Mom Wants A Diabetes Cure

Saturday, April 29, 2006

How My Ass Made A Difficult Situation Worse

My ass has been a part of me all of my life. We've had good times (like when I wear a pair of well cut jeans that showcases it perfectly) and bad times (like when I got stuck in an elevator at work).

I was reminded of this elevator ordeal when Jeff and I were in the hospital with Brendon. We were in the Pre-Op Department with about 20 other parents and their children. Half of us traveled together to the area where the kids had to dress and prep for surgery. On the way, our half of the group got on an elevator, and the nurse pressed the floor button. We stood there waiting for the elevator to rise, but nothing happened. She opened the doors again and a nurse waiting to get on said that she had to squeeze the doors shut for the elevator to move as the doors didn't completely close on their own. I heard a father behind me say "That is not a good sign." I turned and told him about the time I got stuck in an elevator when I was 5 months pregnant and proceeded to tell him the story (the condensed version of was a short ride).

It was 1999 and I was 5 months pregnant with Brendon. The company I worked for had relocated from Poughkeepsie, NY to Newark, NJ. The company took up shop in the National Newark Building that had just been refurbished. We were on the 32nd floor with floor to ceiling windows. I had a view of the New York City skyline from my desk. It was a beautiful building with granite floors, carved moldings, but questionable elevators.

I was on my way up from the basement after shooting digitals of products for one of the clients we had. I had reached about the 20th floor when the elevator came to an abrupt stop. I heard a loud bang and the elevator dropped two floors. Scared shitless, my heart pounding, I stood rigid because I was afraid that the elevator cables had come loose and I didn't want it dropping further.

I pressed the button to open the door, but nothing happened. "Son of a bitch", I thought to myself, "I can't believe I'm stuck...and now I have to pee. Fuck!"

I pressed the emergency intercom button that signaled security.

"Hello? Is anyone there? I'm stuck in the elevator and I'm pregnant!"

No response.

Fucking hell.

Again I say "Hello?..."

I get this response: "Yeah, what's wrong?"

"I'm stuck in the elevator and I'm 5 months pregnant and I'll tell you now that I have to pee pretty bad, so you better get someone here fast."

I hear the security guard speak to someone in the background: "A pregnant lady is stuck in the elevator and she has to pee real better get someone fast to get her out!"

"We'll have someone there, so just hold on."

"O.K., I ain't going anywhere."

So I'm waiting...and waiting...and waiting. I hear someone at the doors.

"Hello?...can you hear me?"

"Yeah", I say, I can hear you."

"Hang on, we're working to get the doors'll take a while. Are you O.K.?"

"I'm fine."

So I hear them clanging, banging, scraping. Finally, after about 30 minutes, the doors open. You'd think I could simply walk out and everything would be hunky dory, right? WRONG!!!!!

The doors open and I see a big wall in front of me. When the friggin elevator stopped dropping earlier, it dropped to the middle of a floor. So what I see is about 6 feet of wall in front of me with a about two feet of space from the top of the elevator to the bottom of the floor.

"Uh oh", one of the maintenance men say.

As I looked up, I could see about 5 men peering down at me. One of them tells me they'll have to drop a ladder down so that I can climb up and crawl out of the space.

Now, I'm trying not to panic, but by now my bladder is matching my uterus inch for inch...I'm wondering if I can fit through the space...and I'm hoping that while I crawl through, the elevator doesn't start to drop and crush me and the baby, and my bladder.

20 minutes go by and one of the guys brings a ladder along. They drop it down through the space and I start to climb up. Flashes of the elevator scene from the movie Speed run through my head. The maintenance guys are telling me "Easy now, we don't know how stable this elevator is."

Great, thanks guys.

I squeeze the upper part of my body through until I get to my stomach. I have to push my self further into the floor and really, basically, crush my stomach through the space.

Then I hear one of the maintenance men say "Uh oh". I look at his face and he's looking at something over my shoulder. I think to myself, "Oh fuck, the elevator's going to drop...oh fuck."

I slowly turn to see what's behind me. Now, this is where my ass comes into the scene. No matter how much I crush myself into the floor, my fat ass has the say as to whether or not I'm going to actually fit through.

I look back to the front and the "Uh oh" guy says, "You can do it, I know you can, just squeeze it through slowly."

Never in my life have I ever been so humiliated.

By the grace of God, I squirmed and squeezed and out popped my body. It was like a rebirth! I was alive! I didn't get crushed by an unstable elevator! And, miracle of all miracles, I didn't piss myself!

The men helped me to my feet and asked if I was O.K. I assured them I was, thanked them all, and ran to the bathroom. Sweet bliss followed. I took the stairs up the remaining floors to my office.

"Where were you? What took you so long to shoot the products?", I'm asked as I walk through the door.

I tell my story, and everyone has a good side splitting laugh over my ordeal.

"This could only happen to you, Shannon", says one of my co-workers.

I know.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Another Funny as Hell Blog

If you like The Dullest Blog in the World, you'll love Stuck in Rehab with Pat O'brien.

Start reading the March archive from the bottom post to the top, and then work your way over to the April and May archives, reading posts from the bottom up in each month's archive.

I couldn't get enough of this blog. Sadly though, there won't be anymore posts, but you'll spend plenty of time reading what's there.

The Dullest Blog in the World

I just had to share this website with you's guys. It's literally called the "The Dullest Blog in the World" and it is quite dull, but it had me laughing my ass off at every post.

If you have a weird sense of humor like mine, you'll get a kick out this blog. It won't take you long to get through the archives as the person only writes one entry every month (or less).

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Diabetes Trumps All

First and foremost, I have to say that I LOVE Dr. McGill. He's the ENT that operated on Brendon. I met him for the first time right before surgery as Jeff had been the one to bring Brendon to the appointments leading up to the day of surgery.

He's from Ireland and has watery blue eyes, and a very ancient Irish look to him. He's probably close to 70. Rather than a brogue, he has a sing-songy soft Irish lilt. I had to resist the urge to ask him to read me a bedtime story and curl up next to Brendon on the gurney and take a nappy-poo, LOL.

To follow up with Brendon's surgery, I'll start with the time before he went into the O.R.

Brendon had been fasting since about 6 p.m. the night before and hit a low around 3:30 a.m., so Jeff gave him some apple juice. Needless to say, because he had to fast before surgery, we were concerned that his basal would be too strong during the surgery because it takes into account the carbs he eats for breakfast.

He hovered between 100-116, but kept dropping a little at a time. We wanted to cut back his basal before surgery, but the anesthesiologist said he'd control his blood sugars with Dextrose being fed through I.V.

OK, fine.

Flash forward to recovery. We met Brendon in the recovery ward and he was crying and very hoarse...I felt horrible, but was able to keep it together somehow. Jeff wanted to test him to see if he was low, and then wanted to dose him for the popsicle he had just eaten. The nurses wouldn't let's against hospital policy.

They understood our frustration and was willing to work with us as much as they could. We'd test with our meter, they'd test with theirs, and then they'd pull back on the Dextrose if he was too low.

Needless to say, this was all so inefficient.

Flash forward again to his room upstairs. The floor nurse says, let's test him every three hours. No way, we say...if not every hour, then every 2 hours because he's not getting a whole lot of carbs, plus the stress could either make him low or high.

She had orders from the Endo Dept on how and when to test and correct one had consulted with us on this. We kept our cool, but we pretty much told them we wanted to determine when he'd be tested and whether he'd need to be corrected or bolused if he ate something.

So here was the plan they allowed:

1. We could test when we wanted, but we had to have a nurse test him at the same time with her own meter as well.

2. If we wanted to correct, or bolus him, there would have to be two nurses in the room to witness the dosing.

3. We could not adjust basal rates or give temp basals.

So, when Brendon had two containers of ice cream, we had to call the nurses in after he was finished...wait 20 minutes for them to show up...wait another 10 for them to calculate for themselves what the dose should be...then watch us dose him with the pump.

I guess with all of our complaining, two Endos came to see us about our "concerns". The one was a newby and gave us a speech about how the body works with stress, blood sugars up, down, blah, blah, blah...I just tuned her out.

The second was the one who wrote up the orders that she didn't consult us on. She says, "Well by not adjusting the basal rates, you can see if the basals are working for you especially since he's not eating." Nice try.

Let's just say that this was the longest, most tedious day of our lives.

Most importantly though, Brendon was kept comfortable...slept on and off all day...took care of Rufus because the surgeon told him that Rufus had the same operation.

The End!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Snore No More!

Brendon's surgery went off without a hitch. Too bad I can't say the same about his diabetes management. Hospital policy is cumbersome when it comes to the parents taking care of management and the hospital staff overseeing and APPROVING how we test and dose him.

Anyway, I'll fill everyone in at some point this week. For now, it's 8:30 p.m., I've been up since 4 a.m., and I'm about to pass out at the computer.

See ya.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Happy Earth Day!

You might see that picture as a weed ridden patch of dirt. This is where the kids have their garden during the summer. We buy plants, flowers, and vegetables and see what grows...and what doesn't. Last year was a bust because I didn't keep up with the watering, so everything sort of withered away (OK, they roasted in the sun and died).

Well, if you look closely, you can see a little tree that Brendon planted yesterday when he came home from school. I'll try really, really hard to not let it die (cross my fingers that my luck holds out).

Friday, April 21, 2006


This morning, when he came to my room to wake me for breakfast, Brendon crawled under the covers with me and told me he was shaking because he was so nervous about the surgery he's having on Monday (he's getting his tonsils and adenoids taken out).

Nothing typically phases this kid. But the surgery does.

I usually find comfort in him because he's so sure of everything, and confident, and lets things roll off his back. Nothing gets him down. He's my little Superman. (who's the parent and who's the child, here).

But when he told me he was nervous, my heart just completely melted. I'm not used to him being nervous about anything.

After breakfast, he told me his stomach hurt. "Maybe it's just that I'm nervous about my operation."

I hugged him and sat him on my lap and used a bit of humor to diffuse his apprehension. Afterall, laughter is the best medicine, right?

"OK, here's what's going to happen: You're going to wear a hospital gown with your butt sticking out the back (that one gets a giggle). Then you'll lay down on a bed with wheels on it. The nurses, and daddy, and I will walk with you to the operating room. Daddy will go in with you until you fall asleep.

You'll be sleeping while they're operating and you won't feel a thing. Then you'll wake up after they're done, and you'll look around saying 'Huh? where am I? wha' happened?' (that gets another giggle).

Then daddy and I will stay with you all day long, and daddy will sleep with you. Mommy will come the next day and drive you and daddy home. And that's it!"

I could immediately feel the tension melt away...he had a smile on his face...and the Kryptonite dissolved away. For now.

UPDATE: The poor guy is so wracked with nervousness. He keeps asking me for 1 minute hugs...he's complaining of headaches (his numbers are excellent though)...he's been hiding under the covers on the couch...he even tried bowing out of school, but I told him being busy will help keep his mind off the surgery. I hope he makes it through the weekend without having a nervous breakdown. I think I'll have to plan something special for him to keep his mind off of things.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

On A Lighter Note....

Does anybody have a favorite place on Cape Cod that they can recommend for a vacation?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Today Is A New Day, So It Better Be A Good One Dammit!!

I had a rough Monday night folks.

Jake fell asleep with me in my bed last night and around 10:30, I hear this weird gurgling sound. Jacob sat up and proceeded to puke on my bed.

Ah hell.

I jumped up and grabbed a towel from the bathroom hoping to catch whatever else was coming out, but it was too late. My nice fluffy pillows and my comfy mattress were covered in puke.

Jacob was screaming and crying, he was covered in the stuff, and so I stripped him and the bed. Then I threw him into a shower to clean him off. He didn't want to leave my side and I had to get laundry in the wash, so I carried him piggyback style down the stairs with an armload of sheets and towels.

I set us up on an Aero bed in the playroom (modus operandi anytime someone has a stomach virus) and tried to sleep. Luckily there wasn't much to his stomach virus, but it wasn't the end.

Brendon woke around midnight saying his pinky still hurt from Jessica jumping on him earlier that evening. I figured it was bruised because it looked fine when he first showed it to me, so I told him to go back to sleep.

2:30 AM rolls around and I guess the pain woke him because he was in some serious discomfort. I took a look at his pinky again and it looked fine. I told him to try bend it and he couldn't. I squeezed the knuckle suspecting a dislocated joint and felt it pop back in. It was dislocated all this time!!

Around 4:30 AM, Jessica comes downstairs and refused to go back to her room, so I had to scare her back up to her room by telling her that Jacob was going to throw up on her if she didn't get back to bed. I tucked her into bed and really never fell back to sleep, not that I really ever slept anyway. So now this morning, I'm getting Brendon ready for a Pre-Op appointment for surgery he's having on Monday. Jeff is taking him in for's the least he can do anymore.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Easter Sunday Was Not Boring

I'm roused to the sound of Brendon saying "Mom I want breakfast". It's 6:15 am, and I'm certainly not getting up out of bed to make him breakfast yet. I tell him so, and he goes downstairs to watch some TV.

Around 7 am, Brendon returns, and lo and behold Jeff takes him downstairs to make him breakfast. Ah, sweet slumber returns...but not so fast. I hear Jeff yelling, Brendon crying, but it's not enough to get me out of bed. I just assumed Brendon wanted his Easter basket before breakfast.

What does get me out of bed is, "Mommy TeeTee bed wet" (translation: "Jakey peed in mommy's bed"). Fuuudge. So I finally roll out of bed, strip the sheets, Fabreze the mattress and make my way downstairs.

What a fabulous Easter morning.

I see Jeff in the kitchen with his jaw clenched tight and tears rolling down Brendon's cheeks.

"What happened?", I asked.

"Brendon dosed himself."


"I checked him for breakfast and he was high. I went to correct him and saw "insulin on board", so I asked if he dosed himself."

In a nutshell, Brendon came down at around 5:30 am, ate candy and dosed himself for 30 carbs. Jeff grilled Brendon, Brendon lied through the questioning, Jeff flew off the handle, Brendon cried.

Easter had begun.

After hearing Jeff's account of what happened, I picked my heart up off the floor and did a carb count based on what candy was missing. Brendon was short by 10 carbs, thank goodness. He knows the lock code, so now it's time to lock up his pump with lock and key (literally).

Our plans for Easter Sunday were to leave the house at 11, have lunch at a tiny Italian seafood restaurant in Hampton (seaside) that we've gone to for Easter Sunday since we moved here. Then off to comb the beach for shells and rocks.

Jeff leaves for a jog after breakfast, and 2 hours later (at 11:30) he returns and starts fiddling with this and that around the house. I get pissed, he finally dresses, and we're out the door by 12:30.

What a fine Easter Sunday.

We do our lunch thing and head for the beach.

We thought the beach would be a lot colder by the water because it was so windy, but we just needed sweatshirts. The cool, harsh wind made my ears ache, but I couldn't have been at a better place.

The ocean is my most favorite place to be. I never get bored watching the waves roll in and lick the sand.

I spotted a lone surfer sitting on his board with the water undulating beneath him.

A word about the New Hampshire coastline: The waves are tiny...very tiny. They're lucky if they reach 24 inches (they could be more or less).

I wanted to yell out "Dude, you can't hang ten on a lump of water!!" but he looked so peaceful, I just couldn't do it.

I found a comfortable seat on a boulder and just sat and watched the water, and watched the kids try to skip stones (I'm telling you, the waves are tiny), and watched them climb the boulders that made up part of a seawall.

I could've sat there forever.

Jeff later told me, when we got home, that he could see on my face how at peace I was sitting there and that he was sure there was no place I'd rather be.

It turned out to be a great Easter Sunday.

Just For Shits & Giggles

For the hell of it, and because I was bored, I looked up my blog on Wikipedia.

Never in my ENTIRE LIFE!!! did I EVER EVER hear of this!!! WTF!!!!

I really don't know how Wikipedia associated the name of my blog with what it turned up for my search.

I think it's funny as hell yet very disturbing.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The "I" Meme

From Penny's blog:

I AM: restless

I WANT: a cure for Type I diabetes (just had to keep what Penny wrote)

I WISH: I could sing really, REALLY well (and so would my family)

I HATE: cleaning toilets (with a passion)

I MISS: my childhood best friend, Heather

I FEAR: rickety wooden rollercoasters (which makes them more fun!)

I HEAR: Spongebob on TV right now

I WONDER: what it's like to walk on the moon

I REGRET: not traveling before marriage and starting a family

I AM NOT: going to wipe Brendon's ass anymore!! (I don't care if he has more skidmarks than an Indy 500 racetrack)

I DANCE: often with my kids

I SING: in the car and my kids tell me to "STOP IT!!"

I CRY: when I'm angry


I MAKE WITH MY HANDS: pretty good ducks out of playdough for Jessica (at least according to her)

I WRITE: everyday

I CONFUSE: carbs with glucose numbers when I dose Brendon when he's low (but I catch myself before I hit "OK")

I NEED: a massage

I SHOULD: take some writing courses

I START: laughing when I see someone trip or fall (but only after I find out they're OK...and if they're not OK, I laugh where they can't hear me)

I FINISH: cheesecake, everytime

I TAG: everyone who reads this

Thursday, April 13, 2006


After I came home from dropping off Brendon at school today, I began to prepare peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for Jacob's and Jessica's lunches.

I fetched the bread, the jelly, the peanut butter, and the scale. I placed a slice of bread on the scale and proceeded to weigh out the peanut butter.

And that's when I caught myself. "What am I doing?", I thought. And that's when sadness set in. I couldn't quite place why I felt such sadness, and I still can't.

Maybe it's because caring for Brendon and his diabetes has become a part of me. So ingrained and so reflexive. Perhaps I need to take such close care of him. It's so much more than feeding him; bathing him; encouraging him to succeed at whatever he sets his mind to; helping him with homework; or a difficult puzzle. It's so much more than simply being his mom.

What am I to do with myself when he moves out and is on his own? Who will I take care of with the depth that I do him?

I always felt that my purpose in his diabetes management was to do just that...manage his diabetes. I make sure his numbers don't run too high, or too low. I check him at each meal. I experiment with insulin delivery to see what the best possible results will be after a difficult meal like pizza. I weigh and measure the food he eats and add up the carbs so that I know the amount of insulin to give him.

I check him before activities, during activities, and after. Then I treat him according to the results shown on the meter.

I check him at night and set his basal so that he won't run too high or too low while he sleeps. Then I check again in the middle of the night to make sure what I did has the desired effect.

I would think I'd be relieved that I didn't have to pay close attention to Jacob's and Jessica's portion sizes to determine the carb count. I would think that simply smearing peanut butter and jelly on some bread without giving a second thought to anything else would be liberating.

It isn't liberating at all. In fact, I'm feeling a little bit lost.

Brendon will be home soon, and I'll go back to what I do several times a day, every single day, all day and night.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

One More Use For a Used Test Strip

It's what Brendon is currently using it for on his homemade guitar made out of a tissue box and a rubber band:

A guitar pick.

Another Day...Another Thing Learned

I swiped this from Jamie's blog.

Go to Wikipedia and type in your birthday. Don't include the year. Record three events, three births and three deaths that happened on the day you were born.

Three Events:

1962 - For the first time in 400 years Neptune and Pluto align.

1870 - It is revealed that the famed Cardiff Giant was just carved gypsum and not the petrified remains of a human.

1887 - In Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania the first Groundhog Day is observed.

Three Births:

1923 - Liz Smith, American gossip columnist

1977 - Shakira, Colombian singer

1954 - Christie Brinkley, American model

Three Deaths:

1979 - Sid Vicious, English musician (Sex Pistols) (b. 1957)

1996 - Gene Kelly, American dancer, actor, and director (b. 1912)

1969 - Boris Karloff, English actor (b. 1887)

I thought it was pretty cool that Shakira and I have the same birthdate. And who woulda thunk that the Cardiff Giant was carved gypsum rather than petrified human remains. I learn something new every day!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Book Meme

Thank you Ms. Julia :)

Instructions: Bold the ones you've read. Italicize the ones you've been wanting/might like to read. ??Place question marks by any titles/authors you've never heard of?? Plus I'm adding this, as Turtlebella noted that the choice of books by each author is a mite idiosyncratic: put an asterisk if you've read something else by the same author.

Allcott, Louisa May Little Women
Allende, Isabel The House of Spirits
**Angelou, Maya I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
**Atwood, Margaret Cat's Eye
**Austen, Jane Emma
??Bambara, Toni Cade Salt Eaters??
??Barnes, Djuna Nightwoodde??
??Beauvoir, Simone The Second Sex??
Blume, Judy Are You There God? It's Me Margaret
Burnett, Frances The Secret Garden
Bronte, Charlotte Jane Eyre
Bronte, Emily Wuthering Heights
**Buck, Pearl S. The Good Earth
??Byatt, A.S. Possession??
**Cather, Willa My Antonia
Chopin, Kate The Awakening
**Christie, Agatha Murder on the Orient Express
??Cisneros, Sandra The House on Mango Street??
Clinton, Hillary Rodham Living History
??Cooper, Anna Julia A Voice From the South??
??Danticat, Edwidge Breath, Eyes, Memory??
??Davis, Angela Women, Culture, and Politics??
??Desai, Anita Clear Light of Day??
Dickinson, Emily Collected Poems
Duncan, Lois I Know What You Did Last Summer
DuMaurier, Daphne Rebecca
Eliot, George Middlemarch
??Emecheta, Buchi Second Class Citizen??
??Erdrich, Louise Tracks??
Esquivel, Laura Like Water for Chocolate
**Flagg, Fannie Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
Friedan, Betty The Feminine Mystique
Frank, Anne Diary of a Young Girl
??Gilman, Charlotte Perkins The Yellow Wallpaper??
??Gordimer, Nadine July's People??
Grafton, Sue S is for Silence
Hamilton, Edith Mythology
Highsmith, Patricia The Talented Mr. Ripley
??hooks, bell Bone Black??
??Hurston, Zora Neale ust Tracks on the Road??
??Jacobs, Harriet Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl??
??Jackson, Helen Hunt Ramona??
Jackson, Shirley The Haunting of Hill House
Jong, Erica Fear of Flying
Keene, Carolyn The Nancy Drew Mysteries (some, not all)
Kidd, Sue Monk The Secret Life of Bees
??Kincaid, Jamaic “Lucy??
**Kingsolver, Barbara The Poisonwood Bible
Kingston, Maxine Hong The Woman Warrior
??Larsen, Nella–Passing??
L'Engle, Madeleine “A Wrinkle in Time
??Le Guin, Ursula K. The Left Hand of Darkness??
Lee, Harper To Kill a Mockingbird
??Lessing, Doris The Golden Notebook??
??Lively, Penelope Moon Tiger??
??Lorde, Audre The Cancer Journals??
Martin, Ann M. The Babysitters Club Series
**McCullers, Carson The Member of the Wedding
**McMillan, Terry Disappearing Acts
??Markandaya, Kamala Nectar in a Sieve??
??Marshall, Paule Brown Girl, Brownstones??
Mitchell, Margaret Gone with the Wind
Montgomery, Lucy Maud–Anne of Green Gables
??Morgan, Joan When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost??
Morrison, Toni Song of Solomon
??Murasaki, Lady Shikibu The Tale of Genji??
**Munro, Alice Lives of Girls and Women
??Murdoch, Iris Severed Head??
Naylor, Gloria Mama Day
Niffenegger, Audrey The Time Traveller's Wife
**Oates, Joyce Carol We Were the Mulvaneys
O'Connor, Flannery A Good Man is Hard to Find
??Piercy, Marge Woman on the Edge of Time??
Picoult, Jodi My Sister's Keeper
**Plath, Sylvia The Bell Jar
Porter, Katharine Anne Ship of Fools
Proulx, E. Annie The Shipping News
Rand, Ayn The Fountainhead
Ray, Rachel 365: No Repeats
Rhys, Jean Wide Sargasso Sea
??Robinson, Marilynne Housekeeping??
Rocha, Sharon For Laci
Sebold, Alice The Lovely Bones
Shelley, Mary Frankenstein
Smith, Betty A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
??Smith, Zadie White Teeth??
Spark, Muriel The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Spyri, Johanna Heidi
??Strout, Elizabeth Amy and Isabelle??
**Steel, Danielle The House
Tan, Amy The Joy Luck Club
??Tannen, Deborah You're Wearing That??
Ulrich, Laurel A Midwife's Tale
Urquhart, Jane Away
**Walker, Alice The Temple of My Familiar
??Welty, Eudora One Writer's Beginnings??
Wharton, Edith Age of Innocence
Wilder, Laura Ingalls Little House in the Big Woods
??Wollstonecraft, Mary A Vindication of the Rights of Women??
**Woolf, Virginia A Room of One's Own

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Accent

Brendon is developing a Boston Accent. I just know it. I like Boston Accents, so I think it'll be cool to have a kid who has one.

The other day, I was itemizing the foods he ate during lunch so that I could count up the carbs.

"Mom, I'll tell you what the bread is."

"OK, what is it?"

"The bread is 14 cobs."

Come again?

"Say that again, how many?"

"14 cobs."

Hmm. Maybe it was a fluke. I thought it was...until today.

He came home from school today asking me where the sign up sheet was for a jump rope fundraiser the students are doing to promote physical fitness and to prevent cardiovascular disease.

"Mom, where's the form for the jump rope contest?"

"It's somewhere on the counter. Why do you want to know?"

"Well, we have to raise money so that people can stop having hot attacks."

WHAAAT??!! There it was again. No mistaking it.

"Bren, what do people have to stop having?"

"Hot attacks."

There you go folks. Brendon has a bit of the Boston Accent.

Let me tell you the adjustment I've had to make to translate this Boston Accent that actually creates its own Language.

The real estate agent who showed us houses while we were making our move up here, had a really heavy Boston Accent. We found and bought the house we're currently living in, but the kitchen needed to be gutted and replaced.

He and a friend did kitchen remodeling on the side and he offered his services. We set up a date for him to come over to discuss plans. Here's a snippet of a call I got from him the day he was to come over:

"Hi Shannon, I'm going to be late for our appointment. My friend's boila (boiler) broke and I have to help him fix it. They don't have a pot, so I have to go out and buy one. I'll let you know when I'm on my way."

"OK, fine, I'll be around."

Hmm, I thought to myself, why doesn't his friend have a pot, doesn't he cook?...Why do they even need a pot, maybe a pipe burst or something? Wouldn't a bucket work better?

Hours later our agent finally shows up and I ask him about how it worked out with the pot...did the basement flood while he was buying one?

"What? Whataya talking about."

"You said you needed to buy a pot, so I assumed a pipe burst or something."

"Nooo, we needed a pot to fix the boila."

"OOOHHH, you needed a PARRRRT."

Laughing at our misunderstanding he said, "Parrrt, right".

During another instance of "lost in translation", I was walking the neighborhood with my neighbor and we were talking about our houses and what had to be done.... All of a sudden, she says, "WOW!! LOOK AT THAT YOD!!"

"WHAT!!!??? WHERE??!!" I was startled. From her tone, I figured yods cannot be good. "What's a yod?"

"Oh, I meant yarrrd."

"Where the hell did that accent come from? I've never detected it."

"Well, I don't like to admit that I'm from Methuen (a suburb close to Boston), so I've made a point to hide my accent...I guess I slipped."

Another mistranslation happened yearrrrs ago to my mom's cousin who's son was getting married. His son had his Boston friends staying at the house instead of a hotel. One night while hanging out in the basement, one of the Boston friends asked:

"Where are the dots?"

"What was that?", my mom's cousin asked.

"The dots, where are the dots?"

My mom's cousin was shocked he would ask such a thing. You see, in New Jersey "dot" is short for "dot head", a derogatory word for Indian (the kind from India with the dots on their forehead). He had no idea why they would want to know where the Dot Heads were...were they going to cause trouble with them? Were they just curious? If so, then why? These Boston friends were known to be hot heads (that's actually hot, not heart) so maybe they just needed to blow off steam and cause trouble.

Finally my mom's cousin asks with a bit of trepidation:

"Why do you want to know where the Dots are?"

"Uh, so we can play dots? You know, on the dot bawd?"

Ahhh. My mom's cousin relaxed and gladly showed them where he kept the darrrrts, relieved that they weren't out to start trouble.

I often have to ask people to repeat what they've said because they lift the RRRRs from words and create whole new words. Sometimes I feel like I've moved to a foreign country...well, this is New Hampshire...maybe I'm not so far off.

It Ends With A Love Story

That one love of your life...the one who you just knew was the one at first sight...the one who would change the course of your life and leave you...and when he left you didn't want to go on living....

After America liberated Germany, my grandmother was granted a job as a translator. She knew Polish, French, German, Russian, English, and various other obscure European languages. She helped displaced prisoners find their ways back home.

She also took a job at an Army mess hall. During down time, the other girls and she would play cards and "comment" on the cute American Army boys.

"Ooh, look at him, he's cute"

"What about that one over there, maybe I can be his girlfriend"

On and on my 21 year old grandmother and her young friends would go about the cute American Army boys.

My grandfather happened to be standing guard in the mess hall on that fateful day.

My grandmother had her eye on my grandfather and she made one of those comments to my grandfather in Polish, so cocksure of herself that she could say whatever she wanted to him and so sure that he'd look back with a dumbstruck look on his face unsure of what the hell she just said to him.

He answered her back in the same language.

She and the girls were the ones who were dumbstruck.

I picture my grandfather with that sideways smirk of his (picture Bruce Willis and you'll know exactly what I mean) knowing he pulled one over on my grandmother.

You see, his family was from Poland. His family immigrated to America and settled in Pennsylvania where he was born. When he was three years old, they moved back to Poland where he grew up. Right before WWII broke out, he moved to America to live with his brother.

He married that woman and brought her back to America.

Five children (the untimely death of one) and two grandchildren later, my granfather died of a heartattack in the Winter of '83.

I was 12 years old at the time. I remember my grandmother standing with her head resting on the fireplace mantel saying these words:

"The man who saved my life is dead. There is no reason to go on anymore. There is nothing here for me anymore. What do I have here? He's dead. I just want to be dead too."

After all she went through from the time she was 17, when she was first picked up by the Nazis, until 1983, when my grandfather left her, she couldn't find the strength to go on any longer. The love of her life...the one who saved her life...wasn't at her side with that sideways smirk of his.

Twenty three years later, she's still going strong at the age of 83. Since then, she has two more grandchildren and three great grandchildren...she's survived lung cancer...still walks for miles...and when she gets home from those long walks, she complains that she's getting old.

The End.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Shadow Was Real

Laying in her jail cell, my grandmother was in and out of consciousness from the beating she endured for refusing to say Heil Hitler.

She was awoken by the sounds of horrific screaming...streams of French...more horrific screaming.

She lifted her head just enough to see a woman being dragged by prison guards to the jail cell across from her. The woman had been badly beaten. My grandmother assumed she was with the French Resistance due the fact that the woman spoke French. She also assumes the French woman was tortured because of the extent of her injuries...perhaps to extract information about the plans or whereabouts of those involved with the Resistance.

The woman never stopped screaming, yet my grandmother fell back to sleep.

Nighttime fell and all was quiet. My grandmother opened her eyes and looked around waiting for her eyes to adjust to the darkness.

The woman wasn't screaming anymore. My grandmother looked to the cell across from her and to her horror, she saw a shadow, slowly swaying, slowly twisting.

My grandmother was the one to scream now. Every terrified fiber from her weakened, beaten body flowing through her lungs into gutteral, primal screams.

Two guards and the prison maitron came running in response.



The guards and maitron assess the cell across from my grandmother.

"It's late. She can stay there until tomorrow."

"You won't take her down?"

"No. You'll just have to deal with it."

My grandmother just sat there. Staring at the shadow, swaying to and fro ever so slightly.

The next morning the body was still there. My grandmother couldn't help but to study the body in horrific fascination...where else could she look...this was the only view she had.

She studied closely and saw that the vertebrae in the woman's neck had separated. Her tongue was protruding from her

After all of this, my grandmother went on to tell us of the most luxurious experience she had after her jail stay. She contracted lice from the jail cell and the prison maitron made her get into a bath of scaulding hot water and soap. My grandmother says it was the best thing that happened to her during her four years in the prison camp. She stayed what seemed for hours, soaking, relaxing. The maitron had to come and finally chase her out of the tub...when the water finally cooled.

Perhaps that memory helped my grandmother to survive, and kept her from leaping over the edge...the way the French woman did.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Fireworks and Ice

Imagine yourself when you were a child. You are laying on your back on the cool grass in a park. You are looking up at the nighttime sky, moist warm air whispers over your skin. Your heart beating hard with anticipation of the next firework.


Sprinkling fire.

The boom vibrates through your chest.

You look up in utter fascination and feel something like fear at the possibility that the raining fire will fall from the sky and shower you with its burning beauty.

Now. Imagine yourself as a young woman. You are looking out of a dusty window at the nightime sky, crisp cold air whispers over your skin. Your heart beating with anticipation of the next bomb.


Exploding fire.

The boom rips through your chest.

My grandmother and her fellow prisoners watched with fascination and absolutely no fear of the spectacle. The Americans were bombing Berlin. Bombs fell all about them and they just watched with childlike wonderment.

I asked my grandmother if she was afraid. She said no, it was like watching fireworks. And if one of the bombs hit them, what could they do? Death wouldn't have been such a bad thing, she says.

They finally went to bed that night. Bombs continued to fall all about them as they slept the slumber of vacant prisoners who, day in and day out, trudged, with wooden clogs on their feet, 5 miles to the factory and 5 miles back to their bunks.

They. Just. Did Not. Care. Anymore.

The next morning they woke to start yet another work day.

They were alive.

My grandmother, and the other prisoners gathered whatever clothing they had collected from the dead during previous days and months, and dressed for the day's work. It was winter and they wore all of the clothes that belonged to them so they could keep warm.

As they left for the factory, no one said a word as they climbed over a bomb that fell through the roof as they slept. The bomb had remained intact. No raining fire fell upon them.

They were alive.