Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Damn you, Gregg.

Damn you, Gregg.

Damn you and your damned cakes. With their delicious layers of yummy, irresistable goodness. Damn you and your sweet, goopy chocolate, and your melt-in-the-mouth tastiness.

Damn you for being so popular here in Rhode Island, for being the number one choice of employers looking for tasty sweets to have at meetings.

Damn you for being so inconsiderate, making something that I simply cannot say no to.

And you know - yes, you do, Gregg, exactly what you're doing. It's cruel.

86, 128, 119 before you. 306 after you and your damned too hard to bolus for desserts.

Damn you, Gregg, you get me EVERYTIME.

Friday, February 23, 2007

You Can't Handle the Truth!

Sometimes, people don’t like the naked truth. I hear people say all the time that they would rather hear the truth than a lie – that honesty is the best policy. But I think that’s a LIE.

Who REALLY wants to know that someone thinks they look fat in their new dress, or that someone thinks their haircut is ugly, or that something isn’t going to work out the way they planned, or that human beings are all too often as cruel and vicious as the most savage animals? No one, that’s who.

When I was a sophomore in high school, I had to create a family history for an Honors Social Studies class. The assignment was to create a written and photographic portrait of your family and present it to the class. For me, things didn’t go well on presentation day. I’ve never been one to varnish the truth – especially when it comes to creating a history – and I guess I don’t feel an appropriate amount of shame about the pieces of my family’s background that don’t polish up all that well.

I was so pleased with my presentation, and I wasn’t the slightest bit nervous standing in front of a classroom of my peers with a slide show, a family tree drawn on three sheets of posterboard, and several pages of what I thought was excellent writing regarding my family’s most recent history. I explained at the start of my “speech” that I had decided not to go back further in our history than stories about my great-grandparents because I believed that their story, and those of my grandparents, parents, and my brothers were the ones I could best grasp – and best illustrate for my peers.

I started by talking about my maternal great-grandfather and his brother who came from Ireland to the United States stowed away in a boat. They both made it to our welcoming shores, but my great-grandfather’s brother died just a week after their arrival from a fever. My great-grandfather met my great-grandmother when he moved into a boarding-house in the South End of Boston. She was attracted to his thick brogue and his dark hair and his deep green-blue eyes. He wrote home in a letter that he never sent that “he’d met a woman who he thought would rear fine children.” They married in a church just outside of Boston and moved into a home on Branchfield Avenue in Dorchester. My great-grandmother bore eight children – my great-grandfather spent the better part of their childhood drinking and womanizing; he died in his sleep from what was presumed to be alcohol poisoning when my maternal grandfather was just fourteen – he was forty-three.

At this point in my tale, my uncomfortable looking teacher started up from his seat and announced we’d take a break. I was approximately eight minutes into the program. He ambled over and told me that he wanted to see the rest of my presentation before I went on.

“Why?” I asked, not understanding at all.

“Well, I think some of what you’ve said so far might not be appropriate.”

“Not appropriate? But it’s the truth – when you give a history, you don’t lie, you give the truth, right?”

“Well, I just don’t think that some of it is appropriate – there are ways to talk about things without getting too specific. I’ll go over your presentation and then you can make it later in the week.”

While I wanted to argue, I really couldn’t afford to get a bad grade on the project, so I relented.

Apparently, the fact that my great-grandmother might “rear fine children” and the fact that my great-grandfather womanized and overdosed on booze – not appropriate.

Also not appropriate:

Mention that my both set of my grandparents divorced – and that my paternal grandfather married the ex-wife of my paternal grandmother’s brother. The fact that the large Irish families on either side were largely divided over the divorces and the actions by certain parties after the splits was also not an appropriate topic for my history.

Mention that my mother’s father would park the car, with her and her siblings in it in front of a bar while he drank – or that my parents’ families were both so poor, they often didn’t have enough to eat or wear and six or seven siblings shared a bed.

Photos of my grandfather during WWII and my father during Viet Nam. Portrait style photos were fine, but nothing that showed guns or my father or grandfather covered in dirt and grime on the ground in Germany or in the jungles of Southeast Asia. Also labeled “totally inappropriate” – a photo of my father and his Viet Nam buddies watching a USO show featuring scantily clad dancers and another of them holding a dead rat in the air.

Mention of the bathroom in the home of my father’s grandparents which was basically a room with a pipe in the floor and newspapers for toilet paper.

Mention of my gay uncle and aunt – and their long-time partners.

I was furious. I decided that if I couldn’t do my presentation the way I wanted to – I wouldn’t do it at all. My parents went to war for me with the teacher and then the principal and then the guidance counselor. In the end, I didn’t finish my presentation and the remaining members of the class who’d not presented yet were excused from the assignment as well.

I learned something from that incident about truth – and about history – and about myself.

About truth. The truth is ugly sometimes. The truth sometimes makes people uncomfortable. And a lot of people will say they want to hear the truth, but they really – really don’t.

And about history – most people would like you to think that history is what HAS been – but, I think we all know that history – at least the school version of it – is the collection of facts that school systems and teachers are most comfortable talking about – most comfortable discussing. The painful, the ugly, the untoward parts – are simply filtered out. This is a small part of what makes me a “digger, someone who chases bare history - who conducts as much research as possible when I want to know about a period of time – or a specific incident or person. When I want to know what really happened, I like to look through as many things as I can – to work toward getting toward the bare and the uncomfortable. I know that there are sill things I’m missing – presumably, the same truths that might make a teacher uncomfortable might also make those who record history just as uncomfortable. And when it comes to history – I am such a fan of the horse’s mouth. I think when you’re asking pointed questions, and you’re speaking honest truths, and you don’t shame a person – they WANT to tell you the whole truth – the real history. And that history is likely more interesting – and more telling – and more explanative of what a person or people have come through – and who or how they’ve become – than any kind of glossed up, beautiful story.

And finally – about myself. I am not ashamed that my family’s background is less than easy to swallow. In fact, I’m proud that my parents came through a background of difficulty and poverty and divorce and drinking to be sound, loving people who produced smart, proud children. And I’m not ashamed of truth.

I guess I’ll close by saying that lately, I’ve thought a lot about truth. With all that’s going on in the world – and all the lies that have been told and uncovered by our political and industry leaders – I wonder if we haven’t created, through years of hiding “blemishes” and keeping people/ourselves comfortable, a world where lies are superior to the truth. And, honestly, who’s to blame? Is it our society as a whole – our entire world order? Is it that we lie to ourselves all the time to stay “right with the world” and we don’t know any other way to function as individuals/a global group?

What are your thoughts on truth? History? I’d also be interested, before I go digging, to know what parents out there think of today’s history books and classrooms… Has the advent of the internet changed things altogether? What about 24-hour cable news? And blogs

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Deeper Shade of Pale

OK, ladies and gents, I'm looking for advice.

I am, as you can see from the photos on my below post, about as pale as a human can be. In the summer, I'm pale, but this time of year, I'm almost gothic. In so many ways, I love the way my skin looks - and I love that the religious application of SPF 45 during the summer months and SPF 30 September through April keeps my skin looking very smooth and relatively unlined.

But I have to wear a very sunny, very bright colored, very satin dress for a wedding in April - and I'm feeling, well, pasty.

Exhibit A (note: Could they put this dress on any darker a model? Now they've gone and tripled my doubts):

I'm not a fan of the way my arms look in things without sleeves or the way my legs look without a pair of tights or fishnets or something covering them - and I'm even less a fan when I don't even have a nice sprinkling of freckles and a slightly less pale than winter snow complexion to show off in said garment. So, I've been looking at some options and I need opinions and/or advice from anyone that might have information that could be helpful as I try to decide how to fix it so that I feel cute and lovely in the wedding attire I'm being asked to wear.

First, I've seen lots about body lotions - from Jergen's and other companies - that are applied at home and that take just a week or two to give you a "healthy glow." Has anyone tried these? Do they work the way they say they do? Are they splotchy? Do I have to apply it EVERYDAY (I'm kind of a commitment-phobe when it comes to this stuff)?

Next, I've been thinking of a spray tan. Apparently, it's not just a spray on bronzer; they use some kind of sugar compound sprayed on your body to turn the very outer layer of your skin a "golden-brown." Has anyone tried this or do you know anyone who has? Did they come out looking orange? Do you think, if I'm golden brown I'm going to look freakish because I'm usually so damned fair?

I know this likely sounds vein, but it's really not. I'm incredibly self-concious and I would like to look and feel comfortable as I help one of my best friends to have her most unforgettable day!

And another thing - where in hell am I going to put my pump? Yikes! I'm going to have to refer back to an entry I know Kerri made a looonnnnggg time ago!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Me and My Big Mouth

My mind and my mouth – and the things that come out of them– are, I think, both one of my greatest assets and my greatest weaknesses. I almost always think before something comes out, sometimes I even over-think. But I don’t always have the most popular opinion – and I’m not always that graceful in terms of how I say or write things.

Among some gems in my catalogue:

At age five:

Sr. Ida (Catholic School Kindergarten teacher): And so Noah had two of EVERY kind of animal on the ark.

Me (sitting on the floor looking up, stretching and waving my hand): Sr. Ida, what about the dinosaurs, I don’t see their picture here?

Sr. Ida: Well, there were no dinosaurs.

Me: That’s a LIE. I saw the dinosaurs at the Children’s Museum. This is a stupid story.

Off I went to the principal’s office before I could corrupt the precious young minds of my classmates.

And then later to my mother:

Me: Why did Sr. Ida lie? She says those stories in the Bible are true, but then she lies. Why?

There was never a good answer.

At age ten:

Host in a Restaurant: You’ll have to wait to be seated.

My grandmother (on the third round of chemo for the cancer that would eventually take her life): Is there a bench we could use while we wait?

Host: No

My grandmother: Then I’ll sit here. (Taking a seat at an empty table just by the door)

Me: (Whispering and giving host a knowing look) It’s OK, mister, she’s got C-A-N-C-E-R.

My grandmother told me before she died that that day I became her hero again. I still miss her.

At age eleven:

Upon meeting my father’s girlfriend, she was wearing blue shorts with teal socks and a red top.

GF: (Outside of my father’s presence): Just so you know, I DON’T like children.

Me: Just so you know, I think you’re ugly and your clothes don’t match.

At age fifteen:

In high school CCD class where the teacher had just expounded his theory that God sent AIDS to punish gay people.

Me: Really? What kind of disease is God going to send to punish you for being an idiot?

Lucky me, I got kicked from the class! My mother says this is one of her proudest moments.

At age twenty:

In college, after being told that handing out condoms as part of a class project around safe-sex and AIDS prevention was simply not allowed.

Professor: You simply can’t pass out condoms – it would ENCOURAGE our students to have SEX!

Me: Good Lord, you really think they need encouragement? We’re in college – remember?

Professor: So you think college equals sex?

Me: No, but I think nineteen year old guys and nineteen year old girls wanting to impress or please them plus booze plus the absence of our parents certainly equals sex. Then again, I’m not that good at math.

Professor: Is your blood sugar low?

Me: Ah, no.

At age thirty three:

Just recently, talking with my boyfriend about the rapid decline of the dealership he works for during the day. The dealership had been around in a small town, owned by a popular family, for over 80 years before being bought out last year by a crew of slick, greasy, guidos from Johnston, RI.

Bob: They just couldn’t make it work.

Me: Maybe because they’re out-of-towners trying to sell “Honders with leathah interiahs” to people who don’t know what the hell that means…

So you see how it is. I rarely feel sorry about what I say or how I say it – even if I get in trouble over the words, even if I make someone dislike me. And I wonder – is this a flaw or a strength – do you think? Is it a little of both?

As I was writing my last post – I thought of the times I’ve said odd or totally irrational or illogical things during a low bloodsugar, the times I’ve said exactly the opposite of what I truly feel or mean, or the times I’ve imagined myself something to say in the middle of a low – just to be able to hear my own voice – to know that I can still speak.

I am thankful for my voice, but maybe on occasion, I wish it were quieter, I wish I were less apt to wanting to be heard.

Now I’m just babbling…

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Up is Down, Someone to Watch Over Me, and Strange Love

Lately, up has been down so much of the time, it’s hard for me to figure out where I am. I’ve had several very scary low bloodsugars that I can’t seem to find a reasonable explanation for.

I’m not being melodramatic. Really.

“You don’t love me.”

“Yes, I do love you very much. Do you need to test your bloodsugar?”

“No, I know you don’t love me.”

“You’re being irrational. Now test your bloodsugar, please. Please.”

“Turn off the light. I want to go to sleep. You don’t love me.”

“OK, if you test your bloodsugar, I’ll shut the light off and we can go to sleep.”

“Fine. I’ll test. But I know you don’t love me.”

And up is definitely down.

The world is swirly and strange and my eyes can’t really focus on much of anything. But I feel like my mind is with me and for some reason I’m convinced the love of my life doesn’t love me at all.

Dr. House is on TV and the storyline is very sad, even if it doesn’t make sense. I realize that I’ve got tears streaming down my cheeks. And that I’m choking up little sobs as I wordlessly poke my finger and let the blood pull into the meter.

22. That can’t be right. 22? I test again. 21.

And now the quiet little sobs are great, noisy heaving sobs and I’m screaming,“God damn it. I don’t want to do this anymore. I just don’t. I hate this disease. I hate it. I hate it and it’s just not fair.”

Our cat is yowling too – loud, desperate cries as she circles around me, looking up at me, rubbing against me. And her desperation just makes me more upset.

There is a glass of juice in my hand now. And a gentle hand on my back, and the most soothing voice I’ve ever known, speaking softly, “Drink the juice. I know it’s not fair. Drink the juice.”

My tears are drenching my face, the collar of my pajamas, my throat aches as I sip down the juice. My fists are clenched like vice grips –tight and white. “I don’t want to do this anymore. I hate this. I hate it.”

“What can I do for you?”

“Nothing, there is nothing you can do. I just want a normal body. Can you help me with that?”

“Please finish the juice, babe.”

I suck down the last of it. Trying to bring down back down and push up back up.

Dr. House is trying to avoid humanity – the plot makes a little sense – and it’s still very sad. The world is coming back into focus. The cat is calmer now, sitting anxiously between us now, but not crying anymore.

The last hour of my life seems like a dream – something I’ve lived but not in real life. Something tentative and strange.

The whole thing makes me so sad, because I know that for my partner – without whom my life would be nothing – has lived it in real live color, in a world where up is up and down is down and the person he loves is broken and flawed and sometimes so angry and sad.

I cry myself to sleep.

The next day, we talk about it, Bob and me. He tells me he wishes he had caught it sooner. I tell him I’m so sorry for what I’d said. He assures me he knows that I didn’t mean it, couldn’t mean it. I tell him I hope he really believes that. Deep down, I trust that he does. I realize, again, how lucky I am to have someone so strong, so kind, so right.

Up is almost always up when I’m with Bob. And down is almost always down. And when things are upside down, his is one of the few voices that anchor me here – that keep me from slipping back and away – that snap me out of the sometimes vicious dream-like states that out of range bloodsugars visit upon me.

Often when I think of Bob I think of Ella Fitzgerald’s voice singing “Someone who’ll watch over me.” Because I know he will.

Ours is not a classic love story – it’s got some dings. Maybe even a dent or two. But that’s OK, because we’re not exactly classic love story kind of people, are we? Besides, strange love is so much more interesting.

Much strange, slightly dented love to you on this Valentine’s Day, my dear Bob.