Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Coffee

So on my most recent run in Philly, I ran on the trail along the river, which includes going past Boathouse Row.  Beautiful morning, especially compared to Dallas in June.  There's always a fair amount of foot traffic on this trail.  Tons of people out running and biking, and a few walkers too.  My favorite part about the trail is that it seems to go forever.  There's a sign saying Valley Forge is 17.9 miles away.  Just in case I want to run 35 miles on a weekday morning.  Always nice to have the option!


Anyway, at one point, while I was running north (on the "out" part of my run), two runners were coming at me going south.  A man and a woman.  I didn't even get a look really to assess anything beyond that.  Maybe both in their 30s?  Overall, unremarkable.


As they passed me, I heard a snippet of their conversation.  She said:


"We got a new coffee pot."


It made me chuckle inside.  I almost wanted to u-turn right then and cut my run short just so I could hear where that story was going.  Or was it a story?  Or was she just throwing out a random fact for discussion?  Or was it just a random fact her running partner noted along with many other facts? 


We got a new coffee pot, and we put the old one in the garbage bin by the curb and found a baby raccoon inside!  And we decided to bring the baby raccoon inside and keep it as a pet. 


We got a new coffee pot.  What kind do you have?  I can't recommend this one enough. 


We got a new coffee pot.  I think I'm going to go shopping for shoes this afternoon.  My dog's name is Rambo.  Libraries are too noisy these days. 

It's so amusing to think about all the random conversations or thoughts that happen on runs every day all over this world. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Reduction

I'm back in Dallas (as of late last night, which is awesome because all the highway construction is overnight, so bumper to bumper traffic at 11:00 is so much more pleasant?) and slightly behind the curve.  I just realized this weekend is Father's Day.  So I'm going to buy a card at lunch today.  A card.  One.  For my dad.  Not the usual three -- no more buying a card for my father-in-law, and no more buying a card for my stepdad. 


The hits just keep coming.  I told my running buddy this morning that I think I know how it feels for a guy to be hit in the nuts.  He kind of laughed.  I'm lucky I've got so many supportive people around me. 


In a hope that affirmations work:


I will not cry when buying one Father's Day card at Kroger.
I will not cry when buying one Father's Day card at Kroger.
I will not cry when buying one Father's Day card at Kroger...


I'm know I'm blessed to still get to buy the one!  So grateful for that.  My dad shared me and my brother with my stepdad so well.  My dad was always of the mindset that more people loving us was better.  I'm sure it was hard for my dad at times, since we always lived with my mom and my stepdad, and from the time I was 9 or 10, didn't live in the same state as my dad. 


Anyway, instead of focusing on the two losses we've had this year, I'll focus on what the dad that my husband and I now share, and how lucky I am to still have that. 


And I'll keep breathing.  Even if it feels like I can't. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Horizon

I've never seen Finding Nemo, but isn't there something about "just keep swimming"? 


That's kind of what I've been doing.  I still feel kind of like I'm underwater.  I'm going through the motions, and sometimes, it feels like everything is back to normal.  Then it kind of hits me again.  Ugh.  But I'm getting through it I guess, as are my brothers and my mom.  Times passing, and that means it's getting better, right?  It's certainly not my only thought all day, every day anymore.  So that's progress. 


Work has been a beat-down, which is kind of a welcome distraction in some ways.  One of my coworkers had a serious family medical issue that started last August.  It got significantly worse over the course of a month, and I guess has gotten progressively better since then?  (Co-worker's father sustained serious injury, three weeks in the hospital, died, then co-worker sold mother's house and she moved in with co-worker and my co-worker's family, then she needed two separate operations and is now in a rehab facility.  Yow.)  And it turns out that my co-worker didn't really ask for help when all this was happening and largely neglected at least the case load I care about (I think my coworker handled cases on some other programs, but not the one I work on).  So of the 50 or so cases my coworker had on this program, I've voluntarily assumed 20 of them.  Whew!  So I'm trying to get up to speed on about 20 cases that haven't really been touched in almost a year.  It's certainly an undertaking. 


And I've been traveling A LOT for work.  Like back when I was working at a big firm.  Mostly, Philly, but there has been some LA, and there's some upcoming Illinois and New Mexico  Last week was particularly dreadful -- I was actually scheduled to be in town all week.  I worked from home Wednesday (per my usual routine), and at 3:00, while still in my gym clothes, was told I needed to be in court in Philly at 9:00 Thursday morning.  Ugh.  So it was the whole drill -- find a plane ticket, find a hotel, shower, pack, get out the door.  All in less than an hour.  I had to call my husband from the car and tell him I was going, and wasn't sure if I'd be back the next day or not.  And then I had to come back to Philly yesterday, and I'm probably stuck here all week.  Fortunately Philly is a pretty awesome city. 


The worst part about the work travel is going back home.  I don't know why it doesn't bother me when I fly out of DFW, but when I land, I get that overwhelmingly sad feeling.  Last week, I got off the plane and broke down in the bathroom.  I actually met a nice girl from Germany who was connecting in Dallas for her visit to the US ever (flying to Killeen to visit her cousin who married someone who's in the military).  I came out of stall where I was bawling because I realized there was a line.  She didn't speak much English, but she tried asking, and I totally unloaded on her.  I don't like stranger hugs, but sometimes, when that's all that's available, it works. 


I've even been having dreams about the airport lately.  Mostly where I try not to say goodbye to my mom and my stepdad when they leave.  Sometimes though they haven't visited yet and he's already died but they're somehow allowed to come visit because the trip was already planned.  I guess it could be worse -- my middle little brother has had three dreams where my stepdad (his dad) is sitting there crying and everything is just going on around him.  I guess it's only been 10.5 weeks.  These things take time.  I know. 


My poor husband -- I crawl into bed on days I fly home and I'm so distraught, I wake him up, and he gets stuck listening to me and trying to console me.  He must be wondering how much longer this will last.  He's certainly the bright spot in my world.  I'm so lucky, I'm not sure I'd be so patient with myself.  He certainly wasn't like this after his dad died in January.  But that was so different in some ways.  I think the sudden-ness of this is maybe the heart of my struggle?  Just not getting to say what I wanted to say?  Not knowing that airport hug goodbye 2 weeks and 5 days before it happened was a forever goodbye? 


But in faith that things will at some point get back to normal, we booked our vacation tickets on Saturday.  That's certainly something to look forward to.  We've decided to fly into Cape Town (via Doha), and then out of Livingstone. 


So it may be very, very dark still, but there is this little spot on the horizon.  I just have to keep swimming and I'll get there eventually. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Stats

Since I'm not blogging frequently, I can't leave my most recent post as my most recent post for too long.  Yesterday morning, at boot camp, our instructor asked if I track how many miles I've run.  I said I probably could, but I started running pre-GPS watches, so it would involve going back to old paper training logs.  Then he asked if I knew how many miles I've raced.  That's easy, since I've kept a race results spreadsheet for a long time. 


A few of my recent races don't have exact times or dates, but that's because I've been too lazy to look up the official dates and my times, but I have the race name and distance there.


So I looked it up this morning.  Starting with my first grown-up road race in 2003 (I know I did a couple in college and law school, but those don't count since I didn't keep running consistently after them)... 


Drum roll...


I'm just over 200 road races to date, and just over 2,000 miles raced (2028.5 by my count). 


Well, I suppose "raced" is a stretch, since some were run with friends, or just for fun, sometimes I did a race just to get in a training run without worrying about the logistics, etc. 


Still kind of cool to look at that.  That's basically Chicago to Seattle.  Or Dallas to Portland.  I thought it would be super cool if it worked out to be Dallas to Boston, but I passed Boston a few hundred miles ago -- that's kind of ironic in its own way.  If I'd totaled up my numbers when I was in my BQ phase, maybe it would have totaled Dallas to Boston.  But I passed Boston and kept going -- but slower lately.  Oh well, no complaints. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Unfinished business

I've been struggling.  And I'm not sure where to begin, but maybe writing will help?


My stepdad died unexpectedly on Good Friday.  He's been in my life as long as I can remember.  He and my mom *just* came to visit us three weeks before it happened.  Shockingly enough, in February, when we were planning things, I actually tried to talk them out of visiting in early March.  It wasn't convenient because they got here about 48 hours after we got back from a 5 day mini-vacation to San Francisco, and I thought I wouldn't have sufficient time to clean the house to my mom's standards.  Instead, I really wanted them to come visit over the weekend of April 21, when my husband and I were hosting our annual "rehearsal dinner anniversary" party, where we invite everyone for dinner who had come to Italy for our wedding.  But no, they had plans that weekend already, so early March it was.  And we had an awesome visit.  Lots of great restaurants, fun experiences, and just time together.  Everything was fine when they left. 


My mom called on Friday night to tell me what had happened and I almost didn't answer since I was getting dressed for dinner.  My husband and I were on vacation in Charleston when it happened.  Apparently, he had taken the dog for a walk to get the mail (maybe half a mile round trip), came in the house, took the dog off the leash, set down the mail, and then fell over.  After my mom told us, there was the initial shock, confusion, and attempts to make decisions.  My husband and I decided I would fly straight home (well, to the nearest "big" city (Wausau), which is a couple hours away from where they live) and my husband would go back to Dallas to work a few days and pack for me so I didn't have to wear a hot pink one-shouldered dress to the funeral (which was the only dress I had with me in Charleston) (one of the many things I fixated on in the immediate planning stages; I knew it was cold in Northern Wisconsin and all I had were warm weather vacation clothes and nothing even borderline appropriate for a funeral). Plenty cold up there -- bear in mind, this is early April! 





I made it home and all my brothers were already there.  And no spouses were there.  It was odd.  From Sunday morning until Wednesday night, it was just like the olden days -- me, my brothers and my mom, plus the one notable absence.  We spent days getting things organized.  Finances, funeral plans, all the other "to do" things.  I had the joy of being on hold for nearly an hour for some thing we needed to return or cancel.





One of my favorite parts in those early few days was working on the photo boards for the funeral.  Mom put me mostly in charge since I like puzzles so much and we had a huge stack of photos that we wanted to use and only three large boards to display.  It was a challenge to get them all arranged, but in the end, they were really cool to see. 










One of my favorite old pictures of us -- we were at my babysitter's wedding. 


My mom actually gave me that photo and I now have it framed at home.  Right now it mostly makes me get teary and increasingly sad but I trust that it will make me happy again one day. 

By Wednesday night, spouses started arriving, the funeral was Thursday and by Saturday night, all my brothers and their wives (and the kids who had come) were gone.  The weather was terrible that weekend -- I witnessed a horrible but injury-free single car accident on my way back home from taking my husband to the airport. 

Fortunately, I was able to stay home for another week to keep my mom company.  She's actually never lived alone for a day in her life -- 69 years.  It was good to have the extra week with her.  There was still a lot to do in terms of sorting things out.  


I'm still in shock.  One of the things I'm still processing is that there were so many things unfinished. Usually, people are sick for a while before they go, so it's more expected and there's often time to get things into order.  But he was just in the middle of everyday life.


His unfinished book.  He actually was reading this while they visited us in Dallas -- he was about 1/3 of the way through it when they left to go back to the great white north.  And in the two and a half weeks between when he left Dallas and when he died, it looks like he was almost done with the book.  We usually read a lot of the same books (what I'm reading now is one he gave me in August) and he was suggesting I might want to read this one when he was done.  But the rule has always been he'd read them first, give them to me if they were good, then I'd read them and we'd get to talk about them. 






But he won't be done with it, and even if I read it, we won't get to discuss. 


His unfinished vitamins.  I think I posted before (at Christmas a couple years ago maybe?) about how many vitamins/supplements my folks take?  They used these big pill cases to keep track of which ones they took at which times of the day.  In June of last summer though, my stepdad had a heart attack and started taking some prescription meds also.  But he got up on Friday, and went about his usual business.  He took his morning vitamins, and his noon vitamins. 





He never had a chance to the "evening" or "bed" pills that day. 


His unfinished laundry.  My mom and I ended up washing everything that was in the hamper, and then we had my brothers go through clothes and see what they wanted.  I ended up taking a bunch of ties for my husband since he wears them to work every day and NONE of my brothers do!  I thought that was kind of weird, but I guess a lot of offices are more casual.  My husband doesn't have to wear a tie to work but he thinks it's more professional so he does pretty much every day.  Now he has a new selection. 





What my husband found funny was that one of the ties was a dupe of one my husband already owned -- turns out it was the tie from my baby brother's wedding.


Their unfinished plans, both immediate and long term.  The weekend of April 21, they had plans to go to my aunt's parents' 60th wedding anniversary party (which is why they couldn't come to Dallas that weekend like I wanted).  And when they were visiting us in Dallas, we pitched the idea of going to the UK together next year.  It was a trip on their bucket list, and we thought it would be a good time.  We figured we could do a week or so in the UK together at the beginning of the trip, then my husband and I could go on our own to wherever (the plan at present is/was Romania and Bulgaria for a week or so, then a final week or so in Italy with my husband's family).  My husband was so excited about the idea of taking this trip together that he pitched it to them without me (of course I'd asked him if he was game for it and we'd agreed it would be great if we could talk my folks into it). 


But during those two weeks I was home, aside from the expected grief and turmoil, I was plugging along.  I had to work the week after the funeral (I got my boss to cover my Philly trip the week of the funeral, and my coworker to cover the week after, so I didn't have to travel and could work from my mom's, but it still had to be done).  And there was a lot of helping my mom with various things.  We had to return the photo boards.  We had to buy stamps for thank you cards.  We had to grocery shop.  We had to pick up the ashes.  We had to cancel his dentist's appointment. 
But when I got back to Dallas, it really hit me.  I started sobbing on the airplane when I landed -- the airport was the last place I saw him less than three weeks before he died.  I was coming back to Dallas and suddenly it seemed more real.  He's no longer just a phone call away. 


And when I got to our house, it was all this stuff all over again.  It's like things were lining up and in my face to make me deal with it. 


One of the first days I got back to Dallas, I had to do laundry (since I had to do the following week's Philly trip and I was almost totally out of underwear).  I was getting ready to do laundry, opened the doors to the laundry room, and sitting on top of the washer were the towels they had used when they visited.  I'd done laundry in the 2.5 weeks between when they left and we went to South Carolina, but they were pretty full loads, and I'd left the towels to wait for a low-laundry-volume week. 


I had to open an anniversary gift he had transported. I'd be kidding myself to think he picked it out, or that he even knew what it was (it turns out, my mom told me, he did know what it was; she'd picked it out and shown it to him when they got it, then she wrapped it and had him pack it to bring it with them to Dallas instead of shipping it here).  It was kind of like the wind got knocked out of me when I opened the anniversary card and saw it was from both of them. 


I'm reluctant to finish the book he gave me.  It's sitting on our coffee table and hasn't moved in over a week now.  I had taken it to South Carolina with me -- it's a beast of a book (India's War:  World War II and the Making of Modern South Asia), about 600 pages, hardcover.  But it's a good read and so I've been lugging it along with me since I started reading it.  He'd noticed where I was in the book at the beginning of March when they visited, and we joked that it was going to be summer before I finished it and we got to discuss.  But now, it's like, how can I even finish it? 


Just in the last few days, I got my credit card bill.  On that one statement, I have a charge for dinner from three weeks to the day before he died (plus museums and other stuff we did while they were visiting).  There was a $2 charge for popcorn we ate on the train to Grapevine less than three weeks before he died.  And on that same statement, I had a charge to change my plane ticket to go to Wausau from South Carolina, instead of going back to Dallas as planned.  And a charge for the floral arrangement from me and my brothers for the funeral.  How can that all be on one bill? 


So I guess I'm dealing with it because I have to.  I've felt like I'm having a heart attack for the better part of two weeks straight.  It's like there's a huge weight on my chest and I can't take a deep breath.  But I've gone running without issue so I'm kind of assuming it's not a heart attack (oh yeah, the day before he died, I signed up for a marathon next weekend, thinking I'd have 5 weeks to train, not expecting to lose a couple weeks to snow and sadness).  My baby brother described pretty much the exact same symptoms and said he thinks he's having anxiety attacks.  When I told him I was having the same thing and thought it was the longest, slowest heart attack ever, he said he'd actually made a doctor's appointment just to get things checked out.  I've also had the hiccups a lot lately.  It's like I can't catch my breath and sometimes almost start hyperventilating, especially in the office when I'm trying so hard to hold my $hit together.  I also just kind of feel like a shell of myself.  Like I'm a faker.  It's not really me, and I don't know where the real me is.  I'm going through the motions but I can't seem to really engage.  It's so strange.  And I've barely slept at all.  A couple hours most nights, usually on the couch.  I've been so restless and my husband has one of his worst cases ever going at work right now, so I'm trying not to disturb him too much.  When I have slept, I've had the strangest dreams.  Sunday night, I dreamt that they came to visit in Dallas, but he'd already died, but they were allowed to come since the trip had already been planned.  And in the dream, we did a lot of the same stuff we did on the real trip, but in the dream, I didn't want to get too close to him since I knew he was going to be gone again.  Then two nights later, I had a vivid dream that I was at work and I wrote down March 7 on my timesheet -- the day before they were coming to visit.  And in the dream, it was March 7 and I was making plans for them to be here.  It was so real that I woke up and of course woke my husband up to ask him.  It seemed so real that I was sure the last few weeks had just been a bad dream.  He ended up showing me his phone to prove it was April 25 or whatever, and I started crying all over again. 




The last photo I took of him -- this is in downtown Grapevine.  We were walking from the train depot to dinner at Esparza's.  The train ride we took that afternoon was something we said that we would laugh about years later -- it was a miserable experience, my mom and my husband both voted to abort the mission, but my stepdad and I wanted to stick it out and we prevailed.  And we all said that eventually we'd laugh about it. 



So this is it.  We're now over 4 weeks since it happened.  Which is 2/26 of a year.  I remember thinking a couple weeks ago, that I was at mile 1 of 26.  But now, it's like mile 2 of the marathon.  But I recently realized this is not a good metaphor for me because there's no finish line.  If I get to 52 weeks, he won't be back.  I'll just have to keep going.  Another year without him.  And another, and another.  Yow.  Did I mention I'm struggling? 

It's weird for me to realize how many other people have gone through this.  It feels so unbearable, that I'm struggling to understand how a vast majority of people over the age of 30 have gone through this and they've all survived.  My husband is convinced that this unfolded in the best way possible, my stepdad was never sick, never suffering.  But I wish I'd had a chance to say all those things I never said.  To tell him what he meant to me and what a huge impact he's had on my life.  I can't help it, I'm a lawyer, and lawyers like words.  I want to go back in time and have a chance to use all my words. 

Compounding all of it is worry about my mom.  Where they live is so remote.  Quarter mile to the mailbox, 25 minute drive (without snow) to the city (the city of 1400 people, more like a town).  And a 4.5 hour drive to get to her nearest offspring (my brother in Milwaukee).  None of us think she's cut out to live up there alone.  Life up there is hard.  Lots of shoveling.  Loading up the truck to go to the dump since there's no trash service.  Making sure you don't run out of propane.  Chopping wood and building fires. 

My brothers and I all think the best plan would be for her to move to a city where one of us live, or even moving in with one of us.  Or we're all open to some kind of mom-share program, where she's with one of us for a month, then home for a couple weeks, then repeat the cycle with another kid.  I don't know if I should credit my sweet husband, or my sweet mom, but my husband said he would love to have her move in with us, whether permanently or just for the winters.  And my brothers are all telling her they'd love to have her around, especially since they all have young kids who would benefit from grandma time.  But my mom is reluctant.  First, she doesn't want to make any big decisions for the first year.  Which I understand.  But we really don't think she can survive a winter up there alone, and even though time is dragging so slowly now, I'm sure the summer and fall will fly by.  Second, it's a small community up there, and I know she's seen other women become widows, and many of them leave.  It's very hard I think to live up there alone.  But she has it in her head that she wants to be a survivor, like the two women she knows who do live up there alone.  But why????  Wouldn't it be better to be near family?  I'm terrified of something happening to her.  Even just a simple fall down the stairs, if she couldn't move to get to a phone, she'd be stuck there for days. 

I know this will all get easier with time.  If I'm not allowed to rewind and erase the last four weeks, then I'd like to fast-forward and get to the stage where I don't feel so overwhelmingly sad for most hours of the day.  Sigh.  Sorry to put all this out there.  It was indeed helpful to write it though.  Hug your folks!  Tell them you love them!  And write down all your passwords and accounts somewhere for your spouse or for whoever has to deal with things when you're gone (for me, writing it down for my husband, but mostly for my brother, since I've made my husband promise we'll die together). 










Thursday, March 15, 2018

AVP

About 5 years ago (maybe more, yikes, time flies), the company I work for was acquired by a pretty big company.  We merged into one of their subs.  In one of our first meetings after the acquisition, the guy who is the head of our division said something like, "titles are cheap.  If you want to be President, take it, anyone can be anything." And of course, I thought, hey, I'd like that title.  I'm sure he was speaking to the fact that the division we merged into was kind of VP-heavy, and we had a more traditional structure, but that we all need to be team players and get the job done without worrying too much about titles, particularly right after the acquisition. 


Anyway, I've been chugging along at work.  I think I'm good at my job, and I certainly put in the effort and the hours.  Ugh, lately, all the hours -- even overnight when I'm waking up stressed about cases.  Anyway, until about a year ago, one coworker and I each took about 45% of the cases in our program, and one other person took the remaining 10%.  All 3 of us work hard -- I can't speak to any of the other programs in our office, but I think of us in our little sub-group as hard-working and good at our jobs.  All 3 of us had the same title.  The other 45%er and I started at the company within a few months of each other, but then she left for a year or two and came back.  The 10%er is relatively new -- maybe started a year or two ago.


In our performance evaluations, we have to list short and long term goals at the end.  I've always put a title promotion as a short-term goal.  And now, well, not NOW, but in "relatively short order," I need to come up with a new short-term goal!  Because I'm going to be an assistant vice president!  Woot!  In many ways, it's a meaningless change.  My duties and salary will stay the same, at least for now.  But I'm super excited for the title, whenever it goes into effect. 
It might take a little while for the change to officially take effect, so I'm not really telling anyone until then except my boss and the head of our division know, and of course my husband, and of course my best running buddy, and of course the whole anonymous internet world (plus I guess the three people who could  potentially see this blog and know me in the real world).  But until it's official, my husband's super secret nickname for me is Assistant Vice President Elect. 


I've got to start pondering new short term goals to put in my next evaluation -- world domination? 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Putting in the Hours

What's kept me busy lately?

Sorry it's not well lit, it was late when I finished so it was dark. 

It's a map of the world -- not to scale.  Hawaii and Solomon Islands were right next to each other, and Australia was pretty close to Machu Picchu.  But it was a fun puzzle. 

Aside from the puzzle, just the usual, running and working, some travel.  The best part was last week working in Miami -- beats the usual Philly trip by miles! 

The Miami trip was weird.  It didn't go well work-wise, but at the same time, we left the door open, so maybe in the next week or two, we'll get it done.  But the extra fun aspect was that my husband's cousin and boyfriend also happened to be in Miami so I got to go out for drinks with them.  I felt mildly guilty because my boss was Miami-bound and had a horrible trip (flight posting a 4 hour delay, then cancelling, getting rebooked on a flight that posted a 3 hour delay (bad weather in Dallas), that had him landing around 2 am, getting to our hotel at 3 a.m.).  Needless to say, he wasn't exactly on time to meet me in the lobby to go meet defense counsel for breakfast!  He was so grouchy all day, I felt bad that I'd had such a fun night.

But running there was kind of sucky.  It was flat, but the temp was in the mid 70s at 5:30 a.m.!  Dallas has been up and down lately, typical February for us.  Run cancelled on two weeks ago due to a winter weather advisory, our group Tuesday run was around freezing (for me, that means tights and two long sleeves!), then the Thursday run was 66 degrees with 85% humidity, so shorts and a tank.  But going up the extra 10 degrees in Miami hurt, I felt like I was sucking wind!  But it was so pretty to get to run along the water. 

Views from the run:  City Hall, and along the water. 





The Miami skyline on my way home. 


We drove past this road, named long before the school shooting (which was the reason for the lowered flag at City Hall).  When we drove past the street sign, we asked about it, and defense counsel told us about Marjory Stoneman Douglas, whose claim to fame is largely for her work for the environment, getting the Everglades protected (the "river of grass"), but who also championed lots of other important causes. 


One cool part of my room was a full-sized fridge!  I bought beet juice for breakfast.


And I had a legit suite.  Separate bedroom, full kitchen, living/dining area, porch with seating for two.  Kind of fun, if I hadn't been gone working, running, or hanging out with my husband's cousin all the time I was there...

Friday, February 2, 2018

2018 Joy

It might have been just me, but growing up, my folks put a lot of restrictions on soda and TV.  We basically got soda once a week as I recall, and we could watch TV on Saturday mornings and most days after school, but we couldn't watch PG13 or R movies and we couldn't watch TV late at night.  In fact, we couldn't stay up late -- I remember getting caught reading in bed by flashlight so many times and getting in trouble (and then later, when I got to high school, getting caught on the phone after bedtime). 


So of course if I was at a friend's house, I would suck down gallons of soda, watch Nightmare on Elm Street, and stay up as late as I could. 

I feel like I'm perpetually at a friend's house now that it's 2018.  I know I posted about this before, but I am so DUCKING HAPPY not to have to check my voicemail every day I'm in the office anymore!  That was seriously a painful resolution.  It's now Friday morning, I'm sitting on a conference call, and my voicemail light has been on since Monday at 10:35 -- and best of all, I have no idea who the message is from!


I know, I know, I actually really do need to check it.  It's kind of part of my job.  But I feel like I'm rebelling.  Maybe I'll give myself through the month of January to recover from my 2018 resolution, and then I'll try to get back in the habit of not letting it sit for more than 2-3 days? 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Of a Certain Age

Things have been hectic.  Over 10 days for me in three separate cities, not a single night at home, a total of 6 flights (there was a connection).  Yow. 


But several things in particular were amusing at my father in law's funeral.  A few moments of levity.  Recording here to remember. 


By way of background, my mother-in-law came to the visitation but not the funeral.  She was fine at the visitation, totally not comprehending what was going on or why we were there.  She seemed to recognize him in the casket, but she didn't really have any emotion.  She also recognized everyone else -- her twin sister, her sons, their wives, her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren.  Her sister pushed her around and she accepted condolences. 


At the visitation, one of my husband's high school friends came up to my mother-in-law and re-introduced himself since it had been 30+ years... "Mrs. X, I'm Rich."  She said "Good for you!" 


Next up, someone was saying that it was nice that Louis (Lewis?) from the nursing home had accompanied her to the visitation.  She said, "he'd be a pretty nice guy if he were white."  Louis was standing right there!  As were the only 3 children in attendance, one of whom asked his dad what that meant. 


Finally, after the second visitation, my husband's nephew was leaving the funeral home with his kids, and his middle son (age 7ish?) said, "That was fun! I had a good time!"  Makes sense -- he was floating around talking to tons of people (very social) and everyone was happy to see him.  That gave everyone a hearty laugh. 


Guess all of those things can only be funny if you're over 80 or under 8? 


I have a feeling all of those things would have made my father-in-law smile.  It was nice to say goodbye to him.  In many ways, I give him credit for bringing my sweet husband into my world -- my husband learned Italian from his father, and I met him in an Italian conversation group.  I hope he's at peace. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

FIL

My father-in-law passed away this morning.  My husband and his brothers are all somewhat relieved I think.  My mother-in-law is oblivious.  She was in the room when it happened, and this morning, she woke up, they moved her into the chair, and then opened the curtain to the empty bed where my father-in-law has lived the last few years.  She didn't seem to notice the bed was empty, and hasn't asked about either her husband or "that guy in the bed over there" as she would occasionally refer to him when she was clearly forgetting everything about everyone.  We talked to her for a while last night to try to distract her from what was going on in the other half of the room, but it was pointless, she wasn't paying attention to the phone, she was saying things that made no sense, she couldn't answer questions or follow the conversation.  Although she did say she was thinking about starting all over, maybe she'd have a baby again!  Eventually though, she just set the phone down and my sister-in-law picked up, so we got to talk to her for a while.  They had asked my father-in-law multiple times if he wanted to go to the hospital where they could help him right away, make him feel better, etc., but he adamantly said no repeatedly.  He was ready, and it was time.  The last 11 years have been very hard on him, but I'm so happy that I've known him for 13 years -- that's two years of "normal" memories with him, before the sharp decline began.  I'm glad his suffering is over and he is at peace.  The world lost an interesting one today. 
12-10-32 to 1-19-18. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Signs of Senility

So I was in the restroom at work one day this week, and I was looking in the mirror adjusting a scarf I was wearing.  As an aside, a.) it's super cold right now, for Dallas, b.) my office is frigid in the summer and it is downright freezing in the winter. 


Anyway, I got the scarf tied the way I wanted it and as I was walking out of the restroom, where there are mirrors on each wall of the corner, I looked up at my face. It must have been the weird perspective of the different angle, but all of a sudden, my heart leapt because I saw my mom.  I swear, I had simultaneous instant feelings -- so happy she was there, but so alarmed that something must be very wrong for her to be in the restroom at my office more than 1,000 miles away from home.  Yeah, both those reactions were there before I realized of course that I was looking at my own face. 


There's a picture from our wedding day where I'm in the room where I got dressed, getting ready to go to the castle where we got married, and I'm doing this weird closed mouth smile that I usually don't do.  When I first saw that image after the wedding, I realized that I looked exactly like my mom in it.  And it's happened a couple other times where I've creeped myself out by how much I look like her.  But this is the first time I honestly for a milli-second didn't even recognize myself. 


I guess this explains why I've repeatedly put my husband in the uncomfortable position of demanding to know whether he thinks my mom is attractive -- I'm obviously going to completely turn into her one day.  Appearance-wise, that works for me since I think my mom is pretty, but man, it's creepy to see it happening before my eyes. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Bipolar

I just want to lodge my official complaint for the record.


Yesterday morning, I ran in short sleeves.  The temp was in the upper 50s and there was a light breeze.


Today, it was 28 degrees and below 20 with wind chill.


What the heck? 


Thankfully, tomorrow's activity is not weather-dependent.  I'm attempting my first stair climb -- it's a quarter mile up apparently, 2424 steps.  A total of 3 trips up the most distinctive building in the Dallas skyline, Reunion Tower.  Can't wait!  My crazy boot camp buddy Megan is doing the half mile.  I'm hoping mine will be done in less than 25 minutes. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

New resolutions for 2018

I haven't really committed to what my primary resolutions will be this year, but I'm going strong with several.  (I always wait until after the 12 days of Christmas are over to get started.)  I've got a list of about 10, a few of which (particularly financial ones) are repeats. 


But the best part of getting started with new resolutions this year is because I left work with this view on Thursday night: 


Woohoo!!  That's my voicemail light!  It's on and I DON'T CARE! 

Two of my big 2017 resolutions were work-related.  First, to check my voicemail every day I was in the office, and second, to do "more" of my own filing. 

Holy crap, checking voicemail sucks my will to live!  I hate it so much.  I'm sure the resolution was good for me, made me better at my job and all that, but I am so happy to let that resolution go.  I only missed 3 days I was in the office in all of 2017, so I'd consider that almost perfect.  Considering how much I hated doing it, I'm proud of myself for only missing 3 days. 

I'll keep doing some of my own filing this year under similar guidelines to what I used last year -- filing things if I can do some almost instantaneously with sending or receiving a message.  But on cases where emails are flying back and forth, or cases where I don't address an email the same day I get it, those still go to my assistant to do.  But it's not going to be a resolution this year, it's just more of a habit. 

My only work-related resolution this year is to stand for a couple hours per day on the days that I work from home (that's not even really work-related).  I've worked from home two days so far and have done it both of them. 

Does anyone know details on that whole "sitting is the new smoking" thing?  Like if I work from home from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. two days per week, if I stand for 2 hours right at the start, does that give any different benefit (and if so, how?) from if I stand for 2 hours mid-day?  And is there any difference if I do two separate 1 hour periods?  What about 8 separate 15 minute periods?  I read about it a while ago, and part of me thinks the least beneficial would be doing a 2 hour block right at the start of the day and then sitting the remainder of the day, and most beneficial would be doing like 16 separate periods of 7.5 minutes.  But is the difference in benefit minimal?  Or significant?  For this year, I'm just doing the 2 hours however it works out.  If it's right at the start and all in one block, so be it, but I'd love to know if I'd get more benefit (and how much more) by breaking it up more or doing it more mid-day. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Being A Big Help

For whatever reason, growing up, it seemed to me to be the highest praise when someone told one of my parents (or when my parents told me) that I was a "big help."

I've gone through phases in my life when I've been a big help to others more frequently, and phases where that hasn't been common.


For a variety of her own reasons, my friend and boot camp buddy Megan committed to do a day of community service each month this year.  We were talking about New Year's resolutions, and she mentioned that one.  Even though it wasn't my own resolution, I asked her to count me in. 


Because of our work and travel schedules, there were a few times she volunteered and I haven't been able to join, so I tried to add a few of my own opportunities as well.


Here's a list of how I tried to be "a big help" in 2017, along with a few pictures, though I'll mostly save those for Megan in case she does her own post (since this was her idea and all!):


January:  Tried to assist with the illegal detention of immigrants at the airport.  This doesn't really count because, uh, surprise, I have no immigration law experience, and by the time I got there, they didn't really need warm attorney bodies as much as they did the day before.  I'm glad I tried to help and that I at least got to express my support for the cause. 


 





February:  Volunteering with Megan at a fundraiser breakfast and auction for Back On My Feet, a personal favorite worthy cause -- a structured running program targeted toward individuals living in local homeless shelters.  I ran with the group very briefly but stopped primarily due to schedule conflicts (but also mileage needs and not liking hugs), but love helping the group in non-running ways.  As such, I was so happy Megan found the opportunity for us to help their fundraiser be successful.  Megan thinks I used my line "first ballroom on the left" (complete with charades) about 300 times (directing individuals arriving at the hotel to registration for the event). 


March:  Setting up for a church service and serving lunch with Megan following the service at a new development in Dallas that has small cottages that are given to chronically homeless individuals.  I got to meet Megan's parents for the first time at this event.  My husband did not enjoy the church service (there was a testimonial that bothered him), but the people we met at the lunch were great, very interesting. 


April:  Painting a kitchen at the police department.  I have zero painting experience, but it was a fun day, though messy! 


April part 2:  Working a shift with Megan at a Habitat for Humanity "re-store."  I'd never been to one of these, it's basically a big warehouse/store with building supplies and furniture/decorations.  The organization had just moved into a new location, so we mostly spent the afternoon moving chairs and other items that were already there or were coming from donors, and sweeping.  But other tasks included pulling nails out of wooden beams, setting up a display area for patio sets, being a listening ear for a site manager who was clearly strung thin -- so stressed, so much on her plate in advance of the grand opening, needing to unload, and being "in charge" while the director went to eat -- that was when we realized that we may have been the only adults present who didn't have to be there -- lots of people doing court-ordered community service!  I only asked one person how he came to be working the same volunteer shift as us (a kid who was moving beams with us), and he said, "teen court."  Oops.  I didn't press for details, but he volunteered -- a traffic violation he said, and he was irritated that he was sentenced to more hours than someone with a drug possession charge.  Anyway, it was a fun day and entailed some physical labor and sweat, which I know was good for me.


May:  Playing with kids at a boys and girls club.  I'm a sucker for board games, so this didn't even really feel like volunteering. 
June:  Working a water stop with Megan for a Back on My Feet race.  On a "surprisingly cold for June" day.  In the rain.  In the pouring rain.  Hard to tell you how much more fun it is to run in the rain than it is to stand at a water stop in the rain.  It was pouring and we were at a water stop that only served the longer race distance, so we didn't get a ton of runners, and we all huddled in a car (including some in the trunk) after we had the water set up while waiting for the first runners.  Brrrr! 
July:  Helping to serve meals to officers working the local fireworks show.  Thankfully, I was not in charge of the grilling.  It didn't seem to be going well at times, but fortunately, there was a fire station directly across the street...



July part 2:  Sorted part of a mountain of donated clothes with Megan for Muslims For Humanity's Dallas part of Helping Hand.  The piles we sorted into were kids summer/winter, women's summer/winter, men's summer/winter, Arab, Pakistani, bags, shoes (and along the way, throwing out anything stained or torn that we wouldn't wear ourselves).  The basic distinction between Arab and Pakistani that we were told to use was to put any brightly colored items (saris, etc.) into the Pakistani boxes.  I liked doing this, but it felt frustrating because it seemed we barely made a dent in the mountain, despite hours of work. 




August:  Working with Megan at a United Way event donating backpacks filled with school supplies to kids in need.  We first worked a registration tent, then helped with backpack distribution, then we got to enjoy the festival and play games with the kids.  We spent most of our game time playing Jenga with various kids, so fun!



September:  Babysitting with Megan at a church one Friday night.  The program, Rays of Light, is set up for parents to bring their special needs children (and any and all siblings!) to get a night out.  There is a police officer present to oversee, and two nurses to help as needed, and about 20 (?) kids, and volunteers for each kid.  The boy we worked with in his early teens and was pretty much non-verbal.  His favorite thing to do was pick up big legos off the floor and throw them back into the box, which we'd then dump out again.  He could do it all night long -- and eat baked potatoes!  I'm happy we were able to give his mom a break, and I'm glad we were both assigned to the same kid, he kept us on our toes!  I absolutely loved doing this. 
September part 2:  Volunteered for a couple shifts in the police wives' association tent at an event. 
October:  Worked with Megan and my husband's cousin who was in town for a visit at our food pantry.  Megan and I were assigned condiments which meant sorting through a big pallet box of condiments to check expiration dates, load them into smaller boxes, and then label and close the smaller boxes.  That was especially fun for her with a broken finger (only one at the time, she now has TWO broken fingers!).  After we finished the pallet of condiments, we moved on to canned goods.  My husband's cousin was on peanut butter duty -- unscrewing jars to make sure seals under the lid were intact, checking expiration dates, and boxing.  It was a fun afternoon for all of us and something I really enjoyed doing.  Our team of about 20 did 8.5 pallets, a total of 11,200 pounds, filling 521 boxes and making for 9,334 meals. 





November:  Volunteered at another water stop for a race.  It was a warm day and after filling all the cups before runners came through, I decided my time would be best spent while runners were passing holding out my gloved hands full of ice for any runners who wanted to grab some.  Lots loved the ice cubes to put in their mouths, or just run over neck, arms, whatever for a second.  It was a warm day for a half marathon! 
December:  Worked at a children's Christmas Party with Megan.  This was probably the easiest one of all.  Basically, we just played Monopoly all night!  The game started with two girls who were in seventh grade.  After a while, they got distracted and others took their places.  It was fun to see them count out change, and the vast differences in mathematical abilities.  There was one girl who seemed fairly young and when she landed on a utility (Electric Company or Water Works), she could right away do the multiplication to figure out rent in her head.  But another girl who seemed older used her fingers to add up what she'd rolled on the dice.  And another girl who was super fast at math and subtraction in her head, even for pretty big amounts (buying property), still used her fingers to count the dots on the dice.  They were all fun and sweet kids, easily excited, very enthusiastic and friendly.  What a joy!  The organization was giving out lots of prizes and all the kids got gift bags. 


Looking forward to being a big help again in 2018.  It's so good when you have friends who talk you into being a better person!