Tag Archives: Ultimate Frisbee

Susan Speaks: Pulsed


I have been Pulsed.

What the heck does that mean?

Pulse is the name of my son’s summer team. It’s a complex organism, the summer team, comprised of kids from all over the city and suburbs. Kids my kid competes against in the fall and spring, kids he has a rivalry (usually friendly but maybe not always) with now become his teammates and they have about ten weeks to come together and gel so they can perform at a high level on the field.

All I’ll say about that last bit is that they entered the tournament as the #10 seed. They left it in thirteenth place.

We can say the team got Pulsed.

Despite the poor finish, there’s a lot to be positive about. Great coaches, one of whom is going to be a rock star of a coach, if he so chooses. And the Spirit of the Game that is mandated by the rules pervaded pretty much everyone on this trip: players, coaches, chaperones. People were friendly and talkative and… yeah. Spirit of the Game. The three Pittsburgh teams rooted each other on. They helped make a strong sideline, which is an important part of Ultimate, and they taught my son’s team — the under 16-year-old kids — how to be that sideline. They did it through example. It was a good thing.

This is why I love Ultimate. Spirit of the Game extends off the field.

Of course, there were problems and we won’t get into them now. My kid had a rough first day. REALLY rough. But his coaches knew what to say and they even figured out how best to instruct him so his final two days of competition weren’t just better, but I watched him push through his own obstacles and elevate his game. Of course, with only ten kids by the final day (one left early and one tore a pectoral muscle) while the other teams had 22, there wasn’t much choice. Which is what we’d wanted: lots of time on the field. Lots of touches on the disc. Experience.

My kid’s been Pulsed.

This was his last year of eligibility for this Under-16 team, as his birthday’s coming up in a scant two weeks. Next year, he may or may not make the more competitive Under-19 team. That’s on him and how he chooses to elevate his game. Time will tell.

On a work front, I’d thrown the edit I was working on into Dropbox, but the hotel Internet was really quite poor (and again, I have major issues with Hilton hotels) as I got nailed with Malware of some sort and when I ran the scanner, cleaned it up, and restarted the machine, Dropbox decided it wasn’t going to cooperate with my laptop. What the heck? I have to go open the file and see if the changes I’d made up to that point saved or if all that work was wasted…

I got Pulsed. Not in a good way.

But the pictures from the weekend are uploaded and if you’re a close friend, I’m glad to share the link. If you caught my Facebook post, I was the one not only taking pictures but running the team’s Twitter account, which had parents on the first night wandering around the hotel lobby and asking who was so much fun. Like this surprises any of you?

So… lots of catch-up work. And, of course, I heard from a number of potential clients over the weekend, all of whom need to be followed up on, and not only do I have the current edit to deal with, the next in line has arrived, too. This is all good, as I now have a mega trip to pay off!

Right now, it’s off to PT to deal with the pinched nerve from the bike accident.

And who messed with my desktop while I was gone?


Susan Speaks: Eleven


The eleven week mark came and went pretty unremarkably. And yet, it was the single most important week since it happened, since the retinal repair. This was the third in the series of important things — all things come in threes, right? — and of it all, this was my favorite important week yet.

I went from being a patient to being myself again.

Now, as I’ve said, full healing will take about a year. My optometrist yesterday said he can’t even guess when the cataract/refraction surgery will take place. Maybe the surgeon is waiting for more healing, less swelling. Maybe he’s waiting for the cataract to sing and dance (okay, not anyone’s words, but you know what I mean). Maybe he’s waiting for my vision to settle and resolve — that’s what my money is on. And I’m in no rush. A new pair of glasses is being made as we speak. It’s all good, even if it’s not over yet.

And it is good.

I had agonized from the moment this happened about whether or not I’d be available for last weekend, for this eleventh anniversary.

My son had an Ultimate Frisbee tournament. The coach had told me back in November he wanted me to be there. Hell, *I* wanted to be there; there’s something magical about being outside all day, watching the heart and soul that Ultimate demands of its players. And even though this weekend wound up being cold and rainy on the first day, causing a couple emergency runs to stores for heavier clothes and trash bags to keep gear dry, it was still magical.

See what I mean?


This was warmup Sunday morning. Yes, that’s frost on the ground. Yes, that’s a hot air balloon in the background. Yes, I had a hard time seeing to grab this shot, between the sun and my poor beat-up eye. But it hung there so perfectly over the team…


I stood there, on Sunday, the day after the eleventh anniversary of the day I tried to kill myself with a bicycle, and I took a deep breath of the around-freezing air. And at last, I felt alive again. Not wounded, not scared of what was going to happen. Myself. Strong, tough, smart, cool. A small force of nature. Restored.

Okay, and a little bit cold, too. And maybe, just maybe…

a little bit muddy.



#SaystheEditor Stereotypes From the Mouths of Babes


Last weekend, I took the boy and three of his teammates to southern Virginia for an Ultimate Frisbee tournament. I came away with an awful lot to write about, both in my fiction and right here, as The Editor.

Today, let’s talk about teens. Teenage boys, in particular because even though I wandered over to see the girls and even though they came and watched most of our first game on Sunday, I didn’t get to observe the girls nearly enough. (They are, however, quite cool.)

Often in fiction, kids appear in one of two roles: the comic relief or the brooding, troubled kid.

Reality isn’t so easy, is it? I had four kids in my charge this weekend: three high school sophomores and a high school junior. Not one filled those roles in the typical sense, although they were each comic relief in their own ways. Each had moments of brooding. In their own ways.

We were standing in Subway on the way home and one of them — we’ll call him Tom — looked at me and said, “Mrs. G, know what I’ve noticed? You and [your kid] both like to have a lot of space around you.”

And I realized… he was right. Dead-on correct. The boy and I need that buffer space (although I was sort of curious about that when the boy leaned over from the backseat and started massaging Tom’s face and yes, it was really strange and utterly hysterical at the same time … like I said, lots of food for future fiction.). We’ve been through some pretty big traumas, me and my kids. And every now and then, someone with a high level of perception or empathy comes along and sees it. Tom, at age sixteen, was one of them.

So what’s this got to do with writing? Well, haven’t you figured it out yet? Kids and teens are too often cast into stereotypic roles in fiction. Would any of us — myself included — expect to hear something like that from a kid’s mouth?

Well, sure. There’s that third stereotype: the too-wise-for-his-years kid.

But Tom? Like I said. He got a face massage from my kid (and purred). He whined about being attacked by a thumbtack yet only complained twice about the finger he sprained and how swollen it was. He informed us that Krispy Kreme was the reason he was fat as a kid (think about that one). He spent two hours doing his homework with the quiet kid.

Definitely a character in his own right. And definitely not a stereotype.

So… let’s bring this to you, shall we? If you’re going to include kids in your books, spend time with them. Volunteer somewhere, even if it means getting your child abuse clearances and oh, no! Spending money on travel costs and crummy hotel rooms (that’s a story for another time) and food and yes, Krispy Kremes for the drive home.

Get to know these kids. Figure out who they are and what makes ’em tick. Know the stereotype about kids being absorbed in their phones? Not this crew. Four kids. They talked in my car. They played games. They engaged in a science experiment with Kool-Aid. They did homework. They slept. And yes, they watched videos… for about an hour. Of sixteen in the car.

Again, they’re not fitting the stereotypes.

As writers, it’s on us to get it right. Yeah, you may be the writer who uses those broad generalities to make a larger point about human nature. But… do you really need to?

What would happen if you break out of those molds and formulas and stereotypes and portray kids as the complex, perceptive, funny people they truly are? Wouldn’t fiction — YOUR fiction — be better for it?

I suspect it would. Go for it.