Category Archives: This is who we are

Emmylou

On Sunday night, Lisa and I saw Emmylou Harris in concert. We’ve seen her in concert a couple of times before, but this time was very, very special. It was everything I had ever wanted in an Emmylou concert. Daniel Lanois opened for her and then came back on stage (along with Steven Nistor on the drums and Jim Wilson playing bass) as they played the entire “Wrecking Ball” album!

It’s safe to say my first listen to “Wrecking Ball” sometime around 2000 changed my musical world. I had heard Emmylou Harris sing “Goin’ Back to Harlan” on the first Lilith Fair album a couple of years earlier and loved it. “Wrecking Ball” was unlike anything I’d ever heard: beautiful, sad, and poetic with a huge sound that I would later realize was all Lanois. After hearing the album, I became an Emmylou devotee.

Being there as Emmylou Harris and Daniel Lanois (and Nistor and Wilson) played all of “Wrecking Ball” was more amazing than I could have expected. And when they played a perfectly rocking version of “Goin’ Back to Harlan”—much like that Lilith Fair recording—I was transported back fifteen years to that first encounter. All of those wonderful years of living with Emmylou’s music were compressed into five perfect minutes.

After recreating “Wrecking Ball” for us, Emmylou, Danny, and the band performed a couple of Lanois songs in the first encore (“Still Water” and “The Maker”) along with “Boulder to Birmingham” and “Calling My Children Home.” Emmylou and Lanois came out by themselves for the second (and final) encore, performing a couple older songs by Emmylou: “Pancho and Lefty” and “My Songbird.” That last song is one of my favorites, and I admit that I got a little misty for the second time in the evening, and it was a perfect way to end the show.

I can die a happy man now . . . although I’d prefer a few more perfect Emmylou Harris concerts first.

Here are some pictures from the show at Boston’s House of Blues.

Posted in 101 in 1001, General, This is who we are | 2 Comments

Cowboys and East Indians


Despite only living in Wyoming full-time for three years, it’s where I say I’m from. After 15 years in Iowa, Wyoming is where I really came to life. My first summer in Wyoming before school started saw me climb my first mountain on a bike and compete in my first (and last) criterium bicycle race. That summer I ran cross-country for the first time and really loved it. Every athletic event in Wyoming involved a long bus trip, and that first autumn on those trips two things happened: I made my first lasting friendships, and I fell in love with Wyoming. I loved the way the day’s late light slanted off the mountains and the mesas and framed the plains and hills with a fiery light. We traveled hundreds of miles on those trips, and we had hours to get to know each other and for me to get past most of my early life’s hang ups.

I may have been born in Iowa, but I grew up in Wyoming.

I went back to Iowa for my undergraduate studies, but I was a Wyomingite by that point. At Grinnell, I missed the mountains and the emptiness and the people’s laid-back, pragmatic, laissez-faire attitudes. My classmates liked hearing the stories I told about Wyoming. Stories about ranchers who were bitten by rattlesnakes which they brought to the E.R. in a pillowcase but only after finishing their fence-mending. Memories of being chased around our neighborhood in my friend’s car by drunken cowboys driving enormous diesel pickup trucks. Mostly true tales about militia folks and their decidedly crazy beliefs. True crime stories that most people in Wyoming know but are too horrible to retell in all their detail. The complicated histories of waves of people moving through in the mid-19th century, dispossessing other people, making a place to live, going bust, and having to decide whether to succumb to Wyoming’s inertia or flee forever.

I’ve been in Wyoming more over the last few years than any other point in the previous decade and a half. Last year we visited in the summer, and I remembered all of the things I missed about Wyoming: the mountains, the distance, the easy pace of life, the ability to do your own thing and just get away from everything and everyone and then come back into town and be in a place both ever-changing and static at the same time. A few weeks ago we were in Wyoming, and I experienced again how Wyoming is really just one state-sized small town, where so many people are willing to help a friend or neighbor out. I wish it were easier to get back to Wyoming and just be there more often. But such is the life of an ex-pat, always thinking about where you came from but liking where you are too much to want to move back.

Last night Wyoming came to me.

My good friend Nina McConigley came to Boston to read from her recently published book, Cowboys and East Indians (available from Five Chapters). Wyoming has a pull, and Nina seems magnetically drawn to Wyoming, always finding her way back there. She embodies the spirit of the place more than anyone else I know. She’s also about the least typical Wyomingite you can imagine. Her father is an Irish petroleum geologist. Her mother, from southern India, was a television journalist and then a state legislator.

This sense of differentness pervades all of the stories in her book, but there’s so much tenderness and humor there, too. During the Q & A session after the readings, someone asked Nina and Laura Van den Berg, who had also recently published a collection of short stories, how it’s possible that Wyoming (or any place) could be a character, could be more than just a setting. The answer—that Wyoming is a sparsely populated place of such vast enormity and visual power that it’s a force of narrative action—really resonated with me. Friends and family notwithstanding, that’s possibly what I’ve been missing most about Wyoming: just being there is in many ways transformative . . . or, at least, it reminds me of my transformation when I was there.

I had read a couple of the short stories beforehand, and Nina’s voice was the narrator’s voice in my head. It was so delightful to hear this same voice actually reading the same words aloud. Beyond being a wonderful person, Nina is tremendously talented, and her stories are little treasures.

Y’all should go get her book.

Posted in NaBloPoMo, NaBloPoMo 2013, This is who we are, Western Adventure | Leave a comment

This Is Triathlon. It’s What You Do.

I was walking my bike to the shuttle after the the Timberman Ironman 70.3 race yesterday when I had a “moment.”

I had just talked briefly with Patricia Brownell‘s husband at her team’s tent. Once again—as seems usual for us—we missed seeing each other in real-life, despite having been internet acquaintances for a couple of years. She was the first triathlete with diabetes I had heard of, and her success was very encouraging as I was just getting into the sport. The first race I did I saw someone in a Team Type 1 tri-top, but I never got the chance to see if my diabetes radar was working correctly.

The knowledge that there are other people out there with diabetes who do athletic things was extra meaningful to me yesterday afternoon as I walked along with my medal around my neck. I’d just finished the hardest single thing I had ever done. The distances—a 1.2 mile swim in beautiful Lake Winnipesaukee, 56 mile bike ride, and 13.1 mile run—weren’t new to me. Nor were the occasional chop and currents in the crystalline lake enough to keep me from having my best pace over that distance during a race. And even though it was quite hilly, the steep rollers and the long climbs didn’t do me in on the bike or run. I kept my pace and effort in check, and all things considered, I even nailed my hydration and nutrition strategy. I was even feeling good on the run, which was quite relieving after a couple months of runner’s block.

You see, despite all of those things, yesterday’s race was all diabetes.


As each starting wave got into the water, the announcer read off interesting things about some of the participants. This guy lost 150 pounds and is doing his first Ironman. That woman was diagnosed a few months ago with breast cancer. He almost died during a training accident. She trained for Timberman in Kandahar while on active duty with the Army. They were all very inspiring stories that in many ways described the best parts of the “Ironman lifestyle.” I vaguely remember filling out this part of the online questionnaire when I registered months ago. My head was underwater as I swam out to the starting line, but Lisa said lots of people clapped when the announcer said this:

“Jeff Mather was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes in 1998, and in 2009 he taught himself how to swim. Now he’s doing his first Ironman 70.3.”

I’m kind of glad that I didn’t hear that. When I race, I like to think that I’m doing what everyone else is doing, and I often feel the most diabetes-free during an event. Obviously, I have to think about it, but none of my fellow competitors have to know that I’m in some way “challenged” as an athlete. I was deeply moved after the race to hear how people responded to knowing that people with diabetes can be real athletes, but before the race I think it might have gotten into my head a little if I’d heard it. Plus, as I was bargaining with myself on the bike about whether to finish or not, it might have enticed me to make a different decision so that I wouldn’t (in some unknowable way) let those people down, even if it might have been a very dangerous thing to do.

I swam well, but my BGs had risen steadily throughout the swim. Although they started in a really good place (135 mg/dL, or 7.5 mmol/L), I suspect I bolused too little insulin for my ClifBar breakfast. About 5 minutes into the ride, I tested and saw a “286″ (15.9) staring back at me. I bolused a tiny amount of insulin, ate a gel (20g of carbs), and decided to wait an hour until my next one. I almost always try to eat 20g every half-hour—and I can’t skip too many without the risk of hitting the wall, like any other athlete—but if I was that high, I could hold off. A little less than an hour later I was at 367 (20.5).

Exercising while having high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) is painful. Imagine having your whole body full of lactic acid and not being able to clear it out by slowing down. I can almost feel my muscle fibers rubbing against each other as they try to contract. Muscles I don’t think about while on the bike got in on the painful action yesterday: My back, shoulders, hips, arms . . . they all hurt, and I found it difficult to stay in my aerodynamic tuck. Not only was I having a painful time getting from here to there over the long, shallow grades and the short, steep rollers, I was doing it more slowly than I knew I could, thus prolonging the agony.

“Do you have a pump?” asked the guy who rolled up next to me and then proceeded to stay in the drafting zone. It was technically against the rules, but he wasn’t getting any advantage from me, and if he had a mechanical problem, I wasn’t going to begrudge helping him. Alas, I did not have a hand-activated air-pump. No. Sorry. “Really? I saw the tubing and I just thought, well, maybe. . . .” Oh, you mean an insulin pump! Yeah, I do. Sorry, I wasn’t expecting that. We chatted for a minute, the Omnipod user and I, before he took off to rock the bike while I plodded along at my more leisurely 19 mph.

The other thing about high blood sugar that you should know is that it’s a sneaky, lying bastard. When the human endocrine system is out of whack, it messes with other parts of your body, including your mind. For me, it amplifies feelings of frustration, helplessness, and despair. Fortunately, I’ve come to see these lies for what they are, and I was able to hold off the voices that told me it was okay to roll into an aid station and call it a day. While that was true—it would be okay—it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to do what I knew I could do. I wanted that finisher’s medal.

Around the 30th mile I made myself a bargain. I was going to try to make it back to transition, eating and dosing small amounts of insulin (like 0.2-0.3 units) the whole way. If I was over 400 mg/dL (22 mmol/L) when I got there, I was going to say that discretion is the better part of valor and not risk going into DKA on the run or hypoglycemia by trying to treat a super high BG with too much insulin during exercise. It kept me focused on something I could do. That’s about the time, as I was talking to myself out loud, that I invented a new mantra:

This is triathlon. It’s what you do. Sure it’s painful sometimes. You’re almost three hours in to something that’s going to take six or seven hours today, but you knew that. You knew it would be hard. You’ve been here before, and you’ve done this. This is what you do. Everybody knows that. People think you’re touched, and they might be right, but you like knowing that you can do this crazy thing. It’s why you do it. This is triathlon. It’s what you do.

Despite backing off the pace early into the ride, I was still passing people. Don’t get me wrong, I did get passed by a lot of men and women, but I made up a lot of time on the uphills, especially the steep ones. The steeper they were, the better for me, it seemed. And I made up time on the downhills, exceeding 50 mph (80 km/h) in aero at one point. And on the corners, where I knew what my bike could do and where the line was and where others around me were not willing to go. And I made it back to transition in just under three hours.


327. The 327 (18.2) reading was enough to get me back out of transition. I was standing in front of my freshly racked bike after walking from the dismount line to my spot. I wasn’t going for a time goal any more. If it took me three hours to walk the half-marathon, what was another couple of minutes of leisurely bike-to-run? I took a drink, I put on my shoes, visor, and race belt, and I tested. 327.

As I ran onto the course, I saw Lisa and stopped. “This is going to be s-l-o-w,” I shouted to her across the road. “That’s okay. I love you!” she shouted back.

A little less than an hour later I was running past her again, smiling and blowing kisses. I hadn’t expected it, but the first couple miles felt good. I planned to run/walk again, thinking I would run a mile and then walk two minutes. But the first mile was so easy that I decided to go for two. The course was hilly, but I was running strong up and down them. I swear I could feel the insulin moving blood sugar into my sore muscles, giving them a fresh bit of juice. Yes, the first loop of the run was very good, all things considered. The second lap was a carbon copy of the first, albeit slightly more painful.

I even talked to a few people as I passed them. One guy told a teammate he was passing that he thought he could break six hours. A few moments later I told him, “I did that on my first tri, too. It was the best feeling ever.” We shook hands, and he told me to go rip shit up. For the first time in a long time, I enjoyed running. I was doing better than I thought I would, and it felt like the good ole days. My legs knew what to do, and my mind was free to consider other things . . . like whether I wanted to high-five that life-size plastic bear that I saw near the end of the first loop. I did. Oh yes, I did!

I decided to give everything I had once I figured out the run was going to be a good one, and I didn’t have much left by the finish line. My best 70.3 time was 5:38:42 for the mostly flat Patriot Half back in June. When Andy Potts (the men’s overall winner) put the finisher’s medal around my neck I was trying hard not to puke all over him, and I wasn’t even thinking about my time. Only after we got home did I realize that I ran a 1:56 half-marathon to finish the whole triathlon in 5:39:49, good enough for 112th of 231 in my age group and a very lucky 777th overall. Five minutes after I finished, my BG was a perfect 104 (5.8).


I don’t know how to end this except to say that I’m very, very grateful for all of the camaraderie and encouragement that I’ve gotten from everyone along this journey. Some people I train and race with know I have diabetes, and many don’t. Even amongst those who do, they don’t make a big deal over it. They nod and say, “It sucks that diabetes robbed you of some minutes during your race, but I’m impressed with what you did regardless.” To riff off what one person said to a family member before the start, “Don’t look for me at the end of the swim. You’ll never pick me out. We’re all wearing black wetsuits.” Most of the time, the combination of diabetes and triathlon is like that; you’d never know. It’s just what I do.

Posted in Cycling, Diabetes, Reluctant Triathlete, Running, Swimming, This is who we are | 7 Comments

Couch to 5K

I love Couch to 5K. I think the idea behind it is fantastic. “You want to be healthier? You want to get moving? You want to do it in a sustainable way? Great! Here’s a gentle plan that will get you started running. Within a few short months, you’ll be able to run a 5K. Even if you don’t want to race a 5K, that’s cool. You’ll at least know that you could do it.”

So it was with a little trepidation that I did my taper-week speedwork Saturday morning. The plan was simple, warm up for one mile, do 2x800m at 6:30/mile (4:00/km) with an easy 400m jog between, and then cool down for another mile. It’s just under 3/4 of a mile from my house to the track, so I ran there and prepared to do an easy lap before starting my intervals. As I ran down the little hill to track I saw two dozen people standing in a circle on the back 100 of the track. “Hmm. Saturday boot camp?” I wondered.

Then I heard this as I tried to run as nonchalantly as possible in the outside lane, which was just barely open. “Who here has done a Couch to 5K program before?” A few hands went up. “Let’s get started with some introductions and stretching.”

Oh, shit! Not only was it a C25K program, but it was the first minutes of the first session. Hopefully they stress that everyone should run his or her own pace. That the running activity itself is the important thing. That it wasn’t necessary to do intervals like the nutter in the orange shirt, gray cap, and shaggy hair in order to be a runner.

I thought about bailing and doing a hill workout instead, but I thought it might be weirder to show up, run 500 meters on the track, and then leave. Plus there were other people using the track, so they clearly didn’t mind others being there.

There was only one thing to do. I had to make it look “easy” and fun.

I think I did the two most beautiful and relaxed 800m intervals of my life.

Until we meet again, C25K peeps!

Posted in Running, This is who we are | 2 Comments

Back to the Pool: A Story in Four Acts

I. Between being sick and the high school being closed for spring break, today was my first day back at the pool since the 10th. I had gotten a little used to sleeping in—all the way to 5:30—but I was still pretty happy about the chance to get my swim on. How would it feel? Pokey? Speedy? I had no idea. Frankly, I didn’t care; I was just happy to be back. Usually I have a plan, and today I decided to swim 2,000 yards continuously. Easy to remember.


II. I was glad to see Pat there when I arrived.

“How was your marathon?” I asked, and she made a face that was hard to decipher.

“I ran twenty-five and a half miles. I was feeling really good. It was so weird; we were all running, and then we literally all just stopped inches away from the person ahead.”

“Man, that sucks.”

“Yeah, but I still have my legs, so I can’t complain. I’m just glad my daughter met me at the 20th mile to run with me a bit, instead of waiting at the finish line.” I did the math on the way into work. At the pace she was going and the distance she had already run, she was probably less than five minutes away from the finish line when the bombs went off.


III. I have a little ritual I do three times a week at the pool. I sign in at the little table on the pool deck and then walk to the nearest open lane, where I sit and dangle my legs over the edge while I put on my swim cap and adjust my goggles. Then I look down at my watch and reset it before hopping into the water and convince myself to get going. Today, when I went to look at my watch, all I saw was the fur on my arm.

Oh dear, this could be a problem. How would I know how far I had gone? For a continuous swim, my pace is slow enough that I can pretty easily use the time on my watch to figure out my distance. “A little under 33 minutes swam,” I can say to myself, “means 33 laps. Only seven more to go.” No watch means no easy lap-counting.

Pat offered to lend me her watch, which I’m pretty sure is a water-resistant analog watch with a leather band. Not that there’s anything wrong with wearing a lady’s watch in the pool, but it’s an interesting sartorial choice. (Of course, Pat did wear sunglasses at the reservoir for a couple weeks before somebody suggested goggles with optically corrected lenses. And I’m glad they did, because I got in on that action really fast. Seeing where you’re going is a good thing.) I declined the watch offer, since I thought it would be nice to have a little bit of extra freedom, and the wall clock would tell me how long I took to do my 2,000 yards. I started at 5:45, almost on the dot.

Without a watch I had to pay attention to swim the right amount. I counted . . . en español on the way out and en français on the way back. Uno/un to bente/vingt twice. That seemed to work pretty well. Having a lane to myself also helped, since there were fewer distractions: I didn’t have to worry about anyone getting in my way, and the lane dividers made it harder to see what was going on in neighboring lanes.


IV. At the end of my swim, the guy one lane over (who was recovering between sets) asked, “Do you do triathlon?” Yes. Yes, I do. So we chatted a little bit about how much fun it is. He told me that he will be doing the same tri in Hopkinton that I will. “I guess the water is only supposed to be 60º.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him that last year it was around 56ºF (13ºC). “Do you do a warmup swim?” Personally, no, but I never do a warmup. (It’s just another variable with with the pre-event diabetes management. Plus, that’s what the first couple minutes of the race is for, right?) “I’m just worried I’ll get out and be cold while standing around for the start.” Yeah, that’s a real possibility (and another good reason not to do a warmup), but the water will definitely take your breath away.

Only three more weeks. I can hardly wait!

Posted in Reluctant Triathlete, Swimming, This is who we are | 1 Comment

2013 Boston Marathon

I don’t want to inject myself into today’s events, but I can’t ignore them either.


Like every year, I had been looking forward to the Boston Marathon for quite a while. Patriots Day (a.k.a., Marathon Monday) is my favorite day of the year, and for good reason. It’s the day that I go to work and am largely allowed to shirk a good deal of it. Walking from my office to the center of town through idyllic suburban neighborhoods is refreshing and often full of cheery conversation with coworkers. The weather in mid-April is usually beautiful, and—at 10 miles into the race—Natick Common is early enough that the lead runners are still together, and most runners are looking strong and fresh. I try to arrive early so that, before the elite women and men run through, I can watch most of the push-rim wheelchair, handchair, and mobility impaired athletes. Each year, my appreciation for what they’re doing deepens a little bit more, even as I simultaneously become more certain that, for a true athlete, it’s far more unnatural not to do the thing you love no matter how great the challenge.

This year, like previous ones, I left the marathon feeling inspired and eager to do something. In 2010, even though I had been running for about a year, I knew I needed to start racing again. In the three years that followed, I’ve had events events to look forward to, and the marathon gets my competitive juices flowing. Over the last few years there’s been a growing feeling inside of me that I want to run this race—my race, the one I’ve been watching for fifteen years, the one that everyone loves whether they run or not. Sometime last year while running the course, I started to say “yes” to the thought of a marathon as long as I someday qualified for and ran Boston. Today, as I walked back to the office, I was really eager to put my lingering cold behind me and get outdoors, to have a good run, and to get back to training.

Like last year and most of the rest, I counted the number of buses on the Mass Pike between the I-495 and Natick exits on my way to work. There were 95, including the police-escorted VIP bus. I like seeing those flashing lights, because I love the idea that (for at least one day) elite athletes are treated like the extraordinarily talented, hard-working people that they are.

Like last year, I had some great conversations while waiting for the elite runners to arrive. This year, instead of being with complete strangers, I hung out with some of my coworkers. Five people from my group showed up, including Mr. 2:22 himself, who decided it would be nice to be with us this year instead of right downtown in the midst of the action. I learned that one of my coworkers got a Southern Baptist education from pre-K to 12th grade because there were a lot of bomb threats in her part of Florida at the public schools, and her parents (both Buddhists) felt better about the odds of giving her a culture shock instead of an actual jolt.

Like most years I watched the finish of the race online at my desk since the office cafeteria crowd was deep into the Red Sox baseball game, and I’ve fought the battle before to switch from the Sox game to the marathon and just barely made it out alive.

But this year, as we all know, was a little different.

Around 1:00 a coworker from another group called to ask if one of my peeps was running Boston this year. He had taken the day off to go down to the finish and hadn’t seen him come through yet. No, I said, he watched the race with us from Natick.

Later in the afternoon, a couple of coworkers stopped by, interrupting a code review, and nervously asked if I had heard about the “explosion at the marathon finish.” Surely it was just an electrical explosion in a manhole or something like that, I thought, and went back to my work. After finishing the code review, I checked a slow-loading news site, and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. When Lisa called a bit later and asked if all my coworkers were okay, I got choked up for the first time, thinking about what might have happened to them and to the other people I know who watched the marathon at different places on the route or were running it (including Pat, my swim peep).

On the commute home I watched all of the unmarked cars and special detail units with their flashing blue lights speed down the turnpike toward Boston in a bizarro inversion of my drive into the office nine hours earlier.

I really needed to go for a bike ride or a run when I got home. Even if it couldn’t help me make sense of what happened, it would at least clear my head or wear me out enough to not think about it for a while. But I knew that getting “worn out” was exactly what I didn’t need to do while recovering from this cold, which seems to be about 80% better, so I took it easy and got to work downloading and editing my photos from the race.

As I was looking at the photographs I realized something quite vividly. Regardless of who did this and why, it won’t change a thing about how deeply marathon fans love this race. Even though most of us will probably never run it, it’s our race. It’s my race.

Seeing the vans full of SWAT police in the past hasn’t ever made think twice about why they’re part of the event preparations and decide that I want to stay indoors on a glorious spring day (or even a miserably cold and drizzly one for that matter) to watch the race. And today, when I saw the SUV full of bomb squad officers drive by ahead of the elite runners, it didn’t change an iota about how much I loved the race or whether I want to be part of it some day. Just as I’m sure that, despite the actual bombings, there will be just as many people working their hardest to attain a coveted Boston qualifying time or raising as much money as they can to justify their charity entry.

This race—the oldest marathon in North America—has been run 117 times and will be run again. We love this race because of its history and because it tells us something about ourselves. New Englanders are flinty, contrarian, history-bound, and stubborn. This is probably the surest way to make sure that the marathon will be held long after humanity has given up on the idea of competitive road running. I mean, just think about it: The marathon happens on the Monday closest to the anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, an event steeped in the notion that a free people choose not to live under threat of coercion or fear and the belief that our nation is what we actively make it.

Someday, hopefully soon, we’ll know more about what happened today and why. As a result, we will grow and adapt. But our love for this race and this day will never be diminished.

Posted in General, Photography, Running, This is who we are | 8 Comments

Tin Ear


(Image from Eknath Gomphotherium)

This post is for the hypochondriacs out there. You’re welcome.

Lisa says the high-pitched, continuous ringing in my ears that I mostly hear in quiet environments (or like right now when I listen for it) isn’t normal. She says it’s tinnitus.

I had always assumed everyone filled the usual background with some sound, but evidently that’s just something that I do. Well, me and 50 million other Americans. It’s not like it’s new—it’s just new to Lisa. As long as I can remember, that’s the way the world has been, and (thankfully) it doesn’t really bother me. I hear perfectly well—touch wood—although it is a really unfortunate pitch.

Oh well.

What causes tinnitus? WebMD gives a laundry list of causes that range from the obvious to the mundane: everything from having a loud profession, listening to loud music, aging, and head trauma to aspirin, ear infections or blockages, and something called “ostosclerosis,” which I can only assume is caused by putting fatty, cholesterol-rich foods in your ears.

Oh, and it’s associated with a whole host of other medical conditions, including a couple that I have: allergies, anemia, and (you guessed it) diabetes.

What a crazy thing is this human body.


p.s. — I promise I’ll tell you about the half-marathon I ran a week ago really, really soon. Promise.

Posted in Diabetes, General, This is who we are | 1 Comment

ACT UP Against Diabetes?

I’ve been spending a lot of time in my basement recently as the long winter months s-l-o-w-l-y slouch toward spring. Because of the snow, I seem to do all of my bicycling down there, not to mention a good deal of running and even (yes!) swimming. The “swimming” is actually dryland strength training with resistance tubing, but 25+ minutes of pulling pretty much feels like a normal swim workout when all is said and done. I still go to the pool a few times a week when it isn’t closed for winter break or because of snowstorms. I do hit the road, trail, and track for my Thursday speed sessions and my Sunday long run. I’ve even been out on the road with my bike a couple times this winter, but mostly I ride in the basement.

Last Saturday, while spinning through a two-hour endurance ride on my tri-bike while going nowhere, I watched the entirety of the documentary that is going to win the Academy Award this weekend: “How to Survive a Plague.” It was phenomenal . . . one of the best documentaries that I’ve seen in a long time. It was relevant, important, and insanely well-produced. There are a number of very poignant moments in it. None more so than when respected activist Larry Kramer angrily interrupts a meeting petty squabble brewing into a full-blown internecine battle within the AIDS activist community of the late 80s. “Plague!” He belts out, as if the voice of an oracle, silencing the argument. “We are in the middle of a fucking plague! And you behave like this?! Unless we get our acts together we are as good as dead.” Powerful!

It was also extremely relatable.

However you feel about the ACT UP organization, the documentary provides a lot for people with diabetes to think about. The “PWAs” (People With AIDS) in the 80s and 90s clearly had a more immediate and inevitable risk of early death than PWDs (People With Diabetes) do now, but it wasn’t until they organized and started to take direct action that they started to get noticed. They had (and continue) to battle the belief that their disease is an inevitable (and some even said deserved) consequence of their “lifestyle choices.” The FDA was very slow to approve new therapies to control HIV, preferring to get all of the data on efficacy and safety as if it were just another health condition, and not one that was killing people while it delayed. After ACT UP became immersed in the scientific literature and informed about the drug approvals process, they proposed a new, medically sound treatment protocol, which doctors and regulators at the FDA and NIH eventually started to take seriously. Patients/advocates interacted constructively with pharmaceutical manufacturers, who—like everyone I have ever heard of in diabetes medical research—truly wanted to improve the lives of their customers/patients. Nevertheless, the struggle to find an effective treatment for HIV/AIDS also involved issues of healthcare access and cost, since early treatments cost tens of thousands of dollars per year and still continue to be out of reach of many in developing countries even at more modest prices.

I remember the AIDS crisis and ACT UP from my youth, and I sometimes joke that the diabetes advocacy community needs to be willing to get arrested every once in awhile to highlight the fact that we still live with an expensive, incurable disease, which continues to kill people of all ages far too often, and that the FDA approval process is far too slow and the NIH budget for diabetes is far too small. I never seem to get anyone to say they would be willing to follow me to the barricades when I suggest this on DSMA . . . probably because I am also unwilling to get arrested. After all, I have a mortgage and a wife and a cat who depend on me; and I would probably lose my health insurance if I got arrested. That wouldn’t be good.

I do wonder though, what can people with diabetes learn from ACT UP and its offshoot Treatment Action Group? How far can we go to raise awareness without (say) occupying the NIH? How do we make the public take notice of our disease and be more active on our behalf?

What do you think?

Posted in Diabetes, This is who we are | 2 Comments

Repeal It

I originally wrote this post last Friday night and then, in a moment of doubt on Saturday morning, unpublished it. It wasn’t that I didn’t completely believe in the argument; I just wanted to make sure that it was the kind of thing I wanted to appear on this site. It is.

I try not to get political here very often. [1] But I cannot contain myself today. I am angry and heartbroken by the massacre of twenty schoolchildren and six adults in Connecticut. I think about the topic of gun violence every time there’s a gun-related mass-casualty incident, and it feels like I’ve been thinking about it a lot in recent years. Today, though . . . I just do not understand how it’s possible to perpetrate such a horrific act on such a scale. However, I do know that it would not have happened without a gun as part of the equation, and I think it’s about time we did something radical with guns.

Before you dismiss me as a knee-jerk, Eastern liberal, you should know that there were handguns in my house when I was a teenager. I shot one of them twice with my stepfather, as part of a “there are now guns in the house, and this is why you should leave them alone” campaign. After the first shot we realized that I had really good aim, despite only having one good eye. The second shot took me completely by surprise, and I dropped the gun out of fright. I can still see the damage done from the first shot, and I won’t ever forget the fear-turned-embarassment of the second. Of course, on one other occasion the same gun almost featured tragically in a situation I would rather forget.

Despite all that, in the past I was deeply opposed to gun control. In fact, on my college debate team, I twice argued passionately in favor of a right to keep guns and use them for hunting and self-defense and as a means of preventing tyranny. (Yes, I actually bought into that paranoid, militia-esque belief that a well-armed citizenry was all that kept us from a totalitarian hell state. That was a long time ago.) I believed that private gun ownership made sense in sparsely populated rural areas (like Wyoming) where everyone was a law unto himself as well as in crime-riddled urban areas (i.e., everywhere that wasn’t Wyoming).

Time has passed and now I can only see those beliefs as outdated and immature. Sure, guns can prevent some crime—and hunting, however you feel about it, is a different beast altogether—but firearms contribute to so many deaths and violent crimes. They are fundamentally different from other kinds of weapons in their ability to indiscriminately cause damage from a distance. I find it hard to justify handgun possession, since in my mind they are scaled down weapons of mass destruction. With the carnage they caused today, how can they not be thought of in the same class as WMDs?

I am tired of gun violence apologists—and let’s face it, that’s what they are—saying, “Oh, well, it’s just an isolated incident and the act of a deranged mind. We can’t prevent against this kind of event.” Not so. All of these tragedies may be uncoordinated, but there is a sine qua none that binds them together: the gun. How many repeats of the same tragedy must we have before we do something about guns? How many murders, attempted murders, and assaults do gun (ab)users have to commit before we say the consequences outweigh the supposed “benefits” of private gun ownership?

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting that most (or even a small percentage) of gun owners are just a hair’s breadth away from homicide. But I do think most guns have only two purposes: either to project the intimidating possibility of violence to all within the bullet’s range or to actually inflict harm on another person. It’s perfectly possible to own a gun responsibly and never use it, and it’s possible to use a gun in order to prevent harm to others, but this is not how most guns in this country (when used) are used. Moreover, the magnitude of gun ownership in this country has a corrosive effect on the overall safety and well-being of everyone in the US, as we saw from today’s events.


I’m not an originalist when it comes to Constitutional interpretation—nor am I a judge—but I understand the late 18th century point of view on this issue. Guns were in the culture in post-Revolutionary America and were used during Shay’s Rebellion out in western Massachusetts (1787) and the Whiskey Rebellion of 1791 by both the groups seeking to oppose tyranny/taxation and the militias that were used to put down the anti-state insurrections. Frontier violence was a fact of life, even though the presence of guns contributed to its worst abuses. (Well, guns and liquor together really.) Hunting was also a part of life for a large number of people. (And don’t forget the fear of slave revolts.)

Times are different now. The Civil War pretty much settled the issue of how dangerous state militias can be, and the idea of private gun ownership preventing a tyrannical government with a well-trained standing army from taking away our liberties—given some far-fetched dystopian scenario where it actually wanted to—is laughable. Furthermore, handguns and assault-style weapons create a much different gun environment than even 100 years ago.

The second amendment no longer protects American citizens by providing a framework for well-regulated gun ownership and/or militias. It provides a cudgel to prevent responsible regulation of firearms. The amendment has outlived its usefulness.


It’s time to repeal the second amendment. Remove the pretext of gun ownership and/or citizen militias as a Constitutional necessity for the preservation of individual liberties and happiness, and in its absence let the people decide how much and what kind of gun restrictions we really want. I will likely come down differently than you do, but in a democracy we should all have a voice in the decisions about the kind of society we live in. Different jurisdictions should be able to tailor gun laws to the needs of their populations.

The current Supreme Court has shown that there cannot be meaningful gun control in this country while the second amendment is in force and while Congress has a pathological inability to enact sensible regulation on its own. If, after a horrific tragedy like what occurred in Connecticut today, we can’t figure out a way to change the gun culture that exists in the United States so that it protects people, we never will. Something has to give on the second amendment; either we abandon our fetishistic attachment to it as an idea that prevents any meaningful gun regulation, or the entire amendment has to go. The blood of those killed in the next “isolated incident” will be on our hands.


1 — I occasionally write about healthcare economics here. It’s an issue that I don’t feel should be politicized, but sadly it is. Affordable healthcare is important to me, and I feel the problems about access to it are totally solvable, even if it’s going to be difficult to do. [back . . .]

Posted in General, Life Lessons, This is who we are | 2 Comments

Just Do It… No Matter What

For some reason, stories like this one about BethAnn Telford, who ran the Marine Corps Marathon with brain cancer yesterday just two weeks after competing in the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, are really getting to me lately.

I guess I’m just a big softie after all.

Posted in Reluctant Triathlete, Running, This is who we are | Leave a comment

Death Valley or Bust

Supposing that you read this on the morning that it was posted, I’m on my way to Las Vegas or already there. I’ll be spending the rest of the morning and part of the afternoon with Victoria, mon amie du sud. We first met around this time last year at Simonpalooza, and she convinced me to do a JDRF ride with her this year. We settled on Death Valley—as all you loyal readers and donors know—and the time for the ride is finally here. I’ve only seen Vegas before from the airport tarmac as we stopped to change passengers during a stopover on the way to visit Lisa’s parents many years ago. I’m looking forward to actually putting my feet on the ground and seeing this place that a friend once described as “the simulacrum of America,” a kind of tromp l’oeil painting of the American experience.

From there we head to Death Valley for a little orienting, hiking, and chilling out time at Furnace Creek on Friday before doing our 105 mile bike ride on Saturday. (The forecast high temperature has fallen by a degree to 99F, or 37C. Woo hoo!) I’ll write all about that after I get home.

Unlike the Twin Cities Tour de Cure, this ride so far has been much more about advocacy for me than anything else. I didn’t really ask for any money for the TdC ride, since I was primarily going to see friends and have a nice little ride. This JDRF ride, however, has much more aggressive fundraising requirements, so I started fundraising early and really put my heart and time (and a couple iTunes gift cards) into it. Also in the six months that I’ve been actively soliciting funds and preparing for the ride, I’ve talked about living with diabetes with many people who donated and who will be riding with me. (JDRF and the ADA are very different groups, and I’m curious to see what this ride is actually like as a person with diabetes. I’m holding back on making up my mind until after it’s all done, but it just has a very different feel so far.)

I’m so excited to say that I exceeded my initial fundraising goal of $3,000 . . . by a lot! As I’m writing this, generous people—friends, family, coworkers—and The MathWorks have contributed $12,125!! That’s over four times what I thought I could get. I can’t begin to express how grateful I am for all of this support. Some of my biggest contributors were from close family and coworkers, but I also received a $500 donation from a fellow cyclist coworker who I don’t think I’ve ever met. There’s a lot of power in just asking everyone you know every couple months to give whatever they feel they can and in being pretty chill about it the rest of the time. (If you missed out on your opportunity to give, there’s still time.)

Because I had to keep track of all my coworkers’ donations in order to get matching funds—which totaled $5,520—and because I have a bit of a thing for numbers, I ended up with a fair bit of data. For my fellow number nerds quants out there, here are some details (excluding the matching funds).

  • Number of donations = 103
  • Total of all donations = $6,605
  • Total from current and former coworkers = $5,565
  • Average donation = $64.13
  • Median donation = $50 (of which there were 38)
  • On my best fundraising day, people gave $1,054

People donated anywhere between $5 and $500, and I’m just as appreciative of the smallest gifts as the largest. Someone donated $179 to help me meet my initial fundraising target. (I promptly raised the goal amount!) Another donor gave $36, because in Jewish mysticism multiples of 18 (or is it 9?) are considered especially blessed, because the letters associated with the numbers spell out the word for “life.”

Thank you, everyone, for helping to improve the lives of people with diabetes!

Posted in Diabetes, This is who we are | 5 Comments

Odds and Ends – Back to School Edition

There’s been a lot going on in my life, but little of it is important enough on its own to warrant a full post. And the big stuff is all really big. Perhaps if I write about all of the small stuff at once . . .


Insulin: I got a phone call earlier today from my mother-in-law who is helping clean up her late father‘s and step-mother’s house. Turns out, he had type-2 diabetes (which I knew) and was on insulin (which no one seemed to know). The phone call I got was to answer the question, “How do you dispose of insulin?”

I had to think about it for a moment because my normal way of disposing of insulin is to use it all up in my pump. And when the vial is empty, I just add it to my ever-growing hoarding / art project. I had to think back to what I did on the rare times when a vial wasn’t empty before I started keeping them all, and I couldn’t really remember. So what to do? It’s not a control substance. It’s not something people abuse. It has a short shelf life. It’s not going to pollute the groundwater or landfill. The containers aren’t dangerous.

A quick check of Google supported my suspicions: “I think it’s okay to just throw the open vials away. It’s just kind of a foreign concept to me.”


Español: Tonight, I’m starting an eight-week “Introduction to Spanish” community education class. “¿Por qué?” you might ask. Well, several reasons:

  1. A trip we hope to take in two or three years will involve trekking in a country where se habla español, and I’d like to be able to talk to the locals in their own language.
  2. Ditto for the next time we go to Spain.
  3. Shakira, my Latina girlfriend, habla a mi corazón, and I’d love to be able to understand her better and reply in her own language . . . as well as French. French is always going to sound super sexy. . . . Anyway.
  4. I’ve been soaking in Spanish here and there for the last twenty years—to the point where I was (mostly) able to converse with the Iberia staff, not to mention some college friends taking first-year Spanish—and I would love to actually pick up some grammar and vocabulary to go along with the little bits that I know and (maybe) have a conversation or two.
  5. Lots of people in my community and workplace speak Spanish (and/or Portuguese) in addition to English, and they think it’s fun to talk to the Spanish-as-a-second-language folks.
  6. It feels wrong to live in a pluralist society and not have a passing familiarity with the second most popular language. ¡Viva la reconquista! (Just kidding.)
  7. I no longer worry that time I spend learning Spanish is time that I could be learning French. Because of some francophone junk e-mail that I get and all the French and Québécois music I listen to, I’m learning lots of French words and idioms without really trying.


A Brand New Car: In tangentially related news, we bought a new car last weekend. The 2013 Hyundai Elantra is our first car purchase in almost eight years, and it replaces our 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid. It was the only car in the intersection of all our requirements:

  • A sedan.
  • More luxurious than our Civic Hybrid. That’s not really hard, but we both wanted something with more than just gas and brake pedals, a steering wheel, and CD player.
  • Lower cost than our house payment.
  • Roughly the same fuel economy as our Hybrid.
  • Isn’t a hybrid. (Hybrid vehicles are great until they’re not. Then they’re really expensive, or they don’t work at all.)

It turns out those last two were difficult to satisfy. It’s possible to find lots of cars with more amenities and extras than our Civic; just don’t ask for anything better than 25-30 MPG without going super-compact. The Elantra certainly isn’t going to be mistaken for an Audi or BMW, but it has nice styling, leather seats, a sunroof, iPod/iPhone integration, Bluetooth, and XM radio.

Which brings me to this morning’s commute, my first with the new car. I spent the whole drizzly, slow drive listening to the top 40 countdown of Canadian francophone music. It was pretty awesome, but I think it—along with the iPod integration—is going to slow down my CD project.


A-Z backwards: Since the end of last year, I’ve been working my way backward through our CD collection, from Zydeco to Abba. It’s taken slightly longer than I’d expected, and I blame U2 and Bruce Springsteen for that. Turns out, we didn’t have many of the early Springsteen or U2 CDs. So I kind of (accidentally) doubled the number that we had of each. Oops!

(Of course, I spent a couple of weeks not listening to Van Halen’s greatest hits album, “Best of Both Worlds.” I eventually summoned the courage to do it, but it almost made me quit. Part of what I wanted to do with the project was find the hidden treasures that aren’t on my iPod, to enjoy what I already own, and to listen really closely to the lyrics and styles of the artists in our collection. Let me just say that we while Lisa and I have a lot of overlap in our tastes, we’re definitely two different music lovers. And there’s no double-entendre worse than an 80s hair-band double-entendre.)

But I did make it through all of the Springsteen and U2 albums (and a whole lot of others) and am currently hanging out with my (previously mentioned) Lebanese-Colombian girl, who until recently held the distinction of having more concert albums in our collection than studio recordings. That’s no longer the case. Anyway . . .

I noticed some interesting things about Springsteen. His earliest work is not to my liking at all. It was all knock-off Dylan with blue-collar lyrics about girls and cars and beaches. There were some gems in there, especially when the E Street Band got really rocking, but it wasn’t until Reagan came along and he got introspective or righteously angry about the working man’s plight and sufferings in love that I started to really like him. To my tastes, he alternates between some of the most soulful music ever made and the most banal. Oh, you can say whatever you want about my fastidiousness, but Bruce had some real duds after “The Rising.” (For example, “Devils & Dust” and “Working on a Dream” were not my cup of tea. Not at all.) But, taken as a whole he’s just an amazing songwriter and band leader.


The Beatles: Eventually I’ll get to The Beatles and probably make Sir Paul McCartney a bit of extra cash, but I listened to my first two Beatles albums a few months ago. Ever. I know, I know. It’s like admitting illiteracy. And I knew I was culturally slacking for several years beforehand, but I just couldn’t figure out where to start. Somehow when it came time to pick an initial foray, I started at the end with “Let It Be” and “Abbey Road.” This wasn’t intentional, but it was enlightening. The group broke up before I was born, and I know that a lot of people (including my father) blamed Yoko for it, but I’ve always thought that sounded like a convenient bit of misogyny. If you listen to their later albums—which have some really good songs on them—they are all over the place. Four songs, four writers/arrangers, and four different sounds. In my mind they were a Liverpudlian Wu-Tang Clan, getting together to make music between solo gigs; they just didn’t know they’d broken up yet.


Apples: I’ve been eating a lot of apples lately. (This is a very random post, isn’t it?) I’m not sure why, except that one day I was picking up something at Stop and Shop on the way home from work, and I could tell that I was going to have low blood sugar soon if I didn’t eat. An apple sounded just right, and I felt adventurous, so I bought a Honeycrisp, and (to paraphrase Robert Frost) that has made all the difference. This was a big gamble, since I dislike certain varieties, but I can say without a doubt that Honeycrisp has joined Granny Smith in the apple pantheon. Also delicious are Cortland, Braeburn, and Empire. I found Royal Joburn and McIntosh a little disappointing. The jury is still out on Fuji and Gala.

How about you? What is your favorite apple variety?

Posted in Diabetes, El Hombre Guapo, General, This is who we are | 2 Comments

Doing Intervals for Fun

My girl Chrissie Wellington reminds us to have fun amidst all the OCD, type-A BS that is triathlon training:

Someone asked me a few weeks ago “Chrissie, if you are not racing what is your goal for this year?” My goal? “It is to revel in sport for sports sake and really take the time to enjoy the moment.”

Having finished my 70.3 a few weeks ago, this is exactly where I’m at right now.

I’m taking an extra day off each week, and when I go out I usually make up the plan on the fly. “What do I want to do at the pool this morning? How about a set of three 400-yard hard efforts? Or maybe a nice 2,250 yard swim. . . .” Tuesday, my feet somehow found their way to the trail without much thinking on my part, and the four of us—my two feet, my thoughts, and I—had a nice six mile run on the almost empty bike path. Yesterday, I had a vague idea of where I wanted to ride, and I was feeling good, so it turned into an impromptu interval session, where I rode hard to a landmark—the top of a hill, the intersection with the highway, etc.—instead of going by time or heart rate. Wednesday, I mowed the lawn.

I’m racing a 5K this weekend because it’s in my town and follows almost exactly the same route that I’ve used for training over the last four summers. Yes, I’ll be using it to get training paces for the next big thing I will train for, but I’ll mostly be there to have fun and enjoy racing when there’s nothing really at stake. The last couple of “5K” runs that I’ve done to get training paces have seen me sprinting down the bike path by myself just racing the clock, and I’m really eager to be around other runners and enjoy the day.

The time to train again—probably for a half marathon in March—will arrive soon enough, but for now I’m just out to have fun.

Posted in Cycling, Reluctant Triathlete, Running, Swimming, This is who we are | Leave a comment

Casper

Lisa and I are finishing up the first part of The Great Rectangular State Adventure of 2012. We arrived in Denver on Saturday and drove up I-25 to Casper, Wyoming, to visit my mom and her husband.

For those who don’t know, I was born in Iowa, but I grew up in Wyoming. The Equality State holds a special place in my heart (despite everything that’s “wrong” with it from the perspective of an urbane person who lives in a major Eastern metropolitan area with high-tech jobs and cultural attractions and diversity and laws). I made great friends here, did a lot of fun things, and heard so many fantastic stories about all of the crazy things that happen in a state with more cows than people. While hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, and driving around the state alone and with friends, I built up my own trove of Wyoming lore, too. (Most of it’s even true.) High school cross-country and debate trips were almost always overnight affairs with lots of shenanigans and fun. I estimate that I met 10% of the people my age during the three years that I lived here full time.

But, like most of my friends, I went away for college and never moved back. We’re a band of expatriates, and—as with all people who move away—when we come back this place is strangely familiar and foreign at the same time. I walk a line between nostalgia for an idealized golden age and trying to appreciate the state for the way that it really is now, warts and all. I love thinking about this place and all of the things that we did at the same time that I wonder what I’m possibly going to do this time without just doing the same things that I’ve done in the past.

(One of my best high school friends keeps finding her way back to Wyoming. She’s the most improbable native daughter a state like Wyoming could ever have. We had hoped to meet up, but sadly, we’re just going to miss her on this trip and won’t be able to make the reading from her collection of short stories, “Cowboys and East Indians.”)

This trip is one of the rare times that we’re here in the summer, so we’re doing more outdoorsy things. Wyoming is a great place to be outside, even when it’s been hot like this week. (Although, it’s definitely nicer when you’re not in the direct sun.) Because I’m deep into triathlon training, I brought my bike, so this is also the first time that I’ve been cycling here in almost 20 years. Hiking and cycling in Wyoming is so much different than where Lisa and I live now. The mountains are higher; the roads and trails are less crowded; and views are much more impressive.

The elevation is much higher here, too—5000+ feet vs. 300 at our house—and I can definitely feel it. Actually, I feel it a lot! Tons of sparklies everywhere I look. (I think it’s also wreaking havoc with my blood sugar, making me low all the time.) Sunday’s 60-mile ride with Mom and Miles was a bit more challenging than I expected. And my plan to ride up Casper Mountain this morning was thwarted after the first six miles by a 25 MPH headwind and the sparklies. (Although the 50+ MPH ride back down was totally sweet and all too short!)

After my less-than-successful attempt to ride up the mountain, we all drove up in the car a little bit later. We took a short hike, saw a rattlesnake, and visited a fantastically beautiful (and new-to-me) part of the mountain. I loved being on the edge of one mountain, seeing the range extend far into the distance as the shadows from the clouds moved across the meadows between them, the air full of the smell of sagebrush. This particular park has a quirky, New-Agey mythology to it that is very much not normal for Casper, and it just made me very happy to be there.

I’m kinda sad that we’re starting the next phase of our adventure tomorrow when we drive to Colorado Springs.

Posted in Cycling, This is who we are, Travel, USA, Western Adventure | 3 Comments

Fifteen

On June 29th, 1997, I married Lisa Wheaton, my best friend and the sweetest woman in the world. We’ve had so much fun since then, and I love her so much more today than I had figured possible on that beautiful day fifteen years ago overlooking Mount Hood in Oregon.

For reasons that I still don’t fully understand, she decided that I was the one for her shortly after we met on the first day of our four years in Grinnell. I’m so, so, so glad that she did. It took her the whole first semester to win me over, since I was dating someone else at the time. But as her friend from high school predicted, that other girl didn’t have a chance. (Ladies, it turns out that “needing help with your calculus homework”—whether you actually need it or not—is still a pretty good way of getting yourself lodged in some guys’ minds.)

The day after the wedding we started a three-week honeymoon in the Canadian Rockies, which seemed to kickstart our habit of enjoying our travels together. Since then we’ve traveled so many places: India, Australia, London, Paris, Barcelona, the Rockies, various places in Canada, and different parts of the US during our multiple baseball tours, just to name some of our longer trips. She’s a great travel companion and navigator, and it feels wrong to go places and do fun things without her.

After returning from our honeymoon, we started the long trip eastward into the unknown. From Oregon to Wyoming to Iowa and then finally to Boston, we did the Oregon Trail in reverse, picking up things from the different parts of our lives at each stop before settling in. We hated the moving experience so much that we didn’t do it again for another seven years, when we moved to the house where we live now. The day that we moved into our tiny apartment, our new landlord gave us some good advice: “Don’t ever sleep apart if you’re angry with each other,” which is advice that we’ve managed to follow all of this time. (Notice he didn’t say not to go to bed angry. That’s going to happen, but avoiding the other person doesn’t make the problem go away or let you feel better when you wake up next to a person who still loves you.)

You can learn a lot about another person and yourself over fifteen years. I’m so happy with what I’ve discovered about Lisa, and she’s helped me become the man that I always had in mind when I thought about myself as a “grown up.” She had the chance to change her mind about me so many times, especially when I was diagnosed with diabetes just two short years after we married and moved to New England. She took the “in sickness and in health” part of the vows seriously, and it made us stronger and more in love to struggle through those early days together. Fortunately, we also managed to make it through the “for richer and poorer” part unscathed, too.

So, Sweetheart, these fifteen years have been great! Sorry about not helping you understand Riemann sums before our calculus final. And thank you so much for always talking to me about The Iliad. Je t’aime de tout mon cœur.

Posted in General, I am Rembrandt, Photography, This is who we are | 4 Comments