Monday, July 19, 2010


My wife and I picked up lunch for my family today. My mom and dad wrote down their orders on a piece a paper, and Sarah and I went to Subway.

When we got there, I took the piece of paper up to the counter and began to read. My mom had requested a six inch turkey sub on whole wheat with everything except hot peppers. As I stuttered through the list of ingredients, the woman behind the counter strained to make out what I was saying. It was touch and go for a moment, but the sandwich was completed.

Next, Sarah ordered her sandwich: tuna on wheat with lettuce, tomato, pickles, vinegar, salt, and pepper. I caught myself feeling jealous about her effortless delivery.

I was up again. I began to recite my father's order, but the woman behind the counter could not understand me. She apologized and seemed genuinely upset that she was unable to decipher what I was saying. I tried again... and again, but as my tension level mounted, my stuttering became worse. I did something that I never do.

"Sarah?" I looked to my wife, and she immediately knew what I was asking. She gently took the piece of paper from me and read it to the patient sandwich artist. I looked down at the floor in shame. "It's OK, baby," Sarah said.

I couldn't go out like this. I began my own sandwich order, and I stuttered like a fool, but I got the idea of a chicken-salad-on-flat-bread across to my friend the sandwich artist. She smiled sweetly and made my sandwich. That was the worst part.

When someone makes fun of me, I can choose to let it go, or I can choose to get angry. If I let it go, I am not bothered. If I get angry, I can deal with it. On the other hand, when someone is sympathetic, I feel crippled. I feel like someone for whom people should feel sorry. That is hard to let go. I haven't had to ask someone to speak for me since I was a child. Today, I felt like a child.

After a hard ride (and one or two adult beverages), I feel OK, but today hurt.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Last week, my wife and I drove 1000 miles to a pair of bike races in Pennsylvania and D.C. We arrived at our hotel on Friday night, and we were so tired that we left my bike locked on our car and went straight to sleep. After a wonderful nine hours of sleep, we made coffee and walked down the stairs to the car. Much to our surprise, we found that my bike had been stolen.

A police officer came and took our information, but he made it clear to us that the bike would not be found. It was gone. I was supposed to race that night in a race for which I had trained for months, but I did not have a bike.

A wonderful company called SRAM allowed me to use a bike that night, but it was not a good fit, and I finished anonymously in the pack. The next day was even worse. I borrowed another bike from SRAM, and I was involved in a crash. I hurt my knee pretty bad and got a concussion, but I managed to get back into the race and finish anonymously in the pack once again.

If it weren't for bad luck...

People often tell me that I have bad luck. They might be right. Within the last twelve weeks, my house burned down, my bike got stolen, and I crashed bad enough that I have to see an orthopedic surgeon. Sarah and I seem to go from one crisis to the next, but it never seems to affect me. I deal with disappointment well. Stuttering strikes again.

Life as a stutterer is a series of small disappointments. I picture myself telling a joke to a rapt group of friends who laugh hysterically as I deliver the punchline, but in reality, I stutter so bad that they lose me halfway through the telling of the joke. I picture myself ordering lunch without having to spell out my chosen menu item four times, but in reality, I end up getting extra onions instead of no onions or two kinds of cheese instead of no cheese because the server just can't understand me. I pictured myself saying my wedding vows clearly and loudly, but in reality...

All of these little disappointments have taught me that there is light at the end of the tunnel (if only so another tunnel can begin). No disappointment lasts forever, and I only lose when I stop trying.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sorry I haven't called...

So... it has been a while.

I could give a whole slew of excuses for my lack of posts, but I will not. I will just say that much has happened since the fire and leave it at that.

I'm back. Will you have me?


The last two months have made up what I like to call a "bad speech cycle." My speech has been garbled and strained, and I have endured more than my share of awkward encounters. For example:

I leave on Thursday for a pair of races in Pennsylvania and DC, and my bike needs a new bottom bracket bearing. This specific bearing is a little bit hard to find, so I had to call every shop in my area on Saturday. Almost every single shop hung up on me or told me that I was "breaking up." Each time, this made me a little angrier. I would call back and say "hi, I just called looking for a bearing and you hung up on me. I stutter. Please stay on the line."

Each time, the person on the other end of the line would say something along the lines of "I'm so sorry" or "I didn't mean to offend you." They didn't mean any harm, but damn - a new bearing for my bike shouldn't cost me my dignity.

I have experienced countless other similar encounters recently, and I'm starting to lose my sense of humor. I mean, yeah, I can be quite a spectacle, but is stuttering really so rare that people just don't know how to respond?

Enough bitching - time for some good news:

Sarah and I are finally about to move into an apartment, so it looks like we'll have greater stability. That means I'll be back to blogging. Let me know if there is a specific topic you would like for me to discuss.