded to an ad. Two lines at most, tacked on to some newsletter I regularly received. A little angel sat whispering those lines, with a British accent, on my shoulder until the day I announced to my husband of two years I was headed overseas. With no website to reference, I had only my instinct, which said this: Go. In the apple orchard of the camp's estate, on the s tone roads of York, a can of Boddington's raised high, my soul, and my theatre knowledge , grew. I had left my h usband tear fully at the airport gate on ly to call a week later and say, "You'll have to come here, becaus e I'm not leaving." My sixth sense, which appeared and often still does as impulsive, began its good track record. I did return home on schedule, and would come to take more trips based on good hunches. In the years after York, I traveled to theatre or writing confere

On Stupid Books

Blown away as by a first love after many flings, Theo, age 8, declared Roald Dahl's Charlie and The Chocolate Factory the best book he's ever read. The best . Dahl's writing is musical and full of delight, with notes of cynicism frequently rising above the staff. I'm currently reading Matilda aloud to the kids--you must read Matilda aloud--and in it, one finds a school principal who declares that her idea of a perfect school "is one that has no children in it at all." Miss Trunchbull is a massive woman, a former Olympic hammer thrower; one gets the sense that Mr. Dahl has endured his share of overbearing women, probably dislikes children, and yet is open to the marvels and beauty of any creature who may be deserving. After The Chocolate Factory , Theo rushed to the sequel, Charlie and The Great Glass Elevator; alas, the magic had gone. A heartbreak for Theo. Later, while reading another book (that's what we do around here), Theo set the thing down i

Visitor or Intruder?

My copy of The Essential Rumi falls open to a poem that begins like this: This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight. Back when I worked at the shelter, I read this poem to the homeless women before bed one night. We marveled that a man born in 1207 could speak so relevantly today, even to those --especially to those--whose house is only this human form, nothing more. Welcome and entertain them all! But would Rumi welcome a sports psychologist? Athletes are taught to push past the body's built in signals designed to prevent harm, because the brain allows much less suffering than the body can actually take. The boxer cannot allow entrance to the guests of fear an

Willem

Theo skipped towards the bus stop, a rubber diabetes bracelet on one wrist, a Team Willem band on the other. The blue and white band was acquired in support of a fellow student with a rare disease, who had spent most of the school year in the hospital. Unbenownst to us, our little absent-minded boy bought six of the bracelets at a dollar a piece, which required remembering the money and a willingness to part with it. On Monday afternoon the email update from the school reported that Willem had been taken home for hospice. I told the kids, explaining that in some cases there's nothing left for the hospital to do. The family took him home to die. My boys looked down at the table. Theo's pencil moved almost without him, shading over his name on a folder. On Monday night, just after watching a favorite cartoon, Willem died, surrounded by his family. He was ten. His father is keeping a blog , which is almost unbearable to read. The funeral is this Friday. I'm helping to cov

Diabetes And Gym Class

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The subtitle of my blog is becoming obsolete. Do I write about writing anymore? Lifting? A little theatre here and there, but type 1 diabetes has come to the forefront. After a year and a half of failed efforts, I've devised a system that gets my child through PE class without having a low blood sugar. PE was held, for quite a stretch, just after lunch. I'd build in extra carbs to Theo's meal, uncovered by insulin, to give him energy to burn off without hitting a low. Except...it wasn't working. Some days okay, others down in the danger zone. I asked the teacher to tell me when he planned a tougher class, and sometimes he'd remember, sometimes not. Of course I'd need to know this info before the start of the school day in order to pack an appropriate lunch, so you can't fault the guy for forgetting this plan until it's too late. Recently, PE moved to a good hour and a half after lunch, so I couldn't throw in those extra carbs (he'd run high f

The Why

Simon, who is 11, isn't doing particularly well in math. The other night, we sat at the kitchen table to work on the multiplying and subtracting of mixed numerals, and what I discovered upon looking closely at his test was that Simon actually does understand fractions, for the most part. So when I say he's not doing well in math, this means, actually, that Simon is not slowing down enough to do well in math. The theories he's got down, for the most part. The motivation to do well, he does not. We reviewed the concepts, and then I stressed the importance of taking the time needed to do a good job. We talked about why grades are important, as faulty a system as that may be, and why he needs to try to get those grades up. And then I brought up diabetes. Diabetes is the elephant in every room, even though the type 1 diabetic himself was elsewhere in the house. A calculator there, test strip here, vials in the frig. With diabetes, I told Simon, we do much the same kinds of