18 February 2009

How to Be Character #6

How to be character number six in ten steps...

1.  Need to arrange your silverware at a restaurant neatly at the edge of your napkin.
2. Be man enough to let me beat you at basketball (not that you could have stopped me :) )
3.  Watch those stupid chick flicks with me without telling anyone I had succumbed to them. (oh crap, I think i just let that one out of the bag)
4. Be able to walk down the pier with me slowly, without really needing to get anywhere.
5. Figure me out quickly enough to know you'd need to trick me into a date to get around my psychosis. And know just where to take me to get me to agree.
6. Be the grounding practicality to my dreaming wander lust.
7. Never allow me to cry alone in my closet.  Demand me to talk about my feelings (a hard feat, I'm sure you know)
8.  Be just jealous enough to show you care but not jealous to the point that it's smothering. 
9.  Want with all your heart to be a pastor but not be satisfied with the state of the American church today to settle for just any position offered.
10. Never know just how talented you are.

15 February 2009

The Revolt of the Body - Part 4

                 I can remember lying on the couch for hours, after everyone had retired for the night, arguing with myself about how wise it would be to wake him up and tell him where my heart was at, to tell him we could make a go of it, that I could deal with his past even if he couldn't, that I could even get past his grown out, mountain-man, sloppy hair. But, alas, as is true to my nature, I did nothing. Nothing , that is, except continue a senseless argument with myself until, at last, my body took over and shut my mind off for the night. I left that weekend once again wondering. Wondering what he was thinking and what might have happened if I had some guts.
                  This weekend, though, it looked like I might have another shot at it. With four hours of a less than entertaining game, I would have plenty of opportunity to find out. The 49'ers had done their part in scoring 14 points in the first minute and a half of the game. That at least took the distraction of a nail-biting game out of the way. Now all I had to do was open my mouth and ask. Ask why he ended things, what he thought might happen that he worked so hard to prevent. And all those overly-girlish questions like "was it something I did" and "was there someone else?" I figured I would start small and go from there. And so after much deliberation I went with. "Aren't you bummed you're not snowboarding?"
"Right now, not really." Good. A lead in. Sounds promising. And so I spent the next three hours plotting my next move, settling on what to say and then trying to get my mouth to cooperate with my brain. To actually voice all the hundreds of questions and statements that were running through my head at brake-neck speeds. When I accepted the fact that my mouth was useless, I thought maybe just a gesture would work. A hand on his shoulder as he sat mere inches away, maybe I could wrap my arm around him. I think that would get my point across. Unfortunately, I found my body even more useless and unwilling than my mouth. At least I could open my mouth to start (not that I could get words to follow, but in the world of paralysis ever a moving pinkie is worthy of celebration). My body on the other hand would not budge. It had called a strike in my time of most desperate need. And so I sat motionless, watching three hours of a game that had been won in the first 2 minutes.
                I would like to say that those three hours worked in me the courage to never let the paralysis win again. That it gave me the fortitude of mind to never let a moment pass where I didn't ask those questions. That I never listened to a lame excuse to end a relationship or that I never let a friend leave without knowing what I meant to them or what they meant to me, or letting them serve up some lame platitude like "See you at the next wedding or funeral" without calling them to the mat and finding out what had driven them away or how far they intended to run.
                  Unfortunately, I am slow to learn these lessons and even slower to pick up the skills to demand my mouth listens to my brain and my body no longer revolts, and mostly to quiet the voice in my head that says don't let them know you are unsure and confused, don't let them know you care more than they do and never let them make a fool out of you. After loosing out on knowing those I cared about and knowing more of myself in the process, I am finally starting to get there. And maybe someday, I'll have the opportunity to ask the questions I had so long ago. I only hope they still have the answers.

The Revolt of the Body- Part 3

                With us there had always been a lot left unsaid. I was a lot younger and far more new to the dating scene. I never wanted to look like a fool. So when he would try to talk to me about things, I would agree like I knew what he was talking about, always so afraid to ask, "what exactly does that mean?" When he ended things, he gave me some explanation that was so vague that I could not make heads or tails of it. It's not that he went for the old stand-by's "It's not you, it's me" or "I need some space." I just remember getting the message that things were over because he couldn't trust himself to be around me. I took that unclear explanation and assured him I understood exactly what he meant when, really, I had no clue.
           In a lot of ways, I was in over my head dating a guy like Matt, not maturity-wise or in my ability to carry on a relationship, but in life experience. I was 17 and he was 21. But it wasn't so much the age as what we had done in those years. He had lived a full life before he met me and we were in such different worlds. He was always so afraid of having his past life somehow tarnish me that he kept a lot to himself. Matt moved to California from Florida where he was living with his girlfriend of two years. I had never really dated with the exception of a few boys in Junior High. But we didn't date as much as "go-around" whatever that meant. I hadn't kissed a boy in four years and Matt, well, Matt had been living with this woman and all that that implied.
                   After Matt ended things, we stayed friends. Maybe even better friends than when we were dating. We both went off to college after the summer and sustained our friendship through letters, calls and the occasional visit. Leaving was hard. Two days after I moved into my dorm room, I was right back home because Matt was visiting that weekend, too. It was during a visit at his school that I first really noticed the paralysis. It was my second visit to his school, only this time it was a bit different. He had moved off campus, away from the strict oversight of the Administration of the Bible College, away from the no-fraternization rules where boys and girls could never be alone together (an oxymoron I never understood) and from the "Safe Zone" five feet from every dorm room door. I had to stay with a female friend at the college and if I wanted to see Matt, I couldn't call (no phones in the room and this was before the days oft he ubiquitous cell) I had to knock on his door and immediately jump back five feet before he opened the door so as not to violate the "Safe Zone".
             Now he shared a cabin with two coworkers at the camp where he had taken a job as a cook. I got the couch and we got out from all the legalism. Without the oppressive safety net, the tension once again began to rise and with it my ever increasing paralysis. Maybe it was only in my mind or maybe it was in both our minds, but, either way, I was powerless to find out. It seemed we were always teetering on the verge of picking up right where we left off. However much I could convince myself that all the signs were there, I couldn't convince myself to act on it.

The Revolt of the Body - Part 2

         And so the next morning, after the cold had added insult to injury by freezing my now mangled joint, I was left behind to wallow on what was one of the least crowded days of the year. While I should have been riding run after run of near empty hills, I was sitting, leg elevated and iced on a couch left over from the crazy decorating trends of the seventies, an itchy brown-orange tweed that, over the years, had its original pattern removed by use only to be replaced by a new pattern consisting of a chili dog that missed the plate and a belly full of strained peas that had not agreed with its six month old consumer. But, at least, it meshed well with the rest of the cabin that time had forgotten. It probably served as the receptacle for all of the owners' old stuff when common decency called for its replacement in their primary residence.
            As I flipped on the pre-game show and settled in for a day of self-indulgent pity, I realized I was not the only one who had forgone the best snowboarding day of the year. Matt sat down on the floor next to the tweedy nightmare with a soda and a bowl of chips, which he promptly offered. I obliged.
            Matt was a soft-spoken character who a year earlier had played the role of my first boyfriend. Even though that word has never been thrown around, in my story , it was who he was to me. Or maybe he was just the first boy I dated. Either way, our dating was short-lived and was, fortunately, followed by a good friendship, but a friendship where there was always that lingering possibility...
               I'm not sure the reason he gave that day for staying behind, maybe it was out of pity for me having to spend the day alone, maybe it was to spend the day alone with me, or maybe he just really liked football. Whatever it was, he stayed. For some reason, I can't remember him ever offering an excuse, just him walking across the hardwood floor in socks, sitting down and offering me chips.

The Revolt of the Body - Part 1

So I thought I would try my hand at a narrative. It comes to you in four parts, in four days. Let me know what you think....

             The snow outside had built up to a good twenty-four inches overnight. The whole reason for coming on this trip was shot. I would be left behind when all my friends would take off to hit the slopes. Left behind to watch one of the most quickly won Super Bowls, one of the most boring in years, and one of the most memorable. The day before Super Bowl Sunday a couple of us had been outside playing in the snow. We had borrowed a friend's cabin and were spending the weekend away from the ever-warm and snow-free Southern California. We had gone into the snow like a bunch of giddy kids, throwing snowballs, slipping on icy streets, and enjoying being young.
            I found a pile of freshly fallen snow and decided to climb to the top and claim "King of the Mountain" or rather "Queen of the Mountain", my ignorance of the snow glaring as I quickly sank knee deep into the mound of snow as white and glimmering as a starlet's newly bleached teeth. Eric, never one to pass up an opportunity for physical humor, seeing me trapped, thought it might draw a laugh if he pushed me over. He only partly succeeded. My top half went down like a felled tree. My leg from the knee down stood motionless like an impersonation of an English Royal Guardsman. Walking became a sad impression of Groucho Marx and snowboarding was definitely out of the question.

11 February 2009

Another Shower Epiphany

I was in my thinking spot, more commonly referred to as the shower, the only place I can get a period of time long enough to complete a thought in my head, reflecting on my last piece of writing and more over the tone of the last 4 months of my writing, when I realized that I had once again fallen into the depressing part of my emotional tide chart.  Just like the tides come in and out with some predictable regularity, so too I tend to fluctuate between the heights of optimism, a I-can-conquer all attitude, and the depths of my dark humor and despair.  I rode the tide of the dark side for long enough and decided it was time to see the moon pull on my side of the earth for a while. 

            The last thing I wrote was a simple exercise in letting the mind wander as I inspected me, 25 random things about myself.  I realized how easy that was and thought I might be up for a bigger challenge, 25 good things Diabetes has brought into my life.  I am sure I could rattle of a good 5 or 6 typical responses but to get to 25 I would actually have to think.  I thought it might be interesting to see how many would be up for the challenge to look at their own tragedy or trial and try to see how many they could come up with.  Maybe it’s just what the doctor ordered.  And so it is, 25 good things diabetes has brought…


1.  It wasn’t cancer or Leukemia.  Those were the other options my doc proposed that my symptoms would match. 

2. It has brought great discipline to my life. I have always been an undisciplined sort and had been praying that God would give me more discipline for about 2 years before he obliged.  Little did I know…

3.  It gave me a greater appreciation for what an amazing body God has designed in that it can balance the amount of insulin released from the pancreas, the amount of glucose released from the liver, the signals of fullness after a meal, the amount of stress hormones flowing around and the ever changing needs of muscle tissue for sugar.  And it only allows the amount of sugar running around in my blood to vary less than 40 milligrams in every liter of blood.  When I am left to the task I sometimes can’t get it to stay within hundreds of milligrams.

4.  It has allowed me to team up with some pretty amazing people who are charging and changing the face of diabetes.  People who challenge the notion that diabetics need to be mellow when it comes to pushing their bodies to the limit.  People crazy enough to do the Ironman Triathlon, to climb mountains and to run a 200-mile relay over 24 hours.  They inspire me to push myself harder every day I am out training.  Without diabetes I would never have pushed myself to join a group (I was never much of a joiner)

5.  It has made my life hard enough that I often get to the point where things are so bad that all I can do is resort to laughing at how ridiculously hard all of this is. What else can I do when my blood sugar is so low that I can barely control my impulses and have come within seconds of pouring an entire box of cereal over my head because it seemed like it might feel nice.

6.  Without Diabetes, I would not have found out so quickly how great my husband, Tony, would be at taking care of me and forcing me to talk about all that I was feeling.

7.  Diabetes gave me the ability to take off an extra 6 months during my pregnancy with Eli.  That was time that I got to be a stay-at-home-mom for my eldest, Shea, time I treasure.  It also gave me 9 months off when Shea was born. 

8.  Diabetes gave me a reason to write a book, or maybe I should say, be in the process of writing a book.

9.  25 is going to be hard…

10.  Diabetes really drove home the divide between spirit and body.  I can remember in the early days walking out of my doctor’s office in Los Alamitos and realizing my body was now broken.  My pancreas just didn’t work like it was supposed to.  But my spirit still remained as it was.  It forever divided the two in my mind.

11. If Diabetes is the worst thing that has happened in my life, I have led a charmed life.  There are many worse things that can happen.

12.  I get to bring my own candy anywhere I want, movies, meetings, etc.

13.  It has humbled me in a way that I needed big time.  Being an arrogant, pompous fool never benefited anyone.  I figured out real quickly that I was just as susceptible to harm and tragedy as the next guy. The invincible teen years ended before their time. 

14. Diabetes started my running, swimming and triathlon career.  When I was diagnosed my doc said I had to exercise everyday.  I was in college so I couldn’t really join any teams, wasn’t quite good enough for college ball.  So I did what I could do alone and with no equipment, I ran.  One of my friends got me into swimming at the pool at UCSD between classes and I already rode my bike daily (the result of personal budgetary restraints and expensive parking permits on campus.)  My competitive spirit put all three together and I started tri’s.

15.  My daughter is well trained in calling 911?

16.  I think it turned the balances in my favor in getting sponsorship with the Power Puff Girls/Cartoon Network for surfing.  I wrote some cheesy paragraph in how I am just like the Power Puff Girls because I fight my own monsters.  Yeah, I know, I played the D card.  But every now and then you have to.

17.  I have a great relationship with my doctor because I see him so often.  He is so comfortable that he’ll sit down and rap with me for a while about the good ol’ college days.  So when I do have a problem he always takes the time to hear me out.

18.  I can always look back and say the reason I got a C in O-Chem is because my sugars were in the 7 or 800’s when I took my final (even though when I took O-Chem C I got a C too but I was fine.)

19.  I never have to pony up a doctor’s note for an absence if my employer asks because I have a chronic condition.  (Anyone up for a Tuesday morning surf when the Santa Ana’s are blowing and everyone else is at school or work?)

20.  It has on many occasions forced me to face my own mortality.

21.  I have met a few good-looking firemen and paramedics when I have had to call 911 because my sugars had gotten too low.

22.  Diabetes makes sailing solo through the Florida Keys for four days more than a self-indulgent pleasure cruise and turns it into a chance to inspire others to do what people have told them they couldn’t because they are supposed to be good little diabetics and not push themselves to find new ways to conquer what in their Pre-D lives would have been commonplace and so easy.

23.  It gives me a cause to raise money for.  Insulindependence.com has this same mindset of helping Diabetics push themselves and inspire other diabetics to do the same. Check them out. (And if you want to help me, check out http://www.firstgiving.com/erinspineto.) Yeah I know it’s a shameless plug, but what can I say?  It is an advertisers world.

24.  Maybe diabetes has just allowed me to give you a reason to see the bright side?

25.  Diabetes gives me a reason to come up with 25 reasons that diabetes has been good to me and spend the last hour practicing some writing skills. 

08 February 2009

25 Random Facts

So I was asked to write 25 random things about myself.  what follows is the answer...

1. i am a procrastinator. look how long it took me to do this. I am so behind on the trend.
2. i am a diabetic, type 1, who runs triathlons and sails to prove that i am in control, not my broken pancreas.
3. i am writing my memoirs on doing #2.
4. i hate capitalizing stuff when i type.
5. i want to sail single handed around the florida, keys. alone. by myself. without any one else (starting to get the point of the trip?)
6. i am not actually a writer
7. biochem degree from UCSD and a minor in visual arts just to give my brain a rest ( and because secretly I am an artist- just don't look to my work for confirmation of that fact.)
8. married my best friend after telling him that, even though he was getting the word from God that we were going to get married, i too had been praying and getting the opposite answer. One of us was wrong and it certainly wasn't me. (not the last time i was wrong, or "mistaken" if we are using p.c. speak)
9. married an artist, an oil painter to be more precise. so i guess i put that art degree to work after all. i try not to sound too stupid at all the gallery openings we have to get all gussied up for.
10. kind of random, but i guess that's the point... hadn't kissed a boy in 8 years when i first kissed tony after he proposed
11. want to do lots of traveling but mostly with in the 30's. (that's latitude for the geographically disinclined). no need for the rolling forties or roaring fifties near where its way too cold for people to actually exist without 42 layers of clothing.
12. live in encinitas, ca because its a community where on saturday morning most of the kids at the coolest donut shop on earth are only in their trunks and never have their hair combed and are only making a quick stop before they hit the beach until sundown and sometimes after. Their parents, most of the time, match.
13. wow... really... 25?
14. i have 28 teeth?
15. lived with a different group of 6 girls for the last 3 years of college with at least one each year with an eating disorder.
16. think that the only acceptable source of caffeine input should be Diet Dr. Pepper. no coffee, tea only if i think i am writing while sitting on the floor at a barnes and nobles after the kids have gone to bed for the night
17. had a birthday party when i was 10 that no one showed up to. i would like to think it was because it was the same weekend as halloween parties (dumb planning) but really it probably wasn't. too much grrr in my early days. didnt learn to fake the bubbly perky until later in life and still dont do it well
18. just had to get up and test my blood sugar because it often drops when i write. probably from all the energy i have to expend to come up with all this super "deep" stuff :) <---that is the silly little symbol people type to show that they are making a joke? right? i think id rather go with a "ha" from deep within the belly, kind of like one santa would do if he got drunk and forgot his lines, "ha, ha, ha" "isnt that the stupid line they always give me in all those sappy, crappy movies aired just before i get my break in jamaica?" 22. Yeah is kipped a couple.. what of it? 23. i just learned to spell piece when i was 25 when my 6th graders got sick of my misspelling on the overhead and leant me the silly little saying i still repeat in my head each time i spell it. "piece of pie." translation piece starts just like the word pie p-i-e 24. i still can only tell my left from my right when i picture myself taking off on a wave. i instinctly know my right is front side and my left is backside. the whole put your pointer and thumb out to make an L doesn't work for me because they both look like L's to me . sorry I had a hard time flipping my letters as a kid. think they should have put me in special ed and medicated me for that one. (insert another lame symbol or maybe we should dod the LOL thingy here) 25. i have just finished this thing