Thursday, March 20, 2008

D is for Danger Girl

I have spent the longest time trying to figure out what I was going to write for the D edition of the Encyclopedia of Dee Em.

Was it going to be about my Dad? I did mention that I had a few Daddy issues in edition C. I do. I don’t remember a lot about my childhood because my Dad was, quite frankly, a lush. He was also verbally abusive and I do remember one time seeing him pushing my mother up against the wall, his hand spanning her neck, screaming down at her.

Last month, when I was at the Chalet with Beth and my completely kick-ass niece, Betsy, we started talking about my Dad and how Betsy remembered meeting him when she was 17. She said her Dad, my half-brother Bruce, said he was a good drinking partner but not a good father or husband.

And it’s true. My Dad was a great guy, a wonderful guy who was charming and funny and had a particularly wicked sense of humor that I inherited (along with the crooked pinkies and hairy toes…thanks, Dad!) but he was not a good father or husband. My parents actually got along a lot better after their divorce when I was 13.

Should I write about Diabetes? No. I’m sick of the subject. Not that I’m so sick of it that I’m not watching what I’m eating (you’ll all be happy to know that Kraft makes a Light Done Right Golden Caesar Salad dressing that is fantastic and I am actually not missing Quizno’s incredibly wonderful and fattening Caesar salad dressing at all. Do you know what that means? Yes! It means I’ve had a salad every day this week for lunch. And carrots for breakfast. Yay, Dana!) or making sure that my levels are good (and when I say good, I mean under 150 (considering when I first started this, I was close to 300, I think that’s pretty good, people). I think I would have to stop eating all together to get below 100. I thought it wasn’t possible to actually hit those numbers but then I got to poke Co-Worker Beau and Co-Worker Vivian the other day (it’s so much more fun to jab other people with sharp pointy things than me. I wonder why that is) and they are both around 94. I hate them) and watching my feet obsessively for sores that won’t heal or obvious circulation problems. I have actually been expecting to be diabetic for years. In fact, I kept asking to be tested for it.

What about Dieting? Well, the truth is, I can’t diet. It’s impossible. If I tell myself I’m on a diet, I start feeling like I’m starving and then I binge. And bingeing is bad! Because then I feel worse about myself and then I eat more and then, if I’d managed to lose any weight at all, I gain it all back and an extra 20 or 30 pounds on top of it. So, instead of dieting, I follow the Weight Watcher’s philosophy. I am not dieting. I am making a lifestyle change. And, other than the fact that I cannot keep anything remotely snacky at my desk (even rice cakes) because I will eat them all, I’m doing pretty well.*

*I don’t remember when I started this but today (March 18th, 2008) I do actually have rice cakes, granola bars and even some Girl Scout cookies at my desk and I’m not going crazy with them…not even the Thin Mints which, quite frankly, are the best cookies ever and usually I can eat an entire box in 2.5 minutes but today, as a reward for cleaning my desk, I had 4 which is 1 serving. Wow. I am quite impressed with myself. And also, when I went to the doctor last Monday, I found out I lost another 5 pounds since February 6th. I so rock.

I thought about Depression and my struggle with it for years but quite honestly, it’s really depressing. Please. Like you could resist the pun.

So what does that leave me with? I’m certainly not going to do D is for Dana because, hello, it’s my blog, it’s pretty much a given it’s going to be about me. But then I remembered why I’m so deathly afraid of heights. And it’s kind of an amusing story in a perfectly terrifying way. So here we go…

D is for Danger Girl*

*You know what I find so amusing? That there are women out there who get completely offended if they are referred to as a girl and will snap “I am a WOMAN!” and I constantly refer to myself Danger Girl or Green Duckies Girl without any problems at all. And let’s face it, at 41; I don’t think I technically can be considered a girl anymore. But Danger Woman or Green Duckies Woman sound stupid. Certain things just sound better with Girl. Like Super Girl works but Cat Girl doesn’t. That’s why there was Cat Woman.

Anyway, here’s the story.

Many years ago, when I was probably about 13 or 14, Mom decided she would feel better if Kari and I went to summer school instead of hanging around the house all day. Since this was after my parents divorced, it wasn’t like Dad would be there during one of his many times of being unemployed (honestly, I don’t remember him ever working. I know he did but couldn’t tell you what he did while he was my Dad. I know he was a well digger before I was born. And he also repaired boilers because one exploded on him but anything after 1967? No clue).

We got a choice as to what we got to do; Mahtomedi had a lot of different classes you could take that weren’t remedial in the least. Somehow I got signed up for something about camping. Not exactly sure how this happened because I’m not exactly outdoorsy at all. Let me rephrase that. I like Nature but prefer Her from indoors. Of course, exceptions are always made when there are cameras involved but this was long before my obsession with scrapbooking took place.

There are two things I remember clearly from this class (I’m not surprised that it’s only two things. After all, this was 1980 or 1981, many years ago (as already stated) and my memory of my childhood is not crystal clear. Hell, I have a hard time remembering what I did last week).

The first thing is coming home on the bus and it had been an incredibly hot day. We had been outside all day at summer school and I was worn out. Suddenly, a few feet before Kari and my bus stop, something odd happened. My vision went completely black except for white dots that outlined people and the bus seats. It was the oddest thing that had ever happened to me. Somehow I made it off the bus and asked Kari to help me home because I couldn’t see.

If you would have told me at 13 or 14 that someday I would count Kari as one of my closest friends, I would have laughed hysterically. Kari and I did not get along. At all. She was constantly trying to get me in trouble with Mom and I’m sure I was constantly complaining about her. The term “Sibling Rivalry” could have been invented to describe our relationship.

So, when I asked Kari to help me home, I believe her response was “Whatever. I’m going home.” Or something similar. Her nicknames, by the way, were Brat and Bug. We also called her Care Bear but that was not very often.

I ended up sitting underneath a tree, in the shade, alternately crying and praying that God restore my vision. Apparently resting in the shade helped and eventually I was able to make my way home. Where my mother lit into me for not coming home right after school and then I got to explain about Kari abandoning me. One day where I actually did get her in trouble. I felt victorious.

The other time led to my eventual fear of heights.

We were at William O’Brien for a field trip and got to set up tents (ooh. The joy. Yes, let’s sleep on the ground under a small piece of plastic that will gather a ton of rain (and it always rains when someone in my family goes camping. I think it’s a rule. Or a curse, possibly) and I will wake up cold and wet and unhappy. In fact, the older I get, the more I think that camping should be done in hotels. And parks should only be visited for scrapbooking purposes) and cook over a fire (I am fond of fire though, just ask Beth about our trip to Wisconsin) and why must I use so many parentheses? Why?

Anyway, we’re at William O’Brien, I decide to go for a walk, I’m walking along the river and I see something, Lord knows what. Maybe it was a fish hook. Somehow I manage to fall off the side of the cliff (Or, knowing me, I may have thought, Hey, let’s go rock climbing and then lost my footing). I managed to grab onto the ground with my fingernails and was holding on for dear life. There’s not that much distance between me and the river, maybe a 5 to 6 foot drop but there’s a slope. And this slope is filled with rocks and more rocks and really big, pointy, could seriously hurt Dana rocks.

So Dana hangs there, alternating between shouting for help and praying and looking at the slope and thinking “What were you thinking?”

One of my classmates ran off and got a teacher and eventually I was saved. I don’t think I hung there for more than 5 minutes but they were the longest 5 minutes of my life (well, up until then. I’ve had many other long minutes happen).

I believe the teacher also wanted to know what I was thinking. This seems to be a reoccurring theme in my life.

So this is why I’m afraid of heights. This fear can manifest at the oddest times, I can still climb a rock or two (but only when there’s a picture involved and the rock isn’t too high and there’s someone around (usually Beth) to call for help if I fall and crack my head open (unless, of course, she’s climbing on other rocks to get her picture)) but I can seriously freak out sometimes.

And yet, I live on the 27th floor. I’m kind of weird. I think you might have all known that. If not, well, here’s more proof.

Edition D was kind of lame. I’ll have to do something really good for E. Any suggestions?