Not even a little funny

Strength is a clever disguise…

30-03-01/21Last week, I was flying home from my conference and had boarded the plane.  I  settled in my seat and commenced people-watching.  I love people-watching.

There was a woman younger than me and very pretty who started to lift her suitcase to put it into the overhead bin when two men jumped up simultaneously to help her.

I had a deja-vu moment. It wasn’t that someone had jumped up and helped me put my luggage up. No, that had never happened. It was how often I watch people jump up to help others, that was the deja-vu.

When I was pregnant with my 4th child, I worked as a consultant.  The role involved a lot of travel.  I think that child was in 27 cities before she was even born.  I lugged around my suitcase, my laptop bag, and my portable data projector.

Even at my most pregnant, no one ever jumped out of his (or her) seat to help me put my suitcase in the overhead.  I found this rather curious. Maybe it was because I wasn’t a sweet young thing.  (Although, relatively speaking, I was young 11 years ago and I’m always sweet.)

Since then, I’ve become acutely aware of this and I make it a point to observe it.  It’s not about sweet young things – helpers pop up for all sorts of people in need, all ages, genders, and degrees of attractiveness.

What is it then, I wonder?

The best hypothesis I can draw, for which I have a dearth of scientific backing, is it has something to do with a vibe of strength, of capability, of independence. If you seem in need of help, people help. If you give off a different vibe, they don’t make the offer.

I may give off that vibe, independence, capability.  In fact, I think I do.  Probably, pure stubbornness is at the root of it.

Nonetheless, I think people might see me and think I’m one of those people who may be insulted by an offer of help.  I know I have seen people and drawn a similar conclusion.  They seem to communicate with their eyes “I got this.  Don’t you dare insult me by asking if I need help.”

Here’s the thing: when I was pregnant and huge and tired with swollen ankles and three bags to lug around, I did need the help.  I did.  And even though I’m not pregnant now, nor am I on an airplane today, I recognize that I need help.  I cannot do this – any of it – alone.

No one, regardless of how strong, can bear the weight of the world without help.

I guess what I’m saying is this:  don’t be fooled by a disguise of strength.

If you see me on an airplane, I would welcome help with my bag.

I’m going to start practicing my needy look now.  


By |September 11th, 2012|Indiscriminate Drivel, Not even a little funny|Comments Off on Strength is a clever disguise…

What Shape is Your Dream?

One thing children around the globe have in common is their stubborn refusal to be bound by reality.

Children believe all sorts of nonsense. They believe their parents know everything. They believe a fat bearded man and his flying reindeer deliver gifts down the chimneys of children all around the world in a single night. They believe they can be prima ballerinas or presidents of countries. And even if, in an attempt to apply a compassionate balm of reality, an adult tells a child it is unlikely she will ever be a prima ballerina or a president of a country, the child will summarily dismiss this and continue practicing her autograph technique and her curtsies, because she is certain we are mistaken.

Children believe in possibilities that adults cannot even begin to fathom, and we grown-ups, in all our wisdom, spend the ensuing years indoctrinating them into our sensible reality instead of letting them seduce us back into their world of magical possibility and endless promise.

Why do we do that?


When I was a little girl, like many children, I played the game where, lying on the warm summer grass, I would gaze up at the clouds and see all sorts of things: elephants and choo-choo trains and ice cream cones. If I looked long enough, I could divine what a cloud was meant to be and bestow upon it the rightful name for the shape it had taken, at least until the wind blew. Even then, I wasn’t discouraged; it was merely an opportunity to start again and consider how to succeed in adapting the new shape into my game. This shifting skyscape was never cause to get frustrated or to give up altogether.

As I’ve gotten older, finding endless shapes in the clouds has, ostensibly, become more difficult.

Frequently, the clouds I contemplate now are thin, wispy cirrus clouds refusing to mind any formation whatsoever; so fickle. They whisper their potential, hinting at whimsical promise, but are, alas, unorganized and thoroughly undisciplined. They aren’t capable of such an important job as representing my dreams.

On rare occasions, they are stratus – just ghosts of clouds holding vague memories of what they might have been if not for other elements diluting them into a haunting, ubiquitous fog. They are an overcrowded cloud graveyard, despondent with no hope whatsoever that they might someday achieve density.

Sometimes they are cumulus, appearing so close and nearly tangible, with clearly defined edges. These hold the shapes of my dreams vividly and I can almost reach up and touch them, but they climb higher and higher, and the reaching exhausts me until my arms collapse at my sides, weak from the effort and too afraid of failing to try again.

Occasionally they are cumulonimbus clouds, volatile, brutal, and ferocious; almost reckless in their compulsion, driving me to exhaust myself in an effort to satisfy their urgent and relentless demands. And yet, these are perhaps the most beautiful for they have tenacity of purpose and a singular focus on their defined goal.

They exhaust me and they consume me, but they do not scare me.

The only thing that scares me is the thought that, due to distraction, disillusionment, or surrender, one day I’ll stop looking up altogether and, when I’m not paying attention, a wind so subtle it is barely perceptible will blow my dreams away completely and I won’t be able to conjure them into any shape whatsoever.

For now, they are safely ensconced in the playground of my imagination and the laboratory of my ambition. I can still gaze upon them when I wish to.

And when I tilt my head just so, with clear definition and vivid color, they take the shape of a writer.

By |August 21st, 2012|Indiscriminate Drivel, Not even a little funny|Comments Off on What Shape is Your Dream?

Wife of Diabetic

Linda and Bill Xmas 2009 with girlsI hear him slip out of bed and I look at the clock.  1:41AM.  The same mysterious capability that would wake me when my babies were rustling in the other room even before they cried out works here too.  I’m attuned to these particular night sounds.  When he’s up like this, I am on guard.

It’s  the usual routine; first a trip into the bathroom where he tests his blood sugar level, then a trip downstairs.

Usually, he moves like a cat.  He can see in the dark and manages to navigate soundlessly through the bedroom and the house at large.

Me?  Just a trip to the bathroom in the dark becomes a scene from a Jerry Lewis movie.  If there is a Lego to be found in this house, I will step on it with my bare foot.  If there is a squeaky floorboard, I will manage to never miss it.  I will trip over any obstacle, no matter how inconsequential, left on the floor.

If he dies in this bedroom, there is a 50% chance it was his diabetes, but there is an equal chance I bludgeoned him with his own shoe after tripping over it.  “How. Many. Times. Have. I. Asked. You. ..”

But we’ll save the bludgeoning for another day.

Now it is a quarter to two in the morning and I lie in bed listening to him head downstairs for some juice or whatever he chooses to bring his blood glucose back to normal.  I wonder “Should I put my pajama pants on, just in case?”

See, my father-in-law lives here so when I have to run through the house at night to perform emergency life-saving procedures, I like to be dressed.  It was the diabetes that was to blame the time my father-in-law saw my boob before.  No repeatsies, ya know?

I hear him down there fixing something to eat or drink, and he’s not quiet as a cat this time – he’s banging things around, much louder than usual.  To me, this is one of the subtle clues.  That must mean lower-than-usual blood-sugar.  Wonder how low he was?  Should I get up?  Or do I wait for the CRASH-THUMP of his body hitting before I go running?  That’s how it usually goes.  Where did I put that emergency glucagon shot after our last trip?  Is it back where it belongs in the medicine cabinet?  Should I put my pants on?

Maybe we shouldn’t have put granite counters in the kitchen.

I mean, the kids are all old enough that I don’t worry so much about them and their precious noggins hitting – but my husband is a diabetic.

Laminate would have been less deadly.

I hope there’s not a thump.

I’m putting my pants on anyway, just in case.

Fortunately, I hear him coming back up the stairs and he climbs back into bed.

“You OK?” I ask.

“Yeah.  Just low.” he says.

Low is a word that carries a ton of meaning when you’re the wife of a diabetic.  I find myself asking him all the time whether he is low.  If he is sweating when I’m not even warm, I ask “Are you low?”  When he’s acting goofy about something, “Are you low?”  Sometimes diabetics are just goofy – it doesn’t always mean they’re low.  But I ask.

For awhile there, we were having lots of issues with these lows sneaking up on him, and I would ask a lot.  To him, the question started sounding like an accusation.  To me, I asked it as a sort of verbal warning bell.

Ding. Ding.  Diabetes, Round 8.

We are fortunate in that we rarely have marital spats that get the adrenaline pumping, but when we have, I’ve had to worry about his blood sugar.  Adrenaline will do funny things, and if he drops fast when emotions are already high, he gets aggressive, kind of like a mean drunk.    Fortunately, in 18 years there have only been a couple times where this situation has caused him to push things too far.  In the heat of the moment, I just think he’s an asshole but later I blame the disease.

We’ve had some doozies of run-ins with this opponent.

But tonight, he’s back in bed.  “Just a little low.” he says.  “Go back to sleep.” he says.

“I was lying here wondering if your head would hit the granite.” I say.

“You can’t get out of sex that easily.” he replies.

And this is how I know he’s not too low.  He’s not good at smart-assy jokes when he’s really low, so it’s a sign that he’s fine.  For now.

“Go back to sleep.” he says, but I can’t.  My head is swimming with these words you’re reading right now.  “I have to go downstairs and write.” I say.

“Why?” he asks.

“They need to know.  It’s hard being the wife of a diabetic.” I reply.

He laughs.  “I imagine it’s marginally less difficult than being the actual diabetic.”

He’s got a point there.  At least my support group gets cupcakes.


If you’re so inclined, go donate to the American Diabetes Association and thank you.