Sunday, December 21, 2008

Poem of the Day

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

--Stevie Smith

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Her Healing Hands

Sometimes, you past life comes back to haunt you.

My middle brother was born with a birth defect. My mother was 22, functionally single (my father was in Iran) and a stranger in this country. Overnight, she went from frustrated young mother, to a ferocious nurse. She learned the language of medicine before she learned English. She fought for my brother's life daily and had little room for tenderness or sentiment left in her.

As a result of his illness my brother was prone to pneumonia. Since prevention was almost impossible, treatment became my mother's area of expertise. After one harrowing episode, she came home with my bundled up brother tucked under one arm and a suction machine under the other. From that day forward, there was a ritual every morning and evening. She would lay my brother on his stomach, cup her hands and pat on his back. Firm, loud pats making sure nothing stayed lodged in his lungs. For half an hour at a time, she would cover the surface of his back with her pat-pat-pats, turn him over and suction out whatever she could. At first, I hated the sound of her hands beating on his bony back and the racket of the suction machine. Gradually, the sound became relaxing--the most enduring ritual of our family. She could cover his back with strong pats in her sleep, and occasionally did. I would doze off to what had become our lullaby, knowing my mother's hands were beating illness away.

Tonight, M's cough got pretty bad. After dinner, I tried everything I could think of to make his coughing stop. Suddenly, I remembered the pat-pat-pat of my mother's healing hands. It worked.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Few Thoughts on Accountability and Democracy

In the US, where the government is elected by the people and accountable to them, we have an outgoing president* basically shrugging his shoulders and saying "Oops" about the war and the economy. We are a civilized people, so we will watch in disbelief as he says things like, "I was unprepared for war" (the same war he started against most of the world's protests and mocked his opponents as weak-kneed and unpatriotic); about the economy, "I'm sorry it's happening, of course" (of course); about the elections, "It was a repudiation of Republicans" and "I'm sure some people voted for Barack Obama because of me." without the slightest hint of remorse or self awareness. It's almost impressive.

Stranger still is comparing our democracy with other so-called democracies.

When we were attacked in 2001, everyone had wondered if there were any warning signs that were missed. Any memos that said things like,
"Bin Laden determined to attack inside the United States", that had been missed or ignored. Apparently there had been. Along, with unconnected dots and chatter. We confronted these warnings and failures appropriately. We kicked out people like Richard Clark and rewarded people like George Tenent with medals and honors.

Now in India, an 'emerging' democracy, they have government officials who supposedly got warnings of impending attacks; semi-connected dots if you will. Their incompetence in handling these warnings has outraged the public, still in shock from being attacked as they were. As a result national, state and local officials have resigned in shame--and more resignations are expected**. Apparently they missed the class where rewarding incompetence was being discussed. I mean, they may call it accountability, I call them a bunch of quitters. They could have toughed it out in their jobs, gotten recognition, written a few books about their ordeals dealing with an ungrateful and unpatriotic populace and moved on to lucrative contract jobs. But they don't know these things yet. Their budding democracy seems to foster quitters and shame. Good luck emerging with that attitude!


*There are only about 50 more days until he retires into the sunset and contemplates how great a president he was. (Also, is there an exit interview? Is there some equivalent of an HR guy with a list of questions for Bush and Cheney about their job satisfaction and feedback?)

**Seriously, why didn't we think of outsourcing the Bush administration to India? It totally could have worked.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

If I Ruled the World

I was recently chatting with a friend and realized that despite my joy during the last elections and commitment to democracy, I could be persuaded by an enthusiastic population to be a benevolent dictator. The world could do worse--actually, it has done much worse. I mean most people hate dictators because we equate them with evil and lack of accountability. But I'm a relatively nice person on many, many levels. Sure I have temper issues, but I limit myself to yelling and an occasional use of profanity. On the upside, I believe in feeding people. If I make crazy declarations like, "Let them eat cake" (which Marie Antoinette never did by the way), it will be because I have baked lots and lots of cake. Also, I would never make such declarations until everyone has had lunch or dinner. Unless it is their birthday, in which case they can eat cake whenever they want.

I'd also put a lot of emphasis on universal literacy and health care. I'm pretty sure if there weren't such ridiculously high levels of illiteracy and ignorance in the world, we wouldn't be dealing with half the things that are going on around the world. I know ignorance is in the eye of the beholder, and literacy cannot erase it, but it can be reduced and isolated. I'll take that as a positive first step. All that knowledge can be channeled to doing a few positive things--curing diseases, building things and what not. Plus, once everyone is literate, they can read about all of my amazing contributions to the world.

I think that's a good start to a new society. I realize that I would technically be a dictator, I'd emphasize the benevolent part. I'm not sure how I'd go about achieving such things--I'm assuming there will be a petition or a revolution involved. Just please, keep it civilized. This should be a happy event.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gimpy Cupid Strikes Again!

Out of curiosity, is it wrong to flirt with one's doctor? What if your intentions are pure?

I had a first time appointment with my Sports Medicine physician today, who I had researched extensively based on first availability. I finally broke down and made the appointment after realizing my knee problems weren't going away on their own and crossing my legs is one of the most painful things I do these days.

After a visit to Radiology, I finally met my new doctor. I liked him immediately. He asked some questions, I answered, showing him where my assorted aches and pains resided--under my black jeans obviously. I told him about my training, what mileage brought the pain, what my future training goals were. He took some notes, asked some follow-ups and asked me to stand up and take off my shoes. I looked at him in confusion and ask if he really wanted me barefoot (he did).

Up to this point, I had been relatively successful maintaining some level of dignity and not acting beneath my age. As I took off my shoes, I apologized and told him that my pen had exploded last night and I hadn't noticed all the blue spots I had given myself. Although, I had showered and tried to get rid of the spots. "So, for the record, I'm clean but spotty." As I said those last words, I knew I was no longer the dignified potential athlete, but my usual less than impressive self. He chuckled and commented on the dangers of ink attacks.

Eventually, I got on the bed and he felt my legs, checked my x-rays and said I have beautiful ankles. My knees however, are trying to run away from me. He showed me what normal knees look like, and where my knees and surrounding muscles were doing their best to escape. This causes a lot of stress on them when you're running in one direction and they are trying to run in another. They pull on IT bands that make crossing one's legs almost impossible.

Then he dropped the real bomb: "If you look here", as he looked evenly my legs, "you'll notice that your right leg is a little more than an eighth of an inch longer than your left leg--which will make your body adjust and put more..."

By now I was laughing so hard, my whole body was shaking. "How can you tell me I'm lop-sided with a straight face?"

"Oh, in this line of work you realize every body is truly unique."

I started flirting with him because he struck the right tone. And he laughed at my comments, actually said I was funny complimented my x-ray ankles again. Compliments AND appreciating my sense of humor? All that was missing was a British accent.

Did I mention he was gay? You didn't think I was actually flirting with him for me, did you? And you know that by flirting, I meant I was just more charming than I usually am to doctors who I don't trust any further than I can throw them, right? (As a side note, I would like to gather some of my past physicians and see how far I could throw them--as a scientific experiment of sorts.) It just occurred to me that a nice doctor would be the perfect potential boyfriend for my best friend who eventually owes me a wedding.

By the time I left his office, I had learned where Dr. Peter was from, what his Thanksgiving weekend plans were and that he was a competitive swimmer for many years and couldn't dream of running long distances. He never implied anything about a spouse/partner, nor was he wearing a ring. Now I'm slated for some physical therapy and have been instructed to put off another half marathon for at least 6-8 months and fill my time with 5-10ks. Of course, if my injuries don't get any better, I'll have to go back and see the nice doctor. With my best friend.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hey Jealousy

I'm back! Well, kind of--more in the process of coming back. I have been away on a few adventures and trips, been duly punished for my time away from the office by one of my (least) favorite co-workers and have been writing friends fun emails that none of them have received on account of all of the emails ending up in my Drafts folders. I apologize to everyone who has been emailing me and hasn't gotten a response in a while. I'd like to think I'm not rude, just forgetful. This should not surprise any of you.

On a happier note, I have been crocheting quite a bit lately. My new hobby started in August when I had rare foresight to start a project before the time had passed. I started a scarf for a friend while I was visiting my grandmother. My grandmother kept commenting on how cute it was, how quickly it was coming along and how lucky my friend was to have me thinking of her. Now, I may not have seen my grandmother in five years, but I have not forgotten how unsubtle she can be. Despite my firm belief that a project intended for one person, should only be completed for that person--I broke my rule and gave my first scarf to my grandmother. She was gleeful. She went back to Iran and showed it to everyone, bragging about her talented granddaughter who loved her so much that she made instant scarves for people. Normally, I would be happy to hear about people singing my praises--however this time around the praise has caused a ruckus. My father started asking my mom why I had never made him anything (except for the assorted baked goods, foods and knit scarf and cap). Did I not love him enough? Why was I ignoring him? Did I not remember how much he hated the cold? Now you may think this sounds a little bit like a jealous child throwing a tantrum*--you'd be right. That is why my poor mother started a scarf for him which was quickly going no where. She sounds miserable every time I call her. I told her to drop the crochet hook and yarn, and wait for me to send them a package.

Since then, I have finished a few scarves--which are a great project to work on while on cross country flights--and have a growing stack of patterns and yarn. I'm really enjoying the quiet that comes with focusing on a pattern and trying to create something pretty and useful. It is almost as satisfying as cooking--just more enduring and fewer calories.

Unfortunately, it is not a hobby that allows multi-tasking. Sure, I can watch TV and attend early morning meetings, but I can't type and crochet at the same time. Soon, I will have to find a balance between yarn related activities and posting stories that are swirling around in my head.


*As a side note, if you ever wonder where some of my more charming personality traits come from, please remember these family moments. Especially the subtlety, impatience and jealousy parts. While I would like to think that this Pomegranate has rolled far from the tree, it initially dropped pretty close to it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Living in the Now

I'm alive to see a moment that has left me speechless. I'm a crying puddle of pride, emotion and hope. There will be plenty of other people more eloquent than me with much more at stake and stronger claims to this moment. But as an American and a citizen of the world, a world broken by years of gleeful ignorance, arrogance and cruelty--this is a moment I feel is burnished into my heart and soul.

This could not happen in any other country in the world. This could not happen at a more crucial moment in our history and identities.

I am grateful, joyous and full of love for my country and fellow countrymen.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wish You Were There

Sadly, I am not photogenic--mostly because cameras have a tendency to capture me as I am. Over the years, this has caused me to avoid taking pictures and losing opportunities to document some incredibly happy moments and experiences. Left to my own devices, I don't even take a camera with me to typically camera-worthy events. Lucky for me, during my race weekend I had my husband, my brother and best friend (Tall Lanky Guy) with me--and all three are pretty good photographers. M was sweet enough to compile some of the pictures and video clips to make a slide show-video of our weekend.

The bad news is, I am still not photogenic. The good news is, I was so ridiculously happy that I was not too bothered by that minor fact.

I wish you were there to see and hear everything I did. The best I can do is share M's perspective with you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

3: 14: 04

I was looking forward to last weekend for almost six months. I dreamed of who I would meet, how we'd get along and my performance overall. I was a little concerned that after all that dreaming the weekend wouldn't be what I had imagined. Except it was so much more.

I called Amanda in April and asked if I could run with TNT in her honor. With her blessing, I signed up and joined Team In Training, where they promised to make an endurance runner out of a heavy little couch potato. For six months, I did things I never thought I would to prepare for the Nike Women's Marathon on October 19th. And finally the big weekend arrived.

Last Friday, I was up at 4 am and at the airport not long after. I sat nervously waiting for our flight, listening to everyone's excitement. There was a large group of people in green and purple jackets, waiting to catch various flights to San Francisco. I knew many of them, I was one of them. I don't remember the flight or the ride from Oakland to the Grand Hyatt in Union Square (the hotel was lovely), I just remember the excitement. There were people--mostly women--everywhere. Nike Town was conveniently across the street from us, with all of the participant's names posted on a pink wall. The Wall and Expo, where we were to pick up our runner's numbers were already packed. Some of the activities were ridiculously 'girlie' and I gladly participated. Who am I to pass up free manicures and massages? But beyond the girlie-ness, while waiting in the lines you met other runners--many of them TNT members--who were there exchanging stories, encouraging and cheering each other days before the race. Among the more humbling moments was listening to Sarah Reinertsen--an amputee who competes in triathlons, marathons and other endurance events--speak about how she prepares for events. The whole time she was speaking, I kept thinking to myself that I have no excuse for being inactive. I have two whole legs!

Saturday was spent hanging out with my best friend from college, my husband and my brother who had both flown in to support me. I was touched to have my three favorite guys in one place looking out for me. M was commissioned with taking pictures and video of all the excitement. We eventually went to the big Pasta Dinner at Mascone Center, to be greeted by all of the TNT coaches, capitains and mentors, dressed in costumes and cheering us from the entrance all the way down the stairs and into the huge center that was setup to host thousands of giddy people. It was incredibly emotional being greeted by the people who have spent months training you, listening to survivor's stories and seeing slide shows of the people we are running for and with. My nervousness pretty much went away at that point when I remembered what and who I was there for. I was ready for the race.

Sunday morning, I was awake at 4am--again--and this time without my alarm clock. Our wake-up call wasn't for another hour, so I lay in bed thinking of Amanda and her family, planning next year's trip and thinking of things that a three-four year old boy would enjoy. I didn't really come up with many details, other than things that involved Ghirardelli Square and Mitchell's Ice Cream (sorry, Manda--kids love me for the treats). We got up at five, got ready and met what seemed like half the hotel's guests downstairs. By 6 am, the early starters had already left and everyone else was checking in their coat bags and finding their corrals. There was just so much excitement and anticipation it was hard to stand still. There were people EVERYWHERE. Almost 20,000 of them. And I was but a drop in this sea. The last thing I remember before I started running was our coach's advice to smile while we ran. I thought that was odd advice at the time. Once we started running, I was smiling almost non-stop.

The run was amazing. The temperature was perfect for running--cooler than the previous two days. The streets and views were gorgeous. Unfortunately, shortly after Mile 2, my right ankle started hurting and by Mile 4, my left knee was kicking in. Both are injuries I have had on my longer distances all season, but was hoping to avoid during the race. Neither injury stopped me. I ran up the first hills, and about half way up the Giant Hill. I walked the rest of that hill going up, took a few pictures with my cell phone and continued to run again. Every step of the way was literally amazing to me. The views, the cheering volunteers, our coaches and the sign holding survivors all made the 13.1 miles go by so quickly. The last three miles were the easiest both because the path had evened out and because the energy just moved us forward. As I approached the finish line, I saw my Three Men again (they had greeted me at Mile 7) cheering and taking pictures. I was greeted at the finish line by a group of very well dressed firemen handing out Tiffany's boxes. I could not believe I had finished my race. I felt nothing but joy as I watched others follow me across the finish, claiming their necklaces and sneaking in hugs from the firefighters (yes, they were all exceptionally handsome and polite). I actually bumped into Sarah again, shook hands with her and thanked her for her talk. She graciously congratulated me and encouraged me to keep up the good work.

After I checked in, got my post race massage and got my Finisher's shirt, we went back to the hotel, where my college roommate was waiting for us. I hadn't seen her in almost 3 years and seeing her then was just like icing on a giant piece of cake. We spent the rest of the afternoon talking, eating and resting. My cheer team had been up at the same time I was and had watched hundreds of runners go by in an attempt to yell out my name as I slowly passed. We were all exhausted.

All in all, this was one of the most amazing things I have participated it. My intentions were completely altruistic when I joined--in then end I derived so much joy from it myself. I am proud of the $18 million dollars that was raised for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through this event alone--and proud of my tiny contribution to it. I am grateful for the support of my friends and family (real and virtual) who helped get me to San Francisco. I am humbled by the strength of the men and women I met last weekend, some of them survivors running/walking/cheering at an event that was meant to honor them. I'm already planning on raising funds and going back next year. Times like these, it's good to be one of the crowd.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The End Is the Beginning

Yesterday morning, my training with TNT ended exactly where it started: in the parking lot of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society offices. Twenty two weeks ago, I showed up full of joyous optimism, ready to train for a half marathon. The end of that training day put my physical abilities into perspective for me. I could barely run more than a mile, even at 5-2 intervals. Since then, I have had horrible runs and I have had some amazing runs as well. Exactly one week from today, I will be at the starting line of the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco, ready to run my first long distance event.

I ended the training season, much as I had started it: with a little bit of lost dignity and attempted humor. During my first weekly run, in what seems an eternity ago, I drove to Torrey Pines Lodge and met with my team. Considering how early in the morning it was, I double checked that I had turned off the car lights, locked the door and put my purse in the trunk of my car. After returning from the three mile run through Torrey Pines park, I found most of my team standing around my car (how sweet!). As I walked up to them, I realized they were staring at the wide open door. Doh! Fortunately for me, there are so many fancy cars at the lodge that my car would be an insult to potential car thieves. Unfortunately, most of them remember me as the "Open Car Door Girl" and not by my name which is clearly written on my jersey in neon green.

Yesterday, I finished my run and wanted to grab a couple of things out of the trunk and join everyone for instructions about race day. Paper, pen and cell phone in hand, I slammed the trunk shut--just as I saw my keys in the trunk. I tried to casually ask Coach if he knew of anyone on the team that could break into my car. To his credit, he kept a straight face and suggested AAA. By the time I called and someone came, everyone was quietly gathered and listening to the coaches. And the someone who came was a rumbling tow truck driver with a flatbed truck that could easily fit two cars on it. To open my car door. In a tiny parking lot with a rapt audience. No subtlety there. With his arrival, what tiny shred of dignity I had maintained was gone. Everyone had a smile, chuckle or comment for me. As one runner who witnessed both of my adventures commented, "It's like you had bookends to the season. Symmetrical and well placed." Thank you very much.

I'd like to thank everyone who has supported me with your kind words, suggestions and very generous support. I am very well aware of the economic realities these days and know that every dollar donated matters. While I have met my minimum fund raising goals, I ask that you continue to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society with any donation you can afford either through my site or that of others trying to raise funds. I know many of you have expressed the desire to donate and may have to donate less than you originally intended. The important thing is to continue to support the thousands of patients and their family members who benefit from your support of LLS.

Thank you again for sharing this experience with me.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Good News, Everyone!

Sarah Palin shows them who's boss and clears herself of wrongdoing! She's the most fair and balanced judge and jury ever!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

An Open Letter

Dear Governor Palin,

May Can I call you Sarah? I have been following your unexpected rise to the national scene and I have to say it has left me in a rage breathless. I'm not sure how you sustain the energy to tour the country with your family and the First Dude, read everything that crosses your desk (although, admittedly, Starbucks cups don't take too long to read) and speak to your hundreds of adoring fans. And while I am not personally your biggest fan, I realized that facing the possibility of eternal damnation or supporting you, I could offer some humble advice and thoughts.

Geography matters: While I too, hated geography most of my life, I had a pretty decent idea of the countries that shared borders with the countries I lived in. In your case, geography will come in extra handy should you God forbid become Vice President. It will help you bomb countries more effectively and locate the 'heart' land where Joe Six Pack hangs out. For example, Afghanistan is not one of our neighbors. It is far, far away from us. We share borders with only two countries: Canada and Mexico. Russia is not one of those two countries. If Putin rears his head, he will probably see Afghanistan before he sees Alaska. I'm sorry to say you may be taking geography tips from Caitlin. Don't. As much as we hate support you, it is painful for all of us to watch you make a fool of yourself and your audience.

Stop Winking: I must admit that I am neither a fan of beauty pageants nor Hooters waitresses. But that is not why I am asking you to stop winking at the camera during Vice Presidential appearances. I say this for America. One day you may find yourself across the table from a head of state--God forbid. Maybe even with Dmitry Medvedev (the actual president of Russia). He will laugh at you. They'll all laugh at you--and us for somehow being stupid enough to elect a person who cannot conduct herself in a professional manner. Plus, I don't think it's appropriate for a Christian, married lady such as yourself to flirt with the camera. People may get the wrong idea and mistake you for a cheap hussy. Or worse yet, they will think you're leading them on and demand you flash more skin. Again, we will all be embarrassed. Learn from Margaret Thatcher. I did not agree with her politics, but that woman exuded strength and nary a wink at the camera.

Pretend to care: If you want to be the kind of Vice President you claim to admire, grabbing for more and more executive powers than your predecessor, learn the laws before you break them. If someone asks you about Supreme Court decisions that you agree or disagree with, you should know of a couple of them, even if you don't know them by name. I know a few myself and I haven't even been asked to be Vice President of anything. The Lilly Ledbetter case will help you appeal to all those hockey moms that are getting screwed at work and get paid less that Joe Six Pack. Or when the Supreme Court struck down the DC gun ban. You'd LOVE that decision. Other decisions you can throw out there are Hustler v. Falwell (watch the movie) or Marshall v. Marshall (otherwise known as the Anna Nicole Smith goes to DC case, reported in People magazine).

Don't get annoyed when the press asks you questions: In these United States of America, there is a thing called the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment guarantees the freedom of the press, to hold our government accountable. Lucky for you, they hardly ever exercise that right. But when they do, you shouldn't be 'annoyed'. It is actually not a 'privilege' that they are abusing, but their job. Again, you're lucky you got Katie Couric--known as the cute and cuddly news reader. You could have gotten someone like Andrew Sullivan, who like you, has a funny accent. Unlike you, he's an elitist and holds government accountable.

Learn English: It is technically not a foreign language to you. Sentences are you friend. 'Maverck', 'America', 'our United States of America', 'American' and 'our great nation' need a few verbs and concepts to connect them and not sound like fillers for words that you have forgotten or can't pronounce. I realize you're a Maverick, but if you don't learn to speak, you will be called George Bush with boobs and an eye twitch. That's not change we can believe in.

Get over high school: Your mean girl routine is getting tired. Seriously. I realize that the only times that people cheer you is when you do your pit bull schtick, but they're the lowest common denominator of this country and are calling you a bitch. They're the one's who never got over high school and are mentally and emotionally stunted. Surely, you've moved passed your shortcomings and can offer more intelligent criticism of your opponent that mocking his service to his community.

Knowledge is desirable: Just as you don't want a high school student with a scalpel and experience dissecting frogs to deliver your children (or grandchildren), we don't want someone who doesn't know the first thing about the office of vice presidency, the Bush doctrine, her running mate's policy goals or world events. This is no time to take pictures with Henry Kissenger and pretend like you know the first thing about anything. Those elitists you're mocking will know how to save this country while you wrinkle your nose and and ask if you can be dismissed from class. You don't have to be their best friends, just shut the fuck up and stop acting as if ignorance is a virtue.

Ok, so I realize that I am beginning to sound harsh, but as I am writing this letter to you, I realize that out of love and respect for this country, I cannot support you in any way. I also realize that no matter who you misquote (and really, did you admit to getting your folksy wisdom off of a Starbucks cup?) I'd rather spend eternity in hell than support someone who will endanger the future of this country and the world with her willful ignorance. As a dull man once said, "There's an old saying in Alaska Tennessee—I know it's in Texas, probably in Alaska Tennessee—that says, fool me once, shame on—shame on you. Fool me—you can't get fooled again."

Sincerely not yours,

GWCH

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Auburn Ambition Tour (Or Just Crazy)

It is approximately 11:16 am. This is my current list of things to do:

  • Cook: Chicken noodle soup, Orzo Vegetable Salad, Fesenjan with Rice. Also, some guy with an awesome accent is making the best looking eggplant lasagna ever on Food Network. I may have to add it to my list.
  • Bake: Banana Bread, Miracle Bars, Apple Cake
  • Clean House: I HATE DOING THIS!!! I'm really hoping the dust bunnies stop pro-creating and the mountain of laundry self-cleanses. It could happen, right?
  • Catch up on 3 different work projects: I have almost 40 emails that I need to respond to--and that's the easiest of the three projects.
  • Write Thank You cards: I'm grotesquely behind. If I owe you sign of gratitude, please know that I have some manners and a written notice is pending.
  • Write: I have two stories burning holes in my brains. They're both ridiculous, but I must get them out.
  • Choose wedding and baby shower gifts: Suddenly everyone is having an event and giant registries. So many choices, so little time.

Oh, and M is weak and lethargic. I'm seriously hoping it's not a ploy to get out of helping me. (Actually, I know it's not). Either way, I think it's only polite that I take care of him as well.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Meet Your Future President

Hello. Do you remember the young lady who came into the living rooms of America and confused the hell out of us with her knowledge of geography? I'm referring to this one:



Frankly, I worried about her. I wondered who would ever hire her if she happened to graduate. How could she survive? Then I remembered that we already had a cheerleader in the White House--and he wasn't exactly the brightest bulb in the box.

Now, we have this genius:


And she may be dumber than a doorstop, but she's always cheerful:


So, the good news is, I'm not worried about Miss South Carolina surviving. The bad news is that I'm scared for the future of this country and embarrassed for women everywhere.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

David Foster Wallace--R.I.P.

David Foster Wallace, Writer, is dead at 46.

As many of you know, his short story "Girl With Curious Hair" inspired my blog name. His wit and style entertained many.

Many years ago, I learned about DFW for the first time in this interview:



May he rest in peace.

Train Run

I boarded a train from Solana Beach to Oceanside at 6:30am. I ran 12 miles down the coast in less than 2.5 hours (8-2 intervals). I must say, I have kind of impressed myself. Plus, while exhausted and limp-noodly at the moment, I feel great.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Shop For a Better Future


Have you been wanting to use your powers of shopping for good? Are you looking for lovely jewelry? Are you thinking of getting an early start on your Holiday gift list? It just so happens I can help you.

One of my co-workers is helping me with my fund raising and will donate all the proceeds of her jewelry sales to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. You can find something in almost any price range. The event will be at my place on Tuesday night (August 26th), but if you are too far to drive, check out Dana's site. If you see something you like or have questions, send her an email at dmp816@live.com. Any purchases made before Sept. 1, 2008 will count towards my fund raiser. Just please make sure to tell her that it is for my event (she doesn't know about this blog, so please reference my name).

Happy Shopping and as always thank you for your support!

Arugula: Food of Elitists




I used to think that I came from a humble background. I am the kind of person who knows how many homes I have, my credit limit and my cash assets within a $50 error of margin. I never thought I would be considered an 'elitist'. Come to find out, my familiarity with the fruits and vegetables in the grocery store make me an elitist dilettante of some sort. Who knew?

It seems the down to earth, humble folk like my co-worker and her presidential candidate (who has lost count of his homes) have a special elitist test--a litmus test of sorts. Apparently, if you wave a few arugula leaves in front of someone and they don't run and hide, they are a bona fide elitist. See, humble folk like John McCain and George Bush may seem like millionaires many times over, because of their expensive shoes and million dollar 'cabins', but they don't touch the arugula. They stock their refridgerators with non-fancy foods like iceberg lettuce, Pabst Blue Ribbon (no foreign beers like Budwieser) and real American cheese. Only out of touch elitsts would know about arugula and how to use it.

On a serious note, can someone please explain the following to me:
1) Why do Republicans hate arugula so much? I mean as far as leafy greens go, it's fairly innocent. Why not hate on Swiss chard--at least it sounds much more elitist.

2) How can a guy with more houses than he can keep track of, a monthly credit card bill higher than five years of my pre-tax income and an heiress wife call someone raised on food stamps an elitist with a straight face?

3) Why do politians think we're stupid? Seriously? If you have nothing better to talk about than Paris Hilton and salad greens, you're not ready to lead anyone, anywhere.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Tragic End of My Olympic Dreams (or How Nadia Comaneci Betrayed Me)

In 1976, I fell in love with gymnastics. At the tender age of three, I would watch the Olympics and try to do whatever Nadia Comaneci did. As I recall, I was a great imitator of hers, jumping and trying to do splits. I would crawl on top of the coffee table and try to balance on the edge. I was then, as I am now, single minded in reaching my little goals. I became so obsessed, that I would sit still as my mom tried to pull my non-existent hair into little pigtails. I'd tumble across the floor and stand up, triumphant with my arms in the air. It seems I was quite entertaining.

My obsession did not wane. I continued to tumble, balance and wear pigtails for years. When my campaign to be renamed Nadia failed, I named my stuffed rabbit and my favorite doll Nadia. In the absence of gymnastics classes, I taught myself how to do cartwheels and handstands. I never fell off the thin strip of cabinet in front of the kitchen sink that doubled as my balance beam (except when my brother grabbed my ankle and pulled me down). I was on my way to becoming a homemade, world accomplished writer-gymnast.

So you can imagine my joy in third grade then, when during winter gym class, we had a gymnasium full of real equipment. For the first time, I was in the same room with a balance beam and uneven bars. UNEVEN BARS! I could never improvise those at home. I was in heaven. All winter we practiced our 'routines' and were going to be graded just before Spring Break. I couldn't sit still for weeks, dreaming of my victorious 10's A's.

The day finally came. I wasn't allowed to wear a leotard like all the other girls, but for the first time, I. Did. Not. Care. Nothing could ruin my joy and excitement. I was finally going to be the little Midwestern Nadia. I was going to be discovered and train for the Olympics, where they would make an exception for my attire not being the same as the rest of the team's.

It was my turn. I got on the uneven bars, and started my routine with great pomp and enthusiasm. I don't know what I actually looked like, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't a threat to Nadia Comaneci's record. When I dismounted, I raised my arms, stuck out my chest and dazzled them with a huge smile. Time stopped as I waited for the applause.

Everyone laughed. Coach Z and Mrs. B tried to stifle their laughter, with no success. Finally, Mrs. B composed herself and said, "Thank you for a very interesting performance. Please sit down."

As I walked to the opposite wall of the gymnasium. I felt like my brains would boil and my head would explode. I didn't know what had happened, I just knew I was being mocked by the entire third grade. I had done everything, just as Nadia had and I was mocked. She caused me to be mocked. AGAIN.

And that's how Nadia Comaneci's record was saved and my life as a world famous gymnast came to an end.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Loneliness

I haven't seen my friends in a while, mostly because none of them are returning my emails or messages. I'm not sure why, but each August for the last few years, I have health problems. I go through tests and scans I find offensive, fall into a funk wondering why I face this particular problem and wonder when my friends are going to respond. Or even ask themselves why I'm silent.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

George Carlin Missed

I got up at my regular Saturday time and watched M go to his bike ride. We don't run today, because we're running AFC tomorrow (woohoo!). So I'm making my daily list and had the TV on, watching Dogma. I love this movie. Among other things, Carlin's Cardinal is pretty funny. Also, Alan Rickman is in it. Good stuff.

Add to my little morning treat, stumbling on this Carlin quote:

"Well, if crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight? They never mention that part to us, do they?"

Now go enjoy a bowl of cereal with your Saturday morning cartoons.

Happy Saturday.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Olympics!

I love the Olympics opening ceremonies with goose-bumpy, hair standing affection. I don't care who is hosting, I love the marching of the nations. As I watch, I want to hug the host country whose citizens' lives are turned upside-down to embrace strangers, knowing they have been preparing for years to throw this world party. When I see athletes from smaller, less recognized countries, proudly bearing their flags and marching before the world, I feel pride for them. I share the joy of athletes from countries too poor to even have facilities to train them; wars too debilitating to acknowledge them; governments too broken to support them properly.

Giddily, I dream for a few moments of a world where borders no longer exist and we all cheer humanity.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Florida Mystique

You know, for years I have been wondering, why do so many strange news stories come from Florida and Germany? Is it because people in newsrooms hate Floridians with a burning passion, fueled by jealousy? Or is Florida somehow a beacon for the truly odd/retarded/insane?

The latest 'news' that makes me wonder about the water in Florida? A grandmother driving around with her three year old grandchild ON THE ROOF OF THE CAR. Maybe in a few years, Florida will become a synonym for 'crazy'. "That guy was SO florida, you have no idea." It sounds right already.

Sometimes the craziness turns to cruelty. My friend Paul had a lovely Siamese, Amy, that was beaten to death. I don't understand what kind of person can do something like that. I know they are still looking for the monster who did this; Paul and a some generous donors are offering a $4500 reward to anyone who can provide information leading to the arrest of the crazy person responsible. If you have any friends in the St. Petersburg area, please pass on the message and a link to his site: www.whokilledamy.com.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

What Women Want

I realize that my standards are pretty much my own and mine alone. I am for the most part an alien even among my friends as far as my beliefs and interests. However, every once in a while I see things targeting women that make my head hurt. Words like 'empowerment', 'feminism' and 'independent' are tossed around as if they are supposed to mean something to me--but they seem so ridiculous.

I was at the grocery store tonight and saw the cover of this month's Oprah magazine. On the cover? "You Are An Excellent Woman!" Granted, I didn't actually pick up a copy and see what was inside, but judging this magazine by its cover, I have to wonder--do women need Oprah to tell them they are Excellent? And really, are we all excellent? Sure, I think I am--but most of the time that's my ego speaking. If I were as excellent as I think I am, I don't think I'd need Oprah to tell me so from the cover of her magazine.

Of course, if Oprah isn't your cup of tea, there is the crap load of magazines like Cosmo and Glamour, promising you little known insights into his sexual desires, your sexual desires and ways to fit into your jeans without a diet or working out in less than a week. How can you resist these manuals to a better you?

Have you made it home empty handed? No worries. There is a cable channel, just for you! WE--Women's Entertainment! Lately, the only thing I see on this station are Danielle Steele movies and wedding themed shows. Platinum Weddings, Bridzilla!, Wedding Central, Puppy Weddings and a few dozen others that I have successfully missed. Now, I personally love weddings and often wonder what my own wedding would have been like had I had one. But I have other interests. I know other women have other interests. I would like a couple of programs about managing my finances, maybe something that speaks intellingently about women in other cultures, policy issues that impact women in this country. ANYTHING but women acting like they are tulle covered lunatics all night. I'll even admit that curiosity has gotten the better of me on a few sleepless nights and watching these shows. They cover the spectrum from Platinum Weddings, where rich people 'saw it, liked it and just bought it' to what seems to be Jerry Springer rejects on Bridezillas getting into fist fights with their uncooperative family members.

Yes, this is truly women's entertainment. This is the best people can come up with?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

8 Mile

Truth be told, my strict regimen of waking up at 5 am has been slipping. All it took was a few nights of insomnia and the Monday morning runs being canceled. Even in my sleep I know I don't have to be up at 5am to be anywhere, and now that I have reverted to my later bedtime, 5am-ish has become 6am-ish. So my weekday mornings have been starting later and Saturdays are a little bit of a struggle. But I was still going to my weekly training sessions until two weeks ago, when my knee was bothering me so much I had a nice little ice pack collection everywhere I went.

Add to that the knee injury that finally caught up with me and the wretched cold that has made me a little loopy for lack of oxygen. I haven't run for almost two weeks and haven't even been able to crosstrain for a week. Yet, I got up this morning, grabbed my training gear and met my team. On the way, I realized that I am actually enjoying this whole experience aches, challenges and all. I forgot my general promise to share my story during the Mission Moment--which I was called on to do. Most people write something and share it so they be coherent at 7 am and express their committment to our goal. I was shocked to get up in front of the Central and North County teams and tell the story of how this couch potato decided to run a half marathon. I honestly can't say I remember anything that I said--I just know that everyone was saying I did a good job when it was over (please keep in mind that these are some lovely people who won't tell a sleepy woman she was incoherant).

We got into our groups and started running up the Coast. One thing that I love about San Diego is the opportunity to see so many active people outdoors. Before 7:30 this morning, we saw the Breast Cancer team walking south on the 101, a very large group of bicyclists riding north on the 101, a running club, a walking club, ourselves and assorted others out there moving for the heck of it.

The half-marathoners ran 8 miles today. It was wonderful! Not only did I run and survive, I discovered the beauty of Red Vines, had a dip in the ocean with my running partner and ordered a pizza* for lunch from Pizza Port. Brilliant!

All told, I'm pretty sure I'm enjoying running much more than I anticipated. I look forward to running with my team, panic when I can't run and measure each mile as we get closer to the 13.1 goal for the half marathon. I'm not sure yet, but I may be doing this on a regular basis.

*Pizza is my new favorite food. I cannot get enough of it, which in a way is not necessarily a bad thing--Dean Karnazes loves pizza, too.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Simple Plan

I'm sick, which is my excuse and justification for this latest bit of insanity.

I ran out of the house this morning to meet my carpooling co-worker. I agreed to go with him if he promised to get me home soon after 5, since I knew I'd need a nap. Simple. I don't know how I made it through the day, since by my own generous standards I was fairly 'loopy'. But I did, and I was mostly silent on the way home. About a mile away from home, I had a moment of panic because I couldn't remember picking up my keys on the way out of the house this morning. Silly me.

Except by the time I got to the house, I realized I didn't have my keys with me and I was locked out. So I am currently writing this little post of frustration sitting on my patio, unable to get a hold of my husband, out of kleenex for my runny nose and alternately sweating/trembling. I would look pathetic if I weren't growling and listening to The Clash. Now I just look crazy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Necrophilia

Lying in bed hacking this afternoon, I had a weird thought: was necrophilia acceptable at some point in European society? Snow White and Sleeping Beauty are both technically dead (or in an eternal sleep) until they are rescued by love's true kiss. How many guys were wandering around willing to kiss a dead woman? And no matter how pretty you were back then, lying dead in the forest/remote tower for a while could not have been pretty.

Obviously, illness does not suit me and I need rest.

Which reminds me of another necrophilia moment:

We have dinner parties every once in a while and when our Iranian friends come over, we occasionally start playing board games. A couple of us are decent, most of us suck at all board games and American pop culture references and we're all VERY competitive. So imagine when we were playing Cranium and a member from each team had to play out the word on the card (basically Charades). My team member was kneeling, hands-clasped and praying. I peeked at what the other team was doing and there was our friend on the floor, writhing and gyrating her hips.

"Exorcism!!", I screamed triumphantly. The other team stopped in shock and looked at me, while my teammate continued with her praying gestures, stifling a grin. I realized, the other girl wasn't possessed at all, she was supposedly in the throws of passion.

"NECROPHILIA!?!"

At which point everyone looked at me, SHOCKED! that those were my two contributions.

The word was 'Missionary'.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My Favorite Scientist

The results of the last few years of my husband's work has just been accepted by a scientific journal. After MANY months of writing, editing, submitting (re-submitting), waiting and hand-wringing, the paper has been approved.

I don't write about him often--he's much more private and shy than I am--but every once in a while I want to run around and tell the world he's brilliant. I have had the opportunity to work with and meet many, many scientists in my past career and now through his work. One of things I love so much about him is his attention to detail, precision and sense of ethics. He will not cut corners or accept shortcuts in his work--something that has pitted less diligent co-workers against him and made his work more difficult.

Today though, is a victory for him. He is first author on a published project that he designed and mostly executed.

I wish my favorite scientist all the success and recognition in the world.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

People are Giving ME Credit




It is a well known fact among those who know me well that:

a. I like being the center of attention. Sooner or later it's all about me. I have tried to change, but it's impossible hard.
b. I like being credited for all great things. I don't like taking credit for them as much as being given credit for them. It is always nicer to receive than to take.

This morning we ran the San Diego Blood Bank's Naked Juice 5K. It was fun, despite my bumming knee. Actually, the knee didn't slow me down too much, for which I was grateful. I finished the 5k (3.1 miles) in 40 minutes--which is a slower pace than I used to run a few weeks ago, but I feel better overall.

I had a couple of teary moments, which made me realize that the bright young age of 35, that I'm little bit like a teary geyser. If I haven't been able to change yet, it's probably not going to happen anymore.

First, I got all teary when one of the regular blood recipients came to the stage and thanked us for saving her life and listing the things she can now do that she couldn't before. Half an hour later, I teared up during the National Anthem--which happens just about every time I hear it.

Towards the end of the run, I saw the same homeless man I have seen each time we train/run Downtown by the Bay. He is always there, toothless and missing fingers, cheering on any group of runners at just about any event. He sits close to the end of the finish line in the park and calls out the runners numbers as they pass by. Almost everyone I know likes seeing him. As I got close, he started reading my bib number, stopped and instead yelled, "GO TEAM! GO TEAM! IT'S ALL ABOUT THE TEAM!" (Go Team! is the Team In Training motto and I was wearing my TNT shirt). I got a little misty smiling and running past him. He stopped his counting to give me a toothless grin and a fingerless waive. After I crossed the finish line, I grabbed some free goodies and food. Since M also grabbed a couple of sandwiches, I thought it would be a good idea to give the extras to our cheerleader. Plus, M wanted to take his picture for our friend who couldn't join us for the run. As we headed toward him, one of the runners started coming towards me and said, "You guys saved my life! Thank you so very much!"

Now, it's one thing to have people say that LLS is helping them (which I have heard from a number of survivors and their families) or that TNT has helped them improve their lives in some way. But for a complete stranger to run up to you and say you're saving their life because you're running? I can honestly say I have never done less to get credit for so much. And I have never been so moved by someone's sense of gratitude toward a cause that I am blessed to be a part of.

So once again, a perfectly well intentioned, seemingly selfless thing has become all about me. I can only say I'm humbled by it all I try to fight back the tears a few hours later. I pass on that sense of gratitude to all of you, my very generous donors and supportive friends who have helped get me to this point. Your generosity is truly changing lives.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Night at the Movies

Last night, we watched Once. We loved it. I was a little worried M wouldn't like it, because he occasionally teases me about the movies I like (and my strong preference for anything with British accents). But I'm pretty sure he loved it immediately. He has been trying to sing along with it all day, has been listening to the songs online and keeps watching his favorite parts of the movie.

I recommend it for it's lovely simplicity, quiet and music. And thinking back, I think I love Jon Stewart even more for giving Marketa Irglova her moment at the Oscars.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Holiday!

I have been a little tired and impatient lately. I think dealing with crazy co-workers and retarded customer service personnel is exhausting. Especially if it goes on for weeks at a time. Just last night, I was thinking that I need to take a couple of days off. Unfortunately, with our vacation policies and work and the projects I'm working on, I couldn't imagine asking for this time off until at least late next week.

So you can imagine my glee when I checked my email early this morning and had an email from Sherry (my manager), telling me I deserved a day off and to start my weekend on Thursday. I tried to think of what I have could have done to impress her so much in the past few weeks. I couldn't think of anything before paranoia (experience) kicked in.

You see, my previous employer insisted I go to Iran to attend my brother's wedding five years ago. He kept saying how I HAD to go, despite the fact that we were beyond broke and I couldn't afford the ticket home, much less the gifts, clothes, etc. that would be necessary as part of the trip. The worst part was, about 10 days into my two week trip, my generous employer called during the day and left a message on the answering machine saying my services were no longer needed. I have reason to be paranoid.

I called Sherry later in the day and after some small talk, asked her if there was anything she wanted to discuss with me. "No. Do you know how you're going to spend your day off?" I thought a moment and said, "Not yet. Are you sure you don't want to tell me anything? Because the last time something like this happened I was unemployed after my relaxation." She laughed and told me to enjoy the weekend, not check my email, voicemail or project updates.

I really like my manager.

What will I do with myself tomorrow? Run, donate blood, pay bills, have lunch on the beach with M and hopefully cook.

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Everybody Knows, the World Is Full of Stupid People

The last two days have been trying my patience. Yes, you're right, patience has never been one of my virtues--so you can imagine how delightful I am when I people go out of their way to test my patience. The worst part is, they weren't confined to one place. EVERY call I made yesterday and today spiraled into new circles of hell. I won't bore you with the story of the travel agent that yelled at me for telling her the numbers on our receipt didn't add up before she hung up on me. Nor will I bore you with the story of the lady at the bank who told me there was no way to prove an electronic payment had been processed. I will start with the crazy woman who started all of this.

I called our HOA to ask them why they keep sending me statements with past due fees and multiple monthly charges when I make my payments each month. After getting passed around to everyone in their building, I was eventually 'helped' by Cathy. Below is a sample of our conversation:

"Hi Cathy. My bank statement indicates that I have made my monthly payments on time, but every month, my statement has late fees."

"Ok. Do you have the canceled check to prove you made the payment?"

"Well, no. I make pre-scheduled electronic payments each month."

"So you don't have a check number or canceled check?"

"No, it's an electronic payment that get's deposited to the HOA's account each month. I've been doing the same thing for the past four years."

"Well ma'am, if you haven't sent a check on time you will be charged late fees. Do you need the address to send us the check?"

"No, Cathy. I have already sent my payment electronically. There seems to be a misunderstanding. What kind of documentation do you need me to provide you to remove these charges."

"Ma'am, if you haven't paid, we can't remove the charges. If you had sent us a check--which you say you haven't--you would have to provide a copy of the front and back of the canceled check."

"Well, how do you handle electronic payments?"

"MA'AM, you need to send us a copy of the the front and back of the canceled check. Otherwise, you have to pay your monthly fees, plus any extra late fees."

(As a side note, I was quite irritated early in the discussion, especially since one of my co-workers kept laughing at my explanations.)

"But Cathy, there is no canceled check. I'll have to ask the bank for some kind of document. Could you please tell me what I can provide to resolve this problem?"

"I have already told you, you need to send a copy of the front and back of the check you say you have sent us."

Breathe.

"I see. So once I get that document, should I mail it, fax it or email it to you?"

"Yes."

"Which one?"

"The front and back of the canceled check."

"So a copy of the canceled check emailed to you?"

"Front and back to us immediately."

"Thanks, Cathy."

It was around this time that I missed having the old fashioned phones that you could bang on the holder. This woman literally made me wonder how she has made it alive to her workplace. I mean, don't you think she would have died trying to figure out the toaster?

The worst part? Of all of the people I have spoken to since talking with her yesterday, she wasn't the dumbest or the rudest. Do you feel my pain?

I am hoping my week gets better, but I'm not very optimistic.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

It's A Beautiful Day

I have three blisters, two weak ankles, a shaky knee and a heel that shoots pain up my leg every time I put my foot down. And it was a beautiful day in San Diego.

I haven't trained or gone to the gym since last Tuesday. Every morning since June 19th , I wake up with a slow smile thinking my right heel no longer hurts. The smile would be quickly replaced with a frustrated groan as soon as I moved my leg, because frankly, it wasn't just my heel that hurt. Everything in my right foot and ankle ached, and as soon as I put my foot down, a sharp pain would shoot up my leg. I'm tired of thinking of insignificant aches that interfere with my ability to run but don't seem especially serious. After wearing flats and barely walking all week, I broke down and made an appointment with the Team recommended chiropractor, despite the fact that I have no faith in chiropractors. All of the TNT alumni say he is a miracle worker--so I'm going to see him on Monday. That was not going to help me on my Saturday run--which at this point is giving me performance anxiety.

I woke up this morning with the same optimistic smile. I winced as soon as I put my foot down. In case you're wondering, a formula for a bad day for me is: going to bed late+waking up very early+pain shooting up my leg every time I move+social requirement to be cheerful at Honor Team Mate picnic.

Yet, I got dressed, packed up a tub of pasta and found my team all before 7 am. I warmed up and stretched with everyone and started running. The good news is that as of today, I have found a group of people who run at approximately my pace. They have the same strong commitment to running 5-2 intervals. They love early mornings as much as I do. I think I have just found a new group of friends. And I ran. For 5 miles. Despite my painful heel, the developing blisters and the knee (which just may be my next injury in the making) I ran five miles (with mostly 5-2 intervals the whole way). I just about did the happy dance when I was done. Today, I was cheering my fellow teammates on as the got close to the finishing point. I helped one of the mentors make a bridge and cheered people as they wrapped up their runs. I wobbled my way around and tried to meet people. I felt wonderful.

The weather helped. Unlike last Saturday's sweltering heat, it was cool and a little overcast. It stayed that way until everyone was back from their run. Then the clouds politely dispersed just in time for our picnic.

All in all, it was a beautiful day. The picnic was fun and provided a chance to meet some of our honor team mates as well as the chance to talk to our mentors and coaches--most of whom have more than just a training commitment to what we're doing.

And if all of that wasn't fun enough, Manda has some good news. Hurray!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Guess Who's Coming?

My grandmother has an interview at the US Embassy next month. I'm excited for a number of reasons, the first of which, I haven't seen her in about six years. More than anything, I'm excited for her. She spent 10 years splitting nursing duties with my mom, caring for my grandfather after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. After my grandfather passed, my family tried to arrange for her to come to the US to see my youngest cousin for the first time. She was rejected by the embassy, because it seems 70-something year old women with a penchant for high heeled shoes and shopping posed a threat to the American way of life. She had to travel to Dubai to see her son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Repeatedly. She kept promising my cousin that one day, she would cook for her and do all the things she had done with all of the other granddaughters.

It took a while (almost three years) but she is getting a little closer to coming.

And when she comes, there will be a role reversal--I will be cooking for her, telling her stories and taking her shopping. This makes me smile, considering how my early childhood days were spent basking in her love and attention.

There is something else that makes me smile in anticipation--knowing there will be stories. She's an amazing, smart, strong, funny, flawed and slightly crazy woman. I get a few shades of my crazy from her. I don't have to look too far to see where I got my curious hair, ridiculous vanity, insane need for perfection and occasional sense of jealousy. And while this may sound like a parade of flaws, I assure you, it makes for a delightful person. Or at least an entertaining grandmother/infuriating mother. My poor mom can't spend a day with her and not call me in desperation. I'll actually share one of the more recent favorites:

My mom went back to Iran about a year ago. Among the gifts she got my grandmother as is our tradition, were a pair of practical walking shoes. Appropriate for a fragile older lady, something my mom actually liked (even though she's in her early 50s). When she gave my grandmother the shoes, fully expecting a joyous reaction (she bought her mom shoes after all, right?), she saw tears gathering in my grandmother's eyes.

"Do you like them? Don't they fit?"

"They fit.", Mamman mumbled.

"Then what's wrong?"

"I don't understand! Why do you keep buying me old lady shoes?! I'm not old! Why do you want to dress me up like I'm too old to wear nice clothes?!"

I had warned my mom that Mamman wouldn't like them, and I couldn't stop laughing at the mental image of my Mamman crying at the insult of getting orthopedic shoes from my mom who thought she was doing something thoughtful and age appropriate.

Yes, so this is who will be hopefully visiting me in a few months. And I have every intention of writing some more stories about her soon, when I'm less sleepy.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Passive Regressive

Some time around 9:30 Saturday morning, I leaned against the public bathroom wall at Mission Bay and cried. I was so angry I ignored my disgusting environment. I was making a scene, which made me even angrier.

I had prepared to join a higher running group that morning. I was a little sleepy, but excited. Mission Bay was the least hilly run we had had yet, and if I could run the 4 mile UCSD perimeter, I could run the 5 mile path. Or so I thought. What I had envisioned as a steady paced jog, turned into an exercise in futility. My body would.not.move. I could barely run, much less keep up with the B Group that had gracefully run past me. Nor could I keep up with the A Group to which I belonged. After the first 2 1/2 miles, I could barely walk. It did not help to see a partially paralyzed, elderly man speed walk past me. Three times.

I thought after a month I would be making progress and adding miles. I thought I'd be able to run at least a couple of miles at a time and embracing the idea of a thirteen mile run. I was not ready to walk two and a half miles to join a cheerful team as they laughed and celebrated their progress. I was frustrated with my regression and inability to move; ashamed of the fact that I couldn't keep a promise I had made; and afraid I would fail. While I really don't want to be the last person to cross the finish line, I don't want to collapse and not cross the finish line altogether.

I know this is not about me, but that is why I cannot sit back and joke about being left in the dust of an octogenarian. THREE TIMES. I am running with men and women who have beaten death and laugh at pain. And I have no excuse to walk behind; even less excuse to cry about it. But I do.

I was insufferable all weekend. Poor M tried to cheer and encourage me, mostly to no avail. He bought me a Stick (which helped the soreness in my calves), made me breakfast and offered to go running with my on Sunday. I did not want to run--especially with someone who can run 8 miles through canyon trails. I wanted to hide from every single person who knew I was training. I spent Sunday sorting through papers and hanging out with my friend.

Monday morning, I woke up a little past 5:30. I made coffee, read the news, answered emails and didn't get ready to run. M woke up a little after 7 and asked if I was going to go running.

"No. I don't want to run ever again. I don't want to talk about running."

"That's ok. Maybe you need to take a few days off..."

Before he could finish, I was getting dressed to go. I ran 3 miles in about 35 minutes, stopping for three walking intervals.

I haven't given up yet.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Grace in Motion

I have officially had my first and second sports related injuries while training:

As I was buying my running shoes last weekend, I was so excited that I jammed my finger between my heel and the shoe. I bent my weak nail so far back, my finger started bleeding. In shoes I hadn't tried on yet. The look of horror on my face just made the lady next to me laugh, especially because I tried to casually brush it off as a broken nail. It really wasn't that funny. Although, on the way home, I did think it was the kind of thing that would happen to TK--which made it a little less painful.

I tried to swim today. It would have gone better if I hadn't been so enthusiastic. So enthusiastic, that I pushed myself away from the wall with all my force and scraped my chest area along the bottom of the pool. The good news is, my chest area helped me bounce a little and saved my head from hitting the bottom of the pool. The bad news is, I am sore in a place I totally didn't anticipate hurting while swimming.

This may be why I was never the athletic type.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Runner's Life for Me

I am a new woman.

I am pretty sure I can never tell my mom about my attempts at running a half marathon. If I did, I'd have to confess that Amanda has inspired me to do two things that she could not achieve in 34 years: she couldn't get me to wake up early or exercise with any regularity. And now, thanks to Amanda, I do both. For the past two weeks, I have been waking up between 5-5:15 everyday. Most days, without my alarm going off. Twice a week, I get up, get dressed and go running with my mid-week teams. Other days, I go into work earlier than I ever have so I can leave early and meet the evening running teams. This is my schedule every day, but Sundays, where I sleep in until 7. It is another one of my life's little ironies that I cannot share with my mom this little tidbit that would bring her so much joy.

I have learned however that getting up and driving to a beach trail does not imply a state of awareness. Take this past Monday for example. I got up and drove to the Torrey Pines Lodge, parked my car and greeted my team. We stretched, warmed up and proceeded to run approximately 4 miles in 3-1 intervals (I was able to run 7-2 intervals for most of the way). As we made our way back to the cars, all I could think of was the Cliff Bar in my bag. However, as I approached the car, I realized something didn't look quite right. Perhaps it was the driver's side door that was left wide open, making it easy for any potential car thieves to easily enter and make themselves comfortable. The funny thing is that the doors were locked, just left ajar. I consider it my contribution to the joy of my morning running mates...

On a serious note: I am so overwhelmed and honored by everyone's help and contributions. I appreciate your faith in my abilities and your generosity. I am meeting survivors whose enthusiasm is contagious, volunteers who come to support us and family members who are thanking us for our efforts. It makes early mornings and shin splints trite, and almost anything possible.

With the exception of today's painful run, I am able to run 1.5 miles at a time, but almost 4.5 with intervals. This is a much more realistic goal than my initial plan of running miles at a time. My intervals are increasing (longer runs, same length walks) as is the distance that I'm running. I need to address the shin splints that are the biggest limiting factor right now, but they are getting a little better.

If you have any suggestions to actually be awake in the morning or run/jog more effectively, please share. If you can't believe that I abandoned my open-doored car for an hour on a holiday morning, I have a bunch of witnesses who are probably still laughing at me. And seriously, why would I make this up?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

News From Around the World

Bush Lectures Arab World on Political Reform, Women's Rights

He then proceeded to teach a few lessons about sacrifice , the importance of good oratory skills and political etiquette.

Ok, so he stopped with political reform and women's rights. But that's probably because most of his audience already practiced good torture techniques and unfair treatment of women.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Me and the News of the Day

About seven years ago, I lay curled up in the corner of my closet crying softly and whispering into the phone. I loved the man I was talking to so fiercely at that moment, I was probably the closest person in the world to him. I wanted to reach in and hold him, protect him from what was to come. This man had stood by my side during some of the happiest and saddest moments of my life. Over the years, I had watched him with so much love, gratitude and confusion.

I cried as he told me what I had suspected for years. As he whispered his journey, I thought of how afraid he must have been to tell me his secret. Me. Loving, admiring, me. Prudish, uptight, cautious, me. Why else would his voice tremble as the words tumbled out, finally making real what he had fought for so long...

"Are you crying?"

"Yes.", I whispered.

"Where are you?"

"In the closet." And the moment I said it we both burst into hysterical laughter.

"I just came out and you went in? Must you always do the opposite of what I think you will?! Now why are you crying? It's not like you just figured out what's been out of place for most of your life. "

"I'm crying because you woke me up early on a Saturday morning and I love you.", which was partially true. I did love him, and he did wake me up. So much, that I was crying for judgments that would be passed on him, the attacks he would hear, the cruelty that people would inflict on him, and strangely enough--I cried because unlike me, he would never have a wedding. I was sad, confused and angry.

Many years have passed. I took him to his first gay bar; I woke him up one August morning to tell him I'm getting married later that day; I introduced him to my husband; I tried to set him up with cute guys and listened to his misadventures in dating. I can't say I haven't worried or occasionally judged, but I have always loved him protectively. This year I asked what he wanted for his birthday, he said a husband would be nice.

And today, I kept checking the news for him and learned that he can have one in California.

Congratulations, my friend. I'll start working on your birthday gift. Please give me more advance notice for your big day than I gave you on mine.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Run Run Run


For about two weeks, I have been writing and re-writing this post and not posting it. This is a post about something much more important than my curious little blog.

Last month, my blogger friend Manda was diagnosed with leukemia. While I have never had the pleasure of meeting Amanda, I felt the same way I do whenever one of my friends is taken ill. I planned a menu. I had every intention of cooking a bunch of food and sending it across the country to people whose tastes I did not know. But as I made my grocery list, I realized it wasn't a very realistic way to cheer anyone up (plus, I didn't want to tempt fate by sending perishables). Nor was my idea to coordinate a bunch of fellow Pajiba fans to create a podcast of her favorite books.

As I went through my mail after work one day, a way to help found me. I had received an invitation Team In Training, a non-profit group that raises funds to support The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I originally learned about The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society a few years ago when my friend Karen was diagnosed with lymphoma. They provided her and her family with support and information as she prepared for her battle. Now, I saw this as an opportunity to do something practical and supportive. Knowing that Amanda had been training to run in a 5k before she got sick, I thought it would be the perfect thing to do. I called Amanda and asked if I could raise funds in her honor, and she generously said yes.

Now, I have a plan.

This year, for the second time, I will be participating in the San Diego Blood Bank's Naked Juice 5k. As a fairly regular blood donor, I have supported blood banks in every city I have lived in since I was in college. This year, especially in light of reading Amanda's updates, I have decided to make an annual tradition of this event. Last year, I walked the 5k with M, my mother and friends. This year I hope to run. If you live in San Diego or SoCal and would like to join my team, please let me know and I'll provide you with details.

More importantly, this week, I begin my training and fund raising efforts with Team In Training. Of the various races that we could participate in, I have selected to run a half marathon in October. If you have ever seen me, you know that this is a bit of a stretch, considering how I could probably roll down a hill more gracefully than run the streets of San Francisco. I am not an athlete, nor am I fit. But I am determined. Very, very determined.

I am asking for your support and donations (which are 100% tax deductible) for an organization that does great work for those who have a difficult and frustrating battle ahead of them. My goals this year are to meet the minimum fund raising goal of $3,300 ($875 or so of which I must raise by June 26, 2008) and to cross the finish line. They may not seem too ambitious, but I want to meet my goals. I know that with your help, I will easily exceed both of my goals. The sooner I meet my fund raising goals, the sooner I can devote my attention to training. Lots and lots of training. I will provide regular updates about my progress for your entertainment.

I ask that you donate whatever amount you feel comfortable. You can donate a little bit every month from now till the race and I would greatly appreciate it. Please pass this link on to your friends and family and encourage them to donate as well. If you have trained for distance runs or have any tips, please share (I don't want to make my team look bad). And if you think you'll be in San Francisco on the day of the race, please come and cheer us on. I'd love to see you as I cross the finish line.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Random Thoughts

  • I finished my PM Certificate program tonight. I'm pretty sure I never want to take another class again. At least for another couple of months. Does anyone need a delightful project manager?
  • I had every intention of running after my class, but after eating dinner and changing, I lost steam. Which means I will be up at 6, ready to run.
  • I may soon lose my secret identity--which freaks me out just a little. I thoroughly enjoy hiding behind this curtain of anonymity. But if I reveal my identity, it will be for a great cause.
  • During the past week I have spoken to a co-worker who makes me laugh so loud, that I have to scuttle to one of the empty offices with my cell phone to save face. Thank goodness for brilliant people.
  • An old friend who I had semi-lost touch with just got married. I never thought I would see him look that happy. Which means, I am very, very happy for him (and his new wife).
  • I had forgotten how much I enjoyed crocheting--something I will have much more time to do now that I don't have my class project hanging over my head.

Did I mention that my class is over? Weeeeeee.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

"That Is My Patriotism"



How can people say Obama isn't patriotic? He recognizes the great potential we have as a nation, he knows this isn't a popularity contest and he says he wants to continue a tradition of standing up for the little guy that helped get him where he is. Plus, he knows how to speak. Well.

To paraphrase him, this campaign is about you--and your values. Do you want a military man who does not support the troops getting the benefits they have been been promised, but boasts his military credibility; a candidate who stoops to the lowest form of pandering regardless of its consequences or do you want a man who will admit he is not perfect, but that he will try his best to live up to what we can be as a nation? What are your values?

Coffee v. Orange Juice: The Mature Choice

I like to think of myself as relatively intelligent. Actually, that thought depresses me a little, because I know a lot of people around me who are much more intelligent on every level: emotional, intellect and practical. I may be the one who brings the average down. So you would think that I would be happy to know there are people out there that make me seem like a genius. People like Ben Stein for example, who make my grasp of science seem mind-bogglingly complex. Or people like this idiot who judge a person's maturity by the beverage that person consumes in the morning.

I know there are different standards for measuring maturity. I will even admit to being a bit of a judgmental snob. But if we apply the standards of the article that coffee drinkers are more mature than orange juice drinkers (I know, just suspend any intelligent thought and just go with it), wouldn't that mean that alcohol would be a more mature beverage than both? And using that standard, wouldn't we have to elect an alcoholic to prove that someone is no longer childish?

Oh, wait. We DID that already. Twice. And everything worked out just fine.

Thanks/Blame to Andrew Sullivan for bringing such insanity to light.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mad Science

I want to be outraged, but I'm pretty sure this has just left me speechless: Ben Stein rejecting science. Not personally (although I'm assuming he did that soon after he lost his mind), but as a concept. Why? Because science is evil. It seems Mr. Stein holds science responsible for the death of his family members during the Holocaust. He's not saying people abused their powers and used science for evil purposes, just has they had done with religion and politics for centuries. No. He's holding science responsible.

Yep. I got nothing. Maybe Alex can help. Anyone? Anyone?

*I would mention where he was interviewed for this brilliant bit, but that would make a celebrity of Crazy Pat on my blog.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

How Many Crazies Can Fit on a Couch?

I just changed the channel to watch The Daily Show (Colin Firth is tonight's guest-weeee!), and what am I greeted with? Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson hanging out on the beach, sitting on a couch and AGREEING about the need to address global warming. I admit, I am having a hard time focusing on the message, because Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson are sitting on a couch on the beach, making jokes about their political philosophies and what they have in common (the title 'reverend' and lunatic ramblings?). WHAT?

It seems this ad is part of the We Can Solve It campaign, launched by The Alliance for Climate Protection and Al Gore. I'm sure their message is important, I'm just stuck on the fact that they have selected Al Sharpton, Pat Robertson, Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich to deliver their message. Who are these commercials appealing to? I'm so confused.

On a completely unrelated note, I think I would like Colin Firth to read me something. I'm not picky, he can choose.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Bonne Annee!

How time flies--it's been a year and I feel like I'm just getting started. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

It's Madness I Tell You! MADNESS!

I'm watching whatever the ABC Sunday morning 'political' show is and I am amazed (I don't know why at this point) at the stupidity of the people who are on this show. George Stephanopolis, Sam Donaldson, Cokie Roberts and George Will are not only defending the atrocity of what they are referring to as a 'debate' in Pennsylvania but are repeating the non-sense that people a) understand the Constitution (really?) and b) they vote with their guts (WHY?!?!) . Of course, all of these issues are hugely convenient for them. Not just them specifically, but for all political 'journalists'.

The incredibly sad (pathetic, infuriating...) reality is that Americans do not understand the Constitution. If they did, we would not be tearing down the wall that exists between Church and State; we would not be forking over more and more unchecked powers to the executive branch and relegate the legislative and judicial branches to being cheerleaders of whatever the executive wants to do; they would not be sitting around blithely as their government tortures prisoners and uses propaganda to rename it 'enhanced interrogation techniques'; and they would understand the concept of the Women's Suffrage Movement before they signed petitions to end it.

Secondly, if Americans do vote with their guts, why are you glorifying and encouraging it? Sure, people voted for Bush because they thought he would be fun to have a pint of beer with--but I'm also pretty sure they ignored the fact that he is a recovering alcoholic whose judgment would be impaired if they did spend that kind of quality time together. And while I think the person who represents us collectively on the world stage should be representative of us, I would prefer he spoke the language and had rudimentary understand of world issues before he set foot on that stage. A man who graduated from some of the finest universities in this country and still managed to resist learning anything, is not that person. Nor is he 'regular' folk if his daddy, granddaddy and every generation before him has been part of the power elite of this country for at least 100 years back, if not further. Even if one of us wanted to share a pint of beer with him, he probably wouldn't waste his time with us lowly folk. On a related note, the concept of a democracy is to pick the best person to do the job; someone who has good judgment, wisdom and hopefully some ethics. 'Democracy' isn't a fancy word for popularity contest, and our government is not high school. We should not be voting for the cheerleader and the jock, we should be at least paying attention to the nerds and the debate teams who will be able to get our sorry asses out of a mess if we start drowning in it.

And now, back to the Idiots at the Round Table:

George S., you can't comment on the fairness of the 'debate' when you were the major screw up who took lessons from Sean Hannity. I don't say things like this often, but please, just shut the fuck up.

George W., I can appreciate your distaste for Obama, even if it is solely on party principle. But if not him, are you endorsing the forgetful geriatric who wants to suspend gas taxes that fund our roads, bridges and infrastructures? I'm sure you stay awake at night wondering about bridges collapsing during your commute to work or your city being washed away for lack of federal funding to maintain dams. I don't understand much about economics, but I think I won't vote for the guy who says economics isn't his thing.

Sam, please focus on your hair since you have a hard time understanding anything else. People aren't 'shooting the messenger' because they didn't like the questions that were asked at the 'debate'. They are shooting the messenger because the messenger was on crack and not delivering the message while the city is burning. Pick on Obama, but not on his name, neighbors' independent activities, his estranged father's religion or lapel accessories. And while you're at it, also pick on Clinton's political opportunism, lies and fantasies. And ask McCain a few questions about his favorite pastors who insist on killing my people in the name of their religion, his inability to distinguish Sunni vs Shia (which probably contributes to his inability to grasp the difference between Al-Qaida and the Sadr militia and Iran's government) and his insane idea that we can occupy a country for 100 years without consequences. No hurry, you can ask him your questions after the BBQ.

Cokie, if you're riding around in the President's limo on his way to see the Pope, you will not have anything objective to say about anything related to this President. Keep talking about the blabbering idiot's 'excitement' about seeing the Pope, and not the fact that the Pope actually condemned this country's aggression repeatedly during his visit. The reason your car pool companion was so sanguine is because he is too stupid to understand that his guest is calling him an ass hole.

Newseum Building, I'm sorry to say I'm praying for your spontaneous combustion because you represent all that is absurd, lazy and stupid about what we collectively refer to as 'The Press'. We have no use for you or what you represent, until 'The News' is more than a bunch of obnoxious noise delivered by monitor readers and overpaid pundits who are too lazy to do anything but pat each other on the back and regurgitate what is fed to them. Until then, there is no 'News', just bull shit. And we already have a place for that, thankyouverymuch.

And now that I got that out of my system, I need to flip over to CNN and see what Wolf Blitzer and the self-anointed "Best Political Team on Television" (TM) have to say for themselves this weekend.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Lesson Learned

It seems being the peace-maker (when I'm not the one fighting the war) isn't always a great idea. Sometimes people need to fight it out, tear each other down and sweat it out just so they can prop themselves around a conference table and actually compromise. That is the lesson I learned this week.

We have been in meetings all day, every day this week. Two of those were scheduled and conducted by yours truly. I was an angel of self restraint, focus and professionalism. (Ok, maybe I gave the look of death to Someone repeatedly, but only because Someone was acting twelve shades of crazy by arguing against herself). Anyway, the meetings have been ridiculously exhausting and predictably unproductive for three days. I literally had to jump in yesterday and take control of the situation (note to self: herding cats is only possible for short periods of time). But today, everyone was so tired they all dragged themselves to the table sat down and started working. They made decisions. There were even hugs. Hell, I was waiting for someone to start singing Kumbaya.

Maybe next time I'll instigate a fight just so they can get it over with.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Complimentary

One of my co-workers has this crazy theory (which for the record couldn't be more absurd): my curly hair days are days when I'm 'scary' and people shouldn't mess with me and that the days that I straighten my hair people can get away with pretty much anything because I will be 'nice'. I have already disproven his theory, most recently on Thursday when he kept stalling when we were picking up some items for our office lunch. It was a curly hair day, and he is still alive. The theory is bunk.

But I must say sometimes my niceness is tempted.

On Friday, I stopped by Costco after work to pick up some things and in the shampoo/lotion/razor aisle, I saw a woman inspecting a giant container of shampoo. I couldn't help myself and said, "I use that--it's actually pretty good.", at which point I realized she's staring at my head, with her mouth wide open. It seems seeing my hair in its naturally curly glory couldn't scare a woman more. She slowly put the shampoo down and started backing away from me.

Sadly, I think I will never be a good hair model.