Monday, March 27, 2006

What God Thinks of Money

"It is generally agreed, that few men are made better by affluence or exaltation."
~Samuel Johnson

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
~Dorothy Parker

As a lot of you know, I live in a community where a lot of rich people make their home. Marin, once the bastion of hot-tubs, hippies, free love, and pot, has become the bastion of Land Rovers, the noveau riche, love of money, and $200-a-bottle-pinots.

Now, I don’t have anything against rich people, per se. A number of them are actually very good at what they do, which, as far as I can tell… is being rich. No, but seriously. If you look beyond the number of dollars these people have in their bank accounts, which is more than the number of used test strips that would be found if I did a massive sweep-up of the house (now… that’s easily several million), some of these folks are actually pretty damn nice people. Some of them just don’t talk to me, so I have no idea whether they’re nice or not. And some, well, I know in their hearts they have the potential not to be obnoxious. But sometimes….

When I was growing up, my family didn’t have tons of money. No private schools or Ivy Leagues for this girl! But neither were we in dire poverty. My parents were both college professors. We had a big (and old, and in continual need of repair) house. We had more money than many people, but less than quite a few, in our working-class, farm town of Sycamore, Illinois ("where life offers more"). A lot of my friends had parents who worked in factories, as waitresses or mechanics, and on farms. Many of these kids said to me, “You have that mansion. Don’t say you’re not rich. Of course you are!”

Truth be told, the house had been a money pit from when my parents bought it back in the late 1960s, for a steal. No one wanted it. The house, built in the 1860s, had been until late owned by hippie Satanists who took the Rolling Stones’ exhortation to “Paint it Black” literally. There were The Shining-esque black-and-white tiles throughout many of the rooms, and surely REDRUM had been painted on the mirrors at some point. And even when my parents had fixed the worst of the problems, an old house from the 1800s continually has things go wrong. Plumbing never works quite properly, since the house wasn’t designed for indoor plumbing. The list goes on.

The point is, we weren’t rich. Not in any traditional sense, or at least not like people around here. (I realize of course that everyone reading this is rich compared to 90% of the world.) But still, I was taught from a very young age never to talk publicly about money. In my house, you'd sooner talk publicly about your bodily functions than about money. Until recently, I believed everyone had been taught the same.

I have taken this advice to heart all my life. When my book sold and people kept asking how much it had sold for (because, don’t ya know, we authors all make a million bucks right out of the gate), I told exactly three people: my husband, our accountant, and my shrink. Talking about money is plain rude.

However, some rich folks around here have apparently never heard that news. Once in awhile I will hear, and be embroiled in, the most obnoxious conversations. These are people who are well aware that there’s a class difference between us. So... Are these conversations rude, or merely clueless?

Here’s an example. A woman told me how sorry she felt for the man who supplemented his university professor income by working summers at an exclusive resort. “Of course, I know why he works there. It’s so his children can be members,” she said. “You know that’s tens of thousands of dollars, and they’d never be able to afford it otherwise.” (She, of course, belongs; she'd been discussing all the details of the resort and all the activities her children were involved in there for the last forty minutes.) I had to fight from breaking up into laughter because if we had a spare ten thousand dollars lying around, we wouldn't be joining no resort. We'd be shipping checks to Visa.

Someone else once explained to me how her husband and she had had “quite a little laugh” over the fact that she’d written a $10,000 check to a friend and “forgot” to tell her husband. “But he never even noticed!” she said. “Not until we did the books at the end of the month.”

Oh. My. God. If I had written a $10,000 check to a friend and “forgot” to tell Phil—I guarantee you he would notice. And that would NOT want to be a conversation you'd like to sit in on. (I did realize the morning after speaking to this woman that what I truly needed to do was put in an application to be this person’s newest, bestest friend.)

Is it just me? Or is this obnoxious? Maybe I'm too sensitive, or jealous. I know from talking to trusted people that my reactions to others are more about ME than about THEM. Ms. Resort or Ms. Big Bank Account can't make me feel two feet tall if I don't let them. But...

My daughter brought me a precious goody the other day as we were driving in the car. “Mom,” she said, as we were behind a particularly ostentatious Land Rover, a car that I find obnoxious since there are no grassy savannahs or elephants, tigers and antelope in Marin County. “Are Land Rovers vulgar?”

I almost pulled the car over and kissed her. Yes, dah-ling. I said. Yes, they are, QUITE.

That was almost as good as the one where she rushed into the office telling me she had found a great way to get everything shiny in the kitchen. Hey,I thought. She’s finally getting the whole clean-up-after-yourself thing! “What did you use, honey?”

“Bacon grease!”

I sometimes wonder what is the difference between the rude, uncouth rich and the graceful rich, who never mention money, who invite us over to share what they have and enjoy coming over here to share what WE have, even though it isn't nearly what they do. People who don’t make a big fuss over their possessions or drive big, gas-guzzling cars. People who don't discuss what's in their bank account or, more to the point, what so effortlessly flows out of it, except to generously write checks to charities and scholarship funds... and mark them "Anonymous."

My old theory was, the “new” rich were rude and the “old” rich were polite. But many of the most graceful rich people I know are self-made millionaires. So, that’s not it. I wonder. What is it about a plentitude of money that makes one talk about it so much? Is this not-talking-about-money a Midwest thing? Maybe I should lighten up when others discuss what’s in their wallets and bank accounts? Should scientists study the brain of the graceful rich and try to genetically engineer the other type out of existence? Does bacon grease make the Land Rover run better?

But dah-ling, I must be going. This discussion has become so very… vulgar.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Thus Spake the Pussy Fanboy

Hi all! I have awoken bleary-eyed from sobbing into my pillow all night over the Zags' loss to UCLA. What happened? I hoped it was some horrible nightmare, but the Zags have reached the end of the road. Alack, alas.

Now, I haven't written on the blog for awhile because I've been really wrapped up in the tourney stuff, plus I'm doing some aggressive outlining for the novel-in-progress. Yes, you heard right... OUTLINING. I've gone over to the dark side! But I think it's really helping me get conflicts straight in my head, stakes for each scene, and obstacles for each character.

Anyway, I was just wondering what to write about, and this morning I got this blog comment to which I feel compelled to respond. This was fun! I love writing prompts.

This comment was in reference to some entry or another I wrote about Adam Morrison of the Zags, still, yes still, the #1 college player in the country. (Do you know I am a "fanboy"? Oh, but read on, it gets more and more fun! Huzzah! This brought me right out of my dark mood from last night's loss.) Here goes... the commenter's questions are in italics; my replies are in plain text:

Who is saying that Morrison is the best forward since Bird?
That would be CBS Sportsline, Brown Daily Herald, Detroit News, The Missoulian, and here's this reported by Slate:
"Larry Bird, baby!" croaked CBS color man Bill Raftery rapturously. "It felt like guarding Larry Bird," agreed Oklahoma State's Marcus Dove.
I dunno, look around. I'm not gonna copy and paste every single link for you. Hint: Google is your friend.

But I read elsewhere that Adam doesn't like these comparisons, either, so I'll stop. Sorry, Adam. Mea culpa.

That is an absolute joke! Talk about an exxateration. Also your friend.

After losing last night, he flopped to the floor in a childish display of crying and pouting that I could only expect from my two year old nephew. What a pussy!
Oh, you're one of THOSE. "Real men don't cry. " "Beer bong taste good." "Cheetos--food group!" "Wall make good toilet if bathroom door locked." I see...

Never have I seen such unsportsman-like conduct.
Really? Never? You haven't watched much soccer, I guess.

Furthermore, since Adam Morrison is a communist, he is a piece of $h1+.
Hm. Interesting theory. I KNEW there was a reason Che Guevara never made it big in basketball!

Seriously, I don't think Adam has ever claimed to be a communist, only that he's read Marx. Reading the ingredients on a box of cereal doesn't make me into a bowl of GoLean Crunch.

He will suck in the NBA, because he will not be able to play with men. He is a little boy, who is never going to be a winner. To be a winner, one must first learn to accept defeat.
Hm, again. Seems to be Adam has a pretty clear history of accepting and managing his difficulties. Type 1 Diabetes is a bear, to put it mildly. I know this firsthand, dearie. It requires continual monitoring, decisions on the fly, 100% commitment, 24/7. Kind of like... basketball?

Morrison does not have the guts to accept losing, therfore will never be a winner.
Oops, you repeated yourself. And is your friend. Dang, now I repeated myself.

Oh, and do you know what a comma splice is? Sounds dirty, but it's easily fixed with a semicolon. They didn't teach you much at... that school, now, did they?

And he is not the best forward since Larry Bird.
SIGH... You've repeated yourself again.

For crying out loud, have some respect for larry Bird, one of the game's all-time greatest. To compare Adam Morrison to Larry Bird, is nothing more than fanboy jibberish.
Hee, hee... I am a girl, last time I checked. I find it really flattering, though, that I apparently can talk basketball like a boy! (Or maybe just "jibberish"? Let's say it together... is...)

Actually, this is where you and the 'Stache agree.

And... watch your comma usage. This link is useful. I'm pretty sure Strunk wasn't a Communist, if you're concerned. I'm not sure about E.B. White, but Wilbur the Pig was pink, through and through. And I think Templeton was a Fascist.

Why don't you get on your knees for the Adam Morrison BJ that you wish to give him?
Hm, he's too young for me, besides which, I'm happily married, thanks. But I do think it's hot when men cry. Very, very hot. You know, we ladies like a little emotional displays from time to time. Flowers are nice too... and clean toilets. Jewelry, always a winner... but skip fragrances, please, unless you REALLY know what you're doing. Oh, and a cup of hot coffee, brought to us in bed on those bleary-eyed mornings? VERY nice. I'm giving you all these hints for free. Put them to good use with your honey, OK? I want the credit, though.

Oh, and I always went for the intellectual type, from way back in college. The lefty intellectual type. HOT. No campus Republicans for me. Not a single, bingle one.

Signed Bradley fan
Oh... this explains a lot. Condolences... would you like some aspirin for your hangover? But sorry, I won't kneel down and give you a blowjob. Maybe if you pick up some nice Friedrich Engels, or George Bernard Shaw, or hell, Barbara Ehrenreich--now that would be HOT--and page through it as violins play in the background and you sob for your team whose season, like the Zags, like Duke's... is now over.

Oh, but you did manage your own little "childish display of crying and pouting." Very good start. Now head to your local library!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Are You a Lunatic?

I ticked the "Decline To State" box on my application for the universe, sorry! But those who know me well know the answer to that question!

Well, I am relatively better, although still just exhausted. I've emerged just in time to welcome the fabulous Cindy Cruciger to the blog, author of the creepy new novel REVENGE GIFTS.


(in Cindy's Words)
I believe that some people are just plain haunted. I think that certain people are lightning rods for ghosts. I think they grow up with it, learn to live with it and ignore it – to the point where they one day find themselves in serious trouble. That is the crux of my heroine’s character in the Revenge Gifts chronicles.

Revenge Gifts takes place over thirteen days spanning a full moon. Tara Cole is an extremely powerful attractant to ghosts, specifically ghosts seeking revenge. One spirit attracted to Tara in particular is the voodoo loa Erzulie, goddess of love, envy, jealousy and revenge. In thirteen days Tara’s life is turned upside down by a Reversal of Fortune curse placed on her by an angry recipient of one of her revenge gifts.

The weird wasteland that was Tara’s life turns around with a vengeance and he ten year dating dry spell? Over. But with all things good in a garden of evil a price must be paid.

This is not your typical romance. This is not a romance for normal people. Revenge Gifts is a romance for the lunatic fringe.


CLICK HERE (I couldn't make the blurbs work since they are graphics on Cindy's site)


MO’C: You describe your work as “romance for the lunatic fringe.” I think I’d definitely qualify… what does “lunatic fringe” mean to you and what kind of response have you gotten from that market?

CC: To me the lunatic fringe are readers who basically say, do and read what they want because they’ve figured out early on that life is far too short to care what other people think. You will find Ellora’s Cave on their PDA along with Blaise Pascal and Atlas Shrugged. The Lunatic Fringe understand and can tell the difference between “snark”, irony and meanness.

In Revenge Gifts I give them some seriously messed up characters. If you’re normal, you aren’t going to wish you were Tara Cole and you most definitely won’t see happy endings with Howard. You WILL wish you could meet them, though … from a safe distance.

MO’C: I adore your cover. It’s very noir-ish and almost retro. How did the cover come to be?

CC: Honest-to-god, I have no idea. I gather the TOR PR and Marketing people got together and, in a fit of binge drinking and designer drug use, decided that roosters were the perfect symbol for dark, anti-chick-lit. It’s probably better not to know where the covers for novels come from.

MO’C: Do you believe in the supernatural? What are those from “the other side” trying to tell us, do you think?

CC: I definitely believe there are ghosts here on Earth. I’m not sure they have anything to tell us. I’ve never asked. I don’t think I want to know.

MO’C: Are any of the characters based on yourself? If so, which ones?

CC: I pulled the computer stuff and experience bartending into the book. The lace was just a fun side-slip. I can’t see myself in any of the characters I created. I was actually careful not to bleed into Tara’s head because … she has issues.

MO’C: What’s been the best thing about being published? The most frustrating?

CC: I’ve been asked that before and I have no great answers. Writing is like a mental high without the drugs. I could get lost in it. Getting published is the business end of writing and to be honest, I hate it.

Entertaining readers? Amazing. Getting the work out so it can entertain readers? Sucks.

MO’C: What’s your writing day like? Any special routines or tips for getting organized?

CC: I pray for long stretches between soccer games and long soccer practices and dead-stop-life-flight-worthy traffic jams to squeeze writing time into a day. I dictate to the laptop while driving. I get up at four in the morning before work and write. There is no typical writing day for me.

MO’C: Any advice for aspiring authors?

CC: My standard advice is to keep your sense of humor and don’t quit your day job. More than that? I’d tell them not to watch how others get published. Don’t try to do what everyone else is doing. Do it your way. No regrets then.

MO’C: Who’s your March Madness pick? Readers of the blog know who mine is…

CC: Ack! I’m torn. We’re talking books here, yes? C. T. Adams & Cathy Clamp’s A Touch of Evil. (To Cindy's credit, she emailed me within an hour to explain that yes, she knew March Madness was BASKETBALL... but I think it is SO SWEET that she's plugging her fellow authors that I'm leaving her adorable answer up here! Personal to Cindy Cruciger... GO ZAGS!)

MO’C: What’s next for Cindy Cruciger?

CC: I am finishing the sequel and looking for a publisher. In the meantime I am gearing up for RT in Daytona. I’ll pounce one of the Casadega psychics when I get there and have them ask the dead if they have anything interesting to tell us. Stand by.

Thank you so much, Cindy! Please visit Cindy's site, and buy her book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your local indy via Booksense.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Hooray! What a Day Brightener!

Hey, check this out! Thanks to all who emailed and phoned--WE MADE A DIFFERENCE! From Monica Regalado at First Five of California!


Dear Parents and Families,

Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns regarding our childhood obesity prevention advertising campaign.

The goal of our ads is to raise awareness about the health issues and diseases associated with the growing problem of childhood obesity and to alert parents and other caregivers about the important role that a healthy diet and physical activity can play in a child’s overall development.

In response to the issues raised by you and others, we are taking steps to revise the ads so that they clearly identify Type II diabetes as an increasing consequence to childhood obesity.

We have discussed our revisions with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and intend to continue our dialogue to collaborate on raising awareness and working together to combat diabetes.

We thank you for bringing this concern to our attention.

From the Dreaded, Dreaded Sickbed

It was such a lovely weekend to have the violent stomach flu. Yes, that has consumed the entire weekend. I have only once before in my life been so incapacitated by an illness. Yes, it was every bit as horrid as you might imagine.

I am crawling back to post that there seems to be some progress with the First Five ad campaign (SEE BELOW)--according to First Five Monterey, the committtee who produced the ads are "reviewing them," and, seemingly, plan to edit them. Thank you to everyone who took a stand!

Marcus, in the comment section, correctly mentions that I used the *wrong* email address (!) to indicate where to send the complaints. Marcus received the same message many of us did:

Gravatar Martha,

I think you may want to change your post. I followed the contact info you provided and got the following response:

Dear Mr. Grimm,

I'm sorry, but you have contacted the wrong organization. We are the Association of county First 5 commissions and we have no relationship to the ads you have seen. The ads are developed and sponsored by First 5 California, a state agency, in conjunction with the Governor’s Health and Human Services Agency. You can contact them at or call 916-323-0056. I know it's confusing because our names are so similar. I'm sure they will benefit from your input.


Sherry Novick
Marcus | Edit comment Delete comment | Email | Homepage | 03.10.06 - 9:25 pm | #

The following seems to be a good address:

This particular person has been helpful in replying and keeping people up to date with what First Five is doing regarding the ads. She has been very concerned and has validated the fact that the ads were tremendously hurtful to our children not to mention misinformative.

I am so weak and drained! I have lost four pounds in three days, though. I guess that's a good thing. Ask me again when I feel better.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Please Pick Up the Phone or Email FIRST FIVE-HORRIBLE ADS!

Copying and pasting from my email program--but it's urgent & I wanted to get the word out--so forgive any bizarre formatting.

I am sure a lot of you have seen these First 5 ads. They're horrible. I am
forwarding a letter I wrote to the director of First Five. You may
write to her at the following:

Sherry Novick
Executive Director
510.526.9999 x11

There is also an 800-number that takes calls: 1-80-KIDS-025, but this
is more for people requesting services. I left a message anyhow,

I hope as many people as possible DO contact her about this. If we
flood the email boxes and phone mail boxes, maybe they will change


---------- Forwarded message ----------

Dear Ms. Novick,
As director of First Five of California, I'm sure you'll be quite
concerned to learn that there is a major factual problem with First
Five's current TV advertising campaign. It is a grave and grievous
error that is flooding the airwaves with misinformation and untold
heartbreak for millions of little children.

These ads were aired during my children's favorite program, American
Idol. In the first, a man recounts his childhood in which he ate all
sorts of horrible junk foods. Sadly, he tells the viewers, "I
developed diabetes [SIC] and now, I've lost 26 years off my life." In
the second ad, dozens of wide-eyed children beg their parents for
sodas, chips, baked pastries and other junk foods. Some children even
say, "May I have some grease?" or "May I have some diabetes, please?"
The ad goes on to explain that "1 in 3 children develop diabetes."

Perhaps you are not informed that there are TWO TYPES of diabetes.
Your ad made NO DISTINCTION and suggested that all diabetes was caused
by unhealthy habits.

Type 1 Diabetes, which my 9-year-old son developed a year and a half
ago, is an autoimmune disorder in which the body, for no apparent
reason, attacks its own pancreas. Type 1 Diabetes has NOTHING to do
with diet. Our son didn't cause his diabetes by eating poorly. We
didn't cause it by feeding him junk food. Nothing, NOTHING he or we
could have done could have prevented his disease. And as for being
physically fit, our son is very thin. He plays baseball three days a
week and swims five days a week. Even before this disease
unexpectedly struck him, he ate much less junk food than almost any
child we know.

True, Type 2 Diabetes is often related to obesity and the consumption
of sugary food. Unlike Type 1 Diabetes, it can be prevented or abated
through modification of diet and weight loss. Type 2 is on the
increase among children and true enough, THAT is often blamed on diet.
However, Type 1 has nothing to do with diet! Why, why didn't your ad
interject the two simple words: "TYPE TWO"?

These two diseases are nothing alike other than that they both affect
the same organ and they both carry the risk of devastating
complications. Besides that though, they are NOTHING the same. The
management is very different and Type 1 Diabetes requires far greater
monitoring to successfully manage the disease. And as I stated, our
son did not cause his Type 1 Diabetes. It's irresponsible to suggest
he did. His pancreas will never squeeze out a drop of insulin, and
even if he had eaten nothing but lean chicken and thrice-cooked
vegetables--as children had to do before the days of insulin, just to
eke out a few more precious months of life---HE WOULD STILL HAVE

You may find out more about Type 1 Diabetes at There, among loads of other
information, you will learn about the differences between Type 1
Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes. This type of research is really
something you should have done before creating an ad about ANY type of
Diabetes. Don't you have doctors or consultants on staff? Someone
really made a grave error, I fear.

Although your ad may have INTENDED to refer to Type 2 Diabetes, what
you have done is created a harmful, devastating piece which HURTS
CHILDREN. These ads contribute to an enormous misunderstanding of the
two diseases. They have caused a little, 9-year old boy to be in
tears tonight. He does not want to go to school tomorrow because all
his friends watch the show and saw the ads. Now, they will make fun
of his diabetes and blame him for it, and tell him he caused it by
eating junk foods, when he knows he did nothing to cause it. After
almost two years of explaining this disease to his classmates and even
his classmates' parents and his teachers---WE ARE BACK TO SQUARE ONE,

I am very upset. Although I applaud an effort to improve the health
of young Californians, it simply mustn't be done at the expense of the
truth and at the expense of children's emotions.

Therefore, I am requesting that you air a retraction of these ads.
You have already damaged the emotional well-being of innocent children
who have a lifethreatening illness; it's time to make amends publicly.
Following that, I request that you modify the ads or else pull them
off the air. In addition, you might consider a donation to Juvenile
Diabetes Research Foundation ( or Children with
Diabetes Foundation (

Very best,
Martha O'Connor

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Peep-Peep Curtis

Curtis Sittenfeld has a new book out in May titled The Man of My Dreams. A little bird (maybe even a chick) told me it looks an awful lot like chick-lit. At least, the title’s very chicky! Take a look at this cover (and I'm sorry it's such a weird shape--Amazon doesn't like me):

(Reminds me an AWFUL LOT of my Girlfriends’ Cyber Circuit buddy E. Lockhart’s cover, by the way… that pisses me off!)

Delacorte, E.'s publisher, is the Young Adult Division of Random House, Curtis's publisher. D'you spose Curtis's cover artist beat E.'s cover artist over the head with an umbrella and made off with the concept?

And check out this review excerpt of The Man of My Dreams:

“Although the novel aspires to be taken seriously and Hannah is a sympathetic protagonist, she remains a textbook case of a young woman who wants ‘a man who will deny her. A man of her own who isn't hers.’” ~Publishers Weekly

So. D'you remember when Curtis lambasted Melissa Banks in The New York Times Book Review for The Wonder Spot, accusing her of writing chick lit and calling her a slut for doing so? Oh. My. Gosh. When I read that review, all I could do was wince and hope she wasn’t saying what I thought she was saying. Some of it was kind of funny, actually. Like writing chick-lit was about the worst thing a woman could ever do, save, maybe, pose for Hustler.

Someone asked me once if I personally hated chick-lit since Wren in The Bitch Posse hates chick-lit. The answer is no. A lot of the anger Wren felt, though, was cribbed from myself—at the time, I had a literary agent who insisted that what I was supposed to write was chick-lit. And truth be told, I didn’t know how. But everything in my book is fiction… just ask my parents! Well, the novel ended up getting dubbed as “anti-chick-lit.” There was a review in Britain that called it “more bitch lit than chick lit.” So for awhile there, people believed I was The Enemy of All Things Chick-Lit.

Just to clear things up. Although I am not a gigantic chick-lit fan, I do read it. Here are some chick-lit titles I have enjoyed, and Here are some I can’t wait to read. No matter the genre, I respect anyone who can sustain a book length piece of fiction that keeps the reader turning the pages. I mean, what is so bad about writing chick-lit? It's not like people who write chick-lit are peddling crack cocaine, is it? It's not like chick-lit authors are, holy God, something dirty like screenwriters! (kidding, kidding all you screenwriters out there.) I'm friends with mystery writers, science fiction writers, children's writers... one of the writers I respect most in all the world writes *holy God!* romances for Harlequin! Hey folks, live and let live!

Although I’ve never actually been accused of it writing chick-lit, (although the slut thing, that may be up for debate), or, thank heavens, screenplays (kidding, folks--KIDDING) I do sometimes wonder how people will classify the latest novel, the one I’m working on now. It’s not a bitch book, not quite. There's family stuff in it. A fair bit of medical drama. So what is it then? I write scenes like the one I did last night, and I know there are some streaks braided into it that are dark and bizarre. Maybe it could be marketed as Jodi Picoult on crack cocaine? Honestly, I wouldn't care. That's someone's job in Marketing, and I don't need to do that person's job, although if they want to send me their paycheck, it'd be fine with me...

So, back to Curtis. Could her new book be, *gasp* chick-lit? Anyone who’s seen an advance copy, please comment…If it looks like a chick and sounds like a chick…

It’s serious literature, damn it!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Who's the Mystery Author? What I Was Told When My Son Was Diagnosed

Anyone who might know who authored this, please tell me... it's beautiful! I received it in my email box several days ago and given the subject matter, it's too good not to share. But I've tried to find out who wrote it, to no avail... Get out your tissue box...

1. If I was careful, I could achieve good control over his BGs (blood sugars).

2. If his BGs were off, we had to look at what I was doing to cause the problem

3. The most important thing I could do to control his BGs was to write everything down.

4. Managing diabetes is nothing more than simple math. All I had to do was look at how many carbs he ate, make sure he got a fat with the carbs, then give the amount of insulin to counter the carbs and his BGs would be normal. (At that time I was also told that he couldn't have "fast" carbs unless he was low or unless we countered that with a lot of fat to slow it down.)

5. Once he got the pump, I was told to "trust the pump" and not worry about him going low at night.

6. I was told that if he did go low at night, he'd wake up and that would be out "alarm" so I was to sleep without worry.

7. I was told that exercise would change his BGs both at the time of the activity and at night well, it could be altered for up to three nights, but I could figure out how to counter that. All I had to do was time how long he was active and what type of activity he was doing and I would be able to do the math to adjust his insulin dosage.

8. When I took my son to the hospital when he went unexpectedly VERY high I was told by the endo that I needed to go through all the classes and relearn how to count carbs because I obviously didn't know what I was doing. (Turns out that it was puberty throwing him off, not carb counting.)

9. I was told that none of this was "really a big deal" and that we'd learn how to live normal lives with diabetes comfortably in the background.

10. And with all of this record keeping, timing of exercise, measuring of foods, insulin injections, pump sets, poking of fingers, and calculations I am supposed to allow him to "be just like every other child".


1. There are many, MANY more things than carbohydrates, exercise and illness that have an effect on BGs.

2. We have no control over most of these things.

3. If you allow your child to go out and play, he is NOT going to be doing measured exercise. He may spend an hour chasing his friends with paintball guns, then sit in a tree for another hour watching ants crawl up the trunk. This is "joy" to a child and if you try to measure that or to get your child to pay attention to his every move, you will kill his soul.

4. NORMAL kids have no patience for writing down everything they eat, their BGs, their planned exercise for the next hour and the momentary state of their current health 4-6 times a day. Hell, most adults don't have the patience for that crap.

5. Writing everything down all the friggin' time helps nothing. Writing everything down for a few days to make adjustments is very helpful, but if you ask someone to do this all the time, they will burn out in a bad way. After that happens, good luck getting them to keep a record again.

6. Not every diabetic will wake up from every night-time low. This is how diabetics die in their sleep. (Duh.)

7. The pump is better than shots, but it is NOT a miracle.

8. Even if you are the most obsessive-compulsive person on the planet, you will have unexpected highs and lows. Perfectly replacing a vital organ that's part of the endocrine system is absolutely impossible with the medicines and therapeutic approaches we've been offered.

9. If a parent does enforce strict control on their diabetic child, there is a very good chance that this child will go through a period of rebellion. They'll rebel against the parent *and* the disease. This period of rebellion may happen when the child is a teen or (worse) when they first leave home and taste freedom. I say that the early adult rebellion is worse because there's nobody there to catch them when they fall. (How many college-age diabetics die every year?)

10. A1Cs do not measure your parenting ability or how much you care for your child.

11. The single most important thing that they did not tell me was this: When I try like hell to do everything right and my kid's still swinging, IT IS NOT MY FAULT. When I stop freaking out about every high, every time he forgets to bolus, every time I suspend the pump before he goes out and let him continue playing instead of interrupting him for a snack, every day I simply blow off record keeping and let my kid play and eat and be a kid, I AM NOT A BAD MOTHER. I am being a mother first and a nurse second AND THERE IS *NOTHING* WRONG WITH THAT.

The doctors are only concerned with his body. That is their job. They do not see the boy, they see a 12 yo Caucasian male with Celiac Disease and Type 1 diabetes, 90 pounds, BP 125/65, pulse rate of 70. I see the kid who loves rockets and who chuckles quietly every single time someone farts. I see a boy who's most proud of his 8 foot long catapult and who can cook a mean salmon. I see a young man who's secretly saving up his pennies to buy an engagement for his future wife. I see the boy who punched a neighbor kid for frying ants and who can patch up a dog's torn-up face. A kid who talks too loud in restaurants and laughs too hard at commercials and forgets to feed the dog and to put down the seat. And that's exactly who I'm supposed to see.

As a mother, my primary responsibility does not only center around the care of his body, it centers around the care of his body, psychological well-being, and his soul. My job is not only to raise a healthy diabetic, I'm supposed to raise a loving, excited, curious, happy, well-adjusted, well-educated, powerful human being and sometimes his body will need to take a hit to make the rest happen.

Am I teaching him not to take diabetes seriously? No. I am not. I'm training him how to care for his disease, but I'm refusing to instill feelings of guilt, fear and failure every time he sees a number. "Oops. That's a little high. Better fix that," is a healthier attitude than "Oh my God. I'm killing myself. If I'm not careful I'm going to loose a leg." (Especially when we all know he can be the most careful diabetic in the world and he may *still* loose a damn leg. And if he does loose a leg do I want him to feel like life isn't worth living? Is that *really* the worst thing that could happen to a man? Do I want him to *hate* himself because of it and blame himself? Heck, his daddy's a soldier. This family's prepared for the loss of limbs.) I'm teaching him that diabetes cannot be the center of his life and he cannot spend his every day on this planet fighting and stressing over death.

He is going to die. I really don't know when or how, but I'd rather him have 45 years of wonderful than 85 years of strain, guilt and fear. If he disagrees with me, there is no reason what-so-ever that he cannot take a different track and I will support him in that decision.

These are not excuses for imperfect control. These are the realities of truly *raising* a diabetic child. Hell, I'm not raising a diabetic child. I'm coaching a boy into becoming a man. The medical community will never get with the program, never open their eyes and see complicated people. They will only see bodies. We, as parents and patients, need to understand that and not allow the medical myths to corrode our self-worth as human beings.

So, all you diabetics and loving parents of diabetic kids, do your best, release the guilt and surrender the fear. Love yourselves and your kids fiercely. Don't judge your worth by the myth. In the end, it's the love, compassion and laughter that's important, not the digits after the "beep".

Thursday, March 02, 2006

In Which I Contemplate Oliver, the Seventh Brady Child, and Other Issues of Import

Within the next few days I'll be posting an interview with the lovely Michelle Richmond. I won Michelle's book in a book exchange, and it was FABBO. So I can't wait to hear from her and share her amazing writing life with all of you. Believe it or not, Michelle was a Distinguished Visiting Writer at the self-same university I attended! Of course, I attended Bowling Green several years before Michelle took up residence there. Bummer, we could've hung out!

EDIT--> HUZZAH, my early readers LOVE my draft! (See yesterday's analysis of whether I was, in fact, headed back to my old cashier's position at McDonald's due to lack of writing talent... see how messed up we authors get?) I may yet have to dust off that old Mickey D's visor and polyester blend pants, but it won't be because the draft is bad... :o)

Until I hear from Michelle (I think I spooked her with the huge array of questions I asked her about Bowling Green), here is a blog meme, courtesy of my darling friend Lorinda, who hates swearwords but whom I adore anyhow.... And I'm tagging Joshilyn, Dej, and Ally on this one. Visit the blogs of these three gals if you have a chance... they're all very smart, funny, and excellent writers. Ally's upcoming YA novel was optioned by Disney... can we all just grovel in the dirt near Ally's feet? *SIGH*

1- If you won a million dollars, how much of it would you give to charity? I would pay off our credit cards debts and some of our mortgage. The rest would go to various diabetes charities.

2- Describe what you looked like in the 5th grade. I thought I looked like a brunette Princess Diana, but really I just looked like a scrawny, bookish girl with a boy haircut.

3-Do you think you have a good singing voice? Only in the shower!

4- Which would be harder to give up, TV or chocolate? Chocolate

5- If you could change your name, what would you change it to? Daisy

6- A cat darts into the road and you hear a thud under your tire, do you stop? Yes

7- A friend has chronic bad breath, do you say something? If so, what? Yes. Would you like a stick of gum?

8- If you had to move to another country for a year, which one would you choose and why? England because it's beautiful and people are very smart there and I speak the language, sort of.

9- If you had only 15 minutes left to live, what would you do? Go for a walk in Muir Woods with the family.

10- If you could remain one age for the rest of your life, what would it be? 31 because when I was 32 our son was diagnosed with diabetes... :o(

11- What kind of food is your best friend? sourdough bread

12- What is your worst habit? Reality TV

13- Name the best bad movie you ever loved. Home Alone... because it was the first thing our son saw after he was finally diagnosed and hospitalized that actually made him laugh. Sitting there in the hospital room watching the most annoying movie ever made, it didn't matter, because as I heard those old peals of laughter that I hadn't quite realized I hadn't heard in so very long... I knew I had my boy back.

14- Do you make friends easily? Yes

15- When is the last time you cried? About a month ago

16- What will the last line of your obituary say? In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

17- What was your first job, how much did it pay? Waitress at Colonial Ice Cream in Sycamore, IL, and it paid $2.01 per hour plus tips.

18- Which Brady would you date if you had to? That weird kid they adopted toward the end of the series... Oliver?

19- Name the movie you would star in if you could be the lead in any film ever made. I'd be Patty Duke in Call Me Anna because I could totally get into the role, and it would be so cathartic.

20- If you had to give up one of the 5 senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste), which one would it be? Smell

21- What is the most valuable lesson you have ever learned? I do not control the universe! HUZZAH!

22-What is the worst thing a friend has ever done to you? Schemed against me, talked behind my back, and isolated me. I've forgiven, but unfortunately I can't bring myself to completely trust that person again. Sad, huh? I'm sad, because I still really like so much about her.

23- If you could give your parents any one gift in the world, what would it be? Serenity-it's the gift I'd give anyone, if I could

24- What is the last good deed someone has done for you? The Backspace Writers Forums set up a fund to help our family after we were flooded out of our home... I will always be grateful

25- What is your least favorite fashion trend? Girls being way too skinny

26- If you had triplet daughters today, what would you name them? Please, Stop, and Crying!!!

27- Tell about a time when you laughed inappropriately. I was at a swim team tryout on Monday, and sheets of rain came from the back of the bleachers, soaking everyone from waist to ankles, even if they had an umbrella. Standing there with my entire backside dripping with freezing water, all I could do was laugh hysterically.

28- What makes you happy? Quiet moments in nature

29- Ever think you might have ESP? Yes.

30- Name the one super power you would like to have. Healing the sick

31- Name the one household chore you wish you never had to do again. The income tax

32- If you could name only one song as the best song of all times, which would it be? Just ONE? Amazing Grace

33- How old do you wish you were right now? 31, as I said before

34-Name three things you wouldn't do for money. Murder, or hurting a child, or turning my back on my family.

35- Is 35 questions too many??? Yes