Happens To Stutter – Episode 105


Make Room For The Stuttering


Episode 105 features Erin, who hails from Washington, DC, via San Fransisco, CA. Erin has an undergrad degree in history and her master’s degree in Library Information Studies. She works in the history field, doing archival work.

Erin enjoys her dog, Eleanor Roosevelt and is an ocean person. She loves to surf.

Listen in as we discuss experiences we both had in London, mine for a brief one week, Erin’s when she studied abroad for college.

We discuss covert stuttering, speech therapy experiences, career choices and not settling.

We also discuss the value of hanging out with people who happen to stutter, but not necessarily talking about stuttering.

I unfairly did more of the talking in this episode, which will be cause to invite Erin back as a guest in the future, where I’ll shut up and let her talk. For she has a lot to say. Check out her…

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I am a Lyre

I am a Lyre

I know I said I’d finish my Roo story today but things (life) have piled up and thus it’s going to have to wait until tomorrow. Have a great Friday!

One Dog, Three Countries: The Story of Roo Part 1

Roo at HomeIf you’ll allow me a moment away from stuttering, I’d like to tell you the Story of Roo. Spoiler alert, Roo is no longer with us. I don’t want you to get all invested and then like “wtf” at the end. But I think her story is worth sharing because though her life was short, she packed a lot into it. So:

I grew up with a dog in the house at all times beginning with Barley, a 70 pound movie reject terrier mix with a tendancy to bolt at the first open door. We once took him to the Marin Headlands to watch the aircraft carrier my father was filming a documentary on cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge. Within forty minutes Barley slipped his leash and took off. The cliffs in the Headlands are not what you would call runaway dog friendly- especially the kind of dog who took the “leap first, ask quesitons never” approach to life. We searched until we could no longer see where the road stopped and the cliffs to the Bay started and returned to our house, my brother and me sobbing the whole way. I composed myself briefly to deliver the deep thoughts: “It’s like we lost a member of the family. Because he was a member of the family” and then resumed my public display of mourning. It couldn’t have been more than half an hour until the phone rang and my mother answered, widened her eyes, smiled, and rolled her eyes, in that order. It seems that, finished with his adventure, Barely had returned to the dirt lot where we had parked our van and jumped into the car that had taken our place. The Marin Park Police car. With the officer inside. Instead of shooting the wild animal he kindly read his tags and returned him to our tear-stained family.

Barley lived a full life and died at 12 from a variety of cancers and old age. Later that year we brought home the miniature daschund Lucy, who, while not a flight risk like her predecessor, quickly identified herself as not really much of a “dog person”. This is to say she prefers the company of adoring humans over her long squatty bretheren, which is just fine because her floppy ears and goofy run ensure she’ll never go long without a belly rub. I left home a few years into the Era of Lucy and thus began the long five years I spent without a dog. The Dark Period.

Fast forward to 2011: I finished graduate school and hopped the first flight to a small island off the coast of Honduras to visit an old friend, N. I promised myself that as soon as I returned, I would begin working with a rescue org. to find myself a pup, but that week I was to focus on the essentials in life: SCUBA diving, napping, and Salva Vida on the beach. Two days in N returned to the island with his girlfriend C, after having spent a weekend in El Salvador.

My travel buddy and I walked up the stairs to his office and as I opened the door it was like that scene in The Shining: tunnel vision down the hall was the smallest, most gangly puppy I’d ever seen, her big sad eyes saying “play with me! Play with me forever.” Love in 3…2…1…

It seems that in El Salvador, N and C’s drive to the beach passed the makeshift home for a litter of puppies that had been abandoned by their mother. Hungry and wild, they had taken to scrounging for food on the outskirts of the little beach town, which left them suseptable to cars and bored children with nothing better to do than play “strike the puppies with rocks” (not a game I’m familiar with, but…) The littlest one of the group always seem to take the brunt of the rocks, and got the smallest ration of food, and before the weekend was over, C decided she could. not. leave the country without her. Life is all about compromises (or so I hear), and theirs was that she could bring it back to Honduras, but a new home must be found poste haste as N refused to be a dog owner three times over.

The rest of my week had no shortage of the aforementioned requirements (plus a local favorite, the Monkey La La, which as far as I can tell is made from equal parts Kalua, and vodka), but also an obscene amount of this:


Ok, part 2 will come tomorrow…time for bed.

Making a Phone Call is Like a Box of Chocolates…

I had to make an important telephone call today. That’s right. I had to make a phone call and I feel that this warrants a blog post. File under “you might be a sutterer if…”

For your average adult (or child or dog) this is Officially NBD. Possibly awkward for the introverts out there, but this generally does not rank very high on the “OMG NO” scale. When you stutter, however, it’s a whole different ballgame. You get to marinate in anxiety while the phone rings…quick! Say your name!…now explain the reason you called. You’re on the spot and you have a captive audience who can’t pick up on body language or other cues about what you’re trying to say over the phone. Sometimes the silence is so long you get a “are you there?” or worse, a hangup- which is basically confirmation that you have failed as a functioning human (at least that’s how it feels in the moment). And let’s not get started with having to recite your credit card number. Thank goodness for Dominos online.

If the answering maching picks up the instant feedback is lessened, but what if you stutter in your message? I like to imagine the other person listening to the recording with a look of confusion or maybe not understanding when I…slowly…haltingly…give my phone number. But I’m a maschocist like that.

Today, my story has a happy ending. I got through the whole call without a single block. Theme from Rocky, fireworks, parade…but that’s not always the case. I once hung up on a friend’s dad because I couldn’t get my name out. I’ve been hung up on countless times. I’ve been accused of having a bad cell connection, and I’ve been on the line with incredibly understanding customer service reps (hey AAA!). That’s the trouble with stuttering…I think Forrest Gump said it best. You really never know what you’re gonna get.

Two more things that scare the bejeezus out of a person who stutters that other people probably don’t understand:

  • Going around the room and saying our name in a class/business meeting/AA group (“Did I forget my name? NO I DID NOT.”)
  • Reading out loud (this one is my silver bullet, my wooden spike, my achilles heel…my other metaphor for the most terrifying social situation I can imagine)

So what do you think? Do you share the telephone phobia? What else gives you stuttering anxiety that non-stutterers wouldn’t think twice about?