Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Today is my Mom's 80th birthday. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around how that's possible, because she neither acts, nor looks, like an 80 year old.  I suppose in my mind's eye, she'll always be somewhere in her late 40's or early 50's -- just as my 26 year old nephew will somehow always be 4.  

The people we know and love longest -- our family -- take up residence not just in our hearts but also in our memories.  It's funny, the things that stand out when we look back on the times we've shared with them.  I'm fortunate that most of my memories involving my Mom (and my entire family) are pleasant ones!  

This past weekend, we celebrated Mom's birthday with a luncheon at a winery.  My siblings and I wanted to do something special to show our love and appreciation for her, so we each sat down and came up with several special memories to share.  I thought I'd include my "Momeries" here in honor of her actual birthday:

  • Some of my earliest and fondest memories of Mom are of planting irises and tending to the garden in the backyard with her. 
  • Though I was only 3 years old at the time, I vividly recall the day I cracked my head open, and the comfort I took from Mom sitting in the back seat of the car with me with my head in her lap while Dad drove us to the hospital.
  • It was always nice to have Mom as one of my Girl Scout leaders, but I particularly remember the time we were camping and it got so cold she agreed to move the entire troop back to our house to complete the “camp out”.
  • Mom’s always been creative – one year for Halloween, I was supposed to be a clown. I somehow wound up with mosquito bites or something of that nature on my face, and Mom figured out a way to cover them up with little patches of some sort and make them look appropriately clown-like.
  • We had a blizzard one year when I was little, and I remember Mom bundling up and trudging off down the road with one of our sleds to get to the grocery store.
  • I can’t remember if it was our trip to Virginia and North Carolina or the one the following year to Florida, but we hadn’t gotten too far from home the first morning out when Mom got pulled over for speeding.  She handled it calmly as I recall. Grandma, on the other hand, wanted to give the Trooper a piece of her mind!  Speaking of speeding, Mom tends to have a lead foot.  Or, actually, feet, since she drives with both of them.  It got me used to quick starts and stops!
  • Regarding Mom’s love of genealogy – some of my happier childhood memories are of accompanying her to the library to look through old microfiche records of birth, death and marriage certificates – also, traipsing through graveyards to find headstones of long-dead ancestors.
  • Mom’s a great cook and she makes the best pies. One of my favorite things to do when I was little was watch her roll out the dough and then trim off the excess and turn it into yummy pie crust, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.
  • Also with the great cooking – Mom makes amazing fried chicken.  (And I don’t even like chicken that much.)  I remember the time I was in law school attempting to make a fried chicken dinner for friends, and Mom did her best to coach me through it over the phone.  (Mine was nowhere near as good as hers!)
  • When I tell other people about my love of sports – football and baseball in particular – I can’t help but smile at all the times we’d have a game on the TV and I’d know what was happening by how loud Mom was yelling at it.
  • It’s actually hard to pick out isolated memories of Mom because she’s simply always been there for me – whether it was to tend to my injuries or make delicious meals or mend my clothes or dry my tears or cheer me on or pick Riley up or chat with me on the phone – I can never adequately express how blessed I am to have her as my Mom. 
I love you, Mom.  Thank you for giving me a life filled with such happy memories.  Happy Birthday!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

There Are Limits

As has become a semi-regular occurrence for me in recent months, I had another work-related road trip today.  This time, it was to Louisville, Kentucky, for a deposition.  It was a pretty day, and not a bad drive, except for the fact that cell reception along I-64 is ridiculously spotty.  At best.  Even in Louisville, it was sporadic.  I'm not certain if that's an AT&T thing -- I've had an inordinate number of dropped calls lately, as has my sister, who also uses AT&T.  

Anyway, it was a good day for a drive, and I spent much of it listening to 9/11 coverage -- remembering, reflecting.  There got to be so many thoughts bouncing around my head, that I realized I simply must start blogging again, and quit letting my perfectionism and seeming need to write a novel each time I blog get in the way.  My thoughts ranged from the serious and somber to the silly.  Here's one of the sillier observations:

As a frequent road-tripper, I'm also a frequent fast food consumer.  (Sometimes -- okay, often -- it has nothing to do with road-tripping, and everything to do with convenience. And laziness.)  While I would never contend that McDonald's is quality food, it certainly qualifies as relatively-easy-to-consume-while-driving-food.  So the #3 Combo (QPWC meal) is a staple of my travels, and, in fact, served as my lunch today.  That was at around 11:15 this morning.  (The deposition was set to start at noon, so necessitated an earlier lunch.  Plus, I'd been up since 5:00 a.m.)  

Come 5:30 p.m., I was tired of driving, and hungry again.  I stopped off in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, to fill up the tank again, and pondered my various food options.  I couldn't bring myself to go the burger route again.  And then...I saw it: Fazoli's!  I used to have Fazoli's all the time, but haven't in years, since there isn't one near my house anymore.  Baked spaghetti and garlic bread sticks suddenly sounded like the most heavenly kind of dinner!  Briefly, I questioned whether it constituted a driving-appropriate meal, but I immediately dismissed the thought. I'm a veteran multi-task driver.  (I know. I really shouldn't admit to that.) 

Soon, I had my yummy-smelling dinner in hand, and set off westward to St. Louis.  The first bread stick was gone in under five seconds.  I then began contemplating how best to open up the tin of baked spaghetti, and suddenly pictured myself attempting to shovel it into my mouth with a plastic fork, with spaghetti and sauce slithering and slopping everywhere, while I attempted to steer with a knee.  "No," I thought.  "No.  There are limits."  Aren't you relieved? :)  

Post Script: I did finally enjoy the spaghetti after arriving home.  Good stuff! 

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Measure of One's Success

I started to post a little post about this to Twitter and Facebook, then realized I couldn't quite fit all I wanted to say into 140 characters.  Thank goodness for blogs!  

So, here's what I wanted to say (with apologies to those who've heard this from me before):  "It's A Wonderful Life" is my all-time favorite movie.  (Stop rolling your eyes -- how can you not love Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey?!)  At the end, George looks down and finds that his angel, Clarence, has left him a copy of "Tom Sawyer."  Inscribed in it are these words: "Dear George, remember no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings, Love Clarence."

The best thing to me about my birthday is that it reminds me that my life is a smashing success.  I am so very blessed to call each and every one of you "friend."  Thank you.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Diary of a Success Story

In rather inconsistent fashion, I've been blogging about my efforts to train for the Go! St. Louis! Half Marathon which was held this past Sunday.  Which is fitting, considering my training was also inconsistent (at best).  Rare were the weeks when I got in three runs.  And the longest training run I managed was 6 miles, a week ago Sunday, with a couple brief stops along the way. So, when I felt the sore throat and fever moving in last Tuesday, I began leaning heavily toward the notion of once again bailing on my race.  

I told myself it wasn't that big a deal.  I'm still signed up for one in the Fall.  No use killing myself over it.  Still, the thought of not following through nagged at me.  It got me to feeling pretty down on myself.  And then, something happened last Friday that really knocked me flat. And I wasn't sure I even felt like getting back up.  All I felt was -- tired.  Depleted.  Just...done.  

Still, I'd promised my friend Di that I'd go to the Expo with her on Saturday and pick up our race packets -- this was going to be her first race, and I wanted to be supportive.  Figured I might as well at least pick up my packet in the process.  

It was raining and nasty Saturday morning, and they were predicting storms late into the evening, and rain on Sunday, giving me yet one more excuse not to bother with what was sure to be an exercise in futility. Still, as the day wore on, and I unexpectedly got to spend the bulk of it with Riley (as her camping trip had been canceled), the thought of maybe, possibly, at least giving it a try kept tugging at me.  That night, we went to see The Hunger Games, and, with its focus on such a strong female character, it got me to thinking about what it really means to be strong.  

I think...it means to be resolute. To not let fear and insecurity deter you. Certainly, it means when you get knocked down, you find a way to get back up.  And it requires being true to yourself.  Which requires keeping the promises you make yourself.  Because if you don't respect yourself enough to do that. If you don't love yourself enough...well, how in the hell do you expect others to?  

By Saturday night, I'd resolved that I would run the race.  And, at a minimum, get in a decent run.  If I got to the point where the lack of training and/or sinus infection required me to cut it short, then I would.  But at least I'd know I tried.  

So, Sunday morning, I got up at 5:15, got dressed, said a prayer of thanks that the weather looked to be better than anticipated, and headed downtown.  (Special thanks to Cari and Chris for having Riley spend the night with Avery! I don't think she relished the thought of getting up that early to head up to Grandma and Grandpa's.)  I'd planned to park in my building and walk over to the race, not realizing I was tacking on an extra 15 blocks (in each direction) to my journey.  Still, I made it downtown in good time and trotted over to the Starting line.  Looked for my designated "corral" and then hopped the fence with a number of others to squeeze into the chute.  Me and 10,000+ others....

After a very nice rendition of the National Anthem -- which made me stand a little taller and put a smile on my face -- we were off.  I crossed the Start and began my "official" race at around 7:08.  The first mile was fine.  I quickly ran into my friends Melissa and Carianne, who were walking the race. Was happy to see them and speculated I'd probably see them again before the end of the race -- at that point, I was pretty certain I'd be walking most of it.

I was feeling okay, though.  Seemed like it took awhile to get to the 2 Mile marker, but along the way, I kept finding reasons to smile. As we headed south along Broadway, we started seeing the elite marathoners coming back the other way. Just watching their speed and grace was amazing.  Two women running near me remarked on how awesome it was, and one said it almost made her feel like tearing up.  It did -- in that way that realizing you share the planet with some truly remarkable beings can sometimes do.  As did the father pushing his disabled son in a racing wheel chair. 

And then there were the signs -- so many wonderful signs along the way.  "Run, total stranger! Run!" "Keep calm and run on!"  "Keep going! Keep Going! (That's what she said.)" "Mortuary up ahead -- look alive!!" And the signs were all attached to real live people who, themselves, got up early on a Sunday morning and ventured downtown just to cheer on the runners.  I am always, always, always touched and amazed at the support of people along the race route.  Every race I've ever run, there are people who've stopped and taken time out of their day just to encourage other people to keep going. 

There are little kids who hold their hands out to "high-five" you as you run by --  and who beam ear-to-ear every time a runner reaches out and high-fives them back.  There were the residents of Soulard -- 40 or 50 strong -- standing out in their PJ's with signs and noisemakers and music blasting, cheering loudly as we ran by. There was the older gentleman, standing on the corner by the brewery, yelling, "Keep going! You paid for it -- might as well get your money's worth!" There were the Dean and Vicar of Christ Church Cathedral standing outside sprinkling the runners with holy water as we ran by.  And all the hundreds of volunteers who handed out water and Gatorade along the way, and then cleaned up the mounds of paper cups tossed aside by the runners.  

As I ran by all of these people and soaked all of it in, I couldn't help but reflect on the gift I was being given. I was being reminded of the goodness to be found in our fellow man.  Of the ways in which we help one another be strong.  That's a facet of God's love I think we too often overlook.  

The music played a significant role for me, too. I don't run with music all the time -- usually because I've forgotten to charge my iPod.  But this time, I'd remembered.  And so, as I neared the Mile 5 marker (parked next to the White Castle, which cracked me up for some reason)...

I switched on the tunes and let them carry me along.  Starting with Rupert Wainwright's rendition of "Across the Universe" which alternately haunts and lulls.  Later came "Beloved Wife" by Natalie Merchant, which always pierces my heart with its beauty and sadness.  "Bridge Over Troubled Water" made me think of friends and family who'd wished me luck.  "Change Your Mind" by Sister Hazel helped me strengthen my resolve to adjust my thinking on some things.  

As the music played on, I plodded along.  By now, I was walking every uphill. And I'd made a point to walk through every water station, take both a Gatorade and a water, and finish both before starting back to the running. It seemed to be working.  Because pretty soon, I found myself passing under the giant American flag hanging across Tucker Blvd., and, in addition to feeling pride for my country, taking heart in the fact that I'd actually made it to the half-way mark.  

At that point, I told myself I would finish -- even if it meant walking the rest of the way.  But strangely, after I'd walk for a bit, I'd find myself wanting to run some more.  Soon, I'd survived the nasty hills up Olive and angled over Vandeventer to Forest Park Parkway.  I couldn't help but smile at the fact that "Homeward Bound" came on just as we were rounding the turn at the 10 mile mark and heading back east toward the Finish.  

Shortly after that, I looked across the median and spied Di and another friend, Denise.  I hopped across the median and ran over to them to hug them both and let them know I was so proud of them!  Then back to my side to keep shuffling eastward.  By now, the elite marathoners were passing me.  Yes, they'd run twice as far, twice as fast, and were closing in on 26.2 miles while I was slogging toward 13.1.  

And in my ears, the Indigo Girls were singing, "If the world is night....shine my life like a light..."  Not sure how bright a beacon my beleaguered self was at that point, but I took a measure of inspiration from it anyway.  Along with the following lines, "In the kind word you speak, in the turn of your cheek.  When your vision stays clear in the face of your fear..."   Those are nice little words to have running through your head when you're striving to find your footing and move convincingly forward. 

I kept telling myself if I could just make it to Mile 12, I'd run the last mile in.  But there was a lot of hill to cover in between, and I was flagging.  Kind of like my phone which was down to about 3% battery.  I saved my Runkeeper progress and Tweeted/Facebooked it because I knew I was about to go incommunicado for a bit: "Phone's gonna die before I make it to 13 - but I'm gonna make it. ."   I'd slowed back down to a walk, but "Return to the House at Pooh Corner" (the version I have of me actually singing along with Kenny Loggins) was playing in my ear and reached the last Chorus: "Believe me if you can, I've finally come back to the House at Pooh Corner by one..."  I slowly picked my feet up and made them start running again.  A gentleman standing alongside the course shouted out, "There you go! You can do it! You've GOT this!"  

And I knew that I did.  I was going to finish.  And not only that, I was going to finish in well under 3 hours  (which I'd had in the back of my mind as my modified goal).  Most of all, I'd kept that promise to myself after all.  And that was something I'd really needed. A reminder to myself that I am worth it.  

It wasn't pretty.  2:44 for a half isn't exactly speedy.  But I did it.  And now have my sights on knocking that down to 2:20 for the Rock 'n Roll half in October.  I have faith in me. I can do it.  

Monday, March 26, 2012

Just Remember I Love You

As it is for many, writing has always been cathartic for me.  It has long been my refuge in times of sadness, upset or doubt. (Since turning to blogging, I've tried to expand the horizon a bit. No one much wants to read about others' sadness or doubts. Certainly not exclusively.)  And so, the writing of this is inevitable for me.  Even while the prospect of doing so has been dogging me now for a week. In part, because I worry about the upset it may cause others.  In part, because I worry it may seem either hysterical or self-indulgent.  Or both.  But it dawned on me tonight that I'm not writing this for you.  I'm actually writing this for me.  So, forgive me if it is too personal, uncomfortable, upsetting or indulgent.  It is something I need to do.  

Fair warning, though: please consider not reading further if you either a) have a significant fear of flying; or b) if I and/or my daughter hold a place in your heart that makes somewhat morbid thoughts related to either of us overly upsetting.  

Those who know me well know that I'm not a good flyer.  Never have been a great one.  However, about three years ago, I became a very bad one.  For reasons that still are unclear to me, I suddenly and rather unexpectedly experienced what I assume was a panic attack while flying home from Austin with my sister, Julie, after visiting my sister, Karen.  It was on the short leg of the flight, from Austin to Dallas.  There was nothing particularly upsetting about the flight.  I just suddenly found myself frozen with fear, unable to speak, and holding onto my armrests for dear life, while my heart raced willy-nilly.  After we landed in Dallas, I wasn't certain I'd be able to get back on the plane to complete the flight home, but ultimately, I did. And we arrived home without further incident.

However, after that, I felt it probably best for me to consider some sort of anti-anxiety medication for future flights.  I don't like acknowledging that, but, to me, it was either that, or figure out how not to fly anymore.  And so, I've limped along since, in mildly sedated fashion, and flown, oh, five or six times, without much incident.  While I recognize it's superstitious, I always make sure to fly with the jade pendant my ex once bought for me while we were in Hawaii for good luck.  He's an aircraft mechanic and helicopter pilot, and he's a good man, so, I guess I always figured it couldn't hurt.  

Recently, I flew to DC, and expressed some of my anxiety to my Twitter friends pre-flight.  One dear, sweet friend related to me that she always envisioned the plane being carried in God's hands.  The image stayed with me, and comforted me, both going and coming back.

Last Monday, Julie, my niece Elizabeth, Riley and I flew to Austin to visit Karen for the girls' Spring Break.  Karen called that morning to give me a heads up that there might be some storms rolling through the Dallas and Austin areas late Monday afternoon.  Hopefully, we'd be ahead of them.  I e-mailed a friend and expressed my unease.  I checked the radar a few times. It didn't look great, but the flights remained on time. Until we got to the airport, and there was a slight delay with St. Louis to Dallas leg.  About half an hour, but it was going to make it close to catch our connector.  Wasn't all that worried, though. Figured we could just catch the next Dallas to Austin hop if need be.  

This was Riley's first trip on an airplane and she was quite excited about it.  We made it through security without a hitch, boarded and got under way shortly after 4:00 p.m.  I sent out my usual request for prayers for a safe flight on Twitter and maybe on Facebook, too. I don't often like to ask for prayers for myself, but flying is one of those times I'll make an exception.  At some point, the Captain came on and advised we might encounter a few bumps on the way into Dallas as there were heavy winds and storm conditions.  I showed Julie and the girls the pendant and told them it was my good luck charm.  Shortly before we began the descent, the Captain reiterated his warning and advised the flight attendants would be belting in, too.  Riley had to use the restroom real quick, so she trotted back to do so, which was right about the time we encountered the first turbulence.  I looked back to check on her and saw the flight attendant knocking on the door - she poked her head out and assured us she was fine, and soon returned to her seat.

That's when things got really bad.  There isn't a bad enough word for how bad.  For the next five to ten minutes, we descended through my own version of hell.  The plane dipped and hopped and lurched and swayed.  I've encountered turbulence before but this was well beyond what I'd ever experienced.  Or even imagined in my darkest fears.  My glasses flew off at one point.  Julie, thankfully, was able to pick them up off the floor.  She reached over once or twice to pat my leg.  She knew how terrified I was.  Trouble was, I didn't want Riley to see it.  I didn't want her to be scared.  God love her, she didn't know any different, so she giggled and joked about the roller coaster.  Elizabeth sat between us, and she's flown several times before.  She knew this wasn't normal, and wasn't good.  About half way down, she quietly reached over and took my hand.  A couple of times, I managed to get out the words, "It's okay. We're going to be okay." But I didn't believe it. I thought the worst of worst thoughts.  I thought we were going to be very far from okay.

Just when I thought I couldn't take anymore, the Captain came on and said, "Folks, we've got 45 knot winds (he may have said cross-winds, I'm not really sure) here.  We're going to go back up and try and come around again at a slightly different angle, see if we can't get down.  If not, we'll divert to Austin, and re-fuel there."  All I could think was, "What in the hell do you mean we're going to try again?! WHY???!!! NOOOOO!!!!"  By this point, I was shaking violently.  I looked down at my legs and, for a moment, didn't understand that they belonged to me.  They were literally bouncing off the floor, like teeth chattering.  I tried to stop them so Riley wouldn't see.  In my head, I was pleading with God to keep us safe.  To carry us in his hands to safety. 

We went back up.  Bumping back up through the air pockets and wind.  We circled around, and then headed back down again.  I didn't think it possible, but the second descent was even worse.  I don't pretend to understand aircraft physics or capacities.  But I don't think 737's are really supposed to do the things this plane did.  I kept thinking I wished there was a way to send a message to my loved ones.  To let them know I was sorry and I loved them and I'd miss them.  This is really hard and scary to say, and I'm sorry for it, but I really did think we were going to die.  Worst of all, I thought, "I put my daughter on this plane. I did this to her."  I can tell you without any question, that was the singular most horrifying thought I have ever had.  

As we neared the ground, the plane continued to dip and lurch and swing side to side.  I could see the green grass outside our window, and I felt certain we were going to cartwheel onto the runway.  I don't know how close we actually got because I closed my eyes at the end, and just then, the pilot gunned the engine and pulled our nose back up.  And we bumped back up again.  The Captain came back on and advised we'd be diverting to Austin. 

There was a slight sense of relief -- maybe...maybe we'd make it after all.  But we were still being bounced around pretty severely.  While the flight attendants made their way back through the cabin, disposing of some of the unfortunate passengers' airsickness bags, I reached into my purse and grabbed my phone.  I pulled up Twitter and typed this: "Just so y'all know. The prayers were & are needed. I hope I'll be sending this once we're safe on the ground. In a word: awful. Love y'all."  My thought was that if things got ugly again, I'd switch off Airplane Mode and send it.    Suddenly, that seemed really important to me -- to let my friends and loved ones know and remember that I love them.  I kicked myself for not saying it clearly before we left.

As we bounced toward Austin, my sister wondered aloud if they'd actually let us de-plane in Austin.  I looked at her and said, "Oh...they WILL let us off the plane." When she looked uncertain, I added, "No - they WILL.  Trust me."  In my mind, the thought continued, "If I have to fake a <censored> heart attack, or go Alec Baldwin on them, they WILL let us off this plane."  Thankfully, nothing nearly so drastic was required.  Though the remainder of the ride was rough, we did touch down in Austin, and they told us those who had it as our final destination would be allowed off the plane.  

As soon as we were down, I flipped on the phone and sent the tweet.  I followed it up with one I can't repeat here.  Then I texted my ex to let him know we were on the ground in Austin and Riley was okay.  Karen called to check on our status, and I tersely told her I'd call her back.  I don't think my follow-up text to her is repeatable here, either.  Interestingly, Julie and I kept receiving text and voice mail updates regarding our intended connecting flight from Dallas to Austin -- the flight that was originally slated to depart Dallas at 5:55 p.m. didn't actually leave until the following morning at 4:30 a.m.  Tells you a little bit about the weather conditions. 

The time spent in Austin was wonderful, and I'll be adding a much lighter entry chronicling it (pics included) as soon as possible.  I did my best not to dwell on the flight back.  I didn't sleep well Friday night, and the anxiety returned full force.  I'm sure my sisters noticed I wasn't exactly Susie Sunshine Saturday morning, either.  Basically, I retreated inside my head and tried to tune thoughts of flying later that day out.  I temporarily toyed with the idea of renting a car and just driving back, but that's a 13 hour drive and a huge additional expense.  And I didn't want to transfer my phobia to Riley, which taking such extreme measures would likely do.  I checked the weather and it looked good all the way through.  Sunshine and low winds.  I told myself I could do it.  Friends told me I could do it.  I am thankful for their prayers and encouragement.  

The flight home was relatively uneventful.  Still a little bumpy descending into Dallas.  I looked at my sister and rolled my eyes, with a "Not again," look.  But it was what I'd characterize as "moderate" turbulence.  We landed and took off again.  I didn't flip out.  And we landed safely in St. Louis.  God carried us home safely, and I am thankful for that, as well.  

I've relayed this story to probably ten or twelve people now.  Several times, I've found myself overwhelmed by the emotion of reliving it. Writing this did it to me, too. But I think I needed to do it. I also think it's probably going to be awhile before I really feel all the way okay.  Feeling those feelings and thinking those thoughts, it does change you.  It does leave a mark.  I'm not going to paint this as some grand life-altering experience.  I don't know that it is.  I just know that it has reaffirmed my appreciation for the life God has given me, for my daughter, for my family and for my friends.  And I think, from now on, before I fly -- if I fly -- I'll make a point to tell them that I love them.  

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Double Digits

I brag on my daughter a lot.  I do realize that.  I think it's sort of one of those things moms are supposed to do. But I don't do it out of a feeling of obligation.  I do it purely out of pride.  Which, I realize, may be a bit arrogant on my part. Oh, I think her Dad and Step Mom and I and other family members deserve some of the credit.  But mostly, she's just as God made her.  And she is amazing.  

She turns ten tomorrow.  I'm having a little bit of a difficult time wrapping my brain around that.  Because I'm pretty sure the day she was born was just yesterday.  Or maybe last week.  Certainly not ten whole years ago! I spent a little time tonight looking at pictures of her younger days.  They made me smile.  And, yes, they made me teary.  Cue "Sunrise, Sunset..." 

Anyway, I thought, rather than ramble on about what a wondrous gift she is, I'd simply share a few from long ago:

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday's Smiles

It isn't often that Monday gives me reason to smile. Like many folk, I typically find myself dreading Monday - end of the weekend, beginning of the work week, back to reality, yada, yada.  And, though Murphy's Law is a pervasive principle in my life, it does seem to bare its teeth at me most frequently on Mondays. 

But here I am at the end of Monday and I have to acknowledge - it wasn't such a bad day after all.  Yes, I'm still adjusting to DST, and it took most of the day to de-cobweb my brain, and yes, I worked until almost 7, but...it was warm!  And sunny!  And Spring-like!  And that, more than anything, made me smile today.  

I've actually been collecting smiles for several days and meaning to jot them all down here, though, so now's as good a time as any, I suppose:

  • Took this wicked cool photo the other night:

  • Turned the corner and took this one which isn't quite as cool, but which I like, nonetheless:
  • Slept eight uninterrupted hours Friday night. (This is unheard of in my world.)
  • Enjoyed my co-worker Sarah's baby shower on Saturday -- looking forward to the arrival of Baby Essen!
  • Also enjoyed seeing my darling Godson and meeting my friend Melanie's baby boy, who's adorable. (I know this sounds awful, but I'm usually uncomfortable holding/playing with babies.  For some reason, that wasn't the case on Saturday.)
  • Reunited with my Trivia gang Saturday night and made a good showing, even if we didn't win first place. (Something...mind...eternal...sunshine...something!)
  • Made it back to church on Sunday.
  • Enjoyed a yummy lunch afterwards with Jacque and my adopted family, the Whitings. (Next time you're at Steak 'n Shake, try the Royale.  It's de-lish!)
  • Later that afternoon (as described in my previous post), managed to persuade myself to run (almost) 5 miles. In the rain.  
  • Though many things are wrong with my house, my hot tub is working just fine, and I've enjoyed it much the past several nights. 
  • Mostly, the warmer weather and all the signs that Spring is springing. 


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Diary of a Slacker - Update

I haven't been as committed to writing about my adventures in training as I'd hoped to be.  Mostly, it's because I've been lazy about it.  Then, too, there's the realization that one can only make training run after training run sound so exciting.  I abhor the thought of boring anyone who's actually kind enough to take the time to read my stuff.  But...I do have to admit I'm a little bit proud of myself for the run today:  I really wasn't feeling it.  Tired, a little bit down, and it was cloudy and damp out.  What I really wanted to do was take a nap.  

Thing is, the race is in five weeks.  I can't really hide from that anymore.  Nor can I hide from the fact that my training has been way less than ideal.  But I do know, having run a half several times previously, that if I can train up to eight miles, or so, I'll be able to limp along through 13.1 on race day.  Oh, I'll be walking a fair amount of it, no doubt. But I should be able to finish. And that's the primary goal -- for this first race, at least.  I'll set the bar a bit higher for the one in the Fall -- like, maybe 10 minute miles. That's not so crazy, I don't think.  

Anyway, point is, though I really didn't feel like running today, I made myself do it anyway.  And this, even though it started raining in earnest just as I was headed out.  In hindsight, it would have been wise(ish) of me to wear a ball cap or visor.  Because eventually, my glasses became problematic.  And once I took them off, my residual eye makeup became even more problematic.  It's kind of difficult to run when your eyes are stinging like mad.  

Funny thing about all the "adversity," though.  It kind of ticked me off and made me more determined to keep running.  So, I squeaked out a just-under five mile run, and did so in just over 54 minutes.  Had to walk a bit here and there.  But it made me feel a little bit more like I can actually do this.  And that's a good bit of the battle right there.  Or....that's what I tell myself anyway...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

I Never Expected Andrew Breitbart to Break My Heart

I never expected Andrew Breitbart to break my heart.  Then again, I never expected to be attempting to eulogize him at the age of 43.  It’s funny — even though he was five months my junior, I looked up to Andrew as if he were a big brother.  I suspect many of us in the conservative blogosphere did.  Whether he set out to be, he was, without question, our fearless leader.
So many words and tributes have issued forth today from those who knew him far better and have a far greater voice than I.  It almost makes me question whether/why I should bother weighing in.  Almost.  But I know the writing of this will help me heal.  It always does.  And when I read the wisdom-filled words of my friend, Jimmie Bise (@jimmiebjr): “Don’t hesitate. Go. Be where you should be, not where that bitter and wicked inner critic says you should be….It’s about what you let stop you, what you let hold you back from living the live you *want* to live.”  I know that here at the computer, setting these thoughts and words down, is where I should be.  Most of all, when I think of what Andrew stood for, I know this is what I should do.  Because I’m not just going to share this perspective with my political friends — those who share my views and my familiarity with/respect for Andrew.  I’m going to share this with all of my friends in the hopes that some who either didn’t know Andrew, or who only knew what his detractors had to say of him, will come to a fuller understanding of who he was and how deeply his life touched mine and many others.
I started the day out with thoughts of my dear Grandmother.  Today would have been her 106th birthday.  And, as I always do in celebration of the occasion, I wrote a little something about her to share with others.  http://www.somewhereovertheseptictank.blogspot.com/2012/03/magic-of-grandma.html  I had just posted it to Facebook and then Twitter when I saw a tweet that might as well have been a gut-punch: https://twitter.com/BrentTeichman/statuses/175219967044755456  My immediate reaction was denial. I read the linked article/tribute from Larry Solov in utter disbelief.  In fact, the next words I uttered were “This can’t be real.”  It’s still not fully sunk in almost 16 hours later.  Sudden, unexpected death is always a shock, especially when the person is relatively young.  But when that person is someone you look up to as a leader, someone who serves as the very heart of something you believe in passionately…the loss is simply devastating.
I’d just posted my link about Grandma and changed my avatar to a pic of her with me when the news hit.  I was hesitant to change it again so quickly.  But then I thought about it and imagined what my Grandma might think of Andrew, and it occurred to me, she’d probably have liked him quite a lot.  She might have thought him rather cheeky, but I suspect she’d have found that amusing.  I also suspect that, had she known him, she’d have admonished him to take better care of himself.  And I feel fairly confident she’d understand that today seemed like a day to both mourn him and celebrate his life. Grandma understood grieving.
So I posted several links and changed my avi  - not just on Twitter, but on Facebook, as well.  And the response was immediate and overwhelming.  And not just from friends who know and like Breitbart.  I emphasize the Facebook thing because I’ve typically made it my practice to keep my politics off Facebook.  (Not always, but for the most part.)  I do this because I have many friends and family members whom I love dearly but who I know do not share my views.  And I view Facebook as my tether to all friends.  It is my goal to share bits of my life there without alienating.  And politics do sometimes (often?) alienate folks.  Of course, anyone who knows me at all knows I’m a political junkie.  This isn’t something I hide. I just figure those that who share my views or are at least interested in them know where/how to discuss them with me if they so desire.
After I finally managed to collect myself and start the drive into work, I spoke to my Mom on the phone, and told her the news.  She wasn’t particularly familiar with Andrew, either.  And I’m quite certain she probably didn’t share many of his views.  Still, she was sympathetic in the way that only Moms can be.  And I am grateful for that.  But that, combined with the response on Facebook made me want to write about this in a way that anyone who considers me friend (or family) could understand why this has hit so hard.
To start, I thought I’d share some excerpts I’ve written regarding Andrew previously:


August 1, 2011
This weekend marked my first foray into the world of political conventioneering — at least as an adult.  As a child, I had a fair amount of exposure to political gatherings and such through my parents, albeit of the liberal/Democrat stripe.  Smart Girl Summit 2011 (#SGS11) served as my initiation into convocations of the conservative variety….
As the summit drew nearer, I found myself eagerly anticipating it.  The line up of speakers was impressive.  And here was a chance for me to meet and mingle with fellow conservatives — people who actually speak my language and whose eyes don’t glaze over when you start discussing primaries and debt ceilings and the Fair Tax.  Most importantly, I was really excited about meeting both Nikki and Sarah — in my few months following and interacting with them, they’ve both shown themselves to be very bright, energetic, engaging ladies, and I just new we’d have ourselves some fun!
The last minute announcement that @AndrewBreitbart would also be in attendance at the summit was the wickedly delicious icing on the cake.  I hate to so readily cop to hero worship, but…who am I kidding?  The guy’s proven himself a fearless warrior in the fight to expose leftist hypocrisy and journalistic double-standards.  Plus he’s rather endearingly irreverent….
Smart Girl Prom
After a quick change back at my office into somewhat cocktaily attire, I returned to the hotel for the Banquet and Awards….
Last, but far from least, Andrew Breitbart.  Disarmingly funny, brazenly blunt, and all fired up.  It impressed me that he’d hopped in a rented Camaro and roadtripped it down here from Michigan to attend.  His account of the hotel towel shortage had me cringing again at the decidedly unimpressive accommodations, though he was good natured about it all.  Later, he was extraordinarily patient, posing for pics with all the fangirls and fanboys, myself included.  I would think it might be weird to have that degree of hero-worship focused on you, but he seems to take it all in stride….
The remainder of the evening was split between the hotel bar and the conference room, chatting with my new friends.  Very much enjoyed getting to know them all a bit better!  Even that soul-devouring @demonsheep! The end of the evening found us all back downstairs at the bar, amid grumblings from several of my pals regarding the slooooowness of the elevators.  It probably didn’t help matters that the hotel was hosting one or two very large family reunions, and it was a Cubs-Cards weekend.
At one point, Loren and I decided to go talk to Breitbart who was seated nearby. I worked up the nerve to sit down next to him and tell him how much the first couple chapters of his book reminded me of me — not his wild-child days at Tulane so much, but just his outlook and motivators at that stage of his life.  Another friend or two came over to talk, as well, and I found myself somewhat trapped — not in a bad way at all — it’s just that there was no graceful or polite way to exit the conversation so as to avoid monopolizing it.  So, I ended up having a nice chat with him — about my work, St. Louis politics, commercial real estate, kids.  I confessed to him how pleased I was when I awoke one morning a couple months ago to find that he’d started following me on Twitter.  Only to realize moments later that my new follower was actually one Andrew Breitfart.  It did put a grin on my face yesterday morning when the real McCoy actually did start following me.  This is what Twitter geeks would generally refer to as #winning.


August 2, 2011
Next up was a lively Q&A session with @Andrew Breitbart.  Despite the obvious Breitbart admiration among summit goers, they didn’t just serve him up softballs.  There were a couple curve balls, and maybe even a wild pitch or two.  But his responses didn’t disappoint. He didn’t bat an eye at the Shirley Sherrod question, though, come to think of it, he’s probably been asked it a thousand times in the past year.  (Folks, please – read the actual article.  And if you’re really interested in educating yourself about the situation, I also highly recommend taking a gander at the Motion to Dismiss filed on behalf of the Defendants in the suit. Though it was recently denied by the Court, it does a splendid job of setting out the pertinent chronology.)
What resonated most with me, however, were his comments about the people who are presently doing battle on the front lines of the Tea Party/Conservative movement, and how they’ve been, in many cases, abandoned by those who really should have their backs.  This tied into his observations in “Undefeated” — which was screened immediately after — regarding all the “eunuchs” in the GOP who’ve left Palin to the wolves (or, in some cases, turned their fangs on her themselves.)  This, I will have to address in a separate entry. For now, I will simply say that I’d planned on skipping the screening. I’m so very glad I didn’t, even though the post-lunch zombie stupor about got the better of me long about the middle of the film.


February 14, 2012
Luckily, Harry’s Pub (located just off the lobby in the Marriott) was not terribly crowded at that point, and I was able to snag a seat at the bar and wolf down a bacon cheeseburger and Dr. Pepper.  This improved my physical and mental well-being immensely!  Soon, I saw a tweet from one of my favorite Misfits and earliest true friends on Twitter, Cole Streeper (@colestreeper1), indicating he was about to watch Andrew Breitbart (@andrewbreitbart) and Brandon Darby (@brandondarby) speak — knew I definitely wanted to catch that!
I made my way to the CPAC Theater for the Citizens United presentation previewing their upcoming film exposing Occupy Wall Street.  Breitbart and Darby were part of the panel, as were Lee Stranahan (@Stranahan), Stephen Bannon (@StephenBannon) and Citizens United President David Bossie (@David_Bossie).  On my way in, I had the great good fortune of finally meeting the aforementioned Jimmie Bise.  So good to see him in person and get to chat, even if only briefly!  Before the presentation started, I also was able to make my way up to the front and find Cole to say hello and give him a long overdue hug.
Two of the panel were present, but the remaining three (including Breitbart) made a rather grand entrance complete with Guy Fawkes masks, which caused a humorous stir in the audience.  After a brief introduction, they showed the preview of the film which promises to be an unvarnished and unpleasant look at the realities of the Occupy movement.  The panel fielded a number of questions.  My favorite one came from the…skeptic…who questioned Bannon about the criticisms and “lack of success” of his prior film regarding Sarah Palin “The Undefeated.”  He was shot down pretty soundly, especially when he admitted he hadn’t actually watched the film.  This was a lively presentation, and I enjoyed it and look forward to seeing “Occupy Unmasked” when it is released.
(I didn’t include this in the blog originally, but one of the funniest moments of the presentation came when, toward the end of it, Andrew’s phone suddenly started ringing. He jumped up as he was answering it and, in typical Breitbartian fashion, announced to the room, “Oh, it’s Hannity – I’m supposed to be on Hannity!” And proceeded to bound out of the room while commencing the interview.  I’ve often categorized various folks I know as Winnie the Pooh archetypes….Andrew was pure Tigger, and that moment captured it perfectly.)


February 16, 2012
Later, we returned to the Marriott and rejoined the rest of the gang.  Snapped a pic with one of my new friends, Amelia Hamilton (@AmeliaHammy), author of One Nation Under God: A Book for Little Patriots - http://www.ameliahamilton.com/ - which is a must have for all parents who want their kids to learn about history, government and our basic rights from an early age!
Also saw Andrew Breitbart (@AndrewBreitbart), and will admit I was flattered when he recalled out meeting at Smart Girl Summit and my being a runner:
Well, that’s not even all of what I’ve written previously — just some highlights.  But I also want to share a few things that came to mind today, or that I saw others say regarding Andrew:
Many bloggers and pundits have shared their thoughts on Breitbart today.  Some of them have written hauntingly beautiful tributes.  I know my friend, Sarah Rumpf, has done her best to collect many of them in one place on her blog: http://www.sunshinestatesarah.com/2012/03/we-have-lost-giant-rip-andrew-breitbart.html
Over and over again, we’ve seen references to him as a warrior, a happy warrior, fearless, generous in spirit, generous with his time, likable, sweet, bursting with energy, bustling with ideas.  I know there are many out there who view him through a different lens, but this is the man that I and so many others whom I hold dear have come to know and love.  Andrew was a man who lived life large and found a way to employ his God-given talents in an amazing way.  He fought tirelessly and unapologetically for what he believed in.  I think, for me, one of the aspects of his story that resonated most was his own journey from liberalism to conservatism.  While our paths were somewhat different, here was someone whose view of the political spectrum was quite similar to mine; who, like me, could remember what it was like to hold those other views and used that to inform his championing of conservatism. 
Early on, I remarked on his affable response to the hero worship.  He was a mega star in the political/media world, but you would never know it to see him or talk to him.  You’d expect someone who’s achieved his degree of notoriety, success and power to be full of himself.  But he wasn’t.  He was full of life.  We lost a patriot, a champion and a friend today.  The conservative blogging community has been reeling from this news.  And yes, many of us truly are heartbroken.  However, Lisa Mei Norton posted this quote earlier and I thought it more than fitting:
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.”
George S. Patton
I certainly am thankful.  *Cheers* Andrew.  Time for a well-deserved rest.  Don’t you worry.  We’ll keep up the good fight.

Editing to add in Rick Hornsby's hauntingly beautiful tribute: