Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Health & Welfare

It's official. I'm tired of coughing. Or Marge is. As is probably anyone who has been within 50 yards of me since, say, two weeks ago? I'm long since past contagious, but I don't sound it. Marge sounds like hell.

I almost felt bad for the guy in the seat next to me on the flight home from Seattle. Almost. Until he unearthed a massive onion-filled tuna salad sandwich from a greasy paper bag and proceeded to eat it. And then silently but stinkily belch for the next two hours. He also felt he needed to share his newspaper at full width rather than doing a polite airplane origami. I complimented him on his sharing skills (after all, I have a four-year-old), but asked him to figure out the concept of personal space before his paper ended up in little wads seven rows up and three rows back. Actually, my phrasing was much nicer.

Gosh, I really miss those monthly flights to JFK. Wait, no I don't. Someone should do a study on how many people eat burritos the night before a nonstop cross-country flight. Honestly. The burrito consumption per capita must be off the charts.

I'm stalling. What's really on my brain? LD started radiation treatments today. Ever the engineer, he is impressed with the efficiency of their process. Coming from him, this is a high compliment. Very. One down, 39 treatments to go. Daily, with weekends off for good behavior. As the crow flies, it's not a long way, but it's mountain roads and a steep grade every day after day after day. Probably not so odd for those of us who have our daily commutes, but for someone who relishes the fact that he lives in a tiny town with wooden sidewalks and no stoplights?

Meanwhile I'm whimpering about my cough and the fact that my Achilles tendon won't behave. What six weeks ago appeared to the infamous surfing podiatrist to be an inflamed bursa is more likely tendinitis of the Achilles, which often precedes a rupture if not resolved. Nothing I want to experience. I've had enough drama for one foot. Hence, back into treatment to avoid further fun and games. And more time off the softball field. Yes, I know I'm horrid at it, but I miss being horrid at it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Marge in Seattle

I've been introducing myself as Marge on conference calls this week. I sound like a 67-year-old smoker with a two-pack-day habit. I got tired of people saying, "who is this?!" So I now have a sister. (No, I haven't actually always wanted one.)

Unfortunately Marge doesn't have the same respect for health as I do. My abs are rock solid, not from exercise, but very active coughing.

But here I am in sunny Seattle working with some of my favorite co-workers. Had I known that my lungs would have felt better as checked luggage, I wouldn't have boarded a plane. I thought the fever had been the worst of it, but I keep hearing estimates that the cough lasts six weeks, maybe just four. WHAT?!

The Seattle office is adjacent to Seattle Center and Space Needle, walking distance to the Music Experience (going next time!), strolling distance to the Seattle Art Museum sculpture garden (so cool!), and within a few blocks of all sorts of good restaurants and such.

They claim it's always rainy up here. Clear skies since I arrived. I head home tomorrow, where the weather has been icky all week. Last night's lunar eclipse was amazing in a pure dark sky above the trees off my mom's back porch. I drive my horrid little rental car (resembling an orange popsicle, but much slower) here each afternoon after my day in the big city.

Despite Marge, it has been a good trip. This trip has been a comfortable excursion, almost with its own routines and comfort zones -- something about familiar people and things to do, even in an unfamiliar place. It's not my home, but aspects of it feel like a homecoming.

@ and I will come back in the summer just for play. Hopefully we'll leave Marge at home.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Ready, Set, TWEET

I haven't set foot on a track with the intent to run around it since sometime in college. Soccer fields? That's a different story. I've run around, through, across, up, and down hundreds of those gopher rut-infested grassy havens. But @ wants to run. Suddenly the track is no longer that overly prescriptive circle of monotony it once was.

Despite coming off the heels of a cold that kept me in bed all day Thursday, x and I took @ to the track on Friday after school. He wanted to race on Saturday, so I wanted to introduce him to the bounce of the all-weather surface, the concept of lanes, and the basic idea of running in circles.

Teach a four-year-old to stretch before running. It's a blast. You don't just touch your toes, you make your fingers into spiders and crawl from your knees to your toes. Deet deet deet deet. (The sound of spider toes reaching little boy toes...) We went twice around the track. He wanted to go more. I woke up at 2a with a 102 degree fever...

Saturday came. He opted out of the first race he could have run. There were more people there this week. It was overwhelming. And that was fine. But then he saw another kid run. "Hey, I'm bigger than him. I can run faster than him." So when it came time to decide whether he wanted to run the 60m, he was in. No, not just "in." IN!

We went to the infield to stretch and practice starting. I had thought they'd use a whistle instead of the starter pistol, so we practiced "Ready, set, TWEET." This was great fun. He wanted to modify it every time. "Ready, set, QUACK!" And when he counted down for x, for some reason it became "Ready, set, CHICKEN BUTT!!!" x nearly tripped over his own feet laughing out of his practice start.

I was pretty sure we couldn't get the actual meet officials to change their routine from a whistle or bang to "CHICKEN BUTT!"

He decided he wanted x at the start and me at the finish. They lined up the heats -- open and masters, high school boys, high school girls, school age. When his turn came, he put his hands on the line and got into a starting crouch in lane 1. They used the starter pistol and off he went, sharing his lane with the same little guy he watched run the 100. The two battled it out, both watching sideways as their daddies ran alongside on the infield. When he finally looked forward he saw me waiting at the finish line and completed the race actually looking forward and grinning like a Chesire Cat.

The other little guy edged him out, but it didn't matter. (Except to the other little guy who had never finished in front of another kid and was so excited to be able to say, "I beated him!!! Hey, I beated him!" Who I am I to correct the grammar of some other kid? Let alone a three year old?)

@, did you have fun? "Yeah! I ran a race!"

Damn right he did.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Trouncing the Odds

Four years ago, @ had been home from the hospital for less than a month. He was 4.5 months old and maybe weighed 7 pounds. He was attached to an oxygen tank and sat monitor 24x7. (It beeped. We jumped. ) We gave him breathing treatments 3x a day. He saw at least three doctors a week. He took more meds than the average octogenarian. We had to track his feeding, meds, and diapers on a spreadsheet to ensure he got enough calories each day, that the input & output matched, etc. When he threw up, we had to estimate how many calories came back at us. The kid could puke for distance.

That was then.

On Sunday @ and I took a two-mile hike in the hills. He walked the entire way. He found deer tracks and we saw deer. He met a horse. We talked to the chickens in the 4H coop at the park. Later, I worked in the yard and he practiced running. After the hike. Keep in mind, he's not yet three feet tall. Those little legs took a lot of steps.

We had gone to a track meet to see a friend's daughter run on Saturday. At first, the concept was odd.

"Mama, why are they running?" To see how fast they can go.
"Mama, why do they want to go fast?" Err... It's a challenge.
"Mama, why does that guy have a gun?" It's not a real gun, but when it goes off, they start running.
"Mama, who is the guy with the flags?"
"Mama, what does the red flag mean?"
"Mama, what does the white flag mean?"
"Mama, where did the starter guy go?"

If there's a question to be asked, you can bet @ will ask it.

"Mama, can I do that too?"

It was an open meet with all age groups, including kids his age. He clapped at the finish of every race. He clapped when the slowest runners crossed the finish line. He insisted we buy running shoes on the way home. He's been talking about practicing on a track since Saturday. His Sunday practice included setting up a starting line and having me count down his starts. He set up cones as hurdles.

When he was born, he didn't cry. He couldn't. He was 14 weeks early. He weighed less than 2 pounds. He was on a ventilator for 2.5 months. He needed surfactant therapy. He was on the vent longer than anyone wanted him to be. His lungs were smaller than my thumbs. The x-rays were always white with fluid. The doctors weren't sure he'd survive. If he did, they predicted he'd be pretty fragile, definitely asthmatic, likely developmentally challenged, maybe vision-impaired, etc.

He's four, but the 24-month pants still fall down. He still has trouble eating. And technically his lungs are still healing from the damage the vent did just to keep him alive.

And you'd never know it. He's not asthmatic. He only uses an inhaler when he has a cold. He doesn't wheeze. He hikes. He runs. He runs. And then, he runs.

He wants to run. He wants to race. He's amazing. And he's my kid.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Slam Books

I was recently up at my dad's house and decided to bring home some things I'd stored up there. It was an interesting excursion into the past. I had shoeboxes upon shoeboxes of letters from summer-camp friends. Another box from my first boyfriend, who lived across town and went to a different school. (Never mushy teen melodrama, just two sarcastic smart-ass teenagers writing their views of the day back and forth.)

I also found "slam books" from the pre-teen era. Each page has a question and each person has a line and answers the questions. In the end, you have a microview of preteen life, trends, and the occasional nasty sniping comment about some other kid.

The current equivalent of the slam book now arrives via e-mail as spiffy little chain-letter question sets you're supposed to answer, then send to ten friends, while cc'ing the person who originally sent the list to you. For some reason, I'm still entertained and fascinated by this concept of sharing random facts

  1. What time do you get up? 5:30a during the week, however long my son lets me snooze on weekends
  2. If you could eat lunch with one person, who would it be? Living = @. Passed = @'s twin.
  3. Gold or silver? Silver
  4. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Little Miss Sunshine
  5. What is/are your favorite TV show? Grey's Anatomy
  6. What did you have for breakfast? Black cherry soy yogurt with dried cherries, whole grain cereal bar
  7. Who would you hate to be stuck in a room with? A misogynistic racist
  8. What inspires you? Being challenged, nature, fresh air
  9. What is your middle name? Austin
  10. Favorite ice cream? New York Super Fudge Chunk
  11. Butter, plain or salted popcorn? Kettle
  12. Favorite color? Purple
  13. What kind of car do you drive? Hybrid!
  14. Favorite sandwich? Peanut butter on whole grain bread, NO JELLY!
  15. What characteristic do you despise? Dishonesty -- to self or others
  16. Favorite flower? Lisianthus
  17. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? Australia and NZ
  18. What color is your bathroom? One is green, one is gray
  19. Where would you retire to? Rural area, likely mountains
  20. Favorite day of the week? Saturday
  21. What did you do for your last birthday? Went to Maui with my mom & her hubby. It was her birthday too.
  22. Where were you born? Apparently, very nearly in the front of a car... But made it to Stanford in time.
  23. Favorite sport to watch? Soccer, Olympics
  24. Coke or Pepsi? Caffeine-free Coke
  25. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Morning person who tends to stay up too late
  26. Do you have any pets? One big silly dog
  27. What is your favorite season? Physically: summer. Philosophically: each has different meaning. (Excuse me while I go eat some granola and hug a tree.)
  28. Tea or coffee and what kind? Decaf black tea with apricot
  29. What color pants are you wearing right now? Cozy gray

Friday, February 1, 2008

Yah Cat, Yah!!!

I took today off of work after a particularly challenging few weeks of cat herding for a major product launch. I've worked on launches for several years now, some bigger than this one. But this one? It kicked my butt. Even as I carefully left the catbox at work each night, little furballs would find the way to follow me home. Strange little IM messages. Random e-mails entitled "Oh Crap..." (imagine this with a British accent). Ringing mobile phones. But I kept most of it at bay, which has not always been my habit.

Stepping into a Cliche

I went to the courthouse today to file more paperwork related to my divorce. I stood in line with several other people, handed over the papers, got them stamped (ca-chunk, ca-chunk) by the clerk, and ta-da... yet another step in the process is now complete. It's a rather clinical.

Then... I went shoe shopping.

I had to laugh at myself. Multiple times. Oh look, here I am indulging in an oh-so-cliche form of retail therapy. How weird does this feel? Oh so very weird! Oh so very funny.

Then I thought, where would a guy in the same situation go?

A Corvette dealership?

P.S. Yes, I bought more than one pair. :-)
P.P.S. Do a Google image search on "midlife crisis" -- amazing how many Corvette pix pop up! Or maybe not amazing at all.