Tuesday, January 22, 2008

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad

What a day of ups and downs. I've only got 5 minutes before American Idol starts and I really need to laugh right now, so I'm going to try to make this brief. The following things have happened within the last 24-48 hours:
- had a good outside run at lunch; felt like I might survive 15.5 miler this Saturday;
- took dog to vet because doggie daycare folks kept hounding me about something I had already run by the vet. Figured I'd just take her there, find out she was ok, and then I could tell them to stuff it. That really should have been my first clue;
- vet aspirated the same growth he told me not to worry about six months ago and informed me it's a mast cell tumor -- the dog equivalent of a malignant carcinoma;
- came home and had a mini-meltdown over dog's surgery (scheduled for this Friday), my role in her illness, and her prognosis;
- consequently, I'm probably not running 15.5 miler on Saturday because after neglecting her so much that she got cancer, I probably shouldn't neglect her the day after her surgery;
- discovered Heath Ledger had died;
- received word that my friends were organizing a charity kickball tournament to raise money for the family of a recently-slain local police officer -- I'm incredibly proud of them for thinking of this and making it happen;
- and all the while, running through the background of my mind is the suspicion that two acquaintances/friends of mine who have been in a committed relationship for close to a decade have broken up and a new friend of mine has played a part in that.

Very sad, almost all of it is very sad. And yet, life just marches on. I was on the phone with my mother before, checking on my great aunt who has finally returned to my mother's house following her triple bypass surgery of a few weeks ago -- and after crying about Bodhi (my dog), I found myself cracking cancer jokes in Bodhi's voice. The "Bodhi voice" is just something I do. And if you like me, you find it somewhat charming/disturbing, while if you don't, I imagine you think it's just disturbing.

Ah, American Idol's on. As to the point of this blog, I really have no idea. I just know that the first girl just sang one of my favorite songs, "Someone to Watch Over Me." It's also a song that reminds me of my late father. Who in turn reminds me that life just marches on. Whether you've lost your parents, or your dog, or your husband has been murdered, or relationships that were never supposed to end have ended....life marches on. It can seem so incredibly cold at the time, but I imagine it's the only way we can survive. If we were to stay in the pain for too long, it would drive us mad. So I find myself doing "the Bodhi voice" and saying to you, "Buy a daffodil -- my mam gave me cancer."

Be well my friends, and find the funny. :)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

She May Want to Invest in Disposable Pens

Well, I survived the 20K race this morning. I can't really express what it's like to just up and run 12.4 miles when one hasn't run in months. I have a lot of respect for the people who train properly and run really fast, but there has to be something said for those of us who are either so determined or so stupid that we would go out and do such a thing. It really wasn't as bad as I expected and I'm just shaking my head. I wonder how well I'd do if I actually ran all year long and trained properly? Something tells me I may never find out!

Among my friends, we all have different reasons why we run. I'm not even sure of all the reasons I do it, but one is that I enjoy seeing my running friends and hanging out with them before, during, and after the races and our training runs. There are no negative runners and it's wonderful to have that outlet of challenge and encouragement. We seem to have temporarily lost one of our regulars, Celeste, but two of our regulars who took a year off, Geoff and Dolores, surprised us and showed up today. Dolores is kind of the pied piper of running and it was good to have her back. Geoff's just a good guy and fun to have around.

After we all survived our grueling morning, we were drinking our victory beers and eating our dried out grilled cheese sandwiches (there are some penalties for running really slow) and Geoff told a story that I feel I need to pass along to you.

He and Dolores were at a work function last night and a single mother at the table shared the following: her 12-year-old son recently came to her somewhat ashamedly and told her that he had masturbated for the first time. She told him that was okay, gave the usual "in private" speech, and added that he didn't need to tell her. Either this kid is Catholic or he gets off (sorry for the pun) on torturing his mother, because he leaves little notes on her bedside table that say, "Dear Mom, I jerked off again. I'm sorry." each and every time he does! And did I mention he's twelve? That's got to be a lot of notes.

WHAT THE HELL? She's told him repeatedly that she doesn't want to know, but he just keeps doing it. It's gotten to the point that she's stopped reading the notes and just throws them out when she sees them. I asked if she bought him a 100-pack of athletic socks, facial tissues, and lotion for Christmas and Geoff said, "No," but that the kid soiled some PJs last week. He was wearing one pair, the mother went outside to take the trash out, was back in 5 minutes and he was wearing a different pair. Somehow, not knowing enough to NOT ask, she said, "What happened to your pajamas?" and he explained that he had -- well, I don't know what he said because I was too busy cracking jokes at this point, along the lines of, "What, didn't he have time to write a note??" Regardless, the mother gathered up her son's laundry and was very disturbed to discover exactly what had happened to her sons pajamas!

Boys, you gotta love 'em. Demented little f*cks.

Friday, January 4, 2008

On the Road Again

Woke up this morning, poured my coffee, opened the paper, and discovered two teenage girls were (allegedly) raped a few blocks from my house on Wednesday afternoon, along my running path. I've made jokes about my neighborhood and just last night told a friend that I live in the 'hood and it's not safe to run at night, but even I'm a little startled by this new information.

In seemingly unrelated news, we've had a recent parking cluster f*ck at work. The state owns the building in which we work, but not the parking lot adjacent to it -- where we've been parking for the last nine years. The state recently discovered that it owns a parcel of land with parking lots about a block or so away from our building. This land was recently sold and some gazillionaire is going to build a boat-shaped cardiac unit (complete with a hotel) across the street from our local hospital/medical school. As a result, the people currently parking there need to move during construction and we can't park there until it's completed. Still with me? As of January 3rd, eveyone had to shift parking: we're now in some vacant lot out on the Elizabeth River that is several blocks away from our building and the people in our newly discovered parking lot a couple blocks away in another direction are parking in the lot adjacent to our building. There are some on-street parking spots much closer to our building than the lot we've been assigned and those of us who start at 7am are scrambling to get to those spots first.

It was with this rush to get on-street parking in mind that I chose to not scrape the frost off my car windows this morning. The back window was completely covered, but the windshield was speckled and I felt I could see well enough to hit the road -- after all, I had to get to work before everyone else so I could get a spot and I just didn't have time to scrape!

I was driving down my street and decided I could probably use a little more visibility. Mistaking my windshield wiper fluid for some magical frost-melting liquid, I sprayed my windshield, hit the wipers, and completely covered my windshield with frost!! I couldn't see a thing! I managed to pull the car over -- at the exact spot the girls said they were raped. Charming.

I hopped out of the car and went to the trunk for my ice scraper. I forgot that Bodhi's dog bed was back there along with the "One Way" sign my friend Michele and I stole from a baby shower last weekend. The shower was at our friend Michelle's in-laws' house and when we got there her husband Chris was pointing out all the roadway signs his father had stolen over the years. The one at the end of the driveway was a "One Way" sign and when Michele and I were leaving later that day, I suggested we steal it. I'm not entirely sure why. Our plan is to tie balloons to it and leave it on Chris and Michelle's front lawn when the baby arrives.

So, it's dark out, I'm parked on the side of the road at the site of an alleged rape, and I'm digging around in my trunk trying to find my ice scraper that's buried beneath a dog bed and a "One Way" sign attached to two PVC pipe stakes. It's also 20-something degrees out, I'm freezing, and my bangs keep falling in my face so I can't see very well. Shake bangs away from face, look behind me for approaching rapists, duck back into trunk, shake bangs away from face, dig frantically for scraper. I never did find the damn thing and instead chose an "AM Gold" CD case as a substitute. I scraped off a 2 foot square area of the windshield, hopped in the car, and off I went.

Even with the delay, I was still able to snag the last available on-street parking spot. Whew!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Running of the Idiots

My running friends and I are gearing up for winter. Well, truth be told, most of my running friends manage to run all year long. I'm one of the few who's starting over again from scratch. I'm hoping one of the original pack leaders will rejoin us this season. She took last year off and good or bad, things haven't been the same without her. She's the person who really encouraged me (and so many others before and after me) to run and she's one of a distinct few who actually adores the act of running. I've come to really enjoy running, but mostly when I've survived a race and the beer is flowing.

A couple of us will be running the Shamrock Marathon again this March and will begin our structured training this Saturday morning with a nice little 12.4 mile jaunt along the Atlantic Ocean in 30 degree weather and freakishly strong winds. This is the 'short' run of the series and we'll progress to 15.5, 18.6, 20, and then 26.2 miles over the next two-and-a-half months. Since I haven't run since I broke my arm in September and wasn't really running consistently since last year's Shamrock Marathon in March, this will be quite the challenge for me. My other friends have various medical ailments including a twisted ankle and a bad hip. We're quite the lot. But we laugh at our own weaknesses, cheer each other on, and share in each other's bragging rights when we complete the impossible. And as my friend Steve said, it's not winter until the running of the idiots. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Same Day, Different Year

So, Day 2 of the New Year. Let's see how we did, shall we? And by we, I mean me, at least at first. You're welcome to add anything you'd like to the bottom of this confessional.
My high ambitions for the year were spelled out yesterday as:

1) Just for today: I will live through this day only.
~I did pretty well on this one. Mostly because I got to bed late last night and was too sleepy today to really give a damn about yesterday or tomorrow. Although I do have some deadlines looming and was trying to get motivated to get things done at work. You'd think after having a month off for my surgery and the holidays that I'd be rarin' ta go, but you'd be very, very wrong. My biggest accomplishment of the day was getting on to myspace and then being disappointed that no one else was around to play. I did manage to get some work done on a presentation, but overall I was not terribly productive. I also read a story about a snake that swallowed some golf balls and a dead woman whose adult children discovered the skeletal remains of an infant in one of her suitcases, and that was fun.

2) Just for today: I will be happy.
~OK, this one went well. I wasn't deliriously happy, but I was too tired to be sad. Seeing my work friends was fun and we swapped some stories and laughed at other coworkers. Just a typical day!

3) Just for today: I will accept what is.
~Did OK here too. I accepted that I was sleepy and not terribly motivated. Yea, me!

4) Just for today: I will improve my mind.
~Does reading the snake and bones in a suitcase stories count?? If not, then I didn't really read anything of substance today.

5) Just for today: I will make a conscious effort to be agreeable.
~Welllllll........ I was agreeable to acquaintances but did laugh at some of my coworkers. And Don and I interrupted Anne so much that she swore she was never going to tell us another story. So then we laughed at her. Don made fun of my shoes, I made fun of his teeth. But I was happy and that helped satisfy #2.

6) Just for today: I will refrain from improving anybody but myself.
~Not only did I not improve anyone else, I also didn't improve myself! Boolyah! That was easy.

7) Just for today: I will do something positive to improve my health.
~Uhhhh. I ran yesterday. And I was totally going to run today but it was in the 30s and windy and cold and I was late because I took the dog to daycare this morning. I ate well, so that's something, right?

8) Just for today: I will gather the courage to do what is right and take responsibility for my own actions.
~I always do. At least, what I think is "right." Doing the right thing can sometimes be subjective. But I've found that if it's being rational, seeing two sides of a story, and standing up when no one else will, then that's usually the right thing to do.

So, how'd everyone else do? Guess I need to hit the sheets earlier tonight so I have a better shot tomorrow. Wish me luck on the running. It's going to be in the 30s again and there's talk of snow. Brrrrr! Hope you all had a great day, AJ

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

One Day at a Time - not just a show with that cutie Valerie Bertinelli

While I know this doesn't make a great deal of sense, I've always preferred even numbers to odd. Even numbers seem happy and positive to me, while odd numbers seem dour and severe. As a result, I'm usually more optimistic about even years than odd, which is why I'm particularly hopeful about 2008! After years and years of surprises and unexpected turns, I've stopped predicting where I'll be or what I'll be doing any more. But I still embrace the chance to check in with myself once a year and to strive to do better. Today's Dear Abby column was a list of New Year's resolutions that were adapted from the original credo of Al-Anon (which is ironic for this fan of alcoholic beverages!) and I'd like to share with you my desire to accomplish them this year. If you think of me while you're reading, try not to laugh too hard at some of them. May you all have a wonderful 2008 and may we all keep growing, evolving, and finding happiness within!

Just for today: I will live through this day only. I will not brood about yesterday or obsess about tomorrow. I will not set far-reaching goals or try to overcome all of my problems at once. I know that I can do something for 24 hours that would overwhelm me if I had to keep it up for a lifetime.

Just for today: I will be happy. I will not dwell on thoughts that depress me. If my mind fills with clouds, I will chase them away and fill it with sunshine.

Just for today: I will accept what is. I will face reality. I will correct those things I can correct and accept those I cannot.

Just for today: I will improve my mind. I will read something that requires effort, thought, and concentration. I will not be a mental loafer.

Just for today: I will make a conscious effort to be agreeable. I will be kind and courteous to those who cross my path, and I'll not speak ill of others. [AJ here: Unless it's for comedic value. Come on people, I can only improve so much!!] I will improve my appearance, speak softly [COUGH], and not interrupt when someone else is talking [Oh, I might as well pack it in right here!]

Just for today: I will refrain from improving anybody but myself.

Just for today: I will do something positive to improve my health. If I'm a smoker, I'll quit. If I am overweight, I will eat healthfully - if only just for today. And not only that, but I will get off the couch and take a brisk walk, even if it's only around the block.

Just for today: I will gather the courage to do what is right and take responsibility for my own actions.


I've got two additional jewels of advice that my mother received from my grandmother and great-grandmother, respectively: "There is nothing worse in life than a lazy woman," and "You're too short to be heavy." But really, aren't we all?

Good luck everyone! Love to you all, AJ